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Geron Stock Plunges After Johnson & Johnson Ends Collaboration Deal

Shares of Geron Corp. (GERN) plunged 62 percent in regular trading on Thursday after the biotech firm reported that Johnson & Johnson terminated a collaboration and license agreement with the company for experimental cancer drug imetelstat.

Geron said Janssen Biotech Inc., a subsidiary Johnson & Johnson, has terminated the 2014 Collaboration and License Agreement with the company.

Janssen, in a statement said, it made this decision as the result of a strategic portfolio evaluation and prioritization of assets within their portfolio.

Geron has regained the global rights to develop and commercialize imetelstat, a first-in-class telomerase inhibitor.

Under the groups' collaboration deal, Janssen held rights to develop to the drug in oncology, including haematologic myeloid malignancies.

"We are grateful for the collaboration with Janssen, who successfully managed two Phase 2 trials of imetelstat," said CEO John Scarlett. "We believe the clinical results from IMbark provide valuable insights into the potential future development of imetelstat for an underserved relapsed and refractory myelofibrosis patient population. We also believe the combined data of 38 patients from the initial and expansion cohorts for the target patient population from the Phase 2 portion of IMerge support further development of imetelstat, and we are therefore prioritizing the initiation of the Phase 3 portion of Imerge."

Transition of the imetelstat program to Geron is expected to occur over around 12 months with operational support from Janssen.

GERN closed Thursday's trading at $2.31, down $3.92 or 62.92%, on the Nasdaq.

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