Geron Corporation (Nasdaq:GERN) announced today the publication of preclinical studies that support the safety and utility of GRNOPC1, Geron’s lead human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-based therapeutic product for the treatment of spinal cord injury.
In the studies published in Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Hans Keirstead and his colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, injected GRNOPC1 into the Lesion site of rats that received either very mild or moderate spinal cord contusion injuries. GRNOPC1 survived in both the mild and moderate lesion sites, with a broader distribution of transplanted cells and robust remyelination in the more severe injuries, replicating previous studies.
“These studies provide evidence for the safety of GRNOPC1 therapy for spinal cord injury,” said Thomas B Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., Geron’s chief executive officer. “However, they represent only one part of the extensive preclinical safety profiling we are performing on GRNOPC1 in preparation for clinical development.”
Rats that received the mild injury exhibited a transient decrease in hind limb ambulatory activity which resolved completely within 1-2 weeks. Since these animals completely recovered in a relatively short period of time, they serve as a sensitive model to detect any intervention that may interfere with recovery. Transplantation of GRNOPC1 did not impede the rate or stability of recovery in the mildly injured animals.
GRNOPC1 is a population of oligodendroglial cells differentiated from hESCs. Oligodendrocytes are the cells of the Central Nervous System which provide insulation, known as Myelin, for axons, the conduits of nerve impulses. After spinal cord injury, axonal damage occurs from either physical trauma or Demyelination leading to aberrant nerve conductance. GRNOPC1 has been shown to restore myelination to axons after injury and to stimulate axonal survival and growth, both in tissue culture and in the injured rodent spinal cord.
Geron is a Menlo Park, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company that is developing and intends to commercialize first-in-class therapeutic products for the treatment of cancer and degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. The products are based on Geron’s core expertise in telomerase and human embryonic stem cells. For more information, 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 such forward-looking 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 maintenance 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 quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2006.
Geron Corporation David L. Greenwood, 650-473-7765
Noonan Russo David Schull, 858-546-4810 (Media)
Sharon Weinstein, 212-845-4271 (Investors)