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Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Top award for maggots' research
maggots
Maggots clean wounds quicker than other treatments
Researchers at a south Wales hospital have won a top science award for pioneering research into use of maggots in health treatment.

The biosurgical research unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend won the Queen's Enterprise Award for its unusual form of therapy.

Staff sell the sterilised maggots to clean infected wounds in patients who have not responded to conventional treatments.

The team markets the creatures in a "maggot therapy pack" dubbed LarvE to apply to infected surgical wounds and those containing the MRSA superbug. The award is in the Innovation category.
maggots
Maggots can be an effective treatment

Director of the Biosurgical Research Unit, Dr Steve Thomas, said: "Sterile maggots clean wounds in a fraction of the time taken by other forms of treatment and patients aren't put off.

"Despite their somewhat unpleasant associations, they have important implications for patient care.

Widely used

"We are delighted to have been selected for the award."

Maggots are widely used in treatments for leg ulcers, pressure sores, necrotic areas on the feet of diabetics and other infected surgical wounds.

Dr Thomas keeps flies in a sealed room and feeds them on pig's liver.

The flies lay their eggs on the liver. These are then separated and sterilised and develop into maggots.

The tiny creatures are then sent out to hospitals, where they clean wounds by eating dead tissue.


Patients quickly get used to the idea

Dr Steve Thomas
In 1998, the Bridgend unit won a Millennium Award for its work. Last year, the group's web site was voted one of the world's most popular.

Dr Thomas added: "Although some patients and clinicians have reservations about putting maggots into wounds, they quickly get used to the idea, particularly when they see how effective they are.

"The principal problem is that LarvE cannot be prescribed by GPs, so the treatment is not freely available to those patients in the community who would derive most benefit from their use.

"We hope that, now LarvE has been granted a Queen's Award, it will encourage others to try this somewhat unusual but highly effective form of treatment."

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