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Always change color with the concentration of certain biomarkers


In order to prevent patients suffering from chronic diseases from regularly going to the clinic to check for different physiological markers, scientists have developed sticky biosensors. However, these must often be changed. In order to get the constraints, German Bioengineers have developed permanent tattoos that change color depending on the albumin, glucose and pH levels. If it has not been the subject of human clinical trials, Biomedical Technology is extremely promising.

Tattoos have not yet been tested in humans, but on pigments, while scientists have changed the concentration of key biomarkers. This is a crucial first step that can lead to actual tattoos allowing patients and doctors to monitor real-time chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Headed by the chemical engineer Ali Yetisen of the Technical University of Munich, the team was able to accurately evaluate the concentration of tattoos taken on the smartphone. Although not all dyes are still reversible, it may be a personalized medical transformation technology – based on decorative human body modifications for thousands of years.


Diagram explaining the technique of injecting Calorimetric biosensors into the dermis. Credits: Ali K. Yetisen et al. 2019

" Body modification by injection of pigments into the dermis is more than 4,000 years Writing the researchers. " Here, a functional aesthetic technology has been developed by combining artistic biosensors and calorimetric biosensors … Skin tattoo sensors have functioned as diagnostic screens by presenting color changes in the visible spectrum, in response to variations in pH, glucose and albumin. ".

Dynamically control albumin, glucose and blood

The three biomarkers have been chosen because they often indicate a physiological problem. Albumin is a protein found in plasma. Low concentrations may indicate kidney or liver problems, while high concentrations may indicate heart problems.

Physiology tattoos

Tattoos for color can take different forms of patient convenience. Each color represents the variation in concentration of a key biochemist. Credits: Ali K. Yetisen et al. 2019

Glucose needs to be closely monitored for diabetes management, which affects the ability of the body to metabolize sugars. Changes in blood pH level – Acidosis for low pH, high alkalis – can be caused by a whole series of blood gases.

The team created a different color that is able to detect changes in each of the biomarkers in the interstitial fluid. The albumin sensor is a yellow paint that turns green in the presence of albumin. The more albumin is, the more green it becomes (though more or less blue remains).

Color tattoos

Each controlled biomarker is a specific pigment whose color varies with concentration. Credits: Ali K. Yetisen et al. 2019

On the same topic: how do tattoos remain forever?

The glucose sensor uses the enzymatic reactions of glucose oxidase and peroxidase; The changing concentration of glucose produces a structural change in pigment from yellow to dark green. And the pH sensor was composed of methyl red dyes, blue bromothimol and phenolphthalin. At a pH between 5 and 9 – the pH of normal human blood is about 7.4 – the sensor varies from yellow to blue.

Non-reversible colors and tests on humans: a promising but still long work

When the biomarker levels have changed in the interstitial fluid in pork skin pieces (which is common practice on which tattoo artists can practice), the colors have also changed. It is, however, necessary to remember that technology has not yet been tested on humans.

In addition, only the color of the sensor is reversible; A non-reversible color offers only one reading, which is far from satisfactory. The researchers say the other colors may be reversible with synthetic receptors, but they have not yet been tested. The next step is to try out tattoos on live animals to determine if the inks are causing undesirable effects.

" Sensor applications can be extended to detect electrolytes, proteins, pathogenic microorganisms, gases and dehydration status. Skin Sensors developed, may have application in medical diagnostics to monitor a wide range of metabolic biomarkers. Complete the research.

Sources: Angewandte Chemie International Edition

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