Using an artificial intelligence algorithm, researchers at MIT and McMaster University (Canada) have identified a new antibiotic that can kill a type of bacteria that is responsible for many drug-resistant infections. If developed for use in patients, the drug could help to combat Acinetobacter baumannii, a species of bacteria that is often found in hospitals and can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infections. The microbe is also a leading cause of infections in wounded soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Acinetobacter can survive on hospital doorknobs and equipment for long periods of time, and it can take up antibiotic resistance genes from its environment. It’s really common now to find A. baumannii isolates that are resistant to nearly every antibiotic,” says Jonathan Stokes, PhD, a former MIT postdoc who is now an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. The researchers identified the new drug from a library of nearly 7,000 potential drug compounds using a machine-learning model that they trained to evaluate whether a chemical compound will inhibit the growth of A. baumannii.
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