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Photo by Sangharsh Lohakare on Unsplash

On a cloudy day on a gritty side street near the shore of San Francisco Bay, a young man answers the door at a low concrete building.

"I'm Matt Krisiloff. Nice to meet you," says one of the founders of Conception, a biotech startup that is trying to do something audacious: revolutionize the way humans reproduce. "So let me find them real quick," says Krisiloff as he turns to look for his co-founders, Pablo Hurtado and Bianka Seres, so they can explain Conception's mission.

"I personally think what we're doing will probably change many aspects of society as we know it," says Hurtado, the company's chief scientific officer. "It's really exciting to be working on a technology that can change the lives of millions of humans."

Conception is trying to accelerate, and eventually commercialize, a field of biomedical research known as in vitro gametogenesis (IVG). "Basically, we're trying to turn a type of stem cell called an induced pluripotent stem cell into a human egg," Krisiloff says. "[This] really opens the door...