AI technology, AI machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) is a simulation of human intelligence in machines. These machines are programmed to work like humans and mimic their actions. AI, per se, offers a lot of advantages. Recently, researchers utilized it to identify a powerful new antibiotic that can kill the most powerful bacteria.
How AI Technology Played the Part in Discovering Novel Antibiotic?
In a study published in Cell, researchers identified the compound that could remove strains of bacteria in mice. These bacteria are said to fight or resistant to known antibiotics.
A team of scientists from MIT identified the powerful antibiotic through the use of AI machine learning that scanned a database full of chemical compounds to find the ones that could kill bacteria effectively.
But this powerful antibiotic is using different mechanisms. They are different from the drugs that are currently available.
First Time in Using Artificial Intelligence
The researchers stated that this is the first time AI technology has been used in discovering new antibiotics.
They developed a platform that allowed them to use AI technology to find a new way of discovering new antibiotics.
This approach allowed them to identify the amazing molecule that could be touted as a powerful antibiotic.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
It is a common problem that enables bacteria to withstand antibiotic effects. This is a type of drug resistance that can be the result of a natural selection via random mutation or engineered through the application of stress.
If the bacterium has resistance genes, it is called superbug.
There are several factors bacteria developed antibiotic resistance. These would include incorrect diagnosis, improper use of antibiotics and the utilization of antibiotics in food additives, among others.
In the recent discovery, the drug could eliminate several antibiotic-resistance bacteria. These would include Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter baumannii.
They are strains of bacteria that the WHO considered as critical for the new antibiotics to target.
The need for new antibiotics that could eliminate these bacteria could help reduce the risk of millions of lives per year.
The researchers trained the AI machine learning algorithm in finding the molecules that could bacteria. They placed program information on the features of more than 2,000 drugs.
After the algorithm learned the features for good antibiotics, the researchers worked on a library of over 6,000 compounds. These are compounds under investigation to treat different human diseases.
The artificial intelligence focused on compounds that are effective but not like the existing drugs. With this approach, scientists have higher chances of developing drugs that could work in new ways that bacteria have not developed resistance yet.
What is Halicin?
The AI technology took hours to assess the compounds before it came up with promising drugs. One of those compounds is the halicin. It is taken from Hal, the astronaut AI in the Space Odyssey film.
The researchers treated those drug-resistance bacteria with halicin. Bacterial tests from patients showed the drug killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It also eliminated Enterobacteriaceae strains that developed resistance to carbapenems.
The new drug also killed Clostridium difficile and Acinetobacter baumanii infections mice.
The scientists want to conduct further studies on halicin and work with a nonprofit organization to develop this drug to be used in humans.
Other Potential Drugs
The researchers also utilized their AI technology model to screen over 100 billion molecules from the ZINC15 database. It is a database that collects around 1.5 billion chemical compounds.
The screening took three days and it identified 23 potential drugs. These drugs have no similarities from existing antibiotics. They are also known to be non-toxic to human cells.
They are planning to utilize AI technology in designing new drugs and optimizing current molecules.
They could train the AI machine learning to put features that could create an antibiotic that will only target certain bacteria. In that way, it could prevent the elimination of those beneficial bacteria in a digestive tract.
Remarkable Discovery through Computer-Aided Drug Design
This is truly remarkable. The approach emphasizes the use of artificial intelligence in drug discovery.
Without this algorithm, the scientists had no way to test all 100 million compounds for antibiotic activity.
This method allows scientists to use AI machine learning in all stages of developing antibiotics. That is, they can utilize it in discovery, improve the efficiency of the drug and toxicity by modifying the drugs and chemistry.
As regards to the halicin’s availability, it could still take months of study to find out its toxicity in humans. After that, scientists will continue to conduct phases of clinical trials to confirm the drug’s safety and efficacy.
AI Technology Application is Endless
This discovery is a validation that the applications of AI machine learning are endless. This technology could be applied to different sectors. In that case, when you think about AI, do not assume that it is about robots wreaking havoc on Earth.
AI technology has a lot to offer in various sectors. Although it has many advantages, it also comes with some disadvantages. For instance, some people fear that it may impact human employment.
But if we consider how AI technology helped these scientists in discovering a new drug that could have the potential to kill superbugs, then AI machine learning is truly remarkable.