A sperm’s task may appear straightforward; after all, all it needs to do is swim to an egg and insert genetic material. However, in some cases, a healthy sperm’s inability to swim may result in infertility, which affects around 7 percent of all males.
This condition is called asthenozoospermia, and there is currently no cure. However, one study conducted in 2016 and published in the journal Nano Letters has set the example for what could be possible in the future: A team of researchers from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden in Germany developed tiny motors that can make sperm swim better as they make their way to an egg, essentially acting as a taxi.
These so-called “spermbots” basically consist of a tiny micromotor, which is basically a spiraling piece of metal that wraps around the sperm’s tail. Serving as an “on-board power supply”, the motor navigates the sperm via a magnetic field, helping the sperm swim to the egg with ease. When the sperm makes contact with the egg for fertilization, the motor slips right off, and the magnetic field doesn’t harm any of the cells involved, making it ideal for usage on living tissue, according to the researchers.