According to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, a group of scientists from McMaster University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a new antibiotic that can be used to kill a deadly supervirus.
The superbug in question is Acinetobacter baumannii, which the World Health Organization has classified as a “critical” threat among its “prior pathogens.”
This pathogen is a family of bacteria that pose the “greatest threat” to human health.
According to the World Health Organization, bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and are able to pass on genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug resistant.
A baumannii poses a threat to hospitals, nursing homes, and patients who need a ventilator and blood catheter, and those with open wounds from surgeries.
Bacteria can live for long periods in environmental services and shared equipment and can often be spread by hands.
A baumannii can cause infections in the urinary tract and lungs in addition to blood infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacteria can “colonize” or live in a patient without causing infection or symptoms.
Thursday’s study revealed that the researchers used an artificial intelligence algorithm to screen for thousands of antibacterial molecules in an attempt to predict new structural classes.
As a result of the AI scanning, the researchers were able to identify a new antibacterial compound they named abaucin.
“We had a lot of data telling us which chemicals could kill a group of bacteria and which couldn’t,” said Gary Liu, a graduate student at MacMaster University. “My job was to train this model, and all it would do was essentially tell us whether new molecules would have antibacterial properties.” said.
After the scientists trained the AI model, they used it to analyze 6,680 compounds they had not encountered before.
The analysis took an hour and a half and then produced several hundred compounds, 240 of which were tested in a laboratory.
Lab tests eventually revealed nine potential antibiotics, including abaucin.