Halicin is an antibiotic that has recently been selected by a series of AI-assisted searches of molecular databases.
Its name stems from the computer in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey - HAL (Heuristically Programmed ALgorithmic Computer).
Originally tested as an anti-diabetes drug (but rejected), in 2019 it was found to also function as a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
It has an unusual action which may make bacterial resistance unlikely to develop: it complexes with iron in solution and disrupts the flow of protons across a bacterial cell membrane. Other 2-Amino-1,3,4-thiadiazole compounds have been found to have antimicrobial activity.
It has been tested against a number of pathogenic bacteria including pan-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii
, and Clostridioides difficile
, also known as Clostridium difficile
However it still needs to undergo clinical trials.
The halicin molecule has two heterocyclic ring-shaped structures; a
and a thiadiazole
Its IUPAC name is 5-[(5-nitro