One of the most critical aspects of scientific knowledge is how it bestows upon us a responsibility to use what we have learned to better the world, and ourselves.  If we discover a way to make life better, to improve life, and to eliminate suffering, we have an obligation to act accordingly.  Unfortunately it is often the case that there is a backlash to knowledge, and a rejection to the use of it for the purpose of helping ourselves or the world. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if one such advancement to face stiff objection is the latest in vitro fertilization breakthrough that has the potential to eliminate hereditary diseases, but results in a child essentially having three genetic parents.  With this new technique two eggs are fertilized, one by the father, and one by a donor.  The nucleolus of the egg fertilized by the father is implanted into the egg fertilized by the donor and then left to develop.  In a very simplistic way, this is done because genetically defective mitochondria can result in various problems such as chronic muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and even death.  By changing in which egg the nucleolus develops you eliminate the passing on of certain hereditary problems. 

IVF 2The legality of this technique, however, is in flux.  Although there is near universal support for it, there are some who worry about the “slippery slope” it represents.  These fears are unjustified since the technique—any technique—should be judged on its own merits, not damned because of extrapolated assumptions of possible abuses.  The other legal issue is in the releasing of the identity of the donors; whether or not the children conceived through this technique have a right to know the donor’s identity.  This just seems contrived, as there is no reasonable objection to a child having the right to know who their parents are.  If the donor has the option to remain anonymous, hover, then that’s just the way it is.  But if the information is on record, the child has the right to know. 

This technique is something that only a few years ago would be considered pure science fiction.  But as it seems with all modern medicine, the bounds of medical science are not defined by the human imagination.  The advancements we make that lead to a better world for humanity should never be trivialized, marginalized, or rejected outright.  Advancements like this will not only lead to greater happiness, but will directly lead to a better humanity.

image source: [redorbit]  [bbcimg]