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Hospitals in clinical trial to see if the buzz about maggots is really true; Grubs' claim to wound-cleaning will be tested.

Byline: Greg Tindle

MAGGOTS will be trialled as a medical treatment in eight hospitals across England and Wales after pioneering tests in Wales proved successful.

Eight hospitals will test the use of maggots on 200 patients to see whether the larvae, bred from the green bottle fly, will provide a new therapy for curing wounds which have failed to respond to other mainstream treatments.

The UK trial is aimed at backing up anecdotal claims on the success of maggots to cleanse open wounds - often those caused by diabetes and a pressure sores - and providing clear and independent evidence that the therapy works.

The breeders of the maggots, ZooBiotic of Bridgend, which has been backed by the NHS since it was set up in the mid-1990s, is joining forces with the Cardiff University's department of wound healing to conduct the trial, which will take place in the hospitals with patients recruited over the next 12 months.

Professor Keith Harding, head of the Department of Wound Healing at Cardiff University and clinical director of wound healing at Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust will be the chief investigator on the trial.

He said: "Wales is leading the way by conducting this trial, combining the technological expertise offered by ZooBiotic, and the clinical and academic excellence available at the wound healing department."

"Ours is the only university based wound healing department in the world. We are unique in that have a multidisciplinary team providing treatment for patients as well as highly skilled individuals carrying out important research."

"I have been very impressed with the use of maggots in wound cleaning. I am keen to back up this experience with clinical evidence."

Three Welsh hospitals will take part in the trial: the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Singleton Hospital in Swansea and Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.

Gill Davies of ZooBiotic, said: "There is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence indicating that maggots are extremely effective in wound cleaning and the time has come for this to be backed by further clinical evidence. As a small business we are prepared to invest significantly in conducting this important UK-wide clinical trial. It has taken us more than a year to set the wheels in motion to reach this stage. This is a randomised clinical trial which is the gold standard for producing evidence."

ZooBiotic is one of the UK's first NHS businesses with rapidly growing markets in larval therapy.

"Interest in larval therapy is growing swiftly," Gill Davies said. "We now produce 600,000 maggots, and 1,500 dressings per month from our pharmaceutical production unit supplying a more than 4,000 clients.

"We believe that maggot therapy can potentially save the NHS a great deal of cash by cutting the length of hospital stays, and substantially reducing the number of expensive dressings used.

"Wound healing accounts for 3-5% of total NHS spend - the enormity of this outlay is underlined by the fact that cancer and heart disease combined account for 9-12%of the NHS budget."

Your vote: page 20 more Maggot therapy is becoming popular again For centuries, maggots were used by physicians for treating wounds, but they fell into disuse with the widespread introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s.

with diabetes, pressure ulcers, and many other types of infected wounds.

Recently, maggot therapy has enjoyed a revival as healthcare professionals recognise the considerable advantages they offer over conventional forms of treatment. Conventional treatments for these wounds can take months to achieve a successful outcome, but maggot therapy usually involves no more than one or two treatments, each lasting a maximum of 5 days.

The laboratory bred and sterile maggots not only do they have the potential to remove dead tissue and combat infection buy can promote the regeneration of healthy tissue, bringing about the wound healing. It is claimed that because maggot therapy acts far more quickly that conventional treatments, it could also reduce treatment times and the associated costs.

Maggot therapy has been successfully used in the treatment of leg ulcers, wounds associated An estimated 50,000 people have been treated with medicinal quality maggots since the mid 1990s since the Bridgend company was set up and the demand is growing rapidly throughout the world.


LITTLE HELPERS: Tiny maggots are widely believed to be the best way to clean wounds - and a new clinical trial will put them to the test
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 9, 2009
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