Members of Parliament are due to vote on a crucial issue: deciding whether or not three-parent babies will be legalized.
Should the vote be in favor of the procedure, the UK will be the first country in the world to make the procedure legal, helping as many as 150 couples a year prevent passing on deadly genetic diseases to their children.
Developed in Newcastle, the process paving the way for the development of three-parent babies will help women ensure their children are kept safe from mitochondrial disease. Mitochondria are the power house of the cell, tasked with converting food into energy that the cell can use. While it has its own DNA, the mitochondria do not affect characteristics in the body, such as appearance.
Defective mitochondria are passed down by mothers to their children. For this reason, the procedure mainly entails a modified IVF method that combines the DNA of a couple with healthy mitochondria from a female donor. The result is a baby with 0.1 percent of their DNA coming from the female donor. The change in a three-parent baby's mitochondria is permanent and will be passed down genetically when they grow up and have children of their own.
The government already supports the procedure in principle, but MPs will still be given the chance to vote individually instead of deciding on it as parties.
Prof. Doug Turnbull, Wellcome Trust director for mitochondrial research, urges MPs to see the benefit of the procedure.
"This is research that has been suggested by the patients, supported by patients and is for the patients, and that's an important message," he added.
Aside from researchers from Wellcome Trust, where the procedure was pioneered, British Nobel Prize-winning scientists and 40 others leading in their fields across 14 countries also support the cause of three-parent babies.
Despite the benefits, not everyone is convinced the procedure is actually a good idea.
The Catholic and Anglican Churches, for starters, are against it for ethical reasons and safety concerns. Other groups such as Human Genetics Alert are concerned that three-parent babies would open doors to further genetic modification, which could give birth to designer babies specifically developed to impart certain traits and characteristics and be free from disease.
Should the MPs decide to vote to legalize three-parent babies, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority will be licensing Newcastle to have the procedure carried out. The first official attempt at a three-parent baby could happen this year; the first child born through the procedure may be expected in 2016.