Cell therapy debated in Zaragoza

For 2 days, the capital city of Aragon hosted the 6th National Meeting of Transplant Coordinators and Communication Professionals - a meeting in which 84 journalists and transplant coordinators from all over the country debated on transplants and new cellular therapies. The objective of this annual meeting, organized by the National Association of Health Care Reporters, National Transplant Organization (ONT) and the Government of Aragon, is to exchange knowledge and experience between both groups in order to transmit to society the advances in transplants with the greatest possible scientific rigor.

This year, the meeting involved the participation of Dr. Blanca Miranda, director of the Transplant Service Foundation, and Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, head of the thoracic surgery department of Hospital Clínic and architect of the first successful trachea transplant; also present was Claudia Castillo, the patient who received this first transplant. Dr. Miranda explained to the audience the basis of cellular therapy and the barriers still to be overcome in order to successfully recover organ and tissue functions using replacement therapies. Dr. Macchiarini explained in detail how Hospital Clínic performed the world’s first trachea transplant and the first organ transplant without immunosuppression. Macchiarini concluded his talk be saying that the future of transplant medicine lies with cellular therapy and that the great challenge is to use the natural ability to regenerate of the body’s own tissues, with the aim of extending the life of an organ before transplant. This is known as bionic tissue engineering.

Unlike in other countries, in recent years, live donations have fallen in Spain and post-mortem donations have increased, according to the ONT. The National Transplant Coordinator, Rafael Matesanz, took advantage of this meeting to warn of the need to increase donations from live donors. The challenge for the coming years is to increase the options for transplant in young patients, which is expected to be achieved by means of transplants from live donors and domino transplantation. This last technique facilitates live-donor transplants between two families, in which the recipient is not compatible with the donor from the same family. Hospital Clínic carries out more than 25% of the live-donor kidney transplants performed in Spain. Dr. Miranda stated that “our intention is to solve the problems of patients with irreversible terminal organ and/or tissue disorder”.