Discovery Leiden nominated for KIJK: Best Tech-idea of 2021
Using artificial intelligence to find new antibiotics. With that, researchers from Leiden University are nominated by magazine KIJK for the Best Tech-idea of 2021. From September 14 onwards people can vote to crown one of the nominees as the winner.
‘Nowadays, more and more bacteria species get antibiotic-resistant. This is what is called the silent pandemic. We want to do something against it’, Gilles van Wezel says. He is the scientific director of the Institute Biology Leiden (IBL). Van Wezel and his colleague from Wageningen Marnix Medema – also visiting professor at Leiden – supervised the now graduated PhDer Alexander Kloosterman, who looked for the new antibiotics.
Kloosterman did this in an unusual way. Van Wezel: ‘In the laboratory, bacteria won’t just make all antibiotics that they would in nature. To look for these antibiotics in a modern way, we developed special software in Leiden. This way we could scan through the DNA of the bacteria. With this, we made use of artificial intelligence. By training the computer to find special marks, we have now discovered a new subclass of antibiotics, that belong to the so-called lantibiotics.’
Also Marnix Medema is delighted with the nomination. 'I see this as crucial support in our search for new antibiotics', says Marnix Medema in an interview for Wageningen Univeristy & Research. 'This can lead to the development of new medications'.
In the technology contest, twenty inspiring ideas are highlighted. From September 14 until October 5, the editors of KIJK, a jury and the Dutch public may vote which of the innovations rises above all. The winner will be announced in October.
Check the longlist and vote