Scientists Develop Painless Tattoos That Can Be Self-Administered
Think about getting painlessly tattooed by a pores and skin patch containing microscopic needles, as an alternative of sitting in a tattoo chair for hours enduring painful punctures. Researchers on the Georgia Institute of Expertise (Georgia Tech) have developed low-cost, painless, and cold tattoos that may be self-administered. They’ve many functions, from medical alerts to monitoring neutered animals to cosmetics.
“We have miniaturized the needle in order that it is painless, however nonetheless successfully deposits tattoo ink within the pores and skin,” mentioned Mark Prausnitz, principal investigator on the paper. “This might be a method not solely to make medical tattoos extra accessible, but in addition to create new alternatives for beauty tattoos due to the benefit of administration.”
Prausnitz introduced the analysis within the journal iScience on September 14, with co-author Tune Li, a former Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellow. Prausnitz is Regents’ Professor and J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair within the College of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Tattoos are utilized in medication for a number of functions. These embrace overlaying up scars, guiding repeated most cancers radiation therapies, or restoring nipples after breast surgical procedure. Tattoos will also be used as an alternative of bracelets as medical alerts to speak severe medical circumstances comparable to epilepsy, diabetes, or allergic reactions.
Numerous beauty merchandise utilizing microneedles are already available on the market — largely for anti-aging. Nonetheless, creating microneedle know-how for tattoos is new. Prausnitz is a veteran on this space. He has studied microneedle patches for years to painlessly administer medicine and vaccines to the pores and skin with out the necessity for hypodermic needles.
“We noticed this as a possibility to leverage our work on microneedle know-how to make tattoos extra accessible,” Prausnitz mentioned. “Whereas some persons are prepared to simply accept the ache and time required for a tattoo, we thought others would possibly choose a tattoo that’s merely pressed onto the pores and skin and doesn’t damage.”
Tattoos typically use massive needles to puncture repeatedly into the pores and skin to get a superb picture. It’s a time consuming and painful course of. The Georgia Tech staff has developed microneedles which are smaller than a grain of sand and are constructed of tattoo ink encased in a dissolvable matrix.
“As a result of the microneedles are fabricated from tattoo ink, they deposit the ink within the pores and skin very effectively,” mentioned Li, the lead writer of the examine.
On this method, the microneedles might be pressed into the pores and skin simply as soon as after which dissolve. They go away the ink within the pores and skin after a couple of minutes with out bleeding.
Though most microneedle patches for prescribed drugs or cosmetics have dozens or lots of of microneedles organized in a sq. or circle, microneedle patch tattoos imprint a design that may embrace letters, numbers, symbols, and pictures. By arranging the microneedles in a particular sample, every microneedle acts like a pixel to create a tattoo picture in any form or sample.
The researchers begin with a mould containing microneedles in a sample that kinds a picture. They fill the microneedles within the mould with tattoo ink and add a patch backing for handy dealing with. The ensuing patch is then utilized to the pores and skin for a couple of minutes, throughout which period the microneedles dissolve and launch the tattoo ink. Tattoo inks of assorted colours might be integrated into the microneedles, together with black-light ink that may solely be seen when illuminated with ultraviolet mild.
Prausnitz’s lab has been researching microneedles for vaccine supply for years and realized they might be equally relevant to tattoos. With help from the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Canines, Prausnitz’s staff began engaged on tattoos to determine spayed and neutered pets, however then realized the know-how might be efficient for individuals, too.
The tattoos have been additionally designed with privateness in thoughts. The builders even created patches delicate to environmental elements comparable to mild or temperature adjustments, the place the tattoo will solely seem with ultraviolet mild or larger temperatures. This offers sufferers with privateness, revealing the tattoo solely when desired.
The examine demonstrated that the tattoos might final for no less than a 12 months and are prone to be everlasting. This additionally makes them viable beauty choices for individuals who need an aesthetic tattoo with out the chance of an infection or the ache related to conventional tattoos. Microneedle tattoos might alternatively be loaded with short-term tattoo ink to deal with short-term wants in medication and cosmetics.
Microneedle patch tattoos will also be used to encode data within the pores and skin of animals. Somewhat than clipping the ear or making use of an ear tag to animals to point sterilization standing, a painless and discreet tattoo might be utilized as an alternative.
“The purpose is not to exchange all tattoos, which are sometimes works of magnificence created by tattoo artists,” Prausnitz mentioned. “Our purpose is to create new alternatives for sufferers, pets, and individuals who desire a painless tattoo that may be simply administered.”
Reference: “Microneedle patch tattoos” by Tune Li, Youngeun Kim, Jeong Woo Lee and Mark R. Prausnitz, 14 September 2022, iScience.
Prausnitz has co-founded an organization known as Micron Biomedical that’s creating microneedle patch know-how, bringing it additional into scientific trials, commercializing it, and finally making it out there to sufferers.
Prausnitz and a number of other different Georgia Tech researchers are inventors of the microneedle patch know-how used on this examine and have possession curiosity in Micron Biomedical. They’re entitled to royalties derived from Micron Biomedical’s future gross sales of merchandise associated to the analysis. These potential conflicts of curiosity have been disclosed and are overseen by the Georgia Institute of Expertise.