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Ahead of the Bell: Geron

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lowered his rating for Geron after the company announced two setbacks for its experimental cancer drug imetelstat, saying it has ended one study of the treatment and does not expect the drug to succeed in a second study.

On Monday Geron Corp. said that it stopped a mid-stage trial of imetelstat as a treatment for breast cancer because women who were treated with the drug were not doing as well as those who were treated with only a standard chemotherapy drug. The company said women who were treated with imetelstat and paclitaxel had a shorter time to death or disease progression than patients who received only paclitaxel.

Geron also said that it will complete a mid-stage trial of imetelstat as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, but it does not think the drug will meet the goals of the study and does not plan to move imetelstat into late-stage testing as a treatment for that type of cancer.

Stifel Nicolaus' Brian Klein cut Geron's rating to "Hold" from "Buy," saying in a client note that he doesn't expect any further meaningful clinical development of imetelstat.

The analyst also expects the company will restructure within the next six months to conserve its resources until data comes out on a drug candidate that is being tested for the treatment of brain metastases due to metastatic breast cancer.

Its shares finished at $1.28 on Monday after sinking to a 52-week low of $1.23 earlier in the session.