Scientists discover powerful antibiotic using AI

The discovery of a powerful new antibiotic using AI by faculty leads at the MIT Jameel Clinic Regina Barzilay and Jim Collins has the potential to bring down the cost of antibiotic research and drug generation in the future. Named halicin, the new antibiotic was found by training an algorithm to analyse the structure of 2,500 drug compounds in order to identify the one with the most anti-bacterial qualities to kill E. coli.

"In terms of antibiotic discovery, this is absolutely a first," said Regina. "I think this is one of the more powerful antibiotics that has been discovered to date," added Jim. "We wanted to develop a platform that would allow us to harness the power of artificial intelligence to usher in a new age of antibiotic drug discovery."


In a world first, scientists have discovered a new type of antibiotic using artificial intelligence (AI).

It has been heralded by experts as a major breakthrough in the fight against the growing problem of drug resistance.

A powerful algorithm was used to analyse more than one hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days.

The newly discovered compound was able to kill 35 types of potentially deadly bacteria, said researchers.

Antibiotic-resistant infections have risen in recent years - up 9% in England between 2017 and 2018, to nearly 61,000.

If antibiotics are taken inappropriately, harmful bacteria living inside the body can become resistant to them, which means the medicines may not work when really needed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the phenomenon "one of the biggest threats to global health security and development today".