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My Nervy Valentine

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Around February 14 every year, millions of people think about how their hearts and minds are intertwined with those of their loved ones. Neuroscientists are also talking about newly discovered links between the blood and brain at the molecular level.

Although nerve fibers and blood vessels are closely associated throughout the human body, how this shadowlike pairing becomes established has not been clear. But a report from the recent Society for Neuroscience Meeting in Atlanta announced that a protein familiar to scientists as a powerful stimulant for sprouting blood vessel growth—VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor)—has the same potent effect on nerves.

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