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Geron Corporation, a biotech that made sci-fi-sounding headlines through the ’90s and 2000s before shuffling along in semi-obscurity for the past decade, said Wednesday that its experimental drug proved effective in a late-stage trial for a group of chronic blood disorders.

The results, if they hold up to scrutiny, could provide a lifeline for Geron and set up a new treatment for the disease, known as myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS. Although not immediately fatal, MDS can require patients to undergo routine blood transfusions, which can be burdensome and come with side effects, and it can progress after a few years to deadly leukemia.


Approval or widespread use, however, isn’t guaranteed. Geron said the molecule, known as imetelstat, allowed substantially more patients to go for weeks — and in some cases for over a year — without transfusions. But the drug also came with significant side effects that could limit its uptake.

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