For decades, scientists have tried using maggots for healing wounds as they tend to eat dead tissue. This technique is called as maggot debridement therapy (MDT), that is predominately used for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. But there have been some drawbacks such as longer healing time and chances of infection.
A new clinical trial was conducted by researchers at North Carolina State and Massey University in New Zealand. They used genetically modified green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) for the maggot debridement therapy (MDT). They conducted experiments with two different techniques to enhance the wound healing time by secreting human platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), that stimulates cell growth and survival.
‘Genetically modified maggots show potential to heal wounds faster by secreting human platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), that stimulates cell growth and survival.’
The first technique involved triggering the production of PDGF-BB by exposing the larvae to high level of heat (a level of 37 degrees Celsius). Though there was detectable levels of secretion, it was found to be less effective in healing the wounds.
The second technique involved engineering the larvae such that it secreted only PDGF-BB when given a diet lacking antibiotic tetracycline. PDGF-BB was made at high levels in the larvae and was found in the excretions and secretions of maggots, making the technique a potential candidate for clinical use. The study on trial was published in the journal BMC Biotechnology
Max Scott, lead researcher said, "We see this as a proof of principle study for the future development of engineered Lucilia sericata strains that express a variety of growth factors and antimicrobial peptides, with the long-term aim of developing a cost-effective means for wound treatment that could save people from amputation and other harmful effects of diabetes."