Scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover a new antibiotic that can kill one of the most deadly superbugs in the world. The new drug, called abaucin, could be a game-changer in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The researchers, from McMaster University in Canada and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, trained the AI to learn the chemical features of drugs that could attack Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacterium that can cause infections in wounds and lungs. The AI then scanned thousands of potential chemicals and produced a shortlist of nine candidates.Embed from Getty Images
One of them, abaucin, proved to be exceptionally potent in laboratory tests. It was able to treat infected wounds in mice and kill A. baumannii samples from patients. The bacterium is considered a “critical” threat by the World Health Organization, as it is often resistant to multiple antibiotics and can survive on surfaces and medical equipment.
“This is a really exciting discovery,” said Dr. Jonathan Stokes, from McMaster University, who led the study. “Abaucin is a completely new class of antibiotic that has never been seen before. It has a unique mechanism of action that allows it to penetrate the bacterial cell wall and disrupt its metabolism.”
The study, published in Nature Chemical Biology, is the latest example of how AI can accelerate the discovery of new drugs. The researchers say AI has the power to sift through vast amounts of data and identify promising compounds that would otherwise be overlooked by human scientists.Embed from Getty Images
However, they caution that abaucin is still an experimental drug that will need further tests before being used in humans. Dr. Stokes said: “This is when the work starts. We need to optimize the drug in the lab and then conduct clinical trials. We hope that the first AI antibiotics could be available by 2030.”
- Scientists use AI to find promising new antibiotic to fight evasive hospital superbug | Phys.org | May, 25, 2023
- AI helps identify new antibiotic than can kill one of three top ‘superbugs’ | Gulf News | May, 26, 2023
- New superbug-killing antibiotic discovered using AI | BBC News | May, 26, 2023