What happened

Shares of the clinical-stage biotech Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN) are up by double digits for the second day in a row on no apparent news. What's going on?

While the company hasn't released any material news this week to explain this sudden move higher, Geron's stock might be responding to two recent developments:

  1. Congress passed a so-called "right-to-try" bill today, which could clear the way for terminally ill patients to experiment with the company's first-in-class telomerase inhibitor imetelstat as a drug of last resort.
  2. Geron and its partner Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) announced last Thursday that imetelstat's ongoing lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) study was selected for an oral presentation at the 23rd Congress of the European Hematology Association in June. 
A sickly man in bed surrounded by his adult woman and man.

Image source: Getty Images.

Geron's stock is presently up by 13%, as of 11:44 a.m. EDT. 

So what

Prior to this week's rally, Geron's stock was having trouble finding a bottom after the company announced that it decided to raise around $50 million in capital during the last quarter in the event J&J decides to nix their ongoing blood cancer collaboration. With this upcoming oral presentation now on the schedule, however, investors are apparently more confident that J&J is going to stick around.  

Now what

The key issue here is that this forthcoming MDS presentation should include a meaty update regarding imetelstat's progress in the expanded subset of patients who are naive to lenalidomide and hypomethylating treatment and lack the del(5q) mutation. And as this is an oral presentation and not simply a poster, these data are probably going to be impressive. Oral conference presentations, after all, are typically reserved for substantial developments.  

So while this right-to-try news is a positive, the most important event to keep an eye on is imetelstat's MDS update at next month's European Hematology Association meeting. Until then, Geron's stock appears set to continue edging higher in anticipation of this next clinical progress report.

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