A new antibiotic against superbugs thanks to artificial intelligence

A research group from the United States has made an exciting discovery in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria. Using artificial intelligence (AI), they found a new type of antibiotic capable of fighting a dangerous superbug. This finding could have a significant impact on the development of personalized antibiotics to treat other resistant pathogens.

The study, published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, focused on the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii, a superbug present in hospitals that adheres to surfaces and is resistant to many medical treatments. The bacterium is capable of acquiring genes that help it resist drugs, making it a major health threat.

The scientific team tested the antibiotic on the skin of mice experimentally infected with the superbug, managing to control its growth. This suggests that the method could be adapted to create effective antibiotics against other resistant pathogens. In addition, the drug worked on all resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, although it still needs to be refined and tested in clinical trials before use in humans.

Most notably, the compound identified by the AI only blocks the offending pathogen, without affecting the beneficial bacteria present in the gut or on the skin. This makes it a unique and limited-acting but promising agent in the fight against bacterial resistance.

To find the new antibiotic, the research group used a technique called high-throughput drug screening and exposed the bacteria to more than 7,500 agents. They then used AI to analyze thousands of molecules and narrow the search down to 240 chemicals, which were tested in the lab. Ultimately, they identified a compound called RS102895, which they named “abaucin,” which proved effective against the superbug.

RS102895 works in a unique way, blocking the movement of bacterial components from inside the cell to its surface. Unlike most broad-spectrum antibiotics, this compound only works against Acinetobacter baumannii, thus reducing the spread of bacterial resistance.

This discovery represents an exciting breakthrough in the fight against superbugs and highlights the potential of artificial intelligence in the search for new drugs. With further research and clinical trials, this new antibiotic could become a vital tool in fighting resistant pathogens and protecting public health.


Superbugs. Image generated by Artificial Intelligence