Maggots Could Treat Wounds Caused By Diabetes

Genetically modified maggots have shown the production and secretion of a human growth factor - a molecule that could help heal wounds caused by diabetes.

Researchers at NC State University have genetically engineered green bottle flies that can be used for maggot debridement therapy (MDT). During MDT the maggots are placed upon non-healing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers. They clean the wound, eliminate dead tissue and inhibit microorganism growth - all in a cost-effective way that has Food and Drug Administration approval.

Helping the needy

Researchers set out to create a strain of maggots that would produce and then secrete human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) - previously known to assist the healing process by invigorating cell growth. By raising maggots on a diet that lacked the antibiotic tetracycline, PDGF-BB was later discovered in their secretions.

Researchers believe the discovery could have big implications for administering treatments to patients in countries that lack these types of interventions.

"A vast majority of people with diabetes live in low- or middle-income countries, with less access to expensive treatment options," said Max Scott, an NC State professor and researcher in the study. "We see this as a proof-of-principle study [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."

Source: NC State University

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