Genetics and cell biology

Cancer metabolism


Group Leader

Simone Cardaci


This Unit aims at understanding the metabolic reprogramming of cancer, identifying metabolic vulnerabilities in malignancies and determining how the metabolic landscape of the tumour microenvironment affects anti-tumour immune responses.

Research activity

Cancer figures among the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Alterations in the acquisition and metabolism of nutrients are recognized as hallmarks of cancer development and progression. Many, if not all, oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes orchestrate a complex metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells, through changes in the regulation of expression and activity of enzymes and small-molecule transporters. These adaptive changes sustain increased acquisition and synthesis of cellular building blocks (e.g. sugars, fats, amino acids, etc) and are necessary for cancer cells to meet both biomass and energy demands imposed by uncontrolled cell growth as well as conditions of nutrient stress. Furthermore, metabolic alterations accompanying malignant transformation are instrumental to change the composition and function of the tumour microenvironment, such as tumour-infiltrating immune cells, which play a critical role in cancer development, progression, and control.

We aim at generating functional and mechanistic understanding of metabolic changes occurring in cancer and its microenvironment by using analytical chemistry, cell biology and computational modelling-integrated approaches. Identifying metabolic reprogramming essential for sustaining proliferative capacity of malignant cells and corrupting anti-tumour immune responses, our research will reveal novel and effective therapeutic targets and strategies for the improved treatment of cancer patients.