My parents shared the grim news. Our dear friends’ new grandchild was born with a rare disease. The family urgently sought a contact at a pharmaceutical company that had developed a treatment, but had decided not to bring it to market. Our friends were petitioning to have a compassionate use exception granted. In essence, they were begging to save the life of their grandchild.
This story is heartbreaking, but not unusual among loved ones of the 25 million Americans with rare diseases.
Rare disease is lonely – often not talked about, but devastating in impact. Many conditions are chronic, worsening over time, and ultimately life-threatening. Half of these patients are children.
At its heart, Vibe is trying to solve the market failure embedded in the story above.
Although rare disease markets are cumulatively large, taken individually they are damningly fragmented. Like venture capital, pharmaceutical funding heat-seeks towards blockbuster wins, usually gated by total addressable market (TAM).
Although rare diseases impact so many, capacity-constrained biotech and pharma companies have to prioritize which diseases to tackle. Like venture capital, the industry naturally pursues the largest existing markets and is forced to deprioritize the balance.
This is unfortunate for the 7,000 rare diseases, which by definition will never qualify (rare diseases affect fewer than 200,000 patients). Patients deserve a better model for drug development and funding.
Vibe Bio is uniquely solving this problem through cryptocurrency tokens. Through its token, Vibe is able to raise funds and empower patients and scientists to direct those resources to the highest potential drug programs.
Vibe’s token will serve like an index fund for the most promising treatment assets its partner patient communities can find. Vibe will fund, co-develop, and co-own these assets with them.
Instead of requiring that every drug be a blockbuster, Vibe’s tokenonomic model posits that one or some of these assets will be “winners”, a portfolio approach pioneered by portfolio-driven pharma companies like Roivant and BioBridge.
Because of their smaller patient footprints, rare diseases benefit from a different human capital model for successful commercialization.
Vibrant patient communities already exist and contribute human capital and resources for promising treatments. Vibe taps those communities to bring treatments to market, from researchers volunteering their time for scientific diligence to patient communities powering clinical trial recruitment. Vibe contributes expertise and a novel fundraising approach, more effective than holding bake sales or relying on the generosity of billionaires to save the day. A fantastic model for this is the multi-billion dollar partnership between the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Vertex Therapeutics.
Our investments across healthcare, web3, and DAO projects – like AllianceDAO – drove our excitement about the opportunity to apply the DAO model here. Vibe will split the tokens and asset ownership with those patients involved as well as highly incentivizing patient communities, giving them a voice in development and clinical trials.
The team behind Vibe Bio – Alok Tayi and Josh Forman – are serial entrepreneurs with multiple exits who have a clear vision for curing rare disease and empowering patient communities. It’s personal for each of them and for everyone involved with Vibe. I first met Alok years ago when he was founder and CEO of TetraScience, a data and collaboration platform for biopharma and life sciences. Josh’s years of software product leadership and his dive into computational biology and medical devices are a rare combination and perfectly complement Alok’s background.
This isn’t just personal to Alok, Josh, and the team, though. It’s personal to those who will participate in the DAO, many of us patients, family members, friends, scientists, and investors. Each of us knows the despair of being told that there’s no treatment available. In fact, only 5% of the 7,000 rare diseases currently has a treatment. Vibe is building a platform devoted to creating a cure for every disease. We’re extremely thankful to be able to support this mission.