June 2022 marked the first anniversary of VitaDAO passing its Gnosis Token Auction. Since its founding, the biotech DAO has invested over $2.5 million into more than 10 longevity projects with the aim of driving early-stage research in the field.
What is VitaDAO, and why is it funding longevity research?
VitaDAO is a biotechnology-focused decentralized autonomous organization (DAO): a biotech DAO. Founded in 2021 with the aim of funding early-stage longevity research, the DAO plans to bridge the gap between concept and realization in scientific research and accelerate the research and development of the longevity field, avoiding the so-called “valley of death” that research proposals can fall into.
By utilizing the decentralized format of a DAO, the organization wants to expand its scope and capacity to build a more democratic arena for scientific research. The nature of DAOs allows them to connect with a wider community and develop projects on a global scale. Its decentralized format means it is able to draw its community and funding from a wider grouping while maintaining decision-making through a voting-based structure that allows members to vote on which projects receive funds.
As an innovative form of organization, DAOs may experience challenges in their implementation. However, what it lacks in years of being on the market, seems to make up for in determination to deliver results.
A year in review
In a little over 12 months, VitaDAO has gone from concept to realization in fulfilling its aims of funding longevity research projects. The last year has seen the decentralized organization:
- Source over 200 early-stage longevity projects from various sources.
- Fund more than 10 projects with a ticket size of between $50K and $1M for each project.
- Issue $45K in Fellowship Grants to over 40 new VitaDAO Fellows.
- Deploy a total of $2.5M in early-stage longevity funding.
- Bring together 5,000+ longevity-focused community members, including over 1,000+ token holders actively participating in VitaDAO.
- Created numerous strategic partnerships with organizations such as Lifespan.io, BanklessDAO, LabDAO, PrimeDAO, and Apollo Health Ventures, among others.
VitaDAO’s funded longevity projects drive early research
These funded ventures include examples of how VitaDAO’s financing was able to support early-stage research when other avenues did not, such as:
Failure in the body’s autophagic processes can lead to age-related diseases. The Korolchuk Lab project plans to research autophagy activators and their role in aging by modeling lysosomal dysfunction. In December 2021, VitaDAO initiated an IP-NFT project for the sum of $285,000 in support of the team’s research.
Investing a total of $1M in an equity-based project, VitaDAO supported Turn Biotechnologies, otherwise known as Turn.Bio, a preclinical start-up dedicated to mRNA and epigenetic reprogramming to combat age-related bodily function loss.
Having identified a collection of small molecules potentially able to target signature metabolism features that exist in potentially pathogenic cells, the Rubedo.life team is testing and optimizing these compounds with the help of $350K in funding from VitaDAO. The DAO was impressed by the proof of concept of this promising prodrugsapproach.
Scheibye-Knudsen Lab (The Longevity Molecule)
The Scheibye-Knudsen Lab’s early-stage pre-clinical discovery project was awarded $250K by VitaDAO for its investigation into data from 1.04 billion prescriptions in an effort to evaluate their connection with longevity. Using the latest in machine learning technology, the Lab will explore how and if these therapeutics can decelerate aging and reduce the effects of age-related diseases.
Research into reversing periodontal disease
Periodontitis impacts more than 70% of older adults and causes inflammation of the oral tissues, creating tooth loss and other dental problems. Periodontal disease has also been linked to other age-related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. By funding $300K to Jonathan An’s research, VitaDAO intends to help uncover a novel method of treating periodontitis, potentially using small molecule inhibitors.
As the body ages, cells become senescent due to damage, and these cells secrete substances that cause inflammation and lead to tissue dysfunction. Eliminating these cells may help in slowing age-related diseases. The ApoptoSENS research project was awarded $253K to develop Chimeric Antigen Receptor Natural Killer (CAR-NK) cells that may aid in the elimination of damaged cells.
What’s next for VitaDAO?
As an organization, VitaDAO is relatively new. It is attempting to transform the current processes and methodologies of early-stage scientific research in a way that assists scientists in exploring lesser-funded concepts. As the organization continues to expand, its concept will be tried, tested, and no doubt adapted to increase effectiveness.
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