More details on Google’s mysterious Calico project have emerged, revealing the search giant intends on investing, at the very least, “hundreds of millions” in the initiative. Announced last month, Calico is a project borne from Google’s special Google X labs, with an endgame to take on major illnesses and aging. The initiative is being led by ex-Genentech CEO Art Levinson, who also serves as Apple chairman.
After some digging around Silicon Valley, Fortune writer Dan Primack found that Calico is focused on finding the root cause of various diseases and conditions, something many companies today fail to focus on. Most importantly, however, the project wants to address genetic causes of aging, and whether or not drugs can slow or even stop them. At the very least, Google wants to see how the quality of life can be improved for someone that’s in their 70s, 80s, etc.
For example, what if you examined the genomes of thousands of healthy 90 year-olds from all parts of the world? What genetic similarities do they have? Or, perhaps, what happens to most of us that didn’t happen to them. Even if this didn’t result in longer life, it perhaps could at least lead to an improved quality of life for folks on the back nine.
The project will act more as a research initiative rather than, as Primack puts it, “a biopharma startup that will be in clinical trials within a couple of years.” Many smart pieces are being moved around, and there’s very clearly a substantial amount of money being put into the project. When Google puts resources into X lab projects, the company tends to produce fascinating results—self-driving cars, balloon Internet, Google Glass. With such a unique portfolio, and given what we know about Calico, the search giant’s new project could prove to be Google’s most important undertaking yet.