A powerful new antibiotic has been discovered thanks to artificial intelligence.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used a machine-learning algorithm to discover a new antibiotic compound which is effective against many of the world’s most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to treatment including C. difficile, Acinetobacter baumannii and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The computer model can screen more than a hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days, identifying potential antibiotics that kill bacteria using different mechanisms than those of existing drugs.
Very few new antibiotics have been developed in recent decades, and most newly approved antibiotics are slightly different variants of existing drugs. What’s more, current methods for screening new antibiotics are often prohibitively costly, require a significant time investment, and are usually limited to a narrow spectrum of chemical diversity.
“We wanted to develop a platform that would allow us to harness the power of artificial intelligence to usher in a new age of antibiotic drug discovery,” said James Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering. “Our approach revealed this amazing molecule which is arguably one of the more powerful antibiotics that has been discovered.”
In the study, the researchers also identified several other promising antibiotic candidates, which they plan to test further. They believe the model could also be used to design new drugs, based on what it has learned about chemical structures that enable drugs to kill bacteria.
The findings have been published in the journal Cell.
AI has huge potential in a whole range of industries and next-generation internet connectivity will enable AI tools to respond immediately to real-time data. To learn more about how businesses will benefit from AI and other connected technologies, download your free copy of our Next-generation connectivity report.