According to an announcement made on Wednesday, three scientists who have worked out the procedure adopted by cells for repairing damaged DNA and added a new dimension to the war against cancer will be receiving the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The three scientists are respectively from Turkey, the United States, and Sweden.
Detailed knowledge about DNA damage has revolutionized the world of cancer treatment. Researchers have formulated new drugs that work by targeting specific molecular pathways that tumor cells use for proliferating.
Aziz Sancar, Paul Modrich and Tomas Lindahl are the three scientists to win this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry. They have been awarded for carrying out “mechanistic studies of DNA repair”. These researchers have mapped how cells fix DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) for ensuring that damaging errors don’t appear in genetic information. In a large share of cancers, one or more of these DNA repair system are broken.
In a statement, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that the work of these scientists has presented basic information about the functioning of living cells and how they are used for developing fresh cancer treatments. The genome of a cell undergoes thousands of alterations every day because of damages caused by radiation, carcinogens and free radicals and a range of other spontaneous changes. In spite of all these, DNA stays surprisingly intact.
For ensuring that genetic materials don’t disintegrate, different molecular systems supervise and mend DNA. The three scientists receiving this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry succeeded in mapping out the procedures adopted by the molecular systems for repairing DNA. Prof. Sancar, who teaches at the University of North Carolina and has Turkish and US citizenships, said that the study conducted by him and his colleagues is important for both cancer treatment and prevention, and that is the reason they have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
Modrich, who is a researcher representing the Duke University School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said that he was completely taken aback when he first came to know about Wednesday’s announcement. He informed that he was on vacation at his New Hampshire cabin when he received the surprising news.
Modrich says that he got attracted to this field of study due to this father, who was a biology teacher. He told him to learn about DNA, and this served as a great inspiration for him.