Geron touts clearance for first human stem cell trial

MENLO PARK, CA: Geron, a biopharmaceutical company, is working with Russo Partners on the company's clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start the first clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells.

MENLO PARK, CA: Geron, a biopharmaceutical company, is working with Russo Partners on the company's clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start the first clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells.

The PR team used a tiered approach to release the news of the clearance on January 23, said David Schull, president of Russo Partners. The firm has provided corporate communications and IR support for Geron since 2007.

Diane Sawyer broke the news on ABC's Good Morning America, using a segment that had been taped at Geron's Menlo Park, CA-headquarters months before the clearance. The Bloomberg, CNBC, Financial Times, The Times of London, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Web sites published embargoed stories the same day.

Much of the media interest stemmed from the idea that Geron's clearance will open doors for future embryonic stem cell therapies, says Anna Krassowska, manager of investor and media relations at Geron. Stem cell research remains a controversial issue; the George W. Bush administration had restricted public funding of research in that area, but the science community is optimistic that President Obama might overturn that ruling.

To provide additional information to investors, media, and the medical community, Geron launched a microsite with animated video explanations of the process, a Webcast of the announcement, and detailed background information about the trial, Krassowska added.

The team also gave journalists the animated video, created in conjunction with the University of California, Irvine, to post online alongside their stories, Schull said.

“The science is really important,” Krassowska noted. “It's a really wide audience, [so] we have to explain it simply.”

Going forward, the team will work to maintain interest in the story, Krassowska said. Because this therapy focuses on acute patients who have been injured in the last 14 days, the company is focusing awareness within the medical community, not the patient community.

The news announcement garnered 1,100 print and online stories and 300 TV segments, Schull said.

Updated:  3:19:39 PM

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