This early-stage biosensor project is intended to inspire other researchers to continue exploring the field.

Thanks to researchers at MIT and Harvard, pharmaceutical companies may have a new avenue in diagnostic medical tools to explore: tattoos.  

The DermalAbyss project is examining a new world of bio-interfaces in which the body surface itself is used as an interactive display. Traditional tattoo inks are replaced with biosensors that change colors in response to variations in interstitial fluid, otherwise known as tissue fluid. Researchers investigated four biosensors in which the inks changed colors on the skin to mark differences in the body’s pH, glucose levels and sodium levels.



CaughtFishTeaThe project is the result of a collaboration between MIT researchers Katia Vega, Xin Liu, Viirj Kan and Nick Barry and Harvard Medical School researchers Ali Yetisen and Nan Jiang. While there are no current plans to develop DermalAbyss as a product or pursue clinical trials, they hope that the positive response from the media and the public will inspire drug companies and other research industries to push forward with the work they began.

“The purpose of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts,” Vega says.