DNA repair mechanisms recognized by a 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences  awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for mechanistic studies of DNA repair. (1) The honored research recognized three DNA repair mechanisms that was recognized is relevant for a better understanding of the aging process and malignancy.
The DNA (1)  is often damaged by industrial pollutants, conventional therapies like chemo and radiation therapy,  ultraviolet light from the sun and the like. To make matters worse, the human genome of each cell undergoes thousands of spontaneous changes each day. And DNA copying for cell division and multiplication, which happens in the body millions of times daily, also introduces defects. As a consequence, DNA is quite and unstable molecule.
Yet, all of the body’s trillions of living cells manage to repair most of these mutations. Up until recently, we did not understand the mechanisms of action that led to DNA repair. Independently, the new laureates discovered a number of restorative steps, in particular, three.
First off, in the early 1970s, Dr. Lindahl defied orthodoxy about DNA stability by showing that the complex molecule, on its own, would deteriorate so rapidly that life on Earth would have been impossible. That insight led him to uncover a molecular system that constantly counteracts DNA collapse.
Lindahl, who is regarded as one of the founders of the field, chronicled a process dubbed base excision repair, in which specific enzymes recognize, cut out, and patch up bases in the DNA molecule that got damaged, thanks to which the DNA molecule could stabilize.
Sancar  (who was born in Savur, Turkey), but has spent most of his professional life in the United States and is now at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill),  worked in the 1980s to explain how cells use enzymes to repair damage to DNA from ultraviolet rays or other carcinogens, through a system called nucleotide excision repair. In particular,  People born with defects in this system, if exposed to sunlight, develop skin cancer.
And Modrich, who is at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, published work in 1989 on a third mechanism  (called ‘mismatch repair’) which deals with errors produced when DNA is copied. In this perspective, Dr. Modrich showed how cellular machinery fixes errors that arise during DNA replication, reducing the frequency of mistakes by roughly a thousand. Defects in this system cause a hereditary variant of colon cancer.
Thanks to a better understanding of these mechanisms, diseases like cancer and senescence (aging) may be better controlled. People with faults in their repair system have an increased risk of developing cancers, because damaging mutations to their DNA can go uncorrected. Cancer cells themselves survive damage by using enzymes to patch up their own damaged DNA. In conventional oncology, the pharmaceutical companies are showing interests in directly targeting DNA-repair pathways in tumour cells. (3) But as the Optimal Longevity Institute has often stated, cancer tends to resist one pathway attacks quite well, while holistic oncology targets multiple pathways that can make cancer’s DNA repair system obsolete. And by doing so, enhance the body’s healthy repair system so as to optimize longevity and wellbeing.


(1). Tomas Lindahl is at the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in the U.K. Paul Modrich is at the Duke University School of Medicine. And Aziz Sancar is at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
(2).  Each cell contains a coiled mass of DNA that if straightened out would extend about six feet. In turn, each strand carries the thousands of genetic instructions needed to run the body. The human genome has about 23,000 genes.
(3). Nature 526, 307–308 (15 October 2015).
Copyright (c) 2016 Optimal Longevity Institute
Disclaimer. Nothing in this educational blog should be construed as medical advise.

Professor Joubert teaches how to extend a healthy cancer-free Lifespan to 122 years thanks to safe, efficient and cost friendly breakthrough protocols. Working on a documentary and book that redefines Medicine in light of new discoveries, ancient wisdoms, innovative research and holistic science, he can be nonetheless available to coach patients back to homeostasis, wellbeing & Joie de Vivre. On occasion, Pr. Joubert can also coach health professionals to better protect their holistic practice when they must deviate from outdated and-or irrational mainstream “standards of care” in order to genuinely serve their patients, evidence-strong Science and internationally recognized human rights. For details, see the links called “Contact” and “Mission” (under the “About” link).

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