Even though no stem cell treatment — adult or embryonic — has been approved for clinical use in the US or Europe, Russians are flocking to clinic and beauty therapists offering quick cures and cosmetic therapy. The Associated Press even spoke with a 40-year-old gynaecologist from Perm who spent US$20,000 on useless embryonic stem cell injections to cure her multiple sclerosis. (The average monthly wage in Russia is $300.) A clinic in central Moscow is advertising injections of stem cells from aborted foetuses into thighs, buttocks and stomachs to help women get rid of flab and look younger.
Experts say that these unproven procedures could be dangerous and are illegal. What is injected may not be even stem cells. Some clinics are said to be injecting animal stem cells. However, government oversight is so poor in Russia and its regulations so vague that the clinics continue to flourish. Dr Alexander Teplyashin, of a Moscow clinic called Beauty Plaza, acknowledges this. “We are taking advantage of the loopholes in the law,” he told AP. “What is not forbidden is allowed.”
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