Researchers in Germany have developed "spermbots" or tiny robots that would reportedly aid sperm cells swim a lot more quickly and efficiently to the female egg cell, thereby boosting fertility, reported Huffington Post on Thursday.
According to the study published in the journal Nano Letters, spermbots are made up of micro metal motors that are meant to wrap around a sperm cell, propelling it to an egg cell at a more rapid pace. After testing the micro device on a petri dish, the researchers found that spermbots could be remote-controlled from the external environment with the use of magnetic field.
"This type of hybrid approach could lead the way in making robotic micro-systems," acknowledged Dr. Eric Diller, mechanical engineer at the University of Toronto in Canada, who was not part of the study.
According to Daily Mail on Wednesday, one out of five men have been found to have slow-swimming sperm cells, making low sperm motility the number one cause of infertility among men.
To assemble the spermbots, researchers from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden utilized tiny magnets made out of titanium and nickel in order to create the helices of the microbot, making sure that the coil is wide enough to wrap around the sperm cell.
"We have chosen magnetic helices as micromotors because of their relatively simple mechanism of motion that is widely understood and easy to control in 3D by a common setup of axial pairs of Helmholtz coils," explained the researchers in their paper.
Once the sperm reaches the egg, it wiggles its way inside and out of the spermbot.
Researchers claim that spermbots "are not overly harmful to sperm" even in its early stages of the study, however, further tests need to be done in order to determine the safety of spermbot use in actual human subjects, and ultimately its effectivity on patients.
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