Calico and AbbVie Add $1 Billion to Anti-Aging Joint Venture

(Bloomberg) -- AbbVie Inc. and Google-backed Calico Life Sciences LLC will each add another $500 million into a research collaboration looking for new treatments for age-related diseases such as neurodegeneration and cancer.

The new money builds on the $1.5 billion the companies put into the effort in 2014. Under the collaboration, Calico heads up discovery-stage research and proof-of-concept work, with AbbVie taking the reins to bring new drugs through major clinical trials and commercialization. Calico was founded in 2013 with backing from Google, now known as Alphabet Inc.

“We all age,” said AbbVie Vice President of Global Discovery Jim Sullivan. “Understanding the biology of aging is going to provide incredibly important insights into diseases associated with aging.”

So far, the partnership has yielded more than two dozen different programs exploring aging and disease, the companies said.

The research has focused on three main areas. One line of inquiry is exploring the way individual cells receive stress, part of a search for new treatments for neurological disorders. Some of that research, Calico told Bloomberg, is in animal testing, and could be ready for clinical trials in just a few years. The company is exploring new ways to treat cancer, which grows more common as the body ages, and is also searching the human genome for insights into aging.

“If you think about risk factors for dementia, for example, the number one risk factor is aging,” said Sullivan.

Under the collaboration, both companies equally share costs and profits of the research. Along with the new funding, they’ll extend their collaboration by three years, with early research and development going through 2022.

“When we started this, we had 10 people working at Calico and we had no capability to do drug development,” said Bob Cohen, a fellow at Calico. “What AbbVie really gave us was a collaborator willing to help us build our capabilities. It made us credible.”

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