Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have discovered that survival of a particularly aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) depends on production of a small molecule called heme that is a kind of molecular “battery.” The researchers said discovery of this vulnerability points the way to new targeted drug therapies that block heme synthesis, killing the leukemic cells.

Led by John Schuetz, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the research appears in the scientific journal JCI Insight.

Heme is best known as a component of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in red blood cells. However, heme also plays essential roles in transporting electrons in biological processes. Among these roles is the machinery for respiration in the cell.

 

Source: Science Daily