The research being done by nobel prize winning scientists on the self-lighting, living organism, could prove to be invaluable for the future of medicine,
A very recent issue of the journal Nature Photonics contained the fascinating news of a breakthrough in which a single living cell was stimulated to produce natural laser light by researchers, who began this incredible experiment with the creation of a cell capable of making the light-emitting protein first obtained from glowing jellyfish cells.
Having been successful in that endeavour, the researchers proceeded to flood the created cells with weak blue light, which in turn stimulated them to start emitting directed, green laser light. Beams, something that bodes well for possible applications through which improved microscope imaging and light-based therapies might be developed
Normal light beams have a much wider color range, whereas laser light comprises a narrow band of colours, light waves synchronized in their oscillations. This ground-breaking research, at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in the US, by Malte Gather and Seok Hyun Yun, is the very first where the effect has been recorded in living tissue.
Using GFP, or green fluorescent protein, first isolated from jellyfish, for the light amplification, they used cells derived from human kidney, genetically engineered to make the protein, in effect creating a sort of living torch, if you will, able to light up, on demand, living systems from within.
These cells, placed one at a time between two 0.000002 mm mirrors, acting as a laser cavity to bounce the light through the cell repeatedly, were bathed in blue light, causing the immediate emission of directed, intense green laser light-beams, cells staying alive throughout, and beyond the process involved
These two researchers believe that the living system is self-healing, in that, should light-emitting proteins be destroyed, cells will simply produce more to replace them. Their work has been reinforced by that of the two US and one Japanese-born scientists who shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry
This was for them, Osamu Shimonura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien making the exploitation of GDF possible, used globally these days to tag biological systems, enabling, for example, to monitor the development of cancer or brain cells, even in some cases employed as biological and environmental biosensors through bacteria into which they have been introduced.
In fact, the technique was stunningly demonstrated in an issue of nature magazine, which featured the so-called brainbow pictures of neurons within a brain, shaded with 90 differing hues, and producing the most staggering of images. This is an exciting medical development, and could make future early disease detection and diagnosis much simpler, something we all would welcome with open arms. Truly inspirational science.