Korolchuk Lab’s Early Research Gets $285,000 from VitaDAO

This research focuses on fundamental issues with autophagy.


VitaDAO Korolchuk LabVitaDAO Korolchuk Lab

The laboratory of Viktor Korolchuk, Professor of Molecular Cell at Newcastle University, has received funding to research autophagy activators and ways in which they can help prevent age-related diseases.

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Defective autophagy inhibits the function of cells, such as DNA repair and metabolic processes, and it is linked to health issues, including cancer, diabetes, and immune system disorders. It’s believed that the activation of autophagy pathways could be effective in reducing the effects of age-related diseases.

In November 2021, the Korolchuk Lab project was awarded $285,000 in funding from VitaDAO, a biotech DAO dedicated to funding early-stage longevity projects.

Korolchuk Lab’s research


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As a person ages, autophagy often fails to function properly, leading to age-related illnesses that have adverse consequences on lifespan and healthspan. Korolchuk Lab focuses specifically on targeting the dysfunction of the lysosomes, the organelles responsible for autophagy, as its strategy for restoring this process. To date, this approach has not been effective. However, Korolchuk’s team seeks to model lysosomal dysfunction and identify alternative and effective autophagy activators in order to reduce the impact of age-related diseases.

How will the Korolchuk Lab find autophagy activators?

By modeling autophagy dysfunction by using cells that have mutations in genes that code for the lysosomal protein Npc1, Korolchuk’s team will acquire readouts for its autophagy assay. This is similar to the process involved in studying neurodegenerative diseases and forms the basis for its research.

From here, Korolchuk’s team plans to identify genuine autophagy activators. To do so, the researchers will observe why autophagy fails to be initiated in non-rescuable cells, comparing them to Npc1 knockout cells. To identify biological targets and find autophagy activators, the Korolchuk lab will screen a library of natural compounds and synthesize derivatives, with a focus on compounds that could rescue cells from death.

In the lead-up to this research, the Korolchuk Lab team has completed extensive preliminary research, identifying and compiling data on dysfunctional autophagy in tissue culture from cells with unique phenotypes.

The team behind the research

Korolchuk Lab’s team is comprised of leading scientists, including Viktor Korolchuk, Reader of Molecular Cell Biology at Newcastle University. Korolchuk holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv (Ukraine). His research is on intracellular protein trafficking and degradation pathways, specifically autophagy.


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Korolchuk is joined by Dr. Jóhannes Reynisson, Lecturer in Drug Discovery at Keele University. Dr. Reynisson obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Copenhagen, and his work has focused on drug discovery, computer-aided drug design (CADD), in particular, molecular modeling.

The team is rounded-up with the inclusion of Konstantin Volcho Ph.D., Professor of the Russian Academy of Science (Department of Organic Chemistry). His past work has included DNA Repair Enzyme studies, and biologically active compounds, among others.

From application to funding

The Korolchuk Lab project was funded in just over four weeks, setting a precedent for scientific research funding via a DAO. VitaDAO chose to provide the funding for Korolchuk Lab’s research via an IP-NFT after receiving 13 out of 13 possible votes in favor of its work.

The DAO exists to democratize biotechnology research, making it more accessible and attempting to counteract Eroom’s Law (a reverse of Moore’s Law), which refers to increases in the time and expense of scientific research even as processes and technology become cheaper. Korolchuk Lab is one of VitaDAO’s showcase projects, and it aims to provide promising results for the future of longevity research.

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About the author
Maria Isabella

Maria Isabella

Maria is a writer and editor with a passion for technology, health, and lifelong learning. With over 6 years of experience in content creation for the fintech and wellness industries, and 10 years in the non-profit sector, as well as a Masters of Science in Development Management, she is passionate about combining tech and healthcare to make the world a better place.