Prof. Alessio Nencioni obtained in M.D. at the University of Genoa (Genoa, Italy) in 1999 and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Genoa in 2005. His postdoctoral training was at the Hematology Department of the University of Tübingen (2000-2002), at the Center for Cancer Research of the MIT (Cambridge, MA; 2003-2004) and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, MA; 2005 -2006). Prof. Nencioni transitioned back to Italy in 2007. He is now associate professor at the Department of Internal Medicine of the University of Genoa in Italy.
Fasting and cancer: preclinical studies and clinical experience
The vulnerability of cancer cells to nutrient deprivation and their dependency on specific metabolites are emerging as hallmarks of cancer. The wide alterations in growth factors and in metabolites imposed by fasting or by fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs) create environments that can markedly reduce the adaptive capability of cancer cells and increase the activity of anticancer drugs. In addition, by increasing stress resistance in normal cells, fasting/FMDs could help prevent numerous treatment-emergent side effects and help maintain patient quality of life during treatment. Clinical studies show that cycles of low-calorie FMDs are feasible and overall safe. Several clinical trials evaluating the effect of fasting/FMDs on the adverse events of treatments and on efficacy outcomes are currently ongoing. Overall, the combination of FMDs with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or other treatments represents a very promising strategy to increase treatment efficacy, prevent resistance acquisition and reduce side effects.