News of Note—Once-daily birth control for men; a human antibody shields mice from deadly malaria strain

Prescription and pills
Male contraception with a once-daily pill may be possible, according to researchers who presented at the Endocrine Society conference.

A birth-control pill for men turns in promising data

An experimental oral contraceptive, dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), has proven to be safe and to alter hormone production in men in a way that’s consistent with suppressed sperm production. The study, presented by scientists at the University of Washington, included 100 healthy men who took either a placebo or one of three doses of DMAU. On the first and last days of the one-month study, they underwent blood testing to measure cholesterol and hormone levels. Although all of the men taking DMAU gained weight and lost some HDL (the “good” cholesterol), the once-daily pill did not cause symptoms of testosterone deficiency, even though levels of the hormone dropped, the researchers reported at the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago. The men taking the highest of the three DMAU doses experienced the most significant suppression of testosterone and two other hormones required for sperm production, the researchers said. (Release)


Human antibody protects mice against malaria

Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have discovered a human antibody that they believe may offer short-term protection against malaria—and perhaps inspiration for a new vaccine. They found it by giving an experimental vaccine containing weakened malaria parasites to a volunteer, and then isolating an antibody called CIS43 from the blood of that person. CIS43 protected mice against malaria infection, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine. They discovered that CIS43 works by binding to a portion of a surface protein on the malaria parasite that’s highly conserved on one of the deadliest malaria bugs, Plasmodium falciparum. (Release)


UK scientists discover 9 new arthritis genes

A research team at Wellcome Sanger Institute in the U.K. performed a genomic analysis of more than 30,000 people with osteoarthritis and 300,000 people without it. In so doing, they hit on nine genes that they believe are associated with the painful joint disease, they reported in the journal Nature Genetics. They then scrutinized the activity of the genes by studying both healthy and diseased tissue samples from patients undergoing joint replacements. They zeroed in on five genes that vary significantly between the healthy and diseased tissue. The expression of those genes could lead to new therapeutic strategies for treating osteoarthritis, they believe. (Release)