Smart tattoo: technology for monitoring blood glucose in the future
New ways of measuring blood glucose bring hope of easing the burden of diabetes management for patients living with the conditions. The smart tattoo is an innovation that represents a nascent nanotechnology, which is designed to be implanted within the skin to provide continuous and reliable glucose detection for individuals diagnosed with diabetes. The potential benefits of the smart tattoo are compelling not only due to the potential of these nanodevices to prevent diabetic complications and decrease the related social costs, but also due to ease of use and relative user comfort. However, despite the advantages of the smart tattoo, it is important that health professionals, in embracing nanotechnology, understand the ethical implications of using these innovative devices.
Diabetes mellitus is a term used to describe a heterogeneous metabolic disorder characterised by the presence of hyperglycaemia due to impairment of insulin secretion, defective insulin action or both (Punthakee et al, 2018). The prevalence of this condition is escalating at an unprecedented rate across the world without sign of abatement. In the UK, for example, an estimated 3.7 million people are living with a diagnosis of diabetes, an increase of 100 000 since 2017 (Diabetes UK, 2018). The global picture is equally worrying, with 425 million currently estimated to have diabetes, with the figure expected to peak at 629 million in 2045. If longevity is taken into account, the figure could reach 693 million (International Diabetes Federation, 2017).
In an attempt to halt the problem, health professionals must be given effective training on diabetes prevention and care, in order to reduce the devastating human, social and economic impact of the condition (Meetoo, 2013).
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