VitaDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization dedicated to funding and advancing early-stage longevity research, has launched its first biotech firm Matrix Biosciences.
The launch follows a near-unanimous community vote earlier this year approving a collaboration with the University of Rochester’s Aging Research Center co-chair Dr. Vera Gorbunova.
An initial tranche of $300,000 from VitaDAO will be made available to Matrix Bio, followed by additional funding through IP-NFT fractionalization in early 2024 — non-fungible tokens intended to represent intellectual property.
IP-NFT fractionalization relies on technology from the VitaDAO-associated platform Molecule, allowing researchers to list NFT projects on its marketplace. The additional funding target from IP-NFTs will be determined based on Matrix Bio's needs, VitaDAO told The Block via email. VitaDAO's last fractionalization project was 1,700% oversubscribed, it said.
VitaDAO is part of a nascent movement known as decentralized science or DeSci. In contrast to the current system, which relies on centralized bodies for research and funding, DeSci aims to source research investment through crowdfunding initiatives and decentralized ownership.
Naked mole rats
The funds will be used for preclinical studies testing novel hyaluronic acid-based compounds found in long-living cancer-resistant naked mole rats. The research aims to discover an optimal drug candidate for the treatment of cancer and aging-related diseases, VitaDAO stated.
“I am looking forward to beginning this partnership with VitaDAO,” Gorbunova said in a statement. “The funding and support from the VitaDAO community will bring Matrix Biosciences one step closer to delivering groundbreaking treatments that will significantly improve outcomes for our vulnerable aging patient population.”
“Thanks to the collective drug development experience from VitaDAO’s online community and the collaborative nature and expertise of Dr. Gorbunova and the Matrix Biosciences team, we now have a well-designed development strategy in an area that has traditionally lacked the know-how or an established path,” VitaDAO company builder Dr. Anthony Schwartz added. “We are pleased with the early data generated thus far and its potential for advancing into clinical trials.”
The venture arm of Pfizer backed VitaDAO in a $4.1 million funding round in January, following a previously announced $500,000 commitment in September 2022. Shine Capital, L1 Digital and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, among others, also participated in the token-based round.
The investment marked Pfizer's first time joining a DAO, holding vita governance tokens through a special purpose vehicle, and participating in VitaDAO governance proposals.
VitaDAO said it has over 10,000 members, successfully funded 19 projects and deployed $4 million in capital to date. This includes Turn Biotechnologies, a Stanford University spinout that produces mRNA medicines, and a University of Copenhagen study on the impact of medicinal drugs on the aging process.
VitaDAO is not the only project working on DeSci initiatives, with ResearchHub — a startup co-founded by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong that rewards scientists in cryptocurrency for publishing content — raising $5 million in a June funding round.
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