The human race has been searching for the secret to long life for as long as we’ve existed, and Google is continuing that tradition. Rather than brewing alchemistic potions or questing for divine artifacts, Google is taking the kind of scientific approach that modern technology finally allows us to do, and it’s doing so with some help from Ancestry.com.
How much would you pay to live longer? What if Google were making the pill to do it? On Tuesday, Calico, the medical research company Google incubated in 2013, announced it had cut a deal for access to genetic information from Ancestry.com, the largest family tree website. It’s among the first public moves from Calico, the secretive division born to (gasp!) extend human life. With its new DNA data — properly anonymized — Calico will look for genetic patterns in people who have lived exceptionally long lives, then make drugs to help more of us do that. The deal also marks another step in the next chapter of tech’s ambitious experiments with biology: After collating medical data, it’s marching the research to market. In January, 23andMe — the Ancestry.com competitor run by Anne Wojcicki, now ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin — inked a similar deal with Genentech to parse the genomes of Parkinson’s disease patients. Genentech is the former company of Arthur Levinson, the CEO of Calico.