Google's project to 'cure death,' Calico, announces $1.5 billion research center
The Google-backed life-extension company, Calico, announced today that it was partnering with Chicago-based pharmaceutical giant AbbVie to develop and bring to market new drugs targeting diseases associated with old age. Each partner has committed to providing $250 million in funding with the option to each add another $500 million to the project. The money will be used to create a new research center in San Francisco, where Calico will hire a team of researchers to discover new drugs and guide early development. AbbVie will focus more on the clinical trials, late-stage development, and bringing promising new drugs to market.
"Our relationship with AbbVie is a pivotal event for Calico, whose mission is to develop life-enhancing therapies for people with age-related diseases. It will greatly accelerate our efforts to understand the science of aging, advance our clinical work, and help bring important therapies to patients everywhere," said Art Levinson, CEO and founder of Calico, and the former chairman and CEO of Genentech.
Remember, Google introduced Calico to the world with the bold ambition of "curing death." CEO Larry Page, Google Ventures head honcho Bill Maris, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who Google hired as its director of engineering, have all expressed a deep interest in radical life extension and the Singularity. Up until today we haven't had a lot of detail about how Calico would pursue that goal. Page had told Time, "One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy. We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think."
Viewed in that light this new drug-development partnership, while ambitious and admirable, is decidedly less futuristic than what Google had previously been suggesting it would pursue.
"Our relationship with AbbVie is a pivotal event for Calico, whose mission is to develop life-enhancing therapies for people with age-related diseases. It will greatly accelerate our efforts to understand the science of aging, advance our clinical work, and help bring important therapies to patients everywhere," said .
"THERE ARE MANY, MANY TRAGIC CASES OF CANCER, AND IT’S VERY, VERY SAD, BUT IN THE AGGREGATE, IT’S NOT AS BIG AN ADVANCE AS YOU MIGHT THINK."