Google ($GOOG) generated a deluge of headlines when it unveiled its antiaging venture Calico but gave very few details about the nuts and bolts of the company. Now, reports on the questions Calico will look into--and how much cash it will have to answer them--have started to emerge.
Calico is the brainchild of Google Ventures' managing partner Bill Maris, Fortune reports. Maris--a former biotech portfolio manager at Investor AB--noted a lack of companies trying to stop the degradation of genetic material that ultimately causes cells to fail. Efforts to raise cash for a company to fill this gap led to discussions with Google cofounder Sergey Brin and eventually a decision by the search giant to fund the entire project.
Exactly how much Google is committing to Calico is unclear, but sources told Fortune it is at the very least hundreds of millions of dollars. Google has indicated it views this as a long-term investment--with the payoff coming 10 to 20 years down the line--and there are suggestions it is creating more of a research institute than a traditional biotech. Calico is unlikely to be rushing a candidate into Phase I.
Instead, it will reportedly look into questions like what elements are shared by the genomes of thousands of healthy 90-year-olds from all parts of the world and how we can use this information to extend the lives of the broader population. The vision of Calico that has emerged in early media reports is one of a company underpinned by the genetic breakthroughs of the past decade and likely to use computing power to extract fresh insights from the data.