About EuroPlanNet

Who are we?

EuroPlanNet (European Planarian Network) aims to bring together all the European laboratories working on planarian biology.

Planarian flatworms are fascinating animals mainly known by their nearly unlimited regeneration capacities. Almost any tiny piece from the planarian body is able to regenerate in only a few days. This extraordinary plasticity is ensured by the presence of somatic stem cells, called neoblasts. Upon amputation, remaining neoblasts proliferate and differentiate into any cell type required to regenerate the missing parts.

Why planaria?

Regeneration is an attractive biological process that has captivated people’s mind all throughout our history. The God of Gods, Zeus, first in history put to the test the regenerative abilities of Prometheus. Since the Titan stole the fire to the gods and donated it to mortals, for punishment he was bound to a rock where his liver was eaten out daily by an eagle, only to be regenerated by night. Compensatory growth after liver partial amputation is just one example of the regenerative events that can be found in the animal kingdom. Others come from amphibians and fishes, capable of regenerating complex structures such as limbs, lenses, tails, fins or the heart. So, why other vertebrates, including humans, have lost these amazing regenerative capabilities?

In contrast to embryonic development, the unbalance between regenerating model organisms and available molecular tools had not allowed us to unravel the mystery of regeneration for centuries. In the last decade, however, regeneration research has bloomed. Not only because modern molecular and genomic tools can now be applied to classic models, but also thanks to the great benefits that basic research could provide to the field of regenerative medicine. The ultimate goal of regenerative medicine is to cure many human diseases, such as diabetes, heart failure or neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer, Parkinson, Huntington, among others), as well as to promote regeneration after traumatic amputations or spinal cord injuries. As much has been awaited from stem cell therapies in these contexts, a detailed understanding of stem cell behaviour is crucial. Planaria, with their large number of stem cells and their enormous differentiation potential, has therefore once more emerged as a promising model to study basic mechanisms of stem cells and their environment in vivo.

Nonetheless, planaria is also an attractive model to study aspects of development, homeostasis and disease, other than regeneration. These include cellular turnover, growth and degrowth, ageing, cancer, germline induction, embryogenesis, toxicology and phylogeny.


As an European network of planarian laboratories, EuroPlanNet has been launched to accomplish those common goals:

  • To establish fruitful collaborations among laboratories with similar research interests.
  • To create new synergies between different planarian laboratories.
  • To favour students’ exchange at all levels: undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral fellows.
  • To organize regular workshops and meetings.


Page last modified on Friday 26 of August, 2011 19:40:50 CEST