for Kidney Disease
Our team has been building a new company that we’re proud to share with you – Trestle Biotherapeutics. The mission at Trestle is something that we’ve been thinking about for a long time, and we believe it will transform the lives of patients with kidney disease. If we get this right, the solutions we develop can be used to help millions of patients suffering from other types of organ failure.
The naming of Trestle carries many meanings for us. A trestle is a bridge which rests on the support of underlying and interconnected braces. That bridge allows continuation of a journey and enables the path to go on. We see the patients we aim to treat getting across. We also see it as a way to bridge scientific disciplines, to achieve what is only possible at their intersect. Lastly, we know there are smart people across the globe that we intend to bridge together, so they can contribute to what we’re building.
We’ve set out to do something ambitious and difficult. Developing a stem cell-based therapeutic solution for patients will take time, persistence, and the integration of some of the most exciting new technologies in stem cell biology, biofabrication, fluidics, and cell manufacturing. In some cases, we may need to develop new solutions that don’t currently exist.
We’ve begun to get this effort underway with tremendous intellectual and financial support from a great group of advisors and investors, and we are looking forward to sharing more of what we’re building in the coming months.
We’ll update soon,
-Ben Shepherd, PhD & Alice Chen, PhD
Kidney disease impacts 850 million people worldwide, 37 million in the United States. There are only two treatment options for people who progress to kidney failure – a rare kidney transplant or dialysis. While dialysis is a life-saving and essential treatment for more than 550,000 Americans, there have been no advances of treatment options for those with kidney failure since its advent nearly 60 years ago. And while dialysis sustains life, patients must endure constant medical risks of infection, vascular collapse, and personal tolls on quality of life.
Trestle is developing an implantable therapeutic tissue that will be delivered to patients suffering from end stage renal disease (ESRD). Our implantable bioengineered tissues will get patients off dialysis, delay their need for transplantation, and one day become replacement organs.
550,000 Kidney Failure patients in the US depend on dialysis for survival
5-year survival for patients on long-term dialysis is under 40%
Of the 785,000 ESRD patients in the US, only 22,000 will receive a kidney transplant next year
COVID survivors are 3X as likely to be diagnosed with ESRD
130,000 patients are diagnosed with ESRD in the US each year (356 patients every day)
John Jersin is a startup investor, advisor, and board director for a range of companies with a focus on social impact; including in digital health tech, life sciences, and biotech. He has helped a number of companies grow from seed stage to IPO. John was previously Vice President of Talent Solutions for LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s largest business unit – which includes several product lines driving a multi-billion dollar revenue stream – as well as all of the job seeking experiences on LinkedIn. While at LinkedIn, he launched several new product lines and platforms such as the Talent Insights analytics product, the Talent Hub applicant tracking system, a new industry standard integration called Recruiter System Connect, LinkedIn’s skill assessment platform, and the world’s first major recruiting diversity features to limit bias in recruiting, and many others.
John joined LinkedIn via the acquisition of Connectifier, where he was CEO and co-founder. At Connectifier, John built a platform used by tens of thousands of companies, and pioneered the use of Artificial intelligence in recruiting to promote diversity and efficiency. Prior to Connectifier, John was a product and engineering leader in Google’s Ads group. He launched the first version of real-time analytics in Google Analytics, as well as the first social analytics features. John was also CEO and co-founder of Zintin, a company which built iPhone apps, including Scribble which was one of the 10 most popular apps in the first year of the iPhone app store. John received a BS and an MS in Computer Science from UC San Diego, and Stanford University. He also created The Jersin Foundation to support social impact through non-commercial means. The Jersin Foundation takes action on issues of public good which require a technical or scientific perspective.
Jennifer A. Lewis is the Jianming Yu Professor of Arts and Sciences, the Wyss Professor for Biologically Inspired Engineering in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. Her research focuses on 3D printing of functional, structural, and biological materials that emulate natural systems. Prior to joining Harvard, Lewis was a faculty member in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she served as the Director of the Materials Research Laboratory. Currently, she directs the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and serves on the NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee.
Lewis has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award, the Materials Research Society Medal Award, the American Ceramic Society Sosman and Roy Lecture Awards, and the Lush Science Prize. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. To date, she has co-founded two companies, Voxel8 Inc. and Electroninks, that are commercializing technology from her lab.
Andrew McMahon is the W.M. Keck Provost and University Professor, Chair of the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research within the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). McMahon joined USC in 2012 after 19 years at Harvard University where he was the Frank B. Baird Jr., Professor of Science, former chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and members of the Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology, and a founding principal investigator of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. McMahon is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and the Royal Society. Dr. McMahon’s group was the first to identify several key signals coordinating cell interactions directing development of multiple mammalian organ systems. Dr. McMahon’s current research focuses on development, injury and repair of the mammalian kidney to develop approaches to prevent and treat kidney disease.
Dr. Niklason is the founder, President and CEO of Humacyte. Dr. Niklason founded Humacyte in 2005, while still a professor at Duke University. Humacyte is a regenerative medicine company currently performing Phase III trials of engineered blood vessels for dialysis access and for treatment of vascular trauma. Dr. Niklason’s scientific career has focused primarily on regenerative strategies for cardiovascular and lung tissues. She was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2014, into the National Academy of Medicine in 2015, and inducted to the National Academy of Engineering in 2020. She was also named (along with Bill Gates and Joe Biden) as one of 34 leaders who are changing healthcare by Fortune Magazine in 2017. Dr. Niklason received PhD from the University of Chicago in Biophysics in 1988 and received her MD from the University of Michigan in 1991. Dr. Niklason completed her medical training in anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1996. She was a professor at Duke University from 1998 – 2005, before moving to Yale University in 2005.
Dr. Polu is a nephrologist and clinical development executive who has extensive experience in developing drugs in kidney diseases and in complications of kidney failure. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Equillium (NASDAQ: EQ), a company focused on developing novel therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and has served as a member of the Kidney Health Initiative (KHI), a joint initiative between the FDA, American Society of Nephrology, and leaders in academia, industry, and the kidney community. Previously, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Frazier Healthcare, a life science-focused venture capital firm, and founded Expedition Therapeutics, a search company focused on identifying and in-licensing assets in the kidney and autoimmune therapeutic areas. Dr. Polu has also served in executive and management level roles at Raptor Pharmaceuticals, CytomX Therapeutics, Affymax, and Amgen. Currently he serves as a Principal at Red Tree Venture Capital and is a Board Director at Frazier Life Sciences Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:FLACU). Dr. Polu received his B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University and M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. He completed his residency at the University of Colorado followed by a clinical and research fellowship in nephrology at Harvard Medical School at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Mike has been a member of the Frazier Life Sciences team since 2006 and brings over 35 years of experience as a scientist and executive to the team. He has co-founded multiple Frazier portfolio companies, including Mavupharma (acquired by AbbVie), Inipharm, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Gilead Sciences), and Stromedix (acquired by Biogen Idec). Mike served as President of Calistoga, which was the first company to demonstrate the clinical benefit of an isoform selective PI3K (idelalisib) inhibitor in hematologic malignancies. That drug, under the brand name Zydelig, received approvals from both the FDA and EMA in 2014 to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia and follicular lymphoma. He currently serves on the board of directors of Inipharm, and on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Inipharm, Lassen Therapeutics, and Lengo Therapeutics.
Previously, Mike was one of the founding scientists at ICOS Corporation, where he served as VP and Scientific Director. Mike’s responsibilities at ICOS included discovery, preclinical research, medicinal chemistry, and process chemistry groups including those that helped generate and support the worldwide registration and launch of Cialis. Earlier, Mike developed expertise in the fields of immunology/inflammation and oncology while on the faculty at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Mike has also been a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Keystone Symposia, Caprion, and the University of Texas Department of Chemistry.
Mike is currently a member of the Therapeutic Advisory Board for Frazier company AnaptysBio and the Board of Directors of EpiThany, Inc. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Frazier company Lassen Therapeutics as well as OncoResponse. In addition, Mike serves on the Board of Directors for Life Science Washington. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Benaroya Research Institute.
Mike received his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta Department of Immunology. His doctoral research focused on genetic resistance to virally induced neoplastic disease and invasive mechanisms, including the first description of antigen gain associated with organ-specific tumor metastasis. While a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell and American Cancer Society fellow at Stanford University in the lab of Irving Weissman, Mike discovered the first cell adhesion molecule implicated in site selective leukocyte traffic.
SAN DIEGO [May 25, 2023] – Trestle Biotherapeutics today announced that it has joined the Wellcome Leap HOPE program.
Trestle Co-Founder and CSO, Alice Chen, Ph.D., provides insight on the fields of kidney stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and how Trestle is advancing bioengineered kidney tissues for patients with kidney failure.
Trestle Featured in TechCrunch Coverage of Top YC Biotech Companies
Mar 24, 2021
Trestle Biotherapeutics highlighted by TechCrunch as one of top biotech companies at Y Combinator’s W21 Demo Day
Y Combinator’s Biotech Startups Incubate a New Generation of Therapies and Tools
Trestle Biotherapeutics Backed by Y Combinator
Jan 5, 2021
Trestle Biotherapeutics is now backed by Y Combinator (YC), an elite start up accelerator that has launched more than 3000 companies, including Stripe, Airbnb, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Ginkgo Bioworks, and 64x Bio.
Trestle accepted YC’s invitation to join the Winter 2021 cohort, and will be working directly with YC Partners Jared Friedman, Surbhi Sarna, and Tim Brady.
“We are honored to be funded by YC and thrilled to be alongside others who look at a problem through bold lenses when building the right solutions. We are especially proud to be a part YC’s growing focus on supporting the next generation of healthcare and biotechnology companies,” said Ben Shepherd, CEO of Trestle.
The program initiates in January 2021. In addition to early financial investment from YC, Trestle will receive long term strategic support from YC partners and staff.
Trestle Founding Team Co-Authors Report Describing Benefits of 3D Bioprinting on Human Kidney Organoid Development
November 23, 2020
Founding scientists of Trestle co-author report describing use of automated bioprinting to enable human kidney organoid generation with improved throughput, reproducibility, scale, and nephron development. This work represents an important step forward in the areas of kidney tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Lawlor, K.T., Vanslambrouck, J.M., Higgins, J.W. et al. Cellular extrusion bioprinting improves kidney organoid reproducibility and conformation. Nat. Mater. 20, 260–271 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-020-00853-9
Humphreys, B.D. Bioprinting better kidney organoids. Nat. Mater. 20, 128–130 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-020-00881-5
The promise of organoids and embryoids. Nat. Mater. 20, 121 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00926-3
Trestle Founding Team Co-Authors Report Describing Proof of Concept For Use of 3D Bioprinted Human Kidney Organoids in High Content Drug Screening
Dec 23, 2018
Founding scientists of Trestle co-author report demonstrating proof-of-concept for automated production of human kidney organoids using a 3D bioprinter. This approach enables rapid generation of large numbers of kidney organoids for use in high content compound screening.
Higgins, J.W. et al. Bioprinted pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids provide opportunities for high content screening. bioRxiv 505396 (2018).