Category Archives: Health Care

EnvisionTEC Previews High-Speed 3D Printer for Dental Market

DEARBORN — The 3D printer manufacturer EnvisionTec Friday plans to preview a new high-speed printer to joint the company’s Vida line for dental professionals.

The unveiling will come at the LMT Lab Day in Chicago Feb. 24-25. Now in its 33rd year, LMT Lab Day is the largest dental lab event in the United States. Sponsored by LMT Communications Inc., publishers of LMT, or Lab Management Today, it showcases printers, scanners and other machinery to the dental lab industry.

The new Vida cDLM is the second 3D printer based on EnvisionTec’s patented and groundbreaking Continuous Digital Light Manufacturing (cDLM) technology, which allows for accurate, high-speed 3D printing with fewer supports.

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Health Care Job Growth Plummets in January

ANN ARBOR — The United States health care industry added only 18,000 jobs in January 2017, the slowest monthly increase since January 2014, which marked the onset of the expanded coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

That’s the top news out of the monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators, released by the Center for Sustainable Health Spending at the Ann Arbor health care consulting firm Altarum Institute.

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Esperion Completes Enrollment In Trial Of Cholesterol-Buster

ANN ARBOR — Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ESPR) reported completing enrollment of a new Phase 3 study of about 2,000 patients testing its drug candidate bempedoic acid to treat high cholesterol.

The trial will test the drug’s safety and tolerability in treating patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease whose low-density lipopritein-C, the so-called bad cholesterol, is not adequately controlled with current lipid-modifying therapies.

Top-line results from this study are expected by June 2018.

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New Study Shows Health Information Disconnect

ANN ARBOR — A new study from Ann Arbor health consultants Altarum Institute and the New York-based health researcher Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that most vulnerable healthcare consumers struggle to understand their options, their costs, and even the language around their care.

The research also explored marketplace perceptions of these consumers’ health information needs and discovered a gap between stakeholder impressions and consumers’ reality.

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Health Jobs Defy ACA Uncertainty with Surge in December

ANN ARBOR — Despite huge unknowns in whether or when the Affordable Care Act will be repealed and what will replace it, the health care industry in the United States added a whopping 43,000 jobs in December, well above the 12-month average of 35,000 jobs, and bucking a four-month trend of below-average growth.

That’s according to the Health Sector Economic Indicators, released monthly by the Center for Sustainable Health Spending, part of the Ann Arbor-based health care consultants Altarum Institute.

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Tears Can Tell Your Nutrition: MTU Researcher

HOUGHTON — Would you rather give blood or tears?

A Michigan Technological University researcher is lead author of a new paper on the potential use of tears instead of blood to study people’s nutritional levels.

The paper was published in the scholarly journal Experimental Eye Research (DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.12.007). The lead author is Maryam Khaksari, a research specialist at the Chemical Advanced Resolution Methods (ChARM) Laboratory at Michigan Tech.

“Our goal was to seek the viability of establishing measurable vitamin concentrations in tears for nutritional assessments,” Khaksari says. “Your body cannot manufacture vitamins, and vitamins reflect available food sources in your body. That’s what makes them good indicators of nutritional health.”

Full of Potential

The work was part of Khaksari’s dissertation in the Medical micro-Device Engineering Research Lab at Michigan Tech. The team is led by Adrienne Minerick, the dean of research and innovation in the College of Engineering as well as a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech.

“This project was the first step that proved vitamins are detectable in tears, that they do correlate with blood levels,” Minerick said. “Next we want to engineer a portable, lab-on-a-chip device relying on a minimally invasive sample from tears to assess nutrition.”

With this goal in mind, Khaksari worked with a local team under Minerick’s guidance to study the connections between infant vitamin levels and their parents’ levels.

Full of Vitamins

Previously, the presence — and measurability — of tear nutrients was unclear. After all, there are no blood vessels that connect through the cornea, and blood transport nourishes most organs. Yet the old stories about carrots have some truth: eyes do need vitamin A along with other nutrients.

“We hypothesized that nutrients are transferred to the living cells of your cornea through your tears,” Khaksari said, adding that past studies have shown that people blink more when they have vitamin deficiencies, which are currently only tested for with blood samples. “We would like to translate the information we have for blood to tears. In this paper, we did show that there are correlations between vitamin concentrations in tears and blood — so it’s possible.”

The challenge is that tears are a complex mixture, which makes measuring vitamins in them difficult.

Full of ChARM

Khaksari focused on vitamins A, B and E to assess; she did so using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry with the help of Lynn Mazzoleni, an associate professor of chemistry and co-director of the ChARM Laboratory.  Mazzoleni oversees a new mass spectrometer with the capability of measuring mass in femtograms (0.000000000000001 grams), and the new equipment will put to use as the tears characterization project moves forward.

“We absolutely need ultrahigh resolving power to see the molecules in extremely complex mixtures in order to learn more about various natural and biological systems,” Mazzoleni said.

That sensitivity is crucial when connecting it to human health. As the authors write, nutritional deficiencies are most often treated by symptoms, “however, symptom-presentation substantially lags behind the chemical level deficiency.”

Full of Health

In children the effects of nutritional deficiencies can be lifelong, which is part of the reason Khaksari collaborated with Dr. Colleen Vallad-Hix at UP Health System — Portage. They focused on babies with a 100 percent liquid diet of formula or breastmilk to understand the connection between parent nutrition and infant nutrition. Also, nutritional data gleaned from the parents help reveal the family’s access to healthy foods.

They tested tear samples and blood samples from 15 four-month-old infants and their parents. In general, water-soluble vitamins were higher in infants and fat-soluble vitamins were higher in parents — notably, mothers tended to be more deficient across the board. Generally, there is a connection between parents and babies and the team showed a correlation between vitamins E and B. Formula-fed babies were the exception, with notably higher levels of B vitamins. The work is preliminary but shows promise for laying out trends in tear vitamin levels.

Altarum Acquires Healthcare Payment System Firm

ANN ARBOR — The Altarum Institute, a nonprofit supplying research and consulting to the healthcare industry, Tuesday announced that it had acquired another nonprofit, the Connecticut-based Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3).

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MichBio Conference and Expo Coming Jan. 18

ANN ARBOR — MichBio, the association for Michigan’s biosciences industry, will welcome hundreds of bioscience researchers, manufacturers, executives and service providers to its Conference and Expo Jan. 18 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo.

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DMC Performs First Robot-Assisted Total Knee Procedures in Michigan

DETROIT — The Detroit Medical Center announced that two teams of DMC physicians performed the first-ever “MAKOplasty” robotic total knee replacement surgeries in the state of Michigan.

The procedures took place simultaneously at both Harper University Hospital in Detroit and Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The breakthrough surgeries were completed using a robotic arm-assisted technology which ensures accurate alignment and placement of knee and hip implants for nearly perfect results. The DMC is the only hospital system in southeast Michigan to offer this technology.

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October Health Spending Up 5.5%

ANN ARBOR — National health spending in October 2016 grew at an annual rate of 5.5 percent, driven up by the hospital component, which grew 6.6 percent, according to the monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators, published by the Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute.

Unlike the past few years, the increase in prescription drug spending, only 3.5 percent growth, actually dampened the overall rate, despite a huge increase in prescription drug prices.

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