Life Sciences, Cell & Developmental Biology; aging; bioactive molecules; blue biotechnology; cancer; cell culture; COST Action; Europe; marine/aquatic invertebrates; regeneration; stem cells
The “stem cells” discipline represents one of the most dynamic areas in biomedicine. While adult marine/aquatic invertebrate stem cell (MISC) biology is of prime research and medical interest, studies on stem cells from organisms outside the classical vertebrate (e.g., human, mouse, zebrafish) and invertebrate (e.g., Drosophila, Caenorhabditis) models have not been pursued vigorously. Marine/aquatic invertebrates constitute the largest biodiversity and the widest phylogenetic radiation on Earth, from morphologically simple organisms (e.g. sponges, cnidarians), to the more complex mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms and protochordates. These organisms illustrate a kaleidoscope of MISC-types that participate in the production of a large number of novel bioactive-molecules, many of which are of significant potential interest for human health. MISCs further participate in aging and regeneration phenomena, including whole-body regeneration. For years, the European MISC-community has been highly fragmented and scarce ties were established with biomedical industries in attempts to harness MISCs for human welfare. Thus, it is important to: i) consolidate the fragmented European community working on MISCs; ii) promote and coordinate European research on MISC biology; iii) stimulate young researchers to embark on research in MISC-biology; iv) develop, validate, and network novel MISC tools and methodologies; v) establish the MISC discipline as a forefront interest of biomedical disciplines, including nanobiomedicine; vi) establish collaborations with industries to exploit MISCs as sources of bioactive molecules. In order to fill the recognised gaps, the EC-COST Action 16203 “MARISTEM”, has recently been launched. At its initial stage the consortium unites 26 scientists from EC countries, Cooperating countries and Near Neighbor Countries.