Geron (GERN) Stock Up Sharply After News of Collaboration with J&J Unit
Shares of Geron Corporation (GERN) were up +1.09 or +47.19 percent to $3.40 per share in pre-market trading on Friday, after the company announced it would be entering into a partnership with Janssen Biotech to develop and commercialize imetelstat. Geron Corporation stock closed at $2.31, down -0.06 or -2.53 percent in Thursday's regular trading session.
Horsham, Pennsylvania based Janssen Biotech, formerly known as Centecor Biotech, was founded in 1979 and is primarily involved in the used of monoclonal antibody technology. Centecor became a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in 1999. In 2008, Centecor acquired Ortho Biotech, becoming Centecor Ortho and finally changed its name to Janssen Biotech in 2011, uniting all Janssen Pharmaceutical companies.
The news, released yesterday after the market close is that the two companies have entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of Geron's telomerase inhibitor drug, imetelstat. The deal will have Janssen pay Geron an initial $35 million after regulatory conditions are met, and then subsequently make additional payments of up to $900 million.
The money will be used for development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as for manufacturing and promotion to be executed through a joint governance structure. Janssen will be ultimately responsible for implementing operations and booking sales.
Telomerase is an enzyme that enables cancer cells to maintain telomere length, providing them with the capacity for limitless replication. Geron's drug Imetelstat inhibits telomerase and is also being developed to treat hematologic myeloid malignancies such as acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), myelofibrosis (MF) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
Dr. John Scarlett, Geron's President and Chief Executive Officer said that, "By leveraging Janssen's ability to fully integrate and strategically align global oncology development and commercialization, we expect this collaboration to expand the development of imetelstat across a range of hematologic malignancies and potentially increase the speed with which imetelstat can be made available to patients with these serious, life-threatening diseases .
Geron and Janssen will work under a mutually agreed upon clinical development plan for imetelstat and will include Phase 2 studies in MF and MDS initially with the initial Phase 2 study in MF to begin by the middle of 2015 followed by a Phase 2 MDS study. The cost of development will be equally split between the two companies.
Geron stock is up sharply on the news, having lost significant value over the past year after trading over $5 per share in January. Imetelstat is the last of Geron's pipeline drugs, with the large cash infusion and Janssen's access to distribution and sales, Geron could eventually turn a profit.
Other News About Geron
After A Long Year, an Update on Geron's Myelofibrosis Drug Is Disclosed
Geron disclosed a 21 percent remission rate for experimental myelofibrosis drug imetelstat.
Geron Announces Presentations at American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting
Abstracts with data describing imetelstat results have been accepted for presentation.
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