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Geron Continues Aggressive Development of Embryonic Stem Cell Technology

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  • Geron Continues Aggressive Development of Embryonic Stem Cell Technology

    Thursday November 1, 7:31 am Eastern Time
    Press Release
    SOURCE: Geron Corporation
    Geron Continues Aggressive Development of Embryonic Stem Cell Technology
    MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BW HealthWire)--Nov. 1, 2001--Geron Corporation (Nasdaq:GERN - news) today reaffirmed its commitment to the company's ongoing development program for commercializing embryonic stem cell technology.

    As Geron has previously described, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has brought a lawsuit against Geron seeking a declaratory judgment concerning Geron's rights and WARF's obligations under the 1999 license agreement between WARF and Geron. The license agreement covers the commercialization of six cell types made from human embryonic stem cells. Geron funded the research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that led to the isolation of human embryonic stem cells.

    WARF's lawsuit addresses Geron's option to obtain an exclusive license to cell types in addition to the six cell types already licensed to Geron and the scope of Geron's exclusive license to commercialize research products based on those six cell types. On October 3, 2001, Geron filed an answer and a motion for judgment on the pleadings in the lawsuit. WARF's response to Geron's motion was filed on October 30, 2001.

    In the course of a recent discussion in which Geron made a proposal to settle the lawsuit, WARF indicated that it was dissatisfied with the development plans for the six cell types that Geron had submitted to WARF under the license agreement. WARF subsequently sent Geron a letter stating its concerns about these development plans and about Geron's progress in commercializing therapeutic products based on the WARF patents. WARF's letter requested that Geron revise the development plans to make them acceptable to WARF. In principle, WARF has the right to terminate Geron's license rights with respect to any cell type that Geron does not develop diligently.

    Geron believes that its development of the technology has been more than diligent. In fact, Geron has spent more than $48 million since 1995 on embryonic stem cell research and development. Geron believes that its development plans are both reasonable and consistent with its obligations under the license agreement. Geron is committed to developing commercial products based on the WARF patents, as well as on Geron's own embryonic stem cell intellectual property, as rapidly and effectively as possible consistent with regulatory requirements and patient safety. Geron is committed to developing therapeutic products that are safe and effective, and that do not fail in clinical trials or before the FDA for lack of pre-clinical research. In that respect, Geron believes that its interests and WARF's interests are identical.

    Geron continues to be committed to resolving its differences with WARF amicably and in a way that advances both the private interests of the parties, as well as the public interest. However, if WARF seeks to diminish the rights that WARF willingly granted Geron, after Geron funded the research, paid WARF for a license, and invested substantially in developing the technology thereby greatly enhancing its value, then Geron intends to resist vigorously.

    Geron is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing therapeutic and diagnostic products for applications in oncology and regenerative medicine, and research tools for drug discovery. Geron's product development programs are based upon three patented core technologies: telomerase, human embryonic stem cells and nuclear transfer.

  • #2
    Thanks Pecla

    Good information. Much appreciated.


    • #3
      This article illustrates the conundrum that the U.S. government faces in trying to get commercially developed stem cell lines available for researchers. What the article does not say is that the option that Geron can exercise is an *exclusive* license to the stem cell lines. If they exercise this option, it means that Geron has the right to exclude the stem cell lines from any researcher who may be working with other companies or who does not want to license the intellectual property rights of new discoveries to Geron. While I am not privy to the details of the license or what Geron is thinking, I believe that this is the reason why WARF (Wisconsin) is filing a lawsuit to prevent. Geron is right in saying that they have invested heavily into the development of these lines. On the other hand, WARF is saying that they are dissatisfied with the progress of getting these stem cell lines into clinical trials and would like to be able to grant the option of studying these cells to the National Institutes of Health who would be able to invest more into the development of these lines. It is a very difficult situation.