In January 2019, Mellissa was funded by the British Society for Immunology to begin the PillCam project, where she swallowed the PillCam technology which is a 26mm long and 11mm wide capsule weighing 3.3g taking 2-6 photos per second depending on how fast it moves, for up to 17 hours. The 350,000 + photographs are sent to a recorder which was attached to Mellissa via a Sensor Belt which she could see her insides in real-time. The images are sent using a radiofrequency of 434.1MHz which later become stitched together to create a film, allowing doctors to visibly see any abnormalities.
Working closely with the Immunology group at Manchester University, Mellissa used the time it took for the PillCam procedure (5 days including a patent test to see if the procedure could take place) to experiment in the lab with her immune cells taken from her own blood. Mellissa also experimented with different staining techniques with histology slides of the gut to understand the indicators used in this process. The project currently consists of an entire timelapse film of the journey from the artists' fingertips to the intestines, giving a unique, grotesque and fascinating insight into the inside of the human body, unseen by most. This research is ongoing and the film is ready to be exhibited alongside public engagement workshops and events to educate on the gut microbiome and immune system.
This project is in collaboration with Professor Sheena Cruickshank from Manchester University and all medical procedures were supported by Salford Royal Hospital.