Britain may become the first country in the world to allow babies to be born with three genetic parents to help stamp out serious diseases.
Scientists have said an IVF technique which uses timelapse imaging could significantly increase the chances of a successful birth.
The guidelines by the government's health advisory board, NICE, mean more couples are eligible for treatment.
The director of the Human Genetics Alert campaign group said the IVF technique used to create babies with three genetic parents is "unnecessary" and "ethically unsound".
Dr David King also criticised the Government for failing to conduct a more comprehensive public consultation on the issue.
Dr King told Reuters, "They cross the ethical line that has been agreed by Governments around the world that we should not genetically alter human beings".
Some groups say the proposals for three parent babies are causing worldwide concern:
– Josephine Quintavalle, from the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics
These techniques are unnecessary and unsafe and were in fact rejected by the majority of consultation responses.
It is a disaster that the decision to cross the line that will eventually lead to a eugenic designer baby market should be taken on the basis of an utterly biased and inadequate consultation.
Such a decision of major historical significance requires a much more extensive public debate with a much clearer outcome.
We therefore call upon the Secretary of State for Health not to legalise the techniques until a major national debate has taken place and the outcome is much clearer.
The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, explains that the 'three parent' technique does not tamper with the nucleus. It simply moves it into a cell which has healthy 'battery packs', known as mitochondria, which power the nucleus properly and eradicate serious disease.
A recent public consultation found that 56% of those questioned were "very" or "fairly" positive about the treatments. Patient focus groups were said to be "extremely positive". Experts are also behind the procedures.
– Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief medical officer
Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their future children inheriting them.
It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can. What we're going to do now is start to develop the regulations, to consult on the regulations, and then to take them into Parliament.
The aim of this form of IVF is to stamp out serious diseases which can be passed from a mother to her children. Around one in 200 babies are born each year in the UK with a defect in the way cells are supplied with energy.
One in 6,500 babies can suffer potentially life-threatening diseases including a form of muscular dystrophy and conditions leading to hearing and vision loss, heart, lung and liver problems, and bowel disorders. An estimated 12,000 people in the UK live with the diseases.
- If the new technique gets the go-ahead only a tiny amount of DNA in a cell will be changed
- The part that determines individual characteristics such as facial features and eye colour, will remain intact
- But the defective DNA will be replaced by a healthy version supplied by a female donor, making them the third genetic parent
Britain could become the first country in the world to allow babies to be born with three genetic parents to help stamp out serious diseases.
If MPs agree that the controversial technique is ethically acceptable the first babies could be born by the end of next year.
Some critics believe the move would mark a slippery slope leading to "designer babies". It's predicted that between five and 10 "three parent" babies could be born each year.
Simon Fishel, the managing director of CARE fertility, has said a new IVF technique could make a "significant difference" to a couples chances of a successful birth.
IVF timelapse can allow more than 5,000 snapshots to be taken of developing embryo before it is transferred to the womb.
– Professor Simon Fishel, CARE Fertility Group
In the 35 years I have been in this field this is probably the most exciting and significant development that can be of value to all patients seeking IVF.
– Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist, Hammersmith Hospital
Timelapse imaging of the early development of human embryos offers the exciting potential of a novel and non-invasive way of selecting the embryo with the greatest chance of implantation outside the womb.