Pigs' cells used to create first 'living football'

September 10, 2012
Pigs' cells used to create first 'living football'
Special scaffold materials were created so the tissue could take on a football form. Credit: John O'Shea

(Medical Xpress)—The world's first 'living football' using cells from a pig's bladder has been created by an artist working with scientists in the University's Clinical Engineering laboratories.

Experimental artist, John O'Shea, worked with Professor John Hunt for more than two years to create the football, which was inspired by the very first footballs made from pigs' bladders.

Professor Hunt, from the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, said: "When John first came to talk to us we had already supported the artists that came to Liverpool for the European Capital of Culture exhibitions in 2008. The idea of using a process to grow a football – using materials with cells in bioreactors – was an interesting concept.

"John spent the first six months learning how to manage and maintain in the lab. We undertook a number of experiments to develop the process for growing the ball, from obtaining the to creating special materials so that the tissue could take on a football form.

"Gathering the cells to build the artificial bladder was also a challenge as John wanted to use the same which were historically used to make footballs rather than use cells from a commercial supplier, which meant we had to ensure the material was not contaminated travelling to the lab."

John O'Shea said: "When I heard that an artificial human bladder transplant had been successful, I thought the football could be re-invented using a similar process.

Pigs' cells used to create first 'living football'
Cells in a scaffold.

"Football itself has many different forms all over the world and I had heard stories from people older than myself about the way, as children, they would make footballs from pigs' bladders. When we consider that footballs are now completely synthetic, this organic origin fascinated me, and I wanted to recreate it."

The finished work has formed the centrepiece of Manchester's Abandon Normal Devices exhibition, which showcases a range of experimental art as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. John O'Shea's work with Professor Hunt was funded through the Wellcome Trust's artist in residence program.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Make way for hemoglobin

August 18, 2017
Every cell in the body, whether skin or muscle or brain, starts out as a generic cell that acquires its unique characteristics after undergoing a process of specialization. Nowhere is this process more dramatic than it is ...

Bio-inspired materials give boost to regenerative medicine

August 18, 2017
What if one day, we could teach our bodies to self-heal like a lizard's tail, and make severe injury or disease no more threatening than a paper cut?

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.