Scientists At MIT Have Developed Color-Changing Tattoos Which Monitor Health


Researchers at the Massechecets Institute of Technology have developed a new tattoo ink.  The ink alters it’s color to reflect the changing levels of sodium or blood sugar in the body and can be used to monitor health.

Using a newly developed ink containing “biosensors,” rather than traditional tattoo ink, creating interactive tattoos may possible in the future. Thanks to capitalism, technology such as this can be used by a person to check in on their own health, and researchers agree that it’s revolutionary.

The project, called DermalAbyss, is a collaboration between researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School. The scientists have also collaborated with others from Fluid Interfaces and some in the biotechnology field. So far, the team has developed three different inks that shift color in response to changes in interstitial fluid (the stuff that sloshes around between our cells.) Interstitial fluid makes up about 16 percent of a human’s body weight.

These color changing tattoos are fascinating, but the one that monitors glucose levels is said to be the most revolutionary. “People with diabetes email us and say, ‘I want to try it out,’” one of the team members, Xin Liu from MIT told CBS News. And it could be a perfect solution for diabetics. The sensor changes its color from blue to brown as blood sugar rises. Having a glucose-sensing tattoo could conceivably make life easier for people with diabetes. Especially those who have to rely on pin-prick blood tests throughout the day to monitor their glucose (blood sugar) levels.

But that’s not the only thing the new ink can do!  There’s also an ink that shifts from pink to purple in relation to pH levels, and a third sensor that can detect sodium. It would shine a vibrant green hue under UV light in the presence of rising salt levels.

“The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo,” the team writes on the project website. “It could be used for applications in continuously monitoring such as medical diagnostics, quantified self, and data encoding in the body.”

Although the research is promising, so far, DermalAbyss is only in the proof-of-concept stage, and there’s no indication of when it might become a real product. The researchers have tested the inks on patches of pig skin, using injections to change the levels of the fluids to be detected, but would need to ensure the product is safe for human use before releasing it.

Before this amazing tech can be approved in humans, it will need to go through several stages of rigorous tests, probably in animals first and then eventually in people. Things to look out for are adverse reactions to the ink and possible allergies.There’s also the question of how to make sure the tattoo indicators are as accurate as possible. In a medical situation, you’d want that colour-changing ‘interface’ to be as reliable as a blood test, and we’re definitely not there yet. “It will take a long time for anything practical to go to market, but it [the technology] evokes imaginations and opens up possibilities,” Liu told CBS News.

Capitalism is leading the way in innovations that seek to help people overcome health issues. Such innovations will be the wave of the future as long as the government stops trying to regulate every aspect of human life. The team will be presenting their research at the 2017 International Symposium on Wearable Computers in September as many await with bated breath.

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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.

Dawn Luger is a staff writer and reporter for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up – follow Dawn’s work at our Facebook or Twitter.