WORLD-BEATING North- East scientists have welcomed the findings of an independent report that makes it more likely they will be able to resume controversial, but potentially life-saving, research.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said the technique, sometimes described as threeparent IVF, would be an ethical treatment option for families affected by mitochondrial diseases if it could be shown to be safe and effective.

Alison Murdoch, professor of reproductive medicine at Newcastle University, said: “We welcome the findings of the Nuffield Council report. It is very reassuring that they support our aims and we hope the Government will also give support.”

In 2010, scientists from the university proved it was possible to use a form of IVF to prevent a group of deadly inherited diseases being passed to the next generation.

The discovery was hailed by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign as a ray of hope for families who fear they might pass on mitochondrial disease to their children.

However, some campaigners are concerned at the technique, which involves taking part of a human egg donated by a healthy individual to replace the faulty mitochondria of the affected mother.

About one in every 6,500 children born in the UK has severe mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondria are located in every human cell and provide the energy for cells to function.

When faulty mitochondria are passed on to the next generation, it can lead to muscular weakness, blindness, fatal heart disease, liver failure, learning disability and diabetes and an early death.

To try to prevent transmission of faulty mitchondrial disease, the Newcastle team developed a technique that involves transferring DNA from a fertilised egg containing faulty mitochondria into a donated egg, containing healthy mitochondria from which the DNA has been removed.

Scientists believe the technique should allow the baby to develop normally.

The Newcastle team wants to do more research to prove the new procedure is safe, using spare eggs donated for IVF treatment that would normally be destroyed.

Prof Murdoch said she was delighted at the response from women in the North- East who have volunteered to donate eggs for the research.

She said the team was making good progress to understand the potential success rate and safety of the proposed treatment.

At the request of the Government, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will launch a public consultation to gauge opinion whether the new form of IVF developed on Tyneside should be allowed.