NOVATO — The Buck Institute for Research on Aging has entered a new partnership with Google’s Calico subsidiary, deal that will set up science operations for the longevity and age-related disease venture at the institute’s Novato campus.
Under the agreement, Calico Life Sciences will have the opportunity to identify, fund and support innovative research, from basic biology to potential therapies for age-related diseases. Calico has the option to obtain exclusive rights to discoveries made under research it sponsors. Financial terms were not disclosed in the announcement Tuesday.
“We are excited to forge this new partnership with Calico,” said Brian Kennedy, Ph.D., Buck Institute president and CEO. Kennedy described the opportunity as a “way for academic researchers focused on aging and the biotech industry to work together.”
Calico’s CEO is Arthur Levinson, former CEO and chairman of Genentech, and current chairman of Apple. Levinson, 65, in 1980 started at Genentech, which has a major research facility in Solano County, and left to launch Calico in 2014. He earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Princeton University.
“It’s a great partnership between two organizations aimed at helping people live longer, healthier lives,” Kennedy said in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with their team.”
Kennedy, who has a Ph.D. from MIT, became the Buck Institute’s CEO in 2010. His current work involves nutrient signaling pathways linked to dietary restriction, particularly the “TOR pathway.”
Kennedy also studies A-type nuclear lamins, which are targets for mutation in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by dramatic, rapid aging beginning in childhood. Affected children look normal at birth and in early infancy, then grow and gain weight more slowly than other children. They typically develop prominent eyes, a thin nose with a beaked tip, thin lips, a small chin and protruding ears. Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome also causes hair loss and rapidly aging skin.
People with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome suffer hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) starting in childhood, making them susceptible to heart attack or stroke even in childhood. The rare condition affects about one out of 4 million newborns.
“Given the Buck’s exclusive focus on aging, we believe that there’s great potential to increase our understanding of the biology of aging and to accelerate the translation of emerging insights into therapies to help patients with age-related diseases,” said Hal Barron, president of research and development at Calico, based in South San Francisco.
The Buck Institute is a globally known independent research organization devoted to geroscience, the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. The institute has 21 independent laboratories and is dedicated to extending healthy years of human life by slowing the aging process. Buck scientists study age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke. In their collaborative research, they are supported by developments in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem-cell technologies.