Super-small robots called MagnetoSperm (yes, MagnetoSperm) may one day swim around inside of us in order to deliver medicines to otherwise unnavigable parts of our bodies, such as blood vessels.
Named both for their dependence on magnetic fields in order to move around and their sperm-like head-and-tail form factor, MagnetoSperm were developed by researchers in Egypt and the Netherlands who published a paper that outlines the merits of their creation. Gizmag describes how they move from place to place:
When subjected to an oscillating magnetic field roughly equivalent to that emitted by a decorative fridge magnet, magnetic torque on the head causes it move back and forth. This in turn causes the flagellum to oscillate, propelling the robot forward. By angling the line of the magnetic field, it’s possible to steer the MagnetoSperm toward a target.
Their precise steering capability and microscopic size (each one is 322 micrometers long!) could easily enable doctors to treat complications in super-tiny spaces like capillaries and arteries.
Sarthak Misra, an associate professor of robotics and mechatronics at the University of Twente and one of the authors of the paper, told ITWorld that “The applications of this micro-robot are diverse. These include targeted drug delivery, in vitro fertilization, cell sorting and cleaning of clogged arteries, among others.”
Islam S.M. Khalil, assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Material Science at German University in Cairo, writes in the paper that
“This would allow us to achieve targeted therapy to mitigate the negative side effects of conventional chemotherapy.”