A superbug, Acinetobacter Baumannii, is one of the most problematic species of bacteria that can infect wounds and cause pneumonia. It is important to note that the World Health Organization is cautioning healthcare industries that this bug is a critical threat to the public.
Why is this bacterium dangerous?
Despite the various antibiotics scientists have tried to use to kill the bacteria, the bug can often bypass the antibiotics. This causes concerns in hospitals where it can survive on medical tools, equipment, and surfaces. Doctors describe the bug as “public enemy number one,” and it is said to be resistant to nearly every antibiotic.
This is where artificial intelligence comes in.
As the superbug became more problematic, scientists began to work with artificial intelligence to discover a new antibiotic- and with a lot of training and studying, AI was able to find a new antibiotic that kills this bug.
Researchers first had to train the AI tool to find a new antibiotic. It is stated that researchers tested “thousands of drugs where the precise chemical structure was known, and manually tested them on Acinetobacter Baumannii to see which could slow it down or kill it” (BBC). This data was then given to the AI tool for it to learn the chemical features of drugs that could possibly kill the bacteria. After about half an hour of narrowing down over 6,500 compounds, the AI tool produced a short list of possible chemicals.
Researchers then tested out 240 possible chemicals that could kill the bug. With thorough testing, they came up with nine possibilities. One of them, called Abaucin, was potent as an antibiotic, had no effect on other bacterial bugs, and only worked for A. Baumannii specifically. The next step for this experiment is to perfect the antibiotic and perform trials on it.
Why is this AI experiment good news?
This experiment brings great promise in massively accelerating the discovery of new drugs. As viruses and bacteria evolve, they become more resistant to our antibiotics, and it is harder to create new medicines effectively and timely. Now that artificial intelligence has become more involved in the healthcare industry; AI will help to find solutions to combat bacteria and save lives.
Infiniwiz will continue to update you on important news as Artificial Intelligence becomes more prominent in the health industry.
Check out our additional article on how AI is assisting the healthcare industry.