In the ink of health, technology introduces intradermal tattoos

In the future, your skin will reflect signs of good health. Germany’s scientists have developed a method to detect signs of good health in the skin.
You can take a step forward by looking into the ancient art of tattoos. The dermal tattoo biosensors are specialised devices that use the interstitial fluid, or fluid found within cells, to detect changes in bodily conditions. You will be able determine parameters such a pH level, blood glucose and uric acid concentrations, allergens as well as hydration levels. This device can be viewed as your portable health monitoring device, which provides quick, accurate, and non-invasive readings of important biomarkers.

Although the experiments were limited to pig skin for now, there are still promising results.
The next frontier in at-home diagnosis is for humans.

The genesis

Ali Yetisen, a chemical engineer, and his team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany created a functional, colour-changing intradermal tattoo. The colourimetric dye was injected into the skin using a traditional tattoo gun. Three biomarkers were examined once the dye reached the interstitial liquid. These included pH changes, which indicate kidney and lung problems, and glucose levels for diabetics. Albumin levels are used to detect kidney, liver, and heart issues. Interstitial fluid plays a significant role in transporting metabolites between cells and capillaries. The severity of the disease depends on the concentration of the colour changing.

“Medical tattoos are being considered the beacon of hope for those suffering allergies as well, as they help evaluate the precise levels of allergens in the body and how active,” says Delhi-based nephrologist Dr Gurpreet Rana. “The medical community is hopeful that intradermal tattoos will provide accurate disease progression analysis for those suffering from alkalosis, hyperglycemia, metabolic acidosis and hypoalbuminemia in the future,” he adds.

The benefits

The early detection of disease is one of the greatest advantages of tattoo technology. “It also has an edge over the readily available wearable medical devices, which, despite being sophisticated, require care and maintenance. Some wearable devices also increase the risk of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) and other skin disorders,” says Gurugram-based dermatologist Anjali Dhawan.

The best thing about tattoos is the fact that they are customizable. Just because they have a medical purpose, they don’t have to be boring. You can choose any design, provided it’s not too intricate, as it may obstruct the reading, which must be visible for monitoring.

The other side

Ink allergy or toxicity is a major concern when it comes to colour-changing tattoos. However, researchers are currently working to develop biosensing paints that can be used for medical purposes. Another limitation is the irreversibility pigments in some types of detections. This hinders long-term monitoring and signal detection. Because the glucose and albumin tattoos cannot be changed, they can only be altered once. This means that once you have done something to alter it, you are stuck with it. However, synthetic receptors are being developed by scientists to mimic the natural functions of natural ones. The scope of medical tattoos has been expanded to include electrolytes and hydration monitoring. Are you ready?

Future designs

There is currently research underway to determine if smartphone apps could read changing tattoo colors and provide estimation parameters.

Other than the normal pH levels, blood glucose and uric acid concentrations, medical tattoos will be able also to record variations in metabolism.

Scientists and researchers want to make these tattoos affordable so that everyone can enjoy them.
Many millions of people.

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