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 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...