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31 July 2010
A life-size "operation" game, an interactive human statue and organs grown in plant pots feature in a new exhibition vividly illustrating the science of tissue engineering.
To be unveiled at this year’s National Eisteddfod of Wales (31 July – 7 August), the exhibition, Tissue Engineering for Human Healing, has been put together by Cardiff University’s Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER) who specialise in growing tissue to repair and replace damaged organs.
The "operation" game challenges visitors to race against the clock, removing damaged tissue such as a cracked bone or a swollen heart – and replace them with healthy equivalents.
A life-size human statue will provide more information about the advances made in tissue engineering. Press a part of it, and the statue will light up with information about the latest scientific developments for that part of the body.
The plant pots will be "growing" giant-size human organs, including an eye and a kidney, reflecting how tissue engineering is capable of generating new organs.
Professor Arwyn Jones will be delivering one of the daily Science Lectures – Tissue Engineering – an introduction to the main exhibition - in the Science Lecture Theatre on Monday 2 August at 3pm. The lecture will be repeated in Cardiff University’s Pavilion on Tuesday 3 August at 2pm.
Other features of the exhibition will include maggot racing. Specially-grown maggots are now used in modern medicine to clean up wounds by eating away the dead tissue. Some of these maggots will be available to race – which is done by shining a light source on them. The exhibition will also feature the work of Professor David Barrow at the School of Engineering who is developing microfluidic systems to encapsulate cells in the hope of improving developments in cell based therapy for conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.
The Cardiff team is led by Dr Arwyn Jones of the University’s School of Pharmacy, Dr Bob Steadman of the School of Medicine and Dr Pete Griffiths of the School of Chemistry. The exhibition has been backed by a £55,000 grant to promote public engagement with science from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. After its debut at the Eisteddfod, the team will be taking it to other venues over the next 17 months.
Dr Arwyn Jones said: "We hope to show the public, particularly children, what exactly tissue engineering is, all the way from the science under the microscope to the benefits it brings patients. These interactive exhibits should be informative, inspiring – and fun!"
The operation game, the life-size model and the plant pots have all been built by Cardiff-based Specialist Models, the same team behind many of the props for the BBC’s Dr Who series.
Two other Welsh firms, Zoobiotic of Bridgend and Penn Pharma of Tredegar, are supporting the exhibition in partnership with the team. Penn Pharma and Mr Brian Jones of the School of Pharmacy will be helping to organise tablet-making workshops, in which children can try their hand at making pills. Made from an entirely safe inert material, the pills gave an insight into how they can be manufactured by hand and using a modern instrument that will also feature in the exhibition.
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