Calico Life Sciences Partners with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging

This sort of notice should be expected given that the leadership at Google's Calico venture shows all the signs of intending to set up a very broad research infrastructure for the development of drugs to modestly slow aging. Sooner or later they are going to partner with all of the major laboratories and research groups in the field that share the same interests. This latest news is missing any interesting details on which technologies they might be interested in, but that is par for the course. I point it out to play the connections game in this small research community, noting that the SENS Research Foundation also partners with the Buck Institute on, for example, senescent cell clearance research. Near everything else the Institute does is of little relevance to the SENS approach to development of rejuvenation biotechnology, however - it is more in line with the mainstream approach of manipulation of the operation of metabolism so as to slow aging. This is slowing the accumulation of damage, not trying to repair that damage, and will probably be more challenging and produce far less impressive results.

The future for SENS-like rejuvenation therapies such as senescent cell clearance is to step by step take over the mainstream by consistently producing much better results at much lower costs at each stage of the early development process. So far this is the way things are going for senescent cell clearance, but there are a lot of other technologies making up the rejuvenation toolkit of the future that remain far from that stage of progress.

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato announced Tuesday that it has entered into a partnership agreement with Calico Life Sciences, a Google-backed life extension company based in South San Francisco. Chris Stewart, chairman and CEO of the North Bay Life Science Alliance, an effort to develop the North Bay into an economic hub for life-science companies, said, "We're very excited. You're seeing for the first time a significant amount of private sector money going into research on aging. I think it is a good marriage between the two organizations."

In September 2014, Calico announced it had entered into a five-year joint venture with AbbVie, a Chicago-based pharmaceutical company, to develop treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's. Both Calico and AbbVie committed to investing $250 million initially with the option to each add another $500 million at an unspecified later date. Since then, Calico has entered into partnership agreements with five different research laboratories, including the Buck Institute, but it has kept the financial terms of those agreements and most other details secret. Stewart said more and more pharmaceutical companies are "outsourcing their research and development by going to universities or institutes like the Buck Institute and partnering with them. Rather than buying companies, Calico is doing some strategic partnerships."

Announcing the deal with the Buck Institute, Calico's president of research and development, Hal Barron, said in a press release, "Given the Buck's exclusive focus on aging, we believe that there's great potential to increase our understanding of the biology of aging and to accelerate the translation of emerging insights into therapies to help patients with age-related diseases." Aside from that, Calico declined all comment. The only details supplied in the press release were that Calico will have the option to obtain exclusive rights to discoveries made under research it supports at the Buck Institute and will establish and maintain "certain" science operations there. One possible reason for Calico's reticence is that it hasn't decided on what areas of age-related illness it wants to focus, and it doesn't want to tip its hand to competitors.



I think this is relatively good news. I know most people here like the SENS method, myself included, but even things that come out of Calico and their partnerships should still be beneficial in helping people make it until the full rejuvenation toolkit is available. It's not generally what we're looking for here, but if they can produce something to slow down aging a bit, it will still ultimately be helpful and buy more time. I suspect in the beginning, treatments will be a mix of the two approaches.

Posted by: Ham at April 29th, 2015 9:51 AM

At least the money is out there (even if some think it is just part of a cynical google PR campaign to draw attention from their ever so slightly grubby ads business and tax dodges). Now to get it flowing in the right direction.

What would be a massive downer is if the senescent cells part of the Buck Institute (basically Judith Campisi and minions) gets no real funding boost, despite their being promising drugs/treatments out their that work in mice (and Judith Campisi being given the Olav Thon Foundation prize recently).

Posted by: Jim at April 29th, 2015 7:53 PM

I'd like to think they'd get a boost in funding regarding the recent news with those senolytics, even though that came from Scripps. Senescent cell clearance (in my opinion at least) will probably be the first treatment to roll out.

Posted by: Ham at April 29th, 2015 9:02 PM

agree with the above two posters it is still good news and money being put into aging research and the idea that it can be intervened in into the publics mind. Still a form of advocacy IMO and very much a positive step. Yes Google will continue to network and source LE strategies from various institutions but it will also mean increased funding for the vital research needed.

Regardless of if you think manipulating metabolism is the way forward it can and has rejuvenated tissue. Gene therapy is also another area I believe will be of benefit to aging reversal/repair strategies too. I view this news is being generally positive.

Posted by: Steve H at April 30th, 2015 1:53 AM
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