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Source: The post is based on the article “How researchers used AI to find an antibiotic against a superbug” published in the Indian Express on 7th June 2023
What is the News?
Recently, Scientists from the United States and Canada have used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to discover a powerful antibiotic called Abaucin capable of fighting Acinetobacter baumannii superbug. This breakthrough holds immense promise in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.
What is Acinetobacter Baumannii?
As identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), Acinetobacter baumannii is a dangerous bacterium resistant to antibiotics. Due to its remarkable capacity to develop resistance to all currently available antibiotics, it was recognised as a “red alert” human pathogen.
Infections: It can cause severe infections like pneumonia, meningitis, and wound infections, leading to fatalities.
Sources: Typically found in hospitals, Acinetobacter baumannii can survive on surfaces for long periods, making it difficult to eradicate.
Significance: Due to its remarkable capacity to develop resistance to all currently available antibiotics, it was recognised as a “red alert” human pathogen.
What is Antibiotic resistance?
|Must read: Antibiotic Resistance|
What is Abaucin?
It is a compound that shows useful activity as a narrow-spectrum antibiotic. It is effective against Acinetobacter baumannii.
Working principle: It disrupts the normal function of the CCR2 protein in bacteria. This disruption hinders the movement of certain molecules inside the bacteria, preventing them from reaching the outer membrane. As a result, the growth of Acinetobacter baumannii is inhibited, reducing its ability to cause infections.
How AI discovered Abaucin?
Abaucin was discovered with the assistance of AI using a machine-learning model approach. Network was trained with a dataset of ~7,500 molecules screened for inhibiting Acinetobacter baumannii growth.
The network predicted structurally different molecules with activity against A. baumannii, including abaucin. Abaucin was experimentally validated and found to have potent antibacterial activity.
Note: The tests with AI yielded nine antibiotics, including abaucin.