Artificial intelligence helps scientists fight superbug and breast cancer | Scientific and technical news

Research on certain diseases is progressing faster thanks to artificial intelligence.

Friday, May 26, 2023 1:49 a.m., United Kingdom

Artificial intelligence has been used to identify a new antibiotic capable of killing a type of bacteria responsible for many drug-resistant infections.

The new antibiotic was identified by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McMaster University from a library of nearly 7,000 potential drug compounds.

The researchers used a machine learning model they had trained to assess whether a chemical compound would inhibit the growth of acinetobacter baumannii.

James Collins, of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Department of Biological Engineering, said the research supports the idea that “AI can dramatically accelerate and expand our search for new antibiotics.”

“I am delighted that this work shows that we can use AI to help combat problematic pathogens such as acinetobacter baumannii.”

Acinetobacter baumannii is often found in hospitals and can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious illnesses.

Jonathan Stokes, assistant professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, said acinetobacter can survive on doorknobs and hospital equipment for long periods of time and can absorb resistance genes. antibiotics from its environment.

“It is now very common to find Acinetobacter baumannii isolates resistant to almost all antibiotics.”

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The researchers plan to use their modeling to identify potential antibiotics for other types of drug-resistant infections and hope that such compounds will be developed for use in patients.

Their research is published in Nature Chemical Biology.

Artificial intelligence is also being used in the fight against breast cancer, helping scientists develop a model that could predict whether an aggressive branch of the disease will spread.

The AI ​​model detects changes in the lymph nodes of women with triple negative breast cancer – one of the first places breast cancer often spreads is the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side, and in these cases, patients will likely require more intensive treatment.

Dr Anita Grigoriadis, who led the research at the Breast Cancer Now Unit at King’s College London, said the development would give doctors “another tool in their arsenal to help prevent secondary breast cancer”.

She said: “By demonstrating that changes in the lymph nodes can predict whether triple-negative breast cancer will spread, we have built on our growing knowledge of the important role the immune response can play in understanding the prognosis of a patient.”

The researchers tested their AI model on more than 5,000 lymph nodes donated by 345 patients to biobanks, and the model was then able to establish the likelihood of breast cancer spreading by analyzing the immune response.

Around 15% of all breast cancers in the UK are triple negative and account for around 25% of breast cancer deaths.

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