Tattoos: The Vaccination Of The Future

Ken AshfordHealth Care, Science & Technology1 Comment

At the moment, I am sporting two tattoos.  This is on my right bicep:


…and this is on my left bicep:


They’re just temporary tattoos that I am wearing for a play ("The Foreigner") this weekend at the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem.  (I’d urge y’all to come, but we’re practically sold out).

Anyway, the prominence of these rather un-me like symbols on my arm has given rise to a number of discussions about tattoos, and specifically, whether I would ever get permanent ones.

The answer is no, mainly because I can’t think of any symbols or words so endearing to me that I can say, without reservation, that I would still want them 40 years from now. 

I mean, sure, forty years from now I’ll still be Libra.  But I don’t care enough about being a Libra now to get some scale etched onto my butt (or whereever).

All this is a rather roundabout segue to the new use for tattoos, and a practical medical one:

The tattoo of the future may be good for your health rather than just your image.

German scientists said on Thursday that work on mice showed that tattooing was a more effective way to deliver a new generation of experimental DNA vaccines than standard injections into muscle.

Using fragments of DNA to stimulate an immune response is seen as a promising way of making better vaccines for everything from flu to cancer. Until now, however, the concept has been hampered by its low efficiency.

"Delivery of DNA via tattooing could be a way for a more widespread commercial application of DNA vaccines," said Martin Mueller of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.

Sadly, the "tattooing" referred to by these medical researchers involved no ink, "so the tattoo left no permanent mark".

That’s all well and good, but if that’s the case, I think they need to come up with a better term for the medical procedure.  Something other than "tattooing".