Tattoos could check blood sugar
People with diabetes are all too familiar with the constant painful finger prick, something that deter some from regularly checking their blood sugar levels. But researchers at the University of California San Diego have now developed a non-invasive “electronic tattoo” that senses blood sugar.
Electrodes within the wearable sensor are made of silver and silver chloride ink. Researchers blended another type of ink with an enzyme that detects glucose and then printed the electrodes on temporary tattoo paper. Much like a magnet, the electrodes send out a current to the skin for 10 minutes, and that pulls body fluids containing sodium and glucose toward the device. The sensor in the tattoo then measures the strength of the electrical charge produced by the glucose to determine a person's blood fluid level.
The researchers tested the sensor on three women and four men--none of them had diabetes. Blood sugar levels were monitored before and after eating a sandwich high in carbohydrates and a soda, and the tattoos were found to be just as accurate in measuring the resulting spike in blood sugar as the traditional finger-prick method.
In 2002, a device called Glucowatch was developed as an alternative way to check blood sugar, but it was found to be irritating to the skin. But aside from a minor tingling during the first 10 seconds of the test, none of those given the tattoo treatment reported felling any discomfort. Scientists are currently developing an instrument to read the sensor, that can store blood data in the cloud or an app for doctors and patients.
This device may be useful for millions of people worldwide affected by diabetes. The researchers added that the device may also be used to detect other blood levels, such as blood alcohol, lactate for athletes, or chemicals used in certain medications.