Geron Announces Publication in The Lancet of Results from the IMerge Phase 3 Clinical Trial Evaluating Imetelstat in Lower Risk MDS

December 4, 2023
  • Imetelstat is currently under regulatory review by the FDA and EMA for the treatment of transfusion-dependent anemia in adult patients with lower risk MDS

Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN), a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company, today announced publication in The Lancet of results from the IMerge Phase 3 trial investigating imetelstat versus placebo in patients with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) relapsed/refractory or ineligible for erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs). The publication is available online and will be available in print at a later date.

The Lancet’s publication of our IMerge Phase 3 manuscript is a strong validation of the importance of this study within the field, as well as a powerful way of reaching hematologists and other providers globally with these potentially practice-changing results,” said Faye Feller, M.D., Executive Vice President, Geron’s Chief Medical Officer. “Based on the highly differentiated qualities of imetelstat reported in this study, we believe that, if approved by regulatory authorities, imetelstat could substantially improve the treatment paradigm in certain patients with lower risk MDS.”

Imetelstat is currently under regulatory review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval in transfusion dependent anemia in patients with lower risk MDS who have failed to respond or have lost response to or are ineligible for ESAs.

“I am pleased with the publication in The Lancet of what I believe are very powerful Phase 3 results with this unique mechanism of action, telomerase inhibition, where we see long-term and durable responses broadly across MDS subgroups. This includes lower risk MDS patients without ring sideroblasts (RS-), ESA-ineligible patients who have high serum EPO levels, and those with high transfusion burden, whose needs are not being met by today’s treatments,” said Uwe Platzbecker, M.D., Department of Hematology, Cellular Therapy, Hemostaseology and Infectious Diseases, Leipzig University Hospital, Leipzig, Germany, who is the lead author on the manuscript and is an IMerge investigator. “With regards to the safety results, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia were predictable and manageable, with little to no significant clinical consequences. These adverse events commonly occurred in the first three cycles and frequently resolved within two weeks.”

As previously reported, in the IMerge Phase 3 clinical trial, the primary endpoint of red blood cell transfusion independence (TI) for at least 8 consecutive weeks was significantly higher with imetelstat vs. best supportive care (placebo) (p<0.001), with median TI duration approaching one year for imetelstat 8-week TI responders. Mean hemoglobin levels in imetelstat-treated patients increased significantly (p<0.001) over time compared to placebo patients. For patients achieving 8-week TI, median increases in hemoglobin were 3.6 g/dL for imetelstat and 0.8 g/dL for placebo. Significant and clinically meaningful efficacy results were achieved across key MDS subgroups irrespective of ring sideroblast (RS) status, baseline transfusion burden and IPSS risk category. Patient-reported outcomes (PRO) data reported a sustained meaningful improvement in fatigue for imetelstat-treated patients vs. placebo. Treatment with imetelstat vs. placebo led to greater reduction in variant allele frequency (VAF) in certain genes commonly mutated in MDS, which was associated with longer TI duration and increase in hemoglobin levels. Consistent with prior imetelstat clinical experience, the most common adverse events were thrombocytopenia and neutropenia that were manageable and of short duration.

Click here to view The Lancet publication.

About IMerge Phase 3

The Phase 3 portion of the IMerge Phase 2/3 study is a double-blind, 2:1 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate imetelstat in patients with IPSS Low or Intermediate-1 risk (lower risk) transfusion dependent MDS who were relapsed after, refractory to, or ineligible for, erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA) treatment, had not received prior treatment with either a HMA or lenalidomide and were non-del(5q). To be eligible for IMerge Phase 3, patients were required to be transfusion dependent, defined as requiring at least four units of packed red blood cells (RBCs), over an eight-week period during the 16 weeks prior to entry into the trial. The primary efficacy endpoint of IMerge Phase 3 is the rate of red blood cell transfusion independence (RBC-TI) lasting at least eight weeks, defined as the proportion of patients without any RBC transfusion for at least eight consecutive weeks since entry to the trial (8-week TI). Key secondary endpoints include the rate of RBC-TI lasting at least 24 weeks (24-week TI), the duration of TI and the rate of hematologic improvement erythroid (HI-E), which is defined under 2006 IWG criteria as a rise in hemoglobin of at least 1.5 g/dL above the pretreatment level for at least eight weeks or a reduction of at least four units of RBC transfusions over eight weeks compared with the prior RBC transfusion burden. A total of 178 patients were enrolled in IMerge Phase 3 across North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

About Imetelstat

Imetelstat is a novel, first-in-class investigational telomerase inhibitor exclusively owned by Geron and being developed in hematologic malignancies. Data from non-clinical studies and clinical trials of imetelstat provide strong evidence that imetelstat targets telomerase to inhibit the uncontrolled proliferation of malignant stem and progenitor cells in myeloid hematologic malignancies resulting in malignant cell apoptosis and potential disease-modifying activity. Imetelstat has been granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for both the treatment of adult patients with transfusion dependent anemia due to Low or Intermediate-1 risk MDS that is not associated with del(5q) who are refractory or resistant to an erythropoiesis stimulating agent, and for adult patients with Intermediate-2 or High-risk myelofibrosis (MF) whose disease has relapsed after or is refractory to janus associated kinase (JAK) inhibitor treatment. Imetelstat is currently not approved by any regulatory authority.

About Geron

Geron is a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company pursuing therapies with the potential to extend and enrich the lives of patients living with hematologic malignancies. Our first-in-class investigational telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, harnesses Nobel Prize-winning science in a treatment that may alter the underlying drivers of disease. The New Drug Application (NDA) for imetelstat for the treatment of transfusion dependent anemia in patients with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (LR MDS) who have failed to respond or have lost response to or are ineligible for erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), based on the results from the Phase 3 IMerge clinical trial, is currently under review by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) target action date of June 16, 2024. In addition, an MAA is under review in the European Union for the same proposed indication. Furthermore, Geron currently has an ongoing pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating imetelstat in relapsed/refractory myelofibrosis (MF). To learn more, visit www.geron.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

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 such statements, include, without limitation: (i) that the IMerge Phase 3 results could potentially be practice-changing; (ii) that imetelstat, if approved by regulatory authorities, could substantially improve the treatment paradigm in certain patients with lower risk MDS; (iii) that imetelstat may alter the underlying drivers of disease in myeloid hematologic malignancies and has the potential to demonstrate disease-modifying activity in patients; and (iv) other statements that are not historical facts, constitute forward-looking statements. These forward-looking 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, risks and uncertainties related to: (a) whether regulatory authorities permit the further development of imetelstat on a timely basis, or at all, without any clinical holds; (b) whether any future safety or efficacy results cause the benefit-risk profile of imetelstat to become unacceptable; (c) whether imetelstat actually demonstrates that it alters the underlying drivers of disease and has disease-modifying activity in patients; and (d) whether the FDA and EMA will approve imetelstat for the treatment of transfusion-dependent anemia in patients with lower risk MDS. Additional information on the above risks and uncertainties and additional risks, uncertainties and factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are contained in Geron’s filings and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in such filings and reports, including Geron’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2023 and future filings and reports by Geron. 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.

Aron Feingold
Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications

Kristen Kelleher
Senior Manager, Investor Relations

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Source: Geron Corporation