We all learned about sperm in school: they swim, they find the egg, they fertilize, and babies ensue. But a new study published in the journal ACS Nano is revealing that there's more to the story — and that sperm, those mighty travelers in the vaginal canal, might be the key to delivering cancer-fighting drugs to the human body quickly, easily, and with minimum side effects. And it gets weirder: To achieve this goal, scientists have fitted sperm with little magnetic "vests" to help them steer. Hey, nobody can ever say science is boring.
Discovering how to deliver medications in the most effective way possible is a big deal. For centuries, humans have had to deal with some extremely crude methods, from poultices laid on the skin to inserts into every orifice possible; the hypodermic needle, which pierces the skin to give injections, wasn't invented until the 19th century. Getting drugs to the right part of the body in the right amount has been a central concern of doctors for a long time, and in recent years researchers have been turning to microscopic methods, from bacteria to genetically engineered "cell soldiers," to try to solve the problem. But sperm is a new option, and it may turn out to be a particularly excellent choice for combatting gynecological diseases in particular.