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Heinrich Tessendorf
Aug 2, 2022

Molecule’s first IP-NFT for drug discovery R&D in the United States


Today we’re excited to announce Molecule’s IP-NFT funding paradigm has crossed the ocean to support age-related oral health research on novel mTOR/NFkB/PI3K inhibitors at the University of Washington in Seattle.

This is the first time that Molecule’s IP-NFT is being used to fund drug discovery research based in the US. Watch the transfer ceremony with Dr. An below or here:

Dr. An’s research interests lie at the intersection of Geroscience (aging biology) and Oral Biology. His primary research focuses on understanding the basic biological mechanisms of aging in the context of oral health and disease. Chronic, subclinical dental inflammation may be a  driver of systemic inflammation and especially cardiovascular disease risk, due to the lymphatic connections between the heart and mouth. This field is largely neglected by the pharmaceutical industry. 

As a practicing dentist, Dr. An experiences a lack of mechanistic understanding of why older people are more susceptible to oral disease and oral health decline on a daily basis. Dr. An’s laboratory targets specific hallmarks of aging in the oral cavity to translate these discoveries into the clinic. Dr. An is currently an Assistant Professor of Oral Health Sciences and Faculty in the Healthy Aging and Longevity Institute. He also serves as the Assistant Graduate Program Director of Oral Health Sciences. Dr. An currently directs courses in the departments of Oral Health Sciences and the Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology.

Periodontal disease (periodontitis) is a worldwide burden that affects over 70% of older adults. It reduces oral health-related quality of life, impacts systemic health, and an often-neglected age-related disease for which there is no cure. Consequently, the research of Jonathan An’s laboratory at the University of Washington focuses on the intersection between biological mechanisms of aging and the accompanied onset of common age-related oral health conditions, with a special emphasis on periodontitis. 

The IP-NFT Artwork by UltraRare

A major neglect in all current standard therapy and research of periodontitis is the impact of a low-grade, chronic inflammation without overt infection known as “inflammaging”. By evaluating pathways that target “inflammaging”, Jonathan An’s team recently demonstrated that modulating the PI3K/NFkB/mTOR cellular signalling axis with an immunosuppressive and antiproliferative mTOR inhibitor rejuvenated oral health and reversed periodontal disease in an age-related periodontitis animal model. In the project funded here, An’s research group plans to ultimately translate an additional set of drug candidates with already well defined characteristics and a proven effect to interfere with the inflammatory response triggered by the PI3K/NFkB/mTOR into the first medical, non-surgical treatment for age-related periodontitis.

“Current therapies are limited to treating the symptoms and fail to address the underlying cellular and molecular causes of oral disease and decline in older adults, which we hypothesize are a direct consequence of biological aging. Targeting such processes may introduce novel strategies to prevent the onset, the progression, or even reverse age-related oral decline and disease ” - Jonathan An

You can learn more about the research proposal on Molecule’s project page or on the VitaDAO governance site

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