Shares of Geron Corp (NASDAQ:GERN) gained over 3% on Tuesday after the company announced positive early preclinical data.
The company's telomerase inhibitor GRN163L had positive synergistic effects in mice expressing human breast cancer when used along with chemotherapy. This is the first study to show GRN163L as a radiation sensitizer in cancer treatment.
Geron is best known for its world leading intellectual property portfolio of stem cell and nuclear transfer (cloning) technology. In fact, Geron holds key patents in the isolation and harvesting of human embryonic and germ line stem cells.
It also holds world rights to the nuclear transfer technology that had produced the famous Dolly the Sheep. Although there has recently been various other cloning methods developed by other organizations that have arguably lowered the strong value of the Dolly nuclear transfer technique.
But the company also holds key patents related to telomerase research and its application in cancer treatment. Telomeres are short strands of DNA that have been shown in studies to be implicated in cellular aging. In fact, the data has shown that as the cell ages telomeres become smaller in size.
Telomerase is an enzyme that apparently plays a role in cancer progression. Specifically, it delays the shortening of telomeres in cancer cells, and thus, making those cells theoretically immortal.
Geron's telomerase inhibitor candidates, as the name implies, aim to block the activity of the enzyme and thus, rendering cancer cells mortal, and in essence, killing them. What makes the company's cancer program so exciting is that studies have shown telomerase is universal; almost all kinds of cancer can be theoretically treated.
Geron's stem cell programs are various, including research aimed at treating spinal cord injuries, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, hematology and other conditions.
With about $175 million in cash, no debt and a market cap of only $600 million, Geron looks tasty as a takeover target. But the company is a fighter, and would probably vote down any offer deemed even a little low.
Geron has legally protected its patent portfolio vigorously in the past, so much so that it has been regularly criticized. It could be possible that regulatory bodies could get involved and loosen the company's patent claims, but this is unlikely. The company is getting better at providing cell lines and working with other organizations, while protecting the underlying claims of their key patents.
Geron closed trading on Tuesday at $9.16, and just recently the company sold company sold $40 million in stock for $8 a share. This makes it current worth on the market only 14.5% above the recent stock offering.
The life science conference season heats up again late winter early spring. Geron should have a multitude of study results to announce during the next few months. Also, considering the company had traded as high as $12 back in May of 2005, the current stock price seems at least 30% cheaper than its true value.
Geron Corp has been chosen as a BioHealth Investor Stock Pick.
GERN 1-yr. chart: