Health

Science/Medicine
7:04 am
Sun February 26, 2012

Michigan mental health advocates ask for insurance parity

anitapatterson Morguefile

An effort is under way to require autism coverage by insurance companies in Michigan. But mental health advocates want coverage to be mandated for all mental illness.

The autism coverage issue has gotten a lot of attention because Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s daughter has autism, and he supports the insurance mandate.

But others say lawmakers need to go further.

Dr. Leigh White is assistant director for the Olin Student Health Center at Michigan State University.

She says people are often blamed for their mental illness.  

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Science/Medicine
1:39 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

E. coli cases in Michigan linked to sprouts in fast-food sandwiches

flickr.com

Michigan health officials are warning people not to eat raw clover sprouts, because they may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says two people were hospitalized after eating the sprouts at sandwich shops in mid and southeast Michigan earlier this month.

Five other people became sick.

Health officials say two confirmed cases of E. coli in Michigan had the same genetic fingerprint as cases in other states. All were  linked to raw clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

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health care
4:48 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Holland wins $1.6 million in Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

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Science/Medicine
3:07 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Chemical in bathtub refinishing products blamed in 13 deaths

A chemical used to refinish bathtubs has been linked to 13 deaths – three of them in Michigan.

More people are having their bathtubs refinished or doing it themselves to save money. Many are using products that contain methylene chloride, available at home improvement stores and on the Internet.

The chemical is marketed to the aircraft industry, to strip paint from airplanes. It's also used as a degreaser.

Methylene chloride is colorless, highly volatile and toxic.

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Science/Medicine
5:09 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

"New-car smell" could be hazardous to your health

bluescreen Morguefile

An environmental watchdog group has released a report about toxins found inside new cars. It says that “new-car smell” can be harmful to your health. 

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says the interiors of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, Chrysler 200 S and the Kia Soul had the highest level of hazardous chemicals.

The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ had the lowest level of chemical hazards.

Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says flame retardants and chemicals in plastics generate gases that can cause health problems.

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Science/Medicine
3:32 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

University of Michigan students holding bone marrow registry drive tomorrow

Tomorrow's bone marrow registry drive will take place in the Anderson room of the University of Michigan Union from 10am to 4pm.
AndrewH324 Flickr

University of Michigan students are harnessing the power of Facebook to promote a bone marrow registry drive to take place tomorrow at the Michigan Union.

A Michigan student who recently became ill with a severe bone marrow disease could potentially find the bone marrow donor he needs at tomorrow’s event.

Daniel Lee, a junior at the University of Michigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia just over a month ago. His condition means his bone marrow no longer produces enough blood cells and he needs an emergency bone marrow transplant.

University of Michigan junior, Jessica Kaltz began planning the bone marrow drive several months ago. She organized the event in partnership with her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and DKMS, a non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors.

Kaltz, who says she was unaware one of her classmates might benefit when she came up with the idea, says, “It’s amazing to see how many people care when you put a face to the cause.”

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Science/Medicine
4:32 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

A milestone for the University of Michigan's stem cell program

A researcher at the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at U of M describes the stem cell on the computer screen
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The stem cell research lab at the University of Michigan has reached a significant milestone.

A stem cell line developed from a 5 day old human embryo donated to U of M’s stem cell program has been certified by the National Institutes of Health. That’s significant, because there are only 147 embryonic stem cell lines approved by the NIH. Many of them are old lines with certain drawbacks for researchers.

Gary Smith is the co-director of the stem cell program.    He says U of M is just one of a handful of universities in the United States making new human embryonic stem cell lines for research.    

“Any investigator across the United States...or really across the world can utilize those embryonic stem cells," says Smith, "And in fact (the researchers) can use those embryonic stem cells to submit research….or for funds from the National Institutes of Health to do research on those lines.”   

Smith says U of M plans to submit another 10 stem cell lines for certification.

Science/Medicine
3:06 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

MSU's FRIB project gets half its planned funding in Obama budget

The budget plan President Obama delivered to Congress today contains $22 million for Michigan State University's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.   MSU officials originally expected $55 million.

The future of the nuclear research facility has been in some doubt since January.  The U.S. Secretary of Energy declined to promise federal funding for the project during a stop at the North American International Auto Show.     He said budget constraints had to be considered.

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Science/Medicine
6:54 am
Sun February 12, 2012

Charles Darwin - Rock Star?

Charles Darwin

Michigan State University wants the world to know that evolution science pioneer Charles Darwin was a rock star first.

The MSU Museum on Sunday afternoon presents its annual Darwin Discovery Day and this year's theme is "Darwin rocks!" It also marks the opening of a new exhibit entitled "It Started with a Rock Collection: Charles Darwin, Geologist."

Officials at the East Lansing museum say they have received a rock collection from the Shropshire Geological Society in England, where the young Darwin started his collection and scientific investigations.

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Science/Medicine
12:34 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

MSU expanding reach of medical research

A view of the recently constructed Secchia Center, MSU's headquarters for the College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids
user JohnE777 Flickr

Michigan State University’s Human Medicine program is expanding its research facilities far away from East Lansing.

Last month, MSU announced its buying the old Grand Rapids Press building.  This week, developers say they hope to turn an old newspaper building in Flint into a home for MSU medical researchers.

Aron Sousa is an associate dean at the MSU College of Human Medicine.  He says expansions in Grand Rapids and Flint, as well as Midland and Traverse City, reflect the communities’ needs.

“Both the college [of Human Medicine] and the university want to be more active across the state.  We’re the land grant school for the state of Michigan.  We take that mission and that history seriously," says Sousa. 

 MSU is ending some medical programs in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, to make way for new medical schools at Western and Central Michigan Universities.

Science/Medicine
3:01 pm
Sat February 4, 2012

MSU study finds divorce takes bigger toll on younger people

Conventional wisdom is younger people are able to spring back easier from a divorce.

But Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu says her research shows it’s just the opposite.

She studied the self-reported health status of more than 12 hundred divorced Americans.  She found the younger the divorced person, the more likely they were to report health problems and for a longer period.

Liu says the effect only lasts as long as the stress of the divorce. 

“What I can see from this study is it’s a transitional effect," says Liu.  

Liu speculates life experience is one reason older divorced people cope better. 

"If you get divorced at an older age, you know how to handle your life," says Liu.      

The study found that eventually divorced people do return to the same level of health as married people. 

 The study appears in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Health
11:30 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Map shows southwest Michigan as an "emerging risk" for Lyme disease

Researchers created detailed maps showing the spread of the tick responsible for the spread of Lyme disease.
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Lyme disease is spread through blacklegged tick bites, and its prevalence has most notably been in the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

The CDC reports that if the disease is left untreated, the "infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system."

Researchers say incidence rates of the disease have steadily increased as the ticks, and the bacterium they can carry which causes the disease, expand their range.

Now researchers from Michigan State University, the Yale School of Public Health, and many other institutions have mapped the risk areas for Lyme disease.

The researchers say their map provides a baseline for tracking the spread of Lyme disease:

This risk map can assist in surveillance and control programs by identifying regions where human cases are expected and may assist treatment decisions such as the use of antimicrobial prophylaxis following a tick bite.

The map show high risk areas in the northeast, and Wisconsin and Minnesota - and a potential emerging risk spot in southwest Michigan.

More from the Associated Press:

Researchers who dragged sheets of fabric through the woods to snag ticks have created a detailed map pinpointing the highest-risk areas for Lyme disease.

The map shows a clear risk across much of the Northeast, from Maine to northern Virginia. Researchers at Yale University also identified a high-risk region across most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and a sliver of northern Illinois. Areas highlighted as "emerging risk" regions include the Illinois-Indiana border, the New York-Vermont border, southwestern Michigan and eastern North Dakota.

The map was published this week based on data from 2004-2007. Researchers say the picture might have changed since then in the emerging areas, but the map is still useful because it highlights areas where tick surveillance should be increased and can serve as a baseline for future research.

Science/Medicine
4:01 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

U of M study finds problems with carpooling and booster seat use

A new University of Michigan study finds most parents are hesitant to insist their young children use booster seats when they carpool.  

Public service announcements remind us that children between 4 and 8 years old,  under 4 feet 9 inches tall, must be in a booster seat when riding in a car.    But that message is not convincing most parents to insist on a booster seat when their kids carpool with other children.

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Science/Medicine
4:13 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Exoskeleton robot helps spinal cord patients stand and walk

A Michigan hospital is working with a robot that’s designed to help people with spinal cord injuries walk again.

DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit is one of 10 hospitals in the nation trying out Ekso – a battery-powered exoskeleton.

Patients with spinal cord injuries fit entirely into the robotic frame, which helps them stand and walk.

Diane Patzer was one of three RIM physical therapists who worked with patients during the initial trial of the Ekso.

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Science/Medicine
11:45 am
Fri January 27, 2012

MSU Trustees moving forward with nuclear research project

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees have agreed to move ahead with a half billion dollar nuclear research project, even though federal funding for the project is in some doubt.    

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams could make MSU a top location for nuclear research.  But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested earlier this month that federal officials were reevaluating budget priorities and hinted the MSU project may be one of those cut.  

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Science/Medicine
4:11 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Study: Revoked breast cancer drug increased tumor-forming cells

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, MI.
cancer.med.umich.edu

University of Michigan researchers say a drug used to treat advanced breast cancer actually led to an increase in the number of tumor-forming cells.  The FDA revoked its approval of the drug last year.

The drugs Avastin and Sutent were used to shrink tumors and slow the progress of breast cancer.  But the effects didn’t last and when the tumors returned, they were more aggressive.

Dr. Max Wicha is director of U-of-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Science/Medicine
3:25 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Gates Foundation gives MSU $5.8 million to combat disease in Africa

Stephen Obaro, a professor in MSU's Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, will lead a research team in Nigeria studying bacterial diseases in children.
msu.edu

Michigan State University will use a $5.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study bacterial diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, the leading cause of death for children in the region.

The AP writes:

The bacterial diseases include pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis and they kill more people in the area than malaria. The Nigeria-based project involves collecting local data on the diseases and promoting the use and development of vaccines.

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Science/Medicine
7:27 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

NASA Video: A big "coronal mass ejection" leads to northern lights

An image from the solar storm on Jan. 22.
NASA

Here's some amazing footage of what NASA is calling the largest solar storm in the last eight years. NASA says the storm began at 10:38 p.m. ET on Jan. 22, peaked at 10:59 p.m. and ended at 11:34 p.m.

After the flare, the solar particles hit the Earth this morning. From NASA:

The coronal mass ejection CME collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM ET on January 24, 2012. The influx of particles from the CME amplified the solar radiation storm such that it is now considered the largest since October 2003. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has categorized it as a "strong" -- or S3 (with S5 being the highest) – storm. Solar radiation storms can affect satellite operations and short wave radio propagation, but cannot harm humans on Earth. Auroras may well be visible tonight at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the U.S., and perhaps even lower.

How a solar storm turns into northern lights (or southern lights) was always a mystery to me until I saw this video explaining how it works. 

Science/Medicine
5:05 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

DMC breaks ground on heart hospital

The new DMC Heart Hospital is scheduled to open in early 2014.
DMC

The Detroit Medical Center has broken ground on a $78 million dollar heart hospital.

It’s part of a broader expansion plan announced when Vanguard Health System purchased the DMC last year.

Theodore Schreiber is president of the Cardiovascular Institute, which will run the hospital. He says financing the facility would have been “inconceivable” without the DMC’s acquisition by for-profit Vanguard.

"Nationally as a whole, non-profit hospital institutions have tremendous difficulty obtaining capital, let alone the flagship institution in center city Detroit at the heart of the economic crisis," he said.

Schreiber says the hospital will be the only facility of its kind in Michigan, with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease.

It’s expected to be completed in early 2014.

Science/Medicine
4:01 pm
Sat January 14, 2012

U of M study finds obesity-related cirrhosis becoming a bigger problem for the elderly

(courtesy of HIVandHepatitis.com)

A new University of Michigan study finds a particular type of liver disease is becoming increasingly common among the elderly.  

Cirrhosis is a chronic condition that slowly deteriorates the liver. Long associated with alcoholism and Hepatitis C,  obesity now  is linked to a growing percentage of Cirrhosis patients.   

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