Three to share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Tomas Lindahl (a Swede working in the UK), Paul Modrich (from the USA) and Aziz Sancar (a US/Turkish citizen, working in USA) have been awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on " mechanistic studies of DNA repair". In their press release the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences states that the three have “…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….”

As impossible as it may seem, with DNA being an unstable molecule, life as we know it should not have been possible but for the repairing function of molecular systems, monitoring and repairing the DNA. We begin life as a blob consisting of 23 chromosomes  from the mother and 23 from the father. The DNA molecules in our first cells would form a two meter long strand. At an adult age that same person’s, imaginary, strand of DNA molecules would reach the sun and back – 250 times! It is the monitoring and repairing function that allows the DNA to be copied over and over without causing havoc and allowing life to develop despite the inherent risk of random errors in any of the body’s chemical processes.

// Lena Ericsson