Science is amazing, y’all. And sperm is amazing! Sperm + science = some serious awesome. The latest development in the world of sperm (other than that it hopefully won’t be harvested from a UK man in a vegetative state) is that robosperm are coming to infiltrate your uterus!
That’s right. Researchers from the Dresden Institute for Integrative Nanosciences have basically hijacked sperm cells in order to create tiny robots that will do their bidding. Their bidding, of course, is nothing nefarious; It’s more along the lines of fertilization or delivering medicine. So cool!
If, like me, you’re wondering how the hell this works, let me try to enlighten you. I read the article a bunch of times so I would be able to relay the science correctly, but if any of you are scientists, please feel free to correct me. Here’s the deal: Basically, the robosperm are sperm cells that have been encased in little tubes. Scientists can then control the tubes using magnets, directing them towards their ultimate goal inside the human body, whatever that may be.
Ok, let me just quote from the Gizmag article because it might make more sense that way:
To create biorobots out of sperm cells, the researchers began working with bovine (bull) sperm cells – which are similar in size to human sperm cells. The first step was to create thin conical magnetic tubes capable of trapping sperm cells out of a titanium and iron film. The microtubes are rolled up in a way that makes one end larger than the other, with a diameter that’s slightly larger than that of a bull sperm head.
When live sperm cells are added to a solution containing these microtubes in a petri dish, the sperm swim about and enter the tubes randomly. Once inside, they are locked down mechanically and begin pushing the tube forward as they move about. Magnetic material present in the tubes makes it possible to get remote-controlled sperm.
Scientists are still working on the technology, but the idea is that once the sperm get to where they’re going, they can be manipulated to be released from the tubes. They’re going to try it with animal sperm cells first and then hopefully move onto humans. I still don’t quite understand how the sperms would get into the body…I guess by in-vitro fertilization? The article I read suggests that the robot sperm could also eventually be used as a way to deliver drugs and manipulate genes, which seems cool.
If you’re concerned about exposure to magnetic forces, these tubes are apparently just fine because they do not enter the cells. So one day, you might have tiny robot sperm delivering important stuff inside your body! So cool.
Photo: Getty Images