The tattoo-like skin patch for diabetes sufferers can detect glucose levels in its wearer's sweat.

The quest to give diabetes sufferers an easier life has sparked some seriously cutting-edge bio-wearable tech, like Google’s glucose-monitoring contact lenses. But the latest innovation that wants to do away with the daily grind of finger-pricking and insulin-injecting does so much more than simply keep an eye on blood sugar.

The work of researchers from South Korea’s Institute for Basic Science, this wearable patch is a tattoo-like second skin with a network of micro-needles that punch you with a dose of drugs when your glucose levels are running low.

Using a series of tiny enzyme-based glucose sensors in the form of gold and graphene circuitry, the patch can pick up on pH levels, body temperature, and glucose levels just from its wearer’s sweat. When the wearer needs a pick-me-up, heaters in the patch automatically start to dissolve a layer of coating, exposing the tiny needles. They then release a drug called Metformin that works to regulate and reduce high blood sugar levels.

The patch also transmits regular readings to its wearer’s phone wirelessly, keeping an automatic log that should come in handy for medical check-ups.

While it’s an exciting step forward for monitoring and regulating diabetes, it’s not been signed off for widespread use just yet. The skin patch has been tested on diabetic mice and just two adult men with diabetes, and the are still a couple of hurdles the skin patch needs to tackle before more people can pop it on their wrists.

In a news and views article that accompanied the researchers’ report, Richard Guy, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Bath, highlighted important concerns that need to be addressed to make the patch a feasible solution. These include whether the device can handle increased sweat from vigorous exercise, and whether the drug can deliver enough medicine without needing an impractical amount of micro-needles and/or an unacceptably large patch.