Achalasia & Gastroparesis
Dr Conor McCann

2017 - Derek Butler Fellowship

Dr Conor McCann – 2017 Derek Butler Fellow

Institution: University College London

Title: Enteric neural stem cell therapy for Oesophageal Achalasia and Diabetic Gastroparesis

Project Start Date: 1st November 2017

Completion Date: 30 April 2021


Loss of nerve cells is seen across a number of different gut diseases. Two of the most common of these diseases are Oesophageal Achalasia and Diabetic Gastroparesis. In these conditions, loss of a particular type of nerve cell, nNOS nerves, causes disease. This type of nerve cell has been shown to be important for relaxation of the gut. Their loss causes problems with the movement of substances along the gut resulting in severe symptoms. This project will look at whether transplantation of gut nerve stem cells can rescue these diseases.

This study will transplant gut nerve stem cells into different models of disease. Gut nerve stem cells will be transplanted to both the gullet and stomach of these models. I will then test if this can rescue function in different areas of the gut. The project is for 3 years, though I hope sections of the study will be presented at conferences and published during the project.

Although this project is unlikely to have immediate clinical benefits, it will add to our understanding of gut disease and treatment.  This study might improve the tools we have for treating Achalasia and Gastroparesis, which will hopefully have a direct impact on patient’s lives.

This study may support the idea that gut nerve stem cells could be a new treatment option for patients. The ability to restore lost nerve cells and function in patients suffering from both Achalasia and Gastroparesis will likely improve the quality of life in patients suffering from these diseases.

Scientific publications from this research

Enteric neural stem cell therapies for enteric neuropathies

Neuronal Development and Onset of Electrical Activity in the Human Enteric Nervous System

My research so far has focused on possible cell therapies for gut disorders. I aim to continue this research towards a career in academic gastroenterology. I plan to continue this research with application to various funding sources, which will allow me to continue to focus on translational gut research. I ultimately hope that this project and future research can help to treat patients with gut disorders.

Dr Conor McCann