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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 08:05 GMT
Maggots could save NHS millions
Larvae of Lucilia sericata being grown in the lab
Maggots help healing by eating dead tissue
Volunteers are being sought for what is said to be the largest study into the healing powers of maggots.

The University of York is looking for 600 leg ulcer sufferers to test the effectiveness of the larvae of a species of greenbottle fly.

Studies have shown that maggots can speed up healing by eating dead tissue and leaving healthy tissue alone.

It is hoped the 750,000 trial could reduce the annual 600m cost to the NHS of treating leg ulcers.

The study is being run in partnership with NHS trusts across the north, midlands and Northern Ireland.
Of the people who have volunteered so far, squeamishness does not appear to be an issue
Dr Pauline Raynor

Researchers say the trial will compare the use of sterile maggots against a standard treatment using hydrogel.

Trial co-ordinator Dr Pauline Raynor said: "Patients will have the chance to take part in an exciting study which will find out whether maggots really do heal ulcers more quickly.

"We need a total of 600 patients to come forward to take part in this important research.

"Of the people who have volunteered so far, squeamishness does not appear to be an issue at all."

Maggots, which had previously been used as a treatment for hundreds of years, were phased out with the introduction of antibiotics around 80 years ago.

But in recent years use of the larvae to treat wound infections has grown in popularity in some hospitals.

Dr Raynor added: "The trial will compare the clinical and cost-effectiveness of larval therapy with the more conventional treatment, as well as the effect on patients' quality of life over a period of one year.

Maggots heal hospital wounds
27 Feb 03 |  Northern Ireland

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