Researchers recently developed 'hybrid sperms' that can deliver cancer drug directly to cervical tumours and could help treat the disease with minimum side effects.
German scientists developed the new chemotherapy drug delivery system by arming sperm with powerful drugs to attack cervical cancer tumours.
It's challenging on multiple fronts to create an effective way to target cancer cells with drugs. The reason being, the drugs always do not travel deeply enough through tissues. They get diluted in body fluids or sidetracked and taken up by healthy organs.
Therefore, scientists turned to the method of loading pharmaceuticals into bacteria, which can effectively contain drug compounds and propel themselves. In fact, the microbes can also be guided by a magnetic field or another mechanism to reach the specific target.
However, the problem with this method is body's immune system can attack the microbes and destroy them before they can reach their target.
So, the researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research-Dresden (IFW Dresden) in Germany turned to sperm.
Researchers packaged a common cancer drug -- doxorubicin, into 'bovine sperm cells and outfitted them with tiny magnetic harnesses'.
"Using a magnetic field, a sperm-hybrid motor was guided to a lab-grown tumour of cervical cancer cells. When the harness arms pressed against a tumour, the arms opened up, releasing the sperm. The sperm then swam into a tumour, fused its membrane with that of a cancer cell, and released the drug," Science Daily reported.
When thousands of them were unleashed, drug-loaded sperm killed more than 80% of a cancerous ball.
Though further more research work is required in this field, the researchers believe that the sperm motors have the potential to one day treat cancer and other diseases in the female reproductive tract.
The new findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.