Annual Report (10-k)

Date : 03/26/2020 @ 8:07PM
Source : Edgar (US Regulatory)
Stock : Unum Therapeutics Inc (UMRX)
Quote : 0.32  -0.03 (-8.57%) @ 5:00AM
Unum Therapeutics share price Chart
After Hours
Last Trade
Last $ 0.32 ◊ 0.00 (0.00%)

Annual Report (10-k)

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                     to                     

Commission file number: 001-38443

 

UNUM THERAPEUTICS INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

46-5308248

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

 

 

200 Cambridge Park Drive, Suite 3100

Cambridge, Massachusetts

02140

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

(617) 945-5576

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol

 

Name of exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.001 Par Value

 

UMRX

 

The Nasdaq Global Select Market

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant computed by reference to the price of the registrant’s Common Stock as of June 28, 2019, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was approximately $40.2 million (based on the last reported sale price on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as of such date).

As of March 23, 2020, there were 30,614,600 shares of the registrant’s Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share, outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s Proxy Statement for its 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which the registrant intends to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 


Unum Therapeutics Inc.

Index

 

 

 

 

Page  

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

 

5

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

 

34

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

71

Item 2.

Properties

 

71

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

 

71

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

71

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases
of Equity Securities

 

72

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

 

72

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

73

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

87

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

88

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

117

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

 

117

Item 9B.

Other Information

 

117

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

118

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

 

118

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

118

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

118

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

118

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

119

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

 

121

EXHIBITS INDEX

119

SIGNATURES

122

 

 

2


FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements, which reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, our operations and financial performance. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy and plans, and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “should,” “expects,” “might,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “seek,” “would” or “continue,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are only predictions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee that the future results, levels of activity, performance or events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions described in the “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Because forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The events and circumstances reflected in our forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Some of the key factors that could cause actual results to differ from our expectations include:

 

conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern;

 

the effects of our recently-initiated restructuring, including a substantial reduction in our workforce to reduce our operating costs;

 

the potential impacts of raising additional capital, including dilution to our existing stockholders, restrictions our operations or requirements that we relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates;

 

business interruptions resulting from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak or similar public health crises, which could cause a disruption of the development of our product candidates and adversely impact our business;

 

our ability to regain compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements;

 

the success, cost, and timing of our product development activities and clinical trials;

 

the timing of our planned IND submission to the FDA for our product candidate BOXR1030;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for our BOXR product candidates and any other product candidates we may develop, and any related restrictions, limitations, and/or warnings in the label of an approved product candidate;

 

the potential for our identified research priorities to advance our BOXR platform;

 

the ability to license additional intellectual property relating to our product candidates from third-parties and to comply with our existing license agreements and collaboration agreements;

 

the ability and willingness of our third-party research institution collaborators to continue research and development activities relating to our product candidates;

 

our ability to commercialize our products in light of the intellectual property rights of others;

 

our ability to obtain funding for our operations, including funding necessary to complete further development and commercialization of our product candidates;

 

the scalability and commercial viability of our manufacturing methods and processes;

 

the commercialization of our product candidates, if approved;

 

our plans to research, develop, and commercialize our product candidates;

 

our ability to attract collaborators with development, regulatory, and commercialization expertise;

3


 

future agreements with third parties in connection with the commercialization of our product candidates and any other approved product;

 

the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates, and our ability to serve those markets;

 

the rate and degree of market acceptance of our product candidates;

 

the pricing and reimbursement of our product candidates, if approved;

 

regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;

 

our ability to contract with third-party suppliers and manufacturers and their ability to perform adequately;

 

the success of competing therapies that are or may become available;

 

our ability to attract and retain key scientific or management personnel;

 

the accuracy of our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements, and needs for additional financing;

 

our expectations regarding the period during which we qualify as an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act;

 

our use of the proceeds from the initial public offering and the concurrent private placement; and

 

our expectations regarding our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our product candidates.

While we may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, whether as a result of any new information, future events, or otherwise, we have no current intention of doing so except to the extent required by applicable law.

4


PART I

Unless the context otherwise requires, we use the terms “Unum,” “company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” to refer to Unum Therapeutics Inc. and, where appropriate, our subsidiary.

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

Overview

We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing curative cell therapies for solid tumors. Our novel proprietary technology includes our Bolt-On Chimeric Receptor (BOXR) platform, designed to discover “bolt-on” transgenes to improve the functionality of engineered T cells and overcome resistance of the solid tumor microenvironment (TME) to T cell attack. We have also developed product candidates using our novel proprietary technology, Antibody-Coupled T cell Receptor (ACTR), an autologous engineered T-cell investigational therapy that is designed to combine the cell-killing ability of T cells and the tumor-targeting ability of co-administered antibodies to exert potent antitumor immune responses.

On March 2, 2020, we announced plans to prioritize resources towards advancing our preclinical program, BOXR1030, for the treatment of solid tumor cancers along with plans to reduce our current workforce by 43 employees (approximately 60 percent) to focus efforts on the BOXR1030 program and BOXR platform. BOXR1030 expresses a glypican-3 (GPC3) targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and incorporates the novel transgene glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase 2 (GOT2) to potentially improve T cell function in the TME by enhancing T cell metabolism. Our BOXR platform led to the discovery of the utility of GOT2, a critical enzyme for cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. We have initiated formal preclinical development activities, including preclinical safety testing and GMP process development, to support submitting an investigational new drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for BOXR1030 in late 2020.  We plan to continue to leverage our BOXR discovery platform to create and develop new BOXR product candidates to address a broad range of solid tumor cancers.

As part of the prioritization towards BOXR1030 and BOXR platform, we will be concluding our ACTR707 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-03) in combination with rituximab in patients with relapsed or/refractory CD20+ non-Hodgkin lymphoma (r/r NHL) and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-34-01) in combination with trastuzumab to treat patients with advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers. We previously announced plans to conclude our ACTR087 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-17-01) in combination with Seattle Genetics’ SEA-BCMA antibody for r/r multiple myeloma and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-2) in combination with rituximab in r/r NHL. We anticipate concluding these Phase 1 trials during the remainder of this year and into early 2021.

We are focused on developing curative cell therapies through the use of immuno-oncology, or a patient’s immune system, to treat cancer. We are developing a pipeline of adoptive cell therapies, which are one immuno-oncology approach for cancer treatment. Adoptive cell therapy starts with the isolation of a specific type of immune cells, T cells, from a patient, often followed by genetic modification of these T cells outside the patient’s body. Modified immune cells are then re-introduced into the patient to treat disease. Our vision is to use our BOXR platform and derived product candidates to transform cancer treatment and deliver patient cures in solid tumor cancers, improving upon current therapies.

The use of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR-T) are one type of adoptive cell therapy. While demonstrating efficacy in hematologic cancers, demonstrating safety and efficacy with CAR-T in solid tumor cancers has been more challenging. Severe side effects, such as cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicity, have been observed in some patients and for certain CAR-Ts, on-target, off-tumor effects have led to patient deaths. In addition, solid tumor cells can create a hostile microenvironment by stimulating the production of inhibitory factors, recruiting immune suppressor cells, and exhausting T-cells due to chronic stimulation that can block the body’s immune system, including T cells, from attacking tumor cells. Another way that solid tumors create these harsh microenvironments is by competing for metabolites, essentially starving T cells of critical nutrients and thereby reducing their ability to attack tumor cells. These toxicities and specific solid tumor challenges create a need to develop better cell therapies. We have engineered our BOXR platform technologies, and derived product candidates, to improve the functionality of T cells and more effectively target and kill cancer cells.

Our BOXR platform is designed to discover and incorporate novel “bolt-on” transgenes that help T cells survive longer and perform better in the solid tumor microenvironment. BOXR candidates consist of two main components: 1) a targeting receptor that directs the T cell to attack tumor cells, which may be a traditional CAR receptor, a T-cell receptor, or our ACTR receptor, and 2) a novel “bolt-on” transgene that improves the intrinsic function of the T cell. Once discovered, bolt-on transgenes are designed to be incorporated into several different types of therapeutic T cells, including both ACTR T cells and CAR-T cells, to impart new functionality. We expect to continue to build out our BOXR platform by expanding the scope of biological mechanisms and transgenes in our proprietary BOXR library, enabling BOXR bolt-on applications for a broad range of immune cell therapies, including both autologous and allogeneic approaches, and advancing new BOXR product candidates into the clinic.

5


We have identified conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. As of December 31, 2019, we had cash and cash equivalents of $37.4 million and available borrowings under our loan and security agreement of $15.0 million. We expect that our cash and cash equivalents will not be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through at least 12 months from the issuance date of the consolidated financial statements. In accordance with the requirements of Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, No. 2014-15, Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern (Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, Subtopic 205-40), or ASC 205-40, we have determined that there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.  See “—Liquidity and Capital Resources”.

Our Pipeline

Our most advanced program from our BOXR platform, BOXR1030, is engineered to specifically target tumor cells expressing an oncofetal antigen called GPC3. BOXR1030 expresses a GPC3-targeted CAR and incorporates the bolt-on transgene GOT2 to improve T cell function in the TME by enhancing T cell metabolism. Preclinical data with BOXR1030 were presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting in November 2019. In preclinical studies, BOXR1030 T cells were resistant to suppressive TME-like conditions, showing improved T cell proliferation under both hypoxic and low glucose conditions compared with control GPC3-specific CAR-T cells. In vivo, BOXR1030 demonstrated superior activity compared to the parental CAR-T with treated animals achieving complete tumor regressions. Engineered T cells isolated from the tumors of treated animals revealed that BOXR1030 cells were more resistant to dysfunction and had fewer markers of exhaustion as compared to the control CAR-T cells. We have initiated formal preclinical development activities, including preclinical safety testing and GMP process development, to support filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application in late 2020.

As announced on March 2, 2020, we will be concluding our ACTR707 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-03) in combination with rituximab in r/r NHL and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-34-01) in combination with trastuzumab to treat advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers.

ACTR707 was engineered for properties that are designed to optimize its function in solid tumors including increased proliferation, cytokine secretion, and persistence. Our first solid tumor clinical program was with ACTR707 used in combination with trastuzumab as a potential treatment for advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers. In December 2018, we initiated a Phase 1 trial called ATTCK-34-01. We completed enrollment—defined as patients who have signed informed consent forms and met all eligibility criteria—with five patients in this first cohort in the ATTCK-34-01 Phase 1 trial, a multicenter, open-label, single-arm, dose-escalation trial. Of the five patients enrolled, three patients received treatment with trastuzumab (1.0 mg/kg weekly) followed by administration of ACTR707 (25 million ACTR707+ T cells) and completed the dose-limiting toxicity, or DLT, review period—defined as approximately six weeks post-ACTR707 administration—with no DLTs observed. Two patients enrolled but discontinued from the trial prior to receiving treatment with trastuzumab and ACTR707. Of the three remaining patients who received treatment with trastuzumab and ACTR707, all three patients discontinued from the trial due to disease progression at the first response assessment.

Our lead hematologic program consisted of ACTR707 used in combination with rituximab to treat adult patients with r/r NHL. We conducted a multi-center, dose-escalating open-label Phase 1 clinical trial called ATTCK-20-03.

We completed enrollment in Cohorts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the ATTCK-20-03 trial that explored a dose range of 25M to 80M ACTR707+ T cells.  A complete response rate of 40% (eight of 20 patients) was achieved at the first response assessment in Cohorts 1 through 4 as of the November 2019 data cutoff, and as presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in December 2019. Of the eight complete responders, four remained in complete response at six months of follow-up, two remained in complete response but did not yet reach the six-month timepoint for evaluation, and two progressed before the six-month timepoint, as of the November 2019 cutoff. In Cohorts 1 through 4 no dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), no adverse events of cytokine release syndrome (CRS), and no severe neurological adverse events including neurotoxicity have been reported as of the November 2019 cutoff.

In June 2015, we announced a global strategic collaboration with Seattle Genetics, Inc. (the Collaboration Agreement) to identify, research, develop, and commercialize two novel antibody-coupled ACTR therapies incorporating Seattle Genetics’ proprietary antibodies. Under the terms of the Collaboration Agreement, we conducted preclinical research and clinical development activities through Phase 1 clinical trials (ATTCK-17-01) and Seattle Genetics provided funding for those activities. The first product candidate under our collaboration was ACTR087 used in combination with Seattle Genetics’ SEA-BCMA antibody for r/r multiple myeloma.  On January 16, 2020, we announced a termination of this Collaboration Agreement including the development candidate ACTR-BCMA and a research candidate. The decision to enter into the Termination Agreement and discontinue further dose-escalation of the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 trial was based on a de-prioritization of a target approach relative to the emerging clinical competitive environment in relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and a desire to allocate the resources of both companies towards other programs and product candidates. No dose-limiting toxicities following ACTR087 administration were reported and no severe adverse events of cytokine release syndrome or neurologic events have been observed to date.

6


We are currently addressing clinical manufacturing needs for both viral vector and engineered T cells with contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) to increase flexibility and mitigate risks. In the future, we may establish our own good manufacturing practices (GMP) manufacturing facility to increase our control of product quality, scheduling, and process knowledge. As our programs advance through clinical trials, we may secure commercial manufacturing capacity using one or more CMOs or by establishing our own commercial manufacturing GMP facility.

We retain worldwide commercial rights to our programs BOXR1030 and ACTR707. Our BOXR platform has been internally developed through our sole efforts. We intend to establish our own commercial organization in the United States where we believe we can address physicians with a direct specialty sales force. Our commercial strategy for markets outside the United States may include the use of strategic partners or the establishment of our own commercial infrastructure. We plan to further evaluate these alternatives as we approach potential approval of our programs.

Intellectual property is an important component of our assets. We are working to establish strong patent protection and trade secrets to position us as a leader in the practice of the ACTR and BOXR technologies. In December 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued US patent 10,144,770, entitled “Chimeric Receptors and Uses Thereof in Immune Therapy.” The ‘770 patent covers design and use of the ACTR technology. Unum is a co-owner of the ‘770 patent and has exclusive, worldwide rights to the ‘770 patent under the terms of its license agreement with the National University of Singapore and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to the ‘770 patent covering ACTR in the United States, previously granted patents protect the technology in Europe, Japan, and other important territories. Additional filed patent applications cover both the ACTR platform as well as specific product candidates. We are simultaneously seeking patent protection for the BOXR technology platform and have completed filings for several patent applications covering different aspects of the technology. In our efforts to both patent Unum inventions and license additional technologies, we have focused on trying to ensure our ability to operate freely within the complex patent landscape of cell therapy.  

Since our inception in March 2014, we have raised $77.3 million from sales of our preferred stock to our venture capital investors, major mutual funds, healthcare-dedicated funds, and others. In addition, through December 31, 2019, we had received $25.0 million in an upfront payment and $18.2 million in research and development funding from Seattle Genetics as part of the strategic collaboration and have also received an additional $7.6 million for all research and development costs incurred through the Termination Effective Date pursuant to the terms of the Termination Agreement.

On April 3, 2018, we completed our initial public offering (IPO) of our common stock and issued and sold 5,770,000 shares of our common stock at a public offering price of $12.00 per share, resulting in net proceeds of approximately $61.5 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering costs. In addition, we completed a concurrent private placement of $5.0 million worth of shares of common stock at the public offering price of $12.00 per share, or 416,666 shares, with Seattle Genetics (the Concurrent Private Placement). On April 25, 2018, we issued and sold an additional 215,000 shares of our common stock at the IPO price of $12.00 per share pursuant to the underwriters’ partial exercise of their option to purchase additional shares of common stock, resulting in additional net proceeds of $2.4 million to us, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions.

On April 1, 2019, we filed a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the SEC. The shelf registration statement allows us to sell from time-to-time up to $150 million of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, warrants, or units comprised of any combination of these securities, for our own account in one or more offerings. The terms of any offering under the shelf registration statement will be established at the time of such offering and will be described in a prospectus supplement filed with the SEC prior to the completion of any such offering.

Additionally, on April 1, 2019 and pursuant to the Form S-3, we entered into a Sales Agreement (the “Sales Agreement”) with Cowen and Company, LLC (“Cowen”), pursuant to which we may issue and sell, from time to time, shares of our common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $50.0 million through Cowen as the sales agent. As of December 31, 2019, no shares have been sold under this Sales Agreement.

On March 19, 2020, we entered into a Purchase Agreement with Lincoln Park Capital Fund, LLC (“LPC”), pursuant to which we may elect to sell to LPC up to $25,000,000 in shares of our common stock, subject to certain limitations and conditions set forth in the Purchase Agreement. Pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, 726,382 shares of Common Stock were issued to LPC as a commitment fee.

On March 26, 2020, we announced that we would be exploring strategic alternatives in order to maximize stockholder value and that we had engaged Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc. to act as our strategic financial advisor to assist in the

7


strategic review process. Despite undertaking this process, we may not be successful in completing a transaction, and, even if a strategic transaction is completed, it ultimately may not deliver the anticipated benefits or enhance stockholder value.

Our Strategy

Our goal is to transform cancer treatment through the application of our BOXR platform in a wide range of solid tumor cancers. Key elements of our strategy include the following objectives:

 

Advance our lead BOXR candidate, BOXR1030, through IND filing and into clinical development.

 

Expand our pipeline with increased focus on solid tumor product candidates. With the development of the BOXR platform, we believe we have the potential to enable a broad range of tumor-targeting T cells, including both ACTR and CAR T cells, for solid tumor applications. We plan to expand a pipeline of solid tumor programs based on the BOXR platform.

 

Establish manufacturing capacity and leverage our process development capabilities to create a competitive advantage in T cell manufacturing. We designed a process using a closed automated system to support our clinical development plans and have devoted significant resources to optimizing process development. We currently engage CMOs to use our process for production of GMP material. In the future, we intend to establish our own GMP manufacturing facility.

 

Establish commercialization and marketing capabilities to support current and future product candidates. Based on the progress of our programs, we plan to establish a U.S.-focused specialty sales and marketing organization and to leverage the infrastructure developed for our first approved product to facilitate commercialization of any additional product candidates for which we gain approval. In addition, we will build upon physician familiarity and experience with the first approved BOXR product to accelerate adoption of subsequent products.

Background

Immune System and T cells

Our immune system has evolved to respond to injury and attacks to the body. It provides continuous surveillance and defense against attacks both by foreign pathogens and by mutated cells that lead to cancer. Cells and proteins produced by the immune system are found in all the tissues of the body and in the blood.

The immune system triggers two different types of response. The innate response is an unspecific, unspecialized response, composed of immune components capable of reacting against a broad range of stimuli. Innate immune components, including proteins (e.g., complement factors) and cells (e.g., natural killer cells, macrophages), are ever present, always ready for immediate activation. In contrast, the adaptive response allows for a slower but tailored response to specific insult. It evolves following an initial assault and strengthens with each subsequent infection or mutational event, thereby allowing for long-term protection. As a result of this increased specificity, adaptive responses can be more potent: they selectively target the pathogen or mutated cell while sparing normal, healthy tissues.

Adaptive responses include a humoral component, comprised of antibodies, and a cellular component, comprised of T cells. Antibodies are secreted proteins capable of binding to specific toxins or foreign substances generated during infection or mutation, referred to as antigens. Once bound to an antigen, an antibody can work directly to block the biological function of the antigen or indirectly by recruiting components of the innate immune system like natural killer cells to drive attack. T cells recognize infected or mutated cells when their TCR recognizes and binds to a foreign or mutated peptide presented through a set of proteins on the surface of the targeted cell called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The binding of a TCR to an infected or mutated cell, such as a tumor cell, can trigger T cell activation, resulting in direct killing of the cell through release of toxins, as well as the stimulation of cytokines and other molecules that recruit and activate additional immune cells.

Immunotherapies in Oncology

Historically, cancer treatment has relied upon a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. More recently, targeted therapies that modulate specific signaling pathways in cancer cells have been the focus of many drug discovery efforts. Unfortunately, targeted pathways are often also functional in normal cells, leading to significant toxicities. More selective small molecules are better tolerated by patients and can have dramatic initial effects. In many cases, however, these benefits are short lived as persisting cancer cells acquire drug resistance. Most metastatic cancers remain incurable despite the enormous investment in novel therapies.

8


Immunotherapy seeks to harness a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. The high specificity of the adaptive immune system translates into a reduced risk of toxicity by distinguishing between normal tissue cells and cancer cells. The ability to adaptively respond enables the immune system to overcome some of the mechanisms by which cancer cells acquire drug resistance, translating into more durable responses. There are several current approaches that use the immune system to treat cancer.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are therapeutic antibodies that activate a patient’s own T cells by blocking inhibitory signals released by the tumor to suppress the immune system’s natural T cell activity. Antibodies targeting the antigens CTLA4, PD-1, and PD-L1 have yielded significant responses in patients with a range of indications including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and renal cancer.

Additionally, monoclonal antibodies can be used to exert cancer cell cytotoxicity through specialized mechanisms, including ADCC, which is the primary mechanism of action of many cancer therapeutic antibodies. ADCC occurs when the tail region of an antibody, referred to as the Fc domain, binds to Fc receptors on the surface of certain immune cells, especially natural killer cells. A naturally occurring variant of CD16, one type of Fc receptor expressed on natural killer cells and macrophages, has been shown to bind more tightly to the Fc domain and patients expressing this variant demonstrate better responses to ADCC-inducing therapeutic antibodies. These results have inspired efforts to enhance ADCC activity in engineered monoclonal antibodies to improve efficacy across a broader patient population.

Finally, therapies have been developed based upon adoptive cell transfer, the process of isolating immune cells, modifying them outside the patient’s body, and then introducing them into a patient to treat disease. The current wave of adoptive cell therapy efforts is largely focused on the use of T cells engineered to express either TCRs or CARs. In order to be effective as a therapy, an engineered T cell must (i) selectively target tumor cells, (ii) activate cytotoxic tumor cell killing, and (iii) simultaneously activate pathways to ensure the T cell’s proliferation and survival. The matrix below shows the mechanisms of action for many current TCRs and CARs, and for ACTR:

 

Activity

 

Tumor Targeting

 

Cytotoxic Killing Trigger

 

Proliferation and Survival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TCR

 

TCR-alpha/beta on T cell

bind peptide+MHC on tumor

 

CD3zeta

 

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAR

 

scFv (antibody fragment) of

CAR-T cell binds tumor antigen

 

CD3zeta

 

Costimulatory domain (for example, 4-1BB or CD28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACTR

 

CD16 domain of ACTR T

cell binds to co-administered

antibody, antibody binds tumor

antigen

 

CD3zeta

 

Costimulatory domain (for example, 4-1BB or CD28)

 

T cell Receptors (TCRs) are naturally occurring protein complexes expressed on the surface of T cells. They are the primary mechanism by which T cells normally distinguish “foreign” cells from “self” and trigger immune attack. In most T cells, a TCR contains a pair of proteins, TCR-alpha and TCR-beta, which directly recognize processed peptides of the MHC presented on the surface of cells and exert cytotoxicity when engaged. In some cases, these TCRs can be used “as is” with no further modifications. In other cases, activity can be improved by engineering the TCR to recognize the tumor peptide with higher affinity. TCR-based cellular therapies have shown promising clinical activity in treating certain cancers.

Several challenges have been encountered with TCR-based approaches. Some tumor cells acquire mutations that change the MHC molecule or reduce the level of MHC expressed on their surface. This prevents or limits recognition by TCRs and thus makes tumor cells resistant to T cell attack. In addition, engineering TCRs to improve their affinity can also change their specificity and cause them to direct T cell attack towards normal tissues. This change in specificity has in some cases led directly to patient deaths. Lastly, there are many naturally occurring variants of MHC in the human population. A TCR recognizes only certain MHC variants, meaning that a given TCR construct can only potentially work with a fraction of patients.

Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) are synthetic proteins, assembled by linking together individual protein domains from different genes (in this context, a chimera is a molecule with sequences derived from two or more different starting molecules). All CARs contain an extracellular recognition domain responsible for recognizing and binding an antigen specifically presented on a target cell (hence the name, “chimeric antigen receptor”). Most often, this recognition domain is a small single chain variable fragment (scFv) isolated from a larger, full-length antibody. The scFv is tethered to the surface of the T cell by a “hinge” or “spacer” domain. This domain provides positional flexibility, allowing the scFv to orient properly to engage the antigen. Passing through the plasma membrane of the cell, a transmembrane domain effectively connects the extracellular domains involved in target cell recognition to the intracellular domains that cause the T cell to respond.

9


In the earliest CAR examples (known as first generation CARs), a single intracellular signaling domain was used, isolated from the CD3-zeta chain of the T cell receptor complex. CARs built with this domain were shown to be capable of driving the killing of target cells in laboratory experiments but results in patients were generally unimpressive. With few exceptions, first generation CAR-T cells failed to persist in patients long enough to exert significant anti-tumor activity and provide therapeutic benefit.

Second generation CARs include additional signaling domains from certain proteins (known as co-stimulatory molecules) in order to improve activation of the CAR-T cells. These signaling domains turn on additional pathways in the T cell that promote cytokine secretion, survival, and proliferation, all of which strengthen the anti-tumor response. Second generation CARs have yielded more positive results in clinical testing. Promising results have been observed in therapy-resistant patient populations with ALL and B cell NHL, leading to recent approvals in both indications.

Notwithstanding the observed effectiveness and favorable response rates, severe side effects have also been observed with these therapies, in some cases leading to patient deaths. Toxicities include CRS, neurotoxicity, and on-target, off-tumor effects. These have spurred the desire to develop better-controlled therapies. Additionally, the vast majority of programs with demonstrated responses have been limited to hematologic cancers, such as ALL, NHL, and multiple myeloma. The cellular environment in which solid tumor cancers exist (known as the tumor microenvironment) is inimical to T cells due to several factors including: (1) immunosuppressive cells (e.g., regulatory T cells (Tregs), myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs)), (2) immunosuppressive enzymes and signaling molecules (e.g., IDO1, TGF-beta), (3) limited nutrients (e.g., oxygen, glucose), and (4) toxic metabolites (e.g., reactive oxygen species, lactic acid). Together, these factors can limit the ability of CAR-T cells both to penetrate into the solid tumor and to function properly once there. While the number of clinical trials focused on solid tumor cancers is growing, limited clinical data have been reported and results to date have been less encouraging.

CARs target tumor cells using an scFv prepared from a tumor-specific antibody. Given that tumors express indication-specific tumor antigens, creating a CAR-T therapy for a new cancer indication typically requires the construction of a new CAR made from a newly engineered scFv. scFvs typically show reduced affinity and a higher likelihood of misfolding than antibodies. scFv misfolding drives receptor aggregation which triggers signaling and activation of the CAR-T cell in the absence of a tumor cell. This signaling in the absence of a tumor antigen, known as tonic signaling, promotes premature T cell differentiation and exhaustion, reducing CAR-T anti-tumor activity.

The graphic below illustrates the structure of a CAR, including the engineered scFv, and the interaction between the scFv and the applicable antigen on the tumor cell:

 

Figure 1. Structure of a CAR, including the engineered scFv

Our Solutions: BOXR Platform and Derived Product Candidates

BOXR Platform and BOXR1030

10


Solid tumors create an unfavorable microenvironment that depletes T cells of critical nutrients and amino acids, drives T cell dysfunction, and inhibits the effectiveness of cellular therapies. Our BOXR platform was specifically developed to discover novel transgenes that can be co-expressed with chimeric-targeting receptors to improve T cell functionality in the TME.

Our BOXR discovery capabilities broadly evaluate T cell phenotype through a rigorous, multi-stage screening strategy that simulates the tumor microenvironment. We have discovered and continue to enrich a library of master regulatory genes of T cell biology that regulate pathways essential for cell growth, proliferation, and survival under a variety of conditions. BOXR bolt-on transgenes identified in this platform are designed to address a variety of immunosuppressive mechanisms of solid tumors, including metabolic competition, immune suppressor cells, and exhaustion due to chronic stimulation. Once discovered, BOXR transgenes are designed to be incorporated into several different types of therapeutic T cells, including both ACTR T cells and CAR-T cells, to impart new functionality to T cells.

 

Figure 2. BOXR multi-stage screening strategy

11


A BOXR candidate is made up of two components as shown in Figure 3 below. The first component is a targeting chimeric receptor that drives tumor cell recognition and attack. We have tested the BOXR approach using both universal targeting by ACTR, as well as antigen-specific targeting by scFv-based CARs. The second BOXR component is a novel transgene that potentially re-programs T cell biology to improve T cell functionality in the TME. We refer to this component as the “bolt-on” moiety.

 

 

Figure 3. BOXR Construct

Each “bolt-on” transgene included in the screen is chosen with a specific hypothesis in mind and selected with an expectation that its expression might favorably impact T cell function in the TME. Following an initial quality control step to establish whether the targeting chimeric receptor (either ACTR or a CAR) and the bolt-on transgene can be simultaneously expressed at sufficient levels. All BOXR candidates with good expression are then assessed using a battery of assays to measure T cell function, including antigen-driven T cell proliferation, cytokine secretion, and tumor cell killing. To identify bolt-on transgenes that improve solid tumor functionality, a tertiary screen includes a number of additional assays that recapitulate distinct features of solid TMEs. Finally, highly functional leads are tested using stringent xenograft models where standard engineered T cells have failed to demonstrate activity.

BOXR1030

The first product candidate from our BOXR platform, BOXR1030, is designed to improve T cell functionality in the solid tumor microenvironment. BOXR1030 contains a humanized single-chain variable fragment (scFv) 4-1BB CAR targeting GPC3 and separately co-expresses the GOT2 transgene from a single viral construct. Our BOXR platform led to the discovery of the utility of GOT2, a critical enzyme for cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. Over one hundred BOXR candidates were generated by cloning a library of literature-derived, hypothesis-driven bolt-on genes into vectors containing a GPC3-targeted CAR-T and were screened through our novel TME assays. Candidates were selected for their ability to overcome multiple TME challenges, while maintaining specificity and tolerability.

We presented preclinical data with BOXR1030 in November 2019 at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting. When co-expressed with a GPC3-targeted CAR-T, GOT2 improved metabolic and transcriptional profiles resulting in greater anti-tumor activity compared with parental CAR-T when tested both in vitro and in vivo under stringent conditions representing the TME. In vitro, BOXR1030 T cells were resistant to suppressive TME-like conditions, showing improved T cell proliferation under both hypoxic and low glucose conditions compared with control GPC3+ CAR-T cells.

12


 

Figure 4. BOXR1030 in vitro data

In vivo, BOXR1030 demonstrated superior activity compared to the parental CAR-T with treated animals achieving complete tumor regressions. Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes isolated from the tumors of treated animals revealed that BOXR1030 cells were more resistant to dysfunction and had fewer markers of exhaustion as compared to the control CAR-T cells.

 

Figure 5. BOXR1030 in vivo data

Good manufacturing practice (GMP) viral and T cell process development for BOXR1030 is in progress along with preclinical characterization of activity and preliminary safety studies to support the filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application to the FDA in late 2020.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is an important component of our assets. We are working to establish both strong patent protection and trade secrets to position us as a leader in the practice of BOXR and ACTR technologies. Our efforts include our proprietary technology development as well as licensing patent rights from third parties. In doing so, we have strived to ensure our ability to operate freely within the complex patent landscape of cell therapy.

13


We are seeking patent protection for the BOXR technology platform and have completed filings for several patent applications covering different aspects of the technology. In our efforts to both patent Unum inventions and license additional technologies, we have focused on trying to ensure our ability to operate freely within the complex patent landscape of cell therapy.  

With respect to the ACTR technology, we have patents issued from our in-licensed portfolio in AU, EP (validated in DE, FR, and GB), JP, US, SG, and ZA to date. Except for a ZA patent, no other patents have issued from the patent applications that we own or in-license. We are working to establish strong patent protection and trade secrets to position us as a leader in the practice of the ACTR technology. In December 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued US patent 10,144,770, entitled “Chimeric Receptors and Uses Thereof in Immune Therapy.” The ‘770 patent covers design and use of the ACTR technology. Unum is a co-owner of the ‘770 patent and has exclusive, worldwide rights to the ‘770 patent under the terms of its license agreement with the National University of Singapore and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to the ‘770 patent covering ACTR in the United States, previously granted patents protect the technology in Europe, Japan, and other important territories. Additional filed patent applications cover both the ACTR platform as well as specific product candidates.

The ACTR platform was initially conceived and developed in the laboratories of our scientific founder, Dr. Dario Campana, who was working initially as an investigator at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (St. Jude’s) and subsequently at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The original patent application describing ACTR087 was filed in 2013. A worldwide, exclusive license to the patent rights resulting from this work was executed between us, St. Jude’s, and NUS in 2014.

Our further work at encompassing a broad range of ACTR constructs was completed and described in subsequent patent applications filed in 2014. Additional patent applications filed by us between 2014 and 2019 encompass the BOXR and ACTR technologies, including the following additional technological innovations and product-related claims:  

 

Chimeric receptor constructs in combination with bolt-on transgenes (BOXR) to improve activities of T cells under stringent in vitro and in vivo conditions.

 

using ACTR with mixtures of antibodies to simultaneously target multiple antigens or epitopes.

 

next-generation ACTR constructs with improved functionality in solid tumor cancers.

Our strategy is to pursue a variety of claims intended to provide multiple layers of protection on both the BOXR and ACTR technology. These include:

 

pursuing claims to BOXR technology in general (including product and method of treatment claims) , which involves a combination of chimeric receptors (including CAR and ACTR) and bolt-on transgenes to improve T cell activity in stringent conditions.

 

pursuing claims directed to specific BOXR constructs, which involve specific chimeric receptor constructs and specific bolt-on transgenes

 

pursuing (and have obtained) broad claims in the U.S. for the ACTR concept (which we define as a chimeric receptor with the functional properties of Fc binding, T cell co-stimulation, and TCR signaling activity).

 

pursuing claims to specific compositions of matter in connection with particular ACTR constructs (including specific protein and nucleic acid sequences).

 

different methods of delivering ACTR to T cells, including viral vectors and mRNA.

 

methods of using the ACTR platform in combination with antibodies to specified tumor-target antigens to treat disease.

 

methods of using specific ACTR constructs in combination with specific monoclonal antibodies to specific tumor-target antigens to treat disease.

We have obtained granted patents in the in-licensed portfolio in a number of jurisdictions, including AU, EP, JP, US, SG, and ZA. Other patent applications that we own or license are still in prosecution. Examination of some of the patent applications that we own has not yet commenced, because they are either provisional applications, Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, or entered into national phrase just recently. We will need to decide whether and where to pursue protection for the inventions disclosed in these provisional and PCT applications before applicable statutory deadlines in view of our plan to prioritize resources noted above. Our applications will only be examined in jurisdictions where we elect

14


to pursue protection, and we will only have the opportunity to attempt to obtain patents in such jurisdictions where we elect to pursue protection.

Under the terms of our agreement with NUS and St. Jude’s, we have the right to review and comment on all correspondence and proposed responses to office actions and to provide consultation and input on all strategic decisions with respect to filing, prosecution, and maintenance of the licensed patents.

Some of our ACTR therapies require the use of commercially available antibodies (e.g., rituximab and trastuzumab, as used in our current clinical trials) for targeting cancer cells. These commercially available antibodies are developed by third parties. More specifically, rituximab is jointly marketed by Biogen Inc. (Biogen) and Genentech, Inc. (Genentech) (a subsidiary of The Roche Group (Roche)) and trastuzumab is marketed by Genentech (Roche).

We do not own intellectual property, including patents, over these commercially available antibodies and antibodies in preclinical/clinical development per se. For commercially available antibodies, such as rituximab and trastuzumab, we rely on our ability to purchase them on commercially reasonable terms for the clinical trials and their availability for commercialized product.

The effective term for individual patents varies based upon a number of factors including the date of patent application filing and the date of patent issuance, the territory within which protection is sought, and certain adjustments to patent term tied to regulatory review. Patents in both the U.S. and many other territories generally have an effective term of 20 years from the earliest filing date. Based on its initial filing date, should any patents issue from the ACTR core patent family and the BOXR family, the 20-year terms of such patents would be expected to expire in 2034 and in 2039, respectively. The actual protection afforded by any patents that may issue, if any patents do issue, is expected to vary across different ACTR plus antibody products and BOXR products, and depends upon the claimed territory, the scope of claim coverage, the availability of extensions due to regulatory review, validity and enforceability of the claims, and a number of additional factors.

We are not currently a party and have not been a party to any legal proceedings involving patent rights.

The intellectual property value of companies like ours is intrinsically uncertain and involves complex legal and scientific questions. Competitors may commercialize products that infringe our intellectual property if we are unable to both obtain and enforce patent claims protecting our inventions. Our currently pending and future patent applications may not be granted. If granted, our patents may be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented, thereby limiting our ability to stop competitors from marketing related products. Future changes to patent laws (or their interpretation) may limit our ability to protect our inventions and to enforce our patent rights. Any such changes may adversely impact the value ascribed to our intellectual property. Others with related but distinct technology may have freedom to operate and effectively compete with us. Moreover, patents issued to competitors may limit or prevent our ability to practice the ACTR technology and to commercialize ACTR products. In addition, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product, it is possible that, before any particular product candidate can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing any advantage of the patent.

We seek to protect our technology and product candidates, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with those who have access to our confidential information, including our employees, contractors, consultants, collaborators, and advisors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our proprietary technology and processes by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. Although we have confidence in these individuals, organizations, and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or may be independently discovered by competitors. To the extent that our employees, contractors, consultants, collaborators, and advisors use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions. For this and more comprehensive risks related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements and products, please see the section on “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Intellectual Property.”

Our trademark portfolio currently contains registrations in China, EUTM, Japan, Singapore, and the United States as well as a registration at WIPO under the Madrid Protocol.

Licenses and Third-Party Research Collaborations

Strategic Collaboration with Seattle Genetics

In June 2015, we entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics (the “Collaboration Agreement”) to identify, research, develop, and commercialize novel antibody-coupled ACTR therapies incorporating Seattle Genetics’

15


antibodies for the treatment of cancer. We formed a strategic partnership with Seattle Genetics because of its leadership in the discovery, development, and manufacturing of antibody-based therapies for cancer. Under this Collaboration Agreement, we worked on developing ACTR combination therapies for two target antigens. The first product candidate under our collaboration was ACTR087 used in combination with SEA-BCMA (ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial), targeting the BCMA antigen. We have not disclosed the target antigen of the second product candidate under our collaboration. Under the Collaboration Agreement, Seattle Genetics had an option to nominate a third antigen; this option expired unexercised in June 2017.

Under the terms of the Collaboration Agreement, Unum conducted preclinical research and clinical development activities through Phase 1 clinical trials, and Seattle Genetics provided all of the funding for those activities. We planned to work together to co-develop and fund product candidates after Phase 1 clinical trials unless either company opted out of further development and commercialization activities. Seattle Genetics had the option to opt-out from further development and commercialization activities for each of the two product candidates under the collaboration during two specified periods subsequent to Phase 1 clinical development. We had an option to opt-out from further development and commercialization activities for each of the two product candidates under the collaboration during a specified period subsequent to Phase 2 clinical development. If neither party elected to opt-out of further development and commercialization activities, we would co-commercialize any successful developed product candidates and share equally any profits and losses on any co-developed product candidates in the United States. Seattle Genetics would retain exclusive commercial rights outside of the United States.

Through December 31, 2019, we had received $25.0 million in upfront payments, $5.0 million in equity investment in our Series B preferred stock financing, and $18.2 million in research and development funding under our Collaboration Agreement.

As of December 31, 2019, Unum and Seattle Genetics suspended further dose-escalation of the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the scope of the collaboration. On January 16, 2020, Unum and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement (the Termination Agreement) to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the collaboration.

Pursuant to terms of the Termination Agreement, among other things, (i) Seattle Genetics paid the Company $5.75 million, (ii) Seattle Genetics surrendered, assigned and transferred to Unum all of its right, title and interest in the 831,847 shares of our common stock owned by Seattle Genetics, (iii) we will continue to be responsible for and pay all expenses for the wind-down of the ACTR-BCMA trial and (iv) Seattle Genetics paid all research and development costs incurred through the Termination Effective Date. In addition, the exclusivity provisions in the Collaboration Agreement terminate and each party will be free to research, develop and commercialize their individual intellectual property (either by themselves or with third parties, subject to the intellectual property rights of the other party.

License Agreement with National University of Singapore and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

In August 2014, we entered into a license agreement with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and St. Jude’s that grants us an exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable license to certain patent rights and to intellectual property rights related to certain know-how to develop, make, and commercialize licensed products and to perform services for all therapeutic and diagnostic uses. The agreement was subsequently amended twice. The patent applications covered by this agreement are directed to specific ACTR constructs, including ACTR087 and their use in immunotherapy. Pursuant to this license agreement, we have rights to one pending U.S. non-provisional patent application and the corresponding Patent Cooperation Treaty counterpart application, and other counterpart patent applications in jurisdictions outside the United States. The U.S. provisional applications under this license agreement have expired.

In 2014, we made payments of $0.1 million. We are required to pay license maintenance fees on each anniversary of the effective date of the agreement that escalate from less than $0.1 million for each of the first seven years to $0.1 million on the eighth anniversary and each year thereafter. The license agreement requires us to pay tiered royalties ranging in the low single-digit percentages based on annual net sales of licensed products.

In the case that multiple royalty streams are required, due to multiple licenses required for marketed products or services, royalty fees for this technology may be reduced. We may also be obligated to pay up to a maximum of 5.5 million Singapore dollars (equivalent to approximately $4.1 million as of December 31, 2019) in one-time clinical and regulatory milestones related to the development of the first licensed product to hit such milestones. Licensed products could include at least ACTR087. In addition, we are required to pay a low double-digit percentage of certain payments that we receive, if these qualify as sublicensing income, as defined in the license agreement. Through December 31, 2019, we had paid a total of $0.1 million.

16


The license agreement will expire, on a country-by-country basis until the last to expire of the patents and patent applications covering such licensed product or service. NUS may terminate the license agreement within 60 days after written notice in the event of a breach of contract. NUS may also terminate the agreement upon written notice in the event of our bankruptcy, liquidation, or insolvency. In addition, we have the right to terminate this agreement in its entirety at will upon 90 days’ advance written notice to NUS. However, if we have commenced the commercialization of licensed products, we can only terminate at will if we cease all development and commercialization of licensed products.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including the oncology subsector, are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition, and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. Any candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will have to compete with any existing therapies as well as therapies that may be developed in the future. While we believe our ACTR platform and scientific expertise provide us with competitive advantages, we face substantial competition from many different sources, including large and specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies, and public and private research institutions.

Due to their promising clinical therapeutic effect in clinical trials, we anticipate substantial direct competition from other organizations developing advanced T cell therapies and other types of oncology therapies. In particular, we expect to compete with:

 

Companies targeting GPC3+ cancers, including CARsgen Therapeutics and Roche/Chugai.

 

Companies that are genetically engineering T cells to treat solid tumors and overcome immune suppression. In particular, Lyell Immunopharma, Inc., bluebird bio, Inc., and Kite Pharma, Inc. (a Gilead Sciences, Inc. company) are developing cell therapies for solid tumors that could compete with our products.

 

Companies genetically engineering T cells with CARs that are reactive to tumor associated antigens. In particular, Kite Pharma, Inc. (a Gilead Sciences, Inc. company), Juno Therapeutics, Inc. (a Celgene Corporation company), Novartis AG, and bluebird bio, Inc. In addition, some companies, such as Cellectis SA, are developing allogeneic cell therapies that could compete with our products.

 

Companies genetically engineering T cells with TCRs that are reactive to tumor associated antigens. In particular, Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc, Kite Pharma, Inc. (a Gilead Sciences, Inc. company), and Juno Therapeutics, Inc (a Celgene Corporation company).

 

Companies developing bi-specific antibodies that bring T cells and tumor cells into close proximity with each other. In particular, Macrogenics, Inc., Amgen Inc., Roche Holding AG, and Genmab A/S.

 

Companies developing other immune cells that can be targeted using antibodies, such as NantKwest, Inc.

We believe that other known types of immunotherapies, such as certain check-point inhibitors, may be used in conjunction with the BOXR or ACTR platforms to increase efficacy. However, we cannot predict whether other types of immunotherapies may be developed and show greater efficacy and we may have direct and substantial competition from such immunotherapies in the future. Such immunotherapies are being pursued by several biotech companies as well as by large-cap pharma. Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, and marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and gene therapy industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our product candidates.

Government Regulation

Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state, and local level, and in other countries and jurisdictions, including the European Union, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, approval, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, post-approval monitoring and reporting, and import and export of pharmaceutical products, including biological products. In addition, some jurisdictions regulate the pricing of pharmaceutical products. The processes for obtaining

17


regulatory approvals in the United States and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with subsequent compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory authorities, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

Licensure and Regulation of Biologics in the United States

In the United States, our candidate products are regulated as biological products (biologics), under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), and their implementing regulations. The failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, including non-clinical testing, clinical testing, or the approval process or post-approval process, may subject an applicant to delays in the conduct of a study, regulatory review and approval, and/or administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions may include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), refusal to allow an applicant to proceed with clinical testing, refusal to approve pending applications, license suspension or revocation, withdrawal of an approval, warning letters, adverse publicity, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, and civil or criminal investigations and penalties brought by the FDA or the Department of Justice (DOJ), or other governmental entities.

An applicant seeking approval to market and distribute a new biologic in the United States generally must satisfactorily complete each of the following steps:

 

non-clinical laboratory tests, animal studies, and formulation studies performed in accordance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice (GLP) regulations, where required;

 

submission to the FDA of an investigational new drug application (IND) for human clinical testing, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

 

approval by an institutional review board (IRB) representing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety, potency, and purity of the product candidate for each proposed indication, in accordance with good clinical practices (GCP);

 

preparation and submission to the FDA of a biologic license application (BLA), for a biologic product requesting marketing for one or more proposed indications, including submission of detailed information on the manufacture and composition of the product in clinical development and proposed labeling;

 

FDA acceptance and review of the BLA, which might include review by an FDA advisory committee;

 

one or more FDA inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities, including those of third parties, at which the product, or components thereof, are produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods, and controls are adequate to preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality, and purity;

 

any FDA audits of the non-clinical studies and clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GLPs and GCPs, respectively, and the integrity of clinical data in support of the BLA;

 

payment of user fees and securing FDA approval of the BLA and licensure of the new biologic product; and

 

compliance with any post-approval requirements, including the potential requirement to implement a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) and any post-approval studies required by the FDA as a condition of approval.

Non-clinical Studies and Investigational New Drug Application

Before testing any biologic product candidate in humans, the product candidate must undergo non-clinical testing. Non-clinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, formulation, and stability, as well as animal studies to evaluate the potential for efficacy and toxicity for eventual use in humans. The conduct of the non-clinical tests and formulation of the compounds for testing must comply with federal regulations and requirements, including GLP requirements. The results of the non-clinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available literature and plans for clinical trials, among other things are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions about the product or conduct of the proposed clinical trial, including concerns that human research subjects will be exposed to

18


unreasonable health risks. In that case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding FDA concerns before the clinical trial can begin.

As a result, submission of the IND may result in the FDA not allowing the trial to commence or allowing the trial to commence on the terms originally specified by the sponsor in the IND. If the FDA raises concerns or questions either during this initial 30-day period, or at any time during the IND process, it may choose to impose a partial or complete clinical hold. This order issued by the FDA would delay either a proposed clinical trial or cause suspension of an ongoing study, until all outstanding concerns have been adequately addressed and the FDA has notified the company that investigation may proceed. This could cause significant delays or difficulties in completing planned clinical trials in a timely manner. The FDA also may impose clinical holds on a biologic product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns or non-compliance. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, trials may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only recommence under terms authorized by the FDA.

Human Clinical Trials in Support of a BLA

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients with the disease to be treated under the supervision of a qualified principal investigator in accordance with GCP requirements. Clinical trials are conducted under study protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND.

A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor may submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of the BLA so long as the clinical trial is well-designed and well-conducted in accordance with GCP, including review and approval by an independent ethics committee, and the FDA is able to validate the study data through an onsite inspection, if necessary.

Further, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an institutional review board (IRB), either centrally or individually at each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted. The IRB will consider, among other things, clinical trial design, patient informed consent, ethical factors, and the safety of human subjects. An IRB must operate in compliance with FDA regulations. The FDA, IRB, or the clinical trial sponsor, including at the recommendation of a data monitoring committee, if applicable, may suspend or discontinue a clinical trial at any time for various reasons, including a finding that the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements or the subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Clinical testing also must satisfy extensive GCP rules and the requirements for informed consent. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group may recommend continuation of the study as planned, changes in study conduct, or cessation of the study at designated check points based on access to certain data from the study.

Clinical trials typically are conducted in three sequential phases, which may overlap or be combined. Additional studies may be required after approval.

 

Phase 1 clinical trials are initially conducted in a limited population to test the product candidate for safety, including adverse effects, dose tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion, and pharmacodynamics in healthy humans or, on occasion, in patients with the target disease or condition, such as cancer patients.

 

Phase 2 clinical trials are generally conducted in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, evaluate the efficacy of the product candidate for specific targeted indications, and determine dose tolerance and optimal dosage. Multiple Phase 2 clinical trials may be conducted by the sponsor to obtain information prior to beginning larger and more costly Phase 3 clinical trials.

 

Phase 3 clinical trials proceed if the Phase 2 clinical trials demonstrate that a dose range of the product candidate is potentially effective and has an acceptable safety profile. Phase 3 clinical trials are undertaken within an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage, provide substantial evidence of clinical efficacy, and further test for safety in an expanded and diverse patient population generally at multiple, geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. A well-controlled, statistically robust Phase 3 trial may be designed to deliver the data that regulatory authorities will use to decide whether or not to approve, and, if approved, how to appropriately label a biologic.

19


In some cases, the FDA may approve a BLA for a product candidate but require the sponsor to conduct additional clinical trials to further assess the product candidate’s safety and effectiveness after approval. Such post-approval trials are typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials. These studies are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and to document a clinical benefit in the case of biologics approved under accelerated approval regulations. If the FDA approves a product while a company has ongoing clinical trials that were not necessary for approval, a company may be able to use the data from these clinical trials to meet all or part of any Phase 4 clinical trial requirement or to request a change in the product labeling. Failure to exhibit due diligence with regard to conducting Phase 4 clinical trials could result in withdrawal of approval for products.

Clinical trials at each phase of development may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all.

Previously, if a gene therapy trial was conducted at, or sponsored by, institutions receiving NIH funding for recombinant DNA research, a protocol and related documentation were required to be submitted to, and the study registered with, the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities, or OBA, pursuant to the NIH Guidelines prior to the submission of an IND to the FDA. In addition, many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily followed them. The NIH would convene the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, or RAC, a federal advisory committee, to discuss protocols that raised novel or particularly important scientific, safety or ethical considerations at one of its quarterly public meetings. The OBA notified the FDA of the RAC’s decision regarding the necessity for full public review of a gene therapy protocol. RAC proceedings and reports are posted to the OBA web site and may be accessed by the public. In August 2018, the NIH published a notice of the Federal Register to seek public comment on its proposal to amend the NIH Guidelines to further streamline oversight for human gene transfer clinical research protocols and reduce duplicative reporting requirements while focusing the NIH Guidelines more specifically on biosafety issues associated with research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. The notice included proposed amendments to eliminate RAC review and reporting requirements to NIH for human gene transfer research protocols and to modify the roles and responsibilities of investigators, institutions, Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs), the RAC, and the NIH to be consistent with these goals. Pursuant to the NIH Guidelines, research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must be approved by an IBC, i.e., a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees basic and clinical research conducted at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment. During the comment period and effective August 2018, the NIH stated it will no longer accept new human gene transfer protocols for the protocol registration process under the NIH Guidelines, or convene the RAC to review individual human gene transfer protocols. The NIH Office of Science Policy also will no longer accept annual reports, safety reports, amendments or other documentation for any previously registered human gene transfer protocols under the NIH Guidelines. The roles and responsibilities of IBCs at the local level will continue as described in the NIH Guidelines. In April 2019, NIH announced the updated guidelines, which reflect these proposed changes. Such trials remain subject to FDA and other clinical trial regulations, and only after FDA, IBC and other relevant approvals are in place can these protocols proceed.

Compliance with cGMP Requirements

Before approving a BLA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in full compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. The PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products like biologics whose attributes cannot be precisely defined.

Manufacturers and others involved in the manufacture and distribution of products must also register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies. Both domestic and foreign manufacturing establishments must register and provide additional information to the FDA upon their initial participation in the manufacturing process. Any product manufactured by or imported from a facility that has not registered, whether foreign or domestic, is deemed misbranded under the FDCA. Establishments may be subject to periodic unannounced inspections by government authorities to ensure compliance with cGMPs and other laws. Manufacturers may have to provide, on request, electronic or physical records regarding their establishments. Delaying, denying, limiting, or refusing inspection by the FDA may lead to a product being deemed to be adulterated.

Review and Approval of a BLA

The results of product candidate development, non-clinical testing, and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, are submitted to the FDA as part of a BLA requesting license to market the product. The BLA must contain extensive manufacturing information and detailed information on the composition of the product and proposed labeling as well as payment of a user fee.

20


The FDA has 60 days after submission of the application to conduct an initial review to determine whether it is sufficient to accept for filing based on the agency’s threshold determination that it is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. Once the submission has been accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review of the application. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act VI (PDUFA), the FDA has ten months in which to complete its initial review of a standard application and respond to the applicant, and six months for a priority review of the application. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority BLAs. The review process may often be significantly extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. The review process and the PDUFA goal date may be extended by three months if the FDA requests or if the applicant otherwise provides additional information or clarification regarding information already provided in the submission within the last three months before the PDUFA goal date.

Under the PHSA, the FDA may approve a BLA if it determines that the product is safe, pure, and potent and the facility where the product will be manufactured meets standards designed to ensure that it continues to be safe, pure, and potent.

On the basis of the FDA’s evaluation of the application and accompanying information, including the results of the inspection of the manufacturing facilities and any FDA audits of non-clinical studies and clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GLPs and GCPs, respectively, the FDA may issue an approval letter, denial letter, or a complete response letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. If the application is not approved, the FDA may issue a complete response letter, which will contain the conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the application, and when possible will outline recommended actions the sponsor might take to obtain approval of the application. Sponsors that receive a complete response letter may submit to the FDA information that represents a complete response to the issues identified by the FDA. Such resubmissions are classified under PDUFA as either Class 1 or Class 2. The classification of a resubmission is based on the information submitted by an applicant in response to an action letter. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under PDUFA, the FDA has two months to review a Class 1 resubmission and six months to review a Class 2 resubmission. The FDA will not approve an application until issues identified in the complete response letter have been addressed. The FDA issues a denial letter if it determines that the establishment or product does not meet the agency’s requirements.

The FDA may also refer the application to an advisory committee for review, evaluation, and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. In particular, the FDA may refer applications for novel biologic products or biologic products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee. Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates, and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

If the FDA approves a new product, it may limit the approved indications for use of the product. It may also require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling. In addition, the FDA may call for post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, to further assess the product’s safety after approval. The agency may also require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution restrictions or other risk management mechanisms, including REMS, to help ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks. REMS can include medication guides, communication plans for healthcare professionals, and elements to assure safe use (ETASU). ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring, and the use of patent registries. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-market studies or surveillance programs. After approval, many types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval. Such post-approval requirements can be costly and time-consuming and can affect the potential market and profitability of the product.

Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy and Priority Review Designations

The FDA is authorized to designate certain products for expedited review if they are intended to address an unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. These programs are referred to as fast track designation, breakthrough therapy designation, and priority review designation.

21


Specifically, the FDA may designate a product for fast track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other products, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. For fast track products, sponsors may have greater interactions with the FDA and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a fast track product’s marketing application before the application is complete. This rolling review may be available if the FDA determines, after preliminary evaluation of clinical data submitted by the sponsor, that a fast track product may be effective. The sponsor must also provide, and the FDA must approve, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information and the sponsor must pay applicable user fees. However, the FDA’s time period goal for reviewing a fast track application does not begin until the last section of the application is submitted. In addition, the fast track designation may be withdrawn by the FDA if the FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.

Second, a product may be designated as a breakthrough therapy if it is intended, either alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. Products designated as breakthrough therapies may be eligible for rolling review. In addition, the FDA may take certain actions with respect to breakthrough therapies, including holding meetings with the sponsor throughout the development process; providing timely advice to the product sponsor regarding development and approval; involving more senior staff in the review process; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the review team; and taking other steps to design the clinical trials in an efficient manner.

Third, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress amended the FDCA to create an expedited program for regenerative medicine therapies, which include cell therapies, therapeutic tissue engineering products, human cell and tissue products, and combination products using any such therapies or products. Regenerative medicine therapies do not include those human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products regulated solely under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and 21 CFR Part 1271. The program is intended to facilitate efficient development and expedite review of regenerative medicine therapies. A sponsor may request that FDA grant regenerative medicine advanced therapy designation concurrently with or after submission of an IND as an amendment. FDA has 60 calendar days after receipt of the designation request to determine whether the product meets the criteria. Qualifying criteria for a regenerative medicine advanced therapy designation are that the product: (1) meets the definition of regenerative medicine therapy; (2) is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and (3) preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the regenerative medicine therapy has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such condition. The features of this designation include all of the benefits of the fast track and breakthrough therapy designation programs.

Finally, the FDA may designate a product for priority review if it treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. The FDA determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether the proposed product represents a significant improvement when compared with other available therapies. Significant improvement may be illustrated by evidence of increased effectiveness in the treatment of a condition, elimination or substantial reduction of a treatment-limiting product reaction, documented enhancement of patient compliance that may lead to improvement in serious outcomes, and evidence of safety and effectiveness in a new subpopulation. A priority designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications, and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on a marketing application from ten months to six months.

Accelerated Approval Pathway

The FDA may grant accelerated approval to a product for a serious or life-threatening condition that provides meaningful therapeutic advantage to patients over existing treatments based upon a determination that the product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA may also grant accelerated approval for such a condition when the product has an effect on an intermediate clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality (IMM) and that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. Products granted accelerated approval must meet the same statutory standards for safety and effectiveness as those granted traditional approval, and do not receive either more or less favorable review from the FDA based on such designation.

22


For the purposes of accelerated approval, a surrogate endpoint is a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, radiographic image, physical sign, or other measure that is thought to predict clinical benefit, but is not itself a measure of clinical benefit. Surrogate endpoints can often be measured more easily or more rapidly than clinical endpoints. An intermediate clinical endpoint is a measurement of a therapeutic effect that is considered reasonably likely to predict the clinical benefit of a product, such as an effect on IMM. The FDA has limited experience with accelerated approvals based on intermediate clinical endpoints, but has indicated that such endpoints generally may support accelerated approval where the therapeutic effect measured by the endpoint is not itself a clinical benefit and basis for traditional approval, if there is a basis for concluding that the therapeutic effect is reasonably likely to predict the ultimate clinical benefit of a product.

The accelerated approval pathway is most often used in settings in which the course of a disease is long and an extended period of time is required to measure the intended clinical benefit of a product, even if the effect on the surrogate or intermediate clinical endpoint occurs rapidly. Thus, accelerated approval has been used extensively in the development and approval of products for treatment of a variety of cancers in which the goal of therapy is generally to improve survival or decrease morbidity and the duration of the typical disease course requires lengthy and sometimes large trials to demonstrate a clinical or survival benefit.

The accelerated approval pathway is usually contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct, in a diligent manner, additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. As a result, a product candidate approved on this basis is subject to rigorous post-marketing compliance requirements, including the completion of Phase 4 or post-approval clinical trials to confirm the effect on the clinical endpoint. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, or confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies, would allow the FDA to withdraw the product from the market on an expedited basis. All promotional materials for product candidates approved under accelerated regulations are subject to prior review by the FDA.

Post-Approval Regulation

If regulatory approval for marketing of a product or new indication for an existing product is obtained, the sponsor will be required to comply with all regular post-approval regulatory requirements as well as any post-approval requirements that the FDA has imposed as part of the approval process. The sponsor will be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems to the FDA, provide updated safety and efficacy information, comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotional labeling, as well as maintain certain records. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims, are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are continuing, annual prescription drug program fees. Manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements, including cGMP regulations, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon manufacturers. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. Accordingly, the sponsor and its third-party manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the areas of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP regulations and other regulatory requirements.

A biologic product may also be subject to official lot release, meaning that the manufacturer is required to perform certain tests on each lot of the product before it is released for distribution. If the product is subject to official lot release, the manufacturer must submit samples of each lot, together with a release protocol showing a summary of the history of manufacture of the lot and the results of all of the manufacturer’s tests performed on the lot, to the FDA. The FDA may in addition perform certain confirmatory tests on lots of some products before releasing the lots for distribution. Finally, the FDA will conduct laboratory research related to the safety, purity, potency, and effectiveness of pharmaceutical products.

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, suspension of the approval, complete withdrawal of the product from the market, or product recalls;

 

fines, untitled letters or warning letters, or holds on post-approval clinical trials;

 

refusal of the FDA to approve pending BLAs or supplements to approved BLAs, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;

23


 

product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; or

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising, and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Pharmaceutical products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability.

Orphan Drug Designation

Orphan drug designation in the United States is designed to encourage sponsors to develop products intended for rare diseases or conditions. In the United States, a rare disease or condition is statutorily defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or that affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the biologic for the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product in the United States.

Orphan drug designation qualifies a company for tax credits and market exclusivity for seven years following the date of the product’s marketing approval if granted by the FDA for the first drug with such designation. An application for designation as an orphan product can be made any time prior to the filing of an application for approval to market the product. A product becomes an orphan when it receives orphan drug designation from the Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD) at the FDA based on acceptable confidential requests made under the regulatory provisions. The product must then go through the review and approval process like any other product.

A sponsor may request orphan drug designation of a previously unapproved product or new orphan indication for an already marketed product. In addition, a sponsor of a product that is otherwise the same product as an already approved orphan drug may seek and obtain orphan drug designation for the subsequent product for the same rare disease or condition if it can present a plausible hypothesis that its product may be clinically superior to the first drug. More than one sponsor may receive orphan drug designation for the same product for the same rare disease or condition, but each sponsor seeking orphan drug designation must file a complete request for designation.

The period of exclusivity begins on the date that the marketing application is approved by the FDA and applies only to the indication for which the product has been designated. The FDA may approve a second application for the same product for a different use or a second application for a clinically superior version of the product for the same use. The FDA cannot, however, approve the same product made by another manufacturer for the same indication during the market exclusivity period unless it has the consent of the sponsor or the sponsor is unable to provide sufficient quantities.

Biosimilars and Exclusivity

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010, included a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA). The BPCIA established a regulatory scheme authorizing the FDA to approve biosimilars and interchangeable biosimilars. To date, multiple biosimilar products have been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. No interchangeable biosimilars, however, have been approved. The FDA has issued several guidance documents outlining an approach to review and approval of biosimilars.

Under the BPCIA, a manufacturer may submit an application for licensure of a biologic product that is “biosimilar to” or “interchangeable with” a previously approved biological product or “reference product.” In order for the FDA to approve a biosimilar product, it must find that the product is “highly similar” to the reference product notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components and that there are no clinically meaningful differences between the reference product and proposed biosimilar product in terms of safety, purity, and potency. For the FDA to approve a biosimilar product as interchangeable with a reference product, the agency must find that the biosimilar product can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product, and, for products administered multiple times, that the biologic and the reference biologic may be switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic.

Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date of approval of the reference product. The FDA may not approve a biosimilar product until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was approved. Even if a product is considered to be a reference product eligible for exclusivity, another company could market a competing version of that product if the FDA approves a full BLA for such product containing the sponsor’s own non-clinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity, and potency of their product. The BPCIA also created certain exclusivity periods for biosimilars approved as interchangeable products. At this juncture, it is unclear whether products deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA will, in fact, be readily substituted by pharmacies, which are governed by state pharmacy law.

24


Pediatric Studies and Exclusivity

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, as amended, a BLA or supplement thereto must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. Sponsors must also submit pediatric study plans prior to the assessment data. Those plans must contain an outline of the proposed pediatric study or studies the applicant plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, any deferral or waiver requests, and other information required by regulation. The applicant, the FDA, and the FDA’s internal review committee must then review the information submitted, consult with each other, and agree upon a final plan. The FDA or the applicant may request an amendment to the plan at any time. By its terms, PREA does not apply to any biologic for an indication for which orphan drug designation has been granted, unless the FDA issues regulations stating otherwise or as described below for a molecularly targeted pediatric cancer investigation.

Pursuant to the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, a BLA, submitted after August 18, 2020 for a biologic intended for the treatment of an adult cancer and that is directed at a molecular target that FDA determines to be substantially relevant to the growth or progression of a pediatric cancer, must contain reports of molecularly targeted pediatric cancer investigations. These investigations are designed to yield clinically meaningful pediatric study data, gathered using appropriate formulations for each age group for which the study is required, regarding dosing, safety, and preliminary efficacy to inform potential pediatric labeling. Applications for products for which orphan drug designation was previously granted will no longer be exempt from PREA and will be required to include these pediatric investigations, unless the investigations are waived or deferred.

The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements.

Pediatric exclusivity is another type of non-patent marketing exclusivity in the United States and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of marketing protection to the term of any existing regulatory exclusivity, including the non-patent exclusivity. This six month exclusivity may be granted if a BLA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product to be effective in the pediatric population studied; rather, if the clinical trial is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity or patent protection cover the product are extended by six months. This is not a patent term extension, but it effectively extends the regulatory period during which the FDA cannot approve another application.

Patent Term Restoration and Extension

A patent claiming a new biologic product may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, which permits a patent restoration of up to five years for patent term lost during product development and FDA regulatory review. The restoration period granted on a patent covering a product is typically one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of a BLA, plus the time between the submission date of a BLA and the ultimate approval date. Patent term restoration cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent in question. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The USPTO reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration in consultation with the FDA.

Regulation and Procedures Governing Approval of Medicinal Products in the European Union

In order to market any product outside of the United States, a company also must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries and jurisdictions regarding quality, safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of products. Whether or not it obtains FDA approval for a product, an applicant will need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable foreign regulatory authorities before it can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries or jurisdictions. Specifically, the process governing approval of medicinal products in the EU generally follows the same lines as in the United States although the approval of a medicinal product in the United States is no guarantee of approval of the same product in the European Union, either at all or within the same timescale as approval may be granted in the United States. It entails satisfactory completion of non-clinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the product for each proposed indication. It also requires the submission to the relevant competent authorities of a marketing authorization application (MAA), and granting of a marketing authorization by these authorities before the product can be marketed and sold in the EU.

25


Clinical Trial Approval

Pursuant to the currently applicable Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC and the Directive 2005/28/EC on GCP, a system for the approval of clinical trials in the EU has been implemented through national legislation of the member states. Under this system, an applicant must obtain approval from the competent national authority of an EU member state in which the clinical trial is to be conducted, or in multiple member states if the clinical trial is to be conducted in a number of member states. Furthermore, the applicant may only start a clinical trial at a specific trial site after the independent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion in relation to the clinical trial. The clinical trial application (CTA) must be accompanied by an investigational medicinal product dossier with supporting information prescribed by Directive 2001/20/EC and Directive 2005/28/EC and corresponding national laws of the member states, and further detailed in applicable guidance documents.

In April 2014, the EU adopted a new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014, which is set to replace the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. The Regulation was published on June 16, 2014 but is not expected to come into effect until late 2020 at the earliest. It is expected that the Clinical Trials Regulation will apply following confirmation of full functionality of the Clinical Trials Information System (CTIS), the centralized EU portal and database for clinical trials foreseen by the regulation, through an independent audit. The regulation becomes applicable six months after the European Commission publishes notice of this confirmation. It will overhaul the current system of approvals for clinical trials in the EU. Specifically, the new regulation, which will be directly applicable in all member states (meaning that no implementing legislation is required in each member state), aims at simplifying and streamlining the approval of clinical trials in the EU. For instance, the new Clinical Trials Regulation provides for a streamlined application procedure via a single entry point and strictly defined deadlines for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The extent to which on-going clinical trials will be governed by the Clinical Trials Regulation will depend on when the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable and on the duration of the individual clinical trial.  Clinical trials applications made before the entry into force of the Clinical Trials Regulation will continue to be governed by the Clinical Trials Directive for up to three years after the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable, as will clinical trials applications made within one year of the Clinical Trials Regulation becoming applicable where the clinical trial sponsor elects for the trial to be governed by the old regime until the end of the three year transition period.  If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial.

Marketing Authorization

To obtain a marketing authorization for a product under the EU regulatory system, an applicant must submit an MAA, either under a centralized procedure administered by the European Medicines Authority (EMA) or one of the procedures administered by competent authorities in EU Member States (decentralized procedure, national procedure, or mutual recognition procedure). A marketing authorization may be granted only to an applicant established in the EU. Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 provides that prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the EU, an applicant must demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved Pediatric Investigation Plan (PIP) covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, class waiver, or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP.

The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization by the European Commission that is valid for all EU member states, as well as the three other countries which form part of the European Economic Area (Norway, Switzerland and Leichtenstein). Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004, the centralized procedure is compulsory for specific products, including for medicines produced by certain biotechnological processes, advanced therapy products and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, including products for the treatment of cancer. For those products for which the use of the centralized procedure is not mandatory, applicants may elect to use the centralized procedure where either the product contains a new active substance indicated for the treatment of other diseases, or where the applicant can show that the product constitutes a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovationor for which a centralized process is in the interest of patients at a European Union level.

Under the centralized procedure, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) established at the EMA is responsible for conducting an initial assessment of whether a medicine meets the required quality, safety and efficacy requirements, and whether the product has a positive benefit/risk profile. Under the centralized procedure in the European Union, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA is 210 days from receipt of a valid MAA, excluding clock stops when additional information or written or oral explanation is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions of the CHMP. Clock stops may extend the timeframe of evaluation of an MAA considerably beyond 210 days. Accelerated evaluation may be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and, in particular, from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such a request, the timeframe of 210 days will be reduced to 150 days (excluding clock stops), but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that it is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment.

26


Regulatory Data Protection in the European Union

In the European Union, new chemical entities approved on the basis of a complete independent data package qualify for eight years of data exclusivity upon marketing authorization and an additional two years of market exclusivity pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 726/2004, as amended, and Directive 2001/83/EC, as amended. Data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic (abbreviated) application for a period of eight years. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization application can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic medicinal product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. The overall ten-year period will be extended to a maximum of 11 years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to authorization, is held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies. Even if a compound is considered to be a new chemical entity so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, another company may market another version of the product if such company obtained marketing authorization based on an MAA with a complete independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, non-clinical tests and clinical trials.

Periods of Authorization and Renewals

A marketing authorization is valid for five years, in principle, and it may be renewed after five years on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk benefit balance by the EMA or by the competent authority of the authorizing member state. To that end, the marketing authorization holder must provide the EMA or the competent authority with a consolidated version of the file in respect of quality, safety, and efficacy, including all variations introduced since the marketing authorization was granted, at least six months before the marketing authorization ceases to be valid. Once renewed, the marketing authorization is valid for an unlimited period, unless the European Commission or the competent authority decides, on justified grounds relating to pharmacovigilance, to proceed with one additional five-year renewal period. Any authorization that is not followed by the placement of the drug on the EU market (in the case of the centralized procedure) or on the market of the authorizing member state within three years after authorization ceases to be valid.

Regulatory Requirements after Marketing Authorization

Following approval, the holder of the marketing authorization is required to comply with a range of requirements applicable to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion, and sale of the medicinal product. These include compliance with the EU’s stringent pharmacovigilance or safety reporting rules, pursuant to which post-authorization studies and additional monitoring obligations can be imposed. In addition, the manufacturing of authorized products, for which a separate manufacturer’s license is mandatory, must also be conducted in strict compliance with the EMA’s GMP requirements and comparable requirements of other regulatory bodies in the EU, which mandate the methods, facilities, and controls used in manufacturing, processing and packing of drugs to assure their safety and identity. Finally, the marketing and promotion of authorized products, including industry-sponsored continuing medical education and advertising directed toward the prescribers of drugs and/or the general public, are strictly regulated in the European Union under Directive 2001/83EC, as amended.

Coverage, Pricing, and Reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we may seek regulatory approval by the FDA or other government authorities. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use any product candidates we may develop unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of such product candidates. Even if any product candidates we may develop are approved, sales of such product candidates will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers, and managed care organizations, provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, such product candidates. The process for determining whether a payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.

27


In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable regulatory approvals. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover any product candidates we may develop could reduce physician utilization of such product candidates once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations, and financial condition. Additionally, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor. Third-party reimbursement and coverage may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.

The containment of healthcare costs also has become a priority of federal, state, and foreign governments and the prices of pharmaceuticals, including biologics, have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement, and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.

Outside the United States, ensuring adequate coverage and payment for any product candidates we may develop will face challenges. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control in many countries. Pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can extend well beyond the receipt of regulatory approval for a product and may require us to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost effectiveness of any product candidates we may develop to other available therapies. The conduct of such a clinical trial could be expensive and result in delays in our commercialization efforts.

In the European Union, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies (so called health technology assessments (HTAs) in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU member states may approve a specific price for a product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for products, but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic, and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various EU member states, and parallel trade (arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states), can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products, if approved in those countries.

Healthcare Law and Compliance Regulations

Healthcare providers and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of pharmaceutical products that are granted regulatory approval. Arrangements with providers, consultants, third-party payors, and customers are subject to broadly applicable fraud and abuse, anti-kickback, false claims laws, reporting of payments to physicians and teaching physicians, and patient privacy laws and regulations and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain our business and/or financial arrangements. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations include the following:

 

the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving, or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation or arrangement of, any good or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand, and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers, among others, on the other. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

28


 

the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalties laws, which prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things: knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false, fictitious or fraudulent; knowingly making or causing a false statement or record material to a false or fraudulent claim or obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay money to the federal government. For example, pharmaceutical companies have been prosecuted under the False Claims Act in connection with their alleged off-label promotion of drugs, purportedly concealing price concessions in the pricing information submitted to the government for government price reporting purposes, and allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal health care programs for the product. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false of fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;

 

the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which created additional federal criminal laws that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or making false statements relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which impose obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security, and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s privacy and security standards directly applicable to “business associates,” defined as independent contractors or agents of covered entities that create, receive, maintain or transmit protected health information in connection with providing a service for or on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities, business associates and possibly other persons, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

the federal transparency requirements known as the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, under the Affordable Care Act, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to CMS, information related to payments and other transfers of value made by that entity to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners; and

 

federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities that potentially harm consumers; and

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to healthcare items or services that are reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers.

Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government in addition to requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

We will be required to spend substantial time and money to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations. Violations of these laws can subject us to criminal, civil and administrative sanctions including monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, and exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and reputational harm, we may be required to curtail or restructure our operations. Moreover, we expect that there will continue to be federal and state laws and regulations, proposed and implemented, that could impact our future operations and business.

29


Outside the U.S., in we are impacted by the privacy and data security requirements at the international, national and regional level, and on an industry specific basis. Legal requirements in the countries in which we do business relating to the collection, storage, handling and transfer of personal data and potentially intellectual property continue to evolve with increasingly strict enforcement regimes. More privacy and security laws and regulations are being adopted, and more are being enforced, with potential for significant financial penalties. In the E.U., the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) took effect in May 2018 and imposes increasingly stringent data protection and privacy rules. The GDPR extends the geographical scope of EU data protection law to non-EU entities under certain conditions, tightens existing EU data protection principles and creates new obligations for companies and new rights for individuals. The GDPR is new and therefore guidance, interpretation and enforcement, particularly in the clinical trial space and healthcare space, under the GDPR are still developing. The GDPR may increase our responsibility and potential liability in relation to personal data that we process, expose us to substantial potential fines and increase our compliance costs. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.

Healthcare Reform

A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. There have been a number of federal and state proposals during the last few years regarding the pricing of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, limiting coverage and reimbursement for drugs and other medical products, government control and other changes to the healthcare system in the United States.

By way of example, the United States and state governments continue to propose and pass legislation designed to reduce the cost of healthcare. In March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the ACA, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for products under government healthcare programs. Among the provisions of the ACA of importance to our potential product candidates are:

 

an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription drugs and biologic products, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs;

 

expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to certain individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;

 

expanded manufacturers’ rebate liability under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program by increasing the minimum rebate for both branded and generic drugs and revising the definition of “average manufacturer price” (AMP) for calculating and reporting Medicaid drug rebates on outpatient prescription drug prices and extending rebate liability to prescriptions for individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans;

 

addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for products that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;

 

expanded the types of entities eligible for the 340B drug discount program;

 

established the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program by requiring manufacturers to provide a 50% point-of-sale-discount off the negotiated price of applicable products to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient products to be covered under Medicare Part D; (which was increased to 70% as of January 1, 2019 under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018);

 

a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research; and

 

established the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending, potentially including prescription product spending. Funding has been allocated to support the mission of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation from 2011 to 2020.

30


Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. Various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing legal and constitutional challenges in the Fifth Circuit Court and the United States Supreme Court; the Trump Administration has issued various Executive Orders which eliminated cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices; and Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. For example, in August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2012 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2029 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers, and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

Further, the Trump Administration released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase pharmaceutical manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products, and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. The Trump Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 contains further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2020 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. The Department of Health and Human Services has begun implementation of the Trump administration Blueprint, soliciting feedback on some of these measures and, immediately implementing others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020.

There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal, and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. Such reforms could have an adverse effect on anticipated revenues from product candidates that we may successfully develop and for which we may obtain regulatory approval and may affect our overall financial condition and ability to develop product candidates.

Additional Regulation

In addition to the foregoing, state, and federal laws regarding environmental protection and hazardous substances, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act, affect our business. These and other laws govern the use, handling, and disposal of various biologic, chemical, and radioactive substances used in, and wastes generated by, operations. If our operations result in contamination of the environment or expose individuals to hazardous substances, we could be liable for damages and governmental fines. Equivalent laws have been adopted in third countries that impose similar obligations.

Employees

As of December 31, 2019, we had 72 employees, approximately 63% of whom have an M.D., Ph.D., or other advanced degree. All of our employees are in Cambridge, Massachusetts. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered under a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our employee relations to be good.

In March 2020, we announced plans to reduce our current workforce by 43 employees (approximately 60 percent) to focus efforts on the BOXR1030 program.

31


Facilities

Our corporate headquarters are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where we lease approximately 33,500 square feet of office and laboratory space pursuant to a lease agreement commencing in July 2015 and expiring in April 2023. This facility houses our research, clinical, regulatory, commercial, and administrative personnel.

Legal Proceedings

From time to time, we may be involved in various claims and legal proceedings relating to claims arising out of our operations. Regardless of outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors. We are not currently a party to any legal proceedings.

Corporate History

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in March 2014. On April 3, 2018, we completed our initial public offering (IPO) of our common stock and issued and sold 5,770,000 shares of our common stock at a public offering price of $12.00 per share, resulting in net proceeds of approximately $61.5 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering costs. In addition, we completed a concurrent private placement of $5.0 million of shares of common stock at the public offering price of $12.00 per share, or 416,666 shares, with Seattle Genetics (the Concurrent Private Placement). On April 25, 2018, we issued and sold an additional 215,000 shares of our common stock at the IPO price of $12.00 per share pursuant to the underwriters’ partial exercise of their option to purchase additional shares of common stock, resulting in additional net proceeds of $2.4 million to us, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions.

Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company

We qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, as amended (JOBS Act). As an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of specified reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include:

 

only two years of audited financial statements in addition to any required unaudited interim financial statements with correspondingly reduced “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” disclosure;

 

reduced disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements;

 

no non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation or golden parachute arrangements; and

 

exemption from the auditor attestation requirement in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting.

We may take advantage of these exemptions for up to five years or such earlier time that we are no longer an emerging growth company. We would cease to be an emerging growth company on the date that is the earliest of (i) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more; (ii) the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the completion of our IPO; (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in nonconvertible debt during the previous three years; or (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). We may choose to take advantage of some but not all of these exemptions. We have taken advantage of reduced reporting requirements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Accordingly, the information contained herein may be different from the information you receive from other public companies in which you hold stock.

We have irrevocably elected to “opt out” of the exemption for the delayed adoption of certain accounting standards and, therefore, will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

32


Available Information

Our Internet address is www. unumrx.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, including exhibits, proxy and information statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a), 14, and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, are available through the “Investors” portion of our website free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Information on our website is not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any of our other securities filings unless specifically incorporated herein by reference. In addition, our filings with the SEC may be accessed through the SEC’s Interactive Data Electronic Applications system at http://www.sec.gov. All statements made in any of our securities filings, including all forward-looking statements or information, are made as of the date of the document in which the statement is included, and we do not assume or undertake any obligation to update any of those statements or documents unless we are required to do so by law.


33


ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

The following risk factors and other information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K should be carefully considered. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we presently deem less significant may also impair our business operations. You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” as well as our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, before deciding whether to invest in our common stock. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We have incurred net losses in every year since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur net losses in the future, and we have identified conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. Investment in biopharmaceutical product development is highly speculative because it entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate effect or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable. We have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales to date, and we continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. As a result, we are not profitable and have incurred losses in each period since our inception in March 2014. Our net loss was $31.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 and $34.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. As of December 31, 2019, we had an accumulated deficit of $123.9 million.

We have identified conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. As of December 31, 2019, management has assessed this risk in accordance with the requirements of Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, No. 2014-15, Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern (Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, Subtopic 205-40), or ASC 205-40. Based on our recurring losses and cash outflows from operations, since our inception, an expectation of continuing operating losses and cash outflows from operations for the foreseeable future, and the removal of revenues generated under the Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics as a result of the termination of that Agreement, we have concluded that there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. The financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

There is no assurance that we will be successful in obtaining benefits from cost saving measures implemented or planned or in obtaining additional financing on terms acceptable to us, if at all, nor is it considered probable under the accounting standards. As such, under the requirements of ASC 205-40, management may not consider the potential for future capital raises or management plans to reduce costs that are not considered probable in their assessment of our ability to meet our obligations. If we are unable to obtain funding, we may be required to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development or future commercialization efforts, or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves, which could adversely affect our business prospects, and we may be unable to continue operations. To finance our operations beyond that point, we will need to raise additional capital, which cannot be assured.

Even if we succeed in commercializing one or more of our product candidates, we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenditures to develop and market additional product candidates. We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.

34


We recently initiated a restructuring including a substantial reduction in our workforce to reduce our operating costs. As a result of this initiative, we may experience a disruption to our business operations. In addition, we may not realize all of the expected cost savings from our corporate restructuring which could have an adverse effect on our business or results of operations.

In March 2020, we announced plans to reduce our current workforce by 43 employees (approximately 60 percent) to focus efforts on the BOXR1030 program. Our restructuring initiative and staff reduction may cause disruption to our business operations. For example, the reduction in force has resulted in the loss of a number of long-term employees including some members of the senior management team, the loss of institutional knowledge and expertise and the reallocation and combination of certain roles and responsibilities across the organization, all of which could adversely affect our operations. In addition, we may not be able to effectively realize all the cost savings anticipated by the restructuring initiative and reduction-in-force and we may incur unanticipated charges or make cash payments as a result of our restructuring initiative that were not previously contemplated which could result in an adverse effect on our business or results of operations.

If we fail to obtain additional financing, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. As of December 31, 2019, we had working capital of $27.3 million and capital resources consisting of cash and cash equivalents of $37.4 million. We expect to continue to spend substantial amounts to continue the clinical and preclinical development of our product candidates, including our planned clinical trials for BOXR1030. If approved, we will require significant additional amounts in order to launch and commercialize our product candidates.

Our operating plan includes our efforts to advance our preclinical program, BOXR1030, for the treatment of solid tumor cancers, to complete an IND application for BOXR1030 in late 2020; to fund the wind down of ACTR707 used in combination with rituximab for adult patients with r/r B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ACTR087 used in combination with rituximab for adult patients with r/r non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in 2019, and ACTR707 used in combination with trastuzumab for patients with HER2+ cancers; and to develop product candidates in earlier stages of development, and any additional product candidates that we select, to expand headcount and internal capabilities, and for working capital and other general corporate purposes. However, we know that our existing cash and cash equivalents and our available borrowings under our loan and security agreement will not be sufficient to complete our planned Phase 1 clinical trial of BOXR1030 and we will need to raise additional funds to complete this trial, or to progress into clinical development any additional product candidates that we may select. Additionally, changing circumstances may cause us to consume capital significantly faster than we currently anticipate, and we may need to spend more money than currently expected because of circumstances beyond our control. We may require additional capital for the further development and commercialization of our product candidates and may need to raise additional funds sooner if we choose to expand more rapidly than we presently anticipate.

We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of our product candidates or other research and development initiatives. Our license agreements may also be terminated if we are unable to meet the payment obligations under the agreements. We could be required to seek collaborators for our product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or on terms that are less favorable than might otherwise be available or relinquish or license on unfavorable terms our rights to our product candidates in markets where we otherwise would seek to pursue development or commercialization ourselves.

Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and cause the price of our common stock to decline.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.

We may seek additional capital through a combination of public and private equity offerings, debt financings, strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a stockholder. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased fixed payment obligations and could involve certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. If we raise additional funds through strategic partnerships and alliances and licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies or product candidates, or grant licenses on terms unfavorable to us.

35


We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication, or platform technology, and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications or platform technology that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs and product candidates that we identify for specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable programs. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.

Our activities to evaluate and pursue strategic alternatives may not result in any definitive transaction or enhance shareholder value, and may create a distraction for our management and uncertainty that may adversely affect our operating results and business.

We have commenced a process to evaluate strategic alternatives to prioritize and allocate resources towards the advancement of our preclinical program, BOXR1030, or BOXR platform technology. Potential strategic alternatives that may be explored or evaluated include the potential for capital raising transactions, an acquisition, a reverse merger, business combination, licensing and/or other strategic transaction involving us. We have engaged Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc., as our financial advisor to assist us in this process. Our ability to successfully execute on a strategic alternative is dependent on a number of factors and we may not be able to execute upon a transaction or other strategic alternative upon favorable terms within an advantageous timeframe and recognize significant value for these assets, if at all. Additionally, the negotiation and consummation of a transaction or other strategic alternative may be costly and time-consuming. Any executed strategic alternative may not result in anticipated savings or other economic benefits, could result in total costs and expenses that are greater than expected, could make it more difficult to attract and retain qualified personnel and may disrupt our operations, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

The current market price of our common stock may reflect a market assumption that a strategic alternative will occur, and a failure to complete a strategic alternative could result in negative investor perceptions and could cause a decline in the market price of our common stock, which could adversely affect our ability to access the equity and financial markets, as well as our ability to explore and enter into different strategic alternatives. There can be no certainty that any strategic alternative will be completed, be on attractive terms, enhance stockholder value or deliver the anticipated benefits, and successful integration or execution of the strategic alternatives will be subject to additional risks. In addition, potential strategic alternatives that require stockholder approval may not be approved by our stockholders. If we do not successfully consummate a strategic alternative, our board of directors may decide to pursue a dissolution and liquidation of our company. In such an event, the amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders will depend heavily on the timing of such liquidation as well as the amount of cash that will need to be reserved for commitments and contingent liabilities.

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our lead solid tumor product candidate, BOXR1030 and any potential BOXR product candidates that we develop.

Our business and future success depend on our ability to obtain regulatory approval of and then successfully commercialize our lead solid tumor product candidate BOXR 1030 and other product candidates that we develop using our BOXR platform. All of our product candidates are in the early stages of development and will require additional preclinical and clinical development, regulatory review and approval, substantial investment, access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales.

Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.

Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our product candidates, including any BOXR product candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical testing and clinical trials that our product candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process, and, because our product candidates are in an early stage of development, there is a high risk of failure and we may never succeed in developing marketable products. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical

36


trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy, insufficient durability of efficacy, or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products.

Any clinical trials that we may conduct may not demonstrate the efficacy and safety necessary to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates. If the results of our ongoing or future clinical trials are inconclusive with respect to the efficacy of our product candidates, if we do not meet the clinical endpoints with statistical and clinically meaningful significance, or if there are safety concerns associated with our product candidates, we may be prevented or delayed in obtaining marketing approval for such product candidates. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, changes in and adherence to the clinical trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants.

We cannot guarantee that our BOXR technology will show any functionality in the solid tumor environment.

While we plan to develop product candidates for use in solid tumor cancers, we cannot guarantee that our product candidates will show any functionality in the solid tumor environment. The cellular environment in which solid tumor cancers exist is inimical to T cells due to several factors including: (1) immunosuppressive cells (e.g., regulatory T cells (Tregs), myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs)), (2) immunosuppressive enzymes and signaling molecules (e.g., IDO1, TGF-beta), (3) limited nutrients (e.g., oxygen, glucose), and (4) toxic metabolites (e.g., reactive oxygen species, lactic acid). Together, these factors can limit the ability of T cells, including BOXR cells, both to penetrate into the solid tumor and to function properly once there. As a result of these and other solid tumor challenges, our product candidates may not demonstrate efficacy in solid tumors. For example, our BOXR-based product candidates may not be able to access the solid tumor, and even if they do, they may not be able to exert anti-tumor effects in an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. In addition, the safety profile of our product candidates may differ in a solid tumor setting. If we are unable to make our product candidates function in solid tumor cancers, our development plans and business may be significantly harmed. We have preliminary preclinical data on the BOXR platform that we believe improves the functionality of T cells, enabling them to be more efficient in solid tumor cancers. However, the preclinical data we have are very new and require additional development to determine the viability of the construct. Additionally, we have chosen our lead BOXR product candidate, BOXR1030, but it is still in preclinical development and we cannot guarantee it will show safety and efficacy in solid tumors, and we may not be able to choose additional nominees or further develop BOXR technology unless we obtain additional financing.

Since the number of patients that we have dosed, or plan to dose, in our ongoing or planned Phase 1 clinical trials is small, the results from such clinical trials, once completed, may be less reliable than results achieved in larger clinical trials, which may hinder our efforts to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.

A study design that is considered appropriate for regulatory approval includes a sufficiently large sample size with appropriate statistical power, as well as proper control of bias, to allow a meaningful interpretation of the results. The preliminary results of trials with smaller sample sizes can be disproportionately influenced by the impact the treatment had on a few individuals, which limits the ability to generalize the results across a broader community, thus making the study results less reliable than studies with a larger number of patients. As a result, there may be less certainty that such product candidates would achieve a statistically significant effect in any future clinical trials. If we conduct any future clinical trials, we may not achieve a statistically significant result or the same level of statistical significance, if any, that we may have seen in prior clinical trials. Additionally, our inability to dose a sufficient number of patients in our clinical trials could result in significant delays and could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Delays in our clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our drug candidates, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.

We may not be able to file investigational new drug applications (INDs) or IND amendments or clinical trial authorization applications (CTAs) to commence additional clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may not permit us to proceed.

We expect to leverage the BOXR platform by submitting additional INDs or CTAs in the future for BOXR product candidates used in combination with other monoclonal antibodies. In addition, however, our timing of filing on future product candidates is dependent on further research. We cannot be sure that submission of an IND or CTA will result in the FDA or other regulatory authority allowing further clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate such clinical trials. Additionally, even if such regulatory authorities agree with the design and

37


implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND or CTA, we cannot guarantee that such regulatory authorities will not change their requirements in the future. These considerations also apply to new clinical trials we may submit as amendments to existing INDs or CTAs.

We have limited experience as a company conducting clinical trials or managing a manufacturing facility for our product candidates.

We have limited experience as a company in conducting clinical trials. In part because of this lack of experience, we cannot be certain that our ongoing clinical trials will be completed on time or if the planned clinical trials will begin or be completed on time, if at all. Large-scale trials would require significant additional financial and management resources and reliance on third-party clinical investigators, contract research organizations (CROs), or consultants. Relying on third-party clinical investigators or CROs may force us to encounter delays that are outside of our control.

In the future, we also intend to operate our own manufacturing facility, which will require significant resources, and we have limited experience as a company in expanding or managing a manufacturing facility. In part because of this lack of experience, we cannot be certain that our manufacturing facility will be completed on time, if at all, or if the planned clinical trials will begin or be completed on time, if at all. In part because of our inexperience, we may have unacceptable or inconsistent product quality success rates and yields, and we may be unable to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. In addition, if we switch from one manufacturing facility to our own manufacturing facility for one or more of our product candidates in the future, we may need to conduct additional preclinical studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Failure to successfully create and operate our proposed manufacturing facility could adversely affect the commercial viability of our product candidates.

Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, require expansion of the trial size, limit their commercial potential, or result in significant negative consequences.

Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities, including institutional review boards (IRBs), to interrupt, delay, or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of subjects and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of our product candidates may only be uncovered with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the drug. Because of our dose escalation design for our clinical trials, undesirable side effects could also result in an expansion in the size of our clinical trials, increasing the expected costs and timeline of our clinical trials. Additionally, results of our trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics.

In certain trials of CAR-based products, which also use an engineered T cell, side effects, such as CRS, neurotoxicity, cytomegalovirus infection, and respiratory distress, arose that resulted in risk, injury, or death to the patients. We observed some of these side effects in the second dose level and the safety expansion cohort level of our Phase 1 clinical trial of ACTR087 used in combination with rituximab, called ATTCK-20-2. These events resulted in the FDA placing the trial on clinical hold in December 2017 pending submission of certain information relating to the ATTCK-20-2 clinical trial. The clinical hold was removed in February 2018, following review of this information by the FDA. However, a second clinical hold was placed on the trial in July 2019 (updated to a partial clinical hold) following submission of a safety report to the FDA. We will likely continue to observe some or all of these side effects in our clinical trials at additional dosage levels. We have established safety management and monitoring guidelines for clinical investigators to detect and treat potential side effects. However, there is no guarantee that these medical interventions will be effective in preventing negative effects to the patient. Additionally, if we continue to observe severe side effects in our clinical trials, our ongoing clinical trials may be halted or put on an additional clinical hold prior to completion if there is an unacceptable safety risk for patients.

Autoimmune reaction triggered by an interaction between a patient’s naturally occurring antibodies and ACTR T cells is a theoretical safety risk unique to the ACTR approach. If a patient’s self-generated antibodies were directed to a target expressed on the surface of cells in normal tissue (i.e., autoantibodies), ACTR would be directed to attack these tissues, potentially resulting in off-tumor effects. These autoantibodies may be present whether or not the patient has an active autoimmune disease. In our clinical testing, we have taken steps to minimize the likelihood of this happening (e.g., excluding patients with a history of autoimmune disease from our trials and screening for the presence of certain autoantibodies). To date, we have not observed any autoimmune adverse effects in clinical testing of ACTR. There is no guarantee, however, that we will not observe autoimmune reactions in the future and no guarantee that if we do, that we will be able to implement interventions to address the risk.

38


If unacceptable toxicities arise in the development of our product candidates, we could suspend or terminate our trials or the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, or local regulatory authorities such as IRBs, could order us to cease clinical trials. Competent national health authorities, such as the FDA, could also deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Treatment-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. In addition, these side effects may not be appropriately recognized or managed by the treating medical staff, as toxicities resulting from T cell therapy are not normally encountered in the general patient population and by medical personnel. We expect to have to train medical personnel using ACTR or BOXR to understand the respective side effect profiles of ACTR and BOXR for all clinical trials and upon any commercialization of any product candidates, if approved. Inadequate training in recognizing or managing the potential side effects of ACTR or BOXR could result in patient deaths. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.

We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the study until its conclusion. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:

 

the patient eligibility criteria defined in the protocol;

 

the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;

 

the proximity of patients to trial sites;

 

the design of the trial;

 

our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;

 

the perceived risks and benefits of our product candidate in the trial;

 

reporting of the preliminary results of any of our clinical trials; and

 

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before the manufacturing and infusion of our product candidates or trial completion.

In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. Moreover, because our product candidates represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, rather than enroll patients in any future clinical trial. Additionally, because some of our clinical trials are in patients with relapsed/refractory cancer, the patients are typically in the late stages of the disease and may experience disease progression independent from our product candidates, making them unevaluable for purposes of the trial and requiring additional enrollment.

Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of our ongoing and planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion or commencement of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.

Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to design and implement.

Human clinical trials are expensive and difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Because our product candidates are based on new technology and engineered on a patient-by-patient basis, we expect that they will require extensive research and development and have substantial manufacturing and processing costs. In addition, costs to treat patients with relapsed or refractory cancer and to treat potential side effects that may result from our product candidates can be significant. Accordingly, our clinical trial costs are likely to be significantly higher than those for more conventional therapeutic technologies or drug product candidates. In addition, our proposed personalized product candidates involve several complex and costly manufacturing and processing steps, the costs of which will be borne by us.

39


The market opportunities for our product candidates may be limited to those patients who are ineligible for or have failed prior treatments, and may be small, and our estimates of the prevalence of our target patient populations may be inaccurate.

Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized as first line, second line, or third line, and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for a particular line of use. When cancer is detected early enough, first line therapy is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Whenever first line therapy, usually chemotherapy, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these, proves unsuccessful, second line therapy may be administered. Second line therapies often consist of more chemotherapy, radiation, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, or a combination of these. Third line therapies can include hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in certain cancers, chemotherapy, antibody drugs, and small molecule tumor-targeted therapies, more invasive forms of surgery, and new revolutionary technologies. We expect to initially seek approval of our product candidates in most instances at least as a third line therapy, for use in patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic cancer. Subsequently, for those products that prove to be sufficiently safe and beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval as a second line therapy and potentially as a first line therapy, but there is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved as a third or subsequent line of therapy, would be approved for an earlier line of therapy, and, prior to any such approvals, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials.

Our projections of both the number of people who have the cancers we are targeting, as well as the subset of people with these cancers in a position to receive a particular line of therapy and who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new therapies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these cancers. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates. Even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates within our addressable patient population, because the potential target populations are small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications, including use as first or second line therapy.

We may choose not to develop a potential product candidate, or we may suspend, deprioritize or terminate one or more discovery programs or preclinical or clinical product candidates or programs.

At any time and for any reason, we may determine that one or more of our discovery programs or preclinical or clinical product candidates or programs does not have sufficient potential to warrant the allocation of resources toward such program or product candidate. Accordingly, we may choose not to develop a potential product candidate or elect to suspend, deprioritize or terminate one or more of our discovery programs or preclinical or clinical product candidates or programs. If we suspend, deprioritize or terminate a program or product candidate in which we have invested significant resources, we will have expended resources on a program or product candidate that will not provide a full return on our investment and may have missed the opportunity to have allocated those resources to potentially more productive uses, including existing or future programs or product candidates. For example, we concluded enrollment in our ATTCK-20-2 study in the first half of 2019 as a result of emerging clinical data from our Phase 1 ATTCK-20-03 trial, the continuing progress in our ATTCK-20-03 trial, and our desire to efficiently manage resources for our clinical programs. In November 2019, we announced our decision to deprioritize our hematologic programs, to shift our focus to our solid tumor programs and the suspension of further dose escalation in the ATTCK-17-01 trial, pending review of next steps with our collaboration partner, Seattle Genetics. On January 16, 2020, we and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the Collaboration Agreement. In March 2020, we announced the decision to conclude the remaining Phase 1 clinical trials, ATTCK-20-03 and ATTCK-34-01, to focus on development of BOXR1030 and the BOXR platform.

If we fail to develop additional product candidates, our commercial opportunity will be limited.

We have developed a pipeline of product candidates and intend to pursue clinical development of BOXR product candidates to target solid tumors. Developing, obtaining regulatory approval for and commercializing additional product candidates will require substantial additional funding beyond the net proceeds from our initial public offering (IPO) and concurrent private placement with Seattle Genetics, Inc. (Concurrent Private Placement), and is prone to the risks of failure inherent in medical product development. We cannot provide you any assurance that we will be able to successfully advance any of these additional product candidates through the development process.

40


Even if we receive FDA approval to market additional product candidates for the treatment of cancer, we cannot assure you that any such product candidates will be successfully commercialized, widely accepted in the marketplace or more effective than other commercially available alternatives. If we are unable to successfully develop and commercialize additional product candidates, our commercial opportunity will be limited. Moreover, a failure in obtaining regulatory approval of additional product candidates may have a negative effect on the approval process of any other, or result in losing approval of any approved product candidate.

We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience in marketing products. If we are unable to establish marketing and sales capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates, if approved, we may not be able to generate product revenue.

We currently have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities and have no experience in marketing products. We intend to develop an in-house marketing organization and sales force, which will require significant capital expenditures, management resources and time. We will have to compete with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to recruit, hire, train and retain marketing and sales personnel.

If we are unable or decide not to establish internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, we will pursue collaborative arrangements regarding the sales and marketing of our products, if approved. However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to establish or maintain such collaborative arrangements, or if we are able to do so, that they will have effective sales forces. Any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of such third parties, which may not be successful. We may have little or no control over the marketing and sales efforts of such third parties and our revenue from product sales may be lower than if we had commercialized our product candidates ourselves. We also face competition in our search for third parties to assist us with the sales and marketing efforts of our product candidates.

A variety of risks associated with marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.

We plan to seek regulatory approval of our product candidates outside of the United States and, accordingly, we expect that we will be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries if we obtain the necessary approvals, including:

 

differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries;

 

unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;

 

economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;

 

compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;

 

foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;

 

foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;

 

difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations;

 

workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;

 

potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 or comparable foreign regulations;

 

challenges enforcing our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the United States;

 

production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and

 

business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism.

These and other risks associated with our international operations may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.

41


We face significant competition from other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and our operating results will suffer if we fail to compete effectively.

The biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by intense competition and rapid innovation. Our competitors may be able to develop other products or drugs that are able to achieve similar or better results. Our potential competitors include major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations and well-established sales forces. In addition, many of these competitors are active in seeking patent protection and licensing arrangements in anticipation of collecting royalties for use of technology that they have developed. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors, either alone or with collaborative partners, may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug or biologic products that are more effective, safer, more easily commercialized or less costly than our product candidates or may develop proprietary technologies or secure patent protection that we may need for the development of our technologies and products. We believe the key competitive factors that will affect the development and commercial success of our product candidates are efficacy, safety, tolerability, reliability, convenience of use, price and reimbursement.

Specifically, for BOXR1030, we face competition from CARsgen and Roche/Chugai.  In addition, by genetically engineering T cell products, we face significant competition in both the CAR technology and TCR space from multiple companies, including Kite Pharma, Inc. (a Gilead Sciences, Inc. company), Juno Therapeutics, Inc. (a Celgene Corporation company), Novartis AG, and bluebird bio, Inc. Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the availability and price of our competitors’ products could limit the demand and the price we are able to charge for our product candidates. We may not be able to implement our business plan if the acceptance of our product candidates is inhibited by price competition or the reluctance of physicians to switch from existing methods of treatment to our product candidates, or if physicians switch to other new drug or biologic products or choose to reserve our product candidates for use in limited circumstances.

We are highly dependent on our key personnel, and if we are not successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified personnel, we may not be able to successfully implement our business strategy.

Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. In March 2020, we announced plans to reduce our current workforce by 43 employees (approximately 60 percent) to focus efforts on the BOXR1030 program. The restructuring may harm our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel and may result in reduced morale among our remaining personnel. Our inability or failure to successfully attract and retain qualified personnel, particularly at the management level, could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan and harm our operating results. In particular, the loss of one or more of our executive officers could be detrimental if we cannot recruit suitable replacements in a timely manner. The competition for qualified personnel in the pharmaceutical field is intense and we may be unable to continue to attract and retain qualified personnel necessary for the development of our business or to recruit suitable replacement personnel.

We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel, including our Chief Executive Officer and President, our Chief Financial Officer, our Chief Scientific Officer or equivalent, our Chief Medical Officer, and our Chief Technical Officer or equivalent. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees and other scientific and medical advisors, and an inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business.

We conduct our operations at our facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This region is headquarters to many other biopharmaceutical companies and many academic and research institutions. Competition for skilled personnel in our market is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all.

42


To induce valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control, and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Although we have employment agreements with our key employees, these employment agreements provide for at-will employment, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. We maintain a “key man” insurance policy on the life of our Chief Executive Officer and President, but do not maintain “key man” insurance on the lives of our other management personnel or the lives of any of our other employees. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior managers as well as junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel.

We may form or seek collaborations or strategic alliances or enter into additional licensing arrangements in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such collaborations, alliances or licensing arrangements.

We may form or seek strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into additional licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our development and commercialization efforts with respect to our product candidates and any future product candidates that we may develop. In particular, we may seek to enter into collaborations with our BOXR platform and other collaborations to give us access to antibodies to use in combination with our ACTR platform. Any of these relationships may require us to incur non-recurring and other charges, increase our near and long-term expenditures, issue securities that dilute our existing stockholders or disrupt our management and business.

For example, in June 2015, we entered into the Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics pursuant to which Seattle Genetics has agreed to generate antibodies against two target antigens and we are responsible for creating ACTR T cells to pair with these antibodies to create combination product candidates. However, Seattle Genetics may elect to opt-out from further development and commercialization of the resulting product candidates. If Seattle Genetics elects to exercise one of these options our timelines could be delayed and our business otherwise adversely affected, and we cannot be certain that we will achieve the revenue or specific net income that we anticipate. On January 16, 2020, we and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the collaboration.  

In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because they may be deemed to be at too early of a stage of development for collaborative effort and third parties may not view our product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate safety and efficacy and obtain marketing approval.

Further, collaborations involving our product candidates are subject to numerous risks, which may include the following:

 

collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to a collaboration;

 

collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of our product candidates or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization of our product candidates based on clinical trial results, changes in their strategic focus due to the acquisition of competitive products, availability of funding or other external factors, such as a business combination that diverts resources or creates competing priorities;

 

collaborators may cease to devote resources to the development or commercialization of our product candidates if the collaborators view our product candidates as competitive with their own products or product candidates;

 

collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial, stop a clinical trial, abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;

 

collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates;

 

a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more products may not commit sufficient resources to their marketing and distribution;

43


 

any such collaboration may significantly limit our share of potential future profits from the associated program and may require us to relinquish potentially valuable rights to our current product candidates, potential products, proprietary technologies, or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us;

 

the collaborations may not result in us achieving revenue to justify such transactions;

 

collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our intellectual property or proprietary information in a way that gives rise to actual or threatened litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential liability;

 

collaborators may be impacted by changes in their strategic focus or available funding, or business combinations involving them, which could cause them to divert resources away from the collaboration;

 

disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation, or the course of development, might cause delays or termination of the development or commercialization of product candidates, and might result in legal proceedings, which would be time consuming, distracting, and expensive;

 

collaborations may be terminated and, if terminated, may result in a need for additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates;

 

collaborations may be terminated and upon termination, could result in potential litigation and arbitration proceeding. Further, if we were to incur a loss in the arbitration proceeding, depending on the ruling, we could also be responsible for certain attorney’s fees and interest. Given the inherent uncertainty of arbitration and the nature of the potential claim or claims, it is possible that we may incur material losses; and

 

collaborators may own or co-own intellectual property covering our products that results from our collaborating with them, and in such cases, we would not have the exclusive right to commercialize such intellectual property.

Even if we are successful in entering into a collaboration with respect to the development and/or commercialization of one or more product candidates, there is no guarantee that the collaboration will be successful.

As a result, a collaboration may not result in the successful development or commercialization of our product candidates.

For instance, in June 2015, we entered into the Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics to identify, research, develop and commercialize two novel antibody-coupled ACTR therapies incorporating Seattle Genetics’ proprietary antibodies. In November 2019, we and Seattle Genetics suspended further dose-escalation of the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 trial of ACTR087 with SEA-BCMA in multiple myeloma pending a further review of this program. On January 16, 2020, we and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the collaboration.  As a result, there will be no product candidate successfully commercialized under the Collaboration Agreement.   

Our internal computer systems, or those used by our third-party CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of the development programs of our product candidates.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our current and future CROs and other contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such material system failure or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we rely on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.

44


Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.

Our operations, and those of our CROs, commercial manufacturing organizations (CMOs), and other contractors and consultants, could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and other natural or man-made disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce and process our product candidates on a patient-by-patient basis. Our ability to obtain clinical supplies of our product candidates could be disrupted if the operations of these suppliers are affected by a man-made or natural disaster or other business interruption.

Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.

We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other illegal activity by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct that fails to: comply with the regulations of the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies, provide true, complete and accurate information to the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws in the United States and similar foreign fraudulent misconduct laws or report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. If we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our potential exposure under such laws and regulations will increase significantly, and our costs associated with compliance with such laws and regulations are also likely to increase. These laws may impact, among other things, our current activities with principal investigators and research patients, as well as proposed and future sales, marketing and education programs. In particular, the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering, paying, or providing any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce, or in return for, either the referral of an individual, or the purchase, lease, order, arrangement, or recommendation of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand, and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers, among others, on the other. A person or entity can be found guilty of violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act or federal civil money penalties statute;

 

federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal civil False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalty laws, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented; claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payors that are false, fictitious or fraudulent claim or obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the federal government; knowingly making or causing a false statement or record to improperly avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government; a claim that includes items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim under the federal civil False Claims Act. Manufacturers can be held liable under the False Claims Act even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The False Claims Act also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring qui tam actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the False Claims Act and to share in any monetary recovery;

45


 

the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g., public or private) and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity can be found guilty of violating HIPAA without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), and their respective implementing regulations, which impose requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve the use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively, the Affordable Care Act, and its implementing regulations, which require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioner;

 

federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers; and

 

Analogous state and foreign law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers or patients. State laws that may require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the applicable compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources. State and local laws may also require the licensure of sales representatives, and require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures and pricing information.

In 2016, the European Union adopted a new regulation governing the collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer or processing of personal data, including personal health data practices and privacy called the General Data Protection Regulation (European Union) 2016/679, or GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR applies to any company established in the European Economic Area, or EEA (being the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as to those outside the EEA if they collect and use personal data in connection with the offering of goods or services to individuals in the European Union or the monitoring of their behavior. The GDPR enhances data protection obligations for processors and controllers of personal data, including, for example, requirements relating to processing health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, expanded disclosures about how personal information is to be used, limitations on retention of information, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, mandatory data breach notification requirements, taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors and onerous new obligations on services providers. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA, including the United States, and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR. Non-compliance with the GDPR may result in monetary penalties of up to €20.0 million or 4% of annual worldwide revenue, whichever is higher.

46


We face potential liability related to the privacy of health information we obtain from clinical trials sponsored by us.

Most healthcare providers, including research institutions from which we obtain patient health information, are subject to privacy and security regulations promulgated under HIPAA, as amended by the HITECH. We are not currently classified as a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA and thus are not directly subject to its requirements or penalties. However, any person may be prosecuted under HIPAA’s criminal provisions either directly or under aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy principles. Consequently, depending on the facts and circumstances, we could face substantial criminal penalties if we knowingly receive individually identifiable health information from a HIPAA-covered healthcare provider or research institution that has not satisfied HIPAA’s requirements for disclosure of individually identifiable health information. In addition, we may maintain sensitive personally identifiable information, including health information, that we receive throughout the clinical trial process, in the course of our research collaborations, and directly from individuals (or their healthcare providers) who enroll in our patient assistance programs. As such, we may be subject to state laws requiring notification of affected individuals and state regulators in the event of a breach of personal information, which is a broader class of information than the health information protected by HIPAA.

The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers. The GDPR may increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities. Further, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the United Kingdom. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated now that the United Kingdom has left the EU.

Furthermore, certain health privacy laws, data breach notification laws, consumer protection laws and genetic testing laws may apply directly to our operations and/or those of our collaborators and may impose restrictions on our collection, use and dissemination of individuals’ health information. Patients about whom we or our collaborators obtain health information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may have statutory or contractual rights that limit our ability to use and disclose the information. We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to ensure ongoing compliance with applicable privacy and data security laws. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time- consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.

If we or third-party CMOs, CROs or other contractors or consultants fail to comply with applicable federal, state or local regulatory requirements, we could be subject to a range of regulatory actions that could affect our or our contractors’ ability to develop and commercialize our therapeutic candidates and could harm or prevent sales of any affected therapeutics that we are able to commercialize, or could substantially increase the costs and expenses of developing, commercializing and marketing our therapeutics. Any threatened or actual government enforcement action could also generate adverse publicity and require that we devote substantial resources that could otherwise be used in other aspects of our business. Increasing use of social media could give rise to liability, breaches of data security or reputational damage.

Additionally, we are subject to state and foreign equivalents of each of the healthcare laws described above, among others, some of which may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of the payor.

Upon the closing of the IPO, we adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent inappropriate conduct may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations.

47


Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements will comply with applicable healthcare laws may involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, disgorgement, monetary fines, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings and curtailment of our operations, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. In addition, the approval and commercialization of any of our product candidates outside the United States will also likely subject us to foreign equivalents of the healthcare laws mentioned above, among other foreign laws.

If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.

We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of the clinical testing of our product candidates and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products. For example, we may be sued if our product candidates cause or are perceived to cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates. Even successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

decreased demand for our product candidates or products that we may develop;

 

injury to our reputation;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

costs to defend the related litigation;

 

a diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;

 

loss of revenue;

 

exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;

 

the inability to commercialize any product candidate; and

 

a decline in our share price.

Failure to obtain or retain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop, alone or with corporate collaborators. Although we have clinical trial insurance, our insurance policies also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

48


Comprehensive tax reform legislation could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that significantly reforms the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. The TCJA, among other things, contains significant changes to corporate taxation, including reduction of the corporate tax rate from a top marginal rate of 35% to a flat rate of 21%; limitation of the tax deduction for interest expense; limitation of the deduction for net operating losses and elimination of net operating loss carrybacks, in each case, for losses arising in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 (though any such tax losses may be carried forward indefinitely); and modifying or repealing many business deductions and credits, including reducing the business tax credit for certain clinical testing expenses incurred in the testing of certain drugs for rare diseases or conditions generally referred to as “orphan drugs”. The tax rate change resulted in (i) a reduction in the gross amount of our deferred tax assets recorded as of December 31, 2017, without an impact on the net amount of our deferred tax assets, which are recorded with a full valuation allowance, and (ii) no income tax expense or benefit being recognized as of the enactment date of the TCJA. We continue to examine the impact this tax reform legislation may have on our business. However, the effect of the TCJA on us and our affiliates, whether adverse or favorable, is uncertain and may not become evident for some period of time. You are urged to consult your tax adviser regarding the implications of the TCJA on an investment in our common stock.

Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.

Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change” (generally defined as a greater than 50% change (by value) in its equity ownership over a three-year period), the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change taxable income may be limited. As a result of our most recent private placements, IPO, and other transactions that have occurred over the past three years, we may have experienced, an “ownership change.” We may also experience ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership. As of December 31, 2019, we had U.S. federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of $109.8 million and $110.8 million, respectively, and U.S. federal and state research and development tax credit carryforwards of $5.3 million, and $1.6 million respectively, which could be limited if we experience an “ownership change.” The reduction of the corporate tax rate under the TCJA may cause a reduction in the economic benefit of our net operating loss carryforwards and other deferred tax assets available to us. Under the TCJA, net operating losses generated after December 31, 2017 will not be subject to expiration.

The terms of our loan and security agreement may restrict our ability to engage in certain transactions and subject our assets to collateralization.

In January 2017, we entered into a loan and security agreement with Pacific Western Bank (PWB). Pursuant to the terms of the loan and security agreement, subject to certain exceptions, we cannot engage in certain transactions without PWB’s prior written consent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. Such transactions include:

 

disposing of our business or certain assets;

 

changing our business, management, ownership or business locations;

 

incurring additional debt or liens or making payments on other debt;

 

making certain investments and declaring dividends;

 

acquiring or merging with another entity;

 

engaging in transactions with affiliates; or

 

encumbering intellectual property.

If PWB does not provide its consent to such actions, we could be prohibited from engaging in transactions that could be beneficial to our business and our stockholders unless we were to repay the loans, which may not be desirable or possible. The loan and security agreement is collateralized by a pledge of substantially all of our assets, except for our intellectual property. If we were to default under the loan and security agreement, including for an inability to repay amounts as they become due, and we were unable to obtain a waiver for such a default, PWB would have a right to accelerate our obligation to repay the entire loan and foreclose on these assets in order to satisfy our obligations under the loan and security agreement. In addition, PWB would also have the right to place a hold on our accounts maintained at PWB and refuse to fund any then unfunded commitments under the loan and security agreement. Any such action on the part of PWB against us could have a materially adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

49


Unstable market and economic conditions may have serious adverse consequences on our business, financial condition and stock price.

As widely reported, global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility and disruptions in the past several years, including severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any such economic downturn, volatile business environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, or do not improve, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult, more costly, and more dilutive. Failure to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, financial performance and stock price and could require us to delay or abandon clinical development plans. In addition, there is a risk that one or more of our current service providers, manufacturers and other partners may not survive these difficult economic times, which could directly affect our ability to attain our operating goals on schedule and on budget.

As of December 31, 2019, we had cash and cash equivalents of $37.4 million and available borrowings under our loan and security agreement of $15.0 million. While we are not aware of any downgrades, material losses, or other significant deterioration in the fair value of our cash equivalents since December 31, 2019, no assurance can be given that further deterioration of the global credit and financial markets would not negatively impact our current portfolio of cash equivalents or our ability to meet our financing objectives. Furthermore, our stock price may decline due in part to the volatility of the stock market and the general economic downturn.

We face risks arising from the results of the public referendum held in United Kingdom and its membership in the European Union.

The ongoing developments following from the United Kingdom’s public referendum vote to exit from the European Union could cause disruptions to and create uncertainty surrounding our business, including affecting our relationships with existing and potential suppliers, manufacturers, and other third parties. Negotiations have commenced to determine the terms of the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union, including the terms of trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union. A “transition period” will be in effect until the end of December 2020. During this period, most European Union laws will continue to apply. The effects of Brexit will depend upon any agreements the United Kingdom makes to retain access to European Union markets either during this transitional period or more permanently. The measures could potentially have corporate structural consequences, adversely change tax benefits or liabilities in these or other jurisdictions and could disrupt some of the markets and jurisdictions in which we operate. In addition, Brexit could lead to legal uncertainty and potentially divergent national laws and regulations as the United Kingdom determines which European Union laws to replace or replicate. In addition, the announcement of Brexit has caused significant volatility in global stock markets and currency exchange rate fluctuations, including the strengthening of the USD against some foreign currencies, and the Brexit negotiations may continue to cause significant volatility. The progress and outcomes of Brexit negotiations also may create global economic uncertainty. Any of these effects of Brexit, among others, could materially adversely affect the business, business opportunities, and financial condition of our company.

Business interruptions resulting from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak or similar public health crises could cause a disruption of the development of our product candidates and adversely impact our business.

Public health crises such as pandemics or similar outbreaks could adversely impact our business. In December 2019, a novel strain of a virus named SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), or coronavirus, which causes coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China and has reached multiple other regions and countries, including the United States and more specifically, Cambridge, Massachusetts where our primary office is located. The coronavirus pandemic is evolving, and to date has led to the implementation of various responses, including government-imposed quarantines, travel restrictions and other public health safety measures. Global health concerns, such as coronavirus, could result in social, economic and labor instability in the countries in which we or the third parties with whom we engage operate. The extent to which the coronavirus impacts our operations, those of our third party partners, or those of the FDA, will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the duration of the outbreak, new information that may emerge concerning the severity of the coronavirus and the actions to contain the coronavirus or treat its impact, among others. We cannot presently predict the scope and severity of any potential business shutdowns or disruptions, but if we or any of the third parties with whom we engage, including the suppliers, clinical trial sites, regulators and other third parties with whom we conduct business, were to experience shutdowns or other business disruptions, our ability to conduct our business in the manner and on the timelines presently planned could be materially and negatively impacted.  It is also possible that global health concerns such as this one could disproportionately impact the hospitals and clinical sites, as well as recruitment and retention, in a region or city whose health care system becomes overwhelmed due to the illness.

 

50


Some factors from the coronavirus outbreak that may delay or otherwise adversely affect our business generally, include:

 

the potential diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials to focus on pandemic concerns, including the attention of physicians serving as our clinical trial investigators, hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

limitations on travel that could interrupt key trial activities, such as clinical trial site initiations and monitoring, domestic and international travel by employees, contractors or patients to clinical trial sites, including any government-imposed travel restrictions or quarantines that may impact the ability or willingness of patients, employees or contractors to travel to our clinical trial sites or secure visas or entry permissions, any of which could delay or adversely impact the conduct or progress of our clinical trials;

 

interruption in global shipping affecting the supply of research and development materials, the transport of clinical trial materials, such as patient samples, investigational drug product and conditioning drugs and other supplies used in our clinical trials; and

 

business disruptions caused by potential workplace, laboratory and office closures and an increased reliance on employees working from home, disruptions to or delays in ongoing laboratory experiments and operations, staffing shortages, travel limitations or mass transit disruptions, any of which could adversely impact our business operations or delay necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors.

These and other factors arising from the coronavirus could worsen in countries that are already afflicted with the coronavirus or could continue to spread to additional countries, each of which could further adversely impact our ability to continue our research and development efforts with respect to our preclinical assets, to conduct clinical trials, to file INDs, our ability to raise capital and our business generally, and could have a material adverse impact on our operations and financial condition and results.

Risks Related to Our Reliance On Third Parties

We currently rely and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials. If these third parties do not properly and successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize our product candidates.

We depend and will depend upon independent investigators and collaborators, such as medical institutions, CROs, CMOs and strategic partners to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials under agreements with us. We expect to have to negotiate budgets and contracts with CROs, trial sites and CMOs which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs. We will rely heavily on these third parties over the course of our clinical trials, and we control only certain aspects of their activities. As a result, we have less direct control over the conduct, timing and completion of these clinical trials and the management of data developed through clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with good clinical practices (GCPs), which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCPs through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP regulations, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with biologic product produced under current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) regulations and will require a large number of test patients. Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.

51


Any third parties conducting our clinical trials are not and will not be our employees and, except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing, clinical and nonclinical product candidates. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other drug development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols or regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.

Switching or adding third parties to conduct our clinical trials involves substantial cost and requires extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new third party commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines.

We expect to rely on third parties to manufacture our clinical product supplies, and we may rely on third parties for at least a portion of the manufacturing process of our product candidates, if approved. Our business could be harmed if those third parties fail to provide us with sufficient quantities of clinical product supplies or product candidates or fail to do so at acceptable quality levels or prices.

We do not currently own any facility that may be used as our clinical-scale manufacturing and processing facility and must currently rely on outside vendors to manufacture supplies and process our product candidates, which is and will need to be done on a patient-by-patient basis. We have not yet caused our product candidates to be manufactured or processed on a commercial scale and may not be able to do so for any of our product candidates.

Although in the future we do intend to develop our own manufacturing facility, we also intend to use third parties as part of our manufacturing process and may, in any event, never be successful in developing our own manufacturing facility. Our anticipated reliance on a limited number of third-party manufacturers exposes us to the following risks:

 

We may be unable to identify manufacturers on acceptable terms or at all because the number of potential manufacturers is limited and the FDA must inspect any manufacturers for current cGMP compliance as part of our marketing application. In addition, a new manufacturer would have to be educated in, or develop substantially equivalent processes for, the production of our product candidates.

 

In order to utilize an additional manufacturer of our product candidates, we will be required to demonstrate comparability of the drug product produced by such a manufacturer to the FDA’s satisfaction before releasing the product for clinical use.

 

Our manufacturers may have little or no experience with autologous cell products, which are products made from a patient’s own cells, and therefore may require a significant amount of support from us in order to implement and maintain the infrastructure and processes required to manufacture our product candidates.

 

Our third-party manufacturers might be unable to timely manufacture our product candidates, to produce comparable products or conduct consistent testing across sites, or produce the quantity and quality required to meet our clinical and commercial needs, if any.

 

Our third-party suppliers or collaborators from whom we receive our antibodies used in combination with our ACTR T cells may be unable to timely manufacture or provide the applicable antibody or produce the quantity and quality required to meet our clinical and commercial needs.

 

Contract manufacturers may not be able to execute our manufacturing procedures and other logistical support requirements appropriately.

 

Our future contract manufacturers may not perform as agreed, may not devote sufficient resources to our product candidates or may not remain in the contract manufacturing business for the time required to supply our clinical trials or to successfully produce, store, and distribute our products, if any.

 

Manufacturers are subject to ongoing periodic unannounced inspection by the FDA and corresponding state agencies to ensure strict compliance with cGMP and other government regulations and corresponding foreign standards. We do not have control over third-party manufacturers’ compliance with these regulations and standards.

52


 

We may not own, or may have to share, the intellectual property rights to any improvements made by our third-party manufacturers in the manufacturing process for our product candidates.

 

Our third-party manufacturers could breach or terminate their agreements with us.

 

Raw materials and components used in the manufacturing process, particularly those for which we have no other source or supplier, may not be available or may not be suitable or acceptable for use due to material or component defects.

 

Our contract manufacturers and critical reagent suppliers may be subject to inclement weather, as well as natural or man-made disasters.

 

Our contract manufacturers may have unacceptable or inconsistent product quality success rates and yields, and we have no direct control over our contract manufacturers’ ability to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel.

Each of these risks could delay or prevent the completion of our clinical trials or the approval of any of our product candidates by the FDA, result in higher costs or adversely impact commercialization of our product candidates. In addition, we will rely on third parties to perform certain specification tests on our product candidates prior to delivery to patients. If these tests are not appropriately done and test data are not reliable, patients could be put at risk of serious harm and the FDA could place significant restrictions on our company until deficiencies are remedied.

The manufacture of biological drug products is complex and requires significant expertise and capital investment, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls.

Manufacturers of biologic products often encounter difficulties in production, particularly in scaling up or out, validating the production process and assuring high reliability of the manufacturing process (including the absence of contamination). These problems include logistics and shipping, difficulties with production costs and yields, quality control, including stability of the product, product testing, operator error and availability of qualified personnel, as well as compliance with strictly enforced federal, state and foreign regulations. Furthermore, if contaminants are discovered in our supply of our product candidates or in the manufacturing facilities, such manufacturing facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination. We cannot assure you that any stability failures or other issues relating to the manufacture of our product candidates will not occur in the future.

We may fail to manage the logistics of collecting and shipping patient material to the manufacturing site and shipping the product candidate back to the patient. Logistical and shipment delays and problems caused by us, our vendors or other factors not in our control, such as weather, could prevent or delay the delivery of product candidates to patients. Additionally, we have to maintain a complex chain of identity and chain of custody with respect to patient material as it moves to the manufacturing facility, through the manufacturing process and back to the patient. Failure to maintain chain of identity and chain of custody could result in patient death, loss of product or regulatory action.

In addition, because our product candidates are all based upon the ACTR construct, any problems we encounter with manufacturing the ACTR construct would likely affect all of our products, if approved, and product candidates, increasing the impact of any manufacturing issues we encounter and potentially adversely affecting our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.

BOXR therapies rely on the availability of specialty raw materials, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all.

BOXR requires many specialty raw materials, some of which are manufactured by small companies with limited resources and experience to support a commercial product. In addition, those suppliers normally support blood-based hospital businesses and generally do not have the capacity to support commercial products manufactured under cGMP by biopharmaceutical firms. The suppliers may be ill-equipped to support our needs, especially in non-routine circumstances like an FDA inspection or medical crisis, such as widespread contamination. We also do not have contracts with many of these suppliers, and may not be able to contract with them on acceptable terms or at all. Accordingly, we may experience delays in receiving key raw materials to support clinical or commercial manufacturing.

53


In addition, some of our raw materials are currently available from a single supplier, or a small number of suppliers. The type of cell culture media and cryopreservation buffer that we currently use in our manufacturing process are each only available from a single supplier. In addition, the cell processing equipment and tubing that we use in our current manufacturing process is only available from a single supplier. We also use certain biologic materials, including certain activating antibodies, that are available from multiple suppliers, but each version may perform differently, requiring us to characterize them and potentially modify some of our protocols if we change suppliers. We cannot be sure that these suppliers will remain in business, or that they will not be purchased by one of our competitors or another company that is not interested in continuing to produce these materials for our intended purpose. Accordingly, if we no longer have access to these suppliers, we may experience delays in our clinical or commercial manufacturing which could harm our business or results of operations.

If our third-party manufacturers use hazardous and biological materials in a manner that causes injury or violates applicable law, we may be liable for damages.

Our research and development activities involve the controlled use of potentially hazardous substances, including chemical and biological materials, by our third-party manufacturers. Our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the United States governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of medical and hazardous materials. Although we believe that our manufacturers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from medical or hazardous materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We do not have any insurance for liabilities arising from medical or hazardous materials. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.

Risks Related to Government Regulation

The FDA regulatory approval process is lengthy and time-consuming, and we may experience significant delays in the clinical development and regulatory approval of our product candidates.

We have not previously submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the FDA or similar approval applications to comparable foreign authorities. A BLA must include extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to establish the product candidate’s safety, purity and potency for each desired indication. The BLA must also include significant information regarding the manufacturing controls for the product. We expect the novel nature of our product candidates to create further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval. For example, the FDA has no experience with commercial development of ACTR therapies for cancer. Accordingly, the regulatory approval pathway for our product candidates may be uncertain, complex, expensive and lengthy, and approval may not be obtained.

We may also experience delays in completing planned clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including delays related to:

 

the availability of financial resources to commence and complete the planned trials;

 

reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;

 

obtaining approval at each clinical trial site by an IRB or ethics committee;

 

recruiting suitable patients to participate in a trial;

 

having patients complete a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;

 

clinical trial sites deviating from trial protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

adding new clinical trial sites; or

 

manufacturing sufficient quantities of qualified materials under cGMPs and applying them on a subject by subject basis for use in clinical trials.

54


We could also experience delays if physicians encounter unresolved ethical issues associated with enrolling patients in clinical trials of our product candidates in lieu of prescribing existing treatments that have established safety and efficacy profiles. Further, a clinical trial may be suspended or terminated by us, the IRBs for the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, the Data Monitoring Committee for such trial, or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a product candidate, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. If we experience termination of, or delays in the completion of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects for our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue.

Securing regulatory approval also requires the submission of information about the biologic manufacturing process and inspection of manufacturing facilities by the relevant regulatory authority. FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve our manufacturing processes or facilities, whether run by us or our CMOs. In addition, if we make manufacturing changes to our product candidates in the future, we may need to conduct additional preclinical studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions.

Many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.

The FDA may disagree with our regulatory plan and we may fail to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates.

We plan to advance our lead product candidate, BOXR1030 into clinical trials in the future. If we believe the Phase 1 data are compelling, we plan to advance that product candidate in further clinical development for the treatment of solid tumors and to discuss with the FDA the potential to move to a registration trial upon completion of the current Phase 1 clinical trial of that product candidate. However, the general approach for FDA approval of a new biologic or drug is dispositive data from two well-controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials of the relevant biologic or drug in the relevant patient population. Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve hundreds of patients, have significant costs and take years to complete. The FDA may not believe our accelerated approval strategy to move directly to a registration trial upon completion of the current Phase 1 clinical trial is warranted and may require a Phase 3 clinical trial or trials prior to approval. Our clinical trial results may also not support approval. In addition, our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the number, design, or implementation of our clinical trials, including whether we have identified an appropriate surrogate marker or intermediate clinical endpoint to support an accelerated approval pathway;

 

we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that our product candidates are safe, pure and potent, or effective, for any of their proposed indications;

 

the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for approval;

 

we may be unable to demonstrate that our product candidates’ clinical and other benefits outweigh their safety risks;

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to support the submission of a BLA or other comparable submission in foreign jurisdictions or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may find deficiencies with or fail to approve the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies; and

 

the approval policies or regulations of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.

55


Any of these factors, many of which are beyond our control, may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market any of our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations, and prospects.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.

We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates will require surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy in order to approve our product candidates, which could entail requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our product candidates, withdrawal of the product from the market or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;

 

fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or suspension or revocation of license approvals;

 

product seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of our product candidates; and

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

56


The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.

In addition, if we were able to obtain accelerated approval of BOXR1030, the FDA would require us to conduct a confirmatory study to verify the predicted clinical benefit and additional safety studies. The results from the confirmatory study may not support the clinical benefit, which would result in the approval being withdrawn.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the products may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community.

The use of engineered T cells as a potential cancer treatment is a recent development and may not become broadly accepted by physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community. Various factors will influence whether our product candidates are accepted in the market, including:

 

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;

 

physicians, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and patients considering our product candidates as a safe and effective treatment;

 

the potential and perceived advantages of our product candidates over alternative treatments;

 

our ability to demonstrate the advantages of our product candidates over other CAR-T therapies;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects for other adoptive cell therapy and CAR-T products and public perception of other adoptive cell therapy and CAR-T products;

 

product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities;

 

limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved by the FDA;

 

the timing of market introduction of our product candidates as well as competitive products;

 

the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;

 

the availability of adequate coverage, reimbursement and pricing by third-party payors and government authorities;

 

the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of coverage by third-party payors and government authorities;

 

relative convenience and ease of administration, including as compared to alternative treatments and competitive therapies; and

 

the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts.

In addition, although we are not utilizing embryonic stem cells or replication competent vectors, adverse publicity due to the ethical and social controversies surrounding the therapeutic use of such technologies, and reported side effects from any clinical trials using these technologies or the failure of such trials to demonstrate that these therapies are safe and effective may limit market acceptance of our product candidates. If our product candidates are approved but fail to achieve market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers or others in the medical community, we will not be able to generate significant revenue.

In addition, although our BOXR and ACTR platforms differ in certain ways from the CAR-T approach, serious adverse events or deaths in other clinical trials involving CAR-T or other T cell products or with use of approved CAR-T products, even if not ultimately attributable to the relevant product or product candidates, could result in increased government regulation, unfavorable public perception and publicity, potential regulatory delays in the testing or approval of our product candidates, stricter labeling requirements for those product candidates that are approved, and a decrease in demand for any such product candidates.

Even if our products achieve market acceptance, we may not be able to maintain that market acceptance over time if new products or technologies are introduced that are more favorably received than our products, are more cost effective or render our products obsolete.

57


Coverage and reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, which could make it difficult for us to sell our product candidates, if approved, profitably.

In both domestic and foreign markets, successful sales of our product candidates, if approved, will depend on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors. In addition, because our product candidates represent new approaches to the treatment of cancer, we cannot accurately estimate the potential revenue from our product candidates.

Patients who are provided medical treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance.

Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drugs and treatments they will cover and the amount of reimbursement. Reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:

 

a covered benefit under its health plan;

 

safe, effective and medically necessary;

 

appropriate for the specific patient;

 

cost-effective; and

 

neither experimental nor investigational.

Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval of a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to the payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product, the resulting reimbursement payment rates might not be adequate for us to achieve or sustain profitability or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Patients are unlikely to use our product candidates unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our product candidates.

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our product candidates to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained.

We intend to seek approval to market our product candidates in both the United States and in selected foreign jurisdictions. If we obtain approval in one or more foreign jurisdictions for our product candidates, we will be subject to rules and regulations in those jurisdictions. In some foreign countries, particularly those in the European Union, the pricing of biologics is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after obtaining marketing approval of a product candidate. In addition, market acceptance and sales of our product candidates will depend significantly on the availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors for our product candidates and may be affected by existing and future healthcare reform measures.

Third-party payors, whether domestic or foreign, or governmental or commercial, are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. In both the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the healthcare system that could impact our ability to sell our products profitably. In particular, in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was enacted. The Affordable Care Act and its implementing regulations, among other things, revised the methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers to the state and federal government for covered outpatient drugs and certain biologics, including our product candidates, under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs and provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research.

58


Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. Various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing legal and constitutional challenges in the Fifth Circuit Court and the United States Supreme Court; the Trump Administration has issued various Executive Orders which eliminated cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices; and Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers up to 2% per fiscal year. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the ATRA), which delayed for another two months the budget cuts mandated by these sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011. In March 2013, the President signed an executive order implementing sequestration, and in April 2013, the 2% Medicare payment reductions went into effect. The ATRA also, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

The impact of recent healthcare reform legislation and other changes in the healthcare industry and in healthcare spending on us is currently unknown, and may adversely affect our business model.

Our revenue prospects could be affected by changes in healthcare spending and policy in the United States and abroad. We operate in a highly regulated industry and new laws, regulations or judicial decisions, or new interpretations of existing laws, regulations or decisions, related to healthcare availability, the method of delivery or payment for healthcare products and services could negatively impact our business, operations and financial condition.

There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At the federal level, the Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 contained further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2020 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. Additionally, the Trump administration released a ‘‘Blueprint’’ to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has already started the process of soliciting feedback on some of these measures and, at the same time, is immediately implementing others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option to use step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2019. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

Further, on May 30, 2018, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, or the Right to Try Act, was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act.

59


There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future, including repeal, replacement or significant revisions to the Affordable Care Act. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:

 

the demand for our product candidates, if we obtain regulatory approval;

 

our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;

 

our ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement approval for a product;

 

our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;

 

the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and

 

the availability of capital.

Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors, which may adversely affect our future profitability.

Regulatory requirements in the United States and abroad governing gene therapy products have changed frequently and may continue to change in the future, which could negatively impact our ability to complete clinical trials and commercialize our product candidates in a timely manner, if at all.

Regulatory requirements in the United States and abroad governing gene therapy products have changed frequently and may continue to change in the future. For example, in January 2020, FDA published several new guidance documents on gene therapy products.  FDA established the Office of Tissues and Advanced Therapies within its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research to consolidate the review of gene therapy and related products, and has established the Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, among others, to advise this review. Prior to initiating a clinical study, because of our use of a viral vector for production of our ACTR T cells, our clinical protocols have been subject to review by the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC). While this requirement for most gene therapy studies has been removed, adverse developments in clinical trials of genetically modified cell therapies conducted by sponsors may cause FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for clinical investigation and/or marketing authorization of any of our product candidates at any time.  

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

We depend on intellectual property licensed from third parties and termination of any of these licenses could result in the loss of significant rights, which would harm our business.

We are dependent on patents, know-how and proprietary technology, both our own and licensed from others.

Aspects of the ACTR technology are subject to a license from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (St. Jude’s) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

We are currently, and expect in the future to be, party to material license or collaboration agreements. These agreements typically impose numerous obligations, such as diligence and payment obligations. Any termination of these licenses could result in the loss of significant rights and could harm our ability to commercialize our product candidates. These licenses do and future licenses may include provisions that impose obligations and restrictions on us. For example, our license agreement with St. Jude’s and NUS imposes some limitations on our ability to assign the license to a party other than an affiliate. This could delay or otherwise negatively impact a transaction that we may wish to enter into.

Disputes may also arise between us and our licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a license agreement, including:

 

the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;

 

whether and the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;

 

our right to sublicense patent and other rights to third parties under collaborative development relationships;

 

our diligence obligations with respect to the use of the licensed technology in relation to our development and commercialization of our product candidates, and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations; and

 

the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners.

60


If disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates.

We are generally also subject to all of the same risks with respect to protection of intellectual property that we license, as we are for intellectual property that we own, which are described below. If we or our licensors fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to commercialize products could suffer.

If our efforts to protect the proprietary nature of the intellectual property related to our technologies are not adequate, we may not be able to compete effectively in our market.

We rely upon a combination of patents, confidentiality agreements, trade secret protection and license agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our technologies. Any disclosure to or misappropriation by third parties of our confidential proprietary information could enable competitors to quickly duplicate or surpass our technological achievements, thus eroding our competitive position in our market.

Currently, we have patents issued from our in-licensed portfolio in AU, EP (validated in DE, FR, and GB), JP, US, SG, and ZA. Except for a ZA patent, no other patents have issued from the patent applications that we own or in-license. We anticipate additional patent applications will be filed both in the United States and in other countries, as appropriate. However, we cannot predict:

 

if and when patents will issue;

 

the degree and range of protection any issued patents will afford us against competitors including whether third parties will find ways to invalidate or otherwise circumvent our patents;

 

whether any of our intellectual property will provide any competitive advantage;

 

whether or not others will obtain patents claiming aspects similar to those covered by our patents and patent applications; or

 

whether we will need to initiate or defend litigation or administrative proceedings which may be costly whether we win or lose.

Composition of matter patents for biological and pharmaceutical products, such as ACTR-based and BOXR-based product candidates, are generally considered to be the strongest form of intellectual property protection for those types of products, as such patents provide protection without regard to any method of use. We have obtained issuances of composition of matter claims in one European patent from the licensed-in portfolio. We, however, cannot be certain that the claims in our pending patent applications covering composition of matter of our product candidates will be considered patentable by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or by patent offices in foreign countries, or that the claims in any of our issued patents will be considered patentable by courts in the United States or foreign countries. Method of use patents protect the use of a product for the specified method. This type of patent does not prevent a competitor from making and marketing a product that is identical to our product for an indication that is outside the scope of the patented method. Moreover, even if competitors do not actively promote their product for our targeted indications, physicians may prescribe these products “off-label.” Although off-label prescriptions may induce or contribute to the infringement of method of use patents, the practice is common and such infringement is difficult to prevent or prosecute.

The strength of patents in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical field involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. The patent applications that we own or in-license may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our product candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries. Even if the patents do successfully issue, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our intellectual property or prevent others from designing around our claims. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patent applications we hold with respect to our product candidates is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop, and threaten our ability to commercialize, our product candidates. Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we could market our product candidates under patent protection would be reduced. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our product candidates. Furthermore, for United States applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third-party or instituted by the USPTO, to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. Various post grant review proceedings, such as inter partes review and post grant review, are available for any interested third party to challenge the patentability of claims issued in patents to us. While these post grant review proceedings have been used less frequently to invalidate biotech patents, they have been successful regarding other technologies, and these relatively new procedures are still changing, and those changes might affect future results.

61


In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we seek to rely on trade secret protection, confidentiality agreements, and license agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our product discovery and development processes that involve proprietary know-how, information, or technology that is not covered by patents. Although we require all of our employees to assign their inventions to us, and require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information, or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, we cannot be certain that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property both in the United States and abroad. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized material disclosure of our intellectual property to third parties, we will not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could materially adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may prevent or delay our product discovery and development efforts.

Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including interference, reexamination, and post grant review proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others.

Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. Generally, conducting clinical trials and other development activities in the United States is not considered an act of infringement. If and when BOXR1030 or ACTR707 or another product candidate is approved by the FDA, a third party may then seek to enforce its patent by filing a patent infringement lawsuit against us. While we do not believe that any claims that could otherwise materially adversely affect commercialization of our product candidates, if approved, are valid and enforceable, we may be incorrect in this belief, or we may not be able to prove it in a litigation. In this regard, patents issued in the U.S. by law enjoy a presumption of validity that can be rebutted only with evidence that is “clear and convincing,” a heightened standard of proof. There may be third-party patents of which we are currently unaware with claims to materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. Moreover, we may fail to identify relevant patents or incorrectly conclude that a patent is invalid, not enforceable, exhausted, or not infringed by our activities. If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing process of our product candidates, constructs or molecules used in or formed during the manufacturing process, or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or they are finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. Similarly, if any third-party patent were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for manufacture or methods of use, including combination therapy or patient selection methods, the holders of any such patent may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our ability to commercialize our product candidates may be impaired or delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business.

Parties making claims against us may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, could involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. We cannot predict whether any such license would be available at all or whether it would be available on commercially reasonable terms. Furthermore, even in the absence of litigation, we may need or may choose to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we would be unable to further develop and commercialize our product candidates, which could harm our business significantly.

62


We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to product components and processes for our development pipeline through acquisitions and in-licenses.

Presently we have rights to certain intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patent applications that we own or will own, related to ACTR087, ACTR707, and BOXR constructs, and certain other product candidates. Because additional product candidates may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. In addition, while we have patent rights or are pursuing patent rights directed to certain ACTR constructs and BOXR constructs we may not be able to obtain intellectual property to broad ACTR constructs and BOXR constructs in certain jurisdictions.

Our product candidates may also require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and these rights may be held by others. Similarly, efficient production or delivery of our product candidates may also require specific compositions or methods, and the rights to these may be owned by third parties. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology. Moreover, the specific antibodies that will be used with our product candidates may be covered by the intellectual property rights of others.

The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and companies, which may be more established, or have greater resources than we do, may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider necessary or attractive in order to commercialize our product candidates. More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities.

We may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or the patents of our licensors, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.

Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our licensors. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that one or more of our patents is not valid or is unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable, or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure.

Post-grant proceedings, including interference proceedings, provoked by third parties or brought by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the validity or priority of inventions with respect to our patents or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could result in a loss of our current patent rights and could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Litigation or post-grant proceedings may result in a decision adverse to our interests and, even if we are successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our trade secrets or confidential information, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.

Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

63


Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.

Periodic maintenance fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. While an inadvertent lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or the USPTO.

If we or one of our licensing partners initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate, as applicable, is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace, and there are numerous grounds upon which a third party can assert invalidity or unenforceability of a patent. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, inter parties review, post grant review, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we, our patent counsel and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business.

Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.

As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involve both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States continues to adapt to wide-ranging patent reform legislation that became effective starting in 2012. Moreover, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future. Changes in the laws and regulations governing patents in other jurisdictions could similarly have an adverse effect on our ability to obtain and effectively enforce our patent rights.

We have less robust foreign intellectual property rights and may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Certain of our key patent families (covering the ACTR087 construct) have been filed in the United States, as well as in numerous jurisdictions outside the United States, and we are pursuing subgeneric claims prior to expiration of applicable deadlines (including a patent family covering the ACTR707 construct). We also plan to pursue claims covering the BOXR product in the United States and in jurisdictions outside the United States.  However, we have less robust intellectual property rights outside the United States, and, in particular, we may not be able to pursue generic coverage of the ACTR platform outside of the United States. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products

64


made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Most of our patent portfolio is at the very early stage. We will need to decide whether and in which jurisdictions to pursue protection for the various inventions in our portfolio prior to applicable deadlines.

Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biopharmaceutical products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.

We generally enter into confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, and contractors. These agreements generally provide that inventions conceived by the party in the course of rendering services to us will be our exclusive property. However, those agreements may not be honored and may not effectively assign intellectual property rights to us. Moreover, there may be some circumstances, where we are unable to negotiate for such ownership rights. Disputes regarding ownership or inventorship of intellectual property can also arise in other contexts, such as collaborations and sponsored research. If we are subject to a dispute challenging our rights in or to patents or other intellectual property, such a dispute could be expensive and time consuming. If we were unsuccessful, we could lose valuable rights in intellectual property that we regard as our own.

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties.

We have received confidential and proprietary information from third parties. In addition, we employ individuals who were previously employed at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. We may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed confidential information of these third parties or our employees’ former employers or our consultants’ or contractors’ current or former clients or customers. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial cost and be a distraction to our management and employees. If we are not successful, we could lose access or exclusive access to valuable intellectual property.

Numerous factors may limit any potential competitive advantage provided by our intellectual property rights.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights, whether owned or in-licensed, is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, provide a barrier to entry against our competitors or potential competitors, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. Moreover, if a third party has intellectual property rights that cover the practice of our technology, we may not be able to fully exercise or extract value from our intellectual property rights. The following examples are illustrative:

 

pending patent applications that we own or license may not lead to issued patents;

 

patents, should they issue, that we own or license, may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be challenged and held invalid or unenforceable;

 

others may be able to develop and/or practice technology that is similar to our technology or aspects of our technology but that is not covered by the claims of any of our owned or in-licensed patents, should any such patents issue;

 

third parties may compete with us in jurisdictions where we do not pursue and obtain patent protection;

65


 

we (or our licensors) might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by a pending patent application that we own or license;

 

we (or our licensors) might not have been the first to file patent applications covering a particular invention;

 

others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;

 

we may not be able to obtain and/or maintain necessary licenses on reasonable terms or at all;

 

third parties may assert an ownership interest in our intellectual property and, if successful, such disputes may preclude us from exercising exclusive rights, or any rights at all, over that intellectual property;

 

we may not be able to maintain the confidentiality of our trade secrets or other proprietary information;

 

we may not develop or in-license additional proprietary technologies that are patentable; and

 

the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business and results of operation.

Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock

An active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained.

Our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on March 29, 2018. Given the limited trading history of our common stock, there is a risk that an active trading market for our shares may not be sustained, which could put downward pressure on the market price of our common stock and thereby affect the ability of our stockholders to sell their shares at attractive prices, at the times that they would like to sell them, or at all.

The price of our stock may be volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment.

The trading price of our common stock is likely to continue to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including limited trading volume. In addition to the factors discussed in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, these factors include:

 

the commencement, enrollment, or results of the clinical trials of our product candidates or any future clinical trials we may conduct, or changes in the development status of our product candidates;

 

any delay in our regulatory filings for our product candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the applicable regulatory authority’s review of such filings, including without limitation the FDA’s issuance of a “refusal to file” letter or a request for additional information;

 

adverse results or delays in clinical trials;

 

our decision to initiate a clinical trial, not to initiate a clinical trial, or to terminate an existing clinical trial;

 

adverse regulatory decisions, including failure to receive regulatory approval of our product candidates;

 

changes in laws or regulations applicable to our products, including but not limited to clinical trial requirements for approvals;

 

adverse developments concerning our manufacturers;

 

our inability to obtain adequate product supply for any approved product or inability to do so at acceptable prices;

 

our inability to establish collaborations if needed;

 

our failure to commercialize our product candidates;

 

additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;

 

unanticipated serious safety concerns related to the use of our product candidates;

 

introduction of new products or services offered by us or our competitors;

66


 

announcements of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, or capital commitments by us or our competitors;

 

our ability to effectively manage our growth;

 

the size and growth of our initial cancer target markets;

 

our ability to successfully treat additional types of cancers or at different stages;

 

actual or anticipated variations in quarterly operating results;

 

our cash position;

 

our failure to meet the estimates and projections of the investment community or that we may otherwise provide to the public;

 

publication of research reports about us or our industry, or immunotherapy in particular, or positive or negative recommendations or withdrawal of research coverage by securities analysts;

 

changes in the market valuations of similar companies;

 

overall performance of the equity markets;

 

sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders in the future;

 

trading volume of our common stock;

 

changes in accounting practices;

 

ineffectiveness of our internal controls;

 

disputes or other developments relating to proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters, and our ability to obtain patent protection for our technologies;

 

significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;

 

general political and economic conditions; and

 

other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control.

In addition, the stock market in general, and The Nasdaq Global Select Market and biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. If the market price of our common stock does not exceed your purchase price, you may not realize any return on your investment in us and may lose some or all of your investment. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities. This type of litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which would harm our business, operating results, or financial condition.

On December 31, 2019, we received a letter from the Listing Qualifications Department (the “Staff”) of the Nasdaq Stock Market (“Nasdaq”) notifying us that, for the last 30 consecutive business days, our common stock had not maintained a minimum closing bid price of $1.00 per share (the “Minimum Bid Price Requirement”) pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5450(a)(1). The Nasdaq letter does not result in the immediate delisting of our common stock from The Nasdaq Global Select Market.

In accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A) (the “Compliance Period Rule”), we have been provided an initial period of 180 calendar days, or until June 29, 2020 (the “Compliance Date”), to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. If, at any time during this 180-day period, the closing bid price for our common stock closes at $1.00 or more per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days, as required under the Compliance Period Rule, the Staff will provide written notification to us that we comply with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement and the common stock will continue to be eligible for listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market.

If we do not regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement by the Compliance Date, then, under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A)(i), we may transfer to The Nasdaq Capital Market, provided that we meet the continued listing requirement for the market value of publicly held shares and all other initial listing standards for The Nasdaq Capital Market, except for the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, and we would need to provide written notice to Nasdaq of our intention to cure the deficiency during the additional compliance period. Following a transfer to The Nasdaq Capital Market, under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A)(ii), we may be eligible for an additional 180 calendar day compliance period.

67


If we are not eligible for the additional compliance period or it appears to the Staff that we will not be able to cure the deficiency or if the Staff exercises its discretion to not provide such additional compliance period, the Staff will provide written notice to us that our common stock will be subject to delisting. At that time, we may appeal the Staff’s delisting determination to a Nasdaq Hearing Panel (the “Panel”). We expect that our stock would remain listed pending the Panel’s decision. There can be no assurance that, if we do appeal the Staff’s delisting determination to the Panel, such appeal would be successful.

We intend to monitor the closing bid price of its common stock and may, if appropriate, consider available options to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, transfer to The Nasdaq Capital Market, secure a second period of 180 days to regain compliance, or maintain compliance with any of the other Nasdaq continued listing requirements.

We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock, so any returns will be limited to the value of our stock.

We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation, and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. In addition, pursuant to our loan and security agreement with PWB, we are prohibited from paying cash dividends without PWB’s prior written consent, and any future debt financing arrangement may contain terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock, which may never occur.

Our principal stockholders and management own a significant percentage of our stock and will be able to exert significant influence over matters subject to stockholder approval.

Our executive officers, directors, and 5% stockholders beneficially owned over 57% of our voting stock as of December 31, 2019. These stockholders will have the ability to influence us through this ownership position. These stockholders may be able to determine all matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders may be able to control elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transaction. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that you may feel are in your best interest as one of our stockholders.

We are an emerging growth company, and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) enacted in April 2012. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended (Sarbanes-Oxley Act), reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years following the year in which we completed our IPO, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the closing of our IPO, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company,” which would allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our periodic reports and proxy statements. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected to “opt out” of this exemption from new or revised accounting standards and, therefore, will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. As a result, changes in rules of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles or their interpretation, the adoption of new guidance, or the application of existing guidance to changes in our business could significantly affect our financial position and results of operations.

68


We incur significant increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management is required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.

As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which requires, among other things, that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC), annual, quarterly, and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as well as rules subsequently adopted by the SEC and The Nasdaq Global Select Market to implement provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, impose significant requirements on public companies, including requiring establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and changes in corporate governance practices. Further, in July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act), was enacted. There are significant corporate governance and executive compensation related provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act that require the SEC to adopt additional rules and regulations in these areas, such as “say on pay” and proxy access. Recent legislation permits emerging growth companies to implement many of these requirements over a longer period and up to five years from the date of our IPO. We intend to take advantage of this new legislation but cannot guarantee that we will not be required to implement these requirements sooner than budgeted or planned and thereby incur unexpected expenses. Stockholder activism, the current political environment, and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which may lead to additional compliance costs and impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate.

We expect the rules and regulations applicable to public companies to substantially increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. If these requirements divert the attention of our management and personnel from other business concerns, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. The increased costs will decrease our net income or increase our net loss and may require us to reduce costs in other areas of our business or increase the prices of our products or services. For example, we expect these rules and regulations to make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to incur substantial costs to maintain the same or similar coverage. We cannot predict or estimate the amount or timing of additional costs we may incur to respond to these requirements. The impact of these requirements could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees, or as executive officers.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock by our existing stockholders in the public market could cause our stock price to fall.

If our existing stockholders sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market after other legal restrictions on resale entered into during our IPO lapse, the trading price of our common stock could decline.

In addition, shares of common stock that are either subject to outstanding options or reserved for future issuance under our 2018 Stock Option and Incentive Plan (2018 Plan) will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules and Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the Securities Act). If these additional shares of common stock are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline.

The holders of 3,267,483 shares of our common stock as of December 31, 2019, are entitled to rights with respect to the registration of their shares under the Securities Act. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in the shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act, except for shares held by affiliates, as defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act. Any sales of securities by these stockholders could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.

Future sales and issuances of our common stock or rights to purchase common stock, including pursuant to our 2018 Plan, could result in additional dilution of the percentage ownership of our stockholders and could cause our stock price to fall.

We expect that significant additional capital may be needed in the future to continue our planned operations, including conducting clinical trials, commercialization efforts, expanded research and development activities, and costs associated with operating as a public company. To raise capital, we may sell common stock, convertible securities, or other equity securities in one or more transactions at prices and in a manner we determine from time to time. If we sell common stock, convertible securities, or other equity securities, investors may be materially diluted by subsequent sales. Such sales may also result in material dilution to our existing stockholders, and new investors could gain rights, preferences, and privileges senior to the holders of our common stock.

69


Pursuant to the 2018 Plan, our management is authorized to grant stock options to our employees, directors, and consultants. The number of shares initially reserved for issuance under the 2018 Plan is 2,547,558 plus the 1,030,234 shares of common stock remaining available for issuance under the 2015 Stock Incentive Plan (2015 Plan). Additionally, the shares of common stock underlying any awards that are forfeited, canceled, held back upon exercise or settlement of an award to satisfy the exercise price or tax withholding, repurchased or are otherwise terminated by us under the 2018 Plan or the 2015 Plan will be added back to the shares of common stock available for issuance under the 2018 Plan. As of December 31, 2019, 2,009,911 shares remained available for future issuance under the 2018 Plan. The number of shares of our common stock reserved for issuance under the 2018 Plan shall be cumulatively increased on January 1, 2019 and each January 1 thereafter by 4% of the total number of shares of our common stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year or a lesser number of shares determined by our board of directors. Unless our board of directors elects not to increase the number of shares available for future grant each year, our stockholders may experience additional dilution, which could cause our stock price to fall.

Anti-takeover provisions under our charter documents and Delaware law could delay or prevent a change of control, which could limit the market price of our common stock and may prevent or frustrate attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our board of directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. Some of these provisions include:

 

a board of directors divided into three classes serving staggered three-year terms, such that not all members of the board will be elected at one time;

 

a prohibition on stockholder action through written consent, which requires that all stockholder actions be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;

 

a requirement that special meetings of stockholders be called only by the chairperson of the board of directors, the chief executive officer, or by a majority of the total number of authorized directors;

 

advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and nominations for election to our board of directors;

 

a requirement that no member of our board of directors may be removed from office by our stockholders except for cause and, in addition to any other vote required by law, upon the approval of not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock then entitled to vote in the election of directors;

 

a requirement of approval of not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock to amend any bylaws by stockholder action or to amend specific provisions of our certificate of incorporation; and

 

the authority of the board of directors to issue preferred stock on terms determined by the board of directors without stockholder approval and which preferred stock may include rights superior to the rights of the holders of common stock.

In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporate Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These anti-takeover provisions and other provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by the then-current board of directors and could also delay or impede a merger, tender offer, or proxy contest involving our company. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing or cause us to take other corporate actions you desire. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our board of directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, any action asserting a breach of fiduciary duty, any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws, any action to interpret, apply, enforce, or determine the validity of our certificate of incorporation or bylaws or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. The choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find the choice of forum provision contained in our certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

70


If we fail to establish and maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, our operating results and our ability to operate our business could be harmed.

Ensuring that we have adequate internal financial and accounting controls and procedures in place so that we can produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis is a costly and time-consuming effort that needs to be re-evaluated frequently. Our internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. In connection with our IPO, we began the process of documenting, reviewing, and improving our internal controls and procedures for compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which will require annual management assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. We have begun recruiting additional finance and accounting personnel with certain skill sets that we need as a public company.

Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal controls may distract our officers and employees, entail substantial costs to modify our existing processes, and take significant time to complete. These changes may not, however, be effective in maintaining the adequacy of our internal controls, and any failure to maintain that adequacy, or consequent inability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis, could increase our operating costs and harm our business. In addition, investors’ perceptions that our internal controls are inadequate or that we are unable to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis may harm our stock price and make it more difficult for us to effectively market and sell our service to new and existing customers.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. Securities and industry analysts do not currently, and may never, publish research on our company. If no securities or industry analysts commence coverage of our company, the trading price for our stock would likely be negatively impacted. In the event securities or industry analysts initiate coverage, if one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our stock or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price may decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price and trading volume to decline.

ITEM 1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2.

PROPERTIES

Our principal executive office is located at 200 Cambridge Park Drive, Suite 3100, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140 where we lease approximately 33,500 square feet of office and laboratory space pursuant to a lease agreement expiring in April 2023.

We believe that our current facilities are adequate to meet our immediate needs.

ITEM 3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

We are not currently a party to any material legal proceedings. From time to time, we may be subject to various legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of our business activities. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have a material adverse effect on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources, and other factors.

ITEM 4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

 

71


PART II

ITEM 5.

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Certain Information Regarding the Trading of Our Common Stock

Our common stock trades under the symbol “UMRX” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and has been publicly traded since March 29, 2018. Prior to this time, there was no public market for our common stock.

Holders of Our Common Stock

As of March 23, 2020, there were approximately 5 holders of record of shares of our common stock. This number does not include stockholders for whom shares are held in “nominee” or “street” name.

Dividends

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation of our business and do not anticipate paying any dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.

Securities authorized for issuance under equity compensation plans

Information about our equity compensation plans will be included in our definitive proxy statement to be filed with the SEC with respect to our 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and is incorporated herein by reference.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities

None.

Use of Proceeds from Initial Public Offering

Our initial public offering of common stock, or the IPO, was effected through a Registration Statement on Form S-1 (File No. 333-223414) that was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, on March 28, 2018. The net offering proceeds to us, after deducting underwriting discounts and offering expenses, were approximately $63.9 million. We received proceeds of $5.0 million from our concurrent private placement of 416,666 shares of common stock with Seattle Genetics.

None of the net proceeds were paid directly or indirectly to any of our directors or officers (or their associates) or persons owning 10.0% or more of any class of our equity securities or to any other affiliates, other than payments in the ordinary course of business to officers for salaries and to non-employee directors as compensation for board or board committee service.

Our planned use of the net proceeds from the IPO and concurrent private placement as described in our final prospectus filed pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4) under the Securities Act with the SEC on March 29, 2018 have been modified as a result of our decision to conclude our ACTR707 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-03) in combination with rituximab in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-34-01) in combination with trastuzumab to treat advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers. We previously announced plans to conclude ACTR087 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-17-01) in combination with Seattle Genetics’ SEA-BCMA antibody for r/r multiple myeloma and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-2) in combination with rituximab in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We currently plan to use any remaining proceeds to support the advancement of our BOXR platform, including our lead candidate BOXR 1030.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

None.

ITEM 6.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

We are a smaller reporting company, as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, for this reporting period and are not required to provide the information required under this item.

72


ITEM 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and related notes appearing at the end of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business, includes forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. As a result of many factors, including those factors set forth in the ‘‘Risk Factors’’ section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, our actual results could differ materially from the results described in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis.

Overview

We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing curative cell therapies for solid tumors. Unum’s novel proprietary technology includes its Bolt-On Chimeric Receptor (BOXR), designed to improve the functionality of engineered T cells by incorporating a “bolt-on” transgene to overcome resistance of the solid tumor microenvironment (TME) to T cell attack. We also developed product candidates using our novel proprietary technology, Antibody-Coupled T cell Receptor (ACTR), an autologous engineered T-cell therapy that combines the cell-killing ability of T cells and the tumor-targeting ability of co-administered antibodies to exert potent antitumor immune responses.

On March 2, 2020, we announced plans to prioritize resources towards advancing our preclinical program, BOXR1030, for the treatment of solid tumor cancers along with plans to reduce our current workforce by 43 employees (approximately 60 percent) to focus efforts on the BOXR1030 program. BOXR1030 expresses a glypican-3 (GPC3) targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and incorporates the novel transgene glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase 2 (GOT2) to improve T cell function in the TME by enhancing T cell metabolism. We have initiated formal preclinical development activities, including preclinical safety testing and GMP process development, to support filing an investigational new drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for BOXR1030 in late 2020.  We plan to continue to leverage our BOXR discovery platform to create and develop new BOXR product candidates to address a broad range of solid tumor cancers.

As part of this effort, we will be concluding our ACTR707 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-03) in combination with rituximab in patients with r/r NHL and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-34-01) in combination with trastuzumab to treat patients with advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers. We previously announced plans to conclude our ACTR087 clinical trials, including the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-17-01) in combination with Seattle Genetics’ SEA-BCMA antibody for r/r multiple myeloma and the Phase 1 trial (ATTCK-20-2) in combination with rituximab in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We anticipate concluding these four legacy Phase 1 studies trials during the remainder of this year and into early 2021.

We are focused on developing curative cell therapies through the use of immuno-oncology, or a patient’s immune system, to treat cancer. We are developing a pipeline of adoptive cell therapies, which are one immuno-oncology approach for cancer treatment. Adoptive cell therapy starts with the isolation of a specific type of immune cells, T cells, from a patient, often followed by genetic modification of these T cells outside the patient’s body. Modified immune cells are then re-introduced into the patient to treat disease. Our vision is to use our BOXR platform and derived product candidates to transform cancer treatment and deliver patient cures in many different solid tumor cancers, improving upon current therapies.

The use of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR-T) are one type of adoptive cell therapy. While demonstrating efficacy in hematologic cancers, demonstrating safety and efficacy with CAR-T in solid tumor cancers has been more challenging. Severe side effects, such as cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicity, have been observed in some patients and for certain CAR-Ts, on-target, off-tumor effects have led to patient deaths. In addition, solid tumor cells can create a hostile microenvironment by stimulating the production of inhibitory factors, recruiting immune suppressor cells, and exhausting T-cells due to chronic stimulation that can block the body’s immune system, including T cells, from attacking tumor cells. Another way that solid tumors create these harsh microenvironments is by competing for metabolites, essentially starving T cells of critical nutrients and thereby reducing their ability to attack tumor cells. These toxicities and specific solid tumor challenges create a need to develop better cell therapies. We have engineered our BOXR platform technology, and derived product candidates, to improve the functionality of T cells and more effectively target and kill cancer cells.

73


Our BOXR platform is designed to discover and incorporate novel “bolt-on” transgenes to be co-expressed with CARs, a T-cell receptor, or ACTR, to help T cells survive longer and perform better in the solid tumor microenvironment. BOXR candidates consist of two main components: 1) A targeting receptor that directs the T cell to attack tumor cells, which may be a traditional CAR receptor, a T-cell receptor, or Unum’s ACTR receptor, and 2) A novel “bolt-on” transgene that improves the intrinsic function of the T cell. Once discovered, BOXR transgenes are designed to be incorporated into several different types of therapeutic T cells, including both ACTR T cells and CAR-T cells, to impart new functionality to T cells. Our BOXR platform objectives include expanding the scope of biological mechanisms and transgenes in our proprietary BOXR library, enabling BOXR bolt-on applications for a broad range of immune cell therapies, including both autologous and allogeneic approaches, and advancing new BOXR product candidates into the clinic.

We have an emerging pipeline in solid tumor cancers that includes that includes four BOXR programs in preclinical development. Our priorities in solid tumors include advancing BOXR1030 towards the clinic with an anticipated IND filing in late 2020; and expanding our BOXR platform to accelerate discovery of new product candidates across a broad range of immune cell therapies, including both autologous and allogeneic approaches.

Our most advanced program from our BOXR platform, BOXR1030, is engineered to specifically target tumor cells expressing an oncofetal antigen called glypican-3, also known as GPC3. BOXR1030 expresses a GPC3 targeted CAR and incorporates the bolt-on transgene GOT2 to improve T cell function in the TME by enhancing T cell metabolism. Preclinical data with BOXR1030 was presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting in November 2019. In preclinical studies, BOXR1030 T cells were resistant to suppressive TME-like conditions, showing improved T cell proliferation under both hypoxic and low glucose conditions compared with control GPC3+ CAR-T cells. In vivo, BOXR1030 demonstrated superior activity compared to the parental CAR-T with treated animals achieving complete tumor regressions. Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes isolated from the tumors of treated animals revealed that BOXR1030 cells were more resistant to dysfunction and had fewer markers of exhaustion as compared to the control CAR-T cells. We have initiated formal preclinical development activities, including preclinical safety testing and GMP process development, to support filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application in late 2020.

ACTR707 was engineered for properties that optimize its function in solid tumors including increased proliferation, cytokine secretion, and persistence. Our first solid tumor clinical program was with ACTR707 used in combination with trastuzumab as a potential treatment for advanced HER2+ solid tumor cancers. In December 2018, we initiated a Phase 1 multi-center trial called ATTCK-34-01. We completed enrollment—defined as patients who have signed informed consent forms and met all eligibility criteria—with five patients in this first cohort in the ATTCK-34-01 Phase 1 trial, a multicenter, open-label, single-arm, dose-escalation trial. Of the five patients enrolled, three patients received treatment with trastuzumab (1.0 mg/kg weekly) followed by administration of ACTR707 (25 million ACTR707+ T cells) and completed the DLT review period—defined as approximately six weeks post-ACTR707 administration—with no DLTs observed. Two patients enrolled but discontinued from the trial prior to receiving treatment with trastuzumab and ACTR707. Of the three remaining patients who received treatment with trastuzumab and ACTR707, all three patients discontinued from the trial due to disease progression at the first response assessment.

Our lead hematologic program consisted of ACTR707 used in combination with rituximab to treat adult patients with relapsed or refractory r/r NHL.  We conducted a multi-center, dose-escalating open-label Phase 1 clinical trial called ATTCK-20-03. We completed enrollment in Cohorts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the ATTCK-20-03 trial that explored a dose range of 25M to 80M ACTR707+ T cells.  A complete response rate of 40% (eight of 20 patients) was achieved at the first response assessment in Cohorts 1 through 4 as of the November 2019 data cutoff, and as presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in December 2019. Of the eight complete responders, four remained in complete response at six months of follow-up, two remained in complete response but did not yet reach the six-month timepoint for evaluation, and two progressed before the six-month timepoint, as of the November 2019 cutoff. In Cohorts 1 through 4, no DLTs, no adverse events of CRS, and no severe neurological adverse events including neurotoxicity have been reported as of the November 2019 cutoff.

In June 2015, we announced a global strategic collaboration with Seattle Genetics, Inc. (the Collaboration Agreement) to identify, research, develop, and commercialize two novel antibody-coupled ACTR therapies incorporating Seattle Genetics’ proprietary antibodies. Under the terms of the Collaboration Agreement, we conducted preclinical research and clinical development activities through Phase 1 clinical trials (ATTCK-17-01) and Seattle Genetics provided funding for those activities. The first product candidate under our collaboration was ACTR087 used in combination with Seattle Genetics’ SEA-BCMA antibody for r/r multiple myeloma.  On January 16, 2020, we announced a termination of this Collaboration Agreement including the development candidate ACTR-BCMA and a research candidate. The decision to enter into the Termination Agreement and discontinue further dose-escalation of ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 trial was based on a de-prioritization of a target approach relative to the emerging clinical competitive environment in relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and a desire to allocate the resources of both companies towards other programs and product candidates. No dose-limiting toxicities following ACTR087 administration were reported and no severe adverse events of cytokine release syndrome or neurologic events have been observed to date.

74


Since our inception in 2014, we have focused significant efforts and financial resources on building our ACTR and BOXR platforms, establishing and protecting our intellectual property portfolio, conducting research and development of our product candidates, manufacturing drug product material for use in preclinical studies and clinical trials, staffing our company, and raising capital. We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. To date, we have funded our operations primarily with proceeds from the sales of preferred stock, our initial public offering of common stock and concurrent private placement (as further discussed below), and payments received under our Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics. On April 3, 2018, we completed our initial public offering (IPO) of our common stock and issued and sold 5,770,000 shares of our common stock at a public offering price of $12.00 per share, resulting in net proceeds of approximately $61.5 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering costs. In addition, we completed a concurrent private placement of $5.0 million of shares of common stock at the public offering price of $12.00 per share, or 416,666 shares, with Seattle Genetics (Concurrent Private Placement).

In connection with our IPO, we issued and sold an additional 215,000 shares of our common stock on April 25, 2018, pursuant to the underwriters’ partial exercise of their option to purchase additional shares of common stock at the public offering price of $12.00 and received additional net proceeds of $2.4 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions.

On April 1, 2019, the Company filed a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the SEC. The shelf registration statement allows the Company to sell from time-to-time up to $150 million of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, warrants, or units comprised of any combination of these securities, for its own account in one or more offerings. The terms of any offering under the shelf registration statement will be established at the time of such offering and will be described in a prospectus supplement filed with the SEC prior to the completion of any such offering.

Additionally, on April 1, 2019 and pursuant to the Form S-3, the Company entered into a Sales Agreement (the “Sales Agreement”) with Cowen and Company, LLC (“Cowen”), pursuant to which the Company may issue and sell, from time to time, shares of its common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $50.0 million through Cowen as the sales agent. As of December 31, 2019, no shares have been sold under this Sales Agreement.

Since our inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. Our ability to generate product revenue sufficient to achieve profitability will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of one or more of our product candidates. Our net losses were $31.8 million and $34.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. As of December 31, 2019, we had an accumulated deficit of $123.9 million. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for at least the next several years. We expect that our expenses and capital requirements will increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly if and as we:

 

conduct additional clinical trials for our product candidates;

 

continue to discover and develop additional product candidates;

 

acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;

 

maintain, expand, and protect our intellectual property portfolio;

 

hire additional clinical, scientific, and commercial personnel;

 

establish manufacturing capabilities in-house;

 

establish a commercial manufacturing source and secure supply chain capacity sufficient to provide commercial quantities of any product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval;

 

seek regulatory approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;

 

establish a sales, marketing, and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval; and

 

add operational, financial, and management information systems and personnel, including personnel to support our product development and planned future commercialization efforts, as well as to support our transition to a public reporting company.

We will not generate revenue from product sales unless and until we successfully complete clinical development and obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates. If we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates and do not enter into a commercialization partnership, we expect to incur significant expenses related to developing our internal commercialization capability to support product sales, marketing, and distribution. Further, as a result of the IPO, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company.

75


As a result, we will need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations and pursue our growth strategy. Until such time as we can generate significant revenue from product sales, if ever, we expect to finance our operations through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, and marketing, distribution, or licensing arrangements. We may be unable to raise additional funds or enter into such other agreements or arrangements when needed on favorable terms, or at all. If we fail to raise capital or enter into such agreements as, and when, needed, we may have to significantly delay, scale back, or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our product candidates.

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve or maintain profitability. Even if we are able to generate product sales, we may not become profitable. If we fail to become profitable or are unable to sustain profitability on a continuing basis, then we may be unable to continue our operations at planned levels and be forced to reduce or terminate our operations.

As of December 31, 2019, we had cash and cash equivalents of $37.4 million and available borrowings under our loan and security agreement of $15.0 million. We expect that our cash and cash equivalents will not be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through at least 12 months from the issuance date of the consolidated financial statements. In accordance with the requirements of Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, No. 2014-15, Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern (Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, Subtopic 205-40), or ASC 205-40, we have determined that there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.  See “—Liquidity and Capital Resources”.

Components of Our Results of Operations

Revenue

To date, we have not generated any revenue from product sales and do not expect to generate any revenue from the sale of products in the near future. If our development efforts for our product candidates are successful and result in regulatory approval or additional license or collaboration agreements with third parties, we may generate revenue in the future from a combination of product sales or payments from additional collaboration or license agreements that we may enter into with third parties. We expect that our revenue for the next several years will be derived primarily from any collaborations that we may enter into in the future.

In June 2015, the Company entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics (the “Collaboration Agreement”). Pursuant to the terms of the Collaboration Agreement, the Company and Seattle Genetics agreed to jointly develop two product candidates incorporating our ACTR platform and Seattle Genetics’ antibodies. Under the Collaboration Agreement, we conducted preclinical research and clinical development activities related to the two specified product candidates through Phase 1 clinical development, and Seattle Genetics provided the funding for those activities. As a result of the Collaboration Agreement with Seattle Genetics, we recognized revenue of $22.5 million and $9.7 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 related to the upfront payment received from Seattle Genetics under our Collaboration Agreement as well as reimbursements of research and development costs. In November 2019, the Company and Seattle Genetics suspended further dose-escalation of the ATTCK-17-01 trial and associated research activities and are evaluating next steps for the programs.

On January 16, 2020, Unum and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the collaboration. Pursuant to terms of the Termination Agreement, among other things, (i) Seattle Genetics paid the Company $5.75 million, (ii) Seattle Genetics surrendered, assigned and transferred to Unum all of its right, title and interest in the 831,847 shares of our common stock owned by Seattle Genetics, (iii) we will continue to be responsible for and pay all expenses for the wind-down of the ACTR-BCMA trial and (iv) Seattle Genetics paid all research and development costs incurred through the Termination Effective Date. In addition, the exclusivity provisions in the Collaboration Agreement terminate and each party will be free to research, develop and commercialize their individual intellectual property (either by themselves or with third parties, subject to the intellectual property rights of the other party.

In considering all facts known prior to December 31, 2019, including the suspension of the ATTCK-17-01 clinical trial as announced in November 2019 and the intention of the parties to terminate the Collaboration Agreement, the Company has adjusted the estimated transaction price to be the $25.0 million upfront payment and the total payments to be earned for preclinical research and clinical development activities through the Termination Date. The Company has also adjusted the costs to complete the remaining performance obligations to represent our best estimate as of December 31, 2019. The Termination Payment and return of shares will be accounted for in 2020 after the Termination Effective Date as these are contingent upon execution of the Termination Agreement. The Company has recorded a cumulative adjustment to revenue as a result of the change in the estimated transaction price in the fourth quarter of 2019.

76


Operating Expenses

Research and Development Expenses

Research and development expenses consist primarily of costs incurred for our research activities, including our drug discovery efforts, and the development of our product candidates, which include:

 

employee-related expenses, including salaries, related benefits, and stock-based compensation expense for employees engaged in research and development functions;

 

expenses incurred in connection with the preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates, including under agreements with third parties, such as consultants and contractors and contract research organizations (CROs);

 

the cost of manufacturing drug products for use in our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including under agreements with third parties, such as consultants and contractors and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs);

 

laboratory supplies and animal care;

 

facilities, depreciation, and other expenses, which include direct and allocated expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities and insurance; and

 

payments made under third-party licensing agreements.

Our research and development costs include costs for the development of product candidates that we have jointly developed with Seattle Genetics and for which we received reimbursement as specified in the Collaboration Agreement.

We expense research and development costs as incurred. Advance payments that we make for goods or services to be received in the future for use in research and development activities are recorded as prepaid expenses. The prepaid amounts are expensed as the related goods are delivered or the services are performed.

Our direct external research and development expenses are tracked on a program-by-program basis and consist of costs, such as fees paid to consultants, contractors, CMOs, and CROs in connection with our preclinical and clinical development activities. We do not allocate employee costs, costs associated with our discovery efforts, laboratory supplies, and facilities, including depreciation or other indirect costs, to specific product development programs because these costs are deployed across multiple product development programs and, as such, are not separately classified.

Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. We expect that our research and development expenses will decrease as a result of our shift to prioritize preclinical BOXR1030 development and to conclude our clinical trials. At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate or know the nature, timing, and costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the preclinical and clinical development of any of our product candidates. The successful development and commercialization of our product candidates is highly uncertain. This is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development and commercialization, including the following:

 

the timing and progress of preclinical and clinical development activities;

 

the number and scope of preclinical and clinical programs we decide to pursue;

 

the progress of the development efforts of parties with whom we have entered, or may enter, into collaboration arrangements;

 

our ability to maintain our current research and development programs and to establish new ones;

 

our ability to establish new licensing or collaboration arrangements;

 

the successful completion of clinical trials with safety, tolerability, and efficacy profiles that are satisfactory to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any comparable foreign regulatory authority;

 

the receipt of regulatory approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;

 

the success in establishing and operating a manufacturing facility, or securing manufacturing supply through relationships with third parties;

77


 

our ability to obtain and maintain patents, trade secret protection, and regulatory exclusivity, both in the United States and internationally;

 

our ability to protect our rights in our intellectual property portfolio;

 

the commercialization of our product candidates, if and when approved;

 

the acceptance of our product candidates, if approved, by patients, the medical community, and third-party payors;

 

competition with other products; and

 

a continued acceptable safety profile of our therapies following approval.

A change in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of any of our product candidates could significantly change the costs and timing associated with the development of that product candidate. We may never succeed in obtaining regulatory approval for any of our product candidates.

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related costs, including stock-based compensation, for personnel in executive, finance, and administrative functions. General and administrative expenses also include direct and allocated facility-related costs as well as professional fees for legal, patent, consulting, investor and public relations, accounting, and audit services. We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses will decrease in the future as we have reduced our headcount to prioritize resourced towards advancing BOXR1030.

Other Income (Expense)

Interest Income

Interest income consists of interest earned on our cash equivalents and marketable securities balances. Our interest income has not been significant due to low interest earned on invested balances.

Other Income, Net

Other income, net consists of miscellaneous income and expense unrelated to our core operations, primarily income from subleasing a portion of our headquarters facilities.

Income Taxes

Since our inception, we have not recorded any current or deferred tax benefit for the net losses we have incurred in each year or for our earned research and development tax credits, as we believe, based upon the weight of available evidence, that it is more likely than not that all of our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credits will not be realized. As of December 31, 2019, we had U.S. federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of $109.8 million and $110.8 million, respectively, which may be available to offset future income tax liabilities and begin to expire in 2035. Of the 2019 federal net operating loss, $79.6 million is available to be carried forward indefinitely but can only offset 80% of taxable income per year. As of December 31, 2019, we also had U.S. federal and state research and development tax credit carryforwards of $5.3 million and $1.6 million, respectively, which may be available to offset future income tax liabilities and begin to expire in 2034 and 2030, respectively. As of December 31, 2019, the Company has Massachusetts investment tax credits of $0.1 million which generally have a 3 year carryover period.

We have recorded a full valuation allowance against our net deferred tax assets at each balance sheet date.

78


Results of Operations

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2018

The following table summarizes our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Collaboration revenue

 

$

22,499

 

 

$

9,734

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development

 

 

43,709

 

 

 

38,285

 

General and administrative

 

 

10,968

 

 

 

7,454

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

54,677

 

 

 

45,739

 

Loss from operations

 

 

(32,178

)

 

 

(36,005

)

Other income (expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

 

267

 

 

 

1,153

 

Other income, net

 

 

78

 

 

 

320

 

Total other income, net

 

 

345

 

 

 

1,473

 

Net loss

 

$

(31,833

)

 

$

(34,532

)

 

Collaboration Revenue

Collaboration revenue recognized during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 of $22.5 million and $9.7 million, respectively, was due to the recognition of revenue from payments received from Seattle Genetics under our Collaboration Agreement. We recognize revenue from the upfront payment we received as well as ongoing reimbursements of research and development costs from Seattle Genetics by applying the costs-to-cost method over the performance period. Collaboration revenue fluctuates based upon our pattern of performance for each performance obligation and changes in estimated transaction price and costs to complete our performance obligations. In November 2019, the Company and Seattle Genetics suspended further dose-escalation of the ATTCK-17-01 trial and associated research activities and were evaluating next steps for the programs. On January 16, 2020, Unum and Seattle Genetics announced an agreement to terminate the ATTCK-17-01 Phase 1 clinical trial and other research activities under the collaboration. In considering the facts known prior to December 31, 2019, including the announcement of the suspension of the ATTCK-17-01 clinical trial in November 2019, the Company has adjusted the estimated transaction price to be the $25.0 million upfront payment and the total payments to be earned for preclinical research and clinical development activities through the Termination Date and adjusted the estimated costs to complete our on-going performance obligations. The Termination Payment and return of shares will be accounted for in 2020 after the Termination Effective Date as these are contingent upon the execution of the Termination Agreement as of December 31, 2019. We have recorded a cumulative adjustment to revenue as a result of the change in the estimated transaction price in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Research and Development Expenses

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

Change

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Direct research and development expenses by program:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hematologic Programs

 

$

13,895

 

 

$

13,984

 

 

$

(89

)

Solid Tumor Programs

 

 

2,443

 

 

 

1,387

 

 

 

1,056

 

Unallocated expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personnel related (including stock-based

   compensation)

 

 

15,174

 

 

 

12,065

 

 

 

3,109

 

Laboratory supplies, facility related and other

 

 

12,197