Geron, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company developing first-in-class therapies for cancer, has discontinued development of GRN1005, its peptide-drug conjugate designed to treat cancers in the brain. Going forward, the company will focus on the development of imetelstat, its telomerase inhibitor, in hematologic myeloid malignancies and in patients with solid tumors that have short telomeres.
The company also announced a restructuring to reduce its workforce from 107 positions to 64 full-time positions, and to reduce its annual cash operating expenses from approximately $65 million in 2012 to approximately $33 million in 2013, which includes non-recurring costs of approximately $3 million associated with the restructuring and approximately $3 million for the discontinuation of clinical trials. The company expects to end 2012 with approximately $90 million in cash and investments.
The decision to discontinue development of GRN1005 was made after the company completed a planned interim analysis for futility for GRABM-B, the company's phase II study in patients with brain metastases arising from breast cancer. Analysis showed that there were no confirmed intra-cranial responses, as determined by an Independent Review Facility, among the first 30 evaluable patients in the trial. In addition, the company is discontinuing GRABM-L, its phase II study in patients with brain metastases arising from non-small cell lung cancer, because of the inability to successfully enroll the trial. Geron has provided to Angiochem notice of termination of both the exclusive license agreement under which Geron received rights to GRN1005 and an associated research collaboration and option agreement.
"We are very disappointed that the results of the GRN1005 program fell short of our criteria for further development," said John A. Scarlett, M.D., president and CEO, Geron. "Our immediate focus now is on the use of imetelstat in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors with short telomeres, which represent an opportunity for significant therapeutic advances and value creation."
In connection with the restructuring, Graham Cooper, CFO of Geron, will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Olivia Bloom, currently vice president of finance, chief accounting officer and treasurer, will assume the role of CFO effective December 7.
In addition, Geron has appointed Craig C. Parker as senior vice president of corporate development and as a member of the executive management team. Parker has over 25 years experience in the science and business of the biotechnology industry, and was most recently senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Human Genome Sciences, until its sale to GlaxoSmithKline in 2012.