Professor Gavin Painter

Prof Gavin Painter profile picture

Professor Ferrier Research Institute

Professor Gavin Painter is developing new treatments for cancer that harness the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. This cancer immunotherapy work is part of an ongoing collaboration with immunologists at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.

Unlike chemotherapeutic agents that target malignant tissue directly, cancer vaccines target the immune system. They are well tolerated by the body and have fewer side effects than traditional treatments.

“The vaccines kick-start the immune system, which sends its own cells to kill the malignant tissue.

“To increase vaccine specificity and potency we are using leading edge conjugation and linker strategies to make new classes of synthetic vaccines that target the vaccine components to specialised immune cells.”

Gavin collaborates with synthetic chemists, pharmacologists, immunologists and clinicians from Otago, Victoria and Auckland universities and Capital & Coast District Health Board. He looks forward to seeing the New Zealand-based research commercialised in this country.

“We’re doing world-class research here. One of the glycolipid adjuvants we have been working on is a vital component of a cellular vaccine, which is currently in a human clinical trial for melanoma. It was manufactured by GlycoSyn, our on-site cGMP partners. I think it’s exciting to be part of this hub of expertise where chemistry is working so closely with immunology, cGMP manufactures and clinicians.”

Gavin received his PhD from the University of Otago and joined the Carbohydrate Chemistry team (now the Ferrier Research Institute) in 1999 after a postdoc at Cambridge University.


View Gavin's publications on Google Scholar.

Professor Gavin Painter's inaugural professorial lecture