Press releases

Inserm International Prize 2008, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015

07 Oct 2015 | By INSERM (Newsroom) | Institutional and special event

Inserm is pleased to have awarded its 2008 International Prize to Tomas Lindahl, who was today awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Sweden’s Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich, and Turkish-American Aziz Sancar, whose work on the role of cells in the repair of damaged DNA is finding applications in cancer treatments.

These three researchers, who studied the “cell’s toolbox,” received the award for their “study of DNA repair” following damage by ultraviolet radiation, for example, explained the Swedish jury.

In 2008, Inserm awarded a prize to Tomas Lindahl, former Director of Clare Hall Laboratories at Cancer Research UK. In this British establishment, Tomas and his team are constructing a map of the DNA repair mechanisms that enable the molecule to “defend itself” against carcinogenic elements. In particular, they have shown that the DNA molecule is more fragile than was thought. Tomas Lindahl demonstrated the action of DNA glycosylase, involved in the first phase of the repair process known as “base excision repair,” which removes the nitrogenous base from the damaged part of the DNA, thus releasing a sugar/phosphate structure which, when recognised by a specific enzyme, can then be repaired.

They also discovered another form of DNA repair, which employs AlkB enzymes and other DNA dioxygenases to remove alkylation damage.

Research by his group also focuses on the more medical issue of why some patients’ cells become resistant to chemo- or radiotherapy.In 2008, he stated, “It is always an honour to be recognised by one’s peers. When I received the letter from Inserm informing me of this news, I was delighted to be distinguished by my French colleagues.”

Yves Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Inserm, is pleased to see “an Inserm laureate being awarded the highest international scientific distinction. Today the mechanisms of DNA repair are one of the foundations of research in the life sciences and health.”

Inserm will present its Grand Prix 2015 and International Prize on 8 December next at a ceremony in Collège de France

One of the ADN repair mecanism explained by video