Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 for DNA repair studies

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The Nobel Prize 2015 in Chemistry jointly went to Tomas Lindahl (Swedish),  Paul Modrich (US)  and Aziz Sancar (US) "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair". Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has chosen them for “for mechanistic studies of DNA repair” i.e, for pioneering studies into the way our bodies repair damage to DNA.

Dr. Lindahl from Sweden was honored for discovering 'how cells generally fix DNA damage', while Dr. Modrich, the James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University, was recognized 'for showing how cells correct mistakes in DNA replication during cell division', and Turkish Biochemist Dr. Sancar 'for mapping how cells repair DNA damage from ultraviolet light'.

"Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions" and is used in developing new cancer treatments, the academy said. Some research into developing new cancer drugs is based on the idea of sabotaging the DNA repair that keeps cancer cells alive. One drug designed to do that is already used to treat advanced ovarian cancer, and many others are being studied.

Working separately, the laureates broke new ground by mapping and explaining several of the ways a cell repairs its DNA, the molecule that contains our genes. DNA sustains damage in multiple ways, such as when it is copied as cells divide or in response to chemicals or ultraviolet rays from the sun.

DNA was thought to be a stable until the 1970s, when Lindahl showed that it gets damaged so often that it seemed human life would be impossible. He realized that there must a repair mechanism, opening a new field of research, the academy said.

Tomas Lindahl (Sweden) :- 

 Tomas Lindahl (Sweden)

Lindahl, 77,  is from the Francis Crick Institute. He demonstrated that DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible. This insight led him to discover a molecular machinery, base excision repair, which constantly counteracts the collapse of our DNA,". Mr. Lindahl is also the 29th Nobel Laureate born in Sweden.

Aziz Sancar (US) :-

Aziz Sancar (US)

Sancar, also 69, is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has mapped Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) which is the mechanism in which cells repair Ultra Violet (UV) damage to DNA. He is the second Turkish to win a Nobel Prize, after novelist Orhan Pamuk was awarded the literature prize in 2006. Sancar comes from a family of farmers with eight children; neither parent received an education but all the children are university graduates.

Paul Modrich (US) :-

Mr. Modrich , 69, is an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. "He demonstrated how the cell corrects errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division. This mechanism, mismatch repair, reduces the error frequency during DNA replication by about a thousandfold. Congenital defects in mismatch repair are known, for example, to cause a hereditary variant of colon cancer,".

The Award

The winners will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (about USD 960,000) prize money. Each winner will also get a diploma and a gold medal at the annual award ceremony on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel.Every year, the prestigious Nobel Prize is given to honour those who have made outstanding contribution in the fields of science, literature and social service

 

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