Three years ago, the concept of a video conference in which participants pass pieces of intellectual property to each other via digital tokens seemed improbable. In 2022, not only is this a reality, it’s the fifth such ceremony to take place. The organization responsible is VitaDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization focused on longevity research.
What is an IP-NFT?
An IP-NFT is a non-fungible token containing intellectual property information. An IP-NFT functions similarly to any other type of IP. However, it differs in its form and the unique cryptographic methodology by which it can be transferred to another individual or organization.
In addition to holding the intellectual property, an IP-NFT can also store details about the stipulations of the IPf, such as how it can be used, by whom it can be used, etc. Like any novel technology, the legal environment regulating IP-NFTs, or any NFTs, is in its infancy and lacks clarity at this time.
What is the project being funded?
Earlier this year, VitaDAO voted to fund ApoptoSENS for just over a quarter of a million dollars to further research into senolytic CAR-NK cells. These cells are intended to improve general cellular function and reduce or eliminate dysfunctional cells.
Such research, under the leadership of Dr. Amit Sharma, aims to improve human health and longevity by reducing the amount of dysfunctional cells and enhancing how healthy cells function. The team believes that this can lead to the development of therapeutic approaches that reduce the effects of aging on the human body.
As age is a risk factor in many diseases, and one out of every seven people in the US are predicted to be over the age of 70 by 2023, such research is highly relevant. This is supported by market data indicating that in 2021, its value was approximately $25 trillion (USD).
During the IP-NFT ceremony, Dr. Sharma spoke about the background and success of the initial research leading up to the project in identifying compounds and suggested that the next steps for the team include:
- Validating targets of biomarkers of senescence. At this stage, the team will check senescence markers in tissue to uncover where and how they are occurring.
- Developing therapeutic interventions to improve longevity and fight aging through the development of CAR-NK cells. At this stage, initial therapies will be created to target senescent cells.
- Exploring molecular mechanisms in the regulation of surface expression regarding senescent cells, meaning that approaches will be reviewed and improved.
The ceremony also marked the revealing of the artwork representing the research, also known as VDP 38. Created by a biomedical illustrator, the moving NFT image draws together design and metaphor to illustrate how senescent cells can be targeted by therapies. The foreground shows only senescent cells targeted by a beam representing a NK therapy and emitting material. The background shows the beam on both senescent and healthy cells with no such activity, highlighting the difference that targeted therapy can create.
How can IP-NFTs help progress longevity research?
The ApoptoSENS project is the fifth research project funded via this innovative IP-NFT approach. The four previous projects were:
- Morten Scheibye-Knudsen Lab: This study, known as the Longevity Project, focuses on the analysis of long-term data and longevity outcomes.
- Korolchuk Lab: This project explores autophagy activators and how they can prevent diseases related to human aging.
- Evandro Fang: This project of Evandro Fang’s lab delves into novel mitophagy inducer research and their discovery.
- Jonathan An: With periodontal disease affecting 47% of adults over 30, Jonathan An’s lab’s research is seeking out a solution.
The VitaDAO team hopes that such an approach to research will accelerate the speed at which novel research studies can take place by delivering more accessible funding and improve access to funding for researchers seeking to explore more innovative methods to increase human longevity.
The IP-NFT ceremony, held by VitaDAO alongside Molecule and ApoptoSENS, marks the fifth such ceremony of its kind. IP-NFT funding is a potentially innovative approach that could allow researchers the possibility to explore novel approaches to longevity science. Earlier this year, the VitaDAO community voted and approved a $253,000 deal to fund ApoptoSENS research into CAR-NK cells.