Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Identification and Isolation of Neural Crest Stem Cells from the Enteric Nervous System

Technology #2322

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Sean Morrison
Managed By
Stefan Koehler
Senior Licensing Specialist, Health Technologies 734-764-4290
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
Neural Crest Stem Cells Persist in the Adult Gut but Undergo Changes in Self-Renewal, Neuronal Subtype Potential, and Factor Responsiveness
Neuron, Volume 35. Page 657-669. 2002
Intrinsic differences among spatially distinct neural crest stem cells in terms of migratory properties, fate determination, and ability to colonize the enteric nervous system
Developmental Biology, Volume 303. Page 1. 2007
Neural crest stem cells undergo multilineage differentiation in developing peripheral nerves to generate endoneurial fibroblasts in addition to Schwann cells
Development, Volume 131. Page 5599. 2004


Multipotent adult human stem cells hold much promise for the development of new stem cell-based therapies. However, human stem cells are not present in all tissues and when available: (1) are only present in miniscule amounts and (2) need to undergo a rigorous process of purification and isolation prior to use.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have harvested neural crest stem cells (NCSC) from the gut tissues of adult human subjects. They have devised methods for simple isolation of NCSC from the tissues by relying on standard biological techniques. The isolated cells have self-renewal capabilities, are multipotent and can differentiate both in-vitro and in-vivo. The differentiated cells consist of both neurons and glia and express a variety of neurotransmitters. Transplantation of the stem cells into diseased and/or injured tissues of a host system has also been achieved.

Applications and Advantages


  • The neural crest stem cells can be used for basic-nl-research applications as well as for developing-nl-therapeutic and diagnostic systems.


  • The cells can be easily isolated from-nl-the postnatal guts of mammalian subjects,-nl-including humans, instead of embryonic or-nl-fetal subjects.
  • The harvested stem cells are multipotent,-nl-self-renewing and can differentiate-nl-in vitro and in vivo.