Traditionally, planarian worms have been used as an animal model in developmental biology and regeneration research, due to this organism’s extraordinary ability to regenerate lost body parts, including complete regeneration of the nervous system.
In evolutionary terms, planarians are the simplest example of organisms displaying bilateral symmetry and cephalization, including a primitive “brain”, with many features similar to vertebrate nervous systems. Planarians also use virtually every major neurotransmitter found in mammals, including humans, and are therefore becoming increasingly popular in neuropharmacology research. Several studies dealing with the effect of pharmacological agents in planaria have been published. Planaria can exhibit a variety of behaviors directly related to the exposure of psychoactive substances, such as motility decrease and seizure-like behaviors as well as behaviors resembling withdrawal syndromes.
My laboratory uses planarians to explore neuropharmacology. To go to my academic website please click here.
Here’s some of my professional publications.
Pagán OR (2014) The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians. Oxford University Press
Pagán OR (2014) Chapter 1. Why do Plants Contain Biologically Active Compounds? In: Kratom and Other Mitragynines: The Chemistry and Pharmacology of Opioids from a Non-Opium Source. Edited by Dr. Robert B. Raffa. CRC Press.
For a list of my scientific papers (with links) please click here.