With more than 3.0 million page views and more than 5,000 items, this blog provides news and commentary on public policy, business and economic issues related to the $3 billion California stem cell agency. David Jensen, a retired California newsman, has published this blog since January 2005. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, January 07, 2013
BioTime Buys Geron's Stem Cell Assets, Including hESC Clinical Trial
Geron Corp., which pioneered the first
clinical trial of an hESC therapy, today sold its stem cell
business to another San Francisco Bay Area firm whose two top
executives were once CEOs at Geron.
The total value of the complex deal was
not clear from the public statements released by Geron and the
acquiring firm, BioTime, Inc., of Alameda, but an unidentified
outside investor is adding $10 million to transaction.
In a telephone interview this evening,
Michael West, CEO of BioTime, said that as a result of the deal his
firm will hold 600 patents and patent applications involving stem
cells. He said the aggregation should help in attracting financial
interest in the firm and its efforts.
West founded Geron in 1990. BioTime
Acquistion Corp., the BioTime subsidiary that is picking up the Geron
assets, is headed by Tom Okarma, who was Geron's CEO from 1999 to
After Okarma left the firm in 2011,
Geron abruptly jettisoned its stem cell business along with the
clinical trial. Geron has been looking since then for a buyer for the
Only a few months prior to the Geron
decision in 2011, the California stem cell agency had signed a $25
million loan agreement with Geron to support the clinical trial. The
company paid back with interest the amount of the loan that it had
Information from the two companies did
not specify whether BioTime will begin seeking additional
participants in the clinical trial. Nor did BioTime indicate whether
it would seek additional funding from the state stem cell agency.
However, West said during the telephone
interview that he has an “open mind” about working with CIRM.
Last year, agency officials indicated an interest in continuing to
support the clinical trial. West said BioTime had already hired some
employees that were laid off by Geron, including its patent attorney.
He said that he hoped to reassemble at least part of Geron's now
scattered stem cell team.
According to the Geron press release,
when the deal is officially concluded in September, “it is
anticipated that Geron stockholders would own approximately 21% of
BAC, BioTime would own approximately 72%, and a private investor
would own approximately 7% after an additional $5 million investment
For its new operations, BioTime has
leased space in Menlo Park that Geron once used for its stem cell
Both firms are publicy traded.
BioTime's stock price closed at $3.45 today and had a 52-week high of
$6.35 and a low of $2.67. Geron closed at $1.60 and had a 52-week
high of $2.99 and a low of 91 cents.