The UK Parliament has voted to allow the so-called 'three-parent embryo' or mitochondrial transfer procedure, the Guardian reports. The House of Commons vote was 382 to 128.
The in vitro technique involves using nuclear DNA from two parents and mitochondrial DNA from a donor to prevent mitochondrial disorders from being passed on to the child.
As the New Scientist notes, through this procedure, the child would share nuclear DNA with the mother and her partner whereas through some other options to avoid passing on faulty mitochondrial DNA like egg donation the child wouldn't share any DNA with the mother.
The UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority said in 2013 that there was "broad support" for transferring mitochondria into embryos to prevent disease. Critics say that the procedure amounts to genetically modifying people. In a statement, the Center for Genetics and Society's Marcy Darnovsky says that the vote outcome was a "serious mistake, which we hope does not have dire consequences."
The House of Lords still must vote on the issue, though the Guardian notes it would be unusual for them to oppose a regulation passed by the elected chamber. The BBC adds that if it moves ahead, the first baby could be born in 2016.
"Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option for them," the Wellcome Trust's Jeremy Farrar says. "We welcome this vote to give them that choice, and we hope that the House of Lords reaches a similar conclusion so that this procedure can be licensed under the UK's internationally admired regulatory system."