|Geron Announces Collaboration with University Campus Suffolk to Develop Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Chondrocytes for Cartilage Repair|
Research Jointly Funded by Geron and UCS
MENLO PARK, Calif., September 13, 2010 - Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) today announced that the company has entered into a collaboration with University Campus Suffolk (UCS) in the U.K. to develop human embryonic stem cell-derived chondrocytes for the treatment of cartilage damage and joint disease.
The development program will be led by Professor Brendon Noble, recently appointed to UCS as Head of the School of Health, Science and Social Care. Professor Noble was previously at the University of Edinburgh. The project will be based within the new biotechnology unit at UCS, which has been supported by Suffolk County Council and the East of England Development Agency. The program will be jointly funded by Geron and UCS. UCS will provide facilities and equipment for the project. Geron will fund the direct costs of the development work at UCS.
"We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with UCS, and to continue our work with Professor Noble," said Thomas B. Okarma, Geron's president and chief executive officer. "We continue to advance the orthopedic program in the U.K. because of the pool of talented stem cell scientists and the consistent leadership shown by the government, both nationally and regionally, in supporting the development of stem cell therapies."
"Biotechnology is a key area of growth for UCS," said Professor Mike Saks, Provost, UCS. "We are delighted to be collaborating with Geron, a leader in the field of stem cell therapies, to develop new treatments for debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis that have such a significant impact on health and social welfare."
Preclinical studies conducted by Professor Noble's group have shown that injection of hESC-derived chondrocytes (GRNCHND1) into damaged cartilage of the knee joint of immunocompetent rats produced well-integrated cartilage showing full repair of the lesion for at least nine months
"The research in the U.K. has demonstrated that hESC-derived chondrocytes can generate cartilage that appears virtually indistinguishable from host tissue within months after implantation in damaged tissue in a rodent model," said Jane S. Lebkowski, Geron's senior vice president and chief scientific officer, regenerative medicine. "Current studies are being conducted in a large animal model to assess cartilage repair and function in a model resembling cartilage damage in the human knee. The next phase of the program will involve development of scaled manufacturing of the chondrocytes to support preclinical studies and eventual clinical testing."
Background information about hESC-derived chondrocytes for cartilage cell therapy is available at http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20100913005628/en.
University Campus Suffolk (UCS) opened in 2007 and is one of the newest higher education institutions in the U.K.
UCS is a modern approach to higher education, with centres in Bury St Edmunds, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Otley complementing the campus development in Ipswich. This model of a cutting-edge campus and network of learning centres focuses on accessibility, community, enterprise, and innovation.
UCS is academically strong, offering modern flexible modes of learning and innovative courses to meet both student and employer needs. Its degrees are jointly accredited by the Universities of East Anglia and Essex and employability is at the core of all its programmes.
Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure and diabetes. The company is advancing an anti-cancer drug and a cancer vaccine that target the enzyme telomerase through multiple clinical trials in different cancers. For more information about Geron, visit www.geron.com.
This news release may contain 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 potential applications of Geron's human embryonic stem cell technology constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and protection of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron's periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2010.
Anna Krassowska, Ph.D.