In the June 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine we profiled the work of Dr. Terrie Taylor, the Traverse City–born-and-raised physician doing globally significant malaria research in Malawi (read the article here). Here, we’re sharing her recent good news.
When malaria spreads to the brain—especially in children—it’s often deadly. But why some kids recover and go on to live normal lives and others succumb to the disease was still a mystery until a few years ago. In 2015, Traverse City resident and Michigan State medical researcher Dr. Terrie Taylor discovered that in children who survived “cerebral malaria,” the brain swelling associated with the disease quickly resolved on its own. In cases where it was fatal, swelling didn’t resolve quickly, leading to a compression of the brain’s respiratory center, and eventually death by asphyxiation.
“So we thought, what if we could provide a means to breathe for them, tiding them over the high-risk period with a ventilator, so we give them a chance for the swelling to go down like it does in survivors.” Taylor was recently awarded an $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test this and one other treatment. The new approaches could save half-a-million lives a year.