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.
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.
- The timelapse method can spot delays in the embryo's development at crucial stages
- The condition, called aneuploidy, means the embryo can have extra or missing chromosomes
- It is common in human embryos and a major cause of fertility treatment failure and miscarriage
- Researchers say timelapse imaging offers a simpler alternative to spot problems
An IVF technique which uses timelapse imaging could significantly increase the chances of a successful birth. Researchers used the method to select low risk embryos which looked unlikely to have abnormalities.
Initial results show the chances of producing a successful live birth increase by more than a half. Thousands of snapshots are examined to to help avoid miscarriages or birth defects.
Sir Robert Edwards, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who pioneered the development of test tube babies, has died after a long illness, Cambridge University has announced.
Professor Edwards was honoured in 2010 with the prize for medicine for his breakthrough, conceived through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
He had begun work on fertilisation in the 1950s with the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, born in 1978 as a result of his research.
The purpose of three-parent IVF is to stop the transmission of defective mitochondrial DNA from mothers to their babies.
Children born after the procedures would posses DNA from their parents plus mitochondrial DNA from a woman donor.
- Mitochondria are rod-shaped power plants in the bodies of cells that supply energy.
- They contain their own DNA, which is only passed down the maternal line.
Faulty mitochondrial genes can lead to a wide range of serious disorders including heart malfunction, kidney and liver disease, stroke, dementia, and blindness, as well as premature death.
Around 6,000 adults in the UK are believed to be affected by mitochondrial diseases.
The UK could move a step closer to allowing IVF babies with DNA from three parents - in a bid to stop a genetic defect.
Three-person IVF, two women and a man, could be used to combat fatal mitochondrial diseases, if a fertility watchdog gives the idea the go-ahead.
Children would predominantly have DNA from two people and a tiny amount from a third female donor.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will release the results of a public consultation and advise whether the government should change the law on three-parent children.
The government's health rationing watchdog, NICE, says the age limit for IVF treatment in England and Wales should be raised from 39 to 42.
NICE says is has been able to change its guidance because of a number of key medical advances.
ITV News Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:
The government's health rationing watchdog, NICE, have released a number of new guidelines on treatment for those suffering from infertility.
Under the new recommendations women will be offered IVF treatment earlier, older women will be able to have treatment up until the age of 42, and gay couples will also be entitled.
The plans are intended to end the 'postcode lottery' but health experts are worried that they will not be implemented by local health authorities. Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports.