Riviste scientifiche

A drug’s weird side effect lets people control their dreams

New Scientist - Gi, 16/08/2018 - 13:54
Researchers have developed the most effective technique for lucid dreaming yet, and it may allow people to fulfil fantasies and overcome nightmares and phobias

An opt-out organ donor system might actually lead to fewer transplants

New Scientist - Gi, 16/08/2018 - 07:01
England’s plans to make everyone an organ donor by default could make families less likely to give consent, perhaps leading to a fall in transplant operations

It’s time to embrace video games as an Olympic sport

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 20:00
They may compete from the comfort of a chair, but video gamers are in the mix at this year's Asian games and are on track for Olympic stardom, says Mark Zastrow

No contraceptive is perfect, but can you trust apps to stop pregnancy?

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 20:00
Birth control app Natural Cycles has come under fire for unwanted pregnancies, but this just reveals how little we understand contraception

Some clouds are formed when a virus makes algae shed their shells

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 18:00
When algae in the ocean get a virus, they shed their exoskeleton and those chalky bits can get flung into the air and trigger the formation of clouds

Doctors will grow human tissue on the International Space Station

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 16:54
Liver tissue and muscle fibre are going to be grown on the ISS, to see if we can one day grow human organs in space

Weird circles in the sky may be signs of a universe before ours

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 10:00
A theory suggesting that the universe is constantly reborn could be proved right by ‘Hawking points’ – signs of evaporated black holes from a time before the big bang

Why taking ayahuasca is like having a near-death experience

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 06:00
A psychedelic drug produces effects similar to near-death experiences. The finding suggests changes to brain activity may explain such paranormal phenomena

Sterile fish could help wild salmon dodge the ‘gene pollution’ effect

New Scientist - Me, 15/08/2018 - 02:01
Farmed Atlantic salmon make the local wild salmon population weaker. Making them sterile could work – but there’s a catch

Mass azithromycin distribution for hyperendemic trachoma following a cluster-randomized trial: A continuation study of randomly reassigned subclusters (TANA II)

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 23:00

by Jeremy D. Keenan, Zerihun Tadesse, Sintayehu Gebresillasie, Ayalew Shiferaw, Mulat Zerihun, Paul M. Emerson, Kelly Callahan, Sun Y. Cotter, Nicole E. Stoller, Travis C. Porco, Catherine E. Oldenburg, Thomas M. Lietman


The World Health Organization recommends annual mass azithromycin administration in communities with at least 10% prevalence of trachomatous inflammation–follicular (TF) in children, with further treatment depending on reassessment after 3–5 years. However, the effect of stopping mass azithromycin distribution after multiple rounds of treatment is not well understood. Here, we report the results of a cluster-randomized trial where communities that had received 4 years of treatments were then randomized to continuation or discontinuation of treatment.

Methods and findings

In all, 48 communities with 3,938 children aged 0–9 years at baseline in northern Ethiopia had received 4 years of annual or twice yearly mass azithromycin distribution as part of the TANA I trial. We randomized these communities to either continuation or discontinuation of treatment. Individuals in the communities in the continuation arm were offered either annual or twice yearly distribution of a single directly observed dose of oral azithromycin. The primary outcome was community prevalence of ocular chlamydial infection in a random sample of children aged 0–9 years, 36 months after baseline. We also assessed the change from baseline to 36 months in ocular chlamydia prevalence within each arm. We compared 36-month ocular chlamydia prevalence in communities randomized to continuation versus discontinuation in a model adjusting for baseline ocular chlamydia prevalence. A secondary prespecified analysis assessed the rate of change over time in ocular chlamydia prevalence between arms. In the continuation arm, mean antibiotic coverage was greater than 90% at all time points. In the discontinuation arm, the mean prevalence of infection in children aged 0–9 years increased from 8.3% (95% CI 4.2% to 12.4%) at 0 months to 14.7% (95% CI 8.7% to 20.8%, P = 0.04) at 36 months. Ocular chlamydia prevalence in communities where mass azithromycin distribution was continued was 7.2% (95% CI 3.3% to 11.0%) at baseline and 6.6% (95% CI 1.1% to 12.0%, P = 0.64) at 36 months. The 36-month prevalence of ocular chlamydia was significantly lower in communities continuing treatment compared with those discontinuing treatment (P = 0.03). Limitations of the study include uncertain generalizability outside of trachoma hyperendemic regions.


In this study, ocular chlamydia infection rebounded after 4 years of periodic mass azithromycin distribution. Continued distributions did not completely eliminate infection in all communities or meet WHO control goals, although they did prevent resurgence.

Trial registration

This study was prospectively registered at clinicaltrials.gov (clinicaltrials.gov NCT01202331).

Sticking brain cells together with glue could boost and protect memory

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 19:43
Can a chemical that reinforces the connections in our brains prevent the destruction of memories in ageing and Alzheimer’s? It seems to work in mice

We have finally figured out how to snap spaghetti into two pieces

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 18:42
Snap a piece of dry spaghetti and you will always end up with three or more pieces - but now mathematicians have figured out how to get a single clean break

Why forecasting how hot it will be in 2022 is mostly a gimmick

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 18:00
It will never be possible to forecast weather years ahead, but we can predict the average global temperature four years from now. Trouble is, that’s not that useful

US police testing AI that learns to spot crimes in CCTV footage

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 17:30
Police in Orlando have been testing a system that automatically scans CCTV looking for potentially illicit activity – with some success

There is no evidence that the weedkiller glyphosate causes cancer

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 17:30
Agrichemical firm Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289 million to a man who says its products caused his cancer – but scientific evidence for links to cancer is lacking

Google tracks your location even if you switch off location tracking

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 16:23
Google records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to, an investigation by the Associated Press has found

DeepMind’s AI can spot eye disease just as well as top doctors

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 15:33
DeepMind's system trains on eye scan data taken from thousands of NHS patients and determines which should be seen sooner

Why allergies aren’t nuts at all

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 11:00
Faced with airline peanut bans, it’s easy to dismiss allergies as imaginary modern maladies. They’re not – and we need to understand why they’re on the up

Google just made it much harder to build a serious quantum computer

New Scientist - Ma, 14/08/2018 - 10:00
To reach quantum supremacy, a quantum computer has to do a task no ordinary computer can. Google has made that harder with an algorithm that beefs up regular PCs

Understanding preferences for HIV care and treatment in Zambia: Evidence from a discrete choice experiment among patients who have been lost to follow-up

PLoS Medicine - Lu, 13/08/2018 - 23:00

by Arianna Zanolini, Kombatende Sikombe, Izukanji Sikazwe, Ingrid Eshun-Wilson, Paul Somwe, Carolyn Bolton Moore, Stephanie M. Topp, Nancy Czaicki, Laura K. Beres, Chanda P. Mwamba, Nancy Padian, Charles B. Holmes, Elvin H. Geng


In public health HIV treatment programs in Africa, long-term retention remains a challenge. A number of improvement strategies exist (e.g., bring services closer to home, reduce visit frequency, expand hours of clinic operation, improve provider attitude), but implementers lack data about which to prioritize when resource constraints preclude implementing all. We used a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to quantify preferences for a number of potential clinic improvements to enhance retention.

Methods and findings

We sought a random sample of HIV patients who were lost to follow-up (defined as >90 days late for their last scheduled appointment) from treatment facilities in Lusaka Province, Zambia. Among those contacted, we asked patients to choose between 2 hypothetical clinics in which the following 5 attributes of those facilities were varied: waiting time at the clinic (1, 3, or 5 hours), distance from residence to clinic (5, 10, or 20 km), ART supply given at each refill (1, 3, or 5 months), hours of operation (morning only, morning and afternoon, or morning and Saturday), and staff attitude (“rude” or “nice”). We used mixed-effects logistic regression to estimate relative utility (i.e., preference) for each attribute level. We calculated how much additional waiting time or travel distance patients were willing to accept in order to obtain other desired features of care. Between December 9, 2015 and May 31, 2016, we offered the survey to 385 patients, and 280 participated (average age 35; 60% female). Patients exhibited a strong preference for nice as opposed to rude providers (relative utility of 2.66; 95% CI 1.9–3.42; p < 0.001). In a standard willingness to wait or willingness to travel analysis, patients were willing to wait 19 hours more or travel 45 km farther to see nice rather than rude providers. An alternative analysis, in which trade-offs were constrained to values actually posed to patients in the experiment, suggested that patients were willing to accept a facility located 10 km from home (as opposed to 5) that required 5 hours of waiting per visit (as opposed to 1 hour) and that dispensed 3 months of medications (instead of 5) in order to access nice (as opposed to rude) providers. This study was limited by the fact that attributes included in the experiment may not have captured additional important determinants of preference.


In this study, patients were willing to expend considerable time and effort as well as accept substantial inconvenience in order to access providers with a nice attitude. In addition to service delivery redesign (e.g., differentiated service delivery models), current improvement strategies should also prioritize improving provider attitude and promoting patient centeredness—an area of limited policy attention to date.

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