10-K 1 adro-10k_20181231.htm 10-K adro-10k_20181231.htm

 

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, 2018

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 001-37345

 

ADURO BIOTECH, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

94-3348934

(State or other jurisdiction

of incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

740 Heinz Avenue

Berkeley, California  94710

(Address of principal executive offices including zip code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (510) 848-4400

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: Common Stock, Par Value $0.0001 Per Share; Common stock traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market

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

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    YES      NO  

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.    YES      NO  

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

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

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

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

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

Small reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

The aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2018, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on the Nasdaq Stock Market for such date, was $447,489,686.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of February 22, 2019 was 79,709,275.

Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

4

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

28

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

58

Item 2.

 

Properties

58

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

58

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

58

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

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

59

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

60

Item 7.

 

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

62

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

76

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

77

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

107

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

107

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

107

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

108

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

108

Item 12.

 

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

108

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

108

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

108

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

109

 

 

Signatures

114

 

2


SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements, other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our future financial condition, business strategy and plans, and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases you can identify these statements by forward-looking words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “expect” or the negative or plural of these words or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following:

 

the potential of our technologies and our ability to execute on our corporate strategy;

 

our ability to fund our working capital needs into 2022;

 

our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates;

 

our ability to use and expand our technologies to build a pipeline of product candidates;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of our product candidates;

 

the strength and breadth of our patent portfolio;

 

the potential for receipt of additional milestone payments;

 

our ability to obtain and adequately protect intellectual property rights for our product candidates;

 

our continued reliance of third parties for manufacturing our product candidates, conducting our clinical trials and certain research activities;

 

our ability to in-license, acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies, products or assets to further expand or complement our portfolio of product candidates;

 

expected timing of our clinical trials; and

 

the timing and availability of results of our clinical trials and those of our collaborators.

These statements are only current predictions and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our or our industry’s actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated by the forward-looking statements. We discuss many of these risks in greater detail under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. New risk factors and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all risks and uncertainties.

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Except as required by law, after the date of this report, we are under no duty to update or revise any of the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

We obtained industry, market and competitive position data in this report from our own internal estimates and research as well as from industry and general publications and research surveys and studies conducted by third parties. These data involve a number of assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to such information or estimates.

 

 

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PART I

 

 

Item 1. Business.

Overview

References herein to “we,” “us,” “Company” and “Aduro” refer to Aduro Biotech, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries unless the context specifically states otherwise.

We are an immunotherapy company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies that are designed to harness the body's natural immune system for the treatment of patients with challenging diseases. Our primary technologies related to the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) and A Proliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL) pathways have led to what we believe is a strong pipeline of clinical candidates that are being investigated in cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Our product candidates are designed to stimulate and/or regulate innate and adaptive immune responses, particularly in combination with other novel immunotherapies. We are collaborating with a number of leading global pharmaceutical companies to help expand and drive our product pipeline. Our strategy is to rapidly advance best-in-class therapies from our STING and APRIL technologies through clinical development and regulatory approval.  

Our STING pathway activator technology is designed to activate the intracellular STING receptor, which may result in a potent tumor-specific immune response. We are developing STING pathway activator product candidates, including ADU-S100 (MIW815), in oncology under our worldwide collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, or Novartis. ADU-S100, the first STING pathway activator to enter the clinic, is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial as a single agent and in an ongoing Phase 1b combination trial with spartalizumab (PDR001), an investigational anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, in patients with cutaneously accessible metastatic solid tumors or lymphomas. Preliminary results and observations from these trials were presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) 33rd Annual Meeting in November 2018. We also have initiated a Phase 1 trial of ADU-S100 in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab), an approved anti-CTLA-4 antibody for the treatment of relapsed and refractory melanoma. We expect to initiate a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of ADU-S100 with an approved anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) in the second half of 2019.

APRIL is a soluble factor that binds to B-cell maturation antigen, or BCMA, and transmembrane activator and CAML interactor, or TACI, receptors thereby inducing signaling, and is implicated in IgA nephropathy, multiple myeloma and other indications. BION-1301, a first-in-class fully blocking monoclonal antibody that blocks APRIL binding to both the BCMA and TACI receptors, is being evaluated in an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial for multiple myeloma. We expect to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of BION-1301 in healthy volunteers as part of our plan to evaluate BION-1301 in IgA nephropathy in the first half of 2019.

In addition to our current STING pathway product candidates that activate the STING receptor, we are developing product candidates that are designed to prevent or control immune responses through the STING pathway as part of our cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor program. In December 2018, we entered into a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Eli Lilly and Company, or Lilly, for our cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor program for the research and development of novel inhibitor product candidates for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases.

We have intellectual property protection on our STING and APRIL technologies and each of our product candidates, some of which we believe can be maintained into 2039.

Our Strategy

We aim to discover, develop and commercialize therapies to treat challenging diseases based on our STING and APRIL pathway technologies. Key elements of our strategy include:

 

Rapidly advance therapies from our STING and APRIL technologies through discovery, clinical development and regulatory approval. We are developing novel drug candidates by leveraging our proprietary technologies and understanding of the STING and APRIL pathways. We have proprietary technologies that we believe can generate novel and combinable therapies to target disease indications with significant unmet medical need.

 

Expand on the value of our product candidates through partnerships. We may decide to selectively partner product candidates in certain geographies and where we believe a partner could bring additional resources and expertise to maximize the value of our product candidates. We have strategic partnerships with Novartis for STING pathway activator product candidates in oncology, Lilly for cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor product candidates and Merck to advance an anti-CD27 antibody. We believe these partnerships have the potential to drive significant value through the extensive capabilities of these organizations.

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Maximize the value of our proprietary STING and APRIL pathway programs through the retention of commercial rights in key markets. We retain U.S. commercial rights for STING pathway activator product candidates in oncology developed in collaboration with Novartis. In addition, we maintain full ownership of our APRIL pathway product candidates.

 

Leverage the expertise of our scientific founders and key advisors to develop innovative technologies at the forefront of immunotherapy. Our scientific founders and advisors are from some of the world’s leading research institutions and have a history of seminal discoveries and significant experience in oncology and immunotherapy. As such, we plan to continue to leverage the collective talent of our scientists, clinicians and a network of highly influential advisors to inform our development strategy and enable our technology to be at the forefront of immunotherapy. We strive to protect our commercially important discoveries and product candidates by applying for, maintaining, and defending our patent rights.

Our Pipeline

STING Pathway Technology

We believe key attributes of our STING pathway technology include:

 

Early Evidence of Potency. Our STING pathway activator product candidates have demonstrated significant anti-tumor activity in preclinical studies as well as early clinical activity.

 

Novel Mechanism. Our STING Pathway activator product candidates are designed to initiate broad and strong innate and adaptive immune responses through the activation of the STING receptor signaling pathway.

 

Versatility of Delivery. We believe our STING pathway activator product candidates can be delivered via intratumoral injection, and potentially via new systemic delivery formulations and other novel modalities.

 

Combinability. Based on their mechanism of action and results from preclinical studies and observations from early clinical studies, we believe our STING pathway activator product candidates may have synergistic or additive benefits of immune-mediated tumor killing mechanisms when combined with conventional and novel therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and checkpoint inhibitors, among others.

 

Ease of Manufacture. Our STING pathway activator product candidates are small molecules manufactured through a relatively simple and cost-effective process.

 

Broad Applicability. We believe our STING pathway product candidates have broad application in oncology as well as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

The STING receptor is known to be a central mediator of innate immunity and is critical for immune surveillance. Recent advancements reported in numerous leading scientific journals have generated significant interest and rationale for targeting the STING receptor as a novel therapeutic approach to immuno-oncology. We are developing a portfolio of synthetic proprietary small molecule immune modulators that target and activate the STING receptor with application across diverse diseases. The STING receptor is generally expressed at high levels in immune cells, including dendritic cells, or DCs, and many other cells in the body. Once activated, the STING receptor initiates a profound innate immune response by signaling through at least three distinct pathways, inducing the expression of a broad profile of cytokines, including interferons and chemokines. In addition to this cytokine profile, the enhanced tumor antigen-presenting capacity subsequently leads to the development of an effective tumor antigen-specific T cell adaptive immune response. We are also pursuing product opportunities that downregulate the STING pathway.

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Naturally occurring cyclic dinucleotides, or CDNs, that target the STING receptor are produced by bacteria that secrete CDNs into the host cell or by mammalian cells through cyclic GMP-AMP synthetase, or cGAS. cGAS is a receptor that senses double-stranded (ds) DNA in the cytosol of antigen presenting cells, or APCs, and in response synthesizes a CDN that is structurally distinct from the CDNs produced by bacteria. While both bacterial- and cGAS-produced CDNs target and activate the STING receptor, CDNs produced by cGAS bind more tightly to STING than CDNs produced by bacteria. This stronger binding triggers a larger and more stable change in shape of the STING receptor, leading to the development of a more effective tumor antigen-specific immune response. Additionally, while some of the five known STING alleles in humans respond poorly to CDNs produced by bacteria, all respond to CDNs produced by cGAS. We are advancing through development novel synthetic STING pathway product candidates that are active in all five known human STING alleles.

We have developed proprietary STING pathway activator derivative compounds that are significantly more potent than the natural cGAS-produced molecules, which can be demonstrated by comparing the expression levels the cytokines produced from signaling through three distinct pathways. The NF-kB pathway induces the expression of numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6 and TNFa that stimulate a variety of immune cells. The IRF-3 pathway leads to the induction of IFN-b and co-regulated genes, which orchestrates diverse innate immune responses. The STAT6 pathway leads to expression of chemokines, including CCL2 and CCL20 that are involved in immune cell recruitment. The unique profile of cytokines induced through activating the STING receptor results in strong efficacy in numerous aggressive preclinical mouse models of cancer.

 

 

In healthy individuals, DCs and other APCs constantly sample nearby tumor and non-tumor cells. However, in cancer patients, tumors can produce immune-inhibitory molecules which can make the DCs non-functional. We believe the activation of the STING receptor in the tumor microenvironment by intratumoral injection of our proprietary STING pathway activator product candidates stimulate the maturation of the DCs, leading to the presentation of antigens found on the individual’s unique tumor. The activated tumor-specific T cells induce tumor cell death both locally and systemically, resulting in significant and durable therapeutic efficacy in preclinical tumor models.

STING Pathway Product Candidates

We envision multiple STING pathway product opportunities, particularly in combination with other treatments. In preclinical animal models, our data have shown that our proprietary STING pathway activator product candidates can be combined with designated recombinant proteins to induce potent antigen-specific CD4+ T cells, which recognize foreign antigens and assist in the immune response, and CD8+ T cells, which recognize and destroy cells expressing foreign antigens. We believe our STING pathway product candidates can also be combined with conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy to enhance immune-mediated tumor killing mechanisms. We also believe that our STING pathway product candidates could alter the nature of the tumor microenvironment, thus allowing for improved responses to checkpoint inhibitors.

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In addition, our STING pathway product candidates directly activate natural killer cells and could enhance Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity, or ADCC, tumor cell killing mechanisms, which are a significant mechanism of action of several established monoclonal antibody therapies. Another possible opportunity would be to directly conjugate our STING pathway activator product candidates to enhance ADCC.

ADU-S100

Our lead STING pathway product candidate is ADU-S100 (also known as MIW815), which differs from naturally occurring CDNs through the provision of proprietary modifications designed to optimize stability, STING receptor binding affinity and potency, without significant toxicity. In March 2015, we entered into a worldwide collaboration with Novartis to further advance the research and development of STING pathway product candidates in oncology.

ADU-S100 Preclinical Studies

In preclinical mouse tumor models, Intratumoral, or IT, injection of ADU-S100 induced tumor shrinkage and generated substantial immune responses capable of providing long-lasting systemic antigen-specific T cell immunity to prevent further growth of distal, untreated tumor metastases, a response known as an abscopal effect. Further preclinical studies demonstrated that the abscopal effect is entirely STING receptor-dependent. These data provide the rationale for advancing this novel molecule for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic cancers.

 

Further rationale for the approach of IT injection of ADU-S100 is the recent discovery that the STING-dependent innate immune sensing in the tumor microenvironment is a critical step in promoting spontaneous tumor-initiated T cell priming, subsequent infiltration of tumor lymphocytes and tumor regression. Analyses conducted with tumors isolated from melanoma patients have also revealed that tumors containing infiltrating activated T cells are characterized by an IFN gene signature. Studies in mice have demonstrated that IFN-ß signaling plays a critical role in tumor-initiated T cell priming. We believe that treatment strategies to induce IFN-ß signaling and DC activation in the tumor microenvironment to bridge the innate and adaptive immune responses have significant therapeutic potential. IT delivery of our synthetic STING pathway activator product candidates activate a tumor-specific T cell response that is unique to the individual’s tumor; conceptually, a small molecule approach to patient-specific immuno-oncology treatments.

 

We are advancing development of ADU-S100 in multiple clinical trials designed to further assess its potential.

Phase 1 ADU-S100 (Ongoing)

A Phase 1 dose escalation and dose expansion clinical trial with ADU-S100 is ongoing in collaboration with Novartis. The trial is designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and clinical activity of ADU-S100 in patients with advanced, metastatic treatment-refractory solid tumors or lymphomas. In this multicenter, open-label trial, ADU-S100 is administered intratumorally on Days 1, 8 and 15 of a 28-day cycle.

The Phase 1 monotherapy trial of ADU-S100 is being conducted in a heterogeneous and heavily pre-treated patient population. Preliminary results from the 50 – 3200 mcg dose cohorts of this ongoing monotherapy trial were presented at the SITC 33rd Annual Meeting in November 2018.

 

Preliminary signs of clinical activity were seen in several patients, including some who received prior checkpoint inhibitor therapy. The results indicated ADU-S100 is safe and well-tolerated. Target engagement of ADU-S100 and activation of the STING pathway was demonstrated by increases in key systemic cytokines, including IL-6, MCP-1 and IFN-β, observed after administration. Over 20 types of cancer have been treated in this trial, including Merkel cell, parotid gland, colorectal, endometrial, ER+ and triple-negative breast cancer, esophageal, collecting duct carcinoma, ovarian, Hodgkin's disease, hemangioepithelioma and other cancers. Enrollment is ongoing for additional patient cohorts.

We and Novartis are continuing to evaluate additional pathology and other biomarkers to assess the pharmacological activity of ADU-S100 in patients.

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Phase 1 ADU-S100 in Combination with Spartalizumab (Ongoing)

A Phase 1b dose escalation and dose expansion clinical trial is ongoing to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of ADU-S100 in combination with spartalizumab (PDR001), Novartis' investigational anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody. The multicenter, open-label trial is currently enrolling patients with advanced, metastatic treatment-refractory solid tumors or lymphomas and is evaluating two treatment schedules of ADU-S100 in dose escalation with a fixed dose of spartalizumab. Patients in Group A receive a fixed dose of intravenous spartalizumab on day 1 and an intratumoral injection of ADU-S100 three times (day 1, 8, 15) in a 28-day cycle. Patients in Group B receive a fixed dose of intravenous spartalizumab on day 1 and an intratumoral injection of ADU-S100 on day 1 of every 28-day cycle. The dose escalation combination trial is enrolling patients with multiple cancers and who have received multiple lines of prior therapies, including prior immunotherapy.

Preliminary observations from the 50 – 400 mcg dose cohorts of the ongoing study of ADU-S100 in combination with spartalizumab included:

 

clinical responses observed in several tumor types, including a subset of patients who had previously demonstrated responses to checkpoint inhibitor therapy alone;

 

reduced tumor volume in injected and non-injected lesions in some patients;

 

several patients remained on study longer than 6 months; and

 

safety profile consistent with what has been observed in the ADU-S100 monotherapy study.

Melanoma Overview

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer that develops in cells called melanocytes that make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. Melanomas can develop anywhere on the body and most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as the back, legs, arms and face. Often, the first signs and symptoms of melanoma include a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole or the development of new pigmented or unusual growth on the skin. The incidence of melanoma increases with age. Melanoma represents 5.3 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States and is the fifth most common type of cancer in men and women of all age groups. According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that there will be 96,480 new cases of melanoma in the United States and 7,230 deaths from the disease. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year.

Phase 1 ADU-S100 in Combination with ipilimumab in Melanoma (Ongoing)

In 2018, the protocol for investigation of ADU-S100 as a single agent was amended to include a study arm evaluating ADU-S100 in combination with ipilimumab, an approved anti-CTLA-4 antibody for the treatment of relapsed and refractory melanoma. This is the first clinical trial evaluating ADU-S100 in a homogenous patient population. The ongoing multicenter trial is enrolling advanced melanoma patients who have relapsed after or are refractory to treatment with anti-PD-1 antibodies, nivolumab or pembrolizumab. During the ongoing dose escalation phase of the trial, ipilimumab will be administered at its approved dose and schedule, while the dose of ADU-S100 will be escalated. ADU-S100 is administered intratumorally on Days 1 and 8 of each 21-day cycle (starting dose 200 mcg) and ipilimumab (3 mg/kg) is administered intravenously on day 1 of each 21-day cycle for the first 4 cycles. The dose expansion phase of the trial will evaluate the optimized dose of ADU-S100 in combination with ipilimumab in two expansion cohorts that will enroll patients with cutaneously and viscerally accessible melanoma.

 

Head and Neck Cancer Overview

Cancers that are known collectively as head and neck cancers often begin in the squamous cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck, including the oral cavity, larynx, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, thyroid and salivary glands. These squamous cell cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, or SCCHN. The symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing and a change or hoarseness in the voice. SCCHN accounts for over 90 percent of head and neck cancers and is the sixth most common cancer by incidence worldwide. Each year, SCCHN is diagnosed in more than 600,000 people globally, with 50,000 new cases and more than 10,000 deaths occurring in the United States alone. Rates of death due to SCCHN have declined only slightly in the United States over the past three decades, and the all-stage survival rates of 61 percent at five years and 50 percent at 10 years illustrate the need for improved therapy.

 

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Phase 1b/2 ADU-S100 in Combination with anti-PD-1 antibody in SCCHN (Planned)

We expect to initiate a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of ADU-S100 in combination with an approved anti-PD-1 antibody in patients with SCCHN in the second half of 2019.

cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor Program

In addition to our current STING pathway product candidates that activate the STING receptor, we are developing product candidates that are designed to prevent or control immune responses through the STING pathway. We believe these product candidates may have broad application in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In December 2018, we entered into a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Lilly for our cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor program for the research and development of novel product candidates for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases.

The presence of cytosolic DNA from pathogens or mislocalization of self-DNA is detected by cGAS. Upon binding DNA, cGAS produces a CDN that activates STING and induces expression of type I interferons and other interferon-stimulated genes. Pathological conditions leading to mislocalized cytosolic DNA or genetic mutations that activate components of the cGAS-STING pathway can lead to overproduction of type I interferons. Our cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor product candidates are small molecules that are being designed to bind and block the signaling that channels through the pathway to reduce excessive type 1 interferon production that drive certain autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. These small molecules originate from several high throughput screens and are further optimized to impart adequate potency and systemic bioavailability.

APRIL Pathway Technology

We believe key attributes of our APRIL pathway technology include:

 

Early Evidence of Potency. BION-1301, a humanized antibody that blocks APRIL from binding to both the BCMA and TACI receptors, has been shown in preclinical studies to inhibit multiple myeloma tumor growth, drug resistance and immune suppression. BION-1301 has also been shown in preclinical studies to reduce serum IgA levels in mice and monkeys, demonstrating compelling rationale for its use in IgA nephropathy.

 

Novel Mechanism. Blocking APRIL is a distinct approach to inhibit both the BCMA and TACI receptors that appears to have immunomodulatory properties.

 

Versatility. APRIL is implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple indications including IgA nephropathy and multiple myeloma.

 

Ease of Manufacture. BION-1301 is a biologic that can be manufactured through well-established processes.

 

Broad Applicability. BION-1301 is a monoclonal antibody, an established therapeutic class to treat cancer as well as autoimmune diseases.

APRIL plays a crucial part in the protective bone marrow tumor microenvironment. APRIL is a ligand for the BCMA and TACI receptors and mediates important B-cell functions. APRIL serum levels are enhanced in patients diagnosed with IgA nephropathy and multiple myeloma (MM). APRIL-driven IgA production in IgA nephropathy has been demonstrated in preclinical studies. In an IgA nephropathy mouse model, blocking APRIL prevents an increase in proteinuria and decreases serum IgA. In preclinical studies, APRIL was also shown to be critically involved in the survival, proliferation and chemoresistance of multiple myeloma tumor cells through binding of its receptor BCMA, and APRIL upregulated mechanisms of immune resistance, involving PD-L1, IL-10, TGF-β and other factors in this model.

 

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APRIL Product Candidates

BION-1301

BION-1301 is a first-in-class, fully blocking humanized monoclonal anti-APRIL antibody and is being developed as a novel therapy for IgA nephropathy and multiple myeloma. BION-1301 blocks APRIL from binding to both the BCMA and TACI receptors, and has been shown in preclinical studies to reduce serum IgA levels in mice and monkeys. BION-1301 has also been shown in preclinical models to halt tumor growth and overcome resistance to MM drugs such as lenalidomide and bortezomib. In addition, BION-1301 has been shown in preclinical studies to inhibit immune suppressive effects of regulatory T cells via TACI.

IgA Nephropathy Overview

IgA nephropathy is a kidney disease characterized by the accumulation of autoantibodies binding to galactose-deficient immunoglobulin A (IgA) leading to deposition of immune complexes in the glomeruli of the kidneys. This results in inflammation that damages the glomeruli, causing proteinuria and microscopic hematuria. Among patients who develop overt proteinuria and/or an elevated serum creatinine concentration, progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is approximately 15 to 25 percent at 10 years and 20 to 30 percent at 20 years. No cure currently exists for IgA nephropathy and treatments are targeted towards preventing progression to ESRD and alleviating symptoms. IgA nephropathy is the most prevalent primary chronic glomerular disease worldwide. While prevalence varies geographically, biopsy and dialysis registry data suggest a higher incidence of IgA nephropathy in East Asian populations and lower incidence in African populations. Variations in disease prevalence may reflect regional differences in screening for kidney disease and kidney biopsy practices. Many patients with IgA nephropathy are detected on routine urine screening because their only clinical manifestation is asymptomatic hematuria and/or proteinuria. Prevalence may therefore appear to be higher in countries with an active urine testing program and a low threshold for the performance of renal biopsy in patients with isolated asymptomatic hematuria, such as Japan and Korea, where testing is routinely performed in schools and in the workplace. Conversely, clinicians in North America seldom biopsy a patient with isolated hematuria or mild proteinuria, resulting in an apparently lower disease prevalence.

 

 

Phase 1 BION 1301 in IgA Nephropathy (Planned)

In the first half of 2019, we expect to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of BION-1301 in IgA nephropathy in healthy volunteers followed by IgA nephropathy patients at a later date. The primary objectives of this clinical trial are to:

 

Assess the safety profile of BION-1301 in healthy volunteers and IgA nephropathy patients,

 

Determine the PK/PD relationship in healthy volunteers and IgA nephropathy patients, and

 

Establish proof-of-mechanism.

 

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Multiple Myeloma Overview

Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Often no symptoms are initially noticed, but when the disease is advanced, fractures, bone pain, frequent infections, kidney dysfunction and anemia may occur. Complications may include amyloidosis. Globally, the 2016 prevalence of multiple myeloma was estimated at 130,000 and the annual mortality was approximately 98,437. In the United States, the 2018 incidence was estimated at 30,770 new cases and the annual mortality was approximately 12,770. Despite new treatments recently approved in multiple myeloma, this disease remains incurable as patients relapse or become resistant to currently-available therapies.

 

Phase 1/2 BION-1301 in Multiple Myeloma (Ongoing )

In December 2017, we initiated a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of BION-1301 in multiple myeloma. The Phase 1/2 is a two-part, multi-center, open-label study designed to evaluate the safety and activity of BION-1301 in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma whose disease has progressed after at least three prior systemic therapies, including immunomodulatory drugs, or iMiDs, proteasome inhibitors, chemotherapies or monoclonal antibodies. The Phase 1 part of the study is evaluating the safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of escalating doses of BION-1301.

 

Other Programs

Anti-CD27 Antibody

CD27 is a co-stimulatory receptor expressed on different immune cells, such as T-lymphocytes and NK cells. It has been recognized as having a critical role in priming, enhancing and sustaining a productive anti-cancer (CD8 T-cell) adaptive immune response. In preclinical studies, anti-CD27 activation in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition has demonstrated enhanced tumor rejection. Our anti-CD27 antibody is exclusively licensed to Merck and is being advanced under our license agreement in Phase 1 clinical development. We believe our anti-CD27 antibody is distinct because it targets a functional epitope on CD27 that has demonstrated potent activation of the CD27 co-stimulatory pathway in preclinical studies.

Manufacturing

We rely on third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to produce our product candidates for clinical use and currently do not own or operate manufacturing facilities. We have established manufacturing processes and supply and quality agreements for all of the investigational agents used in our ongoing clinical trials. We require that our CMOs produce bulk drug substances and finished drug products in accordance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMPs, and all other applicable laws and regulations. We may continue to rely on CMOs to manufacture our products for commercial sale. We maintain agreements with potential and existing manufacturers that include confidentiality and intellectual property provisions to protect our proprietary rights.

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STING Pathway Activator Product Candidates

Manufacturing of our STING Activator product candidates generally encompasses both the chemical synthesis of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API, and its formulation and fill/finish of the final product. The synthetic process for the manufacture of our STING Activator product candidates is a trade secret and we retain control and ownership of the process. We have contracts with a CMO to produce, release and stability test the ADU-S100 API and drug product. Under our collaboration agreement with Novartis, Novartis has manufacturing rights for the manufacture of ADU-S100.

APRIL Pathway Candidates

Manufacturing of B-select product candidates includes generation of engineered cell lines that express and secrete the antibody product candidates. After selection of clones that secrete the desired amounts of product candidates, cell banks are generated and stored to preserve identity and characteristics. Process development, upstream and downstream, is undertaken to select optimal conditions for growth and productivity, quality standards and yield. In addition, activities are undertaken to identify formulation composition to establish stability characteristics. We contract with a CMO to develop, produce and release drug substance and drug product for our antibody candidates targeting APRIL and CTLA-4.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is of vital importance in our field and in biotechnology generally. We seek to protect and enhance proprietary technology, inventions, and improvements that are commercially important to the development of our business by seeking, maintaining, and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties. We will also seek to rely on protections afforded through data exclusively, patent term extensions and regulatory exclusivity, where available.

Through licensing and through developing our own portfolio, we have rights to more than 150 issued patents and more than 300 pending applications in the United States and foreign countries. Patent families within the portfolio are directed to our STING and APRIL technologies as well as our other non-core programs.

STING Pathway Technology

We own and license families of patents and patent applications directed to our STING pathway product candidates, which expire, or if issued would expire, between 2025 and 2039. In particular, we own two issued U.S. patents that expire in 2034; two pending U.S. patent applications and corresponding pending foreign patent applications directed to stereochemically pure cyclic purine dinucleotides and certain other substituted cyclic purine dinucleotides, which if issued would expire in 2033 and 2034, respectively; and three pending U.S. patent applications and corresponding pending foreign patent applications, and one international application directed to certain substituted cyclic purine dinucleotides, which if issued would expire in 2036, 2037 and 2038, respectively, not including any patent term extensions that may be available under U.S. laws and assuming continued payment of any applicable fees. Within this portfolio are U.S. and international patent applications directed to compositions and methods for activating STING utilizing our STING pathway product candidates that are jointly owned with the Regents of the University of California, and which, if issued, would expire in 2034. We also license a family of patents from Karagen Pharmaceuticals directed to certain STING pathway molecules and their use in modulating immune response in a patient, which expire in 2025, not including any patent term extensions that may be available under U.S. laws and assuming continued payment of any applicable fees; a family of patents from the Regents of the University of California also directed to certain STING pathway molecules and their uses that, if issued, would expire in 2034; and a family of patents from a consortium of universities led by Memorial Sloan Kettering also directed to certain STING pathway molecules and their uses, with two issued U.S. patents, and corresponding pending foreign patent applications that, if issued, would expire in 2034.

Antibody Product Candidates

We own five issued U.S. patents, eight pending U.S. patent applications, including corresponding foreign issued patents and patent applications, and one priority filing to cover our antibody product candidates and use thereof. The issued U.S. patents that we own expire between 2030 and 2036, not including any patent term extensions that may be available under U.S. laws. Regarding the pending patents application, if these claims were to be issued, they could extend protection for such products until 2040.

 

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cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor Program

We own two issued U.S. patents and two pending U.S. patent application, including corresponding foreign issued patents and patent applications, and two priority filings to cover our cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor product candidates and use thereof. The issued U.S. patents that we own expire in 2034, not including any patent term extensions that may be available under U.S. laws. Regarding the pending patents applications and priority filings, if these claims were to be issued, they could extend protection for such products until 2039.

General Considerations

As with other biopharmaceutical companies, our ability to maintain and solidify a proprietary position for our product candidates will depend upon our success in obtaining effective patent claims that cover such product candidates and their intended methods of use, and enforcing those claims once granted.

The term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug or biologic may be eligible for patent term extension, which provides patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug or biologic is under regulatory review. Patent extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug or biologic may be extended. Similar provisions are available in Europe and other foreign jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug or biologic. In the future, if and when our biopharmaceutical products receive FDA approval, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on patents covering those products.

Certain of our product candidates may be subject to The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA.  The BPCIA established an abbreviated pathway for the approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products. The new abbreviated regulatory pathway establishes legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilar biologics, including the possible designation of a biosimilar as “interchangeable” based on their similarity to an existing brand product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until twelve years after the original branded product was approved under a BLA. The BPCIA is complex and is still in the process of being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact and implementation are subject to uncertainty.

Many biopharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and academic institutions are competing with us in the field of oncology and filing patent applications potentially relevant to our business. Even when a third-party patent is identified, we may conclude upon a thorough analysis, that we do not infringe upon the patent or that the patent is invalid. If the third-party patent owner disagrees with our conclusion, we may be subject to patent litigation. Alternatively, we might decide to initiate litigation in an attempt to have a court or tribunal declare the third-party patent invalid or non-infringed by our activity. In either scenario, patent litigation typically is costly and time-consuming, and the outcome can be favorable or unfavorable.

In addition to patents, we rely upon unpatented trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain a competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary information, in part, through confidentiality agreements with our employees, collaborators, contractors and consultants, and invention assignment agreements with our employees. We also have agreements with some of our consultants that require them to assign to us any inventions created as a result of their working with us. The confidentiality agreements are designed to protect our proprietary information and, in the case of agreements or clauses requiring invention assignment, to grant us ownership of technologies that are developed through a relationship with a third party.

Our commercial success will depend in part upon not infringing upon the proprietary rights of third parties. It is uncertain whether the issuance of any third-party patent would require us or our licensee(s) to alter our development or commercial strategies, obtain licenses or cease certain activities. The biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. If a third party commences a patent infringement action against us, or our licensee(s), it could consume significant financial and management resources, regardless of the merit of the claims or the outcome of the litigation.

We may rely, in some circumstances, on trade secrets to protect our technology. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors and contractors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. It is possible that these 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. To the extent that our consultants, contractors or collaborators use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.

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Collaborations

Novartis Agreement

In March 2015, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, or Novartis, pursuant to which we are collaborating worldwide with Novartis regarding the development and commercialization of product candidates containing an agonist of the molecular target known as STING in the field of oncology, including immuno-oncology and cancer vaccines. Under this agreement, or the Novartis Agreement, we granted Novartis a co-exclusive license to develop such products worldwide, an exclusive license to commercialize such products outside the United States and a non-exclusive license to support us in commercializing such products in the United States if we request such support. The collaboration is guided by a joint steering committee with each party having final decision making authority regarding specified areas of development or commercialization.

Under the Novartis Agreement, we received an upfront payment of $200.0 million from Novartis in April 2015. In 2016, we earned a $35.0 million development milestone upon initiation of a Phase 1 trial for the first STING product candidate, ADU-S100. We are eligible to receive up to an additional $215.0 million in development milestones and up to an additional $250.0 million in regulatory approval milestones.

We are responsible for 38% of the joint development costs worldwide and Novartis is responsible for the remaining 62% of the joint development costs worldwide.

We will also receive 50% of gross profits on sales of any products commercialized pursuant to this collaboration in the United States and 45% of gross profits for specified European countries and Japan. For each of these profit share countries, each party will be responsible for its respective commercial sharing percentage of all joint commercialization costs incurred in that country.

For all other countries where we are not sharing profits, Novartis will be responsible for all commercialization costs and will pay us a royalty in the mid-teens on all net sales of product sold by Novartis, its affiliates and sublicensees, with such percentage subject to reduction post patent and data exclusivity expiration and subject to reduction, capped at a specified percentage, for royalties payable to third party licensors. Novartis’ royalty obligation will run on a country-by-country basis until the later of expiration of the last valid claim covering the product, expiration of data exclusivity for the product or 12 years after first commercial sale of the product in such country.

With respect to the United States, specified European countries and/or Japan, we may elect for such region to either reduce by 50% or to eliminate in our development and commercialization cost sharing obligation. If we elect to reduce our cost sharing percentage by 50% in any such region, then our profit share in such region will also be reduced by 50%. If we elect to eliminate our development cost sharing obligation, then such region will be removed from the profit share, and instead Novartis will owe us royalties on any net sales of product for such region, as described above.

 

Lilly Agreement

On December 18, 2018, we entered into a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Lilly for our cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor program for the research and development of novel immunotherapies for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases. Pursuant to this agreement, or the Lilly Agreement, we granted an exclusive and worldwide license under certain intellectual property rights controlled by us to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize certain cGAS-STING products for the treatment of autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases. The license granted is sublicensable during a specified time period.

Under the terms of the Lilly Agreement, we received an upfront payment of $12.0 million in the first quarter of 2019 and will be eligible for development and commercial milestones of up to approximately $620.0 million per product. Lilly is also obligated to pay us tiered royalty payments at percentages in the single to low-double digits based on annual net sales of the licensed products. Lilly must pay such royalties on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis until the latest to occur of (i) the expiration of the last-to-expire valid claim of certain patents, (ii) the expiration of the data exclusivity period in such country or (iii) a specified anniversary of the first commercial sale of such product in such country. We will be reimbursed for up to a certain amount of research funding spent during the research term. In addition, we have the option to co-fund the clinical development of each product in exchange for an increase in royalty payments and a reduction in certain milestone payments to the extent relevant to such co-funded product. Lilly will be responsible for all costs of global commercialization.

The Lilly Agreement will remain in effect until the expiration of all payment obligations and may be terminated by Lilly following specified notice period, or by either party in the event of an uncured material breach of the other party or bankruptcy of the other party.

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Merck Agreement

In connection with the acquisition of Aduro Biotech Europe Holdings, Europe B.V., or Aduro Biotech Europe, in October 2015, we became party to an Exclusive Patent and Know How License and Research Collaboration Agreement with Merck Sharp and Dohme B.V., or Merck, pursuant to which we have exclusively licensed our anti-CD27 antibody to Merck. This agreement, or the Merck Agreement, sets forth the parties’ respective obligations for development, and commercialization of certain antibody product candidates.

Since the execution of the Merck Agreement, we have received $5.0 million in connection with achievement of development milestones for our anti-CD27 antibody. Under the Merck Agreement we are eligible to receive future contingent payments, including up to $307.0 million in potential development milestone payments, and up to $135.0 million in commercial and net sales milestones for a product candidate. In addition, we are eligible to receive royalties in the mid-single digits to low teens based on net sales of the product.

 

Janssen ADU-214, ADU-741 and GVAX Prostate Agreements

On September 25, 2018, we received written notices of termination from Janssen Biotech, Inc., or Janssen, for its Research and License Agreements pertaining to our proprietary attenuated strains of Listeria for treatment of lung and prostate cancers. Specifically, Janssen delivered notice for the following agreements, or the Janssen Agreements: (i) the Research and License Agreement, dated as of October 13, 2014, as amended by the Amendment to Research and License Agreements, dated as of November 11, 2015, or the Amendment; (ii) the Research and License Agreement, dated as of May 27, 2014, as amended by the Amendment; and (iii) the GVAX Prostate License Agreement, dated as of May 27, 2014. The terminations were effective December 24, 2018.

Under the terms of the Janssen Agreements, we granted Janssen an exclusive, worldwide license to research, develop, manufacture, use, sell and otherwise exploit products containing ADU-214, ADU-741 and GVAX Prostate for any and all uses. We also granted Janssen exclusive rights to develop products utilizing our proprietary attenuated strains of Listeria for treatment of lung and prostate cancers. We previously received upfront license fees of $42.5 million and milestone payments of $31.0 million upon completion of various development activities and were eligible to receive future contingent payments based on development, regulatory and commercial milestones as well as royalties on any net sales of licensed products by Janssen under each of the Janssen Agreements. Pursuant to the terms of the Janssen Agreements, upon Janssen’s termination, we regained worldwide rights for the development and commercialization of products containing ADU-214, ADU-741 and GVAX Prostate for any and all uses.

Our Research and Development and License Agreements

STING Pathway License Agreements

Karagen Agreement

In June 2012, we entered into a license agreement with Karagen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or Karagen, pursuant to which Karagen granted us an exclusive, worldwide, sublicenseable license under certain patents and know-how related to STING pathway technologies to make, develop, use and commercialize products for use in the therapeutic and/or prophylactic treatment of cancer or precancerous conditions and a non-exclusive license to such patents and know-how to make, develop, use and commercialize products for all other uses. Under the agreement, or the Karagen Agreement, we were also granted an option to designate a particular disease or condition to be added to the field of use under our exclusive license. Under the Karagen Agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize licensed products in the United States and the European Union.

Under the Karagen Agreement, we are required to make milestone payments totaling up to $900,000, in aggregate, for the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones as well as royalties based on net sales of products by us, our affiliates and sublicensees at rates ranging in the low single-digit percentages, determined by whether the disease field is an exclusive or non-exclusive disease field, subject to minimum annual royalties and standard reductions. In addition, we are required to pay Karagen a percentage of consideration received from any sublicensing arrangements ranging from the mid-single digits to the mid-teen digits determined by the current stage of development of the relevant licensed product at the time of the sublicense grant, or by whether we have exercised our option to add a designated field of use to its exclusive license, as applicable.

The Karagen Agreement will expire, on a country-by-country basis, upon the expiration of the last-to-expire valid claim within the licensed patent rights. Either party may terminate the Karagen Agreement upon 90 days’ advance written notice in the event of the other party’s material breach that is not cured within such 90-day period, and immediately upon notice in the event of the other party’s bankruptcy or insolvency. Additionally, we may terminate the Karagen Agreement at will upon 90 days’ advance written notice to Karagen.

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UCB Vance Agreement

In September 2014, we entered into a license agreement with UC Berkeley, granting us an exclusive, worldwide sublicenseable license under certain patent rights covering the use of the STING Activator molecules that activate the STING receptor to make, develop, use and commercialize products, to practice methods and to offer services, in each case that are covered by the licensed patent rights, in all fields of use. Under this agreement, or the UCB Vance Agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop, manufacture and sell licensed products and services and are obligated to achieve specified development and regulatory milestones by specified dates.

Under the UCB Vance Agreement, we paid UCB an upfront fee of $50,000 in 2014 and are required to make future milestone payments totaling up to $1.5 million, in the aggregate, upon our achievement of certain specified development and regulatory milestones for the first indication and up to $250,000 upon our achievement of a specified development and regulatory milestone for each additional indication developed. Under the UCB Vance Agreement, we are obligated to pay UCB royalties based on net sales of licensed products and services sold by us and our sublicensees at a rate in the low single-digit percentages, subject to minimum annual royalties and customary reductions, and a percentage of consideration received from any sublicensing arrangements at rates ranging from the low-single digits to the low thirties, determined by the current stage of development of the relevant licensed product at the time the sublicense is granted.

The UCB Vance Agreement will continue in effect until the expiration of the last-to-expire valid claim within the licensed patent rights. UCB may terminate the agreement upon 90 days’ advance written notice in the event of our material breach that is not cured within such 90-day period. We may terminate the agreement at will upon 90 days’ advance written notice. UCB may terminate the agreement upon 90 days’ advance written notice in the event we challenge the validity or unenforceability of any licensed patent.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Agreement

In December 2014, we entered into a license agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, or MSK, The Rockefeller University, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and University of Bonn, collectively the Licensors, pursuant to which we received an exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable license under certain patents related to STING Activators and a non-exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable license under specified know-how, in each case to develop, make, have made, use, have used, import, sell, and otherwise commercialize licensed products for use in therapeutic and/or prophylactic treatments in humans. Under the agreement, or the MSK Agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize a licensed product, including achieving specified development and regulatory milestones by specified dates. In May and October 2016, the parties amended the license to further expand its scope, which now covers all products covered by the licensed intellectual property.

Under the MSK Agreement, we paid MSK upfront fees of $50,000 in 2015 and an additional $2.0 million in 2016 in connection with the second amendment of the MSK Agreement. Under the amended MSK Agreement we are required to pay MSK development and regulatory milestone payments totaling up to $875,000 for each licensed product and commercialization milestone payments totaling up to $4.5 million for each licensed product. We are also required to pay MSK royalties based on net sales of licensed products by us and our sublicensees at a rate ranging in the low single digits depending on whether the licensed product is covered by a valid claim of the licensed patents, subject to minimum annual royalties. Our royalty obligation to MSK continues on a country-by-country basis until the later of the expiration of the last patent right covering the licensed product in such country or 10 years from the first commercial sale in such country. We are also obligated to pay MSK a percentage of certain consideration received for the grant of sublicenses, ranging from ten to the mid-twenties.

The MSK Agreement will continue in effect until the expiration of our royalty obligations. Either party may terminate the MSK Agreement upon the other party’s uncured material breach that is not cured within 90 days after the breaching party receives notice of such breach. Additionally, the Licensors may terminate the MSK Agreement for our bankruptcy or insolvency or if we fail to pay any undisputed amounts owed under the agreement and do not cure such failure within 30 days after receiving notice of such failure.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and the immunotherapy subsector, are characterized by rapid evolution of technologies, fierce competition and strong defense of intellectual property. A wide variety of institutions, including large pharmaceutical companies, specialty biotechnology companies, academic research departments and public and private research institutions, are actively developing potentially competitive products and technologies. We face substantial competition from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies developing immunotherapy products.  

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Our competitors in the field of diversified immunotherapy include: AstraZeneca PLC, Amgen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Celgene Corporation, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Incyte Corporation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc., Roche Holding AG and Sanofi SA. Our competitors in STING pathway technology include Merck & Co., Inc., Synlogic, Inc. and Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals; for anti-APRIL includes Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd. (Visterra, Inc.); and for the cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor program includes IFM Due, a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics, LLC. While we believe that our product candidates, technology, knowledge and experience provide us with competitive advantages, we face competition from established and emerging pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, among others. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing and new therapies that may become available in the future. The availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors will also significantly affect the pricing and competitiveness of our products.

Many of our competitors, either alone or with strategic partners, have substantially greater financial, technical and human resources than we do. Accordingly, our competitors may be more successful than us in obtaining approval for treatments and achieving widespread market acceptance, rendering our treatments obsolete or non-competitive. Accelerated mergers and acquisitions activity in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. These companies also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical study sites and patient registration for clinical studies and acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.

Our commercial opportunity could be substantially limited in the event that our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, safer, less toxic, more convenient or cheaper than our comparable products. In geographies that are critical to our commercial success, competitors may also obtain regulatory approvals before us, resulting in our competitors building a strong market position in advance of our product’s entry. We believe the factors determining the success of our programs will be the efficacy, safety and convenience of our product candidates.

Government Regulation and Product Approval

As a biopharmaceutical company that operates in the United States and the Netherlands, we are subject to extensive regulation. Federal, state and local government authorities in the United States and in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacturing, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, marketing and export and import of biological and pharmaceutical products such as those we are developing. Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA before they may be legally marketed in the United States and by the appropriate foreign regulatory agency before they may be legally marketed in foreign countries. Generally, our activities in other countries will be subject to regulation that is similar in nature and scope as that imposed in the United States, although there can be important differences. Additionally, some significant aspects of regulation in Europe are addressed in a centralized way, but country-specific regulation remains essential in many respects. The process for obtaining regulatory marketing approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

U.S. Product Development Process

In the United States, the FDA regulates pharmaceutical and biological products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, and the FDA’s implementing regulations. Products are also subject to other federal, state and local statutes and regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval, may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions. FDA sanctions could include, among other actions, refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, a clinical hold, warning letters, product recalls or withdrawals from the market, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement or civil or criminal penalties. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us. The FDA has limited experience with commercial development of combination immuno-oncology products. The process required by the FDA before a drug or biological product may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

completion of nonclinical laboratory tests and animal studies according to good laboratory practices, or GLPs, and applicable requirements for the humane use of laboratory animals or other applicable regulations;

 

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

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performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials according to the FDA’s regulations commonly referred to as good clinical practices, or GCPs, and any additional requirements for the protection of human research patients and their health information, to establish the safety and efficacy of the product candidate for its intended use;

 

submission to the FDA of a biologics license application, or BLA, for any biologic or an NDA for any drug we seek to market that includes substantive evidence of safety, purity and potency, or safety and effectiveness from results of nonclinical testing and clinical trials;

 

satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the product is produced, to assess compliance with cGMP, to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity, and, if applicable, the FDA’s current good tissue practices, or GTPs, for the use of human cellular and tissue products;

 

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

 

FDA review and approval, or licensure, of the NDA or BLA.

Before testing any product candidate in humans, the product candidate enters the preclinical testing stage. Preclinical tests, also referred to as nonclinical studies, include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies to assess the potential safety and activity of the product candidate. The conduct of the preclinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements including GLPs. The clinical trial sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, 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. Some preclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA raises concerns or questions regarding the proposed clinical trials and places the trial on a clinical hold within that 30-day time period. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. The FDA may also impose clinical holds on a product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns or non-compliance. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, trials may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only under terms authorized by the FDA. Accordingly, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate such trials.

Clinical trials involve the administration of the product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the trial sponsor’s control (except in the cases of Sponsor-Investigator studies). 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, including stopping rules that assure a clinical trial will be stopped if certain adverse events should occur. Each protocol and any amendments to the protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Clinical trials must be conducted and monitored in accordance with the FDA’s regulations composing the GCP requirements, including the requirement that all research patients provide informed consent. Further, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, at or servicing each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted. An IRB is charged with protecting the welfare and rights of trial participants and considers such items as whether the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the form and content of the informed consent that must be signed by each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative and must monitor the clinical trial until completed.

Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:

 

Phase 1. The biological product is initially introduced into healthy human patients and tested for safety. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, especially when the product may be too inherently toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients.

 

Phase 2. The biological product is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance, optimal dosage and dosing schedule.

 

Phase 3. Clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy, potency and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk to benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labeling.

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Post-approval clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These clinical trials are used to gather additional information about a product's safety, efficacy or optimal use. Some of the studies may be required under statue or regulation; others may be trials a sponsor has committed to conduct.

During all phases of clinical development, regulatory agencies require extensive monitoring and auditing of all clinical activities, clinical data and clinical trial investigators. Quarterly safety reporting is required for marketed products for the first three years after approval. Annual progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials (for INDs) and changes to the application (for marketed products) must be submitted to the FDA. Written IND safety reports must be promptly submitted to the FDA and the investigators for serious and unexpected adverse events that are considered related to study drug, any findings from other studies, tests in laboratory animals or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human patients, or any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must submit an IND safety report within 15 calendar days after the sponsor determines that the information qualifies for reporting. The sponsor also must notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening adverse reaction that is considered related to study drug within seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, if at all. The FDA or the sponsor or its data safety monitoring board may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk, including risks inferred from other unrelated immuno-oncology trials. 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 biological product has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.

Concurrently with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional studies and must also develop additional information about the physical characteristics of the product candidate as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. To help reduce the risk of the introduction of adventitious agents with use of biological products, the PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products whose attributes cannot be precisely defined. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other criteria, the sponsor must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, potency and purity of the final biological product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the biological product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.

U.S. Review and Approval Processes

After the completion of clinical trials of a product candidate, FDA approval of a BLA or NDA must be obtained before commercial marketing of the product. The BLA or NDA must include results of product development, laboratory and animal studies, human trials, information on the manufacture and composition of the product, proposed labeling and other relevant information. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of data, or full or partial waivers. The testing and approval processes require substantial time and effort and there can be no assurance that the FDA will accept the BLA or NDA for filing and, even if filed, that any approval will be granted on a timely basis, if at all.

Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, each BLA or NDA must be accompanied by a significant user fee. The FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. PDUFA also imposes an annual program fee for marketed products. 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. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on BLAs or NDAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication.

Within 60 days following submission of the application, the FDA reviews a BLA or NDA submitted to determine if it is substantially complete before the agency accepts it for filing. The FDA may refuse to file any BLA or NDA that it deems incomplete or not properly reviewable at the time of submission, and may request additional information. In this event, the BLA or NDA may be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the BLA or NDA. Under PDUFA, the FDA has agreed to certain performance goals to complete the review of BLAs. The FDA may give a priority review designation to biological products that offer significant improvements in safety or efficacy, or provide a treatment where no adequate therapy exists. A priority review means that the goal for the FDA to review an application is six months, rather than the standard review of ten months under current PDUFA guidelines. Under the current PDUFA agreement, these six- and ten-month review periods are measured from the “filing” date rather than the receipt date for original BLAs, which typically adds approximately two months to the timeline for review and decision from the date of submission.

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The FDA reviews the BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe, potent and/or effective for its intended use, and has an acceptable purity profile, and in the case of an NDA, whether the product is safe and effective for its intended use, and in each case, whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP. The FDA may refer applications for novel biological or drug products or biological or drug products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions. During the product approval process, the FDA also will determine whether a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, is necessary to assure the safe use of the product. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the BLA or NDA must submit a proposed REMS. The FDA will not approve a BLA or NDA without a REMS, if required.

Before approving a BLA or NDA, the FDA will inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured. 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. Additionally, before approving a BLA or NDA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure that the clinical trials were conducted in compliance with IND trial requirements and GCP requirements. To assure cGMP, GTP and GCP compliance, an applicant must incur significant expenditure of time, money and effort in the areas of training, record keeping, production and quality control.

Notwithstanding the submission of relevant data and information, the FDA may ultimately decide that the BLA or NDA does not satisfy its regulatory criteria for approval and deny approval. If the agency decides not to approve the BLA or NDA in its present form, the FDA will issue a complete response letter that describes all of the specific deficiencies in the BLA or NDA identified by the FDA. The deficiencies identified may be minor, for example, requiring labeling changes, or major, for example, requiring additional clinical trials. Additionally, the complete response letter may include recommended actions that the applicant might take to place the application in a condition for approval. If a complete response letter is issued, the applicant may either resubmit the BLA or NDA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application.

If a product receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific indications and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited, which could restrict the commercial value of the product.

Further, the FDA may require that certain contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling. The FDA may impose restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing, or dispensing in the form of a risk management plan, or otherwise limit the scope of any approval. In addition, the FDA may require post marketing clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, designed to further assess a biological product’s safety and effectiveness, and testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products that have been commercialized.

In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, a BLA or supplement to a BLA must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of data or full or partial waivers. Unless otherwise required by regulation, PREA does not apply to any product for an indication for which orphan designation has been granted. However, if only one indication for a product has orphan designation, a pediatric assessment may still be required for any applications to market that same product for the non-orphan indication(s).

Orphan Drug Designation

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a drug or biologic 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 and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available in the United States a drug or biologic for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales in the United States for that drug or biologic. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting a BLA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. The orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review or approval process.

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If a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including a full BLA, to market the same biologic for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent FDA from approving a different drug or biologic for the same disease or condition, or the same drug or biologic for a different disease or condition. Among the other benefits of orphan drug designation are tax credits for certain research and a waiver of the BLA application user fee.

A designated orphan drug may not receive orphan drug exclusivity if it is approved for a use that is broader than the indication for which it received orphan designation. In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

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 drug or biological product approval. This period may be reduced to 6 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.

There can be no assurance that we will receive orphan drug designation for any indications or for any product candidates.

Expedited Development and Review Programs

The FDA has a Fast Track program that is intended to expedite or facilitate the process for reviewing new products that meet certain criteria. Specifically, new products are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the disease or condition. Fast Track designation applies to the combination of the product and the specific indication for which it is being studied. Unique to a Fast Track product, the FDA may consider for review sections of the BLA or NDA on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor provides a schedule for the submission of the sections of the BLA or NDA, the FDA agrees to accept sections of the BLA or NDA and determines that the schedule is acceptable, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the BLA or NDA.

Any product, including a product with a Fast Track designation, may also be eligible for other types of FDA programs intended to expedite development and review, such as priority review and accelerated approval. A product is eligible for priority review if it has the potential to provide safe and effective therapy where no satisfactory alternative therapy exists or a significant improvement in the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a disease compared to marketed products. The FDA will attempt to direct additional resources to the evaluation of an application for a new product designated for priority review in an effort to facilitate the review. Additionally, a product may be eligible for accelerated approval. Products studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions may receive accelerated approval upon a determination that the product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than irreversible morbidity or mortality, that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biological product receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical studies. In addition, the FDA currently requires as a condition for accelerated approval pre-approval of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Fast Track designation, priority review and accelerated approval do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process.

Breakthrough Therapy designation is intended to expedite the development and review of products that treat serious or life-threatening conditions. The designation is available for product candidates that are intended, alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions and for which preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over currently available therapy on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The designation includes all of the Fast Track program features, as well as more intensive FDA interaction and guidance. The Breakthrough Therapy designation is a distinct status from both Fast Track designation and priority review, which can also be granted to the same product if relevant criteria are met. If a product is designated as Breakthrough Therapy, FDA will work closely with the sponsor to expedite the development and review of such product.

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Post-Approval Requirements

Any products for which we receive FDA approvals are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse experiences with the product, providing the FDA with updated safety and efficacy information, product sampling and distribution requirements, and complying with FDA promotion and advertising requirements, which include, among others, standards for direct-to-consumer advertising, restrictions on promoting products for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product’s approved uses, known as off-label use, limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities and requirements for promotional activities involving the internet. Although physicians may prescribe legally available products for off-label uses, if the physicians deem to be appropriate in their professional medical judgment, manufacturers may not market or promote such off-label uses.

In addition, quality control and manufacturing procedures must continue to conform to applicable manufacturing requirements after approval to ensure the long-term stability of the product. We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the production of clinical and commercial quantities of our products in accordance with cGMP regulations. cGMP regulations require among other things, quality control and quality assurance as well as the corresponding 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 products 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 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. Discovery of problems with a product after approval may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer, or holder of an approved BLA or NDA, including, among other things, recall or withdrawal of the product from the market. In addition, changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated, and depending on the significance of the change, may require prior FDA approval before being implemented.

Other types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications and claims, are also subject to further FDA review and approval.

The FDA also may require post-marketing testing, known as Phase 4 testing, and surveillance to monitor the effects of an approved product. Discovery of previously unknown problems with a product or the failure to comply with applicable FDA requirements can have negative consequences, including adverse publicity, judicial or administrative enforcement, warning letters from the FDA, mandated corrective advertising or communications with doctors, and civil or criminal penalties, among others. Newly discovered or developed safety or effectiveness data may require changes to a product’s approved labeling, including the addition of new warnings and contraindications, and also may require the implementation of other risk management measures. Also, new government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our products under development.

U.S. Patent Term Restoration and Marketing Exclusivity

The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, or BPCIA, amended the PHSA to authorize the FDA to approve similar versions of innovative biologics, commonly known as biosimilars. A competitor seeking approval of a biosimilar must file an application to establish its product as highly similar to an approved innovator biologic, among other requirements. The BPCIA, however, bars the FDA from approving biosimilar applications for 12 years after an innovator biological product receives initial marketing approval. Biosimilarity, which requires that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity, and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies, and a clinical study or studies. Interchangeability requires that a product is biosimilar to the reference product and the product must demonstrate that it can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product in any given patient and, for products that are administered multiple times to an individual, the biologic and the reference biologic 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 biologic. However, complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structures of biological products, as well as the processes by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation of the abbreviated approval pathway that are still being worked out by the FDA.

Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this 12-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of their product. This 12-year period of data exclusivity may be extended by six months, for a total of 12.5 years, if the FDA requests that the innovator company conduct certain pediatric clinical investigations of the product.

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

Pediatric exclusivity is another type of regulatory market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent terms, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric trial in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a trial.

Other U.S. Healthcare Laws and Compliance Requirements

In the United States, our activities are potentially subject to regulation by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including but not limited to, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, other divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for instance the Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, and individual U.S. Attorney offices within the DOJ, and state and local governments. For example, sales, marketing and scientific/educational grant programs must comply with the anti-fraud and abuse provisions of the Social Security Act, the false claims laws, the physician payment transparency laws, the privacy and security provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and similar state laws, each as amended.

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. The term remuneration has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution. The exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly and practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchasing or recommending may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Our practices may not in all cases meet all of the criteria for protection under a statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor, however, does not make the conduct per se illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances.

Additionally, the intent standard under the Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Affordable Care Act to a stricter standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, the Affordable Care Act codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal False Claims Act, as discussed below.

The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.

The federal False Claims Act prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to, or approval by, the federal government or knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government. As a result of a modification made by the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, a claim includes “any request or demand” for money or property presented to the U.S. government. Several pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been prosecuted under these laws for allegedly providing free product to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the product. Other companies have been prosecuted for causing false claims to be submitted because of the companies’ marketing of the product for unapproved, and thus non-reimbursable, uses.

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HIPAA created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud or to obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, any money or property owned by, or under the control or custody of, any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by trick, scheme or device, a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Similar to the 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.

Also, many states have similar fraud and abuse statutes or regulations that apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor.

We may be subject to data privacy and security regulations by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the HITECH Act, and their respective implementing regulations, impose requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s privacy and security standards directly applicable to business associates, independent contractors or agents of covered entities that receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also created four new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in specified circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Additionally, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and its implementing regulations, require that certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with certain exceptions, to report information related to certain payments or other transfers of value made or distributed to physicians and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, the physicians and teaching hospitals and to report annually certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members and payments or other “transfers of value” made to such physician owners. Failure to submit timely, accurately, and completely the required information may result in civil monetary penalties. Manufacturers must submit reports by the 90th day of each calendar year. Certain states also mandate implementation of compliance programs, impose restrictions on pharmaceutical manufacturer marketing practices and/or require the tracking and reporting of gifts, compensation and other remuneration to healthcare providers and entities.

In order to distribute products commercially, we must also comply with state laws that require the registration of manufacturers and wholesale distributors of drug and biological products in a state, including, in certain states, manufacturers and distributors who ship products into the state even if such manufacturers or distributors have no place of business within the state. Some states also impose requirements on manufacturers and distributors to establish the pedigree of product in the chain of distribution, including some states that require manufacturers and others to adopt new technology capable of tracking and tracing product as it moves through the distribution chain. Several states have enacted legislation requiring pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to establish marketing compliance programs, file periodic reports with the state, make periodic public disclosures on sales, marketing, pricing, clinical trials and other activities, and/or register their sales representatives, as well as to prohibit pharmacies and other healthcare entities from providing certain physician prescribing data to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for use in sales and marketing and to prohibit certain other sales and marketing practices. All of our activities are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.

If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the federal and state healthcare laws described above or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including without limitation, civil, criminal and/or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from participation in government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, injunctions, private “qui tam” actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government, or refusal to allow us to enter into government contracts, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens, diminished profits and future earnings 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.

Coverage, Pricing and Reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and markets in other countries, sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will depend, in part, on the extent to that third-party payors provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels for such products. In the United States, third-party payors include federal and state healthcare programs, private managed care providers, health insurers and other organizations. The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide

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coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price of a product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that such a payor will pay for the product. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the price, examining the medical necessity and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products, therapies and services, in addition to questioning their safety and efficacy. We may need to conduct expensive pharmaco-economic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of our products, in addition to the costs required to obtain the FDA approvals. Our product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost-effective. A payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage for the product. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development.

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

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

Healthcare Reform

In March 2010, President Obama enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the Affordable Care Act.

Among the Affordable Care Act’s provisions of importance to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are the following:

 

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

 

an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, to 23.1% and 13% of the average manufacturer price for most branded and generic drugs, respectively, and a cap on the total rebate amount for innovator drugs at 100% of the Average Manufacturer Price, or AMP;

 

addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for certain drugs and biologics, including our product candidates, that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;

 

extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability to covered drugs dispensed to individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations;

 

expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals and by adding new mandatory eligibility categories for individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability;

 

a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D;

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expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service pharmaceutical pricing program; and

 

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

Some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act have yet to be implemented, and there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, as well as recent efforts by the Trump administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 includes a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the Affordable Care Act, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well. While the Trump Administration and CMS have both stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect, it is unclear how this decision, subsequent appeals, if any, and other efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business. Congress also could consider additional legislation to repeal or replace other elements of the Affordable Care Act. Thus, the full impact of the Affordable Care Act (or other similar legislation) on our business remains unclear.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. For example, the Budget Control Act of 2011 resulted in aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013, and will remain in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Additionally, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the cost of drugs under Medicare, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. Further, Congress and the Trump administration have each indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. We anticipate that the Affordable Care Act and other legislative reforms will result in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product, if covered, and could seriously harm our business, though we are still unsure what its full impact will be. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our future revenue potential and results.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering, or authorizing payment or offering of anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, political party or candidate for the purpose of influencing any act or decision of the foreign entity in order to assist the individual or business in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA also obligates companies whose securities are listed in the United States to comply with accounting provisions requiring the company to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflect all transactions of the corporation, including international subsidiaries, and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls for international operations.

Additional Regulation

In addition, even though we do not and will not control referrals of healthcare services or bill directly to Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors, federal and state healthcare laws and regulations pertaining to fraud and abuse and patients’ rights are and will be applicable to our business. State and federal laws regarding environmental protection and hazardous substances, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Resource Conservancy and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act, also affect our business. These and other laws govern our use, handling and disposal of various biological, chemical and radioactive substances used in, and wastes generated by, our operations. If our operations result in contamination of the environment or expose individuals to hazardous substances, we could be liable for damages and governmental fines. We believe that we are in material compliance with applicable environmental laws and that continued compliance therewith will not have a material adverse effect on our business. We cannot predict, however, how changes in these laws may affect our future operations.

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Europe and Rest of World Government Regulation

In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to a variety of regulations in other jurisdictions governing, among other things, clinical trials and any commercial sales and distribution of our products. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval of a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the EU, for example, a clinical trial application must be submitted to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and IRB, respectively. Once the clinical trial application is approved in accordance with a country’s requirements, clinical trial development may proceed. Because biologically sourced raw materials are subject to unique contamination risks, their use may be restricted in some countries.

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

To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational drug or biological product under EU regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application. The application used to file the BLA in the United States is similar to that required in the EU, with the exception of, among other things, country-specific document requirements.

For other countries outside of the EU, 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. In all cases, again, the clinical trials are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.

If we or our potential collaborators fail to comply with applicable foreign regulatory requirements, we may be subject to, among other things, fines, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approvals, product recalls, seizure of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecution.

Employees

As of December 31, 2018, we had 152 full-time employees, 115 of whom were engaged in research and development activities and 37 of whom were engaged in finance, business development, facilities, human resources and administrative support. Of our full-time employees, 39 hold Ph.D. or M.D. degrees. None of our employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated in California as Oncologic, Inc. in 2000. In 2008, we merged with Triton BioSystems, Inc. and subsequently changed our name to Aduro Biotech, Inc. in 2009. In June 2011, we reincorporated as a Delaware corporation. Our principal executive offices are located at 740 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, California 94710 and our telephone number is (510) 848-4400. Our website address is www.aduro.com. Information contained on or accessible through our website is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The following filings are available through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we file them with the SEC: Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, as well as any amendments to such reports and all other filings pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15 (d) of the Securities Act.

Aduro, Aduro Biotech, the Aduro logo and other trade names, trademarks or service marks of Aduro appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of Aduro. Trade names, trademarks and service marks of other companies appearing in this report are the property of their respective holders.


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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

RISK FACTORS

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risks and all of the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes and the section “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” before investing in our common stock. While we believe that the risks and uncertainties described below are the material risks currently facing us, additional risks that we do not yet know of or that we currently think are immaterial may also arise and materially affect our business. If any of the following risks materialize, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. In that case, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose some or all of your investment.

Risks Related to Our Business

We have incurred net losses in every year since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur substantial and increasing net losses in the foreseeable future.

We are an immunotherapy company with a limited operating history. Investment in biopharmaceutical product development is highly speculative because it entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate efficacy or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable. We have financed our operations primarily through the sale of common stock, and licensing agreements with pharmaceutical partners. Since our inception, most of our resources have been dedicated to the preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on our future expenses and our ability to generate revenue. We have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales to date, and we continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. We incurred a net loss of $95.4 million, $91.9 million and $91.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. At December 31, 2018, we had an accumulated deficit of $404.5 million. We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase as we continue our research and development of, and seek regulatory approvals for, our product candidates.

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

We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals, and a failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or commercialization efforts.

Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. At December 31, 2018, our cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities were $277.9 million. We expect to continue to spend substantial amounts to continue the development of our product candidates. If we are able to gain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we will require significant additional amounts of cash in order to launch and commercialize any such product candidates. In addition, other unanticipated costs may arise. Because the design and outcome of our planned and anticipated clinical trials are highly uncertain, we cannot reasonably estimate the actual amounts necessary to successfully complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

Our future capital requirements depend on many factors, including:

 

the scope, progress, results and costs of researching and developing our product candidates, and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

the timing of, and costs associated with, obtaining regulatory approvals for our product candidates if clinical trials are successful;

 

the cost of commercialization activities for our product candidates, if any of our product candidates is approved for sale, including marketing, sales and distribution costs;

 

the cost of manufacturing our product candidates for clinical trials in preparation for regulatory approval and in preparation for commercialization and product launch;

 

our ability to establish and maintain strategic licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such agreements;

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the costs involved in preparing, filing, prosecuting, maintaining, expanding, defending and enforcing patent claims, including litigation costs and the outcome of such litigation;

 

the timing, receipt and amount of sales of, or royalties on, our future products, if any;

 

competing cancer therapies and combinations; and

 

other market developments.

We do not have any committed external source of funds or other support for our development efforts other than our license agreements, including our collaboration and license agreement with Novartis, which may be terminated by Novartis upon 180 days’ notice, and our license agreement with Merck, which may be terminated by Merck upon 120 days’ notice, and our collaboration and license agreement with Lilly, which may be terminated following a specified notice period. Until we can generate sufficient product and royalty revenue to finance our cash requirements, which we may never do, we expect to finance our future cash needs through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements and other marketing or distribution arrangements. Additional financing may not be available to us when we need it or it may not be available on favorable terms.

If we raise additional capital through marketing and distribution arrangements or other collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish certain valuable rights to our product candidates, technologies, future revenue streams or research programs or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we raise additional capital through public or private equity offerings, including our “at-the-market” offering, the ownership interest of our existing stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we may be subject to covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing when needed, we may have to delay, reduce the scope of or suspend one or more of our clinical trials or research and development programs or our commercialization efforts.

 

Our corporate strategy and reset may not be successful.

 

On January 29, 2019, we announced a strategic reset to focus on Aduro’s core strengths – discovery and development of novel product candidates in the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) and A Proliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL) pathways.  The success of this strategic reset will depend on our ability to successfully redirect resources to development of STING and APRIL product candidates, retain senior management and other highly qualified personnel and generate multiple clinical data readouts over the next several years.  Also on January 29, 2019, as a result of our strategic reset, we announced that we reduced our current workforce by approximately 37%. Our workforce after these actions may not be sufficient to fully execute our strategy, and we may not be able to effectively attract or retain senior management or other qualified employees needed to implement this strategy.  If we are unable to successfully execute our strategy, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Risks Related to the Development and Commercialization of Our Current and Future Product Candidates

Our product candidates are based on novel technologies, and the development and regulatory approval pathway for such product candidates is unproven and may never lead to marketable products.

We do not have any products that have gained regulatory approval. Our immuno-oncology product candidates are designed to leverage the patient’s immune system to slow the growth and spread of, or eliminate, tumor cells. Any products we develop may not effectively modulate the immune response to slow the spread of or eliminate cancer cells. The scientific evidence to support the feasibility of immuno-oncology product candidates is preliminary and limited. Our business and future success depend on our ability to obtain regulatory approval of and then successfully commercialize our product candidates. Advancing these novel therapies creates significant challenges for us, including, among others:

 

obtaining approval from regulatory authorities to conduct clinical trials with our product candidates;

 

successful completion of preclinical studies and successful enrollment of clinical trials;

 

successful completion of our clinical trials, including a favorable risk-benefit outcome;

 

receipt of marketing approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and similar regulatory authorities outside the United States;

 

obtaining and maintaining patent and trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;

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establishing commercial manufacturing, supply and distribution arrangements;

 

establishing a commercial infrastructure;

 

acceptance of our products by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;

 

establishing market share while competing with other therapies;

 

successfully executing our pricing and reimbursement strategy;

 

a continued acceptable safety and adverse event profile of our products following regulatory approval; and

 

qualifying for, identifying, registering, maintaining, enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and claims covering our products.

All of our product candidates will require additional clinical and non-clinical development, regulatory review and approval in multiple jurisdictions, substantial investment, access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales. We are not permitted to market or promote any of our product candidates before we receive regulatory approval from the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, and we may never receive regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. If we are unable to develop or receive marketing approval for our product candidates in a timely manner or at all, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our technologies to build a pipeline of product candidates.

A key element of our strategy is to use and expand our technologies to build a pipeline of product candidates, combine our product candidates with existing and novel therapies, and progress these product candidates and combinations through clinical development for the treatment of various diseases. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in a pipeline of product candidates directed at various cancers, we may not be able to develop product candidates that are safe and effective. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of being shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not continue to successfully develop and begin to commercialize product candidates, we will face difficulty in obtaining product revenues in future periods. See also the risk factor titled, “Our corporate strategy and reset may not be successful.”

Clinical development involves a lengthy and expensive process with uncertain outcomes, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future clinical trial results. Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety and efficacy of one or more of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.

Before obtaining regulatory approvals for the commercial sale of our product candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical testing and clinical trials that our product candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process.

Additionally, because our product candidates are based on new technologies and costs to treat patients with relapsed/refractory cancer and to treat potential side effects that may result from our product candidates may be significant, our clinical trial costs are likely to be significantly higher than for more conventional therapeutic technologies or drug products. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. We cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as commercial products.

 

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Any delay, suspension, termination or request to repeat or redesign a trial could increase our costs and prevent or significantly delay our ability to commercialize our product candidates.

We may experience delays in our ongoing clinical trials, and we do not know whether planned clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement or completion of clinical trials can be delayed or aborted for a variety of reasons, including delays or failures related to:

 

generating sufficient preclinical, toxicology or other in vivo or in vitro data to support the initiation of human clinical studies;

 

obtaining regulatory approval to commence a trial;

 

identifying and recruiting suitable clinical investigators;

 

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

 

obtaining institutional review board/ethics committee, or IRB/EC, approval at each site;

 

recruiting suitable patients to participate in a trial;

 

achieving an acceptable distribution of such patients based on treating institution and geography;

 

patients not completing a trial or not completing post-treatment follow-up;

 

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

 

regulatory agency-imposed clinical holds;

 

adding new clinical trial sites; or

 

manufacturing sufficient quantities of product candidate for use in clinical trials.

We could encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs/ECs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose a clinical hold or suspend or terminate a clinical trial due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, a negative finding from an inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions, lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial, or safety concerns raised by other clinical trials of therapies with similar mechanisms of action.

If we experience delays in the completion, or termination, of any clinical trial for our product candidates, the commercial prospects of that product candidate will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from the product candidate will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues.

Actual or potential conflicts of interest arising from our relationships with investigators could adversely impact the FDA approval process.

Principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive cash compensation in connection with such services. We also provide grants to investigators’ institutions from time to time. If certain of these relationships exceed specific financial thresholds, they must be reported to the FDA. If these relationships and any related compensation paid results in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or the FDA concludes that the financial relationship may have affected interpretation of the study, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA.

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Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or may have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, limit their commercial potential, if approved, or result in significant negative consequences.

Side effects or adverse events associated with the use of our product candidates may be observed at any time, including in clinical trials or when a product is commercialized, and any such side effects or adverse events could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials, result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, or negatively affect our ability to market our product candidates. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects or unexpected characteristics.

To date, patients treated with our product candidates have experienced drug-related side effects or adverse events, or AEs, including AEs that were considered moderate or severe. Examples of the AEs experienced include among others, fevers, injection sight pain, headaches, increased lipase and elevated amylase, tumor pain, dyspnea and respiratory failure. We cannot provide assurances that there will not be further adverse events.

If unacceptable side effects arise in the development of our product candidates, we could suspend or terminate our clinical trials or the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease clinical trials, require us to conduct additional animal or human studies or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Treatment-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. In addition, if side effects are observed in competing product candidates that are perceived to have similarities to ours, regulators or patients may infer that our product candidates could cause similar side effects. Any of these occurrences may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Additionally, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such product;

 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;

 

the FDA could require a Risk and Evaluation Medication Strategy, or REMS, which could require the creation and management of a medication guide, communication plan or other elements to ensure safe use;

 

we may be required to create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;

 

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

 

our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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

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

 

the patient eligibility criteria defined in the protocol;

 

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

 

the proximity of patients to study sites;

 

the design of the trial;

 

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

 

clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs that may be approved for the indications we are investigating;

 

our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents; and

 

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before completion.

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

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

The market opportunities for our product candidates may be limited to those patients who are ineligible for established therapies or for whom prior therapies have failed, and may be small.

Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized as first line, second line or third line, and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for third line use. When cancer is detected early enough, first-line therapy, usually chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, radiotherapy or a combination of these is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Second- and third-line therapies are administered to patients when prior therapy is not effective. We expect to initially seek approval of our product candidates as a therapy for patients who have received one or more prior treatments. Subsequently, for those products that prove to be sufficiently beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval potentially as a first-line therapy, but there is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved, would be approved for first-line therapy, and, prior to any such approvals, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials.

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

We are subject to a multitude of manufacturing, supply chain, storage and distribution risks, any of which could substantially increase our costs and limit the supply of our product candidates.

The process of manufacturing our product candidates is complex, highly regulated and subject to several risks, including:

 

The manufacturing of drug and biologic products is susceptible to product loss due to contamination, equipment failure, improper installation or operation of equipment or vendor or operator error. Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing processes could result in reduced production yields, product defects and other supply disruptions. If foreign microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or in the manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made, these manufacturing facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination;

 

The manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made could be adversely affected by equipment failures, labor shortages, natural disasters, power failures and numerous other factors;

 

We and our contract manufacturers must comply with the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, regulations and guidelines. Any failure to follow cGMP or other regulatory requirements or any delay, interruption or other issues that arise in the manufacture, fill-finish, packaging or storage of our product candidates as a result of a failure of our facilities or the facilities or operations of third parties to comply with regulatory requirements or pass any regulatory authority inspection could significantly impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, including leading to significant delays in the availability of product candidates for our clinical studies, the termination or hold on a clinical study, or the delay or prevention of a filing or approval of marketing applications for our product candidates. Significant noncompliance could also result in the imposition of sanctions, including fines, injunctions, civil penalties, failure of regulatory authorities to grant marketing approvals for our product candidates, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could damage our reputation. If we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may not be permitted to market our products and/or may be subject to product recalls, seizures, injunctions or criminal prosecution; and

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Our product candidates are sensitive to temperature, which must be controlled during storage and transportation, which adds complexity and expense. We rely on third parties to provide controlled temperature storage and shipping. If any third-party provider fails to maintain proper temperature control or if a shipment is delayed in transit for a prolonged period of time, the product candidate could become unsuitable for use.

Any adverse developments affecting manufacturing operations for our product candidates and/or damage that occurs during shipping may result in delays, inventory shortages, lot failures, withdrawals or recalls or other interruptions in the supply of our drug substance and drug product. We may also have to write off inventory, incur other charges and expenses for supply of drug product that fails to meet specifications, undertake costly remediation efforts or seek more costly manufacturing alternatives. Inability to meet the demand for any of our product candidates, if approved, could damage our reputation and the reputation of our products among physicians, healthcare payors, patients or the medical community, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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

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

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

We cannot assure you that we will be able to develop in-house sales and distribution capabilities or establish or maintain relationships with third-party collaborators to commercialize any product in the United States or elsewhere.

A variety of risks associated with conducting clinical trials and marketing our product candidates internationally could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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

 

differing legal and regulatory requirements in foreign countries;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;

 

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

 

difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations, including clinical trials;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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These and other risks associated with our international operations may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We face significant competition from other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and our business, financial condition and results of operations will suffer if we fail to compete effectively.

The biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by intense competition and rapid innovation. Our competitors may be able to develop other compounds or drugs that are able to achieve similar or better results.

Many major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and universities and other research institutions continue to invest time and resources in developing novel approaches to immuno-oncology. Promising results have spurred significant competition from major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies alike. Our competitors in the field of diversified immunotherapy include: AstraZeneca PLC, Amgen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Celgene Corporation, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Incyte Corporation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc., Roche Holding AG and Sanofi SA. Our competitors in the STING pathway activator technology include Merck & Co., Inc., Synlogic, Inc. and Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals; for anti-APRIL includes Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (following its acquisition of Visterra, Inc.); and for the cGAS-STING pathway inhibitor program includes IFM Due, a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics, LLC. While we believe that our product candidates, technology, knowledge and experience provide us with competitive advantages, we face competition from established and emerging pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, among others. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources than we do, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing, market access and manufacturing organizations and well-established sales forces.

Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors, either alone or with collaborative partners, may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug or biologic products that are more effective, safer, more easily commercialized or less costly than our product candidates or may develop proprietary technologies or secure patent protection that we may need for the development of our technologies and products. We believe the key competitive factors that will affect the development and commercial success of our product candidates are efficacy, safety, tolerability, reliability, convenience of use, price and reimbursement.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the availability and prices of our competitors’ products could limit the demand and the prices we are able to charge for our product candidates. We may not be able to implement our business plan if the acceptance of our product candidates is inhibited by price competition or the reluctance of physicians to switch from existing methods of treatment to our product candidates, or if physicians switch to other new drug or biologic products or choose to reserve our product candidates for use in limited circumstances.

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

Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel, including our President and Chief Executive Officer, our Chief Scientific Officer, our Chief Financial Officer and our Chief Administrative Officer. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees and other scientific and medical advisors, and our inability to find suitable replacements, could result in delays in product development and harm our business. The Northern California region is headquarters to many other biopharmaceutical companies and many academic and research institutions. Competition for skilled personnel in our market is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all.

Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Although we have employment agreements with our key employees, these employment agreements provide for at-will employment, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. For example, our Chief Medical Officer resigned from her position in 2018. We do not maintain “key person” insurance policies on the lives of these individuals or the lives of any of our other employees.

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We will need to grow the size of our organization in the future, and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth.

At December 31, 2018, we had 152 full-time employees, including 115 employees engaged in research and development, but we reduced our workforce by approximately 37% in connection with our strategic reset in January of 2019. As our development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, we expect to need additional managerial, operational, sales, marketing, financial and other personnel. Future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:

 

identifying, recruiting, integrating, maintaining and motivating additional employees;

 

managing our internal development efforts effectively, including the clinical and FDA review process for our product candidates, while complying with our contractual obligations to contractors and other third parties; and

 

improving our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth, and our management may also have to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities.

We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including substantially all aspects of regulatory approval, clinical management and manufacturing. We cannot assure you that the services of independent organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis or reasonable economic terms when needed, or at all. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality or accuracy of the services provided by consultants is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business.

If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not succeed in further developing and commercializing our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.

Our internal computer systems, or those used by our CROs or other contractors, consultants or vendors, may fail or suffer security breaches.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our CROs and other contractors, consultants or vendors are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses and unauthorized access. Any such material system failure or security breach could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we rely on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.

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

Our operations, and those of our CROs and other contractors and consultants, could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and other natural or man-made disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce and process our product candidates on a patient by patient basis. Our ability to obtain clinical supplies of our product candidates could be disrupted if the operations of these suppliers are affected by a man-made or natural disaster or other business interruption. Our corporate headquarters is in Northern California near major earthquake faults and fire zones. The ultimate impact on us, our significant suppliers and our general infrastructure of being located near major earthquake faults and fire zones and being consolidated in certain geographical areas is unknown, but our operations and financial condition could suffer in the event of a major earthquake, fire or other natural disaster.

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

The use of STING or APRIL product candidates as potential cancer treatments, even if approved, may not become broadly accepted by physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community. For example, certain of the product candidates that we are developing target a cell surface marker that may be present on non-cancerous cells as well as cancer cells. It is possible that our product candidates may kill these non-cancerous cells, which may result in unacceptable side effects, including death. Additional factors will influence whether our product candidates are accepted in the market, including:

 

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;

 

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

 

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

 

the prevalence and severity of any side effects;

 

side effects or results reported for competing products or product candidates that are perceived to have similarities to ours;

 

product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, including limitations or warnings;

 

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

 

the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;

 

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

 

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

 

adverse publicity or ethical or social controversies related to the use of our technologies or similar technologies;

 

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

 

the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts.

If our product candidates are approved but fail to achieve or maintain market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers or others in the medical community, we will not be able to generate significant revenue.

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

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

 

decreased demand for our product candidates;

 

injury to our reputation;

 

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

 

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

costs to defend the related litigation;

 

a diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

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

 

loss of revenue;

 

exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;

 

the inability to commercialize any product candidate; and

 

a decline in our share price.

 

We currently hold product liability insurance in amounts that we believe are customary for similarly situated companies and adequate to provide us with insurance coverage for foreseeable risks, but which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims, which could inhibit the commercialization of products we develop, alone or with collaborators. Our insurance policies may have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

We have entered into licensing agreements with third parties for certain product candidates and as a result have placed restrictions on our development of certain product candidates for particular indications. We may elect to enter into additional licensing or collaboration agreements to partner our product candidates in territories we currently retain. Our dependence on such relationships may adversely affect our business.

We have, and we may seek to enter into additional, collaboration agreements with other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. In the event we grant exclusive rights to such partners, we would be precluded from potential commercialization of our product candidates within the territories in which we have a partner. For example, we have entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Novartis for the development and commercialization of STING Activator product candidates in oncology. Under this agreement, we have granted Novartis a co-exclusive license to develop such products worldwide and an exclusive license to commercialize such products outside of the United States. We have also entered into a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Lilly for our cGAS-STING Pathway Inhibitor program for the research and development of novel immunotherapies for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases and a worldwide development and commercialization agreement with Merck for the development of an anti-CD27 antibody. Any failure by our partners to perform their obligations or any decision by our partners to terminate these agreements could negatively impact our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approvals for and commercialize our product candidates. For example, effective December 2018, Janssen terminated our exclusive research and license agreements under which we granted Janssen licenses for the development and commercialization of proprietary attenuated strains of Listeria for treatment of lung and prostate cancers. Any termination of our collaboration agreements, including the termination of our research and license agreements with Janssen, will terminate the funding we may receive under the relevant collaboration agreement and may impair our ability to fund further development efforts and our progress in our development programs.

Our commercialization strategy for our product candidates may depend on our ability to enter into agreements with collaborators to obtain assistance and funding for the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates in the territories in which we seek to partner. Despite our efforts, we may be unable to secure additional collaborative licensing or other arrangements that are necessary for us to further develop and commercialize our product candidates. Supporting diligence activities conducted by potential collaborators and negotiating the financial and other terms of a collaboration agreement are long and complex processes with uncertain results. Even if we are successful in entering into one or more collaboration agreements, collaborations may involve greater uncertainty for us, as we have less control over certain aspects of our collaborative programs than we do over our proprietary development and commercialization programs. For example, under our collaboration and license agreement with Novartis, we are responsible for a share of the worldwide joint development costs, which may be significant. If we elect to reduce our share of development funding as provided for under the agreement, our share in profits would decrease or convert to a royalty. We may determine that continuing a collaboration under the terms provided is not in our best interest, and we may terminate the collaboration. Our potential future collaborators could delay or terminate their agreements with us, and as a result our product candidates may never be successfully commercialized.

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Further, our collaborators may develop alternative products or pursue alternative technologies either on their own or in collaboration with others, including our competitors, and the priorities or focus of our collaborators may shift such that our product candidates receive less attention or resources than we would like, or they may be terminated altogether. In addition, we could have disputes with our collaborators, including regarding development plans or the interpretation of terms in our agreements. Any such disagreements could lead to delays in the development or commercialization of our product candidates or could result in time-consuming and expensive litigation or arbitration, which may not be resolved in our favor.

We rely and will rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines, or otherwise conduct the trials as required or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize our product candidates when expected or at all.

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

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

If our relationships with any third parties conducting our trials are terminated, we may be unable to enter into arrangements with alternative third parties on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Switching or adding third parties to conduct our clinical trials involves substantial cost and requires extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new third party commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with third parties conducting our clinical trials, we cannot assure you that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are subject to a multitude of manufacturing risks, any of which could substantially increase our costs, limit supply of our product candidates and interfere with obtaining product commercialization approvals.

We currently rely on outside vendors to manufacture clinical supplies of our product candidates and have limited experience manufacturing our product candidates. In order to develop our product candidates, apply for regulatory approvals and commercialize our products, if approved, we will need to develop, contract for, or otherwise arrange for the necessary manufacturing capabilities.

We may manufacture limited quantities of clinical trial materials ourselves in the future, but we currently rely on a limited number of contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, for our clinical product supplies. There are risks inherent in the manufacture of drug and biologic products that could affect the ability of our CMOs to meet our delivery time requirements or provide adequate amounts of material to meet our needs. Manufacturers of biologic products often encounter difficulties in production, particularly in scaling up and validating initial production. Typical manufacturing problems include low product yields, quality control failures, product instability, operator error, shortages of qualified personnel, storage mistakes and unpredictable production costs. If contaminants are discovered in our supply of our product candidates or in the manufacturing facilities, manufacturing facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination, thereby interrupting supply.

 

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If in the future we develop our own manufacturing capabilities by building our own manufacturing facilities, we will incur significant expenditures. In addition, the construction and qualification of a drug substance facility may take several years to complete and there are many risks inherent in the construction of a new facility that could result in delays and additional costs, including the need to obtain access to necessary equipment and third-party technology, if any. In addition, we would likely need to continue to hire and train qualified employees to staff our facilities.

The manufacturing process for any products that we may develop is subject to the FDA and foreign regulatory authority approval process and we will need to meet, and will need to contract with CMOs who can meet, all applicable FDA and foreign regulatory authority requirements on an ongoing basis. In addition, if we receive the necessary regulatory approval for any product candidate, we also expect to rely on third parties to produce materials required for commercial supply. If we are unable to obtain or maintain CMOs for these product candidates, or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to successfully develop and commercialize our products.

To the extent that we have existing, or enter into future, manufacturing arrangements with third parties, we depend, and will depend in the future, on these third parties to perform their obligations in a timely manner and consistent with contractual and regulatory requirements. The failure of any CMO to perform its obligations as expected, or, to the extent we manufacture all or a portion of our product candidates ourselves, our failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If any CMO with whom we contract fails to perform its obligations, our ability to provide our product candidates to patients in clinical trials would be jeopardized. Any delay or interruption in the supply of clinical trial materials could delay the completion of clinical trials, increase the costs associated with maintaining clinical trial programs and, depending upon the period of delay, require us to commence new clinical trials at additional expense or terminate clinical trials completely.

We may not realize the benefits of acquisitions or strategic transactions, including our acquisition of Aduro Biotech Europe.

We acquired Aduro Biotech Europe in October 2015, and may acquire or license other businesses, products or technologies, as well as pursue strategic alliances, joint ventures or investments in complementary businesses. The success of acquisitions depends on a number of risks and uncertainties, including:

 

unanticipated liabilities related to acquired companies;

 

difficulties integrating acquired personnel, technologies and operations into our existing business;

 

retention of key employees;

 

diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to identification, negotiation or management of any strategic alliances or joint ventures or acquisition integration challenges;

 

increases in expenses and reductions in our cash available for operations and other uses;

 

disruption in our relationships with collaborators or suppliers as a result of such a transaction;

 

stock issuances that dilute existing stockholders;

 

competition for appropriate strategic alternatives;

 

difficulty negotiating or executing any such arrangements; and

 

possible write-offs or impairment charges relating to acquired businesses.

If any of these risks or uncertainties occur, we may not realize the anticipated benefit of any acquisition or strategic transaction. For example, our acquisition of Aduro Biotech Europe may not result in any product candidates that are safe and effective, or approved for sale. Additionally, foreign acquisitions, including our acquisition of Aduro Biotech Europe, are subject to additional risks, including those related to integration of operations across different cultures and languages, currency risks, potentially adverse tax consequences of overseas operations and the particular economic, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries.

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Risks Related to Government Regulation

The FDA regulatory approval process is lengthy, time-consuming and inherently unpredictable, and we may experience significant delays in the clinical development and regulatory approval of our product candidates or ultimately be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, in which case our business will be substantially harmed.

We will not be permitted to market any of our product candidates in the United States until approval from the FDA is received. The time required to obtain approval by the FDA and comparable foreign authorities is unpredictable but typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials and depends upon numerous factors, including the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. In addition, approval policies, regulations or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions. We have not previously submitted a biologics license application, or BLA, or a new drug application, or NDA, to the FDA, or similar marketing applications filings to comparable foreign authorities. A BLA or NDA must include extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to establish the product candidate’s safety, purity and potency, or safety and effectiveness for each desired indication. The BLA or NDA must also include significant information regarding the chemistry, manufacturing and controls for the product. We expect the novel nature of our product candidates to create further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval. For example, the FDA has limited experience with commercial development of immunotherapies for cancer. We also intend to obtain regulatory approval of future product candidates regardless of cancer type or origin, which the FDA may have difficulty accepting if our clinical trials only involve cancers of certain origins. Accordingly, the regulatory approval pathway for our product candidates may be uncertain, complex, expensive and lengthy, and approval may not be obtained.

Our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:

 

the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication;

 

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

 

we may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;

 

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

 

the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to support the submission of a BLA, NDA or other submission, or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;

 

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

 

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

This lengthy approval process as well as the unpredictability of future clinical trial results may result in our failing to obtain regulatory approval to market our product candidates, which would significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, even if we were to obtain approval, regulatory authorities may approve any of our product candidates for fewer or more limited indications than we request, may not approve the price we intend to charge for our products, may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials or may approve a product candidate with a label that does not include the labeling claims necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of that product candidate. Any of the foregoing scenarios could materially harm the commercial prospects for our product candidates.

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

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve

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requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical studies conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.

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

 

For instance, in the European Economic Area, or EEA, which is comprised of the Member States of the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA. There are two types of MAs:

 

 

Community MAs – These are 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 EMA, and are valid throughout the entire territory of the EEA. The Centralized Procedure is compulsory for human medicines derived from biotechnology processes or advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products), products that contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, viral diseases, and officially designated orphan medicines. The Centralized Procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA; for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation; or for products that are in the interest of public health in the EU.

 

 

National MAs – These 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 State 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.

Requirements for the conduct of clinical trials in the European Union including Good Clinical Practice, or GCP, are set forth in the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC and the GCP Directive 2005/28/EC. Pursuant to Directive 2001/20/EC and Directive 2005/28/EC, as amended, a system for the approval of clinical trials in the European Union has been implemented through national legislation of the EU member states. Under this system, approval must be obtained from the competent national authority of each EU. member state in which a study is planned to be conducted. Furthermore, a clinical trial may only be started after a competent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion on the clinical trial application in that country.

In April 2014, the EU passed the new Clinical Trials Regulation, (EU) No 536/2014, which will replace the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. To ensure that the rules for clinical trials are identical throughout the European Union, the new EU clinical trials legislation was passed as a regulation that is directly applicable in all EU member states. All clinical trials performed in the European Union are required to be conducted in accordance with the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC until the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 becomes applicable. According to the current plans of EMA, the new Clinical Trials Regulation will become applicable in 2019.

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

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the products may be marketed or the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-market testing and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidates. We will be required to immediately report any serious and unexpected adverse events and certain quality or production problems with our products to regulatory authorities along with other periodic reports. The FDA may also require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could include requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools.

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In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports and registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. We will also have to comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotion for any of our product candidates that receive regulatory approval.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

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

 

fines, warning letters or adverse publicity;

 

holds on clinical trials;

 

refusal by regulatory authorities to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us, or suspension or revocation of regulatory approvals;

 

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

 

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

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

Changes in funding for the FDA and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner, 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 other government agencies 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 to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business.  For example, over the last several years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

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

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

Patients who are provided medical treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Additionally, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement for our products may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with drugs administered under the supervision of a physician. Separate reimbursement for the product itself or the treatment or procedure in which our product

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is used may not be available. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover or separately reimburse for our products or procedures using our products, could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved. Assuming there is coverage for our product candidates, or procedures using our product candidates by a third-party payor, the resulting reimbursement payment rates may not be adequate or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high.

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

 

a covered benefit under its health plan;

 

safe, effective and medically necessary;

 

appropriate for the specific patient;

 

cost-effective; and

 

neither experimental nor investigational.

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

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, the coverage determination process is often a time-consuming and costly process that will require us to provide scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data and support for the use of our product candidates to each payor separately, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained. We intend to seek approval to market our product candidates in both the United States and in selected foreign jurisdictions. If we obtain approval in one or more foreign jurisdictions for our product candidates, we will be subject to rules and regulations in those jurisdictions.

Our product candidates may be subject to government price controls that may affect our revenue.

There has been heightened governmental scrutiny in the United States and abroad of pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. In the United States, at the federal level such scrutiny has resulted in several recent congressional inquiries and proposed 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 products. Congress and the Trump administration have each indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Outside of the United States, particularly in the EU, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain coverage and reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed.

Recently enacted and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain.

Third-party payors, whether domestic or foreign, governmental or commercial, are developing increasingly sophisticated methods of controlling healthcare costs. In both the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes to health care systems that could impact our ability to sell our products profitably. In particular, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, collectively, the Affordable Care Act, was enacted. The Affordable Care Act and its implementing regulations, among other things, subjected biologic products to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for certain drugs and biologics, including our product candidates, that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals

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enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs, provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research and established a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D.

Some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act have yet to be implemented, and there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, as well as recent efforts by the Trump administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The Tax Act includes a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year (this requirement was commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”). On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the Affordable Care Act, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well. While the Trump Administration and CMS have both stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect, it is unclear how this decision, subsequent appeals, if any, and other efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business. Congress may consider other legislation to repeal or replace other elements of the Affordable Care Act. Thus, the full impact of the Affordable Care Act, or any law replacing elements of it, on our business remains unclear. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our drugs.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013, and will remain in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, or the ATRA, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. For example, there have been several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer’s patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for pharmaceutical products. At the federal level, Congress and the Trump administration have each indicated that it will continue to pursue new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. Individual states in the United States have also increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future. The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:

 

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

 

our ability to set prices that we believe are fair for our products;

 

our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;

 

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

 

the availability of capital.

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

Legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements and restrict sales and promotional activities for pharmaceutical 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 regulatory approvals of our product candidates, if any, may be. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent regulatory approval, as well as subject us to more stringent product labeling and post-marketing testing and other requirements.

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Our current and future relationships with customers and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere may be subject, directly or indirectly, to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, transparency, health information privacy and security and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens and diminished profits and future earnings.

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our current and future arrangements with third-party payors, healthcare providers, patients and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal False Claims Act, which may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we research, develop, sell, market and distribute any drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by the U.S. federal and state governments and by governments in foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. The applicable federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate include:

 

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

 

federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalty laws, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors that are false or fraudulent or knowingly making a false statement to improperly avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;

 

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

 

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve the use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization;

 

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the Affordable Care Act, and its implementing regulations, which require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members and payments or other “transfers of value” made to such physician owners;

 

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

 

analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; state and foreign laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers; state and foreign laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers or marketing expenditures and pricing information; and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

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Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available under such laws, it is possible that some of our business activities, including our consulting arrangements with physicians, some of whom receive stock options as compensation for services provided, could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Federal and state enforcement bodies have increased their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies and healthcare providers, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. Responding to investigations can be time-and resource-consuming and can divert management’s attention from the business. Additionally, as a result of these investigations, healthcare providers and entities may have to agree to additional onerous compliance and reporting requirements as part of a consent decree or corporate integrity agreement. Any such investigation or settlement could increase our costs or otherwise have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other government regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs and the curtailment or restricting of our operations, any of which could harm our ability to operate our business and our financial results. In addition, the approval and commercialization of any of our product candidates outside the United States will also likely subject us to foreign equivalents of the healthcare laws mentioned above, among other foreign laws.

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

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

We are subject to governmental regulation and other legal obligations related to privacy, data protection and information security. Compliance with these requirements could result in additional costs and liabilities to us or inhibit our ability to collect and process data, and the failure to comply with such requirements could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Privacy and data security have become significant issues in the United States, Europe and in many other jurisdictions where we may in the future conduct our operations. As we receive, collect, process, use and store personal and confidential data, we are subject to diverse laws and regulations relating to data privacy and security, including, in the United States, HIPAA, and, in the EU and in the EEA, Regulation 2016/679, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Compliance with these privacy and data security requirements is rigorous and time-intensive and may increase our cost of doing business, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation and reputational harm, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, the regulatory framework for the receipt, collection, processing, use, safeguarding, sharing and transfer of personal and confidential data is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future as new global privacy rules are being enacted and existing ones are being updated and strengthened. For example, on May 25, 2018, the GDPR took effect in Europe. The GDPR is directly applicable in each EU member state and applies to companies established in the EU as well as companies that collect and use personal data to offer goods or services to, or monitor the behavior of, individuals in the EU, including, for example, through the conduct of clinical trials. GDPR introduces more stringent data protection obligations for processors and controllers of personal data, and penalties and fines for failure to comply with GDPR are significant, including fines of up to €20 million or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher.

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Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If we are unable to protect our intellectual property rights or if our intellectual property rights are inadequate for our technology and product candidates, our competitive position could be harmed.

Our commercial success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our proprietary technology and products. We rely on trade secret, patent, copyright and trademark laws, and confidentiality, licensing and other agreements with employees and third parties, all of which offer only limited protection. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing and prosecuting patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel technologies and products that are important to our business.

The patent positions of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally are highly uncertain, involve complex legal and factual questions and have been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patents, including those patent rights licensed to us by third parties, are highly uncertain. The steps we or our licensors have taken to protect our proprietary rights may not be adequate to preclude misappropriation of our proprietary information or infringement of our intellectual property rights, both inside and outside of the United States. Further, the examination process may require us or our licensors to narrow the claims for our pending patent applications, which may limit the scope of patent protection that may be obtained if these applications issue. The rights already granted under any of our currently issued patents or those licensed to us and those that may be granted under future issued patents may not provide us with the proprietary protection or competitive advantages we are seeking. If we or our licensors are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our technology and products, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficient, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and products similar or superior to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our technology and products may be adversely affected. It is also possible that we or our licensors will fail to identify patentable aspects of inventions made in the course of our development and commercialization activities before it is too late to obtain patent protection on them.

With respect to patent rights, we do not know whether any of the pending patent applications for any of our compounds or biologic products will result in the issuance of patents that effectively protect our technology or products, or if any of our issued patents or if any of our or our licensors’ issued patents will effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. 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 or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned or licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions.

Our pending applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until a patent issues from such applications. Because the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, issued patents that we own or have licensed from third parties may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in the loss of patent protection, the narrowing of claims in such patents or the invalidity or unenforceability of such patents, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection for our technology and products. Protecting against the unauthorized use of our or our licensor’s patented technology, trademarks and other intellectual property rights is expensive, difficult and may in some cases not be possible. In some cases, it may be difficult or impossible to detect third-party infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, even in relation to issued patent claims, and proving any such infringement may be even more difficult. For example, two of our patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,842,289 and 7,935,804, have previously been subject to reexamination proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, at the request of a third party.

Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could harm our business.

Our commercial success depends upon our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates, and to use our related proprietary technologies without infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties. We may become party to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates, including interference or derivation proceedings before the USPTO. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future. If we are found to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue commercializing our product candidates. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Under certain circumstances, we could be forced, including by court order, to cease commercializing our product candidates. In addition, in any such proceeding or litigation, we could also be found liable for monetary damages. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any claims by third parties that we have misappropriated their confidential information or trade secrets could have a similar negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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While our product candidates are in preclinical studies and clinical trials, we believe that their use in these preclinical studies and clinical trials falls within the scope of the exemptions provided by 35 U.S.C. Section 271(e) in the United States, which generally exempts from patent infringement liability activities reasonably related to the development and submission of information to the FDA. As our product candidates progress toward commercialization, the possibility of a patent infringement claim against us increases. We attempt to ensure that our product candidates and the methods we employ to manufacture them, as well as the methods for their use that we intend to promote, do not infringe other parties’ patents and other proprietary rights. We cannot assure you they do not, however, and competitors or other parties may assert that we infringe their proprietary rights in any event.

In addition, we are testing our product candidates administered with other product candidates or products that are covered by patents held by other companies or institutions. In the event that a labeling instruction is required in product packaging recommending that combination, we could be accused of, or held liable for, infringement of the third-party patents covering the product candidate or product recommended for administration with our product candidates. In such a case, we could be required to obtain a license from the other company or institution to use the required or desired package labeling, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.

If we breach any of our license agreements, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our product candidates.

Our commercial success depends on our ability, and the ability of our licensors and collaborators, to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our licensors’ or collaborators’ proprietary technologies without infringing the property rights of third parties. For example, we have entered into license agreements with Karagen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the Regents of the University of California and a consortium of universities led by Memorial Sloan Kettering related to STING Activators, and we expect to enter into additional licenses in the future. If we fail to comply with the obligations under these agreements, including payment and diligence terms, our licensors may have the right to terminate these agreements, in which event we may not be able to develop, manufacture, market or sell any product that is covered by these agreements or may face other penalties under the agreements. Such an occurrence could materially adversely affect the value of the product candidate being developed under any such agreement. Termination of these agreements or reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements may result in our having to negotiate new or reinstated agreements, which may not be available to us on equally favorable terms, or at all, or cause us to lose our rights under these agreements, including our rights to intellectual property or technology important to our development programs.

We have granted Lilly and Merck rights to control certain matters related to our intellectual rights for our licensed products. Our inability to control the filing, prosecution, maintenance and enforcement of such patents could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

As part of our license and collaboration agreements with Merck and Lilly related to anti-CD27 and cGAS STING pathway molecules, respectively, we have granted Merck and Lilly the first rights to prosecute certain patent rights and we are required to consult with Merck and Lilly with respect to infringement and defense matters related to certain licensed patents. Further, Merck has rights to determine the strategy for patent term extensions for anti-CD27 and we are required to cooperate with Lilly with respect to obtaining patent term extensions for certain patents related to the cGAS STING pathway program. Our inability to control these intellectual property rights could materially harm our business. For example, if a third party is infringing our patent covering anti-CD27, by marketing a product that is identical or similar to anti-CD27, Merck would have the initial right to enforce the patent against the third party and may make decisions with which we may not agree. Further, Merck may decide not to apply for extension of any term of a licensed patent that may otherwise be eligible for extension, which could decrease the royalties for the sale of products relating to such patents.

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

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

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

The laws of certain 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. For example, methods of treatment and manufacturing processes may not be patentable in certain jurisdictions, and the requirements for patentability may differ in certain countries, particularly developing countries. Furthermore, generic and/or biosimilar product manufacturers or other competitors may challenge the scope, validity or enforceability of our or our licensors’ patents, requiring us or our licensors to engage in complex, lengthy and costly litigation or other proceedings. 

Generic or biosimilar product manufacturers may develop, seek approval for, and launch generic or biosimilar versions, respectively, of our products. The FDA has published four draft guidance documents on biosimilar product development. For the FDA to approve a biosimilar product as interchangeable with a reference product, the agency must find that the biosimilar product can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product and, for products administered multiple times, the biosimilar and the reference biologic may be switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic. However, complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structures of biological products, as well as the process by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation, which are still being worked out by the FDA. To date, no biosimilar or interchangeable biologic has been licensed under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA, framework, although such approvals have occurred in Europe, and it is anticipated that the FDA will approve a biosimilar in the relatively near future. If any of our product candidates are approved by the FDA, the approval of a biologic product biosimilar to one of our products could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In particular, a biosimilar could be significantly less costly to bring to market and priced significantly lower than our products, if approved by the FDA.

Some jurisdictions may require us to grant licenses to third parties. Such compulsory licenses could be extended to include some of our product candidates, which may limit our potential revenue opportunities.

Many countries, including European Union countries, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled under certain circumstances to grant licenses to third parties. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. This could limit our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our and our licensors’ efforts to enforce intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we own or license.

Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our products for an adequate amount of time, and our product candidates for which we intend to seek approval as biologic products may face competition sooner than anticipated.

Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, such as our product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. Currently, we own or license patent families that cover STING Activators, which, expire, or if issued will expire, between 2025 and 2038, subject to any extensions. We expect to seek extensions of patent terms in the United States and, if available, in other countries where we are prosecuting patents. In the United States, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the normal expiration of the patent, which is limited to the approved indication (or any additional indications approved during the period of extension). However, the applicable authorities, including the FDA and the USPTO in the United States, and any equivalent 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.

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The BPCIA established legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilar biologics, including the possible designation of a biosimilar as “interchangeable” based on its similarity to an existing branded product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the original branded product was approved under a BLA. The law is complex and is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation and meaning are subject to uncertainty. While it is uncertain when such processes intended to implement BPCIA may be fully adopted by the FDA, any such processes could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.

We anticipate being awarded market exclusivity for each of our biological product candidates that is subject to its own BLA for 12 years in the United States, 10 years in Europe and significant durations in other markets. However, the term of the patents that cover such product candidates may not extend beyond the applicable market exclusivity awarded by a particular country. For example, in the United States, if all of the patents that cover our particular biologic product expire before the 12-year market exclusivity expires, a third party could submit a marketing application for a biosimilar product four years after approval of our biologic product, and the FDA could immediately review the application and approve the biosimilar product for marketing 12 years after approval of our biologic. Alternatively, a third party could submit a BLA for a similar or identical product any time after approval of our biologic product, and the FDA could immediately review and approve the similar or identical product for marketing and the third party could begin marketing the similar or identical product upon expiry of all of the patents that cover our particular biologic product.

Additionally, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to congressional action or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider our product candidates to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. The extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.

Changes in patent law 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 pharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the pharmaceutical industry involves technological and legal complexity, and obtaining and enforcing pharmaceutical patents is costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. 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. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our and our licensors’ 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 Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our and our licensors’ ability to obtain new patents or to enforce existing patents and patents we and our licensors may obtain in the future. Recent patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our and our licensors’ patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our or our licensors’ issued patents.

For instance, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, U.S. patent applications containing or at that at any time contained a claim not entitled to priority before March 16, 2013 are subject to a “first to file” system, in which the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent. This “first to file” system requires us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing, we cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our product candidates. Furthermore, for United States applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third-party or instituted by the USPTO, to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications.

Periodic maintenance fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. While an inadvertent lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we or our licensors fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates, our competitive position would be adversely affected.

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We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Competitors may infringe our patents or misappropriate or otherwise violate our intellectual property rights. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, litigation may be necessary in the future to enforce or defend our intellectual property rights, to protect our trade secrets or to determine the validity and scope of our own intellectual property rights or the proprietary rights of others. Also, third parties may initiate legal proceedings against us or our licensors to challenge the validity or scope of intellectual property rights we own or control. These proceedings can be expensive and time consuming. Many of our current and potential competitors have the ability to dedicate substantially greater resources to defend their intellectual property rights than we can. Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing upon or misappropriating our intellectual property. Litigation could result in substantial costs and diversion of management resources, which could harm our business and financial results. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent owned by or licensed to us is invalid or unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable or interpreted narrowly. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments in any such proceedings. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of shares of our common stock.

We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that our licensors, employees or we have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees and our licensors’ employees, including our senior management, were previously employed at universities or at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Some of these employees, including each member of our senior management, executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, or similar agreements, in connection with such previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these employees have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such third party. Litigation may be necessary to defend against such claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel or sustain damages. Such intellectual property rights could be awarded to a third party, and we could be required to obtain a license from such third party to commercialize our technology or products. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. The following examples are illustrative:

 

Others may be able to make compounds or biologics that are the same as or similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or have exclusively licensed.

 

We or our licensors or any strategic partners might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own or have exclusively licensed.

 

We or our licensors might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions.

 

Others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights.

 

It is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents.

 

Issued patents that we own or have licensed may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges.

 

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 do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets.

 

We may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

 

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

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If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our proprietary information and know-how, the value of our technology and products could be adversely affected.

In addition to patent protection, we also rely on other proprietary rights, including protection of trade secrets, know-how and confidential and proprietary information. To maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets and proprietary information, we enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants and collaborators upon the commencement of their relationships with us. These agreements require that all confidential information developed by the individual or made known to the individual by us during the course of the individual’s relationship with us be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties. Our agreements with employees also provide that any inventions conceived by the individual in the course of rendering services to us shall be our exclusive property. However, we may not obtain these agreements in all circumstances, and individuals with whom we have these agreements may not comply with their terms. In the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets or proprietary information, these agreements, even if obtained, may not provide meaningful protection, particularly for our trade secrets or other confidential information. To the extent that our employees, consultants or contractors use technology or know-how owned by third parties in their work for us, disputes may arise between us and those third parties as to the rights in related inventions.

Adequate remedies may not exist in the event of unauthorized use or disclosure of our confidential information. The disclosure of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Financial Results

Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or our guidance.

Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly in the future, which makes it difficult for us to predict our future operating results. From time to time, in addition to existing agreements with Novartis, Merck and Lilly, we may enter into license or collaboration agreements with other companies that include development funding and significant upfront and milestone payments and/or royalties, which may become an important source of our revenue. Accordingly, our revenue may depend on development funding and the achievement of development and clinical milestones under current and any potential future license and collaboration agreements and sales of our products, if approved. These upfront and milestone payments may vary significantly from period to period and any such variance could cause a significant fluctuation in our operating results from one period to the next.

In addition, we measure compensation cost for stock-based awards made to employees at the grant date of the award, based on the fair value of the award as approved by the compensation committee and sub-committees, and recognize the cost as an expense over the employee’s requisite service period. As the variables that we use as a basis for valuing these awards change over time, including our underlying stock price and stock price volatility, the magnitude of the expense that we must recognize may vary significantly.

Furthermore, our operating results may fluctuate due to a variety of other factors, many of which are outside of our control and may be difficult to predict, including the following:

 

the timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research and development activities relating to our current and any future product candidates, which will change from time to time;

 

our ability to enroll patients in clinical trials and the timing of enrollment;

 

the cost of manufacturing our current and any future product candidates, which may vary depending on FDA guidelines and requirements, the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with manufacturers;

 

expenditures that we will or may incur to acquire or develop additional product candidates and technologies;

 

the timing and outcomes of clinical studies for our product candidates or competing product candidates;

 

competition from existing and potential future drugs that compete with our product candidates, and changes in the competitive landscape of our industry, including consolidation among our competitors or partners;

 

any delays in regulatory review or approval of our product candidates;

 

the level of demand for our product candidates, if approved, which may fluctuate significantly and be difficult to predict;

 

the risk/benefit profile, cost and reimbursement policies with respect to our products candidates, if approved, and existing and potential future drugs that compete with our product candidates;

 

our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, inside and outside of the United States, either independently or working with third parties;

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our ability to establish and maintain collaborations, licensing or other arrangements;

 

our ability to adequately support future growth;

 

potential unforeseen business disruptions that increase our costs or expenses;

 

future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies; and

 

the changing and volatile global economic environment.

The cumulative effect of these factors could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. Investors should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance. This variability and unpredictability could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any forecasts we may provide to the market, or if the forecasts we provide to the market are below the expectations of analysts or investors, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Such a stock price decline could occur even when we have met any previously publicly stated revenue and/or earnings guidance we may provide.

The recently passed comprehensive tax reform bill could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Act was enacted. The Tax Act, among other things, contains significant changes to corporate taxation, including (1) reduction of the corporate tax rate from a top marginal rate of 35% to a flat rate of 21%; (2) limitation of the tax deduction for interest expense, generally to 30% of adjusted earnings (as specifically calculated for this purpose); (3) for net operating losses generated after 2017, limitation of the deduction to 80% of current year taxable income, indefinite carryforwards, and elimination of carrybacks; (4) certain changes in the treatment of offshore earnings regardless of whether they are repatriated; (5) mandatory capitalization of research and development expenses beginning in 2022; (6) immediate deductions for certain new investments instead of deductions for depreciation expense over time; (7) further deduction limits on executive compensation; and (8) modifying, repealing and creating many other business deductions and credits, including the reduction in the orphan drug credit from 50% to 25% of qualifying expenditures. Due to the broad complexities of the Tax Act, under the guidance of Staff Accounting Bulletin 118, the Company previously provided a provisional estimate of the effect of the Tax Act in our financial statements. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we completed our analysis to determine the effect of the Tax Act and recorded immaterial adjustments as of December 31, 2018.

Our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards to offset future taxable income, and our ability to use tax credit carryforwards, may be subject to certain limitations.

Our ability to use our federal and state net operating losses to offset potential future taxable income and related income taxes that would otherwise be due is dependent upon our generation of future taxable income before the expiration dates of the net operating losses, and we cannot predict with certainty when, or whether, we will generate sufficient taxable income to use all of our net operating losses. In addition, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, to offset future taxable income and its ability to utilize tax credit carryforwards. As of December 31, 2018, we reported U.S. federal, state and foreign NOLs of approximately $102.8 million, $64.4 million and $49.9 million, respectively.

Under Section 382 of the Code our ability to utilize NOL carryforwards or other tax attributes, such as federal tax credits, in any taxable year may be limited if we have experienced an “ownership change.” Generally, a Section 382 ownership change occurs if one or more stockholders or groups of stockholders who owns at least 5% of a corporation’s stock increases its ownership by more than 50 percentage points over its lowest ownership percentage within a specified testing period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. We believe that we may have experienced an ownership change under Section 382, which will result in limitations in our ability to utilize net operating losses and credits. In addition, we may experience future ownership changes as a result of future offerings or other changes in the ownership of our stock. As a result, the amount of the NOLs and tax credit carryforwards presented in our financial statements could be limited and may expire unutilized.

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Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

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

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

In addition, the stock market in general, and the Nasdaq Global Select Market and biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities. This type of litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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

Our common stock is currently traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, but we can provide no assurance that we will be able to maintain an active trading market for our shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market or any other exchange in the future. If there is no active market for our common stock, it may be difficult for our stockholders to sell shares without depressing the market price for the shares or at all.

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

We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation, if any, of their common stock.

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

Our executive officers, directors and 5% stockholders together beneficially own a significant percentage of our voting stock. These stockholders may be able to determine the outcome of matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders may be able to control elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets or other major corporate transaction. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that other stockholders believe are in their best interests.

Our reported financial results may be adversely affected by changes in accounting principles generally accepted in the United States.

We prepare our financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. These accounting principles are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, and the SEC. A change in these policies or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results, may retroactively affect previously reported results, could cause unexpected financial reporting fluctuations, and may require us to make costly changes to our operational processes and accounting systems.

Our revenue to date has been primarily derived from research and license agreements, which can result in significant fluctuation in our revenue from period to period, and our past revenue is therefore not necessarily indicative of our future revenue.

Our revenue is primarily derived from our research and license agreements, from which we receive upfront fees, contract research payments, milestone and other contingent payments based on clinical progress, regulatory progress or net sales achievements and royalties. Significant variations in the timing of receipt of cash payments and our recognition of revenue can result from significant payments based on the execution of new research and license agreements, the timing of clinical outcomes, regulatory approval, commercial launch or the achievement of certain annual sales thresholds. The amount of our revenue derived from research and license agreements in any given period will depend on a number of unpredictable factors, including our ability to find and maintain suitable collaboration partners, the timing of the negotiation and conclusion of collaboration agreements with such partners, whether and when we or our collaboration partners achieve clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, the timing of regulatory approvals in one or more major markets, reimbursement levels by private and government payers, and the market introduction of new drugs or generic versions of the approved drug, as well as other factors. Our past revenue generated from these agreements is not necessarily indicative of our future revenue. If any of our existing or future collaboration partners terminates our collaboration, fails to develop, obtain regulatory approval for, manufacture or ultimately commercialize any product candidate under our collaboration agreement, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

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Once we are no longer an emerging growth company we will be subject to additional laws and regulations affecting public companies that will increase our costs and the demands on management and could harm our operating results.

As a public company we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which requires, among other things, that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition as well as other disclosure and corporate governance requirements. However, as an emerging growth company we may take advantage of exemptions from various requirements such as an exemption from the requirement to have our independent auditors attest to our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 as well as an exemption from the “say on pay” voting requirements pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Once we are no longer an emerging growth company, we will be required to comply with these additional legal and regulatory requirements applicable to public companies and will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses to do so. If we are not able to comply with the requirements in a timely manner or at all, our financial condition or the market price of our common stock may be harmed. For example, if we or our independent auditor identifies deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses we could face additional costs to remedy those deficiencies, the market price of our stock could decline or we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which would require additional financial and management resources.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (1) December 31, 2020, (2) the last day of the fiscal year (a) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion or (b) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th, and (3) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period. We cannot predict when we will no longer be an emerging growth company.

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

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. These sales, or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our common stock. Moreover, holders of certain shares of our common stock have rights, subject to certain conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders. For example, on August 2, 2017, we filed a registration statement on Form S-3 to register for resale shares held by Morningside Venture (IV) Investments Limited and Ultimate Keen Limited, which together hold 14,908,031 shares of our common stock. We have registered all currently reserved shares of common stock that we may issue under our equity compensation plans and intend to register in the future any additional reserved or issued shares of common stock. These registered shares can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to volume limitations applicable to affiliates. 

Future sales and issuances of our common stock or rights to purchase common stock, including pursuant to our 2015 Plan, could result in additional dilution of the percentage ownership of our stockholders and could cause our stock price to fall.

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

Pursuant to our equity incentive plans, our compensation committee is authorized to grant equity-based incentive awards to our employees, non-employee directors and consultants. Future grants of restricted stock units, options and other equity awards and issuances of common stock under our equity incentive plans will result in dilution and may have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

Additionally, the number of shares of our common stock reserved for issuance under our 2015 Plan will automatically increase on January 1 of each year, beginning on January 1, 2016 and continuing through and including January 1, 2025, by 4% of the total number of shares of our capital stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year or a lesser number of shares determined by our board of directors. Further, the number of shares of our common stock reserved for issuance under our 2015 ESPP will automatically increase on January 1 of each year, beginning on January 1, 2016 and continuing through and including January 1, 2025, by 1% of the total number of shares of common stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year or a lesser number of shares determined by our board of directors. Unless our board of directors elects not to increase the number of shares available for future grant each year, our stockholders may experience additional dilution, which could cause our stock price to fall.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

If securities or industry analysts publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our stock or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price may decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our common stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price and trading volume to decline.

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In addition, as required by Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, which was adopted beginning January 1, 2018, we disclose the aggregate amount of the transaction price allocated to performance obligations that are unsatisfied (or partially unsatisfied) as of the end of the reporting period. Market practices surrounding the calculation of this measure are still evolving. It is possible that analysts and investors could misinterpret our disclosure or that the terms of our research or license agreements or other circumstances could cause our methods for preparing this disclosure to differ significantly from others, which could lead to inaccurate or unfavorable forecasts by analysts and investors.

Regardless of accuracy, unfavorable interpretations of our financial information and other public disclosures could have a negative impact on our stock price. If our financial performance fails to meet analyst estimates, for any of the reasons discussed above or otherwise, or one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our common stock or change their opinion of our common stock, our stock price would likely decline.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

 

 

Item 2. Properties.

We moved into our corporate office and laboratory facility located in Berkeley, California in August 2016. We lease approximately 110,853 square feet pursuant to an Office/Laboratory lease that was entered into in September 2015, or the Heinz Lease. We began incurring rent expense when the landlord delivered possession of the facility to us in March 2016. The Heinz Lease has an initial term of approximately thirteen and a half years expiring on December 31, 2029. We have the right to further extend the Heinz Lease term for up to two renewal terms of five years each, provided that the rental rate would be subject to market adjustment at the beginning of each renewal term. We are subleasing approximately 30,885 square feet in our Heinz facilities under subleases that expire on or before December 31, 2020.

We continued to lease our former office and research and development facility comprised of 25,000 square feet in Berkeley, California, under a non-cancelable operating lease, or the Bancroft Lease, through December 31, 2018. We subleased the Bancroft facility during 2018.  The term of the Bancroft Lease expired on December 31, 2018.

We also lease a research and development facility in Oss, the Netherlands, for employees of Aduro Biotech Europe. The term of the Oss lease has been extended through December 2020, with a one-year renewal option. We believe that our existing facilities are adequate to meet our current needs, and that suitable additional alternative spaces will be available in the future on commercially reasonable terms.

 

 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

We are not currently subject to any material legal proceedings.

 

 

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

 

 

58


PART II

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

Market Price of Common Stock

Our common stock has been listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ADRO” since April 15, 2015. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our common stock.

 

On February 22, 2019, the last reported sale price of our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market was $4.09 per share.

Holders of Record

As of February 22, 2019, we had 115 holders of record of our common stock. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders, and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees. This number of holders of record also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination related to dividend policy will be made at the discretion of our board of directors.

Stock Performance Graph

This performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act), or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

The graph below shows the cumulative total stockholder return assuming the investment of $100.00 in our common stock, The Nasdaq Global Market Index, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index for the period commencing on April 15, 2015 (the first day of trading of our common stock) and ending on December 31, 2018. The comparisons in the table are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission and are not intended to forecast or be indicative of future performance of our common stock. All amounts are shown are based on the closing price with the exception of April 15, 2015 which is the opening price based on initial trading of Aduro stock.

 

59


Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Repurchases of Shares or of Company Equity Securities

None.

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

The selected consolidated financial data included in this section are not intended to replace the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We derived the selected consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data at December 31, 2018 and 2017 from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data at December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements which are not included in this report. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in the future. You should read the selected historical consolidated financial data below in conjunction with the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

 

 

(in thousands, except share

and per share data)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaboration and license revenue

 

$

15,087

 

 

$

17,109

 

 

$

50,593

 

 

$

71,689

 

 

$

13,038

 

 

Grant revenue

 

 

 

 

 

130

 

 

 

88

 

 

 

1,290

 

 

 

351

 

 

Total revenue

 

 

15,087

 

 

 

17,239

 

 

 

50,681

 

 

 

72,979

 

 

 

13,389

 

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development(1)

 

 

75,836

 

 

 

89,382

 

 

 

87,718

 

 

 

58,649

 

 

 

23,513

 

 

General and administrative(1)

 

 

36,035

 

 

 

33,751

 

 

 

34,277

 

 

 

27,805

 

 

 

8,994

 

 

Loss on impairment of intangible assets

 

 

3,992

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

 

584

 

 

 

559

 

 

 

549

 

 

 

89

 

 

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

116,447

 

 

 

123,692

 

 

 

122,544

 

 

 

86,543

 

 

 

32,507

 

 

Loss from operations

 

 

(101,360

)

 

 

(106,453

)

 

 

(71,863

)

 

 

(13,564

)

 

 

(19,118

)

 

Loss from remeasurement of fair value of warrants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(26,077

)

(4)

 

(566

)

 

Gain on extinguishment of convertible promissory notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,553

 

(2)

Interest income (expense), net

 

 

5,284

 

 

 

3,444

 

 

 

2,219

 

 

 

494

 

 

 

(2,395

)

(3)

Other (expense) income, net

 

 

(64

)

 

 

(218

)

 

 

(40

)

 

 

(161

)

 

 

1,512

 

 

Loss before income tax

 

 

(96,140

)

 

 

(103,227

)

 

 

(69,684

)

 

 

(39,308

)

 

 

(17,014

)

 

Income tax benefit (provision)

 

 

783

 

 

 

11,364

 

 

 

(21,464

)

 

 

99

 

 

 

 

 

Net loss

 

$

(95,357

)

 

$

(91,863

)

 

$

(91,148

)

 

$

(39,209

)

 

$

(17,014

)

 

Net loss per common share, basic and diluted

 

$

(1.21

)

 

$

(1.26

)

 

$

(1.40

)

 

$

(0.88

)

 

$

(53.06

)

 

Shares used in computing net loss per common

   share, basic and diluted

 

 

78,812,407

 

 

 

72,901,215

 

 

 

65,200,762

 

 

 

44,706,393

 

 

 

320,686

 

 

 

(1)

Includes stock-based compensation as follows:  

60


 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development

 

$

9,745

 

 

$

9,205

 

 

$

9,131

 

 

$

2,493

 

 

$

202

 

General and administrative

 

 

7,729

 

 

 

7,171

 

 

 

5,875

 

 

 

5,937

 

 

 

368

 

Total stock-based compensation

 

$

17,474

 

 

$

16,376

 

 

$

15,006

 

 

$

8,430

 

 

$

570

 

 

 

(2)

Upon the conversion of convertible promissory notes to related parties into Series C convertible preferred stock in May 2014, a gain on extinguishment was recorded because the amount allocated to reacquire the convertible notes was less than the carrying value of the notes.

(3)

Includes amortization of debt discount associated with convertible promissory notes due to the issuance of warrants and beneficial conversion feature associated with such convertible promissory notes.

(4)

In 2015, the Company remeasured warrants to their fair value of $27.1 million and recognized a loss from remeasurement of $26.1 million. The carrying value of the warrants of $27.1 million was reclassified to additional paid-in capital.

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities

 

$

277,873

 

 

$

349,717

 

 

$

361,906

 

 

$

431,045

 

 

$

119,456

 

Working capital

 

 

252,459

 

 

 

308,730

 

 

 

324,132

 

 

 

393,438

 

 

 

81,006

 

Total assets

 

 

357,504

 

 

 

445,128

 

 

 

438,611

 

 

 

481,825

 

 

 

126,462

 

Convertible preferred stock warrant liability

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

Common stock warrant liability

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

889

 

Convertible preferred stock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

139,963

 

Accumulated deficit