Nobel Prize in Chemistry Was Awarded Jointly to Three Scientists for Their Mapping of DNA Repair System

On 7th, October, Nobel Prize in Chemistry was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and was gained by Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for their breakthrough made on DNA repair.

By working on DNA repairment, Tomas Lindahl and Aziz Sancar found that the fault occurring in the process when DNA is copied can be fixed. And Paul Modrich mapped the enzymes involved in DNA mismatch repair.


Without external factors, DNA themselves are very unstable and thousands even more changes would happen to the genome on a daily base. Changes occurring with no outside force can be considered as natural changes. Besides with the natural changes DNA will actively response to the external factors like UV, and various carcinogenic substances. In addition, fault can appear during the cell division process which happens every second in bodies. Under such circumstance, a self repairment system is working to prevent the changes to DNA from resulting in genetic illness presented in human bodies. The Nobel Prize laureates in chemistry this year was awarded the prize for their work on mapping several repairing systems and the presentation of how the systems functios to achieve the repairment at a molecular level.

Respectively, Lindahl discovered base excision repair after he demonstrated that DNA is exposed to defaults all the time; Modrich found mismatch repair a mechanism to decrease the alteration in cell division; and Sancar mapped nucleotide excision repair, with which UV caused damage can be restored.

Lindahl began to study on the finding early from 60’s in 20th century when DNA was commonly considered as being quite stable. While Modrich was on the way for the pitch of Nobel Prize when he was still a student and told by his teacher to learn about DNA, which began to be considered as an important subject at that time.

As they wished at the time when they set to work on this matter, the finding and mapping of DNA repair system did great contribution in various aspects, especially in the prevention and treatment of diseases like cancer. There will be more breakthroughs in this aspect in the near future with the help of these great fundamental findings.