Diabetes affects everybody. We all know someone who has it if we don’t have it ourselves. Whether a family member, a friend, or a co-worker, you can pretty much bet that there’s someone in your life that has a type of diabetes.
But yet, there isn’t much comfort for those with this, particularly cruel disease. Day in and day out, they have to continue to measure and document their insulin levels, never letting it drop below or rise above a particular number. These measurements are generally done through a blood test, meaning the afflicted has to prick their finger several times daily to test their blood with a hand monitor in order to ensure adequate, safe glucose levels. Not doing so can be disastrous for their health.
But, you would think there would be an easier way—especially given modern technology and advances.
What if I told you that there may be a unique, fun, and funky way to monitor your blood levels on the way that didn’t involve daily finger pricks?
While the upcoming method does involve a needle, it only involves a one-time session, not daily punctures. If you haven’t guessed, the method I’m referring to takes place in the form of a tattoo: a glucose monitoring tattoo.
If it sounds too good to be true, I would usually say it probably is . . . however, in this case, it has been in the works for almost seven years, which means, hopefully, the project is nearing completion.
In 2009, the project kicked off at a laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After much thought and consideration, the laboratory began to develop a nanosensor that is both small and durable enough to be injected into the skin, much like tattoo ink. These nanosensors are specifically targeted to monitor and measure the person’s glucose levels in their bloodstream.
How does it work, you ask?
The nanosensor-tattoo would glow under infrared light if blood glucose levels began to rise. This, with diligence, would allow an individual to check their sugar levels directly after a meal without any blood drawing whatsoever. According to an article in Technology Review, “The material consists of 120-nanometer polymer beads coated with a biocompatible material.” These beads contain a fluorescent dye and sensor molecules, which are designed to detect specified chemicals—in this case, sodium or glucose.
In addition to reducing the amount of painful annoying blood draws, the glucose monitoring tattoo would significantly decrease the cost associated with being diagnosed. Currently, a diabetic has to purchase constant test strips, monitors, and the works. This unique tattoo will not only be readily available, but it will relieve the individual of the continuous replenishment of expensive provisions.
Of course, these new and inventive methods take time to work out. While tattoos have been around for as long as humans can recall, medical additions to the practice require years and years of intensive testing, development, and study. But, while it still is years in the future for completion, it’s a good sign that the project is well underway and moving forward. For those of you who are fighting the good fight against diabetes—keep strumming along. Soon, you’ll be able to add your glucose monitor to the list of tattoos you want to get!