Geron Corporation (GERN - Free Report) shares have risen 218.3% so far this year against the industry’s decline of 1.7% as it makes rapid progress on the development of its sole pipeline candidate, imetelstat.
Imetelstat is being evaluated as a treatment for hematologic myeloid malignancies like myelofibrosis (“MF”) in a phase II IMbark study and myelodysplastic syndromes (“MDS”) in a phase II/III IMerge study. Notably, both the studies are being conducted by Geron’s collaboration partner Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ - Free Report) through its subsidiary Janssen. The candidate enjoys orphan drug designation for both the indications.
Janssen has stopped enrolling patients and is currently analyzing the IMbark study based on certain protocols to reach a decision on whether to continue the study. The decision is expected by the end of this month.
The IMerge study was expanded in November last year and additional 25 patients have been enrolled in a refined MDS indication..
Preliminary data presented in December 2017 showed that more than half of the patients in the study-arm who have not received prior treatment with either lenalidomide or a hypomethylating agent for at least 8 weeks achieved RBC transfusion-independence (RBC-TI – reduced or no requirement of RBC transfusion over a certain interval) upon treatment with imetelstat. Janssen will seek confirmation of these clinical benefit and safety observed in the preliminary analysis in the 25 additional patients.
Although, the single pipeline candidate is a concern and Acceleron Pharma Inc. (XLRN - Free Report) and its partner Celgene Corporation’s (CELG - Free Report) luspatercept may give a competition to imetelstat, the rally in the stock shows investor’s confidence in Geron’s progress.
Geron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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