A recent discovery combined with out-of-the-box thinking is behind some ground-breaking research into new methods for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Christoph Goebl and his research team have been granted $110,000 from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation for their project on improving cancer diagnostics.

Dr Goebl is a Research Fellow at the University of Otago, Christchurch and a specialist in biochemistry and molecular biology. Funding from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is enabling his newly-established team of cancer researchers to further their ground-breaking work.

“While our ideas are unique, they have the potential to change lives,” says Dr Goebl.

Dr Goebl’s team recently discovered that a specific cancer-preventing protein called p16 can form amyloid structures, or abnormalities, that stop the protein from working. 

“We know amyloids of other proteins contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but this is the first-time amyloids have been implicated in cancer,” says Dr Goebl.

Christoph Goebl

Dr Goebl’s research will involve screening a number of established cancer cell lines and patient tumors for the p16 protein.

“For the first time this is going to help us understand the prevalence of amyloids in cancer. By measuring this we hope we’ll be able to better inform cancer diagnosis, along with helping predict the best treatment option for cancer patients.

“Although our ideas are rather unconventional and need thorough testing, they could provide a yet-unexplored perspective on this devastating disease and set the basis for novel tools to quickly find the best available treatment option.”

Originally from Austria, Dr Goebl has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and two post-doctoral trainings in biochemistry and cell biology with one of the world’s leading immunologists, Professor Tak Mak.

Dr Goebl is a guest lecturer at the University of Canterbury in immunology and tumour biology courses. His work is supported by the Centre for Free Radical Research.

More information can be found here. 

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