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Geron (GERN) Discontinues Anti-Brain Cancer Drug; To Cut Workforce By 40 Pct

 December 03, 2012 04:28 PM

(By Balaseshan) Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN) said it will cut its workforce by 40.2% and has discontinued development of GRN1005, its peptide-drug conjugate designed to treat cancers in the brain.

Going forward, the company will focus on the development of imetelstat, its telomerase inhibitor, in hematologic myeloid malignancies and in patients with solid tumors that have short telomeres.

The company also announced a restructuring to cut its workforce from 107 positions to 64 full-time positions, and to reduce its annual cash operating expenses from about $65 million in 2012 to about $33 million in 2013, which includes non-recurring costs of about $3 million associated with the restructuring and about $3 million for the discontinuation of clinical trials. The company expects to end 2012 with about $90 million in cash and investments.

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In connection with the restructuring, the company's Chief Financial Officer, Graham Cooper, will be leaving Geron to pursue other opportunities. Olivia Bloom, currently Vice President of Finance, Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer, will assume the role of Chief Financial Officer effective December 7.

In addition, Geron has appointed Craig Parker, as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and as a member of the executive management team, effective immediately. Parker was most recently Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development at Human Genome Sciences Inc., until its sale to GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) in 2012.

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The decision to discontinue development of GRN1005 was made after the company completed a planned interim analysis for futility for GRABM-B, the company`s Phase 2 study in patients with brain metastases arising from breast cancer.

This analysis showed that there were no confirmed intra-cranial responses, as determined by an Independent Review Facility, among the first 30 evaluable patients in the trial. Data from the analysis will be presented in a poster at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 6.

In addition, the company is discontinuing GRABM-L, its Phase 2 study in patients with brain metastases arising from non-small cell lung cancer, because of the inability to successfully enroll the trial.

Geron has provided to Angiochem Inc. notice of termination of both the exclusive license agreement under which Geron received rights to GRN1005 and an associated research collaboration and option agreement.

GERN closed Monday's regular session up 4.96% at $1.48. The stock has been trading between $1.21 and $2.99 for the past 52 weeks.

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