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Each year, 33,000 people die in the EU alone of infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Obtaining new antibiotics has been slow, but researchers from MIT in the US may have made a big breakthrough .
They have identified a new antibiotic substance, Halicin, which in laboratory tests has killed many of the bacterial types that are currently resistant to all antibiotic cures. Resistant bacteria have also disappeared in animal experiments when researchers introduced the new substance.
To find new antibiotics, the researchers developed an AI algorithm that, in just a few days, analyzed over a hundred million chemical compounds to see which showed signs of being able to act as antibiotics. The AI found 24 promising substances and the researchers intend to continue to test several other of the most encouraging samples.
The substances that the AI identified work differently than today's antibiotics. The more different methods we have to choose from, the less the risk that the bacteria can become resistant to all types of antibiotics.
When the researchers tested Halicin against E.coli bacteria, they found no resistance after 30 days. When they did the same test with the existing antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, the bacteria were 200 times more resistant to it after 30 days.
The researchers now intend to seek collaborative partners to develop Halicin into a real drug while testing the other candidates found by the AI. But perhaps the most interesting thing is that this indicates that AI can be used to suggest new drugs in all possible areas. We may be seeing an opportunity for a revolution in drug development.