Google Inc.-Backed Calico Announces Plan To Combat ALS, Parkinson's
September 12, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Google Calico, 2M Companies and the University of Texas’s Southwestern Medical Center are forming a partnership to advance drug development and research for neurodegenerative diseases that come with aging and the death of nerve cells, the companies announced late Thursday.
ALS and Parkinson’s Disease are some of the better-known ailments associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
The news comes after UT Southwestern researchers published information earlier this year (link) on the molecular target of P7C3 compounds, which have been shown to help in animal models of neurodegeneration. UT Southwestern had licensed the compounds to 2M Companies, and 2M and Calico have since entered a new license agreement.
Under the license agreement, Calico will have the job of commercializing and developing the compounds. It will also fund research laboratory in the Dallas area, where 2M Companies is located, to support the entire program.
"Over the past decade Andrew Pieper, Joe Ready, and I have worked collaboratively to discover, characterize, and optimize the P7C3 class of neuroprotective chemicals,” said UT Southwestern researcher Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry at the center, in a statement. “We are excited to join forces with Art Levinson, whom I have known and admired for over 25 years, and the Calico team to advance our scientific discoveries toward clinical and commercial objectives,"
The P7C3 compounds have been shown to be effective in animal models featuring Parkinson’s disease, ALS and depression. The drugs activate a cellular enzyme that is involved in energy metabolism, which is critical to the survival of cells. This information was published in the journal Cell.
"After many years of fruitful collaboration with UT Southwestern and the P7C3 inventors, we are delighted to place the P7C3 program in the very capable hands of the Calico team,” said Melissa Krauth, head of life science investing at 2M and its affiliate Claria Bioscience. “This agreement validates our strategy of partnering with exceptional scientists and investing in early-stage, high-impact technologies to advance them toward the clinic."
Calico is Google’s research and development arm, which aims to use advanced technologies to increase the general knowledge of biology in terms of lifespan. 2M Companies is focused on life science and technology companies, in addition to oil and gas mineral resources.
UT Southwestern is one of the premier academic medical centers in the world and is considered a pioneer in biomedical research.