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Science Technology

Tattoo To Monitor Diabetes 202

infonography notes that the "BBC is reporting about using tattoos to monitor the state of a diabetics' health. While TV's the Invisible Man series had this, this is actually real. Designed by Gerard Cote, of Texas A&M University they are made of polyethylene glycol beads that are coated with fluorescent molecules. Likely this will start to change the attitudes of parents who have been resisting the urging of their kids to get Tattoos."
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Tattoo To Monitor Diabetes

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  • My father has diabetes and I don't want to get it myself, I hope with the new generation of genetic research we'll have more of these stories on slashdot.
    • Amen to that - my father also has diabetes. One thing that I've been on the lookout for is the Glucowatch. I've seen it advertised, there's a site that says that it's coming real soon now, but then, it's been saying that for over a year. IIRC, the idea is that the watch can measure blood sugar by measuring the conductivity of the skin, which is a good geeky application. Has anyone heard any more about this? It was last heard of in FDA testing.
      • I've been hearing about thise glucowatch for the better part of 12 years now. I work in the glucose monitoring industry, and this story has been popular for years. Every recent mention of I have seen shows that the precision is still poor, and you still need to perform daily finger-stick tests to calibrate the watch, so if you're looking to get away from sticking your finger, the glucowatch won't solve your problems.
        • I don't believe that they claim the GlucoWatch should be used as an accurate point-sample meter, but rather as a continuous monitoring device to indicate trends. Theoretically it lets you know the approx rate at which your glucose is rising/falling so that you can take the appropriate measures. The utility of the device probably depends on your personal diabetes management strategy -- whether you control your meds, or just your food, etc.

          I have been told that its method of sampling tends to leave scar tissue behind, but I have no first hand (wrist?) experience of the product.
  • Now the glow in the dark bleeding heart "Mom" tattoo will be a fad. Oh well. Better than "Winger"
  • Handy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:50PM (#4186472) Homepage
    Now when a diabetic goes hypo, the words "feed me sugar" can appear across their forehead.

    Or, remembering a particularly traumatic experience when a friend went hypo, perhaps the words "fuck you" to save them the bother of saying them themselves (yes, I know a hypo diabetic is not in their right mind).


    • Other diabetics tell people to fuck off when they're hypoglycemic too? Sweet. I thought it was just me ; )
      • Ya, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can do some pretty strange things to your mind. From what I've been told and observed, you become less 'human' and primal instincts kick in when your blood sugar goes low. Sometimes when I'm programming and I go low, I just start saying "shit, shit,..." to myself. You have trouble thinking so you just want to tell everyone off until you get enough carbs to get back to normal.

        A continuous method of monitoring blood sugar levels could certainly help put an end to these low sugar sessions and could certainly save me from future embarrassing situations.
      • Yes indeed.

        My sister-in-law has passed out from low blood sugar several times in the last year. Before each episode, she said something akin to "Fuck off!".

        Nowadays, when she says "Fuck off!" we force her to sit down and measure her blood sugar.

        Of course, sometimes she has perfectly normal blood sugar, and has a perfectly legitimate reason to say "Fuck off!", and us saying "Are you feeling ok? Perhaps you should stick this sharp needle in your finger and experience some pain, just to alieve our fears" just makes her angrier...

        But still, she completely passed out on me twice now, and each time we either had to force sugar into her convulsing, drooling mouth or stick a big needle into her quaking leg to counteract the effects of the insulin. It's scary...
  • Wha? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Steve G Swine ( 49788 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:52PM (#4186483) Journal
    Likely this will start to change the attitudes of parents who have been resisting the urging of their kids to get Tattoos.
    "Oh, c'mon, Mom, just get a tasteful little rose somewhere..."
  • by ndnet ( 3243 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:53PM (#4186490)
    This sounds like a great idea, and I know many people (my grandfather included) who would prefer this to the finger pricking fun on a regular basis. However, it does raise a couple of questions.

    1) How long would it last? Since it ISN'T absorbed into the cells, how long could the fluorescent dye, if you will, stay in the "interstitial fluid"? Would you need a new tattoo every month? year?

    2) How much will it cost? The method doesn't really sound that expensive, except for the watch-like device. But will HMOs pay for it? Medicare?

    3) How reliable is it? There are some diabetics who are very sensitive to sugar differences. Howa accurate can this be? Does it compare favorably with strips?
    • If I had to get a new tatoo every month, or even every week, it'd beat the hell out of ripping tiny little holes in the tips of my fingers.

      Trust me on that one.

      • Might I recommend that you try the new Softclix [accu-chek.com] lancet device? I hate sticking my finger as much as the next guy, but if I have to, I prefer to use this model. It's not painless, I won't kid you, but it's the least painful I've found.
      • take it from the son of a diabetic. pricking your finger and taking care of yourself is much preferred to the neuropathy that can develop if you don't. course once you have neuropathy you don't have to worry about pricking your finger cause you won't be able to feel it anymore.

        remember, prick your finger, never finger your prick.
  • And, as an added side feature, the barcode pattern of the tatoo can assist if your child is ever lost or stolen. Hand and forehead options available!
  • Gimme! (Score:5, Informative)

    by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:57PM (#4186502)

    If this is actually working, I'd happily volunteer to be the first to use it... I think the advantage is not that it's pain-free. I couldn't care less about pricking me in the finger. The real problems with conventional systems are

    • You are dependent on an electronic device and test strips. You have to carry it with you at all times (or should at least), and I could move around much more freely if I did not need to take with me and look after my glucose tester.
    • The test strips have to be bought regularly (I use between three and five per day), and they're not exactly cheap. It's also a pain because, at least in Germany, I have to get a Doctor's prescription each and every time I need to buy new supplies. Some sort of subscription would really help here. I am diabetic, and I will be for probably the rest of my life, so why the need to get a stupid prescription all the time, instead of having some sort of token that entitles me to buy my medication whenever I need to?
    • Nothing could be of more help than a continuous measurement. That way, for example, I could immediately tell if my food had more carbs than I expected and I can react sooner.

    Also, while devices for continuous measurement are out there, I don't expect them to be really comfortable, and I'd still depend on a device that I have to look after. So if this tattoo proves to be working, I'd be more than happy to use it.

    Oh, and a question -- this polymer stuff reminds me of those materials used in modern hard-to-forge banknotes (see here [ecb.int] for instance), is that a similar material?

    • they want you to have a prescription so that you have to constantly be checked by a Dr. in order to get your meds/items. That way you are forced to visit and pay up (at least in the US where we don't have nationalized healthcare).

      I have to take prescription meds for high blood pressure, same thing. Every 6 months, check to see if the meds are working the way they should, and refill for 6 more months.

      It's a pain in the ass.
      • Every 6 months, check to see if the meds are working the way they should, and refill for 6 more months. It's a pain in the ass.

        Your doctor and your HMO don't make any money on these kinds of visits. They require them because if they didn't, you might develop more serious problems that would end up costing them a lot more money.

        In the US, if the doctor and HMO want you to visit the doctor on a regular basis, it's because they think it will cost less in the long run. Otherwise, if you're healthy, they'd rather you never went to the doctor.

        It sounds like you don't like the fact that you've got a serious, chronic medical problem, and as a result are at a higher risk than most people for developing other serious medical problems. Welcome to the club.

        • Considering that it costs me $50 per visit, I don't see how it is helping me. I don't see the need for 6 month checkups when the prescription won't change for years, possibly decades.

          Fuck the HMOs and the Dr.'s. I don't see why I should have to pay a dime for either my visit or my prescription. 60 pills should not cost $38. It just shouldn't.

          I feel like I am buying Ecstacy.
          • Considering that it costs me $50 per visit, I don't see how it is helping me.

            You're in a high-risk group. Experience and simple economics have taught HMO's and doctors that monitoring high-risk patients more closely than low-risk patients pays off in the long run. Whether it "benefits" you is beside the point. If we wanted we could say that you are benefitted by being monitored more closely because of your higher risk factors, but from your perspective it might be preferable to go without monitoring and show up in the doctor's office only when you realize that something has gone wrong. But from the HMO and doctor's point of view, that is not a very cost-effective way of handling you.

            It's too bad your office visits cost so much. Mine are $15. But it sounds like I have a lot more prescriptions than you.

        • I think the reason it's done is because they decrease money that would be lost on the people who would not take their drugs correctly and get money from the people who don't need to see them.
    • Re:Gimme! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yorrike ( 322502 )
      The case here in New Zealand is you must get a prescription, but after that, the test strips are effectively free. I've been dreaming of a watch that'd constantly tell me my blood sugar since I was a boy.

      Don't dispare, there's some interesting treatment in development here in New Zealand that's cured a few Type 1 diabetics (like me), by using pig isolete cells encased in polymer tubes that are implanted in the abdominal area.

      Really great stuff, but New Zealand's government is full of crack pots who think that such implants could introduce a retro virus - so the recipiants of the implants have been in Mexico and the Cook Islands so far (they're actually curing people).

      • The government may be full of crackpots cross-species virial infections have happened before, and pigs are a good source.
      • I've been dreaming of a watch that'd constantly tell me my blood sugar since I was a boy.

        There is such a watch. Glucowatch [glucowatch.com]. My mother has just recently gotten one, and it does pretty well. There are alarms for sugar too high, too low, or just changing fast and you really aught to check it. Sensors are good for 12 hours straight. Unfortunately, the website says pick US or Europe, so it may not be available in New Zealand. :(

    • I think the advantage is not that it's pain-free. I couldn't care less about pricking me in the finger.

      Heh, that's you. I hate it. I'd love a non-invasive testing method, continuously monitoring or not. (I know I'd test a lot more, too.)

      The real problems with conventional systems are
      • You are dependent on an electronic device and test strips. You have to carry it with you at all times (or should at least), and I could move around much more freely if I did not need to take with me and look after my glucose tester.
      • The test strips have to be bought regularly (I use between three and five per day), and they're not exactly cheap.

      Well, you'd still need some sort of device to translate the intensity of the glowing tattoo into a number. It'd still be a vast improvement, though. No more lancets, no more blood, and no more of those expensive test strips (IIRC, they're like US$50 for a box of 100 if your health plan doesn't cover the cost.)

      Imagine the cool devices that could come out of this. Maybe a watch that constantly monitors the sugar level, and can be exported to a computer, maybe with software that analyzes the data and suggests changes in your insulin doses... Okay, I admit it. I'd be happy if it did nothing but make it unnecessary to do a finger stick test. :)

      As has been said by many others so far, sign me the hell up.
      • As has been said by many others so far, sign me the hell up.

        Hell yeah, death to lancets and those Softclix bastards. Gimme ink!

        I know it's likely to be nothing more than a dot of polymer, but if you could get a pattern, what would you get? I'd lean towards a tux tatoo - that'd be cool.

        • Plus in the paranoid post-9/11 US, you can get in trouble for carrying your kit on a plane. (Hasn't happened to me yet, but did to a friend).

          On top of that, if I get this, I don't have that stupid Sharps container lying around, that I have to dispose of as hazmat waste!
        • Most of the Diabetics I know should get a Demonic Face in a normal tatto ink, and then make the eyes and mouth this stuff, that way when they go Hypo the demon eyes will glow and you know to get the hell away from them until they deal with it.
          Preferably this should be right on their forehead so we don't miss it and accidentally speak to one of them...

      • What about tattooing a "reference chart" next to the actual sugar-sensitive tattoo as a rough guide, so that you could monitor major changes by just glancing at the tattoo? Maybe even arrange it so that certain segments glow as threshold levels are reached (kinda like a battery gauge type of thing)?

        Or, even, tattoo it to your wrist and have a colour sensor in your watch that started bleeping if your sugar levels changed too much.

  • Now all I need is a tattoo to tell me when I've had too much coffee...
  • by jonabbey ( 2498 ) <jonabbey@ganymeta.org> on Monday September 02, 2002 @08:59PM (#4186511) Homepage

    It sounds like there's a lot of details left to be worked out, but if something like this could serve as a continuous blood glucose diagnostic, I'm so there. Having been an insulin dependent diabetic for the last 13 years or so, a continuous blood glucose monitor has really been the most important missing piece to the whole puzzle.

    Sampling my blood sugar once or twice a day is far too infrequent to get a sense of how my blood sugar rises and falls over time. Having a monitor that could record my blood sugar levels even every five minutes would be fantastic. Make it able to sample every five seconds and hook it up to an insulin pump, and you've got as close to a cybernetic cure as one could hope for.

    Being an insulin-dependent diabetic is like driving a manual transmission car.. very workable, but you have to do a lot more work, and you have to know what the engine and gears are doing. If it's still too early for a cure, having a really good tachometer would be the next best thing.

    And having an intelligent cyber-tattoo would be just too cyber-punky for words. Sign me up.

  • Yes! Now I can have a BIG ASS SEARCH & DESTROY tattoo on my back that pops up when I need to up my glooooocose. I'll be Punk Rock & Healthy!
  • great, now we'll have a culture of marked people and not-marked people. there will be social upheaval, there will be two powers in the world, that composed of only the marked and only of the not-marked. they will fight wars for generations across interstellar space.....

    cool, when can I get mine?
  • So according to recent articles regarding anime power armor and military proposals, the script writer for "the invisible man" (or appropriate pre-Scifi channel individual to first think of it), are owed money because it was their idea?
  • The article states that it would be great for diabetics because it makes testing pain free.

    I'm thinking that most diabetics are probably used to it? I can't say, as I'm not diabetic, but maybe some diabetics out there can speak of their pain from the needles? Do the finger pricks still hurt or are you immune to the pain after so long now?

    It also isn't totally pain free in that you still need a needle for the insulin itself. That and the fact that you have to get the initial tattoo, which is probably going to be a fiar bit of pain compared to a finger prick :)
  • Likely this will start to change the attitudes of parents who have been resisting the urging of their kids to get Tattoos.

    I HIGHLY doubt this will change parents' attitudes towards their children getting a skull or a big frickin dragon wrapped around their arm. I think as a medical tool, a doctor is not going to give some ridiculous design, more like a small shape (dot, square) located somewhere that can be covered easily yet accessible to the patient to view.

  • by exhilaration ( 587191 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @09:26PM (#4186600)
    This is cool - I thought of a few more benefits:

    1) This would make it far easier for the patient's loved ones to measure their glucose levels. A mother would be able to check a child's glucose level in the middle of the night without waking him/her up. I can also imagine a coworker saying, "Dude, your glucose looks a little low - maybe you should go eat something." :)

    2) Even without a bracelet or necklace identifying the patient as a diabetic, emergency personel could quickly see the patient's gluocose levels. If a diabetic is laying on the side of the road about to enter a coma, saving a few seconds could be critical.

    Personally, I like (1) - it would be a huge quality of life improvement.

  • I was on a long flight. Blood sugar was bouncing (high/low), a little sick. Didn't want to burden the people around me with my info and did want to set the stews off. I went to the restroom and wrote with a black bic pen (in the mirror), "Diabetic". Also, the "Hi. Im a diabetic" greeting card you put in your wallet falls apart 6 months after you get it. The medi-necklace breaks easy.
  • De plane, de plane boss!

    I thought Tattoo was only good for monitoring incoming planes, now he can track diabetes?
  • I dunno, I saw the title and immeadiately thought of a little guy saying "De blood sugar, de blood sugar!"

    Speaking of which .... need to eat.
  • "Tattoo To Monitor Diabetes"

    Look boss! The ... uhh.. Shit. Can anybody think of a diabetes related word that rhymes with 'plane'?
    • Pain? Like the pain from a needle?
      • Pain? Like the pain from a needle?
        To the death!

        No, to The Pain.

        I'm not quite familiar with that one.

        I'll explain. And I'll use small words


        Enough quoting The Princess Bride, I'll just go watch it again

    • Look boss! The ... uhh.. Shit. Can anybody think of a diabetes related word that rhymes with 'plane'?

      I'll come up with a rhyme for "plane", if you can find a way to change "Fantasy Island" to "Islets of Langerhans" without harming the Neilson ratings for it...

      • "I'll come up with a rhyme for "plane", if you can find a way to change "Fantasy Island" to "Islets of Langerhans" without harming the Neilson ratings for it..."

        I'm not going to get a +1 Funny with this thread, am I?
  • This sounds like subdermal phosphorescence as discussed in Otherland and other novels as a next generation rebellious self-mutilation.

    In other words, like tatoos for the '70's and earrings for the '80's, phosphorescence will be for the future.
  • Flourescent tattoos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FCAdcock ( 531678 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @09:53PM (#4186678) Homepage Journal
    Flourescent tattoos are not safe

    As a professional tattoo artist, and a liscensed one to boot, I am regularly asked if I can/will do the new flourescent tattoos, and I always give the exact same answer. "NO!"

    In 20 years, I may, but right now, while there have never been any long term tests to see if these tattoos will cause bodily harm, I refuse to put flourescent ink in anyone. There have been no tests to aprove the flourescent inks for permanent cosmetic use, so no one is certain that these inks are safe. Every bottle of ink in my shop comes with about 20 pages of paperwork documenting that the inks have passed years of medical testing, and have been found safe. The flourescent inks do not come with this paperwork, so I refuse stock those inks.

    Think about it, things that glow usualy come with warnings saying not to ingest, that means it's not safe. When you put ink in your skin, it does the same thing as if you swallow it.

    • I doubt they would deploy this into regular medical use if it was going to harm the person in any way. I'm sure they have tested (or are going to test) this stuff for toxicity to humans before they start using it. I know you may be a licensed tatoo artist, and know about the dangers of putting something under your skin, but I'm sure these scientists know those things as well.

      If I were you, I'd say the same thing to anyone who walks in my shop looking for a "cool new thing" to show off to their friends, but don't scare people from this idea, which could conceivably help many diabetics.

      As a side note, I believe (don't quote me, please) that most blacklight fluorescent inks are safer than the "light-charged" type. That might be a solution... the user could just carry one of those handheld mini-blacklights and check the tatoo every once in a while, and the inks would be safer.

    • Come on...tattoos are all about rebellion and being different. Now that tattoos have caught on, it's not enough to just have a tattoo. Frankly, the current inks in use are rather dull...getting a tattoo isn't as enticing as it used to be. Vivid colors will attract new ensure the tattoo trend keeps going strong. They didn't always have 20 pages of documentation for tattoo supplies, that's the invention of a self-serving government regulatory agency. Or do you not think tattoos were availible before the latter 20th century? ;)

      I thought I'd also take this chance to give a link to a good list [sfbg.com] of tattoo artists, if you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay area.

    • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @02:44AM (#4187401) Homepage
      I actually looked into this myself some time ago. (I was doing some research on some rather brainfucked abuses of inkjet printers.) Yes, you're absolutely right that raw fluorescent ink fails pretty spectacularly over time. Not only does sunlight (with its massive UV1/UV2 dosage) bleach the fluorescent tats down to a ugly yellow stain, but it apparently becomes quite...err...itchy over time.

      Not pretty.

      However, some massive new work is being done with encapsulating various forms of bio-active chemicals (the bleached ink molecules are enough to spawn an itch reaction) within various types of polymer chains. Some pretty interesting stuff is being done with encapuslating approaches...a really elegant breast cancer treatment works as follows: Take a potent anti-cancer agent (poison, to be blunt) and attach it to a non-toxic, heat-sensitive polymer, such that the combination of the two remains non-toxic.

      Inject the combo into the bloodstream.

      Take the patient, and dip her breasts in water hot enough to separate the polymer from the toxin. Now watch as two things happen:

      1) Only the breasts reach critical temperature, so only they might be exposed to the chemo, and
      2) The blood vessels in the breast will expand, and those sections with the most blood vessels will receive the highest dosage of the chemo. Those sections are usually tumors.

      From what I can tell, it's pretty tricky to design the polymer that is stable at 98.6F and unstable at 105F -- any hotter, and you're doing damage with the heat alone! Creating arbitrarily stable non-toxics is comparitively much easier. That's what it sounds like they're doing here -- they're taking a molecule with a useful function (fluorescence), attaching it to something that prevents it from reaching toxicity, and linking the expression of fluorescence to the level of insulin surrounding the molecule.

      It is likely a useful side effect of this will be generically functional fluorescent ink, replete with quite a bit more than the 20 pages of paperwork you're used to.

      Yours Truly,

      Dan Kaminsky
      DoxPara Research
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @09:57PM (#4186687)
    The obvious next step is to vary the type of material being used linearly across the tattoo itself, turning it into a "glucose meter".

    As an interesting aside, could this method be used to produce tattoos that were more easily removable as well?

    I think I would want this to be removable, particularly when stem cell research finally cures diabetes once and for all, and you are left with a legacy tattoo.

    -- Terry
  • "Whoa, the room's spinning and I'm about to faint, but my tattoo is still red so I must be okay."

  • the same group will also be marketing tongue piercings that double as thermometers and eye piercings that monitor for glaucoma.
  • I know this is slightly off topic but while we are discussing Diabetes, The symptoms should probably be mentioned.

    Ten warning signs which should send you to your doctor:

    1. Abnormal, intense thirst
    2. Frequent urination.
    3. Extreme hunger.
    4. Sudden, unexplained weight loss.
    5. Slow-healing cuts, bruises or skin infections.
    6. Recurrent infections.
    7. Blurred vision.
    8. Unexplained weakness and extreme exhaustion.
    9. Genital itching or impotence.
    10. Sweet-smelling breath.

    you never know the kidneys you save may be your own.
  • Wow, so many type-1 diabetics. Is there a forum somewhere for type-1 diabetics who are interested in /.-y things? I'd be interested in joining one if such a thing existed.

    -Thom Covert
  • biopolymers like this are really going to be big, have huge applications. soon they will be easy meniscus replacements for knees, and artificial livers built on polymer foams will be awesome.

    Better living through chemistry, man.

  • s/glucose/opiates/ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrVeg ( 604740 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @10:58PM (#4186903)
    This really has great medical potential, but I can imagine similar developments of the future used for other purposes. Being able to monitor bodily chemicals could be extremely valuable, but also subject to unexpected uses.
    As condition of your employment, you agree to a permanent tattoo that indicates drug use.
    The court orders you to get a drug-monitoring tattoo and scan it by your home internet-connected device every 6 hours.
  • that the little fella finally got a decent job. He was so crushed when Mr. Raurk gave him the boot.
  • Well, good! I'm happy to see that the little fart is doing something useful with himself, after that failure with his StayFree Mini-Pads.
  • I remember reading a while back about a "needle" that was created using a process similar to etching computer chips. Basically, it consisted of numerous tiny needles in a grid (10,000 to a square inch or something), which reach deep enough into the skin to enter the capillary system, but not deep enough to trigger the nerves and register pain.

    I thought this device would have great application in both glucose testing and medication delivery, but haven't heard anything abou it lately. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
    • Apparently pain isn't something researchers are concerned about.

      My greatest health fear is becoming a diabetic and having to inject myself, test my blood, etc. Needles and I do NOT mix.
      • Well, testing your blood is not a walk in the park but as far as I'm concerned it hurts less than the electrostatic shocks I get on a regular basis at the local grocery store. In fact you can generally set the lance so that it doesn't cause pain at all (at least I was able to).

        That's why I thought this etched needle sounded like such a great idea. If you can get into the skin with one of those, say, hooked to a watch/computer you could be monitoring your blood on a constant basis, delivering insulin as your body needs it, and probably do all kinds of groovy things. And all without the needle phobia that haunts a lot of us. (I'm type II diabetic on oral medication but it's only a matter of time. I'm hoping I can keep it under control until research gets to the point where I don't need to worry about having to go to injections.)
      • Pain isn't a problem. The needles are short, and sharp and you are injecting insulin into fatty tissue around your abdomen usually (although I also use my thighs at night). As long as you don't use the same needle for too long (i.e making it blunt) then you don't even feel it.

        As for finger-pricking, same rule applies, don't use the same lancet (skin puncturer thingee) too long and it doesn't hurt at all.

        When your injecting 6 times a day like myself, you get used to it pretty quickly :-)

        Times have changed from when you had to draw insulin into a hypodermic from a vial.. now we just dial the amount, jab, press and go :-)
    • Sounds like the predecessor to the HypoSpray on ST:TNG.

      Are we there yet?

  • Has long as it's not on the forehead, I'm all for it.
  • Notice the diabetic in the picture has a large, red tattoo across her forehead. If it takes one of THOSE bloody things to let people know when I'm having a sugar fit then forget it.

  • I am a type one diabetic, who doesn't test levels any where near as much as I should. While I can clearly see that continuous blood glucose monitoring would be a god send, it's not quite what we need.

    Now if we could combine continuous monitoring with an insulin delivery device, in such a way that the monitor controls the delivery, that would be pure heaven.

    Imagine, insert an insulin and mabe a glucose cartridge every week or so, the monitor tells the device to deliver insulin when it detects a rise in glucose, and tells the device to deliver glucose when the glucose levels drop to hypoglycemic levels.

    You could do anything you want, safe in the knowledge that your diabetes management device would keep your levels within not only safe, but healthy levels.

    No more worrying if your late with dinner, or early with dinner - the glucose and insulin doses will even it out, want to go for a run, just go - the glucose will make up the shortfall if needed, want to veg out on the couch, by all means - the device wil just supply a little more insulin to cover your lazyness. It'd be like having a superislet (islet's are the cells that produce insulin for you non-diabetics).

    I think the delivery is the easy bit, you could just strap a small device with a needle to your arm or something. The monitoring is the difficult bit, from what I know of the current continuous monitors they are neither accurate or infact particularly continuous.
    • by Myco ( 473173 )
      The really cool part is if these were cybernetic implants, and you could slap the replacement cartridges into your wrists just like Spidey's webshooters.
  • by Myco ( 473173 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @03:28AM (#4187455) Homepage
    Well, first of all I'd really hate to see people just getting a boring old meter on their arm. I mean, it doesn't really matter what shape the thing is in as long as you can read it, right? So get a funky spiral or make it part of a larger design or something.

    What would be even cooler would be to start seeing this technology, and "adaptive tattoos" in general made available to the general populace. The ability to have tattoos that change their appearance depending on physiological conditions would open up new worlds of expression. Anyone who's read Nylund's "Signal to Noise" will remember the character Panda's always-changing eyelid tattoos. Very cool.

    • The ability to have tattoos that change their appearance depending on physiological conditions would open up new worlds of expression.

      The Japanese had this in their traditional body art for many years until recently. It's a white ink that is almost transparent on pale skin, but becomes quite distinctly visible when the skin is blushed. IIRC, it was traditionally applied to women as an erotic decoration. When the woman was especially aroused, her skin would blush and her tattoo would light up like Las Vegas.

      This particular tattoo ink is now extremely unpopular and may even be illegal because of its major downside - it's a lead-based pigment.

      Perhaps this guy can shed more light on the topic.

    • They should install a little flag that pops out of the top of your head like a turkey thermometer. *POP* "Low blood sugar, time to get a snack!"
  • Polyethelene Glycol is the major component of antifreeze, if I remember right...

    Weren't we always told not to touchor drink the stuff as kids?
  • ...is that the benefits of a low-carb way of life would become more widely demonstrated, as would the idiocies of the low-fat fad.

    In addition to the realization of just how much nutritional disinformation we are being fed by the popular media, we would see widespread consciousness-raising in regard to the deleterious effects of unnatural substances in our diets (sugar, grains, trans-fats, etc). The relative benefits of various types of exercise would be more readily apparent, and immediate feedback would encourage more healthy lifestyles.

    There is already ample evidence that one of the major keys to a long and healthy life is the reduction of the amount of insulin your body needs (others include wearing seat belts, avoiding violent crime, getting ample sleep, avoiding environmental poisons, not taking gratuitous risks, not smoking, etc.).

    One can only hope that some better way of doing this can be found. Since current bg monitoring is done by IR absorption/transmission, I would think that a small IR reflector could be implanted, perhaps just under an artery or vein in the arm near the skin's surface. Then a monitor could use this to directly read bg (perhaps with occasional calibration with other methods) using a short IR burst.

    Other things I'd like to be able to measure (inexpensively) in real time: Insulin level, HD/LD/TG, ghrelin (and its recently-discovered agonist, which doesn't have a popular name yet), white cell count, seritonin, and DHEAS. Might find some other items worth monitoring, to add to that list. Gathering a large amount of data on these things might result in a quantum leap in real knowledge on a subject that is now characterized by 'research' that consists largely of:

    1) Writing a conclusion based on current biases,

    2) Collecting data artfully chosen to support that conclusion,

    3) Submitting the 'research' based primarily on the pre-conceived conclusion for review by people with the same or similar biases, and

    4) Getting published in a journal of some mutual admiration society.

  • Put it somewhere where it can't be seen or you'll get endless wisecracks about "Gee Bob, you're a little cranky. Looks like your blood sugar is a bit low, eh?"

Vax Vobiscum