Biosensitive Tatoo Ink Changes Color as Disease Biomarkers Fluctuate

A collaboration between scientists at Harvard and MIT has developed a tattoo ink that can be programmed to change color in response to changes in concentration of different biomarkers. For example, rising glucose levels turn the tattoo from green to brown. Unlike typical body monitoring devices, the team’s “biosensitive ink” has the benefit of not relying on electricity, being always “on” whether the patient remembers to use it or not, and not having to draw bodily fluids to get a reading.

The ink is designed to interact with the interstitial fluid that holds many of the same biomarkers that blood carries. So far the prototype ink, which has not yet been formulated to prevent it from fading or seeping into the rest of the body, has been made to detect high glucose or sodium concentrations. Glucose, of course, is the primary biomarker of diabetes, while high sodium levels may indicate dehydration, a useful parameter for athletes, manual laborers, and adventurers, among others.

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