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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
Firm to market hospital's maggots
Maggots
The maggots used are now classed as a pharmaceutical product
A south Wales hospital has set up a private firm to market the maggots it produces as a treatment for wounds which will not heal.

Experts at a unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend said work had "snowballed" and they were providing maggots to hospitals across the UK.

Up to 20,000 patients have been treated with the sterile larvae of the green bottle fly since the mid 1990s.

The company is the first in Wales to be created by a NHS hospital trust.

Maggots have been used throughout medical history as a painless way of treating wounds because they remove dead and infected tissue, while leaving healthy tissue intact.

We've been a victim of our own success in some ways because the maggot business has grown
Dr Steve Thomas

But they fell into disuse when antibiotics were first introduced in the 1940s.

Medics now recognise that maggots have a number of advantages over conventional forms of treatment, as they kill the bacteria that cause infection, including the so-called antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

There is also some evidence the creatures, the maggots are held in place for two or three days by a nylon mesh, also stimulate the wound to heal.

The unit at Bridgend was the first in Europe to reintroduce maggots as a recognised therapy for septic injuries.

Last year, GPs were able to put maggots on prescription and the Biosurgical Research Unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital set up a mail order service to cope with the demand.

Pressure sores

A pot of maggots is then posted to patients so the district nurse can apply them leg ulcers, pressure sores or diabetic ulcers.

The hospital's maggot farming has become a booming business which the new company, ZooBiotic, aims to develop.

Technical Director Dr Steve Thomas said: "When we started off, we treated about one or two patients in three months and now the thing has snowballed.

"We're providing maggots to hospitals all over the United Kingdom and to GPs as well.

"We've been a victim of our own success in some ways because the maggot business has grown and the legal status of maggots has changed.

"Maggots that you use on wounds are now classed as medicinal products, so we have to produce them under very controlled conditions.

Turnover

"This involves clean rooms and so on, as it would with any pharmaceutical material, and these things are incredibly expensive.

"In order to raise the money to develop the service, we needed to form a private company."

The south Wales trust holds a 40% share in the business, with other finance coming from private investors, government-backed investors and a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government.

The trust estimates that ZooBiotic will have a turnover of 10m within five years.




SEE ALSO:
Maggots could save NHS millions
11 Jan 05 |  North Yorkshire
GPs prescribe home maggot cure
20 Feb 04 |  South East Wales
Maggots could save NHS money
17 Jul 00 |  Wales


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