Rare Daily Staff
Vibe Biotechnology raised $12 million to advance a community-driven approach to identifying and developing treatments for rare diseases.
By leveraging a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Vibe Bio is building a global community of patients, scientists, and partners around a shared mission to cure rare diseases. The company’s novel approach seeks to scale the development of treatments sustainably and provides patient communities unprecedented ownership over the results.
Vibe Bio says its DAO will serve as an online coordination hub for its diverse stakeholders, connecting patient communities directly to investors, scientists, and other experts. Members will have the power to vote on which rare disease research proposals, as well as nominate specific diseases or candidate medicines, to pursue through its $VIBE governance cryptocurrency token. The proposals will each be vetted by scientists and financial experts.
“One in 10 Americans is living with a rare disease. For too many, the time it would take to develop a cure is longer than the time they have left to live,” said Alok Tayi, co-founder and CEO of Vibe Bio. “The challenge for rare diseases isn’t necessarily finding a treatment—it’s funding it. For the first time, Vibe Bio is giving patients with rare and overlooked diseases access to the funding and community support they need to develop cures and ownership over the results.”
Vibe Bio has already partnered with two patient advocacy organizations to launch and fund independent biotechnology companies to pursue promising therapeutics for rare and often fatal diseases. With Chelsea’s Hope, a patient advocacy organization dedicated to curing Lafora disease, which is a fatal form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy that presents in children and adolescents, Vibe Bio is launching New Hope Therapeutics. Vibe Bio has also partnered with NF2 Biosolutions, a patient advocacy organization accelerating gene therapy research for Neurofibromatosis Type 2, a disorder characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors in the nervous system, to launch Merlin Therapeutics. The intellectual property from the ventures will be owned by the independent biotechnology companies.
“Rare disease communities often feel as though they must figure out treatment options and navigate these diagnoses themselves,” said Lena Ismail, executive director of Chelsea’s Hope. “Vibe Bio promises we are not alone.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, rare diseases affect between 25 and 30 million, nearly one in 10 Americans. Half of all rare disease patients are children, and only 30 percent of those children will live to see their fifth birthday.
Tayi and co-founder Joshua Forman founded Vibe Bio after Tayi’s daughter was born with a disease that, while well understood, lacked therapeutic options for treatment. After spending a considerable amount of time in the NICU, Tayi worked to develop a different approach to developing therapeutics—one that taps new sources of capital from the cryptocurrency world and empowers the patients who would benefit most from new therapies.
Vibe Bio has raised $12 million in financing from some of the industry’s leading institutions and angel investors. Initialized Capital led the round with participation from Naval Ravikant, Balaji Srinivasan, 6th Man Ventures, Yvonne Hao, Enke Bashllari, Andy Coravos, Lerer Hippeau, Andy Palmer, and others. Unlike a traditional company, Vibe Bio’s assets and financing will be informed by its community and its governance token $VIBE, which will be launched later this year.
“Vibe Bio is building a new approach to drug development that is providing a lifeline and renewed hope for patients and their families,” said Parul Singh, partner at Initialized Capital.
Photo: Alok Tayi, co-founder and CEO of Vibe Bio