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Geron drops brain cancer drug, to cut jobs

(Reuters) - Geron Corp confirmed it will discontinue development of an experimental drug to treat cancer that has spread to the brain from elsewhere in the body and also cut about 40 percent of its workforce, after patients failed to respond to the drug in a mid-stage study.

The company said it will now focus on the development of another drug candidate, imetelstat, as a treatment for blood cancers and some types of solid tumors.

The brain cancer drug, GRN1005 and imetelstat's development in blood cancers were the only hopes that Geron's shareholders had after the company warned investors in September that it would stop developing imetelstat as a breast cancer treatment.

Geron now has only imetelstat in its pipeline, after dropping its brain cancer drug and exiting stem-cell research in November 2011.

The company signed a deal last month to sell its stem-cell assets to BioTime Inc.

On Monday, Geron also said Chief Financial Officer Graham Cooper will be leaving to pursue other opportunities. Treasurer and Chief Accounting Officer Olivia Bloom will replace Cooper.

Menlo Park, California-based Geron shares, which had closed at $1.48 on Monday on Nasdaq, fell 16 percent to $1.24 in extended trading.

(Reporting by Vidya P L Nathan; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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