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Google and Apple’s chairman launch Calico to extend lives

Google and Apple’s chairman are teaming up to form a new company that uses biotechnology to fight a raft of major illnesses and ageing.

Calico, which was announced by Google, will be led by CEO and founding investor Arthur D. Levinson, who is currently the chairman of Apple as well as chairman and former CEO of biotechnology firm Genentech.

“Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives. It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art—one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation—to take this new venture forward,” said Google CEO Larry Page.

Calico will be based close to Google’s headquarters in San Francisco, California with Page hinting that cancer will be the first illness that Calico’s small team looks at.

“We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think,” Page is quoted by The Telegraph as telling TIME magazine.

Macmillan Cancer Support figures show that over a third of the UK population will developer cancer at some time in their lives and backs up Calico’s choice to fight cancer first.

Levinson, who will lead the project, was inspired by Page’s “focus on outsized improvements” and admitted to being “tremendously excited about what’s next”, with Tim Cook, Apple CEO, adding that Levinson is the perfect person to lead the project.

"For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results,” Cook stated.

The other strand of Calico’s strategy is to fight ageing with the end goal that improved health and well-being will increase the average worldwide life expectancy from its current level. World Health Organisation [WHO] estimates show that in the UK 79 years is the average for men with 82 years the average for women.

Image Credit: Flickr (Robert Scobie)