When the founders of global search leviathan Google ($GOOG) stepped up recently to provide a few tidbits of information about their new biotech startup Calico, industry execs eagerly soaked up as much information on it as they could find--which wasn't much. About all anyone knew was that Google CEO Larry Page wanted to think big about the aging process, rather than focus on new drugs for diseases like cancer, and that biotech legend Art Levinson would be running the show while Page and Serge Brin stuck with their day jobs.
Fortune's Dan Primack, though, has been sleuthing about Silicon Valley and adds a few key pieces to the puzzle.
Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris, who's been orchestrating a few high-profile investments in the biotech industry, is described as the corporate godfather of this endeavor. According to Primack, his explorations in the biopharma world led him to conclude that there are a lot of companies focused on diseases, but virtually no one trying to target the cellular degradation involved in aging, which is what causes many diseases and ultimately the death of us all.
With all the genetic sequencing tech available today, Maris believes that it's possible to discover the seemingly magic genetic formula that makes some 90-year-olds vigorous and healthy, while so many people either never get that far or only manage to do so in terrible health. And while Maris has been making the rounds raising cash, Fortune reports that Google corporate is content to invest "hundreds of millions" of dollars in the years-long effort at revolutionizing medicine.
One other note from Silicon Valley: Calico may wind up looking a lot more like a research institute initially than a traditional biopharma company.
That would seem far enough outside the box to satisfy Google's visionaries, who have been inspired at least in part by the enthusiastic futurist, and irrepressible tech optimist, Ray Kurzweil.
- here's the article from Fortune
- get more from FierceBiotech IT