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Google's Calico Strikes Deal to Advance Treatments for Neurodegenerative Disorders

The quiet life sciences venture is starting to make some noise.

Calico, the long-quiet Google-backed venture focused on diseases associated with aging, is starting to make some noise.

On Thursday, the life sciences company announced a partnership with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and 2M Cos. aimed at developing treatments for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and ALS.

That follows the news last week that Calico, led by former Genentech Chief Executive Arthur Levinson, plans to build a $1.5 billion research and development center in partnership with biopharmaceutical company AbbVie. It also finally launched a public website early last month.

Here’s how the new deal works: UT Southwestern researchers had previously licensed to 2M what are known as P7C3 compounds, a class that has shown some effectiveness in treating age-related impairments by promoting the growth of nerve cells in the brain, at least in animal models.

Under the new deal, 2M is granting Calico an “exclusive worldwide license” to develop and commercialize the treatments that come out of this research program in exchange for unspecified fees and future payments. As part of the transaction, Calico also agreed to fund labs near Dallas, Texas, to accelerate the research.

A pair of reports published Thursday in the journals Cell and Cell Reports indicate that P7C3 compounds “activate a cellular enzyme involved in energy metabolism, known as NAMPT … which is critical to the proper functioning and survival of cells” and can “protect against brain dysfunction when given to rodents following traumatic injury.”

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