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Geron Stock Up Almost 40% So Far This Year After '16 Decline

Geron Corporation’sGERN shares have risen 38.7% this year so far, outperforming the Zacks classified Medical - Biomedical and Genetics industry, which rose 5.6%. This comes after a decline of more than 57% in 2016.

The small biotech has been making rapid advances in the development of its only pipeline candidate imetelstat, which has been instrumental in driving up shares.

Imetelstat is being developed for the treatment of hematologic myeloid malignancies like myelofibrosis (MF) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Geron enjoys a strong collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ subsidiary Janssen for imetelstat.

Imetelstat Out of the Woods Now: In 2016, J&J announced unfavorable findings from the planned internal reviews of initial data from the two studies of imetelstat – IMbark (phase II) for MF and IMerge (phase II/III) for MDS.

However, in April this year, Geron informed that Janssen has completed the second internal data review of the two studies to inform on further development plans. As a result of the review, both trials are continuing unmodified. Shares picked up significantly after the interim update.

For IMerge, the company believes that the benefit/risk profile supports continued development. If Janssen decides to proceed to Part 2 of IMerge (a larger, 170 patient, phase III study), patient enrollment will begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

For IMbark, the results suggest that the clinical benefit and potential overall survival...