Scientists Discover New Antibiotic via AI Algorithm that Targets Drug-Resistant Bacteria


Discovering a new antibiotic is always good news but when it comes to combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it’s even better. The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has elicited concern among scientists. MIT and McMaster University researchers have now discovered a potential antibiotic that can combat one such bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii. The best part? The researchers utilized AI to do so. Here’s a summary of how they did it and what it means for the fight against drug resistance.

Using AI to Identify Novel Antibiotics

The researchers utilized an AI algorithm to evaluate close to 7,000 chemical compounds to identify one that inhibits the growth of Acinetobacter baumannii. This particular bacterium is notorious for causing severe infections such as pneumonia and meningitis. The researchers also tested the algorithm on E.coli, yielding a molecule called halicin, which could kill multiple bacterial species that resist conventional treatment.

Testing the AI Model

The team exposed the Acinetobacter baumannii species to various chemical compounds and analyzed the inhibitory effects of those compounds using their AI algorithm. This process enabled the algorithm to recognize specific features that were associated with growth inhibition and helped it identify several hundred top candidates. To test these candidates in the laboratory, the team selected and analyzed 240 compounds prioritizing those with structurally distinct properties from existing antibiotics.

The Discovery of A Powerful Antibiotic

Their research led them to discover nine potential antibiotics. One compound, in particular, which they’d originally investigated as a diabetes drug, effectively killed Acinetobacter baumannii and demonstrated broad-spectrum activity. They named the potent antibiotic abaucin and confirmed its efficacy in treating Acinetobacter baumannii wound infections in mice.

What’s Next?

The researchers are now collaborating with McMaster University to optimize abaucin’s medicinal properties for potential use in patients. They’re also planning to apply their AI modeling approach to identify potential antibiotics for other drug-resistant infections caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The successful application of AI in identifying a novel antibiotic highlights its potential to accelerate and expand the search for effective treatments against drug-resistant bacteria. This research addresses the urgent need for new antibiotics and demonstrates the power of AI in revolutionizing the field of drug discovery. It’s a promising step in the right direction in the fight against antibiotic resistance – a cause for concern that threatens global health.

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