1 July 2010

Glucose-Monitoring Tattoos for Diabetics

Several-times-daily testing of blood sugar can make life difficult for diabetics. They’re chained to their glucose monitors in a way, making it hard to live a regular life. Continuous glucose monitoring is helpful, but just as intrusive in one’s life.

A team at MIT is developing a method for tattooing diabetics with a nanoparticle ink that will keep track of glucose levels, eliminating the need for multiple finger pricks every day. The method is different from the implantable medical monitors being developed by the University of Pennsylvania; rather than tiny LEDs under the skin, the diabetes-monitoring tattoos would consist of nanotubes wrapped in a glucose-sensitive polymer.

The “ink” is sensitive to changes in glucose levels and fluoresces in a way that can be seen under near-infrared light. To read the fluorescent information, the diabetic patient would wear a small wristwatch-like device over the tattoo that would provide an instant, real-time reading of his or her blood sugar level.

And unlike most tattoos, the nanoparticle ink only lasts for about six months before it needs to be refreshed with a touch-up tattoo.More reading at



  1. being a diabetic who's also wanted a tat for some time, might look into this... (didn't click the site you posted at the blog-bottom but will check it out at some point.. perhaps it tells the cost n' all)...

    meanwhile, i'll ponder what kinda tat i might get... most likely the hawaiian arm band that's simple and yet, i think, quite good-n'-natural looking.. (ala the henna one i posted on my pic-post with the dogs on the cover)... orrrr, i may get a tat of some aussie babe, banging her drums wildly...