Stem cells were certainly high-risk, but don't be fooled into thinking that Geron
Yesterday, the biotech announced the start of a phase 2 trial testing GRN1005 in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer that has spread to the brain. This is the second phase 2 trial for GRN1005; the company started one in breast cancer that had spread to the brain in earlier this month.
The good news is that brain metastases are a highly unmet need. The bad news is that there's a reason for that. It's challenging to get a drug across the blood-brain barrier. Geron thinks it has solved the problem by attaching a known tumor killer -- Bristol-Myers Squibb's
It sounds feasible, but so did stem cells. The phase 1 data for GFN1005 looked promising, but it'll take additional patients in larger phase 2 trials to prove that the concept has merit. Unfortunately, investors will have to wait more than a year, until the second quarter of 2013, before they'll get to see the data.
Geron has a more advanced drug, imetelstat, but it won't finish much earlier. The company is guiding for the four phase 2 trials to be completed by the end of next year.
Waiting a year for a binary event is asking an awful lot of biotech investors. I wouldn't be surprised to see investors abandon the stock during the first half of the year rather than sit on shares without any catalysts. At that point, Foolish investors will have two options: follow suit into companies with catalysts like Aeterna Zentaris
Either way, you'll need a strong stomach. But that's something that'll never disappear from biotech investing.