Maggot Therapy for Treating Wounds: Microbial Minutes
How can maggots be used to treat wounds and fight infection? What’s standing in the way of maggot therapy becoming mainstream?
What's Hot in the Microbial Sciences?ASM presents Microbial Minutes, a video series of trending topics in the microbial sciences.
Chronic and hard-to-heal wounds can have devastating impacts on an individual’s livelihood. What happens when conventional treatment methods fail? Maggot therapy could offer a solution. The practice involves applying medicinal maggots to wounds to promote healing and prevent infection. Though the use of maggots in wound care dates back centuries, the practice has received renewed attention in recent years, in part from the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. Here, we dive into the history of maggot therapy, its antimicrobial and clinical applications and barriers to its widespread use. Take-away points and resources used in this Microbial Minutes are listed below.
- Maggots offer several benefits for treating wounds, including wound debridement, promoting healthy tissue growth and disinfection.
- Medicinal maggots can help control infection by consuming microbes at the wound site and by excreting and secreting antimicrobial compounds. Though scientists have started to characterize the antimicrobial properties of maggots, there is plenty left to uncover.
- Educating health professionals and patients about the benefits, applications and potential of maggot therapy is key for promoting its use.
What is Maggot Therapy?
- Naik G., Harding K.G. Maggot debridement therapy: the current perspectives. Chronic Wound Care Management and Research. Oct. 3, 2017.
- Stadler F. (Ed.). A Complete Guide to Maggot Therapy. OpenBook Publishers. July 7, 2022.
Maggot Therapy in the News
- Kollewe J. ‘People are shocked’: the Welsh firm breeding maggots to heal wounds. The Guardian. Jan. 22, 2023.
- MacNeill Al., Tufts doctors, staff were out of options. Then they brought in the maggots. Boston.com. June 13, 2022.
- Renault M. A Truly Revolting Treatment Is Having a Renaissance. The Atlantic. June, 2, 2021.
Antimicrobial Functions and Clinical Applications
- Abdel Samad M. R. K. Antiviral and virucidal activities of Lucilia cuprina maggots’ excretion/secretion (Diptera: Calliphoridae): first work. Heliyon. Nov. 20, 2019.
- Becerikli M., et al. Maggot Extract Interrupts Bacterial Biofilm Formation and Maturation in Combination with Antibiotics by Reducing the Expression of Virulence Genes. Life. Feb. 4., 2022.
- Bexfield A., et al. The antibacterial activity against MRSA strains and other bacteria of a <500 Da fraction from maggot excretions/secretions of Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Microbes and Infection. Dec. 28, 2007.
- Evans R., Dudley E., Nigam Y. Detection and partial characterization of antifungal bioactivity from the secretions of the medicinal maggot, Lucilia sericata. Wound Repair and Regeneration. April 7, 2015.
- Hirsch R., et al. Profiling antimicrobial peptides from the medical maggot Lucilia sericata as potential antibiotics for MDR Gram-negative bacteria. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Oct. 1, 2018.
- Nezakati E., et al. Effects of Lucilia sericata Maggot Therapy in Chronic Wound Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Chronic Would Care Management and Research. May 22, 2020.
- Pérez-Acevedo, G., Bosch-Alcaraz, A., Torra-Bou, J.E. Larval Therapy for Treatment of Chronic Wounds Colonized by Multi-resistant Pathogens in a Pediatric Patient: A Case Study. Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing. July/August, 2022.
- Zhang Z., et al. Activity of antibacterial protein from maggots against Staphylococcus aureus in vitro and in vivo. International Journal of Molecular Medicine. March 5, 2013.
Barriers to Maggot Therapy Use
- Hopkins R.C.N., et al. Evaluating nursing opinion and perception of maggot therapy for hard-to-heal wound management. Journal of Wound Care. Oct. 14, 2022.
- Nigam Y., et al. An exploration of public perceptions and attitudes towards maggot therapy. Journal of Wound Care. Sept. 16, 2022.
- Pajarillo C., et al. Health professionals' perceptions of maggot debridement therapy. Journal of Wound Care. Sept. 27, 2021.