AP News

Geron jumps on analyst view of cancer drugs


NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Geron Corp. climbed Thursday after a Stifel Nicolaus analyst said the company should report a series of positive results from clinical trials of two cancer drugs over the coming months.

THE SPARK: Analyst Brian Klein started covering Geron shares with a "Buy" rating, saying the company should report data from six studies of its drug candidates imetelstat and GERN1005 over the next six to nine months. Klein said that data should pave the way for late-stage studies and a collaboration with a larger drug company.

"We expect compelling evidence in one of these two indications will lead to a registrational program and could generate a lucrative partnership," he wrote.

Klein set a price target of $4 per share.

THE BIG PICTURE: The Menlo Park, Calif., company is running four midstage studies of imetelstat as a treatment for lung cancer and breast cancer, and two of GRN1005 as a treatment for lung and breast cancer that have spread to the brain. Imetelstat is designed to inhibit an enzyme called telomerase, which is found in high levels in cancer cells. Geron says the drug may be less toxic to normal cells than standard chemotherapy.

While most cancer drugs cannot enter the brain, the company says GRN1005 is designed to deliver the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to the brain so it can work on brain tumors.

Geron pioneered the development of embryonic stem cell therapies and ran the first human trials of treatments based on embryonic stem cells. However in 2011 the company ended a trial of a stem cell therapy for spinal cord injuries and said it would focus on its cancer drugs.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of Geron picked up 25 cents, or 10.3 percent, to $2.66 in midday trading. The stock traded as low as $1.25 in June and reached its current 52-week high of $3.13 in September 2011. The shares last traded over $4 in July 2011.


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