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Published: Wednesday, 9/3/2014

Google joins AbbVie in $1.5 billion fight against aging diseases


 AbbVie Inc., the drugmaker spun off from Abbott Laboratories last year, and Google Inc.’s Calico will spend as much as $1.5 billion to tackle age-related diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

Calico will be responsible for research and development, including the creation of a facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, and AbbVie will handle late-stage trials and commercialization activities, the companies said today in a statement. Both companies initially will provide $250 million each, with the potential to add $500 million each.

AbbVie’s “broad R&D experience and capabilities will complement Calico’s biotechnology expertise and innovative scientific approaches,” Michael Severino, AbbVie’s chief scientific officer, said in the statement.

Calico, a life-sciences company created last September by Google to focus on aging and associated diseases, is headed by Art Levinson, who is chairman of Roche Holding AG’s Genentech biotechnology unit and Apple Inc. The company was founded as Mountain View, California-based Google stepped up investments in areas outside its core online-advertising and consumer-services business.

In announcing Calico’s creation, Google CEO Larry Page said in a blog post that the company hoped to improve “millions of lives” with “longer term, moonshot thinking around health care and biotechnology.”

AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Illinois, has been adding to its portfolio since spinning off from Abbott. It will move its tax address outside the U.S. after completing a $55 billion purchase of Shire Plc, and today announced a $275 million agreement to develop Infinity Pharmaceutical Inc.’s duvelisib, an experimental cancer treatment.

“Our goal is to make progress on a very basic challenge: how to help people stay healthier for longer,” Levinson wrote in a blog post today. The collaboration with AbbVie will “turbocharge our efforts,” he said.

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