Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections in patients with chronic diseases, but they are often expensive and difficult to obtain.
Now, a team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Defense and the University of Alabama at Birmingham is using a computer algorithm to find an alternative.
Researchers at the UAB and Alabama also used a computer model to predict that, given the current global pandemic, antibiotics would be needed in less than a year.
In the next few months, the researchers say, the team will test this prediction against current clinical trials in patients suffering from chronic diseases and develop a generic version that could be administered without requiring a prescription.
They also plan to apply the computer algorithm’s findings to other diseases, including cancer.
For their work, the scientists used a modified version of the algorithm to predict which drugs would be most effective in treating cancer.
They looked at more than 6,000 cancer-related drugs on the market and found that the average effective dose was 1.9 milligrams of the antibiotic.
That’s about the same dose as a teaspoon of crushed ice.
That means that a person who takes the pill daily for four months can be protected against around 3,500 doses of the most common antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and cefoperazone.
For people with severe disease, the average dose would be 4.4 milligram, or about four times the average person would need to take a single pill every day.
But this model also predicts that there will be more than half of all prescriptions filled for the next four years, with the vast majority of people going to the pharmacy for a prescription for just one antibiotic.
The researchers hope to find a new drug that is cheaper and easier to get, and which might be more effective than the existing drugs.