Bats Are a Possible Source for SARS

Scientists in China say they have found a genetic relative of the human SARS virus in a local species of bat, raising the possibility that the bats were a primary source of the disease.

After SARS first became a threat in 2002, research suggested the virus may have come from the civet cat, a wild animal eaten by people in southern China. Thousands were seized from Chinese wildlife markets and slaughtered.

The new research raises the possibility that the bats may have given the civet cats the SARS virus or given it directly to humans through bat meat, considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, or bat feces used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is unclear where the bats got the virus.

The research, by Kwok Yung Yuen of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues, will be published next week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

FDA Panel Backs Pill to Aid Diabetics

A day after recommending the first inhaled form of insulin to treat diabetes, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel yesterday endorsed a new pill that helps control blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol in people with the most common form of the condition.

The drug, muraglitazar, will be marketed as Pargluva. It was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co., which said they would conduct extensive monitoring of people using the drug.

The non-insulin treatment is designed for people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition that occurs most often in adults who are overweight.

An FDA advisory committee voted 8 to 1 to recommend approval of the drug to treat Type 2 diabetes when used alone. It voted 7 to 2 to endorse its use alongside metformin, another treatment. However, the panel voted 6 to 3 against its use in combination with a sulfonylurea, still another drug.

The FDA usually follows the advice of its committees. On Thursday, the committee endorsed the first inhalable insulin for diabetics.

FDA documents raised concerns that muraglitazar may pose a risk to people with heart problems. The advocacy group Public Citizen said the drug is too risky to approve because of this and other issues.

Breakfast-Eating Girls Are Slimmer

Girls who regularly ate breakfast, particularly one that includes cereal, were slimmer than those who skipped the morning meal, according to a study that tracked nearly 2,400 girls for 10 years.

Girls who ate breakfast had a lower average body mass index, a common obesity gauge, than those who said they did not. The index was even lower for girls who said they ate cereal for breakfast, found the Maryland Medical Research Institute's study. It was funded by the government and cereal-maker General Mills.

The results were gleaned from an NIH survey of 2,379 girls in California, Ohio and Maryland who were tracked between ages 9 and 19. The results appear in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

-- From News Services