More on Russian Stem Cell "Medicine"

I've mentioned the use of stem cells in Russia before; it's an environment that captures the worst aspects of both regulated and unregulated medicine. Matters continue:

While scientists worldwide are only studying stem cells, dozens of Russian clinics and beauty salons claim they are already using both adult and embryonic stem cells to treat everything from wrinkles to Parkinson's disease to impotence.

Scientists warn that while stem cells are still being researched in laboratories, treatment by clinics claiming to use stem cells may cost patients their health and fortunes. Moreover, they say, even though it's illegal, enforcement is lax and no one knows if the injections patients are getting contain stem cells.

More to the point, no-one really knows what potential consequences this sort of "treatment" may cause even if they are using stem cells - increased risk of cancer would be a good guess, however.


Anytime you have a new product/technology hit the market, you have lots of scan artists. Add to that the fact that Russian science has a history of flakiness and quackery (after all the Russians had Lysinkoism) and the result is what is described in this article.

As the technology develops and matures, the effective therapies will predominate and the scam artists will go away. It is always been and will be like this.

Posted by: Kurt at March 14th, 2005 1:47 PM

Despite the problems with black market research, and the long lists of tragedies sure to result, it should be recognized that a lot of advances have been made by ethically questionable means. the first attempt at inducing an immunity to a fatal disease came when a doctor exposed a homeless child to a less harmful version of that disease (I'm afraid the details of that case escape me). Many of the most important advances in computer security were made by hackers like Kevin Mitnick, who once so feared by the Fed that they claimed he could launch nuclear missiles by whistling into a phone. We all like to laud when officialdom makes some advance or other, but that fact remains that on balance humanity has been well served by mavericks and failures.

Posted by: Mac at May 4th, 2006 8:46 PM

There's a pretty big difference between being a maverick and being a maverick who performs unethical acts. Opposition to the establishment doesn't go hand in hand with doing worse than the establishment manages to do in terms of treating your fellow human beings.

Posted by: Reason at May 4th, 2006 8:49 PM
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