Aug
06
2008

Researchers at Swansea University, in the UK, are developing an antibiotic that can fight the MRSA superbug. And they're using superbugs to do it. OK, not superbugs. They're using the secretions from the maggots of the common green bottle fly.

A cage match I'm not sure I want to see: Maggots secrete a compound that can fight superbugs, including 12 strains of MRSA, E. coli, and C. difficile.
A cage match I'm not sure I want to see: Maggots secrete a compound that can fight superbugs, including 12 strains of MRSA, E. coli, and C. difficile.Courtesy National Institutes of Health

Super gross? Sure. And you won't see an ad for this antibiotic (Seraticin) on TV anytime soon. It takes some 20 maggots to make a single drop of the drug. So scientists have to fully identify it, figure out a way to synthesize it in the lab, test it on human cells, and put it through a clinical trial.

In the meantime, using live maggots on infected wounds is a time-tested way of beating infections. Dr. Alun Morgan, of ZooBiotic Ltd, told the BBC,

"Maggots are great little multitaskers. They produce enzymes that clean wounds, they make a wound more alkaline which may slow bacterial growth and finally they produce a range of antibacterial chemicals that stop the bacteria growing."

How effective are maggots? The University of Manchester has been doing research on diabetic patients with MRSA-contaminated foot ulcers. The patients treated with maggots were mostly cured within three weeks. Patients who got more conventional treatment needed 28 weeks.

So give maggots a big shout out. And then check these other stories:
"NHS 'needs to use more maggots'"
Prescription insects
Fun with beetles

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's a great little CNN piece with interviews with the Swansea researchers and also patients receiving maggot therapy. (WARNING: contains footage of maggots (not feeding) and roaches)

Jeff Williams, who received maggot therapy for a diabetic ulcer on his foot, had this to say,

"The first lot that went on, I was a bit squeamish. But it was fine, everything was fine. Second lot went on, I was holding them, everything. It was great."

posted on Wed, 08/06/2008 - 4:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ickyy

posted on Wed, 08/06/2008 - 7:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow that was sooooo nasty!! but yet so kewl! omg im so glad that i came here... but decision of my life so far!!

posted on Fri, 08/08/2008 - 4:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

nasty buddy

posted on Fri, 08/08/2008 - 4:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

no yous is nastys

posted on Sat, 08/09/2008 - 8:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

no you is nasty thats right i called you nasty

posted on Sat, 08/09/2008 - 8:45am
gizmo guy's picture
gizmo guy says:

what are we talking about here this is soo confusing? what are you guys talking about saying something is gross? so i am logging off bye.

posted on Sat, 08/09/2008 - 12:54pm
Kelvey's picture
Kelvey says:

Cool! Way to go maggots!

posted on Sun, 08/10/2008 - 5:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

although it was really gross it's pretty kool at the same time.

posted on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 5:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow. That was...interesting.

posted on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 4:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow. maggots...who would've thought?

posted on Sun, 08/17/2008 - 1:25pm
a dude's picture
a dude says:

one word: grooooooooooosssssssssssssssssssssssss
meeeee outttttttt

posted on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 11:52am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

By my count, that's three words

posted on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 11:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Gross!!!!!!

posted on Thu, 08/21/2008 - 7:11pm
DeadMen's picture
DeadMen says:

This is really great stuff. I'm glad people can get over their distaste for the creatures enough to let them be used for such benefit.

posted on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 6:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that is tha most disgusting thing i have ever seen in my life i hate maggots......that is nasty....really hate

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 1:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this isn't really that groos but it is really timly and a lot of magets

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 11:12am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well... If it works then it's good i guess?

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 1:56pm
Coolo Panda's picture
Coolo Panda says:

EWWWEY!!!!!!

posted on Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ew that is gross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Tue, 11/25/2008 - 4:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow that is very ineresting but a little gross

posted on Tue, 11/25/2008 - 4:01pm
YO MAMA OK?'s picture
YO MAMA OK? says:

mmmm i aint tryin to hurr dat

posted on Wed, 11/26/2008 - 5:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well, sure medicine has come a long way from getting the medicine man down your street to cure a simple cold. But somehow this vaguely reminds me of getting leeches to suck out the disease out of you! I'm sure this isn't the case. But when it comes to how disgusting it is, it still ranks high up there with the leeches

posted on Fri, 11/28/2008 - 7:23pm
jojo's picture
jojo says:

grossness

posted on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 7:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

the maggots are gross

posted on Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

look out maggots! kai's gonna eat you!!!!

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 5:06pm
Erin wagener's picture
Erin wagener says:

I think the maggots are gross and all but its just there life prosseses just like eating,sleeping ,and drinking is some of our life prosseses.

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 12:45pm
Erin wagener's picture
Erin wagener says:

I think the maggots are gross and all but its just there life prosseses just like eating,sleeping ,and drinking is some of our life prosseses.

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 12:45pm

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