Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why Geron Stock Soared 23.4% Today

By Todd Campbell - May 15, 2020 at 1:24PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The bio pharmaceutical announced fresh data on imetelstat that it will present at a key conference next month.

What happened

After four abstracts were released highlighting the latest data on its lead drug candidate, imetelstat, shares of Geron (GERN 3.14%) were trading 23.4% higher as of 1:21 p.m. EST on Friday.

So what

Previously, Geron's prospects were dealt a significant blow when former imetelstat co-developer Johnson & Johnson decided against advancing the drug into phase 3 studies following lackluster mid-stage trial results in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myelofibrosis. After Geron received the rights to imetelstat back from J&J, it initiated a phase 3 study in MDS and paused development in MF.

A doctor talks through a megaphone.


At the upcoming European Hematology Association Congress, which will be held virtually from June 11 through June 14, researchers will provide updated mid-stage data regarding imetelstat's effectiveness against MDS in an oral presentation. They will highlight that 32% of patients in the study (12 patients) achieved 24-week independence from red blood cell transfusions, and 29% of them (11 patients), were transfusion free for at least one year, including one patient who was transfusion free for 2.7 years. 

Poster presentations at the event will also offer new insights into imetelstat's phase 2 trial in MF. One poster highlights a dose-dependent trend toward longer overall survival in patients who responded to imetelstat. Another poster highlights improved overall survival in triple negative MF patients who are relapsed or refractory to Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors, including Incyte's Jakafi, a blockbuster treatment with expected sales of over $1.88 billion in 2020.

Now what

The oral abstract is encouraging because it suggests Geron's ongoing phase 3 MDS trial could pan out. If it does, Geron believes imetelstat's addressable population could include 85% of lower-risk MDS patients, resulting in potential revenue of $500 million per year.

The poster presentations also offer encouragement because they could tilt the odds in favor of Geron restarting development of the drug as a treatment for MF. Management plans to sit down with the Food and Drug Administration soon to discuss its options in MF, and then make a decision on whether or not to start a phase 3 study.

Although these presentations are sparking optimism, investors might want to remain cautious given J&J's decision to abandon development of imetelstat and Geron's inability to attract a suitor or another collaborator. Until definitive late-stage data becomes available, it may be wiser to focus on other biotech companies with clearer pathways to drug approvals. 


Todd Campbell has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. His clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Incyte and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Geron Corporation Stock Quote
Geron Corporation
$2.13 (3.14%) $0.07
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$170.50 (0.19%) $0.32
Incyte Corporation Stock Quote
Incyte Corporation
$74.13 (0.54%) $0.40

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/10/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.