A world without antibiotics would drive us back to the Dark Ages. When we run out of bacteria-fighting drugs -- a scenario that scientists say might come sooner than later -- major surgery will be too risky to perform, and food will get more expensive. Even our wound treatment could get medieval, but with a high-tech twist. One scientist is making genetically-modified maggots that pump out human growth factor, which could help treat and sterilize open wounds when antibiotics don't work anymore. [...]
The green bottle fly larvae is already used in FDA-approved "maggot debridement therapy," in which maggots are applied to non-healing wounds, like diabetic foot ulcers, which can lead to gangrene. It's a time-honoured technique, and seems to work in a few different ways. Maggots munch away dead tissue, but also "change the pH of the wound," Scott said, by secreting ammonia and making it more alkaline, and thus less friendly to invasive bacteria. "They also secrete antimicrobial peptides," he said. The bugs can be effective against MRSA, for example, a particularly fearsome drug-resistant bug.
These GM maggots are even better, because they also pump out something called human platelet-derived growth factor-BB, which stimulates cell growth and survival.
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