Cross-Linked Fluorescent Supramolecular Nanoparticles as Finite Tattoo Pigments with Controllable Intradermal Retention Times

Tech ID: 29482 / UC Case 2017-218-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology have developed a new type of fluorescent dermal pigment.


In recent decades, over 3.3 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are diagnosed each year. During the months between initial NMSC lesion diagnosis and surgical treatment, the biopsy site becomes nearly indistinguishable for a physician to identify. Labelling a NMSC lesion with a dermal pigmentation “tattoo” can effectively identify the biopsy site for treatment. Two major types of tattoo pigments are in clinical use but with significant limitations: (i) carbon graphite, which is cosmetically unappealing, and (ii) fluorescent particles, which can only be visualized under UV light and require laser treatments for removal. Additionally, both tattoo pigments may cause local inflammatory responses, which result in patient discomfort.


UCLA researchers have developed a new fluorescent tattoo pigment, cross-linked fluorescent supramolecular nanoparticles (c-FSNPs). This tattoo pigment is transparent to visible light, while fluorescing under UV light. The c-FNSPs exhibit a 10-fold enhancement in fluorescence intensity compared to commercially available fluorescent particles. The fluorescent signal decay is readily tuned and the signal can be maintained up to 3 months, which is the typical time between diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, the c-FSNPs do not activate any inflammatory responses, which are commonly triggered by commercially available tattoo pigments.


  • Dermal pigmentation tattoos 
  • NMSC lesion labelling 
  • Medical imaging


  • 10-fold enhancement in fluorescence intensity 
  • Tattoo visible only under UV light 
  • Fluorescence signal can be maintained up to 3 months

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application WO2019108838 06/06/2019 2017-218

Additional Patents Pending

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  • Tseng, Hsian Rong

Other Information


Supramolecular nanoparticles, finite tattoo, fluorescent conjugated polymer, cross-linking, controllable intradermal retention time, dermal pigmentation, fluorescence imaging

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