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by Patrick Mayr

We continue to be excited by DAOs as a vehicle to channel resources to areas that are underfunded by our current institutions.

This is the objective for a subset of DAOs in DeSci known as Bio DAOs. They direct both financial and human capital to underfunded or overlooked scientific fields including longevity, women’s health and psychedelics.

HairDAO is a Bio DAO focused on hair loss, a condition that affects the majority of men and a considerable share of women in their lifetime. In addition to physical symptoms, hair loss can also lead to mental illness such as depression. In spite of this, countries such as the U.S. have not classified the overwhelming culprit of hair loss, androgenic alopecia (AGA), as a disease. This diminishes the amount of federal funding directed to the field and slows innovation as exemplified by the fact that the last hair loss treatment for AGA, Finasteride, was brought to market in 1997.

HairDAO is a community-led alternative that can fill the void created by our current institutions in a bid to better fund and develop new hair loss treatments. It’s an open organisation that lives entirely online consisting of patients, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors. Anybody with a computer and an Internet connection can join by either purchasing or earning its native token, $HAIR.

One of the main activities of HairDAO is investing in and developing IP. A few months ago it made its first investment, by co-ideating and then acquiring the IP of a particular study led by Dr. Ralf Paus, one of the world’s leading hair loss researchers. Going forward, the DAO can aid in developing the IP in a variety of different ways. Patients can self experiment and report their findings for any new treatment based on the research, investors can provide further financing if needed and the entire community can act as a marketing and distribution channel.

We think that the tight coupling of patients, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors that are all incentivised in the same way—maximising the value of $HAIR—can accelerate the rate of scientific progress.

The direct collaboration between researchers and patients has historically demonstrated that it can lead to big breakthroughs. The polio vaccine and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation both emerged from the collaboration of researchers and patients. HairDAO goes one step further by adding economic incentives. If patients participate in research, not only do they potentially get a treatment, but they also participate in the potential economic upside of that treatment.

HairDAO was started by two high school friends, Andrew Verbinnen and Andrew Bakst, who both have first-hand experiences dealing with hair loss. After becoming enamoured with crypto a few years back, the two decided to marry their interests in this new technology and hair loss with the thesis that the former could help provide a solution to solve the latter. We’re excited to participate in HairDAO’s $2.96m funding round and support the Andrews on their mission.

The capital we are investing will enable HairDAO to grow its community and further invest into and develop IP. By simultaneously capturing the demand side, through its growing patient community, and the supply side, by building a valuable portfolio of IP, HairDAO’s long term ambition is to become the first vertically integrated pharmaceuticals company.