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Ella McCarthy-Page
Aug 1, 2023

AthenaDAO: Demystifying the ‘Biological Clock’ & Menopause with IP-NFTs


In a promising step for all women, AthenaDAO has committed $120K to Dr Mario Cordero’s work in ovarian aging. By funding overlooked research areas, AthenaDAO pushes the needle of women’s health forward, inviting all to contribute.

As the world changes, many people are choosing to have children later in life. While the term ‘biological clock’ gets thrown around loosely, the reality is that very few people are educated about or prepared for the fertility issues that can ensue.  

Ovarian aging is a multi-step process, culminating in menopause, and a complete inability to bear children. The trait is governed by several factors including age, genetics, lifestyle, health conditions, medical treatments, and weight - simply put, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. Countless women are sent home from fertility doctors with deep emotional, physical and financial wounds, but no answers as to why they are struggling to fall pregnant. AthenaDAO exists to advocate for all those impacted by reproductive decline (among other things) and is vivaciously pursuing solutions.

Estimates suggest that one in six people experience fertility issues during their lifetime. Dr Mario Cordero and his wife formed part of this number; after suffering problems in conceiving due to ovarian aging the two had to turn to fertility treatments. Their story ended happily with a beautiful daughter named Martina, but the experience roused something in Mario, leading him to dedicate his life to the field of ovarian aging. Having been at the final stages of the fertility treatment pipeline, Mario understands that the work done in a laboratory needs to be able to be transported out of a petri dish and to patients, in order for it to make a recognisable impact in peoples’ lives. It is this sentiment that rang true to AthenaDAO, which primarily focuses on funding translational research to improve the female experience. AthenaDAO has dedicated $120 000 to Mario and his work with Pablo de Olavide University to combat ovarian aging. 

Dr Mario Cordero in his lab in Seville, Spain

The Role of Inflammation in Ovarian Aging

Chronic inflammation is hugely detrimental to our health. In fact, it is one of the infamous and well-recognized ‘Hallmarks of Aging’ which detail the primary risk factors that result in a bodily decline. Unsurprisingly, inflammation in the ovaries is dangerous yet frequently overlooked. It is a cause of a Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR), which renders women infertile. 

As a recognized expert in the field of inflammation in reproductive longevity, the funding from AthenaDAO will allow Mario to tackle the root of inflammation responsible for a diminishing ovarian reserve, via the inhibition of the cGAS-STING pathway. Using state-of-the-art animal models and having access to patient tissue samples, Mario's research group is exceptionally positioned to develop novel inhibitors as a tailor-made treatment opportunity for women in need. As Laura Minquini, Core Lead of AthenaDAO says; “If you understand the pathways of ovarian aging, you have the potential to treat them.” 

Mario brings with him a history of excellence; he has published 90 articles, 8 book chapters, 2 books, 5 patents, and has been cited more than 8993 times. 

Utilizing Blockchain for Progress

AthenaDAO has a keen focus on funding translational research that will generate novel intellectual property, which is why this particular project was appealing. Mario has clear, well-structured endpoints with a thorough consideration of how his research will be translated in the future. By utilizing Molecule’s technology, AthenaDAO has been able to bind the intellectual property, underlying data, and economics into one programmable, transactable, digital unit - an IP-NFT. This creates an immutable history of the project as time goes by, and a mechanism that allows participants to directly govern the IP produced by Mario’s project, and future projects. 

It’s totally new for me but [I’m] really happy because I see it as an enriched experience. The project is going step-by-step because I have comments from the reviewers which help improve the proposal. We all want the same; to get future treatments to help people.
Dr Mario Cordero

The IP-NFT Artwork

AthenaDAO commissioned Hanna Salmonowicz to create the sculpture for their landmark  Reproductive Health Report. They decided that given the strength of the piece and because of narrative it made sense to the artwork for their first  IP-NFT. Hanna is both an artist and an aging scientist - a perfect fit for the project. Inspired by oocytes, Hanna used small handmade plasticine shapes and beads to form the sculpture.

Ready, set, whitelist! 

AthenaDAO’s scope extends far beyond fertility. By investing in commonly overlooked research areas, they are creating forward momentum in women’s health issues. If you want to be a part of their mission, get whitelisted for their upcoming ATH token sale. 

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