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February 24th, 2009
Scientists are developing unique tattoo ink for diabetics that changes colour depending on glucose concentrations in the body and would allow continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Researchers at Charles Stark Draper Laboratories in Boston, USA, said that the ink could ultimately save lives and would mean that diabetics no longer need to painfully prick their fingers to draw blood and manually measure glucose levels.
The glucose-sensitive ink would need to be injected into surface layers of the skin, but the tattoo would only need to be a few millimetres in size, said lead researcher behind the project, Heather Clarke. "The ink would need to be reapplied regularly, to avoid the problem - like with regular tattoos - where the ink fades or gets walled off from the body," she said.
Originally conceived to monitor blood sodium levels for the treatment of heart problems and dehydration, the tattoo ink is made up of tiny porous nanoparticles, which are just 120 nanometres across. Each nanoparticle contains both molecules that detect glucose and a colour-changing dye.
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