On June 15, 2022, VitaDAO hosted an online IP-NFT Transfer Ceremony honoring its third project funded via an IP-NFT: Evandro Fang Lab. The finances delivered to this lab will go toward further research into identifying novel mitophagy inducers that contribute to healthy brain aging and longevity.
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The Evandro Fang Lab and its connection to longevity research
Since its opening on October 2nd, 2017, the Evandro Fang Lab, located at the Akershus University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oslo, Norway, has focused on longevity-related research.
The head of the lab, Evandro Fei Fang, is a leader in the Alzheimer’s disease field. Having published 70+ peer-reviewed papers on cell metabolism, and neuroscience, among others, his current approach explores mitophagy dysfunction. The lab itself is dedicated to investigating the molecular mechanisms of aging and predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, with the intention of discovering intervention strategies to enhance human lifespan and healthspan.
In February 2022, the Fang Lab applied to VitaDAO for funding to realize a research project into the identification of novel mitophagy inducers for the healthy aging of the brain, furthering its previous research.
Discovering novel mitophagy activators
Coming from a background of being the first team to propose defective mitophagy as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease initiation, the Fang Lab confirmed the effectiveness of mitophagy activators utilizing animal models. Seeking to further these studies, the team established a proprietary AI solution, known as Fang AI, utilized in combination with its wet lab validation platform.
Prior to its application to VitaDAO, the Fang Lab had already identified two key compounds: AD8 and AD9. Having established these, the team noted that supplementary studies are required to identify additional inhibitors and their therapeutic levels while avoiding unnecessary mitochondrial damage.
Springboarding off this, the Fang Lab team now seeks to continue the research and identify further mitophagy inducers. The team believes that the findings of this project will be essential for research into Alzheimer’s disease, which impacts 50+ million people around the world, among other age-related illnesses.
The Fang Lab team suggests that in understanding the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease and the role of mitophagy inhibitors, it will be possible to discover new drugs that will affect the onset and progression of the disease.
Previous pharmaceutical research in this field, undertaken since 2003, specifically research targeting pathological proteins such as amyloid-β (Aβ) and pathological tau, has failed to produce results in clinical trials. The Fang Lab team seeks to take an innovative approach, moving away from this theory to instead focus on data gathered using the wet lab and AI.
VitaDAO and IP-NFT funding
This project marks the third successfully funded IP-NFT project for the decentralized organization VitaDAO, with the Fang Lab joining the ranks of Korolchuk Lab and Molecule. The DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) was initially founded with the intention of funding early-stage longevity research. Traditionally, scientific research is funded by a combination of private investors along with governmental and international governmental bodies or companies.
These organizations are normally more risk-adverse in that they are more likely to invest into projects that they see as more likely to succeed, leaving more innovative but potentially risky projects on the sidelines.
Funds such as VitaDAO and other biotech DAOs deliver a lifeline to early-stage research. These biotech DAOs seek to tap into the power of community funding and collaboration to develop a sustainable solution, such as funding from a DAO.
One such approach is to utilize IP-NFTs (intellectual property non-fungible tokens). This allows organizations to transform research results into NFTs. These can be collected and monetized as part of the DAO’s financial ecosystem.
Although still in their early phases, IP-NFTs could potentially be employed to develop global solutions to healthcare problems, moving away from top-down centralized decision-making and opening up a new line of funding for more innovative research.
With DAO members voting 99.92% to 0.08% in favor of funding Fang Lab, the Lab’s project was awarded $300,000 to undertake research investigating mitophagy activators that could have potential impacts on healthy brain aging. The IP-NFT transfer ceremony took place, marking the decision to make it the third project utilizing IP-NFTs.