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Using AI, researchers identify a new class of antibiotic candidates that can kill a drug-resistant bacterium

Date: 29.12.2023 

Using a type of artificial intelligence known as deep learning, MIT researchers have discovered a class of compounds that can kill a drug-resistant bacterium that causes more than 10,000 deaths in the United States every year.

Kredit: NIAID.In a study appearing in Nature, the researchers showed that these compounds could kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) grown in a lab dish and in two mouse models of MRSA infection. The compounds also show very low toxicity against human cells, making them particularly good drug candidates.

A key innovation of the new study is that the researchers were also able to figure out what kinds of information the deep-learning model was using to make its antibiotic potency predictions. This knowledge could help researchers to design additional drugs that might work even better than the ones identified by the model.

Researchers screened about 12 million compounds, all of which are commercially available. From this collection, the models identified compounds from five different classes, based on chemical substructures within the molecules, that were predicted to be active against MRSA.

The researchers purchased about 280 compounds and tested them against MRSA grown in a lab dish, allowing them to identify two, from the same class, that appeared to be very promising antibiotic candidates. In tests in two mouse models, one of MRSA skin infection and one of MRSA systemic infection, each of those compounds reduced the MRSA population by a factor of 10.

Image source: NIAID.




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