Trestle Biotherapeutics Joins the Wellcome Leap HOPE Program

San Diego-based Trestle Bio funded by Wellcome Leap to accelerate development of bioengineered kidney tissue

SAN DIEGO--()--Trestle Biotherapeutics today announced that it has joined the Wellcome Leap HOPE program. HOPE (Human, Organs, Physiology & Engineering) is a $50M program focused on bioengineering complex human organs and immune system interactions. If successful, the HOPE program would demonstrate the capacity to produce tissue capable of restoring sufficient function to remove patients from dialysis and, eventually, produce immune-tolerant organs for transplantation. Founded by Wellcome Trust in 2020, Wellcome Leap is a U.S. non-profit that builds and executes bold, unconventional programs designed to increase the number and speed of breakthroughs in human health.

As a selected HOPE performer, Trestle will advance the development of functional bioengineered kidney tissues. The company will join a multi-disciplinary team being led by Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D., of Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Trestle will integrate expertise in developmental & stem cell biology and 3D biofabrication technologies with those of other key HOPE performers, to develop bioengineered kidney tissues for patients with end stage renal disease.

Trestle co-founder and CSO Alice Chen, Ph.D., said, “The principal investigators and organizations within the HOPE program are audacious thinkers – innovators who push past conventional wisdom to see what’s possible – and they’re incredibly accomplished scientists and entrepreneurs. The model of innovation at Wellcome Leap and the goals of the HOPE program are directly aligned with our mission at Trestle – to deliver a breakthrough solution for the urgent and global challenge of kidney failure.”

“We know that to do really big things for patients in need, like completely re-thinking a standard-of-care for kidney failure that’s been in place for nearly 70 years, we need visionary thinkers both at the bench in the lab as well as in the investment community. Wellcome Leap and the HOPE program are the epitome of that and a perfect fit for a company like Trestle with ambitious goals,” said Trestle co-founder and CEO Ben Shepherd, Ph.D.

Of the addition of Trestle to the HOPE program, HOPE Program Director Annie Moisan, Ph.D., said, "Trestle Biotherapeutics’ dedication to solving the urgent global challenge of kidney failure aligns perfectly with the HOPE goals. We are excited to work with Trestle to advance the development of bioengineered kidney tissues and potentially revolutionize the field of transplantation medicine."

“We have been incredibly impressed by the vision at Wellcome Leap for accelerating breakthroughs in human health. The focus and speed with which Annie and the Leap leadership team has moved to catalyze efforts at Trestle has translated to R&D progress already, and a sign of great things to come,” said Chen.

About Trestle Biotherapeutics

Trestle Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a pre-clinical stage company developing bioengineered therapies for patients living with end stage renal disease. Once implanted, these bioengineered stem cell-derived tissues will get patients off dialysis, delay their need for transplantation, and one day become replacement organs. Learn more at

About Wellcome Leap

Wellcome Leap builds and executes bold, unconventional programs, funded at scale. Programs that aim to increase the number and speed of breakthroughs in human health. Using a proven 60+ year model and operating at the intersection of life sciences and engineering, Leap programs require best-in-class, multi-disciplinary, global teams assembled from universities, companies, and nonprofits working together to solve problems that they cannot solve alone. Founded by the Wellcome Trust in 2020 as a US nonprofit, Wellcome Leap has over half a billion dollars at work globally. For more information, please visit


Ben Shepherd, Ph.D.


Ben Shepherd, Ph.D.