Geron to Focus on Its Novel Cancer Programs

  Geron to Focus on Its Novel Cancer Programs

               Company Plans to Partner All Stem Cell Programs

Business Wire

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- November 14, 2011

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.

Geron is seeking partners with the technical and financial resources to enable
further development of its stem cell programs. “Our employees, collaborators
and shareholders can be proud of the pioneering role they have played to
advance our stem cell technology into the clinic,” said Dr. Scarlett. “Stem
cells continue to hold great medical promise. We believe that our leadership
role in the field and the quality of our stem cell assets — which are widely
recognized as being among the most innovative, comprehensive and advanced cell
therapy programs in the world — will be an important point of differentiation
in our discussions to partner these assets.” In order to facilitate transfer
of these programs to partners, Geron will retain a core group of employees
from its stem cell operations through the end of the second quarter of 2012.

Geron plans to close the GRNOPC1 trial for spinal cord injury to further
enrollment, although it will continue to follow all enrolled patients,
accruing data and updating FDA and the medical community on their progress. In
this trial, GRNOPC1 has been well tolerated with no serious adverse events.

Conference Call Information

Geron’s Chief Executive Officer, John A. Scarlett, M.D., will host a
conference call for analysts and investors to discuss changes to the Company’s
business on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time, 9:00 a.m.
Eastern Time.

Participants can access the conference call live via telephone by dialing
866-510-0705 (U.S.); 617-597-5363 (international). The passcode is 64257143.
If accessing the conference call by telephone, please dial in at least 10
minutes early to minimize any delay in joining the call. A live audio-only
webcast is also available at http://www.media-server.com/m/p/92t2mq67. The
audio webcast of the conference call will be available for online replay
approximately one hour following the live broadcast through November 30, 2011.

About Geron’s Oncology Programs

Telomerase Inhibitor Program

Geron’s proprietary nucleic acid chemistry platform is being used to generate
potent and specific inhibitors of telomerase, an enzyme necessary for the
indefinite replicative capacity of many cancers and cancer stem cells.
Imetelstat, the Company's lead drug candidate in this program, is being
evaluated in two randomized Phase 2 studies, one in metastatic breast cancer,
and the other in advanced non-small cell lung cancer. These indications
represent two of the leading causes of death from malignancy worldwide.
Imetelstat is also being evaluated in a Phase 2 study of essential
thrombocythemia, a myeloproliferative neoplasm, and in a Phase 2 study of
multiple myeloma. Geron expects top-line data from these four Phase 2 trials
to be available before the end of the fourth quarter of 2012.

LRP-Directed Peptide-Drug Conjugate Program

Geron's LRP-directed peptide-drug conjugate program is based on molecules that
deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumors in the brain, including metastases. In the
conjugates, the anti-cancer drugs are linked to a peptide designed to be
actively transported across the blood-brain barrier via lipoprotein
receptor-related protein (LRP) pathways, predominantly LRP1. LRP1 is also
upregulated in many tumors. GRN1005, the Company's lead drug candidate in this
program, has three paclitaxel molecules linked to a proprietary 19 amino acid
peptide, Angiopep-2. GRN1005 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. An estimated 200,000 patients
in the United States are diagnosed each year with cancers that have
metastasized to the brain. There are currently no approved drug therapies for
treating brain metastases. Both studies are expected to start by the end of
the 2011, with top-line data from these trials expected to be available before
the end of the second quarter of 2013.

Oncology Discovery Program

Geron has an active discovery research program that uses proprietary chemistry
to address important molecular targets in cancer. The goal of this program is
to generate new IND candidates for Geron’s clinical oncology pipeline.

About Geron’s Cell Therapy Programs

Geron’s human embryonic stem cell programs, for which the Company is seeking
partnerships, include oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (GRNOPC1) for central
nervous system disorders, cardiomyocytes (GRNCM1) for heart disease,
pancreatic islet cells (GRNIC1) for diabetes, dendritic cells (GRNVAC2) as an
immunotherapy vehicle and chondrocytes (GRNCHND1) for cartilage repair.

Use of Forward-Looking Statements

Except for the historical information contained herein, this press release
contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the “safe harbor”
provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors
are cautioned that statements in this press release regarding Geron’s plans or
expectations for or of: dates to begin or obtain top-line data from any of the
Phase 2 oncology clinical trials; having sufficient cash to fund the Company
for 20 months to reach milestone and value inflection points without the
necessity of raising additional capital; expecting to end 2011 with $150
million in cash and investments; incurring one-time cash expenditures of
approximately $5 million and $3 million in 2011 and 2012, respectively;
Geron’s ability to partner its stem cell business; clinical development; and
future operating results and expenditures, constitute forward-looking
statements. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that can cause
actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking
statements. These risks and uncertainties, include, without limitation: (a)
regarding dates for Phase 2 clinical trial initiation or the availability of
top-line data — delays in enrollment, delays caused by institutional review
boards or regulatory agencies, shortage of supply, dependence on clinical
trial collaborators, or safety issues; (b) regarding financial expectations —
if any of (a) above, unanticipated expenses or charges may occur as a result
of the resizing, or litigation were to occur, or if the Company determined it
was in its best interest to raise additional capital; (c) regarding Geron’s
ability to partner its stem cell business — third parties’ reluctance to
partner, Geron’s intellectual property licensors’ refusal to transfer
intellectual property rights from Geron to a third party; and (d) those risks
and uncertainties inherent in the development of potential therapeutic
products, including without limitation, the protection of Geron’s intellectual
property rights. Additional information and factors that could cause actual
results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are
contained in Geron’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission under the heading “Risk Factors,” including the Annual Report on
Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 and quarterly report on Form
10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. Undue reliance should not be
placed on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are
made, and the facts and assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements
may change. Except as required by law, Geron disclaims any obligation to
update these forward-looking statements to reflect future information, events
or circumstances.

Contact:

Geron Corporation
Anna Krassowska, Ph.D.
Investor and Media Relations
650-473-7765
info@geron.com
 
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