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Dr Helen Sheldrake

Assistant Professor

Faculty/Dept/School School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
(Faculty of Life Sciences)
Telephone +441274 236858


Helen Sheldrake studied Natural Sciences followed by a PhD in natural product synthesis at the University of Cambridge. After postdoctoral work at The University of Manchester, she joined the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, University of Bradford as a RCUK Academic Fellow in Medicinal Chemistry. She is now a Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, and School Health and Safety Lead.


New synthetic methods for biologically active/druglike molecules. Design and synthesis of integrin antagonists. Total synthesis.

The integrins are a family of transmembrane receptors which mediate cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesion, and signalling across the cell membrane involved in pathways controlling cell migration, proliferation, differentiation, cell survival and apoptosis. In cancers, their vital role in the cross-talk between the cell and extracellular matrix enhances the growth, migration, invasion and metastasis of cancer cells. The RGD-binding subfamily of integrins are of particular interest as anticancer targets, since there is strong evidence that their expression in cancers is correlated with tumour progression, treatment resistance, and a cancer stem cell phenotype. Research areas currently under investigation include:

- Synthesis and characterisation of new integrin targeting small molecules for the treatment of advanced cancers, particularly metastatic prostate cancer and malignant melanoma.

- Development of personalised anti-integrin agents: Identification of the optimum combination of integrins to target for effective treatment of a particular tumour.

- Investigation of combination therapies to combat integrin-mediated resistance to existing anticancer agents.

Outside the integrin area, I am interested in the synthesis of biologically active natural products, and derivatives.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD or postdoc in one of these areas, please contact me directly.

Date Role Title / Description Funder Award
- PINew strategies for improving efficacy of integrin antagonism
- PITotal synthesis of Nigramide Q

Research collaborators
NameMartin Brinkworth
DescriptionNew applications of integrin modulating small molecules
NameKrzysztof Paluch
DescriptionSynthesis and characterisation of novel antibiotic prodrugs

Contract Researchers
NameAdam Throup
RoleResearch Assistant
ProjectDesign, Synthesis and Applications of Chiral Cyclobutanes
NameAndrew Gordon
RoleResearch Assistant
ProjectDevelopment of dual beta3 integrin antagonists as a novel anti-metastatic therapeutic for castration-resistant prostate cancer


Teaching interests

Current teaching activities:

Phase Leader: head of Clinical Sciences BSc Years 1 + 2

Module Leader: CLS3004-B Chemistry for Clinical Sciences, CLS5013-B Pharmacology and Therapeutics, CLS6001-B Clinical Pharmacology, LIS7022-B Critical Appraisal 

Lecturer: Principles of Drug Discovery; Case Studies in Drug Discovery; Preclinical Models for Drug Evaluation; Practical Skills in Research; Research projects; Personal tutor Clinical Sciences years 1-3

Previous teaching highlights:

Programme leader: MSc Cancer Pharmacology 2015-2019

Lecturer: Biological Organic Chemistry

Practical class leader: Chemistry for Engineers

Professional activities

  • 01-JAN-15: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • 01-JAN-04: University of Cambridge - PhD
  • 01-JAN-01: University of Cambridge - MSci

  • 01-JAN-07: University of Bradford - RCUK Academic Fellow in Medicinal Chemistry
  • 01-JAN-04: The University of Manchester - Postdoctoral Research Associate


TitleSynthesis and Biological Evaluation of Cyclobutane-Based β3 Integrin Antagonists: A Novel Approach to Targeting Integrins for Cancer Therapy (2023)
AuthorsMark Sutherland, Andrew Gordon, Fatemah OFO Al-Shammari, Adam Throup, Amy Cilia La Corte, Helen Philippou, Steven D Shnyder, Laurence H Patterson, Helen M Sheldrake
TitleProbing cytochrome P450 (CYP) bioactivation with chloromethylindoline bioprecursors derived from the duocarmycin family of compounds. (2021)
AuthorsOrtuzar N;Karu K;Presa D;Morais GR;Sheldrake HM;Shnyder SD;Barnieh FM;Loadman PM;Patterson LH;Pors K;Searcey M;
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
TitleExploration of [2 + 2 + 2] cyclotrimerisation methodology to prepare tetrahydroisoquinoline-based compounds with potential aldo-keto reductase 1C3 target affinity (2019)
AuthorsSantos A.;Sheldrake H.;Ibrahim A.;Danta C.;Bonanni D.;Daga M.;Oliaro-Bosso S.;Boschi D.;Lolli M.;Pors K.
TitleRGD-Binding Integrins in Head and Neck Cancers (2017)
AuthorsAhmedah, H.T.; Patterson, Laurence H.; Shnyder, Steven D.; Sheldrake, Helen M.
TitleIntramolecular thermal stepwise [2 + 2] cycloadditions: investigation of a stereoselective synthesis of [n.2.0]-bicyclolactones (2016)
AuthorsThroup, Adam; Patterson, Laurence H.; Sheldrake, Helen M.
TitleSolid-phase synthesis of duocarmycin analogues and the effect of C-terminal substitution on biological activity (2015)
AuthorsStephenson, M.J.; Howell, L.A.; O'Connell, M.A.; Fox, K.R.; Adcock, C.; Kingston, J.; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Pors, Klaus; Collingwood, S.P.; Searcey, M.
TitleStrategies to inhibit tumour associated integrin receptors: rationale for dual and multi-antagonists (2014)
AuthorsSheldrake, Helen M.; Patterson, Laurence H.
TitleAntitumor activity of a duocarmycin analogue rationalized to be metabolically activated by cytochrome P450 1A1 in human transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder (2013)
AuthorsSutherland, Mark H.; Gill, Jason H.; Loadman, Paul M.; Laye, Jonathan P.; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Illingworth, Nicola A.; Alandas, Mohammed N.; Cooper, Patricia A.; Searcey, M.; Pors, Klaus; Shnyder, Steven D.; Patterson, Laurence H.
TitleColon cancer-specific cytochrome P450 2W1 converts duocarmycin analogues into potent tumor cytotoxins (2013)
AuthorsTravica, S.; Pors, Klaus; Loadman, Paul M.; Shnyder, Steven D.; Johansson, I.; Alandas, Mohammed N.; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Mkrtchian, S.; Patterson, Laurence H.; Ingelman-Sundberg, M.
TitleRe-engineering of the Duocarmycin Structural Architecture Enables Bioprecursor Development Targeting CYP1A1 and CYP2W1 for Biological Activity (2013)
AuthorsSheldrake, Helen M.; Travica, S.; Johansson, I.; Loadman, Paul M.; Sutherland, Mark H.; Elsalem, Lina M.I.; Illingworth, Nicola A.; Cresswell, Alexander J.; Reuillon, Tristan; Shnyder, Steven D.; Mkrtchian, S.; Searcey, M.; Ingelman-Sundberg, M.; Patterson, Laurence H.; Pors, Klaus
TitleModification of the duocarmycin pharmacophore enables CYP1A1 targeting for biological activity (2011)
AuthorsPors, Klaus; Loadman, Paul M.; Shnyder, Steven D.; Sutherland, Mark H.; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Guino, M.; Kiakos, K.; Hartley, J.A.; Searcey, M.; Patterson, Laurence H.
TitleChemical and Biological Explorations of the Family of CC-1065 and the Duocarmycin Natural Products. (2009)
AuthorsGhosh, Nandita; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Searcey, M.; Pors, Klaus
TitleFunction and Antagonism of beta3 integrins in the development of cancer therapy (2009)
AuthorsSheldrake, Helen M.; Patterson, Laurence H.
TitleSynthesis of the originally proposed structure of elatenyne and an enyne from Laurencia majuscula (2009)
AuthorsSheldrake, Helen M.; Jamieson, C.; Pascu, S.I.; Burton, J.W.
TitleRapid stereoselective access to the tetracyclic core of puupehenone and related sponge metabolites using metal-free radical cyclisations of cyclohexenyl-substituted 3-bromochroman-4-ones. (2008)
AuthorsPritchard, R.P.; Sheldrake, Helen M.; Taylor, I.Z.; Wallace, T.W.
TitleReduction of Propargylic Sulfones to (Z)-Allylic Sulfones using Zinc and Ammonium Chloride. (2007)
AuthorsSheldrake, Helen M.; Wallace, T.W.

Other typeReviews
TitleRGD-binding integrins in head and neck cancers (2017)
AuthorsAhmedah H.;Patterson L.;Shnyder S.;Sheldrake H.
Other typeReviews
TitleStrategies to inhibit tumor associated integrin receptors: Rationale for dual and multi-antagonists (2014)
AuthorsSheldrake H.;Patterson L.
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Other typeReviews
TitleRGD-binding integrins in prostate cancer: Expression patterns and therapeutic prospects against bone metastasis (2012)
AuthorsSutherland M.;Gordon A.;Shnyder S.;Patterson L.;Sheldrake H.
Other typeReviews
TitleChemical and biological explorations of the family of CC-1065 and the duocarmycin natural products (2009)
AuthorsGhosh N.;Sheldrake H.;Searcey M.;Pors K.
JournalCurrent Topics in Medicinal Chemistry
Other typeReviews
TitleFunction and antagonism of β3 integrins in the development of cancer therapy (2009)
AuthorsSheldrake H.;Patterson L.
JournalCurrent Cancer Drug Targets