In 2022, researchers at Penn, led by Michel Koo, DDS, MS, PhD, founding Director, Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry, and Edward Steager, PhD, Research Investigator in Penn Engineering’s GRASP Lab, announced that they developed a hands-free system of shapeshifting microrobots to help automate the process of brushing and flossing teeth.
In 2024, Koo and Steager sat down with Penn Today to discuss this technology’s potential not only to brush teeth, but also to diagnose and treat infectious diseases–in teeth and beyond.
Biofilms, structured communities of microorganisms, are responsible for about 80% of human infections and present a significant challenge in medical treatments, often resisting conventional methods like antibiotics.
To combat this issue, Koo and Steager developed microrobots that offer a precise and targeted approach to disrupt and remove biofilms, particularly in hard-to-reach areas such as the oral cavity, respiratory tract, and within catheters and implants.
According to Koo and Steager, the integration of microrobotics into healthcare presents a promising shift in medical treatments, offering more efficient and less invasive options. They also emphasize the role of big data and artificial intelligence in advancing microrobotics, providing insights for improving design and functionality, and enabling personalized medicine based on data-driven insights.
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