Sunday, 20 April 2014
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Bio-engineered pig bladder football designed

Soon it will be acceptable to kick a pig’s stomach, thanks to artist John O’Shea, who has designed the world’s first bio-engineered football.

A pig's bladder

A pig’s bladder

Footballs were long ago made from pig bladders, albeit bladders which lack any signs of life. With this in mind, and the knowledge that in 2006 a human urinary bladder was laboratory grown and transplanted into a patient, O’Shea set to work.

Football panel to encourage cellular growth

Football panel to encourage cellular growth

The project has been supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. The Wellcome Trust, and indeed the Welcome Collection museum, do seem to go for work with a brilliant, peculiar, and anatomical bent.

John OShea at work

John O’Shea at work

As artist in residence at the Clinical Engineering unit of Liverpool University, O’Shea has sought to create a ‘super-football,’ which he hopes will encourage audiences to consider the importance science plays in our daily lives.

Working with Professor John Hunt and PHD scholar Theun Van Veen, O’Shea has harvested living animal cells from abattoir waste, biological experimentation, rapid prototyping and an iterative design process, which involves some very precise tissue engineering.

Under the microscope

Under the microscope

 Pig’s Bladder Football will be presented at the Abandon Normal Devices festival between 30 August – 7 September at Cube, Portland Street, Manchester,  M1

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