A Rub-On Tattoo for Diabetics Could Mean the End of Finger Pricking

A Rub-On Tattoo for Diabetics Could Mean the End of Finger Pricking 
Image credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

I can only assume as someone who doesn’t have to perform this task often (practically NEVER), but I’m almost certain that pricking your finger for a blood glucose test will never, ever be a fun thing to do. And because science is a thing, scientists (that’s Latin for “people who science’) have been working on a bloodless and needleless alternative. Essentially, it’s a rub-on temporary tattoo that gently sucks glucose through the surface of the skin like a vampire. An inked-up, sci-fi, gadgety vampire…

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This thin, flexible device created by nanoengineers at the University of California at San Diego is based on the much bulkier (and now-discontinued) GlucoWatch, however the electric current GlucoWatch used to attract glucose to the surface of the skin was too high and caused discomfort to the wearers. Meanwhile, this temporary tattoo solves that issue by using a gentler — but still effective — electric current, which detects glucose through an enzyme that breaks glucose down into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (the amount of hydrogen peroxide is a proxy for blood glocal levels; and NOW you know….).

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Now if you look closely, you’ll notice one, it’s not an actual tattoo that involves needles driving glucose-sensing ink into the skin, and for two, it’s already been tested in humans. Analytical Chemistry already published a proof-of-concept study, and found it accurate at measuring blood sugar levels in seven healthy volunteers.  However, there’s still plenty of work and SCIENCE to do in order to make this device something that people can use at home over the long term.

Image credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

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