Thomas Helleday's Group

Thomas Helleday received his PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. He was appointed lecturer at University of Sheffield in 2000 and started his research groups at the Institute for Cancer Studies at University of Sheffield (UK), while in parallel kept a small research group at the Stockholm University (Sweden). In January 2007, he was recruited as professor of cancer therapeutics at the MRC/CRUK Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology at University of Oxford, and maintained a research group at the Stockholm University. In 2012, Prof Helleday was appointed to the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Jubilee Professorship of Translational Medicine and Chemical Biology at the Science for Life laboratory at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Sweden, which since 2018 is hosted by the Department of Oncology-Pathology, KI.

In 2018, Professor Helleday reestablished a laboratory in the UK as founding Director of the Weston Park Cancer Center at the University of Sheffield. Today Prof. Helleday shares his time between KI and Sheffield University. The Helleday team at KI is fully active under the lead of deputy group head Dr Ulrika Warpman Berglund.  

Dr. Warpman Berglund received her PhD from Uppsala University in 1997. She was headhunted to Pharmacia and very soon became head of the Endocrine Group. During 1997-2011 she was working in pharmaceutical companies both in Sweden and UK, were she did translational research, developed clinical candidates, and obtained position as Director in Pharmacology and member of research steering groups. Dr. Warpman Berglund joined Helleday lab in 2012 and has since then assisted Prof. Helleday in establishing the translational team that exists today. As responsible for the MTH1 project, she has, together with the team, successfully developed Karonudib that is presently investigated in clinical trials. Dr. Warpman Berglund is a member of Dept. Oncology-Pathology steering group.

The Helleday team was first to describe sensitivity of homologous recombination defective cancers (HRD, e.g., BRCA mutant) to PARP inhibitors (Helleday 2003 US8859562B2, Bryant et al., 2005 Nature 434, 913-7), exemplifying the synthetic lethal concept for treatment of cancer. Today, numerous PARP inhibitors are approved treatment for HRD ovarian and breast cancers, with pending regulatory approvals for prostate and pancreatic cancer. PARP inhibitors in BRCA mutated cancer showcase the synthetic lethal concept of cancer, a concept that many novel targeted therapies are using.

The Helleday group is continuously working towards developing novel targeted therapies out of basic science findings. The multidisciplinary translational research group is focusing on understanding basic DNA repair and DNA-damage signaling pathways as well as nucleotide metabolism and developing novel drugs for anti-cancer treatments, and for treating inflammation/autoimmunity and virus infections.

The Helleday group consists of four research teams (Helleday/Warpman Berglund; Gustafsson; Rudd; Page). The Helleday/Warpman Berglund team is further divided into basic science (Dr. Oliver Mortusewics); biochemistry (Dr. Ann-Sofie Jemth); in vitro pharmacology (Dr. Niklas Schultz); in vivo pharmacology (Dr. Kumar Sanjiv); medicinal chemistry (Dr. Martin Scobie); clinical development (Dr. Teresa Sandvall) and virus (Dr. Marjo Puumalainen) teams.

The four research teams are focused on:
- DNA repair and nucleotide metabolism (Thomas Helleday/Ulrika Warpman Berglund)
- Metabolic regulation of genomic stability (Nina Gustafsson)
- Exploiting cancer cell metabolism to improve cancer treatment (Sean Rudd)
- Using chemical biology approaches to identify small molecule inhibitors for non-traditional anti-cancer drug targets (Brent Page)

Research teams

RESEARCH TEAM THOMAS HELLEDAY / ULRIKA WARPMAN BERGLUND

The research aims to i) purifying and targeting proteins in DNA repair and metabolism, ii) use probes and genetic tools to increase basic knowledge around target proteins and iii) translating basic research findings into new treatments tested in clinic

RESEARCH TEAM NINA GUSTAFSSON

The aim of our research is to characterize the role of metabolism in genome stability and whether metabolic enzymes have functions in the cellular response to DNA damaging anti-cancer treatments. We are a creative and dedicated team with the goal translating our findings into novel treatments for cancer patients.

RESEARCH TEAM SEAN RUDD

The aim of our research is to rationally improve the treatment of cancer. With this focus, we investigate the role of metabolic pathways inside cancer cells and their involvement in cancer biology and therapy resistance, with a particular focus upon the pathways responsible for maintaining the DNA molecule and the DNA precursor pool.

RESEARCH TEAM BRENT PAGE

The research aims to use state-of-the-art chemical biology techniques to identify and further develop the next generation of cancer therapeutic agents. A corner-stone of this research is employing target engagement techniques to help optimize interactions between experimental drugs and their intended targets in cells and tissues. This work is done in close collaboration with the Brent Page Lab at the University of British Columbia which houses the medicinal chemistry arm of the Page research team.