If given green light, British scientists would be the first to offer treatments letting babies be born with DNA from three people
The government is considering whether to propose legal changes that would allow radical new treatments for families at risk of incurable genetic diseases that involve the creation of so-called "three-person embryos".
A national consultation released on Wednesday by the UK's fertility watchdog found public support for techniques that involve introducing DNA from a third person to embryos which could prevent mothers from passing on devastating diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, to their children.
If ministers and MPs give the procedures the green light, Britain would become the first country to offer treatments that lead to children being born with DNA from three people: their parents and a woman donor. The amount of DNA from the donor is tiny compared with the parents.
About one in 6,000 people is born with a disease caused by genetic glitches in their mitochondria, the biological batteries that power the cells in our bodies. Mitochondria are inherited only from mothers and contain just 37 genes, held separately to the 23,000 genes that shape our appearance and define much of who we are.
Mitochondrial diseases tend to worsen with age, and affect parts of the body that burn the most energy: the heart, brain and muscles. Many children diagnosed early in life go on to suffer catastrophic organ failure.