Modified maggots used to heal wounds of diabetics

Posted on March 26, 2016 12:05 am

In a recently published study in the journal BMC Biotechnology, researchers from the North Carolina State University, in collaboration with North Carolina State and Massey University in New Zealand, employed two techniques to extract human platelet derived growth factor-BB from the green bottle fly maggots.The genetically modified green bottle fly larvae, also known as Lucilia sericata, have been shown by the researchers to produce and secrete the human platelet derived growth factor-BB that encourages cell growth and wound healing. These maggots are an upgrade from the current Maggot Debridement Therapy, which has not been proven to shorten the wound healing process.One involved subjecting the larvae at 37 degrees Celsius heat shock for three hours and another involved feeding the maggots with a diet that did not contain tetracycline, an antibiotic used for urinary tract infection, acne, chlamydia and others.The heated group of maggots produced the human growth factor, but it never made it out of their bodies. They neither secreted nor excreted the molecules. The tetracycline-free group of maggots, however, shed the growth factor in their secretions and their excretions. Although the maggots haven’t been tested in actual wounds yet, the researchers hope that they can act as both wound cleaners and medication, thereby cutting down on healing time.The human growth factor was only found in certain structures within the larvae but not in the insects’ excretions or secretions after the heat shock. Hence, the team figured that the heat-inducible system does not have any use for any clinical applications.

The researchers also found that the larvae that were not raised with the tetracycline diet secreted and excreted high levels of the platelet derived growth factor-BB and says that this could be a potentially improved approach to treating and healing wounds. In the past, experts have employed the maggot debridement therapy to treat non-healing wounds. “A vast majority of people with diabetes live in low or middle-income countries, with less access to expensive treatment options,” says researcher Max Scott, an North Carolina State professor of entomology. “We see this as a proof-of-principle study for the future development of engineered L. sericata strains that express a variety of growth factors and anti-microbial 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,” Scott adds.Diabetes patients, who are prone to long-lasting ulcers in their legs and feet, might especially benefit from this. Unpleasant as the thought of a maggot’s excretions in a wound might be, it might help people literally get back on their feet more quickly. Diabetes patients, who are prone to long-lasting ulcers in their legs and feet, might especially benefit from this. Unpleasant as the thought of a maggot’s excretions in a wound might be, it might help people literally get back on their feet more quickly.Researchers are hoping to soon test the maggots in clinical trials, most likely on diabetic foot ulcers, where they can clean the wounds of dead tissues while secreting the cell-boosting protein.

Contador Harrison