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

Study confirms link between the number of older brothers and increased odds of being homosexual

December 12, 2017
Groundbreaking research led by a team from Brock University has further confirmed that sexual orientation for men is likely determined in the womb.

Time of day affects severity of autoimmune disease

December 12, 2017
Insights into how the body clock and time of day influence immune responses are revealed today in a study published in leading international journal Nature Communications. Understanding the effect of the interplay between ...

Team identifies DNA element that may cause rare movement disorder

December 11, 2017
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has identified a specific genetic change that may be the cause of a rare but severe neurological disorder called X-linked dystonia parkinsonism (XDP). Occurring only ...

Protein Daple coordinates single-cell and organ-wide directionality in the inner ear

December 11, 2017
Humans inherited the capacity to hear sounds thanks to structures that evolved millions of years ago. Sensory "hair cells" in the inner ear have the amazing ability to convert sound waves into electrical signals and transmit ...

Gene therapy improves immunity in babies with 'bubble boy' disease

December 9, 2017
Early evidence suggests that gene therapy developed at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will lead to broad protection for infants with the devastating immune disorder X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency disorder. ...

In lab research, scientists slow progression of a fatal form of muscular dystrophy

December 8, 2017
In a paper published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, Saint Louis University (SLU) researchers report that a new drug reduces fibrosis (scarring) and prevents loss of muscle function in an animal model of Duchenne ...

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.