Resistance is futile (if you are bacteria facing a medicinal maggot!!)

It’s always nice to receive a present, and on Casualty tonight Jade and Dylan are given key-rings featuring embedded maggots by a grateful Campbell, who we last saw getting maggot therapy for a pressure ulcer.  The Love a Maggot team approve of maggot related key-rings – though we think our maggot key-ring may edge out Campbell’s in the cuddly stakes.

While it was a lovely thought by Campbell to thank his medical team for using maggots to cure his ulcer,  the thought that is on most clinicians and researchers minds who are working on wound care is how to combat antibiotic resistance.  As Yamni mentions in the video below, bacteria evolve quickly and can become resistant to antibiotics that modern medicine depends on.  The search is on for new classes of antibiotics to combat drug resistant infection but this will take time.  On the other hand, medicinal maggots are adaptive and secrete antibacterial and antifungal molecules that can combat new strains of bacteria and fungus as they encounter them.

Tom Hewes and Yamni discuss the bacteria slaying factories that are medicinal maggots in the below video!  (Thanks to the BBC for filming this video and hat-tip to the Borg!)

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Maggots back in action on Casualty!

This Saturday our favourite medicinal maggot wonders were back in action on Casualty. One of the plots focused around the treatment of pressure sore on the back of a patient.  Maggot therapy (MT) is an excellent treatment for pressure wounds, and indeed wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers and burns.  At first though, the patient doesn’t want to go through with the therapy as he finds the idea of maggots within his wound off-putting (to put it mildly!).  This is not an uncommon reaction for people when first faced with the idea of maggot therapy – we call it the Yuck factor and for the past few years have been researching how people feel about maggot therapy.

In general, when first asked about MT people generally do not want to have it at all, and are worried about what will happen when the maggots are put on the wound and if it will hurt.  However once the procedure is explained and how maggots can help clean certain wounds much faster than other treatments, people tend to be more accepting of the treatment and willing to try it.  You can see that happening in this episode when Jade explains to Campbell how maggots are like hoovers that suck up the bacteria and dead skin in his wound.  Medicinal maggots don’t have teeth, they secrete a digestive juice that breaks down the necrotic part of the wound and then they ‘suck’ the infected dead flesh back in and metabolise it.

Maggots have also been shown to produce antimicrobial factors in their secretions, so can work to kill bacteria that surrounds them in a wound too.  In this episode Jade and Dylan are using free range maggots on their patient, but ‘bagged’ maggots are also used on NHS prescription. In the episode you can see the hospital’s maggot rearing lab – some hospitals around the world do raise their own maggots, but hospitals can also order maggots from companies who specialise in the rearing and distribution of clinical grade medicinal maggots.

Excitingly, Yamni was able to chat with Will and Gabriella (who play Dylan and Jade) about working with maggots on set  – sit back and press play to reveal all!

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All the ‘ssssssses’ for Super Science Sunday in Swansea!

Yamni and the Love a Maggot team were invited to Oriel Science’s Super Science Sunday in the Waterfront Museum on March 10th.  Our awesome mascot, Matty the Maggot (aka Paul Matthews, the creator of Matty) made his first appearance in person ever! James, Mike, Liam and Leanne were all on hand show off Matty’s friends and Yamni was booked to give a sell-out talk on “Maggots – medical marvels!”  Some photos below of the day!

Maggots vs Bacteria – all about the game!

Before you go and play our game (it’s right there under the Maggots  vs Bacteria  tab!) it might be interesting to see how this game came to be and how long a project like this takes to develop.  In early 2015 Yamni was talking to her colleague Prof Amy Brown about different ways to get the message out about how great medicinal maggots were at zapping bacteria in wounds.  They hit on the idea of some sort of game but at the time didn’t know how to go about starting the process.  A year later, Yamni mentioned the idea of a game to the people at Cherish DE and they suggested that she go have a chat to Dr Sean Walton, a computer scientist based in the Bay campus at Swansea and who also is a game developer.  Yamni and Sean specced out the idea of the game but soon realised they also could do with the advice of a graphic designer and UX specialist.  Luckily Chris Sherwood, a senior UX designer working at Swansea university was interested.  Together they applied for funding from the Impact Acceleration Account at Swansea University and won seed funding to develop the game.  Through 2017 and 2018 the game developed with funding from Cherish DE and when Stephen Mitchell, a software developer and tutor in Swansea joined in 2018 the team was complete and the game came on in leaps and bounds.  The final game was completed in 2019 and was user tested by 200 9-11 year olds in January 2019 before being beta released. The team will be releasing new versions of the game throughout the year taking into account feedback from player.

So please do take the survey when you play the game  – your suggestions might make it into the next release!

Early version of the game!

Maggots make their debut on the small screen!

You might have noticed that our good friends medicinal maggots had a mention on the TV programme Casualty on Saturday night (23 Feb).  This is not by accident!  In August 2018 Yamni and Tom (paramedic consultant at Swansea University) were invited by the Casualty writing and research team to talk to them about maggots and medicine.  The team were intrigued and fascinated and decided to incorporate a maggot based story line in the current series.   Yamni, Tom and the Casualty team have been working together on this for a few months and the maggot episodes will be coming out over the next few months.  So keep tuned to Causality (on every Saturday night) – you might even see Matty!

Yamni presenting to the Casualty team in August 2018

 

 

 

Matty gets WISE and meets royalty!

A Swansea University academic has been honoured by the Princess Royal for her dedication in sharing a passion for science with other women.

Professor Yamni Nigam is a world-renowned expert on the science and therapeutic use of maggots. Discoveries by her research team have led to a greater understanding on how maggots work in wounds but it was her work promoting her profession that has led to her winning a prestigious WISE Award.

The annual awards provide an opportunity to recognise inspiring organisations and individuals who have addressed the core concerns of the WISE campaign promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to girls and women.

Professor Nigam delivers interactive sessions in her fields of microbiology and entomology to pupils at local schools and regularly takes part in community outreach programmes such as Swansea Science Festival.

She was presented with the WISE Innovation Award by the Princess, who is patron of WISE at a ceremony in London.

Judges paid tribute to Professor Nigam’s enthusiasm and praised her for her work to influence the Welsh curriculum with resource packs aimed at encouraging more girls to apply for STEM subjects.

“She is developing a new antibiotic from maggot secretion at a crucial time and is a fantastic STEM ambassador,” they said.

Professor Nigam said she was thrilled to have won and now plans to work even more closely with the WISE campaign.

She said: “The whole evening was totally awesome from start to finish. All the finalists were brilliant and I feel very honoured to have won. Huge thanks to my top researchers in Team Maggot!

“I am passionate about science and determined to do what I can to promote more girls becoming enthralled with, and pursuing STEM subjects.”

Swansea University’s Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor Hilary Lappin-Scott – and fellow microbiologist – was there to see Professor Nigam lift her award.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted for Yamni whose dedication to promoting STEM careers is inspirational.

“She is among the many remarkable academics we are lucky enough to have at Swansea who set girls and women the perfect example about what STEM can offer them.

“Events like these are so important because they help us ensure we continue to developing female talent within our institutions.”

The awards are organised by the WISE campaign which aims to enable and energise people in business, industry and education by offering expertise, training and networking events.

With more than 900,000 women currently employed in core STEM occupations, which include science, engineering, and information and communications technology, WISE’s target of a million female employees by 2020 is now in sight.

Professor Nigam added: “It’s such an important mission and one which I will happily devote my time to.”

Posted by Kathy Thomas <katherine.thomas@swansea.ac.uk>
Wednesday 28 November 2018 13.59 GMT
Press Office, Tel: 01792604290

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