© 2019 IOP Publishing Ltd. The fission-fusion reaction mechanism was proposed in order to generate extremely neutron-rich nuclei close to the waiting point N = 126 of the rapid neutron capture nucleosynthesis process (r-process). The production of such isotopes and the measurement of their nuclear properties would fundamentally help to increase the understanding of the nucleosynthesis of the heaviest elements in the Universe. Major prerequisite for the realization of this new reaction scheme is the development of laser-based acceleration of ultra-dense heavy ion bunches in the mass range of A ≈ 200 and above. In this paper, we review the status of laser-driven heavy ion acceleration in the light of the fission-fusion reaction mechanism. We present results from our latest experiment on heavy ion acceleration, including a new milestone with laser-accelerated heavy ion energies exceeding 5 MeV u-1.