Maggots Could Help Address Problems Of Antibiotic Resistance

Maggots are useful in treating infected or necrotic wounds

Lucilia sericata, the larvae of the common greenbottle fly, could help to address the problem of antibiotic resistance, claim researchers in this week's BMJ. Dr Steve Thomas and colleagues from the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend and the International Biotherapy Society, report that over the past three years the clinical use of such maggots has been reintroduced into the UK and elsewhere (to well over 400 centres) with considerable success.

Thomas et al write that the mechanisms by which larvae kill bacteria in wounds are not fully understood, but explanations may include the production of natural antibiotic-like agents; the modification of the pH of the wound or the ingestion and destruction of bacteria as part of the normal feeding process.

The authors say that currently many patients receive larval treatment as a last resort, when conventional treatments including antibiotics have failed. They conclude that using maggots earlier in the management of infection may often obviate the need for antibiotics.


Dr Steve Thomas, Director, Biosurgical Research Unit, Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, Wales Email: steve@smtl.co.uk


Contact: Jill Shepherd
BMJ-British Medical Journal

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