Cancer researcher wins NZ Association of Scientists award

02 November 2017
Professor Christian Hartinger.
Professor Christian Hartinger

This year’s New Zealand Association of Scientists Beatrice Hill Tinsley Medal is awarded to Professor Christian Hartinger from the University of Auckland. Professor Hartinger, from the University’s School of Chemical Sciences, is also an Associate Investigator at the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.

He is a leading researcher in the fields of medicinal bioinorganic, bioanalytical and bioorganometallic chemistry and is particularly known for his work on the development of metal-based anticancer drugs.

His work has significantly improved our understanding of the behaviour of metal-based anticancer agents in biological systems at the molecular level. DNA-targeted metal compounds have been used for decades as a standard cancer treatment against a wide variety of cancer types.

While organic compounds continue to dominate medicinal chemistry, inorganic metallodrugs are an exciting new frontier because metal compounds have specific properties that allow the development of new treatments that can target cancer cells much more narrowly.

This is the goal of Professor Hartinger’s research. His group develops therapeutics that help to improve the selectivity of anticancer drugs for tumours by improving their accumulation or by targeting differences between healthy and tumour cells.

He complements the development of new therapeutics with analytical studies to overcome the lack of understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms in tumour cells, beyond the interaction with DNA of platinum drugs. The targets of metal-based anticancer agents beyond DNA are largely unknown and scientists are only just beginning to discover the potential of these “metallodrugs”.

“I am delighted to accept this award and want to acknowledge the hard work of my students, PostDocs and collaborators who have contributed to this interdisciplinary research area. I am grateful for the financial support we have received over the years and the trust put into my research group and me to conduct high level research that leads to new knowledge at the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine.”


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