Nanotats: nanotube inks under skin could monitor blood glucose levels

Paul Raven @ 03-06-2010

Diseases like diabetes demand regular monitoring… which currently means pricking one’s finger for a blood sample once a day, maybe more. It’ll be cold comfort for those afraid of needles in general, but chemical engineers at MIT have developed an ink based on carbon nanotubes that, if injected under the skin, could act as a sort of constant glucose-level monitor [via Technovelgy]:

The sensor is based on carbon nanotubes wrapped in a polymer that is sensitive to glucose concentrations. When this sensor encounters glucose, the nanotubes fluoresce, which can be detected by shining near-infrared light on them. Measuring the amount of fluorescence reveals the concentration of glucose.

The researchers plan to create an “ink” of these nanoparticles suspended in a saline solution that could be injected under the skin like a tattoo. The “tattoo” would last for a specified length of time, probably six months, before needing to be refreshed.

To get glucose readings, the patient would wear a monitor that shines near-infrared light on the tattoo and detects the resulting fluorescence.

So you’d still need some intermediary hardware, but it’s not a ludicrously implausible step to suggest that eventually you might just get a tattoo whose colour would change to inform you of any problems. And hell, why stop there? The transhumanist sympathiser in me can’t help but think that two full-arm sleeves of designs cranking out live data on the state of my meatmachine would be nothing short of awesome… like conky, but for biological systems!

That said, it’d probably achieve little more than letting me watch my arteries clog in minute detail as I spent day after day sat in a swivel chair pecking away at a keyboard…


Boob jobs for tattoos

Jeremy Eades @ 23-02-2008

edmsuntattoo200 While Paul’s the normal go-to guy for body hacks, I thought I’d share one I came across. In my book it’s not quite as cool as having a touch screen implanted, but some of you may like this more. It’s also a good lesson on how our bodies don’t always appreciate having odd things stuffed into them.

A Canadian tattoo artist had a cowgirl inked on his calf, and last year decided she needed to look a little more 3D, so he got a surgeon friend to implant two small silicon implants into her breasts. Unfortunately, they were rejected and he took it upon himself to perform a bit of self-surgery, which went about as well as you would expect. The artist says about 20% of people reject implants, but he doesn’t mention the upside, which is that up to 80% of the population could be wandering around with 3D dragon tattoos with horn implants. Just try putting a shirt on properly with one of those.

How many of you would get implants to *ahem* augment your cowgirl?

(via Scienceblog Aetiology) (image from canoe.ca)


Subcutaneous touch-screen tattoo

Paul Raven @ 22-02-2008

Yet more potential transhumanist body-modification! File under “you must all send me money until I can afford one of these”:

blood fueled subcutaneous touchscreen display

The strapline for the image on the Physorg report reads: “Waterproof and powered by pizza”. 🙂 [Via Chris Roberson and many others]


Vaccines delivered by tattooing

Paul Raven @ 11-02-2008

tattoo-machines First the good news – there may be a more efficient way to receive vaccinations than traditional injections.

But before those of you with a phobia get too excited by the prospect, the alternative still involves needles – the needles of tattoo machines, in fact.

“… administering pieces of DNA from the human papillomavirus virus into the skin of mice by three tattoo-gun injections produced a 200-fold greater production of antibodies to the virus than was achieved with the old method of a needle injection into a muscle.

Vaccines made with bits of DNA are not new, but the usual ways of delivering them have not worked very well. The reason that tattoo injections are so much more effective is thought to be because the repeated puncturing of the skin by the rotating tattoo needle does real damage to the skin — the presence of a bona fide wound causes inflammatory cells to flood into the site, where they speed and enhance the immune response to the vaccine.”

So probably more painful than traditional hypodermic injections, but cheaper and more effective – two factors that matter a lot in the world of health-care. [via grinding.be] [image by Frenkieb]

We can assume that someone will come up with a less painful way to achieve the same results, too. How about some sort of sticky patch that uses an enzyme to create a skin wound, then delivers the vaccine and starts the healing process, all in one?


Easy-off tattoos for the impulsive

Paul Raven @ 19-11-2007

tattooist A lot of people don’t really give proper consideration to the fact that tattoos are, pretty much by definition, forever. For those people, good news arrives in the form of a new type of tattoo ink that is more easily removed by laser treatment; the ink itself is water soluble, and is encased in tiny balls of polymer which can be dissolved by a single laser treatment rather than seven or eight.

Now, perhaps I’m biased from being a tattoo collector and body-mod enthusiast, but this strikes me a product filling what should be a non-existent niche. As any responsible tattooist worth their needles should tell any prospective customer, if you’re going to take long enough to think about using a special ink in case you decide to get the tattoo removed in a few years time, you probably shouldn’t be bothering to get the tattoo at all. [Image by ElvertBarnes]

[tags]body modification, tattoo, cosmetics[/tags]

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