The web giant Google moves its first steps in the pharma business through the alliance between its controlled R&D company Calico and AbbVie. The partnership aims to develop a project to find new therapies for diseases associated with ageing, such as neurodegeneration and cancer. The two companies are investing a total of $ 1,5 bln; Calico shall built a new R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay area where to handle drug discovery and early drug development projects through phase IIa trials. AbbVie will take the lead once projects pass the proof-of-concept stage and continue development towards commercialisation. Profits and costs will be split between the two companies.

Calico, established by Google in 2013 to focus on ‘health, wellbeing and longevity’, is led by former Genentech chairman and chief executive Art Levinson who just resigned from the board of Genentech parent Roche to avoid any conflict of interest. Hal Barron, former Roche chief medical officer, also joined Levinson in the management team.