Targeted drug delivery is a relatively new field that is being developed by various scientists, including physicists, materials engineers, biochemists, and of course clinical researchers. Together they’ve built numerous nanoparticles that can safely transport drugs, such as lipid gold vessels and liposomes, as well as mechanisms for these to find their targets. Now researchers at Institute for Integrative Nanosciences in Germany are harnessing live sperm to do the hard work of carrying drugs through the female reproductive tract.
The sperm are first soaked in a solution containing the drug to be delivered. Following that, a tiny iron clamp is attached around the sperm’s head that can be manipulated by an external magnetic field to point in any direction. So clinicians would guide the sperm in a certain direction, while the sperm itself, being built for the job, can offer the necessary power to move toward its destination.
Because the clamp is made to pop off when the sperm bumps into something solid, it gives the sperm the freedom to dig into a tumor once it crashes into it.
In lab studies, the new mechanism demonstrated its ability to move and be steered in different directions. Soaked in a solution of doxorubicin, a chemo agent, the sperm successfully delivered their cargo into models of tumors. Pre-clinical research will still be required to move this technology toward clinical applications.
Hat tip: MIT Tech Review