Shares in biopharmaceutical company Geron Corporation (GERN) took a wild ride on Friday, as the company was up as much as 32 percent in pre-market trading, spiked nearly 18 percent to open trading, swung to a 2.7 percent loss, and then started climbing again. All before 11 am EST.
The wild day came after the company released data after market close on Thursday from a clinical study showing that its bone-marrow drug, imetelstat, displayed statistically significant results among 22 myelofibrosis patients.
Imetelstat Carrying GERN to New Heights
Imetelstat is a treatment for myelofibrosis, a chronic myeloid cancer that affects bone marrow cells. It’s intended to work by inhibiting the activity of telomerase, an enzyme that allows cancer cells to maintain telomere length, which is what gives those cells the capacity for limitless reproduction.
The Mayo Clinic study, which was performed on 22 myelofibrosis patients over six months, achieved partial or complete remission from five of the participants and showed a response to the treatment in 41 percent of people taking the drug.
“Some patients in our clinical trial taking imetelstat obtained dramatic responses and there have been some complete responses which is almost unheard of for drug therapy in this disease,” said Mayo Clinic hematologist Ayalew Tefferi, the study’s lead author, in the statement. “These are early results but they are promising.”
Roller-coaster Day for GERN Stock
The daily movement for Geron proved inconsistent, repeatedly rising sharply only to surrender gains soon after.
After closing at $5.87 a share on Thursday, the stock opened $6.72 a share and rose as high as $6.92 in the first six minutes of trading. It then plunged sharply, falling as low as $5.71 a share just before it started to rebound again at around 11 am. That rebound carried shares to $6.33 a share by just after 12:45 pm, but it was followed by another sharp decline back to $5.87 a share.
Things slowed considerably after 1 pm, but a slow rally to over $6 a share was followed by another decline with shares down over 0.75 percent by 3:45 pm.
GERN On the Rise Since September
The current news on a Mayo Clinic comes almost exactly a month after the company experienced 44.72 percent jump in a single day on new of another Mayo Clinic study returning strong results.
On the whole, it’s been a strong close to 2013 for a stock that showed little life prior to the end of the summer. Shares in Geron have more than quadrupled since September 1, rising over 315 percent since that point. The stock gained less than 1.5 percent over the first 9 months of the year.
Driving the gains are continuing streams of positive news about imetelstat, which investors clearly believe is en route for FDA approval and commercial release as Geron has consistently been losing money since 2009, with annual operating losses between $70 million and $111 million in that time.
Friday’s stops and starts could be a sign that investors and traders believe the three-month run has taken Geron’s value close to long-term resistance.