News of Note—Targeting fat with beige cells; a peptide for predicting Alzheimer’s; unraveling antibiotics resistance

Obesity
Capitalizing on the ability of beige fat to burn glucose could yield new treatments for obesity and diabetes, UCSF researchers say.

How beige fat cells burn calories

A recently discovered population of fat cells dubbed “beige” cells have been heralded for their ability to convert harmful white adipose tissue into calorie-burning brown fat. Now researchers at UC San Francisco say they’ve found a new pathway that beige cells use to make heat. When exposed to cold temperatures, beige fat activates two proteins, SERCA2b and RyR2, they reported in Nature Medicine. This causes them to burn glucose—a finding they believe could point the way to new therapies for obesity and diabetes. (Release

Newly found peptide may predict Alzheimer’s

Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have discovered a peptide called DAG that might be able to be used to detect a protein that appears in the brain just before the amyloid plaques that are the signature of Alzheimer’s disease. DAG binds to brain cells in a manner that relies on that protein, called connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), they reported in Nature Communications. The researchers believe DAG could be used both as a biomarker to identify patients at risk for Alzheimer’s before the disease develops and as a way to deliver drugs to parts of the brain that are affected by the disorder. (Release)

A new clue to antibiotics resistance

Bacteria evolve over time, developing mechanisms that allow them to evade antibiotics. Now scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered two unrelated mechanisms used by the E. coli bug: The first protects their DNA from getting damaged by antibiotics, while the second prevents the commonly used antibiotic doxycyline from getting inside the bacteria. The research, published in Nature Communications, could be used to improve antibiotics development, they believe. (Release)