Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 4:11 p.m.
Writer Paul Oginni catches readers up on former UC Irvine professor Ronald A. Sherman in the latest issue of New University, UCI's student newspaper. Sherman, the medical director at Monarch Labs and founder of the nonprofit BioTherapeutics, Education & Research Foundation, is now making new headlines with an old technique: maggot therapy.
Although the practice of maggot treatment dates back many centuries, recent scientific studies generated by Sherman have spawned a renewed interest in the procedure.
Maggots are selective eaters, so they will eat dead flesh while leaving the live tissue intact. This makes them excellent wound cleaners because they are able to remove dead and infected skin on open sores without slowing the growth of new skin.
Ummm, what's for dinner?
A recent British Medical Journal study comparing maggot therapy, which is what the photo above actually shows, to more mainstream treatments on 270 leg ulcer patients found the fly larvae bunch cleaned out dead skin faster than their traditional counterparts. However, the piece notes the maggots "did not decrease the overall rate of recovery, and they seemed to be more painful." The bottom line: it comes down to what kind of treatment the patient wants.
Sherman, who has spent his career in maggot therapy, first predicted as a medical student in 1983 that it would make a comeback. "The significant need for better wound care, and the dramatic efficacy of the maggots have increased demand," Sherman tells the British journal. "We've done no advertising. It's been word of mouth plus my clinical research papers."
Damn, and here I was hoping for TV commercials featuring a fast-talking announcer informing patients to stop using maggots if they experience sudden blindness or an erection lasting more than four hours.