Diabetes Forecast

Peel, Stick, Check: Glucose-Sensing "Tattoo" Could One Day Replace Finger-Prick Testing

What to Know

Monitoring blood glucose is a crucial part of diabetes self-care, especially for people who use insulin. However, it can also be painful, inconvenient, and expensive. Those factors may keep people from checking their glucose as often as they should. That has led researchers to look for new methods. In this study, a group of researchers tested a very thin, flexible, disposable device that sticks to skin like a rub- on tattoo. Tiny electrical sensors in the device measure glucose in the fluid just under the skin.

The Study

Seven healthy adults who did not have diabetes participated in the study. They put the tattoos on before eating a sandwich and drinking a soda. The tattoos recorded spikes in their glucose levels that typically occur after such a high-carbohydrate meal. Participants also had their glucose levels checked with meters. The researchers then compared the results they got from the tattoos to those recorded by the meters.

The Results

The tattoos detected glucose levels as well as the meters.


Products like this tattoo may eventually replace finger-prick blood testing. However, this device is in the very early stage of its development. A great deal more work will need to be done to enable the tattoos to report glucose levels in actual numbers; to sense glucose continuously; and to display, store, and send results in user-friendly ways. Once accomplished, larger studies will need to be carried out to test its effectiveness.

Tattoo-based noninvasive glucose monitoring: a proof-of-concept study, by Bandodkar and colleagues. Analytical Chemistry 2015;87:394–398 http://doi.org/10.1021/ac504300n

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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