Technique of laser chromosome welding for chromosome repair and artificial chromosome creation
Since the early days of lasers, it has been recognized that focused laser beams can be used to great effect in medical and biological research. The ability of coherent light to be focused to a tight spot has allowed for microscopic work to take place with unprecedented precision. Seminal work by Arthur Ashkin and Micheal Berns on the optical gradient force and laser microbeams, respectively, has led to the idea of using focused laser beams to cut and move particles and organelles within the living cell. However, as well as cutting and moving objects, laser beams can also produce a number of other physical effects such as plasmas, laser-induced shockwaves, chemical changes, and many more. Now a new paper by Huang et al. has introduced the concept of chromosome welding. This allows for cut chromosome fragments to be reattached together by laser welding. This proof-of-principle paper may have implications for genetic manipulation and structural studies of cells. Though more research is needed before viable genetic recombination is achieved, the paper could also pave the way for new cellular technologies to be developed that use laser welding in a subcellular context.