• Saturday, June 15, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Scientists discover superbug antibiotic ‘abaucin’ using AI

Scientists discover superbug antibiotic ‘abaucin’ using AI

Scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover a new antibiotic that can kill a deadly species of superbug.

The AI helped narrow down thousands of potential chemicals to a handful that could be tested in the laboratory, according to the BBC.

The result was a potent, experimental antibiotic called ‘abaucin’, which will need further tests before being used.

The researchers in Canada and the US say AI has the power to massively accelerate the discovery of new drugs.

It is the latest example of how the tools of artificial intelligence can be a revolutionary force in science and medicine.

Read also: Technology, data, consumer behaviour driving future of marketing Experts

Antibiotics kill bacteria. However, there has been a lack of new drugs for decades and bacteria are becoming harder to treat, as they evolve resistance to the ones we have.

More than a million people a year are estimated to die from infections that resist treatment with antibiotics.

The researchers focused on one of the most problematic species of bacteria – Acinetobacter baumannii, which can infect wounds and cause pneumonia.

You may not have heard of it, but it is one of the three superbugs the World Health Organisation has identified as a critical threat.

It is often able to shrug off multiple antibiotics and is a problem in hospitals and care homes, where it can survive on surfaces and medical equipment.

Dr Jonathan Stokes, from McMaster University, describes the bug as “public enemy number one” as it’s “really common” to find cases where it is “resistant to nearly every antibiotic”.