LOS ANGELES, June 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking clinical trial is providing insight into the potential effects of a Fasting Mimicking Diet® (FMD) for breast cancer patients that may help make chemotherapy work more effectively against cancer and potentially help to shield healthy cells from damage during chemotherapy. Nature Communications published the results of The DIRECT study, which builds upon extensive preclinical evidence supporting that fasting and FMDs prior to chemotherapy may have a beneficial effect on both the efficacy of a wide variety of cancer therapies ranging from chemotherapy to kinase inhibitors and on the reduction of the side effects caused by various cancer treatments.
"This revelatory study on the benefits of a plant-based, Fasting Mimicking Diet during chemotherapy may represent a major breakthrough for women undergoing breast cancer treatments," said breast surgeon Dr. Kristi Funk, former director of the Breast Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "This study supports the concept that FMD creates the metabolic environment that supports chemo's ability to destroy cancer cells while minimizing the collateral damage to normal cells. With a FMD, you get to eat, so you're not too hangry, but your cells still respond as if you're strictly fasting."
What researchers found
"This research essentially found that fasting switches healthy cells from a busy, proliferative state to a quiet, maintenance mode. Why? There's low level of nutrient and insulin around, so it's time to conserve energy. Malignant cells, however, don't listen to these body's signals and don't respond to food scarcity by entering this protective mode. Because chemo targets cells that divide quickly, when you receive it in a fasted state, it should sail past quiet healthy cells and more effectively target the busy cancer cells," added Dr. Funk.
This randomized controlled study included 129 patients with HER2 negative breast cancer, 65 of whom were assigned to the group receiving the FMD three days prior to, and the day of chemotherapy and 64 patients who continued their regular diet.
- Patients received either the FMD plus chemotherapy or the drug dexamethasone plus chemotherapy. The primary endpoint of the study was grade III/IV toxicity and complete pathological response.
- Side effects were similar between the 2 groups suggesting that the FMD may be as effective as the drug dexamethasone in reducing the therapy side effects. The trial shows that clinical response, as measured by radiologically complete or partial response, occurs more often in patients using the FMD.
- Notably, among the volunteers who completed the FMD cycles, DNA damage in normal lymphocyte cells after chemotherapy was reduced in the group receiving the FMD compared to that on the standard diet.
The data indicates that a 90-100% tumor cell death was three to four times more likely to occur in patients who were adherent to three FMD cycles, and the more cycles of FMDs the patients adhered to, the higher percentage of tumor cell loss was reported.
The difference achieved by fasting
Fasting helps normal cells stay off replicative mode which protects them from chemotherapy toxicity. On the other hand, cancer cells by definition cannot stop replicating and get more exposed to chemotherapy. This breakthrough discovery by professor Valter Longo, one of TIME Magazine's 50 Most Influential People in Health Care, known as 'Differential Stress Resistance' or DSS, could present a new avenue for oncologists and patients to fight a range of cancers.
"The results in this study are remarkable and consistent with those in mice in the overall body of research, especially those indicating that the portion of patients who responded well to chemotherapy is much higher in the group who completed most or all cycles of the FMD," said Professor Longo, director of the University of Southern California's Longevity Institute and a DIRECT study co-author who discovered the effect of fasting and FMDs in the protection of normal cells and sensitization of cancer cells.
The technology of Fasting Mimicking Diets are the result of decades of research at USC on nutrients and genes that regulate aging and resist cellular stress. It is a plant-based regimen that nourishes the body while keeping it in a fasting mode to deliver differential effects on all normal and cancer cells. The Fasting Mimicking Diet is one of the leading technologies by L-Nutra, a USC spinoff company dedicated to enhancing human health and longevity.
L-Nutra is leading the discovery, design, and commercialization of novel, plant-based nutrition programs and therapeutics to enhance human healthspan up to 100 years. L-Nutra translates the science behind Fasting Mimicking Diet® and Nutrition For Longevity® with breakthrough discoveries in cellular-level nutrient signalling pathways to promote healthy aging technologies and to advance the development of therapeutic solutions for age-related diseases. For more information visit www.l-nutra.com