Anti-cancer DNA research wins Nobel prize for Chemistry

7 Oct 2015 | By Shiladitya
2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

The $960,000 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry will be shared between three scientists from Sweden, USA and Turkey - Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar respectively.

"Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer-treatments" and illuminated "the cell's tool box for repairing DNA," according to the Nobel Academy.

In context: 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Age no bar!

Since its inception in 1901, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded 107 times- its youngest recipient being Frederic Joliot (35) who won it in 1935, and oldest being John B Fenn (85), the 2002 winner.

Lindahl Base Excision Repair

Up until the 1970s, the DNA was believed to be an extremely stable molecule.

Tomas Lindahl demonstrated that DNA decayed at such a fast rate, that it ought to have made development of life on earth impossible.

Lindahl showed that cells contained certain enzymes which could detect and repair damaged DNA, and discovered a mechanism called Base Excision Repair which perpetually counteracted DNA degradation.

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Modrich Mismatch Repair

There is a possibility of defects arising in genetic information when DNA is replicated during cell division, a process which occurs millions of times daily.

Paul Modrich, professor of Biochemistry at Duke University in North Carolina, demonstrated how the cell corrects errors occurring during cell division.

This mechanism, called Mismatch Repair, reduced error frequency in DNA replication during cell division by about a thousand-fold.

Sancar Nucleotide Excision Repair

The sun's UV radiation has the potential to damage to genetic material, and cause skin cancer more frequently.

Aziz Sancar uncovered that cells have a two-part defense against UV-light to prevent damage called Nucelotide Excision Repair.

Firstly, a light-dependent enzyme called photolyase repairs UV-damaged cells instantaneously, which is followed by an intensive repair done by a set of enzymes that function in the dark.

7 Oct 2015Anti-cancer DNA research wins Nobel prize for Chemistry

How are we alive?

A cell's genome undergoes thousands of variations daily resultant of cell division errors, damage by radiation and carcinogens. The cell-repair mechanisms described by the 2015 Nobel laureates prevent us from disintegrating into complete chemical chaos.