Google Spinoff Calico Life Sciences Enters its First Clinical Trial with AbbVie Cancer Drug ABBV-CLS-S579

Google Spinoff Calico Life Sciences Enters its First Clinical Trial with AbbVie Cancer Drug ABBV-CLS-S579

Calico Life Sciences LLC was founded in 2013 as a Google-backed venture with the goal of combating aging and associated disease. Described by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, at the time as a venture targeting “health, well-being, and longevity,” the name of the company was actually an acronym for “California Life Company.” Several years later, the company now sponsors its first clinical trial targeting cancer in collaboration with AbbVie.   

The Drug

ABBV-CLS-579, an investigational drug under development targeting solid tumors, was originally developed by Illinois-based multinational American pharmaceutical company AbbVie. Both AbbVie and Calico have been working together for a handful of years now and back in 2018 extended an existing collaboration.

The Study

The study (NCT04417465) investigates the safety and efficacy of ABBV-CLS-579 when used alone or in combination with programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) inhibitors treating solid cancers.

With two arms, the study includes monotherapy and combination therapy; patients in the monotherapy arm receive the study drug alone in increasing doses while in the combination arm they receive the study drug in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor. Patients will be adults with a diagnosis of at least some solid tumors and haven’t been successful with standard therapy or have had no such access to a standard therapy.

The study started June 3 and is conducted at three disclosed trial site locations, including Carolina BioOncology Institute (Huntersville, NC); Sheba Medical Center (Ramat Gan, Israel) and National Cancer Center Hospital (Tokyo, Japan).

The Company

Formed in 2013 as reported recently in the San Francisco Business Times, the two companies formed a partnership first in September 2014 just one year after Calico was spun out of Google’s life sciences skunkworks lab by the end of 2017.  The team spent $750 million from AbbVie and $250 million from Calico. Once the collaboration was extended in 2018, they committed to another $500 million each to the drug development effort.

The two companies’ partnership centers on age-related diseases (e.g. neurodegeneration and cancers) and had earlier shared the two were collaborating on about 24 discovery-stage or preclinical initiatives. The company’s CEO, Art Levinson, formerly led Genentech as CEO.