Science & Skepticism

Doctors Think Sperm Could Deliver Cancer Meds To Female Patients

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By Andrew Follett

Medical researchers at Germany’s Institute for Integrative Nanosciences say sperm could be the perfect way to target cancer cells in women.

Doctors could cover individual sperm cells in an iron-coated helmet and “steer” them to cancer cells with a magnet outside the body. The helmet would break off when the sperm reaches the tumor to deliver medication. Sperm cells can only be used to deliver medication to tumors in the female reproductive tract.

“[T]he single sperm cell serves as an active drug carrier and as driving force, taking advantage of its swimming capability, while a laser-printed microstructure coated with a nanometric layer of iron is used to guide and release the sperm in the desired area by an external magnet and structurally imposed mechanical actuation,” reads the study’s abstract.

Researchers have always had trouble delivering chemical treatments to cancerous tumors in women, since the human body can reacted badly to foreign substances carrying medication.

Sperm cells, however, don’t provoke the same negative responses as artificial cancer treatments.

This technique still has issues though, including preventing accidental pregnancies. The other major issue is what would be done with the tiny iron helmets, thousands of which would be left behind inside the woman. So far, the researchers have only demonstrated this idea using bull sperm in a lab, but would use human sperm on a human patient.

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