Michigan Findings and Fun Facts for April 2023

Explore some of the most interesting discoveries related to Michigan for April 2023.
Stock photograph by Andrea Piacquadio via pexels.com

In our April 2023 issue, we shared some of the most interesting recent findings from Michigan researchers. Here, check out some of those findings.

Reducing Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Cancer treatments — while potentially lifesaving — can be extremely tough on the body. Such is the case with cisplatin, which is widely used to treat lung, stomach, and other cancers. But an international team that includes a Michigan State University neuroscientist has identified an existing drug that could help alleviate cisplatin’s serious side effects, including peripheral neuropathy, which causes severe hand and foot pain, and kidney toxicity.

Istradefylline is already approved by the FDA for treating Parkinson’s disease and can reduce peripheral neuropathy and kidney toxicity while maintaining the effectiveness of the treatment.

“The preclinical research results have been promising,” says MSU’s Geoffroy Laumet. “In the future with istradefylline, the hope is that patients would be able to keep taking cisplatin without side effects or losing the drug’s effectiveness.”

Better with Age

Age is more than just a number — when it comes to trees. A new analysis of tree ring data from over 20,000 trees on five continents, conducted by a University of Michigan ecologist and other scientists from around the world, demonstrates that older trees in the upper forest canopy are better able to withstand droughts than younger trees and therefore may be better equipped to survive climate extremes.

The researchers also found that while older trees are more drought tolerant, younger trees that survive return to pre-drought growth rates more quickly. These findings make clear the need to consider tree age when planning conservation efforts.

“Conservation of older trees in the upper canopy should be the top priority from a climate mitigation perspective,” says lead author Tsun Fung Au. “Our findings … have important implications for future carbon storage in forests.”

EV Benefits Vary by Region

The transition to electric vehicles will benefit the vast majority of vehicle-owning Americans but might leave some households behind, according to a study conducted by U-M researchers published in Environmental Research Letters.

Over 90 percent of households with a vehicle would see a reduction in their transportation energy costs relative to income, as well as in their greenhouse gas emissions, if they switched to an EV. However, just how much vehicle owners would save depends on where they live.

Those in the West and Northeast would see large benefits, while many Midwest residents would face high energy costs because of factors like cold weather and lack of clean infrastructure. This study is the first to measure regional variation in both EV energy costs and emissions across the U.S.

This story is part of the April 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition.