Scientists use AI model to identify new antibiotic

In a world first, scientists have discovered a new type of antibiotic using artificial intelligence (AI).
It has been heralded by experts as a major breakthrough in the fight against the growing problem of drug resistance.
A powerful algorithm was used to analyse more than one hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days.
The newly discovered compound was able to kill 35 types of potentially deadly bacteria, said researchers.
Antibiotic-resistant infections have risen in recent years — up 9 per cent in England between 2017 and 2018, to nearly 61,000.
If antibiotics are taken inappropriately, harmful bacteria living inside the body can become resistant to them, which means the medicines may not work when really needed.
“In terms of antibiotic discovery, this is absolutely a first,” said Regina Barzilay, a senior researcher on the project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The discovery was made using an algorithm inspired by the architecture of the human brain.
Scientists trained it to analyse the structure of 2,500 drugs and other compounds to find those with the most anti-bacterial qualities that could kill E. coli.
They then selected around 100 candidates for physical testing before discovering halicin.
“I think this is one of the more powerful antibiotics that has been discovered to date,” said James Collins, a bioengineer on the team at MIT.