‘Robotic’ Sperm to Fight Infertility

Up until recently, health and medicine was basically a hit or miss affair. We would discover interventions such as drugs that had benefits, but also many side effects. With recent research information from Dresden, Germany sperm can now be trapped in nanotubes (grown in a lab with a cylindrical structure that exhibits heat and electrical properties, which are then fabricated on a wafer or “chip”). Then a magnet is used to direct the sperm to the egg, giving the patient a larger chance for impregnation or fertilization. The problem when sperm is released naturally, it can travel anywhere. You start off with millions of sperm that typically last for two days, but unfortunately only one sperm makes it to the egg.

You ask yourself, how will this be done?

The method for this technology, is simply using the tail of the sperm to do the electrical work then using a magnetic field to direct the sperm. Think of it like a compass needle aligning with the Earth’s magnetic field. It is far easy to control a single cell (like the sperm) that propels itself through fluid with its whip-like tail.

Until now, researchers had only managed to persuade groups of cells to cooperate, with the help of mathematical measurements over a distance and magnetic fields.

To create the spermbots, the research team builds the nanotubes from using iron and titanium nanoparticles (very small particles). They then add the tubes to a fluid containing sperm. The nanotubes are designed with one end of each tube slightly narrower than the other. The sperm that swims into the wider end becomes trapped, headfirst, with their whip-like tail traveling to its destination.

What is the future of this technology?

If this technology works, you will start to see the use of this method being applied to all fields of medicine. For example, chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. However, this can harm healthy cells that separate quickly, such as those that line your mouth and intestines. During chemotherapy treatment the patient will typically suffer from damaged healthy cells which will cause serious side effects and in the end exposing the patient to more trauma.

How will this help improve chemotherapy treatment? 

With this cutting edge technology you will be able to deliver chemotherapy and guide the treatment to the specific target. In the process, you are eliminating organs and cells from being over exposed to toxicity from the chemotherapy agent. Overall, this method will give physicians and patients a less toxic form of cancer treatment and to protect your healthy cells from being over exposed or even killed off. Leaving you with less side effects from all chemotherapy treatment.

Whatcha think?