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How Maggots Heal Wounds
ScienceNOW ^ | 6 December 2012 | Paul Gabrielsen

Posted on 12/06/2012 9:07:50 PM PST by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-maggots.jpg
Creepy, yet calming. Maggots' excretions soothe inflamed wounds, speeding healing.
Credit: Cory Doctorow

Yes, maggots are creepy, crawly, and slimy. But that slime is a remarkable healing balm, used by battlefield surgeons for centuries to close wounds. Now, researchers say they've figured out how the fly larvae work their magic: They suppress our immune system.

Maggots are efficient consumers of dead tissue. They munch on rotting flesh, leaving healthy tissue practically unscathed. Physicians in Napoleon's army used the larvae to clean wounds. In World War I, American surgeon William Baer noticed that soldiers with maggot-infested gashes didn't have the expected infection or swelling seen in other patients. The rise of penicillin in the 1940s made clinical maggots less useful, but they bounced back in the 1990s when antibiotic-resistant bacteria created a new demand for alternative treatments. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved maggot therapy as a prescription treatment.

Although anecdotal reports suggested that maggots curb inflammation, no one had scientifically tested the idea. So a team led by surgical resident Gwendolyn Cazander of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands siphoned samples of maggot secretions from disinfected maggots in the lab and added them to donated blood samples from four healthy adults. The researchers then measured the levels of so-called complement proteins, which are involved in the body's inflammatory response.

Every blood sample treated with maggot secretions showed lower levels of complement proteins than did control samples—99.9% less in the best case, the team reports in the current issue of Wound Repair and Regeneration. Looking closer, the researchers found the broken-down remnants of two complement proteins—C3 and C4—in the secretion-treated samples, suggesting that the secretions had ripped the proteins apart. When the team tested blood samples from postoperative patients, whose wounded bodies were already scrambling to heal, they found that maggot secretions reduced the levels of complement proteins by 19% to 55%.

For good measure, the team tested the maggot secretions again after a day, a week, and a month to determine their shelf life. They also boiled some. To their surprise, the secretions were more effective after boiling and lost no potency after sitting on the shelf for a month.

It's not surprising that maggot secretions would suppress the immune system, Cazander says. Otherwise, the larvae would probably be attacked by the body. She says she hasn't yet seen such a reaction, even in patients treated with maggots for more than a year.

Cazander's team is now working to isolate the complement-inhibiting compounds. A clinical drug featuring maggot secretions may be several years away—but if you can't wait, the maggots themselves are available now.

The research team's conclusions are spot-on, says Ronald Sherman, pathologist, pioneering maggot researcher, and board chair of the BioTherapeutics, Education and Research Foundation in Irvine, California. Sherman's nonprofit foundation connects patients with doctors willing to handle the crawly critters. Faster wound healing probably arises from several combined maggot effects, he says, such as increasing oxygen concentrations in the wound and enhancing cellular growth. "This research advances our understanding of how and why maggot therapy helps wounds heal faster."


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Science
KEYWORDS: complementsystem; immunology; maggots; wounds
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Welcome to the new web site of Microbiology and Immunology On-line from the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine

IMMUNOLOGY - CHAPTER TWO COMPLEMENT

1 posted on 12/06/2012 9:07:54 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem; Morgana

NNNNNNnnnnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooooooooooooo thanks

but probably very popular as a food in Indochina. lol.


2 posted on 12/06/2012 9:11:10 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: neverdem

Here’s the problem: they make me scream and flail about in panic. I’d have to be very heavily sedated.


3 posted on 12/06/2012 9:11:30 PM PST by A_perfect_lady (Great nations are born stoic and die epicurean. -Will Durant)
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To: neverdem

My US Army Survival Guide from way back when lists maggot therapy as a useful method to cleanse a wound of dead flesh.


4 posted on 12/06/2012 9:15:03 PM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: neverdem

Wonder if that could also lead to better treatments for autoimmune disorders?


5 posted on 12/06/2012 9:15:10 PM PST by Ellendra (http://www.ustrendy.com/ellendra-nauriel/portfolio/18423/concealed-couture/)
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To: A_perfect_lady

Yes I think I’ll wait for the synthetic maggot secretion drug, myself.


6 posted on 12/06/2012 9:15:44 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: MarineBrat

***thud***


7 posted on 12/06/2012 9:18:44 PM PST by txhurl (Zero on America: Drive it like you stole it)
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To: A_perfect_lady

>>Here’s the problem: they make me scream and flail about in panic. I’d have to be very heavily sedated.

You would never see them unless you peeked. They’d be under a full dressing.

Where this therapy is particularly beneficial is a wound that is in a place where it is difficult to cut away diseased tissue.

I was going to post these photos but decided not to as they might upset some people. Nevertheless, they are worth a look - and ponder if maggots weren’t used, what would have been the alternative?

http://cares4umy.blogspot.com/2011/04/maggot-debridement-therapy.html


8 posted on 12/06/2012 9:21:37 PM PST by expat1000
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To: neverdem

Ok, so I’m out somewhere and wounded.

Where would I find these helpful maggots?

Especially in winter?

“Enquiring minds want to know......”


9 posted on 12/06/2012 9:22:26 PM PST by Arlis (.)
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To: Arlis

Stay outside in unsanitary conditions with an unclean wound and the maggots will find you. Eggs in the dirt, maturation triggered by moisture and body heat? I don’t know.


10 posted on 12/06/2012 9:25:14 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: neverdem

Oh MAGGOTS! I thought they said faggots.


11 posted on 12/06/2012 9:25:36 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio)
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To: expat1000

But... wouldn’t you feel them squirming around in there? (shudder-shudder-shudder)


12 posted on 12/06/2012 9:26:08 PM PST by A_perfect_lady (Great nations are born stoic and die epicurean. -Will Durant)
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To: RegulatorCountry
Eggs in the dirt, maturation triggered by moisture and body heat? I don’t know.

Or perhaps flies landing on the wounds and laying eggs?

13 posted on 12/06/2012 9:26:53 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio)
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To: Arlis
Where would I find these helpful maggots?

A liberal's skull? From the article: Maggots are efficient consumers of dead tissue. I have a hard time thinking of deader tissue than a liberal's brain.

But sometimes the maggots do mature and escape.

14 posted on 12/06/2012 9:26:53 PM PST by KarlInOhio (Big Bird is a brood parasite: laid in our nest 43 years ago and we are still feeding him.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

Not in winter.


15 posted on 12/06/2012 9:27:52 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry
What is this "winter" of which you speak?

Find more about Weather in Chandler, AZ
Click for weather forecast

16 posted on 12/06/2012 9:34:11 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio)
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To: Jeff Chandler

We had that up until yesterday, high today was 48 though.


17 posted on 12/06/2012 9:35:58 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: Arlis
They're in the same isle as the leaches at the drug store.
18 posted on 12/06/2012 9:39:02 PM PST by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: neverdem

I remember reading the tale of some mountain man, after being mauled by a bear and abandoned by his comrades, treating his wounds with maggots or some other kind of larvae. He found an old rotting log and flipped it over, rolling in the grubs underneath it to keep his wounds from becoming infected. It apparently worked, because the guy survived and made it back to civilization to get his revenge.


19 posted on 12/06/2012 9:42:17 PM PST by DemforBush (100% Ex-Democrat.)
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To: neverdem

Gwendolyn Cazander “It’s not surprising that maggot secretions would suppress the immune system. Otherwise, the larvae would probably be attacked by the body.

Hmmmm, sure. Gota wonder just how that could work. Living munchers being attacked by dead munchables. Buzzard spit Gwen.

Rab can but wonder. Thanks for the post neverdem.


20 posted on 12/06/2012 9:44:36 PM PST by Rabin
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To: A_perfect_lady

I had an uncle who fought in WWII and whose leg, wounded in combat, the doctors attempted to remove the gangrene of with maggots in an attempt to avoid amputating it. Unfortunately they forgot to first clue in said uncle, who freaked when one of the little critters wriggled out of the bandage.

I’ve heard varying accounts of how well this works. Some report that the maggots can eat TOO much from a wound, going at the living flesh and becoming counterproductive, if left there too long.


21 posted on 12/06/2012 9:49:01 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Now we know to look for a rotted log and don’t leave them on the wound too long.


22 posted on 12/06/2012 9:58:25 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: Arlis

Cold cuts external bleeding already. Medical treatment facilities have maggot eggs stored on hand.

Flies in summer have it as their usual job the finding of dead flesh. They come to you.

They do tickle a bit as they do their work. It is one way to clean up frostbite damage. I stay south of Interstate 10 now.


23 posted on 12/06/2012 10:07:26 PM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: CrazyIvan
Maggots and Leeches are on the isle? Must be nice to go on vacation.


24 posted on 12/06/2012 10:07:50 PM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: expat1000

Wouldn’t those little suckers itch like hell, and smell really bad when they get squished under the dressing?


25 posted on 12/06/2012 10:11:59 PM PST by Post Toasties (Leftists give insanity a bad name. 0bama: Eight years of failure and fingerpointing.)
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To: neverdem

Maybe the lib-dem maggots will clean
the national wound that is “conservative”
Gop.


26 posted on 12/06/2012 10:40:07 PM PST by WKTimpco (Traditional Values Counter Revolution)
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To: therut; ccmay; Kozak; Jim Noble; Mother Abigail; EBH; vetvetdoug; Smokin' Joe; Global2010; ...
Comment# 1 on this maggot thread links the "new web site of Microbiology and Immunology On-line from the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine." You might want to save that. That's why I pinged therut, ccmay, Kozak and Jim Noble. I also linked their section on the complement system.

New type of bacterial protection found within cells

FReepmail me if you want on or off my combined microbiology/immunology ping list.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

27 posted on 12/06/2012 10:44:31 PM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: Arlis
Where would I find these helpful maggots?

Get out your iPhone, call your doctor, ask him to order them.

Make sure he will make a "house call" to wherever you lie wounded.

Monarch Labs
17875 Sky Park Circle, Suite K
Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: (949) 679-3000 ~ Fax: (949) 679-3001 ~ E-mail: sales@monarchlabs.com
http://www.monarchlabs.com

You're welcome.

28 posted on 12/06/2012 10:50:13 PM PST by TChad
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To: Post Toasties; A_perfect_lady

>>Wouldn’t those little suckers itch like hell, and smell really bad when they get squished under the dressing?

Smell bad? Itchy? You mean compared to rotting, putrid, necrotic flesh? Don’t forget, this isn’t therapy for even little injury. It’s often an alternative to amputation. Itchy or gangrene would be a pretty easy choice. As to getting squished, I don’t know for sure, but would think those kinds of wounds would not be allowed (and would be too painful it happened) to have much pressure applied to them.

BTW, this seems to be gaining popularity treating infections inside horse’s hooves where removing infected, necrotic tissue must be extremely difficult.


29 posted on 12/06/2012 10:59:03 PM PST by expat1000
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To: Arlis

In winter, you won’t of course. In the warmer months, just leave the open wound exposed while you sleep and let nature take its course. All it takes is a single fly to land and lay eggs, and you’ll be good to go. I’d guess you’d find more flies near water sources, just because they’ll be following the animals which gather there.

The trick then is to remove the maggots (all of them) once they’ve eaten away the necrotic flesh. Once they start hurting, and drawing blood, it’s time to pick them out and clean the wound.


30 posted on 12/06/2012 11:29:42 PM PST by Boogieman
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To: Post Toasties

The kind of wound this is used on, is when the flesh is already dead and dying. Dead flesh doesn’t have any nerve endings, so you wouldn’t feel anything while they are working on that. They prefer the dead and rotting flesh, so they eat that stuff first, and then when they start on the part you can feel, it’s time to get them out of there.


31 posted on 12/06/2012 11:33:36 PM PST by Boogieman
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To: DemforBush; Kartographer

Ping to Kartographer for preppers use. (What to do with those logs to rotten to toss in the stove).


32 posted on 12/06/2012 11:40:11 PM PST by 21twelve (So I [God] gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. Psalm 81:12)
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To: expat1000
If you are going to link pictures do it right!

MAGGOT DEBRIDEMENT
33 posted on 12/06/2012 11:52:51 PM PST by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: A_perfect_lady

They are coming back as a wound debrider. Eating only dead flesh, raised in sterile conditions put on a sterile gauge and applied periodically to wound...very tiny when first put on infected wounds.... One of my nurse friends at another hospital had a bum broungh to her floor, ER wouldn’t debride open sores. She sat with a bottle of alchol and tweezers to pick off the maggots. She said it was the cleanest wound she ever saw....


34 posted on 12/07/2012 12:12:17 AM PST by goat granny
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To: A_perfect_lady

Oh, does this mean that you have to shove a bunch of Democrats up your butt if you want to get rid of Hemmorhoids?


35 posted on 12/07/2012 12:53:12 AM PST by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
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To: dynoman
If you are going to link pictures do it right!

Nah. I'd rather let you do it - wouldn't want to deprive you of the opportunity to whine about it.

36 posted on 12/07/2012 1:02:17 AM PST by expat1000
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To: expat1000

I was laughing when I wrote that!! Thanks for inspiring me to do it right!


37 posted on 12/07/2012 1:34:15 AM PST by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: dynoman

Well, you oughta put a little smiley there in those situations. Sorry for being testy!


38 posted on 12/07/2012 1:38:06 AM PST by expat1000
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To: 2ndreconmarine; Fitzcarraldo; Covenantor; Mother Abigail; EBH; Dog Gone; ...

Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)


39 posted on 12/07/2012 2:10:53 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: 2ndreconmarine; Fitzcarraldo; Covenantor; Mother Abigail; EBH; Dog Gone; ...

Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)


40 posted on 12/07/2012 2:11:19 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: 2ndreconmarine; Fitzcarraldo; Covenantor; Mother Abigail; EBH; Dog Gone; ...

Ping... (Thanks, neverdem!)


41 posted on 12/07/2012 2:12:23 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: GeronL; All

This was documented during the Civil War, when military surgeons noted with amazement that severely wounded Confederate soldiers tended to heal faster and overcome gangrene better than their Union counterparts because they were invariably “cleaned” by the maggots (as a result of their generally poor and unsanitary post-battle hospital care.)


42 posted on 12/07/2012 3:13:27 AM PST by Timber Rattler (Just say NO! to RINOS and the GOP-E)
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To: Timber Rattler

Note that many herbs DO work as medicines if you know which and how much;there are natural cures for many ills ,but it seems they are not so neat as we have come to expect.

We had a young cow severely gashed by brab wire many years ago.Maggots infested thwe wound and we flushed them out with the garden hose.Her wound healed cleanly and she was a productive member of the dairy herd for some years.

Maggots,leeches, and herbs were the tools of healers for centuries.Of course just as now not everyone survived all the treatments by all the healers.How many die of doctor’s,nurse’s and laboratory mistakes today every year ?I seem to remember it is about 100,000 !Hundreds sickened and dozens dead recently from bad steroid injections for back and other pains.


43 posted on 12/07/2012 3:33:03 AM PST by hoosierham (Freedom isn't free)
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To: GeronL
but probably very popular as a food in Indochina. lol.

Where they must have an unusually low rate of stomach ulcers...

44 posted on 12/07/2012 3:33:50 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

Oh MAGGOTS! I thought they said faggots

LOL!


45 posted on 12/07/2012 4:11:25 AM PST by bikerman (What ever happens from now is all OBAMA's fault. Obama lied,economy died)
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To: neverdem

I just realized...my face is all scrunched up.


46 posted on 12/07/2012 4:15:17 AM PST by FrdmLvr (culture, language, borders)
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To: expat1000

Nasty wound, that. Electrical discharge or mine?


47 posted on 12/07/2012 5:19:59 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: Smokin' Joe

>>Nasty wound, that. Electrical discharge or mine?

Hard to say what caused it, isn’t it? Looks to me like it was festering for some time and I would think the blood flow to the wound, and therefore the effectiveness of antibiotics, would be substantially reduced. That would make it a more likely candidate for maggot therapy.


48 posted on 12/07/2012 5:30:47 AM PST by expat1000
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To: humblegunner

Ping for why you don’t need a doctor...


49 posted on 12/07/2012 5:31:32 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: neverdem

The little fat white worms under rotting logs are known as grubs - not maggots. I think they are beetle larvae. Bears and Bear Gryls like to eat them.


50 posted on 12/07/2012 5:40:18 AM PST by Drawsing (The fool shows his annoyance at once. The prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16))
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