Google Invests in Neurobiology Startup Companies



    Recently while I was browsing through the FierceBiotech website, a hub for hot and trendy biotech and pharmaceutical news, I came upon an article about Google's stealthy new investment in a startup company called Calico. Calico, as it turns out, has just signed its first license for clinical testing in a neuroprotective drug called P7C3. This comound was discovered by a team at UT SouthWestern in Dallas. The discoverers of this chemical, Andrew Pieper, Joseph Ready and Steven McNight, claim that P7C3 have broad therapeutic potentials in treating brain disorders, ranging from Alzheimer's Disease to traumatic brain injury, stroke and ALS. Their papers also cite potential in neurogenesis in the damaged hippocampus of animal models. Their recent publication in Cell Reports suggest that P7C3 acts on nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT), the rate limiting enzyme involved in making NAD, thus augmenting its effects on neuronal survival and neurogenesis in mice. Read their review article here:


    This is not the first time Google has sponsored a neuroscience company, because it bought an artificial intelligence company earlier this year in the UK. However, it is the first example I have seen where Google have shown an early interest in developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Their decision to hire Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson and other Genentech executives speaks to the seriousness of their goal. Calico is set to build its new biotech laboratories in Silicon Valley, close to Google headquarters, where it will join up with other life science companies like Abbvie.

    Life science and health care startup companies are sprouting up everywhere these days, with many of them backed by venture capitalists from rich Silicon Valley tech companies. Just take a look at this Startup Health website to get a sense of how many of them there are!