SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
☐ SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission file number:
Tiziana Life Sciences plc
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter and translation of Registrant’s name into English)
England and Wales
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
3rd Floor, 11-12 St James’s Square
London SW1 4LB, United Kingdom
(Address of principal executive offices)
Chief Financial Officer
3rd Floor, 11-12 St James’s Square
London SW1 4LB, United Kingdom
+44 20 7495 2379
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Cooley (UK) LLP
69 Old Broad Street
London EC2M 1QS
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|American Depositary Shares, each representing||NASDAQ Global Market|
|10 ordinary shares, having a nominal value of £0.03|
each Ordinary share, nominal value of £0.03 each*
(*) Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of the American Depositary Shares
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of December 31, 2018: 136,463,818 ordinary shares.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
☐ Yes ☒ No
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15 (d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
☒ 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 and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted 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 and post such files).
☐ Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
|Large accelerated filer ☐||Accelerated filer ☐||Non-accelerated filer ☐||Smaller reporting company ☐|
|Emerging growth company ☒|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by checkmark 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. ☐
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
|U.S. GAAP ☐||
Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the
International Accounting Standards Board ☒
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow:
☐ Item 17 ☐ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
☐ Yes ☐ No
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Item 1||Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers||1|
|Item 2||Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable||1|
|Item 3||Key Information||1|
|Item 4||Information on the Company||37|
|Item 4A||Unresolved Staff Comments||61|
|Item 5||Operating and Financial Review and Prospects||61|
|Item 6||Directors, Senior Management and Employees||71|
|Item 7||Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions||79|
|Item 8||Financial Information||80|
|Item 9||The Offer and Listing||80|
|Item 10||Additional Information||81|
|Item 11||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk||89|
|Item 12||Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities||90|
|Item 13||Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies||92|
|Item 14||Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds||92|
|Item 15||Controls and Procedures||92|
|Item 16A||Audit Committee Financial Expert||92|
|Item 16B||Code of Ethics||92|
|Item 16C||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||92|
|Item 16D||Exemptions From the Listing Standards for Audit Committees||92|
|Item 16E||Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers||92|
|Item 16F||Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant||92|
|Item 16G||Corporate Governance||93|
|Item 16H||Mine Safety Disclosure||93|
|Item 17||Financial Statements||94|
|Item 18||Financial Statements||94|
In this Annual Report on the Form 20-F references to “Tiziana,” “Tiziana Life Sciences plc,” “the company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Tiziana Life Sciences plc and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Tiziana Therapeutics Inc., Tiziana Pharma Limited and Longevia Genomics S.r.l.
Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and trade names in this registration statement may be referred to without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto. This annual report contains additional trademarks, service marks and trade names of others, which are the property of their respective owners. We do not intend to use or display other companies’ trademarks, service marks and trade names to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
In this annual report, unless otherwise stated, all references to “U.S. dollars” or “US$” or “$” or “cents” are to the currency of the United States of America, and all references to “Pounds Sterling” or “Sterling” or “£” or “pence” are to the currency of the United Kingdom.
In this annual report, any reference to any provision of any legislation shall include any amendment, modification, re-enactment or extension thereof. Words importing the singular shall include the plural and vice versa, and words importing the masculine gender shall include the feminine or neutral gender.
Presentation of Financial Information
This annual report includes our audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, which are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB. None of our financial statements were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States.
Our financial information is presented in United States dollars. For the convenience of the reader, in this prospectus, unless otherwise indicated, translations from Pounds Sterling into U.S. dollars were made at the rate of £1.00 to $1.3278, which was the noon buying rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on March 15, 2019. Such U.S. dollar amounts are not necessarily indicative of the amounts of U.S. dollars that could actually have been purchased upon exchange of Pounds Sterling at the dates indicated.
We have made rounding adjustments to some of the figures included in this prospectus. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in some tables may not be an arithmetic aggregation of the figures that preceded them.
CAUTIONARY STATEMEMT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements contained in this Annual Report, other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management, are forward-looking statements. The words “may,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “objective,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue” and “ongoing,” or the negative of these terms, or other comparable terminology intended to identify statements about the future. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and opinions contained in this registration statement are based upon information available to us as of the date of this registration statement and, while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. Forward-looking statements include statements about:
|●||the development of Milciclib, Foralumab and any of our other product candidates, including statements regarding the timing of initiation, completion and the outcome of clinical studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available and our research and development programs;|
|●||our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of our product candidates, including Milciclib and Foralumab, in the indications for which we plan to develop them, and any related restrictions, limitations or warnings in the label of an approved drug or therapy;|
|●||our plans to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates;|
|●||the timing of our regulatory filings for our product candidates;|
|●||the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates;|
|●||our ability to raise additional capital;|
|●||our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy;|
|●||our expectations regarding our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection;|
|●||our ability to attract and retain qualified employees and key personnel;|
|●||our ability to contract with third-party suppliers and manufacturers and their ability to perform adequately;|
|●||our estimates regarding future revenue, expenses and needs for additional financing; and|
|●||regulatory developments in the United States, European Union and foreign countries.|
You should refer to the section titled “Risk Factors” for a discussion of important factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this registration statement will prove to be accurate.
Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we have filed as exhibits to this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
ITEM 1: IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2: OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3: KEY INFORMATION
A. Selected Financial Data
The following table summarizes our consolidated financial data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The consolidated financial statement data as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 and for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 have been derived from our consolidated financial statements, as presented at the end of this Annual Report, which have been prepared in accordance with IFRS, as issued by the IASB, and audited in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). The consolidated financial statement data as of December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 and for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 have been derived from our consolidated financial statements, which are not presented herein, which have also been prepared in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB.
Our functional currency is the pound Sterling. However, for financial reporting purposes, our financial statements, which are prepared using the functional currency, have been translated into U.S. dollars. Our assets and liabilities are translated at the exchange rates at the balance sheet date, our revenue and expenses are translated at average exchange rates for the period presented and shareholders’ equity is translated based on historical exchange rates. Translation adjustments are not included in determining net income (loss) but are included in foreign exchange translation adjustment to other comprehensive loss, a component of shareholders’ equity.
Foreign currency transactions in currencies different from the functional currency are translated into the functional currency using the exchange rates prevailing at the dates of the transactions. Foreign exchange differences resulting from the settlement of such transactions and from the translation at period-end exchange rates of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are recorded in general and administrative expense in the statement of operations and comprehensive loss.
As of December 31, 2018, and 2017, the representative exchange rate was £1.00 = $1.2737 and £1.00 = $1.3515, respectively.
Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in the future. The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements included at the end of this Annual Report and the related notes and Item 5, “Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” below.
Consolidated Statement of Operations and Comprehensive Loss Data:
|Years Ended December 31,|
|(in thousands except share and per share data)|
|Research and development||$||(5,510||)||$||(6,015||)||$||(4,007||)||$||(9,609||)||$||(1,309||)|
|General and administrative||(4,417||)||(4,602||)||(5,872||)||(3,557||)||(4,189||)|
|Total operating expenses||(9,927||)||(10,617||)||(9,879||)||(13,166||)||(5,497||)|
|Loss from operations||(9,927||)||(10,617||)||(9,879||)||(13,166||)||(5,497||)|
|Other income (expense), net||(12||)||(12||)||(12||)||(28||)||(86||)|
|Net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders||(7,994||)||(8,716||)||(9,770||)||(13,193||)||(5,484||)|
|Other comprehensive loss:|
|Foreign currency translation adjustment||(20||)||70||650||3,063||(942||)|
|Total comprehensive loss||(8,014||)||(8,646||)||(9,120||)||(10,130||)||(6,426||)|
|Basic and diluted net loss per ordinary share||(0.06||)||(0.09||)||(0.11||)||(0.15||)||(0.24||)|
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
|As of December 31,|
|(in thousands except share and per share data)|
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||5,304||$||64||$||5,802||$||13,128||$||3,530|
Total shareholders’ equity/(deficit)
We define working capital as current assets less current liabilities.
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
Our business has significant risks. You should consider carefully the risks described below, together with the other information contained in this Annual Report, including our financial statements and the related notes. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. This Annual Report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our results could materially differ from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, as a result of certain factors including the risks described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report and our other SEC filings. See “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above.
Risks Related to the Development of our Product Candidates
If we encounter substantial delays in clinical trials of our product candidates, we may be unable to obtain required regulatory approvals, and therefore will be unable to commercialize our product candidates on a timely basis or at all.
Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and utility of the product candidates. Clinical testing is expensive, time-consuming and uncertain as to outcome. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all, as a failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. Events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include:
|●||delays in reaching a consensus with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, European Medicines Agency, or EMA, or other regulatory authorities on trial design;|
|●||delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective contract research organizations, or CROs, and clinical trial sites;|
|●||delays in opening clinical trial sites or obtaining required institutional review board or independent ethics committee approval at each clinical trial site;|
|●||delays in recruiting suitable patients to participate in our future clinical trials;|
|●||imposition of a clinical hold by regulatory authorities as a result of a serious adverse event or after an inspection of our clinical trial operations or clinical trial sites;|
|●||failure by us, any CROs we engage or any other third parties to adhere to clinical trial requirements;|
|●||failure to perform in accordance with good clinical practice, or GCP, or applicable regulatory guidelines in Europe and other international markets;|
|●||delays in the testing, validation, manufacturing and delivery of our product candidates to the clinical trial sites, including delays by third parties with whom we have contracted to perform certain of those functions;|
|●||delays in having patients complete participation in a clinical trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;|
|●||clinical trial sites or patients dropping out of a clinical trial;|
|●||selection of clinical endpoints that require prolonged periods of clinical observation or analysis of the resulting data;|
|●||occurrence of serious adverse events associated with the product candidate that are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits;|
|●||occurrence of serious adverse events in clinical trials of the same class of agents conducted by other sponsors; and|
|●||changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols.|
Any inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenues from product sales, regulatory and commercialization milestones and royalties. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates, we may need to conduct additional studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may fail to demonstrate the safety and therapeutic utility of our product candidates to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our 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. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products. If the results of our registrational trial or future pivotal trials for our other product candidates do not demonstrate therapeutic utility of our product candidates, or if there are safety concerns or serious adverse events associated with our product candidates, we may:
|●||be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates, if at all;|
|●||obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;|
|●||obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;|
|●||be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements;|
|●||be subject to changes in the way the product is administered;|
|●||be required to perform additional clinical trials to support approval or be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements;|
|●||have regulatory authorities withdraw or suspend their approval of the product or impose restrictions on its distribution in the form of a modified risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS;|
|●||be subject to the addition of labeling statements, such as warnings or contraindications; or|
|●||be sued or experience damage to our reputation.|
Success in preclinical studies or clinical trials may not be indicative of results in future clinical trials.
Success in preclinical testing and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will generate the same results or otherwise provide adequate data to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of our product candidate. Frequently, product candidates that have shown promising results in early clinical trials have subsequently suffered significant setbacks in later clinical trials. To date, some of our clinical trials have involved small patient populations and because of the small sample size in such trials, the interim results of these clinical trials may be subject to substantial variability and may not be indicative of either future interim results or final results. In addition, the design of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support approval of a product and flaws in the design of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. In addition, there is a high failure rate for drugs and biologic products proceeding through clinical trials. In fact, many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials even after achieving promising results in preclinical testing and earlier-stage clinical trials. Moreover, data obtained from preclinical and clinical activities is subject to varying interpretations, which may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. In addition, we may experience regulatory delays or rejections as a result of many factors, including due to changes in regulatory policy during the period of our product candidate development. Any such delays could negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We depend on enrollment of patients in our clinical trials for our product candidates and may find it difficult to enroll patients in our clinical trials, which could delay or prevent us from proceeding with clinical trials of our product candidates and could materially adversely affect our R&D efforts and business, financial condition and results of operations.
Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends on our ability to recruit patients to participate, and to see those patients through the completion of required follow-up periods. If, for any reason, patients are unwilling to enroll in our clinical trials, then the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product candidates, delays in testing the effectiveness of our product candidates or termination of clinical trials altogether.
Our current product candidates are being developed to treat oncology and immune diseases of high unmet medical need. However, we may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials if we cannot enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in the clinical trials required by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities. As a result, we may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment can be affected by many factors, including:
|●||size of the patient population and process for identifying patients;|
|●||eligibility and exclusion criteria for our clinical trials;|
|●||perceived risks and benefits of our product candidates;|
|●||severity of the disease under investigation;|
|●||proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;|
|●||competition with other clinical trials for product candidates competing in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates;|
|●||ability to obtain and maintain patient consent;|
|●||patient drop-outs prior to completion of clinical trials;|
|●||patient referral practices of physicians; and|
|●||ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment.|
Our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete clinical trials in any foreign country is subject to numerous risks unique to conducting business in foreign countries, including:
|●||difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with CROs and physicians;|
|●||different standards for the conduct of clinical trials;|
|●||absence in some countries of established groups with sufficient regulatory expertise for review of certain treatment protocols;|
|●||inability to locate qualified local consultants, physicians and partners; and|
|●||the potential burden of complying with a variety of foreign laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements, including the regulation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products and treatment.|
If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients or finding additional clinical trial sites to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Our product candidates and the process for administering our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit their commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences following any potential marketing approval.
During the conduct of clinical trials, patients report changes in their health, including illnesses, injuries and discomforts, to their study doctor. Often, it is not possible to determine whether the product candidate being studied caused these conditions. Regulatory authorities may draw different conclusions or require additional testing to confirm these determinations. For Milciclib, the most frequent drug-related side effects reported across studies, at all doses tested, were gastrointestinal, or GI, adverse events (nausea and diarrhea, followed by less frequent vomiting), neurological effects (mainly tremor, then ataxia, dizziness and dysgeusia), skin disorders and asthenia, fatigue, headache and anorexia. For Foralumab, the most frequent drug-related side effects reported following intravenous administration were infusion related reactions, or IRR, including fever, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting diarrhea and hypotension considered the result of cytokine release also known as cytokine release syndrome, or CRS. Other adverse events included reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (clinically silent); moderate lymphocytopenia, abnormalities in liver function tests. Since most of these changes are related to the infusion route of administration and dosage level, such systemic toxicities are not anticipated when administered orally or nasally due to what we assume will be minimal systemic absorption.
In addition, it is possible that as we test our product candidates in larger, longer and more extensive clinical programs, or as use of these product candidates becomes more widespread if they receive regulatory approval, illnesses, injuries, discomforts and other adverse events that were observed in earlier trials, as well as conditions that did not occur or went undetected in previous trials, will be reported by patients. Many times, side effects are only detectable after investigational products are tested in large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials or, in some cases, after they are made available to patients on a commercial scale after approval. If additional clinical experience indicates that our product candidates cause serious or life-threatening side effects, the development of our product candidates may fail or be delayed, or, if the product candidate has received regulatory approval, such approval may be revoked, which would harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
If in the future we are unable to demonstrate that such adverse events were caused by the administration process or related procedures, the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Even if we are able to demonstrate that any serious adverse events are not product-related, such occurrences could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the clinical trial. Moreover, if we elect or are required to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidate may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from such product candidate may be delayed or eliminated. Any of these occurrences may harm our ability to develop other product candidates, and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects.
Additionally, if we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by any of our product candidates, several potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
|●||regulatory authorities may suspend or withdraw approvals of such product candidate;|
|●||regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;|
|●||we may be required to change the way a product candidate is administered or conduct additional clinical trials;|
|●||we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients; and|
|●||our reputation may suffer.|
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of our product candidates.
Any contamination in our manufacturing process, shortages of raw materials or failure of any of our key suppliers to deliver necessary components could result in delays in our clinical development or marketing schedules.
Given the nature of biologics and NCE manufacturing, there is a risk of contamination. Any contamination could adversely affect our ability to produce product candidates on schedule and could, therefore, harm our results of operations and cause reputational damage. In addition, some of the raw materials required in our manufacturing process are derived from biologic sources and are difficult to procure and may be subject to contamination or recall. A material shortage, contamination, recall or restriction on the use of biologically derived substances in the manufacture of our product candidates could adversely impact or disrupt the commercial manufacturing or the production of clinical material, which could adversely affect our development timelines and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need For Capital
Our independent registered public accounting firm has expressed substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, which may hinder our ability to obtain future financing.
Mazars LLP, our independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, has included an explanatory paragraph in their opinion that accompanies our audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2018, indicating that our current liquidity position raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. If we are unable to improve our liquidity position, we may not be able to continue as a going concern. The accompanying consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result if we are unable to continue as a going concern and, therefore, be required to realize our assets and discharge our liabilities other than in the normal course of business which could cause investors to suffer the loss of all or a substantial portion of their investment.
We have incurred net losses in every year since our inception. We anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
We are a clinical stage biotechnology company with a limited operating history. Since our inception in May 2013, we have incurred significant net losses. Our net losses were $8.0 million, $8.7 million and $9.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. As of December 31, 2018, we had an accumulated loss of $50.6 million. We have devoted substantially all of our efforts to research and development of our product candidates, including clinical development of our lead product candidates, Foralumab and Milciclib, as well as to building out our management team and infrastructure. We expect that it could be several years, if ever, before we have a commercialized product candidate. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. These net losses will adversely impact our shareholders’ equity and net assets and may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if, and as, we:
|●||continue research and development of Foralumab, including the initiation of our orally administered Phase 1 trials in normal healthy volunteers with an intent to treat patients with NASH, Crohn’s disease and MS;|
|●||complete our Phase 2 program for Milciclib as a monotherpay in HCC patients and initiate a Phase 2b trial for Milciclib in combination with Sorafenib in HCC patients;|
|●||initiate clinical trials and preclinical studies for any additional product candidates that we may pursue in the future;|
|●||manufacture our product candidates in accordance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, for clinical trials or potential commercial sales;|
|●||establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any product candidate for which we may obtain marketing approval;|
|●||develop, maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;|
|●||identify, assess, and acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;|
|●||secure, maintain or obtain freedom to operate for any in-licensed technologies and products;|
|●||address any competing technological and market developments; and|
|●||expand our operations in the United States and Europe.|
We may never succeed in any or all of these activities and, even if we do, we may never generate revenues that are significant or large enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our R&D efforts, expand our business or continue our operations.
We need substantial additional funding to complete the development of our product candidates, which may not be available on acceptable terms, if at all. Failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate certain of our product development, research operations or future commercialization efforts, if any.
Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception, and we expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue the R&D of, initiate further clinical trials of and seek marketing approval for, our product candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for our product candidates, we expect to incur significant expenses related to product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution. Furthermore, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company listed on both AIM in the United Kingdom and Nasdaq in the United States. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
|●||the scope, progress, results and costs of laboratory testing, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical development for our current and future product candidates;|
|●||the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;|
|●||the extent to which we acquire or in-license and develop other product candidates and technologies;|
|●||our ability to establish and maintain collaborations and license agreements on favorable terms, if at all;|
|●||the costs, timing and outcome of potential future commercialization activities, including manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution for our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;|
|●||the costs of developing, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending intellectual property-related claims; and|
|●||the sales price and availability of adequate third-party coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if and when approved.|
Developing product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve product sales. In addition, our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our product revenues, if any, will be derived from or based on sales of product candidates that may not be commercially available for many years, if at all. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all. To the extent that additional capital is raised through the issuance of equity or equity-linked securities, the issuance of those securities could result in substantial dilution for our current shareholders and the terms of any future issuance may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of our current shareholders. Debt financing, if available, may involve covenants restricting our operations or our ability to incur additional debt. Any debt or additional equity financing that we raise may contain terms that are not favorable to us or our shareholders. If we raise additional funds through collaboration and licensing arrangements with third parties, it may be necessary to relinquish some rights to our technologies or our product candidates or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. Furthermore, the potential issuance of additional securities in the future, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, to decline and existing shareholders may not agree with our financing plans or the terms of such financings.
If we are unable to obtain adequate funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue our R&D programs of our product candidates or any future commercialization efforts, be unable to expand our operations or be unable to otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could harm our business and potentially cause us to discontinue operations.
Our limited operating history and no history of commercializing pharmaceutical products may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess the prospects for our future viability.
Since our inception, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to developing Foralumab and Milciclib, and our other product candidates, building our intellectual property portfolio and providing general and administrative support for these operations. Although our R&D efforts to date have resulted in a pipeline of product candidates, we have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully complete Phase 3 or other pivotal clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, or commercialize any of our product candidates. In addition, given our limited operating history, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors in achieving our business objectives.
Additionally, we are not profitable and have incurred losses in each year since our inception, and we expect that our financial condition and operating results may continue to fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Consequently, any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history.
Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties
We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates.
We have relied upon and plan to continue to rely upon third parties, including independent clinical investigators and third-party CROs, to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials and to monitor and manage data for our ongoing preclinical and clinical programs. In engaging these third parties, we typically have to, and expect to have to, negotiate budgets and contracts, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increases costs. Additionally, there is a limited number of qualified third-party service providers that specialize or have the expertise required to achieve our business objectives, and so it may be challenging to find alternative investigators or CROs, or do so on commercially reasonable terms. We rely on these parties for execution of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our preclinical studies and clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol and legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on these third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and our third-party contractors and CROs are required to comply with GCP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and clinical trial sites. If we fail to exercise adequate oversight over any of our CROs or if we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon a regulatory inspection of us or our CROs or other third parties performing services in connection with our clinical trials, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under applicable cGMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.
Further, these investigators and CROs are not our employees and we will not be able to control, other than by contract, the amount of resources, including time, which they devote to our product candidates and clinical trials. If independent investigators or CROs fail to devote sufficient resources to the development of our product candidates, or if their performance is substandard, it may delay or compromise the prospects for approval and commercialization of our product candidates. These investigators and CROs may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical studies or other drug development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. In addition, the use of third-party service providers requires us to disclose our proprietary information to these parties, which increases the risk that a competitor will discover them or that this information will be misappropriated or disclosed.
If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or to do so on commercially reasonable terms. If CROs 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, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our results of operations and commercial prospects would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenues could be delayed.
Repeating clinical trials or switching or engaging additional CROs involves additional cost and requires our management’s time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a clinical trial has to be repeated or when a new CRO commences work. As a result, delays could occur, which could materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
We have engaged contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to manufacture Foralumab and Milciclib and to perform quality testing, and because we collaborate with various organizations and academic institutions for the advancement of our platforms, we must, at times, share our proprietary technology and confidential information, including trade secrets, with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, collaborative research agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements with our collaborators, advisors, employees and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information. Despite the contractual provisions employed when working with third parties, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our know-how and trade secrets, a competitor’s discovery of our proprietary technology and confidential information or other unauthorized use or disclosure of such technology or information would impair our competitive position and may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Despite our efforts to protect our trade secrets, our competitors may discover our trade secrets, either through breach of these agreements, independent development or publication of information including our trade secrets by third parties. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We utilize, and expect to continue to utilize, third parties to conduct our product manufacturing for the foreseeable future, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.
We currently rely on CMOs for the manufacturing of clinical batches and intend to continue to rely on third parties to manufacture our preclinical study and clinical trial product supplies. If our current CMOs, or any future third-party manufacturers, do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or manufacture our product candidates in accordance with regulatory requirements, or if there are disagreements between us and our CMOs or any future third-party manufacturers, we will not be able to complete, or may be delayed in completing, the preclinical studies required to support future investigational new drug, or IND, submissions and the clinical trials required for approval of our product candidates.
In addition to our current CMOs, we may rely on additional third parties to manufacture ingredients of our product candidates in the future and to perform quality testing, and reliance on these third parties entails risks to which we would not be subject if we manufactured the product candidates ourselves, including:
|●||reduced control for certain aspects of manufacturing activities;|
|●||termination or nonrenewal of manufacturing and service agreements with third parties in a manner or at a time that is costly or damaging to us; and|
|●||disruptions to the operations of our third-party manufacturers and service providers caused by conditions unrelated to our business or operations, including the bankruptcy of the manufacturer or service provider.|
Any of these events could lead to clinical trial delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval or impact our ability to successfully commercialize any of our product candidates. Some of these events could be the basis for FDA, EMA or other regulatory authority action, including injunction, recall, seizure or total or partial suspension of product manufacture.
To the extent we rely on a third-party manufacturing facility for commercial supply, that third party will be subject to significant regulatory oversight with respect to manufacturing our product candidates.
The preparation of therapeutics for clinical trials or commercial sale is subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in late-stage clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP requirements. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures, including record keeping, and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of outside agents or other contaminants, or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of a product candidate that may not be detectable in final product testing. To the extent that we utilize third-party facilities for commercial supply, the third party’s facilities and quality systems must pass an inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect the third-party manufacturing facility or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. If, for example, these facilities do not pass a plant inspection, the FDA will not approve the applicable NDA or biologics license application, or BLA.
We do not directly control the manufacturing of, and are completely dependent on, our CMOs for compliance with cGMP requirements. If our CMOs cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities, they will not be able to secure and/or maintain regulatory approval for their manufacturing facilities. In addition, we have no direct control over the ability of our CMOs to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. Furthermore, all of our CMOs are engaged with other companies to supply and/or manufacture materials or products for such companies, which exposes our CMOs to regulatory risks for the production of such materials and products. As a result, failure to meet the regulatory requirements for the production of those materials and products may generally affect the regulatory clearance of our CMOs’ facilities. Our failure, or the failure of third parties, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products and product candidates.
Our potential future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our product candidates may adversely affect our future profit margins and our ability to commercialize any products that receive regulatory approval on a timely and competitive basis.
Risks Related to Commercialization of Our Product Candidates
We currently have no marketing and sales force. If we are unable to establish effective sales, marketing and distribution capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market, sell and distribute our product candidates that may be approved, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates if and when approved, and we may be unable to generate any product revenue.
We currently do not have a marketing or sales team for the marketing, sales and distribution of any of our product candidates. In order to commercialize any of our product candidates that may be approved, we intend to build, on a territory-by-territory basis, marketing, sales, distribution, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third parties to perform these services. These efforts will require significant capital expenditures, management resources and time, and we face competition in search for qualified personnel or third parties to assist with marketing, sales and distribution of any of our product candidates. We may not be successful in building these capabilities.
There are risks involved with both establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities and entering into arrangements with third parties to perform these services. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing and/or distribution capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our product candidates on our own include:
|●||our inability to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;|
|●||the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or persuade adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future product that we may develop;|
|●||the lack of complementary treatments to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and|
|●||unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.|
If we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales, marketing and distribution services, our product revenue or the profitability to us from these revenue streams is likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any product candidates that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell and market our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We likely will have little control over such third parties and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our product candidates effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates.
We face significant competition in an environment of rapid technological change and the possibility that our competitors may achieve regulatory approval before us or develop therapies that are more advanced or effective than ours.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly changing technologies, significant competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. We face substantial competition from many different sources, including large and specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions, government agencies and public and private research institutions.
New developments, including the development of other pharmaceutical technologies and methods of treating disease, occur in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries at a rapid pace. Developments by competitors may render our product candidates obsolete or noncompetitive. We anticipate that we will face intense and increasing competition as new treatments enter the market and advanced technologies become available.
Many of our potential competitors, alone or with their strategic partners, have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger R&D, clinical, sales and marketing and manufacturing organizations. These third parties also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, the development of our products. In addition, mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of competitors. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any product candidate that we may develop. Competitors also may obtain FDA, EMA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly or earlier than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing our product candidates against competitors.
In addition, as a result of the expiration or successful challenge of our patent rights, we could face more litigation with respect to the validity and/or scope of patents relating to our competitors’ products. The availability of our competitors’ products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any product candidate that we may develop and commercialize.
The market opportunities for our product candidates may be smaller than we anticipate.
We focus our R&D efforts on treatments for cancer and autoimmune disease. Our understanding of both the number of people who have these diseases, as well as the subset of people with these diseases who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, is based on estimates. These estimates may prove to be incorrect and new studies may reduce the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients in the United States, the European Union and elsewhere may turn out to be lower than expected, may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our product candidates or patients may become increasingly difficult to identify and access, all of which would adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Further, there are several factors that could contribute to making the actual number of patients who receive our potential products, if and when approved, less than the potentially addressable market. These include, for example, the lack of widespread availability of, and limited reimbursement for, new therapies in many underdeveloped markets.
The future commercial success of our product candidates will depend upon the degree of each product candidates’ market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community.
Our product candidates are at varying stages of development, and we may never have a product that is commercially successful. To date, we have no product authorized for marketing. Due to the inherent risk in the development of pharmaceutical products, we may never successfully complete development and commercialization of any of our product candidates. Even with the requisite approvals from the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities internationally, the commercial success of our product candidates will depend, in part, on the acceptance of physicians, patients and third-party payors of our product candidates as medically necessary, cost-effective and safe. Any product that we commercialize may not gain acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. If these products do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenue and may not become profitable. Even if some product candidates achieve market acceptance, the market may not prove to be large enough to allow us to generate significant revenues. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on several factors, including:
|●||the effectiveness and safety of our product candidates as demonstrated in clinical trials;|
|●||the potential and perceived advantages of our product candidates over alternative treatments;|
|●||the availability and cost of treatment relative to alternative treatments;|
|●||changes in the standard of care for the targeted indications for any product candidate;|
|●||the willingness of physicians to prescribe, and the target patient population to try, new therapies;|
|●||the prevalence and severity of any side effects;|
|●||product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities, including any limitations or warnings contained in a product’s approved labeling;|
|●||the timing of market introduction of competitive products;|
|●||sales, distribution and marketing support;|
|●||publicity concerning our product candidates or competing products and treatments;|
|●||potential product liability claims;|
|●||any restrictions on the use of our products together with other medications; and|
|●||favorable third-party payor coverage and adequate reimbursement.|
Even if a potential product displays favorable clinical properties and safety profile in preclinical studies and clinical trials, market acceptance of the product will not be fully known until after it is launched.
The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly approved products is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved, could limit our ability to market those products.
We expect that coverage and adequate reimbursement by government and private payors will be essential for most patients to be able to afford these treatments. Accordingly, sales of our product candidates will depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of our product candidates will be paid by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or will be reimbursed by government authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon several factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:
|●||a covered benefit under our health plan;|
|●||safe, effective and medically necessary;|
|●||appropriate for the specific patient;|
|●||neither experimental nor investigational.|
Obtaining coverage and reimbursement for a product from third-party payors is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to the payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data. We may not be able to provide data sufficient to gain acceptance with respect to coverage and reimbursement. If coverage and reimbursement are not available, or are available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be adequate to realize a sufficient return on our investment.
There is significant uncertainty related to third-party coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, third-party payors, including government payors such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs, play an important role in determining the extent to which new drugs and biologics will be covered and reimbursed. The Medicare and Medicaid programs increasingly are used as models for how private payors develop their coverage and reimbursement policies. However, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. One payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage, and adequate reimbursement. It is difficult to predict what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS will decide with respect to coverage and reimbursement for fundamentally novel products such as ours, as there is no body of established practices and precedents for these types of products. Moreover, reimbursement agencies in the European Union may be more conservative than the CMS. For example, several cancer drugs have been approved for reimbursement in the United States and have not been approved for reimbursement in certain European Union, or EU, member states, or Member States. It is difficult to predict what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates.
Also, the containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments, and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. The U.S. government, state legislatures, and foreign governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs to limit the growth of government-paid healthcare costs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products for branded prescription drugs. For example, in the United States, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010), or the PPACA, contains provisions that may reduce the profitability of products, including, for example, increased rebates for products sold to Medicaid programs, extension of Medicaid rebates to Medicaid managed care plans, mandatory discounts for certain Medicare Part D beneficiaries and annual fees based on pharmaceutical companies’ share of sales to federal health care programs. Further, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several recent congressional inquiries and proposed federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, contain the cost of drugs, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for products.
Outside the United States, international operations generally are subject to extensive government price controls and other market regulations and increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in the European Union, Canada and other countries may put pricing pressure on us. In many countries, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In general, the prices of medicines under such systems are substantially lower than in the United States. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for medical products but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for our product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for our product candidates may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable product revenues.
In addition, there can be considerable pressure by governments and other stakeholders on prices and reimbursement levels, including as part of cost containment measures. 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 Member States and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced Member States, can further reduce prices. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidates to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed.
Moreover, increasing efforts by government and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for new products approved and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates.
Payors increasingly are considering new metrics as the basis for reimbursement rates, such as average sales price, average manufacturer price and actual acquisition cost. The existing data for reimbursement based on some of these metrics is relatively limited, although certain states have begun to survey acquisition cost data for the purpose of setting Medicaid reimbursement rates, and CMS has begun making pharmacy National Average Drug Acquisition Cost and National Average Retail Price data publicly available on at least a monthly basis. Therefore, it may be difficult to project the impact of these evolving reimbursement metrics on the willingness of payors to cover product candidates that we or our partners are able to commercialize. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products such as ours.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
Our rights to develop and commercialize our product candidates are subject to the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by others. If we fail to comply with our obligations under our existing and any future intellectual property licenses with third parties, we could lose license rights that are important to the business.
We do not currently own any patents; however, we are heavily reliant upon licenses and sublicenses from Nerviano and Novimmune to certain patent rights and proprietary technology that are important or necessary to the development of our technology and product candidates, including the patents and know-how relating to manufacture. These and other licenses may not provide exclusive rights to use such intellectual property and technology or may not provide exclusive rights to use such intellectual property and technology in all relevant fields of use and in all territories in which we may wish to develop or commercialize our technology and product candidates in the future. As a result, we may not be able to prevent competitors from developing and commercializing competitive products, including in territories covered by our licenses.
In some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license from third parties. If our licensors fail to maintain such patents or patent applications, or lose rights to those patents or patent applications, the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated and our right to develop and commercialize any of our product candidates that are the subject of such licensed rights could be adversely affected. In addition to the foregoing, the risks associated with patent rights that we license from third parties will also apply to patent rights we may own in the future.
Licenses to additional third-party technology and materials that may be required for our development programs, including additional technology and materials owned by any of our current licensors, may not be available in the future or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, which could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our current product candidates, any future product candidates we may develop and our technology, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours.
Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to seek, obtain and maintain patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our product candidates and to future innovation related to our manufacturing technology. Our licensors have sought, and we intend to seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, related to certain technologies and our product candidates that are important to our business. Our current patent portfolio contains a limited number of patent applications, all of which are in-licensed from third parties and relate to either composition of matter, formulation, method of use or process of manufacturing Foralumab, Milciclib and a fully human anti-interleukin-6 receptor, or IL-6r, mAb. However, the risks associated with patent rights generally apply to patent rights that we in-license now or in the future, as well as patent rights that we may own in the future. Moreover, the risks apply with respect to patent rights and other intellectual property applicable to our product candidates, as well as to any intellectual property rights that we may acquire in the future related to future product candidates, if any. We have filed a new patent application covering the composition of matter of Foralumab. However, this application is pending and there is no guarantee that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, will grant this application.
The patent prosecution process is expensive, time-consuming and complex, and we may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, enforce or license all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner.
In some cases, the work of certain academic researchers in the oncology and immunology fields has entered the public domain, which we believe precludes our ability to obtain patent protection for certain inventions relating to such work.
Consequently, we will not be able to assert any such patents to prevent others from using our technology for, and developing and marketing competing products to treat, these indications. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our R&D output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.
Our existing license agreements impose, and we expect that future license agreements will impose, various due diligence, development and commercialization timelines, insurance, milestone payments, royalties and other obligations on us. See the description in the section titled “Business-Collaboration and License Agreements” herein. If we fail to comply with our obligations under these agreements, or we are subject to a bankruptcy, or, in some cases, under other circumstances, the licensor may have the right to terminate the license, in which event we would not be able to market product candidates covered by the license. In addition, certain of these license agreements are not assignable by us without the consent of the respective licensor, which may have an adverse effect on our ability to engage in certain transactions.
The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has, in recent years, been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of any patent rights are highly uncertain. Our licensed patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology or product candidates, effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and product candidates or otherwise provide any competitive advantage. In fact, patent applications may not issue as patents at all. Even assuming patents issue from patent applications in which we have rights, changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.
Other parties have developed technologies that may be related or competitive to our own and such parties may have filed or may file patent applications, or may have received or may receive patents, claiming inventions that may overlap or conflict with those claimed in our own patent applications or issued patents. We may not be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights potentially relating to our current and future product candidates.
Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and in other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or, in some cases, not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether the inventors of our licensed patents and applications were the first to make the inventions claimed in those patents or pending patent applications, or that they were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. Similarly, should we own any patents or patent applications in the future, we may not be certain that we were the first to file for patent protection for the inventions claimed in such patents or patent applications. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity and commercial value of our patent rights cannot be predicted with any certainty.
The degree of patent protection we require to successfully compete in the marketplace may be unavailable or severely limited in some cases and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. We cannot provide any assurances that any of our licensed patents have, or that any of our pending licensed patent applications that mature into issued patents will include, claims with a scope sufficient to protect our product candidates or otherwise provide any competitive advantage. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Furthermore, patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after it is filed. Various extensions may be available; however, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with adequate and continuing patent protection sufficient to exclude others from commercializing products similar to our product candidates, including “highly similar,” or biosimilar, versions of such products. In addition, the intellectual property portfolio licensed to us by Nerviano and Novimmune may be used by them or licensed to third parties, and such third parties may have certain enforcement rights. Thus, patents licensed to us could be put at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly in litigation filed by or against our licensors or another licensee or in administrative proceedings brought by or against our licensors or another licensee in response to such litigation or for other reasons.
Even if we acquire patent protection that we expect should enable us to maintain some competitive advantage, third parties, including competitors, may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. In litigation, a competitor could claim that our patents, if issued, are not valid for a number of reasons. If a court agrees, we would lose our rights to those challenged patents.
The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability and our licensed patents may be challenged in courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. For example, we may be subject to a third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO challenging the validity of one or more claims of our licensed patents. Such submissions may also be made prior to a patent’s issuance, precluding the granting of a patent based on one of our pending licensed patent applications. We may become involved in opposition, derivation, re-examination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging the patent rights of others from whom we have obtained licenses to such rights. Competitors may claim that they invented the inventions claimed in our licensed issued patents or patent applications prior to the inventors of such patents or applications. A competitor who can establish an earlier filing or invention date may also claim that we are infringing their patents and that we therefore cannot practice our technology as claimed under our licensed patents, if issued. Competitors may also contest our licensed patents, if issued, by showing that the invention was not patent-eligible, was not novel, was obvious or that the patent claims failed any other requirement for patentability.
An adverse determination by former employees or consultants asserting ownership rights to our patents may result in loss of exclusivity or freedom to operate or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar technology and therapeutics, without payment to us, or could limit the duration of the patent protection covering our technology and product candidates. Such challenges may also result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize our product candidates without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.
Even if they are unchallenged, our licensed patents and pending patent applications, if issued, may not provide us with any meaningful protection or prevent competitors from designing around our patent claims to circumvent our licensed patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or therapeutics in a non-infringing manner. For example, a third party may develop a competitive therapeutic that provides benefits similar to one or more of our product candidates but that uses a different antibody or molecular active ingredient that falls outside the scope of our patent protection. If the patent protection provided by the patents and patent applications we hold or pursue with respect to our product candidates is not sufficiently broad to impede such competition, our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates could be negatively affected, which would harm our business.
Our intellectual property licenses with third parties may be subject to disagreements over contract interpretation, which could narrow the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology or increase our financial or other obligations to our licensors.
We currently depend, and will continue to depend, on our license agreements whereby we obtain rights in certain patents and patent applications owned by them. Further development and commercialization of our current product candidates may, and development of any future product candidates will, require us to enter into additional license or collaboration agreements. The agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If any of our licenses or material relationships or any in-licenses upon which our licenses are based are terminated or breached, we may:
|●||lose our rights to develop and market our product candidates;|
|●||lose patent protection for our product candidates;|
|●||experience significant delays in the development or commercialization of our product candidates;|
|●||not be able to obtain any other licenses on acceptable terms, if at all; or|
|●||incur liability for damages.|
In addition, a third party may in the future bring claims that our performance under our license agreements, including our sponsoring of clinical trials, interferes with such third party’s rights under its agreement with one of our licensors. If any such claim were successful, it may adversely affect our rights and ability to advance our product candidates as clinical candidates or subject us to liability for monetary damages, any of which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
These risks apply to any agreements that we may enter into in the future for our current or any future product candidates. If we experience any of the foregoing, it could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition, results or operations and prospects.
If we fail to comply with our obligations in the agreements under which we license intellectual property rights from third parties or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our licensors, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.
We have entered into license agreements with third parties and may need to obtain additional licenses from one or more of these same third parties or from others to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. It is possible that we may be unable to obtain additional licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to redesign our product candidates or the methods for manufacturing them or to develop or license replacement technology, all of which may not be feasible on a technical or commercial basis. If we are unable to do so, we may be unable to develop or commercialize our product candidates, which would harm our business. We cannot provide any assurances that third-party patents or other intellectual property rights do not exist which might be enforced against our current product candidates or future product candidates, resulting in either an injunction prohibiting our manufacture or sales, or, with respect to our sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties and/or other forms of compensation to third parties.
In each of our existing license agreements, and we expect in our future agreements, patent prosecution of our licensed technology is controlled solely by the licensor, and we may be required to reimburse the licensor for their costs of patent prosecution. If our licensors fail to obtain and maintain patent or other protection for the proprietary intellectual property we license from them, we could lose our rights to the intellectual property, or our exclusivity with respect to those rights, and our competitors could market competing products using the intellectual property. Our license agreements with Nerviano and Novimmune also require us to meet development thresholds to maintain each license, including establishing a set timeline for developing and commercializing product candidates. Disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:
|●||the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;|
|●||the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;|
|●||the sublicensing of patent and other rights pursuant to our collaborative development relationships;|
|●||our diligence obligations under the license agreements and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;|
|●||the inventorship or ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners; and|
|●||the priority of invention of patented technology.|
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 our product candidates.
We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to our product candidates through acquisitions and in-licenses.
We currently have certain rights to the intellectual property, through licenses from third parties, to develop our product candidates. Because our programs may require the use of additional proprietary rights held by these or other third parties, the growth of our business likely will depend, in part, on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary for our product candidates. The licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and several more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment.
We may collaborate with non-profit and academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical R&D under written agreements with these institutions. These institutions may provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such option, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program.
If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of our product candidates and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could suffer. Moreover, to the extent that we seek to develop other product candidates in the future, we will likely require acquisition or in-license of additional proprietary rights held by third parties.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by government patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated as a result of non-compliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other government fees on patents and/or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various government patent agencies outside of the United States over the lifetime of our licensed patents and/or applications and any patent rights we may own in the future. We rely on our outside counsel or our licensing partners to pay these fees due to non-U.S. patent agencies. The USPTO and various non-U.S. government patent agencies require compliance with several procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply and we are also dependent on our licensors to take the necessary action to comply with these requirements with respect to our licensed intellectual property. In many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. There are situations, however, in which non-compliance 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. In such an event, potential competitors might be able to enter the market and this circumstance could have an adverse effect on our business.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
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 could be less extensive than those in the United States. In some cases, we may not be able to obtain patent protection for certain licensed technology outside 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, even in jurisdictions where we do pursue patent protection. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, even in jurisdictions where we do pursue patent protection or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions.
Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not pursued and 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 product candidates, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
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 biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents, if pursued and obtained, or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Moreover, many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. Many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. If we or any of our licensors is forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired, and our business and results of operations may be adversely affected.
In addition, 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 not be able to protect our trade secrets in court.
In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable or that we elect not to patent, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our product candidate discovery and development processes that involve proprietary know-how, information or technology that is not covered by patents. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect and some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors and contractors. However, we may not be able to prevent the unauthorized disclosure or use of our technical know-how or other trade secrets by the parties to these agreements, despite the existence generally of confidentiality agreements and other contractual restrictions.
Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures is difficult and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our proprietary technologies will be effective. If any of the collaborators, scientific advisors, employees and consultants who are parties to these agreements breach or violate the terms of any of these agreements, we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach or violation. As a result, we could lose our trade secrets.
We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology and processes. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements and security measures, they may still be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach.
In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. Competitors could purchase our product candidates and attempt to replicate some or all of the competitive advantages we derive from our development efforts, willfully infringe our intellectual property rights, design around our protected technology or develop their own competitive technologies that fall outside of our intellectual property rights. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate such trade secrets, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If our trade secrets are not adequately protected so as to protect our market against competitors’ therapeutics, our competitive position could be adversely affected, as could our business.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights.
Our commercial success depends upon our ability and the ability of our future collaborators to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights and intellectual property of third parties. The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive and complex litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. We may in the future become party to, or be threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates and technology, including interference proceedings, post grant review and inter partes review before the USPTO. Our competitors or other third parties may assert infringement claims against us, alleging that our therapeutics, manufacturing methods, formulations or administration methods are covered by their patents. Given the vast number of patents in our field of technology, we cannot be certain or guarantee that we do not infringe existing patents or that we will not infringe patents that may be granted in the future. Since this area is competitive and of strong interest to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, there will likely be additional patent applications filed and additional patents granted in the future, as well as additional R&D programs expected in the future. Furthermore, because patent applications can take many years to issue, may be confidential for 18 months or more after filing and can be revised before issuance, there may be applications now pending which may later result in issued patents that may be infringed by the manufacture, use, sale or importation of our product candidates and we may or may not be aware of such patents. If a patent holder believes the manufacture, use, sale or importation of one of our product candidates infringes its patent, the patent holder may sue us even if we have licensed other patent protection for our technology. Moreover, we may face patent infringement claims from non-practicing entities that have no relevant product revenue and against whom our licensed patent portfolio may therefore have no deterrent effect.
It is also possible that we have failed to identify relevant third-party patents or applications. For example, applications filed before November 29, 2000 and certain applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the United States may remain confidential until patents issue. Moreover, it is difficult for industry participants, including us, to identify all third-party patent rights that may be relevant to our product candidates and technologies because patent searching is imperfect due to differences in terminology among patents, incomplete databases and the difficulty in assessing the meaning of patent claims. We may fail to identify relevant patents or patent applications or may identify pending patent applications of potential interest but incorrectly predict the likelihood that such patent applications may issue with claims of relevance to our technology. In addition, we may be unaware of one or more issued patents that would be infringed by the manufacture, sale or use of a current or future product candidate, or we may incorrectly conclude that a third-party patent is invalid, unenforceable or not infringed by our activities. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our technologies, our product candidates or the use of our product candidates.
Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future, regardless of their merit. There is a risk that third parties may choose to engage in litigation with us to enforce or to otherwise assert their patent or other intellectual property rights against us. Even if we believe such claims are without merit, a court of competent jurisdiction could hold that these third-party patents are valid, enforceable and infringed, which could adversely affect our ability to commercialize our product candidates. In order to successfully challenge the validity of any such U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity. As this burden is a high one requiring us to present clear and convincing evidence as to the invalidity of any such U.S. patent claim, there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent. Similarly, there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would find that product candidates or our technology did not infringe a third-party patent.
Patent and other types of intellectual property litigation can involve complex factual and legal questions, and their outcome is uncertain. If we are found or believe there is a risk that we may be found, to infringe a third party’s valid and enforceable intellectual property rights, we could be required or may choose to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing, manufacturing and marketing our product candidates and technology. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors and other third parties access to the same technologies licensed to us, and it could require us to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing and commercializing the infringing technology or product candidate. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent or other intellectual property right. A finding of infringement could prevent us from manufacturing and commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some or all of our business operations, which could harm our business. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Intellectual property litigation could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.
Litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims, with or without merit, are unpredictable and generally expensive and time-consuming. Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our licensing partners, should such patents issue, or we may be required to defend against claims of infringement. To counter infringement or unauthorized use claims or to defend against claims of infringement can be expensive and time consuming. Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. 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 and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on us. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities.
We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios.
Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing, misappropriating or successfully challenging our intellectual property rights. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a negative impact on our ability to compete in the marketplace.
We may be subject to claims asserting that our employees, consultants or advisors have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their current or former employers or claims asserting ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
Certain of our employees, consultants or advisors are currently, or were previously, employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors, as well as our academic partners. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and advisors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that these individuals or we have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such individual’s current or former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights. An inability to incorporate such technologies or features would harm our business and may prevent us from successfully obtaining necessary regulatory approvals and commercializing our product candidates. In addition, we may lose personnel as a result of such claims, and any such litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our ability to hire employees or contract with independent contractors. A loss of key personnel or their work product could hamper or prevent our ability to obtain necessary regulatory approvals and commercialize our product candidates, which would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Moreover, even when we obtain agreements assigning intellectual property to us, the assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Furthermore, individuals executing agreements with us may have pre-existing or competing obligations to a third party, such as an academic institution, and thus an agreement with us may be ineffective in perfecting ownership of inventions developed by that individual. Disputes about the ownership of intellectual property that we may own may have an adverse effect on our business.
Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our product candidates.
Recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, was signed into law. The Leahy-Smith Act includes several significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted and also may affect patent litigation. These also include provisions that switched the United States from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system, allow third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and set forth additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent through various post-grant proceedings administered by the USPTO. Under a first-to-file system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. The USPTO developed new regulations and procedures to govern administration of the Leahy-Smith Act, and many of the substantive changes to patent law associated with the Leahy-Smith Act, and in particular, the first-to-file provisions, only became effective on March 16, 2013.
Accordingly, it is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. However, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a negative impact effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, the combination of new federal legislation, federal court decisions, and guidance from the USPTO has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on the decisions by the U.S. Congress, 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 enforce our existing patents and patents we might obtain in the future.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest.
We do not currently have any registered trademarks and we have not filed any trademark applications to date. Any trademark applications in the United States, Europe and in other foreign jurisdictions where we may file may not be allowed or may subsequently be opposed. Once filed and registered, our trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. As a means to enforce our trademark rights and prevent infringement, we may be required to file trademark claims against third parties or initiate trademark opposition proceedings. This can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly for a company of our size. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we need to build name recognition among potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other registered trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. Over the long term, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights related to trademarks, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights or other intellectual property may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources.
Intellectual property rights and regulatory exclusivity rights do not necessarily address all potential threats .
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:
|●||others may be able to make products that are similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we license or may own in the future;|
|●||we, or our license partners or future collaborators, might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent applications that we license or may own in the future;|
|●||we, or our license partners or future collaborators, might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our or their inventions;|
|●||others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our owned or licensed intellectual property rights;|
|●||others may circumvent our regulatory exclusivities, such as by pursuing approval of a competitive product candidate via the traditional approval pathway based on their own clinical data, rather than relying on the abbreviated pathway provided for biosimilar applicants;|
|●||it is possible that our pending licensed patent applications or those that we may own in the future will not lead to issued patents;|
|●||issued patents that we hold rights to now or in the future may be held invalid or unenforceable, including as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;|
|●||others may have access to the same intellectual property rights licensed to us on a non-exclusive basis;|
|●||our competitors might conduct R&D activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;|
|●||we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;|
|●||the patents or other intellectual property rights of others may have an adverse effect on our business; or|
|●||we may choose not to file a patent for certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such intellectual property.|
Should any of these events occur, they could significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to Government Regulation
Even if we complete the necessary clinical trials, we cannot predict when, or if, we will obtain regulatory approval to commercialize our product candidates and the approval may be for a narrower indication than we seek.
We cannot commercialize a product candidate until the appropriate regulatory authorities have reviewed and approved the product candidate. The FDA must review and approve any new pharmaceutical product before it can be marketed and sold in the United States. The FDA regulatory review and approval process, which includes evaluation of preclinical studies and clinical trials of a product candidate and proposed labeling, as well as the evaluation of the manufacturing process and manufacturers’ facilities, all of which is lengthy, expensive and uncertain. To obtain approval, we must, among other things, demonstrate with substantial evidence from well-controlled clinical trials that the product candidate is both safe and effective for each indication where approval is sought. Even if our product candidates meet the FDA’s safety and effectiveness endpoints in clinical trials, the FDA may not complete their review processes in a timely manner, or we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval. The FDA has substantial discretion in the review and approval process and may refuse to file our application for substantive review or may determine after review of our data that our application is insufficient to allow approval of our product candidates. The FDA may require that we conduct additional preclinical studies, clinical trials or manufacturing validation studies and submit that data before it will reconsider our application. Additional delays may result if an FDA Advisory Committee or other regulatory authority recommends non-approval or restrictions on approval. In addition, we may experience delays or rejections based upon additional government regulation from future legislation or administrative action, or changes in regulatory authority policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and the review process.
The FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities also may approve a product candidate for more limited indications than requested or may impose significant limitations in the form of narrow indications, warnings or a REMS. These regulatory authorities may require precautions or contraindications with respect to conditions of use or may grant approval subject to the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials. In addition, the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities may not approve the labeling claims that are necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates. Any of the foregoing scenarios could harm the commercial prospects for our product candidates and negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Delays in obtaining regulatory approval of our manufacturing process and facility or disruptions in our manufacturing process may delay or disrupt our product development and commercialization efforts.
We do not currently operate manufacturing facilities for clinical or commercial production of our product candidates. Before we can begin to commercially manufacture our product candidates, whether in a third-party facility or in our own facility, if and when established, we must obtain regulatory approval from the FDA for our manufacturing process and facility. A manufacturing authorization must also be obtained from the appropriate European Union regulatory authorities and from other foreign regulatory authorities, as applicable. In order to obtain approval, we will need to ensure that all of our processes, methods and equipment are compliant with cGMP, and perform extensive audits of vendors, contract laboratories and suppliers. If any of our vendors, contract laboratories or suppliers are found to be non-compliant with cGMP, we may experience delays or disruptions in manufacturing while we work with these third parties to remedy the violation or while we work to identify suitable replacement vendors. The cGMP requirements govern quality control of the manufacturing process and documentation policies and procedures. In complying with cGMP, we will be obligated to expend time, money and effort in production, record keeping and quality assurance to confirm that the product meets applicable specifications and other requirements. If we fail to comply with these requirements, we would be subject to possible regulatory action and may not be permitted to sell any product candidate that we may develop.
If we or our third-party manufacturers fail to comply with applicable cGMP regulations, the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new product candidate or suspension or revocation of a pre-existing approval. Such an occurrence may cause our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects to be harmed.
Additionally, if the supply of our products from our third-party manufacturers to us is interrupted for any reason, including due to regulatory requirements or actions (including recalls), adverse financial developments at or affecting the supplier, failure by the supplier to comply with cGMPs, contamination, business interruptions or labor shortages or disputes, there could be a significant disruption in commercial supply of our products. We do not currently have a backup manufacturer of our product candidate supply for clinical trials or commercial sale. An alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through a supplement to its regulatory filing, which could result in further delays. The regulatory authorities also may require additional clinical trials if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and could result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.
If our competitors are able to obtain orphan drug exclusivity for products that constitute the same drug and treat the same indications as our product candidates, we may not be able to have competing products approved by applicable regulatory authorities for a significant period of time. In addition, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for any of our products, such exclusivity may not protect us from competition.
Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and the European Union, may designate products for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, the FDA may designate a product candidate as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as having a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the United States. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In the European Union, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting not more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union. Additionally, orphan drug designation is granted for products intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition and when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug or biologic product. In Europe, orphan drug designation entitles a party to a number of incentives, such as protocol assistance and scientific advice specifically for designated orphan medicines, and potential fee reductions depending on the status of the sponsor.
The designation as an orphan product does not guarantee that any regulatory agency will accelerate regulatory review of, or ultimately approve, that product candidate, nor does it limit the ability of any regulatory agency to grant orphan drug designation to product candidates of other companies that treat the same indications as our product candidates prior to our product candidates receiving exclusive marketing approval.
Generally, if a product candidate with an orphan drug designation receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA or the EMA from approving another marketing application for a product that constitutes the same drug treating the same indication for that marketing exclusivity period, except in limited circumstances. If another sponsor receives such approval before we do (regardless of our orphan drug designation), we will be precluded from receiving marketing approval for our product for the applicable exclusivity period. The applicable period is seven years in the United States and ten years in the European Union. The exclusivity period in the European Union can be reduced to six years if a product no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the product is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be revoked if any regulatory agency determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.
Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product candidate from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. In the United States, even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA may subsequently approve another drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the latter drug is not the same drug or is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. In the European Union, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar medicinal product for the same orphan indication if:
|●||the second applicant can establish in its application that its medicinal product, although similar to the orphan medicinal product already authorized, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior;|
|●||the holder of the marketing authorization for the original orphan medicinal product consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or|
|●||the holder of the marketing authorization for the original orphan medicinal product cannot supply sufficient quantities of orphan medicinal product.|
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, our product candidates will remain subject to regulatory oversight.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, they will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping and submission of safety and other post-market information. Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may also be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the quality, safety and clinical effectiveness of the product.
Some of our product candidates are classified as biologics in the United States, and therefore, can only be sold if we obtain a BLA from the FDA. The holder of an approved BLA also must submit new or supplemental applications and obtain FDA approval for certain changes to the approved product, product labeling or manufacturing process. In addition, the holder of a BLA must comply with the FDA’s advertising and promotion requirements, such as those related to the prohibition on promoting products for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product’s approved labeling (known as “off-label use”). Advertising and promotional materials must comply with FDA rules and are subject to FDA review, in addition to other potentially applicable federal and state laws.
In addition, product manufacturers and their facilities are subject to payment of user fees and continual review and periodic inspections by the FDA and other regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP requirements and adherence to commitments made in the BLA or foreign marketing application. If we, or a regulatory authority, discover previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured or if a regulatory authority disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of that product (in addition to our being obligated as holder of a BLA to monitor and report adverse events and any failure of a product to meet the BLA specifications), a regulatory authority may impose restrictions relative to that product, the manufacturing facility or us, including requiring recall or withdrawal of the product from the market or suspension of manufacturing.
If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements following approval of our product candidates, a regulatory or enforcement authority may:
|●||issue a warning letter asserting that we are in violation of the law;|
|●||seek an injunction or impose administrative, civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;|
|●||suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;|
|●||suspend any ongoing clinical trials;|
|●||refuse to approve a pending BLA or comparable foreign marketing application (or any supplements thereto) submitted by us or our strategic partners;|
|●||restrict the marketing or manufacturing of the product;|
|●||seize or detain the product or otherwise require the withdrawal of the product from the market;|
|●||refuse to permit the import or export of the product; or|
|●||refuse to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts.|
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity. The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, the FDA’s policies, and those of the EMA and other regulatory authorities, 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, which would negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Even if we obtain and maintain approval for our product candidates in a major pharmaceutical market such as the United States, we may never obtain approval for our product candidates in other major markets.
In order to market any products in a country or territory, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of such countries or territories regarding safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not mean that regulatory approval will be obtained in any other country. Approval procedures vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods. Seeking regulatory approvals in all major markets could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and may require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, which would be costly and time consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our product candidates in those countries. For example, in many jurisdictions outside of 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 would also be subject to approval. Satisfying these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. In addition, our failure to obtain regulatory approval in any country may delay or have negative effects on the process for regulatory approval in other countries. We currently do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, whether in the United States, Europe or any other international markets, and we do not have experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be compromised.
We may seek a conditional marketing authorization in Europe for some or all of our current product candidates, but we may not be able to obtain or maintain such designation.
As part of its marketing authorization process, the EMA may grant marketing authorizations for certain categories of medicinal products on the basis of less complete data than is normally required, when doing so may meet unmet medical needs of patients and serve the interest of public health. In such cases, it is possible for the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, to recommend the granting of a marketing authorization, subject to certain specific obligations to be reviewed annually, which is referred to as a conditional marketing authorization.
This may apply to medicinal products for human use that fall under the jurisdiction of the EMA, including those that aim at the treatment, the prevention, or the medical diagnosis of seriously debilitating or life-threatening diseases and those designated as orphan medicinal products.
A conditional marketing authorization may be granted when the CHMP finds that, although comprehensive clinical data referring to the safety and therapeutic utility of the medicinal product have not been supplied, all the following requirements are met:
|●||the risk-benefit balance of the medicinal product is positive;|
|●||it is likely that the applicant will be in a position to provide the comprehensive clinical data;|
|●||unmet medical needs will be fulfilled; and|
|●||the benefit to public health of the immediate availability on the market of the medicinal product concerned outweighs the risk inherent in the fact that additional data is still required.|
The granting of a conditional marketing authorization is restricted to situations in which only the clinical part of the application is not yet fully complete. Incomplete preclinical or quality data may only be accepted if duly justified and only in the case of a product intended to be used in emergency situations in response to public health threats. Conditional marketing authorizations are valid for one year, on a renewable basis. The holder will be required to complete ongoing trials or to conduct new trials with a view to confirming that the benefit-risk balance is positive. In addition, specific obligations may be imposed in relation to the collection of pharmacovigilance data.
Granting a conditional marketing authorization allows medicines to reach patients with unmet medical needs earlier than might otherwise be the case and will ensure that additional data on a product is generated, submitted, assessed and acted upon.
Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a negative impact on our business and results of operations.
In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and continue to be, several legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.
In the United States, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or the MMA, changed the way Medicare covers and pays for pharmaceutical products. The MMA expanded Medicare coverage for outpatient drug purchases by adding a new Medicare Part D program and introduced a new reimbursement methodology based on average sales prices for Medicare Part B physician-administered drugs. In addition, the MMA authorized Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to limit the number of drugs that will be covered in any therapeutic class in their formularies. The MMA’s cost reduction initiatives and other provisions could decrease the coverage and price that we receive for any approved products. While the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement rates. Therefore, any reduction in reimbursement that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. Similar regulations or reimbursement policies may be enacted in international markets, which could similarly impact our business.
More recently, in March 2010, the PPACA (as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) was passed, which substantially changes the way healthcare is financed by both the government and private insurers, and significantly impacts the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The PPACA, among other things: (i) addresses a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; (ii) increases the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extends the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations; (iii) establishes annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs; (iv) expands the availability of lower pricing under the 340B drug pricing program by adding new entities to the program; and (v) establishes a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D. Additionally, in the United States, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 created an abbreviated approval pathway for biologic products that are demonstrated to be biosimilar or “interchangeable” with an FDA-approved biologic product. This new pathway could allow competitors to reference data from biologic products already approved after 12 years from the time of approval. This could expose us to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars even if we commercialize a product candidate faster than our competitors. Moreover, the creation of this abbreviated approval pathway does not preclude or delay a third party from pursuing approval of a competitive product candidate via the traditional approval pathway based on their own clinical trial data.
Additional changes that may affect our business include those governing enrollments in federal healthcare programs, reimbursement changes, rules regarding prescription drug benefits under the health insurance exchanges and fraud and abuse and enforcement. Continued implementation of the PPACA and the passage of additional laws and regulations may result in the expansion of new programs such as Medicare payment for performance initiatives, and may impact existing government healthcare programs, such as by improving the physician quality reporting system and feedback program.
For each state that does not choose to expand its Medicaid program, there likely will be fewer insured patients overall, which could impact the sales, business and financial condition of manufacturers of branded prescription drugs. Where patients receive insurance coverage under any of the new options made available through the PPACA, manufacturers may be required to pay Medicaid rebates on that resulting drug utilization. The U.S. federal government also has announced delays in the implementation of key provisions of the PPACA. The implications of these delays for our and our potential partners’ business and financial condition, if any, are not yet clear.
In addition, there have been judicial and congressional challenges to certain aspects of the PPACA, and we expect the current administration and Congress will likely continue to seek legislative and regulatory changes, including repeal and replacement of certain provisions of the PPACA. In January 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the PPACA to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the PPACA that would impose a fiscal or regulatory burden on states, individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. More recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation known as the American Health Care Act of 2017, and Senate Republicans have released a draft bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, each of which would repeal certain aspects of the PPACA if ultimately enacted. The prospects for enactment of these legislative initiatives remain uncertain. Further, Congress also could consider other legislation to replace elements of the PPACA. We cannot know how efforts to repeal and replace the PPACA or any future healthcare reform legislation will impact our business.
We expect that the PPACA, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability, or commercialize our products.
We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.
We are subject to governmental regulation and other legal obligations related to privacy, data protection and data security. Our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could harm our business.
We are subject to diverse laws and regulations relating to data privacy and security in the EU, and shortly in the European Economic Area, including the GDPR. New global privacy rules are being enacted and existing ones are being updated and strengthened. We are likely to be required to expend capital and other resources to ensure ongoing compliance with these laws and regulations.
The GDPR applies extraterritorially and implements stringent operational requirements for controllers and processors of personal data. For example, the GDPR: (i) requires detailed disclosures to data subjects; (ii) requires disclosure of the legal basis on which personal data is processed; (iii) makes it harder to obtain valid consent for processing; (iv) requires the appointment of a data protection officers where sensitive personal data (i.e. health data) is processed on a large scale; (v) provides more robust rights for data subjects; (vi) introduces mandatory data breach notification through the EU; (vii) imposes additional obligations when contracting with service providers; and (viii) requires an appropriate privacy governance framework to be implemented including policies, procedures, training and data audit. The GDPR permits Member State derogations for certain issues and, accordingly, we are also subject to EU national laws relating to the processing of certain data such as genetic data, biometric data and data concerning health. Complying with these numerous, complex and often changing regulations is expensive and difficult. Failure by us, or our partners or service providers, to comply with the GDPR could result in regulatory investigations, enforcement notices and/ or fines of up to the higher of 20,000,000 Euros or up to 4% of our total worldwide annual turnover. In addition to the foregoing, any breach of privacy laws or data security laws, particularly those resulting in any security incident or breach involving the misappropriation, loss or other unauthorized use or disclosure of sensitive or confidential patient or consumer information, could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation and financial condition.
As a data controller, we are accountable for any third party data service providers we engage to process personal data on our behalf. We attempt to address the associated risks by performing security assessments, detailed due diligence and regularly performing privacy and security reviews of its vendors and requiring all such third-party providers with data access to sign agreements, including business associate agreements, and where required under EU law, obligating them to only process data according to our instructions and to take sufficient security measures to protect such data. There is no assurance that these contractual measures and our own privacy and security-related safeguards will protect us from the risks associated with the third-party processing, storage and transmission of such information. Any violation of data or security laws by our third party processors could have a material adverse effect on our business and result in the fines and penalties outlined above. We are also subject to evolving European privacy laws on electronic marketing and cookies. The EU is in the process of replacing the e-Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC) with a new set of rules taking the form of a regulation, which will be directly implemented in the laws of each Member State. The draft e-Privacy Regulation imposes strict opt-in marketing rules with limited exceptions for business-to-business communications, alters rules on third-party cookies, web beacons and similar technology and significantly increases fining powers to the same levels as GDPR (i.e. the greater of 20,000,000 Euros or 4% of total global annual revenue). While the e-Privacy Regulation was originally intended to be adopted on May 25, 2018 (alongside the GDPR), it is still going through the European legislative process and commentators now expect it to be adopted during the second half of 2020 or during 2021 following a transition period.
We are subject to the U.K. Bribery Act, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws, as well as export control laws, import and customs laws, trade and economic sanctions laws and other laws governing our operations.
Our operations are subject to anti-corruption laws, including the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, or the U.K. Bribery Act, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, or the FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 §201, the U.S. Travel Act, and other anti-corruption laws that apply in countries where we do business. The U.K. Bribery Act, the FCPA and these other laws generally prohibit us and our employees and intermediaries from authorizing, promising, offering, or providing, directly or indirectly, improper or prohibited payments, or anything else of value, to government officials or other persons to obtain or retain business or gain some other business advantage. Under the U.K. Bribery Act, we may also be liable for failing to prevent a person associated with us from committing a bribery offense. We and our commercial partners operate in a number of jurisdictions that pose a high risk of potential U.K. Bribery Act or FCPA violations, and we participate in collaborations and relationships with third parties whose corrupt or illegal activities could potentially subject us to liability under the U.K. Bribery Act, FCPA or local anti-corruption laws, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. In addition, we cannot predict the nature, scope or effect of future regulatory requirements to which our international operations might be subject or the manner in which existing laws might be administered or interpreted.
We are also subject to other laws and regulations governing our international operations, including regulations administered by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, and authorities in the European Union, including applicable export control regulations, economic sanctions and embargoes on certain countries and persons, anti-money laundering laws, import and customs requirements and currency exchange regulations, collectively referred to as the Trade Control laws.
There is no assurance that we will be completely effective in ensuring our compliance with all applicable anti-corruption laws, including the U.K. Bribery Act, the FCPA or other legal requirements, including Trade Control laws. If we are not in compliance with the U.K. Bribery Act, the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control laws, we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other sanctions and remedial measures, and legal expenses, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. Likewise, any investigation of any potential violations of the U.K. Bribery Act, the FCPA, other anti-corruption laws or Trade Control laws by United Kingdom, United States or other authorities could also have an adverse impact on our reputation, our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our relationships with customers, physicians and third-party payors will be subject, directly or indirectly, to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claims laws, health information privacy and security laws and other healthcare laws and regulations. If we are found in violation of these laws and regulations, we may be required to pay a penalty or be suspended from participation in federal or state healthcare programs, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we obtain FDA approval for our product candidates and begin commercializing them in the United States, our operations will be directly, or indirectly through our prescribers, customers and purchasers, subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the federal civil and criminal laws and Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010 and regulations. These laws will impact, among other things, our proposed sales, marketing and educational programs. In addition, we may be subject to patient privacy laws by both the U.S. federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The laws that will affect our operations include, but are not limited to:
|●||the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in return for either the referral of an individual, or the purchase, leasing, furnishing or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of a good, facility, item or service reimbursable 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 on the other. The PPACA amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it;|
|●||federal civil and criminal false claims laws 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 government payors that are false or fraudulent. The PPACA provides, and recent government cases against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers support the view that federal Anti-Kickback Statute violations and certain marketing practices, including off-label promotion, may implicate the False Claims Act of 1863;|
|●||the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other things, a person from knowingly and willfully executing a scheme or from making false or fraudulent statements to defraud any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g., public or private);|
|●||HIPAA (as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009), and their implementing regulations, which impose certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization by entities subject to the rule, such as health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers, and their respective business associates that perform certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information on their behalf;|
|●||federal transparency laws, including the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, that require certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to report annually to the CMS information related to: (i) payments or other “transfers of value” made to physicians and teaching hospitals and (ii) ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members;|
|●||federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers; and|
|●||state and foreign law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, state and local laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures, and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.|
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant 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, reputational harm, and we may be required to curtail or restructure our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
The risk of our being found in violation of these laws is increased by the fact that many of them have not been fully interpreted by the regulatory authorities or the courts, and their provisions are open to a variety of interpretations. Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. The shifting compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and expandable systems to comply with multiple jurisdictions with different compliance and/or reporting requirements increases the possibility that a healthcare company may run afoul of one or more of the requirements.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur substantial costs.
We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the generation, handling, use, storage, treatment, manufacture, transportation and disposal of, and exposure to, hazardous materials and wastes, as well as laws and regulations relating to occupational health and safety. We contract with third parties that conduct operations on our behalf that involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biologic materials. Our contractors also produce and dispose of hazardous waste products. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our contractors’ use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages and any liability could exceed our resources, and our clinical trials or regulatory approvals could be suspended. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties. Our third-party contractors may not carry specific biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage, and their property, casualty and general liability insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damages and fines arising from biological or hazardous waste exposure or contamination.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance for certain costs and expenses, we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials or other work-related injuries, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biologic, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, which have tended to become more stringent over time. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions or liabilities, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Risks Related to our Business Operations
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates and may fail to capitalize on programs or product candidates that may be a greater commercial opportunity or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
The success of our business depends upon our ability to identify, develop and commercialize product candidates. Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. Although a substantial amount of our efforts will focus on the continued preclinical and clinical testing and potential approval of our product candidates, a key element of our long-term growth strategy is to develop and market additional products and product candidates. However, we may fail to identify other potential product candidates for clinical development for several reasons. For example, our research may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates or our potential product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects, may be commercially impracticable to manufacture or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval.
Additionally, because we have limited resources, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with certain programs or product candidates or for indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our spending on current and future R&D programs may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through strategic collaboration, licensing or other arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate. Alternatively, we may allocate internal resources to a product candidate in a therapeutic area in which it would have been more advantageous to enter into a partnering arrangement.
Our long-term growth strategy to develop and market additional products and product candidates is heavily dependent on precise, accurate and reliable scientific data to identify, select and develop promising pharmaceutical product candidates and products. Our business decisions may therefore be adversely influenced by improper or fraudulent scientific data sourced from third parties. Any irregularities in the scientific data used by us to determine our focus in R&D of product candidates and products could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
If any of these events occur, we may be forced to abandon our development efforts with respect to a particular product candidate or fail to develop a potentially successful product candidate, which could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key employees, consultants and advisors and to recruit, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
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. While we have entered into employment agreements with each of our executive officers, any of them could leave our employment at any time. We currently do not have “key person” insurance on any of our employees. The loss of the services of one or more of our current employees might impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives.
Recruiting and retaining other qualified employees, consultants and advisors for our business, including scientific and technical personnel, also will be critical to our success. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic institutions for individuals with similar skill sets. In addition, failure to succeed in preclinical studies or clinical trials or applications for marketing approval may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The inability to recruit, or loss of services of certain executives, key employees, consultants or advisors, may impede the progress of our research, development and commercialization objectives and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we are unable to manage expected growth in the scale and complexity of our operations, our performance may suffer .
At December 31, 2018, we had 5 full-time employees, who were engaged in R&D activities. If we are successful in executing our business strategy, we will need to expand our managerial, operational, financial and other systems and resources to manage our operations, continue our R&D activities and, in the longer term, build a commercial infrastructure to support commercialization of any of our product candidates that are approved for sale. Future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management and, to a potentially significant extent, divert our management and business development resources away from their current uses. It is likely that our management, finance, development personnel, systems and facilities currently in place may not be adequate to support this future growth. Our need to effectively manage our operations, growth and any future product candidates requires that we continue to develop more robust business processes and improve our systems and procedures in each of these areas, to attract and retain sufficient numbers of talented employees and to expand the group of contractors we use.
We may be unable to successfully implement these tasks on a larger scale and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and growth goals.
Our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading, which could have a material adverse impact on our business.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional failures to: comply with FDA or EMA regulations or the regulations applicable in other jurisdictions, provide accurate information to the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Such misconduct also could involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials or interactions with the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. Additionally, we are subject to the risk that a person could allege fraud or other misconduct, even in none occurred. We have adopted a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent these activities may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from government investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or 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, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, including the imposition of significant criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, such as 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, reputational harm, and we may be required to curtail or restructure our operations. We are also subject to the data privacy regime in the EU, which imposes obligations and restrictions on the collection and use of personal data relating to individuals located in the EU and includes the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, and any national laws implementing or supplementing the GDPR. If we do not comply with our obligations under the EU privacy regime, we could be exposed to significant fines and we may be the subject of litigation and/or adverse publicity, which could have a material adverse effect on our reputation and business.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit commercialization of any product candidate that we may develop.
We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our current and future product candidates in clinical trials and may face an even greater risk if we commercialize any product candidate that we may develop. For example, we may be sued if our current or future 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 could incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
|●||decreased demand for any product candidate that we may develop;|
|●||loss of revenue;|
|●||substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;|
|●||significant time and costs to defend the related litigation;|
|●||withdrawal of clinical trial participants;|
|●||the inability to commercialize any product candidates that we may develop; or|
|●||injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention.|
Although we maintain product liability insurance coverage, such insurance may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We anticipate that we will need to increase our insurance coverage each time we commence a clinical trial and if we successfully commercialize any product candidate. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.
Legal, political and economic uncertainty surrounding the planned exit of the United Kingdom or the U.K., from the European Union, or EU, may be a source of instability in international markets, create significant currency fluctuations, adversely affect our operations in the U.K. and pose additional risks to our business, revenue, financial condition, and results of operations.
On June 23, 2016, the U.K. held a referendum in which a majority of the eligible members of the electorate voted for the U.K. to leave the EU. The U.K’s withdrawal from the EU is commonly referred to as Brexit. Pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the U.K. will cease to be an EU Member State either on the effective date of a withdrawal agreement (entry into such a withdrawal agreement will require U.K. parliamentary approval) or, failing that, two years following the U.K.’s notification of its intention to leave the EU (the “Brexit Date”), unless the European Council (together with the U.K.) unanimously decides to extend the two year period. On March 29, 2017, the U.K. formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU. It is unclear how long it will take to negotiate a withdrawal agreement, but it appears likely that Brexit will continue to involve a process of lengthy negotiations between the U.K. and EU Member States to determine the future terms of the U.K’s relationship with the EU. For example, in March 2018, the U.K. reached a provisional agreement (the “Withdrawal Agreement”) with the EU on transitional arrangements following the U.K’s exit (which are intended to enable the U.K. to remain within the EU single market and customs union for a transitional period through 2020), but this Withdrawal Agreement needs to be formally agreed as part of the withdrawal arrangements currently under negotiation. The U.K. and the European Council had agreed an extension of the Brexit Date until May 22, 2019, which was conditional upon endorsement of the Withdrawal Agreement by the U.K. House of Commons by March 29, 2019. The Withdrawal Agreement was not so endorsed, therefore the Brexit Date is unconditionally extended until April 12, 2019 instead.
The lack of clarity over which EU laws and regulations will continue to be implemented in the U.K. after Brexit (including financial laws and regulations, tax and free trade agreements, intellectual property rights, data protection laws, supply chain logistics, environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, immigration laws and employment laws) may negatively impact foreign direct investment in the U.K., increase costs, depress economic activity and restrict access to capital.
The uncertainty concerning the U.K’s legal, political and economic relationship with the EU after Brexit may be a source of instability in the international markets, create significant currency fluctuations, and/or otherwise adversely affect trading agreements or similar cross-border co-operation arrangements (whether economic, tax, fiscal, legal, regulatory or otherwise) beyond the date of Brexit.
These developments, or the perception that any of them could occur, have had, and may continue to have, a significant adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and could significantly reduce global market liquidity and limit the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. In particular, it could also lead to a period of considerable uncertainty in relation to the U.K. financial and banking markets, as well as on the regulatory process in Europe. Asset valuations, currency exchange rates and credit ratings may also be subject to increased market volatility.
If the U.K. and the EU are unable to negotiate acceptable withdrawal terms or if other EU Member States pursue withdrawal, barrier-free access between the U.K. and other EU Member States or among the European Economic Area overall could be diminished or eliminated. The long-term effects of Brexit will depend on any agreements (or lack thereof) between the U.K. and the EU and, in particular, any arrangements for the U.K. to retain access to EU markets either during a transitional period or more permanently.
Such a withdrawal from the EU is unprecedented, and it is unclear how the U.K’s access to the European single market for goods, capital, services and labor within the EU, or single market, and the wider commercial, legal and regulatory environment, will impact our U.K. operations and customers. Our U.K. operations service customers in the U.K. as well as in other countries in the EU and European Economic Area, or EEA, and these operations could be disrupted by Brexit, particularly if there is a change in the U.K’s relationship to the single market.
We may also face new regulatory costs and challenges that could have an adverse effect on our operations. Depending on the terms of the U.K’s withdrawal from the EU, the U.K. could lose the benefits of global trade agreements negotiated by the EU on behalf of its members, which may result in increased trade barriers that could make our doing business in the EU and the EEA more difficult. Furthermore, at present, there are no indications of the effect Brexit will have on the pathway to obtaining marketing approval for any of our product candidates in the U.K., or what, if any, role the EMA may have in the approval process. Even prior to any change to the U.K’s relationship with the EU, the announcement of Brexit has created economic uncertainty surrounding the terms of Brexit and its consequences could adversely impact customer confidence resulting in customers reducing their spending budgets on our solutions, which could adversely affect our business, revenue, financial condition, results of operations and could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs and our ordinary shares.
Exchange rate fluctuations may materially affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Owing to the international scope of our operations, fluctuations in exchange rates, particularly between Pounds Sterling and the U.S. dollar, may adversely affect us. Although we are based in the United Kingdom, we may source R&D, manufacturing, consulting and other services from the United States and the European Union. Further, potential future revenue may be derived from abroad, particularly from the United States. As a result, our business and the potential value of our ADSs may be affected by fluctuations in foreign exchange rates not only between the Pounds Sterling and the U.S. dollar, but also the euro, which may have a significant impact on our results of operations and cash flows from period to period. Currently, we do not have any exchange rate hedging arrangements in place.
Our internal computer systems, or those of our collaborators or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product development programs.
Our internal computer systems and those of our current and any future collaborators and other contractors or 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, accident 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, whether due to a loss of our trade secrets or other proprietary information or other similar disruptions. 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. 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, our competitive position could be harmed, and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
Risks Related to the Ownership of Our Securities
The prices of the ADSs and our ordinary shares may be volatile and fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for holders of the ADSs and our ordinary shares.
The market prices of the ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Market and of our ordinary shares on AIM may be volatile and fluctuate substantially. The stock market in general and the market for smaller pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, holders of the ADSs and our ordinary shares may not be able to sell their ADSs or ordinary shares at or above
the price at which they were purchased. The market price for the ADSs and ordinary shares may be influenced by many factors, including:
|●||the success of competitive products or technologies;|
|●||results of clinical trials of Miciclib and Foralumab and any other future product candidate that we develop;|
|●||results of clinical trials of product candidates of our competitors;|
|●||changes or developments in laws or regulations applicable to Miciclib and Foralumab and any other future product candidates that we develop;|
|●||our entry into, and the success of, any collaboration agreements with third parties;|
|●||developments or disputes concerning patent applications, issued patents or other proprietary rights;|
|●||the recruitment or departure of key personnel;|
|●||the level of expenses related to any of our product candidates or clinical development programs;|
|●||the results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire or in-license additional product candidates, products or technologies;|
|●||actual or anticipated changes in estimates as to financial results, development timelines or recommendations by securities analysts;|
|●||variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;|
|●||market conditions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors;|
|●||general economic, industry and market conditions;|
|●||the trading volume of ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Market and of our ordinary shares on AIM; and|
|●||the other factors described in this “Risk Factors” section.|
The dual listing of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may adversely affect the liquidity and value of the ADSs.
The ADSs are traded on the Nasdaq Global Market, and our ordinary shares are listed on AIM. The dual listing of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may dilute the liquidity of these securities in one or both markets and may adversely affect the maintenance of an active trading market for the ADSs in the United States. The price of the ADSs could also be adversely affected by trading in our ordinary shares on AIM. Although our ordinary shares are currently listed on AIM, we may decide at some point in the future to delist our ordinary shares from AIM, and our ordinary shareholders may approve such delisting. We cannot predict the effect such delisting of our ordinary shares on AIM would have on the market price of the ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Market.
Securities traded on AIM may carry a higher risk than shares traded on other exchanges that may impact the value of your investment.
Our ordinary shares are currently traded on AIM. Investment in equities traded on AIM is perceived by some to carry a higher risk than an investment in equities quoted on exchanges with more stringent listing requirements, such as the London Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq Stock Market. This is because AIM imposes less stringent corporate governance and ongoing reporting requirements than those other exchanges. In addition, AIM requires only semi-annual, rather than quarterly, financial reporting. You should be aware that the value of our ordinary shares may be influenced by many factors, some of which may be specific to us and some of which may affect AIM-listed companies generally, including the depth and liquidity of the market, our performance, a large or small volume of trading in our ordinary shares, legislative changes and general economic, political or regulatory conditions, and that the prices may be volatile and subject to extensive fluctuations. Therefore, the market price of our ordinary shares underlying the ADSs may not reflect the underlying value of our company.
Holders of our ADSs have fewer rights than our shareholders and must act through the depositary to exercise their rights.
Holders of our ADSs do not have the same rights as our shareholders and may only exercise their voting rights with respect to the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Holders of the ADSs will appoint the depositary or its nominee as their representative to exercise the voting rights attaching to the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs. When a general meeting is convened, if you hold ADSs, you may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit you to withdraw the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. We will make all commercially reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to you in a timely manner, but we cannot assure you that you will receive voting materials in time to instruct the depositary to vote, and it is possible that you, or persons who hold their ADSs through brokers, dealers or other third parties, will not have the opportunity to exercise a right to vote. Furthermore, the depositary will not be liable for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may lack recourse if your ADSs are not voted as you request. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.
The rights of our shareholders may differ from the rights typically offered to shareholders of a U.S. corporation.
We are incorporated under English law. The rights of holders of ordinary shares and, therefore, certain of the rights of any potential future holders of ADSs, are governed by English law, including the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, or the Companies Act, and by our Articles of Association, or Articles. These rights differ in certain respects from the rights of shareholders in typical U.S. corporations. See “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association-Differences in Corporate Law” in this report for a description of the principal differences between the provisions of the Companies Act applicable to us and, for example, the Delaware General Corporation Law relating to stockholders’ rights and protections.
If we engage in future acquisitions or strategic partnerships, this may increase our capital requirements, dilute our AIM shareholders, cause us to incur debt or assume contingent liabilities and subject us to other risks.
We intend to continue to evaluate various acquisitions and strategic partnerships, including licensing or acquiring complementary drugs, intellectual property rights, technologies or businesses. Any potential acquisition or strategic partnership may entail numerous risks, including:
|●||increased operating expenses and cash requirements;|
|●||the assumption of additional indebtedness or contingent liabilities;|
|●||assimilation of operations, intellectual property and drugs of an acquired company, including difficulties associated with integrating new personnel;|
|●||the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing drug programs and initiatives in pursuing such a strategic partnership, merger or acquisition;|
|●||retention of key employees, the loss of key personnel and uncertainties in our ability to maintain key business relationships;|
|●||risks and uncertainties associated with the other party to such a transaction, including the prospects of that party and their existing drugs or drug candidates and regulatory approvals; and|
|●||our inability to generate revenue from acquired technology and/or drugs sufficient to meet our objectives in undertaking the acquisition or even to offset the associated acquisition and maintenance costs.|
As an FPI, we are exempt from a number of rules under the U.S. securities laws and are permitted to file less information with the SEC than U.S. public companies .
We are an FPI, as defined in the SEC rules and regulations and, consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to companies organized within the United States. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the Exchange Act, that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers and directors are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. public companies. Accordingly, there may be less publicly available information concerning our company than there is for U.S. public companies.
As an FPI, we will file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the close of each fiscal year ended December 31 and reports on Form 6-K relating to certain material events promptly after we publicly announce these events. However, because of the above exemptions for FPIs, our ADS holders will not be afforded the same protections or information generally available to investors holding shares in public companies organized in the United States.
While we are an FPI, we are not subject to certain Nasdaq corporate governance rules applicable to U.S. listed companies.
We are entitled to rely on a provision in Nasdaq’s corporate governance rules that allows us to follow English corporate law and the Companies Act with regard to certain aspects of corporate governance. This allows us to follow certain corporate governance practices that differ in significant respects from the corporate governance requirements applicable to U.S. companies listed on Nasdaq.
For example, we are exempt from Nasdaq regulations that require a listed U.S. company to (i) have a majority of the board of directors consist of independent directors, (ii) require non-management directors to meet on a regular basis without management present and (iii) promptly disclose any waivers of the code for directors or executive officers that should address certain specified items.
In accordance with our Nasdaq listing, our audit committee is required to comply with the provisions of Section 301 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Rule 10A-3 of the Exchange Act, both of which are also applicable to Nasdaq-listed U.S. companies. Because we are an FPI, however, our audit committee is not subject to additional Nasdaq requirements applicable to listed U.S. companies, including an affirmative determination that all members of the audit committee are “independent,” using more stringent criteria than those applicable to us as an FPI. Furthermore, Nasdaq’s corporate governance rules require listed U.S. companies to, among other things, seek shareholder approval for the implementation of certain equity compensation plans and issuances of ordinary shares, which we are not required to follow as an FPI.
We may lose our FPI status, which would then require us to comply with the Exchange Act’s domestic reporting regime and cause us to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses.
As an FPI, we are not required to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. We may no longer be an FPI as early as June 30, 2019 (the end of our second fiscal quarter in the fiscal year following this Nasdaq listing), which would require us to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to U.S. domestic issuers as of January 1, 2019. In order to maintain our current status as an FPI, either (a) a majority of our ADSs must be either directly or indirectly owned of record by non-residents of the United States or (b)(i) a majority of our executive officers or directors cannot be U.S. citizens or residents, (ii) more than 50% of our assets must be located outside the United States and (iii) our business must be administered principally outside the United States. If we lose our status as an FPI, we would be required to comply with the Exchange Act reporting and other requirements applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, which are more detailed and extensive than the requirements for FPIs. We may also be required to make changes in our corporate governance practices in accordance with various SEC and Nasdaq rules. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws if we are required to comply with the reporting requirements applicable to a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly higher than the cost we would incur as an FPI. As a result, we expect that a loss of FPI status would increase our legal and financial compliance costs and is likely to make some activities highly time consuming and costly. We also expect that if we were required to comply with the rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, it would make it more difficult and expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain coverage. These rules and regulations could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors.
We are an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933 and will take advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements.
We are an EGC, as defined in the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an EGC, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not EGCs, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404, exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. As an EGC, we are required to report only two years of financial results and selected financial data compared to three and five years, respectively, for comparable data reported by other public companies. We may take advantage of these exemptions until we are no longer an EGC. We could be an EGC for up to five years, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier, including if the aggregate market value of our ADSs held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of any June 30 (the end of our second fiscal quarter) before that time, in which case we would no longer be an EGC as of the following December 31 (our fiscal year-end). We cannot predict if investors will find our ADSs less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our ADSs and the price of our ADSs may be more volatile in the event that we decide to make an offering of our ADSs following our Nasdaq listing.
If we fail to establish and maintain proper internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.
Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(a), requires that beginning with our second annual report following our IPO, management assess and report annually on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and identify any material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. Although Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404(b), requires our independent registered public accounting firm to issue an annual report that addresses the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, we have opted to rely on the exemptions provided in the JOBS Act, and consequently will not be required to comply with SEC rules that implement Section 404(b) until such time as we are no longer an EGC.
We expect our first Section 404(a) assessment will take place for our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2019. The presence of material weaknesses could result in financial statement errors which, in turn, could lead to errors in our financial reports, delays in our financial reporting, which could require us to restate our operating results or our auditors may be required to issue a qualified audit report. We might not identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal controls in connection with evaluating our compliance with Section 404 (a). In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, we will need to expend significant resources and provide significant management oversight.
Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal control may require specific compliance training of our directors and employees, entail substantial costs in order to modify our existing accounting systems, take a significant period of time to complete and divert management’s attention from other business concerns. These changes may not, however, be effective in maintaining the adequacy of our internal control.
If either we are unable to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting or, at the appropriate time, our independent auditors are unwilling or unable to provide us with an unqualified report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as required by Section 404(b), then in the event we have decided to make an offering of our ADSs following our Nasdaq listing, investors may lose confidence in our operating results, the price of our ADSs could decline and we may be subject to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions. In addition, if we are unable to meet the requirements of Section 404, we may not be able to remain listed on Nasdaq.
Pursuant to Section 404, we will be required to furnish a report by our senior management on our internal control over financial reporting. However, while we remain an EGC, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. To prepare for eventual compliance with Section 404, once we no longer qualify as an EGC, we will be engaged in a process to document and evaluate our internal control over financial reporting, which is both costly and challenging. In this regard, we will need to continue to dedicate internal resources, potentially engage outside consultants and adopt a detailed work plan to assess and document the adequacy of internal control over financial reporting, continue steps to improve control processes as appropriate, validate through testing that controls are functioning as documented and implement a continuous reporting and improvement process for internal control over financial reporting. Despite our efforts, there is a risk that we will not be able to conclude, within the prescribed timeframe or at all, that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as required by Section 404. If we identify one or more material weaknesses, it could result in an adverse reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements.
Our 10% or more stockholders and management own a significant percentage of our stock and are able to exercise significant influence over matters subject to stockholder approval.
As of the date of this annual report, our executive officers, directors and 10% or more stockholders, together with their respective affiliates, owned approximately 43% of our outstanding securities. Accordingly, this group of security holders will be able to exert a significant degree of influence over our management and affairs and over matters requiring security holder approval, including the election of our Board of Directors, future issuances of our securities, declaration of dividends and approval of other significant corporate transactions. As a result, if these shareholders were to choose to act together, they would be able to exert significant influence over matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, as well as our management and affairs. For example, these persons, if they choose to act together, would exercise sufficient voting power to influence the election of directors and approve any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. This concentration of ownership control may:
|●||delay, defer or prevent a change in control;|
|●||entrench our management and board of directors; or|
|●||impede a merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us that other shareholders may desire.|
Panetta Partners Limited, Planwise Group Limited and Gabriele Cerrone are considered to be a “concert party” for the purposes of the Takeover Code, or the Cerrone Concert Party. The Cerrone Concert Party holds shares carrying voting rights equal to approximately 46.7%. Accordingly, the Cerrone Concert Party will not, save in limited circumstances, be able to acquire further interests in shares carrying voting rights without being obliged to extend offers, on the basis set out in Rules 9.3, 9.4 and 9.5 of the Takeover Code, to the holders of any class of equity share capital, whether voting or non-voting, and also to the holders of any other class of transferable securities carrying voting rights.
ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could augur less favorable results to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.
The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our ordinary shares provides that holders and beneficial owners of ADSs irrevocably waive the right to a trial by jury in any legal proceeding arising out of or relating to the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, against us or the depositary to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. If this jury trial waiver provision is prohibited by applicable law, an action could nevertheless proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a jury trial waiver under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by a federal court. However, we believe that a jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a court of the State of New York or a federal court, which have non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement, applying such law. In determining whether to enforce a jury trial waiver provision, New York courts and federal courts will consider whether the visibility of the jury trial waiver provision within the agreement is sufficiently prominent such that a party has knowingly waived any right to trial by jury. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. In addition, New York courts will not enforce a jury trial waiver provision in order to bar a viable setoff or counterclaim sounding in fraud or one which is based upon a creditor’s negligence in failing to liquidate collateral upon a guarantor’s demand, or in the case of an intentional tort claim (as opposed to a contract dispute), none of which we believe are applicable in the case of the deposit agreement or the ADSs. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any provision of the federal securities laws. If you or any other holder or beneficial owner of ADSs brings a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and / or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and / or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may augur different results than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action, depending on, among other things, the nature of the claims, the judge or justice hearing such claims, and the venue of the hearing.
Claims of U.S. civil liabilities may not be enforceable against us.
We are incorporated under English law. Certain members of our board of directors and senior management are non-residents of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of our assets and the assets of such persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible to serve process on such persons or us in the United States or to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts against them or us based on civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States. As a result, it may not be possible for investors to effect service of process within the United States upon such persons or to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts against them or us, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws.
The United States and the United Kingdom do not currently have a treaty providing for recognition and enforcement of judgments (other than arbitration awards) in civil and commercial matters. Consequently, a final judgment for payment given by a court in the United States, whether or not predicated solely upon U.S. securities laws, would not automatically be recognized or enforceable in the United Kingdom. In addition, uncertainty exists as to whether U.K. courts would entertain original actions brought in the United Kingdom against us or our directors or senior management predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. Any final and conclusive monetary judgment for a definite sum obtained against us in U.S. courts would be treated by the courts of the United Kingdom as a cause of action in itself and sued upon as a debt at common law so that no retrial of the issues would be necessary, provided that certain requirements are met. Whether these requirements are met in respect of a judgment based upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. securities laws, including whether the award of monetary damages under such laws would constitute a penalty, is an issue for the court making such decision. If an English court gives judgment for the sum payable under a U.S. judgment, the English judgment will be enforceable by methods generally available for this purpose. These methods generally permit the English court discretion to prescribe the manner of enforcement.
As a result, U.S. investors may not be able to enforce against us or our senior management, board of directors or certain experts named herein who are residents of the United Kingdom or countries other than the United States any judgments obtained in U.S. courts in civil and commercial matters, including judgments under the U.S. federal securities laws.
If we are a passive foreign investment company, there could be adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders.
Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or the Internal Revenue Code, we will be a PFIC for any taxable year in which (1) 75% or more of our gross income consists of passive income or (2) 50% or more of the average quarterly value of our assets consists of assets that produce, or are held for the production of, passive income. For purposes of these tests, passive income includes dividends, interest, gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and certain rents and royalties. In addition, for purposes of the above calculations, a non-U.S. corporation that directly or indirectly owns at least 25% by value of the shares of another corporation is treated as if it held its proportionate share of the assets and received directly its proportionate share of the income of such other corporation. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined below under “Material Income Tax Considerations-Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations for U.S. Holders”) holds our shares, the U.S. Holder may be subject to adverse tax consequences regardless of whether we continue to qualify as a PFIC, including ineligibility for any preferred tax rates on capital gains or on actual or deemed dividends, interest charges on certain taxes treated as deferred, and additional reporting requirements.
We believe that we were a PFIC for our taxable year ended December 31, 2018 but cannot provide any assurances regarding our PFIC status for any past, current or future taxable years. The determination of whether we are a PFIC is a fact-intensive determination made on an annual basis applying principles and methodologies which in some circumstances are unclear and subject to varying interpretation. In particular, the characterization of our assets as active or passive may depend in part on our current and intended future business plans, which are subject to change. In addition, for our current and future taxable years, the total value of our assets for PFIC testing purposes may be determined in part by reference to the market price of our ordinary shares or ADSs from time to time, which may fluctuate considerably. Under the income test, our status as a PFIC depends on the composition of our income which will depend on the transactions we enter into in the future and our corporate structure. The composition of our income and assets is also affected by how, and how quickly, we spend the cash we raise in any offering.
In certain circumstances, a U.S. Holder of shares in a PFIC may alleviate some of the adverse tax consequences described above by making a qualified electing fund, or QEF, election to include in income its pro rata share of the corporation’s income on a current basis. However, a U.S. Holder may make a QEF election with respect to our ordinary shares or ADSs only if we agree to furnish such U.S. Holder annually with a PFIC annual information statement as specified in the applicable U.S. Treasury Regulations. We currently do not intend to prepare or provide the information that would enable U.S. Holders to make a QEF election if we are treated as a PFIC for any taxable year, and prospective investors should assume that a QEF election will not be available.
For further discussion of the PFIC rules and the adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences in the event we are classified as a PFIC, see the section of this report entitled “Material Income Tax Considerations-Material U.S. Federal Income Considerations For U.S. Holders.”
We may be unable to use net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards and certain built-in losses to reduce future tax payments or benefit from favorable U.K. tax legislation.
As a U.K. resident trading entity, we are subject to U.K. corporate taxation. Due to the nature of our business, we have generated losses since inception. As of December 31, 2018, we had cumulative carryforward tax losses of $19.6 million . Subject to any relevant restrictions, we expect these to be available to carry forward and offset against future operating profits. As a company that carries out extensive research and development activities, we benefit from the U.K. research and development tax credit regime for small and medium-sized companies, whereby we are able to surrender the trading losses that arise from our qualifying research and development activities for a payable tax credit of up to 33.35% of eligible research and development expenditures. Qualifying expenditures largely comprise employment costs for research staff, consumables and certain internal overhead costs incurred as part of research projects. Certain subcontracted qualifying research expenditures are eligible for a cash rebate of up to 21.67%. The majority of our pipeline research, clinical trials management and manufacturing development activities are eligible for inclusion within these tax credit cash rebate claims. Our ability to continue to claim payable research and development tax credits in the future may be limited because we may no longer qualify as a small or medium-sized company.
We may benefit in the future from the United Kingdom’s “patent box” regime, which allows certain profits attributable to revenues from patented products to be taxed at an effective rate of 10%. We are the exclusive licensee or owner of several patent applications which, if issued, would cover our product candidates, and accordingly, future upfront fees, milestone fees, product revenues and royalties could be taxed at this tax rate. When taken in combination with the enhanced relief available on our research and development expenditures, we expect a long-term lower rate of corporation tax to apply to us. If, however, there are unexpected adverse changes to the U.K. research and development tax credit regime or the “patent box” regime, or for any reason we are unable to qualify for such advantageous tax legislation, or we are unable to use net operating loss and tax credit
Changes and uncertainties in the tax system in the countries in which we have operations could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations, and reduce net returns to our shareholders.
Our tax position could be adversely impacted by changes in tax rates, tax laws, tax practice, tax treaties or tax regulations or changes in the interpretation thereof by the tax authorities in the United Kingdom, the United States and other jurisdictions as well as being affected by certain changes currently proposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and their action plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. Such changes may become more likely as a result of recent economic trends in the jurisdictions in which we operate, particularly if such trends continue.
Our actual effective tax rate may vary from our expectation and that variance may be material. A number of factors may increase our future effective tax rates, including: (1) the jurisdictions in which profits are determined to be earned and taxed; (2) the resolution of issues arising from any future tax audits with various tax authorities; (3) changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities; (4) increases in expenses not deductible for tax purposes, including transaction costs and impairments of goodwill in connection with acquisitions; (5) changes in the taxation of share-based compensation; (6) changes in tax laws or the interpretation of such tax laws, and changes in generally accepted accounting principles; and (7) challenges to the transfer pricing policies related to our structure.
A tax authority may disagree with tax positions that we have taken, which could result in increased tax liabilities. For example, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, or HMRC, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, or another tax authority could challenge our allocation of income by tax jurisdiction and the amounts paid between our affiliated companies pursuant to our intercompany arrangements and transfer pricing policies, including methodologies for valuing developed technology and amounts paid with respect to our intellectual property development. Similarly, a tax authority could assert that we are subject to tax in a jurisdiction where we believe we have not established a taxable connection, often referred to as a “permanent establishment” under international tax treaties, and such an assertion, if successful, could increase our expected tax liability in one or more jurisdictions.
A tax authority may take the position that material income tax liabilities, interest and penalties are payable by us, for example where there has been a technical violation of contradictory laws and regulations that are relatively new and have not been subject to extensive review or interpretation, in which case we expect that we might contest such assessment. High-profile companies can be particularly vulnerable to aggressive application of unclear requirements. Many companies must negotiate their tax bills with tax inspectors who may demand higher taxes than applicable law appears to provide. Contesting such an assessment may be lengthy and costly and if we were unsuccessful in disputing the assessment, the implications could increase our anticipated effective tax rate, where applicable.
ITEM 4: INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
A. History and Development of the Company
We were originally incorporated under the laws of England and Wales on February 11, 1998, with the goal of leveraging the expertise of our management team as well as Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., Arun Sanyal, M.D., Howard Weiner, M.D. and Kevan Herold, M.D., and to acquire and exploit certain intellectual property in biotechnology. We subsequently changed our name to Tiziana Life Sciences plc in April 2014 as a result of the acquisition of Tiziana Pharma Limited in April 2014.
Our registered office is located at 3rd Floor, 11-12 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LB and our telephone number is +44 20 7495 2379.
The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, such as we, that file electronically, with the SEC at www.sec.gov . Our website address is www.tizianalifesciences.com. The reference to our website is an inactive textual reference only and the information contained in, or that can be accessed through, our website is not a part of this annual report.
Our agent for service of process in the United States is Tiziana Therapeutics, Inc, 420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 2525, New York, NY 10170.
B. Business Overview
We are a biotechnology company that is focused on the discovery and development of novel molecules and related diagnostics to treat high unmet medical needs in oncology and immunology. Our lead product candidate in immunology is Foralumab (TZLS-401), which we believe is the only fully human anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, or mAb, in clinical development. MAbs represent a single pure antibody produced by single clones and are an important class of human therapeutics for treating cancers and autoimmune diseases. Antibodies produced in animals for use in humans, lead to strong, immune responses limiting their effectiveness and potentially leading to severe side effects. A process known as “humanization” removes most of the animal components of the antibody thereby lowering the immune response from the human immune system. The entire omission of other animal material, as in fully human antibodies, is the optimal goal to avoid incompatibility with the human immune system. Our lead product candidate in oncology is Milciclib (TZLS-201), which is an orally bioavailable, small molecule broad spectrum inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases, or CDKs, and Src family kinases. CDKs are a highly conserved family of enzymes that phosphorylate a specific group of proteins that are involved in regulating the cell cycle. The cell cycle is a series of events that takes place in cells leading to division and duplication of its DNA to produce two daughter cells. Src family kinases are non-receptor tyrosine kinase proteins encoded by the Src gene also involved in regulating cell growth and potential transformation of normal cells to cancer cells. We have a drug discovery pipeline of small molecule new chemical entities, or NCEs, and biologics. We employ a lean and virtual research and development, or R&D, model using highly experienced teams of experts for each business function to maximize value accretion by focusing resources on the drug discovery and development processes. Our mission is to design and deliver next generation therapeutics and diagnostics for oncology and immune diseases of high unmet medical need by combining deep understanding of disease biology with clinical development expertise.
We are developing Foralumab, for which we in-licensed the intellectual property from Novimmune SA, or Novimmune, in December 2014, as a potential treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, and Crohn’s disease as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, or MS. We believe that oral or intranasal administration of Foralumab has the potential to reduce inflammation while minimizing the toxicity and related side effects. To date, Foralumab has been studied in one Phase 1 and two Phase 2a clinical trials conducted by Novimmune in 68 patients dosed by the intravenous route of administration. In these trials, Foralumab was observed to be safe and well-tolerated and produced immunologic effects consistent with potential clinical benefit while demonstrating mild to moderate infusion related reactions, or IRR. We plan to initially investigate Foralumab for safety and its immunomodulatory activity in healthy volunteers in two Phase 1 trials. In one of the Phase 1 trials, subjects will be dosed Foralumab in a newly developed oral formulation (enteric capsule) with an intention to treat patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease and in the other Phase 1 trial, Foralumab will be dosed via intranasal administration using a hand-held nasal device with an intention to treat patients with MS. An IND for the first-in-human, intranasal evaluation of Foralumab in healthy volunteers was filed on June 1, 2018 and accepted by the FDA on August 20, 2018. Dosing was initiated in November 2018 for this dose-ranging, Phase 1 trial to evaluate safety and biomarkers of immunomodulation of clinical responses . Topline results from this study are expected in the third quarter of 2019. In addition, we have submitted an IND on March 18, 2019, to the FDA and expect to initiate a Phase 1 trial of the enteric capsule formulation of Foralumab in healthy volunteers in the second quarter of 2019 and a Phase 2 trial by the end of the second quarter 2020, in patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease. On April 16, 2018 we entered into an exclusive license agreement with The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Inc., or BWH, relating to a novel formulation of Foralumab in a medical device for intranasal administration.
We are developing Milciclib, for which we in-licensed the intellectual property from Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l., or Nerviano, in January 2015, as a potential treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC. A novel feature of Milciclib is its ability to reduce levels of microRNAs, miR-221 and miR-222. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules that play a significant role in the regulation of gene expression. miR-221 and miR-222 are believed to be linked to the development of blood supply (angiogenesis) in cancer tumors. Levels of these microRNAs are consistently elevated in HCC patients and may contribute towards resistance to treatment with Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor (a drug which may inhibit the cellular division and proliferation associated with certain cancers) often prescribed to HCC patients as the Standard of Care (SOC). To date, Milciclib has been studied in a total of eight completed and ongoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in 316 patients In these trials, Milciclib was well-tolerated with minimal adverse events. We initiated a Phase 2a trial for Milciclib as a monotherapy in patients with HCC in the third quarter of 2017 and expect top-line results in July 2019. We expect to initiate a Phase 2b trial for Milciclib in combination with Sorafenib (also known under its brand name Nexavar ® , used to treat some types of kidney, liver and thyroid cancers) in patients with HCC in 2019.
In addition, we are developing a fully human mAb targeting the IL-6R (TZLS-501). We licensed the intellectual property from Novimmune in January 2017. This fully human mAb has a novel mechanism of action, binding to both the membrane-bound and soluble forms of the IL-6R as well as depleting circulating levels of the IL-6 in the blood. Excessive production of IL-6 is regarded as a key driver of chronic inflammation, associated with autoimmune diseases such as multiple myeloma, oncology indications and rheumatoid arthritis, and we believe that TZLS-501 may have potential therapeutic value for these indications.
In preclinical studies, TZLS-501 demonstrated the potential for overcoming the limitations of other IL-6 blocking pathway drugs. Compared to tocilizumab and sarilumab, while binding to the membrane-bound IL-6R complex, TZLS-501 has been observed to have a higher affinity for the soluble IL-6 receptor from antibody binding studies conducted in cell culture. TZLS-501 also demonstrated the potential to block or reduce IL-6 signaling in mouse models of inflammation. The soluble form of IL-6 has been implicated to have a larger role in disease progression compared to the membrane- bound form (Kallen, K.J. (2002). “The role of trans-signaling via the agonistic soluble IL-6 receptor in human diseases.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 1592 (3): 323–343.)
Our Competitive Strengths
Our mission is to design and deliver next generation therapeutics and diagnostics for oncology and immune diseases of high unmet medical need by combining deep understanding of disease biology with clinical development expertise. We believe the following strengths will allow us to continue to pursue this mission:
|●||Advanced, novel pipeline . We have an advanced pipeline of novel and proprietary drug candidates, including antibodies and small molecules, to address high unmet medical needs in the inflammation, autoimmune and oncology markets with significant commercial potential.|
|●||Proprietary technology . Our proprietary technology enables the development of alternative routes of administration of antibodies, including oral delivery. We believe that oral and nasal routes of delivery will alleviate the significant time and cost burden associated with other routes of administration, including intravenous delivery.|
|●||Broad and engaged network of experts. Our strong relationships with key opinion leaders contribute to our clinical development efforts and position us well to support our products, if approved. Dr. Napoleone Ferrara, Dr. Arun Sanyal, Dr. Kevan Herold, and Dr. Howard Weiner are among the thought leaders on our scientific advisory committee.|
|●||Specialized expertise and focus on oncology and inflammation . Our management team, including Dr. Kunwar Shailubhai, Dr. Fayez Hamzeh, Jules Jacob, Dr. Priya Eddy and Dr. Vaseem Palejwala, has considerable experience translating technologies from bench to market, and managing the global administration of clinical trials.|
|●||Strong intellectual property and know-how . We believe our proprietary intellectual property portfolio, in-licensed from Nerviano and Novimmune, provides us with a substantial competitive advantage for the commercial development of small molecule NCEs, and biologics, as well as expanded possibilities for new development programs in the future. We have retained the worldwide development and commercialization rights to all of our product candidates. We have submitted additional patent applications to further strengthen our intellectual property.|
|●||Lean research and development model, designed to maximize value . We employ a lean and virtual R&D model using highly experienced teams of experts for each business function to maximize value accretion by focusing resources on the drug discovery and development processes.|
Our goal is to become a leading biotechnology company focused on developing and delivering therapies and related diagnostics in both oncology and immunology. The key elements of our strategy to achieve this goal are to:
Advance the clinical development of orally administered Foralumab for the treatment of NASH and Crohn’s disease using a novel and proprietary oral formulation by initiating a Phase 1 trial in the second quarter of 2019 and a Phase 2 trial in the second quarter of 2020. In addition, a Phase 1 trial for the first-in-human evaluation of the intranasal administration of Foralumab in healthy volunteers, for neurodegenerative disease indications such as MS, was initiated in November 2018. Topline results from this study are expected in the third quarter of 2019.
|●||Continue to advance the clinical development and obtain regulatory approval for our lead oncology product candidate, Milciclib, as a monotherapy in HCC and as a combination therapy for the treatment of refractory solid tumors (being cancers which are non-responsive or become resistant to treatment) and HCC by completing the ongoing Phase 2a trial as a monotherapy and initiating a planned Phase 2b trial in combination with Sorafenib.|
|●||Continue to leverage relationships with key opinion leaders to promote clinical trial success and enhance future commercialization.|
|●||Continue preclinical studies and non-clinical development of our product candidate, TZLS-501, a fully human mAb targeting the IL-6R (a biological mAb which may control the proteins involved in cell signaling relevant to many inflammatory diseases and cancers), for treatment of inflammatory and oncology indications.|
|●||Opportunistically identify and acquire or in-license complimentary product and technology candidates.|
|●||Seek orphan drug, fast track or breakthrough designation for our product candidates where warranted.|
Our Product Candidates
Our product candidate pipeline is set forth below:
Foralumab (TZLS-401 formerly known as NI-0401)
We believe Foralumab is the only fully human anti-CD3 mAb in clinical development, in contrast to the previous non-human or humanized anti-CD3 mAbs. Foralumab targets the CD3 epsilon (CD3ε) receptor, which is a recognized approach for modulating T-Cell response and achieving immunosuppression. We believe Foralumab could have broad application to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as NASH, Crohn’s disease, MS, type-1 diabetes, or T1D, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, where modulation of a T-cell response is desirable. In July 2017, we announced publication of a research article in, Clinical Immunology, entitled: “Oral treatment with Foralumab, a fully human anti-CD3 mAb, prevents skin xenograft rejection in humanized mice.” We believe this is the first-ever published report demonstrating the potential of oral therapy with Foralumab for inflammatory diseases such as NASH and is based on the landmark discovery by Prof. Howard Weiner of Harvard University, one of our Scientific Advisory Committee members. We plan to initially investigate Foralumab for safety and its immunomodulatory activity in healthy volunteers in two Phase 1 trials. In one of the Phase 1 trials, for which an IND was submitted to the FDA on March 18, 2019, subjects will be dosed with Foralumab using a newly developed oral formulation (enteric capsule) with an intention to treat patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease and in the other Phase 1 trial, which is ongoing, healthy volunteers are being dosed via intranasal administration using a hand-held nasal device with an intention to treat patients with MS. An IND for the first-in-human intranasal evaluation of Foralumab in healthy volunteers was filed on June 1, 2018 and accepted by the FDA on August 20, 2018. Dosing of subjects intranasally for the dose-ranging Phase 1 trial to evaluate biomarkers of immunomodulation of clinical responses was initiated in November 2018. Topline results from this study are expected in the third quarter of 2019.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, comprises a spectrum of progressive liver diseases, which currently affects approximately one-third of the western world. It is associated with liver-related morbidity and mortality and with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or T2DM, hyperlipidemia (acquired or genetic disorders resulting in elevated levels of lipids circulating in the blood) and abdominal obesity. NASH, one of the manifestations of NAFLD, leads to inflammation and fat and fibrous tissue buildup in the liver, and elevated liver enzymes levels, and can lead to liver cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and primary liver cancer, or HCC (as shown in the graphic on page 45 under “—Milciclib—Hepatocellular Cancer.” NASH is predicted to become the leading cause of liver transplantation in the US by 2020. Both genetic predisposition and environmental factors have been implicated in its onset, and inflammation and associated fibrogenesis contribute to its perpetuation.
Chronic inflammatory processes involve an imbalance in pro-versus anti-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins which are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells), altered insulin responses due to inflammation and fat and fibrous tissue buildup. Therapeutic avenues must provide for multifactorial effects, with focus on reduced insulin resistance and inflammatory processes. Mild inflammation imparts a hepatoprotective effect (preventing damage to the liver), while excessive inflammation triggers hepatocyte damage (damage to cell membranes and tissue death) and irreversible liver damage, fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Such detrimental effects are associated with overexpression of inflammatory genes and increased activity of Kupffer cells, natural killer T-cells, hepatic stellate cells, sinusoidal endothelial cells, dendritic cells, monocytes and lymphocytes, which secrete a range of proinflammatory factors, including cytokines, chemokines, lipid messengers and reactive oxygen species.
While several drugs, such as pioglitazone (Actos ® ), have proven effective in improving NASH-related features, side effects, including weight gain, adipose tissue insulin resistance, increased risk of bone fracture in women, congestive heart failure, heightened risk of bladder cancer, increased mortality, risk of hemorrhage stroke, prostate cancer in men over 50 years of age, pruritus and increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol have been measured following their chronic use.
Crohn’s disease is a relapsing, transmural inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal mucosa that can affect all parts of the intestinal tract as well as extra-intestinal organs. Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America. Prevalence estimates for Northern Europe have ranged from 27–48 per 100,000. Although the incidence and prevalence of Crohn’s disease are beginning to stabilize in high-incidence areas such as northern Europe and North America, they continue to rise in low-incidence areas such as southern Europe, Asia, and much of the developing world. Differences in incidence across age, time, and geographic region suggest that environmental factors significantly modify the expression of Crohn’s disease. The strongest environmental factors identified are cigarette smoking and appendectomy. The disease affects slightly more females than males and is most commonly diagnosed in young adults, e.g. late adolescence to the third decade of life (Kim, S.C. and G.D. Ferry. Gastroenterology (June 2004) 126 (6): 1550-1560). Although the exact etiology remains unknown, the occurrence of Crohn’s disease is strongly associated with mutations of a receptor for microbial pathogens (NOD2) that lead to increased activation of antigen presenting cells and a defect in the release of antimicrobial defensins. It is now widely accepted that as a result of this altered balance of immune homeostasis, exposure to commensal bacterial antigens causes increased stimulation and proliferation of mucosal T-lymphocytes, leading to immune inflammation. Additional pathogenic mechanisms may include a defect in T-cell programmed death, or apoptosis, and possibly a defect in regulatory T-cell function.
Crohn’s disease usually presents as acute or chronic bowel inflammation then the inflammatory process evolves toward one of two patterns of the disease: a fibrostenotic-obstructing pattern or a penetrating-fistulous pattern, each with different treatments and prognoses. The site of disease influences the clinical manifestations and can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, clinical signs of bowel obstruction, as well as passage of blood or mucus or both.
At least 25% patients with Crohn’s disease will develop extraintestinal disease manifestations which usually respond to treatment of the underlying disease (e.g. arthritis, uveitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis) (Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 2008).
Crohn’s disease is histologically characterized by a discontinuous transmural granulomatous inflammation of the intestinal wall, but typical granulomas are found on mucosal biopsies in a minority of subjects. Surgical resection reveals granulomas in about half of cases (Harrison’s 17th edition).
The pharmacological management of Crohn’s disease is based on the control of the inflammatory process. Current treatment regimens include:
|●||anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. corticosteroids, aminosalicylates), which are the first-line treatment to induce remission in acute active disease;|
|●||immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine and methotrexate (Feagan, 2000) which are used to maintain remission or treating chronic active disease; biologic immunotherapies (e.g. anti-TNF mAbs including infliximab and adalimumab) which are used to induce and maintain remission.|
All of these treatments have limited long-term efficacy and potential for serious adverse effects (Targan, 1997; Present, 1999).
Previously reported studies using anti-cluster definition 4, or anti-CD4, and tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, binding mAbs provide a strong rationale for targeting T-cells in Crohn’s disease (van Deventer et. al. Intl. J. Clin. Pharm. (1997) 19(2): 55-9). It is now known that TNF targeting mAbs in Crohn’s disease and IBD are effective because of the bringing about of programmed cell death (apoptosis) of activated T-lymphocytes rather than neutralization of soluble TNF (Chowers et.al., Current Drug Targets (2010) 11: 138-142; Atreya et. al. Gastroenterology (2011) 141 (6): 2026-2038.
In addition, there are few published clinical data on the use of anti-CD3 mAbs in subjects with Crohn’s disease. One product in development, visilizumab (Nuvion®, PDL Biopharma) has been tested in the clinical setting. Two studies with visilizumab in patients with severe Crohn’s disease have been performed: An open-label study (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00267709) in patients with Crohn’s disease having peri-anal fistulas and an open-label study (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00267722) in patients with moderate-to-severe inflammatory, non-structuring, non-penetrating Crohn’s disease. Eighteen patients were expected to be enrolled in each study.
Preliminary results from the second study suggested that two 10 μg/kg doses of visilizumab administered by IV bolus injection on consecutive days appeared to have clinical activity. Ten of the 14 patients reported a clinical response by day 59, as determined by a drop in the Crohn’s disease Activity Index, or CDAI score, of 100 points. Five patients achieved a complete remission, as defined by a CDAI score of <150 during the 59 days. Of note, two patients who never responded to infliximab, as well as seven patients who lost their response to infliximab, responded to visilizumab.
MS is an inflammatory-mediated demyelinating disease of the human central nervous system. The disease develops in young adults with a complex predisposing genetic trait and most likely involves an environmental insult such as a viral infection to trigger the disease. The activation of CD4+ autoreactive T cells and their differentiation are crucial initial steps in the progression of this disease. The therapeutic use of monoclonal antibodies was initially viewed with great skepticism owing to the high rates of sensitization against mouse proteins, their pharmacokinetic properties, and the difficulties in their production. However, most of these problems have been overcome, and monoclonal antibodies are now among the most promising therapies for MS.
Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases
Autoimmune diseases are primarily due to a malfunction when the immune system attacks certain cells in the body as foreign invaders. This can result in irreparable damage to critical organs and tissues eventually resulting in autoimmune diseases.
In humans, CD3-epsilon is encoded by the CD3ε gene on Chromosome 11. The CD3ε molecule, along with four other membrane-bound polypeptides (CD3-gamma, -delta, -zeta, and -eta) form the CD3 complex, which is associated with the T-cell receptor. Upon antigen bindings, the CD3 complex sends signals through the cell membrane to the cytoplasm inside the T-cell. This leads to activation of the T-cell that rapidly divides to produce new T-cells sensitized to fight the particular antigen to which the TCR was exposed. While T-cell activation is critical for the human immune system to properly fight bacterial, viral or parasitic infections, abnormal T-cell induction can cause and worsen numerous human diseases, including T-cell lymphoma and leukemia, human malignancies, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease and transplant rejection.
We believe Foralumab is the only fully human anti-CD3 mAb in clinical development. Since the discovery of the hybridoma technology, a method to generate large quantities of a single (monoclonal) antibody, the production and manufacture of mAbs has become widely available showing promise in several autoimmune and inflammatory disease clinical trials and therapeutic utility in animal models. The first murine anti-CD3 mAb (IgG2a) was developed and approved by the FDA in 1985 under the name of muromonab, OKT3, (Ortho Kung T3; Orthoclone®) to treat allograft rejection in kidney, liver and heart transplantation by exerting its potent immunosuppressive effects, mainly due to depletion of T-cells in tissues and thereby preventing rejection of the allografts. Subsequently, OKT3 was administered in clinical trials to patients with MS, T1D, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and NASH. Although showing promise to alleviate the disease process, the mAb being of murine origin and extremely immunogenic in humans, was associated with a wide range of side effects that included the typical Cytokine Release Syndrom (CRS) or flu-like syndrome, limiting its clinical development. The side effect profile of OKT3 is a consequence of T-cell activation resulting in the release of numerous cytokines into the systemic circulation. These shortcomings of the murine OKT3 led to the development of a new generation of anti-CD3 mAbs using genetic engineering of the mAb structure, as depicted below.
Foralumab dosed intravenously has been observed to alter T-cell function via antigenic modulation, that is, removal of the CD3/TCR complex from the T-cell surface. Modulation has two therapeutic benefits:
|●||It transiently renders the T-cells incapable of recognizing an antigen and thus unable to orchestrate an immune response such as an allograft rejection; and|
|●||It has a favorable long-term effect on generation and maintenance of regulatory T-cells, a specialized subset of T-cells that promote immunological tolerance.|
In comparison with the two other anti-CD3 mAbs evaluated in patients with T1D (otelixizumab and teplizumab), Foralumab, being fully human, was less mitogenic (capable of causing cell division), therefore allowing re-treatment, and to have a better risk/benefit profile. As such, Foralumab was previously developed by Novimmune as an intravenous formulation for the treatment of autoimmune indications: Crohn’s disease and in renal allograft recipients.
Further, recent data from studies conducted in the laboratories of our Scientific Advisory Committee members, Prof. Howard Weiner of Harvard University and Prof. Kevan Herold of Yale University, suggest that oral administration of Foralumab has the potential for therapeutic utility while minimizing toxicity associated with intravenous administration, such as CRS. Importantly, recent clinical studies conducted by Prof. Yaron Ilan with oral administration of anti-CD3 (OKT3; murine mAb) in HCV infected patients (non-respondents) and in NASH patients suggested that the treatment was well-tolerated and produced immunologic effects consistent with potential clinical benefits.
In addition, increasing appreciation for the gut-liver cross-talk and of its role in the initiation of NASH-associated inflammation and fibrogenesis has led to the understanding that systemic inflammatory processes can be alleviated by modulating the gut immune system, without inducing generalized immunosuppression. This has been achieved in multiple approaches, including oral administration of fatty liver-derived proteins, anti-CD3 antibodies, TNF, fusion protein, anti-lipopolysaccharide antibodies, glucosylceramide, delayed-release mercaptopurine and soy-derived extracts. Several of these compounds were shown to be effective in patients with NASH.
Orally administered OKT3 was evaluated in a Phase 2 trial in 36 patients with NASH and type 2 diabetes and was found to be well tolerated. Increases in regulatory T-cell markers consistent with induction of regulatory T-cells was observed as well as increases in other anti-inflammatory markers. Although not powered sufficiently to evaluate efficacy endpoints, positive trends were observed including lowering of liver enzymes and lowering of glucose levels (Lalazar et.al, J. Clin. Immunol. (2015) 34 (4):399-407).
More recent animal studies conducted separately by Prof. Howard Weiner and Prof. Kevan Herold demonstrated therapeutic utility of orally administered Foralumab for immune-inflammatory diseases. Our strategy is to build on these findings to develop orally administered Foralumab for the treatment of NASH, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases. We believe Foralumab may also be combined with our other product candidate, TZLS-501, a fully human anti-IL-6R mAb, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.
On April 16, 2018 we entered into an exclusive license agreement with BWH relating to a novel formulation of Foralumab in a medical device for intranasal administration. An IND for the first-in-human evaluation of Foralumab in healthy human volunteers was filed on June 1, 2018 and accepted by the FDA on August 20, 2018. Dosing was initiated in November 2018 for the dose ranging Phase 1 trial to evaluate safety and tolerability as well as biomarkers of immunomodulation resulting in clinical responses. Topline results from this study are expected in the third quarter of 2019.
Clinical Development Plan
Proposed Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Foralumab in Healthy Volunteers
The proposed Phase 1 clinical trial for Foralumab in healthy volunteers is a single center single arm ascending study in which low doses (1.25, 2.5 and 5.0 mg/dose) of Foralumab will be orally administered for 5 consecutive days followed by monitoring for tolerance and adverse events for 5 days. At each dose level, starting with the low dose if the resultant data indicates that the drug is well tolerated and free from significant adverse events, the next higher dose will be administered orally further for 5 consecutive days followed by 5 days of monitoring for tolerance and adverse events. If data from the Phase 1 trials indicate that the drug is well tolerated and free from adverse events, a Phase 2a trial is expected to be initiated in the second quarter of 2020 with the intent to treat patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease. The primary endpoint of the Phase 1 study is safety and tolerability of Foralumab in humans.
Proposed Phase 2 Clinical Trial for Foralumab for the Treatment of NASH
The proposed Phase 2 clinical trial for Foralumab is a randomized, placebo-controlled, four-arm, double-blind study. Subjects (48) will be randomized (1:1:1:1) to receive either a once daily oral placebo or Foralumab dose of 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg or 5.0 mg for 30 consecutive days. Patients will record adverse events and daily administration of study medication in a subject diary. This will serve as a measure of compliance and record of adverse events and tolerability. Patients will be followed up for 30 days following completion of treatment. Study visits performed on Days 14, 30 and 60 of the study, will monitor metabolic parameters (body mass index and waist circumference), serum lipid profiles, immunological markers (C-reactive protein and an array of cytokines), hepatic enzymes and functions ( 13 C-methacetin breath test and liver steatosis/fibrosis), which will be compared to baseline levels (Day 1).
The safety and tolerability of the treatment regimen is the primary endpoint and will be determined by monitoring vital signs, laboratory values, adverse events and physical findings throughout the study. In addition, efficacy/immunomodulatory activity will be established using the following criteria: (1) reduced Day 30 serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels; (2) reduced hemoglobin A1c; (3) improved homeostasis model assessment (HOMA); (4) HOMA of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) scores; as well as (5) levels of T cells and cytokines as compared to baseline (Day 1).
Ongoing Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Foralumab for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
The ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of nasally-administered Foralumab in healthy volunteers is a single center single arm ascending study in which low doses (10, 50 and 250 µg/dose) of Foralumab is being nasally administered for 5 consecutive days followed by monitoring for tolerance and adverse events for 30 days. At each dose level, starting with the low dose, if the resultant data indicates that the drug is well tolerated and free from significant adverse events, the next higher dose will be administered nasally for 5 consecutive days followed by 30 days of monitoring each time for tolerance and adverse events. If data from the Phase 1 trials indicate that the drug is well tolerated and free from adverse events, Phase 2a trials will be initiated at a later date for the treatment of MS. The primary endpoint of the Phase 1 study is safety and tolerability of Foralumab in humans dosed intranasally using a hand-held nasal spray device.
Intravenous Foralumab has been studied in a total of three Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials conducted by Novimmune. A total of 68 patients were exposed to Foralumab:
Study NI-0401-01: a Phase 1/2a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled and dose escalation study NI-0401-01 in subjects with moderate to severe active CD. The study was completed and 33 subjects were exposed to Foralumab. The study NI-0401-01 was designed to assess tolerability of Foralumab and was not powered to evaluate efficacy parameters included the proportion of patients achieving, clinical response and change from baseline of Crohn’s Disease Endoscopy Index of Severity. A trend, although not statistically significant, was seen when analyzing the clinical response and endoscopic response. Single and repeat intravenous doses of 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 10.0 mg Foralumab were administered to subjects and serum pharmacokinetics evaluated for up to five days. Limited pharmacokinetic data was collected, however it was observed that at doses over 1.0 mg, severe infusion related reactions (IRRs) were observed that led to discontinuation of the 2 and 10 mg groups. Therefore, the 1.0 mg dose was considered the MTD in this study. CD3 modulation on CD4 positive and CD8 positive T cells was related to Foralumab dose. There was a dose response for the reduction of peripheral T-cell (CD2 positive) count. The main adverse events were infusion related reactions related to the route of administration of the drug.
Study NI-0401-02: an open-label, dose titration, multicenter Phase 1 study of Foralumab for the treatment of subjects with biopsy-proven acute cellular renal allograft rejection (BpACR). The study was completed and 11 subjects were exposed to Foralumab. Patients were dosed with 1.0 mg, 1.5 mg, 2.0 mg and 2.5 mg of Foralumab daily for five days and most were pre-treated with methylprednisolone. The data from study NI-0401-02 has confirmed the dose response in terms of CD3 modulation and reduction of peripheral T-cell count. A CD3 modulation of up to 90% was achieved at study NI-0401-02 day five with a daily dose of 2.5 mg during the 5 days of treatment period. Although there was no dose-response relationship, treatment with foralumab seems to be globally effective to reverse protocol defined acute cellular rejection and in the mormalization of serum creatinine levels, a primary efficacy objective. The main adverse events were infusion related reactions in patients that were not premedication with prednisolone.
Study NI-0401-03: a Phase 2a study with an open label dose escalation phase followed by a double-blind phase to assess safety and efficacy of Foralumab in subjects with moderate to severe active CD. The study NI-0401-03 was completed and 24 subjects were exposed to Foralumab. 74% of patients had achieved a clinical response at week 2 and 87% of patients at week 4. At weeks 6, 8 and 12 the proportion of patients with a clinical response decreased to 75%, 70% and 67%, respectively. 30% of patients had achieved clinical remission at week 2, 42% by weeks 4, 38% by week 6, 43% at week 8 and 46% at week 12. Treatment failures were 12.5%. There was a reduction in the mean Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI) scores in all treatment cohorts and an overall improvement in the Crohn’s Disease Endoscopic Index of Severity (CDEIS) scores across all treatment groups following 5 daily doses of Foralumab treatment. Pharmacokinetic evaluations were performed, and no dose-response relationship was established due to variability between patients. The observed half-life of Foralumab was approximately 180 hours. A rapid and almost complete disappearance of CD45 positive lymphocytes, CD3 positive T-cells, CD3 positive and CD4 positive helper T-cells and CD3 positive and CD8 positive cytotoxic T-cells from the circulation was observed was observed within 24 hours of infusion for all dose cohorts. The lowest unit dose in the study NI-0401-03 was equivalent to the 1 mg daily unit dose that was the maximum tolerated dose in study NI-0401-01. Pre-medication with prednisolone reduced the severity and frequency of infusion related reactions.
In two Phase 2a trials conducted by Novimmune, patients with Crohn’s disease and renal allograft rejection in kidney transplants demonstrated Foralumab’s immunomodulatory activity in humans. We have decided not to pursue evaluation of intravenous Foralumab in Crohn’s Disease because we believe the market for this disease is saturated by other FDA approved drugs. Further, while intravenous administration of antibodies has been widely used, side effects from the intravenous administration still are prevalent as well as patient compliant issues come into play. We intend to move forward with an oral formulation of Foralumab for treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Two of Novimmune’s clinical trials were in patients with Crohn’s disease and the third clinical trial was conducted in patients undergoing kidney transplantation and suffering with renal allograft rejection. Sixty-eight subjects with active Crohn’s disease and 11 subjects with acute cellular renal allograft rejection were treated with Foralumab. The route of administration of Foralumab in these studies was via intravenous administration.
In these trials, it was observed that:
|●||The short-term tolerability profile of Foralumab was very similar to those reported with other anti CD3 antibodies and no new emerging concerns have been identified.|
|●||Total daily doses of up to 1mg (~ 500 µg/m2) per patient were generally well tolerated without corticosteroid premedication. The most common adverse events following exposure to Foralumab were IRRs, which occurred in all patients treated with the compound. In the majority of cases, these symptoms were mild (66%) in intensity and were reported following the first two infusions of the 5-infusion treatment course. The number of affected patients and the severity of symptoms tended to increase with increasing dose level, or DL.|
|●||A clear reduction of CRS and its associated IRRs were observed with steroid pre-medication. All patients who received pre-medication with steroids had mild or no IRRs, and CRS was reduced. Only one patient who did not receive steroid pre-medication had significant levels of CRS, in particularly IL-6.|
|●||Usage of steroid pre-medication allows the administration of higher doses.|
|●||Both the magnitude and duration of CD3 modulation increased in a dose related manner.|
|●||No anti-drug antibodies were detected.|
Prior Clinical Experience
Oral anti-CD3 antibodies, as opposed to the narrow therapeutic window of its intravenous counterpart, have been shown to impact the gut immune system and mesenteric lymph nodes, thereby promoting regulatory T-cells activity, without inducing immunosuppression. The treatment alleviated experimental autoimmune encephalitis and T1D mellitus, which was associated with regulatory T-cells induction. Orally and nasally administered anti-CD3 suppressed autoantibody production in a mouse lupus model. Oral anti-CD3 yielded reduced pancreatic hyperplasia, hepatic fat accumulation and muscle inflammation in a leptin-deficient model of NASH and diabetes.
Pharmacology Summary (In Vitro Studies)
The key conclusions arising from the non-clinical studies of Foralumab by Novimmune are:
|●||Foralumab is a specific anti-CD3 epsilon mAb, as it binds to human T-cells and the recombinant human CD3 epsilon chain, and can be displaced by another specific anti-CD3 epsilon mAb, muromonab CD3.|
|●||When bound to its target, Foralumab triggers calcium flux into the cell and modulates the CD3/TCR complex causing its’ transient removal from the cell surface.|
|●||The combination of the two-point mutations introduced into the Fc portion (the constant region of the antibody that has limited structural variability and is responsible for adverse side effects) of Foralumab, resulting in the abrogation of the binding to Fc gamma receptors, and C1q, consequently eliminates T-cell proliferation and the release of numerous cytokines including TNF, and interferon gamma, or IFNγ in vitro .|
|●||Foralumab does not cross react with CD3 molecules expressed by T-cells of other species including baboon, Rhesus monkey, Cynomolgus monkey, rabbit, dog, rat and mouse. As a consequence, options for the most relevant species selection for pharmacology and toxicology assessment of Foralumab are limited. Novimmune addressed this limitation by studying LCD3 transgenic mice. This transgenic mouse line expresses the human as well as the mouse CD3 epsilon chain on the surface of their T-cells.|
|●||Using a transgenic line of mice expressing both human and mouse CD3 molecules (1:1 ratio) at the surface of T-cell (LCD3 ), following a single intravenous injection, Foralumab dose dependently:|
|●||Modifies human CD3 epsilon expression; that is, more than 80% of the cell surface protein was removed within 24 hours when given at a saturating dose. This modulation was transient as receptor expression levels returned to baseline values within 7 days of dosing.|
|●||Caused a reduction of 70-80% in the number of circulating T-cells when given at a saturating dose. The maximal effect was observed at hour 6 post dose. Cell counts returned to baseline levels within 3.5 days.|
|●||Demonstrated a half-life of 1.4 and 1.7 days for doses of 5 and 200 µg per mouse, respectively. This seemingly short half-life is similar to that observed in vivo for other anti-CD3 mAbs and reflects internalization of Foralumab by the human CD3 molecule on the T-cells of these transgenic mice. It was therefore expected that Foralumab will be internalized by human T-cells in patients and consequently have a half-life comparable to other therapeutic anti-CD3 mAbs.|
Milciclib is an orally bioavailable, small molecule broad spectrum inhibitor of CDKs (CDKs): 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7 and Src family kinases. CDKs are a family of highly conserved enzymes that are involved in regulating the cell cycle, which is a series of events that takes place in cells leading to division and duplication of its DNA to produce two daughter cells. Src family kinases regulate cell growth and potential transformation of normal cells to cancer cells. A novel feature of Milciclib is its ability to reduce microRNAs, miR-221 and miR-222, that silence gene expression. miR-221 and miR-222 promote the formation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) that are important for spread of cancer cells (metastasis). Levels of these microRNAs are consistently increased in HCC patients and may contribute towards resistance to treatment with Sorafenib. As a result, we are investigating Milciclib both as a monotherapy and plan a combination treatment with Sorafenib. To date, Milciclib has been studied in a total of eight completed and ongoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in 316 patients. In these trials, Milciclib was observed to be well-tolerated and showed initial signals of anti-tumor action. We initiated a Phase 2a trial (CDKO-125a-010) for Milciclib as a single therapy in patients with HCC in the second half of 2017 and expect to initiate a Phase 2b trial (TZLS (201)-125a-011) for Milciclib in combination with Sorafenib (the standard of care for treatment of HCC) in patients with HCC in 2019.
We are initially developing Milciclib for the treatment of HCC. HCC, or liver cancer, is the sixth most common worldwide and second most leading cause of death in the United States. Liver cancer incidence and death rates are steadily rising. As of 2012, rates of new liver cancer cases went up 38% from 2003 to 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most HCC patients present with advanced disease and do not benefit from transplantation, surgical resection, or locoregional therapies. The SOC, Sorafenib and Lenvatinib, are approved in the United States and EU for advanced HCC patients but have a limited impact on overall survival.
The primary risk factor for HCC is hepatic cirrhosis, with an estimated 78% of HCC cases and 57% of cases of liver cirrhosis caused by chronic infection with hepatitis B virus or HCV. Recently, the combination of insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity, termed “metabolic syndrome,” has also been recognized as a cause of NAFLD, which is the most common liver disease, cirrhosis and HCC. The following graphic represents the progression from a healthy liver to NAFLD, NASH and HCC.
Generally, cancer is primarily due to deficiencies in cell cycle control, eventually resulting in transformation of normal cells to rapidly growing cancer cells. Therapeutic intervention to control cell cycle has long been anticipated as effective cancer therapies. CDKs are a family of enzymes first discovered as regulators of the cell cycle. CDKs have been found to be overexpressed in a variety of human diseases with abnormal cell growth such as cancers, viral infections, neurodegenerative disorders and other proliferative diseases. We believe that modulating CDK activity with targeted therapies is an attractive strategy to reinforce cell cycle control and decrease the rate of abnormal proliferation of cancer cells. The first FDA approval in March 2015 of a CDK inhibitor for palbociclib, and more recently in 2017, ribociclib, for a type of breast cancer, has led to great interest in the development of this class of drugs as oncology therapeutics.
Milciclib is an oral, broad-spectrum inhibitor of CDKs, as well as several other protein kinases responsible for controlling cell growth and replication. Milciclib has an unusual kinase inhibitory profile making it active against other receptors such as, tyrosine kinase, Src family and splicing kinases, which play a role in cell growth and transformation from normal to cancerous cell types.
In tumor cells exposed to Milciclib, a block in G1 phase (first phase of the growth cycle where the cell synthesizes messenger RNA and proteins before cell division) of the cell cycle was observed, supporting the postulated mechanism of action of the compound as determined in biochemical assays. Additionally, Milciclib was able to modulate the phosphorylation of the Retinoblastoma protein, a substrate of the CDK/cyclin complex as well as to reduce phosphorylation status of proteins of the TRKa signaling pathway in cells expressing the tyrosine kinase receptor. These results supported that Milciclib was active against several families of protein kinases that actively controlled cell growth and transformation from normal to cancerous cell types. This is important because many chemotherapeutic agents are effective at only a single point in the cell cycle, allowing cells to “escape” the biochemical blockage through alternative biochemical pathways.
Significant anti-tumor activity was observed in all tested preclinical animal models with different oral treatment schedules of Milciclib. Cancerous cell types were transplanted into immunosuppressed animals and the number and volume of cancerous lesions were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging after oral administration of Milciclib at different dose levels (DLs) and dose schedules compared to untreated, control animals. In various human xenograft and transgenic models (prostate cancer, lung adenocarcinoma and hepatocarcinoma), consistent tumor growth inhibition, up to 91%, (evaluated by measuring the number and volume of tumors for treated animals versus control animals) was observed -with repeat daily treatment at tolerated doses. Similar results were obtained in a mammary carcinoma model (stasis and partial remission in 58% and 25% of the primary tumors, respectively) with repeat daily dosing. In an orthotopic mouse model of HCC, statistically significant reduction in tumor growth was observed following five weeks of treatment with Milciclib (-20% reduction,30mg/kg/day),sorafenib (-20% reduction, 20 mg/kg/day) vs combination of Milciclib with Sorafenib (-38% reduction) as compared to vehicle control. The treatment also reduced serum levels of human alpha-fetoprotein. Preliminary mechanistic and gene expression studies suggest that downregulation of miR-221, miR-222 by Milciclib results in upregulation of its molecular targets, cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors p27 and p57. Additionally, Milciclib treatment upregulated relative expression of tumor suppressors p21 and p53, which are important regulators of cellular proliferation. Milciclib treatment reduced expression of pAKT, c-Myc and cyclin D1, which are known to be overexpressed in HCC tumor tissues. These preclinical data demonstrating the synergistic effect of Milciclib with Sorafenib were presented at the AASLD meeting in November 2018.
Clinical Development Plan
Phase 2a Clinical Trial (CDKO-125a-010) for Milciclib as a Monotherapy for the Treatment of HCC
In July 2017, we initiated dosing in a single-arm, multicenter, Phase 2a clinical trial (CDK-125a-010) for Milciclib in adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HCC and good liver function. The trial is studying the tolerability and safety of Milciclib in these adult patients. As of 2019, we have enrolled and treated 30 patients at sites in Italy, Greece and Israel. Eligible patients are receiving Milciclib orally, 100 mg/day for four consecutive days a week (four days on followed by three days off) for a total of 12 weeks.
The primary endpoint for the study is the overall tolerability profile, evaluated based on laboratory findings and adverse events emerging during the trial. The occurrence of adverse events and laboratory tests will be performed weekly during treatment. All the enrolled patients who receive at least one drug administration were evaluated for safety. An interim evaluation of tolerability and adverse events was undertaken when the 10th patient had completed the first cycle of treatment. A second interim evaluation will be conducted when 20 evaluable patients have completed their first cycle of treatment. Enrollment of additional patients was allowed after a positive safety evaluation of the first 10 patients by an IDMC. On December 8, 2017 we announced the results of the first interim review by the IDMC that treatment with Milciclib was well-tolerated with no drug-related serious adverse events. The IDMC recommended continuing with the trial. The second IDMC meeting held on January 25, 2018 recommended that all patients (first cohort) who received at least one dose of Milciclib should be assessed for safety and tolerability at the end of protocol mandated follow up before enrolling the second cohort. The IDMC reconvened on its scheduled date on May 9, 2018 to evaluate the complete safety data for all 11 patients who completed the study mandated visits. The IDMC concluded that safety and tolerability profile of Milciclib in the first cohort, is acceptable and that there are no safety signals that preclude continuation of enrollment of the remaining cohorts as planned. The IDMC has also been informed of the patients who opted to continue Milciclib on “compassionate use basis.” Four patients have completed protocol mandated treatment (six cycles, six months). Three of these patients and their health care-provider/investigator opted to continue treatment with Milciclib (compassionate use) with approval of their local Ethics Committee. These three patients have completed treatment with milciclib for 9, 13, and 16 months, respectively. Based on this IDMC assessment, the study actively enrolled 20 more patients. Secondary endpoints include Objective Tumor Response Rate, based on the modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, or mRECIST, a set of criteria developed to assess tumor response in HCC. In this study, objective response by RECIST will also be evaluated as supportive analysis, along with several secondary parameters. The decrease in alpha-fetoprotein, or AFP, as compared to baseline in patients with high AFP at baseline will also be considered, based on reports suggesting a better outcome for patients who achieve an AFP response. As an exploratory endpoint, the expression of micro-RNAs and their possible association with Milciclib treatment will be investigated. Topline results from this study are expected in July 2019.
Phase 2b Clinical Trial (TZLS (201)-125a-011) for Milciclib as a Combination Therapy with Sorafenib for the Treatment of HCC
In 2019, we intend to initiate a randomized, multicenter study to explore tolerability and antitumor activity, of Milciclib in combination with Sorafenib, administered as first-line systemic therapy in adult patients with recurrent, unresectable or metastatic HCC and good liver function.
Sorafenib (Nexavar®) is the standard of care for treatment of HCC, yet treatment extends survival probability from 7.9 months (placebo control) to 10.7 months (Llovet et al. N Engl J Med (2008) 359:378-390). There is a need for improvement which may be realized by combination of Milciclib with Sorafenib. Milciclib modulates cell cycle, DNA replication and growth factor receptor cell signaling (Albanese et.al, Mol. Cancer Therap. (2010) 9(8):2243-54). Sorafenib is a multikinase inhibitor which has demonstrated both anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic properties in vitro and in vivo. The combination of Sorafenib with Milciclib should exert a combined anti-proliferative effect on tumor cells, involving targets different from the ones modulated by Milciclib, together with antiangiogenesis properties.
Milciclib has been studied in a total of eight completed and ongoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in approximately 316 patients. Milciclib was observed to be well tolerated by patients with thymoma in Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials.
Phase 1 Development
Milciclib has been investigated in each of the below, open-label, multi-center, non-randomized, dose-escalation Phase 1 clinical trials.
|Trial||Patient Population||Treatment Schedule / Dosing||Key Findings|
Advanced/metastatic solid tumors
1st Schedule: Orally, once daily
for 7 consecutive days every 14 days in a 2-week cycle at escalating doses of 50, 100,
150, 200 and 300 mg
2nd Schedule: Orally, once daily for 4 consecutive
days a week for 3 weeks in a 4-week cycle at escalating doses of 150, 180 and 200 mg
Comparable plasma pharmacokinetic parameters between the two schedules were observed.
The exposure to Milciclib increased with the dose and there was a 3-fold accumulation in the daily systemic exposure after repeated dosing, in good agreement with expectations on the basis of the half-life of the compound (24-43 h).
No objective responses were achieved on 1st schedule; Disease stabilizations, defined as cancer disease that is neither increasing nor decreasing in extent or severity, was observed in 6 of 14 evaluable patients (42.9%).
A partial response, or PR, was achieved in 2 out of 14 evaluable patients (14.3%) on 2nd schedule; Disease stabilization (no change in extent or severity of disease state) was reported in 3 patients (21.4%), all treated at 180 mg/day DL, including a stabilization lasting 31 weeks in a patient with pancreatic cancer and stable disease, or SD, lasting 29 weeks in a patient with carcinoid.
|Trial||Patient Population||Treatment Schedule / Dosing||Key Findings|
|CDKO-125a-002||Recurrent malignant glioma 28 patients (Phase 1)||Escalating oral doses of 18, 36, 54 and 72 mg/m2 once a day for 14 consecutive days followed by 7 days of rest in a 3-week cycle||
Results indicated that the pharmacokinetics of Milciclib was dose-independent in the dose range 18
– 72 mg/m2.
34 patients (Phase 2)
54 mg/m2 (RP2D)
|Systemic exposure values of Milciclib maleate accumulated by a factor of 3|
Phase 1: No evidence of clinical effect was observed in all the 28 treated patients. However 5 patients seemed to have benefitted from therapy with SD observed (no change in extent or severity of cancer).
Phase 2: One out of 34 patients achieved the primary endpoint. PFS at 6 months or PFS-6 rate was 2.9%. No complete response, or CR (disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment) or PR (decrease in tumor size or extent of cancer in the body) were reported. 4 patients showed SD as best overall response (11.8%). Prolonged SD (≥ 6 months) was observed in one patient whose SD lasted for 24.9 months.
34 patients were enrolled and treated: 29 patients of non-Enzyme Inducing Anti-Epileptic Drugs, or non-EIAED, population and 5 of EIAEDs population. The primary clinical endpoint was not met. Only one patient (non-EIAEDs) achieved the study primary endpoint out of 34 treated patients. PFS-6 rate evaluated in the treated patients was 2.9% (95% CI, 0.07-15.33). No CR or PR was reported; 4 patients in the treated patients showed SD as best overall response on treatment (11.8%). Prolonged SDs (≥6 months) was observed in one patient whose SD lasted for 24.9 months. Median OS in treated patients was 7.03 months (95% CI, 5.72-10.58). The exploration of the role play by potential prognostic factors, such as Karnofsky Performance Scale (≥90 vs. <90), age (<40 vs. ≥40) and interval between initial diagnosis and current recurrence (≥52 weeks vs. <52 weeks) indicated a better survival outcome for patients whose interval between initial diagnosis and current recurrence was (≥52 weeks). Given the non-comparative nature of the study, it cannot be said whether the treatment played any role in this result.
The influence of other factors cannot be excluded but was not apparent in the current sample.
|Trial||Patient Population||Treatment Schedule / Dosing||Key Findings|
Advanced/metastatic solid tumors
1st Schedule: Orally, once daily
for 21 consecutive days followed by 7 days of rest in a 4-week cycle at escalating doses of 16 and 24 mg/m2
2nd Schedule: Orally, once daily for 14 consecutive days followed by 7 days of rest in a
3-week cycle at escalating doses of 24, 48, 54 and 72 mg/m2
No differences in the pharmacokinetics were observed between the two schedules after both single and repeated dosing.
The systemic exposure to Milciclib (amount of Milciclib available systemically in the patient) increased with dose in terms of both Cmax (maximum concentration of Milciclib in plasma) and daily Area Under the Plasma Drug Concentration, or AUC, vs Time Curve, a measure of drug bioavailability without deviations from dose-proportionality (plasma concentration changes in a linear relationship to amount of drug dosed).
After repeated administrations, Milciclib Cmax and AUC accumulated by a factor of 2-4, independent of the dose-level.
No objective (measurable) responses were achieved. SDs were reported in 5 out of 16 evaluable patients (31.3%), starting from the dose of 48 mg/m2/day. One disease stabilization maintained for 12 cycles (10.5 months) at 48 mg/m2/day, was achieved in a parotid gland patient.
Advanced/metastatic solid tumors
Orally administered at 45, 60 and 80 mg/m2 once daily for 7 days on / 7 days off (Days 1 to 7 and 15 to 21) in a 4-week cycle in combination with fixed dose of IV gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2/day) on Days 1, 8, 15
over 30 minutes every 4 weeks
Pharmacokinetic parameters (Cmax, AUC) of Milciclib after Milciclib maleate/ gemcitabine combination were consistent with those previously observed after Milciclib maleate administration as single agent, suggesting no influence of gemcitabine on the pharmacokinetics of the compound.
One PR in 14 evaluable patients (7.1%) and one SD in 10 patients (71.4%).
Disease stabilizations lasting z 6 months were recorded in 4 cases (28.6%) in thyroid, prostatic, pancreatic carcinoma and peritoneal mesothelioma, in 2 of them lasting 13.4 months (peritoneal mesothelioma) and 14.3 months (prostate cancer).
The PR and 3 of the 4 long lasting disease stabilizations were obtained at the recommended Phase 2 dose (RP2D) of 80 mg/m2/day plus 1000 mg/m2/day gemcitabine, supporting development of combination therapies with Milciclib in advanced cancer patients.
Results of trial CDKO-125a-004 were published: S. Aspeslagh et.al. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol (2017) 79: 1257-1265
Phase 2 Development
|Trial||Patient Population||Treatment Schedule / Dosing||Key Findings|
Malignant pleural mesothelioma
150 mg/day orally
administered for 7 consecutive days every 14 days in 2-week cycles
Plasma levels of Milciclib were comparable to those previously obtained in the Phase 1 study CDK0-125a-001 at the same dosage and with the same schedule, confirming the reliability of the pharmacokinetic profile of the compound.
No objective responses were reported; prolonged SDs were observed in 2 patients, lasting 8.9 months and 8.7 months, respectively.
Trial cutoff: 1/9/2017
Malignant B3 thymoma / thymic carcinoma
Single agent (flat dose)
150 mg once daily
7days on/7days off q2wks
Treatment with Milciclib met the primary endpoint of PFS at 3 months (PFS-3). 56 of 72 treated patients had median PFS of 5.78 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 3.48 months and 7.89 months, respectively. The secondary endpoint, OS, was also met in this trial. 36 of 72 patients (50%) had median OS of 24.44 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 22.05 and 54.55 months, respectively. Five patients from this study are continuing treatment with Milciclib.
Trial cutoff: 1/9/2017
Malignant B3 thymoma / thymic carcinoma
Single agent (flat dose)
150 mg once daily
7days on/7days off q2wks
Treatment with Milciclib met the primary endpoint of PFS-3. 18 of 30 patients had median PFS of 5.65 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 3.94 months and 17.45 months, respectively. The secondary endpoint, OS, was met in this trial. 18 of 30 treated patients (54.5%) had OS of 48 months. Upper and lower 95% confidence limits could not be calculated because the median survival probability was not reached.
|CDKO-125a-010||Recurrent or metastatic unresectable HCC||
Single agent (flat dose)
100 mg once daily
4days on/3days off x 4 wks q4 wks
Source: Milciclib Investigators Brochure version 14
Overall, Milciclib has indicated a similar pattern of toxicity across studies. Consistent with preclinical findings, the safety profile of the compound in humans is characterized by a dose-limiting neurological toxicity and, to a lesser extent, by GI toxicity. Asthenia (weakness) and fatigue have also been observed, as well as effects on liver, especially with prolonged schedules of administration. Mild/moderate tremors are a common finding, reported also at recommended Phase 2 doses (RP2Ds) (only one case of grade 3), whereas ataxia (loss of muscle control and balance) was observed primarily during the first dose-escalation study (one case of grade 3 ataxia occurred also at the RP2D in the combination study CDKO-125a-004 and one in CDKO-125a-006 trial). Both tremor and ataxia were generally reversible in all cases in up to 7-9 days, upon drug discontinuation or dose reduction in some cases. Grade 1-2 dizziness was also reported, with only one grade 3 occurrence, overall. Mild dysgeusia (disorder of sense of taste) is another event that was reported across studies, as well as headache and anorexia (loss of appetite). Grade 3 myasthenia (muscle weakness) was also reported in two patients. Nausea and/or vomiting and/or diarrhea were mostly of grade 1-2 in severity and were manageable with appropriate therapy. Diarrhea was occasionally severe, leading to dehydration in several instances. Skin disorders were also reported across studies; the events were mainly of grade 1-2 in severity except for one case of grade 3 rash maculopapular and one case grade 3 of erythema multiforme. Hematological toxicity was mainly represented by lymphocytes (white blood cells) decrease and, to a lesser extent by all the other hematological parameters. Severe thrombocytopenia (decrease in number of platelets in blood) was sporadically observed, especially at the highest doses tested and in combination with gemcitabine. Effects on liver were dose-dependent and mainly represented by transient transaminase elevation (with bilirubin slightly less affected). ALT/AST (liver enzymes measured to monitor liver damage) elevations were usually mild using the 7 days on / 7 days off schedule (even if prolonged transaminases (liver enzymes) were occasionally observed). The more prolonged administrations were associated with a more frequent and pronounced effect on liver function tests. Asymptomatic grade 3-4 lipase (a pancreatic enzyme that breaks down fats, measured to monitor pancreatic function) elevations were sometimes reported, without clinical manifestation. No important effects on renal function were noted.
Monitoring of visual function was performed through visual acuity, funduscopy (ophthalmic examination of the back of the eye) and, in a subset of studies, electroretinography examinations, or ERG. Overall, no clinically relevant abnormalities for these parameters emerged during treatment across studies, except for ERG worsening, compared to baseline, observed in three patients, who for this reason discontinued study treatment as per protocol, and one case of retinal detachment reported as a serious event in one patient (CDKO-125a-006 trial) and assessed as probably related to Milciclib maleate.
Our interim review in trial CDKD-125A-010, as noted above, found Milciclib to be well-tolerated with no drug-related serious adverse events in 6 patients with unresectable or metastatic HCC who had concluded a first cycle of treatment with Milciclib.
Phase 2 Data in Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma
Thymomas and thymic carcinomas are tumors that originate in epithelial cells of the thymus gland. Generally, thymoma does not spread beyond the thymus, while thymic carcinoma, represents an aggressive cancer that metastasizes rapidly and poses treatment challenges. Both cancers are rare, and it is estimated that together they account for ~400 cases per year in the US, or about 1.5 persons per million diagnosed with thymoma/thymic carcinoma. Patients more often present with advanced disease, with a 5-year survival of 30% to 50%. Standard primary treatment for patients with these types of tumors is surgical resection. Depending on tumor stage, treatment options include the use of radiation therapy and chemotherapy with or without surgery. First line of chemotherapy treatment is the combination of cisplatin, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide for thymoma. For thymic carcinoma the first line of treatment is the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin.
Milciclib met its primary endpoints in two Phase 2 clinical trials in patients with thymic carcinoma and thymoma. Clinical trials, CDKO-125A-006 (72 patients) and CDKO-125A-007 (30 patients) in patients with thymic carcinoma and thymoma, respectively, were conducted in the US, France and Italy. Monotherapy treatment regimen with Milciclib (150mg/day; 7 days on / 7 days off) was well-tolerated. Seven patients (5 patients in the CDKO-125A-006 study and 2 patients in the CDKO-125A-007) have been continuing treatment with Milciclib for more than 2 years with excellent tolerance profile. Among these, 2 patients have been treated with Milciclib for approximately 5 years, demonstrating tolerability of the drug for long term treatment.
In trial CDKO-125A-006, 56 of 72 treated patients had median PFS of 5.78 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 3.48 and months, respectively. In trial CDKO-125A-007, 18 of 30 treated patients had median PFS of 5.65 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 3.94 and 17.45 months, respectively. These results materially exceeded the median PFS> 10.2 weeks established for monotherapy with pemetrexed. The OS secondary endpoint was also met in both trials. In trial CDKO-125A-006, 36 of 72 (50%) treated patients had median OS of 24.44 months with upper and lower 95% confidence limits of 22.05 and 53.55 months, respectively. In trial CDKO-125A-007, 18 of 30 patients had an OS (54.5%) of 48 months. As a median was not reached, the 95% confidence limits could not be calculated.
Both clinical studies demonstrated that treatment with Milciclib met PFS as the primary endpoint and OS as a secondary endpoint.
The pharmacokinetics of Milciclib were investigated in mouse, rat, dog and monkey models after single intravenous and oral administration of the compound. Since the compound is intended for the oral administration route, the pharmacokinetics were further characterized after single and repeated oral administrations. These preclinical studies were performed with Milciclib formulated as maleate or mono/di/tri-hydrochloride salt. Following intravenous administration, Milciclib was characterized by a moderate clearance in mice, rats and monkeys and a high clearance in dogs. The volume of distribution was higher than the total body water in all tested species, suggesting an extensive tissue distribution. Following oral administration to rats and monkeys, Milciclib crossed the blood-brain barrier and distributed in the brain. In all species, Milciclib plasma levels increased largely in direct proportion with the dose.
Preclinical toxicology studies conducted with Milciclib have shown that the hemolymphopoietic system, the GI tract and the male reproductive organs are the major target organs considered related to the pharmacological activity of the compound in all species. The effects on the hemolymphopoietic system and GI tract were reversible after drug withdrawal. Reversibility could not be demonstrated in the male reproductive organs at the end of the 2-3-week recovery period because of the longtime of maturation of the seminiferous epithelium. Additional toxicities, that are considered not related to the mechanism of action of the compound, were Central Nervous System, or CNS, ocular and renal toxicities. In addition, hemorrhages in different organs were observed in dogs and monkeys. Clinical signs of CNS toxicity were observed at high doses given as single or repeated administrations in all species.
Our Preclinical Programs
Anti-IL6R Fully Human mAb TZLS-501 (formerly known as NI-1201)
TZLS-501 is a fully human mAb targeting the IL-6R. We licensed the intellectual property from Novimmune in January 2017. This fully human mAb has a novel mechanism of action, binding to both the membrane-bound and soluble forms of the IL-6R and depleting circulating levels of the IL-6 in the blood. An excessive production of IL-6 is regarded as a key driver of chronic inflammation, associated with autoimmune diseases such as multiple myeloma, oncology indications and rheumatoid arthritis, and we believe that TZLS-501 may have potential therapeutic value for these indications.
In preclinical studies, TZLS-501 demonstrated the potential for overcoming the limitations of other IL-6 blocking pathway drugs. Compared to tocilizumab and sarilumab, while binding to the membrane-bound IL-6R complex, TZLS-501 has been observed to have a higher affinity for the soluble IL-6 receptor from antibody binding studies conducted in cell culture. TZLS-501 also demonstrated the potential to block or reduce IL-6 signaling in mouse models of inflammation. The soluble form of IL-6 has been implicated to have a larger role in disease progression compared to the membrane- bound form (Kallen, K.J. (2002). “The role of transsignaling via the agonistic soluble IL-6 receptor in human diseases.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 1592 (3): 323–343.).
StemPrintER is a multi-gene signature assay intended for use in patients diagnosed with estrogen-receptor positive ER+/HER2 negative breast cancers. We believe this in-vitro prognostic test will be used in conjunction with clinical evaluation to identify those patients at increased risk for early and/or late metastasis. StemPrintER is designed to help physicians distinguish ER+/HER2 negative patients:
|●||with an elevated risk of early recurrence (<5 years) who could benefit from chemotherapy in addition to hormonal therapy;|
|●||with a high risk of late recurrence who could benefit from prolonged endocrine treatment up to 10 years; and|
|●||with a low risk of early recurrence who might be spared chemotherapy or be eligible for less aggressive treatments.|
Our diagnostic has a novel biological basis, being based on the detection of cancer stem cell markers, uses a reliable platform (qRT-PCR, FFPE), and has been evaluated in an initial retrospective validation study using a consecutive cohort of approximately 2400 patients with breast cancer. Our development team is preparing for a retrospective validation study using an independent cohort and has conducted a pre-submission meeting with the FDA, it out intent to proceed with the study in the event that we are able to procure a collaboration partner or grant funding but it is not a project of primary focus at the current time.
We believe our current CMOs will be able to fully meet our current clinical trial needs and anticipated future commercial demand for Foralumab and Milciclib in a cost-effective manner.
A large-scale cGMP manufacturing of Foralumab drug substance has been accomplished and we have produced sufficient purified material for completing all clinical studies up to Phase 3. This material was produced by Lonza Group AG using a proprietary cell culture technology. The Foralumab material is highly stable when stored at -80 o C for several years. A novel and proprietary formulation suitable for oral administration of Foralumab has been developed. We have completed cGMP manufacturing of formulated drug product for nasal and oral routes of administration for Phase I clinical studies.
We have also achieved cGMP manufacturing of Milciclib at pilot scale. The chemical scheme for manufacturing is simple with reproducible yields. This method has been used for producing drug substance to supply the ongoing clinical studies. The chemical process is very cost-effective and can be scaled-up for much larger scale needed for commercialization.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly changing technologies, significant competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. We face substantial competition from many different sources, including large and specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions, government agencies and public and private research institutions.
We are aware of a number of companies focused on developing therapies in various indications. Any advances made by a competitor may be used to develop therapies that could compete against any of our product candidates.
For our specific product candidates, the main competitors include:
|●||Sorafenib and Lenvatinib are currently the standards of use therapy for HCC but the drugs exhibit severe toxicities and patients often develop resistance to the treatment with Sorafenib. As a result, there is an immediate need for improvement in treatment for HCC.|
|●||We believe that Foralumab is currently the only fully human anti-CD3 mAb in clinical development for treatment of NASH and Crohn’s disease.|
Many of our potential competitors, alone or with their strategic partners, have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources than we do, such as larger R&D, clinical, marketing and manufacturing organizations. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of competitors. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing our product candidates against competitors.
We strive to protect and enhance the proprietary technologies, inventions and improvements that we believe are important to our business, including seeking, maintaining and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties. Our policy is to seek to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, pursuing and obtaining patent protection in the United States and in jurisdictions outside of the United States related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, platforms and our product candidates that are important to the development and implementation of our business.
As of March 25, 2019, our intellectual property portfolio was made up as follows:
We have rights to a patent family that discloses the Milciclib compound, methods of using the compound, and processes for making the compound under license from Nerviano (which is further described below). This patent family includes five granted U.S. patents, one granted European patent, and one granted Eurasian patent. This patent family also includes granted patents in Africa (African Intellectual Property Organization, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Several applications are pending in the U.S. and other countries in this family. The patents in this family will expire in April 2024, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and similar regulatory extensions available in several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
We also have rights to a second patent family which covers related entities, such as salts and crystal forms, of Milciclib, and methods of using the salts and crystal forms. This patent family comprises one granted U.S. patent and one granted patent in each of Europe, China, Japan, and Hong Kong. The patents in this family will expire in April 2030, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
In addition, we have rights to five patent families which cover methods of using Milciclib in the treatment of multiple indications. These patent families comprise five granted U.S. patents, and granted patents in Europe, China, Hong Kong, and Japan, and one pending patent application in Europe. The patents in these families will expire between February 2027 and March 2030, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and similar regulatory extensions available in several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
Among the above five patent families, two families also cover combination therapies of Milciclib with cytotoxic agents. These families comprise two granted U.S. patents, and granted patents in Europe, China, Hong Kong, and Japan. The patents in these families will expire between November 2029 and March 2030, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and similar regulatory extensions available in several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
One family of the above five patent families also covers combination therapies of Milciclib with therapeutic antibodies. This patent family includes one granted U.S. patent, and granted patents in Europe, China, and Japan. The patents in this family will expire in February 2027, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and similar regulatory extensions available in several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
In addition, we have rights to a patent family which covers methods of using Milciclib together with a second anti-cancer agent in the treatment of cancer. This patent family includes one pending application in the U.S and one pending international application. The patent applications in this family, if issued as patents, will expire in December 2038, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extension in the U.S. and similar regulatory extensions available in several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
We have rights to a first patent family that disclose methods of using Foralumab, licensed from Novimmune (which is further described below). This patent family includes, one granted European patent, and one granted Eurasian patent. This patent family also includes granted patents in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine, and Portugal. The patents in this family will expire in April 2025, excluding any patent term extensions available in several jurisdictions, such as Europe.
We also have rights to a second patent family that discloses the Foralumab compound and methods of using the compound also licensed from Novimmune. This patent family comprises three granted U.S. patent one granted European patent, and one granted Eurasian patent. This patent family also includes granted patents in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and Ukraine. Applications are pending in Brazil, Japan, Singapore and U.S. The patents in these families will expire in June 2025, excluding any patent term adjustment in the U.S. and patent term extensions available in the U.S. and several other jurisdictions, such as Europe.
In addition, we have rights to a third patent family that discloses combination therapies of Foralumab with Il-6 or IL-6R antibodies licensed from Novimmune. This patent family has one pending U.S. application. The patents in these families will expire in January 2032, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extensions available in the U.S.
We own and have right to a forth patent family that discloses formulations of Foralumab and dosing regimens for treating various disorders. This patent family has applications pending in the U.S, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Israel and Japan. The patents in these families will expire in August 2037, excluding any patent term adjustment and patent term extensions available in the U.S and several other jurisdictions
We have rights to a patent family that discloses methods of using TZLS-501 to treat various disorders, licensed from Novimmune. This patent family includes, four granted U.S. patents and one granted European patent. This patent family also includes granted patents in Australia, Canada, China, Japan and Mexico. Applications are pending in U.S. and India. The patents in this family will expire in May 2029, excluding any patent term extensions available in several jurisdictions, such as Europe.
Individual patents extend for varying periods depending on the date of filing of the patent application or the date of patent issuance and the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. Generally, patents issued for regularly filed applications in the United States are granted a term of 20 years from the earliest effective non-provisional filing date. In addition, in certain instances, a patent term can be extended to recapture a portion of the USPTO delay in issuing the patent as well as a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period. However, as to the FDA component, the restoration period cannot be longer than five years and the total patent term including the restoration period must not exceed 14 years following FDA approval. The duration of foreign patents varies in accordance with provisions of applicable local law, but typically is also 20 years from the earliest effective filing date. However, the actual protection afforded by a patent varies on a product by product basis, from country to country and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country and the validity and enforceability of the patent.
Furthermore, we rely upon trade secrets and know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, using confidentiality agreements with our collaborators, employees and consultants and invention assignment agreements with our employees. We also have confidentiality agreements or invention assignment agreements with our collaborators and selected consultants. These agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and, in the case of the invention assignment agreements, to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through a relationship with a third party. These agreements may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. To the extent that our collaborators, employees and consultants 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.
Our commercial success will also depend in part on not infringing upon the proprietary rights of third parties. It is uncertain whether the issuance of any third-party patent would require us to alter our development or commercial strategies, or our product candidates or processes, obtain licenses or cease certain activities. Our breach of any license agreements or failure to obtain a license to proprietary rights that we may require to develop or commercialize our future product candidates may have an adverse impact on us. If third parties have prepared and filed patent applications prior to March 16, 2013 in the United States that also claim technology to which we have rights, we may have to participate in interference proceedings in the USPTO, to determine priority of invention. For more information, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property.”
In January 2015, we entered into an agreement with Nerviano, or the Nerviano Agreement, pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, exclusive license to patents owned or controlled by Nerviano, or the Nerviano License to develop and commercialize products and services incorporating Milciclib as an active ingredient, and any product or service controlled or owned by Nerviano that is used to diagnose or assess responsiveness to Milciclib therapy or dosage. The Nerviano License confers the right on us grant sub-licenses, and otherwise to employ third party manufacturers and distributors to produce and sell licensed products and services.
Each party to the Nerviano Agreement agreed to a development plan, or the Nerviano Development Plan, approved by a joint development committee, or the JDC. The JDC is comprised of at least two members of each party, meets at least twice a year and endeavors to make decisions by consensus, save that where there is a disagreement with respect to any aspect of the licensed products or services we shall have a deciding vote.
Under the Nerviano Development Plan, we (or, as the case may be, our sub-licensee(s)) are obliged to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize a licensed product or service in at least one therapeutic indication that arises out of the Nerviano Development Plan, and Nerviano is obliged to use commercially reasonable efforts to manufacture such product(s) or service(s). Pursuant to the Nerviano Development Plan, we have sole responsibility for costs for further clinical development and Nerviano is obliged to perform Phase 2 studies of licensed products and services, save that the amounts to be invoiced by Nerviano to us for Phase 2 studies shall be commercially reasonable and not be greater than a low-double-digit percentage in excess than amounts estimated to be invoiced by another reputable clinical research organization.
During the term of the Nerviano Development Plan, or the Nerviano Exclusivity Period, we and our affiliates may not, directly or indirectly, develop, make, use, sell, offer for sale or import any small molecule compound or other biological or chemical molecule other than Milciclib that directly binds to, with an affinity indicated by an IC50 of 100nM or less, and modulates the following specified pharmacological targets hit by Milciclib: Cdk-2, Cdc-4 and Cdc6.
Upon entry into the Nerviano Agreement, we paid an upfront, non-refundable initial license fee of $3,500,000 to Nerviano. We issued 4,233,616 of ordinary shares, fully paid with a nominal value of three pence each, or the Consideration Shares, to Nerviano at an issue price of 50.5 pence (equivalent to an aggregate value of £2,137,976.08).
Nerviano granted us an option, or the Nerviano Option, to buy-back all the Consideration Shares for a de minimis aggregate consideration exercisable on written notice at any time after the earlier of:
|(i)||an unsuccessful Phase 2 trial for HCC or breast cancer with a licensed product or service and the concomitant decision of the company, our affiliates or sub-licensees to discontinue development of a licensed product or service;|
|(ii)||the fifth anniversary of the Nerviano Agreement, (provided that if on such date a Phase 2 trial has commenced but has not been completed our ability to exercise the Nerviano Option shall be delayed until the outcome of the Phase 2 trial has become clear); or|
|(iii)||our abandonment of any licensed product or service for bona fide scientific reasons.|
The Nerviano Option cannot be exercised if any of the following events (each, a Release Event), occurs:
|(i)||a successful completion of a Phase 2 trial for HCC or breast cancer with a licensed product or service, where such successful conclusion renders the licensed product or service eligible for entry into a Phase 3 trial with no further clinical study; or|
|(ii)||our abandonment of the development of, or failure to exercise commercially reasonable efforts develop any, licensed product or service, save for where we have bona fide scientific reasons.|
The Nerviano Option effectively allows us to recover the Consideration Shares if it transpires that Milciclib proves to be unsuccessful in the indications for which we licensed it or we fail to see satisfactory results in a period of 5 years from the date of the license agreement.
Prior to a Release Event, Nerviano has agreed to not transfer, dispose of, or grant options or other rights over directly or indirectly any interests in the Consideration Shares nor to derive any financial benefit from the Shares, but is entitled to exercise all voting rights arising from the Consideration Shares.
Following a Release Event, Nerviano has agreed to a 12 month lock-up, or the Nerviano Lock-Up, in respect of the Consideration Shares, subject to customary exceptions, including the prior written consent of the company and our nominated adviser from time to time (which consent may be approved, provided or provided subject to conditions as each may determine in its absolute discretion), acceptance of takeover bids, share buy-backs by the company, or where required by law.
Following the lapse of the term of the Nerviano Lock-Up, Nerviano has agreed to not directly or indirectly, transfer, sell, mortgage, charge or otherwise dispose of more than 10% of the Consideration Shares (i.e. 423,362 ordinary shares) per calendar month, and to utilize the company’s broker from time to time to execute those transactions in respect of the legal and or beneficial ownership or any other interest in the Consideration Shares so as to ensure an orderly market.
We are obligated to pay Nerviano the following additional amounts in respect of the first licensed product or service which achieves the stated development milestones:
|(a)||$100,000 upon initiation, first patient dosed, or FPD, of the first Phase 3 registration trial in thymic carcinoma.|
|(b)||$4,000,000 upon FPD of the first Phase 3 registration trial in HCC.|
|(c)||$6,000,000 upon FPD of the first Phase 3 registration trial in breast cancer.|
|(d)||Upon the first NDA equivalent in: thymic carcinoma, $900,000; HCC, $9,000,000; breast cancer, $15,000,000.|
We are obliged to pay Nerviano a low-single-digit percentage royalty fee of the annual net sales of licensed products or services, subject to certain royalty off-sets on a country-by-country basis and, subject to certain exclusions, a low-double-digit percentage of sub-licensing revenues from the sale of licensed products or services for the life of the licensed patents.
During the Nerviano Exclusivity Period, we have the right to terminate activities and funding to Nerviano after 24 months from the beginning of the Nerviano Exclusivity Period but not prior thereto. If we exercise our termination right, we are obliged to transfer to Nerviano all relevant data, licensed products and services and an exclusive license pertaining to the licensed product or services, and Nerviano shall pay us a low-single-digit percentage royalty on annual net sales of licensed products and services, subject to certain exceptions.
Following the expiry of the Nerviano Exclusivity Period, we may terminate the Nerviano Agreement at any time on 90 days’ written notice, and either party may terminate the Nerviano Agreement for material breach by the other party of any material obligation or condition of the Nerviano Agreement by written notice, subject to a 45 day cure period for a payment breach, and a 120 day cure period for any other breach.
Absent early termination, the Nerviano Agreement shall remain in force until the later of, in all countries in which licensed products and services are marketed pursuant to the Nerviano Agreement, (a) the expiration of the last claim in an issued, unexpired patent within the licensed patents, subject to certain exceptions, which covers the sale of such licensed products or services, or (b) five years from the date of first commercial sale of such licensed product or service in such country.
Novimmune CD3 Agreement
In December 2014, we entered into a license and sublicense agreement with Novimmune, or the Novimmune CD3 Agreement, pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, exclusive license to certain patents owned or controlled by Novimmune, or the Novimmune CD3 License, together with a sublicense to certain patent licenses from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, or BMS, or the BMS CD3 Sublicense, and any associated know-how, biologic materials, clinical data or other technology relating to CD3 receptor mAbs and their use in order to research, develop and commercialize products and services. The Novimmune CD3 License and BMS CD3 Sublicense both confer the right to us to grant sublicenses, and otherwise to employ third party manufacturers and distributors to produce and sell licensed products and services, respectively.
Pursuant to the Novimmune CD3 Agreement, Novimmune granted the BMS CD3 Sub-License to us. Novimmune effected such grant pursuant to a research and commercialization agreement between Novimmune and BMS dated September 20, 2014, or the BMS R&C Agreement, and the agreement for the exclusive commercial license for the CD3 licensed product (NI-0401) between Novimmune and BMS dated February 2005.
Under the Novimmune CD3 Agreement, we have full control and authority over the research, development and commercialization of licensed products and services, and are required to exercise commercially reasonable efforts to commercialize such licensed products and services at all times.
Upon our entry into the Novimmune CD3 Agreement we paid an upfront fee of $750,000 to Novimmune (to be on paid by Novimmune to BMS pursuant to the terms of the BMS R&C Agreement), and a further upfront fee of $500,000 to Novimmune. We are required to pay Novimmune installments of $250,000 on each of the 14 month, 26 month and 38 month anniversaries of the date of the Novimmune CD3 Agreement. For the term of the Novimmune Agreement, we are obligated to pay to Novimmune a royalty of a low-single-digit percentage on net sales of licensed products and services, together with any amounts owed to BMS incurred pursuant to the BMS CD3 Sub-License.
We may terminate the Novimmune CD3 Agreement at any time on 90 days’ written notice, and either party may terminate the Novimmune CD3 Agreement by written notice for a payment breach or any other breach, subject to 45 day and 120 day cure periods, respectively. Absent early termination, the Novimmune CD3 Agreement will continue until the later of, in all countries in which licensed products are marketed pursuant to the Novimmune CD3 Agreement, (a) the expiration of the last claim in an issued, unexpired patent within the licensed patents or a claim that has not been pending more than five years, subject to certain exceptions, which covers the sale of such licensed product or service, or (b) the end of any market exclusivity period granted by the relevant governmental authority in a country that prevents another party from marketing the same licensed product or service.
Novimmune IL-6r Agreement
In December 2016, we entered into a license and sublicense agreement with Novimmune, or the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement, pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, exclusive license to certain patents owned or controlled by Novimmune, or the Novimmune IL-6r License, together with a sub-license to certain patent licenses from BMS, or the BMS IL-6r Sub-License, and any associated know-how, biologic materials, clinical data or other technology relating to IL-6r mAbs and their use in order to research, develop, commercialize products and services. The Novimmune IL-6r License and BMS IL-6r Sub-License both confer the right to us to grant sub-licenses, and otherwise to employ third party manufacturers and distributors to produce and sell licensed products and services, respectively.
Pursuant to the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement, Novimmune granted the BMS IL-6r Sub-License. Novimmune effected such grant pursuant to the BMS R&C Agreement and the agreement for the IL-6r exclusive commercial license for the IL-6r antibody licensed product (NI-1201) between Novimmune and BMS dated September 20, 2009, or the IL-6r Commercial License Agreement.
Under the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement, we have full control and authority over the research, development and commercialization of licensed products and services, and are required to exercise commercially reasonable efforts to commercialize such licensed products and services at all times.
Upon our entry into the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement we paid an upfront fee of $100,000 to Novimmune. For the term of the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement, we are obligated to pay to Novimmune a royalty of a low-single-digit percentage on net sales of licensed products and services, or low-double-digit percentage of any sub-license royalty revenue which we receive that arises from sales of licensed products and services, together with any amounts owed to BMS incurred pursuant to the BMS IL-6r Sub-License.
The BMS R&C Agreement and the IL-6r Commercial License Agreement were amended pursuant to an agreement between Novimmune and BMS dated December 2016, or the Novimmune Amendment Agreement. Pursuant to the Novimmune Amendment Agreement, in the event that Novimmune (or, as the case may be, a sublicensee) commercializes a combination product comprising NI-1201 and NI-0401, then such product shall be subject to a single royalty.
We may terminate the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement at any time on 90 days’ written notice, and either party may terminate the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement by written notice for a payment breach or any other breach, subject to 45 day and 120 day cure periods, respectively. Absent early termination, the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement will continue until the later of, in all countries in which licensed products are marketed pursuant to the Novimmune IL-6r Agreement, (a) the expiration of the last claim in an issued, unexpired patent within the licensed patents or a claim that has not been pending more than five years, subject to certain exceptions, which covers the sale of such licensed product or service, or (b) the end of any market exclusivity period granted by the relevant governmental authority in a country that prevents another party from marketing the same licensed product or service.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital License
On May 29, 2018, we entered into a license agreement, or the BWH License, with BWH pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide exclusive license to a patent owned by BWH for a novel technology discovered by Dr. Howard Weiner. The patent relates to a formulation of Foralumab in a medical device developed for nasal administration of Foralumab. The BWH License extends to any associated know-how, clinical data and use in order to research, develop and commercialize products and services. The BWH License confers on us the right to grant sub-licenses, and otherwise to employ third party manufacturers and distributors to sell licensed products and services.
Under the BWH License we have full control and amnesty over the research, development and commercialization of licensed products and services and are required to exercise commercially reasonable efforts to commercialize such licensed products and services at all times.
Upon our entry into the BWH License we paid an upfront fee of $10,000 to BWH. We are required to pay annual maintenance fees, all ongoing patent maintenance and prosecution costs and a low single-digit royalty on annual net sales (and a 12% royalty of non-royalty sub-license revenues for the life of the intellectual property). We are also obliged to make certain milestone payments of: (a) US$300,000 within 60 days of first patient enrolled in a Phase 1 human clinical trial; (b) US$600,000 within 60 days of first patient enrolled in a Phase 2 human clinical trial; (c) US$1,500,000 within 60 days of first patient enrolled in a Phase 3 clinical trial; and (d) US$3,000,000 within 60 days of first commercial sale of a licensed product.
We may terminate the BWH License at any time on 90 days’ written notice, and either party may terminate the BWH License by written notice for payment or other breach, subject to a 60 day cure period. Absent early termination the BWH License will remain in effect until the date on which all patents and filed patent applications have expired or been abandoned.
C. Organizational Structure
The following table sets out details of the Company’s significant subsidiaries:
|Name||Principal activity||Registered address||Percentage shareholding||Country of incorporation|
|Tiziana Pharma Limited||Clinical stage biotechnology company||
Floor, 11-12 St
London, SW1Y 4LB
|100||%||England & Wales|
|Tiziana Therapeutics Inc.||Clinical stage biotechnology company||
420 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10170
|Longevia Genomics S.r.l.||Biotechnology discovery company||
Via Constantinopli 42
09100- Cagliria (CA)
D. Property, Plant and Equipment
The below table contains information regarding existing or planned material tangible fixed assets owned or leased by Tiziana and its subsidiaries. We believe that suitable additional or substitute space will be available as needed to accommodate any future expansion of our operations.
55 Park Lane, Suite 14a,
London W1K 1NA, United
|Annual Lease||Principal Office||652 square feet|
420 Lexington Avenue
New York, United States
|Five year lease||Principal Office||3,011 square feet|
3805 Old Easton
PA, United States
|Annual lease||Research & Development Centre||408 square feet|
ITEM 4A: UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 5: OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with “Selected Consolidated Financial Data” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto appearing at the end of this Annual Report. We present our consolidated financial statements in U.S. dollars and in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB.
Some information included in this discussion and analysis, including statements regarding industry outlook, our expectations regarding our future performance, liquidity and capital resources and other statements regarding our plans and strategy for our business and related financing, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties. You should read the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report for a discussion of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis.
We maintain our books and records in Pounds Sterling, and we prepare our financial statements in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB. We report our financial results in U.S. dollars.
Introduction to Tiziana
We are a biotechnology company that is focused on the discovery and development of novel molecules and related diagnostics to treat high unmet medical needs in oncology and immunology. Our lead product candidate in immunology is Foralumab (TZLS-401), which we believe is the only fully human anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, or mAb, in clinical development. MAbs represent a single pure antibody produced by single clones and are an important class of human therapeutics for treating cancers and autoimmune diseases. Generation of antibodies for use in humans developed in animals, leads to strong, immune responses limiting their effectiveness and potentially leading to severe side effects. A process known as “humanization” removes most of the animal components of the antibody thereby lowering the immune response from the human immune system. The entire omission of other animal material, as in fully human antibodies, is the optimal goal to avoid incompatibility with the human immune system. Our lead product candidate in oncology is Milciclib (TZLS-201), which is an orally bioavailable, small molecule broad spectrum inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases, or CDKs, and Src family kinases. CDKs are a highly conserved family of enzymes that phosphorylate a specific group of proteins that are involved in regulating the cell cycle. The cell cycle is a series of events that takes place in cells leading to division and duplication of its DNA to produce two daughter cells. Src family kinases are non-receptor tyrosine kinase proteins encoded by the Src gene also involved in regulating cell growth and potential transformation of normal cells to cancer cells. We also have a drug discovery pipeline of small molecule NCEs, and biologics. We employ a lean and virtual research and development, or R&D, model using highly experienced teams of experts for each business function to maximize value accretion by focusing resources on the drug discovery and development processes. Our mission is to design and deliver next generation therapeutics and diagnostics for oncology and immune diseases of high unmet medical need by combining deep understanding of disease biology with clinical development expertise.
We are developing Foralumab, for which we in-licensed the intellectual property from Novimmune SA, or Novimmune, in December 2014, as a potential treatment for NASH, and Crohn’s disease as well as neurodegenerative diseases such a MS. We believe that oral or nasal administration of Foralumab has the potential to reduce inflammation while minimizing the toxicity and related side effects. To date, Foralumab has been studied in one Phase 1 and two Phase 2a clinical trials conducted by Novimmune in 68 patients dosed by the intravenous route of administration. In these trials, Foralumab was observed to be well-tolerated and produced immunologic effects consistent with potential clinical benefit while demonstrating mild to moderate IRR.
We plan to initially investigate Foralumab for safety and its immunomodulatory activity in healthy volunteers in two Phase 1 trials. In one of the Phase 1 trials, subjects will be dosed Foralumab in a newly developed oral formulation (enteric capsule) with an intention to treat patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease and in the other Phase 1 trial, Foralumab will be dosed via intranasal administration using a hand held nasal device with an intention to treat patients with MS. An IND for the first-in-human evaluation of Foralumab in healthy human volunteers was filed on June 1, 2018 and accepted by the FDA on August 20, 2018. We expect to commence enrollment for the dose ranging Phase 1 trial to evaluate biomarkers of immunomodulation of clinical responses in healthy human volunteers in late November 2018. In addition, the IND for the oral administration of Foralumab was submitted to the FDA on March 18, 2019. We expect to initiate a Phase 1 trial in the second quarter of 2019 and a Phase 2 trial for oral Foralumab by the end of the second quarter of 2020, in patients with NASH and/or Crohn’s disease. On April 16, 2018 we entered into an exclusive license agreement with BWH relating to a novel formulation of Foralumab in a medical device for nasal administration.
We are developing Milciclib, for which we in-licensed the intellectual property from Nerviano, in January 2015, as a potential treatment for HCC. A novel feature of Milciclib is its ability to reduce levels of microRNAs, miR-221 and miR-222. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules that play a significant role in the regulation of gene expression. miR-221 and miR-222 are believed to be linked to the development of blood supply in cancer tumors. Levels of these microRNAs are consistently elevated in HCC patients and may contribute towards resistance to treatment with Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor (a drug which may inhibit the cellular division and proliferation associated with certain cancers) often prescribed to HCC patients as the Standard of Care. To date, Milciclib has been studied in a total of seven completed and ongoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in a total of 296 patients conducted by Nerviano. In these trials, Milciclib was well-tolerated with minimal adverse events. We initiated a Phase 2a trial for Milciclib as a monotherapy in patients with HCC in the fourth quarter of 2017 and expect to initiate a Phase 2b trial for Milciclib in combination with Sorafenib (a multikinase inhibitor drug, also known under its brand name Nexavar®, used to treat some types of kidney, liver and thyroid cancers) in patients with HCC in the first quarter of 2019.
Cumulative Patient Exposure in Completed and Ongoing Milciclib Clinical Studies:
|CDKO-125a-001 Phase 1||Milciclib||Solid tumors||37|
|CDKO-125a-002 Phase 1 / Phase 2||Milciclib||Malignant glioma (Phase 1) Glioblastoma (Phase 2)||62|
|CDKO-125a-003 Phase 1||Milciclib||Solid tumors||30|
|CDKO-125a-004 Phase 1||Milciclib + gemcitabine||Solid tumors||16|
|CDKO-125a-005/-0061/-0071 Phase 2||Milciclib||
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (-005)
Thymic carcinoma and malignant thymoma (-0061 and -0071)
|CDKO-125a-010 Phase 2||Milciclib||HCC monotherapy||31|
|Total Patients Exposed||316|
Source: Development Safety Update Report No. 8, February 28, 2019, Tiziana Life Sciences PLC; Investigator Brochure, Version 14, 2019.
Since our inception in March 2014, we have devoted substantially all our resources to conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital and establishing our intellectual property portfolio. We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. We have funded our operations to date primarily with proceeds from the sale of ordinary shares. Through December 31, 2018, we had received net cash proceeds of $39.7 million from sales of our ordinary shares, issuance of convertible loans, short term loans and warrants.
Since our inception, we have incurred operating losses. Our net loss after taxation was $8.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, $8.7m for the year ended December 31, 2017 and $9.8m for the year ended December 31, 2016 respectively. As of December 31, 2018, we had cash and cash equivalents of $5.3 million.
We expect to continue to incur significant expenses for the foreseeable future as we advance our product candidates through preclinical and clinical development and seek regulatory approval and pursue commercialization of any approved product candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution.
In March 2019, we announced the submission of an IND to the FDA to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of enteric-coated capsules of Foralumab in healthy volunteers. This single-site clinical study is expected to enroll 36 subjects and it will be conducted at the BWH, Harvard Medical School. The primary objective of this study is to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunomodulatory effects of orally administered Foralumab in healthy volunteers with a dose-escalating regimen comprising of placebo, 1.25, 2.50 and 5.0 mg/day for 5 consecutive days. The trial will also investigate the established biomarkers with anti-inflammatory effects and stimulation of T regulatory cells. Following successful completion of this study we plan to launch additional clinical trials to study the potential of the oral administration of Foralumab in NASH, NAFLD and Crohn’s Disease.
From time to time, we may be a party to litigation or subject to claims incident to the ordinary course of business. Although the results of litigation and claims cannot be predicted with certainty, we currently believe that the final outcome of these ordinary course matters will not have a material adverse effect on our business. Regardless of the 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 material legal proceedings.
Foreign currency translations
Items included in the financial statements are measured using the currency of the primary economic environment in which the entity operates (the functional currency). The consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, which is our presentation currency.
Foreign currency transactions are translated into the functional currency using exchange rates prevailing at the dates of the transactions. Foreign exchange gains and losses resulting from the settlement of foreign currency transactions and from the translation at year-end exchange rates of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are recognized in the income statement.
The financial statements of overseas subsidiary undertakings are translated into U.S. dollars on the following basis:
|●||Assets and liabilities at the rate of exchange ruling at the year-end date.|
|●||Profit and loss account items at the average rate of exchange for the year.|
Exchange differences arising from the translation of the net investment in foreign entities, borrowings and other currency instruments designated as hedges of such investments, are taken to equity (and recognized in the statement of comprehensive income) on consolidation.
Components of Our Results of Operations
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, we may generate revenue in the future from product sales.
Research and Development Expenses
R&D expenses consist primarily of costs incurred in connection with the R&D of our product candidates and are expensed as incurred. These expenses consist of:
|●||expenses incurred under agreements with CROs, CMOs, as well as investigative sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials, preclinical studies and other scientific development services;|
|●||manufacturing scale-up expenses and the cost of acquiring and manufacturing materials for preclinical studies and clinical trial materials;|
|●||employee-related expenses, including salaries, related benefits, travel and share-based compensation expense for employees engaged in R&D functions;|
|●||costs related to compliance with regulatory requirements;|
|●||facilities costs, depreciation and other expenses, which include rent and utilities; and|
|●||fees for maintaining our third-party licensing agreements.|
We recognize external development costs based on an evaluation of the progress to completion of specific tasks using information provided to us by our service providers.
Our direct R&D expenses are tracked on a program-by-program basis for our product candidates and consist primarily of external costs, such as fees paid to outside consultants, CROs and CMOs in connection with our preclinical development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. Our direct R&D expenses by program also include fees incurred under our license agreements. We do not allocate employee costs or facility expenses, including depreciation or other indirect costs, to specific programs because these costs are deployed across multiple programs and, as such, are not separately classified. We use internal resources primarily to oversee the R&D as well as for managing our preclinical development, process development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. These employees work across multiple programs and, therefore, we do not track their costs by program.
The table below summarizes our R&D expenses incurred by program:
|Year ended December 31,|
|Direct research and development expense by program:||(in thousands)|
|Total direct research and development expense||$||5,008||$||5,375||$||3,500||$||8,404|
|Indirect research and development expense||502||640||507||665|
|Total research and development expense||$||5,510||$||6,015||$||4,007||$||9,609|
R&D activities are central to our business model. 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 and related product manufacturing expenses. As a result, we expect that our R&D expenses will increase substantially over the next several years as we increase personnel costs and prepare for regulatory filings related to our product candidates. We also expect to incur additional expenses related to milestone, royalty payments and maintenance fees payable to third parties with whom we have entered into license agreements to acquire the rights related to our product candidates.
The successful development and commercialization of our product candidates is highly uncertain. 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 or when, if ever, material net cash inflows may commence from any of our product candidates. This uncertainty is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with development and commercialization, including the uncertainty of:
|●||the scope, progress, outcome and costs of our preclinical development activities, clinical trials and other R&D activities;|
|●||establishing an appropriate safety profile with IND- and CTA-enabling studies;|
|●||successful patient enrollment in, and the initiation and completion of, clinical trials;|
|●||the timing, receipt and terms of any marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;|
|●||establishing commercial manufacturing capabilities or making arrangements with third-party manufacturers;|
|●||development and timely delivery of commercial-grade drug formulations that can be used in our clinical trials and for commercial launch;|
|●||obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent claims and other intellectual property rights;|
|●||significant and changing government regulation;|
|●||launching commercial sales of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others; and|
|●||maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of the product candidates following approval.|
We may never succeed in achieving regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. We may obtain unexpected results from our clinical trials. We may elect to discontinue, delay or modify clinical trials.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries, related benefits, travel and share-based compensation expense for personnel in executive, finance and administrative functions. General and administrative expenses also include professional fees for legal, consulting, accounting and audit services.
We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses will increase in the future as we increase our headcount to support our continued research activities and development of our product candidates. We also anticipate that we will incur increased accounting, audit, legal, regulatory, compliance, director and officer insurance costs, as well as investor and public relations expenses associated with being a public company.
Other Income (Expense)
Other expense consists of interest on a convertible loan note.
The tax expense for a period represents the total of current taxation and deferred taxation. The charges in respect of current taxation are based on the estimated taxable profit for the relevant year. Taxable profit for the year is based on the profit as shown in the income statement, as adjusted for items of income or expenditure which are not deductible or chargeable for tax purposes. The current tax liability for the year is calculated using tax rates which have either been enacted or substantively enacted at the relevant balance sheet date.
Under UK tax legislation, small and medium entity R&D relief allows us to claim back up to 14.5% of our surrenderable losses as a tax cash credit.
A. Results of Operations
The results of operations that follow reflect the historic periods under review and should not be taken as indicative of future performance.
Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2018 and 2017
The following tables summarizes our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017:
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Research and development||$||(5,510||)||$||(6,015||)||$||505|
|General and administrative||$||(4,417||)||$||(4,601||)||$||184|
|Total Operating expenses||$||(9,927||)||$||(10,616||)||$||689|
|Other Income/ (Expense)||(12||)||(12||)||-|
|Other comprehensive loss:|
|Foreign currency translation adjustment||(20||)||70||(90||)|
|Total Comprehensive (Loss)/Profit||$||(8,014||)||$||(8,646||)||$||632|
Research and Development Expenses
Research and development activities were $5.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to $6 million for the year ended December 30, 2017. In the year ended December 31, 2018 the research and development activities were focused on the Milciclib and Foralumab projects. The slowdown in activities for StemPrinER enabled an extra $1m to be used for the continuation of Phase 2 clinical trials in Foralumab.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses were $4.4 million and $4.6 million for the years ended December 30, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Within general and administrative expenses, there were decreases in consultancy fees of $0.2m.
Income Tax Credit
Income tax credits of $1.9 million and $1.9 million are recognized for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. The credits are obtained at a rate of 14.5% of 230% of our qualifying research and development expenditure, and the increase in the credit amount was primarily attributable to a true up on the amount claimed for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2017 and 2016
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Operating Expenses:||(in thousands)|
|Research and development||$||(6,015||)||$||(4,007||)||$||(2,008||)|
|General and administrative||$||(4,601||)||$||(5,872||)||$||1,271|
|Total Operating expenses||$||(10,616||)||$||(9,879||)||$||(737||)|