Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Potential Buyers Eyeing Geron's hESC Business

Geron has two interested potential buyers for its human embryonic stem cell business, the president of the California stem cell agency said today.

Alan Trounson told CIRM directors that at one point four parties had expressed interest  but two have backed out. He did not disclose the names of any of the parties.

Last fall, Geron announced it was giving up its hESC work because of financial concerns about what once was the first clinical trial of a human embryonic stem therapy. Last summer CIRM loaned Geron $25 million for the trial, which has been repaid with interest.  Following Geron's announcement, Trounson said he was working to help find a buyer for Geron's hESC business.

However, today he said he was "suddenly distanced" from the process a few days ago. CIRM director Sherry Lansing, who once headed a Hollywood film studio, asked Trounson whether there was anything that directors could do to help find a buyer for Geron's hESC business. She asked about the amount of money needed by Geron and whether patient advocates could help generate other momentum.

Trounson suggested that the discussion should  be continued privately. He did say that CIRM has prepared a document that outlines what would  be necessary for the agency to resume funding of the hESC trial.

Trounson told directors that Geron's departure from hESC research has had "a very strong negative influence internationally."

Geron, which is based in Menlo Park in California, said last week it has hired Stifel Nicolaus & Co. to help sell the hESC business. . 

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