Artificial intelligence, along with blockchain and the Internet of Things, is among the most advanced computer technologies, having the potential to constitute a radical transformation of the way humanity evolves in the twenty-first century.
During the last few decades, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms have successfully managed to reach beyond the pages of science fiction. They have become a vital part of our everyday lives as users and consumers. The sophistication of various products and services, however, is by far not the most significant way in which artificial intelligence alters reality as we know it. The recent employment of AI in the scientific and research fields deliver excellent results, some of which are unquestionably groundbreaking.
The most recent case of a significant scientific breakthrough achieved thanks to artificial intelligence is in the field of pharmacy. Recently, an AI algorithm has identified a group of entirely new antibiotics, which had been undiscovered until now.
The "Comb sort," which served as a base for the experiment, is a comparatively simple sorting algorithm, initially designed in 1980. Forty years later, it contributes to identifying a new and promising antibiotic molecule called halicin.
The researchers who ran the project have designed their model so that, with the help of artificial intelligence, it will look for chemical characteristics that make the molecules effective in killing the bacterium of Escherichia coli. To make this possible, the program has been "trained" on over 2,500 types of molecules, including about 1,700 drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and a set of 800 natural products with diverse composition and a broad range of bioactivity. Then, they let the algorithm do its calculations in a database of 6,000 chemical compounds known up to date.
The result happened to be quite explicit - AI brought a somewhat "unusual" suspect to their attention - halicin. Researchers claim that the properties of halicin had previously been tested in relation to diabetes treatments. However, additional experiments following the discovery of the algorithm, pointed out that halicin performs flawlessly when dealing with various types of bacteria and pathogens. In the course of work, it has been found that this new antibiotic is also relatively non-toxic to human cells, unlike many other medicines used in medical practice today.
In addition to the ongoing research on halicin, the team adopted the AI model and identified 23 other molecules that are believed to have similar antibiotic properties.
A discovery of such nature has the potential to bring about radical transformations in the fields of medicine and pharmacy, as well as the way pathogens considered previously incurable, are being treated. The truth is that artificial intelligence is still yet to mature as a crucial factor in the scientific field, and it's probably going to deliver bigger surprises that are just waiting around the corner.
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