Maggot Therapy: Doctors To Use Modified Fly Larvae To Treat Non-Healing Wounds

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Diabetics may soon avoid amputation and other harmful effects of diabetes with a new therapy using maggots that can promote healing for non-healing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers. The new maggot debridement therapy, or MDT, uses genetically engineered green bottle fly larvae that can produce and secrete a molecule important for cell growth and wound healing. Researchers from NC State University said the maggot therapy has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The maggots used in the therapy can clean wounds, remove dead tissue and secrete anti-microbial factors to save people from amputation. For the MDT, the researchers genetically engineered green bottle fly larvae to boost their production of the human Platelet Derived Growth Factor-BB (PDGF-BB), which can promote the wound-healing process. PDGF-BB stimulates cell growth and survival. Type 1 Or Type 2 Diabetes? New Genetic Test May Improve Diagnosis To genetically modify the maggots, the researchers used two different techniques. The first technique requires the team to shock green bottle flies with heat to trigger the production of PDGF-BB. However, PDGF-BB was not detectable in maggot excretions or secretions after the procedure, making it unworthy of clinical use.Like us on Facebook The researchers then used another technique which has been successful. In this technique, the team engineered the flies with a diet that lacked the antibiotic tetracycline, which successfully increased the levels of PDGF-BB, making it available in the excretions and secretions of maggots. This technique has been considered a potential candidate for clinical use. “A vast majority of people with diabetes live in low- or middle-income countries, with less access to expensive treatment options,” said researcher Max Scott, an NC State professor of entomology. Scott said the team is aiming to make the maggot therapy cost-effective and deliver long-term effects of wound treatment “that could save people from amputation and other harmful effects of diabetes.” However, the researchers noted there is no evidence from randomized clinical trials that MDT can reduce wound healing times. The study has been published in the journal BMC Biotechnology. Photo Source: Pixabay, John Talbot/Flickr