Jun
18
2009

Maggot Medicine, Coming to a Store Near You?

A medical miracle in the making?
A medical miracle in the making?Courtesy nbonzey
If you're one of those people who is easily grossed out, you might want to stop reading this post. Because what I'm about to tell you might make your stomach turn.

In an effort to help heal human wounds, medical researchers have been studying creepy, crawly, flesh-eating maggots. THE SAME wiggly critters that appear in your garbage can, on road kill, and any place where they can find dead meat or rotten food. In case you don't know the maggot life story, eventually these larvae grow-up to become flies, at which point they continue to hang out with garbage. It's not a pretty life, but they don't complain much.

So...what do maggots have to do with medicine?

Well, people have known for a long time that deep or difficult wounds (ulcers, burns, deep lacerations) heal much faster if you enlist maggots for a little help. In fact, hospitals even breed fly larvae (maggots!) so they can apply "maggot therapy" to wounds that would otherwise heal poorly. As gross as it sounds, this technique actually works well. The maggots eat the decaying tissue, preventing bacterial growth and helping to keep the wound "clean" so it can heal better.

Until recently, researchers were not exactly sure how these maggots did their miracle work on wounds, or how they could make maggot therapy more accessible. What they've discovered is that an enzyme produced by the maggots can itself help to remove decaying tissue. You can read more about it here.

This means that new bandages infused with maggot juice, or maggot ointment, might not be far from drugstore shelves. The enzyme appears to help heal wounds large and small, and with very few side effects. I wonder if upset stomach is one of them?

What do you think - would you buy a maggot-based product to help heal cuts and scrapes?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ah, yes. Maggots and maggot therapy are running themes here on Science Buzz. Check out our previous stories.

Fly larvae are especially useful, but we use other insects for biotherapy, too.

posted on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 12:16pm
Tessa's picture
Tessa says:

grossgrossgross

posted on Sun, 06/21/2009 - 1:36pm
shaunalynn10's picture

ugh thats gross i would use it though if they weren't crawling on me

posted on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 5:44pm

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