Paul Niehans (21 November 1882 – 1 September 1971) was a Swiss doctor who was one of the developers of cellular therapy. His renown grew through his treatment of celebrities such as Pope Pius XII, King Ibn Saud, Konrad Adenauer and Charlie Chaplin.
Paul Niehans, the son of a doctor, was born and raised in Switzerland. He first studied theology, but quickly grew dissatisfied with religious life and took up medicine. He first studied at Bern, then completed an internship in Zürich. Niehans joined the Swiss Army in 1912. When war broke out in the Balkans, Niehans set up a hospital in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Intrigued with Alexis Carrel's experiments, Niehans specialized in glandular transplants and by 1925 was one of the leading glandular surgeons in Europe. In 1931, Niehans treated a patient suffering from tetany whose parathyroid had been erroneously removed by another physician. Too weak for a glandular transplant, the patient was given injections of the parathyroid glands of steer, and she soon recovered.
Live cell therapy (or fresh cell therapy), developed in the ’30s by Niehans, involves harvesting fresh cells from cow or sheep embryo and injecting them directly (intramuscular) into the person’s buttocks. There is no evidence it is useful for any health problem.
In 1937, influenced by the work of the neurosurgeon Harvey Williams Cushing, Niehans first used cerebral cells, from the hypothalamus and the hypophysis. Beginning in 1948, he also used liver, pancreas, kidney, heart, duodenum, thymus, and spleen cells. In 1949, he began to use lyophilized (freeze-dried) cells, not only fresh ones. In 1953, Paul Niehans treated Pope Pius XII, who in gratitude appointed him member of the Papal Academy of Sciences. In the United States, it is not legally available because of safety concerns and lack of proof of its effectiveness. In 1954, Niehans' work, Die Zellulartherapie (Cellular Therapy) was published in German. Swiss publisher Thoune released the English version and update of Niehans' original work which also included papers by researchers from Germany.
Niehans remained a controversial figure throughout his life. As of 2010, the Clinique Paul Niehans in Switzerland, founded by his daughter, continued his work.
- Paula Anne Ford-Martin; Tish Davidson (2011), "Cell therapy", in Laurie J. Fundukian, The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2 (4th ed.), Gale, pp. 885–887, ISBN 978-1-4144-8646-8
- Live cell therapy today
- Fresh cell therapy: The medicine of the future?
- Robyn, MP; Newman, AP; Amato, M; Walawander, M; Kothe, C; Nerone, JD; Pomerantz, C; Behravesh, CB; Biggs, HM; Dahlgren, FS; Pieracci, EG; Whitfield, Y; Sider, D; Ozaldin, O; Berger, L; Buck, PA; Downing, M; Blog, D (2 October 2015). "Q Fever Outbreak Among Travelers to Germany Who Received Live Cell Therapy - United States and Canada, 2014". MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 64 (38): 1071–3. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6438a3. PMID 26421460.
- American Cancer Society cell therapy page
- Literature by and about Paul Niehans in the German National Library catalogue
- E. Wolff: Vor 50 Jahren: Paul Niehans bringt den Begriff «Zellulartherapie» in die Öffentlichkeit. In: Schweizerische Ärztezeitung / Bulletin des médecins suisses / Bollettino dei medici svizzeri. 2002;83: Nr 32/33, S. 1726f. (Text als pdf-Datei)
- Paul Niehans in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.