VitaDAO funded the ApoptoSENS project with $252,000, purchasing an exclusive license to spin out a company using the developed senolytic CAR-NK cells. The research in Dr. Amit Sharma’s laboratory focuses on the effects of aging and underlying cellular mechanisms that dictate the functionality of our immune system. More particularly, his work at the SRF Research Center, as part of the broader ApoptoSENS project theme, aims to harness the immune system to mitigate deleterious effects of dysfunctional cells that accumulate with age.
“The process of grant proposal review was unique in its nature of community involvement with individuals from different backgrounds asking relevant questions that further enriched the project and the scientific approach. The entire VitaDAO community was very enthusiastic and supportive of scientific development. The collaborations between traditional scientific community and IP-NFTs can serve as a viable alternative model for future biomedical research.” - Dr. Amit Sharma
With prolonged lifespan, more and more cells throughout our body experience various stress events that arrest them at a state of terminal growth in a process called cellular senescence. Cellular senescence contributes to complex effects on physiology and disease processes, either in a beneficial way (e.g. wound healing) or extensively detrimental as it triggers or exacerbates numerous age-related diseases. With increasing evidence that senescent cells adversely affect aging-associated declines and malfunctions, targeted strategies have been explored to selectively destroy senescent cells to onset rejuvenating benefits and ameliorate or reverse multiple diseases of aging. Senescent cells differ greatly from healthy cells in the patterns of several cell surface markers that can serve as markers and therapeutic targets.
Dr. Sharma’s team previously set out to identify such cell surface markers uniquely present in senescent cells and successfully identified 3 promising candidates that serve as the basis for the project funded here. The validated surface markers will now be used to create designed natural killer cells, named CAR-NK cells, that specifically target senescent cells and allow their immune system-mediated clearance as a potential new form of therapeutic intervention.
If R&D IP is siloed and owned by individual companies, these companies could have a very strong bias towards only publishing positive data and this leads to information asymmetry. In contrast, an open research community would achieve desired outcomes comparatively faster if research was done collaboratively with unbiased sharing of results. True scientific learning would be enabled and the myriads of duplication work through failed experiments also has the potential to reduce R&D costs on scale. Connecting BiotechDAOs to real world projects would be a key facilitator here.
The funding of Dr. Sharma’s research through Molecule’s IP-NFT framework is paramount in this respect - only the 5th occurrence in history where the transfer of IP ownership and medical research has been achieved through an NFT. Not only has pharma IP been transacted on the blockchain, but the IP rights have been moved into custodianship of VitaDAO, a BiotechDAO enabling and fostering promising translational research in longevity science.
The illustration for VDP-38 (the governance proposal on VitaDAO’s discourse forum) uses a metaphor to highlight CAR-NK cells' ability to accurately target senescent cells. Target specificity is represented here as the beam angle being emitted by each therapy. In traditional senolytic approaches, therapies have a large "beam angle" that sheds light on both healthy and senescent cells; i.e., they are non-specific. On the other hand and in the foreground, CAR-NK cells have a narrow "beam angle" that sheds light only on the senescent cells in the cell landscape, while leaving the healthy tissue unrevealed. The style of this artwork was inspired by retro travel posters, and the composition leverages diagonal, parallel lines and rule of thirds to create a strong focus on CAR-NK specificity.
Molecule is creating a holistic funding system for early-stage research projects, with the IP-NFT and our marketplace (Molecule Discovery) both being crucial components of this ecosystem. With the IP-NFT, researchers can submit and curate their research projects with Molecule Discovery in order to attract industry-specific funders. In turn, funding is provided through Molecule’s IP-NFT framework, where, as mentioned, intellectual property is attached to a non-fungible token (an NFT). This allows researchers to fundraise commercially. Moreover, with the IP-NFT framework, researchers don’t need to patent early, create a startup, or be dependent on cumbersome grant application processes, but can engage patients directly, promote open science by collaborating with other researchers, and collaborate on research tasks utilizing data access control. As a result, Molecule anticipates a new avenue on how scientific research can be incentivized to foster an asset-based funding scheme driven through BiotechDAO owned IP-NFTs to deviate from siloeing research outcomes.
Next to our Molecule Discovery platform we recently launched our bio.xyz initiative, a BiotechDAO launchpad to fund and support future builders in DeSci based on shared governance rights.
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We are pleased to announce that Molecule’s IP-NFT funding framework will facilitate critical preclinical work in Dr. Amit Sharma’s laboratory at the SRF Research Center to eliminate the accumulation of senescent cells in age-related diseases.
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