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"Maggot juice" to be used to treat wounds!!


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British scientists bring back ancient cure to treat wounds


By Eleanor Mayne Last updated at 21:01pm on 14th October 2006

maggotsST141006_228x317.jpgMagic maggots to treat wounds




An ancient medical method is making a comeback - scientists are using fluids extracted from maggots to treat wounds.

For centuries, fly larvae were used to clean damaged flesh by civilisations all over the world, including the Mayans, Burmese hill tribes and Australian aborigines.

The practice was based on the worms' propensity for feeding on dead tissue while leaving healthy skin intact.

Now British scientists are reintroducing the use of maggots to mainstream medicine.

But those horrified by the idea of placing the wriggling bugs in open wounds need not worry - instead, the researchers have come up with dressings that contain juices extracted from the larvae.

The scientists from Bradford University have discovered an extra benefit: the secretions produced by the maggots actually speed up the body's healing process.

The new dressings have been proven to work on layers of artificial skin and will be tested on human patients.

In the natural world, the juices are produced by the larvae to break down dead tissue so that it can be absorbed. They also kill bacteria, helping to prevent infection.

The researchers extracted these secretions from larvae of the Greenbottle blowfly and then trapped them in a gel-like material, so they could be applied in the same way as a dressing.

The patches were then placed on layers of cells designed to mimic human skin in which cuts had been made.

The scientists believe the maggot juice works by encouraging new cells to move more quickly to the site of the wound, where they can rebuild the tissue.

Cell biologist Dr Stephen Britland said: "Maggot therapy is now used in several locations in the UK and in Europe.

"Maggots are currently used solely for cleaning the wound, after which they are removed. With this technology, when you get to the point where the maggots are normally removed you would just keep the dressing on longer, and that should stimulate tissue regeneration."

The researchers have patented the idea and set up a firm called AGT Sciences Ltd to develop the maggot dressings, supported by a £1million grant.

The first products should be available in three years.

Maggot therapy was common in ancient cultures but fell from use in the West.

But it regained popularity in the First World War, when military surgeons saw that soldiers with maggot-infested wounds could survive for days without infections.

By the Thirties more than 300 hospitals in the UK were using the bugs, but they fell out of favour again with the introduction of antibiotic drugs.

Over the last decade maggot therapy has made a resurgence with the appearance of new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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