Physicians Hall Front

Rose Biosciences Uncovers New Path to Address the Obesity Pandemic

Milwaukee, Sept. 7, 2022 – A groundbreaking discovery by a Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) microbiologist and partnership with one of its trustees has led to the founding of Rose Biosciences – a biotech company pioneering a new approach to obesity treatment.

In studying the relationship between the metabolism and bacteria within the microbiome, John R. Kirby, PhD, chair, Microbiology & Immunology, MCW, uncovered a unique molecule that influences host metabolism. Specifically, the molecule resides in bacterial communities within the human body and can influence resting 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.”

Justin L. Mortara, PhD, trustee at MCW, Healthcare and Diagnostics CEO, venture investor, had already been working with Dr. Kirby on bringing awareness to the significant research advancements taking place at MCW, but the potential impact of this molecule on obesity is so significant that Dr. Mortara recognized an opportunity to creatively bring it to life.

“The primary goal of Rose Biosciences is to support bringing this MCW laboratory discovery to clinical trial,” said Dr. 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 the molecule, RB014 which is administered orally, demonstrates a weight loss effect of 16 to 20 percent with no anticipated side effects or safety concerns and is easy to manufacture. By contrast, current pharmacological therapies offer between 8 to 16 percent 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 Dr. Kirby. “RB014 could revolutionize how this population is treated and provide a completely different outlook on obesity.”

Although this is their first large-scale project, Dr. Mortara and Dr. Kirby began working together at MCW in 2018. Dr. Mortara, who is a physicist by training, became a trustee at MCW in 2017 after his cardiology diagnostics business, Mortara Instrument, Inc., was acquired. His passion for digging into the scientific discoveries, research, and biotechnology within MCW led to his connection with Dr. Kirby who, in addition to his role as chair of Microbiology & Immunology, is the Walter Schroeder Professor in Microbiology and Immunology; associate director, Microbiome, Linda T. and John A. Mellowes Center for Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine; associate director, Center for Microbiome Research; and leads the Kirby Laboratory.

The Rose Biosciences team has secured pre-seed funding and is currently taking next steps to bring this discovery forward, including licensing and additional intellectual property development. The Company plans to seek additional seed capital during 2022 to support an acceleration of its development plans.

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