Geron: Anti-Aging Objective

Don Ashley dashley at TENET.EDU
Mon May 20 21:05:33 EST 1996


   
   
   
   GERON CORPORATION
   200 CONSTITUTION DRIVE
   MENLO PARK, CA 94025
   (415)476-7700
   FAX (415)476-7750 
   
   Chief Executive: Ronald W. Eastman
   
   Presenter: Richard T. Haiduck
   
   COMPANY PROFILE 
   
   Founder: Michael D. West
   Date Established: March, 1992
   Legal Form: Corporation
   Stage of Development: Pre-Clinical
   
   CORPORATE OVERVIEW 
   
   Geron Corporation is the first biopharmaceutical company to focus
   exclusively on the development of therapeutic (and diagnostic)
   products for age-related diseases based on new molecular insights into
   the molecular and cellular mechanisms of aging. Age-related diseases,
   such as cancer, atherosclerosis, senile dementia, and benign prostatic
   hyperplasia are often extremely debilitating or terminal, with few
   effective therapeutic modalities. The significance of these diseases
   to the population and to health care costs is dramatic and increasing
   rapidly. In fact, the over-85 population is expected to triple over
   the next forty years, and increase sevenfold over the next sixty
   years. Geron's approach to the treatment of age-related diseases
   differs from traditional pharmaceutical intervention in that it has
   targeted the fundamental molecular causes of these diseases, rather
   than merely the symptoms.
   
   TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW 
   
   Geron's ability to address a diversity of age-related disease states
   is based on recent insights into the biological mechanisms of cellular
   aging -- and conversely, into the process by which cancer cells escape
   "aging" by becoming "immortal." Recent research indicates that aging
   results, in large part, from genetic determinants that operate in all
   dividing cells throughout the body. Geron and its collaborators have
   pioneered the understanding of this genetic "clock" of cellular aging,
   and believe that many diseases of aging are due primarily to
   genetically programmed senescence of cells in the various bodily
   tissues. At the opposite extreme, the age-related disease of cancer is
   due to the failure of cells to senesce owing to mutations that confer
   replicative immortality.
   
   Discovery and Development Programs Geron's research and development
   programs are based upon proprietary technology in two complementary
   areas: Reversal of Cell Immortality (telomerase inhibition), and
   Modulation of Cell Senescence (delay senescence and reverse senescent
   gene expression). In each area the company has acquired or developed
   proprietary approaches including patents, exclusive collaborations
   with major academic groups (with licensing rights), and special
   expertise.
   
   GERON CORPORATION 
   
   Reversal of Cell Immortality
   The Company's Telomerase Inhibition program is focused on converting
   immortalized cancer cells into mortal cells which subsequently will
   die. A telomerase inhibitor would cause the cancer cells to die,
   typically after a relatively small number of additional replication
   cycles. Normal tissues, which generally lack telomerase, should be
   unaffected by such inhibitors. Telomerase inhibitors should therefore
   be associated with few or no side effects, and yet be clinically
   efficacious against most advanced cancers.
   
   Modulation of Cell Senescence
   Geron's Senescent Gene Expression program is directed toward
   modulating cell senescence through two approaches:
   
   Delay Cell Senescence
   It should be possible to delay or reduce age-related pathology by
   extending cell proliferation beyond the expected number of cell
   divisions. Geron is designing proprietary assays and screens to
   discover means to increase telomere length and hence increase the
   replicative lifespan of cells.
   
   Reverse Senescent Gene Expression
   Regulation of senescent gene expression should overcome the negative
   effects of senescent gene expression to treat age-related diseases.
   Geron has developed and is applying a proprietary screen using unique
   senescent markers to screen for compounds reversing senescence. In
   addition, Geron has developed a high throughput genetic analysis
   technique which already has enabled the Company to identify over forty
   novel gene tags which are specific to either young or senescent genes.
   These discoveries may lead to therapeutics which regulate or
   compensate for a specific gene expression change, or means to
   intervene with the overall regulatory mechanisms of senescent gene
   expression.
   
   While this broad-based platform technology can be applied to a variety
   of age-related diseases, current efforts are directed toward cutaneous
   aging and vascular disease.
   
   CURRENT CORPORATE PARTNERS
   
   None
   
   POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIPS OPPORTUNITIES
   
   Cutaneous skin aging
   Vascular disease, including atherosclerosis
   
   Management Team
   
   Ronald W. Eastman: President and Chief Executive Officer, spent
   fifteen years at American Cyanamid, most recently, as a vice president
   and general manager of Lederle Laboratories.
   
   Calvin Harley, Ph.D.: Vice President, Research, formerly served as a
   member of Geron's scientific advisory board. Dr. Harley was on the
   faculty at McMaster University, and is the discoverer of some of the
   molecular pathways regulating cell aging and immortalization.
   
   Richard T. Haiduck: Vice President, Corporate Development, brings to
   Geron 17 years of health are management experience primarily with
   Abbott Laboratories.
   
   Jeryl L. Hilleman: Vice President, Finance and Administration, brings
   both pharmaceutical and financial services experience, including Cytel
   Corporation, Merck & Co., and Fidelity Investments.
   
   Kevin R. Kaster: Vice President, Intellectual Properties and Chief
   Patent Counsel, provides Geron with expertise in biotechnology patent
   law, having extensive experience at Affymax, N.V., Cetus Corporation,
   and Eli Lilly and Company.
   
   Michael D. West, Ph.D.: Vice President, New Technology Discovery, is
   the founder of Geron. His discoveries have contributed to the
   understanding of the mechanisms by which cellular senescence leads to
   numerous age-related pathologies.
   
   BOARD OF DIRECTORS
   
   Dr. Alexander E. Barkas, Chairman, General Partner of Kleiner Perkins
   Caufield and Byers
   Mr. Brian H. Dovey, General Partner of Domain Associates
   Mr. Ronald W. Eastman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Geron
   Mr. Charles M. Hartman, General Partner of CW Group
   Mr. Thomas D. Kiley, Entrepreneur
   Mr. Patrick F. Latterell, General Partner of Venrock Associates
   Dr. Michael E. West, Founder and Vice President of Geron
   
   SCIENTIFIC AND CLINICAL ADVISORY BOARD 
   
   Robert N. Butler, M.D., Mount Sinai Medical Center
   Gunter K. Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute and
   Rockefeller University
   Vincent J. Cristofalo, Ph.D., Medical College of Pennsylvania
   Carol Greider, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
   Douglas Hanahan, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
   Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
   Thomas Maciag, Ph.D., American Red Cross and George Washington
   University
   Jerry Shay, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern and Medical Center
   at Dallas
   James D. Watson, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
   Woodring Wright, M.D., Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern and
   Medical School at Dallas
     _________________________________________________________________
   
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