AbbVie and Calico target diseases of ageing

AbbVie and Calico, a company backed by Google, have confirmed a commitment to jointly invest up to $1.5 billion to research cures for diseases of ageing, including cancer and neurodegeneration.

Initial investments of $250 million each will establish Calico research facilities in the San Francisco Bay area of the US, where the partners will collaborate on discovery and development of new medicines.

In the first five years, Calico will be responsible for research and early development and commit to take promising candidates through phase IIa for a further 10 years. In turn, AbbVie will support Calico in its early R&D efforts, with the option to manage late-stage development and commercial activities following completion of the phase IIa trials.

Both parties will share costs and any profits equally.

A year ago, Google set up Calico, led by former Genentech leading lights Arthur Levinson and Hal Barron, to research life-threatening diseases and problems affecting mental and physical agility due to ageing. At the time Google CEO Larry Page reassured shareholders about the move, stating: “There’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives. So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.

“Illness and ageing affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”

Speaking about the collaboration with AbbVie, Art Levinson called it a “pivotal event for Calico”, which, he said, would greatly accelerate efforts to bring drugs to market in the field of age-related diseases.

The deal with Calico further broadens the reach of AbbVie, which has been heavily reliant on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira and is looking for new therapeutic areas to research. It is developing drugs for arthritis, hepatitis C, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and its purchase of Shire in July has also brought it into the rare diseases market.

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Google sets up new healthcare company

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