Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology


Professor- Pharmacy & Pharmacology

5 West 3.9


Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 6840  


Prof  Michael Threadgill 


The research focus of the Threadgill group is drug design and delivery. We work on the application of medicinal chemistry (structure-based drug design, chemical synthesis, biochemical and cell biological evaluation) to developing new cancer treatments. Where the biochemistry of other diseases is similar (haemorrhagic shock, stroke, myocardial infarction, etc.), our work has branched out into these areas. We also research new synthetic methods in organic heterocyclic chemistry. Collaborations in Bath, Aberystwyth, Finland, India and Poland are important to our work.

Current research

PARP inhibitors

The poly(ADP-ribose)polymerases (PARPs) are a family of enzymes which use ADP-ribose units from NAD+ to build poly(ADP-ribose) polymers on target proteins. PARP-1 regulates DNA repair and gene expression through NF-κB. We developed 5-AIQ as a leading inhibitor of PARP-1, potent in models of metastatic cancer, inflammation and ischaemia-reperfusion injury. We have designed some of the most isoform-selective inhibitors of PARP-2 reported to date. Currently, we use structure-based drug design to develop new potent inhibitors of the tankyrases (PARP-5a,5b) in a major project funded by AICR.

Tumour-selective delivery of drugs

In cancer chemotherapy, it is important that the cytotoxic drug acts selectively in the tumour and we have been actively researching selective delivery of cytotoxic drugs for several years. Funded by the Prostate Cancer Charity, we are constructing polymeric prodrugs which release their load of extreme cytotoxins selectively in prostate tumours, through retention by the EPR effect and cleavage by the protease PSA.


Building on previous experience in inhibition of dihydrofolate reductase in cancer, we are using structure-based drug design to develop selective inhibitors of this enzyme in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Natural products

Collaborating with Aberystwyth University, we identify and profile natural product cinnamates from cultivated grasses, for industrial applications.

Earlier projects

Inhibitors of NOS, sirtuins, Pin1; isotopic synthesis; gene delivery; sulfoximine chemistry; biochemical kinetic isotope effects.


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