More people die of lung cancer each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. One particularly lethal form of the disease is lung adenocarcinoma or LUAD, which afflicts both smokers and non-smokers. In many patients diagnosed with LUAD, tumors cells have already spread to the brain, leading to decreased quality of life and low survival rates. A Yale Cancer Center research team conducted a study to determine how those tumor cells manage to grow outside the lungs.

The iron-containing molecule heme is necessary for life. Cells require heme to perform the chemical reactions that produce energy, among other critical tasks.

Scientists who study the malaria parasite are particularly interested in heme because many malaria drugs interact with this molecule, also known as a cofactor. However, until now researchers have lacked good ways to measure heme levels inside the parasite.

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