Non-Healing Wounds Effectively Treated by Modified Maggots
A recent study conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University shows proof-of-concept results of wound-healing acceleration from the use of a genetically modified green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) larvae.
With the intention of enhancing wound-healing activity, researchers genetically engineered the fly’s maggots to produce and then secrete the human growth factor that stimulates cell growth and survival, leading to the faster healing of the wounds. These were maggots designed to produce the human platelet-derived growth factor-BB when raised on a diet that lacked a specific antibiotic. The study was published online in the journal BMC Biotechnology in March 2016.
Just the image of worms moving in an open wound would probably cause a stroke for most people. However, this isn’t anything new; maggots have been placed on wounds for a long time. Larvae eat the dead tissue and the infection is cleared. Healthy tissue mostly remains unaffected.
Maggot debridement therapy (MDT) was approved by the FDA back in 2004 for cleaning wounds. The application of sterile laboratory-reared green bottle fly larvae to wounds, is a cost effective and successful treatment for diabetic foot ulcers and other medical conditions. The modified maggots will be tested in clinical trials.
Although, for most people, it is rather unimaginable to have live maggots in an open wound; for those who suffer from bedsores or non-healing wounds or leg ulcers, this alternative method of treatment is widely welcomed. Larvae tissue nibbling does not hurt; according to a doctor, the patient only feels a gentle tickle.