A US researcher has devised 'diabetes tattoo' which might help in providing relief to diabetes sufferers from the constant pain of needle sticks.
For most of the glucose-monitoring methods a blood sample is required which is taken using a needle. But now, Gerard Cote, a biomedical engineering professor in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, is testing an experimental system using fluorescent polymer microbeads implanted just under a patient's skin, reports Live Science.
Glucose levels affect how much light the beads emit when exposed to laser light; the blood glucose level could be measured with a wristwatch-like monitor. When injected under the skin, the microbeads cannot enter cells - unlike tattooing, in which cells absorb the pigment.
The beads remain in the spaces between the cells. These interstitial spaces are filled with water and glucose molecules.
According to Cote, the level of glucose in interstitial fluid is directly related to the blood glucose level measured by the traditional needle-stick method.
The glucose in the fluid binds to the microbeads. When the beads are illuminated with a small laser, the fluorescent colour of the beads changes in proportion to the amount of glucose present.
In initial studies, the scientists injected the microbeads under the skin of a laboratory rat, and found that the rat tolerated the implant. In fact, the beads did fluoresce under the rat's skin, the fluorescent response changed when there was a change in glucose level in the rat.