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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Stem Cell' Clinics Lose Their Licenses, But Some Still Open

The federal agency overseeing medical services announced that it has suspended the licenses of 22 clinics offering stem cell treatment, but at least one of the clinics remained open Friday and was seemingly unaware of the crackdown.

The federal agency, Roszdravnadzor, said Thursday that using stem cells for treatment or cosmetic procedures is not a legally licensable medical practice. It also said that any stem cell treatments can only be carried out as scientific research and offered for free to patients who provide written consent.

While scientists worldwide are studying stem cells in hope of offering treatments one day, dozens of Russian clinics and beauty salons claim to already be able to treat various diseases and prevent aging with adult and embryonic stem cells.

Among the clinics that had their licenses suspended are Khelen-Baden, La Strada, Klazko, Esteticheskaya Meditsina and Rhana, Roszdravnadzor spokesman Sergei Osipov said Friday. "When personnel at these clinics say they treat customers with stem cells, they are most likely cheating them by taking advantage of their lack of scientific knowledge," Osipov said.

But Rhana said it was not aware Friday that it had lost its license. "We are working the same as every day. We have not heard that our license was suspended," said a Rhana administrator who gave only her first name, Alla.

Personnel at other clinics declined to comment when reached by telephone.

Osipov said his agency has opened a hotline -- 298-4538 -- for complaints about clinics offering unlicensed services such as stem cell treatment. Not many people have called. "We have been flooded with complaints about the poor quality of federal and municipal clinics but have had few calls about private clinics," Osipov said. "It looks like people did not know that we oversee all medical services, including private clinics."