Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 11th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

03 February 2016

Turbo Twist

To successfully reach and fertilise an egg, sperm must endure a long and arduous journey through the female reproductive organs. Many fall by the wayside, but a team of scientists has recently developed a technique that could provide struggling sperm with a little roadside assistance. They developed magnetic micromotors, based on minute metal-coated helices, which can be linked to sperm and remotely guided to power them towards their destination. As seen in this video, a tiny motor attaches itself to the sperm’s tail, drives it towards the egg and finally releases it to bring about fertilisation. For couples unable to conceive because of problems with sperm motility, this method could provide a more effective solution than traditional IVF, without having to extract eggs and induce fertilisation in an artificial environment. While much more research is needed, motorised assistance has the potential to transform the future of fertility treatments.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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