UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, DC 20549

 

Form 10-K

 

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

or

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

For the transition period from                      to

Commission file number: 001-37378

 

ATYR PHARMA, INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

20-3435077

(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation

or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

 

3545 John Hopkins Court, Suite #250, San Diego, CA

 

92121

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

(858) 731-8389

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

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

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share

 

The NASDAQ Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

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

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

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically 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 if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

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

Large accelerated filer     Accelerated filer     Non-accelerated filer     Smaller reporting company  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).    Yes       No  

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $37,197,028 based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market of $2.78 per share on June 30, 2016. Shares of common stock held by each executive officer and director and each person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the outstanding common stock have been excluded from this calculation. This determination of affiliate status may not be conclusive for other purposes.

The number of outstanding shares of the registrant’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share, as of March 8, 2017 was 23,748,096.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, pursuant to Regulation 14A in connection with the registrant’s 2017 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be filed subsequent to the date hereof, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this annual report on Form 10-K. Such proxy statement will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days following the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 


ATYR PHARMA, INC.

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2016

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1

Business

4

Item 1A

Risk Factors

31

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

62

Item 2

Properties

63

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

63

Item 4

Mine Safety Disclosure

63

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5

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

64

Item 6

Selected Financial Data

66

Item 7

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

67

Item 7A

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

75

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

76

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

97

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

97

Item 9B

Other Information

98

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

98

Item 11

Executive Compensation

98

Item 12

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

98

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

98

Item 14

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

98

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15

Exhibits, Financial Statements, Schedules

99

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

99

Signatures

100

 

In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, Annual Report, unless the context requires otherwise, "aTyr Pharma," “aTyr,” "Company," "we," "our," and "us" means aTyr Pharma, Inc. and its subsidiary, Pangu BioPharma Limited.

The market data and certain other statistical information used in this Annual Report are based on independent industry publications, governmental publications, reports by market research firms or other independent sources. Some data are also based on our good faith estimates.  Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties and actual events or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances reflected in this information.

We own various U.S. federal trademark applications and unregistered trademarks, including our company name, Resolaris™ and Stalaris™. All other trademarks or trade names referred to in this Annual Report are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this prospectus are referred to without the symbols ® and ™, 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.

 

 

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Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that even if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. We make such forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as "may," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "plan," "predict," "potential," "believe," "should" and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

the success, cost and timing of our clinical trials, including our ongoing Phase 1b/2 trials of Resolaris and planned clinical trials for Stalaris, and whether the results of our trials will be sufficient to support domestic or foreign regulatory approvals;

 

the likelihood and timing of regulatory approvals for Resolaris, Stalaris and any of our other product candidates;

 

our ability to identify and discover additional product candidates;

 

whether our existing capital resources will be sufficient to enable us to complete any particular portion of our planned clinical development of Resolaris, Stalaris and other product candidates;

 

our ability to obtain, maintain, defend and enforce intellectual property rights protecting our product candidates;

 

our estimates of our expenses, ongoing losses, future revenue, capital requirements and our needs for or ability to obtain additional financing;

 

performance of third-party service providers and independent contractors upon whom we rely to conduct our clinical trials and to manufacture our product candidates or certain components of our product candidates;

 

our ability to develop sales and marketing capabilities or to enter into strategic partnerships to develop and commercialize Resolaris, Stalaris or any of our other product candidates;

 

the timing and success of the commercialization of Resolaris, Stalaris or any of our other product candidates;

 

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

 

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

 

regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;

 

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

 

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

 

other risks and uncertainties, including those described under Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors in this Annual Report on Form 10-K .

 

The cautionary statements made in this report are intended to be applicable to all related forward-looking statements wherever they may appear in this report. We urge you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update our forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future.

 

 

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PART I

Item 1. Business

Overview

We engage in the discovery and clinical development of innovative medicines for patients suffering from severe, rare diseases using our knowledge of Physiocrine biology, a newly discovered set of physiological pathways.  Through our research efforts, we believe that Physiocrines evolved over billions of years to promote homeostasis in complex organisms.  We have evidence to support that some of these proteins evolved to govern and orchestrate the mammalian immune system. We believe immune imbalance is underappreciated in many disease types and may ultimately be responsible for much of the pathophysiology associated with a number of important genetic and immunology based diseases.

By focusing on immune pathways in disease, we believe our therapeutic candidates have the potential to restore patients to a healthier state, achieve homeostatic balance and ultimately lead to improved clinical outcomes. To date, our discovery efforts have generated three immunology-based investigational innovative therapeutic programs in three different therapeutic areas:

 

Resolaris :  We internally discovered and developed Resolaris, our first Physiocrine-based therapeutic candidate, based on a protein naturally secreted from muscle that acts on T-cells at the tissue level to promote healthier muscle. We believe this may translate into an innovative therapeutic for rare genetic myopathies with an immune component (e.g. T-cells in the patients’ muscle), including limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).  Resolaris also represents an example of our first therapeutic modality - natural protein therapy – adding back a pathway that is insufficiently produced by the human body to counteract disease.

 

Stalaris :   Our scientists successfully engineered the first fusion protein with a Physiocrine, Stalaris, to provide designed properties to enhance the immuno-modulatory aspects of a Physiocrine in vivo . We plan to develop Stalaris as a potential therapeutic for patients with rare pulmonary diseases with an immune component, including interstitial lung disease. This fusion protein, which utilizes the Fc region of an antibody, also potentially represents a novel Fc-Physiocrine platform for future Physiocrine-based therapies.

 

Project ORCA :   Our third program, represents a third therapeutic modality distinct from Resolaris or Stalaris.  It also diversifies our pipeline by addressing severe diseases in a therapeutic area that differs from those of our first two programs.  We use code name “Project ORCA” for this preclinical research program.

We believe therapies that can harness the power of the immune system represent an important frontier of transformational medicines. All of our current programs focus on modulating the immune system in an effort to create better clinical outcomes for patients. Our preclinical work increases our confidence that certain Physiocrines can be used to modulate immune cell activity, especially activated T-cells. Based on our clinical results to date, we believe Resolaris has a favorable safety and tolerability profile with no observed signs of general immunosuppression, which could give Resolaris a competitive advantage over current immunosuppressive agents (e.g. steroids). We have also observed promising signals of clinical activity in patients treated with Resolaris in our clinical studies, including improved muscle strength in certain patients, which we find encouraging to our therapeutic hypothesis.

Discoveries of new physiological pathways have been responsible for profound advancements in the field of medicine resulting in better patient outcomes and disruptive advantages for the industry’s therapeutic development pipeline. Such discoveries include homeostatic pathways, which gave rise to agonists such as insulin and erythropoietin, as well as antagonists to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF), the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the complement pathways.  

Our expansive Physiocrine patent estate provides us with potential product protection as we pioneer this new and important area of human biology. To protect our industry unique pipeline based on our proprietary new biology, we have built an intellectual property estate comprising over 175 issued patents or allowed patent applications that are owned or exclusively licensed by us, including over 300 potential Physiocrine-based protein compositions. We believe it is in the best interest of our stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, and our stockholders, to advance one or more of our three current programs based on Physiocrine biology with the expertise of or funding from appropriate strategic partners.

Strategy

We aim to capitalize on Physiocrine biology to develop novel, first-in-class medicines with industry unique mechanisms to treat patients with severe, rare diseases where immunology is important to the disease process. Key elements of our strategy include the following:

 

Leverage our leadership position in new pathways in immunology based on Physiocrine biology. As we continue to research and identify programs based on our understanding of immunology and Physiocrine biology, we are unraveling the depth of this new biology in relation to T-cells and the molecular basis for orchestrating T-cells and other immune cell activity.  

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Build a diverse biologics platform in immunology.   We continue to deepen our expertise in protein production and develop biologic programs in three therapeutic modalities:

 

1.

Physiocrine natural protein therapy, as exemplified by Resolaris;

 

2.

Fc- Physiocrine fusion protein therapy, as exemplified by Stalaris; and

 

3.

A third therapeutic modality, in preclinical development, as exemplified by Project ORCA.  

 

Utilize our expertise in industry unique mechanisms and build our pipeline. With our therapeutically diverse pipeline, we can follow the science to create maximum value for the benefit of patients and may parlay different programs in business relationships to enable a diversity of commercialization channels, as well as potentially provide additional funding opportunities to partners outside of equity financings.

 

Expand upon our knowledge and clinical experience with the Resokine pathway to address severe conditions characterized by immune imbalance. With Resolaris and Stalaris, we intend to target patients across diseases of different etiology with the commonality of immune imbalance at the level of the tissue. We believe that a protein therapeutic that promotes homeostasis without immunosuppression would have a unique and valuable competitive advantage across multiple disease settings.

 

Leverage our exclusive worldwide commercial rights to our product candidates to form meaningful strategic partnerships to enhance our future development and commercial efforts. We aim to independently develop and commercialize our product candidates in areas that create value while balancing resource considerations. In parallel, we will pursue and evaluate, and may selectively form business relationships, to strategically accelerate and advance our programs through the expertise of or funding from the appropriate partners.

 

Expand our intellectual property position in Physiocrine biology . We intend to leverage our leadership position in this field to broaden our intellectual property positions in both the programs we advance and programs in development.  

 

Build a world class organization oriented to patients and focused on rigorous scientific, clinical and industrial advancements .  We continue to assemble a world class team with industry-recognized expertise in biology, medicine and the commercialization of innovative and important therapeutics. We intend to expand our relationships with key opinion leaders, patient advocacy groups and other business partners, and to solicit input from payors and others in the healthcare industry, to identify and develop our product opportunities and to design our development programs in order to maximize the availability of our product candidates to patients.

Harnessing the Power of Immunology with Physiocrine Biology

Overview

Physiocrines are proteins derived from the extracellular signaling regions or alternatively spliced variants of tRNA synthetases that modulate a range of cellular activities to maintain homeostasis. The term Physiocrines; physio for life and crine for specific activity, includes tRNA synthetase gene derived proteins which mediate nontranslational, extracellular functions. tRNA synthetases were once generally thought to only play a role in protein synthesis by catalyzing the aminoacylation of tRNAs to their respective amino acids. In 1999, Paul Schimmel, Ph.D. and colleagues discovered that a protein derived from one of the genes for tRNA synthetases could act as an extracellular modulator of angiogenesis. Since then, we and other researchers have verified that tRNA synthetase gene products may have a number of functional roles outside of protein synthesis mediated by extracellular signaling regions and multiple splice variants of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. Those functional roles include immune modulation.

aTyr Pharma was founded based on the therapeutic potential of these extracellular regions of tRNA synthetases to restore health to tissues out of balance.

For over four billion years, the core function and structure of tRNA synthetases for protein synthesis remain primarily unchanged in most organisms. However, as organisms became more complex, changes in DNA sequences appeared in tRNA synthetase genes.  These DNA mutations resulted in additional protein domains that are predicted to have important functions outside of protein synthesis. When released, we reason Physiocrines exert homeostatic and developmental control in many cell types, tissues, and organs and have been shown to play a role in regulation of glucose metabolism, organogenesis, angiogenesis, inflammation, cell death, stress responses that may lead to tumorigenesis, modulation of the immune response, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling, as well as interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and p53 signalling.

The Promise of Physiocrine-Based Medicines in Promoting Homeostasis

Homeostasis, or the coordinated regulation of tissues within the body, enables overall health and survival of an organism.  For the complicated lives of multicellular organisms that have multiple organ systems, homeostasis represents a primal set of processes to enable life and combat damage and disease. Disruption of homeostasis can lead to disease and death. The concept of homeostasis was first described in 1865 by the French physiologist Claude Bernard, and Walter Cannon later coined the term. In the 150 years since this discovery, many proteins associated with homeostatic pathways have been discovered, ranging from insulin to erythropoietin.

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Using our knowledge of bioinformatics, sequencing, proteomics and structural biology, we identified Physiocrines, a novel class of proteins that are present as biologically active signaling proteins derived from tRNA synthetase genes, an anci ent gene family. We believe that Physiocrines are involved in orchestrating homeostatic activities to help the body restore diseased or damaged tissue to a healthier state. We observed that certain Physiocrines exhibit previously undescribed extracellular activities that are involved in restoring and regulating tissues to promote health. We believe that physiological perturbations, such as stress or changes in physiological state, alter or induce the release of Physiocrines from cells or platelets in the hu man body.

We expressed and purified over 200 Physiocrine regions across the family of 20 tRNA synthetase genes and evaluated these purified Physiocrines in numerous cell-based assays to determine their activity in several important human physiological pathways. Some of the data were published in July 2014 in  Science , with the data categorized according to important areas of biology. This research revealed that there are approximately 100 Physiocrines with demonstrated activity in various cell-based assays related to immunological pathways. The specific regulatory capability of Physiocrines makes this class of proteins potential candidates for multiple therapeutic applications including rare diseases with an immune component, auto-immune disorders, neuro-degeneration, fibrosis and oncology.

Understanding and Harnessing Immunology Systems with Physiocrine Biology

We focus on understanding immunological pathways, using our knowledge of Physiocrine biology, to develop therapies for severe disease where we can achieve a transformative impact on a patient’s life. We selected immunology as our initial area of focus for the following reasons:

 

We believe immunology plays a significant role in most diseases, including rare genetic diseases;

 

A number of Physiocrines have been shown to be differentially expressed by cells important for immune function;

 

A large number of Physiocrine pathways appear to relate to immunology;

 

Approximately 100 Physiocrines have demonstrated activity in various cell-based assays related to immunological pathways; and

 

Potential therapeutic applications include rare diseases with an immune component, auto-immune disorders, neuro-degeneration, fibrosis and oncology.

We focus on modulators of immune processes for indications that represent severe, rare diseases, particularly genetically based diseases, because:

 

Our scientific understanding of Physiocrines as potential immuno-modulators that intersected with multiple rare diseases;

 

Patients with rare genetic diseases often face challenges related to the responses of their immune system to changes in tissues that are caused by their genetic mutations; and

 

Pathological immuno-phenotypes in rare diseases present an opportunity for us to therapeutically intervene with greater impact.

Advantages of Physiocrine-Based Therapeutics

We believe that Physiocrines modulate the immune system and control or reduce tissue damage while maintaining the immune system’s activity against exogenous pathogen based insults, and may possess the following advantages over most current immunological based drugs:

 

As proteins designed by nature to control the immune system, Physiocrines may provide a unique mechanism to improve patient outcomes through their activity in either a single pathway or multiple pathways;

 

Physiocrines possess the potential to control the immune system across multiple pathways at the level of an immune cell, rather than lowering the levels of a single immune protein;

 

Physiocrines may potentially act as agonists at the level of the immune cell to reduce pro-inflammatory effects and induce resolution of inappropriate immune activity or inflammation;

 

The therapeutic effects of Physiocrines may persist even after the Physiocrines have been cleared from circulation; and

 

Resolaris, our first Physiocrine-based therapeutic candidate, has not demonstrated signs of general immunosuppression in the clinic, which represents a potential competitive advantage as compared to other immune agents that are often broadly immunosuppressive.

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The Resokine Pathway – Modulating the Immune System

Overview of the Resokine Pathway

Our scientists were the first to discover the Resokine pathway ( reso  for restoring tissue health and  kine  for activity related to cytokines), an extracellular pathway involving human skeletal muscle tissue and arising from the activity of various regions of the protein histidine aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (HARS) encoded by its gene. We believe the Resokine pathway (i) is a homeostatic pathway that controls the set point of T-cells in the immune system to ensure appropriate control of immune responses, and (ii) may play an important role in muscle and lung health. We believe the Resokine pathway is characterized by:

 

A series of Physiocrine proteins arising from a single gene, HARS;

 

Balancing of the immune responses to promote homeostasis; and

 

Disruptions or insufficiencies in the Resokine pathway in relation to disease perturbations at the level of the tissue lead to inappropriate immune responses contributing to disease.

Identification of the Resokine Pathway through In Vivo Screening Approaches

Our scientists discovered the Resokine pathway in human skeletal muscle using our in vivo screening systems in models of severe inflammation, combined with our knowledge of the effects of antibody binding to a specific tRNA synthetase in a population of patients with a particular rare myopathy and interstitial lung disease (ILD). The Resokine pathway encompasses physiological activities, including potential immuno-modulatory and other muscle health activities, arising from various Physiocrine regions of HARS.  Animal studies and human pathophysiological data have shown that antibody-based blockade of the Resokine pathway may lead to muscle tissue deterioration and immune cell invasion.

First Demonstration of a Splice Variant of HARS as an Immuno-modulator

We conducted in vivo screening activities of a splice variant from HARS, which we refer to as the immuno-modulatory domain or iMod domain, that we identified in our deep sequencing studies. For our studies of the iMod domain, we selected a rodent model of severe immune cell activity or inflammation induced by the administration of trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid, or TNBS, in which the inflammation is thought to be driven by excessive T-cell involvement in the gut, leading to the death of the study animals. Animals administered the iMod domain survived longer than those given either the vehicle control phosphate buffer solution, or PBS, or an approved drug control (Budesonide) (p<0.01), demonstrating the potential activity of the iMod domain as an immuno-modulator of excessive T-cell involvement.

Mechanism of Action

The Resokine pathway includes interactions with activated T-cells. Our scientists continue to elucidate the role of the Resokine pathway in affecting the level of activation of T-cells stimulated by CD3 and CD28. Our first two product candidates, Resolaris and Stalaris, harness the Resokine pathway and interact with T-cells to ‘place a brake’ on T-cell activation.

In vitro T-cell modulation experiments have demonstrated that at 100 pM Resolaris results in significant reduction of T-cell activation as shown by reduced expression of T-cell activation markers. Resolaris appears to work on activated T-cells by conferring characteristics closer to that of resting T-cells.

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On the Left: CD4 + T-cells. 24 hour stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies in the presence of vehicle.

On the Right:  CD4 + T-cells. 24 hour stimulated with anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies in the presence of Resolaris.

Evidence of the Role of the Resokine Pathway in Rare Muscle and Lung Diseases

In 1983, Matthews and Bernstein published in Nature the observation that patients with a rare myopathy possessed antibodies to a single tRNA synthetase, HARS. Since then, it has been observed that patients with auto-antibodies to HARS (but not antibodies to the other 19 tRNA synthetases in the same patients) can develop both a debilitating myopathy characterized by weakness and skeletal muscle loss, as well ILD, both of which are characterized by T-cell invasion into diseased tissues. Numerous research laboratories have verified the existence of human anti-HARS antibodies, also known as Jo-1 antibodies, as one of the manifestations of the auto-immune disease, anti-synthetase syndrome.

Based on these observations, we chose to study the potential link between HARS antibodies and muscle disease in anti-synthetase syndrome patients with Jo-1 antibodies. Our scientists obtained serum samples from 18 of these patients to determine whether the Jo-1 antibodies specifically bound to the iMod domain. We determined that in each of the 18 Jo-1 antibody positive patients studied, a significant portion of Jo-1 antibody binding was to the iMod domain, compared to binding to other regions of HARS. We believe that in these patients, the binding of Jo-1 antibodies to the iMod domain blocked the immuno-modulatory properties of the iMod domain, therefore contributing to their myopathy and ILD. Independent laboratories have also observed in unrelated studies that the iMod domain is the primary antibody binding region in Jo-1 antibody patients with anti-synthetase syndrome.

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Product Development Programs

Our Industry Unique Pipeline—A New Set of Potential Treatment Mechanisms for Patients

We believe that, as the first and only company engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics based on Physiocrine biology, we are positioned to develop and commercialize a pipeline based on a novel class of protein therapeutics that modulate important physiological processes. These agents are protected by intellectual property rights that we own or exclusively license.  Below are summaries of our product development pipeline:

 

Programs

Development Status

Therapeutic Area

Resolaris

Phase 1b/ 2

Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD)

Phase 1b/2

Early Onset Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

Phase 1b/2

Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD)

Under Evaluation

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

Stalaris

Phase 1 in 2H 2017

Interstitial Lung Disease with an Immune Component

Project ORCA

Preclinical

3 rd Therapeutic Area

Resolaris – Natural Protein Therapy Candidate

Overview

We created Resolaris to serve as a potentially first-in-class intravenous protein therapeutic for the treatment of rare myopathies with an immune component. We derived Resolaris from a naturally occurring protein, HARS, which we believe possesses the potential to reset the immune system in diseased tissue to a more normal state without general immunosuppression. Resolaris is released in vitro by human skeletal muscle cells. Resolaris may provide therapeutic benefit to patients in rare myopathy indications characterized by excessive immune cell involvement, particularly a type of T-cell known as CD8-T-cells, and macrophages. Immune cell invasion can cause and exacerbate muscle damage and stress. For example, CD8-T-cells have been observed to contribute to muscle damage by the release of proteins that destroy or damage skeletal muscle cells.  

Resolaris

Wild-type human histidyl-tRNA synthetase (HARS) slightly truncated

To date, we have focused our clinical development of Resolaris on two broad types of rare genetic myopathies: FSHD and LGMD. DMD is another example of a rare myopathy with an immune component which might warrant clinical investigation.  These particular myopathies represent several distinct, genetic sub-type indications that we believe Resolaris has the potential to treat. In each of these indications, skeletal muscle tissue exhibits dysfunction and becomes subject to immune cell invasion, which contributes to loss of function and deterioration of muscle tissue. These patients generally present with three common characteristics:

 

expression of aberrant protein (in case of genetically based rare myopathies);

 

immune cell invasion; and

 

muscle cell damage and deterioration.

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The Role of Immuno-Modulation in Rare Genetic Myopathies with an Immune Component

In normal muscle, muscle mass and function require a balance between muscle cell stress and damage and muscle cell regeneration and growth. The immune system helps maintain this balance by “cleaning up” damaged muscle cells after muscle damage and during the healing process. In rare myopathies, the balance is tipped to favor chronic pathophysiological muscle deterioration and persistent immune cell invasion. In genetically based rare myopathies, aberrant protein expression often occurs, as in the case of FSHD, LGMD, and DMD patients. In vivo rodent models of skeletal muscle deterioration and immune cell invasion have shown that Resolaris can combat both immune cell invasion into the muscle as well as muscle deterioration.

We intend to harness the body’s power to restore skeletal muscle after stress or damage in the development of Resolaris for rare myopathy patients who have limited or no approved treatment options. Resolaris may offer a potential multi-pharmacologic therapeutic, synergistically modulating multiple pathways important to muscle health.

About Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD)

LGMD refers to a group of rare genetic myopathies, of which there are more than 20 different subtypes, none with approved therapies. These myopathies are uniformly progressive and characterized predominantly by proximal weakness affecting the pelvic and shoulder girdles and usually sparing the face.

LGMD2B, a recessively inherited LGMD, is often termed dysferlinopathy, given that the causative mutations reside within the dysferlin gene. Patients experience progressive debilitating muscle weakness and atrophy as well as immune cell invasion in the skeletal muscle. There are multiple lines of evidence supporting a prominent role of inflammation in the pathophysiology of LGMD2B. Patients with LGMD2B possess a dysregulated immune response, including immune cell infiltration into affected muscle, increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and altered cellular responses.

Based on a prevalence rate of 1:20,000, we estimate that LGMD affects an estimated 16,000 patients in the U.S., approximately 3,000 of whom have LGMD2B.

The FDA granted Resolaris (ATYR1940) fast track designation for the treatment of LGMD2B and orphan drug designation for the treatment of LGMD.  The European Commission also granted orphan medicinal product designation for Resolaris (ATYR1940) for the treatment of LGMD.

About Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD)

FSHD is a rare genetic myopathy affecting an estimated 19,000 people in the United States for which there are no approved treatments. It is caused by a toxic gain of function in the DUX4 gene. The primary clinical phenotype of FSHD is debilitating skeletal muscle deterioration and weakness. The symptoms of FSHD often appear early in the face, shoulder blades, upper arms, lower legs and trunk, and can affect certain muscles while adjacent muscles remain healthy. In addition to muscle weakness, FSHD patients often experience debilitating fatigue and chronic pain. The disease is typically diagnosed by the presence of a characteristic pattern of muscle weakness and other clinical symptoms, as well as through genetic testing.

While FSHD can manifest at any age, the onset of symptoms in many patients occurs before the age of 18.  We refer to this patient population as early onset FSHD.  Within the early onset population are individuals with symptom onset at less than five years of age, with progression in disease prior to age ten. These individuals have generally the most severe muscle symptoms and extra-muscular manifestations such as auditory deficits and retinal complications that may result in vision loss.  This sub-group of early onset patients are often referred to as having “infantile onset” FSHD. Estimates of prevalence vary; however, we believe the “infantile onset” FSHD population is approximately 1,000 in the U.S.  

The FDA granted Resolaris (ATYR1940) fast track designation and orphan drug designation for the treatment of FSHD. The European Commission granted orphan medicinal product designation for Resolaris (ATYR1940) for the treatment of FSHD.

About Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

DMD is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting approximately 1 in every 3,500 live male births (about 20,000 new cases each year worldwide). Because the Duchenne gene is found on the X-chromosome, it primarily affects boys across all races and cultures. DMD results in progressive loss of strength and is caused by a mutation in the gene that encodes for dystrophin. Because dystrophin is absent the muscle cells are easily damaged. The progressive muscle weakness leads to serious medical problems particularly issues related to the heart and lungs. Young men with DMD typically live into their late twenties. Although there are medical treatments that may help slow its progression, there is currently no cure for DMD in any of the over 50 genetic forms.

Recently, the FDA approved deflazacort, a steroid which acts as an immunosuppressive, for the treatment of DMD. DMD patients are characterized by immune dysregulation including increases in CD8 T-cell infiltration, macrophage infiltration, matrix metallopeptidase 9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. However, deflazacort also has negative effects on muscle cell biology. We believe a treatment that can modulate the immune system without causing immunosuppression and negative effects on muscle cell biology could potentially provide a benefit to these patients above and beyond standard of care.

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We are currently evaluating DMD as a potential RMIC indication for future investigation with Resolaris.

Clinical Development

The following table summarizes our clinical trials to date:

Study ID / Status

Study Population

Number of Subjects

Phase

Study Design

Dosing Regimen

Dosing Duration

ATYR1940-C-001

(“001 Study”)

 

Completed

 

Healthy Subjects

32

1

Placebo Controlled, Randomized (3:1), Single Ascending Dose Safety Study

Single dose of 0.1 mg/kg, 0.3 mg/kg, 1.0 mg/kg, 3.0 mg/kg

 

Single dose with six subjects in each of the four dose cohorts

ATYR1940-C-002

(“002 Study”)

 

Completed

 

Adult FSHD

20

1b/2

Placebo Controlled, Randomized (3:1), Multiple Ascending Dose Safety Study

Weekly doses of 0.3 mg/kg (Cohort 1)

 

Weekly doses of 1.0 mg/kg (Cohort 2)

 

Weekly doses of 3.0 mg/kg (Cohort 3)

 

4 weeks (Cohorts 1 & 2)

 

12 weeks (Cohort 3)

 

ATYR1940-C-003

(“003 Study”)

 

Enrollment closed

 

Early Onset FSHD

8

1b/2

Open-Label, Intra-Patient Dose Escalation Study

Weekly doses starting at 0.3 mg/kg with potential dose escalation up to 3.0 mg/kg

12 weeks

 

Trial concluding in the first half of 2017

 

ATYR1940-C-004

(“004 Study”)

 

Completed

 

LGMD2B and FSHD

18

1b/2

Open-Label, Intra-Patient Dose Escalation Study

Weekly and twice weekly doses starting at 0.3 mg/kg with potential dose escalation up to 1.0 mg/kg and 3.0 mg/kg

 

12 weeks

ATYR1940-C-005

(“005 Study”)

 

Enrollment closed

 

Adult FSHD from 002 Study

9

1b/2

Open-Label Safety Extension Study

Weekly doses of 3.0 mg/kg

Trial concluding in the first half of 2017

 

ATYR1940-C-006

(“006 Study”)

 

Enrollment closed

 

Adult LGMD2B,

Adult FSHD,

Early Onset FSHD from 003 & 004 Studies

8

1b/2

Open-Label Safety Extension Study

Weekly doses of 3.0 mg/kg

Trial concluding in the first half of 2017

 

The planning and design of our exploratory Phase 1b/2 trials were guided by principles related to safety and tolerability.  In particular, the trials were designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, immunogenicity and pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of Resolaris in patients with adult FSHD, adult LGMD2B or early onset FSHD (as set forth in the table above).  In addition, the studies also evaluated certain clinical assessments and the utility of exploratory pharmacodynamic (PD) markers (including MRI measurements to quantitate areas of potential muscle inflammation).  The studies were not powered to demonstrate statistically significant evidence of therapeutic utility or a specific activity endpoint.  

As part of clinical assessments in these studies, manual muscle testing (MMT), a validated assessment tool that measures muscle strength, was performed across 14 selected muscle groups at different time points in the study. Muscles are scored individually and a composite score is calculated. Progression of disease leads to lower scores and a negative change from baseline. Conversely, improvement in muscle function is indicated by higher scores and a positive change from baseline. In addition, a validated patient reported outcome measure designed specifically for neuromuscular disease, the individualized neuromuscular quality of life (INQoL) questionnaire, was utilized. FSHD and LGMD2B are progressive muscle diseases and we expect that an increase in disease burden would be reflected in decreased MMT and increased INQoL measurements over time.  

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Adult Patients with LGMD2B

Composite MMT scores increased over the course of the three month 004 Study for 78% of the LGMD2B patients (seven of nine). One patient could not complete the full MMT assessments at baseline and therefore the patient’s scores were not recorded. Overall, the LGMD2B patients had a mean increase of MMT scores from baseline of 6.2%.  Overall INQoL scores were relatively stable with approximately equal proportions of patients with decreases in disease burden compared to increases in disease burden.

Percentage Change From Baseline to Week 14 in Manual Muscle Test Composite Score by Patient (n=9*):

Patients with Early Onset FSHD

We are conducting an international, multi-center, open-label, intra-patient, placebo run-in, dose escalation Phase 1b/2 clinical trial (003 Study) designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, immunogenicity and exploratory assessments of clinical activity of Resolaris at weekly doses of 0.3, 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg in patients with early onset FSHD for a total of 12 weeks.

We have completed the first stage of this trial and expect to announce top-line results and conclude the trial in the second quarter of 2017.

An interim data review was conducted for the first four early-onset FSHD patients that completed treatment with Resolaris (age range of 16 to 20). Patient’s INQoL scores were relatively stable with two patients demonstrating slight decreases in disease burden and one patient with an increase. The fourth patient did not have a baseline INQoL assessment and was excluded from the analysis. Muscle strength, as noted by MMT scores, increased over the course of the three month trial for 75% of the early onset patients (three of four). Overall, the early onset FSHD patients had a mean increase of MMT scores from baseline of 6.7%.

Adult Patients with FSHD

We have conducted four trials which included adult FSHD patients, including our 002 Study, an international Phase 1b/2 placebo-controlled clinical trial; our 004 Study, an international Phase 1b/2 open-label, intra-patient, placebo run-in, dose escalation clinical trial, our 005 Study, a long-term safety extension clinical trial with patients rolling over from our 002 Study, and our 006 Study, a long-term safety extension clinical trial with patients rolling over from our 004 Study.

We announced data during 2016 from three separate clinical trials treating adult FSHD patients with Resolaris: our 002 Study, 004 Study and our 005 Study. While these were distinct trials under separate protocols and were not designed for comparability, based on data previously disclosed, an increase in MMT scores was observed in approximately 50% of patients across these three separate studies. In the placebo-controlled 002 trial, a trend in improvement in MMT scores for patients treated with Resolaris was observed compared with placebo patients, with a concentration of improved MMT scores in the upper limbs. For the eight FSHD patients in the 004 Study, the overall MMT scores were relatively stable with four of the eight patients presenting with a slight increase in their muscle strength.

In addition, disease burden, as measured by the INQoL assessment, was lower in a majority of FSHD patients treated with Resolaris across our three separate studies. Patients treated with Resolaris showed an improvement, as assessed by INQoL, compared with placebo, and we observed the greatest improvement in patients in Cohort 3 (3.0 mg/kg for 12 weeks) of the 002 Study, a placebo-controlled trial. Patients in Cohort 3 reported approximately 9.9% improvement in INQoL compared with approximately 15.6% worsening in the placebo group at week 14. Five out of the six patients dosed with Resolaris in Cohort 3 showed overall improvement in their INQoL score at week 14, versus zero out of two patients on placebo.

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Biomarkers

A number of exploratory PD markers and clinical assessments were conducted to better understand their utility in FSHD and LGMD2B.  Various exploratory biomarkers (including targeted muscle T2 and STIR MRI and various plasma proteins) did not generally establish sufficiently high or consistent levels or robust signals across a sufficient number of patients to determine test article effects. Peripheral cell based biomarkers will be assessed in the future using one or more mechanistic assays currently under development for agonists of the Resokine pathway and T-cell activity. Future trials will be designed using one or more of these mechanistic assays, as well as the option to assess local immune components in skeletal muscle directly with biopsies. Targeted muscle T2/STIR MRI will not be prioritized as a biomarker in the near-term.

Long-Term Safety Extension Studies in Patients with Adult FSHD, Adult LGMD2B, and Early Onset FSHD (005 and 006 Studies)

These ongoing international, multi-center, open-label extension clinical trials are designed to assess the long-term safety, effects on biomarkers and systemic exposure of Resolaris in patients with adult FSHD, adult LGMD2B, and early onset FSHD from our 002, 003 and 004 Studies. Patients receive weekly doses of 3.0 mg/kg on an ongoing basis. We provided an update from the 005 Study in December 2016 and plan to provide an update from the 006 Study in the middle of 2017. We are currently in the process of concluding both of these studies as we believe the studies have met their objectives to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of Resolaris in patients from our 002, 003 and 004 Studies .

Safety and Tolerability Profile

Our early clinical development plan for Resolaris evaluated three rare genetic myopathies: adult FSHD, early onset FSHD, and LGMD2B where there is no therapeutic standard of care. This allowed us to collect important information related to the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of our first Physiocrine in the clinic. Establishing a safety dossier in our Phase 1b/2 trials in treatment naïve patients was an important developmental milestone for us to achieve before evaluating whether to broaden our indication potential for Resolaris.

As of December 31, 2016, 44 patients and 24 healthy volunteers have received Resolaris across all trials for a total drug exposure of 191 months. In those trials, Resolaris was well tolerated in all doses tested, across various age groups, and with long-term exposure. No serious adverse events were reported by the study investigators. A low incidence of adverse events were reported in these trials and all adverse events were mild-to-moderate in intensity. There were no observed signs of general immunosuppressive effects which is consistent with a homeostatic pathway working at the tissue level.

A low level of anti-drug antibody assay signals were observed in these trials. These signals did not reach levels to trigger a neutralizing assay and did not result in clinical symptoms.

Protocol discontinuations in these studies were primarily driven by mild-to-moderate transient infusion related reactions and elevations in a sponsor defined Jo-1 antibody level threshold. Discontinuation criteria in these trials related to infusion rate reactions and elevations in Jo-1 antibodies were implemented with a conservative approach as we gained understanding of this first Physiocrine in the clinic.

Stalaris – First Engineered Fusion Protein of a Physiocrine

Overview

To leverage our knowledge of the Resokine pathway, our scientists established a discovery program conducting a series of protein engineering experiments in vivo to enhance the activity of the iMod domain. The goal of the program was to develop a potential therapeutic that would retain only the N-terminal immuno-modulatory and fibro-modulatory activities of Resokine while enabling enhanced activity in vivo using a different dosing regime.  Fc fusion proteins have been successfully commercialized previously by others to enhance exposure of a naturally occurring protein while enabling biological activity. We explored this approach by fusing the immunoglobulin Fc with one iMod domain, which can form a dimer. Enbrel, Orencia and Zaltrap are commercialized examples of immunoglobulin Fc fusion proteins.

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Fc Fusion Platform

Our Fc fusion experiments have delineated how to enhance the exposure of the iMod domain of Resokine while maintaining activity and have provided insights into the immuno-modulatory activity of the iMod domain. Initial experiments have indicated that Fc fusion proteins can increase exposure and maintain iMod domain activity.  Our efforts in this research program have led to the selection of our second product candidate, Stalaris. This fusion protein potentially represents a novel Fc-Physiocrine platform for future Physiocrine-based therapies.

Currently we are producing our Stalaris molecules in E.coli by expression in inclusion bodies and refolding to recreate the native structure. This is in contrast to some other marketed Fc fusion therapeutics that are manufactured in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, although the FDA-approved commercial product Romiplostim (NPlate) is also expressed in E.coli and refolded. We are working with a third party manufacturer on the development and GMP manufacturing process for the production of Stalaris preclinical and clinical drug substance.

Interstitial Lung Diseases (ILDs) and the Role of Immunology

The Resokine pathway may play an important role in maintaining lung health. We believe the Resokine pathway plays a role in the regulation of tissue homeostasis with respect to immune cell invasion and residence, including in lung tissue. Jo-1 antibody patients often develop ILD, a pathophysiologic state that involves inflammation and fibrosis of the alveoli, distal airways and septal interstitium of the lungs, includes various patterns of lung pathology and is associated with markedly impaired lung function. We have observed that Jo-1 antibodies isolated from these patients bind to the iMod domain that we believe harbors immuno-modulatory activity.

ILD develops in approximately 85% of anti-synthetase patients with Jo-1 antibodies to Resokine. It can include the presence of focal immune cell infiltrates and an acinar pattern of involvement on chest computed tomography (CT) scan, lymphocytic predominance on broncho-alveolar lavage and lymphocytic invasion of alveolar and interstitial lung tissues on biopsy, and can advance to fibrosis. The pathological patterns in Jo-1 antibody ILD include cellular and fibrotic forms of non-specific interstitial pneumonitis, usual interstitial pneumonitis and diffuse alveolar damage. The development of ILD in Jo-1 antibody patients, particularly the acute severe forms of the disease, portends high morbidity and mortality. Elevations in a number of circulating immune proteins are observed in Jo-1 antibody associated ILD including interferon (IFN)-inducible chemokines CXCL9, or MIG, and CXCL10 or IP-10, IL-8 and IL-6.

ILD occurs in other settings such as rare genetic disorders, environmental exposures, as a side effect of certain therapeutics and as a manifestation of certain connective tissue disorders. Among these forms of ILD, we have identified several that result in severe and progressive lung disease and share immune-pathophysiology features that have the potential to be impacted by our demonstrated Stalaris activities. Examples of rare pulmonary diseases with an immune component include idiopathic non-specific interstitial pneumonias, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, lymphocytic interstitial pneumonia, bleomycin (the chemotherapeutic agent)-induced pulmonary fibrosis, and ILD in the setting of systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma, and sarcoidosis.

Preclinical Development

To test our hypothesis that augmenting the Resokine pathway with Stalaris has therapeutic potential in ILD, we have generated data in a mouse model of lung inflammation and pulmonary fibrosis. Stalaris has also shown promising therapeutic activity in this bleomycin-induced model (as set forth in the table below) which has been used previously in the development of therapeutics for different forms of ILD, including the drug pirfenidone, or Esbriet, which was approved by the FDA in October 2014 for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. We noted that Stalaris administration attenuated the radiographic and histological manifestations of pathophysiology in this model when it was dosed therapeutically. These mouse Stalaris pharmacology data, along with data discussed above delineating our immuno-modulatory activity in other settings, provide preclinical evidence supporting our hypothesis that augmenting the Resokine pathway has therapeutic potential in ILD.

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Bleomycin Rodent Model for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF):  

Project ORCA - Third Biologics Program

Based on our knowledge of Physiocrine biology, we have established a third biologics program from our research efforts, code name “Project ORCA,” currently in preclinical development. Project ORCA represents a third therapeutic modality distinct from Resolaris or Stalaris.  

Our Discovery Engine for Therapeutic Applications of Physiocrines in Immunology

We plan to leverage our discovery engine to identify other Physiocrine pathways of interest and select additional potential product candidates for preclinical and clinical investigation in a variety of disease settings. The engine that drives our discovery efforts is based on our scientific investigation of Physiocrine pathways and their proteins, coupled with a process of identifying disease indications that may benefit from a Physiocrine therapeutic. Through a combination of deep sequencing and bioinformatics panning, augmented by proteomic analysis, we have identified over 300 naturally occurring Physiocrines. We then expressed and purified over 200 of these Physiocrines. Our strategy for identifying function and potential indications begins with developing a series of phenotypic assays for in vitro and in vivo evaluations of function.

A key step in the discovery engine requires mining data from rare disease patients and linking this to the data generated in our phenotypic profiling experiments either in vitro or in vivo models of immunology. We believe our strategy of understanding Physiocrine function by using in vivo experiments early and often while using patient data to focus this in vivo exploration has been validated by our Resolaris, Stalaris and Project ORCA programs. Additionally, we believe our discovery engine can be applied to other members of the Physiocrine family to help identify additional indications that may benefit from therapeutic intervention with Physiocrines.

We believe the biology of Physiocrines presents a novel protein therapeutic development opportunity based on the modulation of important immunological pathways applicable to multiple diseases. This “pathway” approach or “physiology first” paradigm as we call it, which leverages the understanding of a basic physiological process, has been used successfully to create some of the most important therapeutics in such diverse areas as oncology and ophthalmology. Given the breadth of our discoveries, we currently focus on Physiocrine pathways related to immune and regeneration responses to explore for product candidates with rare disease applications.

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Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are intensely competitive. We will face competition with respect to Resolaris and Stalaris and any other protein therapeutics we may develop or commercialize in the future from pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and universities and other research institutions. Our competitors may have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. Additional mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug products that are more effective or less costly than any product candidate that we may develop.

Although we believe we are the only company engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutics based on Physiocrine pathways, we are aware of other companies that are developing products that could compete as treatments for our targeted indications, as described below.

In the area of rare myopathies with an immune component, we expect to face competition from a number of companies, academic institutions and other organizations, including Sarepta Therapeutics, PTC Therapeutics, Inc., Marathon Pharmaceuticals, Santhera Pharmaceuticals, Italfarmaco S.p.A, Summit Therapeutics, Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., FibroGen, Inc., F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Bristol Myers Squibb, Milo Biotechnology, LLC, Nobelpharma Co. Ltd., Pfizer, Inc., and Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals, that are engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics to address muscle loss and muscle weakness in a variety of indications. More specifically, in the area of LGMD, we are aware of a number of academic institutions engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics, including Genethon, a not-for-profit research laboratory created by the Association Française contre les Myopathies, or French Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has completed an experimental Phase 1 clinical trial in LGMD2C using gene therapy; Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is currently conducting a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of an AAV vector to transport the alpha-sarcoglycan gene into muscles in LGMD2D; and NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute in India, which is currently conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial in an unspecified form of LGMD using stem cell therapy. In addition, Pfizer currently has a program Domagrozumab (PF-06252616) which is in Phase 1b/2 clinical trials for the treatment of LGMD2I as well as a Phase 2 program for DMD. In the area of FSHD, while there are currently no approved products for this disease, Acceleron Pharma Inc. is developing a clinical candidate, ACE-083, a locally acting protein therapeutic designed to increase muscle mass and strength in patients with neuromuscular disorders and other diseases characterized by a loss of muscle function, including FSHD in which it initiated a Phase 2 trial in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition, Facio Therapies recently announced its plans to screen chemical libraries to identify chemical compounds that will boost the expression of proteins known to repress one of the causal genes responsible for FSHD. In the area of DMD, two therapies have been approved in the last 12 months: Exondys 51 from Sarepta and Emflaza from Marathon Pharmaceuticals. Marathon Pharmaceuticals and PTC Therapeutics, Inc. recently announced entering an asset purchase agreement whereby PTC Therapeutics, Inc. will acquire all rights to Emflaza. Exondys 51 is an antisense oligonucleotide indicated for the treatment of DMD in patients who have a confirmed mutation of the DMD gene that is amenable to exon 51 skipping. The approval is under accelerated approval based on an increase in dystrophin in skeletal muscle observed in some patients, but no clinical benefit has been established. Emflaza is a corticosteroid (deflazacort) indicated for the treatment of DMD in patients 5 years of age or older.

In the area of rare lung diseases with an immune component, notably ILD, we expect to face competition from pirfenidone, which is marketed by F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Shionogi Ltd. and Il Dong Pharmaceutical globally, as well as nintedanib, a small molecule tyrosine-kinase inhibitor marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim, both of which were approved by the FDA in October 2014. We are also aware of a number of companies engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics for lung diseases, including Astra Zeneca plc., Biogen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, FibroGen, Inc., Asahi Kasei, Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A, Chugai, Promedior, Inc., Pliant Therapeutics, Inc. and Sanofi S.A.

Sales and Marketing

We intend, where strategically appropriate, to build the commercial infrastructure in the United States and Europe necessary to effectively support the commercialization of our product candidates, if and when we believe a regulatory approval of the first of such product candidates in a particular geographic market appears imminent. We may elect to utilize strategic partners, distributors, or contract sales forces to assist in the commercialization of our products in selected geographic locations or for particular indications.

The commercial infrastructure for products directed at rare disease indications typically consists of a targeted, specialty sales force that calls on a limited and focused group of physicians supported by sales management, medical liaisons, internal sales support, an internal marketing group, and distribution support. One challenge unique to commercializing therapies for rare diseases is the difficulty in identifying eligible patients due to the very small and sometimes heterogeneous disease populations.

Additional capabilities important to the marketing of therapeutics for rare diseases include the management of key accounts such as managed care organizations, group-purchasing organizations, specialty pharmacies, and government accounts. To develop the appropriate commercial infrastructure, we will have to invest significant amounts of financial and management resources, some of which will be committed prior to any confirmation that any of our product candidates will be approved.

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Manufacturing

We currently contract with third parties for the manufacturing and testing of our product candidates for preclinical studies and clinical trials and intend to do so in the future. We do not own or operate manufacturing or testing facilities for the clinical or commercial production of our product candidates. We currently have no plans to build our own clinical or commercial scale manufacturing capabilities. The use of contracted development and manufacturing organizations, or CDMOs, and contract research organizations, or CROS, is cost-efficient and has eliminated the need for our direct investment in manufacturing facilities and additional resources early in development. Although we rely on CDMOs and CROs, we have personnel with extensive biologics development and manufacturing experience to oversee such CDMOs and CROs.

To date, our CDMOs and CROs have met our manufacturing requirements for clinical development and we expect that our current CDMOs and CROs are capable of providing sufficient quantities of our product candidates to meet our anticipated clinical development needs.

Resolaris

Resolaris is expressed in recombinant bacteria, purified, formulated, filled and packaged for clinical use. For our Phase 1b/2 clinical trials conducted to date, the drug substance for Resolaris was manufactured in India by Syngene International Limited, or Syngene. We have a non-exclusive license to the host-cell line used to produce drug substance for Resolaris at Syngene. Resolaris drug product for such Phase 1b/2 clinical trials was manufactured by CDMOs in India and the United States.

To meet our projected needs for future clinical trials and larger scale commercial manufacturing, we are working with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies USA, Inc., or Fujifilm, and have completed the development, scale-up and GMP manufacturing process for the production of Resolaris drug substance. We have also successfully demonstrated comparability of the product manufactured at the different scales and sites. The host-cell line used to produce the drug substance for Resolaris at Fujifilm is in Fujifilm’s control.  We have an option to obtain a non-exclusive license for such host-cell line if we move production to another CDMO. The drug product process for Resolaris was also successfully scaled and transferred to a CDMO in Germany.

We contract with CROs to conduct labeling, as well as for the storage and distribution of Resolaris to clinical sites. Additionally, we have negotiated with additional storage and labelling CROs to enable the commercial storage and supply of Resolaris.

Stalaris

Our second clinical candidate, Stalaris, is a Fc fusion molecule that is expressed in recombinant bacteria. Currently we are producing our Stalaris molecules in E.coli by expression in inclusion bodies and refolding to recreate the native structure. We are working with CDMOs in the United States on the development and GMP manufacturing process for the production of Stalaris preclinical and clinical drug substance and drug product. We have a non-exclusive license to the host-cell line used to produce drug substance for Stalaris. We intend to contract with CROs to conduct labeling, storage and distribution of Stalaris to clinical sites.

Patents and Proprietary Rights

We strive to protect the proprietary technologies that we believe are important to our business, including seeking and maintaining patent protection intended to cover the composition of matter of our product candidates, their methods of use, related technology and other inventions that are important to our business. We own, or have exclusive licenses to, over 175 issued patents or allowed patent applications with predicted expiration dates ranging from 2026 to 2034. In addition to patent protection, we also rely on trade secrets and careful monitoring of our proprietary information to protect aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection.

Our success will depend significantly on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for commercially important technology, inventions and know-how related to our business, defend and enforce our patents, maintain our licenses to use intellectual property owned by third parties, preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets and operate without infringing the valid and enforceable patents and other proprietary rights of third parties. We also rely on know-how, continuing technological innovation and in-licensing opportunities to develop, strengthen, and maintain our proprietary position in the field of Physiocrine therapeutics.

A third party may hold intellectual property, including patent rights, which is important or necessary to the development of our products. It may be necessary for us to use the patented or proprietary technology of third parties to commercialize our products, in which case we would be required to obtain a license from these third parties on commercially reasonable terms, or our business could be harmed, possibly materially.

We plan to continue to expand our intellectual property estate by filing patent applications directed to new methods of treatment, therapeutics and additional new product forms thereof with new therapeutic or pharmacokinetic properties. Specifically, we seek patent protection in the United States and internationally for novel compositions of matter covering our protein therapeutics, next generation product forms and the use of these compositions in a variety of therapies.

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The patent positions of biopharmaceutical companies like us are generally uncertain and involve complex legal, scientific and factual questions. In addition, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and its scope c an be reinterpreted after issuance. Consequently, we do not know whether any of our product candidates will be protectable or remain protected by enforceable patents. We cannot predict whether the patent applications we are currently pursuing will issue as patents in any particular jurisdiction or whether the claims of any issued patents will provide sufficient proprietary protection from competitors. Any patents that we hold may be challenged, circumvented or invalidated by third parties.

Because patent applications in the United States and certain other jurisdictions are maintained in secrecy for 18 months, and since publication of discoveries in the scientific or patent literature often lags behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain of the priority of inventions covered by pending patent applications. Moreover, we may have to participate in interference proceedings declared by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or a foreign patent office to determine priority of invention or in post-grant challenge proceedings, such as oppositions, that challenge priority of invention or other features of patentability. Such proceedings could result in us incurring substantial costs, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us.

The patent portfolios for our most advanced programs are summarized below.

Resolaris . Our Resolaris patent portfolio is comprised of a number of patent families and includes U.S. Patent No. 8,835,387, which issued on September 16, 2014 and is predicted to expire in 2033; and U.S. Patent No. 9,273,302, which issued on March 1, 2016 and is predicted to expire in 2033 . This patent family is jointly owned by us and our 98% owned subsidiary, Pangu Biopharma. Patent applications in the same family as U.S. Patent No. 8,835,387 are pending in a variety of worldwide jurisdictions, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and South Africa. The Resolaris patent portfolio also encompasses additional issued patents and pending patent applications that cover Resolaris and related proteins; these patents and patent applications are wholly owned by us. This second patent family includes U.S. Patent No. 9,127,268, which issued on September 8, 2015; European Patent No. 2509625, which granted on January 28, 2015; Japanese Patent No. 5819314, which granted on October 9, 2015; Chinese Patent No. ZL 201080061989.7, which granted on September 21, 2016; and Australian Patent No. 2010327926, which issued August 21, 2014, and related applications that are pending in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Hong Kong. Patents that issue from these applications, if any, are expected to expire in 2030 plus any patent term extension. Also included with the Resolaris patent portfolio are pending patent applications to specific methods of use of Resolaris and related proteins, and disease polymorphisms of HARS. These applications have been filed in the United States as U.S. provisional applications and in some cases under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT. U.S. provisional applications may be used to establish non-provisional U.S. applications, PCT applications and other national filings worldwide. PCT applications are eligible for filing in most worldwide jurisdictions, including the United States. If issued, these patents are predicted to expire between 2033 and 2034.

Stalaris. Our Stalaris patent portfolio, includes derivatives of Resokine, including the iMod domain, related splice variants, and next-generation product forms with modified therapeutic activity or pharmacokinetic characteristics, is comprised of a number of patent families and includes U.S. Patent No. 8,404,242, and U.S. Patent No 8,753,638, which issued on March 26, 2013 and June 17, 2014, respectively, and are expected to expire in 2031 and 2030. Also included in this patent family are Japanese Patent No. 5756751, which granted on June 5, 2015; and Australian Patent No. 2010226726, which issued on October 16, 2014. This patent family is jointly owned by us and our 98% owned subsidiary, Pangu Biopharma, and includes pending applications in United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Hong Kong. Patents that issue from these applications, if any, are expected to expire in 2030, plus any patent term extension. The Stalaris patent family also includes patent applications filed on related splice variants of HARS. This patent family includes applications that are pending in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Hong Kong. This patent family is jointly owned by us and Pangu Biopharma. Also included within the Stalaris patent portfolio are pending applications to specific product forms of Stalaris, Resolaris and other HARS splice variants which include patent families to Fc fusion proteins, pegylated forms and variants with substituted D amino acids. These applications have been filed in the United States as U.S. provisional applications and in some cases under the PCT. If issued, these patents are predicted to expire between 2033 and 2034.

Our pipeline of Physiocrines is covered by a series of 21 patent families, which covers all 20 human cytosolic tRNA synthetases. At least 19 Physiocrine patents are issued in the United States, and applications are pending to the corresponding Physiocrine polynucleotide sequences.   These cases are jointly owned by us and Pangu Biopharma, and include pending applications in the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Europe, China and Japan. Patents that issue from these applications, if any, would be expected to expire in 2031. Additional patent applications have also been separately filed on GARS (Glycyl-tRNA synthetase), DARS (Aspartyl-tRNA synthetase), YARS (tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase), and other tRNA synthetases, and any patents issuing from these patent applications would be expected to expire between 2026 and 2030. We have also exclusively in-licensed from TSRI, patents and patent applications related to YARS and specific monomeric forms of tRNA synthetases.

The term of individual patents depends upon the legal term of the patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we file, the patent term is generally 20 years from the earliest date of filing the non-provisional patent application from which the patent issued.

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In the United States, the patent term of a patent that covers a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, may also be eligible for patent term extension, which permits patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is rel ated to the length of time the drug is under regulatory review. Patent extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. S imilar provisions are available in Europe and other non-United States jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. In the future, if and when our pharmaceutical products receive FDA approval, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on patents covering those products. We intend to seek patent term extensions to any of our issued patents in any jurisdiction where these are available, however there is no guarantee that the applicable authorities, including the FDA in the Uni ted States, will agree with our assessment of whether such extensions should be granted, and even if granted, the length of such extensions.

We also rely on trade secret protection for our confidential and proprietary information. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology. Thus, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us. These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual during the course of the individual’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. In the case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property.

Research and License Agreements

The Scripps Research Institute

We are party to an amended and restated research funding and option agreement with The Scripps Research Institute, or TSRI. Under the agreement, we provide funding to TSRI to conduct certain research activities related to aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. The agreement renews automatically for successive 12 month periods starting on May 31 of each year unless we provide written notice of our desire to terminate the agreement at least 30 days prior to the end of the applicable 12-month period. Under the agreement, the parties agree to update the amount of annual funding for such successive 12-month periods as mutually agreed in good faith by the parties. We have the right to terminate the agreement at any time upon six months’ written notice, and TSRI has the right to terminate the agreement if we fail to make any payment under the agreement within ten days of being notified by TSRI that such payment is overdue. Additionally, each party may terminate the agreement in the event of an uncured material breach by the other party or for insolvency of the other party.

Under the amended and restated research funding and option agreement, TSRI has granted us options to enter into license agreements to acquire rights and exclusive licenses to develop, make, have made, use, have used, import, have imported, offer to sell, sell and have sold certain licensed products, processes and services based on certain technology arising from the sponsored research activities. Pursuant to the terms of these license agreements, TSRI is entitled to receive tiered royalties as a percentage of net sales, ranging from the low to mid-single digits, with these royalty rates subject to increase if we challenge the validity or enforceability of any of the licensed patent rights under certain circumstances. The royalty rates are subject to reduction to the extent we need to obtain any rights from third parties to make, use, or sell the licensed products, processes or services, subject to a minimum floor in the single digits. Additionally, we have agreed to pay TSRI a percentage of non-royalty revenue we receive from our sublicensees or partners, with the amount owed decreasing if we enter into the applicable sublicense or partnering agreement after meeting a specified clinical milestone. In addition, we are obligated to make payments to TSRI of up to an aggregate of $2.75 million under each license agreement upon the achievement of specific clinical and regulatory milestone events.

Under the terms of the license agreements, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts and diligence to develop and commercialize licensed products, processes and services and to obtain regulatory approvals as necessary.

We may terminate the license agreements upon mutual agreement with TSRI or unilaterally upon 90 days’ notice, and TSRI has the right to terminate the agreements under certain circumstances, including our uncured material breach of the agreements and if TSRI determines that we are not engaged in research, development, manufacturing, marketing or sublicensing activities reasonably appropriate to put the licensed patents into commercial use, and to make the licensed subject matter reasonably available to the public, in the countries covered by the license.

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Pangu Biopharma

In October 2007, we formed our Hong Kong subsidiary, Pangu BioPharma Limited, or Pangu BioPharma, a company registered in Hong Kong, to collaborate with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, or HKUST, on the discovery and development of aminoacyl tRNA synthetase protein therapeutics. We hold 98% of the outstanding shares of Pangu BioPharma, and a subsidiary of HKUST holds the remaining outstanding shares. Beginning in July 2008, Pangu BioPharma, in collaboration with HKUST, entered into a series of three research grant agreements with the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to carry out research in the discovery and development of Physiocrines. In December 2016, Pangu BioPharma renewed its annual joint research agreement with a subsidiary of HKUST, under which Pangu BioPharma agrees to fund research to be performed in 2017 under the agreement by the subsidiary of HKUST with respect to development of aminoacyl tRNA synthetase protein therapeutics. Pangu BioPharma is the sole beneficial owner of all resulting intellectual property rights from the research performed under these agreements, subject to the right of HKUST’s subsidiary to use certain background intellectual property of HKUST in conducting the research and, in the event Pangu BioPharma applies for individual funding of any work under the research programs, compliance with the terms and conditions of any written agreement covering ownership of such funded works. Pangu BioPharma funds the annual research on a quarterly basis. Either party may terminate the agreement during the annual period upon an uncured breach of the agreement by the other party. We are also party to a license agreement with Pangu BioPharma, pursuant to which Pangu BioPharma has granted us an exclusive, royalty-bearing license (with a right to sublicense) in and to certain of Pangu BioPharma’s solely and jointly owned patent rights and know-how to research, develop, manufacture, use, import, export, distribute, offer for sale, sell and have sold products incorporating such patent rights and know-how for any therapeutic, prognostic or diagnostic use throughout the world.

Government Regulation

Government authorities in the United States, including federal, state, and local authorities, and in other countries, extensively regulate, among other things, the manufacturing, research and clinical development, marketing, labeling and packaging, storage, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, advertising and promotion, and export and import of pharmaceutical and biological products, such as those we are developing. Pricing of such products is also subject to regulation in many countries. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local, and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

U.S. Government Regulation

In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and its implementing regulations, and biologics under the FDCA and the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, and its implementing regulations. FDA approval is required before any new unapproved drug or biologic or dosage form, including a new use of a previously approved drug, can be marketed in the United States. Drugs and biologics are also subject to other federal, state, and local statutes and regulations. If we fail to comply with applicable FDA or other requirements at any time during the product development process, clinical testing, approval process or after approval, we may become subject to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, license suspension or revocation, withdrawal of an approval, untitled or warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties or criminal prosecution. Any FDA enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.

The process required by the FDA before product candidates may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

completion of extensive preclinical laboratory tests and preclinical animal studies, all performed in accordance with the Good Laboratory Practices, or GLP, regulations;

 

submission to the FDA of an investigational new drug application, or IND, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin and must be updated annually;

 

approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, or ethics committee representing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;

 

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the product candidate for each proposed indication;

 

preparation of and submission to the FDA of a biologics license application, or BLA, or a new drug application, or NDA, after completion of all pivotal clinical trials;

 

potential review of the product application by an FDA advisory committee, where appropriate and if applicable;

 

a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of a BLA or NDA to file the application for review;

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satisfactory completion of an FDA pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities where the prop osed product is produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP;

 

potential FDA audit of the clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the BLA or NDA; and

 

FDA review and approval of a BLA or NDA prior to any commercial marketing or sale of the product in the United States.

The preclinical and clinical testing and approval process requires substantial time, effort, and financial resources, and we cannot be certain that any approvals for our product candidates will be granted on a timely basis, if at all.

An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational new drug product to humans in clinical trials. The central focus of an IND submission is on the general investigational plan and the protocol(s) for human trials. The IND also includes results of animal and in vitro studies assessing the toxicology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacology, and pharmacodynamic characteristics of the product; chemistry, manufacturing, and controls information; and any available human data or literature to support the use of the investigational new drug. An IND must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. An IND will automatically become effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions related to the proposed clinical trials. In such a case, the IND may be placed on clinical hold and the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns or questions before clinical trials can begin. Accordingly, submission of an IND may or may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence. The FDA may impose a clinical hold at any time during clinical trials and may impose a partial clinical hold that would limit trials, for example, to certain doses or for a certain length of time.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational new drug to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with Good Clinical Practices, or GCPs, which include the requirement that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the efficacy criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Additionally, approval must also be obtained from each clinical trial site’s IRB before the trials may be initiated, and the IRB must monitor the trial until completed. There are also requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and clinical trial results to public registries.

The clinical investigation of a drug is generally divided into three phases. Although the phases are usually conducted sequentially, they may overlap or be combined.

 

Phase 1. The drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects or patients with the target disease or condition. These studies are designed to evaluate the safety, dosage tolerance, metabolism and pharmacologic actions of the investigational new drug in humans, the side effects associated with increasing doses, and if possible, to gain early evidence on effectiveness.

 

Phase 2. The drug is administered to a limited patient population to evaluate dosage tolerance and optimal dosage, identify possible adverse side effects and safety risks, and preliminarily evaluate efficacy.

 

Phase 3. The drug is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites to generate enough data to evaluate dosage, clinical effectiveness and safety, to establish the overall benefit-risk relationship of the investigational new drug product, and to provide an adequate basis for physician labeling.

In some cases, the FDA may condition approval of a BLA or NDA for a product candidate on the sponsor’s agreement to conduct additional clinical trials after approval. In other cases, a sponsor may voluntarily conduct additional clinical trials after approval to gain more information about the drug. Such post-approval studies are typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials.

Sponsors must also report to the FDA, within certain timeframes, serious and unexpected adverse reactions, any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator’s brochure, or any findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the product candidate. The FDA, the IRB, or the clinical trial sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization for whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial. We may also suspend or terminate a clinical trial based on evolving business objectives or competitive climate.

The clinical trial process can take three to ten years or more to complete, and there can be no assurance that the data collected will support FDA approval or licensure of the product. Results from one trial are not necessarily predictive of results from later trials.

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A drug being studied in clinical trials may be made available to individual patients in certain circumstances.  Pursuant to the 21st Century Cures Act, or Cures Act, which was signed into law in December 2016, the manufacturer of an invest igational drug for a serious disease or condition is required to make available, such as by posting on its website, its policy on evaluating and responding to requests for individual patient access to such investigational drug. This requirement applies on the later of 60 calendar days after the date of enactment of the Cures Act or the first initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 trial of the investigational drug. Submission of a BLA or NDA to the FDA.

Assuming successful completion of all required testing in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, detailed investigational new drug product information is submitted to the FDA in the form of a BLA or NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. Under federal law, the submission of most BLAs and NDAs is subject to an application user fee. For fiscal year 2017, the application user fee is $2,038,100, and the sponsor of an approved BLA or NDA is also subject to annual product and establishment user fees, set at $97,750 per product and $512,200 per establishment. These fees are typically increased annually. Applications for orphan drug products are exempted from the BLA and NDA user fees and may be exempted from product and establishment user fees, unless the application includes an indication for other than a rare disease or condition.

A BLA or NDA for a new molecular entity must include all relevant data available from pertinent preclinical studies and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacturing, controls, and proposed labeling, among other things. Data can come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and effectiveness of a use of a product, or from a number of alternative sources, including trials initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and effectiveness of the investigational new drug product to the satisfaction of the FDA.

Once a BLA or NDA for a new molecular entity has been submitted, the FDA’s goal is to review the application within ten months after it accepts the application for filing, or, if the application relates to an unmet medical need in a serious or life-threatening indication, six months after the FDA accepts the application for filing. The review process is often significantly extended by the FDA’s requests for additional information or clarification.

Before approving a BLA or NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving a BLA or NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP.

The FDA is required to refer an application for a novel drug to an advisory committee or explain why such referral was not made. Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

The FDA’s Decision on a BLA or NDA

The FDA evaluates a BLA to determine whether the data demonstrate that the biologic is safe, pure, and potent, or effective, and an NDA to determine whether the drug is safe and effective.  After the FDA evaluates the BLA or NDA and conducts inspections of manufacturing facilities where the product will be produced, it may issue an approval letter or a Complete Response Letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A Complete Response Letter indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete and the application is not ready for approval. A Complete Response Letter may require additional clinical data or an additional pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s), or other significant, expensive and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing. Even if such additional information is submitted, the FDA may ultimately decide that the BLA or NDA does not satisfy the criteria for approval and issue a denial. The FDA could also approve the BLA or NDA with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan to mitigate risks, which could include medication guides, physician communication plans, or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. The FDA also may condition approval on, among other things, changes to proposed labeling, development of adequate controls and specifications, or a commitment to conduct one or more post-market studies or clinical trials. Such post-market testing may include Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization. Also, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our products under development.

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Expedited Review and Accelerate d Approval Programs

A sponsor may seek approval of its product candidate under programs designed to accelerate FDA’s review and approval of BLAs and NDAs. For example, Fast Track Designation may be granted to a drug intended for treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition that has potential to address unmet medical needs for the disease or condition. The key benefits of fast track designation are more frequent interactions with the FDA during development and testing, the eligibility for priority review, and rolling review, which is submission of portions of an application before the complete marketing application is submitted. Based on results of the Phase 3 clinical trial(s) submitted in a BLA or NDA, the FDA may grant the BLA or NDA a priority review designation, which sets the target date for FDA action on the application at six months after the FDA accepts the application for filing. Priority review is granted where there is evidence that the proposed product would be a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of a serious condition. If criteria are not met for priority review, the application is subject to the standard FDA review period of ten months after FDA accepts the application for filing. Priority review designation does not change the scientific/medical standard for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval.

Under the accelerated approval program, the FDA may approve a BLA or NDA on the basis of either a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. Post-marketing trials or completion of ongoing trials after marketing approval are generally required to verify the drug’s clinical benefit in relationship to the surrogate endpoint or ultimate outcome in relationship to the clinical benefit. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, which was enacted and signed into law in 2012, established the new Breakthrough Therapy designation. A sponsor may seek FDA designation of its product candidate as a breakthrough therapy if the drug is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. If so designated, the FDA shall act to expedite the development and review of the product’s marketing application, including by meeting with the sponsor throughout the product’s development, providing timely advice to the sponsor to ensure that the development program to gather preclinical and clinical data is as efficient as practicable, involving senior managers and experienced review staff in a cross-disciplinary review, and assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the FDA review team to facilitate an efficient review of the development program and to serve as a scientific liaison between the review team and the sponsor.

Post-Approval Requirements

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. After approval, most changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications or other labeling claims, are subject to prior FDA review and approval. There also are continuing, annual user fee requirements for any marketed products and the establishments at which such products are manufactured, as well as new application fees for supplemental applications with clinical data.

Drug manufacturers are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated, and, depending on the significance of the change, may require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon us and any third-party manufacturers that we may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP and other aspects of regulatory compliance.

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production of clinical quantities of our product candidates, and expect to rely in the future on third parties for the production of commercial quantities. Future FDA and state inspections may identify compliance issues at our facilities or at the facilities of our contract manufacturers that may disrupt production or distribution, or require substantial resources to correct. In addition, discovery of previously unknown problems with a product or the failure to comply with applicable requirements may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer or holder of an approved BLA or NDA, including withdrawal or recall of the product from the market or other voluntary, FDA-initiated or judicial action that could delay or prohibit further marketing. Also, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our products under development.

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

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

 

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

 

refusal of the FDA to approve pending BLAs or NDAs or supplements to approved BLAs or NDAs, or suspension or revocation of licenses or withdrawal of approvals;

 

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

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

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

Orphan Designation and Exclusivity

The FDA may grant orphan drug designation to drugs intended to treat a rare disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States, there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the drug for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales 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 addition, if a product is the first to receive FDA approval for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application to market the same drug for the same indication for a period of seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity.

Pediatric Trials and Exclusivity

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, or PREA, as amended, BLAs and NDAs must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of an investigational new drug product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric populations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the drug is safe and effective. A sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug product that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration must submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within sixty days of an end-of-phase 2 meeting or as may be agreed between the sponsor and the FDA. The initial PSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the applicant, grant deferrals for submissi on of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults or full or partial waivers if certain criteria are met. The FDA and the sponsor must reach agreement on the PSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials, and/or other clinical development programs.  The requirements for pediatric data do not apply to any drug for an indication for which orphan designation has been granted.

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

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Patent Term Restoration

Depending upon the timing, duration, and specifics of the FDA approval of the use of our product candidates, some of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, patent term restoration cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. The patent term restoration period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of a BLA or NDA, plus the time between the submission date and the approval of that application, except that the review period is reduced by any time during which the applicant failed to exercise due diligence. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent and within 60 days of the product’s approval. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration. In the future, we may apply for restoration of patent term for one of our currently owned or licensed patents to add patent life beyond its current expiration date, depending on the expected length of the clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of the relevant BLA or NDA.

Biosimilars and Exclusivity

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCI Act, which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products shown to be biosimilar to, or interchangeable with, an FDA-licensed reference biological product. This amendment to the PHSA attempts to minimize duplicative testing. Biosimilarity, which requires that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity, and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies, and a clinical trial or trials. Interchangeability requires that a product is biosimilar to the reference product and the product must demonstrate that it can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product and, for products administered multiple times, the biologic and the reference biologic may be switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic.

A reference biologic is granted twelve years of exclusivity from the time of first licensure of the reference product. The first biologic product submitted under the abbreviated approval pathway that is determined to be interchangeable with the reference product has exclusivity against other biologics submitting under the abbreviated approval pathway for the lesser of (i) one year after the first commercial marketing, (ii) eighteen months after approval if there is no legal challenge, (iii) eighteen months after the resolution in the applicant’s favor of a lawsuit challenging the biologics’ patents if an application has been submitted, or (iv) 42 months after the application has been approved if a lawsuit is ongoing within the 42-month period.

Abbreviated New Drug Applications for Generic Drugs

In 1984, with passage of the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, Congress authorized the FDA to approve generic drugs that are the same as drugs previously approved by the FDA under the NDA provisions of the statute. To obtain approval of a generic drug, an applicant must submit an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA, to the agency. In support of such applications, a generic manufacturer may rely on the preclinical and clinical testing previously conducted for a drug product previously approved under an NDA, known as the reference listed drug, or RLD.

Specifically, in order for an ANDA to be approved, the FDA must find that the generic version is identical to the RLD with respect to the active ingredients, the route of administration, the dosage form, and the strength of the drug. At the same time, the FDA must also determine that the generic drug is “bioequivalent” to the innovator drug. Under the statute, a generic drug is bioequivalent to an RLD if “the rate and extent of absorption of the generic drug do not show a significant difference from the rate and extent of absorption of the listed drug. . . .”

Upon approval of an ANDA, the FDA indicates that the generic product is “therapeutically equivalent” to the RLD and it assigns a therapeutic equivalence rating to the approved generic drug in its publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” also referred to as the “Orange Book.” Physicians and pharmacists consider an “AB” therapeutic equivalence rating to mean that a generic drug is fully substitutable for the RLD. In addition, by operation of certain state laws and numerous health insurance programs, the FDA’s designation of an “AB” rating often results in substitution of the generic drug without the knowledge or consent of either the prescribing physician or patient.

The FDCA provides a period of five years of non-patent exclusivity for a new drug containing a new chemical entity. In cases where such exclusivity has been granted, an ANDA may not be filed with the FDA until the expiration of five years unless the submission is accompanied by a Paragraph IV certification, in which case the applicant may submit its application four years following the original product approval. The FDCA also provides for a period of three years of exclusivity if the NDA includes reports of one or more new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability or bioequivalence studies, that were conducted by or for the applicant and are essential to the approval of the application. This three-year exclusivity period often protects changes to a previously approved drug product, such as a new dosage form, route of administration, combination or indication.

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Hatch-Waxman Patent Certification and the 30-Month Stay

Upon approval of an NDA or a supplement thereto, NDA sponsors are required to list with the FDA each patent with claims that cover the applicant’s product or a method of using the product. Each of the patents listed by the NDA sponsor is published in the Orange Book. When an ANDA applicant files its application with the FDA, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the reference product in the Orange Book, except for patents covering methods of use for which the ANDA applicant is not seeking approval.

Specifically, the applicant must certify with respect to each patent that:

 

the required patent information has not been filed;

 

the listed patent has expired;

 

the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or

 

the listed patent is invalid, unenforceable or will not be infringed by the new product.

A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents or that such patents are invalid or unenforceable is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents or indicates that it is not seeking approval of a patented method of use, the ANDA application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired.

If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days after the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months after the receipt of the Paragraph IV notice, expiration of the patent, or a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant.

European Union/Rest of World Government Regulation

In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical trials and any commercial sales and distribution of our products. The cost of establishing a regulatory compliance system for numerous varying jurisdictions can be very significant. Although many of the issues discussed above with respect to the United States apply similarly in the context of the European Union and in other jurisdictions, the approval process varies between countries and jurisdictions and can involve additional product testing and additional administrative review periods. The time required to obtain approval in other countries and jurisdictions might differ from and be longer than that required to obtain FDA approval. Regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction does not ensure regulatory approval in another, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one country or jurisdiction may negatively impact the regulatory process in others.

Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the European Union, for example, a clinical trial authorization application, or CTA, must be submitted for each clinical protocol to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is accepted in accordance with a country’s requirements, the clinical trial may proceed.

The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical trials vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with good clinical practices, or GCP, the applicable regulatory requirements, and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational medicinal product under European Union regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. The content of the BLA or NDA filed in the United States is similar to that required in the European Union, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements.

For other countries outside of the European Union, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing product licensing, pricing, and reimbursement vary from country to country.

Countries that are part of the European Union, as well as countries outside of the European Union, have their own governing bodies, requirements, and processes with respect to the approval of pharmaceutical and biologic products. If we fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.

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Authorization Procedures in the European Union

Medicines can be authorized in the European Union by using either the centralized authorization procedure or national authorization procedures.

 

Centralized procedure . The EMA implemented the centralized procedure for the approval of human medicines to facilitate marketing authorizations that are valid throughout the European Economic Area, or EEA, which is comprised of the 28 member states of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein. This procedure results in a single marketing authorization issued by the EMA that is valid across the EEA. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines that are: derived from biotechnology processes, such as genetic engineering, contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders or autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, and officially designated orphan medicines.

 

For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant has the option of submitting an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the European Commission following a favorable opinion by the EMA, as long as the medicine concerned is a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or if its authorization would be in the interest of public health.

 

National authorization procedures . There are also two other possible routes to authorize medicinal products in several European Union countries, which are available for investigational medicinal products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:

 

Decentralized procedure . Using the decentralized procedure, an applicant may apply for simultaneous authorization in more than one European Union country of medicinal products that have not yet been authorized in any European Union country and that do not fall within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure.

 

Mutual recognition procedure . In the mutual recognition procedure, a medicine is first authorized in one European Union Member State, in accordance with the national procedures of that country. Following this, further marketing authorizations can be sought from other European Union countries in a procedure whereby the countries concerned agree to recognize the validity of the original, national marketing authorization.

In some cases, a Pediatric Investigation Plan, or PIP, or a request for waiver or deferral, is required for submission prior to submitting a marketing authorization application. A PIP describes, among other things, proposed pediatric trials and their timing relative to clinical trials in adults.

New Chemical Entity Exclusivity

In the European Union, new chemical entities, sometimes referred to as new active substances, qualify for eight years of data exclusivity upon marketing authorization and an additional two years of market exclusivity. This data exclusivity, if granted, prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic (abbreviated) application for eight years, after which a generic application can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but not approved for two years. The overall ten-year period will be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies.

Orphan Designation and Exclusivity

In the European Union, the European Commission, after reviewing the opinion of the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products, or COMP, grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions that affect not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the European Union Community, or when, without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of such products in the European Union would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the products. Additionally, orphan drug designation is only available where no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of the condition has been authorized (or the product would be a significant benefit to those affected).

In the European Union, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and ten years of market exclusivity is granted following medicinal product approval. This period may be reduced to six years if the orphan drug designation criteria are no longer met, including where it is shown that the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Market exclusivity would not prevent the approval of a similar drug that is shown to be safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior.

Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an application for marketing approval. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

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Exceptional Circumstances/Conditional Approval

Orphan drugs or drugs with unmet medical needs may be eligible for European Union approval under exceptional circumstances or with conditional approval. Approval under exceptional circumstances may be applicable to orphan products and is used when an applicant is unable to provide comprehensive data on the efficacy and safety under normal conditions of use because the indication for which the product is intended is encountered so rarely that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to provide comprehensive evidence, when the present state of scientific knowledge does not allow comprehensive information to be provided, or when it is medically unethical to collect such information. Conditional marketing authorization may be applicable to orphan medicinal products, medicinal products for seriously debilitating or life-threatening diseases, or medicinal products to be used in emergency situations in response to recognized public threats. Conditional marketing authorization can be granted on the basis of less complete data than is normally required in order to meet unmet medical needs and in the interest of public health, provided the risk-benefit balance is positive, it is likely that the applicant will be able to provide the comprehensive clinical data, and unmet medical needs will be fulfilled. Conditional marketing authorization is subject to certain specific obligations to be reviewed annually.

Accelerated Review

Under the centralized procedure in the European Union, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application is 210 days (excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP). Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. In this circumstance, EMA ensures that the opinion of the CHMP is given within 150 days, excluding clock stops.

Pharmaceutical Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any products for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and in other countries, sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will depend in part on the availability of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities, managed care providers, private health insurers and other organizations. The process for determining whether a payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. Moreover, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third- party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.

Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price and examining the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of medical products and services, in addition to their safety and efficacy. In order to obtain coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, we may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our products, in addition to the costs required to obtain regulatory approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective. If third-party payors do not consider a product to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover the product after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow a company to sell its products at a profit.

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 health care costs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products for branded prescription drugs. By way of example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively, the Affordable Care Act, contains provisions that may reduce the profitability of drug products, including, for example, increased rebates for drugs 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. Some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act have yet to be fully implemented, while certain provisions have been subject to judicial and Congressional challenges. In January 2017, Congress voted to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2017, that while not a law, is widely viewed as the first step toward the passage of legislation that would repeal certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Further, on January 20, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision of the Affordable Care Act that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Congress also could consider subsequent legislation to replace elements of the Affordable Care Act that are repealed. Thus, the full impact of the Affordable Care Act, any law replacing elements of it, or the political uncertainty surrounding its repeal or replacement on our business remains unclear.  Adoption of government controls and measures, and tightening of restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could limit payments for pharmaceuticals.

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In the European Community, governments influence the price of pharmaceutical products through their pricing and reimbursement rules and control of national health care systems that fund a large part of the cost of those products to consumers. Some jurisdictions operate positive and negative list systems under which products may only be marketed once a reimbursement price has been agreed to by the government. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost-effectivenes s of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for medicines, but monitor and control company profits. The downward pressure on health care costs in general, particularly pr escription drugs, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. In addition, in some countries, cross-border imports from low-priced markets exert a commercial pressure on pricing within a country.

The marketability of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale may suffer if the government and third-party payors fail to provide adequate coverage and reimbursement. In addition, an increasing emphasis on cost containment measures in the United States and other countries has increased and we expect will continue to increase the pressure on pharmaceutical pricing. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.

Other Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements

If we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we may be subject to various federal and state laws targeting fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry. These laws may impact, among other things, our proposed sales, marketing and education programs. In addition, we may be subject to patient privacy regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce, or in return for, the purchase or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs;

 

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 from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payors that are false or fraudulent;

 

the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program and making false statements relating to healthcare matters;

 

the federal transparency laws, including the provision of the Affordable Care Act referred to as the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act, that requires drug and biologics manufacturers to disclose payments and other transfers of value provided to physicians and teaching hospitals and ownership interests of physicians and their immediate family members;

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and its implementing regulations, which imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information; and

 

state law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers, and state 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.

The Affordable Care Act broadened the reach of the fraud and abuse laws by, among other things, amending the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the applicable criminal healthcare fraud statutes contained within 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b. Pursuant to the statutory amendment, a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, the Affordable Care Act provides that the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil False Claims Act or the civil monetary penalties statute. Many states have adopted laws similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, some of which apply to the referral of patients for healthcare items or services reimbursed by any source, not only the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

We are also subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which prohibits improper payments or offers of payments to foreign governments and their officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Safeguards we implement to discourage improper payments or offers of payments by our employees, consultants, and others may be ineffective, and violations of the FCPA and similar laws may result in severe criminal or civil sanctions, or other liabilities or proceedings against us, any of which would likely harm our reputation, business, financial condition and result of operations.

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If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the l aws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid and imprisonme nt, damages, fines and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.

Employees

As of March 9, 2017 we had 58 full-time employees.  None of our employees are represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

Financial Information about Segments

We operate in a single accounting segment. Refer to Note 1, “Organization, Business and Basis of Presentation” in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included elsewhere in this report.

Emerging Growth Company

We completed our initial public offering, or IPO, in May 2015, in which we sold 6,164,000 shares of common stock, at a public offering price of $14.00 per share, the net proceeds of which totaled $75.9 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses incurred by us. We qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, as amended, or the JOBS Act. As an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of specified reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. We would cease to be an emerging growth company on the date that is the earliest of: (i) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of $1 billion or more; (ii) December 31, 2020; (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in nonconvertible debt during the previous three years; or (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer under the rules of the SEC.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in September 2005. Our principal executive office is located at 3545 John Hopkins Court, Suite #250, San Diego, California 92121, and our telephone number is (858) 731-8389. Our website address is www.atyrpharma.com. We do not incorporate the information on or accessible through our website into this Annual Report, and you should not consider any information on, or that can be accessed through, our website as part of this Annual Report.

You are advised to read this Annual Report in conjunction with other reports and documents that we file from time to time with the SEC. In particular, please read our final prospectus filed with the SEC on May 7, 2015 under Rule 424(b) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and any Current Reports on Form 8-K that we may file from time to time. You may obtain copies of these reports directly from us or from the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20549. In addition, the SEC maintains information for electronic filers (including aTyr Pharma, Inc.) at its website at www.sec.gov. The public may obtain information regarding the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. We make our periodic and current reports available on our internet website, free of charge, as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC.

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the following risk factors, as well as the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and in our other public filings. The occurrence of any of these risks could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and/or growth prospects or cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements we have made in this report and those we may make from time to time. You should consider all of the risk factors described in our public filings when evaluating our business.  

Risks related to the discovery, development and regulation of our Physiocrine-based product candidates

Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may develop from our discovery engine represent novel therapeutic approaches, which may cause significant delays or may not result in any commercially viable drugs.

We have concentrated our research and development efforts on Physiocrine biology, a new area of biology, and our future success is highly dependent on the successful development of Physiocrine-based product candidates, including Resolaris, Stalaris and additional product candidates arising from the Resokine pathway or other pathways. Physiocrine-based biology represents a novel approach to drug discovery and development, and to our knowledge, no drugs have been developed using, or based upon, this approach. Despite the successful development of other naturally occurring proteins, such as erythropoietin and insulin, as therapeutics, Physiocrines represent a novel class of protein therapeutics, and our development of these therapeutics is based on our new understanding of human physiology. In particular, the mechanism of action of Physiocrines and their role in immuno-modulation and tissue regeneration have not been studied extensively, nor has the safety of this class of protein therapeutics been evaluated extensively in humans. The Physiocrines that we elect to develop may not have the physiological functions that we currently ascribe to them, may have limited or no therapeutic applications, or may present safety problems of which we are not yet aware. We cannot be sure that our discovery engine will yield Physiocrine-based therapeutic product candidates that are safe, effective, approvable by regulatory authorities, manufacturable, scalable, or profitable.

Because our work in Physiocrine biology and our product candidates represent a new therapeutic approach, developing and commercializing our product candidates subjects us to a number of challenges, including:

 

defining indications within our targeted rare diseases and clinical endpoints within each indication that are appropriate to support regulatory approval;

 

obtaining regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, and other regulatory authorities that have little or no experience with the development of Physiocrine-based therapeutics;

 

educating medical personnel regarding the potential side effect profile of each of our product candidates, such as the potential for the development of antibodies against our purified protein therapeutics;

 

developing processes for the safe administration of these product candidates, including long-term follow-up for all patients who receive our product candidates;

 

sourcing clinical and, if approved, commercial supplies for the materials used to manufacture and process our product candidates;

 

developing a manufacturing process and distribution network that ensures consistent manufacture of our product candidates in compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMPs, and related requirements, with a cost of goods that allows for an attractive return on investment;

 

establishing sales and marketing capabilities after obtaining any regulatory approval to gain market acceptance; and

 

developing therapeutics for rare and more common diseases or indications beyond those addressed by our current product candidates.

Moreover, public perception of safety issues, including adoption of new therapeutics or novel approaches to treatment, may adversely influence the willingness of subjects to participate in clinical trials, or if approved, of physicians to adopt and prescribe novel therapeutics. Physicians, hospitals and third-party payors often are slow to adopt new products, technologies and treatment practices. Physicians may decide the therapy is too complex or unproven to adopt and may choose not to administer the therapy. Based on these and other factors, healthcare providers and payors may decide that the benefits of any Physiocrine-based therapeutic for which we receive regulatory approval do not or will not outweigh its costs. Any inability to successfully develop commercially viable drugs would have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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If we are unable to successfully complete or otherwise advance clini cal development, obtain regulatory or marketing approval for, or successfully commercialize, Resolaris or Stalaris, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

To date, we have expended significant time, resources and effort on the discovery and development of Resolaris, including conducting preclinical studies and our clinical trials. We have not yet commenced or completed any evaluation of Resolaris in human clinical trials designed to demonstrate efficacy to the satisfaction of the FDA. We have not yet commenced clinical development of Stalaris. We currently generate no revenue from the sale of any product, and our ability to generate product revenues and to achieve commercial success, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will initially depend on our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize Resolaris or Stalaris for the treatment of one or more of our target rare disease indications in the United States and any foreign jurisdictions. Before we can market or sell Resolaris or Stalaris in the United States or foreign jurisdictions, we will need to commence and complete additional clinical trials (including larger, pivotal trials, which we have not yet commenced), manage clinical and manufacturing activities, obtain necessary regulatory approvals from the FDA in the United States and from similar regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions, obtain adequate clinical and commercial manufacturing supplies, build commercial capabilities, which may include entering into a marketing collaboration with a third party, and in some jurisdictions, obtain reimbursement authorization, among other things. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully complete the necessary clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, secure an adequate commercial supply for, or otherwise successfully commercialize, Resolaris or Stalaris. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for Resolaris or Stalaris, and even if we do obtain regulatory approvals, we may never generate significant revenues, if any, from commercial sales. If we fail to successfully commercialize Resolaris or Stalaris, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain and grow our company, and our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations will be adversely affected.

Data generated in our preclinical studies and patient sample data relating to the Resokine pathway may not be predictive or indicative of the immuno-modulatory activity or therapeutic effects, if any, of Resolaris in patients.

Our scientists discovered the Resokine pathway using in vivo screening systems designed to test potential immuno-modulatory activity in animal models of severe immune activity or inflammation, combined with data relating to the potential blockade of the Resokine pathway in a population of patients with myopathy that occurs in a particular rare disease, anti-synthetase syndrome, with Jo-1 antibodies. Translational medicine, or the application of basic scientific findings to develop therapeutics that promote human health, is subject to a number of inherent risks. In particular, scientific hypotheses formed from nonclinical observations may prove to be incorrect, and the data generated in animal models or observed in limited patient populations may be of limited value, and may not be applicable in clinical trials conducted under the controlled conditions required by applicable regulatory requirements and our protocols. For example, we have not extensively studied the activity of the Resokine pathway in patients with rare genetic myopathies with an immune component, or RMICs, which forms the basis for our clinical trials of Resolaris in FSHD and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2B, or LGMD2B, nor have we evaluated the activity of the Resokine pathway in patients with interstitial lung disease, or ILD. Our knowledge of the activity of this pathway in Jo-1 antibody patients may not be applicable to our target patient populations in RMICs or rare pulmonary diseases with an immune component, or RPICs. In addition, our classification of diseases based on the existence of immune cell invasion (RMICs and RPICs) and our hypothesis that these represent potential indications for Resolaris and Stalaris may not prove to be therapeutically relevant. Accordingly, the conclusions that we have drawn from animal studies and patient sample data regarding the potential immuno-modulatory activity of molecules containing the immuno-modulatory domain, or iMod domain, may not be substantiated in other animal models or in clinical trials. Any failure to demonstrate in controlled clinical trials the requisite safety and efficacy of Resolaris, Stalaris or other product candidates that we may develop will adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

We have not studied Resolaris, Stalaris or any of our other product candidates in any human clinical trials designed primarily to show efficacy.

Preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, which may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. Many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products. Accordingly, our earlier preclinical and clinical studies should not be relied upon as evidence that our current or future clinical trials will succeed. Study designs and results from previous studies are not necessarily predictive of our future clinical trial designs or results, and initial results may not be confirmed upon full analysis of the complete study data. In particular, Resolaris may not achieve positive results in our current and planned clinical trials in RMICs, and any results observed in our Phase 1b/2 clinical trials of Resolaris in patients with FSHD and LGMD2B may not be predictive of results for any future clinical studies. Stalaris may not achieve positive results in our planned clinical trials in healthy subjects and in RPICs or any other clinical studies. In addition, study data from our clinical trials in adult patients might not be predictive of safety, tolerability, immunogenicity or activity in young adults and children. Additionally, Resolaris and Stalaris may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy in later stages of clinical development, such as pivotal clinical trials, despite having successfully advanced through initial clinical trials. Any failure of Resolaris, Stalaris or any other product candidates that we may develop at any stage in the clinical development process would have a material adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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Becaus e we are developing novel product candidates for the treatment of diseases in which there is little clinical drug development experience and, in some cases, are using new endpoints or methodologies, the regulatory pathways for approval are not well defined , and as a result, there is greater risk that our clinical trials will not result in our desired outcomes.

Our initial clinical focus is on the development of Physiocrine-based therapeutics for the treatment of rare diseases, including FSHD, LGMD2B and potentially DMD, where patients may benefit from the activation of immuno-modulatory pathways. There are currently no approved treatments for FSHD or LGMD2B. As a result, the design and conduct of clinical trials for these indications are subject to increased risk, and we may experience setbacks with our ongoing or planned clinical trials for Resolaris or other product candidates that we may develop because of the limited clinical experience in our target indications. In particular, regulatory authorities in the United States and European Union have not issued definitive guidance as to how to measure and achieve efficacy. In later stage trials, we may not achieve a pre-specified endpoint with statistical significance in our planned clinical trials of Resolaris in this indication or in other indications where there is limited or no regulatory guidance regarding appropriate clinical endpoints, which would decrease the chance of obtaining marketing approval for Resolaris. Additionally, it is difficult to establish clinically relevant endpoints for some of these indications because it may take a long time before any therapeutic effects of a drug can be observed.

We could also face challenges in designing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval for product candidates from our discovery engine due to the lack of historical clinical trial experience for this novel class of therapeutics. At the moment, because no Physiocrine-based products have received regulatory approval anywhere in the world, it is difficult to determine whether regulatory agencies will be receptive to the approval of our product candidates and to predict the time and cost associated with obtaining regulatory approval. The clinical trial requirements of the FDA and other regulatory agencies and the criteria these regulators use to determine the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the potential products. The regulatory approval process for novel product candidates such as ours can be more expensive and take longer than for other, better known or more extensively studied classes of product candidates. Any inability to design clinical trials with protocols and endpoints acceptable to applicable regulatory authorities, and to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates, would have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

We may encounter substantial delays and other challenges in our clinical trials or we may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities.

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 efficacy of the product candidates in humans. Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming, often delayed and uncertain as to outcome. We cannot guarantee that our ongoing and planned clinical trials of Resolaris in RMICs, planned clinical trials of Stalaris in RPICs, or any other clinical trials that we may plan to conduct, will be initiated or conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. Following our submission of an investigational new drug application, or IND, to the FDA to evaluate Resolaris in our Phase 1b/2 trial in adult patients with FSHD in the United States, our IND was placed on full clinical hold to address the nonclinical issue of the comparability of the drug substance used in our preclinical toxicology studies to that used in our Phase 1 clinical trial and proposed for use in the U.S. clinical trial in FSHD patients. We responded to the FDA’s comparability request, and, in January 2015, our IND was removed from full clinical hold, allowing us to initiate the Phase 1b/2 trial in the United States. Our IND was placed on partial clinical hold, which prohibited the evaluation of Resolaris at doses higher than 3.0 mg/kg. The partial clinical hold was lifted in December 2016.  We cannot assure you that our product candidates will not be subject to new clinical holds or significant delay in the future.  Any inability to initiate or complete our clinical trials of Resolaris, Stalaris or other product candidates in the United States, as a result of clinical holds or otherwise, would delay our clinical development plans, may require us to incur additional clinical development costs and could impair our ability to obtain U.S. regulatory approval for such product candidates.

A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing, and our clinical trials may not be successful. Events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include, but are not limited to:

 

inability to generate sufficient preclinical, toxicology, or other in vivo or in vitro data to support the initiation of human clinical trials, including trials of certain dosages;

 

delays in reaching consensus with regulatory agencies on trial design;

 

delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical contract research organizations, or CROs, and clinical trial sites;

 

delays in obtaining required Institutional Review Board, or IRB, or Ethics Committee approval at each clinical trial site;

 

delays in recruiting suitable patients to participate in our clinical trials, or delays that may result if the number of patients required for a clinical trial is larger than we anticipate;

 

imposition of a clinical hold by regulatory agencies, which may occur after our submission of data to these agencies or an inspection of our clinical trial operations or trial sites;

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failure by our CROs, investigators, other third parties or us to adhere to clinical trial requirements;

 

failure to perform in accordance with the FDA’s good clinical practices, or GCPs, or applicable regulatory requirements in other countries;

 

delays in the testing, validation, manufacturing and delivery of our product candidates to the clinical sites;

 

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

 

disagreements with regulators regarding our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

occurrence of adverse events associated with the product candidate that are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits; or

 

changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols.

Any delay in or inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development could result in additional costs to us and impair our ability to generate revenue. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates (including recent changes in our contract manufacturer, production capacity and manufacturing cell line), we may need to conduct additional studies to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Clinical trial delays could also 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 obtain orphan exclusivity and successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.

If the results of our clinical trials are perceived to be negative or inconclusive, or if there are safety concerns or adverse events associated with our product candidates, we may:

 

be required to perform additional clinical trials to support approval or be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements;

 

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 changes in the way the product is manufactured or administered;

 

have regulatory authorities withdraw 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 litigation; or

 

experience damage to our reputation.

To date, the safety and efficacy of Physiocrine-based therapeutics in humans has not been studied to any significant extent. Accordingly, our product candidates could potentially cause adverse events that have not yet been predicted. In addition, the inclusion of critically ill patients in our clinical trials may result in deaths or other adverse medical events due to the natural progression of the disease. As described above, any of these events could prevent us from successfully completing the clinical development of our product candidates and impair our ability to commercialize any products.

Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may discover and develop may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

Undesirable side effects caused by Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may discover or develop, or safety, tolerability or toxicity issues that may occur in our preclinical studies, clinical trials or in the future, could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, restrict, delay, or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable foreign authorities.

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In our Phase 1b /2 clinical trials, we have observed low levels of antibodies to Resolaris in some subjects in response to the administration of Resolaris. Although such elevated antibody observations were without associated clinical symptoms, the development of higher le vels of such antibodies over a longer course of treatment may ultimately limit the efficacy of Resolaris and trigger a negative autoimmune response, including the development of anti-synthetase syndrome. Anti-synthetase syndrome can include one or more of the following clinical features: ILD, inflammatory myopathy and inflammatory polyarthritis. Other symptoms which may occur in this setting include fever, weight loss, fatigue, Raynaud’s phenomenon of the digits, rash and difficulty swallowing. Some patient s in our Phase 1b/2 clinical trials have experienced generalized infusion related reactions, or IRRs, and discontinued dosing. We established procedural measures, including a decreased concentration and intravenous delivery rate of Resolaris, in an effort to minimize the occurrence of generalized IRRs and the formation of anti-drug antibodies. After implementation of these procedures, we did observe a decreased rate of IRRs in our clinical trials, but we cannot assure that these measures will continue to be effective in minimizing the occurrence of generalized IRRs or the formation of anti-drug antibodies, or result in the retention of patients in our trials. Generalized IRRs and other complications or side effects could harm further development and/or comme rcialization of Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates. Additionally, our product candidates are designed to be administered by intravenous injection, which may cause side effects, including acute immune responses and injection site reactions . The risk of adverse immune responses remains a significant concern for protein therapeutics, and we cannot assure that these or other risks will not occur in any of our clinical trials for Resolaris, Stalaris or other product candidates we may develop. T here is also a risk of delayed adverse events as a result of long-term exposure to protein therapeutics that must be administered repeatedly for the management of chronic conditions, such as the development of antibodies, which may occur over time. If any such adverse events occur, which may include the development of anti-synthetase syndrome from antibodies or the occurrence of IRRs associated with antibodies, further advancement of our clinical trials could be halted or delayed, which would have a materia l adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

If one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects or other safety concerns caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including but not limited to:

 

regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals or suspend licenses of such products;

 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;

 

we may be required to create a REMS plan, which could include a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients, a communication plan for healthcare providers, or other elements to assure safe use;

 

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 the particular product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates.

A key element of our strategy is to leverage our discovery engine to identify tRNA synthetases that exhibit activity in physiological disease pathways of interest, and to develop purified forms of these proteins that are suitable for therapeutic application. A significant portion of the research that we are conducting involves new compounds and drug discovery methods, including our proprietary technology. Our drug discovery activities using our proprietary technology may not be successful in identifying product candidates that are useful in treating rare or more common diseases. Our research programs, including Project ORCA, may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, such as Stalaris, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:

 

the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying appropriate potential product candidates; or

 

potential product candidates may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be medicines that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance.

Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. We may choose to focus our efforts and resources on a potential product candidate that ultimately proves to be unsuccessful. If we are unable to identify suitable product candidates for preclinical and clinical development and regulatory approval, we will not be able to generate product revenues, which would have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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We may encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including the limited number of patients who have the diseases for which our product candidates are being studied, which could delay or halt the clinical development of our product candidates.

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in our ongoing and planned clinical trials of Resolaris and any other clinical trials that we may conduct for our product candidates is critical to our success. In particular, each of the conditions for which we currently plan to evaluate Resolaris is a rare disease with limited patient pools from which to draw for clinical trials. For example, while estimates of FSHD prevalence vary, studies exploring the topic have identified average prevalence rates of approximately one in 17,000. Applying this rate to the U.S. population, as of November 1, 2014, yields a domestic FSHD population of approximately 19,000. In addition, we estimate that LGMD affects an estimated 16,000 patients in the U.S., approximately 3,000 of whom have LGMD2B. The eligibility criteria for our clinical trials may further limit the pool of available participants in our trials. We may be unable to identify and enroll a sufficient number of patients with the disease in question and who meet the eligibility criteria for, and are willing to participate in, our clinical trials. Once enrolled, patients may decide or be required to discontinue from our clinical trials due to inconvenience, burden of trial requirements, adverse events associated with our product candidates or limitations required by trial protocols.

Our ability to identify, recruit enroll and maintain a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics to achieve diversity in a study, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner may also be affected by other factors, including:

 

proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;

 

severity of the disease under investigation;

 

design of the study protocol and the burdens to patients of compliance with our study protocols;

 

perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;

 

availability of competing therapies and clinical trials for the patient populations and indications under study;

 

efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

 

patient referral practices of physicians; and

 

ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment.

We are initially focused on the development of Physiocrine-based therapeutics to treat rare conditions. We plan to seek initial marketing approval in the United States. 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 or other regulatory agencies. Our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete a clinical trial 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 requirements and standards for the conduct of clinical trials;

 

our 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.

Additionally, if patients are unwilling to participate in our clinical trials because of negative publicity from adverse events in our clinical trials or in the biotechnology or protein therapeutics industries or for other reasons, including competitive clinical trials for similar patient populations, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of potential products may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product development or termination of our clinical trials altogether. If we have difficulty enrolling and maintaining a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned for any reason, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which would have an adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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We may face manufacturing stoppages and other challenges associated with the clinical or commercial manufacture of our Physiocrine-based therapeutics.

All entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical trials or commercial sale, including our existing contracted development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or use in late-stage clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP. 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 contaminants or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We or our CDMOs must supply all necessary documentation in support of a biologics license application, or BLA, or a new drug application, or NDA, on a timely basis and must adhere to the FDA’s GLP and cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program. The facilities and quality systems of our CDMOs and other CROs must pass a pre-approval inspection for compliance with applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval of our product candidates. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect a manufacturing facility involved with the preparation of our product candidates or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. If these facilities do not pass a pre-approval plant inspection, FDA approval of the products will not be granted.

The regulatory authorities also may, at any time following approval of a product for sale, audit the facilities in which the product is manufactured. If any such inspection or audit of our facilities or those of our CDMOs and CROs identifies a failure to comply with applicable regulations or if a violation of our product specifications or applicable regulations occurs independently of such an inspection or audit, we or the relevant regulatory authority may require remedial measures that may be costly or time-consuming for us or a third party to implement and that may include the temporary or permanent suspension of a clinical trial or commercial sales or the temporary or permanent closure of a facility. Any such remedial measures imposed upon us or third parties with whom we contract could materially harm our business.

If we or any of our CDMOs and CROs fail to maintain regulatory compliance, the FDA can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new biologic product or drug product, or revocation of a pre-existing approval. Additionally, if supply from one approved manufacturer is interrupted, there could be a significant disruption in clinical or commercial supply. An alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through a BLA or NDA supplement which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.

In addition, the manufacture of Resolaris and any other Physiocrine-based therapeutics that we may develop presents challenges associated with biologics production, including the inherent instability of larger, more complex molecules and the need to ensure uniformity of the drug substance produced in different facilities or across different batches. We have changed cell lines for the production of Resolaris in connection with our engagement of a new CDMO to meet our projected needs for pivotal clinical trials and a commercial chemistry, manufacturing and controls specification, which may present production challenges or delays. The process of manufacturing biologics is extremely susceptible to product loss due to contamination, equipment failure or improper installation or operation of equipment, or vendor or operator error.  Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing and distribution processes for any of our product candidates could result in reduced production yields, product defects, and other supply disruptions. Furthermore, although Physiocrines represent a class of proteins that may share immuno-modulatory properties in various physiological pathways, each Physiocrine has a different structure and may have unique manufacturing requirements that are not applicable across the entire class. For example, Fc fusion proteins, such as Stalaris, include an additional antibody domain to improve pharmacokinetic, or PK, characteristics, and may therefore require a more complex and time-consuming manufacturing process than other Physiocrines. Currently, we are producing our Stalaris molecule in E.coli by expression in inclusion bodies and refolding to recreate the native structure. The manufacturing processes for one of our product candidates may not be readily adaptable to other product candidates that we develop, and we may need to engage multiple third-party manufacturers to produce our product candidates. Any adverse developments affecting manufacturing operations for our product candidates may result in shipment delays, inventory shortages, lot failures, withdrawals or recalls or other interruptions in the supply of our drug substance and drug product which could delay the development of our product candidates.  We may also have to write off inventory, incur other charges and expenses for supply of drug product that fails to meet specifications, undertake costly remediation efforts, or seek more costly manufacturing alternatives. Any manufacturing stoppage or delay, or any inability to consistently manufacture adequate supplies of our product candidates for our ongoing or planned clinical trials or on a commercial scale will harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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Although the FDA an d the European Commission have granted orphan drug designation to Resolaris for the treatment of FSHD and LGMD, we may not receive orphan drug designation for Resolaris in other jurisdictions or for other indications that we may pursue, or for any other pr oduct candidates we may develop under any new applications for orphan drug designation that we may submit, and any orphan drug designations that we have received or may receive may not confer marketing exclusivity or other expected commercial benefits.

The FDA and the European Commission have each granted orphan drug designations to Resolaris for the treatment of FSHD and for the treatment of LGMD. We may also apply for orphan drug designation in other territories and for other indications and product candidates. Orphan drug status confers up to ten years of marketing exclusivity in Europe, and up to seven years of marketing exclusivity in the United States, for a particular product in a specified indication. To date, we have been granted orphan drug designation for only one product candidate in the United States and the European Union for two indications. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain orphan drug designation, or rely on orphan drug or similar designations to exclude other companies from manufacturing or selling products using the same principal mechanisms of action for the same indications that we pursue beyond these timeframes. Furthermore, marketing exclusivity in Europe can be reduced from ten years to six years if the initial designation criteria have significantly changed since the market authorization of the orphan product. Even if we are the first to obtain marketing authorization for an orphan drug indication, there are circumstances under which a competing product may be approved for the same indication during the period of marketing exclusivity, such as if the later product is shown to be clinically superior to the orphan product, or if the later product is deemed a different product than ours. Further, the marketing exclusivity would not prevent competitors from obtaining approval of the same product candidate as ours for indications other than those in which we have been granted orphan drug designation, or for the use of other types of products in the same indications as our orphan product.

Even if we complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials, we cannot predict when or if we will obtain regulatory approval to commercialize a product candidate, and the scope of any approval may be narrower than we expect.

We cannot commercialize a product until the appropriate regulatory authorities have reviewed and approved the product candidate. Even if our product candidates demonstrate safety and efficacy in clinical trials, the regulatory agencies may not complete their review processes in a timely manner, or we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval. Additional delays may result if an FDA Advisory Committee or 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 agency policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and the review process. Regulatory agencies also may approve a product candidate for fewer or more limited indications than requested, may impose restrictions on dosing or may grant approval subject to the performance of post-marketing studies. In addition, regulatory agencies may not approve the labeling claims that are necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates.

Failure to obtain marketing approval in international jurisdictions would prevent our medicines from being marketed in such jurisdictions.

In order to market and sell our medicines in the European Union and many other jurisdictions, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing, and we have limited regulatory experience in many jurisdictions. The time required to obtain approval in one jurisdiction may differ substantially from that required to obtain approval in other jurisdictions. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside the United States, it is required that the product be approved for reimbursement before the product can be approved for sale in that country. We may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by one regulatory authority does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and we may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our medicines in any market.

A breakthrough therapy or fast track designation by the FDA may not lead to expedited development or regulatory review or approval.

In October 2016 and January 2017, the FDA granted Resolaris fast track designations for the treatment of FSHD and LGMD2B, respectively. We may also seek, from time to time, breakthrough therapy or fast track designation for Resolaris for other indications and for any other product candidates that we may develop, although we may elect not to do so. A breakthrough therapy program is for a product candidate intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product candidate may demonstrate substantial improvement on a clinically significant endpoint(s) over available therapies. A fast track program is for a product candidate that treats a serious or life-threatening condition, and nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant these designations. Accordingly, even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for breakthrough therapy or fast track designation, we cannot assure you that the FDA would decide to grant it. Even though we have received fast track designation for Resolaris for the treatment of FHSD and LGMD2B, or even if we receive breakthrough therapy or fast track designation of other indications or for our other product candidates, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. The FDA may withdraw breakthrough therapy or fast track designation if it believes that the product no longer meets the qualifying criteria. In addition, the breakthrough therapy program is a relatively new program. As a result, we cannot be certain

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whether any of our product candidates can or will qualify for breakthrou gh therapy designation. Our business may be harmed if we are unable to avail ourselves of these or any other expedited development and regulatory pathways.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, our products will remain subject to regulatory scrutiny.

Even if Resolaris, Stalaris or any other product candidates that we discover and develop are approved, they will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct of post-marketing studies, and submission of safety, efficacy, and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States and requirements of comparable foreign regulatory authorities.

Manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA, and comparable foreign regulatory authority, requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP regulations. As such, we and our contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP and adherence to commitments made in any BLA, NDA, or marketing authorization application, or MAA. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work will need to continue to expend time, money, and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production, and quality control.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may 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 safety and efficacy of the product candidate. We will be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities. If new safety issues emerge, we may be required to change our labeling. Any new legislation addressing drug safety or efficacy issues could result in delays in product development or commercialization, or increased costs to assure compliance.

We will have to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for our products. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are heavily scrutinized by the FDA, the Department of Justice, state attorneys general and comparable foreign regulatory authorities. For example, we may face claims associated with the use or promotion of our products for uses outside the scope of their approved label indications. Violations, including actual or alleged promotion of our products for unapproved, or off-label, uses are subject to enforcement letters, inquiries and investigations, and civil and criminal sanctions. Any actual or alleged failure to comply with labeling and promotion requirements may have a negative impact on our business. In the United States, engaging in impermissible promotion of our products for off-label uses can also subject us to false claims litigation under federal and state statutes, which can lead to civil and criminal penalties and fines and agreements that would materially restrict the manner in which we promote or distribute our drug products. These false claims statutes include the federal False Claims Act, which allows any individual to bring a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company on behalf of the federal government alleging submission of false or fraudulent claims, or causing to present such false or fraudulent claims, for payment by a federal program such as Medicare or Medicaid. If the government prevails in the lawsuit, the individual will share in any fines or settlement funds. Since 2004, these False Claims Act lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies have increased significantly in volume and breadth, leading to several substantial civil and criminal settlements based on certain sales practices promoting off-label drug uses. This growth in litigation has increased the risk that a pharmaceutical company will have to defend a false claims action, pay settlement fines or restitution, agree to comply with burdensome reporting and compliance obligations, and be excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal and state healthcare programs. If we do not lawfully promote our approved products, we may become subject to such litigation and, if we are not successful in defending against such actions, those actions could compromise our ability to become profitable.

The holder of an approved BLA, NDA or MAA must submit new or supplemental applications and obtain approval for certain changes to the approved product, product labeling, or manufacturing process. We could also be asked to conduct post-marketing clinical trials to verify the safety and efficacy of our products in general or in specific patient subsets. If original marketing approval were obtained through an accelerated approval pathway, we could be required to conduct a successful post-marketing clinical trial to confirm clinical benefit for our products. An unsuccessful post-marketing study or failure to complete such a trial could result in the withdrawal of marketing approval.

If a regulatory agency discovers 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 disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of a product, such regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product or us, including requiring withdrawal of the product from the market. If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency or enforcement authority may, among other things:

 

issue untitled or warning letters;

 

impose civil or criminal penalties;

 

suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;

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suspend any of our ongoing clinical trials;

 

refuse to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications submitted by us;

 

impose restrictions on our operations, including closing our contract manufacturers’ facilities; or

 

seize or detain products, or require or request a product recall.

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response, and could generate negative publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenue from our products. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our company and our operating results will be adversely affected.

Because of our focus on treatments for severe, rare diseases, Resolaris, Stalaris and other product candidates that we develop may be subject to requests for treatment use under individual patient INDs, which would present a variety of risks.

FDA regulations permit an investigational drug or biologic to be used for the treatment of an individual patient by a licensed physician under certain circumstances if the patient has a serious disease or condition, generally defined as a disease or condition associated with morbidity that has a substantial impact on day-to-day functioning. We believe that Resolaris, Stalaris and other product candidates that we develop may be susceptible to physician requests for use in these settings given the severity of the disease indications that we are targeting and the limited availability of approved and other investigational therapeutics for these indications. The treatment use of our product candidates under individual patient INDs would present a number of risks, including the following:

 

The treatment use of our product candidates under individual patient INDs may be subject to less stringent or otherwise different protocols from our clinical trials, subjecting the patient to additional risk, which could negatively affect the perception of our product candidates among physicians, patients and regulators;

 

The actual or perceived availability of a product candidate for use under individual patient INDs may impair patient enrollment in our clinical trials; and

 

Any decision to make quantities of our product candidates available for use under individual patient INDs may impair our or our third-party manufacturers’ ability to timely supply adequate quantities of our product candidates for our clinical trials.

Physicians may independently file individual patient INDs for Resolaris or, when in clinical trials, for Stalaris or one of our other product candidates. We may disagree with a physician’s or the FDA’s conclusion that our product candidate is suitable for evaluation under a particular individual patient IND, and any decision by us not to make our product candidate available for evaluation under this setting may subject us to negative publicity or market perception.

As part of the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act, or Cures Act, as the manufacturer of an investigational drug for a serious disease or condition, we will be required to make available, such as by posting on our website, our policy on evaluating and responding to requests for individual patient access to such investigational drug. This requirement applies on the later of 60 calendar days after the date of enactment of the Cures Act or the first initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 trial of the investigational drug.

Risks related to our financial condition and capital requirements

We have incurred significant losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future.

We are a clinical stage biotherapeutics company, and we have not yet generated any revenues from product sales. We have incurred net losses in each year since our inception in 2005, including net losses of $57.9 million, $48.0 million and $24.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively. As of December 31, 2016, we had an accumulated deficit of $216.0 million.

We have devoted most of our financial resources to research and development, including our clinical and preclinical development activities. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through the sale of equity securities and convertible debt and through commercial bank debt. The amount of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of our future expenditures and our ability to obtain funding through equity or debt financings, grant funding or strategic collaborations. We have not commenced pivotal clinical trials for any product candidate and it will be several years, if ever, before we have a product candidate ready for commercialization. Even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product candidate, our future revenues will depend upon the size of any markets in which our product candidates have received approval, and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our product candidates in those markets. However, even if we obtain adequate market share for our product candidates, because the potential markets in which our product candidates may ultimately receive regulatory approval are very small, we may never become profitable despite obtaining such market share and acceptance of our products.

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We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. We antic ipate that our expenses will increase substantially if and as we:

 

continue our research and preclinical and clinical development of Resolaris, Stalaris or any other product candidates that we may develop;

 

initiate and conduct any additional preclinical studies, clinical trials or other studies for Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may develop;

 

further develop the manufacturing process for our product candidates;

 

change or add additional manufacturers, including manufacturers of quantities of drug substance suitable for pivotal clinical trials and commercialization;

 

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

 

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

 

seek to identify and validate additional product candidates;

 

make milestone or other payments under our in-license agreements;

 

maintain, protect and expand our portfolio of owned and in-licensed intellectual property;

 

acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;

 

attract and retain skilled personnel;

 

create additional infrastructure to support our operations as a public company and our product development and planned future commercialization efforts; and

 

experience any delays or encounter challenges with any of the above.

The net losses we incur may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year, such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance. In any particular quarter or quarters, our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts or investors, which could cause our stock price to decline.

We have never generated any revenue from product sales and may never be profitable.

Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends on our ability, alone or with strategic collaboration partners, to successfully complete the development of, and obtain the regulatory approvals necessary to commercialize, Resolaris and any other product candidates that we may develop. We do not anticipate generating revenues from product sales for the foreseeable future, if ever. Our ability to generate future revenues from product sales depends heavily on our success in:

 

completing research, preclinical development and clinical development of Resolaris, Stalaris and other product candidates, potentially with a partner in one or more of our programs;

 

seeking and obtaining regulatory approvals for product candidates for which we complete clinical trials;

 

developing a sustainable, scalable, reproducible, and transferable manufacturing process for Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may develop;

 

establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that can provide products and services that are adequate in both amount and quality to support clinical development and the market demand for our product candidates, if approved;

 

launching and commercializing product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval, either by collaborating with a partner or, if launched independently, by establishing a sales force, marketing and distribution infrastructure;

 

maintaining, protecting and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets and know-how;

 

obtaining market acceptance of Physiocrine therapeutics and our product candidates as viable treatment options for our target indications;

 

addressing any competing technological and market developments;

 

implementing additional internal systems and infrastructure, as needed;

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identifying and validating new Physiocrine therapeutic product candidates;

 

attracting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel; and

 

negotiating favorable terms in any licensing, collaboration or other arrangements into which we may enter.

Even if Resolaris, Stalaris or any of the other product candidates that we may develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing any approved product candidate. Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA or other regulatory agencies, domestic or foreign, to perform clinical trials and other studies in addition to those that we currently anticipate. In cases where we are successful in obtaining regulatory approvals to market one or more of our product candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product, the ability to get reimbursement at any price, the competition we face, and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of our addressable rare disease patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, or the reasonably accepted population for treatment is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such products, even if approved. Even if we are able to generate revenues from the sale of any approved products, we may not become profitable and may need to obtain additional funding to continue operations.

We will likely need to raise additional capital or enter into strategic partnering relationships to fund our operations. Failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts or other operations.

We are currently advancing Resolaris through clinical development, preparing to initiate clinical development for Stalaris and conducting preclinical development activities directed at the identification and selection of additional Physiocrine-based therapeutic candidates, including Project ORCA. The development of protein therapeutics is expensive, and we expect our research and development expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities.

As of December 31, 2016, our cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments were approximately $76.1 million. We expect that our existing cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments will be sufficient to fund our current operations through at least the next 12 months. However, our operating plan may change as a result of many factors currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through public or private equity or debt financings, government or other third-party funding, marketing and distribution arrangements and other collaborations, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements or a combination of these approaches. Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including but not limited to:

 

the scope, rate of progress, results and cost of our clinical trials, nonclinical testing, and other related activities;

 

the cost of manufacturing clinical supplies, and establishing commercial supplies, of our product candidates and any products that we may develop;

 

the number and characteristics of product candidates that we pursue;

 

the cost, timing, and outcomes of regulatory review of our product candidates;

 

the cost and timing of establishing sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities; and

 

the terms and timing of any collaborative, licensing, and other arrangements that we may establish, including any required milestone and royalty payments thereunder.

In any event, we will require additional capital to complete additional clinical trials, including larger, pivotal clinical trials, to obtain regulatory approval for, and to commercialize, our product candidates.

For some of our programs and product candidates, we may decide to enter into strategic partnerships, including collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, to enhance and accelerate the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates.  We face significant competition in seeking appropriate partners, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex.  Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other collaborative arrangement for any of our product candidates and programs for a variety of reasons, including strategic fit with partners and differences in analysis of commercial value and regulatory risk.   We may not be able to negotiate strategic partnerships on a timely basis, on acceptable terms or at all.  We are unable to predict when, if ever, we will enter into any strategic partnership because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with establishing strategic partnerships.  Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish strategic partnerships, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us and we may not be able to maintain such strategic partnerships if, for example, we encounter unfavorable results or delays during development or approval of a product candidate or sales of an approved product are lower than expectations.  

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Raising funds in the current economic environment may present additional challenges. Even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans, we may seek additional capital if market conditions are favorable or if we have specific strategic considerations. If we a re unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs or the commercialization of any product candidates, or we may be unable to expand our opera tions, maintain our current organization and employee base or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our existing stockholders, restrict our operations, require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates on terms unfavorable to us and divert management’s attention from our product development activities.

The terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders and the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares to decline. The sale of additional equity or convertible securities would cause dilution to all of our stockholders. The incurrence of additional indebtedness would increase our fixed payment obligations and may require us to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We may seek funds through arrangements with collaborative partners or otherwise at an earlier stage than desirable and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or product candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects. In addition, any fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates.

We have a significant amount of debt that may cause risks that could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.  

On November 18, 2016, we entered into a loan and security agreement, or Loan Agreement, for a term loan with Silicon Valley Bank and Solar Capital Ltd., which we refer to as the Term Loan. The Loan Agreement provides up to $20 million principal in new term loans, $10 million of which was funded on November 18, 2016. The remaining $10 million is available for draw as follows: $5 million is available until June 30, 2017 and $5 million is available until December 31, 2017, each at the Company’s discretion, subject to achievement of certain financial and clinical milestones. The Term Loan is secured by substantially all of our assets and the assets of our domestic subsidiaries, except that the collateral does not include any intellectual property held by us or our respective subsidiaries or more than 65% of any voting securities in our foreign subsidiaries owned or held of record by us. However, pursuant to the terms of a negative pledge arrangement, we have agreed not to encumber any of the intellectual property of ours or our subsidiaries. The level and nature of our indebtedness could, among other things:

 

make it difficult for us to obtain any necessary financing in the future;

 

limit our flexibility in planning for or reacting to changes in our business;

 

reduce funds available for use in our operations and corporate development initiatives;

 

impair our ability to incur additional debt because of financial and other restrictive covenants or the liens on our assets that secure our current debt;

 

hinder our ability to raise equity capital, because in the event of a liquidation of our business, debt holders receive a priority before equity holders;

 

make us more vulnerable in the event of a downturn in our business; and

 

place us at a possible competitive disadvantage relative to less leveraged competitors and competitors that have better access to capital resources.

In addition, if we do not meet certain conditions set forth in the Loan Agreement, we will not be able to draw the remaining $10 million available under the Term Loan, which could materially harm our financial condition. We may also incur significantly more debt in the future, which will increase each of the risks described above related to our indebtedness.

The Loan Agreement for the Term Loan contains operating covenants that may restrict our business and financing activities.

The Loan Agreement restricts, among other things, our ability to:

 

convey, sell, lease, transfer, assign or otherwise dispose of certain of our assets;

 

engage in any business other than the businesses we currently engage in or reasonably related  thereto or reasonable extensions thereof;

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undergo certain change of control events;

 

create, incur, assume, or be liable with respect to certain indebtedness;

 

grant certain liens;

 

pay dividends and make certain other restricted payments;

 

make certain investments;

 

enter into any material transactions with any affiliates, with certain exceptions; or

 

permit certain of our subsidiaries to hold or maintain certain assets in excess of certain specified amounts.

The operating restrictions and covenants in the Loan Agreement, as well as any future financing agreements that we may enter into, may restrict our ability to finance our operations, engage in business activities or expand or fully pursue our business strategies. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events beyond our control and we may not be able to meet those covenants. A breach of any of the covenants under the Loan Agreement could result in a default under the Loan Agreement, which could cause all of the outstanding indebtedness under the Term Loan to become immediately due and payable.

Risks related to our reliance on third parties

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our product manufacturing, protocol development, research and preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.

We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of product manufacturing, protocol development, research and preclinical and clinical testing with respect to our product candidates. Any of these third parties may terminate their engagements with us at any time. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, it could delay our product development activities. Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities reduces our control over these activities but does not relieve us of our responsibility to ensure compliance with all required regulations and study protocols. For example, for Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we develop and commercialize on our own, we will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable study plan and protocols and cGCPs so long as we continue to develop and commercialize on our own.

If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our research and development activities, including clinical trials, in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated study plans and protocols, we will not be able to complete, or may be delayed in completing, the preclinical studies and clinical trials required to support future BLA or NDA submissions and approval of our product candidates.

We rely on third parties to manufacture our clinical supply of Resolaris, and we intend to rely on third parties to produce nonclinical, clinical and commercial supplies of Stalaris and any future product candidate.

We do not have, nor do we plan to acquire, the infrastructure or capability internally to manufacture our nonclinical and clinical quantities of our product candidates, and we lack the internal resources and capability to manufacture any of our product candidates on a clinical or commercial scale. Reliance on CDMOs and CROs, entails risks to which we would not be subject if we manufactured the product candidates ourselves, including:

 

the inability to negotiate manufacturing agreements with third parties under commercially reasonable terms;

 

reduced control as a result of using third-party CDMOs and CROs for all aspects of manufacturing activities;

 

termination or nonrenewal of manufacturing 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 CDMOs, CROs or suppliers caused by conditions unrelated to our business or operations, including the insolvency or bankruptcy of the CDMOs, CROs or supplier.

Any of these events could lead to clinical trial delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval, or impact our ability to successfully commercialize future products. Some of these events could be the basis for FDA action, including injunction, recall, seizure or total or partial suspension of production.

Additionally, each CDMO may require licenses to manufacture our product candidates or components thereof if the applicable manufacturing processes are not owned by the CDMO or in the public domain, and we may be unable to transfer or sublicense the intellectual property rights we may have with respect to such activities. These factors could cause the delay of clinical development, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our product candidates, cause us to incur higher costs and prevent us from commercializing our products successfully.

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We curre ntly rely on a single CDMO for bulk drug substance for Resolaris for our projected needs for ongoing and anticipated pivotal clinical trials. Subject to the satisfactory completion of process validation and other requirements, we may contract with this CDM O for larger scale commercial manufacturing.  Similarly, we currently rely on a single CDMO for process development and scale-up of Stalaris.  We do not have long-term contracts with our CDMOs, and our CDMOs may terminate their agreements with us for a var iety of reasons including technical issues or our material breach of our obligations under the applicable agreement. Furthermore, our CDMOs may reallocate resources away from the production of our product candidates if we delay manufacturing under certain circumstances, and the manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made could be adversely affected by earthquakes and other natural disasters, labor shortages, power failures, and numerous other factors. If our CDMOs fail to meet contract ual requirements, and we are unable to secure one or more replacement CDMOs capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical development activities may be delayed, or we could lose potential revenue. Manufacturing biologic drugs is co mplicated and tightly regulated by the FDA and comparable regulatory authorities around the world, and although alternative CDMOs with the necessary manufacturing and regulatory expertise and facilities exist, it could be expensive and take a significant a mount of time to arrange for alternative CDMOs, transfer manufacturing procedures to these alternative CDMOs, and demonstrate comparability of material produced by such new CDMOs. New CDMOs of any product would be required to comply with applicable regulat ory requirements. These CDMOs may not be able to manufacture our product candidates at costs, or in quantities, or in a timely manner necessary to complete the clinical development of our product candidates or make commercially successful products.

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct, supervise and monitor our clinical trials, and if these third parties perform in an unsatisfactory manner, it may harm our business.

We have relied, and expect to continue to rely, on third-party CROs, clinical investigators and clinical trial sites to ensure our clinical trials are conducted properly and on time. While we have and will continue to enter into agreements governing their activities, we will have limited influence over their actual performance. We will control only certain aspects of our CROs’ activities. Nevertheless, we will be responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements, and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities.

We and our investigators and CROs are required to comply with GCPs for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that the data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of clinical trial participants are protected. The FDA enforces GCPs through periodic inspections of study sponsors, principal investigators and clinical trial sites. If we or our investigators and CROs fail to comply with applicable GCPs, the clinical data generated in our future clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA may require us to perform additional unanticipated clinical trials before approving any marketing applications. Upon inspection, the FDA may determine that our clinical trials did not comply with GCPs. In addition, our future clinical trials will require a sufficient number of test subjects to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of our product candidates. Accordingly, if our investigators and CROs fail to comply with these regulations or fail to recruit a sufficient number of patients, we may be required to repeat such clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

Our investigators and CROs are not our employees, and we are therefore unable to directly monitor whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our clinical and nonclinical programs. They may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other drug development activities that could harm our competitive position. If our investigators or CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations, fail to meet expected deadlines, or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols or regulatory requirements, or for any 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 financial results would be harmed, our costs could increase, our ability to generate revenues could be delayed and the commercial prospects for our product candidates will be adversely affected.

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 rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, and we collaborate with various academic institutions in the development of our discovery engine for therapeutic applications of Physiocrines. In connection with these activities, we are required, at times, to share 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, such as trade secrets. 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 trade secrets or other unauthorized use or disclosure would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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I n addition, these agreements typically restrict the ability of our collaborators, advisors, employees and consultants to publish data potentially relating to our trade secrets. Our academic collaborators typically have rights to publish data, provided that we are notified in advance and may delay publication for a specified time in order to secure intellectual property rights to which we are entitled arising from the collaboration. In other cases, publication rights are controlled exclusively by us, althoug h in some cases we may share these rights with other parties. We also conduct joint research and development programs that may require us to share trade secrets under the terms of our research and development partnerships or similar agreements. 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 in cases where we do not have proprietary or otherwise protected rights at the time of publication. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks related to the commercialization of our product candidates

If we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our product candidates, we may be unable to generate any revenues.

We do not currently have any infrastructure for the sales, marketing and distribution of pharmaceutical products. In order to market our product candidates, if approved by the FDA or any other regulatory body, we must build our sales, marketing, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third parties to perform these services. There are risks involved with both establishing our own sales and marketing 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 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 medicines on our own include:

 

our inability to recruit 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 medicines;

 

the lack of complementary medicines 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 or collaborations with third parties to perform sales, marketing and distribution services, our product revenues or the profitability of these product revenues to us are likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any medicines 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 medicines effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we will not be successful in commercializing our product candidates.

We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may develop, but we have not entered into agreements with any such manufacturers to support commercialization.

We have not yet secured manufacturing capabilities for commercial quantities of Resolaris, Stalaris or any other product candidates. Although we intend to rely on third-party manufacturers for commercialization, we have only entered into agreements with such manufacturers to support our human proof-of-concept clinical trials. We have not yet entered into a long-term commercial supply agreement to support full scale commercial production, and we or our contract manufacturers may be unable to process validation activities necessary to enter into commercial supply agreements or otherwise negotiate agreements with the manufacturers to support our commercialization activities at commercially reasonable terms.

We may run into technical or scientific issues related to development or manufacturing that we may be unable to resolve in a timely manner or with available funds. If we or our manufacturing partners are unable to scale the manufacturing process to produce commercial quantities of our product candidates, or our manufacturing partners do not pass required regulatory pre-approval inspections, our commercialization efforts will be harmed.

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In addition, any significant disruption in our relationships with our manufacturers could harm our business. There are a relatively small number of potential manufacturers for Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may deve lop, and such manufacturers may not be able to supply our drug products at the times we need them or on commercially reasonable terms. Any disruption to our relationship with our current manufacturers and any manufacturers that we contract with in the futu re will result in delays in our ability to complete the clinical development of, or to commercialize, Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates we may develop, and may require us to incur additional costs.

We face intense competition and rapid technological change and the possibility that our competitors may develop therapies that are more advanced or effective than ours, which may adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates.

We are engaged in the development of medicines for severe, rare diseases, which is a competitive and rapidly changing field. We have competitors both in the United States and internationally, including major multi-national pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and universities and other research institutions. In the area of rare myopathies with an immune component, we expect to face competition from a number of companies, academic institutions and other organizations, including Sarepta Therapeutics, PTC Therapeutics, Inc., Marathon Pharmaceuticals, Santhera Pharmaceuticals, Italfarmaco S.p.A, Summit Therapeutics, Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., FibroGen, Inc., F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Bristol Myers Squibb, Milo Biotechnology, LLC, Nobelpharma Co. Ltd., Pfizer, Inc., and Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals, that are engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics to address muscle loss and muscle weakness in a variety of indications. More specifically, in the area of LGMD, we are aware of a number of academic institutions engaged in the clinical development of therapeutics, including Genethon, a not-for-profit research laboratory created by the Association Française contre les Myopathies, or French Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has completed an experimental Phase 1 clinical trial in LGMD2C using gene therapy; Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is currently conducting a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of an AAV vector to transport the alpha-sarcoglycan gene into muscles in LGMD2D; and NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute in India, which is currently conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial in an unspecified form of LGMD using stem cell therapy. In addition, Pfizer currently has a program Domagrozumab (PF-06252616) which is in Phase 1b/2 clinical trials for the treatment of LGMD2I as well as a Phase 2 program for DMD. Although there are currently no approved products for the treatment of FSHD, Acceleron Pharma Inc. is developing a clinical candidate, ACE-083, a locally acting protein therapeutic designed to increase muscle mass and strength in patients with neuromuscular disorders and other diseases characterized by a loss of muscle function, including FSHD in which it initiated a Phase 2 trial in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition, Facio Therapies, Novogen, Fulcrum Therapeutics, Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are developing chemical compounds that may repress one of the causal genes responsible for FSHD. In the area of DMD, two therapies have been approved in the last 12 months: Exondys 51 from Sarepta and Emflaza from Marathon Pharmaceuticals. Marathon Pharmaceuticals and PTC Therapeutics, Inc. recently announced entering an asset purchase agreement whereby PTC Therapeutics, Inc. will acquire all rights to Emflaza.Exondys 51 is an antisense oligonucleotide indicated for the treatment of DMD in patients who have a confirmed mutation of the DMD gene that is amenable to exon 51 skipping. Many larger companies, universities and private and public research institutions are also actively engaged in the development of therapeutics to address muscle loss and muscle weakness in a variety of indications.

We may also face competition from numerous companies in the field of RPICs, including several companies that currently market Esbriet (pirfenidone) and Ofev (nintedanib), both of which were approved by the FDA for the treatment of ILD in October 2014.

Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis, products that are more effective, safer, more convenient or less costly than any product candidate that we may develop, or achieve earlier patent protection, regulatory approval, product commercialization and market penetration than us. 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.

Even if we are successful in achieving regulatory approval to commercialize a product candidate faster than our competitors, we may face competition from biosimilars due to the changing regulatory environment. In the United States, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are demonstrated to be “highly similar,” or biosimilar, to or “interchangeable” with an FDA-approved biological product. This new pathway could allow competitors to reference data from biological products already approved after 12 years from the time of approval. In Europe, the European Commission has granted marketing authorizations for several biosimilars pursuant to a set of general and product class-specific guidelines for biosimilar approvals issued over the past few years. In Europe, a competitor may reference data from biological products already approved, but will not be able to get on the market until ten years after the time of approval. This ten year period will be extended to 11 years if, during the first eight of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an approval for one or more new therapeutic indications that bring significant clinical benefits compared with existing therapies. In addition, companies may be developing biosimilars in other countries that could compete with our products. If competitors are able to obtain marketing approval for biosimilars referencing our products, our products may become subject to competition from such biosimilars, with the attendant competitive pressure and consequences. Expiration or successful challenge of our applicable patent rights could also trigger competition from other products, assuming any relevant exclusivity period has expired.

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Finally, as a result of the expiration or successful challenge of our patent rights, we could face more litigation with respect to the validity 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 products that we may develop and commercialize.

The commercial success of any current or future product candidate will depend upon the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community.

Even with the requisite approval from the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, the commercial success of our product candidates will depend in part on the medical community, patients, and third-party payors accepting our product candidates as medically useful, cost-effective, and safe. Any product that we bring to the market may not gain market 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. The degree of market acceptance of these product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

the potential efficacy and potential advantages over alternative treatments;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects, including any limitations or warnings contained in a product’s approved labeling;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects resulting from the administration of our product candidates by injection;

 

the clinical indications for which approval is granted;

 

relative convenience and ease of administration;

 

the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;

 

the strength of marketing and distribution support and timing of market introduction of competitive products;

 

publicity concerning our products or competing products and treatments; and

 

the availability of sufficient third-party insurance coverage or reimbursement.

Even if a potential product displays a favorable efficacy and safety profile in preclinical studies and clinical trials, market acceptance of the product will not be known until after it is launched. Our efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors on the benefits of the product candidates may require significant resources and may never be successful. Such efforts to educate the marketplace may require more resources than are required by the conventional technologies marketed by our competitors, and our competitors may have substantially greater resources or brand recognition to effectively market their products. If our product candidates are approved but fail to achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors, and others in the medical community, we will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to become or remain profitable.

The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly-approved products is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for new or current products could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate revenue.

There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors often follow CMS with respect to coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own reimbursement policies. It is difficult to predict what CMS will decide with respect to reimbursement for fundamentally novel products such as ours, as there is no body of established practices and precedents for these new products. Reimbursement agencies in Europe may be more conservative than CMS. For example, a number of cancer drugs have been approved for reimbursement in the United States, but have not been approved for reimbursement in certain European countries. There may be significant delays in obtaining reimbursement for newly approved medicines, and our inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable payment rates from third-party payors for any approved medicines could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Outside the United States, international sales are generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in Europe, Canada, and other countries has and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of our product candidates. 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 medicines, 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 products may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenues and profits. Net prices for medicines may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that currently restrict imports of medicines from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States.

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Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental 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 level of reimbursement for new products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. 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, including the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care A ct. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.

In addition, drug prices are under significant scrutiny in the markets in which our products may be sold. Drug pricing and other health care costs continues to be subject to intense political and societal pressures which we anticipate will continue and escalate on a global basis. As a result, our business and reputation may be harmed, our stock price may be adversely impacted and experience periods of volatility, we may have difficulty raising funds and our results of operations may be adversely impacted.

If the market opportunities for our product candidates are smaller than we believe they are, our revenues may be adversely affected and our business may suffer. Because the target patient populations of our product candidates are small, we must be able to successfully identify patients and capture a significant market share to achieve and maintain profitability.

We focus our research and product development on treatments for rare diseases. Given the small number of patients who have the diseases that we are targeting, it is critical to our ability to grow and become profitable that we continue to successfully identify patients with these rare diseases. Our projections 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, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including the scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations, or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. New studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. The effort to identify patients with diseases we seek to treat is in early stages, and we cannot accurately predict the number of patients for whom treatment might be possible. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for each of our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates, and new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business. Further, even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates, because the potential target populations are very small, we may never achieve profitability despite obtaining such significant market share.

Our target patient populations are relatively small, and there is currently no standard of care treatment directed at some of our target indications, such as FSHD and LGMD2B. As a result, the pricing and reimbursement of our product candidates, if approved, is uncertain, but must be adequate to support commercial infrastructure. If we are unable to obtain adequate levels of reimbursement, our ability to successfully market and sell our product candidates will be adversely affected. The manner and level at which reimbursement is provided for services related to our product candidates (e.g., for administration of our product to patients) is also important. Inadequate reimbursement for such services may lead to physician resistance and adversely affect our ability to market or sell our products.

Risks related to our intellectual property

If we are unable to obtain, maintain or protect intellectual property rights related to our product candidates, or if the scope of such intellectual property protection is not sufficiently broad, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets.

We rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our technologies and product candidates. Our success depends in large part on our and our licensors’ abilities to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and in other countries for our proprietary technology and product candidates.

We have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel technologies and product candidates that are important to our business. This process is expensive and time consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.

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The patentability of inventions, and the validity, enforceability and scope of patents in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical fields involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. As a result, patent applications that we own or in-license may not issue as patents with claims that cover our product candidates, or at all, in the United States or in foreign countries for many reasons. For example, there is no assurance that we were the first to invent or the first to file patent applications in respect of the inventions claimed in our patent applicati ons or that our patent applications claim patentable subject matter. We may also be unaware of potentially relevant prior art relating to our patents and patent applications, and this prior art, if any, may be used by third parties as grounds to seek to in validate a patent or to prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. Even if patents do successfully issue and even if such patents disclose aspects of our product candidates, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability o r scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed or invalidated. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our intellectual property, provide exclusivity for our product candidates or prevent others from designing around our claims. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patents and patent applications we hold, license or pursue with respect to our product candidates is threatened, it could threaten our ability to com mercialize our product candidates. Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we could market any of our product candidates under patent protection, if approved, would be reduced. Since patent applications in th e United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our product candidates. Changes to the patent laws in the United States and o ther jurisdictions could also diminish the value of our patents and patent applications or narrow the scope of our patent protection. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business.

If the patent applications we own or have in-licensed that relate to our programs or product candidates do not issue as patents, if their breadth or strength of protection is threatened, or if they fail to provide exclusivity for our product candidates, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop product candidates, and threaten our ability to commercialize future products. We cannot offer any assurances about which, if any, patents will issue, the breadth of any such patents or whether any issued patents will be found invalid and unenforceable or will be threatened by third parties. Any successful opposition to these patents or any other patents owned by or licensed to us could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any product candidates that we may develop. In addition, patents have a limited term. In the United States, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after it is filed. Although various extensions may be available, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if a patent does issue for any of our pending patent applications, possible delays in regulatory approvals could mean that the period of time during which we could market a product candidate under patent protection could be reduced from what we generally would expect. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing, and some remain so until issued, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to a product candidate. Furthermore, if third parties have filed such patent applications, an interference proceeding in the United States can be initiated by a third party to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. Even if patents covering aspects of our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired for a product, we may be open to competition from generic medications.

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. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors and contractors. 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, but it is possible that these security measures could be breached. Although we expect all of our employees and consultants to assign their inventions to us, and all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, we cannot provide any assurances that all such agreements have been duly executed or that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. For example, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our trade secrets could impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business. Additionally, if the steps we take to maintain the confidentiality of our trade secrets are inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating our proprietary information and processes. In addition, others may independently discover our trade secrets and proprietary information. For example, the FDA, as part of its Transparency Initiative, is currently considering whether to make additional information publicly available on a routine basis, including information that we may consider to be trade secrets or other proprietary information, and it is not clear at the present time how the FDA’s disclosure policies may change in the future, if at all.

If we are unable to prevent material disclosure of the non-patented intellectual property related to our technologies to third parties, and there is no guarantee that we will have any such enforceable trade secret protection, we may not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

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Further, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in preventing third parties from practicing our inventions in countries outside the U nited States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions.

Claims that our product candidates or the manufacture, sale or use of our future products infringe the patent or other intellectual property rights of third parties could result in costly litigation or could require substantial time and money to resolve, even if litigation is avoided.

Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation, both within and outside the United States, involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including patent infringement lawsuits, interferences, oppositions and inter partes reexamination proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, and corresponding foreign patent offices. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are pursuing development candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties.

Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. There may be third-party patents or patent applications with claims to materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. If any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing process of any of our product candidates, any molecules formed during the manufacturing process or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize such product candidate unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire.

Similarly, if any third-party patents are held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for manufacture or methods of use, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product candidate unless we obtain a license or until such patent expires. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Parties making claims against us may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize one or more of our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties, redesign our infringing products or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may not be able to be obtained on reasonable commercial terms or at all, or require substantial time and monetary expenditure.

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

We believe that we have rights to intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patents that we own, that is necessary or useful to develop our product candidates. Because our programs may involve additional product candidates that may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. In addition, our product candidates may require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and these rights may be held by others. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify on reasonable commercial terms or at all. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing 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, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities.

We sometimes collaborate with U.S. and foreign academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical research or development under written agreements with these institutions. These institutions may provide us with an option to negotiate a license to the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of any such right of first negotiation for intellectual property, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified time frame 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.

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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. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights, our business, financial condition an d prospects for growth could suffer.

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 are a party to a number of intellectual property license agreements that are important to our business and expect to enter into additional license agreements in the future. Our existing license agreements impose, and we expect that future license agreements will impose, various diligence, milestone payment, royalty and other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with our obligations under these agreements, or we are subject to a bankruptcy, the licensor may have the right to terminate the license, in which event we would not be able to market products covered by the license. For example, under the terms of the license agreements that we may enter into pursuant to our amended and restated research funding and option agreement with The Scripps Research Institute, or TSRI, TSRI has the right to terminate the license under various circumstances, including our failure to make payments to TSRI when due, our default in our indemnification and insurance obligations under the agreement, our failure to meet diligence obligations, as determined by TSRI, our underreporting or underpayment of amounts due to TSRI, our conviction of a felony related to the manufacture, use or sale of licensed products, services or processes and our institution of any challenges to the validity or enforceability of any of the licensed patents.

We may need to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates, and we have done so from time to time. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable commercial terms, if at all. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology. If we are unable to do so, we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected product candidates, which could harm our business significantly. We cannot provide any assurances that third-party patents do not exist which might be enforced against our current product candidates or future products, resulting in either an injunction prohibiting our sales, or, with respect to our sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties or other forms of compensation to third parties.

In some cases, patent prosecution of our licensed technology is controlled by the licensor. Under the license agreements that we may enter into pursuant to our amended and restated research funding and option agreement with TSRI, TSRI is responsible for the prosecution and maintenance of the licensed patent rights, subject to our right to be consulted and to be informed of the progress of patent applications, patents and related submissions. 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 such intellectual property. In certain cases, we may control the prosecution of patents resulting from licensed technology. In the event we breach any of our obligations related to such prosecution, we may incur significant liability to our licensors. Licensing of intellectual property is of critical importance to our business and involves complex legal, business and scientific issues and is complicated by the rapid pace of scientific discovery in our industry. Disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a license 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 license agreement;

 

the sublicensing of patent and other rights under our collaborative development relationships;

 

our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;

 

the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our sublicensees or partners, if any; 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 the affected product candidates.

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

Competitors may infringe or otherwise violate our patents, the patents of our licensors or our other intellectual property rights. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Any claims that we assert against perceived infringers could also provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their intellectual property rights. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours or our licensors is not valid, is unenforceable or is not infringed, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing.

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Interference or derivation proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions or other matters of inventorship with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licenso rs. We may also become involved in other proceedings, such as re-examination or opposition proceedings, before the USPTO or its foreign counterparts relating to our intellectual property or the intellectual property rights of others. An unfavorable outcome in any such proceedings could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party, or could cause us to lose valuable intellectual property rights. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms, if any license is offered at all. Our defense of litigation or interference proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and o ther employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States. In addition, the uncer tainties associated with litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our research programs, license necessary technology from third parties, or enter into development partnerships that would help us bring our product candidates to market. We may also become involved in disputes with others regarding the ownership of intellectual property rights. For example, we jointly develop intellectual property with certain parties , and disagreements may therefore arise as to the ownership of the intellectual property developed pursuant to these relationships. If we are unable to resolve these disputes, we could lose valuable intellectual property rights.

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. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

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

We employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any of our employee’s former employer or other third parties. 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 or personnel, which could adversely impact our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

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

We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an ownership interest in our patents or other intellectual property. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or ownership, or we may enter into agreements to clarify the scope of our rights in such intellectual property. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

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

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various governmental patent agencies outside of the United States in several stages over the lifetime of the patents or applications. We have systems in place to remind us to pay these fees, and we employ an outside firm and rely on our outside counsel to pay these fees due to non-U.S. patent agencies. The USPTO and various non-U.S. governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ law firms and other professionals to help us comply, and 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. However, there are situations 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, our competitors might be able to enter the market and this circumstance would have a material adverse effect on our business.

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

If we or one of our licensors initiated legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post grant review, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection would have a material adverse impact on our business.

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

As is the case with many other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involve both technological and legal complexity, and therefore obtaining, maintaining and enforcing biotechnology patents is costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, recent legislative and judicial developments in the United States and elsewhere have in some cases removed the protection afforded to patent owners, made patents more difficult to obtain, or increased the uncertainty regarding the ability to obtain, maintain and enforce patents. For example, Congress has recently passed, and the United States is currently implementing, wide-ranging patent reform legislation, and may pass further patent reform legislation in the future. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. For example, in a recent case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. , the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain claims to naturally occurring substances are not patentable. Although we do not believe that any of the patents owned or licensed by us will be found invalid based on this decision, we cannot predict how future decisions by the courts, the U.S. Congress, or the USPTO may impact the value of our patents. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents generally, once obtained. Depending on decisions and actions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, the USPTO and their respective foreign counterparts, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to maintain and enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

Recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the validity or defense of our 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 a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law, including provisions that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation. The USPTO is currently developing 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, were enacted March 16, 2013. Although it is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business, 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 material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

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We have not yet registered Resolaris or Stalaris as a trademark, and failure to secure or maintain adequate protection for ou r trademarks could adversely affect our business.

We have filed U.S. trademark applications for the Resolaris and Stalaris marks but they have not yet matured to registration, and we have yet to file any foreign trademark applications for the Resolaris or Stalaris marks. The USPTO has examined our U.S. application for the Resolaris mark and there are no outstanding objections to the application.  The USPTO has yet to begin the examination process for our application to register the Stalaris mark, and it could raise objections to our application. Although we would be given an opportunity to respond to those objections, we may be unable to overcome such objections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and to seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings have been filed and may in the future be filed against certain of our trademark applications or registrations, and our trademark applications or registrations may not survive such proceedings. Furthermore, third parties have alleged, and may allege in the future, that the Resolaris or Stalaris marks in particular or any other trademark or trade name that we elect to use for our product candidates, may cause confusion in the marketplace. Specifically, in April 2015, Alexion Pharmaceuticals (Alexion) sent a letter to our counsel alleging that our anticipated use of the Resolaris trademark would cause patients, practitioners and researchers to mistakenly associate us with Alexion or its Soliris product. Alexion claims ownership of a U.S. trademark registration for its Soliris mark. Alexion concluded its letter by requesting that we select a new name for our Resolaris product and withdraw our pending trademark application for the mark.  In February 2017 our counsel received a letter from counsel to Novartis AG (Novartis) alleging that our anticipated use of the Stalaris trademark would cause consumer confusion with its Ilaris product.  Novartis claims ownership of a U.S. trademark registration for its Ilaris mark.  Additionally, Novartis also expressed concerns about the potential for confusion between the Resolaris mark and Novartis’ Ilaris mark.  Novartis concluded its letter by demanding that we abandon our U.S. trademark application for the Stalaris mark.  We evaluate such actual and potential allegations in the course of our business, and such evaluations may cause us to change our commercialization or branding strategy for our product candidates, which may require us to incur additional costs. In particular, we are assessing Alexion and Novartis’ allegations and will determine whether we need to, or should, select a different name for the product or contest any trademark enforcement actions. Moreover, any name we propose to use with our product candidates in the United States must be approved by the FDA, regardless of whether we have registered it, or applied to register it, as a trademark. The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product names, including an evaluation of potential for confusion with other product names. If the FDA objects to any of our proposed proprietary product names, we may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable substitute name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA.

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 can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

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 or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

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Risks related to our business operations

Our future success depends on our ability to retain key employees, consultants and advisors and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.

We are highly dependent on principal members of our executive team, the loss of whose services may adversely impact the achievement of our objectives. While we have entered into employment agreements with each of our executive officers, any of them could leave our employment at any time, as all of our employees are “at will” employees. Recruiting and retaining other qualified employees, consultants and advisors for our business, including scientific and technical personnel, will also be critical to our success. There is currently a shortage of skilled personnel in our industry, which is likely to continue. As a result, competition for skilled personnel is intense and the turnover rate can be high. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for individuals with similar skill sets.  In addition, the available pool of skilled employees may be further reduced if immigration laws change in a manner that increases restrictions on immigration.  Failure to succeed in preclinical studies or clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The inability to recruit or loss of the services of any executive, key employee, consultant or advisor may impede the progress of our research, development and commercialization objectives. Furthermore, our common stock is currently trading at a price below the exercise price of most of our outstanding stock options. As a result, these “under water” options are less useful as a motivation and retention tool for our existing employees. Conversely, if our employees exercise outstanding stock options and sell their stock in the public market resulting in significant gains, we may experience an increased turnover rate.

We are subject to a variety of risks associated with international operations that could materially adversely affect our business.

We currently conduct research activities through our majority-owned (98%) Hong Kong subsidiary, Pangu BioPharma Limited, in collaboration with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Additionally, we are currently conducting our Phase 1b/2 clinical trials of Resolaris in patients with FSHD and LGMD2B in the European Union. If any of our product candidates are approved for commercialization outside of the United States, we expect to either use our own sales organization or selectively enter into agreements with third parties to market our products on a worldwide basis or in more limited geographical regions. We are, and we expect that we will continue to be, subject to a variety of risks related to international operations, including:

 

different regulatory requirements for approval of drugs and biologics in foreign countries;

 

reduced or uncertain protection for intellectual property;

 

unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers and regulatory requirements;

 

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

 

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

 

foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in reduced revenues, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country.

Any failure to continue our international operations or to commercialize our product candidates outside of the United States may impair our ability to generate revenues and harm our business, prospects and results of operations.

We may need to expand our organization and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth, which could disrupt our operations.

As we continue our ongoing Phase 1b/2 clinical trials of Resolaris, prepare for additional clinical trials of Resolaris and Stalaris and expand our other clinical development activities, as well as continue our operations as a public company, we may increase our full-time employee base and hire more consultants and contractors. In addition to certain members of our management team being relatively new to our company, our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from our day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities. We may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations, which may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, operational mistakes, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. Our expected growth could require significant capital expenditures and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the conduct of additional clinical activities for Resolaris and the development of additional product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our growth, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate or grow revenues could be reduced, and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates and compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth.

We may use our financial and human resources to pursue a particular business strategy, research program or product candidate and fail to capitalize on strategies, programs or product candidates that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

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Because we have limited resources, we may forego or delay pursuit of certain strategic opportunities or opportunities with certain programs or product c andidates or for indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. In addition, we may elect to pursue a research, clinical or commercial strategy that ultimately does not yield the results that we desire. Our spending on current and future research and development programs for product candidates may not result in any commercially viable products. If we do n ot accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through strategic collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it w ould have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate, or we may allocate internal resources to a product candidate in a therapeutic area or market in which it would have been more advanta geous to enter into a partnering arrangement. Any failure to allocate resources or capitalize on strategies in a successful manner will have an adverse impact on our business.

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.

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 the regulations of the FDA and non-U.S. regulators, provide accurate information to the FDA and non-U.S. regulators, 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 may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. 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 this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to 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, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.

We face potential product liability, and, if successful claims are brought against us, we may incur substantial liability and costs. If the use of our product candidates harms patients, or is perceived to harm patients even when such harm is unrelated to our product candidates, our regulatory approvals could be revoked or otherwise negatively impacted and we could be subject to costly and damaging product liability claims.

The use of our product candidates in clinical trials and the sale of any products for which we obtain marketing approval exposes us to the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims might be brought against us by patients, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies or others selling or otherwise coming into contact with our products. There is a risk that our product candidates may induce adverse events. If we cannot successfully defend against product liability claims, we could incur substantial liability and costs. In addition, regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:

 

impairment of our business reputation;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

costs due to related litigation;

 

distraction of management’s attention from our primary business;

 

substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants;

 

the inability to commercialize our product candidates; and

 

decreased demand for our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale.

We carry product liability insurance for our clinical trials covering $5.0 million per occurrence and up to $5.0 million in the aggregate, subject to certain deductibles and exclusions. Although we believe the amount of our insurance coverage is typical for companies similar to us in our industry, we may not have adequate insurance coverage or be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to liability. If and when we obtain marketing approval for product candidates, we intend to expand our insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products; however, we may be unable to obtain product liability insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. On occasion, large judgments have been awarded in class action lawsuits based on drugs or medical treatments that had unanticipated adverse effects. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us could cause our stock price to decline and adversely affect our reputation and, if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could adversely affect our results of operations and business.

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Patients with the diseases targeted by our product candidate s are often already in severe and advanced stages of disease and may have both known and unknown significant pre-existing and potentially life-threatening health risks. During the course of treatment, patients may suffer adverse events, including death, fo r reasons that may be related to our product candidates. Such events could subject us to costly litigation, require us to pay substantial amounts of money to injured patients, delay, negatively impact or end our opportunity to receive or maintain regulator y approval to market our products, or require us to suspend or abandon our commercialization efforts. Even in a circumstance in which we do not believe that an adverse event is related to our products, the investigation into the circumstance may be time-co nsuming or inconclusive. These investigations may interrupt our sales efforts, delay our regulatory approval process in other countries, or impact and limit the type of regulatory approvals our product candidates receive or maintain. As a result of these f actors, a product liability claim, even if successfully defended, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.

Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for 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. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. 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.

We are subject to anti-corruption laws in the jurisdictions in which we operate.

We are subject to a number of anti-corruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA, and various other anti-corruption laws. The FCPA generally prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business and/or other benefits. Our business relies on approvals and licenses from government and regulatory entities, and as a result, we are subject to certain elevated risks associated with interactions with these entities. Although we have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics that includes provisions governing the interactions of employees with government entities to mitigate these risks. If we are not in compliance with anti-corruption laws and other laws governing the conduct of business with government entities (including local laws), we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties and other remedial measures, which could harm our reputation and have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Any investigation of any actual or alleged violations of such laws could also harm our reputation or have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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

As a public company, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and The Nasdaq Global Select Market have imposed various requirements on public companies. In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, was enacted. There are significant corporate governance and executive compensation related provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act that require the SEC to adopt additional rules and regulations in these areas such as “say on pay” and proxy access. Recent legislation permits smaller “emerging growth companies” to implement many of these requirements over a longer period and up to five years from the pricing of our IPO. We have elected to take advantage of this legislation but cannot guarantee that we will not be required to implement these requirements sooner than budgeted or planned and thereby incur unexpected expenses. Stockholder activism, the current political environment and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which may lead to additional compliance costs and impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate. Our management and other personnel will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, we expect these rules and regulations to make it more difficult and more expensive for us to maintain director and officer liability insurance and we have been required to incur substantial costs to maintain our current levels of such coverage.

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Unfavorable global economic conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in the global economy and in the global financial markets. The recent global financial crisis caused extreme volatility and disruptions in the capital and credit markets. For example, in the recent U.K. referendum on its membership in the European Union resulted in a vote in favor of leaving the European Union (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), which could lead to a period of considerable uncertainty, particularly in relation to global financial markets which in turn could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital. A severe or prolonged economic downturn, such as the recent global financial crisis, could result in a variety of risks to our business, including inability to raise additional capital when needed on acceptable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy could also strain our manufacturers, possibly resulting in supply disruption. Any of the foregoing could harm our business and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the current economic climate and financial market conditions could adversely impact our business.

We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by earthquakes, droughts, floods, fires or other natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.

We are located in San Diego, California and our manufacturing activities are conducted by contract manufacturing organizations at various locations in the United States. We currently anticipate that if Resolaris receives marketing approval, commercial production may take place in the United States and/or the United Kingdom. Some of these geographic locations have in the past experienced natural disasters, including severe earthquakes. Earthquakes, droughts, floods, fires, disease epidemics or other natural disasters could severely disrupt our operations, and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our facilities, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place currently are limited and are unlikely to prove adequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, as well as limits on our insurance coverage, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks related to the ownership of our common stock

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

The market price of our common stock is likely to be volatile. Our stock price could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to a variety of factors, including the following:

 

adverse results or delays in preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

the imposition of a clinical hold on our product candidates or our inability to cause the clinical hold to be lifted;

 

any delay in filing a BLA, NDA or IND for any of our product candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the FDA’s review of that BLA, NDA or IND;

 

failure to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates;

 

the perception of limited market sizes or pricing for our product candidates;

 

failure by us or our licensors to prosecute, maintain or enforce intellectual property rights covering our product candidates and processes;

 

changes in laws or regulations applicable to future products;

 

inability to obtain adequate product supply for our product candidates or the inability to do so at acceptable prices;

 

adverse regulatory decisions;

 

introduction of new products, services or technologies by our competitors;

 

inability to obtain additional capital;

 

failure to meet or exceed financial or operational projections we may provide to the public;

 

failure to meet or exceed the financial or operational projections of the investment community;

 

the perception of the pharmaceutical industry by the public, politicians, legislatures, regulators and the investment community;

 

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

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

 

additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;

 

significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;

 

if securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or they issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding our stock;

 

changes in the market valuations of similar companies;

 

general market or macroeconomic conditions;

 

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

 

trading volume of our common stock.

In addition, companies trading in the stock market in general, and The Nasdaq Global Select Market and biotechnology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance.

Our executive officers, directors, principal stockholders and their affiliates own a significant percentage of our stock and will be able to exert significant control over matters submitted to stockholders for approval.

As of March 8, 2017, based on the latest information publicly available to us, our executive officers, directors, five percent stockholders and their affiliates beneficially own approximately 69% of our voting stock. Therefore, these stockholders will have the ability to influence us through their ownership positions and may be able to determine all matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders, acting together, may be able to control elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transaction. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that you may believe are in your best interest as one of our stockholders.

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

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation and our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years from the pricing of our IPO, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier, including if the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of any June 30 before that time or if we have total annual gross revenue of $1 billion or more during any fiscal year before that time, in which cases we would no longer be an emerging growth company as of the following December 31 or, if we issue more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during any three-year period before that time, we would cease to be an emerging growth company immediately. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we may still qualify as a “smaller reporting company” which would allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption from new or revised accounting standards and, therefore, will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

Future sales and issuances of equity or debt securities could result in dilution to our stockholders, impose restrictions or limitations on our business and could cause our stock price to fall.

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We will need additional capital in the future to continue our planned operations, and we may seek additional funding through a combination of equity offe rings, debt financings, government or other third-party funding and other collaborations, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements. These financing activities may have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ rights, the market price of our common stoc k and on our operations, and may require us to relinquish rights to some of our technologies, intellectual property or product candidates, issue additional equity or debt securities, or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us. We have an effective shelf registration statement on Form S-3 that provides for the sale of up to $150 million in the aggregate of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, warrants and/or units by us from time to time in one or more offerings. We have also entered into a sal es agreement with Cowen and Company, LLC for the sale of up to $35 million of common stock, from time to time, $20 million of which is currently registered under the Form S-3. To date, no shares of common shares have been sold pursuant to such sales agreem ent. Any future debt financings may impose restrictive covenants or otherwise adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders, and any equity financings will be dilutive to our stockholders. Furthermore, additional equity or debt financing might not be available to us on reasonable terms, if at all.

In additional, sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock by our existing stockholders in the public market or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. Certain holders of our securities are entitled to rights with respect to the registration of their shares under the Securities Act pursuant to a registration and voting rights agreement. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in the shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act. Any sales of securities by these stockholders could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock, even if there is no relationship between such sales and the performance of our business.

We have also registered all common stock that we may issue under our employee benefits plans. As a result, these shares can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to restrictions under the securities laws. In addition, our directors and executive officers may establish programmed selling plans under Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act for the purpose of effecting sales of our common stock. Further, we intend to file a registration statement on Form S-8 to register the shares of common stock underlying the option to purchase up to 145,000 shares of our common stock that has been granted as an inducement grant prior to the time at which such option becomes exercisable. If any of these events cause a large number of our shares to be sold in the public market, the sales could reduce the trading price of our common stock and impede our ability to raise future capital.

If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they publish negative evaluations of our stock, the price of our stock could decline.

The trading market for our common stock will rely in part on the research and reports that industry or financial analysts publish about us or our business. We may never obtain research coverage by industry or financial analysts. If no or few analysts commence coverage of us, the trading price of our stock would likely decrease. Even if we do obtain analyst coverage, if one or more of the analysts covering our business downgrade their evaluations of our stock, the price of our stock could decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover our stock, we could lose visibility in the market for our stock, which in turn could cause our stock price to decline.

We could be subject to securities class action litigation.

In the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a decline in the market price of its securities. This risk is especially relevant for us because pharmaceutical companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years. If we face such litigation, it could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could harm our business.

We have broad discretion in the use of our cash and cash equivalents and may not use them effectively.

We have considerable discretion in the application of our existing cash and cash equivalents. We expect to use our existing cash to fund research and development activities and for working capital and general corporate purposes, including funding the costs of operating as a public company. In addition, pending their use, we may invest our existing cash in short-term, investment-grade, interest-bearing securities. We may use these proceeds for purposes that do not yield a significant return or any return at all for our stockholders.

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

We have incurred substantial losses during our history, we do not expect to become profitable in the near future and we may never achieve profitability. Unused losses generally are available to be carried forward to offset future taxable income, if any, until such unused losses expire. Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” generally defined as a greater than 50% change (by value) in its equity ownership over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, and other pre-change tax attributes (such as research tax credits) to offset its post-change taxable income or taxes may be limited. We completed an analysis through September 7,

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2011, and determined that on November 30, 2006 an ownership change occurred, for which we have adjusted our NOL and research and development tax cred it carryforwards. We may have experienced an ownership change subsequent to September 7, 2011, including as a result of our IPO, and we may also experience ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of whi ch may be outside of our control. As a result, our ability to use our pre-change NOLs to offset U.S. federal taxable income may be subject to limitations, which could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us. In addition, at the state lev el, there may be periods during which the use of NOLs is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed.

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

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock.

Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws, as well as provisions of Delaware law, could make it more difficult for a third party to remove our current management, acquire us or increase the cost of acquiring us, even if doing so would benefit our stockholders.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law contain provisions that may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control of us or changes in our management. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws include provisions that:

 

authorize “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend and other rights superior to our common stock;

 

create a classified board of directors whose members serve staggered three-year terms;

 

specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only by our board of directors, the chairperson of our board of directors, our chief executive officer or our president;

 

prohibit stockholder action by written consent;

 

establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder approvals to be brought before an annual meeting of our stockholders, including proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;

 

provide that our directors may be removed only for cause;

 

provide that vacancies on our board of directors may be filled only by a majority of directors then in office, even though less than a quorum;

 

specify that no stockholder is permitted to cumulate votes at any election of directors;

 

expressly authorize our board of directors to modify, alter or repeal our amended and restated bylaws; and

 

require supermajority votes of the holders of our common stock to amend specified provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws.

These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management.

In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which limits the ability of stockholders owning in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock to merge or combine with us.

Any provision of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or amended and restated bylaws or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

Not applicable.

62


Item 2. Properties

Our administrative offices and research laboratory are located in San Diego, California. We lease approximately 17,083 square feet of office and laboratory space (Primary Facility) under an operating lease that expires in May 2017 and 7,411 square feet (Additional Space) we subleased with a tenant of our landlord that expires in June 2017. In January 2017, we extended our Primary Facility lease with our landlord through May 2019 for an additional commitment of $1.5 million and we have an option with our landlord to include the Additional Space within our lease through May 2019. We believe that our facility is sufficient to meet our needs and that suitable additional space will be available as and when needed.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

We are not a party to any material legal proceedings at this time. From time to time, we may be subject to various legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of our business activities. Although the results of litigation and claims cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe we are party to any claim or litigation the outcome of which, if determined adversely to us, would individually or in the aggreg ate be reasonably expected to have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse effect on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosure

Not applicable.

63


PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information

Our common stock began trading on The NASDAQ Global Select Market on May 7, 2015 and trades under the symbol “LIFE”.  Prior to such time, there was no public market for our common stock. The following table sets forth the high and low sales prices per share of our common stock for the periods indicated as reported on The NASDAQ Global Select Market.

 

 

 

Price Range

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

Year Ended December 31, 2016:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Quarter

 

$

9.63

 

 

$

3.50

 

Second Quarter

 

$

4.36

 

 

$

2.48

 

Third Quarter

 

$

3.85

 

 

$

2.62

 

Fourth Quarter

 

$

3.80

 

 

$

2.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price Range

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

Year Ended December 31, 2015:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Quarter (commencing May 6, 2015)

 

$

28.29

 

 

$

12.90

 

Third Quarter

 

$

21.00

 

 

$

9.59

 

Fourth Quarter

 

$

13.26

 

 

$

7.37

 

 

Holders of Record

As of March 8, 2017, there were approximately 68 holders of record of our common stock. The approximate number of holders is based upon the actual number of holders registered in our records at such date and excludes holders in "street name" or persons, partnerships, associations, corporations, or other entities identified in security positions listings maintained by depository trust companies.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings to support our operations and finance the growth and development of our business. We do not intend to pay cash dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future. Any future determination related to our dividend policy will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, business prospects and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

Information about our equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Item 12 of Part III of this Annual Report.

64


Performance Graph

The following is not deemed “filed” with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is not to be incorporated by reference into any filing we make under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation by reference language in such filing.

The following graph shows a comparison from May 7, 2015 (the date our common stock commenced trading on The NASDAQ Global Select Market) through December 31, 2016 of the cumulative total return for our common stock, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NBI) and the NASDAQ Composite Index (CCMP). The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 on May 7, 2015. The comparisons in the graph are not intended to forecast or be indicative of possible future performance of our common stock

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

During the year ended December 31, 2016, we did not issue or sell any unregistered securities not previously disclosed in a Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q or in a Current Report on Form 8-K.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

We did not repurchase any securities during the quarter ended December 31, 2016.

65


Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

The selected financial data set forth below is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and may not be indicative of future operating results. The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and notes thereto and Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Amounts are in thousands, except per share amounts.

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss from operations

 

$

(57,940

)

 

$

(47,616

)

 

$

(23,554

)

Net loss

 

 

(57,855

)

 

 

(47,973

)

 

 

(24,350

)

Comprehensive loss

 

 

(57,760

)

 

 

(48,144

)

 

 

(24,350

)

Net loss per share, basic and diluted

 

$

(2.44

)

 

$

(3.03

)

 

$

(29.69

)

Weighted average shares outstanding, basic and diluted

 

 

23,681,019

 

 

 

15,838,353

 

 

 

834,221

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments

 

$

76,149

 

 

$

125,349

 

 

$

15,853

 

Total assets

 

 

80,524

 

 

 

129,675

 

 

 

20,644

 

Preferred stock warrant liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

319

 

Convertible promissory note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2,000

 

Working capital

 

 

66,243

 

 

 

85,802

 

 

 

6,396

 

Long-term debt, net of current portion and issuance costs

 

 

9,198

 

 

 

1,776

 

 

 

5,142

 

Redeemable convertible preferred stock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

95,619

 

Accumulated deficit

 

 

(215,979

)

 

 

(158,124

)

 

 

(110,151

)

Total stockholders’ deficit

 

 

62,801

 

 

 

115,050

 

 

 

(91,010

)

 

 

66


Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Co ndition and Results of Operations.

You should read the following discussion and analysis together with “Item 6. Selected Financial Data” and the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The following discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under the caption “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”

Overview

We engage in the discovery and clinical development of innovative medicines for patients suffering from severe, rare diseases using our knowledge of Physiocrine biology, a newly discovered set of physiological pathways.  Through our research efforts, we believe that Physiocrines evolved over billions of years to promote homeostasis in complex organisms.  We have evidence to support that some of these proteins evolved to govern and orchestrate the mammalian immune system. We believe immune imbalance is underappreciated in many disease types and may ultimately be responsible for much of the pathophysiology associated with a number of important genetic and immunology based diseases.

By focusing on immune pathways in disease, we believe our therapeutic candidates have the potential to restore patients to a healthier state, achieve homeostatic balance and ultimately lead to improved clinical outcomes. To date, our discovery efforts have generated three immunology-based investigational innovative therapeutic programs in three different therapeutic areas:

 

Resolaris :  We internally discovered and developed Resolaris, our first Physiocrine-based therapeutic candidate, based on a protein naturally secreted from muscle that acts on T-cells at the tissue level to promote healthier muscle. We believe this may translate into an innovative therapeutic for rare genetic myopathies with an immune component (e.g. T-cells in the patients’ muscle), including limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).  Resolaris also represents an example of our first therapeutic modality - natural protein therapy – adding back a pathway that is insufficiently produced by the human body to counteract disease.

 

Stalaris :   Our scientists successfully engineered the first fusion protein with a Physiocrine, Stalaris, to provide designed properties to enhance the immuno-modulatory aspects of a Physiocrine in vivo . We plan to develop Stalaris as a potential therapeutic for patients with rare pulmonary diseases with an immune component, including interstitial lung disease. This fusion protein, which utilizes the Fc region of an antibody, also potentially represents a novel Fc-Physiocrine platform for future Physiocrine-based therapies.

 

Project ORCA :   Our third program, represents a third therapeutic modality distinct from Resolaris or Stalaris.  It also diversifies our pipeline by addressing severe diseases in a therapeutic area that differs from those of our first two programs.  We use code name “Project ORCA” for this preclinical research program.

Our expansive Physiocrine patent estate provides us with potential product protection as we pioneer this new and important area of human biology. To protect our industry unique pipeline based on our proprietary new biology, we have built an intellectual property estate comprising over 175 issued patents or allowed patent applications that are owned or exclusively licensed by us, including over 300 potential Physiocrine-based protein compositions. We believe it is in the best interest of our stakeholders, including patients, caregivers, and our stockholders, to advance one or more of our three current programs based on Physiocrine biology with the expertise of or funding from appropriate strategic partners.

Since our inception in 2005, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to the therapeutic application of Physiocrines, including the preclinical development of and clinical trials for Resolaris, the creation, licensing and protection of related intellectual property and the provision of general and administrative support for these operations. We have not generated any revenue from product sales and, through December 31, 2016, have funded our operations primarily with the aggregate proceeds from the sales of our common stock in our initial public offering (IPO), private placement of redeemable convertible preferred stock and convertible promissory notes, commercial bank debt and a convertible promissory note issued to our landlord.

In May 2015, we completed our IPO whereby we sold 6,164,000 shares of common stock at a public offering price of $14.00 per share. As a result of the IPO, we raised a total of $75.9 million in net proceeds after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions of approximately $6.0 million and offering expenses of approximately $4.4 million. In addition, in connection with the IPO, all outstanding redeemable convertible preferred stock converted into 16,279,859 shares of our common stock.

67


In June 2016, we filed a Registration Statement on Form S-3 (File No. 333-211998) containing two prospectuses: (i) a base prospectus which covers the offering, issuance and sale of up to $150.0 million in the aggregate of an indete rminate number of shares of common stock and preferred stock, an indeterminate principal amount of debt securities and an indeterminate number of warrants and units; and (ii) a sales agreement prospectus covering the offering, issuance and sale of up to a maximum aggregate offering price of $20.0 million of our common stock that may be sold from time to time under a sales agreement with Cowen and Company, LLC (Cowen). In accordance with the terms of such sales agreement entered with Cowen, we may offer and sell shares of our common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $35.0 million from time to time through Cowen. To date, no shares of common stock have been sold pursuant to such sales agreement. We will be required to file another prospectus su pplement in the event we intend to offer more than $20.0 million in shares of our common stock in accordance with the sales agreement. The sales agreement prospectus amount of $20.0 million is included in the base prospectus amount of $150.0 million.

We have never been profitable and have incurred net losses in each annual and quarterly period since our inception. For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, we have incurred consolidated net losses of $57.9 million, $48.0 million and $24.4 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2016, we had an accumulated deficit of $216.0 million.

Substantially all of our net losses resulted from costs incurred in connection with our development of and clinical trials for Resolaris, our other research and development programs and from general and administrative costs associated with our operations. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future, at least until we apply for and receive regulatory approval for Resolaris, Stalaris or another product candidate and generate substantial revenues from its commercialization, if ever. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year, depending on the nature and extent of our research and development expenses and clinical trials. We expect our expenses will increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities as we:

 

conduct clinical trials of Resolaris, Stalaris and any additional product candidates we may develop;

 

continue our research and product development efforts;

 

manufacture preclinical study and clinical trial materials;

 

expand, protect and maintain our intellectual property portfolio;

 

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

 

hire additional staff, including clinical, operational, financial and technical personnel, if and when necessary, to execute on our business plan and create additional infrastructure to support our operations as a public company; and

 

implement operational, financial and management systems.

We do not expect to generate any revenues from product sales unless and until we successfully complete development and obtain regulatory approval for one or more of our product candidates, which we expect will take a number of years at a minimum. If we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution. Accordingly, we will need to raise substantial additional capital beyond the net proceeds from our IPO. The amount and timing of our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including the pace and results of our preclinical and clinical development efforts and the timing and nature of the regulatory approval process for our product candidates. We anticipate that we will seek to fund our operations through public or private equity or debt financings, collaborations, strategic partnerships or other sources. However, we may be unable to raise additional capital or enter into such other arrangements when needed on favorable terms or at all. Our failure to raise capital or enter into such other arrangements when needed would have a negative impact on our financial condition and ability to develop our product candidates.

Financial Operations Overview

Organization and Business; Principles of Consolidation

We conduct substantially all of our activities through aTyr Pharma, Inc., a Delaware corporation, at our facility in San Diego, California. aTyr Pharma, Inc. was incorporated in the state of Delaware in September 2005. The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of aTyr Pharma, Inc., and its 98% majority-owned subsidiary in Hong Kong, Pangu BioPharma Limited as of December 31, 2016. All intercompany transactions and balances are eliminated in consolidation.

68


Research and Development Expenses

To date, our research and development expenses have related primarily to the development of and clinical trials for Resolaris and to research efforts targeting the potential therapeutic application of other Physiocrine-based immuno-modulators in rare disease indications. These expenses consist primarily of:

 

salaries and employee-related expenses, including stock-based compensation and benefits for personnel in research and product development functions;

 

costs associated with conducting our preclinical, development and regulatory activities, including fees paid to third-party professional consultants, service providers and our scientific, therapeutic and clinical advisory board;

 

costs to acquire, develop and manufacture preclinical study and clinical trial materials;

 

costs incurred under clinical trial agreements with clinical research organizations, or CROs, and investigative sites;

 

costs for laboratory supplies;

 

payments and stock issuances related to licensed products and technologies; and

 

allocated facilities, depreciation and other allocable expenses.

Research and development costs are expensed as incurred. Clinical trial and other development costs incurred by third parties are expensed as the contracted work is performed. We accrue for costs incurred as the services are being provided by monitoring the status of the trial or project and the invoices received from our external service providers. We adjust our accrual as actual costs become known.

Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. We expect that the levels of our research and development expenses will increase during the foreseeable future as we: (i) continue to advance Resolaris in clinical development; (ii) advance our Stalaris discovery program; and (iii) engage in additional research, discovery and development activities relating to our discovery engine for therapeutic applications of Physiocrines, including Project ORCA.

We cannot determine with certainty the timing of initiation, the duration or the completion costs of current or future preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates. At this time, due to the inherently unpredictable nature of preclinical and clinical development and given the early stage of our programs, we are unable to estimate with any certainty the costs we will incur or the timelines we will require in the continued development of Resolaris, Stalaris and any other product candidates that we may develop. Clinical and preclinical development timelines, the probability of success and development costs can differ materially from expectations. We anticipate that we will make determinations as to which product candidates to pursue and how much funding to direct to each product candidate on an ongoing basis in response to the results of ongoing and future preclinical studies and clinical trials, regulatory developments and our ongoing assessments as to each product candidate’s commercial potential. In addition, we cannot forecast which product candidates may be subject to future collaborations, when such arrangements will be secured, if at all, and to what degree such arrangements would affect our development plans and capital requirements.

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related costs for employees in executive, finance and administration, corporate development and administrative support functions, including stock-based compensation expenses and benefits. Other significant general and administrative expenses include accounting, legal services, expenses associated with applying for and maintaining patents, cost of insurance, cost of various consultants, occupancy costs, information systems costs and depreciation.

Other Income (Expense)

Other income (expense) consists primarily of interest income earned on cash and cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments and interest expense on our loans outstanding with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). Commencing November 2016, interest expense includes interest charges from our Term Loan borrowing with SVB and Solar Capital Ltd. (Solar).

69


Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates

Our management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is based on our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP. The preparation of these consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities as of the date of the consolidated financial statements, as well as the reported expenses during the reporting periods. We monitor and analyze these items for changes in facts and circumstances, and material changes in these estimates could occur in the future. We base our estimates on our historical experience and on various other factors we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying value of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Changes in estimates are reflected in reported results for the period in which they become known. Actual results may differ materially from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

We discuss our accounting policies and assumptions that involve a higher degree of judgment and complexity within Note 2 to our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report. We believe the following accounting policies related to research and development expense accruals and stock-based compensation involve the most significant estimation and judgment in accounting for our reported consolidated financial results.

Research and Development Expense Accruals

As part of the process of preparing our consolidated financial statements, we are required to estimate our accrued expenses. This process involves reviewing open contracts and purchase orders, communicating with our personnel to identify services that have been performed on our behalf and estimating the level of service performed and the associated cost incurred for the service when we have not yet been invoiced or otherwise notified of the actual cost. The majority of our service providers invoice us monthly in arrears for services performed or when contractual milestones are met. We make estimates of our accrued expenses as of each balance sheet date in our consolidated financial statements based on facts and circumstances known to us at that time. We periodically confirm the accuracy of our estimates with the service providers and make adjustments if necessary. Examples of estimated accrued research and development expenses include fees paid to investigative sites and Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) in connection with clinical trials; service providers in connection with preclinical development activities; and service providers related to product manufacturing, development and distribution of clinical supplies .

We currently rely on third parties for the clinical development of Resolaris and Stalaris and the manufacture of Resolaris and Stalaris to support our ongoing and future clinical trials. We pay these third parties, including consultants, CROs, manufacturers and other service providers, pursuant to contractual arrangements, which may include provisions for time and materials-based payments, project-based fees and milestone payments. We base our accrual for these expenses on our estimates of the services received and efforts expended pursuant to our contractual arrangements. The financial terms of these agreements are subject to negotiation, vary from contract to contract and may result in uneven payment flows. There may be instances in which payments made to our service providers will exceed the level of services provided and result in a prepayment of the clinical expense. Payments under some of these contracts depend on factors such as the successful enrollment of patients and the completion of clinical milestones. In accruing service fees, we estimate the time period over which services will be performed and the level of effort to be expended in each period. If the actual timing of the performance of services or the level of effort varies from our estimate, we adjust the accrual or prepaid accordingly.

Although we do not expect our estimates to be materially different from amounts actually incurred, if our estimates of the status and timing of services performed differs from the actual status and timing of services performed, we may report amounts that are too high or too low in any particular period. To date, there has been no material differences between our estimates and the amounts actually incurred.

Stock-Based Compensation

Stock-based compensation expense represents the grant date fair value of employee stock option grants recognized as expense over the requisite service period of the awards (usually the vesting period) on a straight-line basis, net of estimated forfeitures. For stock option grants with performance-based milestones, the expense is recorded over the service period after the achievement of the milestone is probable or the performance is achieved. For stock option grants with market-based conditions, the expense is recorded using the accelerated attribution method over the requisite service period for each vesting tranche. We account for stock options granted to non-employees using the fair value approach.  These options are subject to periodic revaluation over their vesting terms. We estimate fair value of employee and non-employee stock option grants using the Black-Scholes option pricing model.  We estimate the fair value of the market-based stock option grants using Monte Carlo simulations. We generally estimate the fair value using assumptions, including the risk-free interest rate, the expected volatility of a peer group of similar companies, the expected term of the awards and the expected dividend yield. These estimates involve inherent uncertainties and the application of management’s judgment. If factors change and different assumptions are used, our stock-based compensation expense could be materially different in the future.

70


Results of Operations

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2016 and 2015

The following table summarizes our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 (in thousands):

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

Increase /

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

(Decrease)

 

Research and development expenses

 

$

42,846

 

 

$

34,504

 

 

$