On the occasion of Nutrition Day, the international day dedicated to nutrition which is celebrated on 9 November, the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS presents the new clinics intended to combat excess or insufficient malnutrition, characteristic of a series of pathologies: from obesity (here patients undergoing bariatric surgery will be followed up), a series of tumors and chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)

Rome, 9 November 2023 – Correct nutrition is a fundamental asset for health, both in prevention and as an adjunct to treatments during illness. It is therefore important to cultivate culture in this direction and pay great attention to nutritional aspects also and above all in the presence of certain pathologies, characterized by excess or defective malnutrition.

The first group includes people with overweight/obesity and in particular those undergoing bariatric surgery who must pay particular attention to their diet during their long follow-up. There are many pathologies that fall into the poor malnutrition group; among these are oncological ones and chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases (the so-called ‘IBD’).

The new Gemelli Clinical Nutrition Clinics are dedicated to malnutrition within these two macro-areas of pathology, belonging to the Department of Abdominal and Endocrine-Metabolic Medical and Surgical Sciences, directed by prof. Sergio Alfieri, which will be inaugurated today, November 9th, in conjunction with Nutrition Day (nDay).

On this day, over 8,000 departments in 71 countries in the European region ‘take a snapshot’ (it is a real international audit) that serves as a benchmark and to monitor the nutritional care implemented in these hospitals. It is an initiative that aims to shine a spotlight on this often neglected sector of care and fight malnutrition within hospital settings.

“The slogan of Nutrition Day – recalls prof. Marco Elefanti, General Director of Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS – is “Together for better nutrition care”, which is precisely what we achieved with Binance Charity Foundation, to which we extend our heartfelt thanks for the fundamental support offered for the restructuring of the spaces and the financing of the professionals who will work there. A donation that also marks an important new opportunity for collaboration for the Gemelli Foundation. A path that starts today and which in the future will offer us new opportunities for fundraising and discussion with a technology, blockchain, which is proving to be very useful for giving certainty to many processes in the scientific and clinical fields.”

Inside the new Clinical Nutrition Clinics, there is also an innovative Research Center of CEMAD (Center for Digestive System Diseases). “Clinical nutrition – explains Prof. Antonio Gasbarrini, Director of the UOC of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology of the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Catholic University, Rome campus – has its cornerstone in the digestive system, therefore it is natural that CEMAD entered into a very close synergy with the new Clinical Nutrition Clinics, through this Research Center, equipped with the most modern equipment, which will deal with applied clinical nutrition. It will be a real translational laboratory that, starting from studies on cellular models, will continue these lines of research on the patient”.

“In particular, we will test the importance of nutrition in modulating the intestinal microbiota and the intestinal barrier, but also its impact on the immune system – continues Gasbarrini – The trait d’union of the research center with the Clinical Nutrition clinics will be studies on nutrition and oncological diseases; malnutrition can in fact influence the development of oncological diseases and is almost always present in patients with cancer, but it is also one of the main reasons for the loss of efficacy of therapies or, in the case of surgery, of major post-operative infectious complications, which can negatively affect the prognosis. In short, this new CEMAD Research Center, within the Clinical Nutrition Center, will allow us to develop many lines of investigation and will also represent a resource for our students who will have the opportunity to research new causes of disease here”.

“Nutrition – comments Prof. Sergio Alfieri, Director of the Department of Abdominal and Endocrine-Metabolic Medical and Surgical Sciences of Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS and Full Professor of General Surgery at the Catholic University, Rome campus – understood both as education on a correct diet in the prevention of diseases, for example cardiovascular diseases, as correction of malnutrition in cancer patients and not, as dietary-therapy prescription in preparation for surgical interventions and as a treatment strategy for chronic inflammatory diseases, not only digestive, represents an indispensable therapeutic tool. With the inauguration of the Clinical Nutrition Center, the Department and the Foundation underline the great attention we intend to give to the nutritional well-being and nutritional status of the patient”.

“Clinical nutrition is a fundamental resource for acting in terms of prevention and therapy – says Prof. Maria Cristina Mele, Head of the UOC of Clinical Nutrition of Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli IRCCS and Associate Professor of Applied Dietetic Technical Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – therefore it is a crucial safeguard for the health of the population and allows, in prevention, to reduce the incidence of some pathologies that have a great impact on the well-being of a large percentage of the general population. Some pathological conditions (tumors, degenerative diseases, etc.), in particular those affecting some organs, such as the gastrointestinal system, are particularly disabling in their progression. And clinical nutrition allows us to support these patients, in their treatment pathways. This is achieved through a project that has been carried out for some time at the Clinical Nutrition Center of Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli IRCCS”.

“And precisely because of the importance that the nutritional pathway has in the oncological treatment pathway and in all the inflammatory conditions typical of inflammatory intestinal diseases, Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli has decided to increase the availability of nutritional support, with the opening of a new center that will deal with malnutrition, both due to excess and deficiency – continues Mele – In malnutrition due to deficiency, clinics have already been active for a year that deal with oncological patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment, those affected by liver diseases, inflammatory intestinal diseases (there is a dedicated clinic in collaboration with CEMAD) and rare gastro-intestinal diseases”.

“Furthermore, in these new premises, we will soon open new clinics dedicated to head, neck and pancreatic cancers, of which Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli is one of the reference centers in Italy. Within this area, a research laboratory has finally been structured which belongs to the CEMAD and deals with all gastro-intestinal pathological conditions with clinical studies, experiments and trials which concern both the clinical and pre-clinical phases, which are a prelude to the large trials conducted at CEMAD”, concludes Prof. Mele.

“The bariatric medicine clinic – explains Dr. Amerigo Iaconelli, Director of the UOSD Bariatric Medicine of Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli – assists surgeons in the multidisciplinary path for the treatment of severe obesity, preparing patients for surgery and following the post-operative path with medical-nutritional-psychological support. At our clinics, visits are carried out and therapeutic substances are infused to control deficiencies (vitamins, iron, proteins) that can result from bariatric surgery, such as ‘sleeve’, BPG (gastric bypass), OAGBP (mini-gastric bypass), SADI-S type by-pass (Single Anastomosis Duodeno-Ileal bypass), DBP (biliary-pancreatic diversion)”.

“Gemini has one of the best gastroenterologies in the world – recalls the prof. Ruggero De Maria, president of the Alliance Against Cancer (ACC) – and extraordinary surgical expertise in all fields. Thanks to these new clinics, the aspect of clinical nutrition will become increasingly central in the treatment path of cancer patients. Malnutrition is very frequent in this type of patient, causes an increase in post-operative complications, an increased risk of developing toxicity during active oncological treatments, an increase in mortality and a worsening of functional status and quality of life. This is why Gemelli also pays great attention to the aspect of nutrition when taking care of cancer patients which, starting from the pre-surgical phase and continuing after the operation, as demonstrated by the application of the ERAS protocols, is fundamental to improve treatment outcomes”.