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History of Cell Therapy


Modern day cell therapy goes back to the beginning to the 20th Century with Dr. Alexis Carrel. He was born at Lyons, France in June 1873. Carell specialized in surgery.

He began experimental work in this area in Lyons in 1902, but in 1904 he went to Chicago and in 1905 worked in the Department of Physiology in the University of Chicago under Professor G. N. Stewart. In 1906 he was attached to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York. Here he carried out most of the experiments that earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912.

Carrel’s research was mainly concerned with experimental surgery and the transplantation of tissues and whole organs. He published several books such as The Culture of Organs, Man, the Unknown, and Treatment of Infected Wounds.

In 1912, Carell demonstrated the revitalizing effect of young cells on cultures of old and degenerated cells. This sparked a new era in the science of cellular therapies.


Professor Niehans is considered to be the father of modern day Cellular Therapy. In 1931 one of his colleagues asked him for help in managing a critical case. While performing surgery on a patient’s thyroid gland, the parathyroid was accidentally damaged. The patient went into severe convulsions and his state was critical. Professor Niehans prepared parathyroid cells obtained from a calf embryo. He injected this mix into the patient, thinking that the hormones contained therein would stabilize the patient so that surgery could be continued. Interestingly, the patient recovered and lived a long life after. The success of this therapy led Niehans to abandon surgical transplantation of the intact glands and use only injectable organ extracts.

His research led him to prepare and implant organ extracts from almost all organs including brain, liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, duodenum, thymus and spleen.

Over the years he treated and documented thousands of cases involving the use of Live Cell Therapy.  Today, many practitioners follow the regimens laid out by Professor Niehans with success.