Biotherapy can be defined as the use of living animals or microorganisms to diagnose or treat diseases.
The following examples of diagnostic or therapeutic modalities is linked to more detailed pages.
The list continues to expand, as we learn more about the world around us.
(also known as maggot debridement therapy, MDT, larva therapy, larval therapy, biodebridement, biosurgery) -
Live, disinfected fly larvae are used to treat problematic wounds in humans and other animals.
The larvae ("maggots") have three primary actions: they clean the wounds by removing dead and disinfected tissue ("debridement"),
the disinfect the wound (kill bacteria),
and they speed the rate of healing.
(also known as hirudotherapy) -
Leeches have been used in medicine for thousands of years. Leeches remove blood ("phlebotomize") from their host,
and they release pain-killing (anesthetic) and blood-thining (anticoaggulant) substances with their saliva.
Live leeches are currently used to treat blood-congested limbs, which otherwise might die or require amputation,
if the pooling blood cannot be removed any other way.
They are also sometimes used to provide pain relief, and for many other therapeutic effects.
Honey Bee Therapy
(also known as apitherapy) -
Honey bee venom contains anti-inflammatory substances that are believed to be responsible for the beneficial effects seen
when they are allowed to sting patients with severe pain syndromes (for example, rheumatoid arthritis), and some neurological syndromes
(for example, multiple sclerosis). Many other illness are being treated with honey bee stings, and active research is defining the
optimal clinical indications and mechanisms underlying the benefits of honey bee sting therapy. Other bee products are also used in medicine.
(helminth [round worm] therapy, worm therapy) -
Many people are aware of the infectious diseases commonly seen in the tropics,
such as intestinal parasites.
Some people are aware of the many diseases seen mostly in developed countries,
such as inflammatory bowel disease and some allergic or hypersensitivity disorders.
Recently, a connection has been made, based on the assumption that these tropical infections
may, in fact, protect against immune-mediated illnesses,
such as Crohn's disease, allergic rhinitis, and others.
Begining in 2004, Tinea suix (an intestinal roundworm that is not a human parasite)
became available to treat disabling illnesses such as Crohn's colitis.
Microbial Therapy / Phage Therapy
Some microorganisms, such as phage, are parasites of bacteria and other microbes.
Administering these parasitic microorganisms to people with infections has been associated with erradication of the underlying infections.
Treating infectious diseases with parasitic microorganisms has many advantages over treatment with antibiotics.
Animal pets provide companionship and unconditional love. Pets improve general mood, decrease depression and loneliness,
and distract our minds from stress-inducing concerns. The quality of life is improved for countless individuals --- not just the elderly, lonely, and infirmed ---
through the company, the pleasures, and the challenges of animal pets.
Sniffer Dog Diagnostics
Dogs have been shown to be able to detect cancers in humans, on the basis of odors given off by the malignancy or the host.
Although not yet clinically practiced, the potential diagnostic and therapeutic benefits of sniffer dogs is sparking new research
into this area of biotherapy.
"Seeing Eye Dogs"
The use of "seeing eye dogs" to help the sight-impaired navigate the world around us is another example of living animals helping in the diagnosis and treatment of illness.
The is one of the most well-accepted forms of biotherapy, and as a result it may be less well recognized.
(also called "Fish Therapy"
Ichtiotherapy is the use of certain species of fish to treat wounds and skin conditions.
There are only a few centers in the world currently doing Ichthiotherapy. There clinical outcomes look very good;
but objective, scientific studies are almost non-existent.
Over the coming months, we will add more information and links to this topic.
Some of these modalities are widely practiced and well-respected (i.e., seeing eye dogs).
Others are accepted as medically effective and relatives safe (i.e., maggot therapy, leech therapy),
but not widely used.Medicinal maggots and leeches save lives and limbs every day!
. . . Yet, maggot therapy, leech therapy, and the other biotherapies are not part of most medical curriculae,
and often not reimbursed by payers of medical care.
The BTER Foundation mission is to fill this void, and make biotherapies more avialable to those who could benefit from them,
by subsidizing the costs of treatment for patients who can not afford it,
by developing educational programs to train therapists in the use of biotherapeutic methods,
by developing treatment standards that optimize the effectiveness and safety of each method,
and by helping to advance our understanding of biotherapies through pollicy and scientific research.
Please join with us on our quest to advance health, in a manner that is scientifically based, financially sound,
and environmentally responsible. Please donate your time, your services, or your financial assistance (yes, we need money, too)
to the BTER Foundation.
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