Peripheral nerve injuries resulting from trauma can be severe and permanently debilitating. Nerve autografting is the current gold standard for the treatment of such injuries. However, after grafting, in approximately one-third of cases, incomplete recovery with poor restoration of function is observed. This may include total loss or incomplete recovery of motor or sensory function, chronic pain, muscle atrophy, and profound weakness, which can result in lifelong morbidity. The most notable approach to overcome grafting limitation is the use of Schwann cells at the site of injury. Schwann cells promote axonal regeneration and functional recovery. Retrieval of Schwann cells requires invasive surgery for isolating sacrificial nerve as a resource, which may not provide enough supply for the treatment, and causes donor site morbidity. Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising resource for Schwann cells, which are mainly derived from adipose tissue and bone marrow; however, these resources are also limited and difficult to obtain. Therefore, new effective methods are needed to provide Schwann cells for treatment of peripheral nerve injuries.


Technology Overview

Researchers at Northeastern have identified a new, renewable source of Schwann cells that has never been demonstrated. In this method, Schwann cells are obtained from olfactory mucosa-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Stem cells from the nose are collected in a minimally invasive way, expanded, and then differentiated to Schwann cells. Protocols are established both for humans and rats. Cells are checked for different neural-related markers and growth factors. This new source of stem cells provides a less invasive and more robust source of Schwann cells. This method can be successfully used for the treatment of large-gap nerve injuries and demyelination disorders.



  • Does not require invasive surgery and sacrificial nerve retrieval
  • Provides a robust source of Schwann cells
  • Possibility of repairing large-gap injuries



  • Peripheral nerve repair
  • Demyelination disorders treatment



  • Partnership
  • Licensing
  • Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Ryan Koppes
Katelyn Neuman
Abigail Koppes
Aidan Kenny
Biomedical implants
Cell Culture
Neurological Disease