Google-backed Calico in-licenses UCSF scientist's work on cognition

Peter Walter

Ever since Google ($GOOG) set up Calico under a group of industry all-stars to explore new therapies that combat aging, the upstart biotech has been gradually spreading its tentacles into a variety of top labs around the country, looking for a mix of clinical-stage development programs and promising scientific exploration that can be translated into new therapies. Today it pulled back the wraps from a partnership it formed with UC San Francisco's acclaimed Peter Walter, whose lab has been working on the ways cells function while under stress.

Calico believes that Walter's research will help the biotech find new drugs that guard against cognitive decline. The company is gaining a license on modulators of the Integrated Stress Response, or ISR. And UCSF is getting an undisclosed upfront along with possible milestones and royalties on any drugs that are eventually pushed through to an approval.

Calico had an intimate understanding of Walter's research before they did this deal. One of their scientists, Carmela Sidrauski, had worked in his lab. Walter's list of accomplishments includes winning the prestigious Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2014.

Calico has been moving quietly but quickly to expand its scientific contacts around the country. Just days ago the biotech struck a deal to work with the Bay Area brain trust QB3 on longevity issues. That deal follows a tie-up with the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT. And AbbVie ($ABBV) has partnered as well as Calico builds a campus for itself in San Francisco.

Calico R&D Chief Hal Barron

"We are delighted to enter into this agreement with UCSF and we are excited to translate these research findings into potential treatments for age-related cognitive disorders," commented Hal Barron, Calico's R&D chief. "Peter is a world-class basic scientist whose insights have fundamentally changed our understanding of how cells function under stress."

- here's the release