Mag­gots make a mark in medicine

The Sunday Times - - News - MI­RANDA WOOD

A ME­DIEVAL treat­ment some might find re­pul­sive is mak­ing a come­back in medicine.

Mag­gots have been used to heal wounds on more than 1400 Aus­tralians as a last-ditch at­tempt to save limbs from am­pu­ta­tion.

And their abil­ity to feast on dead flesh while leav­ing healthy tis­sue alone could also help com­bat the an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance cri­sis.

NSW Health Pathol­ogy se­nior sci­en­tist Mer­i­lyn Geary, right, the Aus­tralian pi­o­neer be­hind mag­got ther­apy, said the stom­ach-churn­ing treat­ment had an 85 per cent suc­cess rate.

“It’s pretty hor­ri­ble but it works,” she said. “We have a lot of wound con­sul­tants and doc­tors that have used this ther­apy and, with the right pa­tients and the right wound, they can achieve amaz­ing re­sults.

“You won’t con­vince ev­ery­body though. There are doc­tors who think of it as me­dieval, a sort of witch­craft and they re­fust to have any of it in their rooms.”

Dr Geary is the only sup­plier of med­i­cal mag­gots in Aus­tralia with one ap­pli­ca­tion (about 100 mag­gots) cost­ing $150 — com­pared with $25,000 for an am­pu­ta­tion. Na­tion­ally, about 70 am­pu­ta­tions done weekly. Dr Geary orig­i­nally bred the mag­gots from blowflies in her back­yard.

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