FEB 21, 2020 8:33 AM PST

New Antibiotics Found Using AI Technology

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Using AI, researchers at MIT have found a powerful new antibiotic capable of killing some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria known to man. 

Current methods for identifying antibiotics are both extremely costly, take a lot of time, and are typically limited to a narrow range of chemical diversity. To resolve this issue, researchers at MIT developed a machine-learning computer model capable of examining molecular structures of compounds to see whether they may be able to kill certain bacteria. 

To do this, they first trained a deep learning algorithm to recognize different types of molecules that kill bacteria by feeding it information on the atomic and molecular characteristics of almost 2,500 drugs and natural compounds. Alongside this, they added data on how well or not each substance prevented the growth of E coli. Bacteria. 

Following this, the scientists then used the algorithm to analyze over 6,000 compounds currently under investigation for treating various human diseases. Instead of looking for potential antimicrobials however, they instead focused the algorithm to find compounds that seemed effective, but did not resemble current antibiotics. In doing so, they wanted to find drug candidates capable of counteracting antibiotic resistance. 

Within just a few hours, the algorithm managed to find a promising antibiotic candidate: halicin, named after Hal, the astronaut-bothering AI in the 2001: A Space Odyssey. Testing the molecule on mice, the researchers noticed that it effectively ousted the gastrointestinal bug Clostridium difficile (C. diff), often the cause of fatal infections among hospitalized patients, as well as another antibiotic resistant bug, called Acinetobacter baumannii, known to cause infections in the blood, urinary tract and lungs. 

More than this, the scientists also tested halicin on bacteria collected from patients. In doing so, they found it also worked against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria behind TB, and strains of Enterobacteriaceae, often responsible for diarrhoeal diseases. 

After this, the researchers set the algorithm on 107 million compounds from a database of 1.5 billion. WIthin three days, it managed to shortlist 23 potential antibiotics, from which two appear to be particularly useful. 

Now intending to search more of the database for possible drug candidates, the researchers hope they can find antibiotics that are more selective in the bacteria they kill; only killing infectious bugs, as opposed to healthy bacteria that live in the gut too. More than this, the researchers also hope that such computer models may soon be used to design new antibiotics from scratch. 

 


Sources: The Guardian, MIT News and The Conversation 

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
MAY 04, 2021
Immunology
One Vaccine to Rule Them All
MAY 04, 2021
One Vaccine to Rule Them All
There are currently five variants of concern in the U.S., genetically distinct forms of the COVID-causing coronavirus th ...
MAY 06, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
New CBD Analog Outperforms Regular CBD for Pain Relief
MAY 06, 2021
New CBD Analog Outperforms Regular CBD for Pain Relief
Researchers from Temple University Health System have found that a novel cannabidiol (CBD) analog can reverse pain sensi ...
MAY 12, 2021
Technology
Belkin Laser Completes Enrollment for Trial Studying New Glaucoma Laser Treatment
MAY 12, 2021
Belkin Laser Completes Enrollment for Trial Studying New Glaucoma Laser Treatment
Belkin Laser, a small Israel-based biotechnology company, has announced that it has completed enrollment for its pivotal ...
MAY 17, 2021
Immunology
Understanding Inflammation: A Faster, Easier Way to Detect Cytokines in Cells
MAY 17, 2021
Understanding Inflammation: A Faster, Easier Way to Detect Cytokines in Cells
Inflammation, a process that was meant to defend our body from infection, has been found to contribute to a wide range o ...
JUN 04, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Stem Cell Transplants May Treat Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
JUN 04, 2021
Stem Cell Transplants May Treat Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers at the Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology in Hanoi, Vietnam have found that stem cel ...
JUN 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
New Drug Prevents Dementia After Head Injury
JUN 09, 2021
New Drug Prevents Dementia After Head Injury
Researchers led by the University of South Australia have identified a new drug that may be able to help prevent athlete ...
Loading Comments...