The first children to be conceived of three genetic parents could be born within three years if the process is legally approved, according to a leading expert at Newcastle University.
The public are now being asked for their views on the IVF procedure by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
The consultation could pave the way to a landmark change in the law as early as next year.
If approved, the procedure would be used to prevent a special category of diseases caused by inherited genes.
Children would be conceived with the help of a third parent, a woman whose donated egg provides a source of healthy DNA.
Professor Doug Turnbull, a clinical expert at Newcastle University, said: "Clearly I don't want to build up the hopes of my patients in a way that is unrealistic.
"We will work as hard as we can to make this as safe and efficient as possible.
"I would hope that it would be here within three years."
Defects in mitochondrial DNA can give rise to a range of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases including a form of muscular dystrophy.
They can also lead to the loss of hearing and vision, heart problems and intestinal disorders.
The law currently bans genetic material from being tampered with in this way.
However, ministers can make the technique legal if they are satisfied it is ethically acceptable to the public.
Professor Lisa Jardine, who chairs the HFEA, said: "We find ourselves in uncharted territory, balancing the desire to help families have healthy children with the possible impact on the children themselves and wider society."
She recalled public attitudes to the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.
"A lot of people thought she was going to be a monster, and the idea of what would happen if you allowed conception outside the womb was seen as absolutely appalling. Those uncharted waters are now charted waters."
Critics fear that allowing mitochondrial DNA to be altered could be the start of a slippery slope leading to genetically modified designer babies.
One in 200 children born each year in the UK have some form of mitochondrial disease. Not all suffer serious symptoms.
The consultation, which aims to get the views from ordinary people rather than experts, runs until December 7, with a report being submitted to the Government in spring 2013.
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