Janssen Biotech has decided to terminate a collaboration and license agreement with Geron Corp for experimental cancer drug imetelstat.

The decision, it said, is the result of a strategic portfolio evaluation and prioritisation of assets within its portfolio.

Under the groups’ collaboration, which dates back to 2014, Janssen held rights to develop to the drug in oncology, including haematologic myeloid malignancies.

Geron will now regain global rights to develop and commercialise imetelstat, a first-in-class telomerase inhibitor.

“We believe the clinical results from IMbark provide valuable insights into the potential future development of imetelstat for an underserved relapsed and refractory myelofibrosis patient population,” said John Scarlett, Geron’s president and chief executive.

“We also believe the combined data of 38 patients from the initial and expansion cohorts for the target patient population from the Phase II portion of IMerge support further development of imetelstat, and we are therefore prioritising the initiation of the Phase III portion of IMerge.”

Transition of the imetelstat programme to Geron is expected to occur over around 12 months with operational support from Janssen.