The Loh Down On Science

Maggot, Heal Myself!

Forget the Bandaid, put a maggot on that cut!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying EW! But, yes.

Gross as it sounds, doctors have been healing wounds with maggots for ages. Healing? Really? But don't maggots eat dead flesh? Yes--and they do it very well. But in the process, they exude a soothing secretion that calms inflammation, allowing injured tissue to heal.

So say researchers from Erasmus University in the Netherlands. They've looked into how maggot goo works.

One theory was that the stuff is antibacterial. But studies haven't found that. Instead, the Dutch team thought maybe maggot goo works not by killing germs, but by suppressing our bodies' own inflammation.

So they put maggot goo in blood samples from both healthy people and people who'd just had surgery. Inflammation central! In all cases, the goo-treated samples had far fewer inflammatory proteins than untreated samples. Nice!

Maggot treatment has fallen out of fashion since antibiotics were discovered, but it's still useful in some cases.

So look for them at a pharmacy near you. Next to the leeches. Just kidding.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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