Tech Tools

Spring 2024

A photo of RoboDrop‘Turning the Tide Against Superbugs’

Calling all superbug slayers!

Meet RoboDrop, the miniature terminator dishing out droplet combos to decimate drug-resistant bacteria. Developed by a team led by Tza-Huei “Jeff” Wang, the Louis M. Sardella Professor in Mechanical Engineering and member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, this robotic platform rapidly screens thousands of antibiotic mixtures, identifying those with the most potent punches against stubborn superbugs.

In experiments, RoboDrop discovered a three-drug cocktail that eliminated an E. coli strain, even at concentrations where individual antibiotics failed. It precisely prints complex droplet arrangements onto Petri dishes using samples 20,000 times smaller than a teardrop. Customized software also lets it run experiments autonomously.

“We envision this driving the development of new treatment strategies and the optimization of existing antibiotics, turning the tide against superbugs and saving countless lives threatened by antimicrobial resistance worldwide,” says collaborator Fangchi Shao, a doctoral candidate at the School of Medicine.

In Impact