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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 29, 2019.

Registration No. 333-            

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM S-1

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

Under

The Securities Act of 1933

 

 

CODIAK BIOSCIENCES, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

 

Delaware   2836   47-4926530

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(Primary Standard Industrial

Classification Code Number)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

 

 

500 Technology Square, 9th Floor

Cambridge, MA 02139

(617) 949-4100

(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)

 

 

Douglas E. Williams, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

500 Technology Square, 9th Floor

Cambridge, MA 02139

(617) 949-4100

(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)

 

 

Copies to:

 

Stephen M. Davis

Daniel A. Lang

Goodwin Procter LLP

620 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 813-8800

 

Linda C. Bain

Codiak BioSciences, Inc.

500 Technology Square, 9th Floor

Cambridge, MA 02139

(617) 949-4100

 

Divakar Gupta

Richard C. Segal

Brent B. Siler

Cooley LLP

55 Hudson Yards

New York, NY 10001

(212) 479-6000

 

 

Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after the effective date of this registration statement.

If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, check the following box.  

If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  

If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  

If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  

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

 

Large Accelerated Filer      Accelerated Filer  
Non-Accelerated Filer      Smaller Reporting Company  
     Emerging Growth Company  

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided to Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act.  

 

 

CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE

 

 

TITLE OF EACH CLASS OF SECURITIES TO BE REGISTERED  

PROPOSED
  MAXIMUM AGGREGATE  

OFFERING PRICE (1)(2)

  AMOUNT OF
REGISTRATION FEE (3)

Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share

 

$86,250,000.00

 

$10,453.50

 

 

(1)    Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
(2)    Includes the offering price of shares that the underwriters may purchase pursuant to an option to purchase additional shares.
(3)    Calculated pursuant to Rule 457(o) based on an estimate of the proposed maximum aggregate offering price.

 

 

The registrant hereby amends this registration statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the registrant shall file a further amendment that specifically states that this registration statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or until this registration statement shall become effective on such date as the Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.

 

 


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The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. These securities may not be sold until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities nor does it seek an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.

 

Subject to completion, dated April 29, 2019

 

Preliminary prospectus

            shares

 

LOGO

Common stock

This is an initial public offering of shares of common stock by Codiak BioSciences, Inc. We are offering                  shares of our common stock. The initial public offering price is expected to be between $        and $        per share.

Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our common stock. We have applied to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CDAK.”

We are an “emerging growth company” under the federal securities laws and are subject to reduced public company reporting requirements for this prospectus and future filings.

 

 

 

     PER SHARE      TOTAL  

Initial public offering price

   $                    $                

Underwriting discounts and commissions (1)

   $                    $                

Proceeds to Codiak BioSciences, Inc., before expenses

   $                    $                

 

 

(1)    See “Underwriting” for a description of compensation payable to the underwriters.

We have granted the underwriters an option for a period of up to 30 days to purchase up to             additional shares of our common stock.

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. See “Risk factors” beginning on page 12 of this prospectus.

Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

The underwriters expect to deliver the shares of common stock to purchasers on or about                 , 2019.

 

Jefferies   Evercore ISI  

William Blair

 

Wedbush PacGrow

                    , 2019

 


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

     1  

RISK FACTORS

     12  

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

     70  

USE OF PROCEEDS

     72  

DIVIDEND POLICY

     74  

CAPITALIZATION

     75  

DILUTION

     77  

SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

     80  

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

     82  

BUSINESS

     101  

MANAGEMENT

     150  

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

     157  

DIRECTOR COMPENSATION

     165  

CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

     166  

PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDERS

     169  

DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK

     172  

SHARES ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE SALE

     176  

MATERIAL U.S. FEDERAL INCOME TAX CONSIDERATIONS FOR NON-U.S. HOLDERS OF COMMON STOCK

     178  

UNDERWRITING

     182  

LEGAL MATTERS

     192  

EXPERTS

     193  

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

     194  

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

     F-1  

 

 

Neither we nor the underwriters have authorized anyone to provide any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus prepared by or on behalf of us or to which we have referred you. We take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. This prospectus is an offer to sell only the shares offered hereby, but only under circumstances and in jurisdictions where it is lawful to do so. The information contained in this prospectus or in any applicable free writing prospectus is current only as of its date, regardless of its time of delivery or any sale of shares of our common stock. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date.


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Through and including                     , 2019 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers that effect transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to the dealers’ obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

For investors outside the United States: Neither we nor the underwriters have done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside the United States who come into possession of this prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to the offering of the shares of common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside the United States.

This prospectus contains references to our trademarks and to trademarks belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this prospectus, including logos, artwork and other visual displays, may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and trade names. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names or trademarks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.


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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

This summary highlights selected information contained in greater detail elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary does not contain all of the information you should consider before investing in our common stock. You should read this entire prospectus carefully, especially the risks of investing in our common stock discussed under “Risk factors” and our financial statements and the related notes thereto included at the end of this prospectus, before making an investment decision. As used in this prospectus, unless the context otherwise requires, references to “we,” “us,” “our,” “the Company,” “Codiak BioSciences” and “Codiak” refer to Codiak BioSciences, Inc. and its subsidiary on a consolidated basis.

Overview

Codiak BioSciences is harnessing exosomes—natural intercellular messengers—to pioneer a new class of biologic medicines, exosome therapeutics. Exosomes are vesicles released and taken up by all cells and convey and protect complex biologically active molecules that can alter the function of recipient cells. Since exosomes are inherently non-immunogenic, we believe exosomes are an ideal solution for developing a broad spectrum of allogeneic therapies, or therapies derived from human cells that can be used in any patient. We have developed the engEx Platform, our proprietary and versatile exosome engineering and manufacturing platform, to expand upon the innate properties of exosomes to design novel exosome therapeutics. We believe our engEx Platform has the potential to produce a broad pipeline of product candidates that will have a transformative impact on the treatment of a broad spectrum of diseases with high unmet medical need, including in the areas of oncology, immune-based diseases, metabolic and fibrotic disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and rare diseases. Our intention is to exploit this broad potential through our own efforts as well as in collaboration with strategic partners. We are focused initially on targeting immune cells with our first product candidates generated from our engEx Platform, or engEx product candidates, which are currently in preclinical development. We plan to advance our first two engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, into clinical development in 2020.

Exosomes facilitate intercellular communication by transmitting macromolecules between cells. They can be found in all tissues and biological fluids, and it is believed that all cells have the capacity to make, secrete and receive exosomes. Upon contact, exosomes can change the biological functions of recipient cells either by protein-to-protein signaling at the target cell surface or according to molecular instructions contained in the interior, or lumen, of the exosome and conveyed by cellular uptake into the cytoplasm or nucleus of the recipient cell where those molecules can engage with the appropriate signaling pathways. While various cellular targets and pathways have been identified as attractive areas for drug development, existing therapeutic modalities have been associated with various limitations, rendering these targets and pathways essentially undruggable. These limitations include the inability to engage with sufficient potency without causing unacceptable toxicity, inadequate drug delivery to the appropriate cell type in sufficient concentration, inability of the drug to enter the appropriate intracellular compartment, and unwanted immune response.

Exosomes have evolved to enable the transport of large and small macromolecules of various compositions across cellular barriers including the inner and outer cellular membranes. Additionally, exosomes from many cell types carry complex outer membrane structures that include proteins and glycoproteins that can interact with the surface proteins of recipient cells. Unmodified exosomes from various cell lines demonstrate a potential intrinsic advantage in their selective delivery to recipient cells. Moreover, our engEx Platform enables us to engineer the exosome surface to further direct tropism to a desired cell type, tissue or organ, potentially allowing for the selective delivery of certain biologically active molecules that may otherwise be broadly toxic if administered systemically. Accordingly, we believe that the inherent properties of exosomes, as harnessed using our engEx Platform, have the potential to overcome many of the challenges of existing modalities and enable the development of novel therapies that can address cellular targets and pathways rendered essentially undruggable with other therapeutic approaches. Furthermore, we believe our engEx Platform may expand the capacity of several established drug modalities, such as nucleic acid therapeutics, including ASO, siRNA, miRNA, mRNA and CRISPR, to engage targets in a broader range of tissues and cells than currently possible.



 

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Our proprietary engEx Platform enables the precision engineering and manufacturing of novel exosome product candidates that are designed to target cytoplasmic, nuclear or membrane signaling pathways throughout the body, with the goal of delivering potent signals to specific target cells. Using our engEx Platform, we can engineer exosomes to have precise and intentionally chosen properties, to incorporate various types of biologically active molecules, including small molecules, nucleic acids, proteins, antibodies, enzymes, cytokines and complex ligands, and to be directed to specific cell types and tissues.

Our engEx exosomes act by instructing target cells via cellular uptake, membrane-to-membrane interaction, or a combination of both, and are designed to change the biological functioning of the recipient cells to produce a desired therapeutic effect. These characteristics have manifested in preclinical data for our engEx exosomes showing encouraging biological activity and a favorable toxicity profile. For example, in preclinical testing, exoSTING demonstrated increased potency, more selective cell-type uptake and reduced systemic toxicity, and preserved immune cell viability, after intratumoral administration compared to a non-exosome-associated STING agonist small molecule. Similarly, in preclinical testing, exoIL-12 demonstrated a more robust cellular immune response after intratumoral administration compared to a non-exosome-associated soluble IL-12. In both instances, exoSTING and exoIL-12 did not promote a robust and potentially toxic cytokine response that has been observed with non-exosome-associated formulations of STING and IL-12 molecules. For additional information about our preclinical data with exoSTING, see the section titled “Business–APCs, exoSTING for the treatment of solid tumors.” For additional information about our preclinical data with exoIL-12, see the section titled “Business–T cells and NK cells, exoIL-12 for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.”

The key features and capabilities of our engEx Platform include our ability to:

 

   

Harness Inherent Exosome Biology—Our engEx Platform allows us to leverage the inherent biology, function and tolerability profile of exosomes and to engineer exosomes that are designed to provide selective delivery, and desired pharmacology and tolerability. We have observed in preclinical models that the engineered exosomes derived from our engEx Platform are not recognized as being foreign by the host immune system and are therefore potentially well-suited for use as allogeneic therapies.

 

   

Establish Predictable Biodistribution and Cellular Tropism—Our understanding of natural exosome biodistribution allows us to leverage or alter the natural distribution pattern of our engEx exosomes in a directed manner, within and across routes of administration. We have engineered “tool” exosomes that allow us to track and assess cellular level distribution and uptake through multiple routes of administration, including intravenous, intrathecal, subcutaneous, inhalation, intraperitoneal, and oral, in normal and diseased states, to precisely catalogue the intrinsic tropism of our engEx exosomes. This understanding of cellular targeting informs our prioritization of disease targets in relevant cells.

 

   

Target Multiple Cell Types—Our engEx Platform supports the development of product candidates that either stimulate or suppress the function of a variety of immune cell types. We believe that if we can successfully target a particular immune cell type with an engEx product candidate and establish proof of concept, we will be able to leverage that experience to more efficiently develop additional engEx product candidates targeting that same class of immune cell type across clinical indications. These indications include a broad spectrum of diseases, including cancer, immune-based diseases, metabolic and fibrotic disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and rare diseases. In addition, we believe our ability to alter tropism by precisely modifying the exosome surface may allow us to target not just additional immune cells, but many cell types, potentially allowing us to expand the uses of engEx exosomes beyond immune modulation.

 

   

Support Broad Clinical Applications—Our engEx Platform is modular and flexible and we believe that our success with one modality may increase the probability of success for other targets using the same modality in the same or different cell types. Consequently, we believe our engEx Platform allows us to design exosome therapeutics that will have applicability across multiple cell types in the immune system and, more generally, to any cell type.

 

   

Engineer Multifunctional Exosomes—Our exosomes can be engineered to include and carry specific biologically active entities, including small molecules, proteins, antibodies, peptides and nucleic



 

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acids, individually or in combination, on the exosome surface, in the lumen or both. To accomplish this, we first identified novel exosome-specific scaffold proteins, PTGFRN and Protein Y, that allow for high-density loading and expression of many classes of proteins and peptides onto and inside our engEx exosomes. In the case of Protein Y, we have identified a short protein sequence motif that allows for specific, high-density luminal loading of broad classes of cargo into the exosomes. This sequence motif, which we call “exoTOPE”, facilitates superior loading efficiency of protein and peptide molecules compared to previously-identified exosome scaffold proteins such as tetraspanins. We have also generated purified exosomes that can be loaded ex vivo with diverse classes of biologically active molecules. We have been able to engineer our engEx exosomes to each contain up to hundreds or thousands of individual potentially therapeutic molecules. The precise design and loading of our exosomes confers flexible and desirable attributes for various therapeutic applications, including multiple biological functions when combinations of biologically active entities are incorporated into an exosome.

 

   

Manage Potency and Toxicity Profile—Data from our preclinical studies demonstrated that our engEx exosomes, including exoSTING and exoIL-12, were non-immunogenic and may be able to engage clinically intractable targets through their ability to selectively target specific cells and tissues. In addition, preclinical studies with exoSTING and exoIL-12 demonstrated reduced toxicity and tumor-retention of the STING agonist and IL-12 protein, respectively. This retention was associated with reduced systemic inflammation as compared to a non-exosome-associated STING agonist or IL-12 protein, respectively. These characteristics suggest that our engEx exosomes have the potential to address previously undruggable or poorly druggable targets in areas of high unmet medical need.

 

   

Provide Scalable and Reproducible Manufacturing—Our engEx product candidates can be produced at scale using good manufacturing practices, or GMP. The inability to manufacture exosomes reproducibly at scale, or to engineer exosomes to include chosen properties, has limited previous attempts to successfully develop exosome therapeutics. We have produced and purified exosomes from cell culture processes up to 250L in volume and have purified exosomes from these cultures using scalable, proprietary chromatography-based methods. The scalable methods have produced exosomes with comparable identity, purity, and functional properties as exosomes purified using unscalable, but high-purity methods, such as ultracentrifugation-based approaches. We are in the process of establishing our own Phase 1/2 clinical manufacturing facility, with the goal of being fully-operational by first half 2020. We have also developed intellectual property directed toward our manufacturing capabilities, including a proprietary suite of analytical techniques to verify the potency of our engineered exosomes.

We are initially focusing our development efforts with our engEx Platform on targeting immune cells, including antigen presenting cells, or APCs, T cells and natural killer, or NK, cells, monocytes and macrophages, and B lymphocytes, or B cells. This initial focus potentially allows us to develop engEx product candidates across various therapeutic indications due to the crucial role that immune cells play in many human diseases and in many therapeutic areas. Moreover, we believe that our ability to direct tropism by engineering the exosome surface allows us to target not just additional immune cells, but many cell types, potentially opening the door to treatments in many therapeutic areas. Using our proprietary exosomal scaffold proteins, PTGFRN and Protein Y, we can incorporate an expanding repertoire of biologically active molecules onto or inside exosomes, which further expands the potential medical utility of our engEx Platform.



 

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Utilizing our engEx Platform, we are advancing a broad pipeline of engEx product candidates and development programs with an initial focus on targeting immune cells, including APCs, T cells and NK cells, monocytes and macrophages, and B cells. The following graphic summarizes our pipeline:

 

Codiak engEx Pipeline

 

LOGO

exoSTING—exoSTING is being developed for the treatment of solid tumors that are “cold,” meaning they are resistant, or would be unlikely to respond, to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies. We may also investigate exoSTING in other cold tumors rich in myeloid cells, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, choleangio-carcinoma, gastric cancer, ovarian cancer, renal cell carcinoma, lung metastases, liver metastases and colorectal cancer. These diseases represent areas of high unmet medical need with significant patient populations.

exoSTING is designed to target APCs and acts by targeting the small molecule stimulator of interferon genes, or STING pathway, which has been preclinically validated as an attractive target for eliciting an anti-tumor immune response. We have obtained a worldwide license for a proprietary STING agonist for use in exoSTING and other applications of STING activation. The ability to utilize free STING small molecule agonists as therapies has been hampered by a lack of selectivity and leakage out of the tumor, causing systemic toxicity. We believe, based on our preclinical data presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting in 2018, that exoSTING has the potential to overcome these limitations. We are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of exoSTING in patients with various “cold” solid tumors to investigate safety and tolerability, as well as preservation of tumor resident immune cells and activation of local and systemic anti-tumor immunity. We plan to initiate this trial in the first half of 2020, following acceptance of an investigational new drug, or IND, or clinical trial application, or CTA, and expect preliminary data within 12 months of trial initiation.

exoIL-12Our second engEx product candidate, exoIL-12, is in development for the treatment of various forms of cancer. exoIL-12 is designed to target T cells and NK cells. We have designed exoIL-12 to induce a potent response in tumors that lack sufficient immune stimulation to trigger direct and systemic anti-tumor immunity, despite the presence of T cells and NK cells. Prior clinical trials with therapies that induced systemic exposure to recombinant IL-12, at relatively low doses, led to substantial toxicities in the lymphohematopoietic system, intestines, liver and lung, and, in some cases, fatalities. We believe, based on our preclinical data observed to date, that exoIL-12 can address the prior limitations of IL-12 administration by selectively directing IL-12 to the needed site of action, in the tumor, where exosomes enable selective retention. We are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of exoIL-12 in patients with tumors accessible by intratumoral administration to investigate safety and tolerability. We plan to initiate this trial in the second half of 2020, following acceptance of an IND or CTA, and expect preliminary data within 12 months after trial initiation.



 

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Beyond our lead programs, we plan to consistently advance additional engEx product candidates into clinical development supported by our extensive early stage development programs and ongoing research efforts. These programs target multiple cell types and are described below.

Additional APC Targeted Programs—Based on the observed highly selective uptake into targeted APCs of our engineered exosomes overexpressing our proprietary exosomal scaffold protein, PTGFRN, such as exoSTING, we believe we can also create a modular and engineered vaccine system, which we refer to as exoVACC. We believe that exoVACC-based approaches have the potential to succeed as therapeutic or prophylactic treatments for a broad range of cancers and infectious diseases that have been difficult to address with other vaccine approaches.

Additional T Cell and NK Cell Targeted Programs—We are exploring ways to broaden the application of our engEx Platform to address immune inactivation and tolerance induction, leveraging the ability of our engineered exosomes to target and modify the functions of T cells. We believe our engEx exosomes can dampen autoimmune signals by inactivating antigen specific T cells and providing a cytokine microenvironment that reduces the immune response against self-antigens. T cell modulation has broad potential applications across a host of clinical settings including cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune/inflammatory diseases and transplantation.

Monocytes and Macrophages—We believe that our engEx Platform has the potential to generate engineered exosomes targeting monocytes and macrophages, for the treatment of a wide range of disorders, including cancer, fibrotic diseases and other diseases. In particular, we believe our ability to target immune suppressive (M2) macrophages represents a broad potential opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Our strategic collaboration with Jazz Pharmaceuticals Ireland Limited, or Jazz, that we announced in January 2019, includes two announced macrophage targets, NRAS and STAT3.

B cells—Our engEx Platform also allows us to target both the surface and intracellular pathways in B cells, which are an important immunological cell type implicated in a host of human disorders, including various lymphomas, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases. In preclinical studies of exoCD40L, our engineered exosomes expressing a potent immune stimulatory molecule, CD40L, we observed B cell signaling and biological activation as well as selective uptake of exosomes into B cells, which did not take up the exosomes lacking the CD40L targeting construct.

Future Applications—We are seeking to unlock new capabilities for our engEx Platform to further expand pipeline opportunities beyond immune cells and generate novel exosome therapeutics. These activities include working to enable loading engEx exosomes with modalities such as gene therapy, gene editing and mRNA. If we are able to successfully unlock one or more of these new capabilities, we believe we may be able to overcome important challenges and limitations currently facing these modalities and pursue multiple additional therapeutic indications.

Our strategy

 

   

Leverage expertise in exosome biology and engineering to design and create precision exosome therapeutics and further establish Codiak as a leader in this emerging field.

 

   

Advance our engEx product candidates into and through clinical development.

 

   

Develop more engEx product candidates for a broad range of indications.

 

   

Enhance our manufacturing capabilities for engineered exosome therapeutics.

 

   

Execute strategic collaborations to maximize the potential of our engEx Platform.

 

   

Maintain and strengthen our intellectual property portfolio.



 

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Founding of Codiak BioSciences

We were founded through the merger of two separate venture creation efforts in the exosome field, one conducted by ARCH Venture Partners working with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, or MDACC, and the other by Flagship Pioneering, through its FlagshipLabs innovation and company-origination unit. The MDACC research team focused on the potential uses of exosomes as cancer therapeutics and diagnostics. The FlagshipLabs team recognized exosomes as a ubiquitous, natural and powerful mode of cellular communication and as a potential platform for generating precision exosomes for therapeutic use, applicable to a wide array of indications. Patents and patent applications from each founding effort were combined to form the intellectual property foundation of Codiak BioSciences.

Our leadership team, which includes several industry veterans, has been involved in building new categories of advanced therapies, filing submissions for product approvals and launching several biologics and pharmaceutical products. In addition, we have raised an aggregate of $168.2 million in capital from prominent investors including ARCH Venture Partners; Flagship Pioneering; Fidelity Management and Research Company; Alaska Permanent Fund; Alexandria Venture Investments; Qatar Investment Authority; Boxer Capital of the Tavistock Group; Far House (Sirona); EcoR1 and Casdin Capital. In January 2019, we received $56.0 million as an upfront payment from Jazz, with whom we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement to develop up to five exosome product candidates against targets that were not previously part of our pipeline.

Risks associated with our business

 

   

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

 

   

We have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our technology and product development capabilities and predict our future performance.

 

   

We are very early in our development efforts. All of our engEx product candidates are still in preclinical development and it could be many years before we or our collaborators commercialize a product candidate, if ever.

 

   

Positive results from early preclinical studies of our product candidates are not necessarily predictive of the results of later preclinical studies and any future clinical trials of our product candidates. If we cannot replicate the positive results from our earlier preclinical studies of our product candidates in our later preclinical studies and future clinical trials, we may be unable to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates.

 

   

Our engEx product candidates are based on a novel therapeutic approach, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost of development and of subsequently obtaining regulatory approval, if at all.

 

   

Negative developments in the field of exosomes could damage public perception of any product candidates that we develop, which could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business or obtain regulatory approvals for such product candidates.

 

   

Development of new therapeutics involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs, fail to replicate the positive results from our earlier preclinical studies or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of any product candidates.

 

   

While we have not yet sought any regulatory approval for any product candidate, the U.S Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities may implement additional regulations or restrictions on the development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may be difficult to predict.

 

   

If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for any product candidates we develop or for our engEx Platform, our competitors could develop and commercialize products or technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop, and our technology may be adversely affected.

 



 

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Our product candidates are uniquely manufactured. If we or any of our third-party manufacturers encounter difficulties in manufacturing our product candidates, our ability to provide supply of our product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or stopped, or we may be unable to maintain a commercially viable cost structure.

For additional information about the risks we face, please see the section of this prospectus captioned “Risk factors.”

Implications of being an emerging growth company

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or the JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012. For so long as we remain an emerging growth company, we are permitted and intend to rely on certain exemptions from various public company reporting requirements, including not being required to have our internal control over financial reporting audited by our independent registered public accounting firm pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and any golden parachute payments not previously approved. In particular, in this prospectus, we have provided only two years of audited financial statements and have not included all of the executive compensation related information that would be required if we were not an emerging growth company. Accordingly, the information contained herein may be different than the information you receive from other public companies in which you hold stock.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier to occur of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the closing of this offering, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenues of at least $1.07 billion or (c) in which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer,” under the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, which means the market value of our equity securities that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.

In addition, the JOBS Act provides that an emerging growth company can take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. This provision allows an emerging growth company to delay the adoption of some accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected not to “opt out” of such extended transition period, which means that when a standard is issued or revised and it has different application dates for public or private companies, we will adopt the new or revised standard at the time private companies adopt the new or revised standard and will do so until such time that we either (i) irrevocably elect to “opt out” of such extended transition period or (ii) no longer qualify as an emerging growth company. While we have not made such an irrevocable election, we have not delayed the adoption of any applicable accounting standards.

Company and other information

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in 2015. Our principal executive office is located at 500 Technology Square, 9th Floor, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, and our telephone number is (617) 949-4100. Our website address is http://www.codiakbio.com. We do not incorporate the information on or accessible through our website into this prospectus, and you should not consider any information on, or that can be accessed through, our website as part of this prospectus.



 

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THE OFFERING

 

Common stock offered by us

                 shares

 

Common stock to be outstanding immediately after this offering

                 shares (or                  shares if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full).

 

Option to purchase additional shares

We have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to             additional shares of our common stock at the public offering price less the underwriting discounts and commissions.

 

Use of proceeds

We estimate that the net proceeds from this offering will be approximately $        million (or approximately $        million if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares of common stock), at an assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments for the advancement of exoSTING, including the conduct of our planned IND-enabling preclinical studies, completion of our IND or CTA submissions and the conduct of our planned Phase 1/2 clinical trial; for the advancement of exoIL-12, including the conduct of our planned IND-enabling preclinical studies, completion of our IND or CTA submissions and the conduct of our planned Phase 1/2 clinical trial; and the remainder for expansion of our engEx Platform, including to advance our engEx discovery programs, as well as for capital expenditures, working capital and general corporate purposes. For a more complete description of our intended use of the proceeds from this offering, see “Use of proceeds.”

 

Risk factors

You should carefully read the “Risk factors” section of this prospectus beginning on page 12 for a discussion of factors that you should consider before deciding to invest in our common stock.

 

Nasdaq Global Select Market symbol

“CDAK”

The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding after this offering is based on 23,322,652 shares of our common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2019 and gives effect to the conversion of all outstanding shares of our preferred stock into an aggregate of 73,904,074 shares of our common stock upon the closing of this offering, and excludes:

 

   

26,868,597 shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of stock options outstanding as of March 31, 2019 under our 2015 Stock Option and Grant Plan, or our 2015 Plan, at a weighted average exercise price of $1.14 per share;

 

   

3,042,819 shares of common stock reserved for future issuance as of March 31, 2019 under our 2015 Plan, any unissued shares of which will cease to be available for issuance upon the completion of this offering;



 

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            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under our 2019 Stock Option and Incentive Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part; and

 

   

            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under our 2019 Employee Stock Purchase Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part.

Unless otherwise indicated, all information in this prospectus reflects or assumes the following:

 

   

a     -for-     reverse stock split of our common stock effected on                     , 2019;

 

   

the filing of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation effective upon the closing of this offering;

 

   

the adoption of our amended and restated by-laws, effective on the date on which the registration statement of which this prospectus is part is declared effective;

 

   

the conversion of all outstanding shares of preferred stock into an aggregate of 73,904,074 shares of common stock upon the closing of this offering;

 

   

no exercise of outstanding options after March 31, 2019; and

 

   

no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase additional shares of common stock.



 

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SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

You should read the following summary consolidated financial data together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and the “Selected consolidated financial data” and “Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations” sections of this prospectus. We have derived the consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. The consolidated statement of operations data for the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of March 31, 2019 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and have been prepared on the same basis as the audited consolidated financial statements. In the opinion of management, the unaudited data reflects all adjustments, consisting only of normal recurring adjustments, necessary for a fair statement of the financial information in those statements. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in any future period and our operating results for the three months ended March 31, 2019 are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for the full year ended December 31, 2019 or any other interim periods or any future year or period.

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED
DECEMBER 31,
    THREE MONTHS ENDED
MARCH 31,
 
     2017     2018     2018     2019  
     (In thousands, except share and per share data)  

Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:

        

Operating expenses:

        

Research and development

   $ 21,320     $ 28,471     $ 7,955     $ 10,187  

Acquired in-process research and development

           8,071              

General and administrative

     6,178       9,898       1,950       3,867  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     27,498       46,440       9,905       14,054  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Loss from operations

     (27,498     (46,440     (9,905     (14,054

Other income:

        

Interest income

     547       1,363       376       428  

Other income (expense), net

           535       (2     316  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total other income, net

     547       1,898       374       744  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (26,951   $ (44,542   $ (9,531   $ (13,310
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Cumulative dividends on redeemable convertible preferred stock

     (8,442     (13,681     (3,372     (3,375
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss attributable to common stockholders

   $ (35,393   $ (58,223   $ (12,903   $ (16,685
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted (1)

   $ (1.88   $ (2.72   $ (0.63   $ (0.72
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted (1)

     18,838,510       21,395,300       20,393,294       23,253,072  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Pro forma net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted (unaudited) (1)

     $ (0.47     $ (0.14
    

 

 

     

 

 

 

Pro forma weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted (unaudited) (1)

       95,231,966         97,144,415  
    

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

(1)    See Note 16 to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus for details on the calculation of basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders and unaudited pro forma basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders.


 

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     AS OF MARCH 31, 2019  
     ACTUAL     PRO FORMA (2)      PRO FORMA
AS ADJUSTED (3)
 
     (In thousands)  

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

       

Cash, cash equivalents and investments

   $ 128,529     $ 128,529      $                          

Working capital (1)

     122,806       122,806     

Total assets

     144,000       144,000     

Redeemable convertible preferred stock

     204,262           

Accumulated deficit

     (124,237     (109,269   

Total stockholders’ (deficit) equity

     (124,214     80,048     

 

(1)    We define working capital as current assets less current liabilities. See our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus for further details regarding our current assets and current liabilities.
(2)   The pro forma consolidated balance sheet data give effect to: (i) the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of our redeemable convertible preferred stock into an aggregate of 73,904,074 shares of common stock upon the consummation of this offering, (ii) the vesting of options to purchase 400,000 shares of common stock with service-based vesting conditions that accelerate upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense, and (iii) the achievement of performance-based vesting conditions with respect to options to purchase 1,222,000 shares of common stock that are subject to both (a) performance-based vesting conditions that could be satisfied upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense and (b) market conditions.
(3)    The pro forma as adjusted balance sheet data give further effect to the issuance and sale of                  shares of our common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. The pro forma as adjusted information discussed above is illustrative only and will change based on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the pro forma as adjusted amount of each of cash, cash equivalents and investments, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by $        million, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. An increase (decrease) of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the pro forma as adjusted amount of each of cash, cash equivalents and investments, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by $        million, assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.


 

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RISK FACTORS

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations,” before deciding whether to invest in our common stock. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In such an event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.

Risks related to our financial position and need for additional capital

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

We are a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. Investment in biopharmaceutical product development is highly speculative because it entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate efficacy or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and/or become commercially viable. We have no product candidates in clinical development or approved for commercial sale and we have not yet demonstrated an ability to conduct or complete clinical trials, to manufacture a commercial-scale product, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Using exosome technology to develop product candidates is a relatively new therapeutic approach, and no products based on exosomes have been approved to date in the United States or the European Union. We have not generated any revenue from product sales to date, and we continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. As a result, we are not profitable and have incurred losses in each period since our inception in 2015. For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 and the three months ended March 31, 2019, we reported net losses of $27.0 million, $44.5 million and $13.3 million, respectively. As of March 31, 2019, we had an accumulated deficit of $124.2 million. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase as we continue our research and development, advance certain product candidates into preclinical studies and clinical trials and, if clinical development is successful, seek regulatory approvals for our product candidates. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if, and as, we:

 

   

advance our initial engEx product candidates into further preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

   

continue our current research programs and preclinical development of our potential engEx product candidates;

 

   

seek to identify additional research programs and additional product candidates;

 

   

initiate clinical trials for any engEx product candidates we identify and choose to develop;

 

   

further develop our proprietary exosome engineering and manufacturing platform, or our engEx Platform;

 

   

establish in-house manufacturing capabilities, including the establishment of our own Phase 1/2 clinical manufacturing facility, and secure supply chain capacity sufficient to support our planned preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

   

maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;

 

   

hire additional clinical, scientific, manufacturing and business development personnel;

 

   

acquire or in-license other biologically active molecules, potential product candidates or technologies;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

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To become and remain profitable, we or any current or future collaborator must develop and eventually commercialize products with significant market potential at an adequate profit margin after cost of goods sold and other expenses. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtaining marketing approval for product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling products for which we may obtain marketing approval and satisfying any post-marketing requirements. We may never succeed in any or all of these activities and, even if we do, we may never generate revenue that is significant or large enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company also could cause you to lose all or part of your investment.

Even if we succeed in commercializing one or more of our engEx 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 additional capital to fund our operations and if we fail to obtain necessary financing, we will not be able to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. We expect to continue to spend substantial amounts to conduct further research and development, preclinical studies and clinical trials of our current and future engEx Platform and development programs, build our own Phase 1/2 clinical manufacturing facility, seek regulatory approvals for our product candidates and to launch and commercialize any products for which we receive regulatory approval. As of March 31, 2019, we had $128.5 million of cash, cash equivalents and investments. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements until                . However, our future capital requirements and the period for which our existing resources will support our operations may vary significantly from what we expect, and we will in any event require additional capital in order to complete clinical development of any of our current engEx product candidates. Our monthly spending levels will vary based on new and ongoing development and corporate activities. Because the length of time and activities associated with development of our engEx Platform, product candidates and development programs is highly uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development and any approved marketing and commercialization activities. Our future funding requirements, both near and long-term, will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

   

the initiation, progress, timing, costs and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our engEx product candidates and development programs;

 

   

the clinical development plans we establish for our engEx product candidates;

 

   

the number and characteristics of product candidates that we develop or may in-license;

 

   

the terms of any collaboration agreements we may choose to conclude;

 

   

the achievement of milestones or occurrence of other developments that trigger payments under any additional collaboration agreements we obtain;

 

   

the extent to which we are obligated to reimburse, or entitled to reimbursement of, clinical trial costs under future collaboration agreements, if any;

 

   

the outcome, timing and cost of meeting regulatory requirements established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, and other regulatory authorities;

 

   

the cost of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing our patent claims and other intellectual property rights;

 

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the cost of defending intellectual property disputes, including patent infringement actions brought by third parties against us or our product candidates;

 

   

the effect of competing technological and market developments;

 

   

the costs of establishing and maintaining our clinical manufacturing facility and supply chain for the development and manufacture of our product candidates;

 

   

the cost of establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities for any product candidates for which we may receive regulatory approval in regions where we choose to commercialize our products on our own; and

 

   

our ability to establish and maintain healthcare coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors for any approved products.

We do not have any committed external source of funds or other support for our development efforts and we cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Until we can generate sufficient product or 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. Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management’s attention from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates.

If we raise additional funds through public or private equity offerings, the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights. Further, to the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of common stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable for common stock, your ownership interest will be diluted. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we would be subject to fixed payment obligations and 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 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. We also could be required to seek collaborators for one or more of our current or future product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or relinquish our rights to product candidates or technologies that we otherwise would seek to develop or commercialize ourselves. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of one or more of our products or product candidates or one or more of our other research and development initiatives. Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and cause the price of our common stock to decline.

We have a limited operating history, which may make it difficult to evaluate our technology and product development capabilities and predict our future performance.

We are early in our development efforts and we have not initiated clinical trials for any of our product candidates. We were formed in 2015, have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. Our ability to generate product revenue or profits, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend on the successful development and eventual commercialization of our product candidates, which may never occur. We may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product.

All of our programs require additional preclinical research and development, clinical development, regulatory approval, obtaining manufacturing supply, capacity and expertise, building of a commercial organization, substantial investment and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenue from product sales. Other programs of ours require additional discovery research and then preclinical development. In addition, our product candidates must be approved for marketing by the FDA or certain other health regulatory agencies, including the EMA, before we may commercialize any product.

Our limited operating history, particularly in light of the nascent exosome therapeutics field, may make it difficult to evaluate our technology and industry and predict our future performance. Though several groups have conducted or are conducting proof of principle studies of therapeutic candidates based on natural exosomes, in most cases, these

 

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studies used exosomes secreted from producer cells that were partially purified and administered without further modification. As a result, the relevance of those studies to the evaluation of product candidates developed using our engEx Platform, which engineers and manufactures exosomes, may be difficult to ascertain. Our short history as an operating company and novel therapeutic approach make any assessment of our future success or viability subject to significant uncertainty. We will encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by early-stage companies in rapidly evolving fields. If we do not address these risks successfully, our business will suffer. Similarly, we expect that our financial condition and operating results will fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. As a result, our stockholders should not rely upon the results of any quarterly or annual period as an indicator of future operating performance.

In addition, as an early-stage company, we have encountered unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown circumstances. As we advance our product candidates, we will need to transition from a company with a research focus to a company capable of supporting clinical development and if successful, commercial activities. We may not be successful in such a transition.

Our ability to use net operating losses and research and development credits to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

As of December 31, 2017, we had U.S. federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of $36.1 million and $36.6 million, respectively, which begin to expire in 2035. As of December 31, 2017, we also had U.S. federal and state research and development tax credit carryforwards of $2.0 million and $0.7 million, respectively, which begin to expire in 2035 and 2030, respectively. These net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards could expire unused and be unavailable to offset future taxable income or tax liabilities, respectively. In addition, in general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, and corresponding provisions of state law, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards or tax credits, or NOLs or credits, to offset future taxable income. For these purposes, an ownership change generally occurs where the aggregate stock ownership of 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. Our existing federal and state NOLs and our existing research and development credits may be subject to limitations arising from previous ownership changes, and if we undergo an ownership change in connection with or after this offering, our ability to utilize NOLs or credits could be further limited by Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. In addition, future changes in our stock ownership, many of which are outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. Our NOLs or credits may also be impaired under state law. Accordingly, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of our NOLs or credits. Furthermore, our ability to utilize our NOLs or credits is conditioned upon our attaining profitability and generating U.S. federal and state taxable income. As described above, we have incurred significant net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future; and therefore, we do not know whether or when we will generate the U.S. federal or state taxable income necessary to utilize our NOLs or credits that are subject to limitation by Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. The reduction of the corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the TCJA, caused a reduction in the economic benefit of our net operating loss carryforwards and other deferred tax assets available to us. Under the TCJA, net operating loss carryforwards generated in taxable years ending after December 31, 2017 will not be subject to expiration; however, under the TCJA, net operating losses generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 will be subject to limitation on deduction.

Risks related to our business, technology and industry

We are very early in our development efforts. All of our engEx product candidates are still in preclinical development and it could be many years before we or our collaborators commercialize a product candidate, if ever. If we are unable to advance our product candidates to clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize our product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

We are very early in our development efforts and have focused our research and development efforts to date on developing our engEx Platform, advancing our engEx product candidates and development programs, improving our knowledge of exosome biology, engineering and manufacturing, and identifying our initial targeted cell types and disease indications. Our future success depends heavily on the successful development of our engEx Platform and

 

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engEx product candidates. Currently, all of our product candidates are in preclinical development. We have invested substantially all of our efforts and financial resources in exploring the breadth of our technology platform, developing our ability to manufacture high quality exosomes at scale as well as the identification and preclinical development of our current product candidates. Our ability to generate product revenue, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of our product candidates, which may never occur. For example, our research programs may fail to identify potential product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. Our research methodology may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates, or our potential product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects or may have other characteristics that may make the products impractical to manufacture, unmarketable, or unlikely to receive marketing approval. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any product and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product.

We plan to advance our first two engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, into clinical development in 2020 and any future product candidates we develop into clinical development thereafter. Commencing clinical trials for these product candidates, and any other clinical trials we may initiate, are subject to acceptance by the FDA of our investigational new drug applications, or INDs, and finalizing the trial designs based on discussions with the FDA and other regulatory authorities. In the event that the FDA or other regulatory authorities require us to complete additional preclinical studies or we are required to satisfy other FDA requests, the start of our first clinical trial for our engEx product candidates or any of our other programs may be delayed. Even after we receive and incorporate guidance from these regulatory authorities, the FDA or other regulatory authorities could disagree that we have satisfied their requirements to commence our clinical trial or change their position on the acceptability of our trial design or the clinical endpoints selected, which may require us to complete additional preclinical studies or clinical trials or impose stricter approval conditions than we currently expect. Moreover, our clinical trial results may show our engEx product candidates to be less effective than expected (e.g., a clinical trial could fail to meet its primary endpoint(s)) or have unacceptable side effects or toxicities.

Our product candidates will require additional preclinical and clinical development, regulatory and marketing approval in multiple jurisdictions, demonstrating effectiveness to pricing and reimbursement authorities, obtaining sufficient manufacturing capacity and expertise for both clinical development and commercial production, building of a commercial organization, and substantial investment and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenue from product sales. In addition, our product development programs must be approved for marketing by the FDA, or certain other regulatory agencies, including the EMA, before we may commercialize our product candidates.

The success of our current product candidates will depend on several factors, including the following:

 

   

successful completion of preclinical studies;

 

   

sufficiency of our financial and other resources to complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

   

entry into collaborations to further the development of our product candidates;

 

   

INDs or clinical trial applications, or CTAs, being in effect such that our product candidates can commence clinical trials;

 

   

successful enrollment in, and completion of, clinical trials;

 

   

successful data from our clinical programs that support an acceptable risk-benefit profile of our product candidates in the intended populations;

 

   

receipt of regulatory and marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;

 

   

establishment of arrangements with third-party manufacturers for clinical supply and commercial manufacturing and, where applicable, commercial manufacturing capabilities;

 

   

successful development of our internal manufacturing processes and transfer, where applicable, from our reliance on contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to our own manufacturing facility, or from our own manufacturing facility to CMOs or the facilities of collaboration partners;

 

   

establishment and maintenance of patent and trade secret protection or regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;

 

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commercial launch of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;

 

   

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

 

   

effective competition with other therapies and treatment options;

 

   

establishment and maintenance of healthcare coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors for any approved products;

 

   

enforcement and defense of intellectual property rights and claims;

 

   

maintenance of a continued acceptable safety profile of the product candidates following approval; and

 

   

achieving desirable medicinal properties for the intended indications.

If we do not succeed in one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully commercialize our product candidates, which would materially harm our business. If we do not receive regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we may not be able to continue our operations.

Positive results from early preclinical studies of our product candidates are not necessarily predictive of the results of later preclinical studies and any future clinical trials of our product candidates. If we cannot replicate the positive results from our earlier preclinical studies of our product candidates in our later preclinical studies and future clinical trials, we may be unable to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates.

Any positive results from our preclinical studies of our product candidates may not necessarily be predictive of the results from required later preclinical studies and clinical trials. Similarly, even if we are able to complete our planned preclinical studies or any future clinical trials of our product candidates according to our current development timeline, the positive results from such preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates may not be replicated in subsequent preclinical studies or clinical trial results.

Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials after achieving positive results in early-stage development and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical and other nonclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway, or safety or efficacy observations made in preclinical studies and clinical trials, including previously unreported adverse events. Moreover, preclinical, nonclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA or EMA approval.

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our initial engEx product candidates targeting cancer. All of our engEx product candidates and development programs will require significant additional preclinical and clinical development before we can seek regulatory approval for and launch a product commercially.

Our business and future success is highly dependent on our ability to initiate and complete clinical trials and to obtain regulatory approval of, and then successfully launch and commercialize, our initial engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, and others that may be selected from our development programs. We plan to initiate clinical trials for each of exoSTING and exoIL-12 in the first half and second half of 2020, respectively.

Our planned initial clinical trials may experience complications surrounding trial execution, such as complexities surrounding regulatory acceptance of our IND or CTA, trial design and establishing trial protocols, patient recruitment and enrollment, quality and supply of clinical doses, or safety issues.

We are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to investigate safety and tolerability of exoSTING and early demonstration of preservation of tumor resident immune cells and activation of local and systemic anti-tumor immunity. In addition, we are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to investigate safety and tolerability of exoIL-12. We are highly dependent on the success of these future clinical trials, the success of which are uncertain, if they are to occur at all. The FDA may disagree with our clinical trial design, including our selection of certain biomarkers, the requirements for us to validate those biomarkers or use of an adaptive trial design, or may change the requirements for advancement or approval even after it has reviewed and commented on the design of our trials.

 

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As a result, the FDA or other regulatory authorities could require us to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, which could result in delays and significant additional costs, all of which could jeopardize our ability to successfully develop our product candidates.

All of our product candidates are in the early stages of development and will require additional preclinical and 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. In addition, because exoSTING and exoIL-12 are our most advanced engEx product candidates, if either exoSTING or exoIL-12 encounters safety, efficacy, supply or manufacturing problems, developmental delays, regulatory or commercialization issues or other problems, the potential of our engEx Platform could be greatly diminished and our development plans and business would be significantly harmed.

Our engEx product candidates are based on a novel therapeutic approach, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost of development and of subsequently obtaining regulatory approval, if at all.

Using exosome technology to develop product candidates is a relatively new therapeutic approach and no products based on exosomes have been approved to date in the United States or the European Union. As such it is difficult to accurately predict the developmental challenges we may incur for our engEx product candidates as they proceed through product discovery or identification, preclinical studies and clinical trials. In addition, because we have not commenced clinical trials, we have not yet been able to assess safety in humans, and there may be short-term or long-term effects from treatment with any product candidates that we develop that we cannot predict at this time. Also, animal models may not exist for some of the diseases we choose to pursue in our programs. As a result of these factors, it is more difficult for us to predict the time and cost of product candidate development, and we cannot predict whether the application of our engEx Platform, or any similar or competitive exosome technologies, will result in the identification, development, and regulatory approval of any products. There can be no assurance that any development problems we experience in the future related to our engEx Platform, exosome therapeutics or any of our research programs will not cause significant delays or unanticipated costs, or that such development problems can be solved. Any of these factors may prevent us from completing our preclinical studies or any clinical trials that we may initiate or commercializing any product candidates we may develop on a timely or profitable basis, if at all.

The clinical trial requirements of the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities and the criteria these regulators use to determine the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the product candidate. No products based on exosomes have been approved to date by regulators. As a result, the regulatory approval process for product candidates such as ours is uncertain and may be more expensive and take longer than the approval process for product candidates based on other, better known or more extensively studied technologies. It is difficult to determine how long it will take or how much it will cost to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates in either the United States or the European Union or other regions of the world or how long it will take to commercialize our product candidates. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a potential product candidate to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product revenue, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be harmed.

Negative developments in the field of exosomes could damage public perception of any product candidates that we develop, which could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business or obtain regulatory approvals for such product candidates.

Exosome therapeutics are novel and unproven therapies, with no exosome therapeutic approved to date in the United States or the European Union. Exosome therapeutics may not gain the acceptance of the public or the medical community. To date, other efforts to leverage natural exosomes have generally demonstrated an inability to generate exosomes with predictable biologically active properties or to manufacture exosomes at suitable scale to treat more than a small number of patients. Some studies used natural exosomes without an intended or understood mechanism of action or pharmacology. Other studies included payloads but generated inconclusive results. Our success will depend on our ability to demonstrate that engineered exosomes can overcome these challenges.

If one of our current or future product candidates is unable to successfully target a certain immune cell type and pathway, and establish proof of concept in a certain disease, it may indicate that we will not be able to apply our engEx Platform to other diseases mediated by that cell type or pathway. This may also indicate a decrease in the

 

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probability of our success for other targets using the same modality in the same or different cell types, as well as for our engineered exosome approach more generally. Such failures could negatively affect the public or medical community’s perception of our engEx Platform, and exosome therapeutics in general.

Additionally, our success will depend upon physicians who specialize in the treatment of diseases targeted by our product candidates prescribing treatments that involve the use of our product candidates in lieu of, or in addition to, existing treatments with which they are more familiar and for which greater clinical data may be available. Adverse events in clinical trials of our product candidates or in clinical trials of others developing similar products and the resulting publicity, as well as any other adverse events in the field of exosome therapeutics, could result in a decrease in demand for any product that we may develop. These events could also result in the suspension, discontinuation, or clinical hold of, or modification to, our clinical trials. Any future negative developments in the field of exosomes and their use as therapies could also result in greater governmental regulation, stricter labeling requirements and potential regulatory delays in the testing or approvals of our product candidates. Any increased scrutiny could delay or increase the costs of obtaining marketing approval for any of our product candidates.

Development of new therapeutics involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs, fail to replicate the positive results from our earlier preclinical studies or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of any product candidates.

To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to commercialize any product candidates, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our products are safe and effective in humans. All of our product candidates are still in the preclinical stage, and their risk of failure is high. Before we can commence clinical trials for a product candidate, we must complete extensive preclinical studies that support our planned INDs in the United States, or similar applications in other jurisdictions. We cannot be certain of the timely completion or outcome of our preclinical studies and cannot predict if the FDA or other regulatory authorities will accept our proposed clinical programs or if the outcome of our preclinical studies will ultimately support the further development of our product candidates. As a result, we cannot be sure that we will be able to submit INDs or similar applications for our preclinical programs on the timelines we expect, if at all, and we cannot be sure that submission of INDs or similar applications will result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities allowing clinical trials to begin.

Clinical trials are expensive, difficult to design and implement and can take many years to complete, and their outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during, or even after, the clinical trial process and our future clinical results may not be successful. We may be unable to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful, and a clinical trial can fail at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical studies and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. Differences in trial design between early-stage clinical trials and later-stage clinical trials make it difficult to extrapolate the results of earlier clinical trials to later clinical trials. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products.

Successful completion of clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a Biologics License Application, or BLA, to the FDA, a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, to the EMA, and similar marketing applications to other regulatory authorities, for each product candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of any product candidates. We do not know whether any of our clinical trials will begin or be completed on schedule, if at all.

We may experience delays in completing our preclinical studies and initiating or completing clinical trials. We also may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, any future clinical trials that we could conduct that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval or commercialize our product candidates, including:

 

   

we may be unable to generate sufficient preclinical, toxicology, or other in vivo or in vitro data to support the initiation of clinical trials;

 

   

regulators or institutional review boards, or IRBs, or ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;

 

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

 

   

positive results from our preclinical studies of our product candidates may not necessarily be predictive of the results from required later preclinical studies and clinical trials, and positive results from such preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates may not be replicated in subsequent preclinical studies or clinical trial results;

 

   

clinical trials of any product candidates may fail to show safety, purity or potency, or produce negative or inconclusive results and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials or we may decide to abandon product development programs;

 

   

the number of patients required for clinical trials of any product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate or participants may drop out of these clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;

 

   

we may need to add new or additional clinical trial sites;

 

   

our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or may deviate from the clinical trial protocol or drop out of the trial, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites or investigators;

 

   

the cost of preclinical studies and clinical trials of any product candidates may be greater than we anticipate or greater than our available financial resources;

 

   

the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate;

 

   

our product candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs or ethics committees to suspend or terminate the trials, or reports may arise from preclinical or clinical testing of other therapies for, cancer or additional diseases that we may target that raise safety or efficacy concerns about our product candidates; and

 

   

the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data such as long-term toxicology studies or impose other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, or the FDA or other regulatory authorities, or recommended for suspension or termination by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, for such trial. A suspension or termination may be imposed due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a product or treatment, failure to establish or achieve clinically meaningful trial endpoints, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. Many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates. Further, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design and our interpretation of data from clinical trials, or may change the requirements for approval even after they have reviewed and commented on the design for our clinical trials. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA approval.

Our product development costs will increase if we experience delays in clinical testing or marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. Significant preclinical studies or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and harming our business and results of operations. Any delays in our preclinical or future clinical development programs may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

 

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Interim top-line and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publish interim top-line or preliminary data from our future clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Preliminary or top-line data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects.

Our planned clinical trials or those of our future collaborators may reveal significant adverse events not seen in our preclinical studies and may result in a safety profile that could inhibit regulatory approval or market acceptance of any of our product candidates.

Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process. 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. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Following repeated dosing some patients may develop antibodies to our exosome therapeutics. These antibodies could reduce the efficacy of our exosome therapeutics or result in undesirable side effects. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials also 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 unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products and there can be no assurance that any of our future clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of any of our product candidates.

We may develop future product candidates, in combination with one or more existing therapies. In addition to developing each of exoSTING and exoIL-12 for use as a monotherapy, we also may develop these product candidates, and any other future product candidates in the field of oncology, for use in combination with other anti-cancer drugs. Our initial cancer programs will focus on solid tumors that are non-immunogenic, or “cold,” meaning they are resistant to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies. There can be no assurance that the use of our product candidates as combination therapy will overcome this resistance to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies, or any other existing cancer therapies. Furthermore, if any product candidate we develop were to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to be subject to the risks that the FDA or other regulatory authorities could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product candidate or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with these existing therapies. This could result in our own products being removed from the market or being less successful commercially. We may also evaluate product candidates in combination with one or more other therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. We will not be able to market and sell any such product candidate we develop in combination with any such unapproved therapies that do not ultimately obtain marketing approval.

If significant adverse events or other side effects are observed in any of our future clinical trials, we may have difficulty recruiting patients to our clinical trials, patients may drop out of our trials, or we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts of one or more product candidates altogether. We, the FDA or other applicable regulatory authorities, or an IRB may suspend clinical trials of a product candidate at any time for various reasons, including a belief that subjects in such trials are being exposed to unacceptable health risks or adverse side effects. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biotechnology industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early-stage trials have later been found to cause side effects that prevented their further development. Even if the side effects do not preclude the drug from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, undesirable side effects may inhibit market acceptance of the approved product due to its tolerability versus other therapies. Any of these developments could materially harm our business, financial condition and prospects.

 

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

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

 

   

the severity of the disease under investigation;

 

   

the patient eligibility and exclusion criteria defined in the protocol;

 

   

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

 

   

availability and efficacy of approved medications for the disease under investigation;

 

   

the proximity of patients to trial sites;

 

   

the design of the trial;

 

   

perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under trial, particularly product candidates developed using a novel therapeutics approach, like our engEx product candidates;

 

   

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

 

   

clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages and risks 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;

 

   

the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

 

   

the patient referral practices of physicians;

 

   

the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment;

 

   

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.

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

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.

We may not be successful in our efforts to utilize our engEx Platform to identify and develop additional engEx product candidates. Due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must choose to prioritize development of certain product candidates, such as our initial focus on developing exoSTING and exoIL-12, as well as the candidates from our collaboration with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which may prove to be wrong choices and may adversely affect our business.

A key element of our strategy is utilizing our engEx Platform to generate multiple engEx product candidates. Although we intend to develop numerous engEx product candidates targeting various cell types and indications, in addition to the engEx product candidates we are currently developing, we may fail to identify viable new engEx product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. If we fail to identify additional potential engEx product candidates, our business could be materially harmed.

Research programs to pursue the development of our engEx product candidates and using our engEx Platform to design and identify new engEx product candidates and disease targets require substantial technical, financial and human resources whether or not they are ultimately successful. Our engEx Platform and research programs may

 

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initially show promise in identifying potential indications and/or product candidates, yet fail to yield results for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:

 

   

the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying potential indications and/or product candidates;

 

   

potential product candidates may, after further study, be shown to have harmful adverse effects or other characteristics that indicate they are unlikely to be effective drugs; or

 

   

it may take greater human and financial resources than we will possess to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, thereby limiting our ability to develop, diversify and expand our product portfolio.

Because we have limited financial and human resources, we intend to initially focus on research programs and product candidates, including exoSTING and exoIL-12, for a limited set of indications. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities.

Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential product candidates or other potential programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.

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

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including the field of exosome therapeutics, are characterized by rapidly changing technologies, significant competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. Our competitors may be able to develop other compounds, drugs, cellular or gene therapies that are able to achieve similar or better results. Our potential competitors include major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff, experienced marketing 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. Established pharmaceutical companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel therapeutics or to in-license novel therapeutics that could make the product candidates that we develop obsolete. 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, biologic, cellular or gene therapy 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.

All of our planned and anticipated engEx product candidates use exosomes that are produced from modified cells and/or are loaded ex vivo with various biologically active molecules. Competitors using engineered and ex vivo modified exosomes plan to use their candidates in numerous therapeutic applications, some of which may directly compete with our engEx product candidates and early programs. Competing therapeutic applications include cancer, metabolic diseases, various rare diseases, central nervous system disorders, diseases of the immune system and infectious diseases. Competitors using engineered and ex vivo loaded exosomes include ArunA Biomedical, Inc., AstraZeneca plc, Evox Therapeutics Ltd and PureTech Health plc. Several small-scale clinical studies using unmodified cell-derived exosomes have been initiated, often led by academic investigators for a variety of indications including cancer, immune diseases, and stroke.

 

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We also face competition outside of the exosome therapeutics field, including from some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, and other similarly-positioned specialty biotechnology companies. Our two lead engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, face competition from numerous companies.

Competitors in the STING agonist space include Aduro Biotech, Inc. and Novartis International AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Merck & Co., Inc., Nimbus Therapeutics, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Synlogic, Inc., Mavupharma, Inc. and others.

Both Merck & Co., Inc. and Aduro Biotech, Inc., in collaboration with Novartis International AG, have initiated clinical trials using small molecule STING agonists in cancer patients, and several competitors are poised to enter the clinic before our initial clinical trials are planned to commence in the first half of 2020. Additionally, there are several STING agonist programs that have been described in the literature that are owned or being developed by academic institutions that may enter the clinic before our clinical trials commence.

Competitors in the IL-12 space include Celsion Corporation, Eli Lilly and Company, MedImmune, LLC (acquired by AstraZeneca plc) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Moderna, Inc., Neumedicines Inc., OncoSec Medical Incorporated, Rubius Therapeutics, Inc., Torque Therapeutics, Inc., Ziopharm Oncology, Inc. and others.

The IL-12 programs from Ziopharm Oncology, Inc., OncoSec Medical Incorporated, Neumedicines Inc., Celsion Corporation, and MedImmune, LLC (acquired by AstraZeneca plc) are currently being used in clinical trials, and several competitors are poised to enter the clinic before our initial clinical trials are planned to commence in the second half of 2020.

We also face competition related to the therapeutic areas and biologically active molecules we plan to engineer and/or load into our exosome therapeutics. Our engEx Platform is amenable to creating exosomes capable of delivering and/or displaying numerous classes of biologically active molecules. For each of these therapeutic areas and molecule classes we face competition from numerous large pharmaceutical companies and similarly-positioned specialty biotechnology companies.

Competitors in the inhibitory nucleic acid space include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., F. Hoffman-La Roche AG, or Roche, and others.

Competitors in the gene editing space include CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Editas Medicine, Inc., Intellia Therapeutics, Inc., Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. and others.

Competitors in the gene therapy space include BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., uniQure NV, bluebird bio, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Spark Therapeutics, Inc., Solid Biosciences Inc., Voyager Therapeutics, Inc., Novartis International AG and others.

These competitors compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient, or are less expensive than any products that we may develop or that would render any products that we may develop obsolete or non-competitive. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing any product candidates we may develop against competitors.

In addition, as a result of the expiration or successful challenge of our patent rights, we could face more litigation with respect to the validity and/or scope of patents relating to our competitors’ products and our patents may not be sufficient to prevent our competitors from commercializing competing products.

To become and remain profitable, we must develop and eventually commercialize product candidates with significant market potential, which will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities. These activities can include completing preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, obtaining marketing approval for these product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling those products that are

 

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approved and satisfying any post marketing requirements. We may never succeed in any or all of these activities and, even if we do, we may never generate revenues that are significant or large enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would decrease the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations.

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

We may develop exoSTING, exoIL-12, and potentially future product candidates, in combination with other therapies, and safety or supply issues with combination-use products may delay or prevent development and approval of our product candidates.

We may develop exoSTING, exoIL-12, and potentially future product candidates, in combination with one or more cancer or other therapies, both approved and unapproved. Even if any product candidate we develop were to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to be subject to the risks that the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product candidate or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with these existing therapies. Combination therapies are commonly used for the treatment of cancer, and we would be subject to similar risks if we develop any of our product candidates for use in combination with other drugs or for indications other than cancer. Similarly, if the therapies we use in combination with our product candidates are replaced as the standard of care for the indications we choose for any of our product candidates, the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States may require us to conduct additional clinical trials. The occurrence of any of these risks could result in our own products, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.

We may also evaluate exoSTING, exoIL-12 or any other future product candidates in combination with one or more cancer therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. We will not be able to market and sell exoSTING, exoIL-12 or any product candidate we develop in combination with any such unapproved cancer therapies that do not ultimately obtain marketing approval. The regulations prohibiting the promotion of products for unapproved uses are complex and subject to substantial interpretation by the FDA and other government agencies. In addition, there are additional risks similar to the ones described for our products currently in development and clinical trials that result from the fact that such cancer therapies are unapproved, such as the potential for serious adverse effects, delay in their clinical trials and lack of FDA approval.

Furthermore, we cannot be certain that we will be able to obtain a steady supply of such cancer therapies for use in developing combinations with our product candidates on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Any failure to obtain such therapies for use in clinical development, and the expense of purchasing therapies in the market, may delay our development timelines, increase our costs and jeopardize our ability to develop our product candidates as commercially viable therapies.

If the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States do not approve these other drugs or revoke their approval of, or if safety, efficacy, manufacturing, or supply issues arise with, the drugs we choose to evaluate in combination with exoSTING, exoIL-12 or any product candidate we develop, we may be unable to obtain approval of, or market exoSTING, exoIL-12 or any product candidate we develop.

Even if a product candidate we develop receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

If any engEx product candidate we develop receives marketing approval, whether as a single agent therapeutic or in combination with other therapies, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians,

 

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patients, third-party payors, and others in the medical community. For example, other cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy are well established in the medical community, and doctors may continue to rely on these therapies instead of therapies derived from our engEx Platform, if approved. If the engEx product candidates we develop do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of any product candidate, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

   

efficacy, safety and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments;

 

   

convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;

 

   

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authority, if any;

 

   

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

 

   

public perception of new therapies, including exosome therapies;

 

   

the strength of marketing and distribution support;

 

   

the ability to offer our products, if approved, for sale at competitive prices;

 

   

the timing of market introduction of competitive products;

 

   

the ability to obtain sufficient coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors, including with respect to the use of the approved product as a combination therapy; and

 

   

the prevalence and severity of any side effects.

Even if a potential product displays a favorable efficacy and safety profile in preclinical studies and future clinical trials, market acceptance of the product will not be fully known until after it is launched. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance following regulatory approval, if ever, we may not generate significant product revenue and may not become profitable.

If we engage in future acquisitions or strategic partnerships, this may increase our capital requirements, dilute our stockholders, cause us to incur debt or assume contingent liabilities, and subject us to other risks.

We may evaluate various acquisitions and strategic partnerships, including licensing or acquiring biologically active molecules to load into or onto our engineered exosomes, complementary products, intellectual property rights, technologies, or businesses. Any potential acquisition or strategic partnership may entail numerous risks, including:

 

   

increased operating expenses and cash requirements;

 

   

the assumption of indebtedness or contingent liabilities;

 

   

the issuance of our equity securities;

 

   

assimilation of operations, intellectual property and products of an acquired company, including difficulties associated with integrating new personnel;

 

   

the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing product programs and initiatives in pursuing such a strategic merger or acquisition;

 

   

retention of key employees, the loss of key personnel, and uncertainties in our ability to maintain key business relationships;

 

   

risks and uncertainties associated with the other party to such a transaction, including the prospects of that party, their regulatory compliance status, and their existing products or product candidates and marketing approvals; and

 

   

our inability to generate revenue from acquired technology and/or products sufficient to meet our objectives in undertaking the acquisition or even to offset the associated acquisition and maintenance costs.

In addition, if we undertake acquisitions, we may issue dilutive securities, assume or incur debt obligations, incur large one-time expenses and acquire intangible assets that could result in significant future amortization expense. Moreover, we may not be able to locate suitable acquisition opportunities and this inability could impair our ability to grow or obtain access to technology or products that may be important to the development of our business. Any of the foregoing may materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations, stock price and prospects.

 

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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 testing our product candidates in clinical trials 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 trials, 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:

 

   

inability to bring a product candidate to the market;

 

   

decreased demand for our products;

 

   

injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;

 

   

withdrawal of clinical trial participants and inability to continue clinical trials;

 

   

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

   

significant costs to defend the related litigation;

 

   

diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

   

substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;

 

   

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

 

   

loss of revenue;

 

   

exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;

 

   

the inability to commercialize any product candidate; and

 

   

decline in our stock price.

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

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

Cancer and other disease 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. Initial approvals for new cancer and other disease therapies are often restricted to later lines of therapy for patients with advanced or metastatic disease, limiting the number of patients who may be eligible for such new therapies, which may include our product candidates.

Our projections of both the number of people who have the diseases we are targeting, as well as the subset of people with these diseases in a position to receive our therapies, if approved, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, input from key opinion leaders, patient foundations, or secondary market research databases, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. 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 certain of the potential target populations may be small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining regulatory approval for additional indications.

 

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We currently have a limited marketing and sales organization and have limited 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 limited sales, marketing or distribution capabilities and have limited experience in marketing products. If we are able to successfully develop and commercialize any engEx product candidates, we currently intend to develop an in-house marketing organization and sales force, which will require significant capital expenditures, management resources and time. We will have to compete with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to recruit, hire, train and retain marketing and sales personnel.

In addition to establishing internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, we will pursue collaborative arrangements regarding the sales and marketing of our products, if any, however, there can be no assurance that we will be able to establish or maintain such collaborative arrangements, or if we are able to do so, that they will have effective sales forces. Any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of such third parties, which may not be successful. We may have limited 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.

There can be no assurance 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 overseas.

Risks related to employee matters, managing growth and other risks related to our business

If we lose key management personnel, or if we fail to recruit additional highly skilled personnel, our ability to identify and develop new or next generation product candidates will be impaired, could result in loss of markets or market share and could make us less competitive.

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 Douglas Williams, Ph.D., our Chief Executive Officer, Linda Bain, our Chief Financial Officer, Richard Brudnick, our Chief Business Officer, Andrea DiFabio, our Chief Legal Officer, and Konstantin Konstantinov, Ph.D., our Executive Vice President of Manufacturing. 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.

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

To induce valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Employment of our key employees is at-will, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. We do not maintain “key man” insurance policies on the lives of these individuals or the lives of any of our other employees.

In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us.

Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior managers as well as junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel. Failure to succeed in future clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified scientific personnel.

 

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

As of April 25, 2019, we had 82 full-time employees. As our research, development, manufacturing and commercialization plans and strategies develop, and as we transition into operating as a public company, 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, compensating, integrating, maintaining and motivating additional employees;

 

   

securing suitable office, laboratory and manufacturing space to support our growth;

 

   

managing our internal research and development efforts effectively, including identification of clinical candidates and navigating the clinical and FDA review process for our product candidates; 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.

Due to our limited resources, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. This may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, give rise to operational mistakes, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. The physical expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of our product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our expected development and expansion, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate or increase our revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, and compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage the future development and expansion of our company.

In addition, we currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain organizations, advisors, contractors and consultants to provide certain services, including many aspects of regulatory affairs, clinical management and manufacturing. There can be no assurance that the services of these organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. 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. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all. 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 be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.

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

We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other illegal activity by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct that fails to comply with the laws of the FDA and other regulatory bodies, provide true, complete and accurate information to the FDA and other regulatory bodies, comply with manufacturing regulations and standards, comply with healthcare privacy, fraud and abuse laws in the United States and similar foreign laws, or report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us.

Sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs, and other business arrangements. Such misconduct also could involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials or interactions with the FDA or other regulatory authorities,

 

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which could result in significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties and cause serious harm to our reputation.

If we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our potential exposure under such laws will increase significantly, and our costs associated with compliance with such laws are also likely to increase. These laws may impact, among other things, our current activities with principal investigators and research patients, as well as proposed and future sales, marketing and education programs.

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

We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our research and development activities involve the use of biological and hazardous materials and produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials, which could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development efforts and business operations, environmental damage resulting in costly clean-up and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. Although we believe that the safety procedures utilized by our third-party manufacturers for handling and disposing of these materials generally comply with the standards prescribed by these laws and regulations, we cannot guarantee that this is the case or eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials. In such an event, we may be held liable for any resulting damages and such liability could exceed our resources and state or federal or other applicable authorities may curtail our use of certain materials and/or interrupt our business operations. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.

Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials or other work-related injuries, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. Although we carry workers compensation or property and casualty and general liability insurance policies that include coverage for damages and fines arising from biological or hazardous waste exposure or contamination, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities.

Our business and operations would suffer in the event of computer system failures, cyber-attacks or deficiencies in our cyber security.

Given our limited operating history, we are still in the process of implementing our internal security measures. Our internal computer systems and those of current and future third parties on which we rely may fail and are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses and unauthorized access. Our information technology and other internal infrastructure systems, including corporate firewalls, servers, leased lines and connection to the Internet, face the risk of systemic failure that could disrupt our operations. While we have not, to our knowledge, experienced any such material system failure or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from 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 will rely on third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates or any future product candidates and expect to rely on third parties to conduct our future 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, our competitive position could be harmed and the further development and commercialization of our product candidate or any future product candidates could be hindered or delayed.

 

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

Our operations, and those of our current and future CROs or CMOs, and other contractors and consultants, could be subject to earthquakes, power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and other natural or man-made disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We will rely on third-party manufacturers to produce and process our product candidates. 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.

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

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

 

   

differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;

 

   

negative consequences from changes in tax laws;

 

   

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;

 

   

differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems and price controls;

 

   

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

 

   

potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, or comparable foreign regulations;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

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

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

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government implemented the TCJA, which significantly reforms the Code. The TCJA, among other things, contains significant changes to corporate taxation, including a reduction of the corporate tax rate from a top marginal tax rate of 35% to a flat rate of 21%, a limitation of the tax deduction for interest expense to 30% of adjusted taxable income (except for certain small businesses), a limitation of the deduction for net operating losses to 80% of annual taxable income and an elimination of net operating loss carrybacks applying to net operating losses arising in taxable years ending after December 31, 2017, (though any such net operating losses arising in taxable years ending after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely) and the modification or repeal of many business deductions and credits (including a reduction the business tax credit for certain clinical testing expenses incurred in the testing of certain drugs for rare diseases or conditions generally referred to as “orphan drugs”). We continue to examine the impact this tax reform legislation may have on our business.

 

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Risks related to manufacturing and supply

We will be dependent on suppliers for some of our components and materials used to manufacture our current and future product candidates.

We currently depend on suppliers for some of the components necessary for our product candidates and will continue to depend on them for future manufacture of our product candidates. We cannot be sure that these suppliers will remain in business, that they will be able to meet our supply needs, or that they will not be purchased by one of our competitors or another company that is not interested in continuing to produce these materials for our intended purpose. These vendors may be unable or unwilling to meet our future demands for our clinical trials or commercial sale. Establishing additional or replacement suppliers for these components could take a substantial amount of time and it may be difficult to establish replacement suppliers who meet regulatory requirements. Any disruption in supply from a supplier or manufacturing location could lead to supply delays or interruptions which would damage our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

If we are able to find a replacement supplier, the replacement supplier would need to be qualified and may require additional regulatory authority approval, which could result in further delay. While we seek to maintain adequate inventory of the components and other materials used to manufacture our products, any interruption or delay in the supply of components or other materials, or our inability to obtain components or materials from alternate sources at acceptable prices in a timely manner, could impair our ability to meet the demand of our customers and cause them to cancel orders.

In addition, as part of the FDA’s approval of our product candidates, we will also require FDA approval of the individual components of our process, which include the manufacturing processes and facilities of our suppliers.

Our reliance on these suppliers subjects us to a number of risks that could harm our business, and financial condition, including, among other things:

 

   

interruption of product candidate or commercial supply resulting from modifications to or discontinuation of a supplier’s operations;

 

   

delays in product shipments resulting from uncorrected defects, reliability issues, or a supplier’s variation in a component;

 

   

a lack of long-term supply arrangements for key components with our suppliers;

 

   

inability to obtain adequate supply in a timely manner, or to obtain adequate supply on commercially reasonable terms;

 

   

difficulty and cost associated with locating and qualifying alternative suppliers for our components and precursor cells in a timely manner;

 

   

production delays related to the evaluation and testing of products from alternative suppliers, and corresponding regulatory qualifications;

 

   

delay in delivery due to our suppliers prioritizing other customer orders over ours; and

 

   

fluctuation in delivery by our suppliers due to changes in demand from us or their other customers.

If any of these risks materialize, our manufacturing costs could significantly increase and our ability to meet clinical and commercial demand for our products could be impacted.

We are establishing our own manufacturing facility and infrastructure in addition to or in lieu of relying on CMOs for the manufacturing of our product candidates, which will be costly, time-consuming, and which may not be successful.

We have limited experience as a company in establishing an exosome manufacturing facility and may face significant risks with the establishment of our own exosome manufacturing facility or capability. As a result, we will also need to hire additional personnel to build and set up a manufacturing facility, manage our operations and facilities and develop the necessary infrastructure to continue the research and development, and eventual commercialization, if approved, of our product candidates. We, as a company, have limited experience in building, setting up or eventually managing an exosome manufacturing facility. If we fail to select the correct location, fail to negotiate the purchase or lease of a facility, or fail to complete any planned renovation, customization and validation

 

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in an efficient manner, or fail to recruit the required personnel and generally manage our growth effectively, the development and production of our product candidates could be curtailed or delayed, and we may be unable to rely on previously existing relationships with CMOs.

We may establish multiple manufacturing facilities as we expand our commercial footprint to multiple geographies, which may lead to regulatory delays or prove costly. Even if we are successful, our manufacturing capabilities could be affected by cost-overruns, unexpected delays, equipment failures, labor shortages, natural disasters, power failures and numerous other factors that could prevent us from realizing the intended benefits of our manufacturing strategy and have a material adverse effect on our business.

In addition, the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities may require us to submit samples of any lot of any approved product together with the protocols showing the results of applicable tests at any time. Under some circumstances, the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities may require that we not distribute a lot until the relevant agency authorizes its release. Slight deviations in the manufacturing process, including those affecting quality attributes and stability, may result in unacceptable changes in the product that could result in lot failures or product recalls. Lot failures or product recalls could cause us to delay product launches or clinical trials, which could be costly to us and otherwise harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Problems in our manufacturing process could restrict our ability to meet market demand for our products.

We also may encounter problems hiring and retaining the experienced scientific, quality-control and manufacturing personnel needed to operate our manufacturing processes, which could result in delays in production or difficulties in maintaining compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.

Changes in product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

As product candidates are developed through preclinical studies to later-stage clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods or formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. Such changes may also require additional testing, or notification to, or approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or studies, require the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and/or jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue.

Our product candidates are uniquely manufactured. If we or any of our third-party manufacturers encounter difficulties in manufacturing our product candidates, our ability to provide supply of our product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or stopped, or we may be unable to maintain a commercially viable cost structure.

The manufacturing process used to produce our engEx exosomes is complex and novel and it has not yet been validated for clinical and commercial production. As a result of these complexities, the cost to manufacture our product candidates is higher than traditional small molecule chemical compounds and the manufacturing process may prove to be less reliable and may be more difficult to reproduce. Furthermore, our manufacturing process development and scale-up is at an early stage. The actual cost to manufacture and process our product candidates could be greater than we expect and could materially and adversely affect the commercial viability of our product candidates.

Our manufacturing process may be susceptible to logistical issues associated with shipment of the final product to clinical centers, manufacturing issues associated with interruptions in the manufacturing process, contamination, equipment or reagent failure, improper installation or operation of equipment, vendor or operator error, inconsistency in cell growth and productivity, and variability in product characteristics. Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing processes could result in reduced production yields, lot failures, product defects, product recalls, product liability claims and other supply disruptions. If microbial, viral, or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or in the manufacturing facilities in which our product candidates are made, production at such manufacturing facilities may be interrupted for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination. Further, as product candidates are developed through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials toward

 

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approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives, and any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials.

Although we continue to optimize our manufacturing process for our engEx product candidates, consistently achieving the targeted results is not guaranteed, and there are risks associated with scaling to the level required for advanced clinical trials or commercialization, including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, lot consistency, and timely availability of reagents and/or raw materials. We ultimately may not be successful in transferring our production process from our contract manufacturer to any other manufacturing facilities, or our contract manufacturer may not have the necessary capabilities to complete the implementation of the manufacturing process. If we are unable to adequately validate or scale-up the manufacturing process for our product candidates with our current manufacturer, we will need to transfer to another manufacturer and complete the manufacturing validation process, which can be lengthy. If we are able to adequately validate and scale-up the manufacturing process for our product candidates with a contract manufacturer, we will still need to negotiate with such contract manufacturer an agreement for commercial supply and it is not certain we will be able to come to agreement on terms acceptable to us. As a result, we may ultimately be unable to reduce the cost of goods for our product candidates to levels that will allow for an attractive return on investment if and when those product candidates are commercialized.

The manufacturing process for any products that we may develop is subject to the FDA and other regulatory authority approval processes, and we will need to contract with manufacturers who can meet all applicable FDA and other regulatory authority requirements on an ongoing basis. If we or our CMOs are unable to reliably produce products to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other regulatory authorities, we may not obtain or maintain the approvals we need to commercialize such products. Even if we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, there is no assurance that either we or our CMOs will be able to consistently manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential launch of the product, or to meet potential future demand. Any of these challenges could delay completion of clinical trials, require bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates, impair commercialization efforts, increase our cost of goods, and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. Our future success depends on our ability to manufacture our products on a timely basis with acceptable manufacturing costs, while at the same time maintaining good quality control and complying with applicable regulatory requirements, and an inability to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, we could incur higher manufacturing costs if manufacturing processes or standards change, and we could need to replace, modify, design, or build and install equipment, all of which would require additional capital expenditures. Specifically, because our product candidates may have a higher cost of goods than conventional therapies, the risk that coverage and reimbursement rates may be inadequate for us to achieve profitability may be greater.

Risks related to government regulation

If we are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals for our product candidates, we will not be able to commercialize, or will be delayed in commercializing, our product candidates, and our ability to generate revenue will be materially impaired.

Our product candidates and the activities associated with their development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale, distribution, import and export are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA and other regulatory agencies in the United States and by comparable authorities in other countries. Before we can commercialize any of our product candidates, we must obtain marketing approval. We have not received approval to market any of our product candidates from regulatory authorities in any jurisdiction and it is possible that none of our product candidates or any product candidates we may seek to develop in the future will ever obtain regulatory approval. In certain instances, we may need to rely on third-party CROs and/or regulatory consultants to assist us in this process. Securing regulatory approval requires the submission of extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to the various regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the biologic product candidate’s safety, purity, efficacy and potency.

 

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Securing regulatory approval also requires the submission of information about the prospective manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the relevant regulatory authority. Our product candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use.

The process of obtaining regulatory approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive, may take many years if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted IND, Premarket Approval, or PMA, BLA or equivalent application types, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. The FDA and comparable authorities in other countries have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. Our product candidates could be delayed in receiving, or fail to receive, regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:

 

   

the FDA or other 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 other regulatory authorities that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication or that a potential related companion diagnostic, should we develop one, is suitable to identify appropriate patient populations;

 

   

the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or other 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 other 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 or other submission or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;

 

   

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

 

   

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

Of the large number of drugs in development, only a small percentage successfully complete the FDA or foreign regulatory approval processes and are commercialized. The 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.

We expect the novel nature of our product candidates to create further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval. As a result, our ability to develop product candidates and obtain regulatory approval may be significantly impacted.

For example, the general approach for FDA approval of a new biologic or drug is for sponsors to seek licensure or approval based on dispositive data from well-controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials of the relevant product candidate in the relevant patient population. Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve hundreds of patients, have significant costs and take years to complete. We believe that we may be able to utilize FDA’s accelerated approval program for our product candidates given the limited alternatives for treatments for cancer and other serious diseases, but the FDA may not agree with our plans.

The FDA may also require a panel of experts, referred to as an Advisory Committee, to deliberate on the adequacy of the safety and efficacy data to support approval. The opinion of the Advisory Committee, although not binding, may have a significant impact on our ability to obtain approval of any product candidates that we develop based on the completed clinical trials.

Moreover, approval of genetic or biomarker diagnostic tests may be necessary in order to advance some of our product candidates to clinical trials or potential commercialization. In the future regulatory agencies may require the

 

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development and approval of such tests. Accordingly, the regulatory approval pathway for such product candidates may be uncertain, complex, expensive and lengthy, and approval may not be obtained.

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.

If we experience delays in obtaining approval or if we fail to obtain approval of our product candidates, the commercial prospects for our product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired.

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

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

We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining other regulatory approvals and compliance with other 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.

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

Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us to interrupt, delay or halt preclinical studies or could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. While we have not yet initiated clinical trials for any of our product candidates, as is the case with many cancer and disease therapeutics, it is likely that there may be side effects associated with their use. Results of our trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these or other side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated and the FDA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. The treatment-related side effects could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of patients and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of our product candidates may only be uncovered with a significantly larger number of patients exposed to the product candidate. If our product candidates receive marketing approval and we or others identify undesirable side effects caused by such product candidates (or

 

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any other similar drugs) after such approval, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

   

regulatory authorities may withdraw or limit their approval of such product candidates;

 

   

regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “boxed” warning or a contraindication;

 

   

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

 

   

we may be required to change the way such product candidates are distributed or administered, conduct additional clinical trials or change the labeling of the product candidates;

 

   

regulatory authorities may require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan to mitigate risks, which could include medication guides, physician communication plans, or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools;

 

   

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

 

   

we may decide to remove such product candidates from the marketplace;

 

   

we could be sued and held liable for injury caused to individuals exposed to or taking our product candidates; and

 

   

our reputation may suffer.

We believe that any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product candidates and could substantially increase the costs of commercializing our product candidates, if approved, and significantly impact our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and generate revenues.

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

If the FDA determines that a product candidate offers a treatment for a serious condition and, if approved, the product would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness, the FDA may designate the product candidate for priority review. A priority review designation means that the goal for the FDA to review an application is six months, rather than the standard review period of ten months. We may request priority review for our product candidates. The FDA has broad discretion with respect to whether or not to grant priority review status to a product candidate, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for such designation or status, the FDA may decide not to grant it. Moreover, a priority review designation does not necessarily result in expedited development or regulatory review or approval process or necessarily confer any advantage with respect to approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. Receiving priority review from the FDA does not guarantee approval within the six-month review cycle or at all.

We may fail to obtain, and if obtained, maintain, orphan drug designations from the FDA for our current and future product candidates, as applicable.

We may file for orphan drug designation where available for our product candidates. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is defined as one occurring in a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug or biologic will be recovered from sales in the United States. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives, such as opportunities for grant funding toward clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In addition, 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 drug exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including a full new drug application, or NDA, or BLA, to market the same drug or 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 or where the original manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity.

In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan-designated indication or may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for

 

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designation was materially defective or if we are unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the orphan designated disease or condition. Further, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties may receive and be approved for the same condition, and only the first applicant to receive approval will receive the benefits of marketing exclusivity. Even after an orphan-designated product is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve a later drug with the same active moiety for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior if it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug, nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process. In addition, while we may seek orphan drug designation for our product candidates, we may never receive such designations.

While we have not yet sought any regulatory approval for any product candidate, the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory authorities may implement additional regulations or restrictions on the development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may be difficult to predict.

The FDA, the EMA and regulatory authorities in other countries have each expressed interest in further regulating biotechnology products. Agencies at both the federal and state level in the United States, as well as the U.S. Congressional committees and other governments or governing agencies, have also expressed interest in further regulating the biotechnology industry. At present, we have not sought approval from any such regulatory authority, but such further regulation may delay or prevent commercialization of one or more of our product candidates. Adverse developments in clinical trials of any therapeutic candidates leveraging exosomes conducted by others may cause the FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for approval of our product candidates. Similarly, the EMA governs the development of therapeutic candidates in the European Union and may issue new guidelines concerning the development and marketing authorization for therapeutic candidates and require that we comply with these new guidelines. These regulatory review agencies and committees and the new requirements or guidelines they promulgate may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to perform additional studies or trials, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. As we advance our product candidates, we will be required to consult with these regulatory agencies and comply with applicable requirements and guidelines. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of such product candidates. These additional processes may result in a review and approval process that is longer than we otherwise would have expected. Delays as a result of an increased or lengthier regulatory approval process or further restrictions on the development of our product candidates can be costly and could negatively impact our ability to complete clinical trials and commercialize our current and future product candidates in a timely manner, if at all.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of any product candidates or therapies, 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.

If any of our present or future product candidates are approved, they will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, export, import, conduct of post-marketing studies and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States and requirements of other regulatory authorities. In addition, we will be subject to continued compliance with good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, and good clinical practices, or GCP, requirements for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval.

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

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our present or future product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to

 

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monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, or REMS, program as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could entail requirements for long-term patient follow-up, a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or another regulatory authority approves our product candidates, we will have to comply with requirements including submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports and registration.

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

 

   

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

 

   

warning letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

   

fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenue;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising, and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. The policies of the FDA and of other regulatory authorities may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained which would adversely affect our business, prospects and ability to achieve or sustain profitability.

We also cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative or executive action, either in the United States or abroad. For example, certain policies of the current administration may impact our business and industry. Namely, the current administration has taken several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of executive orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, the FDA’s ability to engage in routine regulatory and oversight activities, such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance and review and approval of marketing applications. It is difficult to predict how these executive actions, including any executive orders, will be implemented, and the extent to which they will impact the FDA’s ability to exercise its regulatory authority. If these executive actions impose constraints on FDA’s ability to engage in oversight and implementation activities in the normal course, our business may be negatively impacted.

We and our contract manufacturers are subject to significant regulation with respect to the manufacturing of our current and future product candidates. The manufacturing facilities on which we rely may not continue to meet regulatory requirements and have limited capacity.

We currently have relationships with a limited number of suppliers for the manufacturing of our product candidates. Each supplier may require licenses to manufacture such components if such processes are not owned by the supplier or in the public domain and we may be unable to transfer or sublicense the intellectual property rights we may have with respect to such activities.

All entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical studies or commercial sale, including our existing contract manufacturers for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished

 

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therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in late-stage clinical studies must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures (including record keeping) and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of adventitious agents or other contaminants, or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We or our existing and future contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of a BLA on a timely basis and must adhere to the FDA’s good laboratory practices, or GLP, and cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program. Some of our contract manufacturers have not produced a commercially-approved product and therefore have not obtained the requisite FDA approvals to do so. Our facilities and quality systems and the facilities and quality systems of some or all of our third-party contractors must pass a pre-approval inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of regulatory approval of our product candidates or any of our other potential products. In addition, the regulatory authorities may, at any time, audit or inspect a manufacturing facility involved with the preparation of our product candidates or our other potential products or the associated quality systems for compliance with the regulations applicable to the activities being conducted. If these facilities do not pass a pre-approval plant inspection, FDA approval of the products will not be granted.

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

If we or any of our third-party manufacturers fail to maintain regulatory compliance, the FDA can impose regulatory sanctions including, among other things, refusal to approve a pending application for a new drug product or biologic product, or revocation of a pre-existing approval. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially harmed.

Additionally, if supply from one approved manufacturer is interrupted, there could be a significant disruption in commercial supply. An alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through a BLA supplement which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and could result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.

These factors could cause the delay of clinical studies, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our product candidates, cause us to incur higher costs and prevent us from commercializing our products successfully. Furthermore, if our suppliers fail to meet contractual requirements, and we are unable to secure one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical studies may be delayed.

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

The success of our product candidates, if approved, depends 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 the cancers and diseases they target, we cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for, or accurately estimate the potential revenue from, our product candidates or assure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we may develop.

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, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, are critical to new product acceptance.

 

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Government authorities and other third-party payors decide which drugs and treatments they will cover and the amount of reimbursement. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including 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.

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. As a result, 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 each payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost effectiveness data for the use of our products on a payor-by-payor basis, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors will be obtained. There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. 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.

Additionally, third-party payors may not cover, or provide adequate reimbursement for, long-term follow-up evaluations required following the use of product candidates. 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. Because our product candidates may have a higher cost of goods than conventional therapies, and may require long-term follow-up evaluations, the risk that coverage and reimbursement rates may be inadequate for us to achieve profitability may be greater. There is significant uncertainty related to insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. It is difficult to predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates.

Payment methodologies may be subject to changes in healthcare legislation and regulatory initiatives. For example, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 required that CMS reduce the Medicare clinical laboratory fee schedule by 2% in 2013, which served as a base for 2014 and subsequent years. In addition, effective January 1, 2014, CMS also began bundling the Medicare payments for certain laboratory tests ordered while a patient received services in a hospital outpatient setting. Additional state and federal healthcare reform measures are expected to be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for certain pharmaceutical products or additional pricing pressures.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, cost containment initiatives and additional legislative changes.

Ongoing healthcare legislative and regulatory reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

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

 

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In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, was passed, which substantially changes the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacts the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, subjects biological 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 drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% 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 ACA have yet to be fully implemented, while certain provisions have been subject to judicial and Congressional challenges, as well as efforts by the current administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the ACA. Since January 2017, President Trump has signed two Executive Orders designed to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the ACA or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, Congress has considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, two bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the ACA have been signed into law. The TCJA includes a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA 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.” Additionally, on January 22, 2018, President Trump signed a continuing resolution on appropriations for fiscal year 2018 that delayed the implementation of certain fees mandated by the ACA, including the so-called “Cadillac” tax on certain high cost employer-sponsored insurance plans, the annual fee imposed on certain health insurance providers based on market share, and the medical device excise tax on non-exempt medical devices. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” In July 2018, CMS published a final rule permitting further collections and payments to and from certain ACA qualified health plans and health insurance issuers under its risk adjustment program in response to the outcome of federal district court litigation regarding the method CMS uses to determine this risk adjustment. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” tax penalty was repealed by the U.S. Congress as part of the TCJA. While the Texas U.S. District Court Judge, as well as the Trump administration and CMS, have stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect pending appeal of the decision, it is unclear how this decision, subsequent appeals, and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. The Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers up to 2% per fiscal year. These reductions will remain in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken.

These laws, and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used.

Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At the federal level, the Trump administration’s budget proposal

 

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for fiscal year 2019 contained additional drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2019 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. The Trump administration also released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. For example, in September 2018, CMS announced that it will allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option to use step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2019, and on January 31, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General proposed modifications to the federal anti-kickback Statute discount safe harbors for the purpose of reducing the cost of drug products to consumers which, among other things, if finalized, will affect discounts paid by manufacturers to Medicare Part D plans, Medicaid managed care organizations and pharmacy benefit managers working with these organizations. While some of these and other proposed measures may require additional authorization to become effective, 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 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.

European Union drug marketing and reimbursement regulations may materially affect our ability to market and receive coverage for our products in the European member states.

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

Much like the Anti-Kickback Statute prohibition in the United States, the provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the European Union. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians is governed by the national anti-bribery laws of European Union Member States, such as the UK Bribery Act 2010. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment.

Payments made to physicians in certain European Union Member States must be publicly disclosed. Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual European Union Member States. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct, applicable in the European Union Member States. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.

In addition, in most foreign countries, including the European Economic Area, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing and reimbursement vary widely from country to country. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. Reference pricing used by various European Union member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. In some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of any

 

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of our product candidates to other available therapies in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the United States and generally prices tend to be significantly lower. Publication of discounts by third-party payors or authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels within the country of publication and other countries. If pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels or if reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, our revenues from sales by us or our strategic partners and the potential profitability of any of our product candidates in those countries would be negatively affected.

We face risks related to our collection and use of data, which could result in investigations, inquiries, litigation, fines, legislative and regulatory action and negative press about our privacy and data protection practices.

Our business processes personal data, including data related to health. When conducting clinical trials, we face risks associated with collecting trial participants’ data, especially health data, in a manner consistent with applicable laws and regulations, such as the common rules for the control and authorization for clinical trials in the EU, GCP requirements, or FDA human subject protection regulations. We also face risks inherent in handling large volumes of data and in protecting the security of such data. We could be subject to attacks on our systems by outside parties or fraudulent or inappropriate behavior by our service providers or employees. Third parties may also gain access to users’ accounts using stolen or inferred credentials, computer malware, viruses, spamming, phishing attacks or other means, and may use such access to obtain users’ personal data or prevent use of their accounts. For example, in 2019, we experienced a phishing incident where one employee’s email account was accessed by an unauthorized third party. We initiated an investigation, which is still ongoing, to determine whether further action is required under either U.S. or state law. The incident did not have a material impact on our business or financial condition. While we believe we responded appropriately, including implementing remedial measures with the goal of preventing similar such events in the future, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in these remedial and preventative measures or be successful in mitigating the effects of future incidents or cyber-attacks. Data breaches could result in a violation of applicable U.S. and international privacy, data protection and other laws, and subject us to individual or consumer class action litigation and governmental investigations and proceedings by federal, state and local regulatory entities in the United States and by international regulatory entities, resulting in exposure to material civil and/or criminal liability. Further, our general liability insurance and corporate risk program may not cover all potential claims to which we are exposed and may not be adequate to indemnify us for all liability that may be imposed.

This risk is enhanced in certain jurisdictions and, as we expand our operations domestically and internationally, we may be subject to additional laws in other jurisdictions. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us to comply with privacy and data protection laws, rules and regulations could result in proceedings or actions against us by governmental entities or others. These proceedings or actions may subject us to significant penalties and negative publicity, require us to change our business practices, increase our costs and severely disrupt our business. For example, in the United States, California recently adopted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which will come into effect beginning in January 2020. The GDPR, discussed below, became effective in May 2018. If any of these events were to occur, our business and financial results could be adversely affected. Other jurisdictions besides the US and the EU are similarly introducing or enhancing laws and regulations relating to privacy and data security, which enhances risks relating to compliance with such laws.

European data collection is governed by restrictive regulations governing the use, processing, and cross-border transfer of personal information.

The collection and use of personal health data in the European Union was governed by the provisions of the Data Protection Directive, which, as of May 25, 2018, has been superseded by the GDPR. While the Data Protection Directive did not apply to organizations based outside the EU, the GDPR has expanded its reach to include any business, regardless of its location, that provides goods or services to residents in the EU. This expansion would incorporate any potential clinical trial activities in EU members states. The GDPR imposes strict requirements on controllers and processors of personal data, including special protections for “sensitive information” which includes health and genetic information of data subjects residing in the EU. GDPR grants individuals the opportunity to object to the processing of their personal information, allows them to request deletion of personal information in

 

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certain circumstances, and provides the individual with an express right to seek legal remedies in the event the individual believes his or her rights have been violated. Further, the GDPR imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the European Union to the United States or other regions that have not been deemed to offer “adequate” privacy protections. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the related national data protection laws of the European Union Member States, which may deviate slightly from the GDPR, may result in fines of up to 4% of global revenues, or  20,000,000, whichever is greater. As a result of the implementation of the GDPR, we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules.

Laws and regulations governing any international operations we may have in the future may preclude us from developing, manufacturing and selling certain products outside of the United States and require us to develop and implement costly compliance programs.

If we expand our operations outside of the United States, we must dedicate additional resources to comply with numerous laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we plan to operate. The FCPA prohibits any U.S. individual or business from paying, offering, 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 certain 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.

Compliance with the FCPA is expensive and difficult, particularly in countries in which corruption is a recognized problem. In addition, the FCPA presents particular challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, because, in many countries, hospitals are operated by the government, and doctors and other hospital employees are considered foreign officials. Certain payments to hospitals in connection with clinical trials and other work have been deemed to be improper payments to government officials and have led to FCPA enforcement actions.

Various laws, regulations and executive orders also restrict the use and dissemination outside of the United States, or the sharing with certain non-U.S. nationals, of information classified for national security purposes, as well as certain products and technical data relating to those products. If we expand our presence outside of the United States, it will require us to dedicate additional resources to comply with these laws, and these laws may preclude us from developing, manufacturing, or selling certain products and product candidates outside of the United States, which could limit our growth potential and increase our development costs.

The failure to comply with laws governing international business practices may result in substantial civil and criminal penalties and suspension or debarment from government contracting. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, also may suspend or bar issuers from trading securities on U.S. exchanges for violations of the FCPA’s accounting provisions.

We are subject to certain U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations. We can face serious consequences for violations.

Among other matters, U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, which are collectively referred to as Trade Laws, prohibit companies and their employees, agents, clinical research organizations, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We also expect our non-U.S. activities to increase in time. We plan to engage third parties for clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals and we can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.

 

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We are subject to various laws relating to foreign investment and the export of certain technologies, and our failure to comply with these laws or adequately monitor the compliance of our suppliers and others we do business with could subject us to substantial fines, penalties and even injunctions, the imposition of which on us could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

We are subject to U.S. laws that regulate foreign investments in U.S. businesses and access by foreign persons to technology developed and produced in the United States. These laws include Section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended by the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, and the regulations at 31 C.F.R. Parts 800 and 801, as amended, administered by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States; and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018, which is being implemented in part through Commerce Department rulemakings to impose new export control restrictions on “emerging and foundational technologies” yet to be fully identified. Application of these laws, including as they are implemented through regulations being developed, may negatively impact our business in various ways, including by restricting our access to capital and markets, limiting the collaborations we may pursue, regulating the export our products, services, and technology from the United States and abroad, increasing our costs and the time necessary to obtain required authorizations and to ensure compliance and threatening monetary fines and other penalties if we do not.

Risks related to our intellectual property

If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for any product candidates we develop or for our engEx Platform, our competitors could develop and commercialize products or technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop, and our technology may be adversely affected.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies we may develop. We seek to protect our proprietary position by in-licensing intellectual property and filing patent applications in the United States and abroad relating to our product candidates and engEx Platform, as well as other technologies that are important to our business. Given that the development of our technology and product candidates is at an early stage, our intellectual property portfolio with respect to certain aspects of our technology and product candidates is also at an early stage. We have a single issued United States composition of matter patent with claims directed to our engEx Platform technology utilized in one or more of our current engEx product candidates. We have filed or intend to file patent applications on these aspects of our technology and our product candidates; however, there can be no assurance that any such patent applications will issue as granted patents. Furthermore, in some cases, we have only filed provisional patent applications on certain aspects of our technology and product candidates and each of these provisional patent applications is not eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of the filing date of the applicable provisional patent application. Any failure to file a non-provisional patent application within this timeline could cause us to lose the ability to obtain patent protection for the inventions disclosed in the associated provisional patent applications.

Composition of matter patents for biological and pharmaceutical products are generally considered to be the strongest form of intellectual property protection for those types of products, as such patents provide protection without regard to any method of use. We cannot be certain, however, that the claims in our pending patent applications covering the composition of matter of our product candidates will be considered patentable by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO, or by patent offices in foreign countries, or that the claims in any of our issued patents will be considered valid and enforceable by courts in the United States or foreign countries. Furthermore, in some cases, we may not be able to obtain issued claims covering compositions of matter relating to the engEx Platform and our product candidates, as well as other technologies that are important to our business, and instead may need to rely on filing patent applications with claims covering a method of use and/or method of manufacture. Method of use patents protect the use of a product for the specified method. This type of patent does not prevent a competitor from making and marketing a product that is identical to our product for an indication that is outside the scope of the patented method. Moreover, even if competitors do not actively promote their products for our targeted indications, physicians may prescribe these products “off-label” for those uses that are covered by our method of use patents. Although off-label prescriptions may infringe or contribute to the infringement of method of use patents, the practice is common and such infringement can be difficult to prevent or prosecute. There can be no assurance that any such patent applications will issue as granted patents, and even if they do issue, such patent claims may be

 

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insufficient to prevent third parties, such as our competitors, from utilizing our technology. Any failure to obtain or maintain patent protection with respect to the engEx Platform and our product candidates could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

If any of our owned or in-licensed patent applications do not issue as patents in any jurisdiction, we may not be able to compete effectively.

Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in the United States and other countries may diminish our ability to protect our inventions, obtain, maintain, and enforce our intellectual property rights and, more generally, could affect the value of our intellectual property or narrow the scope of our owned and licensed patents. With respect to our patent portfolio, as of April 25, 2019, all of the patent rights that we own or in-license are currently pending patent applications except that we own one issued U.S. patent directed to exosomes comprising an exogenously expressed prostaglandin F2 receptor negative regulator, or PTGFRN. In addition, we may rely on third-party collaborators to file patent applications relating to proprietary technology that we develop jointly during certain collaborations. With respect to both in-licensed, owned and jointly owned intellectual property, we cannot predict whether the patent applications we, our licensors and present or future collaborators are currently pursuing or may pursue will issue as patents in any particular jurisdiction or whether the claims of any issued patents will provide sufficient protection from competitors or other third parties.

The patent prosecution process is expensive, time-consuming, and complex, and we and our collaborators may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, enforce, or license all necessary or desirable patents and patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output in time to obtain patent protection. Although we enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to confidential or patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties, any of these parties may breach such agreements and disclose such output before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection. In addition, our ability to obtain and maintain valid and enforceable patents depends on whether the differences between our inventions and the prior art allow our inventions to be patentable over the prior art. Furthermore, 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 any of 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.

If the scope of any patent protection we obtain is not sufficiently broad, or if we lose any of our patent protection, our ability to prevent our competitors from commercializing similar or identical technology and product candidates would be adversely affected.

The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions, and has been the subject of much litigation in recent years. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability, and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Our owned or in-licensed pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our engEx Platform technology, our product candidates or other technologies or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and product candidates.

No consistent policy regarding the scope of claims allowable in patents in the biotechnology field has emerged in the United States. The patent situation outside of the United States is even more uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in the United States and other countries may diminish our ability to protect our inventions and enforce our intellectual property rights, and more generally could affect the value of our intellectual property. In particular, our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing products that infringe our intellectual property will depend in part on our success in obtaining and enforcing patent claims that cover our technology, inventions and improvements. With respect to both licensed and company-owned intellectual property, we cannot be sure that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed by us in the future. Moreover, even issued patents do not provide us with the right to practice our technology in relation to the commercialization of our products. The area of patent and other intellectual property rights in biotechnology is an evolving one with many risks and uncertainties, and third parties may have blocking patents that could be used to prevent us from commercializing our patented

 

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product candidates and practicing our proprietary technology. Our issued patents, those that may issue in the future and those that we in-license may be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented, which could limit our ability to stop competitors from marketing related products or limit the length of the term of patent protection that we may have for our product candidates. Furthermore, our competitors may independently develop similar technologies. For these reasons, we may have competition for our product candidates. Moreover, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product, it is possible that, before any particular product candidate can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing any advantage of the patent.

Moreover, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and its scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. Even if patent applications we own or license issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors or other third parties from competing with us, or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. Consequently, we do not know whether the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies will be protectable or remain protected by valid and enforceable patents. Our competitors or other third parties may be able to circumvent our patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity, or enforceability, and patents that we own or license may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. We or our licensors may be subject to a third party preissuance submission of prior art to the USPTO or to foreign patent authorities or become involved in opposition, derivation, revocation, reexamination, post-grant and inter partes review, or interference proceedings or other similar proceedings challenging our owned or licensed patent rights. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate or render unenforceable, our owned or in-licensed patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. Moreover, we, or one of our licensors, may have to participate in interference proceedings declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention or in post-grant challenge proceedings, such as oppositions in a foreign patent office, that challenge our or our licensor’s priority of invention or other features of patentability with respect to our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications. Such challenges may result in loss of patent rights, loss of exclusivity, or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable, 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 of the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies. Such proceedings also may result in substantial cost and require significant time from our scientists and management, even if the eventual outcome is favorable to us. Moreover, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, regardless of the outcome, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.

In addition, given the amount of time required for the development, testing, and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such product candidates might expire before or shortly after such product candidates are commercialized. As a result, our intellectual property may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

We may in the future co-own intellectual property rights relating to the engEx Platform and our future product candidates with third parties. In addition, our licensors may co-own the patent rights we in-license with other third parties with whom we do not have a direct relationship. Our exclusive rights to certain of these patent rights are dependent, in part, on inter-institutional or other operating agreements between the joint owners of such patent rights, who are not parties to our license agreements. For example, under our Patent and Technology License Agreement, as amended, or the MDACC License, with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, or MDACC, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, or BID, we license certain patent rights co-owned by MDACC and BID. Our rights to BID’s interest in such patent rights depends on an inter-institutional agreement between MDACC and BID, pursuant to which MDACC controls the licensing of such patent rights. If our licensors do not have exclusive control of the grant of licenses under any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such patent rights or we are otherwise unable to secure such exclusive rights, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our

 

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competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our patent rights in order to enforce such patent rights against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

Our rights to develop and commercialize our product candidates and engEx Platform may be subject, in part, to the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by others.

We rely upon licenses to certain patent rights and proprietary technology from third parties that are important or necessary to the development of our product candidates and engEx Platform. Patent rights that we in-license may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. For example, our in-licensed patent rights from MDACC under the MDACC License were funded in part by the U.S. government. As a result, the U.S. government may have certain rights to such intellectual property. See the section titled “Business—Licenses” for additional information.

In-licenses from third parties for patent rights may also be co-exclusive. For example, under our license agreement with Kayla Therapeutics S.A.S., or Kayla, our in-licensed patent rights are co-exclusive and Kayla retains the right to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize certain compounds and products, subject to certain restrictions including a six year exclusivity provision that prohibits Kayla from researching, developing, manufacturing and commercializing any STING agonist compounds and products in connection with exosomes.

In addition, subject to the terms of any such license agreements, we may not have the right to control the enforcement, and defense of patents and patent applications covering the technology that we license from third parties in the future. We cannot be certain that, if applicable, our future in-licensed patent applications (and any patents issuing therefrom) that are controlled by our licensors will be prepared, filed, prosecuted, maintained, enforced, and defended in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If our licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce, and defend such patent rights, or lose rights to those patent applications (or any patents issuing therefrom), the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated, our right to develop and commercialize the engEx Platform and any of our product candidates that are the subject of such licensed rights could be adversely affected, and we may not be able to prevent competitors from making, using and selling competing products. Moreover, we cannot be certain that such activities by our licensors will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents or other intellectual property rights. In addition, even where we have the right to control patent prosecution of patents and patent applications we have licensed to and from third parties, we may still be adversely affected or prejudiced by actions or inactions of our licensees, our licensors and their counsel that took place prior to the date upon which we assumed control over patent prosecution.

Some intellectual property may have been discovered through government funded programs and thus may be subject to federal regulations such as “march-in” rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies. Compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights, and limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers.

Our in-licensed patent rights from MDACC under the MDACC License were funded in part by the U.S. government and are therefore subject to certain federal regulations. When new technologies are developed with U.S. government funding, the U.S. government generally obtains certain rights in any resulting patents, including a non-exclusive license authorizing the U.S. government to use the invention or to have others use the invention on its behalf. The U.S. government’s rights may also permit it to disclose the funded inventions and technology to third parties and to exercise march-in rights to use or allow third parties to use the technology we have licensed that was developed using U.S. government funding. The U.S. government may exercise its march-in rights if it determines that action is necessary because we fail to achieve practical application of the government-funded technology, or because action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs, to meet requirements of federal regulations, or to give preference to U.S. industry. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions in the United States in certain circumstances and if this requirement is not waived, any exercise by the U.S. government of such rights or by any third party of its reserved rights could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

 

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If we fail to comply with our obligations in the agreements under which we license intellectual property rights from third parties or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our licensors, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.

The MDACC License and the Kayla license impose, and we expect our future license agreements will impose, various development, diligence, commercialization, and other obligations on us to maintain the licenses. Despite our efforts, MDACC, Kayla or a future licensor might conclude that we have materially breached our obligations under such license agreements and seek to terminate the license agreements, thereby removing or limiting our ability to develop and commercialize products and technology covered by these license agreements. If these in-licenses are terminated, or if the underlying patent rights licensed thereunder fail to provide the intended exclusivity, competitors or other third parties would have the freedom to seek regulatory approval of, and to market, products identical to ours and we may be required to cease our development and commercialization of the engEx Platform or certain of our product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

whether and the extent to which inventors are able to contest the assignment of their rights to our licensors; and

 

   

the priority of invention of patented technology.

The agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed or will license prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to continue to utilize our engEx Platform or successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

We may be obligated to make “success” payments upon the achievement of certain price targets in connection with a corporate financing or change in control transaction, pursuant to our license agreement with the MD Anderson Center for Cancer.

Pursuant to the terms of the MDACC License, we are obligated to make a one-time payment to MDACC of amounts ranging from $20 million to $150 million, if by November 12, 2019, we are acquired or we close an equity financing, which includes this offering, and the price per share in such acquisition or equity financing is equal to or in excess of the agreed upon price triggers equating to company valuations of approximately $1.4 billion to $5.8 billion. If these payments were to be triggered, we may elect, at our sole discretion, to make such payments in cash or by the issuance of our common stock. Further, all amounts paid to MDACC for royalties, milestones, and sublicensing consideration will be credited against any such payments that become due.

We are required to pay royalties under our license agreements with third-party licensors, and we must use commercially reasonable diligence efforts and meet milestones to maintain our license rights.

Under our in-license agreement with Kayla, as well as our license agreement with MDACC, we will be required to pay royalties based on our annual net sales from sales of our products covered by a valid claim of the licensed patent rights and these royalty payments could adversely affect the overall profitability for us of any products that we may seek to commercialize. In addition, under our license agreement with Kayla, we have certain diligence obligations, which include using commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize products under the licensed

 

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patent rights, including using commercially reasonable efforts to draft and file an IND on or before June 30, 2020 and to initiate a cohort extension study of a Phase 1/2 thereafter. We may not be successful in meeting these obligations in the future on a timely basis or at all. Our failure to meet these obligations may give Kayla the right to terminate our license rights.

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

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

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

Many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patent. If we or any of our licensors is forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects may be adversely affected. Patent protection must ultimately be sought on a country-by-country basis, which is an expensive and time-consuming process with uncertain outcomes. Accordingly, we may choose not to seek patent protection in certain countries, and we will not have the benefit of patent protection in such countries.

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

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees, and various other government fees on patents and applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various government patent agencies outside of the United States over the lifetime of our owned or licensed patents and applications. In certain circumstances, we rely on our licensing partners to pay these fees due to U.S. and non-U.S. patent agencies. The USPTO and various non-U.S. government agencies require compliance with several procedural, documentary, fee payment, and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We are also dependent on our licensors to take the necessary action to comply with these requirements with respect to our licensed intellectual property. In some cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. There are situations, however, in which non-compliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in a partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, potential competitors might be able to enter the market with similar or identical products or technology, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

 

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

Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States or other jurisdictions in which we seek or hold patents or patent applications could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. Assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, prior to March 2013, in the United States, the first to invent the claimed invention was entitled to the patent, while outside the United States, the first to file a patent application was entitled to the patent. After March 2013, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the America Invents Act, enacted in September 2011, the United States transitioned to a first inventor to file system in which, assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third party was the first to invent the claimed invention. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO after March 2013, but before us could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by such third party. This will require us to be cognizant going forward 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 or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications.

The America Invents Act also includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and also may affect patent litigation. These include allowing third party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in United States federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. Therefore, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned or in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our owned or in-licensed issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of biologics and pharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the validity and enforceability of patents, once obtained. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could have a material adverse effect on our existing patent portfolio and our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property in the future.

Issued patents covering our product candidates, and any patents that may issue covering our engEx Platform and other technologies, could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad.

If we or one of our licensing parties initiated legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies, the defendant could counterclaim that such patent is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may raise claims challenging the validity or enforceability of our owned, jointly-owned or in-licensed patents before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review, inter partes review, interference proceedings, derivation proceedings, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in the revocation of, cancellation of, or

 

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amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates or other technologies. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we or our licensing partners and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a third party were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies. Such a loss of patent protection would have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates for an adequate amount of time.

Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Various extensions may be available, but the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive products, including generics or biosimilars. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

If we do not obtain patent term extension and/or data exclusivity for any product candidates we may develop, our business may be materially harmed.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of any product candidates we may develop, one or more of our owned, jointly owned or in-licensed U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, only one patent may be extended and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. Similar extensions as compensation for patent term lost during regulatory review processes are also available in certain foreign countries and territories, such as in Europe under a Supplementary Patent Certificate. However, we may not be granted an extension in the United States and/or foreign countries and territories because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents, or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is shorter than what we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially harmed.

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

We or our licensors may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our owned or in-licensed patent rights, trade secrets, or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we or our licensors may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of employees, consultants or others who are involved in developing the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or our or our licensors’ ownership of our owned or in-licensed patent rights, trade secrets or other intellectual property. If we or our licensors fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, intellectual property that is important to the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.

In addition to seeking patents for the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies, we also rely on trade secrets and confidentiality agreements to protect our unpatented know-how, technology, and other proprietary information and to maintain our competitive position. Trade secrets and know-how can be difficult to protect. We

 

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expect our trade secrets and know-how to over time be disseminated within the industry through independent development, the publication of journal articles describing the methodology, and the movement of personnel from academic to industry scientific positions. We currently, and may continue in the future continue to, rely on third parties to assist us in developing and manufacturing our product candidates. Accordingly, we must, at times, share know-how and trade secrets, including those related to our engEx Platform, with them. We may in the future also enter into research and development collaborations with third parties that may require us to share know-how and trade secrets under the terms of our research and development partnerships or similar agreements.

We seek to protect our know-how, trade secrets and other proprietary technology, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, and including in our vendor and service agreements terms protecting our confidential information, know-how and trade secrets, with parties who have access to such information, such as our employees, scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants as well as train our employees not to bring or use proprietary information or technology from former employers to us or in their work, and we remind former employees when they leave their employment of their confidentiality obligations. However, we cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology and processes.

Despite our efforts, any of the aforementioned parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, or there may be a lapses or failures in our physical and electronic security systems which lead to our proprietary information being disclosed, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies in the event of any such breaches. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures is difficult, and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our proprietary technologies will be effective. If any of our scientific advisors, employees, contractors and consultants who are parties to these agreements breaches or violates the terms of any of these agreements, we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach or violation, and we could lose our trade secrets as a result. Moreover, if confidential information that is licensed or disclosed to us by our partners, collaborators, or others is inadvertently disclosed or subject to a breach or violation, we may be exposed to liability to the owner of that confidential information. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, our competitive position would be materially and adversely harmed.

We may not be successful in obtaining, through acquisitions, in-licenses or otherwise, necessary rights to the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies.

We currently have rights to certain intellectual property, through licenses from third parties, to develop the engEx Platform and our product candidates. Some pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, and academic institutions are competing with us in the field of exosome therapeutics and may have patents and have filed and are likely filing patent applications potentially relevant to our business. To avoid infringing these third-party patents, we may find it necessary or prudent to obtain licenses to such patents from such third-party intellectual property holders. We may also require licenses from third parties for certain technologies that we are evaluating for use with our current or future product candidates. However, we may be unable to secure such licenses or otherwise acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes, or other intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary for the engEx Platform and our current or future product candidates at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. The licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and several more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment or at all.

If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to redesign

 

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our technology, product candidates, or the methods for manufacturing them or to develop or license replacement technology, all of which may not be feasible on a technical or commercial basis. If we are unable to do so, we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected product candidates or continue to utilize our existing engEx Platform technology, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects significantly.

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants, or advisors have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their current or former employers or claims asserting ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees, consultants, and advisors are currently or were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our licensors, competitors and potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants, and advisors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these individuals have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such individual’s current or former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.

In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement, misappropriation or other violation against us, our licensors or our collaborators may prevent or delay the development and commercialization of the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies.

The field of exosome therapeutics is competitive and dynamic. Due to the focused research and development that is taking place by several companies, including us and our competitors, in this field, the intellectual property landscape is in flux, and it may remain uncertain in the future. As such, there may be significant intellectual property related litigation and proceedings relating to our owned and in-licensed, and other third party, intellectual property and proprietary rights in the future.

Our commercial success depends in part on our, our licensors’ and our collaborators’ ability to avoid infringing, misappropriating and otherwise violating the patents and other intellectual property rights of third parties. However, our research, development and commercialization activities may be subject to claims that we infringe or otherwise violate patents or other intellectual property rights owned or controlled by third parties. There is a substantial amount of complex litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including interference, derivation and reexamination proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. As discussed above, recently, due to changes in U.S. law referred to as patent reform, new procedures including inter partes review and post-grant review have been implemented. As stated above, this reform adds uncertainty to the possibility of challenge to our patents in the future.

Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications owned by third parties exist relating to exosome technologies and therapeutic products, and in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others. We cannot assure you that the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies that we have developed, are developing or may develop in the future will not infringe existing or future patents owned by third parties. We may not be aware of patents that have already been issued and that a third party, for example, a competitor in the fields in which we are developing the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies might assert are infringed by our current or future product candidates, engEx Platform or other technologies, including claims to compositions, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods of use or treatment that cover the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies. It is also possible

 

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that patents owned by third parties of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies, could be found to be infringed by the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies. In addition, because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies may infringe. We cannot provide any assurances that third-party patents do not exist which might be enforced against our current technology, including our engEx Platform, manufacturing methods, product candidates, or future methods or products resulting in either an injunction prohibiting our manufacture or future sales, or, with respect to our future sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties and/or other forms of compensation to third parties, which could be significant.

Third parties may have patents or obtain patents in the future and claim that the manufacture, use or sale of the engEx Platform, our product candidates and other technologies infringes upon these patents. We follow patent applications of interest and take action, as appropriate, e.g., filing third-party observations and oppositions. We are aware of issued patents outside the United States that are directed to engineered exosomes. While we believe that we have reasonable defenses against claims of infringement, including that certain claims in these patents are invalid, there can be no assurance that we will prevail in an infringement action brought against us by the holder of these patents. In the event that any third-party claims that we infringe their patents or that we are otherwise employing their proprietary technology without authorization and initiates litigation against us, even if we believe such claims are without merit, a court of competent jurisdiction could hold that such patents are valid, enforceable and infringed by the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies. In this case, the holders of such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize the applicable product candidate or technology unless we obtain a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or are finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we are able to obtain a license, the license would likely obligate us to pay license fees or royalties or both, and the rights granted to us might be non-exclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, we may be unable to commercialize the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies, or such commercialization efforts may be significantly delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business.

Defense of infringement claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of management and other employee resources from our business, and may impact our reputation. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may be enjoined from further developing or commercializing our infringing the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies. In addition, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses from third parties, pay royalties and/or redesign our infringing product candidates or technologies, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. In that event, we would be unable to further develop and commercialize the engEx Platform, our product candidates or other technologies, which could harm our business significantly.

Engaging in litigation to defend against third parties alleging that we have infringed, misappropriated or otherwise violated their patents or other intellectual property rights is very expensive, particularly for a company of our size, and time-consuming. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of litigation or administrative proceedings more effectively than we can because of greater financial resources. Patent litigation and other proceedings may also absorb significant management time. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings against us could have an adverse effect on our ability to raise additional funds and could impair our ability to compete in the marketplace. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents and other intellectual property rights, which could be expensive, time-consuming, and unsuccessful.

Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our licensing partners. In addition, our patents or the patents of our licensing partners also may become involved in inventorship, priority or validity disputes. To counter or defend against such claims can be expensive and time-consuming. In an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent owned or in-licensed by us is invalid or unenforceable, the other party’s use of our patented technology falls

 

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under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1), or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our owned and in-licensed patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation proceeding could put one or more of our owned or in-licensed patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly. Even if we establish infringement, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation.

Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions, or other interim proceedings or developments, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.

If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.

We have filed, but have not yet received trademark registrations, for our name, logo and other marks, and we may never obtain such registrations. Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we need to build name recognition among potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors or other third parties may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. If we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other registered trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. For example, we recently received a letter from a third party asserting a potential claim of trademark infringement with respect to our name, Codiak BioSciences. We dispute the assertions. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, then we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights related to trademarks, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights or other intellectual property may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats.

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

 

   

others may be able to make products that are similar to our product candidates or utilize similar exosome technology but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we license or may own;

 

   

we, or our current or future licensors or collaborators, might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent application that we license or own now or in the future;

 

   

we, or our current or future licensors or collaborators, might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our or their inventions;

 

   

others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our owned or licensed intellectual property rights;

 

   

it is possible that our current or future pending owned or licensed patent applications will not lead to issued patents;

 

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issued patents that we hold rights to may be held invalid or unenforceable, including as a result of legal challenges by our competitors or other third parties;

 

   

our competitors or other third parties might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;

 

   

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;

 

   

the patents of others may harm our business;

 

   

we may choose not to file a patent in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such intellectual property; and

 

   

third-party patents may issue with claims covering our activities; we may have infringement liability exposure arising from such patents.

Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Risks related to our reliance on third parties

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

We will depend upon third parties, including independent investigators, to conduct our clinical trials under agreements with universities, medical institutions, CROs, strategic partners and others. We expect to have to negotiate budgets and contracts with CROs and trial sites, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs. We will rely heavily on third parties over the course of our clinical trials, and, as a result, will have limited control over the clinical investigators and limited visibility into their day-to-day activities, including with respect to their compliance with the approved clinical protocol. As a result, many important aspects of our development programs, including their conduct and timing, will be outside of our direct control. Our reliance on third parties to conduct future preclinical studies and clinical trials will also result in less direct control over the management of data developed through preclinical studies and clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff.

Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with GCP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and other regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, clinical investigators and trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to suspend or terminate these trials or perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot be certain that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP requirements. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with biologic product produced under cGMP requirements and may require a large number of patients.

Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws. For any violations of laws and regulations during the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, we could be subject to warning letters or enforcement action that may include civil penalties up to and including criminal prosecution.

Any third parties conducting our future clinical trials will not be our employees and, except for remedies that may be 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 and clinical programs. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or

 

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other product 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 any of our relationships with these third-party CROs or others terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or other third parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms. Switching or adding additional CROs involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO begins work. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

Our collaboration with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and our future collaborations, may be important to our business. If we are unable to maintain any of these collaborations, or if these collaborations are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.

We have entered into a collaboration with Jazz Pharmaceuticals Ireland Limited, or Jazz, for certain product candidates and we may enter into collaborations with other companies to provide us with important technologies and funding for our programs and technology, and we may receive additional technologies and funding under these and other collaborations in the future. Our collaboration with Jazz and any future collaborations we enter into, may pose a number of risks, including the following:

 

   

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

 

   

collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;

 

   

collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs or license arrangements based on clinical trial results, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as a strategic transaction that may divert resources or create competing priorities;

 

   

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

 

   

collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our products and product candidates if the collaborators believe that the competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;

 

   

product candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our collaborators as competitive with their own product candidates or products, which may cause collaborators to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;

 

   

collaborators may fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements regarding the development, manufacture, distribution or marketing of a product candidate or product;

 

   

collaborators with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;

 

   

disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or terminations of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;

 

   

collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;

 

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collaborators may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability;

 

   

if a collaborator of ours is involved in a business combination, the collaborator might deemphasize or terminate the development or commercialization of any product candidate licensed to it by us; and

 

   

collaborations may be terminated by the collaborator, and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates.

If our collaboration with Jazz or our potential future collaborations do not result in the successful discovery, development and commercialization of products or if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the collaboration. If we do not receive the funding we expect under these agreements, our development of our technology and product candidates could be delayed and we may need additional resources to develop product candidates and our technology. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this prospectus also apply to the activities of our therapeutic collaborators.

Additionally, if Jazz or one of our potential future collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may find it more difficult to attract new collaborators and our perception in the business and financial communities could be adversely affected.

Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for additional collaborations will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to enter into additional collaborations or do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates, bring them to market and generate revenue from sales of products or continue to develop our technology, and our business may be materially and adversely affected.

Our relationships with healthcare providers and physicians and third-party payors may be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of pharmaceutical products. Arrangements with third-party payors and customers can expose pharmaceutical manufacturers 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 such companies conduct research, sell, market and distribute pharmaceutical products. In particular, the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The applicable federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:

 

   

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering 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

 

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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. “Remuneration” has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, 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, a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act, or FCA. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other;

 

   

federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalty laws, including the FCA, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false or fraudulent claims for payment to, or approval by Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs, knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim or an obligation to pay or transmit money to the federal government, or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing or concealing an obligation to pay money to the federal government. Manufacturers can be held liable under the FCA even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The FCA also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery;

 

   

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

 

   

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose, among other things, 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. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

   

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the ACA, 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 CMS, 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;

 

   

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 nongovernmental third-party payors, including private insurers, and may be broader in scope than their federal equivalents; 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

 

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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.

The distribution of pharmaceutical products is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of pharmaceutical products.

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. Effective upon the completion of this offering, we will adopt a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent inappropriate conduct may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations. Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements will comply with applicable healthcare laws may involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, disgorgement, monetary fines, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. In addition, the approval and commercialization of any of our product candidates outside the United States will also likely subject us to foreign equivalents of the healthcare laws mentioned above, among other foreign laws.

Risks related to our common stock and this offering

We do not know whether an active, liquid and orderly trading market will develop for our common stock or what the market price of our common stock will be and, as a result, it may be difficult for you to sell your shares of our common stock.

Prior to this offering there has been no public market for shares of our common stock. Although we have applied to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, an active trading market for our shares may never develop or be sustained following this offering. You may not be able to sell your shares quickly or at the market price if trading in shares of our common stock is not active. The initial public offering price for our common stock will be determined through negotiations with the underwriters, and the negotiated price may not be indicative of the market price of the common stock after the offering. As a result of these and other factors, you may be unable to resell your shares of our common stock at or above the initial public offering price. Further, an inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to enter into strategic partnerships or acquire companies or products by using our shares of common stock as consideration. We also cannot predict the prices at which our shares of common stock will trade. It is possible that in one or more future periods our results of operations may be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors, and, as a result of these and other factors, the price of our shares of common stock may fall.

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

The trading price of our common stock following this offering is likely to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including limited trading volume. In addition to the factors discussed in this “Risk factors” section and elsewhere in this prospectus, these factors include:

 

   

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

 

   

any delay in our regulatory filings for our product candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the applicable regulatory authority’s review of such filings;

 

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adverse results from or delays in clinical trials of our product candidates;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

adverse developments concerning our manufacturers;

 

   

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

 

   

our inability to establish collaborations, if needed;

 

   

our failure to commercialize our product candidates;

 

   

changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;

 

   

additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;

 

   

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

 

   

introduction of new products or services by our competitors;

 

   

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

 

   

our ability to effectively manage our growth;

 

   

the size and growth of our initial target markets;

 

   

actual or anticipated variations in quarterly operating results;

 

   

our cash position;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

changes in the market valuations of similar companies;

 

   

developments or changing views regarding the use of exosome therapeutics;

 

   

overall performance of the equity markets;

 

   

sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders in the future, including in connection with the expiration of market stand-off or lock-up agreements;

 

   

trading volume of our common stock;

 

   

adoption of new accounting standards;

 

   

ineffectiveness of our internal controls;

 

   

the level of expenses related to any of our research programs; clinical development programs or product candidates that we may develop;

 

   

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

 

   

significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;

 

   

general political and economic conditions; and

 

   

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

In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. If the market price of our common stock after this offering does not exceed the initial public offering price, you may not realize any return on your investment in us and may lose some or all of your investment.

We could be subject to securities class action litigation.

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

 

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

We have not paid any dividends since our incorporation. 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 in the foreseeable future to the appreciation of their stock.

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

Immediately following the completion of this offering, our executive officers, directors and their affiliates and 5% stockholders will beneficially hold, in the aggregate, approximately     % of our outstanding voting stock (assuming no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares) based on our shares outstanding as of March 31, 2019. Therefore, even after this offering, these stockholders will have the ability to influence us through this ownership position. These stockholders may be able to determine all matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders may be able to control elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transaction. To the extent that the interests of these stockholders may differ from the interests of our other stockholders, the latter may be disadvantaged by any action that these stockholders may seek to pursue. Among other consequences, this concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control and might therefore negatively affect the market price of our common shares.

If you purchase our common stock in this offering, you will incur immediate and substantial dilution in the net tangible book value of your shares.

The initial public offering price will be substantially higher than the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our common stock after this offering. Investors purchasing common stock in this offering will pay a price per share that substantially exceeds the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering. As a result, investors purchasing common stock in this offering will incur immediate dilution of $             per share, based on an assumed initial public offering price of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, representing the difference between our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after giving effect to this offering and the assumed initial public offering price. Further, investors purchasing common stock in this offering will contribute approximately     % of the total amount invested by stockholders since our inception, but will own only approximately     % of the shares of common stock outstanding after this offering.

This dilution is due to our investors who purchased shares prior to this offering having paid substantially less when they purchased their shares than the price offered to the public in this offering. To the extent outstanding stock options or warrants are exercised, new stock options or warrants are issued, or we issue additional shares of common stock in the future, there will be further dilution to new investors. As a result of the dilution to investors purchasing common stock in this offering, investors may receive significantly less than the purchase price paid in this offering, if anything, in the event of our liquidation. For a further description of the dilution that you will experience immediately after this offering, see “Dilution.”

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

We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or the JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this prospectus and our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years following the year in which we complete this offering, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of this offering; (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion; or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700 million as of the prior June 30th; and (2) the date on

 

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which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have elected not to “opt out” of such extended transition period, which means that when a standard is issued or revised and it has different application dates for public or private companies, we will adopt the new or revised standard at the time private companies adopt the new or revised standard and will do so until such time that we either (i) irrevocably elect to “opt out” of such extended transition period or (ii) no longer qualify as an emerging growth company. This may make comparison of our financial statements with the financial statements of another public company that is not an emerging growth company, or an emerging growth company that has opted out of using the extended transition period, difficult or impossible because of the potential differences in accounting standards used.

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

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

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

Pursuant to SOX Section 404, we will be required to furnish a report by our management on our internal control over financial reporting, including an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. However, while we remain an emerging growth company, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. To achieve compliance with SOX Section 404 within the prescribed period, we will be engaged in a process to document and evaluate our internal control over financial reporting, which is both costly and challenging. In this regard, we will need to continue to dedicate internal resources, potentially engage outside consultants, adopt a detailed work plan to assess and document the adequacy of internal control over financial reporting, continue steps to improve control processes as appropriate, validate through testing that controls are functioning as documented, and implement a continuous reporting and improvement process for internal control

 

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over financial reporting. Despite our efforts, there is a risk that we will not be able to conclude, within the prescribed timeframe or at all, that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as required by SOX Section 404. If we identify one or more material weaknesses, it could result in an adverse reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements.

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

Ensuring that we have adequate internal financial and accounting controls and procedures in place so that we can produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis is a costly and time-consuming effort that needs to be re-evaluated frequently. Our internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. In connection with this offering, we intend to begin the process of documenting, reviewing and improving our internal controls and procedures for compliance with Section 404 of SOX, which will require annual management assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.

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

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

If our existing stockholders sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market after the lock-up and other legal restrictions on resale discussed in this prospectus lapse, the trading price of our common stock could decline. Based on shares of common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2019, upon the closing of this offering we will have outstanding a total of                  shares of common stock. Of these shares, only the shares of common stock sold in this offering by us, plus any shares sold upon exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares, will be freely tradable without restriction in the public market immediately following this offering.

The lock-up agreements pertaining to this offering will expire 180 days from the date of this prospectus, subject to earlier release of all or a portion of the shares subject to such agreements by the representatives of the underwriters in their sole discretion. After the lock-up agreements expire, based upon the number of shares of common stock, on an as-converted basis, outstanding as of March 31, 2019, up to an additional                  shares of common stock will be eligible for sale in the public market. Approximately     % of these additional shares are held by directors, executive officers and other affiliates and will be subject to certain limitations of Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act.

In addition, shares of common stock that are either subject to outstanding options or reserved for future issuance under our existing equity compensation plans will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, the lock-up agreements and Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. If these additional shares of common stock are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline. Additionally, the number of shares of our common stock reserved for issuance under our 2019 Stock Option and Incentive Plan will automatically increase on January 1, 2020 and each January 1 thereafter by     % of the number of shares of common stock outstanding on the immediately preceding December 31 or such lesser number of shares determined by our compensation committee. 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.

After this offering, the holders of                  shares of our common stock as of March 31, 2019 will be entitled to rights with respect to the registration of their shares under the Securities Act, subject to the 180-day lock-up agreements described above. See “Description of capital stock—Registration rights.” Registration of these shares

 

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under the Securities Act would result in the shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act, except for shares held by affiliates, as defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act. Any sales of securities by these stockholders could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.

We have broad discretion in the use of our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments and the net proceeds from this offering and may not use them effectively.

Our management will have broad discretion in the application of our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments and the net proceeds from this offering, including for any of the purposes described in the section entitled “Use of proceeds,” and you will not have the opportunity as part of your investment decision to assess whether such proceeds are being used appropriately. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments and the net proceeds from this offering, their ultimate use may vary substantially from their currently intended use. Our management might not apply our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments and the net proceeds from this offering in ways that ultimately increase the value of your investment. The failure by our management to apply these funds effectively could harm our business. Pending their use, we may invest the net proceeds from this offering in short-term, investment-grade, interest-bearing securities. These investments may not yield a favorable return to our stockholders. If we do not invest or apply the net proceeds from this offering in ways that enhance stockholder value, we may fail to achieve expected financial results, which could cause our stock price to decline.

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, 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, directors and non-employee consultants based on the fair value of the award on either the grant date or service completion date, and we recognize the cost as an expense over the recipient’s service period. Because the variables that we use as a basis for valuing stock-based 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 may incur to acquire or develop additional product candidates and technologies;

 

   

the timing and outcomes of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our current product candidates and any other future product candidates or competing product candidates;

 

   

competition from existing and potential future products that compete with our current product candidates and any other future 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 current product candidates or any other future product candidates;

 

   

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

 

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

 

   

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

 

   

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.

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 by-laws, which are to become effective at or prior to the closing of this offering, contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our board of directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. Some of these provisions include:

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

a requirement that special meetings of stockholders be called only by the 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 by-laws 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 by-laws could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by the then-current board of directors and could also delay or impede a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing or cause us to take other corporate actions you desire. Any delay or

 

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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.

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

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

Our amended and restated by-laws will designate specific courts as the exclusive forum for certain litigation that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us.

Pursuant to our amended and restated by-laws, as will be in effect upon the completion of this offering, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Chancery Court does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware or other state courts of the State of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for state law claims for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty by any of our directors, officers, or other employees to us or our stockholders; (3) any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to any provision of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware or our certificate of incorporation or by-laws; (4) any action to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our certificate of incorporation or by-laws; or (5) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. The forum selection clauses in our amended and restated by-laws may limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us.

 

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus contains forward-looking statements that are based on management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to management. Some of the statements in the section captioned “Prospectus summary,” “Risk factors,” “Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations,” “Business” and elsewhere in this prospectus contain forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “may,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “project,” “potential,” “continue,” “ongoing” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words.

These statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Although we believe that we have a reasonable basis for each forward-looking statement contained in this prospectus, we caution you that these statements are based on a combination of facts and factors currently known by us and our projections of the future, about which we cannot be certain. Forward-looking statements in this prospectus include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

   

the success, cost and timing of our product development activities, preclinical studies and clinical trials, including statements regarding the timing of initiation and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available, and our research and development programs;

 

   

our ability to successfully complete IND-enabling preclinical studies for exoSTING and exoIL-12;

 

   

the acceptance of our planned IND or CTA for each of exoSTING and exoIL-12;

 

   

the design of our planned clinical trials of exoSTING and exoIL-12;

 

   

our ability to advance any engEx product candidate into or successfully complete any clinical trial, or obtain marketing approval;

 

   

the potential of our engEx Platform, engEx product candidates and engEx discovery programs;

 

   

the potential of our engEx Platform to generate additional engEx product candidates;

 

   

our ability to successfully manufacture our product candidates for preclinical studies, clinical trials or commercial use, if approved;

 

   

our ability to construct a clinical manufacturing facility;

 

   

our ability to utilize our engEx Platform to target multiple cell types;

 

   

the potential indications that we may be able to target with our engEx Platform;

 

   

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

 

   

the ability and willingness of our current and future collaborators to continue research and development activities relating to our product candidates;

 

   

our ability to maintain regulatory approval, if obtained, of any of our current or future engEx product candidates, and any related restrictions, limitations and/or warnings in the label of an approved product candidate;

 

   

our ability to license intellectual property relating to our product candidates and to comply with our existing license and collaboration agreements;

 

   

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

 

   

developments relating to the use of exosomes to develop therapeutics;

 

   

the success of competing therapies that are or become available;

 

   

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

 

   

the commercialization of our product candidates, if approved;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

the impact of laws and regulations.

In addition, you should refer to the “Risk factors” section of this prospectus for a discussion of other important factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this prospectus will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if the forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. The forward-looking statements in this prospectus represent our views as of the date of this prospectus. We anticipate that subsequent events and developments will cause our views to change. However, while we may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we have no current intention of doing so except to the extent required by applicable law. You should, therefore, not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this prospectus.

In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this prospectus, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

We estimate that the net proceeds to us from the issuance and sale of                  shares of our common stock in this offering will be approximately $            , assuming an initial public offering price of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. If the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares from us is exercised in full, we estimate that our net proceeds will be approximately $             million.

Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, which is the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $         million, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. An increase (decrease) of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares we are offering would increase (decrease) the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $         million, assuming that the assumed initial public offering price remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments as follows:

 

   

approximately $             for the advancement of exoSTING, including the conduct of our planned IND-enabling preclinical studies, completion of our IND or CTA submissions and the conduct of our planned Phase 1/2 clinical trial;

 

   

approximately $             for the advancement of exoIL-12, including the conduct of our planned IND-enabling preclinical studies, completion of our IND or CTA submissions and the conduct of our planned Phase 1/2 clinical trial; and

 

   

the remainder for expansion of our engEx Platform, including to advance the research and development of our engEx discovery programs, as well as for capital expenditures, working capital and other general corporate purposes.

This expected use of the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, represents our intentions based upon our current plans and business conditions, which could change in the future as our plans and business conditions evolve. As of the date of this prospectus, we cannot specify with certainty all of the particular uses for the net proceeds to be received upon the closing of this offering or the amounts that we will actually spend on the uses set forth above. Due to uncertainties inherent in the exosome therapeutic development process, it is difficult to estimate the exact amounts of the net proceeds that will be used for any particular purpose. We may use our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments and the future payments, if any, generated from any future collaboration agreements to fund our operations, either of which may alter the amount of net proceeds used for a particular purpose. In addition, the amount, allocation and timing of our actual expenditures will depend upon numerous factors, including the results of our research and development efforts, feedback from the FDA and other regulatory authorities, the timing and success of preclinical studies and clinical trials and the timing of regulatory submissions. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to in-license, acquire or invest in additional businesses, technologies, products or assets, although currently we have no specific agreements, commitments or understandings in this regard. Accordingly, we will have broad discretion in using these proceeds. Pending their uses, we plan to invest the net proceeds of this offering in short- and immediate- term, interest-bearing obligations, investment-grade instruments, certificates of deposit or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government.

The expected net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, will not be sufficient for us to fund any of our engEx product candidates through regulatory approval, and we will need to raise additional capital to complete the development and commercialization of our engEx product candidates. We

 

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expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings and potential collaborations, license and development agreements.

Based on our current plans, we believe our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, together with the net proceeds from this offering, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through             . We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be incorrect, and we could expend our available capital resources at a rate greater than we currently expect.

 

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DIVIDEND POLICY

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock or any other securities. We anticipate that we will retain all available funds and any future earnings, if any, for use in the operation of our business and do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future. In addition, future debt instruments may materially restrict our ability to pay dividends on our common stock. Payment of future cash dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors after taking into account various factors, including our financial condition, operating results, current and anticipated cash needs, the requirements of then-existing debt instruments and other factors our board of directors deems relevant.

 

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CAPITALIZATION

The following table sets forth our cash, cash equivalents and investments and our capitalization as of March 31, 2019:

 

   

on an actual basis;

 

   

on a pro forma basis to give effect to: (i) the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of our redeemable convertible preferred stock into an aggregate of 73,904,074 shares of common stock upon the consummation of this offering, (ii) the vesting of options to purchase 400,000 shares of common stock subject to service-based vesting conditions that accelerate upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense, (iii) the achievement of performance-based vesting conditions with respect to options to purchase 1,222,000 shares of common stock that are subject to both: (a) performance-based vesting conditions that could be satisfied upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense and (b) market conditions and (iv) the filing and effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation upon the completion of this offering; and

 

   

on a pro forma as adjusted basis to give further effect to the issuance and sale of                  shares of our common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

The pro forma as adjusted information below is illustrative only, and our capitalization following the completion of this offering will depend on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

You should read the information in this table together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus, as well as the sections of this prospectus captioned “Selected consolidated financial data” and “Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations.”

 

 

 

     AS OF MARCH 31, 2019  
     ACTUAL     PRO
FORMA
    PRO FORMA
AS ADJUSTED
 
     (In thousands, except share and per share data)  

Cash, cash equivalents and investments

   $ 128,529     $ 128,529     $                    
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Redeemable convertible preferred stock, $0.0001 par value; 74,804,100 shares authorized, 73,904,074 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued or outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted

   $ 204,262     $     $                    
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Stockholders’ (deficit) equity:

      

Preferred stock, $0.0001 par value; no shares authorized, issued or outstanding, actual;                  shares authorized, no shares issued or outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted

              

Common stock, $0.0001 par value; 120,000,000 shares authorized, 23,322,652 shares issued and outstanding, actual;                  shares authorized, 97,226,726 shares issued and outstanding, pro forma; 150,000,000 shares authorized,                  shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted

     2       9    

Additional paid-in capital

           189,287    

Accumulated other comprehensive (loss) income

     21       21    

Accumulated deficit

     (124,237     (109,269  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ (deficit) equity

     (124,214     80,048    
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total capitalization

   $ 80,048     $ 80,048     $    
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the pro forma as adjusted amount of each of cash, cash equivalents and investments, additional paid-in capital, total stockholders’ (deficit) equity and total capitalization by $              million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, an increase (decrease) of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares offered by us in this offering, as set forth of the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the pro forma as adjusted amount of cash, cash equivalents and investments, additional paid-in capital, total stockholders’ (deficit) equity and total capitalization by $              million, assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

The table above is based on shares outstanding as of March 31, 2019 and excludes:

 

   

26,868,597 shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of stock options outstanding as of March 31, 2019 under the 2015 Plan, at a weighted average exercise price of $1.14 per share;

 

   

3,042,819 shares of common stock reserved for future issuance as of March 31, 2019 under the 2015 Plan, any unissued shares of which will cease to be available for issuance upon the completion of this offering;

 

   

            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under the 2019 Stock Option and Incentive Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part; and

 

   

            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under the 2019 Employee Stock Purchase Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part.

 

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DILUTION

If you invest in our common stock in this offering, your ownership interest will be diluted immediately to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share of common stock and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock immediately after this offering.

Our historical net tangible book value (deficit) as of March 31, 2019 was ($126.2) million, or ($5.41) per share of common stock. Our historical net tangible book value (deficit) is the amount of our total tangible assets less our total liabilities and the carrying value of our redeemable convertible preferred stock. Historical net tangible book value (deficit) per share represents historical net tangible book value (deficit) divided by the 23,322,652 shares of common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2019 .

Our pro forma net tangible book value as of March 31, 2019 was $78.1 million, or $0.80 per share of common stock. Pro forma net tangible book value is the amount of our total tangible assets less our total liabilities, after giving effect to: (i) the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of our redeemable convertible preferred stock into an aggregate of 73,904,074 shares of common stock upon the consummation of this offering, (ii) the vesting of options to purchase 400,000 shares of common stock subject to service-based vesting conditions that accelerate upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense and (iii) the achievement of performance-based vesting conditions with respect to options to purchase 1,222,000 shares of common stock that are subject to both: (a) performance-based vesting conditions that could be satisfied upon the consummation of this offering, resulting in the recognition of adjustments to the as-reported stock-based compensation expense and (b) market conditions. Pro forma net tangible book value per share represents pro forma net tangible book value divided by the total number of shares outstanding as of March 31, 2019, after giving effect to the pro forma adjustments described above.

After giving further effect to the sale and issuance of                  shares of our common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of March 31, 2019 would have been $              million, or $        per share. This represents an immediate increase in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of $        to existing stockholders and immediate dilution of $        in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share to new investors participating in this offering. Dilution per share to new investors is determined by subtracting pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering from the assumed initial public offering price per share paid by new investors. The pro forma as adjusted information below is illustrative only and will depend on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

The following table illustrates this dilution on a per share basis to new investors:

 

 

 

Assumed initial public offering price per share

     $                

Historical net tangible book value (deficit) per share as of March 31, 2019

   $ (5.41  

Increase in historical net tangible book value per share attributable to the automatic conversion of all outstanding shares of redeemable convertible preferred stock upon completion of this offering

     6.21    
  

 

 

   

Pro forma net tangible book value per share as of March 31, 2019

     0.80    

Increase in pro forma net tangible book value per share attributable to new investors participating in this offering

    
  

 

 

   

Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering

    
    

 

 

 

Dilution per share to new investors participating in this offering

     $    
    

 

 

 

 

 

A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) our pro forma as adjusted net

 

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tangible book value by $        , or $        per share, and increase (decrease) the dilution per share to investors participating in this offering by $        per share, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. An increase of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value by $        , or $        per share, and decrease the dilution per share to investors participating in this offering by $        per share, assuming that the assumed initial public offering price remains the same, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. A decrease of 1,000,000 shares in the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would decrease our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value by $        , or $        per share, and increase the dilution per share to investors participating in this offering by $        per share, assuming that the assumed initial public offering price remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

If the underwriters exercise their option in full to purchase                  additional shares of common stock in this offering, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering would be $        , representing an immediate increase in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of $        to existing stockholders and immediate dilution in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of $        to investors participating in this offering, assuming an initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

The following table summarizes, on the pro forma as adjusted basis described above as of March 31, 2019, the total number of shares of common stock purchased from us on an as converted to common stock basis, the total consideration paid or to be paid, and the average price per share paid or to be paid by existing stockholders and by investors participating in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, before deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. As the table shows, new investors purchasing common stock in this offering will pay an average price per share substantially higher than our existing stockholders paid.

 

 

 

     SHARES PURCHASED      TOTAL CONSIDERATION      AVERAGE 
PRICE PER 
SHARE 
 
     NUMBER      PERCENTAGE      AMOUNT      PERCENTAGE  
                   (In thousands)                

Existing stockholders

                         %      $                      %      $                

Investors participating in this offering

              
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

Total

        100%      $                      100%      $                
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $        per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the total consideration paid by new investors by $              million and, in the case of an increase, would increase the percentage of total consideration paid by new investors by              percentage points and, in the case of a decrease, would decrease the percentage of total consideration paid by new investors by              percentage points, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same. An increase (decrease) of 1,000,000 in the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the total consideration paid by new investors by $              million and, in the case of an increase, would increase the percentage of total consideration paid by new investors by              percentage points and, in the case of a decrease, would decrease the percentage of total consideration paid by new investors by              percentage points, assuming no change in the assumed initial public offering price per share.

The table assumes no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares in this offering. If the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares is exercised in full, the number of shares of our common stock

 

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held by existing stockholders would be reduced to     % of the total number of shares of our common stock outstanding after this offering, and the number of shares of common stock held by new investors participating in the offering would be increased to     % of the total number of shares outstanding after this offering.

The above discussion and tables are based on shares of common stock issued and outstanding as of March 31, 2019 and excludes:

 

   

26,868,597 shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of stock options outstanding as of March 31, 2019 under the 2015 Plan, at a weighted average exercise price of $1.14 per share;

 

   

3,042,819 shares of common stock reserved for future issuance as of March 31, 2019 under the 2015 Plan, any unissued shares of which will cease to be available for issuance upon the completion of this offering;

 

   

            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under the 2019 Stock Option and Incentive Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part; and

 

   

            shares of our common stock that will become available for future issuance under the 2019 Employee Stock Purchase Plan upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part.

New investors will experience further dilution if new options or warrants are issued under our equity incentive plans or we issue additional shares of common stock, other equity securities or convertible debt securities in the future. In addition, we may choose to raise additional capital because of market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe that we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. If we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, the issuance of these securities could result in further dilution to our stockholders.

 

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SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

We have derived the consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. The consolidated statement of operations data for the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of March 31, 2019 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and have been prepared on the same basis as the audited consolidated financial statements. In the opinion of management, the unaudited data reflects all adjustments, consisting only of normal recurring adjustments, necessary for a fair statement of the financial information in those statements. You should read the following selected consolidated financial data together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and the “Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations” section of this prospectus. The selected consolidated financial data contained in this section are not intended to replace our consolidated financial statements and the related notes. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in any future period and our operating results for the three months ended March 31, 2019 are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for the full year ended December 31, 2019 or any other interim periods or any future year or period.

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31,     THREE MONTHS ENDED MARCH 31,  
     2017     2018     2018     2019  
     (In thousands, except share and per share data)  

Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:

        

Operating expenses:

        

Research and development

   $ 21,320     $ 28,471     $ 7,955     $ 10,187  

Acquired in-process research and development

           8,071              

General and administrative

     6,178       9,898       1,950       3,867  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     27,498       46,440       9,905       14,054  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Loss from operations

     (27,498     (46,440     (9,905     (14,054

Other income:

        

Interest income

     547       1,363       376       428  

Other income (expense), net

           535       (2     316  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total other income, net

     547       1,898       374       744  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (26,951   $ (44,542   $ (9,531   $ (13,310
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Cumulative dividends on redeemable convertible preferred stock

     (8,442     (13,681     (3,372     (3,375
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss attributable to common stockholders

   $ (35,393   $ (58,223   $ (12,903   $ (16,685
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted (1)

   $ (1.88   $ (2.72   $ (0.63   $ (0.72
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted (1)

     18,838,510       21,395,300       20,393,294       23,253,072  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Pro forma net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted (unaudited) (1)

     $ (0.47     $ (0.14
    

 

 

     

 

 

 

Pro forma weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted (unaudited) (1)

       95,231,966         97,144,415  
    

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

(1)    See Note 16 to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus for details on the calculation of basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders and unaudited pro forma basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders.

 

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     AS OF DECEMBER 31,     AS OF MARCH 31,  
     2017     2018     2019  
     (In thousands)  

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

      

Cash, cash equivalents and investments

   $ 127,267     $ 88,864     $ 128,529  

Working capital (1)

     124,092       86,157       122,806  

Total assets

     134,250       97,659       144,000  

Redeemable convertible preferred stock

     189,736       201,023       204,262  

Accumulated deficit

     (60,422     (108,984     (124,237

Total stockholders’ deficit

     (60,420     (108,991     (124,214

 

 

(1)    We define working capital as current assets less current liabilities. See our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus for further details regarding our current assets and current liabilities.

 

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

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with the “Selected consolidated financial data” section of this prospectus and our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this prospectus, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business and related financing, includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. As a result of many factors, including those factors set forth in the “Risk factors” section of this prospectus, our actual results could differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis.

Overview

Codiak BioSciences is harnessing exosomes—natural intercellular messengers—to pioneer a new class of biologic medicines, exosome therapeutics. Exosomes are vesicles released and taken up by all cells and convey and protect complex biologically active molecules that can alter the function of recipient cells. Since exosomes are inherently non-immunogenic, we believe exosomes are an ideal solution for developing a broad spectrum of allogeneic therapies. We have developed the engEx Platform, our proprietary and versatile exosome engineering and manufacturing platform, to expand upon the innate properties of exosomes to design novel exosome therapeutics. We believe our engEx Platform has the potential to produce a broad pipeline of product candidates that will have a transformative impact on the treatment of a broad spectrum of diseases with high unmet medical need, including in the areas of oncology, immune-based diseases, metabolic and fibrotic disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and rare diseases. Our intention is to exploit this broad potential through our own efforts as well as in collaboration with strategic partners. We are focused initially on targeting immune cells with our first product candidates generated from our engEx Platform, or engEx product candidates, which are currently in preclinical development. We plan to advance our first two engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, into clinical development in 2020.

We were incorporated and commenced operations in 2015. Since inception, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to developing our engEx Platform, our engEx product candidates and engEx exosomes, preclinical candidates, building our intellectual property portfolio, process development and manufacturing function, business planning, raising capital and providing general and administrative support for these operations. To date, we have financed our operations primarily with proceeds from sales of our redeemable convertible preferred stock and our collaboration with Jazz Pharmaceuticals Ireland Limited, or Jazz, which is described below. We have raised an aggregate of $168.2 million through the issuance of our redeemable convertible preferred stock and convertible debt, net of issuance costs, and $56.0 million as an upfront payment from Jazz pursuant to the collaboration agreement.

We are a research and development stage company and we have not generated any revenue from product sales, and do not expect to do so for several years, if at all. All of our product candidates are still in preclinical development. Our ability to generate product revenue sufficient to achieve profitability will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of one or more of our product candidates. Since our inception, we have incurred significant operating losses, including net losses of $27.0 million and $44.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, respectively, and $13.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2019. As of March 31, 2019, we had an accumulated deficit of $124.2 million. We expect to incur substantial additional losses in the future as we expand our research and development activities. We anticipate that our expenses will increase significantly in connection with our ongoing activities, as we:

 

   

advance our engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, into IND-enabling studies and, if successful, clinical trials;

 

   

advance other engEx discovery programs through preclinical development and into clinical trials;

 

   

further invest in our engEx Platform to expand breadth of the exosome therapeutics we may develop;

 

   

further invest in our infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities, including the construction of our Phase 1/2 clinical manufacturing facility;

 

   

seek regulatory approval for current and future product candidates;

 

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maintain, expand, protect and defend our intellectual property portfolio;

 

   

acquire or in-license technology;

 

   

increase our headcount to support our development efforts and to expand our clinical development team; and

 

   

incur additional costs and headcount associated with operating as a public company upon the completion of this offering.

In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our engEx product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution.

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

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

As of March 31, 2019, we had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $128.5 million. We believe that the anticipated net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments as of March 31, 2019, will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through             . We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could exhaust our available capital resources sooner than we expect. See ‘‘—Liquidity and capital resources.’’

Without giving effect to the anticipated net proceeds from this offering, we expect that our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments as of March 31, 2019 will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements for at least the next twelve months from the date of this prospectus.

Financial operations overview

Revenue

We have not generated any revenue from product sales and do not expect to generate any revenue from the sale of products for several years, if at all. If our development efforts for our current or future engEx product candidates are successful and result in marketing approval or additional collaboration or license agreements with third parties, we may generate revenue in the future from a combination of product sales or payments from additional collaboration or license agreements that we may have entered into or may enter into with third parties. In January 2019, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Jazz, pursuant to which we granted Jazz an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-bearing license to use our engEx precision exosome engineering and manufacturing platform for the purposes of developing, manufacturing and commercializing exosome therapeutic candidates directed at up to five targets. For the foreseeable future, we expect substantially all of our revenue to be generated from our collaboration and license agreement with Jazz and any other collaboration and license agreements we may enter into. During the three months ended March 31, 2019, we did not recognize any revenue related to our arrangement with Jazz as we had not commenced substantial work as of March 31, 2019. We recorded $56.0 million as a deferred revenue as of March 31, 2019. We expect to commence revenue recognition during the quarter ended June 30, 2019.

Research and development expense

The nature of our business and primary focus of our activities generate a significant amount of research and development costs. Research and development expenses represent costs incurred by us for the following:

 

   

costs to develop our engEx Platform;

 

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discovery efforts leading to engEx product candidates;

 

   

preclinical development costs for our programs; and

 

   

costs to develop our manufacturing technology and infrastructure.

The costs above comprise the following categories:

 

   

personnel-related expenses, including salaries, benefits and stock-based compensation expense;

 

   

expenses incurred under agreements with third parties, such as contract research organizations, or CROs, that conduct our preclinical studies;

 

   

licensing costs;

 

   

costs of acquiring, developing, and manufacturing materials for preclinical studies, including both internal manufacturing and third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs;

 

   

costs of outside consultants and advisors, including their fees, stock-based compensation and related travel expenses;

 

   

expenses incurred for the procurement of materials, laboratory supplies and non-capital equipment used in the research and development process; and

 

   

facilities, depreciation, amortization and other direct and allocated expenses incurred as a result of research and development activities.

Our primary focus of research and development since inception has been the development of our engEx Platform and our pipeline. Given the early-stage nature of our development programs, our direct research and development expenses are not tracked on a program-by-program basis. Our research and development costs consist primarily of external costs, such as fees paid to CMOs, CROs and consultants in connection with our preclinical studies and experiments. We do not allocate employee-related costs and other costs to specific research and development programs because these costs are used across all programs under development. We plan to track external research and development costs for any individual product candidate when we advance that product candidate into clinical trials.

The following table reflects our research and development expenses for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 and the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019:

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED
DECEMBER 31,
     THREE MONTHS
ENDED MARCH 31,
 
     2017      2018      2018      2019  
     (In thousands)  

engEx Platform

   $ 9,721      $ 12,015      $ 3,521      $ 5,540  

Personnel-related (including stock-based compensation)

     8,356        12,598        3,506        3,520  

Other research and development expenses

     3,243        3,858        928        1,127  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total research and development expenses

   $ 21,320      $ 28,471      $ 7,955      $ 10,187  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development activities are central to our business model. Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. We expect that our research and development expenses will continue to increase in the foreseeable future as we initiate clinical trials for our engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, continue to discover and develop additional engEx product candidates, build manufacturing capabilities, enhance our engEx Platform, expand into additional therapeutic areas and incur expenses associated with hiring additional personnel to support our research and development efforts.

At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate or know the nature, timing and estimated costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the development of, and obtain regulatory approval for, any of our product candidates. We are also unable to predict when, if ever, material net cash inflows will commence from sales or licensing of our engEx

 

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product candidates. This is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with drug development, including the uncertainty of:

 

   

our ability to add and retain key research and development personnel;

 

   

our ability to establish an appropriate safety profile with IND-enabling toxicology and other preclinical studies;

 

   

our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize, our engEx product candidates;

 

   

our successful enrollment in and completion of clinical trials, including our ability to generate positive data from any such clinical trials;

 

   

the costs associated with the development of any additional development programs we identify in-house or acquire through collaborations;

 

   

our ability to discover, develop and utilize biomarkers to demonstrate target engagement, pathway engagement and the impact on disease progression, as applicable, of our product candidates;

 

   

our ability to establish and maintain agreements with third-party manufacturers for clinical supply for our clinical trials and commercial manufacturing, if our engEx product candidates are approved;

 

   

our ability to maintain our collaboration agreement with Jazz and earn milestone payments thereunder;

 

   

the terms and timing of any additional collaboration, license or other arrangement, including the terms and timing of any milestone payments thereunder;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain patent, trade secret and other intellectual property protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates if and when approved;

 

   

our receipt of marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities; and

 

   

the continued acceptable safety profiles of any engEx product following approval.

A change in any of these variables with respect to the development of any of our product candidates would significantly change the costs, timing and viability associated with the development of that product candidate.

Acquired in-process research and development expense

Acquired in-process research and development expenses consist of costs to acquire assets under in-licensing arrangements, which do not have an alternative future use or otherwise qualify for capitalization, for use in the development of our engEx Platform and related product candidates.

General and administrative expense

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and other related costs, including stock-based compensation, for personnel in our executive, finance, business development and administrative functions. General and administrative expenses also include legal fees relating to patent and corporate matters; professional fees for accounting, auditing, tax and administrative consulting services; insurance costs; administrative travel expenses; and facility-related expenses, which include direct depreciation costs and allocated expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities and other operating costs. These costs relate to the operation of the business, unrelated to the research and development function, or any individual program.

We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses will increase in the future as we increase our headcount to support the expected growth in our research and development activities and the potential commercialization of our product candidates, if approved. We also expect to incur increased expenses associated with being a public company, including increased costs of accounting, audit, legal, regulatory and tax-related services associated with maintaining compliance with exchange listing and SEC requirements, director and officer insurance costs and investor and public relations costs. We also expect to incur additional intellectual property-related expenses as we file patent applications to protect innovations arising from our research and development activities.

Interest income

Interest income consists of interest income earned from our cash, cash equivalents and investments.

Other income (expense), net

Other income (expense), net primarily consists of the amortization of purchased premiums and discounts associated with our investments.

 

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Income taxes

Since our inception in 2015, we have not recorded any U.S. federal or state income tax benefits for the net losses we have incurred in each year or our earned research and development tax credits, due to our uncertainty of realizing a benefit from those items. As of December 31, 2018, we had federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of $67.4 million and $68.2 million, respectively, which may be available to offset future taxable income. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we generated a federal net operating loss of $31.0 million which has an indefinite carryforward period. The remaining $36.4 million of federal net operating loss carryforwards and our state net operating loss carryforwards would begin to expire in 2035. As of December 31, 2018, we also had federal and state research and development tax credit carryforwards of $2.9 million and $1.4 million, respectively, which may be available to offset future income tax liabilities and which would begin to expire in 2035 and 2031, respectively.

Results of operations

The following table summarizes our consolidated statements of operations for each period presented:

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED
DECEMBER 31,
    THREE MONTHS
ENDED MARCH 31,
 
     2017     2018     2018     2019  
     (In thousands)  

Operating expenses:

        

Research and development

   $ 21,320     $ 28,471     $ 7,955     $ 10,187  

Acquired in-process research and development

           8,071              

General and administrative

     6,178       9,898       1,950       3,867  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     27,498       46,440       9,905       14,054  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Loss from operations

     (27,498     (46,440     (9,905     (14,054

Other income:

        

Interest income

     547       1,363       376       428  

Other income (expense), net

           535       (2     316  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total other income, net

     547       1,898       374       744  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (26,951   $ (44,542   $ (9,531   $ (13,310
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Comparison of the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019

Research and development expense

The following table summarizes our research and development expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019, along with the changes in those items (in thousands):

 

 

 

     THREE MONTHS
ENDED MARCH 31,
     CHANGE  
     2018      2019      $  

engEx Platform

   $ 3,521      $ 5,540      $ 2,019  

Personnel-related (including stock-based compensation)

     3,506        3,520        14  

Other research and development expenses

     928        1,127        199  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total research and development expenses

   $ 7,955      $ 10,187      $ 2,232  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development expenses increased $2.2 million from $8.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2018 to $10.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2019.

 

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The increase in research and development expenses was primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$2.0 million increase in expenses incurred to advance our engEx Platform, driven primarily by increases of $0.5 million in laboratory expenses, $0.4 million in preclinical study expenses and $1.1 million in manufacturing costs;

 

   

personnel-related costs remained consistent due to a $1.0 million increase in expenses driven by an increase in head count, offset by a $1.0 million decrease in stock-based compensation expense; and

 

   

$0.2 million increase in other research and development costs, including rent, depreciation and other miscellaneous costs.

Acquired in-process research and development expense

We did not incur acquired in-process research and development expenses during the three months ended March 31, 2018 or 2019.

General and administrative expense

The following table summarizes our general and administrative expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019, along with the changes in those items (in thousands):

 

 

 

     THREE MONTHS
ENDED MARCH 31,
     CHANGE  
     2018      2019      $  

Personnel-related (including stock-based compensation)

   $ 1,110      $ 2,327      $ 1,217  

Professional fees

     520        884        364  

Facility-related and other general and administrative expenses

     320        656        336  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total general and administrative expenses

   $ 1,950      $ 3,867      $ 1,917  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

General and administrative expenses increased $1.9 million from $2.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2018 to $3.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2019.

The increase in general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$1.2 million increase in personnel-related costs due to increased headcount, including a $0.3 million increase in stock-based compensation;

 

   

$0.4 million increase in professional fees, driven primarily by increases in legal and accounting services; and

 

   

$0.3 million increase in facility-related and other costs, driven primarily by increases in office-related expenses, business taxes and other general business expenses.

Interest income

Interest income for each of the three months ended March 31, 2018 and 2019 was $0.4 million.

Other income (expense), net

Other expense, net for the three months ended March 31, 2018 was less than $0.1 million. Other income, net for the three months ended March 31, 2019 was $0.3 million. The increase was primarily attributable to the amortization of purchased premiums and discounts associated with our investments.

 

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Comparison of the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018

Research and development expense

The following table summarizes our research and development expenses for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, along with the changes in those items (in thousands):

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED
DECEMBER 31,
     CHANGE  
     2017      2018      $  

engEx Platform

   $ 9,721      $ 12,015      $ 2,294  

Personnel-related (including stock-based compensation)

     8,356        12,598        4,242  

Other research and development expenses

     3,243        3,858        615  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total research and development expenses

   $ 21,320      $ 28,471      $ 7,151  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development expenses increased $7.2 million from $21.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 to $28.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.

The increase in research and development expenses was primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$4.2 million increase in personnel-related costs due to increased headcount, including $2.3 million for increased stock-based compensation expense;

 

   

$2.3 million increase in expenses incurred to advance our engEx Platform, driven primarily by increases of $1.7 million in laboratory expenses and $1.0 million in preclinical study expenses, offset in part by a $0.4 million decrease in manufacturing costs; and

 

   

$0.6 million increase in other research and development costs, including rent, depreciation and other miscellaneous costs.

Acquired in-process research and development expense

On November 6, 2018, we entered into a License Agreement with Kayla Therapeutics S.A.S., or Kayla, pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, sublicensable license under certain patent rights and to related know-how and methods to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize compounds and products covered by such patent rights in all diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic uses, or the Kayla License Agreement. In consideration for entering into the Kayla License Agreement, we paid an up-front payment consisting of $6.5 million in cash and issued 924,068 shares of common stock. We recorded an aggregate of $8.1 million to acquired in-process research and development expense during the year ended December 31, 2018 comprised of: (i) $6.5 million related to the cash payment and (ii) $1.6 million related to the issuance of our common stock based on the fair value of our common stock at the effective date of the agreement. We did not incur acquired in-process research and development expenses during the year ended December 31, 2017.

General and administrative expense

The following table summarizes our general and administrative expenses for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, along with the changes in those items (in thousands):

 

 

 

     Year ended
December 31,
     Change  
     2017      2018      $  

Personnel-related (including stock-based compensation)

   $ 3,331      $ 5,141      $ 1,810  

Professional fees

     1,437        3,069        1,632  

Facility-related and other general and administrative expenses

     1,410        1,688        278  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total general and administrative expenses

   $ 6,178      $ 9,898      $ 3,720  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

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General and administrative expenses increased $3.7 million from $6.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 to $9.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.

The increase in general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$1.8 million increase in personnel-related costs due to increased headcount, including $0.8 million in stock-based compensation;

 

   

$1.6 million increase in professional fees, driven primarily by increases in legal and accounting services; and

 

   

$0.3 million increase in facility-related and other costs, driven primarily by increases in office-related expenses, business taxes and other general business expenses.

Interest income

Interest income for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 was $0.5 million and $1.4 million, respectively. The increase in interest income was driven by returns on higher average cash balances.

Other income (expense), net

Other income, net for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $0.5 million. No other income (expense), net was recognized for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to the amortization of purchased premiums and discounts associated with our investments.

Liquidity and capital resources

Sources of liquidity

Since our inception, we have incurred significant losses in each period and on an aggregate basis. We have not yet commercialized any of our engEx product candidates, which are in various phases of preclinical development, and we do not expect to generate revenue from sales of any products for several years, if at all. We have funded our operations through March 31, 2019 with aggregate net proceeds of $168.2 million from sales of our redeemable convertible preferred stock and convertible debt, and the $56.0 million received from Jazz in conjunction with our collaboration and license agreement. As of March 31, 2019, we had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $128.5 million.

Historical cash flows

The following table provides information regarding our cash flows for each of the periods presented:

 

 

 

     YEAR ENDED
DECEMBER 31,
    THREE MONTHS
ENDED MARCH 31,
 
   2017     2018     2018     2019  
     (In thousands)  

Net cash provided by (used in):

        

Operating activities

   $ (23,879   $ (30,573   $ (8,178   $ 45,207  

Investing activities

     (2,945     (78,543     (634     (1,785

Financing activities

     76,362       (58           (824
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net increase (decrease) in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

   $ 49,538     $ (109,174   $ (8,812   $ 42,598  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

The cash used in operating activities resulted primarily from our net losses adjusted for non-cash charges and changes in components of working capital, which are primarily the result of increased prepaid expenses and timing of vendor payments and accruals.

During the year ended December 31, 2017, operating activities used $23.9 million of cash, primarily due to a net loss of $27.0 million, partially offset by non-cash charges of $2.3 million for stock-based compensation, $1.4 million for depreciation and $0.3 million for redeemable convertible preferred stock earned in connection with

 

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our Sponsored Research Agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, or MDACC, as amended, or the SRA. Additionally, changes in our operating assets and liabilities consisted of a $0.8 million decrease in accrued expenses and other liabilities and an increase of $0.3 million in prepaid expenses and other current assets, offset by a $0.3 million increase in accounts payable. The net change in our prepaid expenses, accounts payable and accrued expenses was due to the timing of payments.

During the year ended December 31, 2018, operating activities used $30.6 million of cash, primarily due to a net loss of $44.5 million, partially offset by $8.1 million for the acquisition of in-process research and development in connection with our in-licensing agreement with Kayla, which is classified as an investing activity, and non-cash charges including $5.4 million for stock-based compensation, $1.7 million for depreciation and $0.3 million for redeemable convertible preferred stock earned in connection with the SRA; these non-cash charges were offset by $0.6 million for accretion on investments. Additionally, changes in our operating assets and liabilities primarily consisted of a $1.5 million increase in prepaid expenses and other current assets and an offsetting $0.6 million net increase in accrued expenses, accounts payable and other liabilities. The increase in our prepaid expenses and other current assets was due primarily to deposits made on planned manufacturing activities. The offsetting net increase in accrued expenses, accounts payable and other liabilities was due to an increase in payroll-related costs and an increase in amounts for external services in connection with preclinical activities.

During the three months ended March 31, 2018, operating activities used $8.2 million of cash, primarily due to a net loss of $9.5 million, partially offset by non-cash charges of $1.7 million for stock-based compensation, $0.4 million for depreciation, and $0.1 million for redeemable convertible preferred stock earned in connection with the SRA. Additionally, changes in our operating assets and liabilities consisted of a $0.8 million decrease in accounts payable and a $0.3 million increase in prepaid expenses and other current assets, partially offset by a $0.4 million increase in accrued expenses and other liabilities. The net change in our prepaid expenses, accounts payable and accrued expenses was due to the timing of payments.

During the three months ended March 31, 2019, operating activities provided $45.2 million of cash, consisting of a net loss of $13.3 million less non-cash charges of $1.2 million, plus a net change in operating assets and liabilities of $57.3 million. Non-cash charges consisted of $1.0 million for stock-based compensation, $0.5 million for depreciation and $0.1 million for redeemable convertible preferred stock earned in connection with the SRA, partially offset by $0.3 million for accretion of investments. Additionally, changes in our operating assets and liabilities consisted of a $56.0 million increase in deferred collaboration revenue and a $2.1 million increase in accounts payable, partially offset by a $0.5 million decrease in accrued expenses and other liabilities and an increase of $0.3 million in prepaid expenses and other current assets. The net change in our prepaid expenses, accounts payable and accrued expenses was due to the timing of payments. The change in our deferred collaboration revenue was due to proceeds from our collaboration and license agreement with Jazz.

Investing activities

During the year ended December 31, 2017, net cash used in investing activities was $2.9 million, consisting of purchases of property and equipment. During the year ended December 31, 2018, net cash used in investing activities of $78.5 million was primarily related to purchases of investments of $97.2 million using the net proceeds from the issuance of our redeemable convertible preferred stock, offset by maturities of investments of $27.0 million, cash payments for purchases of in-process research and development of $6.5 million in connection with our in-licensing agreement with Kayla and $1.8 million in purchases of property and equipment.

During the three months ended March 31, 2018, net cash used in investing activities was $0.6 million, consisting of purchases of property and equipment. During the three months ended March 31, 2019, net cash used in investing activities was $1.8 million, consisting of $0.9 million of purchases of property and equipment and $58.9 million of purchases of short-term investments, partially offset by $58.0 million of maturities of short-term investments.

Financing activities

Net cash provided by financing activities was $76.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, consisting of net proceeds from the issuance of our redeemable convertible preferred stock. During the year ended December 31,

 

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2018, net cash used in financing activities was less than $0.1 million, primarily related to payments made for costs incurred in connection with our initial public offering.

There were no cash flows from financing activities for the three months ended March 31, 2018. For the three months ended March 31, 2019, net cash used in financing activities was $0.8 million, consisting of $1.0 million of payments made for costs incurred in connection with our initial public offering, offset by $0.2 million of proceeds from the exercise of stock options.

Plan of operation and future funding requirements

We expect our expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing research and development activities, particularly as we advance the preclinical activities and initiate the clinical trials of our product candidates. In addition, upon the completion of this offering, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. As a result, we expect to incur substantial operating losses and negative operating cash flows in the foreseeable future.

Based on our current operating plan, we expect that the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through             . However, we have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong and we could exhaust our capital resources sooner than we expect.

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the development of our engEx Platform, exoSTING, exoIL-12 and other engEx development programs, and because the extent to which we may receive payments under our existing collaboration agreements or enter into collaborations with third parties for development of our product candidates is unknown, we may incorrectly estimate the timing and amounts of increased capital outlays and operating expenses associated with completing the research and development of our product candidates. Our funding requirements and timing and amount of our operating expenditures will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

   

the rate of progress in the development of our engEx Platform, engEx product candidates and development programs;

 

   

the scope, progress, results and costs of preclinical studies and clinical trials for any other engEx potential product candidates and development programs;

 

   

the number and characteristics of programs and technologies that we develop or may in-license;

 

   

the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

   

the costs necessary to obtain regulatory approvals, if any, for any approved products in the United States and other jurisdictions, and the costs of post-marketing studies that could be required by regulatory authorities in jurisdictions where approval is obtained;

 

   

the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;

 

   

the continuation of our existing strategic collaborations and licensing arrangements and entry into new collaborations and licensing arrangements;

 

   

the costs we incur in maintaining business operations;

 

   

the costs associated with being a public company;

 

   

the revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of our engEx product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

   

the effect of competing technological and market developments; and

 

   

the extent to which we acquire or invest in businesses, products and technologies, including entering into licensing or collaboration arrangements for product candidates.

Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials is a time consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve product sales. In addition, our engEx product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenues, if any, will be derived from sales of

 

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products that we do not expect to be commercially available for many years, if ever. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funds to achieve our business objectives.

Adequate additional funds may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. We do not currently have any committed external source of funds. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a common stockholder. Additional debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends and may require the issuance of warrants, which could potentially dilute your ownership interest.

If we raise additional funds through strategic collaborations or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs, or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings when needed, we may be required to delay, limit or terminate our product development programs or any future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market product candidates to third parties that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.

Contractual obligations

The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2018 and the effects that such obligations are expected to have on our liquidity and cash flows in future periods (in thousands):

 

 

 

     Payments due by period  
     Total      Less than
1 year
     1 to 3
years
     3 to 5
years
     More than
5 years
 

Operating lease commitments (1)(3)(4)

   $ 4,740      $ 1,541      $ 3,199      $      $  

Research agreement obligations (2)

     3,256        1,563        1,693                
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 7,996      $ 3,104      $ 4,892      $      $  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

(1)    We lease building space at 500 Technology Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our lease will expire in December 2021 with an option to extend the term for a period of 5 years at market-based rent. The amounts in the table above represent the fixed contractual lease obligations, and do not include the optional extension.

 

(2)    Under our SRA we are obligated to pay fixed quarterly payments to MDACC for each year of operation ending in February 2021. The amounts in the table above represent these fixed payments and related overhead charges of 25% of each fixed quarterly payment in the period in which they are due and do not include non-cash fixed quarterly payments payable in the form of our Series B redeemable convertible preferred stock for the duration of the agreement. Under our SRA, we can terminate for convenience subject to certain trailing obligations.

 

(3)    On March 5, 2019, we entered into a non-cancelable property lease for 18,707 square feet of manufacturing space in Lexington, Massachusetts. The lease term is expected to commence in July 2019 and end in December 2029. We have the option to extend the lease twice, each for a five-year period, at market-based rent. We intend to fully occupy the space in early 2020. Future minimum lease payments, excluding operating expenses and real estate taxes, which begin in January 2020, are expected to be approximately $0.9 million in each of 2020, 2021 and 2022, $1.0 million in 2023, and $6.4 million thereafter. The landlord will contribute a total of up to $1.3 million toward the cost of tenant improvements. We were required to provide a $0.4 million security deposit, which we provided in the form of a letter of credit in the favor of the landlord. These amounts are excluded from the table above.

 

(4)    On March 22, 2019, we entered into a non-cancelable property lease for 68,258 square feet of office and laboratory space in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The lease term commenced upon execution of the lease by both parties on March 26, 2019 and is expected to end in November 2029. We have the option to extend the lease once for a 10-year period at market-based rent. We intend to occupy the space in early 2020 as our new corporate headquarters. Future minimum lease payments, excluding operating expenses and real estate taxes, which begin in November 2019, are expected to be approximately $0.5 million in 2019, $4.9 million in 2020, $5.0 million in 2021, $5.2 million in 2022, $5.3 million in 2023, and $35.1 million thereafter. The landlord will contribute a total of up to $12.3 million toward the cost of tenant improvements. We were required to provide a $3.7 million security deposit, which we provided in the form of a letter of credit in the favor of the landlord. These amounts are excluded from the table above.

We have a license agreement with MDACC under which, pursuant to certain exclusive license rights to exosome technology granted to us, we are obligated to pay milestone payments upon the achievement of development, regulatory and commercial milestones and the execution of sublicenses for qualifying products. We do not include

 

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these variable and contingent payments in the table above as they are not fixed and estimable. MDACC is eligible to receive, on a product-by-product basis, milestone payments upon the achievement of development, regulatory and commercial milestones totaling up to $2.4 million for diagnostic products and up to $9.5 million for therapeutic products. Under this agreement, we may also be obligated to pay royalty payments on commercial products, on a product-by-product basis. Furthermore, we are obligated to make a one-time payment to MDACC of an amount ranging from $20.0 million to $150.0 million, if by November 12, 2019, we are acquired or we close an equity financing, which includes this offering, and the price per share in such acquisition or equity financing (defined as the average of the closing sale prices for our common stock for the 30 consecutive trading days immediately preceding the closing), is equal to or in excess of the agreed upon price triggers equating to company valuations of approximately $1.4 billion to $5.8 billion. We may elect, at our sole discretion, to make such payments in cash or by the issuance of our common stock. Further, all amounts paid to MDACC for royalties, milestones, and sublicensing consideration will be credited against any such payments that become due. Due to the variable and contingent nature of these payments, they are excluded from the table above. We may terminate the license for convenience upon 180 days prior written notice to MDACC. The license automatically terminates upon our bankruptcy, if we challenge the validity or enforceability of any of the licensed patent rights, or our failure to make a number of payments in a timely manner over a specified period of time. Additionally, MDACC may terminate the license for our breach subject to certain specified cure periods.

In November 2018, we entered into a license agreement with Kayla, pursuant to which we obtained a worldwide, sublicensable license under certain patent rights and to related know-how and methods to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize compounds and products covered by such patent rights in all diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic uses. Such license rights include certain exclusive rights to the STING agonist compound in our exoSTING product candidate. We paid Kayla an up-front payment consisting of $6.5 million in cash and issued 924,068 shares of common stock with a fair market value of $1.6 million. Under the terms of the agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop and commercialize products under the licensed patent rights, and are obligated to pay up to $100.0 million in cash payments and up to $13.0 million payable in shares of our common stock upon the achievement of specified clinical and regulatory milestones. Additionally, we may be obligated to pay a percentage of sublicensee payments, as applicable, and royalty payments on net sales from a licensed product. The royalty term is determined on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis and continues until the later of (i) the expiration of the last valid claim of the licensed patent rights that covers such product in such country, (ii) the loss or expiration of any period of marketing exclusivity for such product in such country, or (iii) ten years after the first commercial sale of such product in such country; provided that if the royalty is payable when no valid claim covers a given product in a given country, the royalty rate for sales of such product in such country is decreased. We do not include these variable and contingent payments in the table above as they are not fixed and estimable. We may terminate the license agreement on a licensed compound-by-licensed compound basis and on a region-by region basis for any reason upon 30 days prior written notice to Kayla. We or Kayla may terminate the license agreement for the other’s material breach that remains uncured for 60 days after receiving notice thereof.

We have agreements with certain vendors for various services, including services related to preclinical operations and support, for which we are not contractually able to terminate for convenience and avoid any and all future obligations to the vendors. Certain agreements provide for termination rights subject to termination fees or wind down costs. Under such agreements, we are contractually obligated to make certain payments to vendors, mainly, to reimburse them for their unrecoverable outlays incurred prior to cancellation. The exact amounts of such obligations are dependent on the timing of termination, and the exact terms of the relevant agreement and cannot be reasonably estimated.

Off-balance sheet arrangements

We did not have during the periods presented, and we do not currently have, any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC.

Critical accounting policies and significant judgments and estimates

Our management’s discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based on our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting

 

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principles in the United States, or GAAP. The preparation of these consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the consolidated financial statements, as well as the reported expenses incurred during the reporting periods. Our estimates are based on our historical experience and on various other factors that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying value of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

While our significant accounting policies are described in more detail in the notes to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus, we believe the following accounting policies used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements require the most significant judgments and estimates.

Revenue recognition

To date, we have entered into a collaboration and license arrangement with Jazz for the research, development and commercialization of product candidates, from which we expect to generate revenue in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the contract with our customer includes promises related to licenses of intellectual property, research and development services and options to purchase additional goods and/or services. We recognize revenue in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606). The core principle of ASC 606 is that an entity should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods and/or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods and/or services. To determine the appropriate amount of revenue to be recognized, we perform the following steps: (i) identify the contract(s) with the customer, (ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract, (iii) determine the transaction price, (iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract and (v) recognize revenue when (or as) each performance obligation is satisfied.

Pursuant to the guidance in ASC 606, we account for a contract with a customer that is within the scope of ASC 606 when all of the following criteria are met: (i) the arrangement has been approved by the parties and the parties are committed to perform their respective obligations, (ii) each party’s rights regarding the goods and/or services to be transferred can be identified, (iii) the payment terms for the goods and/or services to be transferred can be identified, (iv) the arrangement has commercial substance and (v) collection of substantially all of the consideration to which we will be entitled in exchange for the goods and/or services that will be transferred to the customer is probable.

We assess the goods and/or services promised within the contract which contains multiple promises to evaluate which promises are distinct. Promises are considered to be distinct and therefore, accounted for as separate performance obligations, provided that: (i) the customer can benefit from the good or service either on its own or together with other resources that are readily available to the customer and (ii) the promise to transfer the good or service to the customer is separately identifiable from other promises in the contract. We determine that a customer can benefit from a good or service if it could be used, consumed, sold for an amount that is greater than scrap value, or otherwise held in a way that generates economic benefits. Factors that are considered in determining whether or not two or more promises are not separately identifiable include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) we provide a significant service of integrating goods and/or services with other goods and/or services promised in the contract, (ii) one or more of the goods and/or services significantly modifies or customizes, or are significantly modified or customized by, one or more of the other goods and/or services promised in the contract and (iii) the goods and/or services are highly interdependent or highly interrelated. Individual goods or services (or bundles of goods and/or services) that meet both criteria for being distinct are accounted for as separate performance obligations. Promises that are not distinct at contract inception are combined into a single performance obligation. Options to acquire additional goods and/or services are evaluated to determine if such option provides a material right to the customer that it would not have received without entering into the contract. If so, the option is accounted for as a separate performance obligation. If not, the option is considered a marketing offer which would be accounted for as a separate contract upon the customer’s election.

The terms of our collaboration arrangement include the payment of one or more of the following: (i) non-refundable, up-front fees, (ii) development cost reimbursements, (iii) development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, (iv) royalties on net sales of licensed products and (v) profit share for co-commercialized products. The

 

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transaction price generally comprises a fixed fee due at contract inception, but there is possible variable consideration in the form of cost reimbursements and milestone payments due upon the achievement of specified events. Additionally, we may earn sales milestones, tiered royalties earned when the licensee recognizes net sales of licensed products and potentially profit share related to co-commercialized products. We measure the transaction price based on the amount of consideration to which we expect to be entitled in exchange for transferring the promised goods and/or services to the customer. We utilize either the expected value method or the most likely amount method to estimate the amount of variable consideration, depending on which method is expected to better predict the amount of consideration to which we will be entitled. Amounts of variable consideration are included in the transaction price to the extent that it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the variable consideration is subsequently resolved. With respect to development and regulatory milestone payments, at the inception of the arrangement, we evaluate whether the associated event is considered probable of achievement and estimate the amount to be included in the transaction price using the most likely amount method. As part of the evaluation for development milestone payments, we consider several factors, including the stage of development of the targets included in the arrangement, the risk associated with the remaining development work required to achieve the milestone and whether or not the achievement of the milestone is within our control. Milestone payments that are not within our control or the control of the licensee, such as those dependent upon receipt of regulatory approval, are not considered to be probable of achievement until the triggering event occurs. With respect to sales-based royalties and profit share payments, including milestone payments based upon the achievement of a certain level of product sales, wherein the license is deemed to be the sole or predominant item to which the payments relate, we recognize revenue upon the later of: (i) when the related sales occur or (ii) when the performance obligation to which some or all of the payment has been allocated has been satisfied (or partially satisfied). To date, we have not recognized any development cost reimbursements, development, regulatory or commercial milestones, royalty or profit share revenue resulting from our collaboration arrangement. We considered the existence of a significant financing component in our arrangement and have determined that a significant financing component does not exist, as a substantive business purpose exists to support the payment structure other than to provide a significant benefit of financing. We update our assessment of the estimated transaction price, including the constraint on variable consideration, at the end of each reporting period and as uncertain events are resolved or other changes in circumstances occur. Any adjustments to the transaction price are recorded on a cumulative catch-up basis, which would affect revenue and net loss in the period of adjustment.

We generally allocate the transaction price to each performance obligation identified in the contract on a relative standalone selling price basis. However, certain components of variable consideration are allocated specifically to one or more particular performance obligations to the extent both of the following criteria are met: (i) the terms of the payment relate specifically to the efforts to satisfy the performance obligation or transfer the distinct good or service and (ii) allocating the variable amount of consideration entirely to the performance obligation or the distinct good or service is consistent with the allocation objective of the standard whereby the amount allocated depicts the amount of consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for transferring the promised goods or services. We develop assumptions that require judgment to determine the standalone selling price for each performance obligation identified in the contract. The key assumptions utilized in determining the standalone selling price for each performance obligation include forecasted revenues, development timelines, estimated research and development costs, discount rates, likelihood of exercise and probabilities of technical and regulatory success.

Revenue is recognized based on the amount of the transaction price that is allocated to each respective performance obligation when or as the performance obligation is satisfied by transferring a promised good and/or service to the customer. For performance obligations that are satisfied at a point in time, we recognize revenue when control of the goods and/or services is transferred to the customer. For performance obligations that are satisfied over time, we recognize revenue by measuring the progress toward complete satisfaction of the performance obligation using a single method of measuring progress which depicts the performance in transferring control of the associated goods and/or services to the customer. We generally use input methods to measure the progress toward the complete satisfaction of performance obligations satisfied over time. With respect to promises related to licenses to intellectual property that is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in the arrangement, we recognize revenue from amounts allocated to the license when the license is transferred to the licensee and the licensee is able to use and benefit from the license. For licenses that are bundled with other

 

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promises, we utilize judgment to assess the nature of the combined performance obligation to determine whether the combined performance obligation is satisfied over time or at a point in time and, if over time, the appropriate method of measuring progress for purposes of recognizing revenue. We evaluate the measure of progress each reporting period and, if necessary, adjust the measure of performance and related revenue recognition. Any such adjustments are recorded on a cumulative catch-up basis, which would affect revenue and net loss in the period of adjustment.

Research and development expenses and related accruals

Research and development expenses include costs directly attributable to the conduct of research and development programs, including personnel-related expenses such as salaries, benefits, and stock-based compensation expense; materials; supplies; depreciation on and maintenance of research equipment; manufacturing and external costs related to outside vendors engaged to conduct preclinical studies; and the allocable portions of facility costs, such as rent, utilities, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, and general support services. All costs associated with research and development activities are expensed as incurred.

As part of the process of preparing our consolidated financial statements, we are required to estimate our accrued research and development expenses. This process involves reviewing open contracts and purchase orders, communicating with our personnel to identify services that have been performed on our behalf and estimating the level of service performed and the associated costs incurred for the services when we have not yet been invoiced or otherwise notified of the actual costs. The majority of our service providers invoice us in arrears for services performed, on a pre-determined schedule or when contractual milestones are met; however, some require advanced payments. We make estimates of our accrued expenses as of each balance sheet date in our financial statements based on facts and circumstances known to us at that time. Examples of estimated accrued research and development expenses include fees paid to:

 

   

CROs in connection with performing research services and preclinical studies;

 

   

other providers and vendors in connection with preclinical development activities; and

 

   

vendors related to product manufacturing, development and distribution of preclinical supplies.

Acquired in-process research and development (IPR&D)

If we acquire an asset or group of assets under an in-licensing arrangement that do not meet the definition of a business under FASB ASC Topic 805, Business Combinations (ASC 805), and the acquired IPR&D does not have an alternative future use, it is expensed on its acquisition date in accordance with guidance in FASB ASC Topic 730, Research and Development (ASC 730). Contingent payments for the assets acquired are expensed or capitalized based on the nature of the associated asset at the date the related contingency is resolved.

Stock-based compensation

We issue stock-based awards to employees, directors and non-employee consultants and founders, generally in the form of stock options and restricted stock. We account for our stock-based compensation awards in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718, Compensation—Stock Compensation (ASC 718). ASC 718 requires all share-based payments to employees and qualifying directors to be recognized as expense based on the fair value on the date of grant. On January 1, 2019, we early adopted ASU No. 2018-07, Compensation—Stock Compensation (Topic 718), Improvements to Nonemployee Share-Based Payment Accounting (ASU 2018-07), which expands the scope of ASC 718 to include share-based payments to non-employees. In connection with our adoption of ASU 2018-07, we establish the fair value of share-based payments to non-employees at the adoption date for existing awards, and at the grant date for new awards. Prior to the adoption of ASU 2018-07, we accounted for our stock-based compensation awards to non-employees in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 505-50, Equity-Based Payments to Non-Employees (ASC 505-50). ASC 505-50 required the fair value of non-employee awards to be remeasured at each reporting period prior to completion of the service, based on the then-current fair value.

We primarily issue stock options and restricted stock with service-based vesting conditions. Compensation expense related to awards to employees, directors and non-employees with service-based vesting conditions is recognized on a straight-line basis based on the grant date fair value over the associated requisite service period of the award, which is generally the vesting term. For awards to employees with performance-based vesting conditions and/or market-based conditions, we recognize expense based on the grant date fair value over the associated requisite service period of the award using the accelerated attribution model if, and to the extent that, achievement is

 

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determined to be probable. The cumulative effect on current and prior periods of a change in the estimated time to vesting for awards that contain performance-based conditions will be recognized as compensation cost in the current period. We recognize forfeitures as they occur.

We classify stock-based compensation expense in our consolidated statements of operations in the same manner in which the award recipient’s salary and related costs are classified or in which the award recipient’s service payments are classified. In future periods, we expect stock-based compensation expense to increase, due in part to our existing unrecognized stock-based compensation expense and as we grant additional stock-based awards to continue to attract and retain our employees.

Fair value of stock-based awards

We determine the fair value of restricted stock awards in reference to the fair value of our common stock less any applicable purchase price. We estimate the fair value of our stock options granted with service-based and/or performance-based vesting conditions using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, which requires inputs of subjective assumptions, including: (i) the expected volatility of our common stock, (ii) the expected term of the award, (iii) the risk-free interest rate, (iv) expected dividends and (v) the fair value of our common stock. Due to the lack of a public market for the trading of our common stock and a lack of company-specific historical and implied volatility data, we base the estimate of expected volatility on the historical volatilities of a representative group of publicly traded guideline companies. For these analyses, we select companies with comparable characteristics to ours and with historical share price information that approximates the expected term of the stock-based awards. We compute the historical volatility data using the daily closing prices for the selected companies’ shares during the equivalent period that approximates the calculated expected term of our stock options. We will continue to apply this method until a sufficient amount of historical information regarding the volatility of our own stock price becomes available. We estimate the expected term of our stock options granted to employees and directors using the simplified method, whereby the expected term equals the average of the vesting term and the original contractual term of the option. We utilize this method as we do not have sufficient historical exercise data to provide a reasonable basis upon which to estimate the expected term. Similarly, following the adoption of ASU 2018-07 on January 1, 2019, we have elected to use the expected term for stock options granted to non-employees, using the simplified method, as the basis for the expected term assumption. However, we may elect to use either the contractual term or the expected term for stock options granted to non-employees, on an award-by-award basis. Prior to the adoption of ASU 2018-07, for stock options granted to non-employees, we utilized the contractual term of the option as the basis for the expected term assumption. For the determination of the risk-free interest rates, we utilize the U.S. Treasury yield curve for instruments in effect at the time of measurement with a term commensurate with the expected term assumption. The expected dividend yield is assumed to be zero as we have never paid dividends and do not have current plans to pay any dividends on our common stock. Historically, for periods prior to this offering, the fair value of our equity instruments underlying our stock-based awards was determined on each grant date by our board of directors based on valuation estimates from management considering our most recently available independent third-party valuation of our equity instruments. Our board of directors, or the compensation committee thereof, also assessed and considered, with input from management, additional objective and subjective factors that it believed were relevant and which may have changed from the date of the most recent valuation through the grant date. We estimate the fair value of stock options granted with market conditions using a Monte Carlo simulation approach. The Monte Carlo simulation approach contemplates various scenarios under which the specified market conditions could be achieved, which requires inputs of subjective assumptions, including the expected volatility of our stock price and interest rates to generate potential future outcomes. These variables are projected based on our historical data, experience, and other factors.

Determination of fair value of common stock

As there has been no public market for our common stock prior to this offering, the fair values of the shares of common stock underlying our stock-based awards were determined on each grant date by our board of directors, or compensation committee thereof, with input from management, considering our most recently available third-party valuations of common stock and our board of directors’, or compensation committee’s, assessment of additional objective and subjective factors that it believed were relevant and which may have changed from the date of the most recent valuation through the date of the grant. Historically, these independent third-party valuations of our equity instruments were performed contemporaneously with identified value inflection points.

 

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The independent third-party valuations were prepared in accordance with the guidance outlined in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Technical Practice Aid, Valuation of Privately-Held-Company Equity Securities Issued as Compensation, or the Practice Aid. The Practice Aid identifies various available methods for allocating enterprise value across classes and series of capital stock to determine the estimated fair value of common stock at each valuation date. In accordance with the Practice Aid, the Probability-Weighted Expected Return Method, or PWERM, and the Option-Pricing Method, or OPM, were the most appropriate methods for determining the fair value of our common stock or restricted stock, based on our stage of development and other relevant factors. Our valuations subsequent to December 15, 2016 were based on market approaches using the hybrid method, which is a combination of the PWERM and the OPM, to allocate the value to the equity securities, and a previous valuation was based on the Recent Transactions Method utilizing the OPM to allocate the equity value to the respective share classes.

In addition to considering the results of these third-party valuations, our board of directors, or compensation committee thereof, considered various objective and subjective factors to determine the fair value of our equity instruments as of each grant date, which may be later than the most recently available third-party valuation date, including:

 

   

the lack of liquidity of our equity as a private company;

 

   

the prices of our redeemable convertible preferred stock sold to or exchanged between outside investors in arm’s length transactions, and the rights, preferences, and privileges of our redeemable convertible preferred stock as compared to those of our common stock, including the liquidation preferences of our redeemable convertible preferred stock;

 

   

the progress of our research and development efforts, including the status of preclinical studies for our engEx exosomes and product candidates;

 

   

our stage of development and business strategy and the material risks related to our business and industry;

 

   

the achievement of enterprise milestones, including entering into strategic alliance and license agreements;

 

   

the valuation of publicly traded companies in the life sciences and biotechnology sectors, as well as recently completed mergers and acquisitions of peer companies;

 

   

any external market conditions affecting the biotechnology industry, and trends within the biotechnology industry;

 

   

the likelihood of achieving a liquidity event, such as an initial public offering, or IPO, or a sale of our Company, given prevailing market conditions; and

 

   

the analysis of IPOs and the market performance of similar companies in the biopharmaceutical industry.

For financial statement purposes, we performed common stock valuations at various dates, which resulted in valuations of our common stock of $1.30 per share as of November 30, 2017, $1.70 per share as of November 8, 2018, $1.89 per share as of January 2, 2019, $2.06 per share as of January 17, 2019, $2.80 per share as of March 6, 2019 and $3.11 per share as of April 3, 2019. There are significant judgments and estimates inherent in these valuations. These judgments and estimates include assumptions regarding our future operating performance, the stage of development of our product candidates, the timing of a potential IPO or other liquidity event and the determination of the appropriate valuation methodology at each valuation date. If we had made different assumptions, our stock-based compensation expense, net loss attributable to common stockholders and net loss per share attributable to common stockholders could have been significantly different.

Once a public trading market for our common stock has been established in connection with the consummation of this offering, it will no longer be necessary for our board of directors, or committee thereof, to estimate the fair value of our common stock in connection with our accounting for granted stock options and restricted stock, as the fair value of our common stock will be determined based on its trading price on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Valuation methodologies

Our common stock valuations were performed using the OPM or the hybrid method. The method selected was based on availability and the quality of information to develop the assumptions for the methodology.

OPM. The OPM treats common stock and preferred stock as call options on the total equity value of a company, with exercise prices based on the value thresholds at which the allocation among the various holders of a company’s

 

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securities changes. Under this method, the common stock has value only if the funds available for distribution to stockholders exceed the value of the liquidation preferences at the time of a liquidity event, such as a strategic sale or merger. The common stock is modeled as a call option on the underlying equity value at a predetermined exercise price. In the model, the exercise price is based on a comparison with the total equity value rather than, as in the case of a regular call option, a comparison with a per share stock price. Thus, common stock is considered to be a call option with a claim on the enterprise at an exercise price equal to the remaining value immediately after the preferred stock liquidation preference is paid.

The OPM uses the Black-Scholes option-pricing model to price the call options. This model defines the fair values of securities as functions of the current fair value of a company and uses assumptions such as the anticipated timing of a potential liquidity event and the estimated volatility of the equity securities.

PWERM. Under the PWERM methodology, the fair value of common stock is estimated based upon an analysis of future values for the company, assuming various outcomes. The common stock value is based on the probability-weighted present value of expected future investment returns considering each of the possible outcomes available as well as the rights of each class of stock. The future value of the common stock under each outcome is discounted back to the valuation date at an appropriate risk-adjusted discount rate and probability weighted to arrive at an indication of value for the common stock.

Hybrid method. The hybrid method is a PWERM where the equity value in one of the scenarios is calculated using an OPM. In the hybrid method used by us for our November 30, 2017, November 8, 2018, January 2, 2019, January 17, 2019, March 6, 2019 and April 3, 2019 valuations, two types of future-event scenarios were considered: an IPO and a scenario where a liquidity event is achieved where all shareholders benefit. The enterprise value for the IPO scenario was determined using a market approach, the Guideline IPO Transactions Method. The enterprise value for the liquidity event scenario was determined using the Guideline Transactions Method. The relative probability of each type of future-event scenario was determined by our board of directors based on an analysis of performance and market conditions at the time, including then-current IPO valuations of similarly situated companies, and expectations as to the timing and likely prospects of the future-event scenarios.

Grants of stock-based awards

The following table summarizes by grant date and type of award, the number of equity awards granted since January 1, 2018, the per share exercise price, the fair value of common stock on each grant date, and the per share estimated fair value of the awards:

 

 

 

GRANT DATE

   TYPE OF
AWARD
     NUMBER OF
SHARES
     EXERCISE
PRICE PER
SHARE
     FAIR VALUE OF
COMMON STOCK
PER SHARE ON
GRANT DATE
     ESTIMATED FAIR
VALUE PER SHARE

OF AWARDS (1)
 

January 22, 2018

     Options        344,500      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.84  

January 22, 2018

     Options        400,000      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.99  

February 1, 2018

     Options        3,680,864      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.84  

March 29, 2018

     Options        365,000      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.84  

June 28, 2018

     Options        1,970,850      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.83  

June 28, 2018

     Options        350,000      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.78  

June 28, 2018

     Options        400,000      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.98  

August 16, 2018

     Options        355,100      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.83  

October 4, 2018

     Options        2,132,000      $ 1.30      $ 1.30      $ 0.83  

December 13, 2018

     Options        900,500      $ 1.70      $ 1.70      $ 1.08  

January 15, 2019

     Options        2,303,888      $ 1.89      $ 1.89      $ 1.20  

February 11, 2019

     Options        2,821,710      $ 2.06      $ 2.06      $ 1.31  

March 14, 2019

     Options        1,501,000      $ 2.80      $ 2.80      $ 1.77  

April 16, 2019

     Options        1,071,000      $ 3.11      $ 3.11      $ 1.96  

 

 

(1)    The estimated fair value of the awards represents our measurement of the fair value of option grants using the Black-Scholes model. The estimated fair value amounts presented in the table above reflect only the grant-date fair value of such options and does not reflect any subsequently remeasured fair value of options granted to non-employees prior to the adoption of ASU 2018-07.

 

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JOBS Act and emerging growth company status

In April 2012, the JOBS Act was enacted. As an emerging growth company, or EGC, under the JOBS Act, we may delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. Other exemptions and reduced reporting requirements under the JOBS Act for EGCs include presentation of only two years of audited financial statements in a registration statement for an initial public offering, an exemption from the requirement to provide an auditor’s report on internal controls over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, an exemption from any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation, and less extensive disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements. We have elected to avail ourselves of this exemption and, therefore, while we are an emerging growth company we will not be subject to new or revised accounting standards at the same time that they become applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

We will remain classified as an EGC until the earlier of: (i) the last day of our first fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more, (ii) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of completion of this offering, (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt instruments during the previous three fiscal years, or (iv) the date on which we are deemed a “large accelerated filer” under the rules of the SEC with at least $700.0 million of outstanding equity securities held by non-affiliates.

Recently issued accounting pronouncements

We have reviewed all recently issued standards and have determined that, other than as disclosed in Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus, such standards will not have a material impact on our financial statements or do not otherwise apply to our operations.

Quantitative and qualitative disclosures about market risks

Interest rate fluctuation risk

We are exposed to market risk related to changes in interest rates. Our primary exposure to market risk is interest rate sensitivity, which is affected by changes in the general level of U.S. interest rates, particularly because our cash equivalents and investments are primarily invested in short-term U.S. Treasury obligations. However, because of the short-term nature of the instruments in our portfolio, an immediate change in market interest rates of 100 basis points would not have a material impact on the fair market value of our investment portfolio or on our financial position or results of operations.

Foreign currency fluctuation risk

We are not currently exposed to significant market risk related to changes in foreign currency exchange rates; however, we have contracted with and may continue to contract with foreign vendors. Our operations may be subject to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates in the future.

Inflation fluctuation risk

Inflation generally affects us by increasing our cost of labor. We do not believe that inflation had a material effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations during the years ended December 31, 2017 or 2018 or the three months ended March 31, 2018 or 2019.

 

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BUSINESS

Overview

Summary

Codiak BioSciences is harnessing exosomes—natural intercellular messengers—to pioneer a new class of biologic medicines, exosome therapeutics. Exosomes are released and taken up by all cells and convey and protect complex biologically active molecules that can alter the function of recipient cells. Since exosomes are inherently non-immunogenic, we believe exosomes are an ideal solution for developing a broad spectrum of allogeneic therapies, or therapies derived from human cells that can be used in any patient. We have developed the engEx Platform, our proprietary and versatile exosome engineering and manufacturing platform, to expand upon the innate properties of exosomes to design novel exosome therapeutics. We believe our engEx Platform has the potential to produce a broad pipeline of product candidates, or engEx product candidates, that will have a transformative impact on the treatment of a broad spectrum of diseases with high unmet medical need, including in the areas of oncology, immune-based diseases, metabolic and fibrotic disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and rare diseases.

Using our engEx Platform, which combines our expertise in exosome biology and engineering with our innovations in exosome manufacturing, we can engineer exosomes to have precise and intentionally chosen properties. Data from our preclinical studies demonstrate that our engEx exosomes can accommodate the incorporation of a wide array of biologically active molecules across different modalities, are non-immunogenic and can engage clinically intractable targets through their ability to selectively target specific cells and tissues. These characteristics have manifested in preclinical data showing encouraging biological activity and a favorable toxicity profile. We plan to advance our first two engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, into clinical development in 2020.

We are initially focusing our development efforts with our engEx Platform on targeting immune cells. This initial focus potentially allows us to develop engEx product candidates across various therapeutic indications due to the crucial role that immune cells play in many human diseases and in many therapeutic areas. Moreover, we believe our ability to direct tropism by engineering the exosome surface allows us to target not just additional immune cells, but any cell type, potentially opening the door to treatments in many therapeutic areas. Using our proprietary exosomal scaffold proteins, PTGFRN and Protein Y, we can incorporate an expanding repertoire of biologically active molecules onto or inside exosomes, which further expands the potential medical utility of our engEx Platform.

Exosomes

Exosomes facilitate intercellular communication by transmitting macromolecules between cells. They can be found in all tissues and biological fluids, and it is believed that all cells have the capacity to make, secrete and receive exosomes. Upon contact, exosomes can change the biological functions of recipient cells either by protein-to-protein signaling at the target cell surface or according to molecular instructions contained in the interior, or lumen, of the exosome and conveyed by cellular uptake into the cytoplasm or nucleus of the recipient cell where those molecules can engage with the appropriate signaling pathways. While various cellular targets and pathways have been identified as attractive areas for drug development, existing therapeutic modalities have been associated with various limitations, rendering these targets and pathways essentially undruggable. These limitations include the inability to engage with sufficient potency without causing unacceptable toxicity, inadequate drug delivery to the appropriate cell type in sufficient concentration, inability of the drug to enter the appropriate intracellular compartment, and unwanted immune response. Accordingly, we believe that the inherent properties of exosomes, as harnessed using our engEx Platform, have the potential to overcome many of these challenges and enable the development of novel therapies that can address cellular targets and pathways rendered essentially undruggable with other therapeutic modalities. Furthermore, we believe our engEx Platform may expand the capacity of several established drug modalities, such as nucleic acid therapeutics, including ASO, siRNA, miRNA, mRNA and CRISPR, to engage targets in a broader range of tissues and cells than currently possible.

Our engEx Platform

Our proprietary engEx Platform enables the precision engineering and manufacturing of novel exosome product candidates, or engEx product candidates, that are designed to target cytoplasmic, nuclear or membrane signaling pathways throughout the body, with the goal of directing potent signals to specific target cells. Using our engEx

 

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Platform, we can engineer exosomes to have precise and intentionally chosen properties, to incorporate various types of biologically active molecules, including small molecules, nucleic acids, proteins, antibodies, enzymes, cytokines and complex ligands, and to be directed to specific cell types and tissues. Our engEx exosomes act by instructing target cells via cellular uptake, membrane-to-membrane interaction, or a combination of both, and are designed to change the biological functioning of the recipient cells to produce a desired therapeutic effect.

Our engEx Platform is the result of two strategic priorities that we identified at the founding of our company. First, we aimed to develop exosome therapeutics engineered to contain desired biologically active molecules on the surface or within the lumen of the exosome. Second, we focused on manufacturing exosomes reproducibly and at scale to state-of-the-art pharmaceutical standards. We have made significant investments to achieve these priorities and believe our achievements to date give us a durable competitive advantage.

Our approach is based on deep understanding of exosome biology and the mechanism of action of engEx exosomes, in contrast to the approaches taken by others who have used unmodified, non-engineered exosomes. We initially attempted to engineer exosomes by using canonical or common proteins reported to be on the surface or inside of exosomes as scaffolds to display proteins and other drug molecules. However, preclinical studies of our early engineered exosomes showed only low-level and heterogeneous loading of proteins and peptides, with inadequate potency for clinical and commercial purposes. To address these challenges, we identified several proprietary exosomal scaffold proteins, including prostaglandin F2 receptor negative regulator, or PTGFRN, and Protein Y. We believe these proprietary exosomal proteins can enable us to develop product candidates with consistent and potent effect, well-suited for in vivo targeting and engagement of biological pathways driving human disease.

Furthermore, we developed a scalable and highly efficient exosome production process based on advanced biochemical engineering principles used in the production of recombinant proteins. We also plan to build our own Phase 1/2 clinical manufacturing facility that will incorporate these proprietary processes and allow for the production of scalable quantities of our engineered exosomes for the initial stages of drug discovery through clinical proof of concept studies. Our engEx Platform combines our expertise in exosome biology and engineering with our innovations in exosome manufacturing to allow us to leverage the innate properties and advantages of exosomes and potentially assign to them potent and predictable properties. In turn, we believe that our engEx Platform will facilitate the development of product candidates that engage targets and pathways of high value, including previously undruggable pathways, and address significant unmet medical needs across a broad array of therapeutic areas.

Initial focus and engEx product candidates

Our engEx Platform currently allows us to engineer engEx exosomes to precisely target a wide range of immune cell types, including:

 

   

antigen-presenting cells, or APCs;

 

   

T cells and natural killer, or NK, cells;

 

   

Monocytes and macrophages; and

 

   

B lymphocytes, or B cells.

We believe that if we can successfully target an immune cell type and pathway with an engEx product candidate and establish proof of concept in one disease, we may be able to apply that same or similar engEx product candidate to multiple diseases mediated by that cell type or pathway. We also believe that we will be able to leverage our experience with one modality to more efficiently develop engEx product candidates for other targets using the same modality in the same or different cell types. Consequently, while our initial focus is on immune cells, we believe our engEx Platform allows us to design exosome therapeutics that will have potential applicability across multiple cell types in the immune system and, more generally, to many cell types. We continue to explore the capacity to incorporate novel drug modalities such as gene therapy, gene editing, and mRNA into our exosomes to further expand the utility of our platform to engineer exosomes with specific and desirable attributes.

Utilizing our engEx Platform and with an initial focus on targeting immune cells, we are advancing a broad pipeline of engEx product candidates and development programs, all of which are currently in preclinical development. We

 

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plan to file an investigational new drug application, or IND, or clinical trial application, or CTA, for our engEx product candidates, exoSTING and exoIL-12, in 2020. Furthermore, based on the large number of earlier-stage development programs that we are advancing, we anticipate that we will be able to consistently progress additional engEx product candidates into clinical development. The following graphic summarizes our pipeline:

 

Codiak engEx Pipeline

 

LOGO

APCs. Our most advanced engEx product candidate, exoSTING, is being developed for the treatment of solid tumors that are “cold”, meaning they are resistant, or would be unlikely to respond, to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies. exoSTING acts by targeting the small molecule stimulator of interferon genes, or STING pathway, which has been preclinically validated as an attractive target for eliciting an anti-tumor immune response. While the ability to utilize free STING agonists as therapies has been hampered by a lack of selectivity and leakage of the small molecule out of the tumor, causing systemic toxicity, we believe that exoSTING has the potential to overcome these limitations. exoSTING is composed of engineered exosomes that express high levels of PTGFRN on the surface and that are loaded with our proprietary small molecule STING agonist in the lumen of the exosome. exoSTING has been observed in preclinical studies to drive selective uptake in tumor resident APCs and elicit a robust interferon beta, or IFNß, and chemokine response, with potent recruitment of tumor antigen specific CD8+ T cells, leading to both local as well as systemic tumor elimination.

We are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of exoSTING in patients with various “cold” solid tumors to investigate safety and tolerability, as well as preservation of tumor resident immune cells and activation of local and systemic anti-tumor immunity. We plan to initiate this trial in the first half of 2020, following acceptance of an IND or CTA, and expect preliminary data within 12 months after trial initiation. Prior to conducting a Phase 1/2 clinical trial, we plan to conduct additional preclinical studies to support the previously observed selective APC activation with molecular and histological analysis, as well as help us to select doses for our good laboratory practices, or GLP, toxicology studies and a dose range for human investigation. These studies will also assess a panel of potential relevant immune-related molecular and histological biomarkers that we believe may be used to identify potential responders in our clinical program.

Based on the observed highly selective uptake into targeted APCs of our engineered exosomes overexpressing PTGFRN, such as exoSTING, we believe we can create a modular and engineered vaccine system, which we refer to as exoVACC. We believe that exoVACC-based approaches have the potential to succeed as therapeutic or prophylactic treatments for a broad range of cancers and infectious diseases that have been difficult to address with other vaccine approaches.

 

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T cells and NK cells. Our second engEx product candidate, exoIL-12, is in development for the treatment of various forms of cancer. We have designed exoIL-12 to induce a potent response in tumors that lack sufficient immune stimulation to trigger direct and systemic anti-tumor immunity, despite the presence of T cells and NK cells. The cytokine molecule interleukin 12, or IL-12, is a molecule that has been well validated in preclinical studies to elicit a potent anti-tumor immune response through activation of T cells, NK cells and macrophages. Prior clinical trials with therapies that induced systemic exposure to recombinant IL-12, or rIL-12, led to substantial toxicities in the lymphohematopoietic system, intestines, liver and lung, and, in some cases, fatalities. Tumor responses to rIL-12 were observed in some patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma and cutaneous T cell lymphoma, but toxicity has hampered further development of rIL-12. We believe that exoIL-12 may address the prior limitations of IL-12 administration by selectively delivering IL-12 to the needed site of action, in the tumor, where exosomes enable selective retention. exoIL-12 is an engineered exosome in which IL-12 is displayed on the surface of the exosome via PTGFRN and is thereby able to engage the IL-12 receptor on immune effector cells expressing the receptor. exoIL-12 is designed to engage with tumor-resident T cells and NK cells and to be retained in the tumor, without leakage into the systemic circulation, which could trigger adverse effects. In preclinical studies, we observed that localization and retention of exoIL-12 in the tumor resulted in potent and specific systemic immune cell killing of tumor cells.

We are planning to conduct a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of exoIL-12 in patients with tumors accessible by intratumoral administration, including Kap