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Technological Body Art
While it seems clear that the changes in the world of body art over the last twenty years have made it clear that body modifications are here to stay, the form and function that they take in the future seems to be wide open for exploration. One area where there is a lot of experimenting with functional body art is the world of medicine.
With the rise of diabetes in the world population, a lot of research has been put towards this disease. The monitoring of blood glucose levels is one of the most important parts of treating or managing this illness. For most of people living with diabetes this means taking blood samples and testing them several times per day. But what if you could just look at your wrist and tell at a glance? While there have been some talk of inventing a tattoo ink that would respond to glucose, a medical team has just invented a tiny implant that goes under the skin and which glows in response to high glucose levels. So far the implant only lasts for a few months and has only been tested on mice, but this seems like it could be an option for blood monitoring in the future.
With tattooing, designs are inked into the skin. But what if you could design skin itself? A Dutch artist named Jalila Esaidi has just formulated skin that is nearly bulletproof by combining cultured human skin cells and spider silk engineered to be produced by from trangenic goats. The silk is produced in their milk due to genetic manipulation. The spider silk was embedded in the grown skin, forming a layer between the epidermis and the dermis, the outer and middle layers of skin. While not yet passing the same requirements as a bulletproof vest, the tests conducted nonetheless showed resistance at slower velocities and smaller caliber projectiles. The concept behind the project is that an engineered skin could be produced that could be transplanted onto soldiers. When you consider that spider silk is a fiber, that then opens up the idea that those fibers could be colored and maybe even used to create patterns, something that would undoubtedly be more appealing to the mainstream population.
Are these useful creations or are we starting down some sort of Frankenstein road? Ultimately will these be useful inventions or something that triggers legal backlash over "unnatural" body manipulations? Only time will tell...
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