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Researchers know that high blood pressure causes blood vessels to contract and low blood pressure causes blood vessels to relax but no one had the tools to determine the exact proteins responsible for this phenomenon.

By using atomic force microscopy and isolating blood vessels outside the body, University of Missouri researchers have identified a protein that plays an important role in the control of tissue blood flow and vascular resistance. This new knowledge brings researchers one step closer to understanding vascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and other vascular problems.

Plants in a forest respond to stress by producing significant amounts of a chemical form of aspirin, scientists have discovered. The finding, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), opens up new avenues of research into the behavior of plants and their impacts on air quality, and it also has the potential to give farmers an early warning signal about crops that are failing.

For years, scientists have known that plants in a laboratory may produce methyl salicylate, which is a chemical form of acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. But researchers had never before detected methyl salicylate in an ecosystem or verified that plants emit the chemical in significant quantities into the atmosphere.

A hormone found at higher levels when the body produces its own "home grown" fat comes with considerable metabolic benefits, according to a report in Cell. The newly discovered signaling molecule is the first example of a lipid-based hormone; most are made up of proteins.

The findings in mice raise the notion that boosting the body's fat production might actually be one solution to the growing epidemic of obesity and related metabolic diseases. Likewise, diets supplemented with the fat hormone, a fatty acid known as palmitoleate, might also come with long-term benefits.

The results also reveal that, as with most things, when it comes to fat it's not good to generalize.

The National Academy of Sciences has created a policy report outlining some of our national challenges, including economic ones, and sent it to both John McCain and Barack Obama with guidance for whomever is elected president in November. The report provides suggestions on filling key science appointments after the election.

The report lists approximately 80 high-level science and technology appointees who will be crucial in advising the new president on issues that range from energy to health care to economic growth. It also urges members of the scientific community to serve in these positions, and suggests ways to make it more attractive for well-qualified people to do so.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.

The breakthrough may one day lead to new treatments or even a cure for the millions of people affected by the disease, researchers say.

The approach involves reprogramming skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, or cells that can give rise to any other fetal or adult cell type, and then inducing them to differentiate, or transform, into cells that perform a particular function – in this case, secreting insulin.

The skeleton of a man discovered by archaeologists in a shallow grave on a construction site at the University of York could be one of one of Britain’s earliest victims of tuberculosis. He was interred in a shallow scoop in a flexed position, on his right side. Radiocarbon dating suggests that he died in the fourth century.

He was aged 26-35 years, suffered from iron deficiency anemia during childhood and was shorter than the average Roman male at 5 feet 4 inches.

Detailed analysis of the skeleton by Malin Holst, of York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, revealed that a likely cause of death was tuberculosis which affected the man’s spine and pelvis. She says that it is possible that he contracted the disease in childhood from infected meat or milk or the infection could have been inhaled into the lungs. The disease then lay dormant until adulthood when the secondary phase took its toll.