Can Google Keep Us Young?

In 2013, Google founded a company called Calico. Its mission is aimed at better understanding the biology of aging and disease, and to “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.” Calico’s website is relatively plain, especially considering that Google is investing $1.5 billion in the company. For reference, that’s more than half of what the National Institutes of Health devotes to aging research. But ultimately, nobody really knows what Calico is up to—the company doesn’t publicize or publish much of its research or data, and what it does share is often not related to aging. Various news outlets have speculated on what Calico is doing.

A recent Vox article discusses the possibility that Calico is focusing on developing drugs (pharmaceutical companies are typically very secretive). In fact, Calico has recently partnered with companies like C4 Therapeutics, a biotech firm that develops drugs for cancer and other diseases, and Calico has licensed various drug candidates from universities including UCSF and UT Southwestern. But the company also has partnerships with a variety of other non-pharmaceutical companies like AncestryDNA. So, perhaps the real question is: Might Calico be going at it alone so that it can do something totally different?

Don’t Bet on It, Yet…
While this is a possibility, sources suggest that the company likely won’t have a breakthrough for another decade, and employees are keeping their lips sealed until then. And, some pundits argue that by not sharing data, the company may go down “redundant and wasteful paths,” so it could take even longer. Also, as we’ve noted here, many discoveries that work in the lab don’t pan out in reality.

In any case, while we’re waiting for Calico to solve aging, let us remind you of a few “anti-aging” tips you can do now. As we’ve mentioned before, certain habits like keeping stress low and being social are particularly common in places called Blue Zones, where people live extraordinarily long. It’s also never too late to start exercising, and healthy diet goes a long way toward living long, too.

And don’t worry, if and when Calico does reveal what its doing, we’ll be sure to let you know.

(Feature image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Isaac Everitt

Isaac Everitt is an intern with the Healthy Aging Project, and a student in the Integrative Physiology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.