According to a new study published in the journal American Chemical Society, sperm cells may have a new purpose—to help treat gynecological diseases like cancer.
The problem with cancer treatment is often that it accosts the entire body, harming healthy cells as much as cancer cells for the sake of removing the tumor. Scientists are working with stem cells, bacteria, and even some viruses to find a way to deliver cancer treatment directly to malignant cells, sparing healthy tissue. One new mechanism being studied by researcher Mariana Medina-Sánchez in Dresden, Germany, is sperm.
Sperm are famous for their swimming power. In the experiment, Medina-Sánchez strapped little harnesses onto bovine sperm and, using magnets, directed them toward a cervical cancer tumor in vitro. The sperm not only reached the tumor, but the chemotherapy drugs (doxorubicin, a common one, was used), worked to eliminate 80 percent of cancer cells while harming barely any healthy ones.
More research is needed to test whether this could work in mammals, but the findings of this out-of-the-box thinking are promising.
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