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DNA scientists Shared 2015 Nobel Chemistry Prize

The 2015 Nobel Prize for chemistry has been jointly awarded to three scientists for their “mechanistic studies of DNA repair,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday. Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar won for having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information. Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments, the academy said.

Tomas Lindahl (left), Aziz Sancar (center) and Paul Modrich (right) shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair.

Tomas Lindahl (left), Aziz Sancar (center) and Paul Modrich (right) shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair.

A Swedish scientist Mr. Lindahl 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,” said the Nobel Institute in a statement. Mr. Lindahl is also the 29th Nobel Laureate born in Sweden.
A Professor of Biochemistry Mr. Modrich is from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine. He has 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, added the release.

Turkish Biochemist Mr. Sancar is from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC, USA. He has mapped nucleotide excision repair, the mechanism that cells use to repair UV damage to DNA. People born with defects in this repair sstem will develop skin cancer if they are exposed to sunlight. The cell also utilises nucleotide excision repair to correct defects caused by mutagenic substances, among other things, said the release.

The winners will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (about $960,000) prize money. Each winner will also get a diploma and a gold medal at the annual award ceremony that will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10, the death anniversary of the prize founder Alfred Nobel.

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