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Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) today announced that, effective immediately, the Company will focus on its first-in-class oncology programs. As a consequence, the Company will discontinue further development of its stem cell programs and is seeking partners for these novel assets.
“In the current environment of capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions, we intend to focus our resources on advancing our Phase 2 clinical trials of imetelstat and GRN1005. These two novel and promising oncology drug candidates target major unmet medical needs and have important clinical development milestones occurring over the next 20 months,” said Geron’s Chief Executive Officer, John A. Scarlett, M.D. “By narrowing our focus to the oncology therapeutic area, we anticipate having sufficient financial resources to reach these important near-term value inflection points for shareholders without the necessity of raising additional capital. This would not be possible if we continue to fund the stem cell programs at the current levels.”
Imetelstat, Geron’s lead telomerase inhibitor, is currently being evaluated in four Phase 2 clinical oncology studies for the following indications: non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, essential thrombocythemia and multiple myeloma. Geron expects top-line data from these trials to be available before the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. GRN1005, an LRP-directed peptide-drug conjugate, is entering two Phase 2 clinical trials this year, one for brain metastases arising from non-small cell lung cancer and the other for brain metastases from breast cancer. Geron expects top-line data from these trials to be available before the end of the second quarter of 2013.
The decision to narrow Geron’s technology and therapeutic focus was made after a strategic review of the costs, value inflection timelines and clinical, manufacturing and regulatory complexities associated with the Company’s research and clinical-stage assets. With this decision, Geron is eliminating 66 full-time positions, representing 38% of its workforce. As a result, the Company expects one-time cash expenditures of approximately $5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and approximately $3 million in the first half of 2012. Geron expects to end 2011 with cash and investments in excess of $150 million.