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Motorized spermbots help weak swimmers along to boost fertility

by • January 14, 2016 • No Comments

There are a number of possible solutions on the market to those having trouble conceiving, that include artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, but these treatments are far of a surefire fix. Researchers at IFW Dresden in Germany are working towards another approach they hope can provide advantageous results by targeting a key driver of infertility, sperm that don’t swim well. The team has now demonstrated sets of motorized “spermbots” that can donate weaker swimmers a much needed boost to the egg.

The team at the Dresden Institute for Integrative Nanosciences (IFW Dresden) researchers caught our attention when they announced the firstly iteration of their spermbots in 2014. These consisted of live sperm cells within microscopic tubes created of titanium and iron movie that may be guided by magnetic fields to their destination.

They have now returned with an updated adaptation of the spermbot, that yet relies on magnetic fields for way, but takes on a various shape. Rather than enclosing the sperm cells in tubes, the team created small, metal-coated polymer helices that capture sperm of behind, wrapping just their tails in a spinning magnetic corkscrew and driving them forward at the head.

“We have chosen magnetic helices as micromotors for the reason of their relatively effortless mechanism of motion that is widely understood and effortless to control in 3D by a common setup of axial pairs of Helmholtz coils,” the researchers explain in their research paper.

Testing the new technique in petri dishes via a rotating magnetic field to actuate the helical motors, the team was able-bodied to wrap it around a live sperm cell, drive it to an egg for future fertilization and and so release it.

But they are enthused with their first good results, the researchers say that the approach yet requires a lot of work preceding it reaches clinical trials.

The research was published in the journal Nano Letters.

You can see the spermbot in action in the video at a lower place.

Source: American Chemical Society

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