skip to Main Content

A piece of Ri.MED in Grey’s Anatomy

16 February 2018

The writers of the famous medical drama were inspired for the script of the last episode by the studies that Maria Giovanna Francipane – Sicilian researcher of the Fondazione Ri.MED – conducts at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine – University of Pittsburgh- with the team of Prof. Lagasse.

Grey’s Anatomy S14 E12 on ABC (US 2018): at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital there is the Grey Sloan Surgical Innovation Contest, a surgical research competition: doctors are competing for a grand prize of $5M in research money! For the contest, however, anyone competing must submit a proposal in three days and all members of the hospital team come into fibrillation, dreaming of victory. The idea for an innovative proposal takes shape in the operating room, while Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) treats a returning patient who had previously undergone an unsuccessful splenectomy. Much to her surprise, Meredith finds in the patient’s body numerous mini-spleens, formed from fragments of spleen not removed during splenectomy. The intervention is also attended by the trainee Jo Wilson (Camille Luddington), who comments something like: ” Wouldn’t it be great if she could grow mini versions of useful organs like kidneys or livers?” And thus, a proposal is born: Meredith has the idea: “Small organ fragments can perform the same function as an entire organ: transplanting liver cells into the lymph node – a secondary lymphatic organ such as the spleen – we can regenerate mini-livers that restore liver function in patients whose livers do not work anymore”.

The proposal that Meredith presents at the contest is the engineering of liver tissue within lymphatic organs. Pure fiction? No, reality: the authors of the series were very impressed by the research conducted in the laboratories of prof. Lagasse in Pittsburgh and they inserted it in the script. Dr. Francipane deals with the regeneration of the kidney from tissue fragments, but also from progenitor cells propagated in the form of organoids: “The goal of my research”, explains Maria Giovanna “is to find an alternative to the kidney transplant, in order to give back hope to the thousands of people suffering from chronic renal failure and that they remain years waiting for the availability of organs to be transplanted “.
In the next episode we will find out if Meredith manages to win the contest. In the meantime, congratulations to Maria Giovanna. As Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) comments in the episode: “Wow. That’s amazing! “

Back To Top