LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. and Canadian scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover a new antibiotic that can kill a deadly superbug.
According to new research published today in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, a group of scientists from McMaster University in Canada and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States discovered that Antibiotics to kill deadly superbugs.
The superbug, Acinetobacter baumannii, is classified as a “significant” threat by the World Health Organization (WHO) on its list of “priority pathogens.” “Priority pathogens” are families of bacteria that pose the “greatest threat” to human health.
The bacteria are inherently able to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass on genetic material that makes other bacteria resistant, the WHO said.
Acinetobacter baumannii poses a threat to healthcare facilities, nursing facilities, patients requiring ventilators and blood catheters, and people with open wounds from surgery.
The bacteria can survive for long periods of time in environmental services and shared equipment, and can be transmitted through contaminated hands. In addition to bloodstream infections, Acinetobacter baumannii can also cause urinary tract and lung infections.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Acinetobacter baumannii can also “colonize,” or survive, in patients without causing infection or symptoms.
The results of the study published today show that the researchers used AI algorithms to screen thousands of antibacterial molecules in an attempt to predict new structural classes, the British “Guardian” reported. The results showed that the researchers were able to identify a new antibacterial compound, which they named abaucin.
The scientists then tried the new molecule against Acinetobacter baumannii in a mouse model of wound infection and found that it inhibited infection.
“This work validates the benefits of machine learning in finding new antibiotics,” said Jonathan Stokes, an assistant professor in McMaster’s Department of Biomedicine and Biochemistry who helped lead the research.
“With AI, we can rapidly explore vast chemical fields and greatly increase the chances of discovering new antimicrobial molecules,” he said.