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University of Lincoln scientists battling deadly superbug

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 29, 2012

Philip Skipper

Vital work: PhD Student Philip Skipper is part of a team at the University of Lincoln leading research into ways to combat a deadly superbug

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Scientists at the University of Lincoln are working to develop new treatments to combat a deadly superbug which has ravaged soldiers on the battlefield.

Acinetobacter baumanni, also known as Iraqibacter, first caused problems for the military in 2003.

It can cause wound infections, catheter infections and even pneumonia – all of which can be fatal for troops on the front line.

The bug is resistant to most antibiotics, meaning that if a patient develops an Acinetobacter infection, there is little that can be done about it.

For this reason, the Infectious Disease Society of America has placed it in its list of ten most deadly pathogens for the last decade.

But now, a team of scientists and researchers from the university's school of life sciences is exploring new techniques to use otherwise harmless biological organisms to tackle the life-threatening superbug.

Many bacteria have their own predators in the form of other bacterial viruses, which attack them and nothing else. These viruses are called bacteriophage.

Philip Skipper, a PhD student at the university and former medical researcher, believes that he can find a bacterial virus which will attack Acinetobacter while leaving other cells unharmed.

He said: "There are currently no bacteriophage treatments available for Acinetobacter.

"We want to find out how the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics and if there's anything we can do to stop it, which could stop the development of new superbugs.

"It also means that the drugs we develop to combat them will stay useful rather than have a limited life span."

Mr Skipper is now looking for additional funding for his research, as his current bursary from the university runs out in December.

To help drum up the funds, he has taken part in the SciFund challenge and has even started a craft kit company selling knitted cars through

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