A biotech startup spun out of the Medical College of Wisconsin says it has discovered a new way to treat diabetes. Milwaukee-based Rose Biosciences was founded in January 2021 and is planning to open up its seed funding round this year. While studying the relationship between metabolism and bacteria within the microbiomes, Dr.John Kirby, PhD and chair of Microbiology & Immunology at MCW, discovered a unique molecule that influences host metabolism. That molecule, named RB014, is found within bacterial communities in the human body and can influence metabolic rates within those communities. "Current treatments for obesity focus on diet, exercise, and pharmacologic options that influence satiety or appetite. The problem with the current options is that they don't address biological or genetic factors for obesity, and many of the existing medications have known safety issues and high costs," said Dr. Kirby. "Our discovery of specific genetic elements that regulate metabolism will transform obesity care by harnessing the power of the bacteria within us." former Mortara Instrument CEO Justin Mortara, president and executive chairman of Madison-based EnsoData, is also a co-founder of Rose Biosciences. Mortara, a trustee at MCW and a venture investor, had already been working with Kirby on raising awareness of the research taking place within the organization. [caption id="attachment_486662" align="alignleft" width="300"] Justin Mortara[/caption] "The primary goal of Rose Biosciences is to support bringing this MCW laboratory discovery to clinical trial," said Mortara. "Obesity is a disease to be treated, not a condition to be judged. We are excited to bring a new therapeutic approach forward and will seek partnerships to advance it through clinical development." Pre-clinical studies have shown RB014, which is administered orally, demonstrates a weight loss effect of 16 to 20% with no anticipated side effects or safety concerns and is easy to manufacture. By contrast, current pharmacological therapies offer between 8 to 16% weight loss, come with black box warnings, and are expensive to manufacture. "By 2030, more than one billion people globally and 50 percent of the U.S. population will be obese," said Kirby. "RB014 could revolutionize how this population is treated and provide a completely different outlook on obesity." The Rose Biosciences team is currently moving forward with licensing and additional intellectual property development. The company has raised some pre-seed funding, but a spokesperson was not immediately available to provide further details Monday.
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