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'Spermbots' Could Help Women Conceive

Update Date: Jan 18, 2016 03:57 PM EST

One of the major reasons for infertility is slow-swimming sperm, for which researchers from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences  at IFW Dresden, Germany, have given a solution, called "spermbots". These are small micromotors that can propel a sperm toward an egg.

The "spermbots" idea was taken from previous research on micromotors, reveals a press release. The idea is of metal helices that could fit around the tail of a sperm, with a rotating magnetic field controlling the helices and driving the sperm cells toward the egg. The helix gets released when the sperm cell reaches the egg.

This method is simpler and not as expensive as other methods of "assisted fertilization", although so far the success rate has not crossed 30 percent, according to the Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority in the U.K. The more complicated, expensive and effective process is that of vitro fertilization. With encouraging results from initial tests, scientists believe that they can help women who are trying to conceive.

More research is required before the "spermbots" can be cleared for clinical trials.

"Despite the fact that there still remain some challenges on the way to achieve successful fertilization with artificially motorized sperms, we believe that the potential of this novel approach toward assisted reproduction can be already put into perspective with the present work," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the Dec.21, 2015 issue of the journal Nano Letters.

YouTube/American Chemical Society 

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