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Professor Paul Thornalley



Professor in Systems Biology


WMS - Translational Medicine
University of Warwick
Tel: +44(0)24 7696 8594

Research Interests

Leading a multi-disciplinary team working in the field of disease mechanisms - particularly the study of damage to the proteome by glycation, oxidation and nitration, related enzymatic countermeasures raised by transcription factor Nrf2 and antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated expression and other metabolic dysfunction. A distinctive and pioneering expertise is glycation by the dicarbonyl metabolite methylglyoxal and prevention of this by the glyoxalase system. Diseases under current investigation are: vascular complications of diabetes, renal failure, ageing and glyoxalase 1-linked multidrug resistant tumours. Novel therapeutics development under current investigation are: glyoxalase 1 inducers, glyoxalase 1 inhibitors and Nrf2 activators. I have a particular interest in: (i) inducers of glyoxalase 1 for diabetic vascular disease and healthy ageing, and (ii) glyoxalase 1 inhibitors for glyoxalase 1-mediated multidrug resistant tumours. Novel diagnostics under investigation are: biomarkers for vascular and metabolic health, and healthy ageing.


I am a biomedical researcher and research team leader working in translational medicine, diet and health, development of functional foods and pharmaceuticals and systems biology. I lead research on the formation of the reactive dicarbonyl metabolite methylglyoxal and its metabolism by the glyoxalase system in human health and disease. Accumulation of methylglyoxal ‒ dicarbonyl stress ‒ is a new type of metabolic imbalance that is providing improved understanding of disease, health decline in ageing and new routes to treatment. The key enzyme of this system, glyoxalase 1 (Glo1), is now a target for Glo1 inducer development as active agents of functional foods for healthy ageing ‒ particularly to counter development of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, and pharmaceuticals for treatment of vascular complications of diabetes ‒ particularly diabetic renal disease, renal failure, neurological disorders and other disease. Glo1 inhibition is a strategy for development of novel antitumour agents. Increased Glo1 copy number occurs in refractory tumours is associated with multidrug resistance (MDR) and sensitivity to Glo1 inhibitors. Glo1 inhibitor therapy would likely active particularly against MDR breast cancer and lung cancer. I have experience in cellular, pre-clinical and clinical studies. I lead a multidisciplinary team of biomedical and clinical investigators. I have published 260 peer-reviewed articles and 190 conference papers with h-factor 63. I collaborate with leading experts in biomedical research worldwide and partners in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • Biomarkers of protein damage in athritis Date of Completion:2011
  • Studies of the prevention of diabetic nephropathy by thiamine. Protein damage studies. Date of Completion:2007
  • Induction of antioxidant response element - linked gene expression by dietary isothiocyanates Date of Completion:2007
  • Effect of dicarbonyl glycation on the development of diabetic complications Date of Completion:2014
  • Anti-stress gene response in cell and tissue ageing: role of transcription factor NF-E2-related factor-2 and effect of dietary activators Date of Completion:2014
  • Mechanism of increased renal clearance of thiamine in hyperglycaemia associated with diabetes Date of Completion:2012
  • Mass spectrometry and proteomics
  • Dicarbonyl glycation and endothelial dysfunction in hyperglycaemia associated with diabetes Date of Completion:2012
  • Effect of dicarbonyl glycation of pancreatic beta-cell function Date of Completion:2013
  • The role of the kidney in diabetic thiamine deficiency Date of Completion:2010
  • Preparation and measurement of dicarbonyl glycation adducts of deoxyguanosine in diabetes and multidrug resistance associated with glyoxalase 1 Date of Completion:2009
  • Preparation and measurement of dicarbonyl glycation adducts of deoxyguanosine. Date of Completion:2007
  • Glycation of human serum albumin, haemoglobin and lens crystallins and capsule collagen by methylglyoxal and other alpha-oxoaldehydes in vivo Date of Completion:2009
  • Methylglyoxal as a downstream mediator of antitumour drug cytotoxicity and link to glyoxalase 1 - associated multidrug resistance Date of Completion:2008
  • Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of high dose therapy with thiamine and Benfotiamine in diabetes Date of Completion:2007
  • The Identification of Risk Factors for the Development of Diabetic Nephropathy (PREDICTIONS)
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  • Functional impairment of HDL by dicarbonyl glycation in glucose intolerance, obesity and type 2 diabetes - link to cardiovascular disease
  • Thiamine metabolism associated with biochemical dysfunction in diabetes mellitus and triosephosphate isomerase deficiency Date of Completion:2001
  • Study on the chromatographic analysis of glycation adducts Date of Completion:2002
  • Induction of glyoxalase I expression by dietary isothiocyanates via transcription factor nrf2 and prevention of cellular senescence in vitro
  • Glycation of collagen in health and disease - structural and functional studies Date of Completion:2007
  • Studies of the prevention of diabetic nephropathy by thiamine. Protein kinase C studies Date of Completion:2003
  • Studies on the formation, metabolism and glycation reactions of endogenous and exogenous alpha-oxoaldehydes in uraemia Date of Completion:2003

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