Currently in the USA, 29 million people suffer from diabetes, a chronic and far-reaching disease. Among many things, diabetes effects circulation and wound healing, specifically in the peripheral limbs (ex: feet and hands). Therefore, what would be just a blister on a non-diabetic patients often becomes a foot sore, and in some cases amputation, in a patient with diabetes.
Currently, one of the go-to treatments for foot ulcers is maggot debridement therapy. This treatment involves introducing sterile green bottle fly maggots into the wound. These maggots eat the dead tissue, while also depositing antimicrobial secretions, which keeps the wound from getting any further infected.
However, although maggot debridement therapy is fairly quick and cheap, the treatment does not speed up the healing, which with diabetes, time is of the essence. Scientists are now experimenting with genetically modified maggots, which could cut the healing time in half. This is accomplished by modifying the maggots to secrete human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) in addition to their own antimicrobial secretions.