Former Skegness Grammar boy produces potential MRSA cure

Lindsey Shaw. Photo: Aimee Blodgett/University of South Florida
Lindsey Shaw. Photo: Aimee Blodgett/University of South Florida

A leading scientist from Skegness has produced a potential cure for the deadly MRSA infection.

Microbiology expert Lindsey Shaw heads the team at the University of South Florida which has developed the antibiotic treatment.

The ground-breaking discovery, which could save countless lives, is being hailed as a ‘eureka moment’ by the former Skegness Grammar School student.

The antibiotic received a patent from the United States Government in December and maybe treating patients within five to 10 years.

It was the culmination of years painstaking and innovative research by Lindsey, 37, who suffered a serious bacterial infection as a teenager.

He guided the team of researchers that tested thousands of different chemical compounds before developing the antibiotic.

Lindsey said: “The situation we have now is that these bugs are more resistant than they used to be. MRSA and other drug resistant strains of bacteria kill tens of thousands of people in the USA every year.

“My life has really been focussed on this individual project so I feel pretty excited, it is one of those eureka moments. It has been incredibly fulfilling and a very big deal. I am like a manager, the ideas and analysis are mine, but other hands do the bidding. It has been a huge team effort, science is very collaborative and nothing gets achieved in a vacuum.”

He added: “I suffered a bacterial infection as a teenager, so this work is personal to me, it decided my future career. I had a growth defect and the pins put in my leg had bacteria on them. Fortunately the infection was treatable, but it did not go away until the pins were removed after five years.”

The antibiotic patented by Lindsey has also proved effective in treating bacteria which form on implants such as pacemakers and plates.

It will now go forward for preclincal testing to create the most effective drug with fewest side effects.

Lindsey studied at the University of East Anglia and did postgraduate research at the University of Sheffield.

He moved to the United States 13 years ago and has been based at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he is associate professor of microbiology and molecular biology, since 2007.

Lindsey credits his time at Skegness Grammar for helping inspire his love of science.

He said: “Studying at the school really set me on the road. I had been fascinated with biology since I was a

teenager. I was allowed to collect plants from Gibraltar Point and test what impact bacteria in soil samples would have on them for an A level project.”

Lindsey met his wife Jessica in America and the couple have a five month old son Jack.

His mum Jacky, dad Terry, brother Justin and sister Verity still live in the Skegness area and Lindsey is looking forward to visit this summer.

Jacky said: “All the family are so proud of what Lindsey had achieved. It has been hard having to see him move to America and his life is so busy over there. His little nephew Kody has already learned the periodic table so maybe set follow in his footsteps.”