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Telomerase Presentations at the AACR 2007 Annual Meeting

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Cancer Stem Cells

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a rare sub-population of self-renewing, immortal tumor cells capable of differentiating into the various types of cells seen within the bulk tumor. They are now widely believed to be distinct from the bulk tumor cells and to be responsible for many cases of drug resistance and cancer recurrence. The 2007 AACR meeting had a dramatic increase in CSC presentations, and there is a growing awareness that effective cancer treatment will require drugs that kill CSCs.

At previous cancer meetings, Drs. W. Matsui and R. Jones of Johns Hopkins University reported on telomerase activity in myeloma stem cells. The Johns Hopkins team demonstrated that Geron's telomerase inhibitor, GRN163L, blocked growth and colony formation in both the stem and differentiated subpopulations of myeloma cells. In these studies, no other compounds have been shown to be as active against myeloma CSCs. Geron is currently planning a trial with GRN163L in myeloma patients.

Other Telomerase and Telomere Presentations

Other studies presented at the AACR meeting focused on the degree of telomere loss prior to telomerase activation in various tumor types, the role of telomere dysfunction in tumorigenesis, and use of the telomerase promoter to drive tumor cell death.

"The data presented at AACR contribute to the growing body of evidence regarding the importance of telomerase targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer," noted Alan Colowick, M.D., M.P.H., Geron's president, oncology. "Geron currently has two clinical studies of GRN163L underway in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and solid tumor malignancies. We plan to initiate two additional studies of GRN163L in patients with multiple myeloma and non-small cell lung cancer, as well as a study of GRNVAC1 in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), in the months ahead.

Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment
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