Researchers discover new natural antibiotics with AI assistance

Through the use of artificial intelligence, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have managed to identify almost a million antimicrobial peptides that could help in bacterial resistance

A study recently published in Cell reports the discovery of almost a million antimicrobial peptides by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, with the help of artificial intelligence.

According to the study, the researchers detected 863,498 promising antimicrobial peptides, of which 90 % had never been described before.

These are small molecules present in nature that can kill or inhibit the growth of infectious microbes and would allow progress in the field of bacterial resistance, which kills around 1.27 million annually.

This was highlighted by researcher Luis Pedro Coelho, one of the participants in the study, who added that by 2050 antimicrobial resistance could be the cause of death of ten million people if intervention is not made in time.

Artificial intelligence is an ally in this sense, since it has made it possible to analyze more than 60,000 metagenomes (a collection of genomes within a specific environment) that, together, contained the genetic composition of more than one million organisms. “They came from sources around the world, including marine and soil environments, and human and animal intestines.”

The team of researchers used this technology and “verified the predictions by testing 100 laboratory-made peptides against clinically significant pathogens.” They managed to discover that 79 altered bacterial membranes; On the other hand, 63 specifically attacked antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

In some tests, these molecules showed effectiveness against bacteria at very low doses, according to reports from the University of Pennsylvania (USA).

It should be noted that the scientists carried out tests using a preclinical model, tested in infected mice. Treatment with peptics yielded “results similar to the effects of polymyxin B, a commercial antibiotic used to treat meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, and urinary tract infections.”

The contribution of artificial intelligence in the discovery of antibiotics has been highly valued by researchers, who see high potential in the technology to discover new drug candidates.


Source: DW

(Reference image source: CDC in Unsplash)

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