Nobel Prize 2015 in Chemistry goes to 3 scientists for leading studies on new cancer treatments


Tomas Lindahl (Sweden), Paul Modrich (US) and Aziz Sancar (Turkey) have won Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 for their studies on DNA repair that can be used for development of new cancer treatments.

Their works have explained how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information. The studies say that our genetic material does not disintegrate into complete chemical chaos and host of molecular systems continuously monitor and repair DNA is the reason for that. “The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 awards three pioneering scientists who have mapped how several of these repair systems function at a detailed molecular level,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (which confers Nobel Award for Chemistry every year) said in an official statement.

The three scientists – Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar have independently of each other, mapped several processes for DNA repair that are relevant to humans. Tomas Lindahl demonstrated that DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible. “This insight led me to discover molecular machinery, base excision repair, which constantly counteracts the collapse of our DNA,” said Dr. Lindahl.

Paul Modrich 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 thousand folds. Congenital defects in mismatch repair are known, for example, to cause a hereditary variant of colon cancer,” said the US scientist.

Aziz Sancar has mapped nucleotide excision repair, the mechanism that cells use to repair UV damage to DNA. “People born with defects in this repair system will develop skin cancer if they are exposed to sunlight. The cell also utilizes nucleotide excision repair to correct defects caused by mutagenic substances, among other things,” he informed.

Tomas LindahlTomas Lindahl, a Swedish citizen was born 1938 in Stockholm, Sweden. He holds a Ph.D. from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. He was also a Professor of Medical and Physiological Chemistry at University of Gothenburg between 197 and 1982. Currently, he is serving as Emeritus group leader at Francis Crick Institute and Emeritus director of Cancer Research UK at Clare Hall Laboratory, Hertfordshire, UK.


Paul ModrichPaul Modrich, a US citizen, born in 1946 and had been awarded Ph.D. in 1973 from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA is an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA.


Aziz SancarAziz Sancar, a Turkish citizen was born in Savur, Turkey in 1973. He was awarded Ph.D. in 1977 from University of Texas, Dallas, TX, USA. Currently he is serving as a Professor of Biochemistry and BioChemistry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

The Nobel in Chemistry in 2014 was awarded jointly to Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.


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Apratim Chatterjee