Brief exposure to laser beams can damage DNA: Study | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Brief exposure to laser beams can damage DNA: Study

Laser beams used in cataract surgery have the potential to damage human DNA, a recent joint study by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the University of Mumbai has found. Snehal Rebello reports.

mumbai Updated: Apr 10, 2011 00:37 IST
Snehal Rebello

Laser beams used in cataract surgery have the potential to damage human DNA, a recent joint study by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the University of Mumbai has found.

While it was known that the strong X-rays and gamma rays used in cancer treatment can damage DNA, thereby causing genetic distortions or loss of genetic information, the new study shows that even very short pulses of high-intensity laser beams can harm our genetic blueprint. The study did not cover low-intensity laser procedures such as eyesight correction, hair transplants and cosmetic procedures.

The findings of the study were published in the March edition of Physical Review Letters, an American science journal.

“These findings on brief intense lasers will open vistas for research on damage mechanics and therapeutics mechanisms at the cellular level,” said Deepak Mathur, TIFR senior professor, who headed the research team.

Added professor Arnaud Couairon of the Centre for Theoretical Physics at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research: “This is a very important and timely work. In order to develop medical applications, a complete understanding of femtosecond chemistry [chemical reactions on extremely short timescales] occurring in living tissues is necessary. The authors have made an important step in that direction.”