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Magnetic sperm could be the next big cancer-fighting innovation

Researchers in Germany have zeroed in on a new cancer-fighting tool: magnetic sperm.

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research found that when sperm carrying a common chemotherapy drug were outfitted with what New Scientist described as "tiny, four-armed magnetic harnesses" and released near cervical cancer cells, the supercharged swimmers were able to eliminate 87 percent of the malignant cells they encountered in just three days. The harnesses "allowed [the sperm] to be guided by magnets," New Scientist explained, and thus more effectively reach the cancerous cells and deliver the medication.

New Scientist noted that sperm are a particularly convenient vessel for fighting illnesses associated with the female reproductive tract — like cervical cancer — because they have biological familiarity with the area. The researchers additionally hope sperm could be outfitted with medicines to combat endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies.

The most important takeaway though, per New Scientist, is that the use of these magnetized "spermbots" could make chemotherapy more effective and less painful for cancer patients, as more targeted drug delivery could reduce the amount of healthy cells lost to collateral damage — a common issue for people undergoing chemotherapy. Watch a video of the spermbots at work below. Kelly O'Meara Morales