Sydney: Scientists have pinned down a culprit that allows brain tumours to survive and grow. An international team identified the key role played by kynurenine, by-product of the metabolism of amino acid tryptophan, in brain tumour growth, the journal Nature reports.

The discovery offers hope of new drug treatment for gliomas -- the most common and aggressive type of brain tumour in both adults and children. The survival time of patients is less than a year.
Gilles Guillemin, an associate professor with the University of New South Wales, said the breakthrough could potentially lead to viable therapeutics for a range of conditions.

These conditions include Alzheimer's disease, motor neuron diseases, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, according to a New South Wales statement.

An oral drug able to block enzymes leading to kynurenine production has been developed. It could potentially be available for clinical trials within a few years, Guillemin said.