2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Trio win for work on DNA repair

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2015 has been awarded to Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich of the United States and American-Turkish scientist Aziz Sancar.

Work of the winners hailed as fundamental to understanding how living cells function

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was won by Sweden's Tomas Lindahl (left), Paul Modrich (centre) of the U.S. and Turkish-American Aziz Sancar. ( University/Max Englund, UNC School of Medicine))

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2015 has been awarded to Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich of the United States and American-Turkish scientist Aziz Sancar.

The trio won for "mechanistic studies of DNA repair," the Nobel committee said as the prize was announced in Stockholm on Wednesday.

The men will share the eight million Swedish kronor (almost $1.3 million Cdn) prize.

The three men won for mapping, 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," said the Royal Swedich Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize.

Lindahl, 77, is an emeritus group leader at Francis Crick Institute and Emeritus director of Cancer Research UK at Clare Hall Laboratory in Britain. The Nobel prize committee said he demonstrated that DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible. This led him to discover a molecular machinery, base excision repair, which constantly counteracts the collapse of our DNA.

Modrich, born in 1946, is an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. He has demonstrated how the cell corrects errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division.

Sancar, 69, is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, N.C. He mapped nucleotide excision repair, the mechanism that cells use to repair UV damage to DNA.

Sancar is the second Turk to win a Nobel Prize, after novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2006.

The awarding of the Nobel prizes will continue Thursday with the award for literature, followed by the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be awarded on Oct. 12.

A Canadian scientist, Arthur McDonald, shared Tuesday's Nobel Prize in Physics with Japan's Takaaki Kajita for their experiments demonstrating that subatomic particles called neutrinos change identities and have mass.

On Monday the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine went to scientists from Japan, the U.S. and China who discovered drugs that are now used to fight malaria and other tropical diseases.

With files from The Associated Press