The wisdom of Albert Tochilovsky, owner of Ukraine’s biggest surrogacy business
Since the Kyiv-based IVF clinic BioTexCom is the probably the largest surrogacy agency in the world, its owner’s thoughts about the future of assisted reproduction are worth recording. In 2019, Albert Tochilovsky was interviewed by a Ukrainian website. The text has been translated and posted on the BioTexCom website.
Mr Tochilovsky says that the three most dynamic trends in reproductive medicine are genome editing to produce designer babies; mitochondrial replacement to enable women in their 50s and 60s to become pregnant; and ectogenesis, or artificial wombs.
I think that we will acquire ectogenesis within 5-7 years, and our clinic keeps working in this direction. I doubt, though, that Ukraine will let us do something like that because Ukraine is afraid of everything. Most likely, ectogenesis will be allowed in the mentioned above America and Great Britain. The problem of urbanization is pressing there, while only 2% of the population is involved in agriculture. This is a highly developed society, where women build their careers before they reach the age of 40-45, after that they want to have children. Nowadays, immigrants help to solve this issue. I believe, in future this problem will be solved through the use of ectogenesis and mitochondrial replacement.
The interviewer responds that there are serious ethical objections to ectogenesis. Mr Tochilovsky responds that many industries, even automobiles, the banking system, and marijuana were severely criticised in the beginning. He compares advanced reproduction to Germany’s huge sex industry:
You know, once Beate Uhse started the sex industry, she opened the world’s first sex shop. Needless to say that society opposed immediately, and she became an enemy number one. She fought against this attitude. Then the sex industry began producing more money than agriculture. Now Beate Uhse is an esteemed entrepreneur and a public person.
The industry of the future, he says, is biotechnology. The world is facing a serious demographic crisis and will need fertility technology to ensure that there will be enough people. “A revolution will take place in biology in the nearest future. We will live longer, for 300 and 500 years. And better, as well. At first, this technology will be madly expensive, but then the cost will decrease tenfold. The question is who’s going to be the first in these technologies.”
And Ukraine could be well-placed to take advantage of these trends – if the government realises that the future lies in fertility and not in agriculture. (The interview took place before the current war with Russia.) Ukraine’s competitive advantage, he argues, is lack of regulation and lack of ethical concerns.