According those who track such things, the tattoo removal business is worth about $75 million in the US alone. And if you’ve ever had bad ink erased, you know how expensive and painful it can be. Shouldn’t there be a cream that rubs everything off?
Now there is. Alec Falkenham, a PhD student in Pathology at Dalhousie University (Yay, Canada!) has invented Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal (BLTR). Gizmag explains:
The inspiration came from the body’s immune system and its reaction to tattoo ink. It involves the macrophages, white blood cells that eat foreign material to protect surrounding tissue from invaders. Known as the big eaters of the immune system, they consume the tattoo ink that settles into the skin.
In the case of tattoos, two types of macrophages go into action. One set takes part of the pigment to the draining lymph nodes, removing it from the area where it was applied. The other set that has eaten the pigment goes deeper into the skin and forms the visible tattoo.
Over time, the macrophages that form the tattoo are replaced by new ones, causing the design to fade and blur. BLTR homes in on the macrophages that contain the pigment, using a liposome created by Falkenham’s team. Liposomes are artificial vesicles often used as vehicles to administer nutrients and pharmaceutical drugs.