For most people, when you mention AI, they probably think of ChatGPT, Midjourney, camera filters, and chatbots like Siri or Google Assistant. Although these seem to be the main focus, artificial intelligence is being utilized in many other industries. The usefulness of AI lies in the fact that once trained with data sets, it can be employed to boost productivity and progress projects at an impressive rate. Now, we have another example of how AI can be helpful, as it has successfully discovered new antibiotics effective against MRSA and other infections.
Human beings have achieved remarkable advances in medicine, and we have substantially increased our life expectancy. The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was one of the first steps in modern medicine. Since then, hundreds of antibiotics and drugs have been discovered to treat the vast majority of diseases we may suffer from. Today, all it takes is a trip to the pharmacy to buy antibiotics or get a vaccine.
Researchers discovered antibiotics to combat MRSA
Researching and developing new medications is increasingly complicated, and for some diseases, significant computing power is required. The world’s fastest supercomputers are used to research diseases and how to fight them. When COVID-19 entered our lives, the Summit supercomputer found 77 potential drugs. As for cancer, we have been searching for new alternatives and ways to overcome it for decades.
Speaking of penicillin, some bacteria have become resistant to this drug. Specifically, a strain of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics such as methicillin. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is called MRSA. An MRSA infection can be life-threatening for a patient with a deep wound, as it can lead to nosocomial pneumonia, which can be fatal. Fortunately, Integrated Biosciences has discovered a new class of antibiotics capable of combating MRSA, all thanks to AI.
Antibiotics must undergo animal and human trials to see if they work
As we regularly use medications, new strains of bacteria and germs that can resist them eventually emerge. This is a problem for modern medicine, as it requires the creation of new antibiotics to combat these new strains. Generally, developing new drugs can take decades and cost billions of dollars. With artificial intelligence, this time and cost can be considerably reduced. Additionally, using AI will not only make it possible to tackle MRSA but also other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This AI model was trained to know which aspects of a molecule cause high antibacterial activity and toxicity. Instead of running tests in the laboratory that would take much longer, the model searched a massive dataset (12 million potential antibiotics) to determine viability. Although the theory suggests these antibiotics would be effective against MRSA, practical tests are still needed. As a result, animal testing and subsequent human trials are required if successful.
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