VitaDAO Closes $4.1M Funding Round With Pfizer Ventures for Longevity Research
The decentralized autonomous organization told CoinDesk that crypto enthusiasts, including Vitalik Buterin, have long been interested in funding research to extend human life.
VitaDAO was started in 2021 by Tyler Golato of decentralized biotech protocol Molecule to fund longevity research. According to the organization, it boasts a community of over 9,000 "enthusiasts, researchers and contributors," and deployed over $3.5 million to projects researching diseases of aging, cellular biology and repairing age-related damage to the body in 2022.
The latest funding round includes pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Ventures; venture fund Shine Capital; investment group L1 Digital; decentralized science organizations BeakerDAO and Spaceship DAO; and longevity enthusiasts including former Coinbase Chief Technology Officer Balaji Srinivasan and Retro Biosciences' Joe Betts-LaCroix. Previous investors include Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.
According to VitaDAO, Pfizer is the first pharmaceutical company to vote on DAO proposals and participate in the incubation and commercialization of VitaDAO projects.
Proceeds from the latest round will go toward funding longevity research projects and building out VitaDAO's first biotech startup, slated to be announced in the first quarter of 2023. In addition, the group plans to invest further in the "commercialization and licensing" of its non-fungible token (NFT) intellectual property (IP) through its partnership with Molecule.
VitaDAO's deal flow steward Laurence Ion said that several projects funded by VitaDAO have moved to the next stages of development, including clinical trials with Mantis Photonics, which seeks to diagnose Alzheimer's Disease through retinal imaging.
"There's a move away in medicine to solve the symptoms of aging," said Todd White, operations steward at VitaDAO. "There's a lot of discussion around 'is aging a disease?' A lot of people are of the mindset now that aging and a lot of the diseases of aging ... can actually be resolved."
The group is governed by its native VITA token and holders can vote on what projects to support, while a group of "stewards" helps to "facilitate" the execution of those proposals, said White.
Ion told CoinDesk that with its democratic governance structure, the group aims to move beyond physical locations and is thinking about "a potential future sovereignty network."
"I think we need a new paradigm," he said. "We want to be a community as big as some countries and as resourceful as some countries."
Crypto enthusiasts have long been into longevity science and delaying human aging. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong funded a company called NewLimit in December 2021 to "cure aging," while former Ripple chief technology officer and current Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb founded the Astera Institute to fund longevity studies.
White said the overlap between the crypto industry and the longevity research field is no coincidence. "If you think about how crypto started, it was about breaking down barriers and fixing a system that they perceived as broken. Well, the same applies in longevity."
"There's a lot more innovation and a lot more enthusiasm to try new things coming from the crypto community," he added.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.