Nobel Prize awarded for DNA repair research

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The 2015Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday 7 October to Sweden’s Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich and Turkey’s Aziz Sancar for their work on DNA repair mechanisms. Consequences of this work include applications in cancer control.

Our gene pool, or more precisely the DNA that constitutes it, is under constant attack. Indeed, excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun, tobacco smoke, and many other agents present in our environment can damage our DNA. We refer to genotoxic attacks.

The lesions generated are potentially dangerous, as they can modify the functioning of the cells that make up our body, and lead to their transformation into malignant cells. Fortunately, there are cellular mechanisms responsible for detecting these lesions and eliminating them. The cell has several DNA repair systems to do this, allowing the targeting and removal of the different types of lesions that can modify the genetic material.

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Nucleotide Excision Repair - NER - 2012

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded three pioneers who have mapped several of these repair systems:

  • the base excision repair (BER) system, discovered by Tomas Lindahl,
  • the mismatch repair system, identified by Paul Modrich,
  • the nucleotide excision repair (NER) system, mapped by Aziz Sancar.

This last system is described in this animated film, directed by Jean-Marc Egly, Christophe Giraudon and Gabriel Picard, with support from Inserm and the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC, Ilkirch).

Read the press release : "Inserm International Prize 2008, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015" (07.10.2015)

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