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Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015
Author : Sudhakar
Category : Awards Current Affairs
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Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015

 NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY 2015

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 was awarded jointly to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair".

TOMAS LINDAHL: He was Born 1938 in Stockholm. He is a Swedish citizen. Ph.D. 1967 from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Professor of Medical and Physiological Chemistry at University of Gothenburg 1978–82. Emeritus group leader at Francis Crick Institute and Emeritus director of Cancer Research UK at Clare Hall Laboratory, Hertfordshire, UK.

PAUL MODRICH: He was Born 1946. He is a U.S. citizen. Ph.D. 1973 from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA.

AZIZ SANCAR: He was Born 1946 in Savur, Turkey. He is a U.S. and Turkish citizen Ph.D. 1977 from University of Texas, Dallas, TX, USA. Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

 PRIZE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Announcement of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry by Professor Göran K. Hansson, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, on 7 October 2015.

INTERVIEW:

Immediately after the announcement, Professor Claes Gustafsson, Member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, was interviewed by freelance journalist Joanna Rose regarding the 2015 Chemistry Prize.

 

DESCRIPTION:

THE CELLS’ TOOLBOX FOR DNA REPAIR:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 is awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar 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.

Each day our DNA is damaged by UV radiation, free radicals and other carcinogenic substances, but even without such external attacks, a DNA molecule is inherently unstable. Thousands of spontaneous changes to a cell’s genome occur on a daily basis. Furthermore, defects can also arise when DNA is copied during cell division, a process that occurs several million times every day in the human body.

The reason our genetic material does not disintegrate into complete chemical chaos is that a host of molecular systems continuously monitor and repair DNA. 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.

In the early 1970s, scientists believed that DNA was an extremely stable molecule, but Tomas Lindahl 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.

 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 utilises nucleotide excision repair to correct defects caused by mutagenic substances, among other things.

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 thousandfold. Congenital defects in mismatch repair are known, for example, to cause a hereditary variant of colon cancer.

 

The Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2015 have provided fundamental insights into how cells function, knowledge that can be used, for instance, in the development of new cancer treatments.   


 

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