MIT Researchers Developing Color-Changing Tattoo Inks that Could Help Track Health

Flickr, Rebecca Brown

Flickr, Rebecca Brown

In the project called DermalAbyss, the “body surface is rendered an interactive display.” In collaboration, MIT and Harvard Medical School researchers are creating tattoo ink that has biosensors to respond to changes in the body, such as blood sugar, pH, and sodium levels. The ink color shifts in response to changes in interstitial fluid.

This work could be of special interest to people with diabetes. The sensor ink changes from blue to brown as blood sugar rises, and researchers hope that one day users will be able to monitor their glucose levels and need of insulin through their own tattoo color changes.

DermalAbyss “blends advances in biotechnology with traditional methods in tattoo artistry” and is currently in the proof-of-concept change. The next challenge for the researchers will be to test the biosensor liquid in animals for adverse reactions and possible allergies. And of course the biggest goal is to make the tattoo indicators as accurate as possible, as reliable as a blood glucose test.

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