Researchers from the University of Warsaw and the Medical University of Gdansk have developed an innovative artificial intelligence model that generates antibiotics. The results of their research were published in the journal Nature Communications.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), treatment-resistant infections pose a serious health and economic threat. The number of antibiotic-resistant infections and the bacterial strains that cause these infections are increasing. At the same time, there has been a decline in the effectiveness of used antibiotics. The WHO notes that no new class of antibiotics has been developed for more than thirty years, which could result in the loss of any effective method of combating antibiotic-resistant infections.
Compounds known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been studied for a century. They are produced by both bacteria and mammals, including humans. AMPs are designed to protect the body from the harmful effects of pathogens. AMPs have a key feature – bacteria are extremely slow to acquire resistance to them. However, among the thousands of peptides discovered, it has not yet been possible to find one that is superior to conventional antibiotics in treating bacterial infections.
The untapped potential of AMPs has attracted the attention of researchers from the University of Warsaw and the Medical University of Gdansk, who have developed HydrAMP – a new artificial intelligence model based on variational autoencoders.
By combining known sequences and their activity data, HydrAMP is able to generate hundreds of new sequences, significantly increasing the chances of finding exceptionally effective peptides. HydrAMP can also improve existing peptides by making changes to their sequence. For example, it can increase the antimicrobial activity of a peptide that was not showing sufficient efficacy.