Temporary tattoo glucose tests could do away with pesky needles for diabetics

The finger prick is one of the most challenging parts of monitoring blood sugar for many diabetics, and researchers have tried to find ways of glucose testing without the need for needles. Looks like now there is an unexpected solution – a temporary tattoo. Let’s be honest, it’s really more of a sticker, but still […]

The finger prick is one of the most challenging parts of monitoring blood sugar for many diabetics, and researchers have tried to find ways of glucose testing without the need for needles. Looks like now there is an unexpected solution – a temporary tattoo.

Let’s be honest, it’s really more of a sticker, but still super cool.

The flexible sensor was created by University of California, San Diego researcher, Amay Bandodkar. It’s pretty simple – a mild electrical current printed on the thin tattoo paper measures the glucose levels in the person. It’s painless and the user can just throw it away after use.  This is a great potential solution for people who unfortunately avoid measuring their levels, putting their health at risk, because of the pain or fear of needles.

 “Presently the tattoo sensor can easily survive for a day,” Bandodkar said in a statement. “These are extremely inexpensive—a few cents—and hence can be replaced without much financial burden on the patient.”

In a recent issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry, the team shared that the tattoo has given accurate glucose measures for seven non-diabetic male patients between the ages of 20 and 40 so far. They wore the tattoo before drinking a soda and eating a sandwich, and the reading was just as accurate as a traditional finger-stick device.

Eventually, Bandodkar said the tattoo will have “Bluetooth capabilities to send this information directly to the patient’s doctor in real-time or store data in the cloud.”

The researchers believe that the same kind of tattoo could eventually measure things like  metabolites, medications, or alcohol and illegal drugs.