The potential of web3 is not in copying/pasting web2 use cases, but in the way it empowers individuals and communities to come together and solve significant challenges, as Vibe Bio is doing using web3 primitives, for its funding of treatments for rare diseases.
If you’ve been paying attention to crypto Twitter over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of noise around viable web3 use cases. While this isn’t a new topic, it’s picked up momentum recently. It all started with a conversation on Logan Bartlett’s podcast Cartoon Avatars between Packy McCormick and Zach Weinberg on the merits of web3 and the underlying, yet still nascent, use cases of the technology.
Check out the exchange below for more (apologies for resurrecting this, Packy!)
Yesterday @packyM was asked to explain a Web3 use case.— Liron Shapira (@liron) June 4, 2022
I clipped this gem from 8:40 of @loganbartlett‘s latest @cartoonavatars podcast episode with co-host @zachweinberg.
Highly recommended… pic.twitter.com/x8Vdy1xb6o
Having listened to the episode, it’s clear that Zach came prepared and ready to fight, while Packy, let’s say, could have done a bit more homework. To be fair, Packy did reference a much more serious situation that warranted his attention.
Both Zach and Packy are well accomplished and super intelligent. Zach has sold two businesses, including Flatiron Health to Roche for ~$2b, and Packy is one of the most trusted and talented web3 writers and strategists out there. Although the sound bytes and clips floating around may lead you to think otherwise, it was a fun and engaging dialog.
The conversation forced those who believe in the promise of web3, like me, to take a step back and answer the question – “what are the fundamental use cases of web3 that will drive incremental value?”
It’s a question that has plagued web3 technology and crypto movement for some time.
To date, the narrative has been driven by speculators, which has led to both spectacular booms and recently, busts. Arguments have been made that web3 is just a copy/paste version of web2 with a blockchain. I don’t believe that argument, but I understand it.
Outside of Defi, and some traction in gaming with “play-to-earn,” mass adoption and clear, viable use cases for web3 that answer the incremental value question are still outstanding.
Or, just, maybe that’s about to change.
Enter – Vibe Bio
Last week, VIbe Bio came out of stealth and announced that they had raised $12mm “to advance its community-driven approach to identifying and developing treatments for rare diseases. By leveraging a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Vibe Bio builds a global community of patients, scientists, and partners around a shared mission to cure rare diseases.”
As the company’s co-founder and CEO, Alok Tayi, Ph.D., stated in the press release:
“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. 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 Co-founder and CEO, Alok Tayi, Ph.D
The mission of Vibe Bio is to research, fund, and commercialize promising treatments for rare diseases that in today’s world would often go unfunded. The way they will fund treatment is novel as well, and utilizing the tools developed in web3, like DAOs and tokens.
The Vibe Bio DAO will fund treatments using its $VIBE native token. The token will be used to govern decisions on which treatments should be funded, and to incentivize the community of scientists, patients, and other stakeholders to drive progress on solving the problem of rare diseases.
Ladies and gentlemen, we may have found our answer. It lies in community and alignment of incentives, both of which are at the core of web3.
How it works
Vibe Bio is using web3 primitives to solve the problem of funding research and treatments of rare diseases in the following ways:
- Community: For those that have spent time in web3 and crypto understand that the idea of community is central. Vibe Bio is no different. Utilizing the DAO model, they bring $VIBE token holders, which are groups of scientists and patients together. This allows for collaboration from both stakeholders, which drives progress forward.
- Propose: Token holders or members of the community can propose promising treatments, which are then evaluated on both their clinical efficacy and financial viability. This proposal process naturally allows for diverse voices to be heard, and opinions are taken into account to surface the best treatments.
- Develop: Using the sales of the $VIBE token, development work for approved treatments is funded. This includes all of the traditional steps of drug development, such as clinical trials, pre-clinical development, and manufacturing.
- Sustain: This is when things start to get interesting. If the treatment is licensed or commercialized by a 3rd party, the Vibe Bio DAO will share in the proceeds that can fund future projects.
And, so the flywheel spins.
Show me the incentives…
According to a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, based on data from 47 pharmaceutical companies, the median investment to bring a drug or therapeutic treatment to market was an astronomical $985mm. It’s no wonder then that only the most promising treatments are funded.
The pharma business is one with significant fixed, but low marginal costs. The incentive of pharmaceutical companies is to fund treatments that have the highest economic upside. Once a homerun treatment is funded, developed, approved, and commercialized, it behooves the maker to extract all the value it can from that treatment.
This means that there is an inherent opportunity cost built into the system. Potentially promising new treatments, but with lower patient populations often go unfunded – the economic incentive is just not there. That leaves many potentially breakthrough treatments left on the table.
Vibe Bio by leveraging the DAO model is giving a voice to patients and incentivizing scientists to tackle and research treatments they may not have otherwise. By removing the financial pressure of funding, they are incentivized to focus on cures rather than chasing profits.
We are still so early…
The development of life-saving drugs and therapeutics is expensive, lengthy, and challenging. The rate of failure is incredibly high at an estimated 90%. Companies like Vibe Bio are likely not to change that fact. It would be naive to think otherwise.
However, what Vibe Bio will do is drive funding, and with that, hope for the 1 in 10 Americans that struggle with a rare disease. Hope to patients like the co-founder’s daughter who is one of those Americans desperate for new treatment options to find a cure for their ailment.
There are still lingering questions about how much traction Vibe Bio will obtain, given that the overwhelming majority of patients and scientists are very much used to a web2 world. Funding new treatments is incredibly costly and involve significant infrastructure and partnerships. How that all plays out is still to be determined – but that’s beside the point.
Perhaps the question of what value web3 tools and technology will create is at the individual level driven by communities coming together to solve a real problem like Vibe Bio is doing. The way Vibe Bio does that is by leveraging novel tools that reduce friction and align incentives for all stakeholders. That is at the core of web3, and it just may save a few lives in the process.