Maggots: A Medical Device

Blow fly maggot

Blow fly maggot
Image: ComputeScotland

Maggot therapy can be used to promote healing of chronic wounds that don’t otherwise heal. One larva of Lucilia sericata, (maggot) can consume 25 mg of necrotic material in one day. The debridement (removal of necrotic tissue) is accomplished by a combination of enzymes and physical movement. In the US, the Food and Drug Admistration (FDA) regulates maggots for medicinal use as a prescription “Medical Device” because of the physical action on the wound.

The maggots secrete enzymes that degrade and liquify only the necrotic tissue, but have no effect on the healthy tissue. The maggots ingest the liqified material and remove it from the wound. The maggots are covered with minute spines. As they crawl on the wound, the spines disrupt the layer of necrotic material and allow enzymes to penetrate. This action as a “biomechanical plow” earns them their classification as a medical “device”.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Health, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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