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A powerful antibiotic discovered using AI

In a world-first, a powerful antibiotic that kills some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world has been discovered using artificial intelligence.

Using a machine-learning algorithm, MIT researchers have identified a powerful new antibiotic compound.

In laboratory tests, the drug killed many of the world’s most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics.

It also cleared infections in two different mouse models.

In their new 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.

“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,” says 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.”

Over the past few decades, very few new antibiotics have been developed, and most of those newly approved antibiotics are slightly different variants of existing drugs. 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’re facing a growing crisis around antibiotic resistance, and this situation is being generated by both an increasing number of pathogens becoming resistant to existing antibiotics, and an anemic pipeline in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries for new antibiotics,” Collins says.

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