Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 16:27 UK

Patients wanted for maggots trial

 Professor Keith Harding will be the chief investigator in a new trial backed

Two hundred patients are being sought for a trial looking at how efficient maggots are at wound cleaning.

Cardiff University is teaming up with Bridgend-based ZooBiotic, the UK's only commercial producer of medicinal-quality larvae for the 12-month trial.

Eight hospitals across England and Wales will collaborate on the project.

Researchers will gather evidence over 12 months how effective maggots can be in speeding up healing and cutting the length of hospital stays.

Prof Keith Harding, head of Cardiff University's department of wound healing, said Wales was leading the way in this area of research.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that maggots are extremely successful in the speedy and effective cleaning of wounds and the year-long trial aims to translate that into hard evidence.

Prof Harding, who is also clinical director of wound healing at Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust, has a worldwide reputation in wound healing, and will be the chief investigator.

Centres taking part in the trial
George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton
Charing Cross Hospital - part of Imperial College, London
Bradford Royal Infirmary
Singleton Hospital, Swansea
Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny
Pilgrim and Boston Hospitals, Lincoln
Bristol Primary Care Trust
Worcestershire Primary Care Trust

"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," he said.

"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."

ZooBiotic spokeswoman Gill Davies said: "There is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence indicating that maggots are extremely effective in wound cleaning.

"The time has come for this to be backed by further clinical evidence, which is why, we, as a small business, 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, clearing the protocol with regulatory bodies and ethics committees.

I'm very glad to be taking part in this trial as I want my leg to heal up after all this time
Trial recruit Joyce Coopey

"This is a randomised clinical trial which is the gold standard for producing evidence," she added.

Joyce Coopey, who is 75 and from Newport is one of the first recruits to the trial.

She sustained a leg injury when a thief snatched her handbag, throwing her onto a gravel path in the process.

The wound she sustained almost a year ago became infected and refused to heal.

"I'm very glad to be taking part in this trial as I want my leg to heal up after all this time.

"I am an active person, and even though I haven't let it stand in my way, the injury has been painful and distressing," she said.

ZooBiotic now produces 600,000 maggots, and 1,500 dressings per month from its pharmaceutical production unit, supplying a client base of more than 4,000.

It is believed 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.

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