Nobel laureate Sancar reveals his ‘Piri Reis Map’ for cancer treatment

Nobel laureate Sancar reveals his ‘Piri Reis Map’ for cancer treatment

Nobel laureate Sancar reveals his ‘Piri Reis Map’ for cancer treatment

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Aziz Sancar has revealed details of his new research into cancer treatment, which he has named after the Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer Piri Reis, saying it will be published soon.

Sancar, who is currently in Turkey for a series of formal and informal events, said he has been working on a new paper to present his research and to help scientists locate and repair DNA damage caused by UV radiation and chemotherapy. 

“I call this ‘My Piri Reis Map.’ This study is the most satisfying one I have done in the last 10 years,” Sancar, chemist at the University of North Carolina, told the state-run Anadolu Agency on May 18, noting that he has been working on the research since May 2015. 

“We hope this study can pave the way for new cancer treatments. This is the most detailed human genome map right now. I hope it can show us new horizons,” he added. 

The study marks the first time ever that scientists have been able to map how to repair DNA damage across the entire human genome. 

“We can develop the map in normal cells and in carcinogenic cells, and we can show this in any spot on the genome and see how it is repaired,” he said, adding that publication of the research is imminent, “within two weeks.” 

With the study, Sancar and his team discovered how the process of purifying enzymes takes place in DNA damaged by UV irradiation and by chemotherapeutic drugs such as cisplatin and oxaliplatin, which are used to treat cancer. 

The Nobel laureate said he now carries a copy of the map in his wallet, along with pictures of his wife and daughter. 

Sancar was among three scientists, alongside Tomas Lindahl and Paul Modrich, awarded the Nobel Prize last year for their work on mapping cells that repair ultraviolet damage to DNA. Their research was an important step in the quest to beat cancer.

The Ottoman ‘Kaptan-ı Derya’ 

Piri Reis (full name Hacı Ahmed Muhiddin Piri - Hadji Ahmed Muhiddin Piri, Ahmet ibn-i el-Haç Mehmet El Karamani) was an Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer, who was born between 1465 and 1470 and who died in 1554 or 1555.

The Ottoman Kaptan-ı Derya is primarily known today for his maps and charts collected in his Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation), a book that contains detailed information on navigation, as well as very accurate charts (for its time) describing the important ports and cities of the Mediterranean Sea.

Piri Reis gained wider fame as a cartographer when a small part of his first world map (prepared in 1513) was discovered in 1929 at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. His world map is the oldest known Turkish atlas showing the New World, and one of the oldest maps of America still in existence in the world. It is centered on the Sahara at the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer.

In 1528 Piri Reis drew a second world map, of which a small fragment (showing Greenland and North America from Labrador and Newfoundland in the north to Florida, Cuba and parts of Central America in the south) still survives. According to his imprinting text, he drew his maps using about twenty foreign charts (Arab, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Greek), including one by Christopher Columbus.