A British government regulator approved use of 'three-parent baby' technology for eliminating inherited mitochondrial diseases today
The approval by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority paves the way for doctors to apply for licences to transfer mitochondrial DNA in individual cases, with the first usage expected early next year.
The procedure, currently legal only in Britain, involves removing a tiny amount of faulty DNA from a mother's egg and replacing it with DNA from a second woman.
It is designed to prevent the transmission from mother to child of faulty genes in the mitochondria, the 'batteries' that energise human cells and are inherited from the mother.
It is known as 'three-parent baby' technology because a child born following the procedure would have DNA from two women and one man.
The world's first child conceived using the technology was born in Mexico earlier this year under the supervision of a US medical team helping a Jordanian couple, New Scientist reported in September.
The British government supported the legalisation of the technology, but some religious leaders and other opponents argued that it could open the door to wider DNA modifications in embryos.