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Geron Soars On Biotech Milestone

Shares of Geron soared Friday morning after the biotech specialist reported a breakthrough in research it funded on growing human cells for organ transplants.

Geron (GERN) shares jumped 8 5/16, or 84 percent, to 18 3/16 Friday morning.

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On Thursday, shares rose 31 percent after the company initially reported its role in studies on growing human embryonic master cells. These are the basic source of cells that, during gestation, form all of the body's parts.

The scientists demonstrated that the cell lines would transform into specific cell types, with specific functions for muscles, bones or nerves.

Geron said in a press release that it holds the worldwide license to the discovery of growing "stem cells," a long sought-after prize for the advancement of organ transplants, gene therapy and other fields.

"The potential of these unique, versatile cells for human biologic studies and medicine is enormous," John Gearhart, the Johns Hopkins University scientist who led the research, said in a statement. "These cells will rapidly let us study human processes in a way we couldn't before. Instead of having to rely on mice or other substitutes for human tissues, we'll have a unique resource that we can start applying to medicine."

Geron also funded a separate study at the University of Wisconsin.

"At this point, the discoveries reported by the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins are complementary technologies," said David L. Greenwood, Geron's chief financial officer. "Both licenses are in place. Our strategic objective is to establish and maintain leadership in the field."

The story drew front-page coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other media.

Written By Steve Gelsi

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