Geron Corp., a three-year-old privately held company targetingdiseases related to aging, raised $11.7 million to support its drugdiscovery projects.
The Menlo Park, Calif., company has generated $2.9 million inprivate equity financing since it was formed in 1992. All programsare still in the research stage.
In May 1995, Geron entered into a collaboration worth up to $30million with Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, fordevelopment of cancer drugs. Kogyo bought manufacturing andmarketing rights in Asia for treatments emerging from the alliance.
The drug discovery collaboration is based on inhibiting telomerase,which is an enzyme that is believed to "immortalize" tumor cells,allowing them to multiply.
Normally telomerase is active in germ cells to ensure perpetuation ofthe species, but is turned off in somatic cells through geneticallydetermined cell-senescence.
Jeryl Hilleman, Geron's vice president of operations, said thecompany's telomerase research also targets slowing the cell agingprocess by reversing cell-senescence. _ Charles Craig
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