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Google wants to cure ageing

Google has announced the launch of Calico, a new initiative that is focused on tackling the health problems caused by ageing.

The Google Doodle created for the 50th anniversary of understanding DNA on 25 April 2003.
(Credit: Google)

Google has announced the launch of Calico, a new initiative that is focused on tackling the health problems caused by ageing.

Google's Larry Page has announced the launch of Calico, a new company that he said will "focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of ageing and associated diseases".

What this means is that Google wants to solve some of the trickiest problems currently plaguing health care — in particular, those that are caused by the inevitable march of time. To help, the company has recruited biochemist, Apple chairman and CEO of biotechnology organisation Genentech, Arthur Levinson.

"Art and I are excited about tackling ageing and illness," Page said. "These issues affect us all — from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families. And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people."

The company will be run entirely separately from Google, but otherwise, details — such as where the company will be based and how many employees it will have — are unavailable at this time, with the official press release offering up no further details. Time magazine — which is currently running a hefty interview with Page — speculates that Google will bring its mighty data collection and processing powers to bear on the problem.

"Are people really focused on the right things? One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you'd add about three years to people's average life expectancy," Page told Time. "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."

This isn't the first time that Google has made a foray into the health arena. In 2008, the web giant launched Google Health, an opt-in service for collating personal health information and records. The service closed in 2011 due to lack of uptake.

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