Maggots modified to help heal human wounds

In a proof-of-concept study, NC State University researchers show that genetically engineered green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) larvae can produce and secrete a human growth factor – a molecule that helps promote cell growth and wound healing.

Sterile, lab-raised green bottle fly larvae are used for maggot debridement therapy (MDT), in which maggots are applied to non-healing wounds, especially diabetic foot ulcers, to promote healing. Maggots clean the wound, remove dead tissue and secrete anti-microbial factors. The treatment is cost-effective and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, there is no evidence from randomized clinical trials that MDT shortens wound healing times.

With the goal of making a strain of maggots with enhanced wound-healing activity, NC State researchers genetically engineered maggots to produce and then secrete human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), which is known to aid the healing process by stimulating cell growth and survival.

Read more in the NC State University news release.

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