Michael Threadgill


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Personal profile

Research interests

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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jan 1998

Doctor of Philosophy, Synthetic studies related to cytochrome oxidase, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1981

Master of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1978

Education, Postgraduate Certificate in Education, Durham University

Award Date: 30 Jun 1975

Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1974


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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