Brain Tumor We recently reported about what may not actually be responsible for brain cancer, now we’re on to what boosts is growth. An international team has discovered that kynurenine, a by-product of the metabolism of the essential amino acid tryptophan, along with aryl hydrocarbon receptor is responsible for providing a conducive environment for the development of brain tumor.

The team for the purpose of this study was led by Michael Platten from the Department of Neurooncology at the University Hospital of Heidelberg, and comprised of other members from countries like Germany, USA, Switzerland and Australia.

This development in the field of brain tumor is expected to bring in new hope for the treatment of glioma, the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor in both adults and children. The development of glioma is very rapid and leaves the patient with an expected life span of less than a year.

“We are currently looking at all the molecules deriving from the tryptophan metabolism through the kynurenine pathway that can be linked to tumor persistence and immune suppression,” explained Associate Professor Gilles Guillemin, who is head of the Neuroinflammation Group in UNSW’s School of Medical Sciences.

While the kynurenine pathway is held responsible mostly for the growth, development and survival of gliomas, it has emerged as a key character in other types of brain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases as well. Guillemin asserts that this discovery could help in developing effective therapeutics for other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, motor neuron diseases, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

The team reports that an oral drug able to block enzymes leading to kynurenine production has been developed. It should be made available for clinical trial within the next few years. Guillemin believes that the mechanism elucidated here offers an entirely novel approach to therapy.

The research has been published in the Nature journal.