I am inspired by builders who apply web3 in ways that disrupt legacy systems by empowering community contributors. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are prime candidates for reimagination with DeSci (science through web3 primitives) being the catalyst. The biggest breakthroughs in science all start with an idea that becomes so compelling that it turns into research.
When does an idea actually come to life? Maybe it’s the nanosecond after synapses fire generating a random combination of previous thoughts and new ingredients. Perhaps, it takes a little longer. Occasionally, even the best ideas are returned to their inception as rapid electrical signals leaked into the ether. More importantly, at what point does that idea generate value?
Some ideas are seeds that need energy and fuel to mature into their full potential, while a very small amount are immediately scalable all by themselves. Even the early seeds can have real value, especially if they are given access to energy and fuel. web3 is providing that access through projects like Molecule.
What is Molecule?
Molecule is a decentralized biotech protocol that connects academics and biotech companies with funding, while enabling patient, researcher, and investor communities to directly govern and own research-related IP.
Have you ever wondered about how pharmaceuticals come to market? From a very high level, it starts with a promising researcher who receives a grant from an organization like National Institute of Health (NIH) to expand on their initial research. The researcher we speak of is usually employed by a university, where the research leads to a discovery and moves toward a patent held by the Technology Transfer Office (TTO). Outside of the academic realm, pharmaceutical companies search for patents held by TTOs that meet their profitability and business targets.
A pharmaceutical company identifies the researcher’s work and secures a license for the patent with the TTO to begin development on the medicine. One of the challenges with this model is that groundbreaking research with the potential to save lives could be shelved if the addressable market is less than what is needed for the pharmaceutical company to make the investment.
Imagine finding research that could help a condition one of your family members has suffered from for years. Now, consider that same research is run through a financial model that pharmaceutical companies use to make investment decisions, and it doesn’t meet the criteria for investment due to lack of addressable market. For you and your family, the solution is there but the means to execute is not. In the existing model, the research would likely not be used to develop a drug.
Value can be subjective, and it is usually tied to someone or something assigning that value. In the realm of venture capital and public markets, ideas become compelling with patents or demonstrable sales. The potential is clearly identified, and the risk of any investment is somewhat mitigated. What if value could be captured earlier in the process? How could that captured value help reinvent the process of drug development? Could a form of distributed and decentralized innovation be applied to some of healthcare’s biggest challenges? Molecule would seem to think so.
Molecule’s Protocol Stack
Molecule’s Protocol Stack enables the pre-patent capture of value for research, while connecting it to sources of funding and communities of stakeholders.
IPNFT – It captures value of a promising idea in the gap between research and patent or product. IPNFTs incorporate a smart contract and an IP license in one toolset.
MOLECULE Discovery – A platform where researchers can create a project showcasing the details of their research, milestones and the funding required per milestone.
MOLECULE Finance – Using DAO structures and DeFi, members can choose to resource promising projects and share in the ownership of the IPNFT.
Molecule, powered by a desire for positive disruption and web3 technology, is breaking down the barriers to medical innovation that could change lives. With this model, a group of people dealing with a similar illness could come together and put their energy toward finding a cure.
In the past, all they could have done was raise money for non-profits related to their illness, while many illnesses don’t even have a non-profit to fund. In this case, patients now have access to the pharmaceutical pipeline and the ability to support solutions to specific ailments and diseases. By organizing as a DAO, this community could potentially become the vehicle that powers the cure. Their DAO could identify a research project on the Molecule platform and decide to acquire the IPNFT tied to the research.
As an example, VitaDAO (DAO focused on longevity) has a community of thousands of members including researchers and scientists. By purchasing the $VITA token, members can vote on proposals while helping fund the DAO treasury for projects related to longevity.
Now, instead of the University TTO licensing a patent to a pharmaceutical company, the DAO can participate and even streamline the development of a solution. Even more, the DAO could offer those same people the opportunity to pool their data to share with the research teams. With web3, access to that data could show actual returns to the individual provider.
The first project for Molecule involved “Longevity Molecule” research that was initiated by Scheibye-Knudson Lab out of the University of Copenhagen. The IPNFT for this research was purchased by VitaDAO.
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