An AI algorithm just discovered entirely new antibiotics

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(Caroline Delbert/ Popular Mechanics) — Researchers at MIT have used brute-force computer power and artificial intelligence to identify a potentially game-changing new antibiotic medication. Using machine learning to comb through millions of options can help scientists think outside the box both chemically and financially.

This idea has floated in the public imagination for a while—that a computer algorithm could pick out which medications work against which pathogens. But just recently, scientists have finally developed neural networks that can fully contextualize what molecules do and don’t work against.

“In this case, the researchers designed their model to look for chemical features that make molecules effective at killing E. coli,” MIT wrote in a statement. “To do so, they trained the model on about 2,500 molecules, including about 1,700 FDA-approved drugs and a set of 800 natural products with diverse structures and a wide range of bioactivities.” (…)

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