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The possibility of creating a baby from three parents has moved a step closer after fertility watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the idea the green light.
Scientists at Newcastle University are developing the technique to stop mitochondrial defects, which can kill, from being passed on from a mother to her children. In advice to ministers, the HFEA set out safeguards for the techniques which could affect future generations and help eradicate serious inherited diseases.
The HFEA did not explicitly ask for a change in the law but has left it up to ministers to decide whether they should ask Parliament to consent to the procedures.
Although the science is complex, the idea behind the technique is simple. Mitochondria, the batteries inside every cell in a person's body, come from the egg cell, so if a woman has defective mitochondria they will be passed on to her child.
The team at Newcastle can take the DNA out of the egg after fertilisation and put it into a healthy donor egg which has had everything removed apart from healthy mitochondria. But mitochondria contain a tiny amount of DNA and the baby would inherit 0.2% of its DNA from the donor egg.