Scientists in Canada and them USAtaking advantage of its potential artificial intelligence (AI)they discovered a new one antibiotic who is able to face one deadly species of superbug.
In particular, they isolated themselves thousands of possible chemicals, which were tested in the laboratory. The result was a powerful, experimental antibiotic called abaucinwhich, according to the BBC, will need a series of additional tests before it can be used.
Researchers say artificial intelligence has the power to massively speed up new drug discovery.
Brake on the super germs
Antibiotics may kill bacteria, but there has been a lack of new drugs for decades, making bacteria increasingly difficult to treat as they develop resistance.
More than a million people a year are estimated to die from antibiotic-resistant infections.
The researchers focused on one of the most problematic types of bacteria: The Acinetobacter baumanniiwhich can cause pneumonia.
It is one of the three supermicrobacteria, which World Health Organisation has recognized as “critical” threat and often manages to escape the defenses offered by a range of antibiotics, causing a problem in hospitals and nursing homes, where it can survive on surfaces and medical equipment.
THE Dr Jonathan Stokesfrom McMaster University, characterized this bacterium as “number one public danger”.
To find a new antibiotic, researchers first had to “train” the AI about it. They took thousands of drugs, whose exact chemical structure was known, and manually tested them on the Acinetobacter baumannii to see which one could slow it down or kill it.
This information was fed to the AI so it could learn the chemical characteristics of drugs that could hit the bacterium. The AI then made a list 6,680 compounds whose effectiveness was unknown.
The results – published in Nature Chemical Biology– showed that the artificial intelligence took an hour and a half to generate the list. The researchers after a series of tests, came to nine possible antibiotics. One of them was the powerful antibiotic abaucin.
Laboratory experiments showed that this antibiotic could cure infected mice while being able to kill specimens Acinetobacter baumannii from patients.
The next step is to perfect the drug in the lab and then run clinical trials.
Scientists estimate that the first artificial intelligence antibiotics will be available for prescription until 2030.
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