UPDATE 1-Geron ends joint venture with Hong Kong university

Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:37am EDT

* HKUST to get royalty on future drug sales

* Geron to fund development of drug candidates

July 15 (Reuters) - Stem cell research company Geron Corp (GERN.O) said it ended its joint venture with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and it will be responsible for further development and funding of its HIV and lung-drug candidates.

In 2005, Geron and HKUST created the joint venture, TA Therapeutics Ltd, to develop controlled activation of telomerase, an enzyme that helps prevent the fraying of chromosomes that underlies aging and cancer.

Controlled activation of the enzyme may restore the regenerative and functional capacity of cells in various organ systems impacted by injury or chronic disease.

Under the new agreement, the telomerase activator program will continue as an internal Geron program and all intellectual property of TA Therapeutics has been assigned to Geron, the company said.

Geron said HKUST will be eligible to receive a royalty on future sales of the drugs. Geron is currently testing its HIV and lung drug candidates in animals.

Shares of the company closed at $4.91 Wednesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Anand Basu in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)

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