AI finds plants for anti-malaria drugs

Artificial intelligence is speeding up the discovery of plants with anti-malaria properties. This is the conclusion reached by an international research team.

A mosquito on bare skin

The researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and the University of Fribourg (Unifr) in Switzerland developed a new method based on machine learning for this purpose.

This approach discovered at least 1300 species with anti-malarial properties in a short time that would not have been found using conventional methods, the researchers say in the study. These plants could be used to develop anti-malarial drugs.

Many plant species

As a rich source of bioactive substances, plants have also provided the basis for the development of numerous drugs in the past, according to the University of Freiburg. For example, quinine and artemisinin - two important antimalarial drugs - are obtained from plants. Resistance to these drugs, however, is a growing challenge, according to the researchers.

But because there are an estimated 343,000 different species of vascular plants, identifying plants with anti-malarial compounds can be time-consuming and costly.

In the study, the researchers examined 21,000 species from three plant families. The results show that 7677 of the species should be studied more closely. Nearly one in six of these would have been missed using conventional methods, according to the researchers.


Written by: sda

Photos: Pixabay

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