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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(mark one)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

or

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

For the transition period from _______to _________

Commission file number: 001-39788

SCOPUS BIOPHARMA INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware

82-1248020

(State or other jurisdiction of

 

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

Identification No.)

 

 

 

420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 300

 

 

New York, New York

 

10170

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (212) 479-2513

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

Title of each class

     

Trading Symbol(s)

     

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share

 

SCPS

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(Nasdaq Global Market)

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

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

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

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

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

Indicate by check mark 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 pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

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

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

As of June 30, 2021, the last day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $60.3 million based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on such date.

There were 21,094,264 shares of registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of April 8, 2022.

Documents Incorporated by Reference

The registrant intends to file an amendment to this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Form 10-K/A”) within 120 days of the end of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. Portions of such Form 10-K/A are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

21

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

49

Item 2.

Properties

50

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

50

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

50

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

Item 5.

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

50

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

51

Item 7.

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

52

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

59

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

59

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

59

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

59

Item 9B.

Other Information

60

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

61

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

61

Item 12.

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

61

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

61

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

61

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

61

 

 

 

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

61

 

 

 

SIGNATURES

65

Table of Contents

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. All statements contained in this Annual Report, other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our future operating results and financial position, our business strategy and plans, potential growth or growth prospects, future research and development, sales and marketing and general and administrative expenses, and our objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. Words such as “believes,” “may,” “will,” “estimates,” “potential,” “continues,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “expects,” “could,” “would,” “projects,” “plans,” “targets,” and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.

We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short-term and long-term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in the “Risk Factors” described in Item 1A of this Annual Report. Readers are urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures made in this Annual Report and in other documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) that disclose risks and uncertainties that may affect our business. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for us to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. You should not consider the risks described in Item 1A to be a complete statement of all potential risks and uncertainties. In light of these risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, the future events and circumstances discussed in this Annual Report may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, performance, or achievements. In addition, the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report are made as of the date of this filing, and we do not undertake, and expressly disclaim any duty, to update such statements for any reason after the date of this Annual Report or to conform statements to actual results or revised expectations, except as required by law.

You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference herein and have filed with the SEC as exhibits to this Annual Report with the understanding that our actual future results, performance, and events and circumstances may be materially different from what we expect.

Table of Contents

RISK FACTOR SUMMARY

Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below under the heading “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report and our other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.

We have no approved products and we have not generated any revenue. We have incurred significant losses since our inception and expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. Our ability to reduce our losses is unproven, and we may never achieve or sustain profitability.
Our recurring losses raise substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern.
We will require substantial additional funding within the next 12 months, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and, if not so available, may require us to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations.
Our ability to issue shares of common stock is currently impeded due to the lack of sufficient shares of authorized common stock, which constrains our ability to raise capital. Increasing the authorized number of shares requires stockholder approval, which we may be unable to obtain on a timely basis, or at all.
We are party to ongoing litigation in several matters. Litigation is highly unpredictable and the costs of litigation, including legal fees, costs and expenses, and the possible liabilities, including monetary damages, to which the company could become subject, have been and could continue to be significant.
We expect a number of factors, including litigation, to cause our operating results to fluctuate on a quarterly and annual basis, which may make it difficult to predict our future performance.
We cannot be certain that any of our drug candidates will be successfully developed or receive regulatory approval, without which we will not be able to market our drug candidates.
Even if approved, our drug candidates may not achieve broad market acceptance among physicians, patients and healthcare payors, and as a result our revenues generated from their sales may be limited.
We face competition from other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and our operating results will suffer if we fail to compete effectively.
We utilize third-party contractors for a substantial portion of our operations and may not be able to control their work as effectively as if we performed these functions ourselves.
It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights, and we may not be able to ensure their protection. If our licensed patent position does not adequately protect our drug candidates, others could compete against us more directly, which would harm our business, possibly materially.
Some of our drug candidates are subject to U.S. controlled substance laws and regulations and failure to comply with these laws and regulations, or the cost of compliance with these laws and regulations, would adversely affect the results of our business operations, both during pre-clinical and clinical development and post-approval, and our financial condition.
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company received deficiency letters from Nasdaq relating to non-compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing requirements. Our common stock could become subject to delisting from Nasdaq if we fail to regain compliance.

Table of Contents

PART I

Unless otherwise stated or indicated by context in this Annual Report, “we”, “us”, “our”, “company”, “Scopus” and “Scopus BioPharma” refer to Scopus BioPharma Inc. and its subsidiaries, which includes Duet BioTherapeutics Inc.

Item 1. Business.

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing transformational therapeutics for serious diseases with significant unmet medical need. Our mission is to improve patient outcomes and save lives. We have been focusing our development efforts on our immuno-oncology programs. In September 2021, we announced the launch of Duet BioTherapeutics (“Duet”). Duet integrates the management and clinical development of the immunotherapy assets of Scopus and Olimmune Inc. (the “Duet Platform”). Duet BioTherapeutics, formerly Olimmune, was acquired by Scopus in June 2021.

The Duet Platform relies on a novel approach to immuno-oncology with a suite of bifunctional oligonucleotides that activate antigen-presenting cells (“APCs”) within the tumor microenvironment, while alleviating tumor immunosuppression to jump-start T cell-mediated immune responses. The unique mechanism-of-action of these synthetic oligonucleotides comes from simultaneously targeting two intracellular immune pathways – signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (“STAT3”), a master immune checkpoint inhibitor, and toll-like receptor 9 (“TLR9”). The targeted inhibition of STAT3 reawakens immune cells and allows for the full potential of TLR9-driven innate and adaptive immune responses.

The Duet Platform is comprised of three distinctive, complementary CpG-STAT3 inhibitors:

·

RNA silencing

CpG-STAT3siRNA

(“DUET-01”)

·

Antisense

CpG-STAT3ASO

(“DUET-02”)

·

DNA-binding inhibitor

CpG-STAT3decoy

(“DUET-03”)

DUET-01 is in a Phase 1 clinical trial, as a monotherapy, for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (“NHL”). On March 2, 2022, the clinical trial sponsor publicly updated to May 2022 the possible start date for enrollment. The design of the existing investigator-sponsored clinical protocol for DUET-01, including the number of study visits, together with constraints on mobility and travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused delays in enrollment. The company has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the sponsor, who has been evaluating the applicable protocol with a view to reducing and/or more closely concentrating subject visits. As a small interfering RNA (“siRNA”)-based technology, DUET-01 is delivered intratumorally. Pursuant to a sponsored research agreement, research is being initiated to evaluate increasing the stability of novel siRNA-based molecules to enable systemic delivery. DUET-02 is being developed for systemic delivery. We are, through Duet, developing DUET-02, which has a similar mechanism of action to DUET-01, except the STAT3 inhibitor is an antisense (“ASO”) RNA molecule rather than a small interfering RNA (“siRNA”). The STAT3ASO molecule binds directly to the STAT3 mRNA, recruiting ribonuclease H1 (“RNase H1”) to degrade the STAT3 mRNA. The use of ASO permits other chemical modifications resulting in greater stability in human blood. This allows for systemic treatment of harder-to-reach solid tumors such as prostate or kidney cancers. Dose-range finding studies, good laboratory practice (“GLP”) toxicology studies, and good manufacturing process (“GMP”) manufacturing of the drug substance and product are all currently in process. Duet expects to file an investigational new drug application (“IND”) for DUET-02 in Q4 2022 in advanced solid malignancies, with Phase 1 clinical trials anticipated to begin in Q1 2023 in the United States. DUET-03 uses an alternative to the destruction of mRNA to silence STAT3 activity, such as with DUET-01 and DUET-02, instead targeting the actual STAT3 transcription factor protein. Duet is also evaluating combination therapies with checkpoint inhibitors. On an ongoing basis, the company continues to refine, update and enhance its immuno-oncology pipeline and target indications, including prioritizing solid tumor indications. The company also continually evaluates the possibilities of additional studies with a view to enhancing, among other things, the effectiveness and method of delivery of our drug candidates and identifying additional protections for our intellectual property.

The company has licenses for additional drug candidates, including drug candidates targeting systemic sclerosis (“SSc”) and other fibrotic conditions and opioid-sparing pain treatments. As a result of the company’s increased emphasis on its immuno-oncology programs and other considerations, we have been continuing to reduce allocations of resources to other programs.

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Recent Developments

Sponsored Research Agreement with Dr. Kortylewski

On April 7, 2022, we entered into a sponsored research agreement with City of Hope (“COH”) for research to be conducted by Marcin Kortylewski, Ph.D., a Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of Duet and Professor in the Department of Immuno-Oncology at COH (the “Kortylewski SRA”). Pursuant to the Kortylewski SRA, Dr. Kortylewski and his lab will be evaluating novel chemical structures and formulations to increase the stability of siRNA-based molecules to enable systemic delivery.

Litigation and Proxy Contest

The company is involved in litigation initiated by or against certain current and former officers and/or directors and, as the case may be, certain family members (the “Adverse Parties”). In connection with the issues in dispute in such litigation and certain related matters, including disputes relating to ownership and transferability of shares of our common stock (the “Delaware Litigation”), the company was subject to a proxy contest (the “Proxy Contest”) relating to its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (“2021 Annual Meeting”). The outcome of the 2021 Annual Meeting is currently subject to an action pursuant to Section 225 of the Delaware General Corporation Law challenging the election results (the “Section 225 Action”). The Section 225 Action and certain of the other pending litigations have been consolidated into a single action in the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Chancery Court”). Separately, the Audit Committee of the company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”), with the assistance of outside counsel, conducted an internal review of the actions of two Board members, one of whom is the company’s former president. As a result of the review, the company terminated the employment of its former president in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement, pursuant to which the company has no further financial obligations, and the Audit and Executive Committees requested the resignation from the Board of both directors.  Such directors have refused to resign.  In addition, our former president filed a lawsuit claiming, among other things, that he was wrongfully terminated by the company. Further, counsel for one of these directors sent a letter to the Board in which he claims that the company had made defamatory statements against such director.

On October 26, 2021, the Adverse Parties jointly filed a stockholder derivative lawsuit (the “Derivative Complaint”), purportedly on behalf of the company, against all of the other members of the Board and certain affiliates in the Chancery Court.  On November 12, 2021, the company filed a motion to dismiss the Derivative Complaint. On March 11, 2022, the Chancery Court dismissed the Derivative Complaint.

The Adverse Parties litigation and Proxy Contest have and continue to disrupt the functioning of the company and have had a material adverse effect on the company, including its financial condition, management of day-to-day operations and functioning of its Board. The company has been compelled to commit significant resources to defend against the Adverse Parties litigation and Proxy Contest. The company’s net loss for the year ended December 31, 2021 includes significant fees, costs and/or expenses relating to the Delaware Litigation and the Proxy Contest, which account for a material portion of the year-over-year increase in such net loss. The company is currently unable to determine the impact and cost of the continuing Delaware Litigation. Litigation is inherently unpredictable and, although the company has prevailed in the Derivative Complaint and believes it has meritorious defenses in the remaining Delaware Litigation, there can be no assurance that the company will prevail in any future litigation. The company will require significant additional funding, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.

Capitalization and Stock Price Matters

Our ability to issue shares of common stock is currently impeded due to a lack of a sufficient number of authorized shares of common stock, which constrains our ability to raise capital. Increasing the authorized number of shares requires stockholder approval. Due to disagreements with the Adverse Parties and affiliated and/or related stockholders, including certain family members (collectively, the “Adverse Stockholders”), the company may continue to be unable to obtain stockholder approval on a timely basis, or at all.

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The trading price per share of our common stock on Nasdaq (“Trading Price”) has declined precipitously. The closing trading prices on March 31, 2021 and March 31, 2022 were approximately $8.45 and $0.69, respectively. Such decline has likely resulted from a confluence of factors, including a significant decline in the overall market and the small-cap biotechnology sector. We believe that other contributing factors include: the Adverse Parties litigation and the Proxy Contest. Further, we believe the Adverse Parties litigation and Proxy Contest was a principal cause of the company’s loss of research coverage and interest. These factors also contributed to the dilution associated with our recent financing. We will require substantial additional financing to develop our drug candidates and to fund operations, including fees, costs and expenses associated with the Adverse Parties litigation. It can be expected that financings in the foreseeable future will also be highly dilutive. Additional financings may not be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all, and, if not so available, may require us to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations.

Results of 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders

The company was subject to a Proxy Contest relating to its 2021 Annual Meeting. As previously disclosed in our amended Current Report on Form 8-K filed on January 10, 2022 (the “Annual Meeting 8-K”), the final voting results are subject to the Section 225 Action challenging the results of the Annual Meeting, on the basis that, among other things, that certain of the Adverse Stockholders improperly voted shares of the company’s common stock at the Annual Meeting over which such parties improperly and incorrectly claimed ownership (the “Disputed Shares”). Without such votes, the Adverse Stockholders would not have succeeded at the Annual Meeting given that an overwhelming majority (of more than 90%) of unaffiliated stockholders’ votes were in favor of the incumbent directors. Accordingly, the Adverse Parties slate of directors would have been defeated and the incumbent directors would have retained their seats.

Change in Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

The Audit Committee selected Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP (“Citrin”) as our independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. The company submitted the selection of the independent registered public accountants for ratification by the stockholders at the Annual Meeting. Stockholder ratification of the selection of our independent registered public accounting firm is not required by our bylaws or otherwise. However, the company submitted the selection of Citrin to the stockholders for ratification as a matter of good corporate practice.

On February 16, 2022, the Audit Committee was informed by its prior independent registered public accounting firm, Citrin, of its decision to decline reappointment as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm for the year ended December 31, 2021. The independent registered public accounting firm reports of Citrin on the consolidated financial statements of the company as of and for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, did not contain any adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion and were not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles, except that the audit reports contained a paragraph indicating that there was substantial doubt about the ability of the company to continue as a going concern. During the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 and subsequent interim periods through February 16, 2022, there were no disagreements with Citrin on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosures, or auditing scope or procedure, which if not resolved to Citrin’s satisfaction would have caused Citrin to make reference thereto in connection with their reports on the consolidated financial statements for such years. During the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, and subsequent interim periods through February 16, 2022, there were no reportable events of the types described in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K.

On February 18, 2022, the company disclosed on a Current Report on Form 8-K that “[t]he Audit Committee has begun the process of searching for a new registered independent public accounting firm and will file a Current Report on Form 8-K upon the engagement of a new firm. No assurance can be given as to when a new firm might be selected, including whether one will be engaged to enable the Company to file its audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021 in a timely manner.”

On February 24, 2022, the company engaged Wolf & Company, P.C. (“Wolf”) as the company’s new independent registered public accounting firm as authorized by the company’s Audit Committee. During the company’s two most recent fiscal years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020 and for the subsequent interim period through February 24, 2022, neither the company nor anyone on its behalf consulted Wolf regarding any of the matters set forth in Item 304(a)(2)(i) or (ii) of Regulation S-K of the rules and regulations of the SEC.

The change in auditor has and will continue to have the effect of increasing the time and cost associated with preparing, finalizing and filing the company’s reports with the SEC, including this Annual Report and any future filings containing financial

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information previously audited by the company’s prior independent registered public accounting firm. Failure to timely file required filings with the SEC could have a material adverse effect on the company.

Nasdaq Notices

As a result of the decline in the trading price for our common stock and the composition of the Board resulting from the Proxy Contest, the company received deficiency letters from Nasdaq relating to non-compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing requirements (the “Nasdaq Notices”). The Nasdaq Notices identify deficiencies with respect to requirements for (i) minimum Market Value of Listed Securities (“MVLS Requirement”), (ii) minimum Market Value of Publicly Held Shares (“MVPHS Requirement”), (iii) majority of independent directors (“Majority Independent Requirement”), (iv) Audit and Compensation Committee composition (“Committees Requirement”), and (v) minimum closing bid price (“Bid Price Requirement” and, together with the MVLS Requirement, MVPHS Requirement, Majority Independent Requirement, and Committees Requirement, the “Listing Requirements”). Under Nasdaq rules, the company has a cure period of 180 days from the date of each respective Nasdaq Notice to regain compliance with the MVLS Requirement, the MVPHS Requirement and Bid Price Requirement. Such 180-day cure periods expire on July 12, 2022, August 30, 2022 and October 4, 2022, respectively. The Committees Requirement provides a cure period to regain compliance: (i) until the earlier of the company’s next annual stockholders’ meeting or January 5, 2023, or (ii) if the next annual stockholders’ meeting is held before July 5, 2022, then the company must evidence compliance no later than July 5, 2022. The Majority Independent Requirement requires the company to submit to Nasdaq a plan for regaining compliance within 45 days of the date of the Nasdaq Notice, or May 2, 2022. If such plan is accepted, Nasdaq can grant an extension of up to 180 calendar days from the date of the Nasdaq Notice for the Majority Independent Requirement for the company to evidence compliance. While the company believes that it can regain compliance with each of the Listing Requirements, there can be no assurance that the company will be able do so within the prescribed periods, or at all. Our common stock could become subject to delisting from Nasdaq if we fail to regain compliance.

The Duet Platform

We have entered into three licenses, a sponsored research agreement and a clinical research support agreement relating to the Duet Platform with COH, a world-renowned, independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The Duet Platform is comprised of three distinctive, complementary bifunctional oligonucleotides that each consist of a TLR9 agonist (i.e., CpG ODN) linked with a STAT3 inhibitor (Figure 1):

·

RNA silencing

CpG-STAT3siRNA

(“DUET-01”)

·

Antisense

CpG-STAT3ASO

(“DUET-02”)

·

DNA-binding inhibitor

CpG-STAT3decoy

(“DUET-03”)

One of the most sought-after therapeutic targets in cancer is STAT3, an oncogenic transcription factor and a master regulator of immunosuppression. STAT3 is a well-known driver of malignant cell invasion, proliferation, and metastasis in most human cancers.  To date, STAT3 has remained undruggable. While numerous STAT3-based therapies have made it into the clinic, there have been no FDA approvals to date. The primary reason STAT3 has remained undruggable is that it’s an intracellular target, making it highly difficult to access. Duet’s approach to make STAT3 druggable is to combine the STAT3 inhibitor with a CpG DNA recognized by the immune receptor, TLR9. Tethering STAT3 to CpG allows for intracellular delivery of the whole molecule and for triggering potent antitumor immune responses.

Graphic

Figure 1. The Duet Platform. Each molecule in the Duet Platform consists of a TLR9 agonist (i.e., unmethylated CpG sequence) that is chemically linked to a STAT3 inhibitor. The STAT3 inhibitor takes three different forms, as described in the table above.

CpG oligonucleotides serve as a common “danger signal” of bacterial or viral infections detected by TLR9 receptors. Duet links a synthetic CpG oligonucleotide to a STAT3 inhibitor to:

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1.Select the right immune cell types – CpG oligonucleotides are rapidly internalized (~30 minutes) by APCs, such as dendritic cells and macrophages in the tumor microenvironment.
2.Stimulate immune signaling – Once the CpG-STAT3 inhibitor is internalized by APCs, CpG binds to an intracellular TLR9 receptor, stimulating immune signaling.
3.Silence STAT3 activity and unleash TLR9-mediated immune responses – The CpG-STAT3 inhibitor molecule is rapidly released into the cytosol, releasing STAT3 immunosuppressive control over TLR9 signaling, thereby maximizing tumor antigen presentation and T cell-mediated antitumor immune responses.

DUET-01

We are currently developing DUET-01 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

DUET-01 consists of a CpG oligonucleotide linked to a siRNA inhibitor of STAT3 (i.e., CpG-STAT2siRNA). Scavenger receptors that are highly expressed in specific immune cells (e.g., dendritic cells and macrophages) have a high affinity for the CpG sequence, allowing for targeted uptake of DUET-01 and internalization within the endosomes.  The CpG sequence then binds to TLR9, triggering an innate immune response. The DUET-01 molecule is then rapidly released into the cytosol, through a TLR9-facilitated process, where the STAT3siRNA combines with the RNA-induced signaling complex (RISC) and degrades STAT3 mRNA (Figure 2).

Graphic

Figure 2. The siRNA mechanism of action. The STAT3 siRNA combines with the RNA-induced signaling complex (RISC), which results in rapid and potent degradation of STAT3 mRNA. This approach – binding of an RNA molecule with a RISC complex takes advantage of a naturally-occurring gene silencing pathway built into the mammalian cell.

STAT3 is frequently upregulated in NHL and is associated with poor survival rates in patients with aggressive forms of lymphoma (e.g., Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or DLBCL).  Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (“NHL”) is a group of blood cancers originating in either B-cells (approximately 85% of all NHL or T-cells (approximately 15% of all NHL). The American Cancer Society estimates the incidence of NHL to be over 77,000 patients annually in the United States. NHL is characterized into subtypes according to the natural course of disease progression. Aggressive lymphomas, which account for 60% of all NHL cases, progress rapidly. DLBCL is the most common of these aggressive subtypes, with only an approximate 40% 5-year overall survival even with combined chemo-immunotherapy, where more effective treatments are needed. Duet is additionally exploring opportunities of using DUET-01 in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In connection with the integration of management and clinical development of our immunotherapy assets subsequent to our acquisition of Olimmune, CpG-STAT3siRNA, which the company had previously referred to as CO-sTiRNATM for ease of reference, was redesignated as DUET-01.

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DUET-02

While it has been suggested that siRNA-based technologies have superior potency for inhibition of gene expression compared to other oligonucleotides, siRNAs are typically not as amenable to systemic administration as serum endonucleases rapidly degrade the siRNA molecules when delivered intravenously or subcutaneously. This limits their utility to local, intratumoral delivery in immuno-oncology.

To address metastatic solid tumor cancers using systemic administration, Duet is developing DUET-02, which has a similar mechanism of action to DUET-01 except the STAT3 inhibitor is an antisense (ASO) RNA molecule rather than an siRNA. The STAT3ASO molecule binds directly to the STAT3 mRNA, recruiting ribonuclease H1, or RNase H1, to degrade the STAT3 mRNA (Figure 3). The use of ASO permits other chemical modifications resulting in greater stability in human blood. This allows for systemic treatment of harder-to-reach solid tumors such as prostate or kidney cancers.

Graphic

Figure 3. The ASO mechanism of action. The STAT3 ASO binds directly to STAT3 mRNA, recruiting RNase H1 to degrade the STAT3 mRNA. While it has been suggested that ASO oligonucleotides provide less potent gene silencing than siRNAs, this has difference in potency has not been established in vivo. Additionally, ASO molecules have the added benefit of being very stable in serum, allowing for systemic administration.

Although Duet has seen significant effect using DUET-02 in pre-clinical proof of concept studies for genitourinary cancers, such as metastatic prostate cancer, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, the company is taking a broader approach in its clinical evaluation of this therapeutic agent. The initial clinical trial will be designed as an open-label, sequential groups Phase 1/2 study in patients with advanced or metastatic solid malignancies that are refractory to established therapies known to provide clinical benefit. Dose-range finding studies, GLP toxicology studies, and GMP manufacturing of the drug substance and product are all underway. The IND application for this clinical trial is expected to be submitted in Q4 2022, with trial enrollment anticipated to begin in Q1 2023.

DUET-03

STAT3 is a transcription factor whose normal activity in epithelial and immune cells is critical for wound healing and tissue repair. However, tumor cells hijack this functional pathway within the tumor microenvironment to mimic a neoplastic and inflammation-driven repair response that promotes tumor progression. An alternative to destruction of mRNA to silence STAT3 activity, such as with DUET-01 and DUET-02, is to target the actual STAT3 transcription factor protein.

DUET-03 combines a unmethylated CpG sequence to a STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide (CpG-STAT3decoy). The STAT3decoy binds directly to the STAT3 protein, using a competitive binding approach and limiting the binding of the STAT3 transcription factor to the transcription factor binding site (Fig. 4). Duet is exploring opportunities where this alternative STAT3 silencing approach may be therapeutically beneficial over DUET-01 or DUET-02. Initial data in hematological malignancies, including B cell NHL and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) suggest strong therapeutic potential.

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Graphic

Figure 4. The decoy mechanism of action. Instead of targeting the mRNA, the STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide engages in competitive binding with the STAT3 protein, limiting the ability of STAT3 to engage transcription factor binding sites and reducing pathways that increase tumor progression.

Duet Platform Licenses and Other Arrangements

Exclusive License Agreement for CpG-STAT3siRNA (DUET-01)

We acquired exclusive, worldwide rights from COH for CpG-STAT3siRNA (the “siRNA Exclusive License Agreement”), including the patent rights and associated know-how. Under the COH License Agreement, we are required to commercially develop DUET-01, including through all phases of clinical trials, and to eventually obtain marketing approval. Upon the grant of the COH License Agreement, we paid COH an upfront license fee and reimbursed certain patent fees and expenses in an aggregate amount of approximately $284,000, and issued 200,000 shares of our common stock and 47,965 of our W warrants. Over the course of the COH License Agreement, we are required to attain certain diligence milestones and are obligated to raise a prescribed amount of capital to support the costs associated with development of DUET-01. We also are required to make development milestone payments, which total approximately $3.5 million in the aggregate, for each indication. These milestone payments are tied to achieving certain clinical milestones and obtaining marketing approvals. We also must make sales milestone payments tied to achieving net sales starting at $50 million in a year up to $1 billion in a year, which payments total $57.5 million in the aggregate. We are also subject to paying base royalties on sales, such royalty rate being a mid-single digit percentage of sales, subject to minimum annual royalties. Royalty terms are determined on a country-by-country basis and extend to the later of 15 years following the expiration of patent protection in such country or, in cases of know-how, 15 years from the first commercial sale. Starting in 2021, we also must pay an annual license maintenance fee, such fee being less than $50,000 per year, which will be a credit against base royalties in a license year once we become obligated to pay such royalties in a license year. The COH License Agreement is subject to termination upon an uncured material breach by either party or our bankruptcy.

Clinical Research Support Agreement for CpG-STAT3siRNA (DUET-01)

In March 2021, the company paid to COH approximately $1.2 million relating to the clinical lot manufacturing and IND preparation costs for CpG-STAT3siRNA and agreed to pay $10,000 per month to COH for certain project management and regulatory services relating to the preparation of the IND for CpG-STAT3siRNA until such IND was filed with the FDA, which occurred in April 2021. Further, the company incurred costs of approximately $333,807 during the year ended December 31, 2021, pursuant to a clinical research support agreement (the “CRSA) relating to the Phase 1 clinical trial for CpG-STAT3siRNA to be conducted at COH.

Sponsored Research Agreement with Dr. Kortylewski

On April 7, 2022, we entered into the Kortylewski SRA with COH for research to be conducted by Dr. Kortylewski. siRNA-based therapeutics have shown potent biological effect in pre-clinical models of various cancers. The inherent characteristics of these molecules, however, result in rapid degradation by endonucleases in human serum. This degradation necessitates intratumoral delivery.

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The research being initiated under the Kortylewski SRA is to evaluate novel chemical structures and formulations, including lipid nanoparticles, to increase the stability of siRNA-based molecules in serum to allow for systemic delivery. The research under the Kortylewski SRA is expected to be conducted over a two-year period at a cost of approximately $200,000 per year. Duet owns a non-exclusive license, as well as a right to enter into an exclusive license for any new inventions or intellectual property resulting from the research conducted under the Kortylewski SRA.

Exclusive License Agreement for CpG-STAT3ASO (DUET-02)

On June 25, 2021, we, through our subsidiary Duet, entered into an exclusive license agreement (the “ASO Exclusive License Agreement”) with COH pursuant to which Duet acquired from COH an exclusive license to ASO Patent Rights, which include: (i) PCT Application, Serial No. PCT/US2016/040361, filed June 30, 2016; (ii) patents, patent applications, continuations, divisional applications, and foreign equivalents that claim the same invention(s) and priority date as the foregoing, such as United States Patent Number 10,758,624; (iii) continuation-in-part applications that repeat a substantial portion of any of the foregoing applications; (iv) letters patent or the equivalent issued on any of the foregoing applications throughout the world; and (v) amendments, extensions, renewals, reissues, supplementary protection certificates, substitutions and re-examinations of any of the foregoing. Subject to the terms and conditions of the ASO Exclusive License Agreement, COH granted us an exclusive royalty-bearing right and license to commercially exploit the licensed rights in the field of therapeutics.

In connection with the ASO Exclusive License Agreement, we agreed to pay COH an upfront one-time non-refundable license fee and an additional one-time non-refundable license fee no later than December 30, 2021. On or before the tenth business day after the beginning of each license year (excluding the first license year ending December 31, 2021), we agreed to pay to COH a non-refundable license maintenance fee. Over the course of the ASO Exclusive License Agreement, we are required to attain certain diligence milestones. Upon any change of control of Duet or an affiliate of Duet that controls Duet, we agreed to pay COH a non-refundable fee. We are also required to make development milestone payments for each indication. These development milestone payments are tied to achieving certain clinical milestones and obtaining marketing approvals. In addition to the development milestone payments, sales milestone payments are payable to COH tied to achieving certain levels of annual net sales. In addition, base royalties are payable on sales subject to minimum annual royalties, including an annual license maintenance fee.

Unless terminated earlier, the ASO Exclusive License Agreement will remain in effect, on a country-by-country basis and licensed product-by-licensed product (licensed service-by-licensed service) basis, until the parties’ royalty obligations end. The ASO Exclusive License Agreement is subject to termination upon certain events, including an uncured material breach by either party.

Exclusive License Agreement for CpG-STAT3decoy (DUET-03)

On June 25, 2021, we, through our subsidiary Duet, entered into an exclusive license agreement (the “Decoy Exclusive License Agreement”) with COH pursuant to which we acquired from COH an exclusive license to Decoy Patent Rights, which include: (i) United States Issued Patent Number 9,976,147, issued May 22, 2018, United States Issued Patent Number 10,829,765, issued November 10, 2020, and United States Patent Application Number 17/070,321, filed October 14, 2020; (ii) patents, patent applications, continuations, divisional applications, and foreign equivalents that claim the same invention(s) and priority date as the foregoing; (iii) continuation-in-part applications that repeat a substantial portion of any of the foregoing applications; (iv) letters patent or the equivalent issued on any of the foregoing applications throughout the world; and (v) amendments, extensions, renewals, reissues, supplementary protection certificates, substitutions and re-examinations of any of the foregoing.

The remainder of the terms and conditions of the Decoy Exclusive License Agreement are substantially the same as the ASO Exclusive License Agreement, except that the deadline dates for the diligence milestones and the date and amount to reimburse COH for patent expenses are different.  We refer to the siRNA Exclusive License Agreement, ASO Exclusive License Agreement and Decoy Exclusive License Agreements collectively as the “Duet License Agreements”.

Other Licenses and Arrangements

In addition to our licenses and other arrangements with COH, we have licenses and other arrangements for our non-immuno-oncology programs with the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (“Hebrew University”). These licenses cover additional drug candidates including drug candidates targeting SSc and other fibrotic conditions and opioid-sparing pain treatments. With respect to all of our programs, we continually evaluate them for feasibility and potential likelihood of success

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generally and relative to the cost of development, time for enrollment and development, patent life and market exclusivity. As such, we may seek to accelerate programs or terminate programs based upon these analyses, our financial wherewithal, market dynamics and other factors.

We have a license from the NIH to two active patent families relating to a series of cannabinoid receptor mediating compounds, including MRI-1867, developed at an Institute of the NIH at which research on endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are conducted. MRI-1867 is a rationally designed, orally available, dual-action, hybrid, small molecule that is an inverse agonist of the endocannabinoid system/cannabinoid receptor 1 (“CB1”), as well as an inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase (“iNOS”). Over activation of CB1 and iNOS has been implicated in the pathophysiology of SSc, which includes fibrosis of the skin, lung, kidney, heart, and the gastrointestinal tract. Our license enables us to use these cannabinoid receptor mediating compounds for the commercial development as a new therapeutic for the treatment of SSc and other skin fibrotic diseases. Our rights under our license with the NIH may overlap with rights which may have been granted to another company. We have been in communication with the NIH seeking clarification as to each company’s rights. We have also had, from time to time, discussions with such other company to explore possible collaborations. We have been unable to enter into any such arrangements. There can be no assurance that this uncertainty will not have an adverse effect on any development of MRI-1867. We have two licenses from Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, LTD. (“Yissum”) relating to cannabidiol (“CBD”) combinations with approved anesthetics and to synthesis of novel cannabinoid dual-action compounds and chemical derivatives. As a result of the company’s increased emphasis on its immuno-oncology programs and other considerations, we have been continuing to reduce allocations of resources to other programs. The company has engaged in discussions with third parties to enable further possible changes in commitment of resources for programs unrelated to the company’s core immuno-oncology development programs. The company may also seek to explore strategic alternatives for the exploitation of these technologies. We have been in discussions with Yissum about our licenses, as well as other possible licenses for different technologies. We intend to continue our strategic evaluation of the development of drug candidates relating to the endocannabinoid system.

Intellectual Property

The proprietary nature of, and protection for, our drug candidates and our discovery programs, processes and know-how are important to our business. As of December 31, 2021, our intellectual property, pursuant to our licenses and other arrangements, includes 12 U.S. issued patents, 5 pending U.S. nonprovisional patent application, 1 pending international patent applications, over 5 foreign issued patents and over 5 pending foreign patent applications. The claims of these patents and patent applications are directed toward various aspects of our drug candidates and research programs.

We rely upon our licensors to obtain patent protection in the United States and internationally for our licensed drug candidates and our discovery programs, and any other inventions to which we have rights under our license agreements, where available and when appropriate. To the extent we will be able to do so, our policy will be to work with our licensors to pursue, maintain our licensed patents and defend patent rights and to protect the technology, inventions and improvements that are commercially important to the development of our business. We will also rely on trade secrets that may be important to the development of our business.

Our commercial success will depend in part on obtaining and maintaining patent protection by collaborating with our licensors and trade secret protection of our current and future drug candidates and the methods used to develop and manufacture them, as well as successfully defending any patents against third-party challenges. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our products depends on the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents or trade secrets that cover these activities. We cannot be sure that patents will be granted with respect to any of pending patent applications our licensors file or with respect to any patent applications our licensors file in the future, nor can we be sure that any existing patents or any patents that may be granted in the future upon which we rely will be commercially useful in protecting our drug candidates, discovery programs and processes. For this and more comprehensive risks related to our licensed intellectual property, please see “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Intellectual Property.”

Litigation, Proxy Contest, and Related Matters

The company is involved in litigation initiated by or against the Adverse Parties. The Adverse Parties are primarily Morris Laster and certain of his family members (“Laster”), Ashish P. Sanghrajka (“Sanghrajka”) and/or Paul Hopper (“Hopper”). Laster is a former officer and director of the company and Sanghrajka is a former officer of the company. Sanghrajka and Hopper are current members of the company’s Board.

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In April 2021, Laster initiated the Delaware Litigation against the company in the Chancery Court with respect to ownership of 3,500,000 shares of the company’s common stock. Pursuant to a stipulation approved by the Chancery Court in the Delaware Litigation, the parties agreed to, among other things, an expedited timeline for resolving the Delaware Litigation with a trial intended to be held in December 2021. Such stipulation also provided for adjournments or postponements of the company’s 2021 Annual Meeting, such that the Annual Meeting would be held and the vote on the items of business to be considered at the Annual Meeting would take place during a specified time after a decision on the merits by the Chancery Court or a final settlement between the parties. Pursuant to additional proceedings in the Chancery Court, the company became subject to further expedition for document production. The company’s inability to meet such production deadlines, among other things, resulted in the company being sanctioned by the Chancery Court. Laster made several motions relating to such sanctions, including seeking to recover lawyers’ fees. Commencing in January 2022, the Chancery Court, by subsequent hearings and court orders, specified the categories and amounts of legal fees which would be reimbursable. The precise reimbursable amount is not yet finalized and remains subject to a court order, which we anticipate will be finalized in Q2 2022. In an attempt to mitigate the dispute, reduce the ongoing expenses and disruption of expedition, and limit exposure under sanctions, the company has taken steps in an effort to resolve the Delaware Litigation, including facilitating the transfer by the then-record owner to Laster of record ownership of the Disputed Shares and facilitating the delivery of an irrevocable proxy by the then-record owner to Laster to vote such shares.  The Delaware Litigation remains in discovery with a trial date scheduled for early June 2022.

In July 2021, the company reported that it had terminated the employment of Sanghrajka in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement. The company also reported that the Audit Committee of the Board had conducted an internal review and, as a result of such review, the Executive Committee and Audit Committee requested the resignations of Sanghrajka and Hopper from the Board. In August 2021, Sanghrajka filed a lawsuit against the company and several other parties alleging, among other things, that he was wrongfully terminated by the company. The company believes Sanghrajka’s lawsuit is without merit. The company filed a lawsuit, subsequently withdrawn, against Sanghrajka and Hopper and an affiliate of Hopper alleging, among other things, fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty and contractual obligations owed to the company in connection with Hopper’s sale of Bioscience Oncology Pty Ltd (“Bioscience Oncology”) to the company, and for declaratory judgment that Sanghrajka and Hopper are not entitled to indemnification or advancement of expenses. In response to the lawsuit filed by the company, counsel for Sanghrajka and Hopper sent a letter to the company demanding indemnification and advancement of expenses relating to the company’s lawsuit against them. In October 2021, the company received a letter from counsel in Australia for Hopper claiming, among other things, that the company made defamatory statements about Hopper in certain of its SEC filings, including in the filing disclosing the request for Hopper to resign. The company believes that Hopper’s claims are without merit.

On October 26, 2021, the Adverse Parties filed the Derivative Complaint, purportedly on behalf of the Company, against all of the other members of the company’s Board, excluding Sanghrajka and Hopper, and certain of their affiliates in the Chancery Court. The Derivative Complaint set forth various assertions and allegations against directors who serve on the Executive Committee (the “Executive Committee Directors”) and certain other directors (the “Independent Directors”). On November 12, 2021, the company filed a motion to dismiss the Derivative Complaint. On March 11, 2022, the Chancery Court dismissed the Derivative Complaint.

On December 16, 2021, HCFP/Capital Partners VIB LLC (“VIB”) filed a Motion to Intervene and attached its Complaint in Intervention, which alleges, among other things, that although Laster claims to have acquired 6,000,000 shares of our common stock in June 2017, Laster never owned or acquired those shares because he did not sign or agree to VIB’s operating agreement, which is the only way he could have obtained such shares. On January 3, 2022, the Executive Committee Directors filed a Verified Complaint pursuant to Section 225 of the Delaware General Corporation Law challenging the results of the Annual Meeting, on the basis that, among other things, (i)Laster improperly voted six million shares of the company’s common stock at the Annual Meeting because Laster does not own such shares over which Laster improperly and incorrectly claimed ownership, and (ii)Laster would have not succeeded at the Annual Meeting but for the fact he improperly voted such shares given that an overwhelming majority (of more than 90%) of unaffiliated stockholders’ votes were in favor of the incumbent directors. Litigation is highly unpredictable and the costs of litigation, including legal fees, costs and expenses, and the possible liabilities, including monetary damages, to which the company could become subject could be significant. Any such liabilities could have a material adverse effect on the company. The company’s existing capital resources will not be sufficient to fully implement its business plan, including the development of its drug candidates, while also continuing to be subject to or pursuing ongoing litigation. The company will require additional financing and there can be no assurance that any such financing will be available on satisfactory terms, or at all. Further, there can be no assurance that the absence of any additional financing, as necessary, will not have a material adverse effect on the company.

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Commercialization

Given our stage of development, we have not yet established a commercial organization or distribution capabilities. We may build our own commercial infrastructure or utilize contract reimbursement specialists, sales people, medical education specialists, distribution or other collaboration arrangements and take other steps to establish the necessary commercial infrastructure at such time as we believe that one of our drug candidates is approaching marketing approval.

Competition

Our industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. We face potential competition from many different sources, such as pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug companies, biotechnology companies, and drug delivery companies. These companies include Avidity Biosciences, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, Flamingo Therapeutics, Indaptus Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics and Tvardi Therapeutics. Some or all of our potential competitors have substantially greater financial, scientific, technical, intellectual property, regulatory and human resources than we do, and greater experience than we do commercializing products and developing drug candidates, including obtaining FDA and other regulatory approvals for drug candidates. Consequently, our competitors may develop products for indications we pursue that are more effective, better tolerated, more widely-prescribed or accepted, more useful and less costly, and they may also be more successful in manufacturing and marketing their products. We also face competition from third parties in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and enrolling patients for clinical trials and in identifying and acquiring or in-licensing new products and drug candidates.

Manufacturing

We do not own or operate, and currently have no plans to establish, any manufacturing facilities for final manufacture. We intend to rely, on third parties for the manufacture of our drug candidates for future pre-clinical and clinical testing, as well as for commercial manufacture of any products that we may commercialize.

For our future drug candidates, we aim to identify and qualify manufacturers and researchers to provide the application program interface (“API”), and fill-and-finish services prior to submission of an NDA to the FDA. We expect to continue to fund the development of drug candidates that can be produced cost-effectively at contract manufacturing facilities.

Employees, Executives, Advisors and Human Capital Resources

Our team is comprised of 9 members, including employees, executive officers who provide services pursuant to a management services agreement, and key consultants, 5 of whom spend substantially all, or a significant portion of, their business time on company matters. Our senior management consists of the President and Chief Executive Officer of Duet, our Chairman and our Vice Chairman, who are advised and assisted by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board.

Our management team is supported by additional personnel associated with entities that provide services to the company pursuant to our management services agreement. We also employ consultants in the ordinary course of business with expertise in various aspects of the drug development process. We believe the skills and experience of our team are essential to our business. We are currently seeking to add additional employees and key consultants and advisors.

We recognize that attracting, motivating and retaining talent at all levels is vital to our continued success. Our employees are a significant asset and we aim to create an equitable, inclusive and empowering environment in which our employees can grow and advance their careers, with the overall goal of developing, expanding and retaining our workforce to support our current pipeline and future business goals. By focusing on employee retention and engagement, we also improve our ability to support our clinical trials, our pipeline, our platform technologies, business and operations, and also protect the long-term interests of our stakeholders. Our success also depends on our ability to attract, engage and retain a diverse group of employees. Our efforts to recruit and retain a diverse and passionate workforce include providing competitive compensation and benefits packages and ensuring we listen to our employees.

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Government Regulation and Product Approval

Governmental authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, labeling, packaging, promotion, storage, advertising, distribution, marketing and export and import of products such as those we are developing. Our drug candidates must be approved by the FDA through the NDA process before they may be legally marketed in the United States and by the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, through the Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, process before they may be legally marketed in Europe. Our drug candidates will be subject to similar requirements in other countries prior to marketing in those countries. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with applicable federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

United States Food and Drug Administration Regulation

NDA Approval Processes

In the United States, the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, and implementing regulations. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process or approval process, or after approval, may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on us. These sanctions could include:

refusal to approve pending applications;
withdrawal of an approval;
imposition of a clinical hold;
warning letters;
product seizures;
total or partial suspension of production or distribution; or
injunctions, fines, disgorgement, or civil or criminal penalties.

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

completion of nonclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies conducted according to Good Laboratory Practices, or GLPs, or other applicable regulations;
submission to the FDA of an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;
performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials according to Good Clinical Practices, or GCPs, to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug for its intended use;
submission to the FDA of an NDA;
satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the product is produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMPs, to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity; and
FDA review and approval of the NDA.

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Once a pharmaceutical candidate is identified for development, it will enter the pre-clinical or nonclinical testing stage. Nonclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the nonclinical tests, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, to the FDA as part of the IND. Some nonclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. In addition to including the results of the nonclinical studies, the IND will also include a protocol detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated if the first phase lends itself to an efficacy determination. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, places the IND on clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before clinical trials can begin. A clinical hold may occur at any time during the life of an IND, and may affect one or more specific studies or all studies conducted under the IND.

All clinical trials must be conducted under the supervision of one or more qualified investigators in accordance with GCPs. They must be conducted under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, dosing procedures, research subject selection and exclusion criteria and the safety and effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND, and progress reports detailing the status of the clinical trials must be submitted to the FDA annually. Sponsors also must timely report to FDA serious and unexpected adverse reactions, any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigation brochure, or any findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the drug. An institutional review board, or IRB, at each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the protocol before a clinical trial commences at that institution and must also approve the information regarding the trial and the consent form that must be provided to each research subject or the subject’s legal representative, monitor the study until completed and otherwise comply with IRB regulations.

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

Phase 1. The drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution and elimination. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, especially when the product may be inherently too toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients.
Phase 2. Clinical trials are performed on a limited patient population intended to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage.
Phase 3. Clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical study sites. These studies are intended to establish the overall risk-benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labeling.

Human clinical trials are inherently uncertain and Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 testing may not be successfully completed. The FDA or the sponsor may suspend a clinical trial at any time for a variety of reasons, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.

During the development of a new drug, sponsors are given opportunities to meet with the FDA at certain points. These points may be prior to the submission of an IND, at the end of Phase 2 and before an NDA is submitted. Meetings at other times may be requested. These meetings can provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date and for the FDA to provide advice on the next phase of development. Sponsors typically use the meeting at the end of Phase 2 to discuss their Phase 2 clinical results and present their plans for the pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial that they believe will support the approval of the new drug. If a Phase 2 clinical trial is the subject of discussion at the end of Phase 2 meeting with the FDA, a sponsor may be able to request a Special Protocol Assessment, or SPA, the purpose of which is to reach agreement with the FDA on the Phase 3 clinical trial protocol design and analysis that will form the primary basis of an efficacy claim.

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According to published guidance on the SPA process, a sponsor which meets the prerequisites may make a specific request for a SPA and provide information regarding the design and size of the proposed clinical trial. The FDA is supposed to evaluate the protocol within 45 days of the request to assess whether the proposed trial is adequate, and that evaluation may result in discussions and a request for additional information. A SPA request must be made before the proposed trial begins, and all open issues must be resolved before the trial begins. If a written agreement is reached, it will be documented and made part of the record. The agreement will be binding on the FDA and may not be changed by the sponsor or the FDA after the trial begins except with the written agreement of the sponsor and the FDA or if the FDA determines that a substantial scientific issue essential to determining the safety or efficacy of the drug was identified after the testing began.

Concurrent with clinical trials, sponsors usually complete additional animal safety studies and also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug and finalize a process for manufacturing commercial quantities of the product in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the drug and the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the quality, purity and potency of the drug. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the drug candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its proposed shelf-life.

The results of product development, nonclinical studies and clinical trials, along with descriptions of the manufacturing process, analytical tests and other control mechanisms, proposed labeling and other relevant information are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product. The submission of an NDA is subject to the payment of user fees, but a waiver of such fees may be obtained under specified circumstances. The FDA reviews all NDAs submitted to ensure that they are sufficiently complete for substantive review before it accepts them for filing. It may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the NDA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing.

Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review. NDAs receive either standard or priority review. A drug representing a significant improvement in treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease may receive priority review. The FDA may refuse to approve an NDA if the applicable regulatory criteria are not satisfied or may require additional clinical or other data. Even if such data are submitted, the FDA may ultimately decide that the NDA does not satisfy the criteria for approval. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective for its intended use and whether its manufacturing is cGMP-compliant. The FDA may refer the NDA to an advisory committee for review and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations. Before approving an NDA, the FDA will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured and tested.

Expedited Review and Approval

The FDA has various programs, including Fast Track, priority review, and accelerated approval, which are intended to expedite or simplify the process for reviewing drugs, and/or provide for the approval of a drug on the basis of a surrogate endpoint. Even if a drug qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the drug no longer meets the conditions for qualification or that the time period for FDA review or approval will be shortened. Generally, drugs that are eligible for these programs are those for serious or life-threatening conditions, those with the potential to address unmet medical needs and those that offer meaningful benefits over existing treatments. For example, Fast Track is a process designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions and fill unmet medical needs. Priority review is designed to give drugs that offer major advances in treatment or provide a treatment where no adequate therapy exists an initial review within six months as compared to a standard review time of ten months. Although Fast Track and priority review do not affect the standards for approval, the FDA will attempt to facilitate early and frequent meetings with a sponsor of a Fast Track designated drug and expedite review of the application for a drug designated for priority review. Accelerated approval, which is described in Subpart H of 21 CFR Part 314, provides for an earlier approval for a new drug that is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and that fills an unmet medical need based on a surrogate endpoint. A surrogate endpoint is a laboratory measurement or physical sign used as an indirect or substitute measurement representing a clinically meaningful outcome. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug candidate receiving accelerated approval perform post-marketing clinical trials.

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The Hatch-Waxman Act

In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA each patent whose claims cover the applicant’s product. Upon approval of a drug, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book. Drugs listed in the Orange Book can, in turn, be cited by potential generic competitors in support of approval of an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA. An ANDA provides for marketing of a drug product that has the same active ingredients in the same strengths and dosage form as the listed drug and has been shown through bioequivalence testing to be bioequivalent to the listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing, ANDA applicants are not required to conduct, or submit results of, pre-clinical or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product. Drugs approved in this way are considered to be therapeutically equivalent to the listed drug, are commonly referred to as “generic equivalents” to the listed drug, and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the original listed drug in accordance with state law.

The ANDA applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the FDA’s Orange Book. Specifically, the applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. The ANDA applicant may also elect to submit a section viii statement, certifying that its proposed ANDA labeling does not contain (or carves out) any language regarding the patented method-of-use, rather than certify to a listed method-of-use patent.

If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents, the ANDA application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired.

A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents, or that such patents are invalid, is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA until the earlier of 30 months, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, or a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA applicant.

The ANDA application also will not be approved until any applicable non-patent exclusivity listed in the Orange Book for the referenced product has expired.

Upon NDA approval of a new chemical entity or NCE, which is a drug that contains no active moiety that has been approved by the FDA in any other NDA, that drug receives five years of marketing exclusivity during which time the FDA cannot receive any ANDA or 505(b)(2) application seeking approval of a drug that references a version of the NCE drug. Certain changes to a drug, such as the addition of a new indication to the package insert, are associated with a three-year period of exclusivity during which the FDA cannot approve an ANDA or 505(b)(2) application that includes the change.

An ANDA or 505(b)(2) application may be submitted one year before NCE exclusivity expires if a Paragraph IV certification is filed. If there is no listed patent in the Orange Book, there may not be a Paragraph IV certification and thus no ANDA or 505(b)(2) application may be filed before the expiration of the exclusivity period.

For a botanical drug, the FDA may determine that the active moiety is one or more of the principal components or the complex mixture as a whole. This determination would affect the utility of any five-year exclusivity as well as the ability of any potential generic competitor to demonstrate that it is the same drug as the original botanical drug.

Five-year and three-year exclusivities do not preclude FDA approval of a 505(b)(1) application for a duplicate version of the drug during the period of exclusivity, provided that the 505(b)(1) applicant conducts or obtains a right of reference to all of the pre-clinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

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After NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents may apply for up to a five-year patent extension. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase — the time between IND submission and NDA submission — and all of the review phase — the time between NDA submission and approval up to a maximum of five years. The time can be shortened if the FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence. The total patent term after the extension may not exceed 14 years.

For patents that might expire during the application phase, the patent owner may request an interim patent extension. An interim patent extension increases the patent term by one year and may be renewed up to four times. For each interim patent extension granted, the post-approval patent extension is reduced by one year. The director of the PTO must determine that approval of the drug covered by the patent for which a patent extension is being sought is likely. Interim patent extensions are not available for a drug for which an NDA has not been submitted.

Orphan Drug Designation

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or more than 200,000 individuals in the United States for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available in the United States a drug for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales in the United States for that drug. Orphan product designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan product designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of regulatory review and approval process. In addition to the potential period of exclusivity, orphan designation makes a company eligible for grant funding of up to $500,000 per year for four years to defray costs of clinical trial expenses, tax credits for clinical research expenses and potential exemption from the FDA application user fee.

If a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan drug exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as (i) the drug’s orphan designation is revoked; (ii) its marketing approval is withdrawn; (iii) the orphan exclusivity holder consents to the approval of another applicant’s product; (iv) the orphan exclusivity holder is unable to assure the availability of a sufficient quantity of drug; or (v) a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity by a competitor product. If a drug designated as an orphan product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to orphan drug exclusivity. We may apply for orphan drug designation for one or more of our drug candidates that we develop for diseases or conditions that satisfy the requirements for orphan drug designation. In such event, there can be no assurance that we will receive orphan drug designation for any of our drug candidates that we may develop for the treatment of any orphan diseases.

Pediatric Exclusivity and Pediatric Use

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, certain NDAs and certain supplements to an NDA must contain data to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of pediatric data or full or partial waivers. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, amended the FDCA to require that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or iPSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before the initiation of a Phase 3 or Phase 2/3 study. The iPSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA and the sponsor must reach an agreement on the iPSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon iPSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials and/or other clinical development programs.

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A drug product can also obtain pediatric market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent term, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric study in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a study.

Post-approval Requirements

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product may result in restrictions on the product or even complete withdrawal of the product from the market. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further FDA review and approval. In addition, the FDA may require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the effect of approved products that have been commercialized, and the FDA has the power to prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of these post-marketing programs.

Any drug products manufactured or distributed by us pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things:

record-keeping requirements;
reporting of adverse experiences with the drug;
providing the FDA with updated safety and efficacy information;
drug sampling and distribution requirements;
notifying the FDA and gaining its approval of specified manufacturing or labeling changes; and
complying with FDA promotion and advertising requirements.

Drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and some state agencies for compliance with cGMP and other laws.

From time to time, legislation is drafted, introduced and passed in Congress that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the approval, manufacturing and marketing of products regulated by the FDA. In addition, FDA regulations and guidance are often revised or reinterpreted by the agency in ways that may significantly affect our business and products. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations changed or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.

Regulation Outside of the United States

In addition to regulations in the United States, we will be subject to regulations of other countries governing clinical trials and commercial sales and distribution of our products. Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain approval by the comparable regulatory authorities of countries outside of the United States before we can commence clinical trials in such countries and approval of the regulators of such countries or economic areas, such as the European Union, before we may market products in those countries or areas. The approval process and requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary greatly from place to place, and the time may be longer or shorter than that required for FDA approval.

In the European Union, our future products may also be subject to extensive regulatory requirements. Similar to the United States, the marketing of medicinal products is subject to the granting of marketing authorizations by regulatory agencies. Also, as in the United States, the various phases of pre-clinical and clinical research in the European Union are subject to significant regulatory controls.

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Medicinal products require a marketing authorization before they may be placed on the market in the European Economic Area, or EEA, comprising the member states of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. There are various application procedures available, depending on the type of product involved. The centralized procedure gives rise to marketing authorizations that are valid throughout the EEA. Applicants file marketing authorization applications with the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, where they are reviewed by a relevant scientific committee, in most cases the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP. The EMA forwards CHMP opinions to the European Commission, which uses them as the basis for deciding whether to grant a marketing authorization. The centralized procedure is compulsory for medicinal products that (1) are derived from specified biotechnology processes, (2) contain a new active substance (not yet approved on November 20, 2005) indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, viral diseases or autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, (3) are orphan medicinal products or (4) are advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products). For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant may voluntarily submit an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the EMA, as long as the CHMP agrees that (i) the medicine concerned contains a new active substance (not yet approved on November 20, 2005), (ii) the medicine is a significant therapeutic, scientific, or technical innovation, or (iii) if its authorization under the centralized procedure would be in the interest of public health.

For those medicinal products for which the centralized procedure is not available, the applicant must submit marketing authorization applications to the national medicines regulators through one of three procedures: (1) a national procedure, which results in a marketing authorization in a single EEA member state; (2) the decentralized procedure, in which applications are submitted simultaneously in two or more EEA member states; and (3) the mutual recognition procedure, which must be used if the product has already been authorized in at least one other EEA member state, and in which the EEA member states are required to grant an authorization recognizing the existing authorization in the other EEA member state, unless they identify a serious risk to public health.

Marketing authorization applications must usually include the results of clinical trials. Clinical trials of medicinal products in the EEA must be conducted in accordance with EEA and national regulations and the International Conference on Harmonization guidelines on GCP. Prior to commencing a clinical trial in a particular EEA member state, the sponsor must obtain a clinical trial authorization from the competent authority and a positive opinion from an independent ethics committee.

In the EEA, companies developing a new medicinal product must agree a Pediatric Investigation Plan (PIP) with the EMA and must conduct pediatric clinical trials in accordance with that PIP, unless a waiver applies, e.g., because the relevant disease or condition occurs only in adults. The marketing authorization application for the product must include the results of pediatric clinical trials conducted in accordance with the PIP, unless a waiver applies, or a deferral has been granted, in which case the pediatric clinical trials must be completed at a later date.

Reimbursement

Sales of any product we successfully develop will depend, in part, on the extent to which the costs of our products will be covered by third-party payors, such as government health programs, commercial insurance and managed healthcare organizations. These third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services. Additionally, the containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal and state governments and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. The U.S. government, state legislatures and foreign governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit our net revenue and results. If these third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other therapies, they may not cover our products after approved as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products on a profitable basis.

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

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. A plan for the research will be developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures will be made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payors, it is not clear what effect, if any, the research will have on the sales of any product, if any such product or the condition that it is intended to treat is the subject of a study. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s product could adversely affect the sales of our drug candidates. If third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products on a profitable basis.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively referred to as the ACA, enacted in March 2010, is expected to have a significant impact on the health care industry. ACA is expected to expand coverage for the uninsured while at the same time containing overall healthcare costs. With regard to pharmaceutical products, among other things, ACA is expected to expand and increase industry rebates for drugs covered under Medicaid programs and make changes to the coverage requirements under the Medicare Part D program. We cannot predict the impact of ACA on pharmaceutical companies, as many of the ACA reforms require the promulgation of detailed regulations implementing the statutory provisions which has not yet occurred. In addition, some members of the U.S. Congress have been seeking to overturn at least portions of the legislation and we expect they will continue to review and assess this legislation and alternative health care reform proposals. Any legal challenges to ACA, as well as Congressional efforts to repeal ACA, add to the uncertainty of the legislative changes enacted as part of ACA.

In addition, in some non-U.S. jurisdictions, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing 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. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the European Union do not follow price structures of the United States and generally tend to be significantly lower.

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Controlled Substances Regulation

Cannabis (other than hemp) is strictly controlled under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 811) (the “CSA”) as a Schedule I substance. Schedule I substances by definition have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I and II drugs are subject to the strictest controls under the CSA, including manufacturing and procurement quotas, security requirements and criteria for importation. Anyone wishing to conduct research on substances listed in Schedule I under the CSA must register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”), and obtain DEA approval of the research proposal. For any product containing cannabis to be available for commercial marketing in the United States, cannabis must be rescheduled, or the product itself must be scheduled, by the DEA to Schedule II, III, IV or V. Scheduling determinations by the DEA are dependent on FDA approval of a substance or a specific formulation of a substance.

The CSA and its implementing regulations establish a “closed system” of regulations for controlled substances. The CSA imposes registration, security, recordkeeping and reporting, storage, manufacturing, distribution, importation and other requirements under the oversight of the DEA. The DEA is responsible for regulating controlled substances, and requires those individuals or entities that manufacture, import, export, distribute, research, or dispense controlled substances to comply with the regulatory requirements in order to prevent the diversion of controlled substances to illicit channels of commerce.

Facilities that manufacture, distribute, import or export any controlled substance must register annually with the DEA. The DEA registration is specific to the particular location, activity(ies) and controlled substance schedule(s). For example, separate registrations are needed for import and manufacturing, and each registration will specify which schedules of controlled substances are authorized.

The DEA inspects all manufacturing facilities to review security, recordkeeping, reporting and handling prior to issuing a controlled substance registration. The specific security requirements vary by the type of business activity and the schedule and quantity of controlled substances handled. The most stringent requirements apply to manufacturers of Schedule I and Schedule II substances. Required security measures commonly include background checks on employees and physical control of controlled substances through storage in approved vaults, safes and cages, and through use of alarm systems and surveillance cameras. Once registered, manufacturing facilities must maintain records documenting the manufacture, receipt and distribution of all controlled substances. Manufacturers must submit periodic reports to the DEA of the distribution of Schedule I and II controlled substances, Schedule III narcotic substances, and other designated substances. Registrants must also report any controlled substance thefts or significant losses, and must obtain authorization to destroy or dispose of controlled substances. Imports of Schedule I and II controlled substances for commercial purposes are generally restricted to substances not already available from a domestic supplier or where there is not adequate competition among domestic suppliers. In addition to an importer or exporter registration, importers and exporters must obtain a permit for every import or export of a Schedule I and II substance or Schedule III, IV and V narcotic, and submit import or export declarations for Schedule III, IV and V non-narcotics.

For drugs manufactured in the United States, the DEA establishes annually an aggregate quota for the amount of substances within Schedules I and II that may be manufactured or produced in the United States based on the DEA’s estimate of the quantity needed to meet legitimate medical, scientific, research and industrial needs. The quotas apply equally to the manufacturing of the active pharmaceutical ingredient and production of dosage forms. The DEA may adjust aggregate production quotas a few times per year, and individual manufacturing or procurement quotas from time to time during the year, although the DEA has substantial discretion in whether or not to make such adjustments for individual companies.

Individual U.S. states also establish and maintain separate controlled substance laws and regulations, including licensing, recordkeeping, security, distribution, and dispensing requirements. State authorities, including boards of pharmacy, regulate use of controlled substances in each state. Failure to maintain compliance with applicable requirements, particularly as manifested in the loss or diversion of controlled substances, can result in enforcement action that could have a material adverse effect on the company’s business, operations and financial condition. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal prosecution.

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Other U.S. Environmental, Health and Safety Laws and Regulations

We may be 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. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and may also produce hazardous waste products. Even if we contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and waste products, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use or disposal of our hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.

In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. In addition, failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.

Item 1A. Risk Factors.

RISK FACTORS

An investment in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider carefully all of the material risks described below, together with the other information contained in this Annual Report and our other filings with the SEC, before making a decision to invest in our common stock. Investors should be aware that it is not possible to predict or identify all such factors and that the following is not meant to be a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties. If any of the following risk factors actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could suffer.

Risks Relating to Our Financial Position

We have never been profitable. Currently, we have no products approved for commercial sale, and to date we have not generated any revenue from product sales. As a result, our ability to reduce our losses and reach profitability is unproven, and we may never achieve or sustain profitability.

We have never generated revenue and have never been profitable and do not expect to generate revenue or be profitable in the foreseeable future. We have not yet begun any clinical trials or submitted any drug candidates for approval by regulatory authorities in the United States or elsewhere for any of our drug candidates for any indication. We have incurred net losses since our inception, including net losses of $27.0 million and $10.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively. We had an accumulated deficit of $41.5 million as of December 31, 2021.

To date, we have devoted most of our financial resources to licensing our intellectual property, preparing for and engaging in clinical trials, sponsoring research with academic and medical research institutions, litigation with the Adverse Parties, the Proxy Contest and our corporate overhead. We expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase when we expand our clinical activities and seek regulatory approvals for, our drug candidates, prepare for and begin the commercialization of any approved products, and add infrastructure and personnel to support our drug development efforts and operations as a public company. We anticipate that any such losses could be significant for the next several years as we begin clinical trials and IND-enabling studies for our drug candidates and related activities required for regulatory approval and continue pursuing additional indications for our drug candidates in our future clinical trials. If any of our drug candidates fail in future clinical trials or do not gain regulatory approval, or if our drug candidates do not achieve market acceptance, we may never become profitable. As a result of the foregoing, we expect to continue to experience net losses and negative cash flows for the foreseeable future. These net losses and negative cash flows have had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity (deficit) and working capital.

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Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. In addition, our expenses could increase if we are required by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authority to perform studies or trials in addition to those currently expected, or if there are any delays in commencing or completing our clinical trials or the development of any of our drug candidates. The amount of future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses, including related to litigation.

Our recurring losses from operations raises doubt regarding our ability to continue as a going concern.

Because our continuing existence has been dependent upon raising capital to sustain our business, it raises doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Our independent registered public accounting firm has included an explanatory paragraph in its report on our consolidated financial statements stating there is doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Such an opinion could materially limit our ability to raise additional funds through the issuance of new debt or equity securities or otherwise. Our cash resources are insufficient to sustain our business for the next 12 months. There is no assurance that sufficient financing will be available when needed to allow us to continue as a going concern. The perception that we may not be able to continue as a going concern may cause others to choose not to deal with us due to concerns about our ability to meet our contractual obligations. See Note 1 of our consolidated financial statements.

We will require substantial additional funding within the next 12 months, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and, if not so available, may require us to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations.

We are currently funding the development of our drug candidates and prospective drug candidates. Developing pharmaceutical products, including conducting research, pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, is expensive. We will require additional future capital in order to begin and complete the research, development and clinical and regulatory activities necessary to bring our drug candidates to market in the future.

We intend to utilize our resources to continue our pre-clinical research studies, to fund the continued pre-clinical and clinical development of our drug candidates and to fund the research of prospective new drug candidates. Our financial resources will also be used for general corporate purposes, general and administrative expenses, capital expenditures, working capital, prosecuting and defending litigation with Adverse Parties and prosecution and maintenance of our licensed patents to the extent required under our license agreements. Accordingly, we will continue to require substantial additional capital to continue our research and development activities. Because successful development of our drug candidates is uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require to complete research and development and commercialize our drug candidates under development.

The amount and timing of our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including but not limited to:

the progress, costs, results of and timing of our drug candidate trials for the treatment of cancer and SSc, and the future pre-clinical and clinical development of our drug candidates for other potential indications;
the number and characteristics of drug candidates that we pursue;
the ability of our drug candidates to progress through future pre-clinical and future clinical development successfully;
our need to expand research and development activities;
the costs associated with securing and establishing commercialization and manufacturing capabilities;
market acceptance of our drug candidates;
the costs of acquiring, licensing or investing in businesses, products, drug candidates and technologies;

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our ability to maintain, expand and defend the scope of our intellectual property portfolio rights, including the amount and timing of any payments we may be required to make, or that we may receive, in connection with the filing, prosecution, defense and enforcement of any patents or other intellectual property rights;
our need and ability to hire additional management and scientific and medical personnel;
the effect of competing technological and market developments;
the status and outcome of current or any future litigation with Adverse Parties;
our need to implement additional internal systems and infrastructure, including financial and reporting systems; and
the economic and other terms, timing of and success of our existing licensing arrangements and any collaboration, licensing or other arrangements into which we may enter in the future.

Some of these factors are outside of our control. We will need to obtain additional financing to fund our operations with the next 12 months. We will seek to finance our cash needs primarily through equity and debt offerings. We may also seek to raise capital through government or other third-party funding and grants, collaborations and development agreements, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements.

Additional funding may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. In addition, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders. In addition, the issuance of additional shares by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares, if and when established, to decline.

If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations. We also could be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborative partners or otherwise that may require us to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or drug candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us.

Our ability to raise additional capital is impeded by a lack of sufficient authorized common stock, with no assurance that we can obtain the necessary vote of stockholders to increase it.

We have issued or reserved substantially all our available shares of authorized common stock. Unless and until a sufficient number of warrants expire or the number of shares of our authorized common stock increases, our ability to obtain additional financing through the sale of common stock or other securities convertible or exchangeable into common stock may be limited. Our ability to issue shares of common stock is currently impeded due to a lack of a sufficient number of authorized shares of common stock, which constrains our ability to raise capital. Increasing the authorized number of shares requires an amendment to our charter, which can only be obtained by the approval of the holders of a majority of our outstanding shares of common stock. Due to disagreements with the Adverse Stockholders, the company may continue to be unable to obtain stockholder approval on a timely basis, or at all. Failure to increase our authorized common stock, which is necessary for the company to raise needed capital, may require us to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations.

We have a limited operating history and we expect a number of factors to cause our operating results to fluctuate on a quarterly and annual basis, which may make it difficult to predict our future performance.

We are a biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. Our operations to date have been limited to the pre-clinical and clinical development of our drug candidates. We have not yet obtained regulatory approvals for any of our drug candidates. Consequently, any predictions made about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or approved products on the market. Our financial condition and operating results may significantly fluctuate from quarter-to-quarter or year-to-year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Factors relating to our business that may contribute to these fluctuations include:

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any delays in regulatory review and approval of our drug candidates in future pre-clinical development, including our ability to receive approval from the FDA and the EMA for our drug candidates, and our planned clinical and pre-clinical studies and other work, as the basis for review and approval of our drug candidates;
delays in the commencement, enrollment and timing of clinical trials;
difficulties in identifying and treating patients suffering from our target indications;
the success of our future clinical trials through all phases of pre-clinical and clinical development;
potential side effects of our drug candidates that could delay or prevent approval or cause an approved drug to be taken off the market;
our ability to obtain additional funding to develop our drug candidates;
our ability to identify and develop additional drug candidates;
market acceptance of our drug candidates;
our ability to establish an effective sales and marketing infrastructure directly or through collaborations with third parties;
competition from existing products or new products that may emerge;
the ability of patients or healthcare providers to obtain coverage or sufficient reimbursement for our products;
our ability to adhere to clinical study requirements directly or with third parties such as contract research organizations, or CROs;
our dependency on third-party manufacturers to manufacture our products and key ingredients;
our ability to establish or maintain collaborations, licensing or other arrangements;
the costs to us, and our ability and our third-party collaborators’ ability to obtain, maintain and protect our licensed intellectual property rights;
our ability to adequately support future growth;
our ability to attract and retain key personnel to manage our business effectively;
the status and outcome of current or any future litigation with Adverse Parties; and
potential product liability claims.

Accordingly, the results of any quarterly or annual periods should not be relied upon as indications of future operating performance.

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Risks Relating to Our Business and Strategy

We are party to ongoing litigation with the Adverse Parties in several matters. Litigation is highly unpredictable and the costs of litigation, including legal fees, costs and expenses, and the possible liabilities, including monetary damages, to which the company could become subject, could be significant.

The Adverse Parties litigation continues to disrupt the functioning of the company. The company has been compelled to commit significant resources to defend against the Adverse Parties litigation. The fees, costs and expenses of litigation represent a significant portion of the material increase in the company’s net loss for the year ended December 31, 2021. Litigation continues to have a material adverse effect on the company, including its financial condition, management of day-to-day operations, and the functioning of its Board. The continuing costs of litigation will require us to obtain significant additional financing, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and if not so available, may require us to delay, limit, reduce or cease our operations.

The novel coronavirus could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows or liquidity.

We note that the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease now known as COVID-19, is a rapidly evolving public health emergency with global implications and at present we, as is common across industries and geographies, recognize that we could be adversely affected by a range of factors and developments, largely beyond our control, and we are unable to predict the outcomes of this even on a short-term basis. We continue to monitor the situation, among other objectives, to assess the impact of developments on our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and liquidity.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic, including related constraints on mobility and travel, continues to cause delays in enrollment in the existing investigator-sponsored clinical study for DUET-01. As previously disclosed, in March 2022, the clinical study sponsor of our DUET-01 clinical trial publicly updated to May 2022 the possible start date for enrollment in such trial. We are engaged in ongoing discussions with the sponsor to obtain greater visibility as to such date. As a result of the number of patient visits necessary in the clinical study and pandemic-associated constraints on mobility and travel, the sponsor has been evaluating the applicable protocol with a view to reducing and/or more closely concentrating patient visits. There is no assurance that the DUET-01 clinical trial will begin enrollment in May 2022, or at all.

We are unable to predict the duration and severity of the spread of new variants of COVID-19 and possible future spikes and responses thereto, on our business and operations, and on our results of operations, financial condition, cash flow and liquidity, as these depend on rapidly evolving developments, which are highly uncertain and will be a function of factors beyond our control, such as the speed of contagion, the implementation of effective preventative and containment measures, the development of effective medical solutions, the timing and scope of governmental restrictions on public gatherings, mobility and other activities, financial and other market reactions to the foregoing, and reactions and responses of the populace both in affected regions and regions yet to be affected. While we have and may continue to suffer adverse effects, the more severe the outbreak and the longer it lasts, the more likely it is that the effects on us and our business will be materially adverse.

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

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are intensely competitive and subject to rapid and significant technological change. We have competitors in the United States, Europe and other jurisdictions, including major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical and generic drug companies and universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have greater financial and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and more experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. Large pharmaceutical companies, in particular, have extensive experience in clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals, recruiting patients and manufacturing pharmaceutical products. These companies also have significantly greater research, sales and marketing capabilities and collaborative arrangements in our target markets with leading companies and research institutions. Established pharmaceutical companies may also invest heavily to accelerate discovery and development of novel compounds or to in-license novel compounds that could make the drug candidates that we develop obsolete. As a result of all of these factors, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection and/or FDA approval or discovering, developing and commercializing drugs for diseases that we are targeting before we do. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. In addition, many universities and private and public research institutes may become active in our target disease areas. Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis, technologies and drug products that are more effective or less costly than our drug candidates that we are currently developing or that we may develop, which could render our products obsolete and noncompetitive.

We believe that our ability to successfully compete will depend on, among other things:

the results of our pre-clinical and clinical trials;
our ability to recruit and enroll patients for clinical trials;
the efficacy, safety and reliability of our drug candidates;
the speed at which we develop drug candidates;
our ability to design and successfully execute appropriate clinical trials;
our ability to maintain a good relationship with regulatory authorities;
the timing and scope of regulatory approvals, if any;
our ability to commercialize and market any of our drug candidates that receive regulatory approval;
the price of our products;
adequate levels of reimbursement under private and governmental health insurance plans, including Medicare;
our ability to protect our intellectual property rights related to our products;
our ability to manufacture and sell commercial quantities of any approved products to the market; and
acceptance of our drug candidates by physicians and other health care providers.

If our competitors market products that are more effective, safer or less expensive than our future products, if any, or that reach the market sooner than our future products, if any, we may not achieve commercial success. In addition, the biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by rapid technological change. If we fail to stay at the forefront of technological change, we may be unable to compete effectively. Technological advances or products developed by our competitors may render our drug candidates obsolete, less competitive or not economical.

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We intend to utilize third-party contractors for a substantial portion of our operations and may not be able to control their work as effectively as if we performed these functions ourselves.

We intend to outsource substantial portions of our operations to third-party service providers, including the conduct of future pre-clinical and clinical studies, collection and analysis of data and manufacturing. Our agreements with third-party service providers and contract research organizations, or CROs, will be on a study-by-study and project-by-project basis. Typically, we may terminate the agreements with notice and are responsible for the supplier’s previously incurred costs. In addition, any CRO that we retain will be subject to the FDA’s and European Medicine Agency’s, or EMA’s, regulatory requirements and similar standards outside of the United States and Europe and we do not have control over compliance with these regulations by these providers. Consequently, if these providers do not adhere to applicable governing practices and standards, the development, manufacturing and commercialization of our drug candidates could be delayed or stopped, which could severely harm our business and financial condition.

Because we intend to rely on third parties, our internal capacity to perform these functions will be limited to management oversight. Outsourcing these functions involves the risk that third parties may not perform to our standards, may not produce results in a timely manner or may fail to perform at all. It is possible that we could experience difficulties in the future with our third-party service providers. In addition, the use of third-party service providers requires us to disclose our proprietary information to these parties, which could increase the risk that this information will be misappropriated. There are a limited number of third-party service providers that specialize or have the expertise required to achieve our business objectives. Identifying, qualifying and managing performance of third-party service providers can be difficult, time consuming and cause delays in our development programs. Our operations are currently conducted pursuant to management services agreements, which limits the internal resources we have available to identify and monitor third-party service providers. To the extent we are unable to identify, retain and successfully manage the performance of third-party service providers in the future, our business may be adversely affected, and we may be subject to the imposition of civil or criminal penalties if their conduct of clinical trials violates applicable law.

A variety of risks associated with potential international business relationships could materially adversely affect our business.

We may enter into agreements with third parties for the development and commercialization of our drug candidates in international markets. International business relationships subject us to additional risks that may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or sustain profitable operations, including:

differing regulatory requirements for drug approvals internationally;
potentially reduced protection for our licensed intellectual property rights;
potential third-party patent rights in countries outside of the United States;
the potential for so-called “parallel importing,” which is what occurs when a local seller, faced with relatively high local prices, opts to import goods from another jurisdiction with relatively low prices, rather than buying them locally;
unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers and regulatory requirements;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability, particularly in non-U.S. economies and markets, including several countries in Europe;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees traveling abroad;
taxes in other countries;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;

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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, or natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, floods, hurricanes and fires.

We will need to expand our operations and increase the size of our company, and we may experience difficulties in managing growth.

As we increase the number of our ongoing drug development programs and our drug candidates continue pre-clinical studies and, in the future, clinical trials, we will need to increase our drug development, scientific and administrative headcount to manage these programs. In addition, we will need to increase our general and administrative capabilities. Our management, personnel and systems currently in place may not be adequate to support this future growth. Our need to effectively manage our operations, growth and various projects requires that we:

successfully attract and recruit new employees or consultants with the expertise and experience we will require;
manage clinical programs effectively, which we anticipate being conducted at numerous clinical sites; and
continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

If we are unable to successfully manage this growth and increased complexity of operations, our business may be adversely affected.

We may not be able to manage our business effectively if we are unable to attract and retain key personnel and consultants.

We may not be able to attract or retain qualified management, finance, scientific and clinical personnel and consultants due to the intense competition for qualified personnel and consultants among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other businesses. If we are not able to attract and retain necessary personnel and consultants to accomplish our business objectives, we may experience constraints that will significantly impede the achievement of our development objectives, our ability to raise additional capital and our ability to implement our business strategy.

Our industry has experienced a high rate of turnover of management personnel in recent years. We are highly dependent on the expertise of our officers, directors, advisors and consultants, and our ability to implement our business strategy successfully could be seriously harmed if we were to lose their services. Replacing executive officers, directors, key employees, advisors and consultants may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize products successfully. Competition to hire and retain employees and consultants from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these additional key personnel and consultants. Our failure to retain key personnel or consultants could materially harm our business.

In addition, we have scientific and clinical advisors and consultants who assist us in formulating our research, development and clinical strategies. These advisors are not our employees and may have commitments to, or consulting or advisory contracts with, other entities that may limit their availability to us and typically they will not enter into non-compete agreements with us. If a conflict of interest arises between their work for us and their work for another entity, we may lose their services. In addition, our advisors may have arrangements with other companies to assist those companies in developing products or technologies that may compete with ours.

Security breaches, loss of data and other disruptions could compromise sensitive information related to our business, prevent us from accessing critical information or expose us to liability, which could adversely affect our business and our reputation.

We utilize information technology systems and networks to process, transmit and store electronic information in connection with our business activities. As the use of digital technologies has increased, cyber incidents, including deliberate attacks and attempts to gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks, have increased in frequency and sophistication. These threats pose a risk to the security of our systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data, all of which are vital to our operations and business strategy. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in preventing cyber-attacks or successfully mitigating their effects.

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Despite the implementation of security measures, our computer systems and those of our future CROs and other third-party service providers are vulnerable to damage or disruption from hacking, computer viruses, software bugs, unauthorized access or disclosure, natural disasters, terrorism, war, and telecommunication, equipment and electrical failures. In addition, there can be no assurance that we will promptly detect any such disruption or security breach, if at all. Unauthorized access, loss or dissemination could disrupt our operations, including our ability to conduct research and development activities, process and prepare company financial information, and manage various general and administrative aspects of our business. To the extent that any such disruption or security breach results in a loss of or damage to our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure or theft of confidential, proprietary or personal information, we could incur liability, suffer reputational damage or poor financial performance or become the subject of regulatory actions by state, federal or non-US authorities, any of which could adversely affect our business.

Any failure to comply with applicable data protection and privacy laws and regulations could lead to significant penalties against us, and adversely impact our operating results.

We are subject to U.S. data protection laws and regulations, including laws and regulations that address privacy and data security. Numerous federal and state laws, including state data breach notification laws and state health information privacy laws, govern the collection, use, and disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information. Failure to comply with data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions and create liability for us, which could include civil and/or criminal penalties, private litigation and/or adverse publicity that could negatively affect our operating results and business. EU member states and other countries have also adopted data protection laws and regulations which impose significant compliance obligations. In the European Union, the collection and use of personal health data has been governed by the provisions of the EU Data Protection Directive. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaced the Data Protection Directive (with an enforcement date of May 25, 2018) and is designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and to protect all EU citizens’ data privacy and will have a significant impact on how certain data is processed and handled. The European Union data protection laws and regulations impose strict obligations and restrictions on the ability to collect, analyze and transfer personal data, including health data clinical trials.

Our future employees may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards, which could significantly harm our business.

We will be exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other misconduct. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with the regulations of the FDA and other U.S. and non-U.S. regulators, provide accurate information to the FDA and other U.S. and non-U.S. regulators, comply with health care fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the health care industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Employee misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. Our board of directors plans to adopt a code of ethics and business conduct, but, even with such adoption, it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct. The precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.

We face potential product liability exposure, and if successful claims are brought against us, we may incur substantial liability for a drug candidate and may have to limit its commercialization.

The use of our drug candidates in clinical trials and the sale of any products for which we may obtain marketing approval expose us to the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims may be brought against us or our potential future collaborators by participants enrolled in our clinical trials, patients, health care providers or others using, administering or selling our products. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against any such claims, we would incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:

withdrawal of clinical trial participants;

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termination of clinical trial sites or entire trial programs;
costs of related litigation;
substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants;
decreased demand for our drug candidates and loss of revenues;
impairment of our business reputation;
diversion of management and scientific resources from our business operations; and
the inability to commercialize our drug candidates.

Our insurance policies may be expensive and only protect us from some business risks, which will leave us exposed to significant uninsured liabilities.

We do not know if we will be able to maintain insurance with adequate levels of coverage. Any significant uninsured liability may require us to pay substantial amounts, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

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Risks Relating to Regulatory Review and Approval of our Drug Candidates

In respect of our drug candidates targeting rare indications, orphan drug exclusivity may afford limited protection, and if another party obtains orphan drug exclusivity for the drugs and indications we are targeting, we may be precluded from commercializing our drug candidates in those indications during that period of exclusivity.

The first New Drug Application, or NDA, applicant with an Orphan Drug Designation for a particular active moiety to treat a specific disease or condition that receives FDA approval is usually entitled to a seven-year exclusive marketing period in the U.S. for that drug, for that indication. We intend to rely, in part, on this orphan drug exclusivity and other regulatory exclusivities to protect our NCEs and, potentially, our other products and drug candidates from competitors, and we expect to continue relying in part on these regulatory exclusivities in the future. The duration of that exclusivity period could be impacted by a number of factors, including the FDA’s later determination that the request for designation was materially defective, that the manufacturer is unable to supply sufficient quantities of the drug, or that the extension of the exclusivity period established by the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act does not apply. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain Orphan Drug Designation for other drug candidates or other rare diseases or that a drug candidate for which we receive Orphan Drug Designation will be approved, or that we will be awarded orphan drug exclusivity upon approval as, for example, the FDA may reconsider whether the eligibility criteria for such exclusivity have been met and/or maintained. Moreover, a drug product with an active moiety that is a different cannabinoid from that in any of our drug candidate or, under limited circumstances, the same drug product, may be approved by the FDA for the same indication during the period of marketing exclusivity. The limited circumstances include a showing that the second drug is clinically superior to the drug with marketing exclusivity through a demonstration of superior safety or efficacy or that it makes a major contribution to patient care. In addition, if a competitor obtains approval and marketing exclusivity for a drug product with an active moiety that is the same as that in a drug candidate we are pursuing for the same indication before us, approval of our drug candidate would be blocked during the period of marketing exclusivity unless we could demonstrate that our drug candidate is clinically superior to the approved product. In addition, if a competitor obtains approval and marketing exclusivity for a drug product with an active moiety that is the same as that in a drug candidate we are pursuing for a different orphan indication, this may negatively impact the market opportunity for our drug candidate. There have been legal challenges to aspects of the FDA’s regulations and policies concerning the exclusivity provisions of the Orphan Drug Act, including whether two drugs are the same drug product, and future challenges could lead to changes that affect the protections potentially afforded our products in ways that are difficult to predict. In a recent successful legal challenge, a court invalidated the FDA’s denial of orphan exclusivity to a drug on the grounds that the drug was not proven to be clinically superior to a previously approved product containing the same ingredient for the same orphan use. In response to the decision, the FDA released a policy statement stating that the court’s decision is limited just to the facts of that particular case and that the FDA will continue to require the sponsor of a designated drug that is the “same” as a previously approved drug to demonstrate that its drug is clinically superior to that drug upon approval in order to be eligible for orphan drug exclusivity, or in some cases, to even be eligible for marketing approval. In the future, there is the potential for additional legal challenges to the FDA’s orphan drug regulations and policies, and it is uncertain how such challenges might affect our business.

In the European Union, if a marketing authorization is granted for a medicinal product that is designated an orphan drug, that product is entitled to ten years of marketing exclusivity. During the period of marketing exclusivity, subject to limited exceptions, no similar medicinal product may be granted a marketing authorization for the orphan indication. There is no assurance that we will successfully obtain orphan drug designation for future rare indications or orphan exclusivity upon approval of any of our drug candidates that have already obtained designation. Even if we obtain orphan exclusivity for any drug candidate, the exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if at the end of the fifth year it is established that the orphan designation criteria are no longer met or if it is demonstrated that the orphan drug is sufficiently profitable that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Further, a similar medicinal product may be granted a marketing authorization for the same indication notwithstanding our marketing exclusivity if we are unable to supply sufficient quantities of our product, or if the second product is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to our orphan drug. In addition, if a competitor obtains marketing authorization and orphan exclusivity for a product that is similar to a drug candidate we are pursuing for the same indication, approval of our drug candidate would be blocked during the period of orphan marketing exclusivity unless we could demonstrate that our drug candidate is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior to the approved product.

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We cannot be certain that any of our drug candidates will receive regulatory approval, and without regulatory approval we will not be able to market our drug candidates.

Our business currently depends entirely on the successful development and commercialization of our drug candidates. Our ability to generate revenue related to product sales, if ever, will depend on the successful development and regulatory approval of our drug candidates and our licensing of our drug candidates, in one or more of their targeted indications.

We are currently researching our drug candidates and thus have no products approved for sale and cannot guarantee that there will ever have marketable products. The development of a drug candidate and issues relating to its approval and marketing are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA in the United States, the EMA in Europe and regulatory authorities in other countries, with regulations differing from country to country. We are not permitted to market our drug candidates in the United States or Europe until we receive approval of a NDA from the FDA or a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, from the EMA, respectively. We have not submitted any marketing applications for any of our drug candidates.

NDAs and MAAs must include extensive pre-clinical and clinical data and supporting information to establish the drug candidate’s safety and effectiveness for each desired indication. NDAs and MAAs must also include significant information regarding the chemistry, manufacturing and controls for the product. Obtaining approval of a NDA or a MAA is a lengthy, expensive and uncertain process, and we may not be successful in obtaining approval. The FDA and the EMA review processes can take years to complete and approval is never guaranteed. If we submit an NDA to the FDA, the FDA must decide whether to accept or reject the submission for filing. We cannot be certain that any submissions will be accepted for filing and review by the FDA. Regulators of other jurisdictions, such as the EMA, have their own procedures for approval of drug candidates. Even if a product is approved, the FDA or the EMA, as the case may be, may limit the indications for which the product may be marketed, require extensive warnings on the product labeling or require expensive and time-consuming clinical trials or reporting as conditions of approval. Regulatory authorities in countries outside of the United States and Europe also have requirements for approval of drug candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those countries. Obtaining regulatory approval for marketing of a drug candidate in one country does not ensure that we will be able to obtain regulatory approval in any other country. In addition, delays in approvals or rejections of marketing applications in the United States, Europe or other countries may be based upon many factors, including regulatory requests for additional analyses, reports, data, pre-clinical studies and clinical trials, regulatory questions regarding different interpretations of data and results, changes in regulatory policy during the period of product development and the emergence of new information regarding our drug candidates or other products. Also, regulatory approval for any of our drug candidates may be withdrawn.

Before we submit an NDA to the FDA or a MAA to the EMA for any of our drug candidates, we must successfully complete pre-clinical studies and subsequent clinical trials. We cannot predict whether our future trials and studies will be successful or whether regulators will agree with our conclusions regarding the pre-clinical studies we have conducted to date.

If we are unable to obtain approval from the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory agencies for our drug candidates, or if, subsequent to approval, we are unable to successfully commercialize our drug candidates, we will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to become profitable or to continue our operations.

If we receive regulatory approvals, we intend to market our drug candidates in multiple jurisdictions where we have limited or no operating experience and may be subject to increased business and economic risks that could affect our financial results.

If we receive regulatory approvals, we plan to market our drug candidates in jurisdictions where we have limited or no experience in marketing, developing and distributing our products and cannot guarantee that we will ever have marketable products. Certain markets have substantial legal and regulatory complexities that we may not have experience navigating. We are subject to a variety of risks inherent in doing business internationally, including risks related to the legal and regulatory environment in non-U.S. jurisdictions, including with respect to privacy and data security, trade control laws and unexpected changes in laws, regulatory requirements and enforcement, as well as risks related to fluctuations in currency exchange rates and political, social and economic instability in foreign countries. If we are unable to manage our international operations successfully, our financial results could be adversely affected.

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In addition, controlled substance legislation may differ in other jurisdictions and could restrict our ability to market our products internationally. Most countries are parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, which governs international trade and domestic control of narcotic substances, including Cannabis extracts. Countries may interpret and implement their treaty obligations in a way that creates a legal obstacle to us obtaining marketing approval for our drug candidates in those countries. These countries may not be willing or able to amend or otherwise modify their laws and regulations to permit our candidates to be marketed, or achieving such amendments to the laws and regulations may take a prolonged period of time. We would be unable to market our candidates in countries with such obstacles in the near future or perhaps at all without modification to laws and regulations.

Delays in the commencement, enrollment and completion of pre-clinical studies and clinical trials could result in increased costs to us and delay or limit our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our drug candidates.

Delays in the commencement, enrollment and completion of our future pre-clinical studies and clinical trials could increase our product development costs or limit the regulatory approval of our drug candidates. We will require additional funding for our business activities. In addition, we do not know whether any future trials or studies of our other drug candidates, including any confirmatory clinical trial of our drug candidates, will begin on time or will be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement, enrollment and completion of clinical trials can be delayed or suspended for a variety of reasons, including:

inability to obtain sufficient funds required for the commencement of pre-clinical and clinical trials;
inability to reach agreements on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;
clinical holds, other regulatory objections to commencing a clinical trial or the inability to obtain regulatory approval to commence a clinical trial in countries that require such approvals;
discussions with the FDA or non-U.S. regulators regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials;
inability to identify and maintain a sufficient number of trial sites, many of which may already be engaged in other clinical trial programs, including some that may be for the same indications targeted by our drug candidates;
inability to obtain approval from institutional review boards, or IRBs, to conduct a clinical trial at their respective sites;
severe or unexpected drug-related adverse effects experienced by patients;
inability to timely manufacture sufficient quantities of the drug candidate required for a clinical trial;
difficulty recruiting and enrolling patients to participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including meeting the enrollment criteria for our study and competition from other clinical trial programs for the same indications as our drug candidates, including, for example the delays in initiating the DUET-01 clinical trial; and
inability to retain enrolled patients after a clinical trial is underway.

Changes in regulatory requirements and guidance may also occur and we may need to amend clinical trial protocols to reflect these changes with appropriate regulatory authorities. Amendments may require us to resubmit clinical trial protocols to IRBs for re-examination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. In addition, any future clinical trial may be suspended or terminated at any time by us, our future collaborators, the FDA or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including:

our failure to conduct a clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements of our clinical protocols;
unforeseen safety issues or any determination that any future clinical trial presents unacceptable health risks;
lack of adequate funding to begin any future clinical trial due to unforeseen costs or other business decisions; and

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a breach of the terms of any agreement with, or for any other reason by, future collaborators that have responsibility for the clinical development of any of our drug candidates.

In addition, if we, or any of our potential future collaborators, are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other pre-clinical studies of our drug candidates beyond those contemplated, our ability to obtain regulatory approval of these drug candidates and generate revenue from their sales would be similarly harmed.

Our drug candidates may have undesirable side effects which may delay or prevent marketing approval, or, if approval is received, require them to be taken off the market, require them to include safety warnings or otherwise limit their sales.

Unforeseen side effects from any of our drug candidates could arise either during clinical development or, if approved, after the approved product has been marketed. The range and potential severity of possible side effects from systemic therapies is significant. The results of future clinical trials may show that our drug candidates cause undesirable or unacceptable side effects, which could interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials, and result in delay of, or failure to obtain, marketing approval from the FDA and other regulatory authorities, or result in marketing approval from the FDA and other regulatory authorities with restrictive label warnings.

If any of our drug candidates receives marketing approval and we or others later identify undesirable or unacceptable side effects caused by such products:

regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, specific warnings, a contraindication or field alerts to physicians and pharmacies;
we may be required to change instructions regarding the way the product is administered, conduct additional clinical trials or change the labeling of the product;
we may be subject to limitations on how we may promote the product;
sales of the product may decrease significantly;
regulatory authorities may require us to take our approved product off the market;
we may be subject to litigation or product liability claims; and
our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us or our potential future collaborators from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product or could substantially increase commercialization costs and expenses, which in turn could delay or prevent us from generating significant revenues from the sale of our products.

Reimbursement decisions by third-party payors may have an adverse effect on pricing and market acceptance. If there is not sufficient reimbursement for our drug candidates, if approved, it is less likely that they will be widely used.

Market acceptance and sales of our drug candidates, if approved, will depend on reimbursement policies and may be affected by, among other things, future healthcare reform measures. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which drugs they will cover and establish payment levels. We cannot be certain that reimbursement will be available for our drug candidates, if approved. Also, we cannot be certain that reimbursement policies will not reduce the demand for, or the price paid for, our drug candidates. If reimbursement is not available or is available on a limited basis, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our drug candidates.

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In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), was enacted, which, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs, and provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research. Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, effective January 1, 2024, the statutory cap on Medicaid Drug Rebate Program rebates that manufacturers pay to state Medicaid programs will be eliminated. Elimination of this cap may require pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay more in rebates than it receives on the sale of products, which could have a material impact on our business. In July 2021, the Biden administration released an executive order, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” with multiple provisions aimed at increasing competition for prescription drugs. In response to this executive order, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has released a Comprehensive Plan for Addressing High Drug Prices that outlines principles for drug pricing reform and potential legislative policies that Congress could pursue to advance these principles. In addition, Congress is considering legislation that, if passed, could have significant impact on prices of prescription drugs covered by Medicare, including limitations on drug price increases, which may adversely affect our profitability. At the state level, a number of states are considering or have recently enacted state drug price transparency and reporting laws that could substantially increase our compliance burdens and expose us to greater liability under such state laws once we begin commercialization after obtaining regulatory approval for any of our products.

Since its enactment, there have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. In June 2021, the United States Supreme Court held that Texas and other challengers had no legal standing to challenge the ACA, dismissing the case without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Accordingly, the ACA remains in effect in its current form. It is unclear how this Supreme Court decision, future litigation, or healthcare measures promulgated by the Biden administration will impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. Complying with any new legislation or changes in healthcare regulation could be time-intensive and expensive, resulting in material adverse effect on our business.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, 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 of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in 2013, and will remain in effect through 2031, with the exception of a temporary suspension implemented under various COVID-19 relief legislation from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, unless additional Congressional action is taken. Under the current legislation, the actual reduction in Medicare payments will vary from 1% in 2022 to up to 3% in the final fiscal year of this sequester. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

The U.S. government has in the past considered, is currently considering and may in the future consider healthcare policies and proposals intended to curb rising healthcare costs, including those that could significantly affect both private and public reimbursement for healthcare services. State and local governments, as well as a number of foreign governments, are also considering or have adopted similar types of policies. Future significant changes in the healthcare systems in the United States or elsewhere, and current uncertainty about whether and how changes may be implemented, could have a negative impact on the demand for our products. We are unable to predict whether other healthcare policies, including policies stemming from legislation or regulations affecting our business, may be proposed or enacted in the future; what effect such policies would have on our business; or the effect ongoing uncertainty about these matters will have on the purchasing decisions of our customers.

We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our products or additional pricing pressures.

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If we do not obtain protection under the Hatch-Waxman Act and similar legislation outside of the United States by extending the patent terms and obtaining data exclusivity for our drug candidates, our business may be materially harmed.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA marketing approval of our drug candidates, if any, one or more of our U.S. licensed patents may be eligible for limited patent term restoration under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, 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 restoration or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we will have the right to exclusively market our drug candidate will be shortened and our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our licensed patent expiration, and our revenue could be reduced, possibly materially.

If we market products in a manner that violates healthcare fraud and abuse laws, or if we violate government price reporting laws, we may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical products, several other types of state and federal healthcare laws, commonly referred to as “fraud and abuse” laws, have been applied in recent years to restrict certain marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry. Other jurisdictions such as Europe have similar laws. These laws include false claims and anti-kickback statutes. If we market our products and our products are paid for by governmental programs, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of these laws.

Federal false claims laws prohibit any person from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment to the federal government or knowingly making, or causing to be made, a false statement to get a false claim paid. The federal healthcare program anti-kickback statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce, or in return for, purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any healthcare item or service covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other federally financed healthcare programs. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers or formulary managers on the other. Although there are several statutory exemptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution, the exemptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly, and practices that involve remuneration intended to induce prescribing, purchasing or recommending may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exemption or safe harbor. Most states also have statutes or regulations similar to the federal anti-kickback law and federal false claims laws, which apply to items and services covered by Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor. Administrative, civil and criminal sanctions may be imposed under these federal and state laws.

Over the past few years, a number of pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies have been prosecuted under these laws for a variety of promotional and marketing activities, such as: providing free trips, free goods, sham consulting fees and grants and other monetary benefits to prescribers; reporting inflated average wholesale prices that were then used by federal programs to set reimbursement rates; engaging in off-label promotion; and submitting inflated best price information to the Medicaid Rebate Program to reduce liability for Medicaid rebates.

If the FDA and EMA and other regulatory agencies do not approve the manufacturing facilities of our future contract manufacturers for commercial production, we may not be able to commercialize any of our drug candidates.

We do not currently intend to manufacture any products that we plan to sell. We currently have no agreements with contract manufacturers for the production of the active pharmaceutical ingredients and the formulation of sufficient quantities of drug product for our drug candidates’ pre-clinical studies and clinical trials and that we believe we will need to conduct prior to seeking regulatory approval.

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We do not have agreements for commercial supplies of any of our drug candidates and we may not be able to reach agreements with these or other contract manufacturers for sufficient supplies to commercialize a drug candidate if it is approved. Additionally, the facilities used by any contract manufacturer to manufacture a drug candidate must be the subject of a satisfactory inspection before the FDA or the regulators in other jurisdictions approve the drug candidate manufactured at that facility. We will be completely dependent on these third-party manufacturers for compliance with the requirements of U.S. and non-U.S. regulators for the manufacture of our finished products. If our manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conform to our specifications and current good manufacturing practice requirements of any governmental agency whose jurisdiction to which we are subject, our drug candidates will not be approved or, if already approved, may be subject to recalls. Reliance on third-party manufacturers entails risks to which we would not be subject if we manufactured the drug candidates, including:

the possibility that we are unable to enter into a manufacturing agreement with a third party to manufacture our drug candidates;
the possible breach of the manufacturing agreements by the third parties because of factors beyond our control; and
the possibility of termination or nonrenewal of the agreements by the third parties before we are able to arrange for a qualified replacement third-party manufacturer.

Any of these factors could cause the delay of approval or commercialization of our drug candidates, cause us to incur higher costs or prevent us from commercializing our drug candidates successfully. Furthermore, if any of our drug candidates are approved and contract manufacturers fail to deliver the required commercial quantities of finished product on a timely basis and at commercially reasonable prices and we are unable to find one or more replacement manufacturers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, in substantially equivalent volumes and quality and on a timely basis, we would likely be unable to meet demand for our products and could lose potential revenue. It may take several years to establish an alternative source of supply for our drug candidates and to have any such new source approved by the government agencies that regulate our products.

Even if our drug candidates receive regulatory approval, we may still face future development and regulatory difficulties.

Our drug candidates, if approved, will also be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, record-keeping and submission of safety and other post-market information. In addition, approved products, manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA and EMA requirements and requirements of other similar agencies, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs. As such, we and our contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and periodic inspections to assess compliance with cGMPs. 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. We will also be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems, if any, to the FDA and EMA and other similar agencies and to comply with certain requirements concerning advertising and promotion for our products. Promotional communications with respect to prescription drugs are subject to a variety of legal and regulatory restrictions and must be consistent with the information in the product’s approved label. Accordingly, we may not promote our approved products, if any, for indications or uses for which they are not approved.

If a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product, such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, or disagrees with the promotion, marketing or labeling of a product, it may impose restrictions on that product or us, including requiring withdrawal of the product from the market. If our drug candidates fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements, a regulatory agency may:

issue warning letters;
mandate modifications to promotional materials or require us to provide corrective information to healthcare practitioners;
require us or our potential future collaborators to enter into a consent decree or permanent injunction, which can include imposition of various fines, reimbursements for inspection costs, required due dates for specific actions and penalties for noncompliance;

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impose other administrative or judicial civil or criminal penalties;
withdraw regulatory approval;
refuse to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or our potential future collaborators;
impose restrictions on operations, including costly new manufacturing requirements; or
seize or detain products.

Risks Relating to the Commercialization of Our Products

Even if approved, our drug candidates may not achieve broad market acceptance among physicians, patients and healthcare payors, and as a result our revenues generated from their sales may be limited.

The commercial success of our drug candidates, if approved, will depend upon their acceptance among the medical community, including physicians, health care payors and patients. The degree of market acceptance of our drug candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:

limitations or warnings contained in our drug candidates’ FDA-approved labeling;
changes in the standard of care or availability of alternative therapies at similar or lower costs for the targeted indications for any of our drug candidates;
limitations in the approved clinical indications for our drug candidates;
demonstrated clinical safety and efficacy compared to other products;
lack of significant adverse side effects;
sales, marketing and distribution support;
availability of reimbursement from managed care plans and other third-party payors;
timing of market introduction and perceived effectiveness of competitive products;
the degree of cost-effectiveness;
availability of alternative therapies at similar or lower cost, including generics and over-the-counter products;
the extent to which our drug candidates are approved for inclusion on formularies of hospitals and managed care organizations;
whether our drug candidates are designated under physician treatment guidelines for the treatment of the indications for which we have received regulatory approval;
adverse publicity about our drug candidates or favorable publicity about competitive products;
convenience and ease of administration of our drug candidates; and
potential product liability claims.

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If our drug candidates are approved, but do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients, the medical community and healthcare payors, sufficient revenue may not be generated from these products and we may not become or remain profitable. In addition, efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payors on the benefits of our drug candidates may require significant resources and may never be successful.

We have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities and we will have to invest significant resources to develop those capabilities or enter into acceptable third-party sales and marketing arrangements.

We have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities. To develop internal sales, distribution and marketing capabilities, we will have to invest significant amounts of financial and management resources, some of which will be committed prior to any confirmation that our initial drug candidate or any of our other drug candidates will be approved. For drug candidates where we decide to perform sales, marketing and distribution functions ourselves or through third parties, we could face a number of additional risks, including:

we or our third-party sales collaborators may not be able to attract and build an effective marketing or sales force;
the cost of securing or establishing a marketing or sales force may exceed the revenues generated by any products; and
our direct sales and marketing efforts may not be successful.

We may have limited or no control over the sales, marketing and distribution activities of these third parties. Our future revenues may depend heavily on the success of the efforts of these third parties.

We may not be successful in establishing and maintaining development and commercialization collaborations, which could adversely affect our ability to develop certain of our drug candidates and our financial condition and operating results.

Because developing pharmaceutical products, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approval, establishing manufacturing capabilities and marketing approved products are expensive, we may seek collaborations with companies that have more experience. Additionally, if any of our drug candidates receives marketing approval, we may enter into sales and marketing arrangements with third parties with respect to our unlicensed territories. If we are unable to enter into arrangements on acceptable terms, if at all, we may be unable to effectively market and sell our products in our target markets. We expect to face competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Moreover, collaboration arrangements are complex and time consuming to negotiate, document and implement and they may require substantial resources to maintain. We may not be successful in our efforts to establish and implement collaborations or other alternative arrangements for the development of our drug candidates.

When we collaborate with a third party for development and commercialization of a drug candidate, we can expect to relinquish some or all of the control over the future success of that drug candidate to the third party. For example, we may relinquish the rights to a drug candidate in jurisdictions outside of the United States. Our collaboration partner may not devote sufficient resources to the commercialization of our drug candidates or may otherwise fail in their commercialization. The terms of any collaboration or other arrangement that we establish may not be favorable to us. In addition, any collaboration that we enter into may be unsuccessful in the development and commercialization of our drug candidates. In some cases, once we have begun pre-clinical and initial clinical development of a drug candidate, we may be responsible for continuing research, or research programs under a collaboration arrangement, and the payment we receive from our collaboration partner may be insufficient to cover the cost of this development. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators for our drug candidates, we would face increased costs, we may be forced to limit the number of our drug candidates we can commercially develop or the territories in which we commercialize them and we might fail to commercialize products or programs for which a suitable collaborator cannot be found. If we fail to achieve successful collaborations, our operating results and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

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If serious adverse events or other undesirable side effects are identified during the development of a drug candidate for one indication, we may need to abandon our development of the drug candidate for other indications.

Drug candidates in clinical stages of development have a high risk of failure. We cannot predict when, or if, a drug candidate will prove effective or safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. New side effects could, however, be identified as we begin clinical trials for our drug candidate in additional indications. If new side effects are found during the development of a drug candidate for any indication, if known side effects are shown to be more severe than previously observed or if a drug candidate is found to have other unexpected characteristics, we may need to abandon our development of a drug candidate for all potential indications. We cannot assure you that additional or more severe adverse side effects with respect to a drug candidate will not develop in when we begin clinical trials, which could delay or preclude regulatory approval of a drug candidate or limit its commercial use.

Risks Relating to Our Intellectual Property

It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights, and we may not be able to ensure their protection. If our licensed patent position does not adequately protect our drug candidates, others could compete against us more directly, which would harm our business, possibly materially.

Our commercial success will depend in part on our licensors and us obtaining and maintaining patent protection and trade secret protection of our current and future drug candidates and the methods used to manufacture them, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our drug candidates is dependent upon the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents or trade secrets that cover these activities and the right under our licensed patent to contest alleged infringement.

The patent positions of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies can be highly uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions for which important legal principles remain unresolved. No consistent policy regarding the breadth of claims allowed in pharmaceutical patents has emerged to date in the United States or in many jurisdictions outside of the United States. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretations of patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our licensed intellectual property. Accordingly, we cannot predict the breadth of claims that may be enforced in the patents that may be issued from the applications we currently or may in the future own or license from third parties. Further, if any patents we obtain or license are deemed invalid and unenforceable, our ability to commercialize or license our technology could be adversely affected.

Others have filed, and in the future, are likely to file, patent applications covering products and technologies that are similar, identical or competitive to ours or important to our business. We cannot be certain that any patent application owned by a third party will not have priority over patent applications filed or in-licensed by us, or that we or our licensors will not be involved in interference, opposition or invalidity proceedings before U.S. or non-U.S. patent offices.

The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage. For example:

others may be able to develop a platform similar to, or better than, ours in a way that is not covered by the claims of our licensed or owned patents;
others may be able to make compounds that are similar to our drug candidates but that are not covered by the claims of patents we have or are licensed to us;
we might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by any pending patent applications which have been or may be filed;
we might not have been the first to file patent applications for these inventions;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies;
any patents that we obtain, or are licensed to us, may not provide us with any competitive advantages;

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we, or our licensors, may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable; or
the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

Without patent protection on the composition of matter of our drug candidates, our ability to assert our patents to stop others from using or selling our drug candidates in a non-pharmaceutically acceptable formulation may be limited.

Due to the patent laws of a country, or the decisions of a patent examiner in a country, or our own filing strategies, we may not obtain patent coverage for all of our drug candidates or methods involving these candidates in the parent patent application. We plan to pursue and request our licensors to pursue divisional patent applications or continuation patent applications in the United States and other countries to obtain claim coverage for inventions which were disclosed but not claimed in the parent patent application.

We may also rely on trade secrets to protect our technology, especially where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or feasible. However, trade secrets are difficult to protect. Although we use reasonable efforts to protect our trade secrets, our employees, consultants, contractors, outside scientific collaborators and other advisors may unintentionally or willfully disclose our information to competitors. Enforcing a claim that a third party illegally obtained and is using any of our trade secrets may be expensive and time consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, courts outside the United States are sometimes less willing to protect trade secrets. Moreover, our competitors may independently develop equivalent knowledge, methods and know-how.

Our commercial success will depend, in part, on our ability, and the ability of our licensors, to obtain and maintain patent protection. Our licensors’ failure to obtain and maintain patent protection for our products may have a material adverse effect on our business.

Pursuant to our license agreements with COH and the NIH and license agreements and MOUs with the Hebrew University’s technology transfer office, we have obtained and may obtain rights to certain patents. For additional information regarding these license agreements, see “Business  —  Intellectual Property.” In the future, we may seek rights from third parties to other patents or patent applications. Our success will depend, in part, on our ability and the ability of our licensors to maintain and/or obtain and enforce patent protection for our proposed products and to preserve our trade secrets, and to operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of third parties. Patent positions in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals are generally highly uncertain and involve complex legal and scientific questions. We cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first inventors of inventions covered by our licensed patents or that we or they were the first to file. Accordingly, the patents licensed to us may not be valid or afford us protection against competitors with similar technology. The failure to maintain and/or obtain patent protection on the technologies underlying our proposed products may have material adverse effects on our competitive position and business prospects.

We may incur substantial costs as a result of litigation or other proceedings relating to patent and other intellectual property rights.

If we choose to go to court to stop another party from using the inventions claimed in any patents we may obtain, that individual or company has the right to ask the court to rule that such patents are invalid or should not be enforced against that third party. These lawsuits may be expensive and would consume time and resources and divert the attention of managerial and scientific personnel even if we were successful in stopping the infringement of such patents. In addition, there is a risk that the court will decide that such patents are not valid and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the inventions.

There is also the risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will refuse to stop the other party on the ground that such other party’s activities do not infringe our rights to such patents. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently modified some tests used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in granting patents over the past 20 years, which may decrease the likelihood that we will be able to obtain patents and increase the likelihood of challenge of any patents we obtain or license.

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We may infringe the intellectual property rights of others, which may prevent or delay our drug development efforts and stop us from commercializing or increase the costs of commercializing our drug candidates.

Our success will depend in part on our ability to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. We cannot guarantee that our drug candidates, or manufacture or use of our drug candidates, will not infringe third-party patents. Furthermore, a third party may claim that we or our manufacturing or commercialization collaborators are using inventions covered by the third party’s patent rights and may go to court to stop us from engaging in our normal operations and activities, including making or selling our drug candidates. These lawsuits are costly and could affect our results of operations and divert the attention of managerial and scientific personnel. There is a risk that a court would decide that we or our commercialization collaborators are infringing the third party’s patents and would order us or our collaborators to stop the activities covered by the patents. In that event, we or our commercialization collaborators may not have a viable way around the patent and may need to halt commercialization of the relevant product. In addition, there is a risk that a court will order us or our collaborators to pay the other party damages for having violated the other party’s patents. In the future, we may agree to indemnify our commercial collaborators against certain intellectual property infringement claims brought by third parties. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have produced a proliferation of patents, and it is not always clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of products or methods of use. The coverage of patents is subject to interpretation by the courts, and the interpretation is not always uniform. If we are sued for patent infringement, we would need to demonstrate that our products or methods either do not infringe the patent claims of the relevant patent or that the patent claims are invalid, and we may not be able to do this. Proving invalidity is difficult. For example, in the United States, proving invalidity requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of validity enjoyed by issued patents. Even if we are successful in these proceedings, we may incur substantial costs and divert management’s time and attention in pursuing these proceedings, which could have a material adverse effect on us. If we are unable to avoid infringing the patent rights of others, we may be required to seek a license, which may not be available, defend an infringement action or challenge the validity of the patents in court. Patent litigation is costly and time consuming. We may not have sufficient resources to bring these actions to a successful conclusion. In addition, if we do not obtain a license, develop or obtain non-infringing technology, fail to defend an infringement action successfully or have infringed patents declared invalid, we may incur substantial monetary damages, encounter significant delays in bringing our drug candidates to market and be precluded from manufacturing or selling our drug candidates.

We cannot be certain that others have not filed patent applications for technology covered by pending applications subject to our license agreements, or that we were the first to invent the technology, because:

some patent applications in the United States may be maintained in secrecy until the patents are issued;
patent applications in the United States are typically not published until 18 months after the priority date; and
publications in the scientific literature often lag behind actual discoveries.

Our competitors may have filed, and may in the future file, patent applications covering technology similar to ours. Any such patent application may have priority over our patent applications, which could further require us to obtain rights to issued patents covering such technologies. If another party has filed a U.S. patent application on inventions similar to ours, we may have to participate in an interference proceeding declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention in the United States. The costs of these proceedings could be substantial, and it is possible that such efforts would be unsuccessful if, unbeknownst to us, the other party had independently arrived at the same or similar invention prior to our own invention, resulting in a loss of our U.S. patent position with respect to such inventions. Other countries have similar laws that permit secrecy of patent applications, and may be entitled to priority over our applications in such jurisdictions.

Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our operations.

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

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various governmental patent agencies outside of the United States in several stages over the lifetime of the patents and/or applications. Currently, we rely upon our licensors to fund the payments under our license agreements. We are required to reimburse our licensors for these fees. The USPTO and various non-U.S. governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. However, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market and this circumstance would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Some of our drug candidates are subject to U.S. controlled substance laws and regulations and failure to comply with these laws and regulations, or the cost of compliance with these laws and regulations, may adversely affect the results of our business operations, both during pre-clinical and clinical development and post-approval, and our financial condition.

Certain of the drug candidates we may develop contain controlled substances as defined in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, or the CSA. Controlled substances that are pharmaceutical products are subject to a high degree of regulation under the CSA, which establishes, among other things, certain registration, manufacturing quotas, security, recordkeeping, reporting, import, export and other requirements administered by the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. The DEA classifies controlled substances into five schedules: Schedule I, II, III, IV or V substances. Schedule I substances by definition have a high potential for abuse, no currently “accepted medical use” in the United States, lack accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and may not be prescribed, marketed or sold in the United States. Pharmaceutical products approved for use in the United States may be listed as Schedule II, III, IV or V, with Schedule II substances considered to present the highest potential for abuse or dependence and Schedule V substances the lowest relative risk among such substances. Schedule I and II drugs are subject to the strictest controls under the CSA, including manufacturing and procurement quotas, security requirements and criteria for importation. In addition, dispensing of Schedule II drugs is further restricted. For example, they may not be refilled without a new prescription.

While cannabis, cannabis extracts, and some cannabinoids are Schedule I controlled substances (except the DEA has de-scheduled CBD included in Epidiolex), products approved for medical use in the United States that contain cannabis, cannabis extracts, some cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoids have been, and we expect should be, placed on Schedules II through V, since approval by the FDA satisfies the “accepted medical use” requirement.

If and when our drug candidates receive FDA approval, we expect the finished dosage forms of our cannabinoid-based drug candidates may be listed by the DEA as a Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance for it to be prescribed for patients in the United States. Consequently, their manufacture, importation, exportation, domestic distribution, storage, sale and legitimate use will be subject to a significant degree of regulation by the DEA. In addition, the scheduling process may take one or more years beyond FDA approval, thereby delaying the launch of our drug products in the United States. However, the DEA must issue a temporary order scheduling the drug within 90 days after the FDA approves the drug and the DEA receives a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, if the FDA, DEA, or any foreign regulatory authority determines that any of our drug candidates may have potential for abuse, it may require us to generate more clinical or other data than we currently anticipate to establish whether or to what extent the substance has an abuse potential, which could increase the cost and/or delay the launch of our drug products.

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Facilities conducting research, manufacturing, distributing, importing or exporting, or dispensing controlled substances must be registered (licensed) to perform these activities and have the security, control, recordkeeping, reporting and inventory mechanisms required by the DEA to prevent drug loss and diversion. All these facilities must renew their registrations annually, except dispensing facilities, which must renew every three years. The DEA conducts periodic inspections of certain registered establishments that handle controlled substances. Obtaining the necessary registrations may result in delay of the manufacturing, development, or distribution of our drug candidates. Furthermore, failure to maintain compliance with the CSA, particularly non-compliance resulting in loss or diversion, can result in regulatory action that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The DEA may seek civil penalties, refuse to renew necessary registrations, or initiate proceedings to restrict, suspend or revoke those registrations. In certain circumstances, violations could lead to criminal proceedings. Individual states have also established controlled substance laws and regulations. Though state-controlled substances laws often mirror federal law, because the states are distinct jurisdictions, they may separately schedule our drug candidates. While some states automatically schedule a drug based on federal action, other states schedule drugs through rulemaking or a legislative action. State scheduling may delay commercial sale of any product for which we obtain federal regulatory approval and adverse scheduling could have a material adverse effect on the commercial attractiveness of such product. We or our partners or clinical sites must also obtain separate state registrations, permits or licenses in order to be able to obtain, handle, and distribute controlled substances for clinical trials or commercial sale, and failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements could lead to enforcement and sanctions by the states in addition to those from the DEA or otherwise arising under federal law.

To conduct clinical trials with our drug candidates in the United States prior to approval, each of our research sites may be required to obtain and maintain a DEA researcher registration that will allow those sites to handle and dispense the drug candidate and to obtain the product. If the DEA delays or denies the grant of a research registration to one or more research sites, the clinical trial could be significantly delayed, and we could lose clinical trial sites.

Manufacturing of our drug candidates is, and, if approved, our commercial products may be, subject to the DEA’s annual manufacturing and procurement quota requirements, if classified as Schedule II. The annual quota allocated to us or our contract manufacturers for the controlled substances in our drug candidates may not be sufficient to meet commercial demand or complete clinical trials. Consequently, any delay or refusal by the DEA in establishing our, or our contract manufacturers’, procurement and/or production quota for controlled substances could delay or stop our clinical trials or product launches, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and operations.

If, upon approval of any of our drug candidates, the product is scheduled as Schedule II or III, we would also need to identify wholesale distributors with the appropriate DEA registrations and authority to distribute the product to pharmacies and other health care providers. The failure to obtain, or delay in obtaining, or the loss any of those registrations could result in increased costs to us. Furthermore, state and federal enforcement actions, regulatory requirements, and legislation intended to reduce prescription drug abuse, such as the requirement that physicians consult a state prescription drug monitoring program may make physicians less willing to prescribe, and pharmacies to dispense, our products, if approved.

Our ability to research, develop and commercialize our drug candidates is dependent on our ability to obtain and maintain the necessary controlled substance registrations from DEA.

In the United States, the DEA regulates activities relating to the supply of cannabis for medical research and/or commercial development, including the requirement to obtain annual registrations to manufacture or distribute pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis extracts. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, also plays a role in oversight of the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal research. We do not currently handle any controlled substances, but we plan to partner with third-parties to engage in the research and development of our drug candidates, which may include synthetically-derived cannabinoids, or derivatives thereof, that are found in cannabis for medical purposes. This may require that our third-party service providers obtain and maintain the necessary DEA registrations, and be subject to other regulatory requirements.

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Laws and regulations affecting therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are constantly evolving and the legalization and use of medical and recreational cannabis in the U.S. and elsewhere may impact our business.

Currently, thirty-seven U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical cannabis. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia also allow its recreational use. Because cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance, however, the development of a legal cannabis industry under the laws of these states is in conflict with the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes cannabis use and possession illegal on a national level. The United States Supreme Court has confirmed that the federal government has the right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, including for medical purposes, and that federal law criminalizing the use of cannabis pre-empts state laws that legalize its use.

In 2014, the United States House of Representatives passed an amendment (the “Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment”) to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which funds the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”). The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prohibits the DOJ from using funds to prevent states with medical cannabis laws from implementing such laws. In August 2016, a Ninth Circuit federal appeals court ruled in United States v. McIntosh that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment bars the DOJ from spending funds on the prosecution of conduct that is allowed by state medical cannabis laws, provided that such conduct is in strict compliance with applicable state law. While the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has been included as a rider to the Consolidated Appropriations Acts every year since 2014, there can be no assurances that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment will be included in future appropriations bills or budget resolutions. The federal government could at any time change its enforcement priorities against the cannabis industry. We do not grow or distribute cannabis, but our current and planned business operations may involve developing drug candidates which are or contain cannabinoids. Any change in enforcement priorities could render such operations unprofitable or even prohibit such operations.

All research and development activities for our drug candidates which are or contain cannabinoids in the United States has been conducted through the NIH, which we believe has complied with all applicable laws, or in Israel (with respect to our drug candidates licensed from Hebrew University). We intend to continue our drug development activities in the U.S. in compliance with all applicable laws and in other jurisdictions, including Israel, with more favorable laws and regulations regarding research using cannabinoids. We do not believe that any of our current operations are subject to federal or state laws regarding the possession or use of cannabis.

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Risks Associated with Our Common Stock

Claims for indemnification by our directors and officers may reduce our available funds to satisfy successful stockholder claims against us and may reduce the amount of money available to us.

As permitted by Section 102(b)(7) of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation limits the liability of our directors to the fullest extent permitted by law. In addition, as permitted by Section 145 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation and by-laws provide that we shall indemnify, to the fullest extent authorized by the Delaware General Corporation Law, each person who is involved in any litigation or other proceeding because such person is or was a director or officer of the company or is or was serving as an officer or director of another entity at our request, against all expense, loss or liability reasonably incurred or suffered in connection therewith. Our certificate of incorporation provides that indemnification includes the right to be paid expenses incurred in defending any proceeding in advance of its final disposition, provided, however, that such advance payment will only be made upon delivery to us of an undertaking, by or on behalf of the director or officer, to repay all amounts so advanced if it is ultimately determined that such director is not entitled to indemnification.

Section 145 of the Delaware General Corporation Law permits a corporation to indemnify any director or officer of the corporation against expenses (including attorney’s fees), judgments, fines and amounts paid in settlement actually and reasonably incurred in connection with any action, suit or proceeding brought by reason of the fact that such person is or was a director or officer of the corporation, if such person acted in good faith and in a manner that he reasonably believed to be in, or not opposed to, the best interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any criminal action or proceeding, if he or she had no reason to believe his or her conduct was unlawful. In a derivative action, (i.e., one brought by or on behalf of the corporation), indemnification may be provided only for expenses actually and reasonably incurred by any director or officer in connection with the defense or settlement of such an action or suit if such person acted in good faith and in a manner that he or she reasonably believed to be in, or not opposed to, the best interests of the corporation, except that no indemnification shall be provided if such person shall have been adjudged to be liable to the corporation, unless and only to the extent that the court in which the action or suit was brought shall determine that the defendant is fairly and reasonably entitled to indemnity for such expenses despite such adjudication of liability.

The above limitations on liability and our indemnification obligations limit the personal liability of our directors and officers for monetary damages for breach of their fiduciary duty as directors by shifting the burden of such losses and expenses to us. Certain liabilities or expenses covered by our indemnification obligations may not be covered by such insurance or the coverage limitation amounts may be exceeded. We currently have director and officer liability insurance that we do not anticipate would cover our indemnification obligations that may arise in connection with current litigation. As a result, we may need to use a significant amount of our funds to satisfy our indemnification obligations, which could severely harm our business and financial condition and limit the funds available to stockholders who may choose to bring a claim against the company.

Although our common stock is listed on Nasdaq, there can be no assurance that an active and liquid public market will be sustained.

Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Market. Notwithstanding such listing, there can be no assurance that an active or liquid public market will be sustained. In the absence of an active or liquid public market, investors may have difficulty buying and selling or obtaining market quotations; market visibility for our securities may be limited; and a lack of visibility for our securities may have a depressive effect on any market price for our securities. Moreover, there can be no assurance that securities analysts of brokerage firms will provide coverage of our company, if at all. There is currently no research coverage on the company. In the event there is no active or liquid public market for our common stock or coverage of our company by securities analysts of brokerage firms, you may be unable to dispose of your common stock at desirable prices or at all. Moreover, there is a risk that our common stock could be delisted from Nasdaq or any other trading market on which it may be listed or quoted.

The lack of an active or liquid public market may impair our ability to raise capital to continue to fund operations by selling securities and may impair our ability to acquire additional intellectual property assets by using our securities as consideration.

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We have received several notices from Nasdaq identifying deficiencies in compliance with Nasdaq listing standards, which if we are unable to successfully address, would result in the de-listing of our common stock from Nasdaq.

As a result of the decline in the trading price for our common stock and the composition of the Board resulting from the Proxy Contest, the company received the Nasdaq Notices. The Nasdaq Notices identify deficiencies with respect to requirements for (i) the MVLS Requirement, (ii) the MVPHS Requirement, (iii) the Majority Independent Requirement, (iv) the Committees Requirement, and (v) the Bid Price Requirement. Under Nasdaq rules, the company has a cure period of 180 days from the date of each respective Nasdaq Notice to regain compliance with the MVLS Requirement, the MVPHS Requirement and Bid Price Requirement. Such 180-day cure periods expire on July 12, 2022, August 30, 2022 and October 4, 2022, respectively. The Committees Requirement provides a cure period to regain compliance: (i) until the earlier of the company’s next annual stockholders’ meeting or January 5, 2023, or (ii) if the next annual stockholders’ meeting is held before July 5, 2022, then the company must evidence compliance no later than July 5, 2022. The Majority Independent Requirement requires the company to submit to Nasdaq a plan for regaining compliance within 45 days of the date of the Nasdaq Notice, or May 2, 2022. If such plan is accepted, Nasdaq can grant an extension of up to 180 calendar days from the date of the Nasdaq Notice for the Majority Independent Requirement for the company to evidence compliance. While the company believes that it can regain compliance with each of the Listing Requirements, there can be no assurance that the company will be able do so within the prescribed periods, or at all. Failure to regain compliance with the Listing Requirements would result in the de-listing of our common stock from Nasdaq.

We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock.

We have not paid any cash dividends on our shares of common stock to date. The payment of cash dividends on our common stock in the future will be dependent upon our revenues and earnings, if any, capital requirements and general financial condition and will be within the discretion of our board of directors. It is the present intention of our board of directors to retain all earnings, if any, for use in our business operations and, accordingly, our board of directors does not anticipate declaring any dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. As a result, any gain you will realize on shares of our common stock will result solely from the appreciation of such shares.

We are an “emerging growth company,” and in addition, we are also a “smaller reporting company”, and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies or smaller reporting 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, which was 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, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years, 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 following the fifth anniversary of the completion of an initial public offering, (2) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion, (3) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th, and (4) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities 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 common stock may suffer or be more volatile.

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Section 107 of the JOBS Act provides that an “emerging growth company” can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, for complying with new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an “emerging growth company” can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards under Section 102(b)(1) of the JOBS Act. This election allows us to delay the adoption of new or revised accounting standards that have different effective dates for public and private companies until those standards apply to private companies. As a result of this election, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with public company effective dates.

As an “emerging growth company,” we also rely on exemptions from certain reporting requirements, including without limitation, (i) providing an auditor’s attestation report on our system of internal controls over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and (ii) complying with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements, known as the auditor discussion and analysis.

We also qualify as a “smaller reporting company,” meaning we are not an investment company, an asset-backed  issuer, or a majority-owned subsidiary of a parent company that is not a “smaller reporting company” which allows us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements including reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and certain reduced financial disclosures in our periodic reports, including this Annual Report. In addition, we are eligible to remain a smaller reporting company, for so long as we have a public float (based on our common equity) of less than $250 million measured as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter or a public float (based on our common equity) or less than $700 million as of such date and annual revenues of less than $100 million during the most recently completed fiscal year.  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 of these disclosure exemptions, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.

Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation, could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing by us conducted in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our consolidated financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock.

Provisions in our corporate charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of us more difficult and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Provisions in our corporate charter and our by-laws may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change in control of us that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, thereby depressing the market price of our common stock. In addition, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors. Because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions could in turn affect any attempt by our stockholders to replace current members of our management team. Among others, these provisions include the following.

our board of directors is divided into three classes with staggered three-year terms which may delay or prevent a change of our management or a change in control;

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our board of directors has the right to appoint directors to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of our board of directors or the resignation, death or removal of a director, which will prevent stockholders from being able to fill vacancies on our board of directors;
our certificate of incorporation prohibits cumulative voting in the election of directors, which limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates; and
our board of directors is able to issue, without stockholder approval, shares of undesignated preferred stock, which makes it possible for our board of directors to issue preferred stock with voting or other rights or preferences that could impede the success of any attempt to acquire us.

These provisions may also frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management or members of our board of directors. In addition, we are subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which generally prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with an interested stockholder for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an interested stockholder, unless such transactions are approved by our board of directors. This provision could have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control, whether or not it is desired by or beneficial to our stockholders. Further, other provisions of Delaware law may also discourage, delay or prevent someone from acquiring us or merging with us.

Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws include a forum selection clause, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees, or agents.

Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Chancery Court shall be the sole and exclusive forum for:

(a) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf;

(b) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, employees, or agents to us or to our stockholders;

(c) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, the certificate of incorporation, or the by-laws; or

(d) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine except that our by-laws provide that as to each of (a) through (d) above, any claim (i) as to which such court determines that there is an indispensable party not subject to the jurisdiction of such court (and the indispensable party does not consent to the personal jurisdiction of such court within ten (10) days following such determination), (ii) which is vested in the exclusive jurisdiction of a court or forum other than such court or (iii) for which such court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. In no event, however, shall the Court of Chancery, under our by-laws, constitute an exclusive forum for actions, including derivative actions arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, thereby allowing any such actions to be filed in any court having jurisdiction. Our by-laws further provide that if the Chancery Court does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be the sole and exclusive forum for the matters specified above.

These exclusive-forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees, or agents, which may discourage lawsuits against us or our directors, officers, employees, or agent. If a court were to find either exclusive-forum provision in our certificate of incorporation or By-laws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could seriously harm our business.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

Not Applicable to smaller reporting companies.

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Item 2. Properties.

Our corporate headquarters is located at 420 Lexington Avenue, in New York, New York, where office space is made available to us pursuant to a management services agreement, which provides for an approximately $3,500 per month fee for such office space and facilities. We also have corporate office space in Los Angeles, California. Office space in Tel Aviv, Israel, is also made available to us at variable costs.

We believe that our facilities are suitable and adequate for our current needs.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

The company is a party to a number of legal proceedings. See “Item 1. Business - Litigation, Proxy Contest and Other Matters.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not Applicable.

PART II

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

Market for Common Equity

Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “SCPS.” The company received deficiency letters from Nasdaq relating to non-compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing requirements. Our common stock could become subject to delisting from Nasdaq if we fail to regain compliance.

Holders

As of April 8. 2022, we had approximately 174 record holders of our common stock. This does not reflect persons or entities that hold our common stock in nominee or “street” name through various brokerage firms, which includes non-objecting beneficial owners. We believe that the aggregate number of record and street name stockholders exceeds 3,000.

Dividends

We have not paid any cash dividends on our shares of common stock to date. The payment of cash dividends in the future will be dependent upon our revenues and earnings, if any, capital requirements and general financial condition and will be within the discretion of our board of directors. It is the current intention of our board of directors to retain all earnings, if any, for use in our business operations and, accordingly, our board of directors does not anticipate declaring any dividends in the foreseeable future.

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Equity Compensation Plans

The following table provides information regarding securities that have been or are authorized to be issued under our equity compensation plans as of December 31, 2021.

    

Number of

    

    

Number

 

Securities to

 

Weighted-

 

of Securities

 

be Issued

 

Average

 

Remaining

 

Upon

 

Exercise

 

Available for

 

Exercise of

 

Price of

 

Future

 

Outstanding

 

Outstanding

 

Issuance

 

Options,

 

Options,

 

Under Equity

 

Warrants

 

Warrants

 

Compensation

 

and Rights

and Rights

 

Plans

Equity compensation plans approved by security holders

 

800,000

$

4.23

 

200,000

Equity compensation plans not approved by security holders

 

$

 

1,400,000

Total

 

800,000

$

4.23

 

1,600,000

Sales of Unregistered Securities

In June 2021, we issued 1,266,667 shares of our common stock to the former stockholders of Bioscience Oncology Pty. Ltd. in satisfaction of a milestone payment earned upon the allowance of an IND application for CpG-STAT3siRNA by the FDA, which occurred in May 2021. The shares issued were not issued in a transaction involving a public offering within the meaning of Section 4(a)(2).

In June 2021, we entered into a Stock Exchange Agreement with the stockholders of Olimmune (now Duet Biotherapeutics Inc.). Pursuant to the Stock Exchange Agreement, we acquired all of the issued and outstanding shares of Olimmune.  In connection with the Stock Exchange Agreement, we issued to Olimmune stockholders 1,000,000 shares of our common stock. We also issued 100,000 shares of our common stock to COH, in the aggregate, as additional consideration in connection with the execution of the ASO Exclusive License Agreement and the Decoy Exclusive License Agreement. The shares issued were not issued in a transaction involving a public offering within the meaning of Section 4 (a)(2).

In November 2021, we completed a private placement of 3,000,000 shares of our common stock, Series A Additional Investment Options, or Series A AIOs, to purchase 1,500,000 shares of our common stock, and Series B Additional Investment Options, or Series B AIOs, and together with the Series A AIOs, the AIOs, to purchase 1,500,000 shares of our common stock, at a purchase price of $3.25 per share and associated AIOs. The AIOs expire January 18, 2027 and have an exercise price of $3.125 per share.  We received gross proceeds of $9.75 million in connection with the private placement.  In connection with the private placement, we issued the placement agent Additional Investment Options to purchase up to 225,000 shares of our common stock, which expire January 18, 2027 and have an exercise price of $4.0625 per share. The shares issued were not issued in a transaction involving a public offering within the meaning of Section 4(a)(2), in reliance on the safe harbor contained in Regulation D.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

None.

Item 6. Selected Financial Data

Not applicable to smaller reporting companies.

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

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this report. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this report, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business and related financing, includes forward-looking statements involving risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis.

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing transformational therapeutics for serious diseases with significant unmet medical need. Our mission is to improve patient outcomes and save lives. We have been focusing our development efforts on our immuno-oncology programs. In September 2021, we announced the launch of Duet. Duet integrates the management and clinical development of the Duet Platform. Duet Therapeutics, formerly Olimmune, was acquired by Scopus in June 2021.

The Duet Platform relies on a novel approach to immuno-oncology with a suite of bifunctional oligonucleotides that activate APCs within the tumor microenvironment, while alleviating tumor immunosuppression to jump-start T cell-mediated immune responses. The unique mechanism-of-action of these synthetic oligonucleotides comes from simultaneously targeting two intracellular immune pathways – STAT3, a master immune checkpoint inhibitor, and TLR9. The targeted inhibition of STAT3 reawakens immune cells and allows for the full potential of TLR9-driven innate and adaptive immune responses.

The Duet Platform is comprised of three distinctive, complementary CpG-STAT3 inhibitors:

·

RNA silencing

CpG-STAT3siRNA

(“DUET-01”)

·

Antisense

CpG-STAT3ASO

(“DUET-02”)

·

DNA-binding inhibitor

CpG-STAT3decoy

(“DUET-03”)

DUET-01 is in a Phase 1 clinical trial, as a monotherapy, for NHL. On March 2, 2022, the clinical trial sponsor publicly updated to May 2022 the possible start date for enrollment. The design of the existing investigator-sponsored clinical protocol for DUET-01, including the number of study visits, together with constraints on mobility and travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused delays in enrollment. The company has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the sponsor, who has been evaluating the applicable protocol with a view to reducing and/or more closely concentrating subject visits. As a siRNA-based technology, DUET-01 is delivered intratumorally. Pursuant to the Kortylewski SRA, research is being initiated to evaluate increasing the stability of novel siRNA-based molecules to enable systemic delivery. DUET-02 is being developed for systemic delivery. We are, through Duet, developing DUET-02, which has a similar mechanism of action to DUET-01, except the STAT3 inhibitor is an ASO RNA molecule rather than a siRNA. The STAT3ASO molecule binds directly to the STAT3 mRNA, RNase H1 to degrade the STAT3 mRNA. The use of ASO permits other chemical modifications resulting in greater stability in human blood. This allows for systemic treatment of harder-to-reach solid tumors such as prostate or kidney cancers. Dose-range finding studies, GLP toxicology studies, and GMP manufacturing of the drug substance and product are all currently in process. Duet expects to file an IND for DUET-02 in Q4 2022 in advanced solid malignancies, with Phase 1 clinical trials anticipated to begin in Q1 2023 in the United States. DUET-03 uses an alternative to the destruction of mRNA to silence STAT3 activity, such as with DUET-01 and DUET-02, instead targeting the actual STAT3 transcription factor protein. Duet is also evaluating combination therapies with checkpoint inhibitors.

The company has licenses for additional drug candidates, including drug candidates targeting SSc and other fibrotic conditions and opioid-sparing pain treatments. As a result of the company’s increased emphasis on its immuno-oncology programs and other considerations, we have been continuing to reduce allocations of resources to other programs.

We have devoted significant resources to our development efforts relating to our drug candidates. On an ongoing basis, the company continues to refine, update and enhance its immuno-oncology pipeline and target indications, including prioritizing solid tumor indications. The company also continually evaluates the possibilities of additional studies with a view to enhancing, among other things, the effectiveness and method of delivery of our drug candidates and identifying additional protections for our intellectual property.

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We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any revenue. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses. We anticipate that all of our expenses will increase substantially, including as we:

continue our research and development efforts;
contract with third-party research organizations to management our clinical and pre-clinical trials for our drug candidates;
outsource the manufacturing of our drug candidates for clinical testing and pre-clinical trials;
seek to obtain regulatory approvals for our drug candidates;
maintain, expand, and protect our intellectual property portfolio;
add operational, financial and management information systems and personnel to support our research and development and regulatory efforts;
continue to be engaged in litigation and actions taken by and/or against the Adverse Parties and Adverse Stockholders; and
operate as a public company.

We do not expect to generate revenue from product sales unless and until we successfully complete development and obtain marketing approval for one or more of our drug candidates, which we expect will take a number of years and is subject to significant uncertainty. Accordingly, we will need to raise additional capital to fund our operations. Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial revenue from product sales, we expect to finance our operating activities through equity and debt offerings. We may also raise capital through government or other third-party funding and grants, collaborations and development agreements, strategic alliances, and licensing arrangements. However, we may be unable to raise additional funds or enter into such other arrangements when needed on favorable terms or at all. Moreover, our ability to raise capital is currently impeded by limited availability of authorized common stock. Our failure to raise capital or enter into such other arrangements as and when needed would impair our ability to develop our drug candidates and would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

We have incurred net losses in every year since our inception. Our net loss has materially increased for the year ended December 31, 2021. From inception (April 18, 2017) through December 31, 2021, we have funded our operations through the issuance of common stock, warrants and convertible notes. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of approximately $41.5 million.

On April 1, 2022, the Company filed a Notification of Late Filing on Form 12b-25 (the “12b-25”) reporting that the Company’s Annual Report could not be filed within the prescribed time period without unreasonable effort or expense. Disclosure included in the 12b-25 provided that the Company “expects to report a material increase in net loss, key components of which are set forth below, for the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to a net loss of approximately $11 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. The net loss for the year ended December 31, 2021 is attributable principally to: (a) approximately $15 million of research and development expenses, including acquired in-process research and development expensed in connection with a key acquisition and (b) approximately $13 million of general and administrative expenses, including an aggregate of approximately $8 million of fees, costs and/or expenses relating to (i) a proxy contest for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and related proceedings, including an action pursuant to Section 225 of the Delaware General Corporation Law and (ii) additional related litigation by or against the participants engaged in the proxy contest and other litigation by parties associated and/or acting with such participants. The amount set forth in (a) above includes non-cash expenses of approximately $12.6 million.” The approximately $15 million of research and development expenses includes approximately $8.1 million relating to the company’s acquisition of Olimmune in June 2021 and approximately $5.1 million in milestone consideration incurred in 2021 relating to the acquisition of Bioscience Oncology in June 2020.

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Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

Our management’s discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based on our consolidated financial statements, which we have prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America, or U.S. 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 financial statements, as well as the reported revenues and expenses during the reporting periods. We evaluate these estimates and judgments on an ongoing basis. We base our estimates on 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. Our actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

Our significant accounting policies and estimates are more fully described in Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report. We believe that the accounting policies are critical for fully understanding and evaluating our financial condition and results of operations.

JOBS Act

On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act, was enacted. Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can delay adopting new or revised accounting standards issued after the enactment of the JOBS Act until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected to avail ourselves of this exemption from new or revised accounting standards, and, therefore, will not be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as public companies that are not emerging growth companies. As a result of this election, our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that are not emerging growth companies.

As an “emerging growth company,” we also rely on exemptions from certain reporting requirements, including without limitation: (i) providing an auditor’s attestation report on our system of internal controls over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and (ii) complying with any requirement that may be adopted by the PCAOB regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements, known as the auditor discussion and analysis. We will remain an “emerging growth company” until the earliest of (i) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have total annual gross revenues of $1.07 billion or more; (ii) the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the completion of an initial public offering; (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during the previous three years; or (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer under the rules of the SEC.

Results of Operations

Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2021 Versus Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020

The following table summarizes our results of operation for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020:

    

Year Ended

    

 

(in Thousands)

 

December 31,

 

 

2021

 

2020

Change

 

% Change

Operating Expenses:

General and Administrative

$

12,611

$

2,732

$

9,879

361.6

%

Research and Development

 

15,023

 

7,424

 

7,599

102.4

%

Loss from Operations

 

(27,634)

 

(10,156)

 

(17,478)

172.1

%

Other income (expense):

Interest expense

(775)

(706)

(69)

9.8

%

Change in fair value of common stock warrant liability

1,456

1,456

100.0

%

Total other income (expense), net

681

(706)

1,387

196.5

%

Net Loss

$

(26,953)

$

(10,862)

$

(16,091)

148.1

%

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As set forth in the is Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview (“MD&A Overview”), our net loss has materially increased for the year ended December 31, 2021 as compared to the year earlier period. Our net losses were approximately $27.0 million and $10.9 million for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively, an increase of approximately $16.1 million, or 148.1%. We anticipate our fiscal year net losses will continue to increase as we continue to advance our research and drug development activities and incur additional general and administrative expenses, including fees, costs and expenses relating to the Adverse Parties litigation.

Approximate financial results contained in the MD&A Overview correspond to the results in the summary table, above, as follows: “net loss of approximately $11 million” ($10.862 million); “approximately $15 million of research and development expenses” ($15.023 million); and “approximately $13 million of general and administrative expenses” ($12.611 million). As also noted in the MD&A Overview, of the approximately $15 million of research and development expenses, an aggregate of approximately $13.2 million related to the company’s acquisition of Olimmune in June 2021 and milestone consideration incurred in 2021 relating to the acquisition of Bioscience Oncology in June 2020.

Revenue

We did not have any revenue during our fiscal years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020. Our ability to generate product revenues in the future will depend almost entirely on our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize a drug candidate, or enter into collaborations that provide for payments to us.

Operating Expenses

General and Administrative Expenses

As contained in the summary table above and the narrative information referenced below the table, general and administrative expenses were approximately $12.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 as compared to approximately $2.7 million for the year earlier period. This increase reflects, in part, being a public company for the full year in 2021 as compared to approximately two weeks in 2020. General and administrative expenses constitute our second most significant category of expenses after research and development expenses, as described below. The full year of public company-related costs in 2021 includes such expenses related to public company reporting; professional fees; compliance with corporate governance and internal controls; directors and officers liability insurance; and compensation to certain members of the Board and Board committees. Additional public company expenses in 2021 include a full year of investor relations costs, including costs associated with participation in and sponsorship of various industry conferences and travel costs associated with investor conferences and investor meetings. General and administrative expenses also increased in 2021 relating to fees and expenses for the portions of prospective and completed acquisitions and financing transactions not otherwise included in research and development expense or accounted for as offsets to offering proceeds, respectively. The company completed a follow-on public offering in February 2021, the acquisition of Olimmune in June 2021, and a private placement in November 2021. A significant component of general and administrative expenses is compensation, including stock-based compensation, and/or benefits for our operating team, which is comprised of nine members, including our employees, including pursuant to employment contracts, executive officers who provide services pursuant to a management services agreement, and key consultants pursuant to consulting or advisory agreements. Our senior management consists of the President and Chief Executive Officer of Duet, our Chairman and our Vice Chairman, who are advised by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board. General and administrative expenses include six months of post-acquisition general and administrative expenses of Olimmune in 2021. As also set forth in the MD&A Overview, summary table above, and narrative information referenced below the table, we incurred substantial general and administrative expenses commencing in 2021, including an aggregate of approximately $8 million of expenses relating to the Proxy Contest, including fees, costs and expenses of corporate and securities law and litigation counsel, and various other expenses incurred in connection with the contested election, and fees and expenses relating primarily to litigation by or against the Adverse Parties, the Adverse Stockholders, and/or parties associated or acting with such Adverse Parties and Adverse Stockholders, including the Delaware Litigation, the Section 225 Action, the Derivative Complaint, and certain other pending and withdrawn actions. Additional Proxy Contest costs include fees and expenses of strategic and crisis communications and proxy solicitation. These litigation costs also include legal fees and other expenses incurred in connection with the legal advice provided to the Board and certain directors and committees thereof, including relating to discussions and negotiations relating to attempted negotiated resolutions with certain Adverse Parties and the internal review conducted by the Audit Committee in 2021. See “Item 1. Business - Litigation, Proxy Contest and Other Matters.” for additional information.

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Research and Development and Expenses

We recognize research and development expenses as they are incurred. Our research and development expenses consist of the costs associated with our acquisition of intellectual property that is classified as in-process research and development and fees incurred under our agreements with COH, the NIH and Hebrew University, including the expenses associated with securities issued in connection with such agreements, as applicable. For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, we incurred research and development expenses of approximately $15.0 million and $7.4 million, respectively, an increase of approximately $7.6 million or 102.4%. Of these amounts, approximately $12.7 million and $6.3 million were non-cash expenses incurred in connection with our acquisitions of Duet and Bioscience Oncology in 2021 and 2020, respectively.  These expenses increased primarily as a result of the costs related to our acquisition of Duet, the upfront costs under the Duet License Agreements and costs associated with the filing of the IND and preparation for the Phase 1 clinical trial for DUET-01. Expenses relating to the acquisition of Duet, the Duet license costs, and the DUET-01 IND and Phase I clinical trial were $7.0 million, $1.1 million, and $1.2 million, respectively. These new expenses were offset by an approximately $1.6 million decrease in in-process research and development costs related to our acquisition of Bioscience Oncology and DUET-01 in 2020. We anticipate that our research and development expenses, exclusive of any in-process research and development relating to our acquisitions, will increase for the foreseeable future as we continue the development of our drug candidates.

Other income (expense)

Other income (expense) consists of changes in the fair value of a warrant liability, as well as interest expense on our Convertible Notes. Interest expense increased by approximately by $69,000, or 9.8%, from $706,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020 to $775,000 for the year ended December 31, 2021. The increase was primarily related to the amortization of discount and accrued interest on the Convertible Notes issued between February 2020 and September 2020 totaling approximately $2.9 million. Effective July 31, 2021, the holders of the Convertible Notes converted, under the original terms of the Convertible Notes, an aggregate of approximately $3.1 million of initial principal and accrued and unpaid interest at a rate of $0.50 per W Warrant, resulting in the issuance of 6,169,771 W Warrants. The remaining outstanding principal and accrued and unpaid interest through July 31, 2021 of approximately $0.1 million was repaid in cash. Accordingly, the company has no further obligations under the Convertible Notes at December 31, 2021.

Other income related to the change in fair value of warrant liability was approximately $1.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2021. There was no income or expense related to the warrant liability in prior year. This income during the year ended December 31, 2021 is associated with the decrease of a liability related to certain warrants issued in August and September 2020 which were reclassified from equity to warrant liability on June 25, 2021. Until their reclassification into equity on July 31, 2021, we were required to revalue warrants classified on our balance sheet as a liability at the end of each reporting period and reflect a gain or loss from the change in fair value in the period in which the change occurred. We calculated the fair value of such warrants using a Monte Carlo daily price simulation.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

We have incurred losses since our inception and, as of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of approximately $41.5 million. We anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for at least the next several years.

Since April 18, 2017 (inception) through December 31, 2021, we have funded our operations principally with approximately $29.1 million in gross proceeds from the sale of convertible notes, common stock, warrants and units comprised of common stock and warrants, the exercise of a portion of such warrants, and units comprised of common stock and additional investment options (“AIOs”). We had cash of approximately $4.0 million and approximately $7.9 million at March 31, 2022 and December 31, 2021, respectively.

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The company is party to litigation in several matters as of the date hereof.  Litigation is highly unpredictable and the costs of litigation, including legal fees and expenses, and the possible liabilities, including monetary damages, to which the company could become subject could be significant. Any such liabilities could have a material adverse effect on the company. The company has not recorded any liability as of December 31, 2021 because a potential loss was not probable or reasonably estimable given the preliminary nature of the various proceedings.  Subsequent to December 31 2021, the company has continued to commit significant capital resources relating to ongoing litigation. The company’s existing capital resources will not be sufficient to fully implement its business plan, including the development of its drug candidates, while also continuing to be subject to or pursuing ongoing litigation. The company will require additional financing and there can be no assurance that any such financing will be available on satisfactory terms, or at all. Moreover, our ability to raise capital is currently impeded by limited availability of authorized common stock. Further, there can be no assurance that the absence of any additional financing, as necessary, will not have a material adverse effect on the company. See “Legal Proceedings”.

Future Funding Requirements

We have not generated any revenue. We do not know when, or if, we will generate any revenue from product sales. We do not expect to generate significant revenue from product sales unless and until we obtain regulatory approval of and commercialize any of our drug candidates. At the same time, we expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing development activities, particularly as we continue to research, develop, and seek regulatory approval for, our drug candidates. We expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. In addition, subject to obtaining regulatory approval of any of our drug candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses for product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution. We anticipate that we will need substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations.

As a result, we anticipate that we will need substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations to fund future clinical trials and pre-clinical testing for our drug candidates, general and administrative costs and public company and other expenses, including potential indemnification obligations and legal fees (primarily related to litigation). See “Legal Proceedings” for additional information concerning such matters. We expect to finance our cash needs primarily through the sale of our debt and equity securities. However, our ability to raise capital is currently impeded by limited availability of authorized common stock. We may also raise capital through government or other third-party funding and grants, collaborations and development agreements, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the development and commercialization of our drug candidates, we are unable to estimate the amounts of additional capital outlays and operating expenditures necessary to complete the development of our drug candidates.

Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

the progress, costs, results and timing of our drug candidates’ future clinical studies and future pre-clinical trials, and the clinical development of our drug candidates for other potential indications beyond their initial target indications;
the willingness of the FDA and the EMA to accept our future drug candidate clinical trials, as well as our other completed and planned clinical and pre-clinical studies and other work, as the basis for review and approval of our drug candidates;
the outcome, costs and timing of seeking and obtaining FDA, EMA and any other regulatory approvals;
the number and characteristics of drug candidates that we pursue, including our drug candidates in future pre-clinical development;
the ability of our drug candidates to progress through clinical development successfully;
our need to expand our research and development activities;
the costs of litigations with Adverse Parties;
the costs associated with securing and establishing commercialization and manufacturing capabilities;

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the costs of acquiring, licensing or investing in businesses, products, drug candidates and technologies;
our ability to maintain, expand and defend the scope of our licensed intellectual property portfolio, including the amount and timing of any payments we may be required to make, or that we may receive, in connection with the licensing, filing, prosecution, defense and enforcement of any patents or other intellectual property rights;
our need and ability to hire additional management and scientific and medical personnel;
the effect of competing technological and market developments;
our need to implement additional internal systems and infrastructure, including financial and reporting systems;
the duration and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated operational delays and disruptions and increased costs and expenses;
the economic factors, geopolitical risks and sanctions and other terms; and
timing and success of any collaboration, licensing or other arrangements into which we may enter in the future.

Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial revenue from product sales, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of debt financings and equity offerings, government or other third-party funding, marketing and distribution arrangements and other collaborations, strategic alliances and licensing arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of debt and equity securities, the ownership interests of our common stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of our common stockholders. Debt financing, if available, may involve agreements that include 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 funds through government or other third-party funding, marketing and distribution arrangements or other collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or drug candidates or to grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us.

The company is continually monitoring the impact of the global pandemic on its business, especially since the company conducts activities in multiple locations, both in and outside of the United States. These locations are New York, New York and Los Angeles, California and Israel. At various times since the onset of the global pandemic, these locations have been severely affected by COVID-19 and, as a result, have been subject to various requirements to stay at home and self-quarantine, as well as constraints on mobility and travel, especially international travel.

While the company continues to advance its development programs, the company is also continually assessing the impact of the global pandemic on its product development efforts, including any impact on the timing and/or costs for its clinical trials, IND-enabling work, and other research and development activities. There is no certainty as to the length and severity of societal disruption caused by COVID-19. Consequently, the company does not have sufficient visibility to predict the impact of the global pandemic on its operations and overall business, including delays in the progress of its planned pre-clinical work and clinical trials, or by limiting its ability to recruit physicians or clinicians to run its clinical trials, enroll patients or conduct follow-up assessments in its clinical trials. Further, the business or operations of its strategic partners and other third parties with whom the company conducts business may also be adversely affected by the global pandemic. The company continues to monitor the impact of the global pandemic, including regularly reevaluating the timing of its research and development and clinical milestones. Until the company is able to gain greater visibility as to the impact of the global pandemic, the company intends to commit greater resources to its existing and future programs in the United States and is slowing investment in program development outside the United States.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

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As previously noted, we, as an emerging growth company, have elected to take advantage of the benefits of the extended transition period provided for in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act, for complying with new or revised accounting standards, which allows us to defer adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies unless otherwise noted.

We have reviewed recent accounting pronouncements and concluded they are either not applicable to the business or no material effect is expected on the consolidated financial statements as a result of future adoption.

Effect of Inflation and Changes in Prices

We do not believe that inflation and changes in prices will have a material effect on our operations.

Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.

Not Applicable to smaller reporting companies.

Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

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INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

Page

Consolidated Financial Statements:

 

 

 

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (PCAOB Audit ID 392)

F-2

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (PCAOB Audit ID 2468)

F-3

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2021 and 2020

F-4

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Loss for the Years Ended December 31, 2021 and 2020

F-5

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Stockholders’ Equity (Deficit) for the Years Ended December 31, 2021 and 2020

F-6

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Years Ended December 31, 2021 and 2020

F-8

 

 

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

F-9

F-1

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Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

To the Stockholders and the Board of Directors of Scopus BioPharma Inc.:

Opinion on the Financial Statements

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheet of Scopus BioPharma Inc. and Subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2021, the related consolidated statements of comprehensive loss, stockholders’ equity (deficit) and cash flows for the year then ended, and the related notes to the consolidated financial statements (collectively, the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2021, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year then ended, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

Emphasis of a Matter Regarding Going Concern

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Company will continue as a going concern. As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Company has recurring losses from operations and accumulated deficit that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s plans in regard to these matters also are described in Note 1. The financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

Basis for Opinion

These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audit, we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.

Our audit included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audit also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

/s/ Wolf & Company, P.C.

We have served as the Company's auditor since 2022.

Boston, MA

April 15, 2022

F-2

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Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

To the Stockholders and the Board of Directors of Scopus BioPharma Inc.

Opinion on the Financial Statements

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheet of Scopus BioPharma Inc. and Subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2020, the related consolidated statements of comprehensive loss, stockholders’ equity (deficit), and cash flows for the year then ended, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2020 and the results of their consolidated operations and their cash flows for the year then ended, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

Going Concern

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Company will continue as a going concern. As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Company’s recurring losses from operations, recurring cash used in operating activities, accumulated deficit and absence of revenue generation raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s plans concerning these matters are also discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements. The financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

Basis for Opinion

These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audit we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.

Our audit included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audit also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

/s/ CITRIN COOPERMAN & COMPANY, LLP

We have served as the Company's auditor from 2017 to 2021

New York, New York

March 29, 2021

F-3

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SCOPUS BIOPHARMA INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

    

December 31,

2021

    

2020

ASSETS

 

  

 

  

Current assets:

 

  

 

  

Cash

$

7,942,971

$

1,832,100

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

 

241,904

 

139,639

Total current assets

 

8,184,875

 

1,971,739

Property and equipment, net

 

2,840

 

2,329

Total assets

$

8,187,715

$

1,974,068

LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

  

 

  

Current liabilities:

 

  

 

  

Accounts payable and accrued expenses

$

4,170,266

$

1,521,565

Convertible notes payable, net

 

 

2,283,731

Total current liabilities

 

4,170,266

 

3,805,296

COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES (NOTE 8)

 

  

 

  

Stockholders’ equity (deficit):

 

  

 

  

Preferred stock, $0.001 par value; 20,000,000 shares authorized; zero shares issued and outstanding

 

Common stock, $0.001 par value; 50,000,000 shares authorized; 21,094,264 and 14,577,597 shares issued and outstanding

 

21,094

 

14,578

Additional paid-in capital

 

45,538,156

 

14,224,000

Note receivable

 

 

(1,500,000)

Accumulated deficit

(41,455,148)

 

(14,501,739)

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

 

(86,653)

 

(68,067)

Total stockholders' equity (deficit)

 

4,017,449

 

(1,831,228)

Total liabilities and stockholders' equity (deficit)

$

8,187,715

$

1,974,068

See reports of independent registered accounting firms and accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

F-4

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SCOPUS BIOPHARMA INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE LOSS

Year Ended December 31,

    

2021

    

2020

Revenues

$

$

Operating expenses:

 

  

 

  

General and administrative

12,611,169

 

2,732,060

Research and development

 

15,023,450

 

7,423,786

Total operating expenses

 

27,634,619

 

10,155,846

Loss from operations

 

(27,634,619)

 

(10,155,846)

Other income (expense):

 

  

 

  

Interest expense

 

(774,679)

 

(706,446)

Change in fair value of common stock warrant liability

1,455,889

Total other income (expense), net

681,210

(706,446)

Net loss

(26,953,409)

 

(10,862,292)

Comprehensive income (loss):

 

  

 

  

Foreign currency translation adjustment

 

(18,586)

 

(34,613)

Total comprehensive loss

$

(26,971,995)

$

(10,896,905)

Net loss per common share:

 

  

 

  

Basic and diluted

$

(1.56)

$

(0.81)

Weighted-average common shares outstanding:

 

  

 

  

Basic and diluted

 

17,252,391

 

13,362,959

See reports of independent registered accounting firms and accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

F-5

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SCOPUS BIOPHARMA INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

Accumulated

Total

Common Stock

Additional

Other

Stockholders'

Paid-in

Note

Accumulated

Comprehensive

Equity

    

Shares

    

Amount

    

Capital

    

Receivable

    

Deficit

    

Loss

    

(Deficit)

Balances as of December 31, 2020

14,577,597

$

14,578

$

14,224,000

$

(1,500,000)

$

(14,501,739)

$

(68,067)

$

(1,831,228)

Issuance of common stock - net of issuance costs of $1,168,900

 

1,150,000

 

1,150

 

9,179,950

 

 

 

 

9,181,100

Issuance of common stock for acquisition of in-process research and development

1,100,000

1,100

7,654,901

7,656,001

Issuance of common stock on achievement of research and development milestones

1,266,667

1,266

5,065,401

5,066,667

Conversion of convertible notes payable and accrued interest into warrants

3,084,875

3,084,875

Common stock warrant liability

(3,400,643)

(3,400,643)

Reclassification of warrant liability into equity

1,944,754

1,944,754

Issuance of common stock in private placement, net of offering costs of $1,131,684

3,000,000

3,000

8,615,316

8,618,316

Cancellation of Note Receivable related to warrants

(1,500,000)

1,500,000

Stock-based compensation expense

 

 

 

669,602

 

 

 

 

669,602

Foreign currency translation adjustment

 

 

 

 

 

 

(18,586)

 

(18,586)

Net loss

 

 

 

 

 

(26,953,409)

 

 

(26,953,409)

Balances as of December 31, 2021

 

21,094,264

$

21,094

$

45,538,156

$

$

(41,455,148)

$

(86,653)

$

4,017,449

See reports of independent registered accounting firms and accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

F-6

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SCOPUS BIOPHARMA INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

Accumulated

Total 

Common Stock

Additional 

 Other

Stockholders'

Paid-in 

Note 

Accumulated

Comprehensive

 Equity

Shares

Amount

Capital

Receivable

 Deficit

 Loss

 (Deficit)

Balances as of December 31, 2019

    

12,509,024

    

$

12,509

    

$

3,577,533

    

$

    

$

(3,639,447)

    

$

(33,454)

    

$

(82,859)

Issuance of common stock - net of issuance costs of $1,451,314

 

575,000

 

575

 

1,710,611

 

 

 

 

1,711,186

Issuance of units and warrants - net of issuance costs of $4,900

 

21,906

 

22

 

156,608

 

 

 

 

156,630

Issuance of warrants with Convertible Notes - net of issuance costs of $67,287

 

 

 

895,992

 

 

 

 

895,992

Exchange of warrants for Convertible Notes

 

 

 

(252,000)

 

 

 

 

(252,000)

Issuance of common stock and warrants for acquisition of in-process research and development

 

1,466,667

 

1,467

 

6,344,854

 

 

 

 

6,346,321

Issuance of warrants for Note Receivable

 

 

 

1,500,000

 

(1,500,000)

 

 

 

Stock-based compensation expense

 

 

 

270,407