In his prizewinning research, Nathans used the restriction enzyme isolated
by Smith from the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae to investigate the
structure of the DNA of the simian virus 40 (SV40), the simplest virus
known to produce cancerous tumours. This achievement, the construction
of a genetic map of a virus, heralded the first application of restriction
enzymes to the problem of identifying the molecular basis of cancer.
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