Riviste scientifiche

Sharks use a special kind of protein to glow green in deep water

New Scientist - Gi, 08/08/2019 - 17:00
Chain catsharks and swell sharks have evolved a special way to glow-in-the-dark skin that is completely different from other biofluorescent marine animals

AI learns to predict the outcomes of human rights court cases

New Scientist - Gi, 08/08/2019 - 16:15
AI is going into law. It can now predict the outcomes of human rights cases and next year Estonia is planning to use the technology to moderate disputes in small claims courts

The NHS is setting up a lab for medical artificial intelligence

New Scientist - Gi, 08/08/2019 - 11:48
The National Health Service in England is setting up a research lab to build artificial intelligence that could help treat conditions including cancer, dementia and heart disease

UN warns most plans for limiting climate change would wreck the planet

New Scientist - Gi, 08/08/2019 - 10:00
Almost every plan for limiting warming to 2°C or less relies heavily on bioenergy, but the latest UN report says we don’t have enough land to spare

Appraising the role of previously reported risk factors in epithelial ovarian cancer risk: A Mendelian randomization analysis

PLoS Medicine - Me, 07/08/2019 - 23:00

by James Yarmolinsky, Caroline L. Relton, Artitaya Lophatananon, Kenneth Muir, Usha Menon, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj, Axel Walther, Jie Zheng, Peter Fasching, Wei Zheng, Woo Yin Ling, Sue K. Park, Byoung-Gie Kim, Ji-Yeob Choi, Boyoung Park, George Davey Smith, Richard M. Martin, Sarah J. Lewis

Background

Various risk factors have been associated with epithelial ovarian cancer risk in observational epidemiological studies. However, the causal nature of the risk factors reported, and thus their suitability as effective intervention targets, is unclear given the susceptibility of conventional observational designs to residual confounding and reverse causation. Mendelian randomization (MR) uses genetic variants as proxies for risk factors to strengthen causal inference in observational studies. We used MR to evaluate the association of 12 previously reported risk factors (reproductive, anthropometric, clinical, lifestyle, and molecular factors) with risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, invasive epithelial ovarian cancer histotypes, and low malignant potential tumours.

Methods and findings

Genetic instruments to proxy 12 risk factors were constructed by identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were robustly (P < 5 × 10−8) and independently associated with each respective risk factor in previously reported genome-wide association studies. These risk factors included genetic liability to 3 factors (endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, type 2 diabetes) scaled to reflect a 50% higher odds liability to disease. We obtained summary statistics for the association of these SNPs with risk of overall and histotype-specific invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (22,406 cases; 40,941 controls) and low malignant potential tumours (3,103 cases; 40,941 controls) from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). The OCAC dataset comprises 63 genotyping project/case–control sets with participants of European ancestry recruited from 14 countries (US, Australia, Belarus, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada, Poland, UK, Spain, Netherlands, and Sweden). SNPs were combined into multi-allelic inverse-variance-weighted fixed or random effects models to generate effect estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Three complementary sensitivity analyses were performed to examine violations of MR assumptions: MR–Egger regression and weighted median and mode estimators. A Bonferroni-corrected P value threshold was used to establish strong evidence (P < 0.0042) and suggestive evidence (0.0042 < P < 0.05) for associations. In MR analyses, there was strong or suggestive evidence that 2 of the 12 risk factors were associated with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer and 8 of the 12 were associated with 1 or more invasive epithelial ovarian cancer histotypes. There was strong evidence that genetic liability to endometriosis was associated with an increased risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (odds ratio [OR] per 50% higher odds liability: 1.10, 95% CI 1.06–1.15; P = 6.94 × 10−7) and suggestive evidence that lifetime smoking exposure was associated with an increased risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (OR per unit increase in smoking score: 1.36, 95% CI 1.04–1.78; P = 0.02). In analyses examining histotypes and low malignant potential tumours, the strongest associations found were between height and clear cell carcinoma (OR per SD increase: 1.36, 95% CI 1.15–1.61; P = 0.0003); age at natural menopause and endometrioid carcinoma (OR per year later onset: 1.09, 95% CI 1.02–1.16; P = 0.007); and genetic liability to polycystic ovary syndrome and endometrioid carcinoma (OR per 50% higher odds liability: 0.89, 95% CI 0.82–0.96; P = 0.002). There was little evidence for an association of genetic liability to type 2 diabetes, parity, or circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and sex hormone binding globulin with ovarian cancer or its subtypes. The primary limitations of this analysis include the modest statistical power for analyses of risk factors in relation to some less common ovarian cancer histotypes (low grade serous, mucinous, and clear cell carcinomas), the inability to directly examine the association of some ovarian cancer risk factors that did not have robust genetic variants available to serve as proxies (e.g., oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy), and the assumption of linear relationships between risk factors and ovarian cancer risk.

Conclusions

Our comprehensive examination of possible aetiological drivers of ovarian carcinogenesis using germline genetic variants to proxy risk factors supports a role for few of these factors in invasive epithelial ovarian cancer overall and suggests distinct aetiologies across histotypes. The identification of novel risk factors remains an important priority for the prevention of epithelial ovarian cancer.

Expectations of healthcare quality: A cross-sectional study of internet users in 12 low- and middle-income countries

PLoS Medicine - Me, 07/08/2019 - 23:00

by Sanam Roder-DeWan, Anna D. Gage, Lisa R. Hirschhorn, Nana A. Y. Twum-Danso, Jerker Liljestrand, Kwanele Asante-Shongwe, Viviana Rodríguez, Talhiya Yahya, Margaret E. Kruk

Background

High satisfaction with healthcare is common in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), despite widespread quality deficits. This may be due to low expectations because people lack knowledge about what constitutes good quality or are resigned about the quality of available services.

Methods and findings

We fielded an internet survey in Argentina, China, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa in 2017 (N = 17,996). It included vignettes describing poor-quality services—inadequate technical or interpersonal care—for 2 conditions. After applying population weights, most of our respondents lived in urban areas (59%), had finished primary school (55%), and were under the age of 50 (75%). Just over half were men (51%), and the vast majority reported that they were in good health (73%). Over half (53%) of our study population rated the quality of vignettes describing poor-quality services as good or better. We used multilevel logistic regression and found that good ratings were associated with less education (no formal schooling versus university education; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.22, 95% CI 1.90–2.59, P < 0.001), better self-reported health (excellent versus poor health; AOR 5.19, 95% CI 4.33–6.21, P < 0.001), history of discrimination in healthcare (AOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.36–1.57, P < 0.001), and male gender (AOR 1.32, 95% CI 1.23–1.41, P < 0.001). The survey did not reach nonusers of the internet thus only representing the internet-using population.

Conclusions

Majorities of the internet-using public in 12 LMICs have low expectations of healthcare quality as evidenced by high ratings given to poor-quality care. Low expectations of health services likely dampen demand for quality, reduce pressure on systems to deliver quality care, and inflate satisfaction ratings. Policies and interventions to raise people’s expectations of the quality of healthcare they receive should be considered in health system quality reforms.

Earth's magnetic poles probably won't flip within our lifetime

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 20:00
Contrary to recent reports, new research suggests the next reversal of Earth’s magnetic pole won’t happen in a human lifetime and could take tens of thousands of years

Personalised breast cancer test could tell when to stop treatment

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 20:00
A blood test for a person’s specific breast cancer mutations – which is 100 times more sensitive than existing tests – seems to tell when treatment is working and when more is needed

We just found dozens of missing galaxies from the early universe

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
A group of 39 previously unseen galaxies could be the ancestors of the massive galaxies we see in the universe today  

Plate tectonics began nearly 2 billion years before we thought

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Earth’s continents may have been shifting for 2.5 billion years, according to a study of ancient rocks that finds plate tectonics evolved far earlier than we thought

The hardest thing about robots? Teaching them to cope with us

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Humans are spectacularly weird and unpredictable. Computer scientist Anca Dragan is working on helpful robots that understand how we get things wrong

Mosquitoes may have killed half the people who ever lived

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
A book full of fascinating facts about mosquitoes shows the powerful ways they shaped our history – and the huge toll they've taken on human life

UK's biggest moon exhibition captures centuries of lunar love

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
From Japanese painting of the harvest moon to Buzz Aldrin's "Snoopy cap", the UK's biggest moon exhibition at London's National Maritime Museum is bound to please

Inside the race to find the first billion-digit prime number

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Discovering giant prime numbers involves laborious trial and error, and they are of little use when they are found. For certain devotees, that's beside the point

Outshining fossil fuel: Your guide to the revolution in solar energy

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Solar power is getting so cheap it is overtaking fossil fuels – and that’s without next-generation photovoltaic technology and artificial photosynthesis

How to build your own intruder alarm with basic electronics

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Worried about unwanted visitors in your garden? Here's how to build a simple alarm system with basic electronics, a plastic folder, kitchen foil and a sponge

How the coolest, smallest stars could help us discover new exoplanets

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 19:00
Exoplanets are abundant near the galaxy's smallest stars. Observing M dwarfs could teach us more about the worlds beyond our solar system, writes Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Why the news on dementia deaths is not as bad as it sounds

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 18:14
Dementia has been named the leading cause of death in England and Wales, but individual risk for the condition is falling, and cancer actually kills more people

Enormous ‘cannonballs’ of plasma spotted hurtling around the sun

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 15:44
Huge blobs of hot plasma are flying around at high speeds on the sun, and they may help us figure out why the sun's outermost layers are so surprisingly hot

Your guide to the carbon sucking tech we need to save the planet

New Scientist - Me, 07/08/2019 - 15:35
Humans have emitted so much carbon dioxide that we must find ways of sucking it from the air. Can that be done without wrecking the environment in other ways?
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