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Geron and Sienna Enter into License Agreement for Cancer Diagnostics

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Geron Corporation and Sienna Cancer Diagnostics have signed a license agreement allowing Sienna access to critical granted patents and know-how related to the detection or measurement of telomerase activity.

Telomerase has great potential as a cancer biomarker, being present in about 95% of all epithelial cancers. Sienna’s lead product in development is a non-invasive assay that utilizes Sienna’s proprietary Telomerase Biosensor Technology (“TBT”) to detect telomerase activity in urine for the diagnosis of bladder cancer.

The assay could supplement or replace invasive cystoscopy procedures. In the U.S. alone, approximately US$700 million are spent annually on cystoscopic procedures to monitor and diagnose the occurrence or recurrence of bladder cancer.

Under the terms of the license, Sienna gains worldwide exclusive rights within a defined field to Geron-controlled intellectual property to detect telomerase activity for the cancer in vitro diagnostics market. In consideration for the license, Geron received a significant equity interest in Sienna and is entitled to receive royalties on future product sales.

“We are pleased to have entered into this License Agreement and to have become a major shareholder in Sienna,” said David J. Earp, J.D., Ph.D., Geron’s senior vice president of business development and chief patent counsel.

Sienna’s chief executive officer Kerry A. Hegarty, Ph.D. said, “The agreement represents an outstanding opportunity not only for Sienna, but globally for patients, payers and clinicians who seek better, faster methods for the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer.”

Dr. Hegarty continued, “Sienna’s pathway to commercialization is now well-defined, secured by the agreement with Geron and a solid and talented workforce. It is a very exciting time for Sienna. We can now move rapidly through our product development program toward offering a range of high-value cancer diagnostic tests.”