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Thomas Helleday's Group

The overall aim of the Helleday laboratory is to improve the treatment of cancer by exploiting cancer defects in order to tailor specific drugs for all types of cancer, with minimal side-effects.

The Helleday lab is a multidisciplinary translational research group focusing on understanding basic DNA repair and DNA-damage signaling pathways at replication forks and developing novel drugs for anti-cancer treatments. The research covers both basic and translational work including academic-driven clinical trials, based on basic science findings from the laboratory.

Professor Thomas Helleday is The Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Professor of Translational Medicine and Chair in Chemical Biology at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

For more detailed information about our lab visit

Visiting/delivery address:

Helleday group
SciLifeLab A5
Tomtebodavägen 23a
171 65 Solna


Many DNA damaging anti-cancer drugs cause replication-associated DNA damage that kill cancer cells. This is an effective way of treating cancer, but the problem is that also normal cells are damaged. Our strategy is to exploit the high level of DNA damage in cancer cells and prevent the repair of these lesions. Using DNA repair inhibitors, we can selectively introduce toxic DNA damage to cancer cells.

Our idea is based on three strategies:

1) Basic science understanding on DNA replication repair.

Basically all potentially curative anti-cancer treatments work by causing DNA damage. This damage is normally not lethal but is converted into lethal lesions upon DNA replication. Cancer cells have numerous co-ordinated DNA repair pathways operating in replicating cells and our strategy is to gain in depth knowledge into these processes, giving us insights into how genome stability is maintained and also identifying putative targets for anti-cancer treatment.

2) DNA repair pathways operating in cancer patients.

It is critical that we work closely with patients and investigate if DNA repair pathways identified in basic science are operating in cancer specimen and what their roles are in this context. Therefore, we conduct our experiments in collaboration with cancer patients, to see which DNA repair pathways are relevant in their individual cancers.

3) Small molecule inhibitors to selectively kill cancer cells.

Once we gain understanding of repair processes in cancer we purify putative DNA repair proteins and identify small molecule inhibitors. These are further improved to effectively and selectively inhibit the protein in cells. Ultimately, we progress these small molecules and test in cancer patients in clinical trials to determine if we are able to improve current anti-cancer treatments.

Group members

Ingrid Almlöf, Research engineer
Nuno Amaral, Postdoc
Carlos Benitéz, Postdoc
Nadilly Bonagas, PhD student
Sanjay Borhade, Researcher
Lars Bräutigam, Researcher
Matthieu Desroses, Researcher
Helge Gad, Researcher
Camilla Gokturk, Project leader
Maurice Grube, Postdoc
Nina Gustafsson, Assistant professor
Bishoy Hanna, PhD student
Thomas Helleday, Professor, PI
Martin Henriksson, Research engineer
Sofia Henriksson, Postdoc
Evert Homan, Senior research specialist
Anna Huguet, PhD student
Ann-Sofie Jemth, Researcher
Christina Kalderén, Research engineer
Stella Karsten, PhD student
Tobias Koolmeister, Research engineer
Jemina Lehto, PhD student
Olga Loseva, Researcher
Carolyn Marks, Postdoc
Oliver Mortusewicz, Project leader
Cynthia Paulin, Postdoc
Aleksandra Pettke, PhD student
Therese Pham, Research engineer
Flor Pineiro, Lab manager
Linda Pudelko, PhD student
Marjo-Riitta Puumalainen, Postdoc
Azita Rasti, Research engineer
Sean Rudd, Postdoc
Teresa Sandvall, Specialist
Kumar Sanjiv, Assistant professor
Niklas Schultz, Researcher
Martin Scobie, Research engineer
Kristina Chalmain, Research coordinator
Judith Unterlass, Postdoc
Nicholas Valerie, Postdoc
Karl Vallin, Research engineer
Torkild Visnes, Researcher
Catharina von Nicolai, Postdoc
Prasad Wakchaure, Researcher
Olov Wallner, Research engineer
Ulrika Warpman Berglund, Project leader
Elisee Wiita, Research engineer
Simin Zhang, Guest researcher