Nobel prize for chemistry awarded to DNA study

Sweden’s Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich and US-Turkish scientist Aziz Sancar have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for “mechanistic studies of DNA repair”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work “has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions”.

Their findings have been used for the development of new cancer treatments, as well as other things, the academy said.

Lindahl, 77, is an emeritus group leader at Francis Crick Institute and emeritus director of Cancer Research UK at Clare Hall Laboratory in Britain.

Modrich, born in 1946, is professor at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina. Sancar, 69, is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The €860,000 award will be handed out along with the other Nobel prizes on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

This year’s medicine prize went to scientists from Japan, the US and China who discovered drugs to fight malaria and other tropical diseases. Japanese and Canadian scientists won the physics prize for discovering that tiny particles called neutrinos have mass.

The Nobel announcements continue with literature today, the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow and the economics award on Monday.

The academy said DNA was thought to be a stable molecule until the 1970s when Lindahl showed that it decays at a fast rate. Our DNA is damaged by ultraviolet rays from the sun and carcinogenic substances.

Sancar mapped a mechanism that cells use to repair ultraviolet damage to DNA while Modrich showed how the cell corrects errors when DNA is replicated during cell division, the academy said.

It said their research “has not only deepened our knowledge of how we function, but could also lead to the development of life-saving treatments”.


AS Joaquin Phoenix rose to the podium to collect his Academy Award for Best Actor, ears were peeled as the actor made his speech about inequality and our disconnect with the natural world.Paul McLauchlan: Leading men lead the way on Oscars red carpet

The new season blood oranges have arrived, they’ve been trickling into the shops ever since Christmas — such joy. I long for their delightful fresh taste after the rich food of the festive season.Darina Allen: Blood Oranges have a delightfully fresh taste after the rich food of winter

She’s the Cork singer dubbed the next Kate Bush, shortlisted by Universal, the world’s biggest record label, as their artist to watch in 2020. This will be the year of Lyra, writes Ed PowerLyra: Meet the new Kate Bush - and she's from Cork

For relationships to endure, we need to be loving not just on Valentine’s Day but all year round, a Buddhist teacher tells Marjorie BrennanOpen hearts: The Buddhist approach to love and loving

More From The Irish Examiner