Skip to main content


On 18 December, La Marató de TV3 will celebrate its 20th edition with a program devoted to organ and tissue regeneration and transplants. Over these two decades of success, the program has received exceptional social support —from people, organizations, institutions and companies— and injected funds into research on a wide range of diseases.

La Marató 2011 aims to raise more than €100 millions, making this initiative the benchmark for institutions that fund research in Catalonia. This investment has allowed more than 3,000 scientists to carry out 535 research projects of excellence in Catalonia so far.


In Catalonia there are approximately 1,300 people waiting for an organ, and not all those on the waiting list will receive one. The investment of funds raised by La Marató 2011 will allow for research into new breakthroughs in the fields of surgery, pharmacology, organ and tissue preservation and further applications of regenerative medicine (cell therapy, gene therapy and tissue engineering).

Researchers are facing many challenges, such as improving quality and lifespan of transplanted organs, minimizing side effects of medications administered and better understanding the factors that influence graft compatibility and rejection.

New techniques in regenerative medicine, in the near future, will help to regenerate organs and tissue instead of transplanting them. And, in the long term, there is a possibility that artificial organs and tissues will be created in the laboratory. Regenerative medicine is an emerging field in the biomedical sciences that offers new opportunities to treat diseases caused by the loss of cell function like osteoartritis, vascular diseases and motor diseases. Cells used in cell therapy are adult stem cells and embryo cells. One of the most advanced research projects is based on regenerating human heart tissue using stem cells.

Another line of research is related to regenerative therapies linked to the motor system, through which it is hoped the therapeutic power of this type of treatment will benefit thousands of potential patients that currently suffer from diseases such as osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and other types of motor injuries. The scientific community is convinced that cell therapies, over the coming years, will have a key social impact that will improve the treatment and prognosis of many pathologies. There are currently more than 5,000 trials underway around the world using stem cells.

Organ and tissue transplants

The most commonly transplanted organs are the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and pancreas. Anyone can be an organ donor; there is no age limit. In addition to those who donate after death, living donations are also possible, which are those in which an organ (kidney) or part of an organ (liver) is donated under the conditions that the donor’s health not be put at risk. This technique is becoming more widely used and decreases the organ waiting list. In Catalonia, one in four kidney transplants are from living donations.

Donations must always be voluntary, free, anonymous and altruistic. Organ extraction and distribution is coordinated by the Catalan Transplant Organization. The organs are assigned according to clinical criteria —including the patient’s condition— and territorial criteria —which prioritize proximity to the donation site.

On the other hand, the most commonly transplanted tissues are bones, heart valves, tendons, corneas and skin. Unlike the case of organs, tissue transplants don’t save lives but they do substantially improve the patient’s quality of life. After they have been extracted, tissues are preserved in a tissue bank where they can be held up to one year before finding an ideal receptor. In this case, there is no waiting list and graft-related problems are minimal. From living donors, the most frequent transplants are from bone marrow, umbilical cords, and peripheral blood. These are used to treat leukemia and other blood diseases.


Sign up for our newsletters

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, events and trends in the BioRegion.