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NEW YORK -- Shares of Geron Corp.

jumped Tuesday after the biotechnology company said it will collaborate with General Electric Co.'s health unit to make stem cell-based drug discovery tests and products.Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.Article Controlsemailreprintnewslettercommentssharedel.icio.usDigg It!yahooFacebookTwitterrssGeron ( GERN - news - people )'s stock rose $1.20, or 17.9 percent, to $7.89 in midday trading.

Shares have traded between $1.95 and $8.50 over the past 52 weeks.Under the deal, Geron granted GE Healthcare an exclusive license on a portfolio covering the growth and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells.

The program will use stem cells as part of the drug development process, which could help detect toxicity problems earlier and better focus potential treatments, the company said.Menlo Park, Calif.-based Geron has been developing stem cell-based therapies for about a decade.

In January, it became the first company to receive Food and Drug Administration approval to conduct early stage clinical trials on its stem-cell based therapy, aimed at treating severe spinal cord injuries.Embryonic stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of turning into a wide variety of other cells.

They are collected by cloning embryos in a laboratory, but the embryo is destroyed in the process.

Geron and other companies received a symbolic boost in March when President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on taxpayer funding of research using human embryonic stem cells.Read All CommentsThe Bush administration had limited taxpayer funding for such research.Copyright 2009 Associated Press.

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