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Glucose Tattoos To Monitor Diabetes

A Versatile Medical Tool To Measure Blood Sugar Levels

Worried About Blood Sugar? Get Inked

Since the ink not only changes in response to glucose but also to many other body fluid variations, it could be used for a large number of medical diagnostic applications. It also senses salt and pH levels, for example.

The pH sensor changes between purple and pink, the glucose sensor shifts between blue and brown the sodium and a second pH sensor fluoresce at a higher intensity under UV light.

What is new to the MIT and HMS approach is that they use ink instead of printing techniques to monitor the body. This distinguishes them from other processes we already introduced on our blog such as tattoos able to measure the blood alcohol level or track emotions.

Which way do you think has more potential? We are looking forward to your opinion.

Mit Has Developed Colour

Researchers have developed a new colour-changing tattoo ink that responds to changes in the body, such as blood sugar and sodium levels.

Using a liquid with biosensors instead of traditional ink, scientists want to turn the surface of the human skin into an “interactive display” – an idea that makes this proof-of-concept an exciting one to watch. Technology like this could become a revolutionary new way to monitor health.

The project, called DermalAbyss, is a collaboration between researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School, combining efforts from Fluid Interfaces and biotechnology.

So far, the team has developed three different inks that shift colour in response to changes in interstitial fluid – the stuff that sloshes around between our cells, comprising some 16 percent of the human body weight.

Of the three sensor inks, the most intriguing is the one that can measure glucose levels. The sensor changes its colour from blue to brown as blood sugar rises.

Having a glucose-sensing tattoo could conceivably make life easier to people with diabetes, who have to rely on pin-prick blood tests throughout the day to monitor their glucose.

The team has also created an ink that shifts from pink to purple in relation to pH levels, and a third sensor that can detect sodium, shining a vibrant green hue under UV light in the presence of rising salt levels.

Xin LIU, Katia Vega

The Temporary Tattoo That Tests Blood Sugar

An electronic sensor may mean the end of finger pricking.

A painful prick of the fingertip reveals a mountain of medical information for many diabetes patients. But health professionals have long struggled to find a reliable and painless way to gather blood sugar measurements. Just last year, Google announced that it was developing contact lenses that measure glucose levels in its users tears. But now, nanoengineers may have found an even easier way for diabetes patients to monitor their vital levels: temporary tattoos.

Amay Bandodkar, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, has created a flexible sensor that uses a mild electrical current to measure glucose levels in a persons body. Measuring blood sugar levels multiple times a day is vital for diabetes patients because it shows how well their body is managing their disease as well as the dose of insulin they require, if they need any at all. But because many people find needles unpleasant, they tend to avoid measuring their levels, which puts them at risk of developing serious medical complications. The new device is painlessIt contains electrodes printed on a thin tattoo paper that patients can even dispose after use. Presently the tattoo sensor can easily survive for a day, Bandodkar said in a statement. These are extremely inexpensivea few centsand hence can be replaced without much financial burden on the patient.

For a discussion of the tattoo by the author, please see below:

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These Incredible Real Tattoos Change Colour As Biomarkers Like Glucose Levels Shift

Enough of biosensor “tattoos” that are just a wearable sticker. Scientists in Germany have developed an actual, intradermal tattoo that can change colour in response to changing levels of glucose, albumin, or pH.

They haven’t yet been tested in humans, but on pieces of pig skin the tattoos shifted across a range of hues as scientists tweaked the concentrations of the key biomarkers.

It’s an exciting first step that could lead to real tattoos that let patients and doctors monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease in real-time.

The team, led by chemical engineer Ali Yetisen of the Technical University of Munich, was then able to accurately estimate the concentrations based on smartphone photos of the tattoos.

While not all the dyes are yet reversible, this could be a transformative technology for personalised medicine – based on decorative body modification practices humans have been performing for thousands of years.

“Body modification by injecting pigments into the dermis layer is a custom more than 4000 years old,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“Here, a functional cosmetic technology was developed by combining tattoo artistry and colorimetric biosensors Dermal tattoo sensors functioned as diagnostic displays by exhibiting colour changes within the visible spectrum in response to variations in pH, glucose, and albumin concentrations.”

All while looking badass as heck.

Tattoos Change Colors To Indicate Blood Sugar Levels

Temporary Tattoo

Apparently, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School has created a tattoo ink that changes color according to blood sugar levels.

Three different inks have been created, each of which responds to either changing pH levels, sodium levels, or blood sugar levels.

As far as blood sugar levels, the ink changes from blue to brown as blood sugar levels rise.

Normally, people living with diabetes are required to test their blood sugar levels via a test strip. The test is to be taken every few hours in order to monitor any fluctuation in blood sugar levels.

In fact, those with type 1 diabetes check their blood sugar levels up to 10 times per day. As you can imagine, this can be a major impediment to normal living.

The latest technology has allowed people living with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels through continuous glucose monitor devices, which are inserted just beneath the skin in order to continually monitor glucose levels throughout the day.

Now, however, a tattoo ink may provide the same data.

If youre not open to a tattoo, then no worries. However, if youre interested in getting a tattoo and you are living with diabetes, then you may consider this new revolutionary ink.

Healthline. URL Link. Retrieved August 30, 2017.

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Creating Diabetes Tattoos That Sense Changes In Blood Sugar

Its not often that the words cool and diabetes get used in the same sentence, but researchers at MIT and Harvard have joined the two concepts with an idea for creating tattoos that change color based on the blood sugar level of the person wearing them.

The project has the oddly dystopian name of the Dermal Abyss and is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and Harvard Medical School, according to Katia Vega, a post doctoral associate at MIT and a member of the team.

The Dermal Abyss is a proof-of-concept that illustrates the potential of culturally and medically integrated biosensors, Vega says. They are biosensor tattoos that visibly react to changes in the metabolism. The purpose of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts.

The tattoos they designed will not be showing up in a pharmacy or tattoo shop any time soon. The purpose of the work is to highlight a novel possibility for biosensors rather than bring a medical device to market, Vega says. As such, there are currently no plans to develop the Dermal Abyss as a product or to pursue clinical trials.

Like a hot concept car, there is real technology in the tattoos that were produced for the project. Various iterations of the tattoos sense changes not only in glucose but in pH, which can indicate dehydration and changes in sodium ion, which can give indications of hypertension.

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Troubleshooting Information For Freestyle Libre2 Users

We know that lots of people have been reporting issues they’ve been having with the Freestyle Libre 2.

We previously collated some of these issues and fed this back to Abbott who have provided us with some ‘Top Tips’ for issues with Libre 2 alarms.

If you have any concerns or specific issues with your Freestyle Libre2, please contact Abbott directly via their Libre2 support pages. Or use the Abbott guides we’re sharing below.

Temporary Tattoo Offers Needle

Applying a non-invasive glucose sensor temporary tattoo

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have tested a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells.

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have tested a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells. This first-ever example of the flexible, easy-to-wear device could be a promising step forward in noninvasive glucose testing for patients with diabetes.

The sensor was developed and tested by graduate student Amay Bandodkar and colleagues in Professor Joseph Wangs laboratory at the NanoEngineering Department and the Center for Wearable Sensors at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. Bandodkar said this proof-of-concept tattoo could pave the way for the Center to explore other uses of the device, such as detecting other important metabolites in the body or delivering medicines through the skin.

At the moment, the tattoo doesnt provide the kind of numerical readout that a patient would need to monitor his or her own glucose. But this type of readout is being developed by electrical and computer engineering researchers in the Center for Wearable Sensors. The readout instrument will also eventually have Bluetooth capabilities to send this information directly to the patients doctor in real-time or store data in the cloud, said Bandodkar.

The device is flexible and easy to wear.

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How Can I Get A Flash Glucose Monitor

From April 2019, Flash became available on prescription across England to those who meet the criteria. This was made possible by our tireless campaigners in our Fight for Flash.

Unfortunately, this doesnt mean everyone who could benefit from Flash will be able to access it. There are clear criteria that you need to meet in order to get tech on prescription from the NHS.

Heres the criteria you need to meet in order to get Flash for free on prescription, depending on where you live. We understand that it can be really frustrating if you face issues getting your tech. Thats why weve put together advice to help you challenge the decision if you dont meet the criteria. You can also give our helpline a call for more information and support.


You need to meet one or more of these:

If you meet any of these criteria, you must also:

  • learn how to use Flash with a healthcare professional or carer, where appropriate
  • agree to check your levels eight or more times a day and use the sensor 70% of the time when you check
  • agree to regular reviews with your local diabetes team.

Go to NHS England to find out more about the criteria and if you meet them.


To qualify for Flash in Wales you must meet one of the following criteria:

You can find the full criteria on the NHS Wales website.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, theres no strict criteria but there are a list of things your diabetes team must take into account:


How Does A Flash Glucose Monitor Work

A flash glucose monitor has two parts:

  • A sensor that you wear just under your skin which measures your sugar levels.
  • A reader that you or someone else can swipe over the sensor to get both your sugar level and the trend of your levels. You can also scan the sensor with your phone.

Each time you scan your sensor, you can access the last eight hours of sugar levels. Flash glucose monitoring also comes with software so you can analyse your results and see patterns in your sugar levels.

You generally wear a sensor for about 14 days, after that you need to put on a new one.

Sensors should be worn on the arms only, and we recommend that they aren’t placed over areas with tattoos as this could impact your results.

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How Do I Test The Accuracy Of My Blood Glucose Meter

Many professionals recommend checking the accuracy of your blood glucose meter at least once every month.

You can check on the accuracy of your blood glucose meter by performing a control solution test. This involves performing a test using control solution instead of blood.

If you do not have any control solution or it is no longer in date, many meter manufacturers will be happy to send you a vial of control solution free of charge.

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Whats The Difference Between Flash Glucose Monitoring And Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Continuous glucose monitors measure your sugar levels continuously and send data to your display device . So you can set alerts for high, low or rate of change. With flash glucose monitoring, you only get your reading and trends when you scan your sensor.

If you want to find out more about CGM, we have loads of information.

Are Blood Glucose Meters Portable

All blood glucose meters today are light to carry and are mostly run on batteries, meaning that portability is not usually an issue.

Some blood glucose meters are specifically designed for use on the move and may enable you to test without needing a surface to place your kit down o, which can be a useful feature for people that need to test regular each day.

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Clinical Trial Tests Tattoo Sensor As Needleless Glucose Monitor For Diabetes Patients

Dr. Edward Chao is the principal investigator of a phase I clinical trial testing the accuracy of a needleless glucose monitor developed by University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering researchers that adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo to read blood sugar levels.

For Angela Valdez, being diagnosed with diabetes was an awakening. The disorder ran in her family, but she didnt think it would happen to her. And when it did, she acted by modifying her diet and physical activity. She was doing everything rightalmost.

I dont handle monitoring my diabetes as I should, said Valdez. I have the diet down a lot better now and I take my medication as I should, but the finger pricking is a struggle for me. I only test if I feel bad. If I dont feel my blood sugar level is high, and Im taking the pill every day, I think Im alright. Which is really bad thinking, but the pin prick is terrifying.

Valdez is one of 29 million people living with diabetes in the United States for whom monitoring their blood glucose level is an integral component of managing their condition. Understanding how a patients sugar levels ebb and flow over the course of time can guide medication regimens and suggest changes that may improve quality of life, perhaps even save it.

Angela Valdez was one of the first people to enroll in the ENGAGE Study in hopes to one day find an alternative to finger pricking to monitor her diabetes.

A Medical Skin Interface

Colour changing tattoo ink could help people with diabetes

The technology is an ingenious interaction of the body-art, medical, and bio-sensor sectors. While the researchers have no immediate plans to release their ink to the public, the potential of the project is huge, and others could possibly explore and expand upon it in the future.

Aside from the initial tattooing process, the researchers skin interfaces are non-invasive, unlike the methods currently used to monitor diabetes. Theyre also much harder to damage than current wearable technology.

That means the tech could improve millions of lives in the United States alone by helping the 10 percent of the population with diabetes more easily monitor their disease.

As stated on the project website, the technology could potentially be used to measure far more than just the levels tested in the study: It could be used for applications in monitoring, such as medical diagnostics, quantified self, and data encoding in the body.

This isnt the only research exploring innovative uses of tattoos others have found ways to link body ink to sound files or use it to control smartphones but this research is the first to explicitly explore the medical possibilities of inked biosensors. Though just a proof of concept right now, DermalAbyss could be offering us a glimpse into the future of health monitoring.

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