Lucilia Pharma

The Project

Lucilia Pharma is a drug discovery company focused on exploiting the beneficial molecular properties of entities excreted/secreted by maggots of various species of flies (including Lucilia sericata) which are already widely used in medicinal maggot debridement therapy (MDT) to treat chronic wounds, such as diabetic leg ulcers and including those infected with drug-resistant bacteria including MRSA.

Maggots are routinely used clinically for wound treatment particularly where wounds are struggling to heal. Their antimicrobial properties are well recognised although the active compounds that facilitate healing are unknown. Maggots have been around for over 60 million years and bacteria have not yet evolved a defence mechanism so the isolation, identification and synthesis of an active compound offers the promise of a drug spared from the antibacterial resistance so common today.

The research at Swansea University underpinning Lucilia Pharma has already received funding from the Welsh Assembly Government's Academia for Business (A4B) programme to isolate and identify the anti-bacterial properties of these compounds in maggot secretions. Very high potency, small molecular weight compounds have been identified in very low concentrations with distinctive mechanisms of action suggesting interference in bacterial replication (and hence their inability to evolve defence mechanisms). Informed by this, Lucilia Pharma is also working with researchers from Bath University to look at FtsZ inhibitors which also disrupt bacterial growth and which again can be used to control bacterial infections.
Lucilla Pharma's mission is to bring a suite of products to market that overcome antimicrobial resistance and which can be used to stop e.g. MRSA outbreaks. It offers the promise of a completely new class of drug with a similar effect on healthcare that was attributed to penicillin in the 1930’s.

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