Scientist create 'robotic sperm' to help with fertilisation and drug delivery
The sperm's tail acts like a tiny outboard motor inside a metal nanotube; the resulting biobot could be used to deliver drugs and guide sperm to the egg
Scientists have created the first ever “sperm-based biobots” by trapping single sperm cells inside metal nanotubes and remotely controlling their direction using magnets.
The resulting biobot (a ‘biological robot’, referring to a bacterium or cell which has been programmed to behave in a certain way) could be put to a range of uses, including delivering drugs to a specific target in the body or fertilising an egg, reports New Scientist.
The experiments have been led by Oliver Schmidt at the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences in Dresden, Germany. Schmidt and his team created magnetic nanotubes 50 microns long by 5 to 8 microns in diameter and dropped these into a fluid containing bull sperm.
The tubes, which are narrower at one end to stop the sperm from escaping, can then be rotated by using magnetic fields. The tail-like flagellum of the sperm cell sticks outside the end of the tube and powers the biobot around the fluid like an outboard motor.
Schmidt told New Scientist's MacGregor Campbell that sperm cells were an attractive option for this sort of work as they do not require an external power source, are harmless to the human body, and are adept at swimming through viscous liquids.
Previous experiments in this vein have focused on controlling bacteria by altering the chemicals in their environment, but Schmidt’s work is the first to directly ‘harness’ a microorganism in this fashion.
A paper outlining his research can be found in Advanced Materials entitled ‘Development of S perm-Flagella Drive Micro-Bio-Robot’.
An illustration from Advanced Materials.
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
- 3 37-year-old black woman found dead in police custody
- 4 Kanye West praises Caitlyn Jenner on I Am Cait: 'You couldn't have been up against more'
- 5 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
Mystery over deaths of 3,000 Napoleonic soldiers in mass grave has been solved
Global Peace Index: Ukraine tops list of countries with the worst relations with neighbours
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, 71, still enjoys 'an early morning joint' for breakfast
Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...
Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...