Has anti-aging finally come of age with Google’s Calico?

Can Google’s new anti-aging company, Calico, have you Googling at age 140?

Don’t sell your burial plot just yet.

Stem Cells Aging

The idea of anti-aging has been around for a very long time and efforts to combat aging have spanned millennia largely without any success so Calico (apparently short for California Life Company, which sounds more like an insurance company to me) faces long odds. Note too that Calico cats are not known for any particular predisposition to long life. Hmmm.

At the same time, Calico means business and has hired some truly stellar talent in the research world including CEO Arthur Levinson, Cynthia Kenyon, David Botstein, Hal Harron, and Robert Cohen.

This is not a group you say “impossible” to lightly even on a topic as tough as anti-aging.

Still I don’t see any particularly clear pathway forward toward significant extension of human life expectancy.

Perhaps they have a more creative vision? We’ll see. I hope so!

Oddly enough a best as I can tell, Calico has no website at the present time. What the heck?

I’m currently reading a great book by author Stephen S. Hall called “Merchants of Immortality“. I’d highly recommend that the Calico crew read it if they haven’t already. BTW, the subtitle is an apt warning of sorts: “Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension”.

The book features many companies and scientists who have been interested in anti-aging including BioTime CEO, Michael West, who founded the company Geron at least in part with the vision to battle aging.

Of course any discussion of aging should also feature stem cells. So another book that I recommend to Calico folks is my new book, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide.

In it, I propose a new theory of aging in which the number of healthy stem cells that we each possess directly correlates with our biological age. I also propose the notion that for many people their death certificates should read for the cause of death “ran out of stem cells”. In my book I have many illustrations including a great one on aging conceived by me and created by scientific illustrator Taylor Seamount (see image above).

The tricky part about human life extension and anti-aging is that I’m not convinced that we (A) know what aging really means and (B) have the tools to do anything meaningful about it.

One must also factor in quality of life as well.

I hope that Calico changes our whole concept of aging and extends healthy life years for us all, but I have to admit I’m skeptical. The Fountain of Youth has proven elusive and most gains in human life expectancy have been indirect consequences of better nutrition and anti-infectious disease efforts.

If you are very interested in anti-aging, you might consider going to the A4M anti-aging conference in mid-December in Vegas. Should be quite the show.

You can roll the dice literally for cash and perhaps figuratively on living longer. You might bump into Google CEO Larry Page (a young 40 years old), former Cali Guv Schwarzenegger, Suzanne Somers, and other celebs who are preoccupied with anti-aging stuff.

Damn, I don’t see Dr. Oz on the agenda…. If you guys go I’d love to know your impressions.

A version of this piece was first published on Huffington Post.

3 thoughts on “Has anti-aging finally come of age with Google’s Calico?


  1. Lynn Margulis in “The Symbiotic Planet” makes an argument that: “Programmed death is a nonnegotiable consequence of the sexual mode of life.”
    Thus seems pretty obvious (a tautology?) when two unicellular organism get together for sexual reproduction. Margulis gives the example of Stentor coeruleus.

    The notion of death being caused by “running out of stem cells” is a less clear, to me. In a fully-formed body, adult stem cells might serve to repair but still be incapable of rebuilding some classes of structures when they become too damaged. I suspect the role of “adult stem cells” in complex multicellular organisms to be an evolutionary patch of the fundamental “design error”, viz sex — fun but deadly.

    I think we are now at the stage where humanity might be able to manipulate this evolutionary patch kit, to some small extent. But that is a long way from fixing a great big evolutionary “design error”.

  2. Pingback: Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog – Has anti-aging finally come of age with Google’s Calico? | Stu's Stem Cell Blog


  3. Very nice post, I was originally a member of A4M when there were less than 100 members, then left for years. I could not figure out exactly what anti aging was until I became older, its something I want but cannot define exactly, now I have I rejoined A4M. Now the question is how do I stop it if I am not sure what it is either ?

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