Russian health watchdog denies permitting the use of stem cells

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MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti, Yekaterina Yefimova) - A senior Russian health official said that the use of stem calls in general Russian medical practice is prohibited.

Sergei Tkachenko, head of the Medication Registration Department of The Federal Service for the Supervision of Public Health and Social Development said, "This method is not allowed in general medical practice." Tkachenko was commenting on media reports that the service had authorized the use of stem cells for the first time.

Stem cells are immature cells from living organisms that are capable of self-renewal and developing into cells with specialized functions.

Tkachenko said that Professor Yury Bloshansky, senior physician of the Biological Medicine Institute, had applied to the service for permission "to use technology which they believe will help cure immune, organ and tissue deficiencies." The technology is based on the use of blood and bone marrow stem cells.

However, after considering the application twice, the Expert Board of the Committee for New Technologies felt it could not recommend the use of this technology in general medical practice.

Tkachenko said the researchers had been advised to carry out a year-long program of tests on this technology at the institute's laboratories "to obtain more accurate data on its effectiveness and safety, the pros and cons."

The question of whether stem cells can be used in general medical practice can only be addressed once the results of the tests have been analyzed, the official said.

"Until the technology is legalized, all stem cell research must be conducted free of charge. All experiments must be carried out with the voluntary written consent of the patients," Tkachenko said.

He added that many research institutions used stem cell technology but only for the purposes of scientific investigation.

Tkachenko had previously said that the use of stem cells could be dangerous, as they could differentiate into tumors as well. This is something that the clinics that are already applying this technology are keeping quiet.

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