Back to top
Esha Bora, Heinrich Tessendorf
Feb 17, 2023

HairDAO: Breaking the 'Cosmetic Condition' Barrier and Unlocking New Funding Possibilities with IP-NFTs


Though hair loss is typically not the prime example people give for scientific research, it is still a condition that impacts nearly 60% of the global population. Outside of treating hair loss patients, hair loss research is also incredibly under-appreciated as a low-risk human model to understand how regulating various pathways may affect other organs in the human body, given that a hair follicle is essentially a mini organ. Niche research like early stage androgenic alopecia (hair loss) studies receive only about $5.4 million per year from all government agencies globally because of its classification as a “cosmetic condition.” Oftentimes, various studies of science like longevity or hair loss do not receive enough attention because they are not technically classified as “diseases.” These conditions, however, still impact human health in indirect ways as indicated by the high correlation between poor mental health and hair loss. 

HairDAO, a BioDAO that is currently a part of the accelerator, had their first IP-NFT transaction. For $75k, HairDAO will gain access to the initial data from Dr. Ralf Paus’ lab Cutaneon. Then, based on the results, HairDAO may opt to test combinations of T3/T4 thyroid hormone at different dosages for an additional $50k. Not only is this the first IP-NFT coming out of the pipeline, but HairDAO will also be the first BioDAO, other than VitaDAO, to be transacting an IP-NFT. 

On February 16th, the IP-NFT was officially minted and transacted! The etherscan transaction can be viewed here. As per custom, the transfer ceremony occurred with an insightful and exciting conversation between Dr. Paus of Cutanenon, HairDAO founders Andrew Verbinnen and Andrew Bakst, and Benji Leibowitz from Molecule. When asked about his experience of working with HairDAO and receiving funding through an IP-NFT, Dr. Paus expressed that “the approach that was taken was not only creative, it’s also necessary and democratic.” Despite decades of research experience using the traditional science model, Dr. Paus highlights the importance of using decentralized science technology to implement a “business model where the people who have a vested interest in the research should not only able to vote but should also somehow contribute to finding the money that propels the research - that kind of a model makes perfect sense.” Watch the replay for the transfer ceremony below:

One of Molecule’s big goals of funding through IP-NFTs is to target typically underinvested areas of science such as longevity or hair loss. These various fields of research impact a large population, but due to limited government funding, certain types of research and studies like clinical trials and cancer-related studies get prioritized in funding allocation. Unlike government funding models, BioDAOs allow for bottom-up rather than top-down funding. They aim to provide a solution for a group of people specifically wanting a solution to hair loss. 

"What's so cool about minting an IP-NFT in relationship to our research with Professor Paus, is that typically an IP asset like this would get lost in TTO databases, which are incredibly opaque. The IP-NFT makes it easy for any aspiring biotech entrepreneur to purchase IP as easily as they would buy a product on Amazon. That means more biotech spinouts, which means more scientific innovation." - Andrew Verbinnen

Through the accelerator, Molecule hopes to build communities of researchers, doctors, and patients to fund and govern niche research areas. The combination of BioDAOs and IP-NFTs enable development of therapeutics in various fields that currently remain unexplored. 

In this particular case with HairDAO’s new IP-NFT, co-founder of HairDAO Andrew Bakst says that blockchain technology, the IP-NFT, enabled “significant efficiency improvements from the wisdom of the crowd provided by the patient-research community.” Even from the perspective of a researcher with a traditional science background, Dr. Paus expresses that this was the “first time ever that [he] had one of his research proposals meticulously scrutinized, publicly vetted, and commented on by a web community of hair aficionados, whose depth of knowledge and understanding of the field [took him by surprise].” 

HairDAO was founded in November 2021 and has already reached the stage of funding its first research project. For this first IP-NFT, voting took place over Discord where there was overwhelming support with 94 ‘yes’ and 2 ‘no’. Another huge stride in the HairDAO roadmap is that they are planning to launch a token ($HAIR) very soon! Using Gnosis Auction, the token will launch on February 23rd and the sale will last for five days. The $HAIR token will enable proportional voting rights over governance, operations, and investment decisions - similar to the model that VitaDAO currently follows. 

HairDAO has a lot more planned such as collecting genomic data for treatment effectiveness predictions as well as selling treatments to the community to use the profits to fund R&D into long-term solutions. There are a lot of big benchmarks to look forward to in the HairDAO community! If you are a hair loss researcher, patient, or are generally interested in contributing to the community, join the HairDAO Discord here!

If you're interested in enabling research funding communities and securing IP rights, join the Molecule Discord and talk to us!

For IP-NFT explorers, BioDAO founders and researchers:

Apply for a mintpass here. Having a mintpass means you will get access to our closed beta and you’ll be one of the first people ever to mint your own IP-NFT!