A DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization. They are organizations that exist on the internet and are run by computer code. They are not owned or controlled by any one person or organization. Instead, they are owned and operated by the people who use them. DAOs are transparent and decentralized, and they have the potential to be very efficient and effective.

How do DAOs work?

DAOs are powered by smart contracts. A smart contract is a piece of computer code that runs on a blockchain. It can automatically execute transactions and agreements between parties without the need for any trusted third party. This makes DAOs very efficient and eliminates the need for middlemen and trust.

DAOs are transparent because all of the transactions that take place within a DAO are recorded on the blockchain. This makes it easy for anyone to see what is happening inside a DAO.

DAOs are decentralized because they are not controlled by any one person or organization. Instead, they are controlled by the open-source code that runs them. This makes DAOs very resistant to corruption and censorship.

Benefits of DAOs

DAOs offer a number of advantages over traditional organizations:

  • DAOs are more efficient because they are powered by smart contracts. This eliminates the need for middlemen and makes transactions cheaper and faster.

  • DAOs are more transparent because all transactions are recorded on the blockchain. This makes it easy for anyone to see what is happening inside a DAO, from governance decisions to individual transactions.

  • DAOs are more censorship resistant because they are not controlled by any one person or organization. This makes it difficult for anyone to censor or shut down a DAO.

Risks of DAOs

DAOs are still a new technology and there are some risks associated with them:

  • DAOs are vulnerable to hacking. If a DAO is not properly secured, it could be hacked and the funds could be stolen.

  • DAOs could be used for illegal purposes. Because DAOs are decentralized and not prima facie subject to regulation, they could be used for illegal activities such as money laundering or drug trafficking.

  • DAOs could fail if the code that runs them is not well-written. If the code is not functioning properly, the DAO could malfunction and the funds could be lost.

  • DAOs aim to be decentralized, but its level of decentralization is contingent on its tokenomic design - the greater the governance tokens are concentrated with few individuals, the less decentralized the DAO is.


Biotechnology is the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by organisms, cells, parts thereof and molecular analogues to provide goods and services. The main aim of biotechnology is to produce products and services that have a positive impact on the environment and human health. For example, biotechnology is used to produce more sustainable fuels, develop new medicines and to create crops that are resistant to pests and disease.

The biotech industry is a broad category that includes companies that use living organisms to make products or provide services. The industry includes companies that develop and produce pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, genetically modified crops, and other products and can be broadly divided in the following sectors:

  • The pharmaceutical sector is the largest and most well-known part of the biotech industry. Pharmaceutical companies use biotechnology to develop and manufacture drugs. The first biotechnology-derived drug, insulin, was approved in 1982. Today, there are more than 200 biologic drugs on the market, including treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.

  • The diagnostics sector develops and manufactures products used to diagnose and treat diseases. Diagnostics products include blood tests, genetic tests, and imaging tests.

  • The crop sector develops and produces genetically modified crops. Genetically modified crops have been altered using genetic engineering to be resistant to herbicides or diseases, repel pests, and have improved growth or nutritional characteristics.

  • The industrial sector uses biotechnology to produce chemicals, enzymes, and other products. Industrial products include detergents, food additives, and biofuels.

Translational Drug Development

The development of new drugs is a long and complex process that often takes many years and costs billions of dollars. The process of translating a new drug from the laboratory to the clinic is known as translational drug development.

The first step in translational drug development is to identify a target molecule or pathway that is involved in the disease process. Once a target is identified, scientists work to develop a therapeutic candidate that can modulate the activity of the target. These therapeutic candidates are then tested in animal models to assess efficacy and safety. If the candidate is found to be safe and effective in animal models, it will then enter clinical trials in humans.

Drug Discovery

Early stage drug discovery is the process of identifying potential therapeutic candidates for further development. It is the first step in the long and costly process of bringing a new drug to market.

The process of early stage drug discovery begins with the identification of a disease or condition that can be treated with a drug. Once a target disease is identified, scientists screen large libraries of compounds in an effort to identify those that have the potential to treat the disease.

The screening process is often done using computer-based methods, as it is faster and more cost-effective than traditional high-throughput screening. However, the use of computers still is limited by the fact that compounds with promising profiles in in-silico screens turn out to be ineffective when tested in animal models or in clinical trials.

The goal of early stage drug discovery is to identify potential therapeutic candidates that have a high likelihood of success in further development. However, the process is fraught with risk, and many compounds that enter early stage drug discovery fail to make it through the development process (attrition rate) which contributes to the capital intensive development of new drug candidates.

Preclinical Drug Development

In the early stages of drug development, scientists conduct extensive preclinical research to determine whether a new drug is safe and effective. This research is critical to ensuring that new drugs are safe for humans before they are ever tested in clinical trials. Preclinical drug development is a complex and time-consuming process that can take many years to complete. During this process, scientists must carefully study the new drug’s effects on disease models (cells in culture) and model organisms. They also work to identify any potential negative side effects of the drug. This process is essential to the development of new treatments for diseases. Without preclinical research, it would be impossible to know whether a new drug is safe for humans. This research is also important for determining the appropriate dose of a new drug. Although preclinical drug development is a long and complex process, it is an essential part for the development of new and effective treatments for diseases. Once preclinical testing has been completed, an application to regulatory bodies must be filed prior to human trials of the treatment candidate (e.g. investigational new drug (IND) application to the FDA ).

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are typically conducted in three phases:

  • In Phase I trials, a small group of healthy volunteers is given the drug to assess its safety.

  • In Phase II trials, the drug is given to a larger group of patients to assess its efficacy at treating a disease.

  • Finally, in Phase III trials, the drug is given to an even larger group of patients to confirm its efficacy and safety. After a drug has successfully completed all three phases of clinical trials, it is then submitted to the respective regulatory body for market registration (e.g. FDA for approval via a new drug application (NDA)).

If the FDA approves the drug, it can then be marketed and prescribed to patients. The process of translational drug development is essential for the development of new and effective treatments for disease. However, it is also a long and costly process. In order to reduce the time and cost of translational drug development, public and private sector organizations are working to improve the efficiency of the process.


Biotechnology and pharma have been historically centralized in the form of large companies and organizations that lack incentives to work in open and collaborative ways. Put differently, pharma has a “closed source” culture. The decentralization trend is providing an alternative to centralized entities with power monopolies and shifting towards networks of collaborators co-existing in flat hierarchies.

Decentralized communities are powered by sharing pre-competitive resources within a community to achieve a common goal. They promote an open-source culture to their members and incentivize them to collaborate using token-based mechanisms.

Decentralized networks provide a trustless environment where data reconciliation is improved, points of weakness are reduced, and resource distribution is optimized at scale. In the context of biotech, this means creating new organizational structures that have a low barrier to entry (logging onto Discord, for example), are intrinsically collaborative and incentive aligned, and can coordinate capital and work from any participant (even the general public and patients). These features are emerging in the form of DAOs.

DAOs are relatively new smart contract-based entities that enable the coordination of capital, talent, and crowd intelligence at an unprecedented scale. Recently, a new decentralized science (DeSci) movement has been rapidly changing the way that coordination in science and biotech occurs by leveraging DAOs (see VitaDAO, PsyDAO, LabDAO), with Molecule increasingly positioned as a core infrastructure provider in the space.

The DeSci movement is currently forming as a talent pool for entrepreneurial researchers and leading thinkers in biotech innovation that are frustrated by the status quo, whether it relates to funding, coordination, collaboration or other systemic issues that affect young founders and academics in biotechnology. The NIH, for example, allocates just 2% of its funding to scientists under 36, and 98% to those 36 and older. This trend, amongst others, has led to enough frustration that several new organizational types, such as FROs and DAOs, have emerged with an intention to revolutionize the biotech funding landscape.

BioDAO Design

An appropriate starting point for a BioDAO is a clear vision and mission — what do these new, open organizational frameworks enable? BioDAOs can coordinate internet-native talent, enable decentralized fundraising and governance, or help create standardized methods of data collection and production, among other things. They can be philanthropic or for-profit. While BioDAOs have a limitless design space, their key innovation is their lack of gate-keeping and the use of technology to mediate decisions by large, mission-aligned patient communities.

One element that all BioDAOs have in common: they address a problem that has so far been unsolvable given the lack of incentive mechanisms for widespread collaboration in biotech.

To better understand this, we can take an example — VitaDAO, the first BioDAO incubated by Molecule. VitaDAO is focused on funding early-stage preclinical drug development in the context of longevity. When designing VitaDAO, Molecule’s goal was three-fold:

  1. Create a Schelling point and community building exercise at the intersection of longevity and Web3, enabling researchers and the public to gather and participate in research and funding.

  2. Fund cutting edge, high impact research out of academia, and help to translate this research into effective medicines

  3. Create a sustainable organization as a function of its commercial efforts, with proceeds from these efforts providing a continuous funding mechanism for longevity science.

The third point, “a sustainable organization as a function of its commercial efforts” requires that the DAO derives monetary value from its funding efforts. To do this, VitaDAO leverages Molecule’s IP-NFT framework, which allows the DAO to own, license, and transact in intellectual property generated from the projects it supports. VitaDAO works to fund and later commercialize early-stage research out of academia. The DAO owns the resulting IP from the projects it funds. For the first time, value is captured by large, decentralized communities of researchers and patients.

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