The Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (J-Clinic) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made a ground-breaking discovery: a powerful new antibiotic, identified using a pioneering ‘deep learning’ algorithm.

Halicin, the first antibiotic to be discovered using Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods, can kill some of the world’s most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria. In the lab, the research team subjected halicin to dozens of bacterial strains, including some that are notoriously resistant to antibiotics such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii), and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb). In the petri dish test, halicin eradicated all the bacterial species tested, aside from one difficult lung pathogen.

The revolutionary computer model used to uncover halicin is specifically designed to identify potential antibiotics that kill bacteria using alternative techniques to those of existing drugs. With traditional methods for screening new antibiotics often prohibitively costly and laborious, the efficacy of this specially developed algorithm, which can screen more than a hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days, has the potential to make a profound impact on the landscape of global healthcare in future.

J-Clinic was founded in 2018 as a collaboration between Community Jameel and MIT, with the aim to revolutionize disease prevention, detection, and treatment through the development and utilization of AI technologies. With the discovery of halicin, less than two years since its inception, the Clinic is certainly on track to achieve its goal.

Commenting on the breakthrough announcement, Fady Jameel, President, International, Community Jameel, said:

“The world is in desperate need of new antibiotics to combat dangerous diseases, so it is hugely encouraging that the team at J-Clinic at MIT appears to have helped make a breakthrough in finding a genuinely new one using machine learning.

For decades, Community Jameel has been committed to supporting research that can help improve people’s lives. Combatting the risk from antibiotic-resistant infections, like tuberculosis, could have a profound impact on us all.”

Read the full article from MIT here.