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Antibiotics

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NIH

Lawrence A. Tabak, who is currently performing the duties of the NIH Director, spotlights a new study by Prof. James Collins and his colleagues aimed at exploring the potential of AI to streamline the process of selecting new antibiotics. “In future studies, the Collins lab will continue to incorporate and train the computers on even more biochemical and biophysical data to help with the predictive process," Tabak writes. "That’s why this study should be interpreted as an interim progress report on an area of science that will only get better with time.”

Gizmodo

Scientists from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a plant-based gel that can be used to deliver effective doses of antimicrobial drugs around the world, reports Ed Cara for Gizmodo. The gels “can be produced cheaply and combined with edible materials like beeswax to create different textures and viscosity, ranging from something like a protein shake to yogurt,” writes Cara.

CNET

Researchers at MIT worked with colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to develop a gel that could deliver drugs that typically come in pill form. “The work involved testing gel formulations with trained food tasters who found that the most appealing versions were made from cottonseed oil (neutral flavor) or sesame oil (nutty flavor),” reports Amanda Kooser for CNET.

FiercePharma

FiercePharma’s Nick Paul Taylor writes about a new drug delivery gel developed by researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Our system is an oil-based system gel, which makes it compatible with most drugs,” says visiting scientist Ameya Kirtane. “This enables the formulation of drugs that were not available in semi-solid or liquid dosage forms and allows patients, especially children, to more easily take their medicine.”

Boston.com

MIT researchers have developed a new drug-delivering gel that could make it easier for children and adults to swallow their medicine, reports Gwen Egan for Boston.com. The gel could be made in a variety of different textures and can be stored without refrigeration.

CBS Boston

Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a gel that can be mixed into medicine to make it easier to swallow, reports CBS Boston. “The gel is made out of plant-based oils and doesn’t have to be refrigerated,” says CBS Boston.  “The hope is that it can one day be used to help children and adults who have trouble swallowing pills.”

Scientific American

Prof. Peter Dedon discusses his research investigating how scientists can make new antibiotics by inserting “engineered genes into spots along the bacterial genome that optimize protein production,” writes Carrie Arnold for Scientific American. “There’s great potential there,” Dedon says. “There’s a whole new world of antibiotic targets.”

Boston 25 News

Prof. James Collins speaks with Boston 25 reporter Julianne Lima about the growing issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria and his work using AI to identify new antibiotics. Collins explains that a new platform he developed with Prof. Regina Barzilay uncovered “a host of new antibiotics including one that we call halicin that has remarkable activity against multi drug-resistant pathogens.”

The Wall Street Journal

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence has awarded Prof. Regina Barzilay a $1 million prize for her work advancing the use of AI in medicine, reports John McCormick for The Wall Street Journal. "Regina is brilliant, has very high standards, and is committed to helping others,” says Prof. James Collins. “And I think her experience with—her personal experience with cancer—has motivated her to apply her intellectual talents to using AI to advance health care.”

Associated Press

The AP highlights how Prof. Regina Barzilay has been named the inaugural winner of a new award given by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence for her work “using computer science to detect cancer and discover new drugs has won a new $1 million award for artificial intelligence.”

Stat

Prof. Regina Barzilay has been named the inaugural recipient of the Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Humanity for her work developing new AI techniques to help improve health care, reports Rebecca Robbins for STAT. Robbins writes that Barzilay is focused on turning the “abundance of research on AI in health care into tools that can improve care.”

SciDevNet

A study by researchers from MIT’s Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) finds antibiotic resistance in some types of bacteria may be reversed using hydrogen sulphide, reports Melanie Sison for SciDevNet. “This is a very exciting discovery because we are the first to show that H2S can, in fact, improve sensitivity to antibiotics and even reverse antibiotic resistance in bacteria that do not naturally produce the agent,” says Wilfried Moreira, a principal investigator at SMART.

Guardian

MIT researchers have engineered wasp venom to kill bacteria, reports Chukwuma Muanya for The Guardian. The researchers found that the altered peptides wiped out the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa within four days.

Forbes

Forbes reporter Fiona McMillan writes that MIT researchers have engineered an anti-bacterial peptide found in wasp venom in an effort to create a new antibiotic. McMillan writes that the researchers, “gained new insight into which structural attributes work best, either alone or in combination. In this way, they were able to tweak the peptide’s structure to obtain optimal function.”

Boston Herald

Boston Herald reporter Jordan Graham writes that MIT researchers have used the venom from a South American wasp to engineer a new type of antibiotic. “The idea here is to take that very well-crafted toxin and turn it into something that can be useful for humans and our society,” explains César de la Fuente Nunez, a postdoc at MIT.