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Geron Discontinues Stem Cells Work

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine had agreed to lend Geron up to $25 million to pay for the trial, which was designed mainly to test the safety of embryonic stem cells on patients with severe spinal cord injury. Dr. Scarlett said the company had returned $6.5 million, the amount it had borrowed so far, plus interest. The company also eliminated 66 fulltime positions, representing 38 percent of its workforce, and is seeking partners to enable further development of its stem cell programs.

Although it is closing the trial to further enrollment, Geron is continuing to follow all enrolled patients, accruing data and updating FDA and the medical community on their progress. So far four patients have been treated. While there were no signs that the treatment was helping the patients, Dr. Scarlett said there has been no sign of safety problems.

Geron's withdrawal leaves Advanced Cell Technology as the only company now conducting a clinical trial involving human embryonic stem cells. Its study is focused on the treatment of macular degeneration.

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