AbbVie and Google’s new life sciences unit Calico are putting in at least $250 million each to collaborate on drugs for age-related diseases, helping the latter “establish a world-class R&D facility” in San Francisco.

Each partner may contribute an additional $500 million to the collaboration which will look at areas such as neurodegeneration and cancer.  Calico will be responsible for research and early development during the first five years and advance projects through Phase IIa for a ten-year period, with the support of AbbVie.
Following completion of Phase IIa studies, AbbVie will have the option to manage late-stage development and commercial activities. Both parties will share costs and profits equally.

Calico, which was set up a year and has former Genentech heavyweights Art Levinson and Hal Barron at the helm, said it expects to “begin filling critical positions immediately” and establish “a substantial team of scientists and research staff” in the San Francisco Bay Area. R&D chief Barron  said “we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the many outstanding scientists at AbbVie to ensure that the important science at Calico is advanced quickly”.

AbbVie chief executive Richard Gonzalez said the collaboration “demonstrates our commitment to exploring new areas of medicine and innovative approaches to drug discovery and development “. He expressed his pleasure to be “working with such outstanding scientists as Art Levinson, Hal Barron and their team.  The potential to help improve patients' lives with new therapies is enormous”.

Google is becoming an increasingly important player in healthcare.  As well as Google Glass, which is being investigated in a number of areas, including Parkinson’s, this summer saw a deal in the USA looking at autism and a smart contact lens pact inked with Novartis.

The announcement of the deal ended a busy day for AbbVie which has bagged rights to Infinity Pharmaceuticals’ blood cancer drug duvelisib in a deal that could be worth over $800 million (see link).