Updated on 8 October 2015
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.
Dr Tomas Lindahl, Dr Paul Modrich and Dr Aziz Sancar have been awarded 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.
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. While Dr Tomas Lindah is associated with the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory, Hertfordshire, UK, Dr Paul Modrich works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA. Dr Aziz Sancar is based out of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Ground breaking work