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MIT Research News

May 9, 2019

Revealing further how antibiotics act

Machine learning reveals metabolic pathways disrupted by the drugs, offering new targets to combat resistance.

Anne Trafton | MIT News Office

Most antibiotics work by interfering with critical functions such as DNA replication or construction of the bacterial cell wall. However, these mechanisms represent only part of the full picture of how antibiotics act.

In a new study of antibiotic action, MIT researchers developed a new machine-learning approach to discover an additional mechanism that helps some antibiotics kill bacteria. This secondary mechanism involves activating the bacterial metabolism of nucleotides that the cells need to replicate their DNA.