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Chemistry Nobel goes to Lindahl, Modrich, Sancar

Jessie WingardOctober 7, 2015

The three scientists share this year's chemistry prize "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair." Their work helped contribute, among other things, towards new treatments for cancer.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich and Turkish-born Aziz Sancar shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday, "for having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information." The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement that their work had "provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the developments of new cancer treatments."

DNA was once thought to be an extremely stable molecule, but Lindahl showed that it decays at a rapid rate. Sancar mapped nucleotide excision repair, "the mechanism that cells use to repair UV damage to DNA," according to the Academy. Modric, meanwhile, "demonstrated how the cell corrects errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division."

The trio will share the 8 million kroner ($960,000, 855,000 euros) prize purse.

On Thursday, the Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded. The main event, the Nobel Peace Prize, will be announced on Friday in Oslo. Some consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel a frontrunner. Finally, next Monday, the Nobel Prize for Economics will top off the 2015 set.