Egypt Independent: Science-Main news en Google is beta-testing a new travel app <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Trips, reports the Dutch site Androidworld, is an app that organizes all of the user&#39;s travel information into bundles that can be accessed offline.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Trips is described as a combination of Google Maps and Now, the company&#39;s intelligent personal assistant. The app is currently being tested by members of the Google Maps Local Guides program.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Trips automatically scans emails and group together travel-related information, such as flights, accommodation, dining and sightseeing reservations as well as suggesting useful related suggestions. Users can also add their own travels.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The app is expected to be released soon, but an official date has not yet been announced.</div> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:43:00 +0000 AFP 2469216 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/27/505021/mobiel_app.jpg Study shows worsening depression may be dementia cue <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>People over 54 who suffer from steadily-worsening depression may run a higher risk of developing dementia, according to new research published today that suggested it may be an early symptom.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other types of depression, such as one-off or recurring episodes, did not appear to pose a similar threat.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Only the group whose symptoms of depression increased over time was at an increased risk of dementia,&rdquo; said a statement by The Lancet Psychiatry, which published the results.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Doctors have previously noted a high correlation between depression and dementia in patients, though the nature of the relationship is not known.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The new study claims to be the first to differentiate between types of depression.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some people experience a one-off depressive event and others have regular relapses. Some see their symptoms ease over time, others worsen, and some are chronic sufferers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While some depressive events are a response to an adverse life event, others may be caused by a malfunction of brain chemicals or signalling.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For the latest study, researchers analysed data collected on 3,325 people aged 55 and over in the Netherlands over an 11-year period, from 1993-2004, and tracked them for 10 years thereafter.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When the study started, all had symptoms of depression but none of dementia. By its end, 434 people had developed dementia, including 348 cases of Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The team divided the participant data into five different categories of depression.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the group of 255 people whose depression symptoms worsened over time, 55 developed dementia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At 22 per cent, this was &ldquo;significantly higher&rdquo;, nearly 1.5-times, than the other groups &mdash; all of which had a dementia risk of about 10 per cent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the World Health Organisation, between 5 and 8 per cent of people aged 60 and over are estimated to suffer from dementia at any given time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The findings suggested that one-off severe depression, or recurring episodes, did not boost dementia risk, the authors said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It also meant that &ldquo;increasing symptoms of depression in older age could potentially represent an early stage of dementia,&rdquo; according to the statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And it implied that dementia and some forms of depression may have a common cause.</div> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:22:00 +0000 AFP 2469212 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/18/43/depression.jpg Large parts of Great Barrier Reef 'dead in 20 years' <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Large parts of Australia&#39;s Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years as climate change drives mass coral bleaching, scientists warned Friday.</p><div>The World Heritage-listed reef is currently suffering its worst bleaching in recorded history with 93 percent of corals affected due to warming sea temperatures.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Experts from the government-backed ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science said in a study that if greenhouse gases keep rising, similar events will be the new normal, occurring every two years by the mid-2030s.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Given reefs need some 15 years to completely recover from bleaching of this magnitude, the centre said &quot;we are likely to lose large parts of the Great Barrier Reef in just a couple of decades.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Researchers found climate change had added 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming to the ocean temperatures off the Queensland coast in March, when corals were first noted turning white.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;These extreme temperatures will become commonplace by the 2030s, putting a great strain on the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef,&rdquo; said lead author Andrew King.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Our research showed this year&rsquo;s bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren&rsquo;t emitting greenhouse gases. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world&rsquo;s greatest natural wonders.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/aa8581bfde3932014a5355bc137cff8c6beaae20.jpg" style="width: 800px; height: 532px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bleaching is a phenomenon that turns corals white or fades their colours as they expel tiny photosynthetic algae, threatening a valuable source of biodiversity, tourism and fishing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The study is yet to be peer-reviewed, but the centre took the unusual step of releasing it early because the reef is in such a dire predicament.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are confident in the results because these kind of attribution studies are well established but what we found demands urgent action if we are to preserve the reef,&rdquo; said King.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;For this reason, we felt it was vital to get our findings out as quickly as possible.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier this month, researchers at Australia&#39;s James Cook University said only seven percent of the huge reef had escaped the whitening, following extensive aerial and underwater surveys.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The damage ranges from minor in the southern areas &mdash; which are expected to recover soon &mdash; to very severe in the northern and most pristine reaches of the 2,300 kilometre (1,430 miles) site off Australia&#39;s east coast.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, who published a controversial study in 1999 forecasting such an event, said his predictions were now looking conservative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Reefs need time, around 15 years, to completely recover from a coral bleaching event of this magnitude,&rdquo; Hoegh-Guldberg said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/article-doc-a26jl-2axpmiuzoae22b33b325a6609b7-643_634x317.jpg" style="width: 634px; height: 317px;" /></div> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:01:00 +0000 AFP 2469183 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/29/43/article-doc-a26jl-b2cdlymy6960a58e186adc68c71-641_634x421.jpg Antibody shields monkeys from 'HIV' for months <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Just one shot of a lab-produced antibody protected macaques against a sort of monkey HIV for nearly six months, said a study Wednesday into a potential vaccine alternative.</p><div>Exposed to simian HIV (SHIV) once a week, non-treated monkeys contracted the virus after just three weeks on average, the researchers said, whereas the trial monkeys remained virus-free for up to 23 weeks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In human populations at high risk of contracting the AIDS-causing virus, such protection, even temporary, &quot;could have a profound impact on virus transmission,&quot; the team of German and US-based researchers reported in the journal Nature.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They had examined &quot;passive immunisation&quot; as an alternative to an HIV vaccine, which experts fear may still be years off.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A vaccine works by priming the body to respond with germ-fighting antibodies whenever a virus or bacteria invades. It is long-lasting, sometimes for life.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Passive immunisation&quot; involves the transfer of antibodies generated by one person directly to another to provide protection, which is shorter-lived.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Antibody shots were used to protect travellers against Hepatitis A until a vaccine became available in the 1990s, and some hope the technique could stave off millions of HIV infections until a vaccine comes to the market.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Transferred antibodies had previously been shown to protect animals against HIV-like viruses for a day or two, but never as long as in this study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Proof of concept</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since the outbreak started in the early 1980s, about 71 million people have been infected by HIV, and some 34 million have died, according to UN estimates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is no cure, and the only way of dealing with HIV is lifelong reliance on antiretroviral drugs, invented in the 1990s, to stop the virus from replicating.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The treatment carries side effects and is costly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The quest for a vaccine has been long and frustrating, in spite of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some of the focus has shifted to antibodies, but this too proved complicated as each HIV antibody tends to target a specific virus strain.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In recent years, researchers have discovered that about 10-30 percent of HIV-infected people have a naturally-present, &quot;broadly-neutralising&quot; (bNAb) type of antibody which targets several strains at once.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Three of these were tested in the new study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Each delayed infection in macaque monkeys, said the team &ndash; the first by up to 12 weeks, the second by 20 weeks, and the third by 23 weeks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A single antibody shot &quot;was protective against repeated low-dose SHIV infection for several months,&quot; the team wrote.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This served as &quot;proof of concept&quot; that periodic antibody shots may be useful as an alternative to vaccination, they said, though further research must confirm that the findings can be replicated in humans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;When considered in the context of a potential exposure to HIV-1 in regions of the world where HIV-1 is endemic,&quot; wrote the team, such an infection barrier &quot;could have a profound impact on virus transmission&quot;.&nbsp;</div> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:09:00 +0000 AFP 2469173 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/23/43/reuters.jpg