2015 Nobel Chemistry Prize Honours Scientists for DNA Repair

By Stephanie Panecasio

2015 Nobel Chemistry Prize Honours Scientists for DNA Repair
Nobel Chemistry Prize, awarded to three scientists, could change the way we approach treatment of cancer and other genetic diseases.

The 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists within the field of DNA mapping for their efforts in understanding cellular repair. Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar were all recognised for their research into faulty DNA pairings and their effect on the body.

The principles of their research were that the structure of DNA is fallible, but that enzymes within the internal structures of cells are able to eliminate mutated DNA pairings, stopping the division of damaged genetic code. These pairings may have sustained damage from biological and environmental factors, which require immediate attention to prevent further reproduction of mutations.

Tomas Lindahl’s research began with a study of bacterial DNA and its in-built repair system. He discovered a weakness within the genetic pairings and identified a mis-pairing that if left unrepaired would result in mutated genes.

Paul Modrich spent over a decade identifying mismatch repair in DNA, which occurs when the DNA letters representing thymine, cytosine, guanine and adenine are incorrectly paired

Aziz Sancar was able to discover an enzyme that repairs specifically UV-damaged DNA and experimented with a way to cut the DNA in order to remove the damaged code. He was subsequently able to map this same repair in humans.

The combined research of the three winning scientists addresses problems caused by toxic substances in everyday life, and have contributed to the understanding of mechanisms that cause cancer, other genetic disorders and ageing.

The award was announced in Stockholm, Sweden, and the prize money of eight million Swedish kronor (AUD 1,349,120) will be shared among the winners.

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