Insect Biotechnology

Volume 2 of the series Biologically-Inspired Systems pp 67-75


From Traditional Maggot Therapy to Modern Biosurgery

  • Andreas VilcinskasAffiliated withUniversity of Giessen, Institute of Phytopathology and Applied ZoologyDepartment of Bio-Resources, Fraunhofer Institute of Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology Email author 

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The definition of insect biotechnology provided in this book refers to any technological application that uses insects or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use in agriculture, food science, and medicine. The most prominent application of insects or insect-derived molecules in medicine is known as maggot therapy or biosurgery. The term maggot therapy has been established for the application of live larvae from the green blow fly Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae) to cure open, infected, chronic and/or necrotic wounds, particularly those associated with diabetic or vascular ulcers, whose cure by conventional approaches often fails. This simple and highly successful therapy has received renewed attention in wound therapy because it combines a number of advantages such as efficacy, excellent safety record, and low costs. However, the maggots are sometimes negatively perceived by patients and their sharp mouth-hooks and spicules can sometimes cause pain. Recent research focuses on the identification of molecules from L. sericata mediating promotion of wound healing as well as debridement and disinfection of wounds. The production and application of corresponding synthetic or recombinant analogues may expand the use of insect-derived molecules beyond maggot therapy of wounds to include the cure of other diseases by biosurgery.


Maggot therapy Biosurgery Wound healing Antimicrobials Lucilia sericata