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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

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: 001-32979

 

MOLECULAR TEMPLATES, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

94-3409596

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(IRS employer

Identification number)

 

9301 Amberglen Blvd, Suite 100, Austin TX 78729

 

78729

(Address of principal executive office)

 

(Zip Code)

(512) 869-1555

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

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

 

Title of Each Class

Trading Symbol

Name of Each Exchange

On Which Registered

Common Stock, $0.001 Par Value Per Share

MTEM

The Nasdaq Global Select Market

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

   

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

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

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

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

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant (without admitting that any person whose shares are not included in such calculation is an affiliate) computed by reference to the closing price of $7.82 of the common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was approximately $265,627,320. The calculation of the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant excludes shares of Common Stock held by each officer, director and stockholder that the registrant concluded were affiliates on that date. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

On March 23, 2022 there were 56,305,049 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding.

 

Auditor Name: Ernst & Young LLP

Auditor Firm ID: 42

Auditor Location: Austin, Texas

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the registrant’s 2022 annual meeting of stockholders to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 are incorporated herein by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Molecular Templates, Inc.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

 

 

Part I

 

3

Item 1.

 

Business

 

4

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

32

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

76

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

76

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

76

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

76

 

 

 

Part II

 

77

Item 5.

 

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

 

77

Item 6.

 

Reserved

 

77

Item 7.

 

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

 

78

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

91

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

92

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

122

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

122

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

122

Item 9C.

 

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

 

122

 

 

 

Part III

 

123

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

123

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

123

Item 12.

 

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

 

123

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

123

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

123

 

 

 

Part IV

 

124

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

124

Item 16.

 

10-K Summary

 

128

 

 

Signatures

 

129

 

 

2


 

PART I

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the sections entitled “Business,” “Risk Factors,” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. 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 herein, regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenue, projected costs, prospects, plans, objectives of management and expected market growth are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

the implementation of our business strategies, including our ability to pursue development pathways and regulatory strategies for MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and other engineered toxin body (“ETB”) biologic candidates;

 

our utilization of a next-generation ETB scaffold that has been designed to reduce or eliminate the propensity for innate immunity, including capillary leak syndrome (“CLS”);

 

the timing and our ability to advance the development of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

our plans to pursue discussions with regulatory authorities, and the anticipated timing, scope and outcome of related regulatory actions or guidance;

 

our ability to establish and maintain potential new partnering or collaboration arrangements for the development and commercialization of ETB biologic candidates;

 

our ability to obtain the benefits we anticipate from partnering or collaboration agreements that we may enter into;

 

our financial condition, including our ability to obtain the funding necessary to advance the development of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

the anticipated progress of our drug or biologic candidate development programs, including whether our ongoing and potential future clinical trials will achieve clinically relevant results;

 

our ability to generate data and conduct analyses to support the regulatory approval of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

our ability to establish and maintain intellectual property rights for our drug or biologic candidates;

 

whether any drug or biologic candidates that we are able to commercialize are safer or more effective than other marketed products, treatments or therapies;

 

our ability to discover and develop additional drug or biologic candidates suitable for clinical testing;

 

our ability to identify, in-license or otherwise acquire additional drug or biologic candidates and development programs;

 

our anticipated research and development activities and projected expenditures;

 

our ability to complete preclinical and clinical testing successfully for new drug or biologic candidates that we may develop or license;

 

our ability to have manufactured active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API, and drug or biologic product that meet required release and stability specifications;

 

our ability to have manufactured sufficient supplies of drug product for clinical testing and commercialization;

 

our ability to obtain licenses to any necessary third-party intellectual property;

 

our anticipated use of proceeds from any financing activities;

 

our ability to retain and hire necessary employees and appropriately staff our development programs;

 

the extent to which COVID-19 will continue to impact our business operations or financial condition;

3


 

 

our projected financial performance; and

 

the sufficiency of our cash resources; and other risks and uncertainties, including those listed under Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors”.

Any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K reflect our current views with respect to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed under Part II, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future.

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business, and the markets for certain diseases, including data regarding the incidence and prevalence of certain medical conditions. 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. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market and other data from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources.

As used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise indicates, references to “Molecular,” the “Company,” “we,” “our,” “us” or similar terms refer to Molecular Templates, Inc., and our wholly owned subsidiaries.

 

ITEM 1.BUSINESS

Molecular Templates, Inc., or Molecular, is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of differentiated, targeted, biologic therapeutics for cancer and other serious diseases. Molecular utilizes its proprietary biologic drug platform to design and generate engineered toxin bodies, or ETBs, which Molecular believes provide a differentiated mechanism of action that may be beneficial in patients resistant to currently available cancer therapeutics. ETBs use a genetically engineered version of the Shiga-like Toxin A subunit, or SLTA, a ribosome inactivating bacterial protein. In its wild-type form, SLT is thought to induce its own entry into a cell when proximal to the cell surface membrane, self-route to the cytosol, and enzymatically and irreversibly shut down protein synthesis via ribosome inactivation. SLTA is normally coupled to its cognate Shiga-like Toxin B subunit, or SLTB, to target the CD77 cell surface marker, a non-internalizing glycosphingolipid. In Molecular’s scaffold, a genetically engineered SLTA subunit with no cognate SLTB component is genetically fused to antibody domains or fragments specific to a target, resulting in a biologic therapeutic that can identify the particular target and specifically kill the cell. The antibody domains may be substituted with other antibody domains having different specificities to allow for the rapid development of new drugs to selected targets in cancer and other serious diseases.

ETBs combine the specificity of an antibody with SLTA’s potent mechanism of cell destruction. Based on the disease setting, Molecular has created ETBs that have reduced immunogenicity and are capable of delivering additional payloads into a target cell. Immunogenicity is the ability of a foreign substance to provoke an immune response in a host. ETBs have relatively predictable pharmacokinetic, or PK, profiles and can be rapidly screened for desired activity in robust cell-based and animal-model assays. Because SLTA can induce internalization against non- and poorly-internalizing receptors, the universe of targets for ETBs should be substantially larger than that seen with antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, which are not likely to be effective if the target does not readily internalize the ADC payload.

ETBs have a differentiated mechanism of cell kill in cancer therapeutics (the inhibition of protein synthesis via ribosome destruction), and Molecular has preclinical and clinical data demonstrating the utility of these molecules in chemotherapy-refractory cancers. ETBs have shown good tolerability in multiple animal models as well as a generally favorable tolerability profile in Molecular’s clinical studies to date. Molecular believes the target specificity of ETBs, their ability to self-internalize, their potent and differentiated mechanism of cell kill and their tolerability profile provide opportunities for the clinical development of these agents to address multiple cancer types.

Molecular’s initial approach to drug development in oncology involves the selection of lead compounds to validated targets in cancer. Molecular is developing ETBs for various targets, including PD-L1, HER2, and CD38. PD-L1 is central to immune checkpoint pathways and is a validated target expressed in a variety of solid tumor cancers. HER2 is clinically validated as a target for the treatment of solid tumors including breast and gastric cancer. CD38 has been validated as a meaningful clinical target in the treatment of multiple myeloma. MT-6402 (ETB targeting PD-L1), MT-5111 (ETB targeting HER2), and TAK-169, now known as MT-0169 (ETB targeting CD38) are all in ongoing Phase I studies. Molecular expects to provide periodic updates on these studies throughout 2022. Molecular continues to advance its pipeline of next-generation

4


ETBs targeting CTLA-4, TIGIT, TROP2, BCMA, SLAMF-7, and CD45 with a potential IND filing for its CTLA-4 program in the second half of 2022.

Molecular has built up multiple core competencies around the creation and development of ETBs. Molecular developed the ETB technology in-house and continues to make iterative improvements in the scaffold and to identify new uses of the technology. Molecular also developed the proprietary process for manufacturing ETBs under Current Good Manufacturing Practice, or cGMP, regulatory standards and continues to make improvements to its manufacturing processes. Molecular has conducted multiple cGMP manufacturing runs with its compounds and believes this process is robust and could support commercial production with gross margins that are similar to those seen with antibodies.

Challenges in Oncology

Existing mechanisms of action, the specific biochemical interaction through which a drug substance produces its pharmacological effect, are subject to numerous limitations in oncology. The clinical benefit of a given drug is a function of the biological properties of the drug, the target with which the drug interacts and the tumor indication being treated, but the relative contribution of each of these factors is difficult to separate. To date, significant challenges exist in identifying the most appropriate cancer targets, applying the most effective mechanisms of action and selecting the appropriate disease indications and most responsive patient populations for a particular drug or biologic. These challenges include the following:

 

Availability of viable targets. The limited number of cancer targets addressable with currently available mechanisms of action; for example, targets appropriate for ADC approaches are relegated to those extracellular targets that already readily and efficiently self-internalize;

 

Drug resistance. ADC approaches generally use chemotherapy payloads which damage DNA, or disrupt or prevent microtubule assembly, and can be subject to the same mechanisms of resistance as in general chemotherapy;

 

Limits of monotherapy. Established single-agent therapies are only effective in a minority of cancer patients;

 

Target identification and prioritization. Current approaches to target prioritization are not comprehensively systematic and do not leverage a complete understanding of a drug’s effect on a given tumor type to best identify high value targets in certain patient populations;

 

Clinical predictability of preclinical data. In vitro epitope selection on a given target may not be predictive of clinical optimization; and

 

Biomarker use and utility. Predictive biomarkers, the value and use of which are relatively new, are not uniformly used to proactively select responsive patient populations and/or preferred indications, which can drive longer development timelines with higher associated costs.

Molecular’s Differentiated Approach

Molecular was founded on the principle that differentiated mechanisms of action are crucial for improving outcomes in oncology. Molecular has created a new ETB scaffold with a differentiated mechanism of action, coupled with a relatively predictable PK profile. Molecular’s ETB scaffold permits rapid screening for lead identification and easily scalable production, which Molecular believes offers an opportunity to provide meaningful clinical benefits in oncology with more cost-efficient research and development than current treatments. Molecular believes the differentiated biological activity inherent to the ETB scaffold, particularly the ability to induce internalization and employ a differentiated mechanism of cell kill, may allow for differentiated clinical benefit in patients as monotherapy and in combination with standard of care therapies.

Molecular likens the extensive de-immunization work it has conducted on SLTA to the chimerization of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibody chimerization is a process for reducing immunogenicity when an antibody from one species is introduced into a different species. Chimerization has allowed for the wide-spread use of antibodies as human therapeutics across multiple disease settings. Molecular believes that the de-immunization of SLTA may allow for ETB use across multiple indications in oncology, including solid tumors, as well as other potential non-oncology indications.

Molecular has seen in both preclinical models and in its Phase I trials to date that the differentiated mechanism of action employed by its ETBs can be effective in chemo-resistant tumor cells. Molecular believes this creates the potential for a rapid characterization of efficacy in carefully designed clinical trials in relapsed and refractory settings, particularly when targeting tumor markers that persist after treatment with multiple lines of therapy and whose targeting has been shown to provide a survival benefit. Molecular also has seen preclinically that its ETBs can have additive or synergistic activity in combination with a number of small molecule agents including chemotherapeutics, immunomodulatory agents and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Molecular believes that the ability of ETBs to be additive or synergistic to a variety of current treatments may allow for combination therapy in earlier lines of disease.

5


Molecular believes it can develop ETBs against well-validated targets and new targets, enabling a phenotypically based clinical trial design that may result in shorter development timelines with lower associated costs. More specifically:

 

Molecular’s research and design platform allows it to select lead ETBs from a comprehensive screen. Molecular’s ETB platform utilizes a suite of integrated technologies to screen ETB libraries for lead identification. Molecular performs initial preclinical screens on ETBs with lead selection around potency, affinity and expression. Critical components of Molecular’s approach include:

 

o

the proprietary optimization of the genetic fusion between the immunoglobulin-targeting domain and Molecular’s proprietary SLTA scaffold;

 

o

the proprietary de-immunizing modifications made to the SLTA scaffold, which reduce both adaptive and innate immune responses to ETBs;

 

o

comprehensive screening for potency, affinity and specificity against target expressing versus non-expressing cells; and

 

o

early evaluation of protein expression and stability of potential lead ETB candidates.

 

Molecular’s ability to create lead ETBs to well-validated targets reduces the risk of target-mediated side effects and increases the likelihood of obtaining meaningful clinical benefit. Molecular has deployed its technology against targets in oncology that are central to disease progression and that are known to persist after a given modality has failed. Molecular believes these targets reduce the risk of clinical failure from either unacceptable target-mediated adverse events or from a failure to impact disease outcome because of loss of the target. For example, Molecular’s compound, MT-6402, targets the PD-L1 protein, found on the surface of tumor and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME).  PD-L1 is a validated target, as evidenced by the development of PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors, some of the most useful new therapies that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved over the past decade for treatment of patients with cancer.  Destruction of PD-L1 expressing tumors and immune cells is also expected to be a tolerable strategy for patients, with immune-related adverse events anticipated to occur in a manner similar to the approved checkpoint inhibitors. PD-L1 expression is not ubiquitously found in the tumors of cancer patients, but it does not typically reduce over time in those where it is found and it appears to increase in response to other cancer therapies such as cytotoxic chemotherapy or radiation therapy.  Molecular chose targeting of PD-L1 because of its relationship to modifying immune surveillance of tumors, its limited normal tissue expression, the known and manageable toxicity profile associated with checkpoint inhibition, and the persistence of PD-L1 expression even after prior treatment failure.  Molecular used a similar rationale in the selection of Molecular’s current pipeline, including ETBs targeting TROP-2, TIGIT, and BCMA, which are targets central to disease outcome that persist after a given modality has failed.

 

Molecular’s ETB platform allows Molecular to identify ETBs to target and select patients in the Phase I clinical trials that phenotypically match that ETB program. Molecular can screen a library of single chain variable fragments, or scFvs, expressed in Molecular’s ETB scaffold to a given target. The pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds is similar and relatively predictive in humans based on animal models. Once the lead is selected and Investigational New Drug Application, or IND-enabling studies are completed, Molecular can enrich a Phase I clinical trial with only patients expressing the target of the ETB. In these Phase I clinical trials, Molecular can get a faster read on the candidate’s safety as well as efficacy than is possible in many drug development programs.

Molecular’s Strategy

Molecular’s goal is to bring the right ETBs to the right patients to provide long-lasting benefits that ultimately improve patients’ lives. To achieve its goal, Molecular is:

 

Implementing development strategies that capitalize on the differentiated pharmacological features of Molecular’s ETB technology and the validated nature of the targets it has chosen. Molecular believes the target specificity of its ETBs, their ability to self-internalize, their potent and differentiated mechanism of cell kill and their safety profiles will provide opportunities for the clinical development of these agents to address multiple cancer types. For example, Molecular is developing MT-6402 as a single agent therapy for relapsed and refractory solid tumors that express PD-L1 on the tumor or on immune cells in the TME. The targeting of this checkpoint has been demonstrated to confer clinical benefit in a wide variety of settings.  MT-6402’s differentiated mechanism of action, safety, and pharmacological profile targeting PD-L1 may provide an advantage over other modalities.  Given the unique mechanism of direct cell kill via ribosome inactivation and by sensitizing cytotoxic T lymphocytes to these PD-L1 cells by forcing expression of the pp65 CMV antigen, Molecular believes there is the potential for combination drug strategies, particularly with PD-1 inhibitors.  Further, based on the safety data seen to date with ETB’s, Molecular believes the different PK profiles of its ETBs may allow them to be more appropriate therapies for certain patient populations, particularly those who are unable to tolerate intensive chemotherapy as primary therapy.  Molecular believes all of these attributes will enable Molecular to pursue development strategies not feasible with other therapeutic approaches.

6


 

Efficiently building a broad pipeline of ETB therapeutics targeting defined patient populations through the use of Molecular’s research and design platform. Molecular believes its research and design platform is an efficient and productive discovery and development engine that can identify new targets across multiple cell types with the aim of creating a portfolio of novel, cell targeting ETBs. By selecting tumor targets best suited to ETB biology, Molecular can prioritize indications, including potential niche indications and/or niche subsets of indications. Molecular believes this will enable the identification of patients who may be more likely to respond to its therapies, allowing Molecular to potentially shorten development timelines and lower associated costs.

 

Maximizing the value of Molecular’s early pipeline through the continual improvement of Molecular’s technology. Since its founding, Molecular has made substantial progress in improving its ETB technology. Molecular has created a proprietary SLTA that has been heavily modified to dramatically reduce innate and adaptive immunogenicity and is utilized in Molecular’s clinical-stage ETBs. In addition, new approaches have been developed for the genetic fusion of the SLTA and antibody domain that enhance the potency of Molecular’s ETBs. Molecular has also developed ETBs like MT-6402 that have the ability to deliver foreign class I antigens into target cells for expression in complex with MHC class I molecules on the target cell’s surface. Molecular has shown preclinically that certain foreign antigens can be functionally recognized by endogenous human T-cells thereby enabling a potentially new and differentiated approach to immuno-oncology.

 

Building a fully integrated discovery-to-commercial biopharmaceutical company focused on compounds with unique and differentiated biology. Molecular believes that differentiated mechanisms of action are crucial for improving outcomes in cancer and other serious diseases. Molecular has created a robust translational platform that Molecular believes allows it to create a sustainable, novel pipeline of ETBs with differentiated mechanisms of tumor destruction, relatively predictable PK, and scalable and economical manufacturing. If MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 or any future drug candidates Molecular may develop are approved, Molecular will consider commercializing them itself in select markets.

Molecular’s Engineered Toxin Body (ETB) Platform Technology

Although chemotherapy remains the cornerstone of treatment for most cancers, the advent of new and targeted classes of therapies has dramatically changed outcomes in the treatment of disease. The advent of monoclonal antibodies, signal transduction inhibitors and, most recently, immune-oncologics have provided substantial clinical benefit in both the relapsed and refractory setting and, when used in combinations, in earlier lines of therapy. Molecular believes that ETBs represent a new class of targeted agents with differentiated biology that are well-positioned to improve outcomes in cancer patients.

ETBs appear to induce the internalization of non- or poorly-internalizing targets, have a differentiated mechanism of action (enzymatic and irreversible ribosome inactivation), have relatively predictable PK profiles and can be readily manufactured to cGMP standards. From a library of antibody targeting domains, Molecular’s research and design platform allows for the comprehensive in vitro selection of a lead ETB to a given target based on affinity and specificity, potency and expression. Lead selection is confirmed through the use of animal models to verify PK, absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME), and potency. ETBs possess potent direct cell killing effects via a differentiated mechanism of action, can force receptor internalization, and can be used to deliver payloads such as foreign class I antigen to the cytosol.

In all clinical-stage ETBs, Molecular utilizes a highly potent and proprietarily de-immunized SLTA scaffold that elicits significantly reduced innate and adaptive immunogenic responses as demonstrated in preclinical and animal studies. For indications where tumors have been demonstrated to be sensitive to T-cell engagement, Molecular has developed ETBs that deliver foreign class I viral antigens for presentation on the surface of the tumor: Molecular’s Antigen Seeding Technology (AST), a differentiated approach to immune-oncology. Molecular has integrated its AST into the PD-L1 targeting ETB, MT-6402, and continues to build out animal models to further validate and screen additional ETB candidates to support this approach.

Molecular believes that its proprietary ETB technology platform represents a differentiated approach in oncology. ETBs possess the targeting specificity of antibody-based therapeutic approaches but deliver highly potent payloads that disrupt protein synthesis, a fundamental function of a cancer cell, in a manner not subject to traditional chemotherapy resistance mechanisms or target internalization limitations, as with ADCs. Molecular is also seeking to expand the universe of potential targets subject to pharmaceutical treatments by exploiting the ETB’s ability to force internalization against receptors that do not normally internalize.

Novel mechanisms of action are needed in oncology treatment, and Molecular believes that its ETB platform technology’s differentiated mechanisms of action may offer unique benefits over existing treatment modalities.

7


ETB Product Pipeline

Molecular is developing a pipeline of ETBs that Molecular believes will have the ability to provide a meaningful and long-lasting benefit to cancer patients. Molecular plans to develop each of these as single agents and/or in combination with other therapies, as applicable. The following table depicts Molecular’s current pipeline:

MT-6402 – ETB Targeting PD-L1

Overview

PD-L1 is a focal point for immuno-oncology checkpoint antibodies; its expression on tumors is known to downregulate CD8 T-cell activity against tumor cells. In Molecular’s ETB program targeting the PD-L1 receptor, Molecular has focused on targeting PD-L1 with a direct cell kill approach rather than using it to induce an immune response. In addition, Molecular has integrated its Antigen Seeding Technology to the PD-L1 targeting ETB in order to induce targeted tumors to express CMV antigen in complex with MHC-I on the tumor cell surface thereby redirecting an endogenous CMV-specific T-cell response to the tumor.  Molecular believes that targeting PD-L1 expressing tumors via this dual mechanism of ribosome-inactivation and redirected immunity via CMV-specific T-cell response represents a novel mechanism of action against PD-L1 expressing tumors.

MT-6402 is an ETB consisting of a single chain variable fragment (scFv) with affinity for PD-L1, fused to the enzymatically active de-immunized Shiga-like toxin-A subunit (SLTA) and a class I antigen derived from the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) pp65 protein. MT-6402 was designed to induce potent anti-tumor effects via PD-L1 targeting through multiple mechanisms that may overcome the limitations of approved checkpoint inhibitors. In preclinical studies, MT-6402 specifically binds and kills both tumor and immune PD-L1 expressing cells in a manner consistent with SLTA mediated cellular cytotoxicity through ribosomal inactivation, independent of checkpoint inhibition. Additionally, MT-6402 alters the immunophenotype of targeted cells by delivering foreign class I antigen from CMV for presentation in complex with MHC class I, which may provoke a CMV-specific immune response against the targeted cells. Third, MT-6402 may rehabilitate the TME and allow for immune recognition of tumors by destroying PD-L1-expressing immune cells in the TME through ribosomal inactivation.

Molecular filed an IND for MT-6402 in December 2020 and the IND was accepted in January 2021. A Phase 1 study of MT-6402 in PD-1/PD-L1 antibody relapsed/refractory patients began in July 2021. The Phase 1 study for MT-6402 is a multi-center, open-label, dose escalation and dose expansion trial in the United States and had a starting dose of 16.0 μg/kg. Patients with confirmed PD-L1 expressing tumors or confirmed PD-L1 expression in the TME are eligible for enrollment. Following a review of the safety data from cohort 2 (24.0 μg/kg), patient enrollment in cohort 3 initiated at a dose of 32.0 μg/kg.   Following determination of the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), expansion cohorts are planned to evaluate MT-6402 as a monotherapy in tumor-specific and PD-L1 positive basket tumor cohorts. 

As of March 2022, 12 patients have been treated across two dose escalation cohorts of 16.0 μg/kg and 24.0 μg/kg in the MT-6402 study of patients with relapsed/refractory tumors that express PD-L1.  Six patients remain on study with five patients awaiting their first efficacy assessment. Regarding safety, no dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) were observed in the six patients treated in the first cohort of 16.0 μg/kg and one DLT of grade 3 dermatitis was observed in one patient in the second cohort at 24.0 μg/kg.  This patient had development of a grade 3 dermatitis of two days duration which began rapidly, 6 days

8


after cycle 1, dose 1.  The patient was treated with systemic steroids and treatment with MT-6402 was held until cycle 2, dose 1, whereupon the patient was re-challenged at the same dose without development of recurrent dermatitis.  Molecular continues to observe pharmacodynamic (PD) effects including monocyte depletion and T cell activation, potentially in a dose-dependent manner.  Regarding efficacy, one patient in cohort 1 with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had evaluable-only multiple sites of bone disease that appeared to have resolved on bone scan with only one remaining site which showed decreased uptake. This patient remained on MT-6402 up to cycle 8 when increased uptake was noted on bone scan and MT-6402 treatment was discontinued.  

In November 2021, MT-6402 was granted Fast Track Designation for the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC expressing PD-L1. For MT-6402, dose escalation in the Phase 1 study continues as planned. 

 

MT-5111—ETB Targeting HER2

Overview

Molecular has launched additional programs against the key target HER2, which was selected because of its validated role in breast and gastric cancer. Targeting HER2 with different modalities (antibody, small molecule and ADC) has shown clinical benefit, and the target is known to persist after a given modality has failed. The clinical results seen with Kadcyla and Enhertu (ADCs to HER2) strongly suggest that a direct cell kill approach to HER2 can provide significant benefit and be well tolerated in patients. Molecular believes that attacking HER2-expressing tumor cells with a differentiated mechanism of destruction may provide meaningful clinical benefits, even in patients whose disease has progressed on other HER2-targeted modalities. Molecular’s lead HER2 ETB, MT-5111, has shown potent picomolar activity in Kadcyla insensitive HER2+ cell lines and has shown additive or synergistic benefit with Kadcyla in vitro in HER2+ cell lines.

Molecular filed an IND for MT-5111, its ETB targeting HER2, in March 2019 and the IND was accepted in April 2019. Molecular began dosing study subjects in a Phase I study of MT-5111 for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers in the fourth quarter of 2019. The ongoing Phase I study has two parts: Part 1 is dose escalation and Part 2 is dose expansion, which will begin when a MTD is established in Part 1. Molecular most recently provided an update on this study in January 2022. All of the following information on the Phase I study for MT-5111 was as of that update. 30 patients, with a median of 4 prior lines of therapy and a median of 2 prior HER2-targeting regimens, have been treated with MT-5111; patients with breast cancer received a median of 5.5 prior lines of therapy, 4 of which contained HER2- targeting agents (metastatic breast cancer n=11, metastatic biliary tract carcinoma n=6, metastatic gastric/gastroesophageal n=4, metastatic colorectal cancer n=3, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer n=3, metastatic pancreatic cancer n=2, and metastatic uterine cancer n=1). Eight cohorts (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.5, 6.75, 10.0, and 13.0 μg/kg/week) have been successfully completed and enrollment for the ninth cohort (17.0 μg/kg) has been initiated. Pharmacokinetic (PK) data confirm the predicted human PK based on non-human primate studies. PK modeling has suggested that doses equal to or greater than 10.0 μg/kg are likely needed for efficacy. To date, Molecular has not observed any cases of capillary leak syndrome (CLS) (any grade) or significant cardiotoxicity in human subjects who have been dosed with MT-5111.

As of Molecular’s January 2022 update, two patients experienced grade 1 troponin elevations without any corresponding symptoms, EKG changes, deterioration in cardiac function on echocardiogram, or other clinical manifestations of cardiac toxicity.  No grade 4 or 5 AEs were reported.  No DLTs were observed. One patient with metastatic breast cancer in cohort 2 (1.0 µg/kg) remained on treatment for 10 cycles with stable disease; although the patient had unmeasurable disease by RECIST criteria, the patient had three sub-centimeter hepatic lesions that disappeared at the end of cycle 8 before the patient discontinued at cycle 10. This patient had received three prior HER-2 targeting regimens which initially included pertuzumab plus trastuzumab followed by trastuzumab and TDM1 as monotherapies. The HER2-positive breast cancer expansion cohort initiated in November 2021 at a dose of 10.0 μg/kg. Dose escalation will continue to determine the MTD, while the breast cancer expansion cohort collects efficacy and safety data.

Molecular is encouraged by the safety profile to date in these heavily pretreated subjects and believes the observed PK in patients suggests potentially clinically active dose levels.

MT-0169—ETB Targeting CD38

Overview

CD38 is a single-chain type II transmembrane glycoprotein that is expressed by a variety of hematologic cells in an activation- and differentiation-dependent manner. Its cellular functions are involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and survival. CD38 is expressed at high rates on patient myeloma samples, making it an important marker and potential target in the development of targeted biologics.

Daratumumab (trade name Darzalex®), an anti-cancer drug originally developed by Genmab, received FDA approval for the treatment of multiple myeloma in 2015. Daratumumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds CD38 on multiple myeloma cells and induces cell death indirectly. Approval was supported by a Phase II pivotal trial in fourth line myeloma patients and subsequent randomized studies in earlier lines of myeloma therapy. A careful analysis of this study’s results reveals that CD38 expression persists after patients have progressed on daratumumab and that the myeloma cells of patients who relapsed after daratumumab treatment showed an increase in cell surface receptors (CD55 and CD59) that inhibit

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daratumumab’s ability to recruit an immune response to the myeloma cells (Nijhof et al., 2016). Persistence of a surface marker that is central to disease strongly suggests that a different modality targeting that surface marker and that is not cross-resistant to antibody therapy may provide substantial clinical benefit in myeloma.

Despite cell specific expression, an ADC approach to CD38 has not been developed, likely because CD38 does not efficiently internalize, thereby limiting the amount of drug that could be delivered to myeloma cells. Because SLTA can force its own internalization and enzymatically inhibit ribosome function thereby killing the cell, Molecular theorized that the engineering of a potent and specific ETB targeted to CD38 could overcome the lack of internalization seen with CD38.

Molecular was developing MT-4019, an ETB that specifically targets CD38. Upon signing the Development Collaboration and Exclusive License Agreement, dated September 18, 2018, as amended (the “Collaboration Agreement”) with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) in September 2018, TAK-169, now known as MT-0169, an ETB that was jointly discovered with Takeda, became the lead CD38 ETB. The compound was evaluated in many of the same preclinical assays as daratumumab. The mechanism of action of MT-0169 is wholly different than daratumumab, and Molecular believes that MT-0169 may be active in CD38+ myeloma patients that have failed treatment with an anti-CD38 antibody.

The proposed development plan for MT-0169 is modeled on that of daratumumab. After a robust response rate in its Phase I trial, daratumumab was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation, and its expanded Phase II trial (N=106) was considered sufficient for registration. If similar efficacy is seen with MT-0169, Molecular believes it may be possible to pursue a similar accelerated approval strategy via a Phase II clinical trial.    

In 2019, Molecular and its partner Takeda presented preclinical data on MT-0169 at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, the IND for MT-0169 was accepted by the FDA in June 2019, and Takeda initiated a Phase 1 study in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma in the fourth quarter of 2019. In December 2019, the FDA granted Orphan Drug Designation to MT-0169 for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Phase I dosing for MT-0169 began in the first quarter of 2020, was paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was re-initiated during the fourth quarter of 2020.

In April 2021, Molecular received a notice of termination from Takeda for the Collaboration Agreement. Following receipt of the termination notice from Takeda, Molecular notified Takeda of its intent to assume full rights to MT-0169, by entering into an agreement for such rights pursuant to the termination provisions of the Collaboration Agreement. In August 2021, Molecular assumed full rights to MT-0169, including full control of MT-0169 clinical development, per the terms of the terminated Collaboration Agreement. Following the transfer of the full MT-0169 rights to Molecular, Molecular will owe low-single digit royalties on future net sales of MT-0169 to Takeda as well as to certain third-party licensors. Molecular will also owe certain third-party licensors potential aggregate clinical and regulatory milestone payments of up to $22.25 million.

Upon approval of a revised protocol, Molecular will continue to conduct the ongoing Phase 1 study for MT-0169 in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma with dose escalation planned through six dose cohorts, in which the first patient was dosed in February 2020. Patient enrollment in the 50 μg/kg cohort in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma originally resumed following the transfer of the IND to Molecular in August 2021. As of Molecular’s November 2021 update, five multiple myeloma patients have been treated to date, with CD38+ NHL patients to be dosed in addition to myeloma patients as part of a protocol amendment. Two cardiac adverse events were observed that meet criteria for DLTs. Both evaluations were triggered by asymptomatic elevations in high-sensitivity troponin values. As previously disclosed, the first DLT was an asymptomatic, rapidly reversible episode of myocarditis that did not require treatment. The second DLT was an asymptomatic, reversible non-ischemic cardiomyopathy. Molecular believes both DLTs may be due to activity against low CD38-expressing cells in the cardiac endothelium. Molecular has not seen evidence of any clinically relevant cardiac adverse event such as myocarditis or cardiomyopathy in any other ETB program (MT-3724, MT-6402, MT-5111) at any dose.

A more rapid and complete elimination of CD38+ NK cells (a known PD marker for CD38-targeting therapeutics) was observed in the first five patients than had been predicted from in vitro and in vivo models, suggesting that the starting dose of 50 mcg/kg is higher than required.

A revised protocol was submitted to explore a lower dose of MT-0169 to reduce the risk of adverse events observed at the initial dose and to enable patients to continue MT-0169 therapy for a longer duration that may drive tumor benefit.

We expect to provide periodic updates on MT-6402, MT-5111, and MT-0169 throughout 2022.

ETB Pipeline

We continue to advance our pipeline of next-generation ETBs targeting CTLA-4, TIGIT, TROP2, BCMA, SLAMF-7, and CD45.  

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ETB Research & Development Partnerships

Previous Agreements

On September 18, 2018, Molecular entered into a Development Collaboration and Exclusive License Agreement, as amended (the “Takeda Development and License Agreement”) with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) for the development and commercialization of products incorporating or comprised of one or more CD38 SLT-A fusion proteins (“Licensed Products”) for the treatment of patients with diseases such as multiple myeloma.

In April 2021, Molecular received a notice of termination from Takeda for the Takeda Development and License Agreement. Following receipt of the termination notice from Takeda, Molecular notified Takeda of its intent to assume full rights to MT-0169, a second-generation ETB targeting CD38, by entering into an agreement for such rights pursuant to the termination provisions of the Takeda Development and License Agreement. The termination of the Takeda Development and License Agreement was effective in August 2021. As of the same date, Molecular assumed full rights to MT-0169, including full control of MT-0169 clinical development, per the terms of the terminated Takeda Development and License Agreement. Following the transfer of the full MT-0169 rights to Molecular, Molecular will owe low-single digit royalties on future net sales of MT-0169 to Takeda as well as to certain third-party licensors. Molecular will also owe certain third-party licensors potential aggregate clinical and regulatory milestone payments of up to $22.25 million.

On November 18, 2019, Molecular entered into a Master Collaboration Agreement (“Vertex Collaboration Agreement”) with Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (“Vertex”), in which the parties agreed to enter into a strategic research collaboration to leverage Molecular’s ETB technology platform to discover and develop novel targeted biologic therapies for applications outside of oncology. In October 2021, Molecular received a notice of termination from Vertex for the Vertex Collaboration Agreement. The termination of the Vertex Collaboration Agreement was effective October 29, 2021. There are no ongoing activities or economic obligations in connection with the Vertex Collaboration Agreement.

In June 2017, Molecular entered into a Multi-Target Collaboration and License Agreement with Takeda (the “Takeda Multi-Target Agreement”), pursuant to which Molecular agreed to collaborate with Takeda to identify, generate and evaluate ETBs, against certain targets designated by Takeda. In March 2022, following Molecular’s request to bring the agreement to an end, Molecular and Takeda mutually agreed to terminate the Takeda Multi-Target Agreement. As a result of the termination, Molecular regained full rights to pursue the targets worked on under the Takeda Multi-Target Agreement. There are no ongoing activities or economic obligations in connection with the Takeda Multi-Target Agreement.

 

Bristol Myers Squibb Company

On February 10, 2021, Molecular entered into a Collaboration Agreement (the “BMS Collaboration Agreement”) with Bristol Myers Squibb Company (“Bristol Myers Squibb”), pursuant to which the parties agreed to enter into a strategic research collaboration to leverage the Company’s ETB technology platform to discover and develop novel products containing ETBs directed to multiple targets.

Pursuant to the terms of the BMS Collaboration Agreement, Molecular granted Bristol Myers Squibb a series of exclusive options to obtain one or more exclusive licenses under Molecular’s intellectual property to exploit products containing ETBs directed against certain targets designated by Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pursuant to the BMS Collaboration Agreement, Bristol Myers Squibb paid Molecular an upfront payment of $70 million. In addition to the upfront payment, Molecular may receive near term and development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $874.5 million. Molecular will also be eligible to receive up to an additional $450 million in payments upon the achievement of certain sales milestones, and subject to certain reductions, tiered royalties ranging from mid-single digits up to mid-teens as percentages of calendar year net sales, if any, on any licensed product.

Molecular will be responsible for conducting the research activities through the designation, if any, of one or more development candidates. Upon the exercise of its option for a development candidate, Bristol Myers Squibb will be responsible for all development, manufacturing, regulatory and commercialization activities with respect to that development candidate, subject to the terms and conditions of the BMS Collaboration Agreement.

Unless earlier terminated, the BMS Collaboration Agreement will expire (i) on a country-by-country basis and licensed product-by-licensed product basis, on the date of expiration of the royalty payment obligations under the BMS Collaboration Agreement with respect to such licensed product in such country and (ii) in its entirety upon the earlier of (a) the expiration of the royalty payment obligations under the BMS Collaboration Agreement with respect to all licensed products in all countries or (b) upon Bristol Myers Squibb’s decision not to exercise any option on or prior to the applicable option deadlines. Bristol Myers Squibb has the right to terminate the BMS Collaboration Agreement for convenience upon prior written notice to Molecular. Either party has the right to terminate the BMS Collaboration Agreement (a) for the insolvency of the other party or (b) subject to specified cure periods, in the event of the other party’s uncured material breach. Molecular has the right upon prior written notice to terminate the BMS Collaboration Agreement in the event that Bristol Myers Squibb or any of its affiliates asserts a challenge against Molecular’s patents.

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Other Research & Development Collaborations

Henry M. Jackson Foundation

In July 2014, Molecular entered into a non-exclusive license agreement with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for certain biological materials for use in conjunction with the development of Molecular’s then lead clinical stage ETB MT-3724. Under the terms of the agreement, Molecular is required to pay the Henry M. Jackson Foundation aggregate payments totaling $110,000 with respect to this license, upon completion of certain clinical milestones. Molecular may terminate this agreement at any time with 45 days prior written notice.

CPRIT Grant

On September 18, 2018, Molecular entered into a Cancer Research Grant Contract (the “CD38 CPRIT Agreement”) with the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which was extended in October 2021, in connection with a grant of approximately $15.2 million awarded by CPRIT to Molecular in November 2016 to fund research of a cancer therapy involving an ETB that is targeting CD38 (the “Award”). Pursuant to the CD38 CPRIT Agreement, Molecular may also use such funds to develop a replacement CD38 targeting ETB, with or without a partner. The Award is contingent upon funds being available during the term of the CD38 CPRIT Agreement and subject to CPRIT’s ability to perform its obligations under the CD38 CPRIT Agreement as well as Molecular’s progress towards achievement of specified milestones, among other contractual requirements. In December 2011, Private Molecular (defined below) was awarded a $10.6 million product development grant from CPRIT for its CD20-targeting ETB MT-3724. This product development grant ended in November 2019.

Subject to the terms of the CD38 CPRIT Agreement, full ownership of any CPRIT funded technology and CPRIT funded intellectual property rights developed pursuant to the CD38 CPRIT Agreement will be retained by Molecular, its Collaborators (as defined in the CD38 CPRIT Agreement) and, to the extent applicable, any participating third party (the “Project Results”). With respect to any Project Results, Molecular agreed to grant to CPRIT a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide license, solely for academic, research and other non-commercial purposes, under the Project Results and to exploit any necessary additional intellectual property rights, subject to certain exclusions.

Molecular will pay to CPRIT, during the term of the CD38 CPRIT Agreement, certain payments equal to a percentage of revenue ranging from the low- to mid-single digits. These payments will continue up to and until CPRIT receives an aggregate amount of 400% of the sum of all monies paid to it by CPRIT under the CD38 CPRIT Agreement. If Molecular is required to obtain a license from a third party to sell any such product, the revenue sharing percentages may be reduced. In addition, once Molecular pays CPRIT 400% of the monies it has received under the CD38 CPRIT Agreement, Molecular will continue to pay CPRIT a revenue-sharing percentage of 0.5%.

The CD38 CPRIT Agreement will terminate, with certain obligations extending beyond termination, on the earlier of (a) May 31, 2022 or (b) the occurrence of any of the following events: (i) by mutual written consent of the parties, (ii) by CPRIT for an Event of Default (as defined in the CD38 CPRIT Agreement) by Molecular, (iii) by CPRIT if allocated funds should become legally unavailable during the term of the CD38 CPRIT Agreement and CPRIT is unable to obtain additional funds or (iv) by Molecular for convenience. CPRIT may approve a no cost extension for the CD38 CPRIT Agreement for a period not to exceed six months after the termination date if additional time is required to ensure adequate completion of the approved project, subject to the terms and conditions of the CD38 CPRIT Agreement.

Manufacturing

Molecular has built a cGMP manufacturing facility located in Austin, TX to supply future clinical trial materials for internal and partnered ETB programs. Molecular relies in part on third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to manufacture and supply Molecular with cGMP drug substance and drug product materials to support Molecular’s clinical trials. The manufacturing processes for MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and the preclinical ETB candidates have been developed by Molecular’s biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing staff. Once a process is developed and defined for an ETB, it may be transferred to CMOs to scale-up and optimize for manufacturing that conforms to cGMP standards.

Molecular has established well-defined, cost efficient manufacturing under cGMP regulations, including bioanalytical, quality control and quality assurance, logistics, distribution and supply chain management. After manufacturing, Molecular’s ETB candidates are tested and released by Molecular’s analytical and quality systems staff in conjunction with some select contract research organizations, or CROs. The quality control organization performs a series of release assays designed to ensure that the product meets all applicable specifications. Molecular’s quality assurance staff also reviews manufacturing and quality control records prior to batch release in an effort to assure conformance with cGMP as mandated by the FDA and foreign regulatory agencies.

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Molecular’s manufacturing staff is trained and routinely evaluated for conformance to rigorous manufacturing procedures and quality standards. This oversight is intended to ensure compliance with FDA and foreign regulations and to provide consistent ETB output. Molecular’s quality control and quality assurance staff are similarly trained and evaluated as part of Molecular’s effort to ensure consistency in the testing and release of the product, as well as consistency in materials, equipment and facilities.

For the purposes of internal research and support for Molecular’s ongoing collaborations, Molecular has small scale manufacturing capabilities that are sufficient to manufacture drug materials for preclinical and early phase clinical research.

As part of its manufacturing process, Molecular endeavors to utilize cGMP grade materials and reagents, if commercially available; however, certain critical materials and reagents are currently qualified for research use only. Additionally, Molecular obtains key components required for the manufacture of its investigational products from third-party manufacturers and suppliers, which include, in some instances, sole source manufacturers and suppliers. Molecular does not currently have long-term commitments or supply agreements in place to obtain certain key components used in the manufacture of its drug candidates.

Intellectual Property Portfolio

Molecular seeks to protect proprietary rights in its platform technologies through a combination of patents and patent applications, trade secrets and know-how. Molecular’s platform technologies include ETBs, in which a Shiga toxin A subunit construct is associated, directly or indirectly, to immunoglobulin domains directed to the molecular target, resulting in ETBs for treating cancer, killing cancer cells and selectively delivering payload molecules into target cells. While each ETB targets at least one specific molecular target, many of Molecular’s platform technologies are target agnostic. Molecular’s platform technologies include the Shiga toxin components of ETBs, including improved Shiga toxin A subunit constructs engineered to have reduced innate and adaptive immunogenicity, including by disrupting of B-cell epitopes and T-cell epitopes.

Molecular has 12 patent families that cover its proprietary platform technologies, together covering over 284 patents and pending U.S. and foreign applications worldwide, including over 46 granted U.S. and foreign patents and over 91 pending patent applications in the U.S., Europe and in thirteen other jurisdictions outside of the U.S. and Europe (such as, e.g., Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Israel, India, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea).  Patents have been granted from eight of these patent families, including in Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the U.S.

Molecular has 13 patent families covering ETBs in its ETB pipeline, including ETBs which target PD-L1, HER2, and CD38.  These 13 patent families include over 100 patents and pending U.S and foreign applications worldwide, including over 30 granted U.S. and foreign patents and over 45 pending patent applications in the U.S., Europe, and in thirteen other jurisdictions outside of the U.S. and Europe (such as, e.g., Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Israel, India, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea).  Patents have been granted from six of these patent families, including in Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the U.S.  In certain circumstances, Molecular’s patents may be eligible for adjustment of patent term due to patent office delay, or extension of patent term to compensate for loss of patent term during drug development and regulatory review. The expected expiration dates referenced above do not include these adjustments or extensions.

As of December 31, 2021, Molecular owned 19 U.S. and foreign patents relating to hypoxia-activated prodrugs. These U.S. and foreign patents are expected to expire from 2025 to 2031 (in each case, if all relevant maintenance fees or annuities are paid, and without accounting for any patent term extension).

 

Impact of COVID-19

In March 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 caused by a novel strain of the coronavirus was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. It has impacted, and is continuing to impact, all aspects of society, including the operation of the healthcare system and other business and economic activity worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic, and other similar outbreaks of contagious diseases, may adversely impact Molecular’s business, financial condition, and results of operations. For example, Molecular and the third-party clinical trial sites or investigators involved in its current and future clinical trials may experience significant interruptions or delays as a result of this pandemic, and these could impact the conduct of Molecular’s clinical trials and its ability to complete them in a timely manner or at all, which in turn could delay and/or negatively impact the regulatory review and approval of Molecular’s drug or biologic candidates.

Molecular is carefully and continually evaluating the potential individual patient risk associated with continuing to enroll in its existing clinical studies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with FDA and foreign regulatory authorities’ recommendations for clinical trials. Molecular’s Phase 1 studies for MT-6402 and MT-5111 are open and able to treat enrolled subjects and screen new subjects. A revised protocol was submitted to explore a lower dose of MT-0169 to reduce the risk of adverse events observed at the initial dose and to enable patients to continue MT-0169 therapy for a longer duration that may drive tumor benefit.

The decision to continue Molecular’s ongoing studies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was predicated on the treating investigator determining that the potential benefit to the patient of investigational therapy outweighs the potential risk

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of contracting COVID-19 as the subjects enrolled in Molecular’s trials had relapsed or refractory incurable malignancies with few or no standard-of-care therapeutic options and limited life expectancy.

Overall, COVID-19 led to a significant slowdown in the pace of site initiations and patient enrollment into Molecular’s clinical trials. The degree of disruption was, and continues to be, variable by geography and individual clinical site. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant slowdown in the pace of site initiations and patient enrollment across the MT-0169 program, which had a temporary pause in the activation of new study sites and new patient enrollment (along with most of Takeda’s other early-stage studies) due to COVID-19 and was reinitiated in the fourth quarter of 2020. To date, screening and enrollment for the MT-5111 Phase I study, which remained open throughout the pandemic, has been less adversely affected than the MT-0169 study was during 2020 and throughout 2021, prior to the submission of a revised protocol. Molecular’s Phase 1 study of MT-6402 began in July 2021. To date, Molecular has been able to continue to work at our cGMP manufacturing facility and laboratories without significant interruption from COVID-19. As a result, manufacturing of product supply for clinical trials and research activities to support advancement of Molecular’s preclinical pipeline (including partnered programs) have not been adversely affected by COVID-19 to date.

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact Molecular’s business, financial condition and results of operations will depend on the manner in which this pandemic continues to evolve and future developments in response thereto, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence and which may include, among other things, the ultimate severity, intensity and duration of this pandemic (including any resurgences); impact of the new COVID-19 variants, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines; governmental, business or other actions that have been, or will be, taken in response to this pandemic, including restrictions on travel and mobility, business closures and imposition of social distancing measures; impacts of the pandemic on the vendors or distribution channels in Molecular’s or its partners’ supply chain and ability to continue to manufacture its investigational products; impacts of the pandemic on the conduct of Molecular’s clinical trials, including with respect to enrollment rates, availability of investigators and clinical trial sites or monitoring of data; and impacts of the pandemic on the regulatory agencies with which Molecular interacts in the development, review, approval and commercialization of its therapeutic products.

 

Government Regulation

Government authorities in the United States at the federal, state and local level and in other countries regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, marketing and export and import of drug and biological products, such as MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and any future drug candidates. Generally, before a new drug or biologic can be marketed, considerable data demonstrating its quality, safety and efficacy must be obtained, organized into a format specific for each regulatory authority, submitted for review and approved by the regulatory authority.

U.S. Drug Development

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, the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, and their implementing regulations. Both drugs and biologics also are subject to other federal, state and local statutes and regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with applicable federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or post-market may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include, among other actions, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, a clinical hold, untitled or warning letters, product recalls or market withdrawals, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement and civil or criminal penalties. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on Molecular.

MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and any ETB drug candidates must be approved by the FDA through either a New Drug Application, or NDA, or Biologics License Application, BLA, before they may be legally marketed in the United States. The process generally involves the following:

 

Completion of extensive preclinical studies in accordance with applicable regulations, including studies conducted in accordance with good laboratory practice, or GLP, requirements;

 

Submission to the FDA of an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;

 

Approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, or ethics committee covering each clinical trial site before a trial may be initiated at that site;

 

Performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials in accordance with applicable IND regulations, good clinical practice requirements, or GCP, and other clinical trial-related requirements to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product for each proposed indication;

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Submission to the FDA of an NDA or BLA for marketing approval, including payment of application user fees;

 

A determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of an NDA or BLA that the NDA or BLA is sufficiently complete to permit a substantial review, in which case the NDA or BLA is filed;

 

Satisfactory completion of a FDA pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the drug or biologic will be produced to assess compliance with cGMP requirements to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug or biologic’s identity, strength, quality and purity;

 

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

 

FDA review and approval of the NDA or BLA, including consideration of the views of an FDA advisory committee, if one was involved, prior to any commercial marketing or sale of the drug or biologic in the United States.

The preclinical testing, clinical trials and the approval process requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and Molecular cannot be certain that any approvals for MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and any future drug candidates will be granted on a timely basis, or at all. The data required to support an NDA or BLA are generated in two distinct developmental stages: preclinical and clinical. The preclinical developmental stage generally involves laboratory evaluations of drug chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as studies to evaluate the molecule’s toxicity in animals, which support subsequent clinical testing. The sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and a proposed clinical protocol, to the FDA as part of the IND. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational new drug to humans and must become effective before human clinical trials may begin.

The clinical stage of development involves the administration of the investigational product to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the trial sponsor’s control, in accordance with GCP requirements, 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 clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria and the parameters to be used to monitor subject safety and assess efficacy. Each protocol, and any subsequent amendments to the protocol, must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Furthermore, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB on behalf of each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted to ensure that the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the informed consent form that must be provided to each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative and must monitor the clinical trial until completed. There also are requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and completed clinical trial results to public registries. 

A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside of the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor may submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of an NDA or BLA. The FDA will accept a well-designed and well-conducted foreign clinical trial not conducted under an IND if the trial was conducted in accordance with GCP requirements, and the FDA is able to validate the data through an onsite inspection if deemed necessary.

 

Preclinical Studies and IND

Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of product chemistry and formulation, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess the potential for adverse events and in some cases to establish a rationale for the investigational product’s therapeutic use. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and plans for clinical trials, among other things, to the FDA as part of an IND. Some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of effects on reproduction and carcinogenicity, may continue after the IND is submitted. An IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time, the FDA raises concerns or questions and places the IND on clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. As a result, submission of an IND may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence. Clinical holds also may be imposed by the FDA at any time before or during studies due to safety concerns or non-compliance.

 

Clinical trials

Clinical trials generally are conducted in three sequential phases, known as Phase I, Phase II and Phase III, which may overlap.

 

Phase I clinical trials generally involve a small number of healthy volunteers or disease-affected patients who are initially exposed to a single dose and then multiple doses of the drug candidate. The primary purpose of these clinical trials is to assess the metabolism, pharmacologic action, side effect tolerability and safety of the drug.

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Phase II clinical trials involve studies in disease-affected patients to determine the dose required to produce the desired benefits. At the same time, safety and further pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic information is collected, possible adverse effects and safety risks are identified and a preliminary evaluation of efficacy is conducted.

 

Phase III clinical trials generally involve a large number of patients at multiple sites and are designed to provide the data necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product for its intended use, its safety in use and to establish the overall benefit/risk relationship of the product and provide an adequate basis for product approval. These trials may include comparisons with placebo and/or other comparator treatments. The duration of treatment is often extended to mimic the actual use of a product during marketing.

Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase IV clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase IV clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA or BLA.

Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials, among other information, must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and the investigators for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies suggesting a significant risk to humans exposed to the investigational drug, findings from animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human subjects and any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure.

In addition, an IRB on behalf of each institution that is participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the plan for any clinical trial before it commences at that institution, and the IRB must conduct a continuing review and reapprove the trial at least annually. The IRB must review and approve, among other things, the trial protocol and informed consent information to be provided to clinical trial subjects. An IRB must operate in compliance with FDA regulations. Information about certain clinical trials, including details of the protocol and eventually study results, also must be submitted within specific timeframes to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, for public dissemination on the ClinicalTrials.gov data registry. Information related to the investigational product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration of the clinical trial. Sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of their clinical trials after completion. Disclosure of the results of these trials can be delayed in some cases for up to two years after the date of completion of the trial. Competitors may use this publicly available information to gain knowledge regarding the progress of development programs. The NIH’s Final Rule on ClinicalTrials.gov registration and reporting requirements became effective in 2017, and the government has recently begun enforcing those requirements against non-compliant clinical trial sponsors.

Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, if at all. The FDA or the sponsor may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug or biologic has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients. 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 a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial.

During the development of a new drug or biologic, sponsors have the opportunity to meet with the FDA at certain points, including prior to submission of an IND, at the end of Phase II, and before submission of an NDA or BLA. These meetings can provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date, for the FDA to provide advice, and for the sponsor and the FDA to reach agreement on the next phase of development. Sponsors typically use the end of Phase II meeting to discuss their Phase II clinical results with the agency and to present their plans for the pivotal Phase III studies that they believe will support approval of the new drug or biologic.

Concurrent with clinical trials, companies may perform additional animal studies and develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug or biologic as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the drug candidate and, among other things, the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, potency and purity of the final drug or biologic. For biologics in particular, the PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products whose attributes cannot be precisely defined in order to help reduce the risk of the introduction of adventitious agents. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169 and any future drug candidates do not undergo unacceptable deterioration over their respective labeled shelf lives.

 

NDA/BLA Submission and FDA Review Process

Following completion of the clinical trials, all of the data are analyzed to assess whether the investigational product is safe and effective for its proposed indicated use or uses. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials are then submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA or BLA, along with proposed labeling, chemistry and manufacturing information to ensure product quality and other relevant data. In short, the NDA or BLA is a request for approval to market the drug or biologic for

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one or more specified indications and must contain proof of safety and efficacy for a drug or safety, purity, potency and efficacy for a biologic. Data may come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and efficacy of a product’s use or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators or company-sponsored expanded access programs. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product to the satisfaction of FDA. FDA approval of an NDA or BLA must be obtained before a drug or biologic may be marketed in the United States.

Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, each NDA or BLA must be accompanied by a user fee. FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. PDUFA also imposes annual prescription drug product program fees and an annual establishment fee on facilities used to manufacture prescription drugs and biologics. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business (fewer than 500 employees). Additionally, no user fees are assessed on NDAs or BLAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication. The fee for the submission of an NDA or BLA for which clinical data is required is substantial (for example, for fiscal year 2022 this application fee exceeds $3.1 million), and the annual program fee assessed on each sponsor of an approved NDA or BLA is currently more than $369,000 per program.   

The FDA reviews all submitted NDAs and BLAs to ensure that they are sufficiently complete for substantive review before it accepts them for filing. It may refuse to file the application and request additional information rather than accept an NDA or BLA for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. The FDA must make a decision on accepting an NDA or BLA for filing within 60 days of receipt and inform the sponsor by the 74th day after the FDA’s receipt of the submission whether an application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review of the NDA or BLA. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under PDUFA, the FDA has 10 months, from the filing date, in which to complete its review of a new molecular-entity (NME) NDA or an original BLA and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date of an NME NDA or original BLA designated for priority review. For non-NME NDAs, the review goals are ten months from the date of receipt for a standard application and six months from the date of receipt for a priority submission. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority NDAs or BLAs, and the review process is often extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. After the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review. As noted above, the FDA has agreed to specified performance goals in the review process of NDAs and BLAs. The review process may be extended by the FDA for three additional months to consider new information or in the case of a clarification provided by the applicant to address an outstanding deficiency identified by the FDA following the original submission.

Before approving an NDA or BLA, the FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facilities for the new product to determine whether the manufacturing processes and facilities comply with cGMP requirements. The FDA will not approve the product 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. The FDA also may audit data from clinical trials to ensure compliance with GCP requirements by each of the entities involved in the clinical trials, including clinical investigators and any third-party clinical research organizations (“CROs”).

Additionally, the FDA may refer applications for novel drug products or drug products which present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other independent scientific experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions, if any. The FDA is not bound by recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations when making final agency decisions on marketing approval. The FDA likely will reanalyze the clinical trial data, which could result in extensive discussions between the FDA and the applicant during the review process. The FDA also may require submission of a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or “REMS” plan, if it determines that a REMS is necessary to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks and to assure the safe use of the drug or biologic. The REMS plan could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries or other risk minimization tools. The FDA determines the requirement for a REMS, as well as the specific REMS provisions, on a case-by-case basis. If the FDA concludes a REMS plan is needed, the sponsor of the NDA or BLA must submit a proposed REMS. The FDA will not approve an NDA or BLA without a REMS, if one is required.

The approval process is lengthy and often difficult, and the FDA may refuse to approve an NDA or BLA if the applicable regulatory criteria are not satisfied or may require additional clinical or other data and information. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective for its intended use and whether its manufacturing is cGMP-compliant to assure and preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity. The FDA reviews a BLA to determine, among other things, whether the product is safe, pure and potent and the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packed or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, purity and potency. On the basis of the FDA’s evaluation of the NDA or BLA and accompanying information, including the results of the inspection of the manufacturing facilities, the FDA may issue either 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 will not be approved in its present form. A Complete Response Letter usually describes all of the specific deficiencies in the NDA or BLA and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. The Complete Response Letter may require additional clinical or other data, additional pivotal Phase III clinical trial(s) and/or

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other significant and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing. If a Complete Response Letter is issued, the applicant may choose either to resubmit the NDA or BLA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or to withdraw the application. If and when all deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmitted NDA or BLA, the FDA will issue an approval letter. The FDA has committed to reviewing such resubmissions in response to an issued Complete Response Letter in either two or six months, depending on the type of information included. Even if such data and information are submitted, however, the FDA may ultimately decide that the NDA or BLA does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. Data obtained from clinical trials are not always conclusive and the FDA may interpret data differently than the applicant interprets the same data. If a product receives regulatory approval from the FDA, the approval is limited to the conditions of use (e.g., patient population, indication) described in the application. Further, depending on the specific risk(s) to be addressed, the FDA may require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval trials, including Phase IV clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a product’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing trials or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

 

Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biological product intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or more than 200,000 individuals in the United States for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product available in the United States for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA or BLA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.

If a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years from the date of such approval, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity by means of greater effectiveness, greater safety or providing a major contribution to patient care or in instances of drug supply issues. Competitors, however, may receive approval of either a different product for the same indication or the same product for a different indication but that could be used off-label in the orphan indication.

In December 2019, the FDA granted Orphan Drug Designation to MT-0169 for the treatment of multiple myeloma, which is now held by Molecular following the transfer of full rights to develop MT-0169 to Molecular from Takeda.

 

Expedited Development and Review Programs

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

To be eligible for a fast-track designation, the FDA must determine, based on the request of a sponsor, that a product is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates the potential to address an unmet medical need by providing a therapy where none exists or a therapy that may be potentially superior to an existing therapy based on efficacy or safety factors. Fast track designation provides opportunities for more frequent interactions with the FDA review team to expedite development and review of the product. The FDA may also review sections of the NDA or BLA for a fast-track product on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor and the FDA agree on a schedule for the submission of the application sections, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the NDA or BLA. In addition, fast track designation may be withdrawn by the sponsor or rescinded by the FDA if the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process. The sponsor can request the FDA to designate the product for fast-track status any time before receiving NDA or BLA approval, but ideally no later than the pre-NDA or pre-BLA meeting.

In November 2021, the FDA granted fast-track designation to MT-6402 for the treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (“NSCLC”) expressing PD-L1.

The FDA also may designate a product for priority review if it is a drug or biologic that treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. When a marketing application is submitted with a request for priority review, the FDA determines on a case-by-case basis whether the proposed drug represents a significant improvement in treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease when compared with other available therapies.

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Significant improvement may be illustrated by evidence of increased effectiveness in the treatment of a condition, elimination or substantial reduction of a treatment-limiting drug reaction, documented enhancement of patient compliance that may lead to improvement in serious outcomes, or evidence of safety and effectiveness in a new subpopulation. A priority review designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications, and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on a marketing application from ten months to six months for an original BLA or an NME NDA from the date of filing (or from ten months to six months from the date of receipt for a non-NME NDA).

Additionally, a drug or biologic may be eligible for designation as a breakthrough therapy if the product is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over currently approved therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints. The FDA must take certain actions with respect to breakthrough therapies, such as holding timely meetings with and providing advice to the product sponsor, intended to expedite the development and review of an application for approval of a breakthrough therapy.

Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened. Fast track designation, priority review, and breakthrough therapy designation do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process.

 

Accelerated Approval Pathway

Products studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening illnesses and that provide meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing treatments may receive accelerated approval from the FDA and may be approved on the basis of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials establishing that the drug product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA may also grant accelerated approval for such a drug or biologic when the product has an effect on an intermediate clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality, or IMM, and that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments or on the basis of an effect on a clinical endpoint other than survival or irreversible morbidity. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biologic receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials to verify and describe the predicted effect on IMM or other clinical endpoint, and the product may be subject to expedited withdrawal procedures. If the FDA concludes that a drug or biologic shown to be effective can be safely used only if distribution or use is restricted, it will require such post-marketing restrictions, as it deems necessary to assure safe use of the product. Drugs and biologics granted accelerated approval must meet the same statutory standards for safety and effectiveness as those granted traditional approval.

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

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

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

 

Pediatric Information

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, amendments to the FDCA, an NDA or BLA or supplement to an NDA or BLA must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of pediatric data or full or partial waivers. The

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Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, enacted in 2012, made permanent PREA to require that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase II meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before the initiation of the Phase III or Phase II/III study. 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 and the sponsor must reach an 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.

 

Post-marketing Requirements

Following approval of a new product, the manufacturer and the approved product are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, monitoring and record-keeping activities, reporting of adverse experiences, and complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include restrictions on promoting approved drugs for unapproved uses or patient populations (known as “off-label use”). Although physicians may prescribe legally available drugs for off-label uses, manufacturers may not market or promote such uses. 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. Prescription drug promotional materials also must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use. Further, if there are any modifications to the drug or biologic, including changes in indications, labeling or manufacturing processes or facilities, the applicant may be required to submit and obtain FDA approval of a new NDA/BLA or NDA/BLA supplement, which may require the applicant to develop additional data or conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials.

The FDA may also place other conditions on approvals including the requirement for a REMS plan to assure the safe use of the product. A REMS plan 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. Any of these limitations on approval or marketing could restrict the commercial promotion, distribution, prescription or dispensing of products. Product approvals may be withdrawn for non-compliance with regulatory standards or if problems occur following initial marketing.

FDA regulations require that products be manufactured in specific approved facilities and in accordance with cGMPs. The cGMP regulations include requirements relating to organization of personnel, buildings and facilities, equipment, control of components and drug product containers and closures, production and process controls, packaging and labeling controls, holding and distribution, laboratory controls, records and reports and returned or salvaged products. The manufacturing facilities for our drug candidates must meet cGMP requirements and satisfy the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities before any product is approved and commercial products can be manufactured or distributed. Molecular relies in part, and expects to continue to rely in part, on third parties for the production of clinical and commercial quantities of Molecular’s products in accordance with cGMPs. These manufacturers must comply with cGMPs that require, among other things, quality control and quality assurance, the maintenance of records and documentation and the obligation to investigate and correct any deviations from cGMP. Manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs or biologics are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP requirements and other laws. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. The discovery of violative conditions, including failure to conform to cGMPs, could result in enforcement actions, and the discovery of problems with a product after approval may result in restrictions on a product, or on the manufacturer or holder of an approved NDA or BLA, including recall or product seizure.

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

 

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

 

fines, warning letters or other enforcement-related letters or clinical holds on post-approval clinical trials;

 

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

 

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

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties; and

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consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements, debarment, or exclusion from federal health care programs; or mandated modification of promotional materials and labeling and the issuance of corrective information.

In addition, the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical products is subject to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, or PDMA, which regulates the distribution of drugs and drug samples at the federal level and sets minimum standards for the registration and regulation of drug distributors by the states. Both the PDMA and state laws limit the distribution of prescription pharmaceutical product samples and impose requirements to ensure accountability in distribution. Most recently, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, or DSCSA, was enacted with the aim of building an electronic system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs distributed in the United States, including most biological products. The DSCSA mandates phased-in and resource-intensive obligations for pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale distributors and dispensers over a 10-year period that is expected to culminate in November 2023. From time to time, new legislation and regulations may be implemented that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the approval, manufacturing and marketing of products regulated by the FDA. It is impossible to predict whether further legislative or regulatory changes will be enacted, or FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations changed or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.

 

Companion Diagnostics and Complementary Diagnostics

Molecular believes that the success of Molecular’s therapeutic product candidates may depend, in part, on the development and commercialization of either a companion diagnostic or complementary diagnostic. Companion diagnostics and complementary diagnostics can identify patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular therapeutic product; identify patients likely to be at increased risk for serious side effects as a result of treatment with a particular therapeutic product; or monitor response to treatment with a particular therapeutic product for the purpose of adjusting treatment to achieve improved safety or effectiveness. Companion diagnostics and complementary diagnostics are regulated as medical devices by the FDA. The level of risk associated with a new diagnostic test combined with available controls to mitigate risk determines whether a companion diagnostic device requires Premarket Approval (PMA) from the FDA or if it can be cleared by the agency through the 510(k) premarket notification process based on a showing of substantial equivalence to a commercially available device. For a novel therapeutic product for which a companion diagnostic device is essential for the safe and effective use of the product, the companion diagnostic device should be developed and PMA-approved or 510(k)-cleared contemporaneously with the FDA’s approval of the therapeutic product. The use of the companion diagnostic device will be stipulated in the labeling of the therapeutic product.

 

U.S. Patent-term Extension

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA approval of MT-6402, MT-5111, MT-0169, and any future drug candidates, some of Molecular’s 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 to the FDCA. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit extension of the patent term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and FDA regulatory review process. Patent-term extension, however, cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date. The patent-term extension period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an IND and the submission date of an NDA or BLA plus the time between the submission date of an NDA or BLA 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 drug is eligible for the extension and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration. In the future, Molecular may apply for extension of patent term for Molecular’s 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 NDA or BLA. 

 

Marketing Exclusivity for Small-Molecule Drug Products

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 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 a RLD if “the rate and extent of absorption of the drug do not show a significant difference from the rate and extent of absorption of the listed drug.”

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Following approval of an ANDA, the FDA indicates whether the generic product is “therapeutically equivalent” to the RLD in its publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” also referred to as the “Orange Book.” In addition, by operation of certain state laws and numerous health insurance programs, the FDA’s designation of therapeutic equivalence often results in substitution of the generic drug without the knowledge or consent of either the prescribing physician or patient.

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 an approved method of using the product. Each of the patents listed by the NDA sponsor is published in the Orange Book. When an ANDA applicant submits its application to the FDA, the applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the RLD in the Orange Book, except for patents covering methods of use for which the ANDA applicant is not seeking approval. To the extent that a Section 505(b)(2) NDA applicant is relying on studies conducted for an already approved product, such an applicant also is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the Orange Book to the same extent that an ANDA applicant would. Section 505(b)(2) permits the filing of a new drug application, or NDA, where at least some of the information required for approval comes from studies that were not conducted by or for the applicant, and for which the applicant has not received a right of reference. Unlike the ANDA pathway used by developers of bioequivalent versions of innovator drugs, which does not allow applicants to submit new clinical data other than bioavailability or bioequivalence data, the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway does not preclude the possibility that a follow-on applicant would need to conduct additional clinical trials or nonclinical studies; for example, they may be seeking approval to market a previously approved drug for new indications or for a new patient population that would require new clinical data to demonstrate safety or effectiveness.

 

Specifically, an ANDA or 505(b)(2) applicant for a follow-on drug product 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 (other than method of use patents involving indications for which the ANDA applicant is not seeking approval).

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 owner and patent holders once the ANDA in question has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA owner 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.

In addition, under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, the FDA may not approve an ANDA until any applicable period of non-patent exclusivity for the RLD has expired. These market exclusivity provisions under the FDCA also can delay the submission or the approval of certain applications. The FDCA provides a five-year period of non-patent marketing exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to gain approval of an NDA for a drug containing a new chemical entity. A drug is a new chemical entity if the FDA has not previously approved any other new drug containing the same active moiety, which is the molecule or ion responsible for the action of the drug substance. During the exclusivity period, the FDA may not accept for review an ANDA or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company for another version of such drug where the applicant does not own or have a legal right of reference to all the data required for approval. However, an application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement.

The FDCA also provides three years of marketing exclusivity for a NDA, 505(b)(2) NDA or supplement to an existing NDA if new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability studies, that were conducted or sponsored by the applicant are deemed by the FDA to be essential to the approval of the application, for example, new indications, dosages or strengths of an existing drug. This three-year exclusivity covers only the conditions of use associated with the new clinical investigations and does not prohibit the FDA from approving ANDAs for drugs containing the original active agent. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of a traditional NDA filed under Section 505(b)(1) of the FDCA. However, an applicant submitting a traditional NDA would be required to either conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

 

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Reference Product Exclusivity for Biological Products

In March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in the United States and included the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or the BPCIA. The BPCIA amended the PHSA to create an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. This amendment to the PHSA, in part, attempts to minimize duplicative testing.

To date, the FDA has approved a number of biosimilars, including the first interchangeable biosimilars in 2021. The FDA has also issued several guidance documents outlining its approach to reviewing and approving biosimilars and interchangeable biosimilars.

Biosimilarity requires that the follow-on biological product be highly similar to the reference product notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components and that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the follow-on product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity and potency. The biosimilar applicant must demonstrate that its product is biosimilar based on data from (1) analytical studies showing that the biosimilar product is highly similar to the reference product; (2) animal studies (including toxicity); and (3) one or more clinical studies to demonstrate safety, purity and potency in one or more appropriate conditions of use for which the reference product is approved. In addition, the applicant must show that the biosimilar and reference products have the same mechanism of action for the conditions of use on the label, route of administration, dosage and strength, and the production facility must meet standards designed to assure product safety, purity and potency. Interchangeability requires that a biological product be biosimilar to the reference product and that the product can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product in any given patient and, for products administered multiple times to an individual, that the product and the reference product may be alternated or switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biological product without such alternation or switch. Upon licensure by the FDA, an interchangeable biosimilar may be substituted for the reference product without the intervention of the health care provider who prescribed the reference product, although to date no such products have been approved for marketing in the United States. Complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structure of biological products as compared to small molecule drugs, as well as the processes by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation that are still being worked out by the FDA.

A reference biological product is granted twelve years of data exclusivity from the time of first licensure of the product, and the first approved interchangeable biologic product will be granted an exclusivity period of up to one year after it is first commercially marketed. If pediatric studies are performed and accepted by the FDA as responsive to a Written Request, as described further below, the 12-year exclusivity period will be extended for an additional six months. In addition, the FDA will not accept an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product based on the reference biological product until four years after the date of first licensure of the reference product. “First licensure” typically means the initial date the particular product at issue was licensed in the United States. Date of first licensure does not include the date of licensure of (and a new period of exclusivity is not available for) a biological product if the licensure is for a supplement for the biological product or for a subsequent application by the same sponsor or manufacturer of the biological product (or licensor, predecessor in interest, or other related entity) for a change (not including a modification to the structure of the biological product) that results in a new indication, route of administration, dosing schedule, dosage form, delivery system, delivery device or strength, or for a modification to the structure of the biological product that does not result in a change in safety, purity, or potency. Therefore, one must determine whether a new product includes a modification to the structure of a previously licensed product that results in a change in safety, purity or potency to assess whether the licensure of the new product is a first licensure that triggers its own period of exclusivity. Whether a subsequent application, if approved, warrants exclusivity as the “first licensure” of a biological product is determined on a case-by-case basis with data submitted by the sponsor.

The BPCIA is complex and continues to be interpreted and implemented by the FDA. In addition, recent government proposals have sought to reduce the 12-year reference product exclusivity period. As a result, the ultimate impact, implementation and meaning of the BPCIA continue to be subject to significant uncertainty.

 

Pediatric Exclusivity

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

If granted, pediatric exclusivity attaches to both the twelve-year and four-year exclusivity periods for reference biologics approved pursuant to BLAs, as well as the five-year and three-year marketing exclusivity periods available to NDA sponsors under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments and the seven-year orphan drug exclusivity period, as may be applicable to the FDA-approved therapeutic product.

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Other U.S. Health Care Laws and Regulations

Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities following product approval may also be subject to regulation by other regulatory authorities in the United States in addition to the FDA. Depending on the nature of the product, those authorities may include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), other divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments.

For example, in the United States, sales and marketing for prescription biopharmaceutical products must comply with state and federal fraud and abuse laws. These laws include the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which makes it illegal for any person, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf), to knowingly and willfully solicit, receive, offer or pay any remuneration that is intended to induce or reward referrals, including the purchase, recommendation, order or prescription of a particular drug, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Violations of this law are punishable by up to ten years in prison, criminal fines, administrative civil money penalties and exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs. In addition, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, among other things, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and two of the five criminal healthcare fraud statutes created by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA. A person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of these two provisions in the statute or specific intent to violate them; specifically with respect to the prohibition on executing or attempting to execute a scheme or artifice to defraud or to fraudulently obtain money or property of any health care benefit program and the prohibition on disposing of assets to enable a person to become eligible for Medicaid. Moreover, the government may now 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 False Claims Act.

Pricing and rebate programs must comply with the Medicaid rebate requirements of the U.S. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and more recent requirements in the ACA. If products are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. There also are federal transparency requirements under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act that require manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies covered by Medicare or Medicaid to report, on an annual basis, to CMS information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, teaching hospitals, and certain advanced non-physician health care practitioners and physician ownership and investment interests. Prescription drug and biologic products also must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act.

Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities also are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws. Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines, or the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, in addition to requiring drug manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other health care providers or marketing expenditures to the extent that those laws impose requirements that are more stringent than the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

The failure to comply with any of these laws or regulatory requirements subjects firms to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in criminal prosecution, fines or other penalties, injunctions, requests for recall, seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals or refusal to allow a firm to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts. Any action against Molecular for violation of these laws, even if Molecular successfully defends against it, could cause Molecular to incur significant legal expenses, divert Molecular’s management’s attention from the operation of Molecular’s business and harm Molecular’s reputation. Prohibitions or restrictions on sales or withdrawal of future products marketed by Molecular could materially affect Molecular’s business in an adverse way.

Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact Molecular’s business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to Molecular’s manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of Molecular’s products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of Molecular’s business.

 

European Union Drug Development

In the European Union, Molecular’s future products also may be subject to extensive regulatory requirements. As in the United States, drugs and biologics, which are referred to collectively in Europe as medicinal products, can be marketed only if a marketing authorization from the competent regulatory agencies has been obtained. Whether or not Molecular obtains FDA approval for a drug candidate, Molecular must obtain approval by the comparable regulatory authorities of foreign countries or economic areas, such as the European Union, before Molecular may commence clinical trials or market products in those countries or areas.

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Similar to the United States, the various phases of preclinical and clinical research in the European Union are subject to significant regulatory controls. Although the EU Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC has sought to harmonize the EU clinical trials regulatory framework, setting out common rules for the control and authorization of clinical trials in the EU, the EU Member States have transposed and applied the provisions of the Directive differently. This has led to significant variations in the member state regimes. Under the current regime, before a clinical trial can be initiated, a clinical trial application must be approved in each of the EU countries where the trial is to be conducted by two distinct bodies: the National Competent Authority, or NCA, and one or more Ethics Committees, or ECs. Under the current regime all suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions to the investigated drug that occur during the clinical trial have to be reported to the NCA and ECs of the Member State where they occurred.

The EU clinical trials legislation currently is undergoing a transition process mainly aimed at harmonizing and streamlining clinical-trial authorization, simplifying adverse-event reporting procedures, improving the supervision of clinical trials and increasing their transparency. Specifically, in April 2014, the new Clinical Trials Regulation, (EU) No 536/2014 (Clinical Trials Regulation) was adopted and came into application on January 31, 2022. The Clinical Trials Regulation is directly applicable in all the EU Member States, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. Conduct of all clinical trials performed in the European Union will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the new Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable. The extent to which ongoing clinical trials will be governed by the Clinical Trials Regulation will depend on when the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable and on the duration of the individual clinical trial. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial.

 

European Union Drug Review and Approval

In the European Economic Area, or EEA, which is comprised of the 27 Member States of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA. There are two types of marketing authorizations.

 

The Community MA is issued by the European Commission through the Centralized Procedure, based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, of the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, and is valid throughout the entire territory of the EEA. The Centralized Procedure is mandatory for certain types of products, such as biotechnology medicinal products, orphan medicinal products, advanced-therapy medicines such as gene-therapy, somatic cell-therapy or tissue-engineered medicines and medicinal products containing a new active substance indicated for the treatment of HIV, AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, auto-immune and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases. The Centralized Procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health in the EU.

 

National MAs, which are issued by the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA and only cover their respective territory, are available for products not falling within the mandatory scope of the Centralized Procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in a Member State of the EEA, this National MA can be recognized in another Member States through the Mutual Recognition Procedure. If the product has not received a National MA in any Member State at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various Member States through the Decentralized Procedure. Under the Decentralized Procedure an identical dossier is submitted to the competent authorities of each of the Member States in which the MA is sought, one of which is selected by the applicant as the Reference Member State, or RMS. The competent authority of the RMS prepares a draft assessment report, a draft summary of the product characteristics, or SPC, and a draft of the labeling and package leaflet, which are sent to the other Member States (referred to as the Member States Concerned) for their approval. If the Member States Concerned raise no objections, based on a potential serious risk to public health, to the assessment, SPC, labeling, or packaging proposed by the RMS, the product is subsequently granted a national MA in all the Member States (i.e., in the RMS and the Member States Concerned).

Under the above-described procedures, before granting the MA, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety and efficacy.

 

European Union 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. The data exclusivity, if granted, prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic or biosimilar application for eight years, after which generic marketing authorization can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but not approved for two years. The overall ten-year period can be extended to a maximum of 11 years if, during the first eight years of those 10 years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new

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therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are determined to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with currently approved therapies.

 

European Union Orphan Designation and Exclusivity

In the European Union, the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the European Union community (or where it is unlikely that the development of the medicine would generate sufficient return to justify the investment) and for which no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment has been authorized (or, if a method exists, 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 10 years of market exclusivity is granted following medicinal product approval. 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. The 10-year period of exclusivity 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. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if:

 

the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior;

 

the applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or

 

the applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.

 

United Kingdom regulatory framework and operational impacts post-Brexit

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020 (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), with a transitional period that expired on December 31, 2020. The United Kingdom and the European Union entered into a trade agreement known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which went into effect on January 1, 2021.  It remains to be seen how, if at all, Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will impact regulatory requirements for product candidates and products in the United Kingdom. Molecular is currently evaluating the potential impacts on Molecular’s business of the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement and guidance issued to date by the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regarding the requirements for licensing and marketing drug and biologics in the United Kingdom.

Since the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the United Kingdom covering quality, safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from European Union directives and regulations, Brexit could materially impact the future regulatory regime which applies to products and the approval of product candidates in the United Kingdom. Such outcomes could make it more difficult and expensive for Molecular to do business in Europe, complicate our clinical, manufacturing and regulatory strategies and impair our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for, and, if approved, commercialize, our products and product candidates in Europe. In addition, our ability to continue to conduct our international operations out of the United Kingdom, where the headquarters for our international operations is located, may be materially and adversely affected. While Molecular has undertaken a number of Brexit-related contingency planning initiatives, the full potential financial, legal, regulatory and other implications of Brexit are uncertain and Molecular cannot make any assurances regarding the extent to which Molecular’s business may be adversely affected thereby.

 

Rest of the World Regulation

For other countries outside of the European Union and the United States, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. Additionally, the clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with GCP requirements and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

If Molecular fails to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, Molecular 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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Coverage, Pricing, and Reimbursement

Sales of Molecular’s products approved for marketing by the FDA and foreign regulatory authorities will depend, in part, on the extent to which Molecular’s products will be covered by third-party payors, such as government health programs, commercial insurance and managed care organizations. In the United States no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug or biological products exists. Accordingly, decisions regarding the extent of coverage and amount of reimbursement to be provided for any of Molecular’s products will be made on a payor-by-payor basis. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require Molecular to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of Molecular’s products to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained.

The United States 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. For example, the ACA contains provisions that may reduce the profitability of drug products through increased rebates for drugs reimbursed by 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. Adoption of general controls and measures, coupled with the tightening of restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could limit payments for pharmaceutical drugs. The Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to enter into and have in effect a national rebate agreement with the Secretary of the Department of HHS as a condition for states to receive federal matching funds for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs furnished to Medicaid patients. The ACA made several changes to the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and expanded the universe of Medicaid utilization subject to drug rebates by requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay rebates on Medicaid managed care utilization and by enlarging the population potentially eligible for Medicaid drug benefits. Since its enactment, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and as a result certain sections of the ACA have not been fully implemented or effectively repealed. However, following several years of litigation in the federal courts, in June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA when it dismissed a legal challenge to the ACA’s constitutionality. Further legislative and regulatory changes under the ACA remain possible, although the new federal administration under President Biden has signaled that it plans to build on the ACA and expand the number of people who are eligible for health insurance subsidies under it. It is unknown what form any such changes or any law would take, and how or whether it may affect the biopharmaceutical industry as a whole or our business in the future.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. These changes include aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of up to 2% per fiscal year pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011, which began in 2013 and will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional Congressional action is taken. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and was designed to provide financial support and resources to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and extended the sequester by one year, through 2030, in order to offset the added expense of the 2020 cancellation. The suspension was subsequently extended through March 31, 2022, with a reduction of the suspension to 1% sequester through June 30, 2022.

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, or the MMA, established the Medicare Part D program to provide a voluntary prescription drug benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs. Unlike Medicare Part A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. While all Medicare drug plans must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare, Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs, and each drug plan can develop its own drug formulary that identifies which drugs it will cover and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs may increase demand for products for which Molecular receive marketing approval. However, any negotiated prices for Molecular’s products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan likely will be lower than the prices Molecular might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates. Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payors.

For a drug product to receive federal reimbursement under the Medicaid or Medicare Part B programs or to be sold directly to U.S. government agencies, the manufacturer must extend discounts to entities eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program. The maximum amount that a manufacturer may charge a 340B covered entity for a given product is the AMP reduced by the rebate amount paid by the manufacturer to Medicaid for each unit of that product. As of 2010, the ACA expanded the types of entities eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing, although, under the current state of the law, with the exception of children’s hospitals, these newly eligible entities will not be eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing on orphan drugs. In addition, as 340B drug pricing is determined based on AMP and Medicaid rebate data, the revisions to the Medicaid rebate formula and AMP definition described above could cause the required 340B discount to increase.

Moreover, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state

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legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. HHS has solicited feedback on various measures intended to lower drug prices and reduce the out of pocket costs of drugs and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in September 2020, the FDA finalized a rulemaking to establish a system whereby state governmental entities could lawfully import and distribute prescription drugs sourced from Canada. Those new regulations became effective on November 30, 2020, although the impact of such future programs is uncertain, in part because lawsuits have been filed challenging the government’s authority to promulgate them. Congress and the executive branch have each indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs making this area subject to ongoing uncertainty.

As another example, the Biden Administration, which assumed control of the Executive Branch on January 20, 2021, has indicated that lowering prescription drug prices is a priority, and in July 2021, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order on promoting competition in the American economy that includes several mandates pertaining to the pharmaceutical and health care insurance industries. Among other things, the executive order directs the FDA to work towards implementing a system for importing drugs from Canada (following finalization of the Canadian drug importation rulemaking in fall of 2020, as mentioned above). The Biden order also called on HHS to release a comprehensive plan to combat high prescription drug prices, and it includes several directives regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s oversight of potentially anticompetitive practices within the pharmaceutical industry. The drug pricing plan released by HHS in September 2021 in response to the executive order makes clear that the Biden Administration supports aggressive action to address rising drug prices, including allowing HHS to negotiate the cost of Medicare Part B and D drugs, but such significant changes will require either new legislation to be passed by Congress or time-consuming administrative actions.

At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures. In December 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that federal law does not preempt the states’ ability to regulate pharmaceutical benefit managers (“PBMs”) and other members of the health care and pharmaceutical supply chain, an important decision that may lead to further and more aggressive efforts by states in this area.

As noted above, the marketability of any products for which Molecular receive regulatory approval for commercial sale may suffer if the government and third-party payors fail to provide adequate coverage and reimbursement. Molecular expects that the increasing emphasis on cost containment measures in the United States 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 Molecular receives regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.

In addition, in most foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a medicinal product must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing and reimbursement vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that drug products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a new drug candidate to currently available therapies (so called health technology assessment, or HTA) in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of Molecular’s future commercial products. Historically, products launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the United States and generally prices tend to be significantly lower.

 

Health Care Reform in the U.S. and Potential Changes to Health Care Laws

The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our drug candidates. For example, in December 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act, or Cures Act, was signed into law. The Cures Act, among other things, is intended to modernize the regulation of drugs and devices and to spur innovation, but its ultimate implementation is uncertain. In addition, in August 2017, the FDA Reauthorization Act was signed into law, which reauthorized the FDA’s user fee programs and included additional drug and device provisions that build on the Cures Act. If Molecular is slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if Molecular is not able to maintain regulatory compliance, Molecular may lose any marketing approval that Molecular otherwise may have obtained and Molecular may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

As previously mentioned, the primary trend in the US health care industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medical products and services, implementing reductions in Medicare and other health care funding and applying new payment methodologies. For example, in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act was enacted, which, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug

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Rebate Program; introduced a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans; imposed mandatory discounts for certain Medicare Part D beneficiaries as a condition for manufacturers’ outpatient drugs coverage under Medicare Part D; and established a Center for Medicare Innovation at the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending. The uncertainty related to the Affordable Care Act and the regulatory and executive actions pertaining to drug costs and drug pricing matters is described above under “Coverage, Pricing, and Reimbursement”. As another example, the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law on December 27, 2020 incorporated extensive health care provisions and amendments to existing laws, including a requirement that all manufacturers of drugs and biological products covered under Medicare Part B report the product’s average sales price to HHS beginning on January 1, 2022, subject to enforcement via civil money penalties.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act that may affect health care expenditures. For example, on December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2020 into law (P.L. 116-94) that includes a piece of bipartisan legislation called the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act of 2019 or the “CREATES Act.” The CREATES Act aims to address the concern articulated by both the FDA and others in the industry that some brand manufacturers have improperly restricted the distribution of their products, including by invoking the existence of a REMS for certain products, to deny generic and biosimilar product developers access to samples of brand products. Because generic and biosimilar product developers need samples to conduct certain comparative testing required by the FDA, some have attributed the inability to timely obtain samples as a cause of delay in the entry of generic and biosimilar products. To remedy this concern, the CREATES Act establishes a private cause of action that permits a generic or biosimilar product developer to sue the brand manufacturer to compel it to furnish the necessary samples on “commercially reasonable, market-based terms.” Whether and how generic and biosimilar product developments will use this new pathway, as well as the likely outcome of any legal challenges to provisions of the CREATES Act, remain highly uncertain and its potential effects on our future commercial products are unknown. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 also includes, among other things, a new requirement for patent information to be submitted to the FDA and published in a “Purple Book” that contains detailed information about each FDA-licensed biological product, analogous to the Orange Book that provides information about approved small-molecule drug products and their patent and exclusivity information under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. In addition, the next cycle of Congressional reauthorization for FDA’s prescription drug, biologic, and medical device user fee programs must be completed by mid-2022 and that periodic must-pass legislation is typically used as a vehicle to implement federal policy changes or other substantive amendments to the FDCA.

Molecular cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative or executive action, either in the United States or abroad. Molecular expects that additional state and federal health care reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for health care products and services. Moreover, if Molecular is slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if Molecular is not able to maintain regulatory compliance, our drug or biologic candidates may lose any marketing approval that may have been obtained and Molecular may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would adversely affect our business.

 

U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In general, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or the FCPA, prohibits offering to pay, paying, promising to pay, or authorizing the payment of money or anything of value to a foreign official in order to influence any act or decision of the foreign official in his or her official capacity or to secure any other improper advantage in order to obtain or retain business for or with, or in order to direct business to, any person. The prohibitions apply not only to payments made to “any foreign official,” but also those made to “any foreign political party or official thereof,” to “any candidate for foreign political office” or to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of the payment will be offered, given, or promised to anyone in any of the foregoing categories. “Foreign officials” under the FCPA include officers or employees of a department, agency, or instrumentality of a foreign government. The term “instrumentality” is broad and can include state-owned or state-controlled entities.

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Importantly, United States authorities that enforce the FCPA, including the Department of Justice, deem most health care professionals and other employees of foreign hospitals, clinics, research facilities and medical schools in countries with public health care or public education systems to be “foreign officials” under the FCPA. When Molecular interacts with foreign health care professionals and researchers in testing and marketing our products abroad, Molecular must have policies and procedures in place sufficient to prevent us and agents acting on our behalf from providing any bribe, gift or gratuity, including excessive or lavish meals, travel or entertainment in connection with marketing our products and services or securing required permits and approvals such as those needed to initiate clinical trials in foreign jurisdictions. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring the maintenance of books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and the development and maintenance of an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations. The SEC is involved with the books and records provisions of the FCPA.

 

Competition

Molecular competes directly with companies that focus on oncology as well as companies dedicating their resources to novel forms of cancer therapies. Molecular also faces competition from academic research institutions, governmental agencies and various other public and private research institutions. With the proliferation of new drugs and therapies into oncology, Molecular expects to face increasingly intense competition as new technologies become available. Any ETB candidates that Molecular successfully develops and commercializes will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future.

Many of Molecular’s competitors have significantly greater financial, manufacturing, marketing, drug development, technical and human resources than Molecular. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of Molecular’s competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies also may prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with Molecular in recruiting and retaining top qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, Molecular’s programs.

The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of Molecular’s ETB candidates, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, dosing convenience, price, the effectiveness of companion diagnostics in guiding the use of related therapeutics, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.

Molecular’s commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if its competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, less expensive, more convenient or easier to administer, or have fewer or less severe effects than any products that Molecular may develop. Molecular’s competitors also may obtain FDA, EMA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than Molecular may obtain approval for its products, which could result in Molecular’s competitors establishing a strong market position before Molecular is able to enter the market. Even if Molecular’s ETB candidates achieve marketing approval, they may be priced at a significant premium over competitive products if any have been approved by then.

In addition to currently marketed therapies, there are also a number of products in late-stage clinical development directed to the same biological targets as Molecular’s programs, including antibodies, antibody drug conjugates and bi-specific antibodies.

 

The approved antibody-based products targeting CD38 are daratumumab (Janssen/Genmab) and isatuximab (Sanofi).

 

Antibody-based products, including bi-specific antibodies, targeting CD38 in development include XmAb13551 (Amgen/Xencor), TJ202 (I-Mab), ISB1342 (Ichnos), TAK573 and TAK079 (both Takeda).

 

Approved antibody-based products, including antibody drug conjugates, targeting HER2 include trastuzumab, pertuzumab, trastuzumab emtansine (all from Genentech/Roche), trastuzumab deruxtecan (Daiichi Sankyo) and margetuximab (Macrogenics). Antibody-based products, including bi-specific antibodies, targeting HER2 in development include zenocutuzumab (Merus), zanidatamab (Zymeworks), and PRS-343 (Pieris).

 

Approved antibody-based products targeting PD-L1 include atezolizumab (Genentech/Roche), durvalumab (AstraZeneca) and avelumab (Merck KGaA/Pfizer).

 

Antibody-based products targeting PD-L1 in development include REGN2810 (Regeneron) and LY3300054 (Lilly).

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Employees and Human Capital

We have approximately 261 employees, all of which are full-time employees as of December 31, 2021. None of our employees are represented by a collective bargaining agreement, nor have we experienced any work stoppage. We believe that our relations with our employees are good.

We are committed to developing therapies that can potentially benefit patients who are resistant to conventional cancer therapies or current therapies for other serious diseases. To that end, we recognize that our industry is specialized and dynamic, and a significant aspect of our success is our continued ability to execute our human capital strategy of attracting, engaging, developing and retaining highly skilled talent. There is fierce competition for highly skilled talent, particularly in the Austin, Texas and New York, New York areas, and we offer a robust set of benefits covering employees’ physical, emotional and financial health, a strong company culture and initiatives aligned with our mission, vision, and values. We offer competitive compensation for our employees and strongly embrace pay for performance. We also strive to provide a collegial atmosphere where teamwork and collaboration are emphasized and valued. Our employee led group, One MTEM, greatly contributes to the open, collaborative and team-driven culture with its dedication to community outreach, professional development and cross functional collaboration and understanding. This group sponsors a variety of community fundraisers and company events in furtherance of its mission of empowering and engaging employees. We also have dedicated full-time employees who oversee all aspects of our human capital management process including professional talent acquisition team members whose objective is to locate and attract qualified experienced professionals. We are continuously exploring new markets as sources of talent.

Our Employee Handbook and Code of Business Conduct and Ethics clearly outline our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, where all employees are welcomed in an environment designed to make them feel comfortable, respected, and accepted regardless of their age, race, national origin, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation. We have a set of policies explicitly setting forth our expectations for nondiscrimination and a harassment-free work environment. We also have an employee-led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”) Committee which aims to support all members of our community and works to ensure all employees feel welcomed, respected and capable of performing their best work. We are also a proud equal opportunity employer and cultivate a highly collaborative and entrepreneurial culture.

Corporate Information

On August 1, 2017, we completed a business combination with Molecular Templates OpCo, Inc., or what was then known as “Molecular Templates, Inc.” (“Private Molecular”; formerly D5 Pharma Inc., a Delaware corporation incorporated on February 19, 2009), by and among us (formerly known as Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: THLD) (“Threshold”), Trojan Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Threshold (“Merger Sub”), and Private Molecular, pursuant to which Merger Sub merged with and into Private Molecular, with Private Molecular surviving as our wholly owned subsidiary, now “Molecular Templates OpCo,  Inc.” (the “Merger”). Upon the consummation of the Merger, we changed our name to “Molecular Templates, Inc.”

Molecular and Molecular Templates OpCo, Inc. each have a principal executive office at 9301 Amberglen Boulevard, Suite 100, Austin, Texas 78729 and telephone number (512) 869-1555.

 

Available Information

We file electronically with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy information and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is http://www.sec.gov. The materials are also available at the SEC’s Public Reference Room, located at 100 F Street, Washington, D.C. 20549. The public may obtain information through the public reference room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330.

You may obtain a free copy of our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports on the day of filing with the SEC on our website at http://www.mtem.com or by contacting the Investor Relations Department at our corporate offices by calling (512) 869-1555. The information contained in, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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ITEM 1A.RISK FACTORS

We have identified the following risks and uncertainties that may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks not presently known to us or other factors not perceived by us to present significant risks to our business at this time may also significantly impair our business operations. Our business could be harmed by any of these risks. Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, before making any decision to purchase our common stock. If any of the possible adverse events described below actually occurs, we may be unable to conduct our business as currently planned and our prospects, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially harmed. In addition, the trading price of our common stock could decline due to the occurrence of any of the events described below, and you may lose all or part of your investment. In assessing these risks, you should refer to the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes.

 

Summary Risk Factors

We are subject to a number of risks that if realized could affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. As a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, certain elements of risk are inherent to our business. Accordingly, we encounter risks as part of the normal course of our business. Some of the more significant challenges and risks include the following:

 

Uncertainty regarding future revenue from product sales.

 

o

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that currently generates no revenue from sales of any products, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a drug or biologic candidate. Even if we receive approval to market one or more products, we may never become profitable if we are unable to establish market acceptance, adequate market share or reimbursement from third-party payors. Additionally, if we receive approval, we expect our expenses to increase significantly in order to successfully launch such approved drug or biologic candidate and such increases may not be commercially feasible. Further, if we cannot generate revenue from the sale of any approved products, we may never become profitable.

 

Clinical trial delays, adverse events, and/or clinical trial results may affect our business adversely.

 

o

Clinical development is expensive, time consuming and involves significant risk. If there is a failure of one or more of our clinical trials, at any stage of development, or if we experience serious adverse events, such failure may lead to additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenue. In addition, many of the factors, including the incidence of serious adverse events, that cause or lead to a delay in the commencement or completion of a clinical trial may also lead to the denial of marketing approval for our drug or biologic candidates, which would lead to material harm to our business.

 

We rely on third parties to manage our clinical programs, manufacture our drug or biologic candidates and perform other services.

 

o

We rely on third-party vendors for key components of the development of our drug or biologic candidates, including the manufacturing, management of clinical trials and other critical services. If such third-party vendors fail to comply with applicable laws, regulations or guidelines or are unable to obtain the materials needed for the manufacture of our drug or biologic candidates, we may have a disruption in our clinical trials and potentially, commercial sale of a future approved product. While we have completed the construction of our cGMP manufacturing facility and developed the capability to manufacture drug or biologic candidates for use in the conduct of our clinical trials, we may not be able to manufacture drug or biologic candidates or there may be substantial technical or logistical challenges to supporting manufacturing demand for drug or biologic candidates either by us or by our third-party manufacturers. Additionally, as we rely upon these vendors to perform release testing on our drug or biologic candidate prior to delivery to subjects in our clinical trials or patients being treated with our drug or biologic candidates, if approved in the future, such subjects or patients could be put at risk for serious harm and we may face damaging product liability suits.

 

We are subject to substantial regulation.

 

o

As a biopharmaceutical company, we are subject to extensive regulation by government and regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the EMA, among others. We may not receive the governmental approvals needed to market and commercialize our drug or biologic candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, operations and prospects. The FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities have limited experience with ETB products like our product candidates, which may increase the uncertainty surrounding as well as the expenses involved in the regulatory approval process for our drug or biologic candidates. Such delays, unexpected costs or failure to obtain regulatory approval to market our drug or biologic candidates could harm our ability to generate product revenue and our business, financial condition, results or operations and prospects may be harmed. Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a

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product, maintaining such compliance with regulatory requirements will result in additional expenses to us, which may be difficult to maintain.

 

We are reliant on our intellectual property and are subject to the risk that we will not be able to protect our intellectual property rights.

 

o

We rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect our intellectual property related to our technologies and drug or biologic candidates. Our commercial success depends on our ability to obtain, maintain and enforce patent and other intellectual property protections for our current and future technologies and drug or biologic candidates. If we are unable to do so, our business may be materially harmed, our ability to commercialize our drug or biologic candidates may be limited and our profitability may be delayed or may never occur.

 

We depend on third-party licensing or collaboration agreements.

 

o

Our business strategy, along with our short- and long-term operating results depend in part on our ability to execute on existing strategic collaborations, including those with Bristol Myers Squibb, and to license or partner with new strategic partners. As of December 31, 2021, our research and development revenue from our strategic collaborations was $38.7 million. If, disputes arise between us and our partners in such agreements, there may be increased costs due to related litigation or if we decide to fund such programs ourselves. Disputes with partners may lead to substantial delays or possible termination of such agreements or related clinical trials and the need to seek a new partner for the development or commercialization of such drug or biologic candidate. In addition, if commercialization collaboration partners do not commit sufficient resources to commercialize our future drugs or biologics, and if we are unable to develop the necessary marketing and sales capabilities on our own, we will be unable to generate sufficient product revenue to sustain or grow our business.

 

We are subject to substantial competition.

 

o

We compete with large pharmaceutical companies that have access to significant capital and materially greater manufacturing, marketing, research and drug development resources. We also compete with specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies, including but not limited to, Roche/Genentech, Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Daiichi Sankyo, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Pfizer, among others, as well as, universities and other research institutions worldwide that are developing drug, biological products or cell therapies for the same indications as us that could be more effective or less costly than our drug or biologic candidates, which may render our candidates obsolete and noncompetitive.

 

We are vulnerable to disruptions and volatility in the financial markets.

 

o

We are reliant in part on the financial markets to finance our future capital needs through public equity offerings, debt financings and other funding arrangements. Disruptions and volatility in the financial markets can have a material adverse effect on our ability to access capital and liquidity on acceptable financial terms. Negative and fluctuating economic conditions may present challenges in us obtaining additional capital needed to fund our operations. If we do not obtain funding on a timely basis and on acceptable terms, we may need to delay or discontinue one or more of our programs or the commercialization of our drug or biologic candidates.

 

We and others in our industry face cybersecurity risks.

 

o

We take protective measures and monitor and develop our systems continuously to protect our technology infrastructure and sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information about our employees and intellectual property, from cyberattacks. However, cybersecurity risks continue to increase for our industry, including for our third-party vendors, who may hold some of our data, and the proliferation of new technologies and the increased sophistication and activities of the actors behind such attacks present risks for compromised or lost data, which could result in substantial costs and harm to our reputation as well as delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce such data.  

The above list is not exhaustive, and we face additional challenges and risks. Please carefully consider all of the information in this Form 10-K including matters set forth in this “Risk Factors” section.

Risks Related to Our Financial Condition and Capital Requirements

 

We have incurred losses since inception, have a limited operating history on which to assess our business, and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future.

We are a clinical development-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any products, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a drug or biologic candidate. We have incurred net losses in each year since 2009, including net losses attributable to common shareholders of $83.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2021. At December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $352.1 million.

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We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources to identify, acquire, and develop our drug or biologic candidates, including conducting clinical trials and providing general and administrative support for our operations. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through the sale of equity securities, debt financing and collaborations. 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, strategic collaborations or grants. Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. We expect losses to increase as we complete Phase I development and advance into Phase II development of our lead drug or biologic candidates. We have not yet commenced pivotal clinical trials for any drug or biologic candidate and it may be several years, if ever, before we complete pivotal clinical trials and have a drug or biologic candidate approved for commercialization. We expect to invest significant funds into the research and development of our current drug or biologic candidates to determine the potential to advance these drug or biologic candidates to regulatory approval.

If we obtain regulatory approval to market one or more products, our future revenue will depend upon the size of any markets in which our drug or biologic candidates may receive approval, and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, pricing, reimbursement from third-party payors and adequate market share for our drug or biologic candidates in those markets. Even if we obtain adequate market share for one or more products, because the potential markets in which our drug or biologic candidates may ultimately receive regulatory approval could be very small, we may never become profitable despite obtaining such market share and acceptance of our products.

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

 

continue the clinical development of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

continue efforts to discover or acquire via assignment or in-license new drug or biologic candidates;

 

undertake the manufacturing of our drug or biologic candidates or increase volumes manufactured by third parties;

 

advance our programs into larger, more expensive clinical trials;

 

initiate additional preclinical, clinical, or other trials or studies for our drug or biologic candidates;

 

seek regulatory and marketing approvals and reimbursement for our drug or biologic candidates;

 

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

 

seek to identify, assess, acquire, and/or develop other drug or biologic candidates;

 

make milestone, royalty or other payments under third-party license agreements;

 

seek to maintain, protect, and expand our intellectual property portfolio;

 

evaluate possible, or participate in actual, development partnerships with one or more third parties;

 

seek to attract and retain skilled personnel; and

 

experience any delays or encounter issues with the development and potential for regulatory approval of our clinical candidates such as safety issues, clinical trial accrual delays, longer follow-up for planned studies, additional major studies or supportive studies necessary to support marketing approval, or delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, 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.

We will continue to require substantial additional capital to continue our clinical development and potential commercialization activities. Accordingly, we will need to raise substantial additional capital to continue to fund our operations. The amount and timing of our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including the pace and results of our clinical development efforts. Failure to raise capital as and when needed, on favorable terms or at all, would have a negative impact on our financial condition and our ability to develop our drug or biologic candidates.

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We expect that we will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or to do so on terms that are favorable to us, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.

Unless and until we can generate a substantial amount of revenue from our drug or biologic candidates, we expect to finance our future cash needs through public or private equity offerings, debt financings or collaborations, licensing arrangements and government funding arrangements. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe that we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. On August 7, 2020, we filed a universal shelf registration statement on Form S-3 (Registration No. 333-242078) with the SEC, which was declared effective on August 17, 2020. In August 2020, we entered into a sales agreement (the “Sales Agreement’) with Cowen and Company, LLC (“Cowen”), pursuant to which we may offer and sell to or through Cowen acting as agent and/or principal shares of our common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $100,000,000. Under the Sales Agreement, Cowen may sell the shares by any method permitted by law and deemed to be an “at the market” offering as defined in Rule 415 of the Securities Act. To date, we have not sold any shares under the Sales Agreement.

Disruptions in the financial markets in general and more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic have made equity and debt financing more difficult to obtain and may have a material adverse effect on our ability to meet our fundraising needs. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity, convertible debt or other securities convertible into equity, the ownership interest of our stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these new securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect rights of our stockholders. Debt financing, if available at all, would likely involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures, making additional product acquisitions or declaring or paying dividends. For instance, our loan and security agreement with K2 HealthVentures LLC limits additional indebtedness, liens, mergers and acquisitions, dispositions, investments and distributions, subordinated debt, transactions with affiliates and fundamental changes. If we raise additional funds through strategic collaborations or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our drug or biologic candidates or future revenue streams or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. We cannot be assured that we will be able to obtain additional funding if and when necessary to fund our entire portfolio of drug or biologic candidates to meet our projected plans. If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to delay or discontinue one or more of our development programs or the commercialization of any drug or biologic candidates or be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on potential business opportunities, which could materially harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, securing additional financing would require a substantial amount of time and attention from our management and may divert a disproportionate amount of their attention away from day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our management’s ability to oversee the development of our drug, biologic candidates or programs.

We also have historically received, and may receive in the future, funds from state or federal government grants for research and development. The grants have been, and any future government grants and contracts we may receive may be, subject to the risks and contingencies set forth below under this section in the risk factor titled “Risks Related to the Development of Our Drug or Biologic Candidates—Reliance on government funding for our programs may add uncertainty to our research and commercialization efforts with respect to those programs that are tied to such funding and may impose requirements that limit our ability to take certain actions, increase the costs of commercialization and production of drug or biologic candidates developed under those programs and subject us to potential financial penalties, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.” Although we might apply for government contracts and grants in the future, we cannot assure that we will be successful in obtaining additional grants for any drug or biologic candidates or programs.

Our ability to use our net operating losses to offset future taxable income, if any, may be subject to certain limitations.

We currently have federal net operating loss (“NOL”) carryforwards, which will begin to expire in 2024, if not utilized, and the remainder of which can be carried forward indefinitely. Tax loss carryforwards that were created prior to December 31, 2017 expire through 2037, all tax loss carryforwards created after that date do not expire. In the United States, utilization of the net operating loss carryforwards may be subject to a substantial annual limitation under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and similar state provisions due to ownership change limitations that have occurred previously or that could occur in the future. Certain NOL carryforwards from 2017 and earlier periods are subject to annual limitations due to an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code in that year. The NOL carryforwards and certain other tax attributes of ours may also be subject to limitations as a result of future ownership changes. If we were to lose the benefits of these loss carryforwards, our future earnings and cash resources would be materially and adversely affected. We have incurred net losses since our inception, and we anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future; thus, we do not know whether or when we will generate the U.S. federal taxable income necessary to utilize our NOLs.

 

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If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our common stock.

While a material weakness was not found in connection with the audit of our consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2021, we did identify a material weakness in connection with the audit of our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019 in our internal controls over financial reporting related to our information technology general controls over systems that are relevant to our financial statements. The reported material weakness did not result in any adjustment to our financial statements or restatement of previously reported financial statements and was remediated as of December 31, 2020. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal controls over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of a company's annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. If our internal controls over financial reporting are found to be insufficient, our independent registered public accounting firm, which audits our financial statements, may issue an adverse opinion on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting. In the event that a material weakness is identified, we cannot assure you that we will be able to identify and implement measures that will be sufficient to remediate any such material weakness or that future material weaknesses will not occur.

 If we fail to remediate an identified material weakness or identify new material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting, investors may lack confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and the market price of our common stock could be negatively affected regardless of whether material inaccuracies are determined to exist in our reported financial statements. If material inaccuracies are determined to exist in our financial statements or we are unable to report our financial statements on a timely basis, we could also become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC, or other regulatory authorities, and become subject to litigation from investors and stockholders, which could harm our reputation and financial condition or divert financial and management resources from our regular business activities.

 

Failure to maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our stock price.

Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the related rules and regulations of the SEC require annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as such standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to ensure that we can conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the related rules and regulations of the SEC. If we cannot favorably assess the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investor confidence in the reliability of our financial reports may be adversely affected, which could have a material adverse effect on our stock price.

 

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

We have no products approved for commercialization and have never generated any revenue. 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 and marketing approvals necessary to commercialize one or more of our drug or biologic candidates. We do not anticipate generating revenue from product sales for the foreseeable future. Our ability to generate future revenue from product sales depends heavily on our success in many areas, including but not limited to:

 

completing research and development of one or more of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

obtaining regulatory and marketing approvals for one or more of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

manufacturing one or more drug or biologic candidates and establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that are commercially feasible;

 

marketing, launching and commercializing one or more drug or biologic candidates for which we obtain regulatory and marketing approval, either directly or with a collaborator or distributor;

 

gaining market acceptance of one or more of our drug or biologic candidates as treatment options;

 

meeting our supply needs in sufficient quantities to meet market demand for our drug or biologic candidates, if approved;

 

addressing any competing products;

 

protecting, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets and know-how;

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

 

obtaining reimbursement or pricing for one or more of our drug or biologic candidates that supports profitability;

 

taking temporary precautionary measures to help minimize the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic to our employees; and

 

attracting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel.

Even if one or more of the drug or biologic candidates that we develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with launching and commercializing any approved drug or biologic candidate. We also will have to develop or acquire manufacturing capabilities or continue to contract with contract manufacturing organizations (“CMOs”), in order to continue development and potential commercialization of our drug or biologic candidates. For instance, if our costs of manufacturing our drug products are not commercially feasible, then we will need to develop or procure our drug products in a commercially feasible manner to successfully commercialize any future approved product, if any. Additionally, if we are not able to generate revenue from the sale of any approved products, we may never become profitable.

Changes in interpretation or application of U.S. GAAP may adversely affect our operating results.

We prepare our consolidated financial statements to conform to U.S. GAAP. These principles are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the SEC and various other regulatory and accounting bodies. A change in interpretations of, or our application of, these principles can have a significant effect on our reported results and may even affect our reporting of transactions completed before a change is announced. In addition, when we are required to adopt new accounting standards, our methods of accounting for certain items may change, which could cause our results of operations to fluctuate from period to period and make it more difficult to compare our financial results to prior periods.

Risks Related to the Development of Our Drug or Biologic Candidates

 

Manufacturing difficulties, disruptions or delays could limit supply of our drug or biologic candidates and adversely affect our clinical trials.

We currently have a current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, manufacturing facility and we have developed the capability to manufacture drug or biologic candidates for use in the conduct of our clinical trials. We may not be able to manufacture drug or biologic candidates or there may be substantial technical or logistical challenges to supporting manufacturing demand for drug or biologic candidates. We may also fail to comply with cGMP requirements and standards which would require us to not utilize the manufacturing facility to make clinical trial supply.

We plan to rely in part on third-party manufacturers, and their responsibilities will include purchasing from third-party suppliers the materials necessary to produce our drug or biologic candidates for our clinical trials and future regulatory approval. We expect there to be a limited number of suppliers for some of the raw materials that we expect to use to manufacture our drug or biologic candidates, and we may not be able to identify alternative suppliers to prevent a possible disruption of the manufacture of our drug or biologic candidates for our clinical trials, and, if approved, ultimately for commercial sale.

Although we generally do not expect to begin a clinical trial unless we believe we have a sufficient supply of a drug or biologic candidate to complete the trial, any significant delay or discontinuity in the supply of a drug or biologic candidate, or the raw materials or other material components in the manufacture of the drug or biologic candidate, could delay completion of our clinical trials and potential timing for regulatory approval of our drug or biologic candidates, which would harm our business and results of operations. We do not yet have sufficient information to reliably estimate the cost of the commercial manufacturing of our drug or biologic candidates and our current costs to manufacture our drug products may not be commercially feasible, and the actual cost to manufacture our drug or biologic candidates could materially and adversely affect the commercial viability of our drug or biologic candidates. As a result, we may never be able to develop a commercially viable product.

In addition, as a drug or biologic candidate manufacturer with one manufacturing facility, we are exposed to the following additional risks:

 

limited capacity of manufacturing facilities;

 

contamination of drug or biologic candidates in the manufacturing process;

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events that affect, or have the potential to affect, general economic conditions, including but not limited to political unrest, global trade wars, natural disasters, acts of war, terrorism, or disease outbreaks (such as the COVID-19 pandemic);

 

labor disputes or shortages, including the effects of health emergencies, epidemics, pandemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, or natural disasters;

 

compliance with regulatory requirements;

 

changes in forecasts of future demand;

 

timing and actual number of production runs and production success rates and yields;

 

contractual disputes with our suppliers and contract manufacturers;

 

timing and outcome of product quality testing;

 

power failures and/or other utility failures;

 

breakdown, failure, substandard performance or improper installation or operation of equipment;

 

following New Drug Application, or NDA, or Biologics License Application, or BLA, approval, a change in the manufacturing site could require additional approval from the FDA. This approval would require new testing and compliance inspections;

 

we may be unable to timely formulate and manufacture our product or produce the quantity and quality required to meet our clinical and commercial needs, if any; and

 

as a drug or biologic candidate manufacturer, we are subject to ongoing periodic unannounced inspection by the FDA and some state agencies to ensure strict compliance with cGMPs and other U.S. and corresponding foreign requirements, and we carry the risk of non-compliance with these regulations and standards.

For example, in December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and the disease it causes (COVID-19) was declared to be a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The ongoing pandemic has caused financial, social and business disruptions throughout the world. Any outbreak of contagious diseases such as coronavirus, or other adverse public health developments, could have a material and adverse effect on our business operations. Such adverse effects could include disruptions or restrictions on the ability of our, our collaborators’, or our suppliers’ personnel to travel, and could result in temporary closures of our facilities or the facilities of our collaborators or suppliers. Any disruption to our operations or the operations of our collaborators or suppliers would likely impact our drug development efforts, operating results, and our financial condition. The extent to which the current coronavirus pandemic may impact our results will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including the uptake of vaccines that have been deployed in the U.S. and new information which may emerge concerning the duration and the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Each of these risks could delay our clinical trials, the marketing approval, if any, of our drug or biologic candidates, or the commercialization of our drug or biologic candidates or result in higher costs or deprive us of potential product revenue. In addition, we rely on third parties to perform release testing on our drug or biologic candidates prior to delivery to subjects in our clinical trials. If these tests are not appropriately conducted and test data are not reliable, subjects in our clinical trials, or patients treated with our products, if any are approved in the future, could be put at risk of serious harm, which could result in product liability suits.

 

Clinical trials are costly, time consuming and inherently risky, and we may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities, and may never obtain regulatory approval for, or successfully commercialize certain or any of our drug or biologic candidates.

Clinical development is expensive, time consuming and involves significant risk. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of development. Events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include but are not limited to:

 

 

continued delays in patient enrollment for our clinical trials due to COVID-19, which may affect ability to initiate and/or complete preclinical studies, conduct ongoing clinical trials, and delay initiation of planned and future clinical trials;

 

inability to generate satisfactory preclinical, toxicology or other in vivo or in vitro data or to develop diagnostics capable of supporting the initiation or continuation of clinical trials;

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delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with clinical research organizations (“CROs”), and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and clinical trial sites;

 

delays or failure in obtaining required IRB approval at each clinical trial site;

 

failure to obtain or delays in obtaining a permit from regulatory authorities to conduct a clinical trial;

 

delays in recruiting or failure to recruit sufficient eligible volunteers or subjects in our clinical trials;

 

failure by clinical trial sites or CROs or other third parties to adhere to clinical trial requirements;

 

failure by our clinical trial sites, CROs or other third parties to perform in accordance with the good clinical practices requirements of the FDA or applicable foreign regulatory guidelines;

 

subjects withdrawing from our clinical trials;

 

adverse events or other issues of concern significant enough for the FDA, or comparable foreign regulatory authority, to put a clinical trial or an IND on clinical hold;

 

occurrence of adverse events associated with our drug or biologic candidates;

 

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

 

the cost of clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

negative or inconclusive results from our clinical trials which may result in us deciding, or regulators requiring us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon development programs in other ongoing or planned indications for a drug or biologic candidate; and

 

delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with third-party manufacturers or an inability to manufacture sufficient quantities of our drug or biologic candidates for use in clinical trials.

Any inability to successfully complete clinical development and obtain regulatory approval for one or more of our drug or biologic candidates could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenue. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to our drug or biologic candidates, we may need to conduct additional nonclinical studies and/or clinical trials to show that the results obtained from such new formulation are consistent with previous results. Clinical trial delays, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, could also shorten any periods during which our drug or biologic candidates have patent protection and may allow competitors to develop and bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our drug or biologic candidates and may harm our business and results of operations.

Additionally, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval for our drug or biologic candidates which would materially harm our business.

 

The approach we are taking to discover and develop next generation immunotoxin therapies, also commonly known as engineered toxin bodies, or ETBs, is unproven and may never lead to marketable products.

The scientific discoveries that form the basis for our efforts to discover and develop our drug or biologic candidates are relatively recent. To date, neither we nor any other company has received regulatory approval to market products utilizing ETBs. The scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing drugs based on these discoveries is both preliminary and limited. Successful development of ETB therapeutic products by us will require addressing a number of issues, including identifying appropriate receptor targets, screening for and selecting potent and safe ETB drug or biologic candidates, developing a commercially feasible manufacturing process, successfully completing all required preclinical studies and clinical trials, successfully implementing all other requirements that may be mandated by regulatory agencies from clinical development through post-marketing periods, ensuring intellectual property protection in any territory where an ETB product may be commercialized and commercializing an ETB product successfully in a competitive product landscape. In addition, any drug or biologic candidates that we develop may not demonstrate in patients the biological or pharmacological properties ascribed to them in laboratory and preclinical testing, and they may interact with human biological systems in unforeseen, ineffective or even harmful ways. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize one or more drug or biologic candidates based upon this scientific approach, we may not become profitable and the value of our common stock may decline.

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Further, our focus on ETB technology for developing drug or biologic candidates as opposed to multiple, more proven technologies for drug development increases the risk associated with our business. If we are not successful in developing an approved product using ETB technology, we may not be able to identify and successfully implement an alternative product development strategy. In addition, work by other companies pursuing similar immunotoxin technologies may encounter setbacks and difficulties that regulators and investors may attribute to our drug or biologic candidates, whether appropriate or not.

 

We are heavily dependent on the success of our drug or biologic candidates, the most advanced of which is in the early stages of clinical development. Our ETB therapeutic drug or biologic candidates are based on a relatively novel technology, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost of development and of subsequently obtaining regulatory approval, if at all. Some of our drug or biologic candidates have produced results in preclinical settings to date and we cannot give any assurance that we will generate data for any of our drug or biologic candidates sufficient to receive regulatory approval in our planned indications, which will be required before they can be commercialized. To date, no ETB products have been approved for marketing in the United States or elsewhere.

We have concentrated our research and development efforts to date on a limited number of drug or biologic candidates based on our ETB therapeutic platform and identifying our initial targeted disease indications. We have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources to identify, acquire and develop our portfolio of drug or biologic candidates. Our future success is dependent on our ability to successfully further develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and commercialize one or more drug or biologic candidates. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any products, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a drug or biologic candidate. Our ETB candidate, MT-6402, is currently being tested in a Phase I study in PD-1/PD-L1 antibody relapsed/refractory patients, which began dosing patients in the third quarter of 2021. Our ETB candidate, MT-5111, is currently being tested in a Phase I study, which began dosing patients in the fourth quarter of 2019. Our CD38-targeted SLT-A fusion protein, MT-0169, initially developed in collaboration with Takeda under the name TAK-169, is also being tested in a Phase I study, which began dosing patients in the first quarter of 2020 although it was paused in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and was re-initiated during the fourth quarter of 2020. A revised protocol was submitted to explore a lower dose of MT-0169 to reduce the risk of adverse events observed at the initial dose and to enable patients to continue MT-0169 therapy for a longer duration that may drive tumor benefit. Upon approval of a revised protocol, we will continue to conduct the ongoing Phase 1 study for MT-0169 in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and we plan to open new sites for the Phase I study. The remainder of our drug or biologic candidates are in preclinical development. There can be no assurance that we will not experience problems or delays in developing our drug or biologic candidates and that such problems or delays will not cause unanticipated costs, or that any such development problems can be solved. Additionally, not all of our clinical and preclinical data to date have been validated and we have no way of knowing if after validation our clinical trial data will be complete and consistent. There can be no assurance that the data that we develop for our drug or biologic candidates in our planned indications will be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval.

None of our ETB drug or biologic candidates have advanced into a pivotal clinical trial for our proposed indications and it may be years before any such clinical trial is initiated and completed, if at all. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our drug or biologic candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any of our drug or biologic candidates. We cannot be certain that any of our drug or biologic candidates will be successful in clinical trials or receive regulatory approval. Further, our drug or biologic candidates may not receive regulatory approval even if they are successful in clinical trials. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our drug or biologic candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations.

Additionally, the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities have relatively limited experience with ETB products. No regulatory authority has granted approval to any person or entity, including us, to market or commercialize ETB product candidates, which may increase the complexity, uncertainty and length of the regulatory approval process for our drug or biologic candidates. If our ETB product candidates fail to prove to be safe, effective or commercially viable, our drug or biologic candidate pipeline would have little, if any, value, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The clinical trial and manufacturing requirements of the FDA, the EMA, and other regulatory authorities, and the criteria these regulators use to determine the safety and efficacy of a drug or biologic candidate, vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the drug or biologic candidate. The regulatory approval process for novel drug or biologic candidates such as ETB product candidates could be more expensive and take longer than for others, better known or more extensively studied drug or biologic candidates. It is difficult to determine how long it will take or how much it will cost to obtain regulatory approvals for our drug or biologic candidates in either the United States or the European Union or elsewhere or how long it will take to commercialize our drug or biologic candidates, even if approved for marketing. Approvals by the EMA and other regulatory authorities may not be indicative of what the FDA may require for approval, and vice versa, and different or additional preclinical studies and clinical trials may be required to support regulatory approval in each respective jurisdiction. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a drug or biologic candidate to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product revenue, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be harmed.

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During the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, moreover, the responses of the federal, international, state and regional governments to the pandemic, including the shelter in place orders, the allocation of healthcare resources to treating those infected with the virus, and the redeployment of FDA and EMA resources to priority projects, could have an impact on the timeline for review and approval of new marketing applications. Although the FDA communicated to industry in mid-2021 that its new drug and biologic review programs were continuing to meet key performance goals related to communicating with applicants and approving new products, the agency also noted that the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation may make it difficult to sustain its current level of performance indefinitely. The FDA has told industry that it intends to be as transparent as possible about its workload and performance metrics as the situation evolves.

 

We may have difficulty enrolling, or fail to enroll patients, in our clinical trials given the limited number of patients who have the diseases for which our drug or biologic candidates are being studied, which could delay or prevent clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates.

Identifying and enrolling patients to participate in clinical trials of our ETB drug or biologic candidates is essential to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends in part on the rate at which we can recruit patients to participate in clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates, and we may experience delays in our clinical trials if we encounter difficulties in enrollment, particularly given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The eligibility criteria of our ongoing and planned clinical trials may further limit the available eligible trial participants as we require that patients have specific characteristics that we can measure or meet the criteria to assure their conditions are appropriate for inclusion in our clinical trials. We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner because of the perceived risks and benefits of the drug or biologic candidate under study, the availability and efficacy of competing therapies and clinical trials, and the willingness of physicians to participate in our planned clinical trials. If patients are unwilling to participate in our clinical trials for any reason, the timeline for conducting trials and obtaining regulatory approval of our drug or biologic candidates may be delayed.

If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates, the commercial prospects of our drug or biologic candidates could be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue from any of these drug or biologic candidates could be delayed or prevented. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials would likely increase our overall costs, impair drug or biologic candidate development and jeopardize our ability to obtain regulatory approval relative to our current plans. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition, and prospects significantly.

 

Our drug or biologic candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial viability of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

Undesirable side effects caused by our drug or biologic candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay, or terminate clinical trials or result in a restrictive label or delay regulatory approval. In addition, our ETB product candidates have been studied in only a limited number of subjects.  Based on observations with a similar class of immunotoxins or ETBs, the adverse events considered to be important or potential risks of MT-6402 include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular toxicity, hepatotoxicity, acute kidney injury, hematologic toxicity, coagulation and clinical chemistry toxicity, CRS, CLS, IRR, reproductive risks, and immune-related adverse reactions. The important or potential risks of MT-5111 include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular injury, hepatotoxicity, acute kidney injury, myalgias, hematologic toxicity, infections, infusion-related reactions (IRR), reproductive risks, capillary leak syndrome (CLS) and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). The important or potential risks of MT-0169 include, but are not limited to, CRS, skeletal and cardiac muscular injury, CLS, IRR, thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) with glomerular endothelial cell swelling/injury and increased risk of infections.  

In addition to the side effects that are known to be associated with MT-6402, MT-5111, and MT-0169, continued clinical trials could reveal higher incidence of side effects or adverse events, or AEs, previously unknown side effects, or side effects having greater severity, which could each or all lead to delays in our clinical programs or discontinuation of our trials. Regulatory authorities may suspend or terminate a clinical trial due to a number of factors, including, among other things, failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, study subject safety concerns, adverse effects or events, or severe adverse events including death, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions. The occurrence of adverse side effects could jeopardize or preclude our ability to develop, obtain or maintain marketing approval for, or successfully commercialize, market and sell any or all of our product candidates for one or more indications. There is no guarantee that additional or more severe side effects will not be identified through ongoing clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates for current and other indications. There can be no assurance that other patients treated with MT-6402, MT-5111 or MT-0169 will not experience CLS or other serious side effects and there can be no assurance that the FDA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions will not place clinical holds on our current or future clinical trials, the result of which could delay or prevent us from obtaining regulatory approval for MT-6402 or other ETB product candidates.

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Even if approved in the future, MT-6402, MT-5111 or MT-0169 may carry boxed warnings or other precautions regarding the risk of CLS. Undesirable side effects and negative results for any of our drug or biologic candidates may negatively impact the development and potential for approval of our drug or biologic candidates for their proposed indications.

Additionally, even if one or more of our drug or biologic candidates receives marketing approval, if we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, potentially significant negative consequences could result, including but not limited to:

 

regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such products;

 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;

 

we may be required to create a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, or REMS, plan, which could include a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to study subjects, a communication plan for healthcare providers, and/or other elements to assure safe use;

 

we may be required to change the way such drug or biologic candidates are distributed or administered, or change the labeling of the drug or biologic candidates;

 

we may be subject to regulatory investigations and government enforcement actions;

 

the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority may require us to conduct additional clinical trials or costly post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product;

 

we may decide to recall such drug or biologic candidates from the marketplace after they are approved;

 

we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to subjects; and

 

our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of a drug or biologic candidate, even if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations, and prospects.

 

Our ETB therapeutic approach is novel and negative public opinion and increased regulatory scrutiny of ETB-based therapies may damage public perception of the safety of our drug or biologic candidates and adversely affect our ability to conduct our business or obtain regulatory approvals for our drug or biologic candidates.

ETB therapy remains a novel technology, with no ETB therapy product approved to date in the United States or elsewhere worldwide. Public perception may be influenced by claims that ETB therapy is unsafe, and ETB therapy may not gain the acceptance of the public or the medical community. In particular, our success will depend upon physicians who specialize in the treatment of the diseases targeted by our drug or biologic candidates prescribing treatments that involve the use of one or more of our approved drug or biologic candidates in lieu of, or in addition to, existing treatments with which they may be familiar and for which more clinical data may be available. More restrictive government regulations or negative public opinion regarding ETB-based drug or biologic candidates could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations and may delay or impair the development and commercialization of our drug or biologic candidates or demand for any products we may develop. Serious adverse events in ETB clinical trials for our competitors’ products, even if not ultimately attributable to the relevant drug or biologic candidates, and the resulting publicity, could result in increased government regulation, unfavorable public perception, potential regulatory delays in the testing or approval of our drug or biologic candidates, stricter labeling requirements for those drug or biologic candidates that are approved and a decrease in demand for any such drug or biologic candidates.

Product development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier preclinical studies and clinical trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results.

We currently have no products approved for sale and we cannot guarantee that we will ever have marketable products. Clinical testing is expensive and generally takes many years to complete, and the outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical development process. Clinical trials may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we or any current or future collaboration partners may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or preclinical studies. We will be required to demonstrate with substantial evidence through well-controlled clinical trials that our drug or biologic candidates are safe and effective for use in a diverse population before we can seek marketing approvals for their commercial sale. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our drug or biologic candidates may not be predictive of the results of larger, later-stage controlled clinical trials. Drug or biologic candidates that have shown promising results in early-stage clinical trials may still suffer significant setbacks or failure in subsequent clinical trials. Our clinical trials to date have been conducted on a small number of subjects in limited numbers of clinical trial sites for a limited number of indications. We will have to conduct larger, well-controlled trials in our proposed indications to verify the results obtained to date and to support any regulatory submissions for further clinical development. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks or failure in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles despite promising results in earlier, smaller clinical trials. In particular, no ETB-

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based product candidates have been approved or commercialized in any jurisdiction, and the outcome of our preclinical studies and early-stage clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later-stage clinical trials.

From time to time, we may publish or report interim or preliminary data from our clinical trials. Interim or preliminary data from clinical trials that we may conduct may not be indicative of the final results of the trial and are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Interim or preliminary data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the interim or preliminary data. As a result, interim or preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available.

In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety and efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same drug or biologic candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial protocols, differences in size and type of the patient populations, differences in and adherence to the dosing regimen and other trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. We therefore do not know whether any clinical trials we may conduct will demonstrate consistent or adequate efficacy and safety sufficient to obtain marketing approval to market our drug or biologic candidates.

 

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

Because we have limited financial and human resources, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with certain programs or drug or biologic candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or more profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and future drug or biologic candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products. We may also enter into additional strategic collaboration agreements to develop and commercialize some of our programs and potential drug or biologic candidates in indications with potentially large commercial markets. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular drug or biologic candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that drug or biologic candidate through strategic collaborations, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such drug or biologic candidate, or we may allocate internal resources to a drug or biologic candidate in a therapeutic area in which it would have been more advantageous to enter into a partnering arrangement.

 

We may face potential product liability, and, if successful claims are brought against us, we may incur substantial liability and costs. If the use or misuse of our drug or biologic candidates harms subjects or is perceived to harm subjects even when such harm is unrelated to our drug or biologic candidates, we could be subject to costly and damaging product liability claims. If we are unable to obtain adequate insurance or are required to pay for liabilities resulting from a claim excluded from, or beyond the limits of, our insurance coverage, a material liability claim could adversely affect our financial condition.

The use or misuse of our drug or biologic candidates in clinical trials and the sale of any products for which we may obtain marketing approval exposes us to the risk of potential product liability claims. Product liability claims might be brought against us by consumers, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies or others selling or otherwise coming into contact with our drug or biologic candidates and approved products, if any. There is a risk that our drug or biologic candidates may induce adverse events. If we cannot successfully defend against product liability claims, we could incur substantial liability and costs.

 

Some of our ETB product candidates have shown in clinical trials to induce adverse events. The adverse events considered to be important or potential risks of MT-6402 include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular toxicity, hepatotoxicity, acute kidney injury, hematologic toxicity, coagulation and clinical chemistry toxicity, CRS, CLS, IRR, reproductive risks, and immune-related adverse reactions. The important or potential risks of MT-5111 include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular injury, hepatotoxicity, acute kidney injury, myalgias, hematologic toxicity, infections, IRR, reproductive risks, CLS and CRS.   The important or potential risks of MT-0169 include, but are not limited to, CRS, skeletal and cardiac muscular injury, CLS, IRR, thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) with glomerular endothelial cell swelling/injury and increased risk of infections.  

There is a risk that our future drug or biologic candidates may induce similar or more severe adverse events. Patients with the diseases targeted by our drug or biologic candidates may already be in severe or advanced stages of disease and have both known and unknown significant preexisting and potentially life-threatening health risks. During the course of treatment, subjects may suffer adverse events, including death, for reasons that may be related to our drug or biologic candidates. Such events could subject us to costly litigation, require us to pay substantial amounts of money to injured subjects, delay, negatively impact or end our opportunity to receive or maintain regulatory approval to market our products, or require us to suspend or abandon our commercialization efforts. Even in a circumstance in which an adverse event is unrelated to our drug or biologic candidates, the investigation into the circumstance may be time-consuming or inconclusive. These investigations

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may delay our regulatory approval process or impact and limit the type of regulatory approvals our drug or biologic candidates receive or maintain. As a result of these factors, a product liability claim, even if successfully defended, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Although we have product liability insurance covering our clinical trials in the United States for up to $7.0 million per occurrence up to an aggregate limit of $7.0 million, our insurance may be insufficient to reimburse us for any expenses or losses we may suffer. We also will likely be required to increase our product liability insurance coverage for the advanced clinical trials that we plan to initiate. If we obtain marketing approval for any of our drug or biologic candidates, we will need to expand our insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products. There is no way to know if we will be able to continue to obtain product liability coverage and obtain expanded coverage if we require it, in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to liability, on acceptable terms, or at all. We may not have sufficient resources to pay for any liabilities resulting from a claim excluded from, or beyond the limits of, our insurance coverage. Where we have provided indemnities in favor of third parties under our agreements with them, there is also a risk that these third parties could incur liability and bring a claim under such indemnities. An individual may bring a product liability claim against us alleging that one of our drug or biologic candidates causes, or is claimed to have caused, an injury or is found to be unsuitable for consumer use. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability and breach of warranties. Claims also could be asserted under state consumer protection acts. Any product liability claim brought against us, with or without merit, could result in:

 

withdrawal of clinical trial volunteers, investigators, subjects or trial sites or limitations on approved indications;

 

the inability to commercialize, or if commercialized, decreased demand for, our drug or biologic candidates;

 

if commercialized, product recalls, withdrawals of labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions or the need for product modification;

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

loss of revenues;

 

substantial costs of litigation, including monetary awards to subjects or other claimants;

 

liabilities that substantially exceed our product liability insurance, which we would then be required to pay;

 

an increase in our product liability insurance rates or the inability to maintain insurance coverage in the future on acceptable terms, if at all;

 

the diversion of management’s attention from our business; and

 

damage to our reputation and the reputation of our products and our technology.

Product liability claims may subject us to the foregoing and other risks, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

Biologics carry unique risks and uncertainties, which could have a negative impact on future results of operations.

The successful discovery, development, manufacturing and sale of biologics is a long, expensive and uncertain process. There are unique risks and uncertainties with biologics. For example, access to and supply of necessary biological materials, such as cell lines, may be limited and governmental regulations restrict access to and regulate the transport and use of such materials. In addition, the development, manufacturing and sale of biologics is subject to regulations that are often more complex and extensive than the regulations applicable to other pharmaceutical products. Manufacturing biologics, especially in large quantities, is often complex and may require the use of innovative technologies. Such manufacturing also requires facilities specifically designed and validated for this purpose and sophisticated quality assurance and quality control procedures. Biologics are also frequently costly to manufacture because production inputs are derived from living animal or plant material, and some biologics cannot be made synthetically. Failure to successfully discover, develop, manufacture and sell our biological drug or biologic candidates would adversely impact our business and future results of operations.

 

Our international activities, including clinical trials abroad, expose us to various risks, any number of which could harm our business.

We are subject to the risks inherent in engaging in business across national boundaries, due in part to our clinical trials abroad, any one of which could adversely impact our business. In addition to currency fluctuations, these risks include, among other things: economic downturns, pandemics, changes in or interpretations of local law, varying data protection requirements, governmental policy or regulation; restrictions on the transfer of funds into or out of the country; varying tax systems; and government protectionism. One or more of the foregoing factors could impair our current or future operations and, as a result, harm our overall business.

 

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Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could result in changes in our reported financial results.

We currently incur significant expenses denominated in foreign currencies, specifically in connection with our clinical trial sites, some of which are located in countries outside of the United States. These clinical trial sites invoice us in the local currency of the site. As we expand internationally, our exposure to currency risks will increase. We do not manage our foreign currency exposure in a manner that would eliminate the effects of changes in foreign exchange rates. Therefore, changes in exchange rates between these foreign currencies and the U.S. dollar will affect our revenues and expenses and could result in exchange losses in any given reporting period. We incur currency transaction risks whenever we enter into either a purchase or a sale transaction using a currency other than the dollar, our functional currency, particularly in our arrangements for the purchase of supplies or licensing and collaboration agreements with partners outside of the United States. We do not engage in foreign currency hedging arrangements for our accounts payable, and, consequently, foreign currency fluctuations may adversely affect our earnings. We may decide to manage this risk by hedging our foreign currency exposure, principally through derivative contracts. Even if we decide to enter into such hedging transactions, we cannot be sure that such hedges will be effective or that the costs of such hedges will not exceed their benefits. Given the volatility of exchange rates, we can give no assurance that we will be able to effectively manage our currency transaction risks or that any volatility in currency exchange rates will not have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

Our business activities may be subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws of other countries in which we operate.

We have conducted and have ongoing studies in international locations and may in the future initiate additional studies in countries other than the United States. Our business activities may be subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, and similar anti-bribery or anti-corruption laws, regulations or rules of other countries in which we operate. The FCPA generally prohibits offering, promising, giving or authorizing others to give anything of value, either directly or indirectly, to a non-U.S. government official in order to influence official action or otherwise obtain or retain business. The FCPA also requires public companies to make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. Our business is heavily regulated and therefore involves significant interaction with public officials, including officials of non-U.S. governments. Additionally, in many other countries, the health care providers who prescribe pharmaceuticals are employed by their governments, and the purchasers of pharmaceuticals are government entities; therefore, our dealings with these prescribers and purchasers are subject to regulation under the FCPA. Recently the SEC and Department of Justice have increased their FCPA enforcement activities with respect to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. There is no certainty that all of our employees, agents or contractors, or those of our affiliates, will comply with all applicable laws and regulations, particularly given the high level of complexity of these laws. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in fines, criminal sanctions against us, our officers or our employees, the closing down of our facilities, requirements to obtain export licenses, cessation of business activities in sanctioned countries, implementation of compliance programs and prohibitions on the conduct of our business. Any such violations could include prohibitions on our ability to offer our products, if approved, in one or more countries and could materially damage our reputation, our brand, our international expansion efforts, our ability to attract and retain employees and our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.

 

Risks Related to Regulatory Approval of Our Drug or Biologic Candidates and Other Legal Compliance Matters

 

 

A potential breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA for our drug or biologic candidates may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and it does not increase the likelihood that our drug or biologic candidates will receive marketing approval.

We may seek a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA for one or more of our drug or biologic candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug or biological product that 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 or biological product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For drugs or biological products that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the FDA and the sponsor of a clinical trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Drugs or biologic products designated as breakthrough therapies by the FDA could also be eligible for accelerated approval.

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Designation as a breakthrough therapy is within the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe one of our drug or biologic candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a breakthrough therapy designation for a drug or biologic candidate may not result in a faster development process, review or approval, compared to drugs or biologics considered for approval under conventional or other accelerated FDA procedures and does not ensure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our drug or biologic candidates qualify and are designated as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may later decide that the drugs or biological products no longer meet the conditions for designation and the designation may be rescinded.

 

We may seek Fast Track designation for one or more of our drug or biologic candidates, but we might not receive such designation, and even if we do, such designation may not actually lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.

If a drug or biologic candidate is intended for the treatment of a serious condition and nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need for this condition, a product sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track designation. If we seek Fast Track designation for a drug or biologic candidate, we may not receive it from the FDA. However, even if we receive Fast Track designation, Fast Track designation does not ensure that we will receive marketing approval or that approval will be granted within any particular time frame. We may not experience a faster development or regulatory review or approval process with Fast Track designation compared to conventional FDA procedures. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation if the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. Fast Track designation alone does not guarantee qualification for the FDA’s priority review procedures. In November 2021, MT-6402 was granted Fast Track Designation for the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC expressing PD-L1.

 

Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product, we will remain subject to ongoing regulatory requirements. Maintaining compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements may result in significant additional expense to us, and any failure to maintain such compliance could subject us to penalties and cause our business to suffer.

If any of our drug or biologic candidates are approved, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements with respect to manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct of post-marketing clinical trials and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-approval 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 continuously comply with FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authority requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP regulations and corresponding foreign regulatory manufacturing requirements. As such, we and our CMOs will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP and adherence to commitments made in any BLA, NDA or other marketing authorization application.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our drug or biologic candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the drug or biologic candidate may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase IV clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the drug or biologic candidate. In addition, if the FDA, EMA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves any of our drug or biologic candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion and record keeping for the products will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. Any new legislation addressing drug safety issues could result in delays in product development or commercialization, or increased costs to assure compliance. If our original marketing approval for a drug or biologic candidate was obtained through an accelerated approval pathway, we could be required to conduct a successful post-marketing clinical trial in order to confirm the clinical benefit for our products. An unsuccessful post-marketing clinical trial or failure to complete such a trial could result in the withdrawal of marketing approval.

We must also comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for any of our drug or biologic candidates for which we hope to obtain marketing approval. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs and biologics are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved labeling. If we are not able to comply with post-approval regulatory requirements, we could have marketing approval for any of our products withdrawn by regulatory authorities and our ability to market any future products could be limited, which could adversely affect our ability to achieve or sustain profitability. Thus, the cost of compliance with post-approval regulations may have a negative effect on our operating results and financial condition.

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In addition, later discovery of 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 failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements may result in a variety of risks. For example, a regulatory agency or enforcement authority may, among other things:

 

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

 

impose requirements to conduct post-marketing studies or clinical trials;

 

issue warning or untitled letters if the regulator is the FDA, or comparable notice of violations from foreign regulatory authorities;

 

issue consent decrees, injunctions or impose civil or criminal penalties;

 

require the payment of fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenues;

 

suspend or withdraw regulatory approval;

 

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 CMOs’ facilities; or

 

require product seizure or detention, recalls or refuse to permit the import or export of products.

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law would be expected to require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate adverse publicity. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our products and our value and our operating results would be adversely affected. In addition, regulatory authorities’ policies (such as those of the FDA or EMA) may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our drug or biologic candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are otherwise not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained, which would adversely affect our business, prospects and ability to achieve or sustain profitability.

 

Our commercial success will depend upon attaining significant market acceptance of our drug or biologic candidates, if approved, among physicians, patients, third-party payors and other members of the medical community.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval for our drug or biologic candidates, the approved products may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance among physicians, third-party payors, patients and other members of the medical community, which is critical to commercial success. If an approved product does not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues or any profits from operations. The degree of market acceptance of any drug or biologic candidate for which we receive approval depends on a number of factors, including:

 

 

the efficacy and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments or competitive products;

 

perceptions by the medical community, physicians, and patients, regarding the safety and effectiveness of our products and the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;

 

the size of the market for such drug or biologic candidate, based on the size of the patient subsets that we are targeting, in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval and have commercial rights;

 

the safety of the drug or biologic candidate as demonstrated through broad commercial distribution;

 

the ability to offer our drug or biologic candidates for sale at competitive prices;

 

the availability of adequate reimbursement and pricing for our products from governmental health programs and other third-party payors;

 

relative convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;

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cost-effectiveness of our product relative to competing products;

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects;

 

the adequacy of supply of our drug or biologic candidates;

 

the timing of any such marketing approval in relation to other product approvals;

 

any restrictions on concomitant use of other medications;

 

support from patient advocacy groups; and

 

the effectiveness of sales, marketing and distribution efforts by us and our licensees and distributors, if any.

If our drug or biologic candidates are approved but fail to achieve an adequate level of acceptance by key market participants, we will not be able to generate significant revenues, and we may not become or remain profitable, which may require us to seek additional financing.

Our ability to negotiate, secure and maintain third-party coverage and reimbursement for our drug or biologic candidates may be affected by political, economic and regulatory developments in the United States, the European Union and other jurisdictions. Governments continue to impose cost containment measures, and third-party payors are increasingly challenging prices charged for medicines and examining their cost effectiveness, in addition to their safety and efficacy. These and other similar developments could significantly limit the degree of market acceptance of any drug or biologic candidate of ours that receives marketing approval in the future.

 

Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, was passed. The ACA is a sweeping law intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of health care spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for health care and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms. The ACA also included the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, or the BPCIA, that created the abbreviated application and licensure pathway for biosimilar and interchangeable biological products. As another example, the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, incorporated extensive health care provisions and amendments to existing laws, including a requirement that all manufacturers of drugs and biological products covered under Medicare Part B report the product’s average sales price to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) beginning on January 1, 2022, as well as several changes to the statutes governing FDA’s drug and biologic programs.

Since its enactment, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and as a result certain sections of the ACA have not been fully implemented or have been effectively repealed through Executive Orders and/or executive agency actions. However, following several years of litigation in the federal courts, in June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA when it dismissed a legal challenge to the ACA’s constitutionality. Further legislative and regulatory changes under the ACA remain possible, although the new federal administration under President Biden has signaled that it plans to build on the ACA and expand the number of people who are eligible for health insurance subsidies under it. It is unknown what form any such changes or any law would take, and how or whether it may affect the biopharmaceutical industry as a whole or our business in the future. We expect that changes or additions to the ACA, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, such as changes allowing the federal government to directly negotiate drug prices, and changes stemming from other healthcare reform measures, especially with regard to healthcare access, financing or other legislation in individual states, could have a material adverse effect on the health care industry in the U.S.

In the United States and in some other jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the health care system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our drug or biologic candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities, or affect our ability to profitably sell any drug or biologic candidates for which we obtain marketing approval, if any. For example, in December 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act, or Cures Act, was signed into law. The Cures Act, among other things, was intended to modernize the regulation of drugs and devices and to spur innovation, but its ultimate implementation is uncertain. Legislative proposals continue to be discussed in the U.S. Congress as potentially leading to a future “Cures 2.0” bill that is expected to have bipartisan support. In addition, in August 2017, the FDA Reauthorization Act was signed into law, which reauthorized the FDA’s user fee programs and included additional drug and biological product provisions. The next legislative reauthorization must be completed in 2022, which has the potential to make further changes to FDA authorities or policies pertaining to biopharmaceutical products. We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes on the marketing approvals, if any, of our drug or biologic candidates, may be or whether such changes will have any other impacts on our business. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent marketing approval, as well as subject us to more stringent product labeling and post-marketing conditions and other requirements.

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Further, over the past several years there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which biopharmaceutical manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. The probability of success of these newly announced policies, many of which have been subjected to legal challenge in the federal court system, and their potential impact on the U.S. prescription drug marketplace is unknown. There are likely to be continued political and legal challenges associated with implementing these reforms as they are currently envisioned, and the recent transition to a new Democrat-led presidential administration created further uncertainty in the health care and biopharmaceutical industries. For example, in July 2021, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order promoting competition in the American economy that includes several mandates pertaining to the pharmaceutical and healthcare insurance industries. Among other things, the executive order directs the FDA to work towards implementing a system for importing drugs from Canada (following finalization of the Canadian drug importation rulemaking in October 2020), and to clarify and improve the standards for interchangeable biosimilars. The Biden order also called on HHS to release a comprehensive plan to combat high prescription drug prices, and it includes several directives regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s oversight of potentially anticompetitive practices within the pharmaceutical industry. The drug pricing plan released by HHS in September 2021 in response to the executive order makes clear that the Biden Administration supports aggressive action to address rising drug prices, including allowing HHS to negotiate the cost of Medicare Part B and D drugs, but such significant changes will require either new legislation to be passed by Congress or time-consuming administrative actions. Accordingly, there remains a large amount of uncertainty regarding the federal government’s approach to making pharmaceutical treatment costs more affordable for patients.

There also are a number of state and local legislative and regulatory efforts related to drug or biologic pricing, including drug or biologic price transparency laws that apply to pharmaceutical manufacturers, that may have an impact on our business. Individual states in the U.S. have become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, and restrictions on certain product access. In December 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that federal law does not preempt the states’ ability to regulate pharmaceutical benefit managers, or PBMs, and other members of the health care and pharmaceutical supply chain, an important decision that may lead to further and more aggressive efforts by states in this area.

In addition, in December 2019, President Trump signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2020 into law (P.L. 116-94) that includes a piece of bipartisan legislation called the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act of 2019 or the “CREATES Act.” The CREATES Act aims to address the concern articulated by both the FDA and others in the industry that some brand manufacturers have improperly restricted the distribution of their products, including by invoking the existence of a REMS for certain products, to deny generic and biosimilar product developers access to samples of brand products. The CREATES Act establishes a private cause of action that permits a generic or biosimilar product developer to sue the brand manufacturer to compel it to furnish the necessary samples on “commercially reasonable, market-based terms.” The federal courts’ interpretation of certain provisions of the CREATES Act, remain uncertain and its potential effects on our future commercial products are unknown. Other legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements and restrict sales and promotional activities for pharmaceutical or biological products. We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes on the marketing approvals, if any, of our drug or biologic candidates, may be or whether such changes will have any other impacts on our business. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent marketing approval, as well as subject us to more stringent product labeling and post-marketing conditions and other requirements.

In the European Union, similar political, economic and regulatory developments may affect our ability to profitably commercialize our products. In addition to continuing pressure on prices and cost containment measures, legislative developments at the European Union or EU member state level may result in significant additional requirements or obstacles that may increase our operating costs.

We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative or executive action. We expect that additional federal and state health care reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for health care products and services, which could result in limited coverage and reimbursement and reduced demand for our products, once approved, or additional pricing pressures.

 

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Our relationships with prescribers, purchasers, third-party payors and patients will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other health care laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.

If we obtain FDA approval for any of our drug or biologic candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our operations will be subject to additional health care statutory and regulatory requirements and oversight by federal and state governments in the United States as well as foreign governments in the jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. Physicians, other health care providers and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation, prescription and use of any drug or biologic candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. In the U.S., our future arrangements with such third parties may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other health care laws and regulations that may constrain our business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any products for which we may obtain marketing approval. Violations of the fraud and abuse laws are punishable by criminal and civil sanctions, including, in some instances, exclusion from participation in federal and state health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Restrictions under applicable domestic and foreign health care laws and regulations include but are not limited to the following:

 

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase order or recommendation of a good or service reimbursable under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs; a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, including the U.S. False Claims Act, which impose criminal and civil penalties against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government; actions may be brought by the government or a whistleblower and may include an assertion that a claim for payment by federal health care programs for items and services which results from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statue constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;

 

the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, that imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items or services; similar to the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations relating to health care fraud and abuse, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, that may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving health care items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers;

 

the federal physician payment transparency requirements, sometimes referred to as the “Sunshine Act,” enacted as part of the ACA, which requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to CMS information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors and, beginning in 2022, certain advanced non-physician health care practitioners), as well as the ownership and investment interests held by physicians and other healthcare providers and their immediate family members and applicable group purchasing organizations;

 

analogous state and foreign laws that require pharmaceutical companies to track, report and disclose to the government and/or the public information related to payments, gifts, and other transfers of value or remuneration to physicians and other health care providers, marketing activities or expenditures, or product pricing or transparency information, or that require pharmaceutical companies to implement compliance programs that meet certain standards or to restrict or limit interactions between pharmaceutical manufacturers and members of the health care industry;

 

the U.S. federal laws that require pharmaceutical manufacturers to report certain calculated product prices to the government or provide certain discounts or rebates to government authorities or private entities, often as a condition of reimbursement under federal health care programs;

 

HIPAA, which imposes obligations on certain covered entity health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses as well as their business associates that perform certain services involving the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information; and

 

state and foreign laws that govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, including state security breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state

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consumer protection laws, many of which differ from each other in significant ways or conflict with each other and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Notably, in November 2020, HHS finalized significant changes to the regulations implementing the Anti-Kickback Statute, as well as the civil monetary penalty rules regarding beneficiary inducements, with the goal of offering the health care industry more flexibility and reducing the regulatory burden associated with those fraud and abuse laws, particularly with respect to value-based arrangements among industry participants.

Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable health care laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves any of our drug or biologic candidates, we will be subject to an expanded number of these laws and regulations and will need to expend resources to develop and implement policies and processes to promote ongoing compliance. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other health care laws and regulations, resulting in government enforcement actions. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from participation in government health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, imprisonment, 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.

 

We may be subject to, or may in the future become subject to, U.S. federal and state, and foreign laws and regulations imposing obligations on how we collect, use, disclose, store and process personal information. Our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could result in liability or reputational harm and could harm our business. Ensuring compliance with such laws could also impair our efforts to maintain and expand our customer base, and thereby decrease our revenue.

In many activities, including the conduct of clinical trials, we may be subject to laws and regulations governing data privacy and the protection of health-related and other personal information. These laws and regulations govern our processing of personal data, including the collection, access, use, analysis, modification, storage, transfer, security breach notification, destruction and disposal of personal data.

The privacy and security of personally identifiable information stored, maintained, received or transmitted, including electronically, is subject to significant regulation in the United States and abroad. While we strive to comply with all applicable privacy and security laws and regulations, legal standards for privacy continue to evolve and any failure or perceived failure to comply may result in proceedings or actions against us by government entities, affected individuals or others, which could be extraordinarily expensive to defend and could cause reputational harm, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Numerous foreign, federal and state laws and regulations govern collection, dissemination, use and confidentiality of personally identifiable health information, including state privacy and confidentiality laws (including state laws requiring disclosure of breaches), federal and state consumer protection and employment laws, HIPAA and European and other foreign data protection laws. These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number and may change frequently and sometimes conflict. The European Union’s omnibus data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, took effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR imposes numerous requirements on entities that process personal data in the context of an establishment in the European Economic Area, or EEA, or that process the personal data of data subjects who are located in the EEA. These requirements include, for example, establishing a basis for processing, providing notice to data subjects, developing procedures to vindicate expanded data subject rights, implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures to safeguard personal data, and complying with restrictions on the cross-border transfer of personal data from the EEA to countries that the European Union does not consider to have in place adequate data protection legislation, such as the United States. The GDPR additionally establishes heightened obligations for entities that process “special categories” of personal data, such as health data. Nearly all clinical trials involve the processing of these “special categories” of personal data, and thus processing of personal data collected during the course of clinical trials is subject to heightened protections under the GDPR. Violations of the GDPR can lead to penalties of up to €20 million or 4% of an entity’s annual turnover. The United Kingdom has incorporated the GDPR into its Data Protection Act 2018, and substantially equivalent requirements and penalties apply in the United Kingdom.

On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or the CJEU, issued a landmark opinion in the case Maximilian Schrems vs. Facebook (Case C-311/18), called Schrems II. This decision calls into question certain data transfer mechanisms as between the European Union member states and the United States. The CJEU is the highest court in Europe and the Schrems II decision heightens the burden on data importers to assess U.S. national security laws on their business, and future actions of European Union data protection authorities are difficult to predict at this early date. Consequently, there is some risk of any such data transfers from the European Union being halted by one or more European Union member states. Any contractual arrangements requiring the transfer of personal data from the European Union to us in the United States will require greater scrutiny and assessments as required under Schrems II and may have an adverse impact on cross-border transfers of personal data or increase costs of compliance.

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HIPAA establishes a set of national privacy and security standards for the protection of protected health information, or PHI, by health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers that submit certain covered transactions electronically, or covered entities, and their “business associates,” which are persons or entities that perform certain services for, or on behalf of, a covered entity that involve creating, receiving, maintaining or transmitting PHI. While we are not currently a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA, we are indirectly impacted by HIPAA because HIPAA regulates the ability of clinical investigators and other health care providers to share PHI with us. Failure to receive this information properly could subject us or our health care provider collaborators to HIPAA’s criminal penalties, which may include fines up to $250,000 per violation and/or imprisonment. In addition, responding to government investigations regarding alleged violations of these and other laws and regulations, even if ultimately concluded with no findings of violations or no penalties imposed, can consume company resources and impact our business and, if public, harm our reputation.

In addition, various states, such as California and Massachusetts, have implemented their own privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, that impose restrictive requirements regulating the use and disclosure of health information and other personally identifiable information. In addition to fines and penalties imposed upon violators, some of these state laws also afford private rights of action to individuals who believe their personal information has been misused. California’s patient privacy laws, for example, provide for penalties of up to $250,000 and permit injured parties to sue for damages. In addition to the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, California also recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or CCPA, which became effective January 1, 2020 with the final regulations made effective in August 2020. The CCPA has been characterized as the first “GDPR-like” privacy statute to be enacted in the United States because it mirrors a number of the key provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The CCPA establishes a new privacy framework for covered businesses in the State of California, by creating an expanded definition of personal information, establishing new data privacy rights for consumers, imposing special rules on the collection of consumer data from minors, and creating a new and potentially severe statutory damages framework for violations of the CCPA and for businesses that fail to implement reasonable security procedures and practices to prevent data breaches. More recently, Virginia and Colorado have passed their own comprehensive data privacy legislation statutes that include elements comparable to those of the CCPA.

The interplay of federal and state laws may be subject to varying interpretations by courts and government agencies, creating complex compliance issues for us and potentially exposing us to additional expense, adverse publicity and liability. Further, as regulatory focus on privacy issues continues to increase and laws and regulations concerning the protection of personal information expand and become more complex, these potential risks to our business could intensify. The legislative and regulatory landscape for privacy and data security continues to evolve, and there has been an increasing focus on privacy and data security issues which may affect our business. Failure to comply with current and future laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (including the imposition of significant penalties), criminal and/or civil liability for us and our officers and directors, private litigation and/or adverse publicity that negatively affects our business.

 

Reliance on government funding for our programs may add uncertainty to our research and commercialization efforts with respect to those programs that are tied to such funding and may impose requirements that limit our ability to take certain actions, increase the costs of commercialization and production of drug or biologic candidates developed under those programs and subject us to potential financial penalties, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

During the course of our development of our drug or biologic candidates, we have been funded in significant part through state grants, including but not limited to the substantial funding we have received from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. We entered our first CPRIT award grant contract, or the 2011 CPRIT Agreement, on December 1, 2011. This product development grant ended in November 2019. On September 18, 2018, we entered into a second CPRIT award grant contract for our CD38 targeted ETB program, or the CD38 CPRIT Agreement, which was extended in October 2021. In addition to the funding, we have received to date, we have applied and intend to continue to apply for federal and state grants to receive additional funding in the future, which may or may not be successful. Contracts and grants funded by the U.S. government, state governments and their related agencies, including our contracts with the State of Texas pertaining to funds we have already received, include provisions that reflect the government’s substantial rights and remedies, many of which are not typically found in commercial contracts, including powers of the government to:

 

require repayment of all or a portion of the grant proceeds, in certain cases with interest, in the event we violate certain covenants pertaining to various matters that include any potential relocation outside of the State of Texas, failure to achieve certain milestones or to comply with terms relating to use of grant proceeds, or failure to comply with certain laws;

 

terminate agreements, in whole or in part, for any reason or no reason;

 

reduce or modify the government’s obligations under such agreements without the consent of the other party;

 

claim rights, including march-in and other intellectual property rights, in products and data developed under such agreements;

 

audit contract-related costs and fees, including allocated indirect costs;

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suspend the contractor or grantee from receiving new contracts pending resolution of alleged violations of procurement laws or regulations;

 

impose the State of Texas or U.S. manufacturing requirements for products that embody inventions conceived or first reduced to practice under such agreements;

 

impose the qualifications for the engagement of manufacturers, suppliers and other contractors as well as other criteria for reimbursements;

 

suspend or debar the contractor or grantee from doing future business with the government;

 

control and potentially prohibit the export of products;

 

pursue criminal or civil remedies under the False Claims Act, False Statements Act and similar remedy provisions specific to government agreements; and

 

limit the government’s financial liability to amounts appropriated by the State of Texas on a fiscal-year basis, thereby leaving some uncertainty about the future availability of funding for a program even after it has been funded for an initial period.

In addition to those powers set forth above, the government funding we may receive could also impose requirements to make payments based upon sales of our products in the future. For example, under the terms of our CD38 CPRIT Agreement, we are required to pay CPRIT a percentage of our revenues from sales of products directly funded by CPRIT, or received from our licensees or sub licensees, at a percentage in the low to mid-single digits until the aggregate amount of such payments equals 400% of the funds we receive from CPRIT, and thereafter at a rate of one-half percent.

We may not have the right to prohibit the State of Texas or, if relevant under possible future federal grants, the U.S. government, from using certain technologies developed by us, and we may not be able to prohibit third-party companies, including our competitors, from using those technologies in providing products and services to the U.S. government. The U.S. government generally takes the position that it has the right to royalty-free use of technologies that are developed under U.S. government contracts. These and other provisions of government grants may also apply to intellectual property we license now or in the future.

In addition, government contracts and grants normally contain additional requirements that may increase our costs of doing business, reduce our profits and expose us to liability for failure to comply with these requirements. These requirements include, for example:

 

specialized accounting systems unique to government contracts and grants;

 

mandatory financial audits and potential liability for price adjustments or recoupment of government funds after such funds have been spent;

 

public disclosures of certain contract and grant information, which may enable competitors to gain insights into our research program; and

 

mandatory socioeconomic compliance requirements, including labor standards, non-discrimination and affirmative action programs and environmental compliance requirements.

If we fail to maintain compliance with any such requirements that may apply to us now or in the future, we may be subject to potential liability and to termination of our contracts.

 

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 our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our research and development activities and our third-party manufacturers’ and suppliers’ activities involve the controlled storage, use, and disposal of hazardous materials, including the components of our drug or biologic candidates and other hazardous compounds. We and our manufacturers and suppliers are subject to laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling, and disposal of these hazardous materials. In some cases, these hazardous materials and various wastes resulting from their use are stored at our and our manufacturers’ facilities pending their use and disposal. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination, which could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development efforts and business operations; environmental damage resulting in costly clean-up; and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling, and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. Although we believe that the safety procedures utilized by us and our third-party manufacturers for handling and disposing of these materials generally comply with the standards prescribed by these laws and regulations, we cannot guarantee that this is the case or eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In such an event, we may be held liable for any resulting damages and such liability could exceed our resources and state or federal or other applicable authorities may curtail our use of specified materials and/or interrupt our business operations. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently, and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot

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predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. We do not currently carry biological or hazardous waste insurance coverage.

 

Inadequate funding for the FDA, the SEC and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent our drug or biologic candidates from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business rely, which could negatively impact our business.

The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of the SEC and other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.

Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new drugs and biologic products to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times, including from December 22, 2018 through January 25, 2019, and congressional impasses periodically threaten to cause future government shutdowns. When a shutdown occurs, certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the SEC, have had to furlough critical FDA, SEC and other government employees and stop critical activities. Moreover, recent shutdowns or slowdowns caused by the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic can increase the time needed for an agency to complete its review or make final approvals or other administrative decisions. If a prolonged government shutdown or slowdown occurs, it could significantly affect the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, in our operations as a public company, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

 

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

 

Our ability to compete effectively may decline if we are unable to establish intellectual property rights or if our intellectual property rights are inadequate to protect our ETB technology, present and future drug or biologic candidates and related processes for our developmental pipeline.

We rely or will rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection, and confidentiality agreements to protect our intellectual property related to our technologies and drug or biologic candidates. Our commercial success and viability depend in large part on our current and potential future licensors or collaboration partners’ ability to obtain, maintain and enforce patent and other intellectual property protections in the United States, Europe and other countries worldwide with respect to our current and future proprietary technologies and drug or biologic candidates. If we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners do not adequately protect such intellectual property, competitors may be able to use our technologies and erode or negate any competitive advantage we may have, which could materially harm our business, negatively affect our position in the marketplace, limit our ability to commercialize drug or biologic candidates and delay or render impossible our achievement of profitability.

Our strategy and future prospects are based, in part, on our patent portfolio. We and our current and future licensors or collaboration partners or licensees will best be able to protect our proprietary ETB technologies, drug or biologic candidates and their uses from unauthorized use by third parties to the extent that valid and enforceable patents, other regulatory exclusivities or effectively protected trade secrets, cover them. We have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing in the United States and elsewhere patent applications related to our proprietary ETB technologies, drug or biologic candidates and methods of use 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 meaningful patent protection.

Intellectual property rights have limitations and do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage. Our ability to obtain patent protection for our proprietary technologies, drug or biologic candidates and their uses is uncertain, and the degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

 

we or our current or future collaboration partners may not have been the first to make the inventions disclosed in or covered by pending patent applications or issued patents;

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners may not have been the first to file patent applications covering our ETB technology, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or their uses;

 

others may independently develop identical, similar or alternative methods, products, drug or biologic candidates or compositions and uses thereof;

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we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners’ disclosures in patent applications may not be sufficient to meet the statutory requirements for patentability;

 

any or all of our current or future licensors or collaboration partners’ pending patent applications may not result in issued patents;

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners may not seek or obtain patent protection in jurisdictions or countries that may provide us with a significant business opportunity;

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners might seek or obtain patent protection in jurisdictions or countries that might not provide us with a significant business opportunity;

 

any patents issued to us or to our current or future licensors or collaboration partners, or to us and to our current or future licensors or collaboration partners, may not provide a basis for commercially viable products, may not provide any competitive advantages or may be successfully challenged by one or more third parties;

 

we or our current or future licensors’ or collaboration partners’ products, drug or biologic candidates, compositions, methods or uses thereof may not be patentable;

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners might fail to maintain our or their patents, resulting in their abandonment;

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners might fail to obtain patent term extensions available in the United States or in foreign jurisdictions or countries;

 

others may design around our or our current or future licensors’ or collaboration partners’ patent claims to produce competitive technologies, products or uses which fall outside of the scope of our patents or other intellectual property rights;

 

others may identify prior art or other bases which could render unpatentable our or our current or future licensors’ or collaboration partners’ patent applications, or invalidate our or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners’ patents;

 

our competitors might conduct research and development activities in the United States and other countries that provide a safe harbor from patent infringement claims for certain research and development activities, as well as in countries where we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners do not have patent rights, and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in major commercial markets; or

 

we or our current or future licensors or collaboration partners may not develop additional proprietary technologies or products that are patentable.

Further, the patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain and involves complex legal and factual questions for which legal principles remain unsettled. The patent applications that we own or in-license may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our or our competitors’ drug or biologic candidates or their uses in the United States or in other countries. There is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found, which can invalidate a patent or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. Even if patents do successfully issue, and even if such patents cover our technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or their uses, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed, found unenforceable or invalidated. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our intellectual property, provide exclusivity for our drug or biologic candidates or prevent others from designing around our claims. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business.

We, independently or together with our collaboration partners, have filed patent applications covering various aspects of our ETB technology, drug or biologic candidates and associated assays and uses. We cannot offer any assurances about which, if any, patents will issue, the breadth of any such patent or whether any issued patents will be found invalid and unenforceable or will be threatened by one or more third parties. Any successful opposition or challenge to these patents or to any other patents owned by or licensed to us after patent issuance could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any drug or biologic candidates that we may develop. Further, if we encounter delays in regulatory approvals, the period of time during which we could market a drug or biologic candidate under patent protection could be reduced.

If we cannot obtain and maintain effective protection of exclusivity from our regulatory efforts and intellectual property rights, including patent protection or data or market exclusivity for our technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or their uses, we may not be able to compete effectively, and our business and results of operations would be harmed.

 

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We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on drug or biologic candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal or state laws in the United States. Competitors may use our technologies to develop our own products in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection and may also export infringing products to territories where we do not have patent protection, or to territories where we have patent protection, but where 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 some countries, particularly some developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to healthcare, medicine, or 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, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our resources, efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

 

We may not have sufficient patent term or regulatory exclusivity protections for our drug or biologic candidates to effectively protect our competitive position.

Patents have a limited term. In the United States and most jurisdictions worldwide, the statutory expiration of a non-provisional patent is generally 20 years after it is first filed. Although various extensions may be available, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our technologies, drug or biologic candidates and associated uses are obtained, once the patent’s life has expired, including for failure to pay maintenance fees or annuities, we may be open to competition from generic, biosimilar or biobetter medications.

Patent term extensions under the Hatch-Waxman Act in the United States, and regulatory extensions in Japan and certain other countries, and under Supplementary Protection Certificates in Europe, may be available to extend the patent or market or data exclusivity terms of our drug or biologic candidates depending on the timing and duration of the regulatory review process relative to patent term. In addition, upon issuance of a United States patent, any patent term may be adjusted based on specified delays during patent prosecution caused by the applicant(s) or the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO. Although we will likely seek patent term extensions in the U.S. and in one or more foreign jurisdictions where available, we cannot provide any assurances that any such patent term extensions will be granted and, if so, for how long. As a result, we may not be able to maintain exclusivity for our drug or biologic candidates for an extended period after regulatory approval, if any, which would negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If we do not have sufficient patent term or regulatory exclusivity to protect our drug or biologic candidates, our business and results of operations will be adversely affected.

 

Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our technologies and products, and recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents.

As is the case with other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involve both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States has recently enacted and is currently implementing wide-ranging patent reform legislation. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in specified circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in specified situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

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On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or AIA was signed into law. Under the AIA, as of March 16, 2013, the United States transitioned to a “first-inventor-to-file” system for deciding which party should be granted a patent when two or more patent applications are filed by different parties claiming the same invention. A third party that filed or files a patent application with the USPTO after March 16, 2013 but before we file an application could therefore be granted a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by the third party. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential at least 18 months after filing, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our drug or biologic candidates.

The AIA also provides a process known as inter partes review, or IPR, which has been used by many third parties to challenge and invalidate patents. The IPR process is not limited to patents filed after the AIA was enacted and would therefore be available to a third party seeking to invalidate any of our U.S. patents, even those issued or filed before March 16, 2013. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal court necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures, e.g., an IPR, to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party in a district court action.

 

We could be required to incur significant expenses to obtain our intellectual property rights, and we cannot ensure that we will obtain meaningful patent protection for our drug or biologic candidates.

The patent prosecution 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. In addition, it is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of further inventions made in the course of our research, development or commercialization activities before they are publicly disclosed, making it in many cases too late to obtain patent protection on them. Further, given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new drug or biologic candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. We expect to seek extensions of patent terms where these are available in any countries where we are prosecuting patents. This includes in the United States under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, which permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of a patent that covers an approved product where the permission for the commercial marketing or use of the product is the first permitted commercial marketing or use, and as long as the remaining term of the patent does not exceed 14 years. However, the applicable authorities, including the FDA in the United States, and any comparable regulatory authority in other countries, may not agree with our assessment of whether such extensions are available, and may refuse to grant extensions to our patents, or may grant more limited extensions than we request. If this occurs, our competitors may be able to take advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials by referencing our clinical and preclinical data and launch their product earlier than might otherwise be the case. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection. The laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and these foreign laws may also be subject to change. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot be certain that we, our current or future collaboration partners or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned or licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we, our current or future collaboration partners or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions.

 

Issued patents covering our ETB technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or uses could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in a patent office or court.

Even if our current or future collaboration partners’ or licensors’ patents do successfully issue and even if such patents cover our technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or methods of use, third parties may initiate interference, re-examination, post-grant review, IPR or derivation actions in the USPTO; may initiate third party oppositions in the European Patent Office, or EPO; or may initiate similar actions challenging the validity, enforceability, scope or term of such patents in other patent administrative or court proceedings worldwide, which may result in patent claims being narrowed or invalidated. Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment of our patents in such a way that they no longer cover competitive technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or methods of use. Further, if we initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering our technologies, drug or biologic candidates, compositions or uses, the defendant could counterclaim that our relevant patent is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, certain European and other countries worldwide, it is commonplace for defendants to make counterclaims alleging invalidity and unenforceability in the same proceeding, or to commence parallel defensive proceedings such as patent nullity actions to challenge validity and enforceability of asserted patent claims. Further, in the United States, a third party, including a licensee of one of our current or future collaboration partners’ patents, may initiate legal proceedings against us in which the third party challenges the validity, enforceability, or scope of our patent(s).

In administrative and court actions, grounds for a patent validity challenge may include alleged failures to meet any of several statutory requirements, including novelty, nonobviousness (or inventive step), clarity, adequate written description

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and enablement of the claimed invention. Grounds for unenforceability assertions include allegations that someone associated with the filing or prosecution of the patent withheld material information from the Examiner during prosecution in the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution in the USPTO, the EPO or elsewhere. Third parties also may raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the USPTO or the EPO, even outside the context of litigation. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity or unenforceability are unpredictable. With respect to patent claim validity, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we or the patent examiner was unaware during prosecution. Further, we cannot be certain that all of the potentially relevant art relating to our patents and patent applications has been brought to the attention of every patent office. If a defendant or other patent challenger were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our ETB technology, drug or biologic candidates, compositions and associated uses.

 

We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property rights, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful and have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of any of our future licensors. If we or one of our current or future collaboration partners were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our drug or biologic candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our drug or biologic candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. In addition, a third party might initiate legal proceedings against us alleging that our patent covering one or more of our drug or biologic candidates is invalid and/or unenforceable. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including novelty, nonobviousness, adequate written description, clarity or 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. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable.

There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly, for example, such that they do not cover our drug or biologic candidates or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the claimed invention at issue on the grounds that our or our current or future collaboration partners’ patent claims do not cover the claimed invention. Third parties may in the future make claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our intellectual property. An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving one or more of our patents could limit our ability to assert those patents against those parties or other competitors and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making and selling similar or competitive products.

Even if we were to establish infringement of our patent rights by a third party, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. 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 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 adversely affect the market price of our common stock. Moreover, there can be no assurance that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file, pursue or maintain such infringement claims, which typically last for years before they are concluded and can involve substantial expenses. Even if we ultimately prevail in such claims, the monetary cost of such litigation and the diversion of the attention of our management and scientific personnel could outweigh any benefit we receive as a result of the proceedings.

Interference or derivation proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority or inventorship of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of any of our future licensors. An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Our defense of litigation, interference proceedings, or derivation proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation and administrative proceedings 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 drug or biologic candidates to market.

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If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets and know-how for our drug or biologic candidates or any future drug or biologic candidates, we may not be able to compete effectively in our proposed markets.

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 drug or biologic 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, contractors and other third parties. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors.

Although our current employment contracts require assignment of inventor’s rights of intellectual property to us,  and we expect all of our employees and consultants to assign their inventions to us, and although all of our employees, consultants, advisors, and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information or technology are expected 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. Misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our trade secrets could impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating trade secrets.

 

Third party claims of intellectual property infringement could result in costly litigation or other proceedings and may prevent or delay our development and commercialization efforts.

Our research and development activities and commercial success depends in part on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our drug or biologic candidates and use our proprietary technology without infringing the patent rights of third parties. Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. We are currently not aware of U.S. or foreign patents or pending patent applications that are owned by one or more third parties and that cover our ETB drug or biologic candidates or therapeutic uses of those ETB drug or biologic candidates. In the future, we may identify such third-party U.S. and non-U.S. issued patents and pending applications. If we identify any such patents or pending applications, we may in the future pursue available proceedings in the U.S. and foreign patent offices to challenge the validity of these patents and patent applications. In addition, or alternatively, we may consider whether to seek to negotiate a license of rights to technology covered by one or more of such patents and patent applications. If any patents or patent applications cover ou