S-1 1 d54742ds1.htm REGISTRATION STATEMENT ON FORM S-1 Registration Statement on Form S-1
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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 9, 2021

Registration No. 333-            

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM S-1

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933

OCEAN BIOMEDICAL, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware   2834   85-41777213

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(Primary Standard Industrial

Classification Code Number)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

55 Claverick St., Room 325

Providence, Rhode Island 02903

(401) 444-7375

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

Elizabeth Ng

Chief Executive Officer

Ocean Biomedical, Inc.

55 Claverick St., Room 325

Providence, Rhode Island 02903

(401) 444-7375

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

Copies to:

 

Kristopher D. Brown
James Xu
Goodwin Procter LLP
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 02109
(212) 813-8800
 

Gurinder Kalra

Chief Financial Officer

Ocean Biomedical, Inc.

55 Claverick St., Room 325

Providence, Rhode Island 02903

 

David Boles

Joshua A. Kaufman
Cooley LLP
55 Hudson Yards
New York, New York 10001
(212) 479-6000

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE

 

 

Title of Each Class of

Securities to be Registered

 

Proposed

Maximum

Aggregate

Offering Price(1)

 

Amount of

Registration Fee(2)

Common Stock, par value $0.000001 per share

  $100,000,000.00   $10,910.00

 

 

(1)

Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act. Includes the offering price of any additional shares that the underwriters have the option to purchase.

(2)

Calculated pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act based on an estimate of the proposed maximum aggregate offering price.

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


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The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting offers to buy these securities in any state or other jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.

 

SUBJECT TO COMPLETION, DATED JUNE 9, 2021

PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS

 

 

LOGO

             Shares

Ocean Biomedical, Inc.

Common Stock

$         per share

 

 

This is the initial public offering of our common stock. We are selling             shares of common stock. Prior to this offering there has been no public market for our shares. We currently expect the initial public offering price to be between $         and $         per share of common stock.

We have granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to              additional shares of common stock. The underwriters can exercise this option at any time within 30 days after the date of this prospectus.

We have applied to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “OCEA.”

 

 

Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 15.

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Act of 2012 and, as such, we have elected to comply with certain reduced reporting requirements for this prospectus and may elect to do so in future filings.

Under current Nasdaq rules, we anticipate qualifying as a “controlled company” wherein at least 50% of the voting power of our company immediately following this initial public offering is anticipated to be held by Poseidon Bio, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. Prior to this initial public offering, Poseidon Bio, LLC, or Poseidon, holds 98% of the voting power of our company and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, our executive chairman and co-founder, holds a majority share (69%) in Poseidon and other directors and executive officers of our company own an aggregate of 31% of the equity interests in Poseidon. Following this initial public offering, Poseidon will hold             % of the voting power of our company and Dr. Kathuria will continue to hold 69% of the equity interests in Poseidon and other directors and executive officers of our company will own an aggregate of 31% of the equity interests in Poseidon. We do not intend to rely on any Nasdaq or Securities and Exchange Commission corporate governance exemptions that are available to controlled companies.

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

 

 

     Per Share      Total  

Public Offering Price

   $                    $                

Underwriting Discounts and Commissions(1)

   $        $    

Proceeds to Ocean Biomedical, Inc. (before expenses)

   $        $    

 

(1)

See “Underwriting” for additional information regarding total underwriter compensation.

The underwriters expect to deliver the shares of common stock to purchasers on or about , 2021 through book-entry facilities of The Depository Trust Company.

 

 

Berenberg    Oppenheimer & Co.

 

LifeSci Capital
  Ladenburg Thalmann   Brookline Capital Markets
    Roth Capital Partners  
    a division of Arcadia Securities, LLC  

                    , 2021


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

     Page  

Prospectus Summary

     1  

The Offering

     11  

Risk Factors

     15  

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements

     84  

Market and Industry Data and Forecasts

     86  

Use of Proceeds

     87  

Dividend Policy

     89  

Capitalization

     90  

Dilution

     92  

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

     94  

Business

     109  

Management

     178  

Executive Compensation

     188  

Director Compensation

     192  

Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions

     193  

Principal Stockholders

     196  

Description of Capital Stock

     198  

Shares Eligible for Future Sale

     202  

Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations to Non-U.S. holders

     204  

Underwriting

     208  

Legal Matters

     215  

Experts

     215  

Where You Can Find More Information

     215  

Index to Financial Statements

     F-1  

We and the underwriters have not authorized anyone to provide any information other than that contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus prepared by or on behalf of us or to which we have referred you. We take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. We and the underwriters are not making an offer to sell these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted. You should assume that the information appearing in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date on the front cover of this prospectus. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date.

For investors outside of the United States: We have not, and the underwriters have not, done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than the United States. Persons outside of the United States who come into possession of this prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to, the offering of the shares of common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside of the United States.


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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus and does not contain all the information that you should consider in making your investment decision. Before investing in our common stock, you should read the entire prospectus carefully, including the sections entitled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes. Unless context requires otherwise, references to “we,” “us,” “our,” “Ocean,” or the “Company” refer to Ocean Biomedical, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

 

 

LOGO

Our mission is to solve unmet medical needs by commercializing discoveries

from research universities and medical centers

We are a biopharmaceutical company that seeks to bridge the “bench-to-bedside” gap between medical research discoveries and patient solutions. We do this by leveraging our strong relationships with research universities and medical centers to license their inventions and technologies with the goal of developing them into products that address diseases with significant unmet medical needs. We believe that our differentiated business model positions us to capture inventions created at these institutions that might otherwise fail to be commercialized to benefit patients. Our team of accomplished scientists, business professionals and entrepreneurs brings together the interdisciplinary expertise and resources required to develop and commercialize a diverse portfolio of assets. We are organized around a licensing and subsidiary structure that we believe will enable us to create mutual value for us and potential licensing partners. We believe this structure, combined with the networks of our leadership team, allows us to opportunistically build a continuous pipeline of promising product innovations through our existing and potential future relationships with research institutions. Our goal is to optimize value creation for each of our product candidates, and we intend to continuously assess the best pathway for each as it progresses through the preclinical and clinical development process—including through internal advancement, partnerships with established companies and spin-outs or initial public offerings, or IPOs—in order to benefit patients through the commercialization of these products. Our current active assets are licensed directly or indirectly from Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital. Our scientific co-founders, Dr. Jack A. Elias and Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, are both affiliated with Brown University and with Rhode Island Hospital.

Our Therapeutic Programs

We are currently pursuing programs in oncology, fibrosis, infectious disease, and inflammation. Our programs in oncology and fibrosis are based on exclusive licenses with Brown University. Our programs in infectious disease are based on exclusive licenses with Rhode Island Hospital. Our program in inflammation is based on a nonexclusive license with Stanford University. We are not aware of any other licensee for these programs. We anticipate moving certain preclinical product candidates in our oncology, fibrosis and/or infectious disease programs into the clinic in the next 12 to 18 months. We also expect our anti-inflammatory product candidate, OPS-172 targeting angiotensin 1-7, or Ang 1-7, to commence Phase 1/2 clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 in the second half of 2021.



 

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Oncology

Non-small cell lung cancer:     Non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, accounts for about 85% of all lung cancers globally and affects approximately 460,000 people in the United States and 595,000 people in Europe. With approximately 135,000 U.S. deaths annually, it is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women globally. Currently available therapies for NSCLC include chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors; all of which have limited response rates, high resistance development, potentially severe side effects and in the case of the checkpoint inhibitors rare fatal allergic and inflammation-related reactions. There is a significant unmet medical need for more effective and durable drug therapies.

Glioblastoma multiforme:     Glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is a brain cancer that kills approximately 60% of patients within 12 to 18 months from the time of diagnosis. It accounts for approximately 17% of all tumors of the brain and affects approximately 28,000 people in the United States. The median survival rate for individuals diagnosed with GBM is approximately 15 months and the five year survival is just 8% for those aged 45-54 and 5% for those aged 55-64. There is no currently approved therapy for GBM and it is a disease with one of the highest levels of unmet need in all of oncology.

Our product candidates in oncology are based on a drug target pioneered by our scientific co-founder, Dr. Jack A. Elias, former Dean of Medicine and current Special Advisor for Health Affairs to Brown University. His research demonstrated that a protein called chitinase 3-like-1, or Chi3l1, is a key driver of multiple disease pathways, including those involved in primary and metastatic tumor development. Neutralizing antibodies against Chi3l1 have been developed that are highly avid, specific, react with mouse, human and monkey Chi3l1 and are effectively expressed and humanized. In animal models of both lung cancer and glioblastoma, inhibition of Chi3l1 resulted in statistically significant tumor reduction, and the reduction was even greater when the inhibition of Chi3l1 was combined with immunotherapies to stimulate the body’s own immune response.

Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis:     Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, is a debilitating lung disease that occurs when the body’s normal healing responses become overactive, resulting in scarring of lung tissue that progressively inhibits breathing. Approximately 160,000 people in the United States and 64,000 people in Europe suffer from IPF. There is no cure for IPF and while the current therapies may slow the progression of the disease, the response to those therapies is heterogenous and may be limited by side-effects. There is a significant unmet medical need for more effective and tolerable IPF therapies.

Hermanksy-Pudlak syndrome:     Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, or HPS, is an ultra-rare disease affecting approximately 1,800 people in the United States, mostly in Puerto Rico. Most patients with HPS develop lung fibrosis that progresses rapidly and is typically lethal within ten years of diagnosis. No therapeutic interventions are currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of HPS and lung transplantation remains the only potentially life-prolonging treatment.

There is a significant unmet need for any therapeutics that treat HPS.

Our product candidate in fibrosis is based on a drug target also investigated by Dr. Elias and closely related to the Chi3l1 oncology target described above. Dr. Elias found that an enzyme called chitinase 1, or Chit1, is a key driver of fibrosis. Fibrosis is observed in an estimated 50% of all diseases. Fibrosis in the lungs tends to be progressive and can reduce their function. In animal models of IPF and HPS, inhibition of Chit1 showed statistically significant reduced levels of fibrotic markers.

Infectious Disease

Malaria:     Approximately 500,000 children under the age of five globally die each year from malaria, a mosquito-borne infectious disease for which 3.4 billion people on earth are at risk. Malaria infects 200 to



 

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300 million people annually worldwide. Mosquito control remains limited in scope, and drug resistance threatens the effectiveness of current anti-malaria drugs. Clinical studies of the malaria vaccine candidate, ‘RTS,S’, which is currently furthest along in clinical development, show limited efficacy and serious safety concerns. There is a significant unmet medical need for more effective therapeutics to treat malaria and for more effective vaccines to immunize against it.

Whole Proteome Differential Screening Platform:     Our scientific co-founder, Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program at Brown University, developed the Whole Proteome Differential Screening target discovery platform, or the WPDS platform. The WPDS platform enabled Dr. Kurtis to discover the novel targets against malaria described below. The WPDS platform leverages the fact that the immune systems of humans who are exposed to an infectious disease (such as malaria) will often naturally produce a wide array of antibodies to try fighting the infection. Only a small subset of these antibodies may prove effective, and the WPDS platform is designed to identify these antibodies and their corresponding antigens. We believe that such antibodies and antigens could inform the development of therapeutic and/or vaccine candidates against the particular infectious disease.

Our product candidates in malaria are based on the discovery by Dr. Kurtis of two novel malaria antigens, Plasmodium falciparum schizont egress antigen, or PfSEA-1, and Plasmodium falciparum glutamic-acid-rich protein, or PfGARP. In non-human primate models of malaria, vaccination with PfGARP resulted in an 11.5-fold reduction of parasites in blood compared to controls. In in-vitro models, our therapeutic antibody candidate against PfGARP reduced parasite count by 99% compared to controls.

Inflammation

COVID-19:     As of June 1, 2021, approximately 170 million people worldwide had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, data suggest that 14%-19% of cases are hospitalized and 3%-5% will need intense care unit admission. Despite the development of vaccines against COVID-19, there is a need for more effective treatments of the disease and its co-morbidities which include inflammation.

We have one anti-inflammatory product candidate:     Angiotensin 1-7 or Ang 1-7 (OPS-172). Our licensor Stanford University has an active investigational new drug, or IND, application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for this candidate, and they expect to commence a clinical trial to evaluate its potential in combination with standard of care in addressing inflammation in COVID-19 patients. Angtensin 1-7, produced by ACE-2, has anti-inflammatory activity and acts to decrease the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Our Pipeline

Our programs in oncology and fibrosis are based on discoveries of disease pathways and of related drug targets emerging from pioneering work in the field of chitinase biology by our scientific co-founder, Jack A. Elias, M.D., former Dean of Medicine and current Special Advisor for Health Affairs to Brown University at Brown.

In oncology, we are developing a mono-specific and two bi-specific humanized monoclonal antibodies, or mAb, product candidates targeting Chi3l1 for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC and of glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM. We refer to our mono-specific mAb product candidate as OCX-253, and our two bi-specific mAB product candidates as OCX-410 and OCX-909, respectively. In fibrosis, we are developing a small molecule product candidate targeting Chit1 for the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF, and Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, or HPS. We refer to this candidate for the treatment of IPF and HPS as OCF-203.



 

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Our product candidates in infectious disease derive from the WPDS platform, which was pioneered by Dr. Kurtis, and which led to his discoveries of novel targets to treat and to immunize against malaria. We believe that the WPDS platform also holds promise to be used to discover targets for other infectious diseases. We have three product candidates based on these novel target discoveries: (1) a malaria vaccine candidate targeting either or both of PfSEA-1, and parasite antigen PfGARP, which we refer to as our ODA-570 candidate; (2) a humanized mAb malaria therapeutic candidate targeting PfGARP, which we refer to as our ODA-611 candidate; and (3) a small molecule malaria therapeutic candidate targeting PfGARP, which we refer to as our ODA-579 candidate. Prior to in-licensing our product candidates, the preclinical developments of the oncology, fibrosis and malaria programs described above have, to date, been funded through grants totaling $105.6 million.

In our inflammation program, which is currently focused on COVID-19, an IND application has been filed by our licensor Stanford University and is in effect with the FDA for Ang 1-7. Stanford expects to commence a clinical trial of this product candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, in the second half of 2021.

We believe that each of these product candidates holds the potential to transform current treatment protocols and meaningfully improve patients’ lives.

The table below summarizes our product candidate pipeline, target indications, estimated addressable patient populations, and stage of development.

 

 

LOGO

Our Strategy and Competitive Strengths

Our goal is to facilitate the flow of academic discoveries from bench-to-bedside by efficiently carrying out the translational and clinical development required to advance them commercially. The core elements that we believe differentiate our business model include:

 

   

Harnessing inventions and technologies from research universities and medical centers.     We search for opportunities wherever they can be found, and we believe “hidden gems” can be uncovered by our team. We are experienced at identifying and sourcing breakthrough discoveries at academic and research institutions, including our current partnerships with Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital. We know how to assess and test their scientific merits and commercial relevance, and we have extensive experience working with these institutions and licensing their assets. For example, our leadership team has evaluated thousands of innovations, taken multiple products through IND filings and into clinical development, and been involved in the launch of 10 biotech companies.



 

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Developing new drug therapies through an operationally efficient, evidence-based and milestone-driven approach.     Once we select an asset for development, we pursue what we believe are appropriate development strategies that we aim to execute efficiently by leveraging contract research and contract manufacturing organizations, or CROs and CMOs, and other drug development experts and consultants. We aim to rapidly and efficiently advance our product candidates to objective critical decision points. We direct resources toward the opportunities that we believe are the most promising, and we discontinue programs that do not meet our performance thresholds. We are skilled at objectively directing internal resources, and at leveraging external resources (such as CROs, and CMOs), in order to progress product candidates in accordance with well-defined criteria for advancement within a lean cost structure.

 

   

Building a diverse portfolio of product candidates.     We are evidence-based and program agnostic, meaning that our resources are driven strictly by program progress and milestone achievements. Our approach is to develop multiple diverse programs in parallel. Our success is not dependent on any one particular program, disease area or indication, which mitigates business risk, and allows us the flexibility to opportunistically develop product candidates, regardless of therapeutic area. We believe that this model ensures that we remain focused on assets with the most promise. The unifying theme in our portfolio is to address significant unmet medical needs by commercializing innovative therapeutic products, if approved.

 

   

Providing attractive economic upside to our partners at research universities and medical centers.     We have a structure wherein our parent company houses each program in a subsidiary. We believe this structure is optimal to provide attractive economic incentives to the discovering institution and its researchers. Our subsidiary structure is intended to enable us to offer equity in future programs to the licensing institution and the researchers who discover our product candidates. We believe this structure will make us a partner of choice for both institutions and researchers and aligns our interests with theirs toward the goal of maximum returns.

 

   

Employing a multi-disciplinary approach to drug discovery and development across our programs.     Our business model is based on bringing together the appropriate disciplines and expertise needed for each of our programs and leveraging learnings across programs and disease areas. Common ties between many diseases are becoming apparent and similar therapeutic strategies are increasingly being applied to different diseases. For example, our oncology and fibrosis programs are both based upon chitinase biology. Another example is the confluence of thinking about immunology and oncology therapeutic approaches which led to the advent of immune checkpoint inhibitors.

 

   

Exploiting multiple commercialization options to maximize each program’s value.     Throughout the development of our product candidates, we continually assess that program’s potential paths to market, and we will endeavor to maximize commercial value through various options, including internal advancement, partnerships with established companies, and spin-outs or IPOs. We believe that our structure and operational strategy enables us to assess and pursue the course that maximizes outcomes for patients and value for our shareholders.

 

   

Leadership team comprised of academic, scientific and business innovators.     We have assembled an industry-leading, multi-disciplinary team consisting of physicians, scientists and business leaders with significant experience in progressing product candidates from early-stage research through clinical trials, regulatory approval and ultimately to commercialization. Although our company has not yet developed or commercialized any biopharmaceutical products, key members of our management team have experience doing so in previous endeavors.



 

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We believe our differentiated business model enables us to advance the commercialization of our products, if approved, and will allow us to replicate our licensing partnerships through aligned incentive structures with research universities and medical centers.

Our Structure: Supporting Innovation

We are structured in a manner where our parent company houses each program in a subsidiary. We currently house our programs in four wholly-owned subsidiaries and intend to grant a certain percentage of the ownership in future subsidiaries, typically 20% in aggregate, to the institution and to the relevant researchers. This anticipated organizational structure for future subsidiaries is unique in the market and we believe it will make us the partner of choice for institutions and inventors.

Currently, research universities and medical centers (institutions) have two primary options to commercialize their biomedical innovations and technologies: licensing to pharma, or licensing to startups that are usually founded or co-founded by the researchers (the inventors) behind the innovations.

We believe institutions and their researchers will prefer Ocean to launching a startup because Ocean eliminates the challenge of needing to raise capital and hire a team, and provides a greater share in the upside. Likewise, we believe Ocean will be a preferred choice as opposed to licensing to large pharmaceutical companies because receiving a percentage of any economic value, regardless of how it is derived, is often more attractive than relying on fixed milestone payments or single-digit royalties.

We believe our approach will give us preferred access to innovations at research universities and medical centers, and that this in turn will benefit our shareholders.

Our Corporate History and Leadership Team

Our leadership team has a track record of creating successful biopharma companies, with expertise in science, medicine, agile drug development, pharma strategy, and innovation management. Collectively, members of the team have evaluated more than 3,500 innovations; been involved in more than 350 drug discovery / development programs, 21 clinical development programs, and 9 approved drugs; are listed as inventors in more than 70 patents; have secured more than $120 million in venture capital funding; and have been involved in the launch of six biotech or life sciences companies and three IPOs. In addition, beyond our day-to-day leadership team, our scientific co-founders and members of our scientific advisory board, Dr. Elias and Dr. Kurtis, have authored or co-authored more than 350 papers, secured more than $100 million in grant funding, and are listed as inventors in more than 50 patents.

Our scientific co-founders are Dr. Elias and Dr. Kurtis. Drs. Elias and Kurtis are highly recognized and well-published physician-scientists who not only discovered novel disease targets and therapeutic candidates that form the basis for most of our current programs, but also will bring their broad clinical and research expertise and their extensive networks to bear as we assess new opportunities in the future. While the involvement of Drs. Elias and Kurtis in the management of our company is anticipated to be substantial, such involvement will not be full-time given the continuation of their research activities at Brown University. Our CEO, Elizabeth Ng, is a biopharma executive with over 25 years of experience in portfolio strategy and management, including the identification and evaluation of promising assets and the execution of value-creating strategic transactions for companies such as Merck & Co., Gilead Sciences, Inc. and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Our executive chairman, Chirinjeev Kathuria, M.D. is an entrepreneur who most recently co-founded and is executive chairman of UpHealth, Inc. a digital health company that announced a special purpose acquisition company transaction worth $1.35B in the fourth quarter of 2020. Dr. Kathuria is also co-founder and chairman of New Generation Power and he previously co-founded American Teleradiology NightHawks, Inc. which merged with NightHawk Radiology Holdings, Inc. and subsequently went public on Nasdaq.



 

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The mark “Ocean Biomedical, Inc.” and our corporate logo are our common law trademarks. All other service marks, trademarks and tradenames appearing in this prospectus are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and tradenames referred to in this prospectus appear without the ® and symbols, but those references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights, or the right of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and tradenames.

Summary of Material Risks Associated with Our Business

 

   

We are a preclinical and clinical stage therapeutics development company with no history of commercial success, revenues or profits, and we may not achieve or sustain profitability. We anticipate that we will incur losses for the foreseeable future. Our limited operating history may make it difficult for you to evaluate our success to date and to assess our future viability.

 

   

Even if this offering is successful, we anticipate needing to raise additional funding before we can expect to become profitable from any potential future sales of our products.

 

   

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

 

   

We may not be successful in our efforts to use our differentiated business model to build a pipeline of product candidates with commercial value.

 

   

Our ability to realize value from our subsidiaries may be impacted if we reduce our ownership to a minority interest or otherwise cede control to other investors through contractual agreements or otherwise.

 

   

Our business is dependent on our ability to advance our current and future product candidates through preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtain marketing approval and ultimately commercialize them.

 

   

Preclinical and clinical development involve lengthy and expensive processes with uncertain outcomes. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our current product candidates or of any future product candidates.

 

   

We are working on biological targets that have not been proven to be effective for the treatment of disorders we seek, and we may ultimately find that these biological targets are not viable.

 

   

Our product candidates may cause undesirable and unforeseen side effects, which could delay or prevent their advancement into clinical trials or regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential, or result in significant negative consequences.

 

   

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

 

   

Certain of our product candidates may be complex and difficult to manufacture. We could experience manufacturing problems that result in delays in our development or commercialization programs or otherwise harm our business.

 

   

Our license with Stanford University in connection with our anti-inflammatory candidate for COVID-19 is nonexclusive, and as a result we may face competitors who might enter into similar nonexclusive licensing agreements with Stanford.

 

   

We operate in a highly competitive environment with rapid technological change and there is the possibility that our competitors may achieve regulatory approval before us or develop therapies or technologies that are more advanced or effective than ours.



 

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We expect to rely on third-party research organizations to conduct our preclinical studies and our clinical trials.

 

   

We expect to rely on third-party manufacturers to produce clinical supply of our product candidates.

 

   

Our current product candidates are being developed under licensing agreements with Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, and Stanford University. These licensing agreements could be terminated by the licensors if we fail to meet obligations set forth in such agreements. Our relationships with these institutions are critical to our success. Our co-founders are affiliated with these institutions. If our co-founders depart our company, our relationships with these institutions could be jeopardized.

 

   

Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain and/or maintain patent protection or other necessary rights for our products and technology and to protect our intellectual property. It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights and technology, and we may not be able to ensure their protection. In addition, if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad or our rights under licensed patents is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our products and technology may be adversely affected.

 

   

The outbreak and continued course of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, could adversely impact our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials.

The summary risk factors described above should be read together with the text of the full risk factors below, in the section entitled “Risk Factors” and the other information set forth in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, as well as in other documents that we file with the SEC. The risks summarized above or described in full below are not the only risks that we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us, or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and future, growth prospects.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on January 2, 2019. Our principal corporate office is located at 55 Claverick St., Room 325, Providence, Rhode Island 02903 and our telephone number is (401) 444-7375. Our website address is www.oceanbiomedical.com. The information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of, and is not incorporated by reference into, this prospectus. Investors should not rely on any such information in deciding whether to purchase our common stock.

We use various trademarks and trade names in our business, including, without limitation, our corporate name and logo. All other trademarks or trade names referred to in this prospectus are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this prospectus may be referred to without the ® and  symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto.

Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company and Smaller Reporting Company

As a company with less than $1.07 billion in revenue during our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or JOBS Act.



 

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An emerging growth company may take advantage of reduced reporting requirements that are otherwise applicable to public companies. These provisions include, but are not limited to:

 

   

being permitted to present only two years of audited financial statements and only two years of related “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in this prospectus;

 

   

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting;

 

   

not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;

 

   

reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation arrangements; 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 have elected to take advantage of certain reduced disclosure obligations in the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part and may elect to take advantage of other reduced reporting requirements in future filings. As a result, the information that we provide to our stockholders may be different than you might receive from other public reporting companies in which you hold equity interests.

The JOBS Act provides that an emerging growth company can take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards, until those standards apply to private companies. We have elected to take advantage of the benefits of this extended transition period and, therefore, we will not be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. Our financial statements may therefore not be comparable to those of companies that comply with such new or revised accounting standards. Until the date that we are no longer an emerging growth company or affirmatively and irrevocably opt out of the exemption provided by Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, upon issuance of a new or revised accounting standard that applies to our financial statements and that has a different effective date for public and private companies, we will disclose the date on which adoption is required for non-emerging growth companies and the date on which we will adopt the recently issued accounting standard.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest to occur of: (i) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have more than $1.07 billion in annual gross revenue; (ii) the date we qualify as a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, with at least $700 million of equity securities held by non-affiliates; (iii) the issuance, in any three-year period, by us of more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities; or (iv) the last day of 2026.

We are also a “smaller reporting company,” meaning that the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates plus the proposed aggregate amount of gross proceeds to us as a result of this offering is less than $700.0 million and our annual revenue is less than $100.0 million during the most recently completed fiscal year. We may continue to be a smaller reporting company after this offering if either (i) the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates is less than $250.0 million or (ii) our annual revenue is less than $100.0 million during the most recently completed fiscal year and the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates is less than $700.0 million. If we are a smaller reporting company at the point when we cease to be an emerging growth company, we may continue to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are available to smaller reporting companies. Specifically, as a smaller reporting



 

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company we may choose to present only the two most recent fiscal years of audited financial statements in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and, similar to emerging growth companies, smaller reporting companies have reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation.

Under current Nasdaq rules we anticipate qualifying as a “controlled company” wherein at least 50% of the voting power of our company immediately following this initial public offering is anticipated to be held by Poseidon Bio, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. Prior to this initial public offering, Poseidon Bio, LLC holds 98% of the voting power of our company and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, our executive chairman and co-founder, holds a majority share (69%) in Poseidon and other directors and executive officers of our company own an aggregate of 31% of the equity interests in Poseidon. Following this initial public offering, Poseidon Bio, LLC will hold     % of the voting power of our company and Dr. Kathuria will continue to hold 69% of the equity interests in Poseidon and other directors and executive officers of our company will own an aggregate of 31% of the equity interests in Poseidon. We do not intend to rely on any Nasdaq or Securities and Exchange Commission corporate governance exemptions that are available to controlled companies.



 

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THE OFFERING

 

Common stock offered by us

            shares.

 

Option to purchase additional shares

We have granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to             additional shares of common stock from us. The underwriters can exercise this option at any time within 30 days from the date of this prospectus.

 

Common stock to be outstanding immediately after this offering

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

 

Use of proceeds

We estimate that we will receive net proceeds from the sale of our common stock in this offering of approximately $         million, or $         million if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares, assuming an initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering to fund the clinical development of our             assets to Phase             clinical trials, to fund the preclinical development of our             assets through clinical registrational studies, and for business development activities, working capital and other general corporate purposes. See the section entitled “Use of Proceeds” for additional information.

 

Risk factors

You should read carefully the section entitled “Risk Factors” and other information included in this prospectus for a discussion of factors that you should consider before deciding to invest in our common stock.

 

Proposed Nadaq Global Market symbol

“OCEA”

The number of shares of our common stock to be outstanding after this offering is based on 7,263,834 shares of common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2021, and excludes:

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2021 Stock Option and Grant Plan, or the Old 2021 Plan;

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2021 Stock Option and Incentive Plan, or the 2021 Plan, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part; and

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2021 Employee Stock Purchase Plan, or the 2021 ESPP, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part.

Unless otherwise indicated, this prospectus reflects and assumes the following:

 

   

no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to             additional shares of our common stock in this offering;



 

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a 1-for-                reverse stock split of our common stock, to be effected on                , 2021; and

 

   

the filing and effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and the adoption of our amended and restated bylaws, which will occur immediately prior the completion of this offering.



 

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Summary Financial Data

The following tables present summary financial data for our business. We have derived the summary statements of operations data for the three months ended March 31, 2021 and 2020, and the summary balance sheet data as of March 31, 2021 from our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements. We have derived the summary statements of operations data for the period from our inception at January 2, 2019 through December 31, 2019 and the year ended December 31, 2020 from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in the future. You should read this data together with our financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and the information in the section entitled “Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

 

(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)    For the Three
Months Ended
March 31, 2020
    For the Three
Months Ended

March 31, 2021
    For the Period
from 
January 2, 2019
to December 31,
2019
    For the Year
Ended

December 31,
2020
 

Statements of Operations:

        

Revenue

   $     $     $     $  

Operating expenses:

        

Research and development

           25,413       35       49  

General and administrative

     12       18,526       197       1,603  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     12       43,939       232       1,652  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating loss

     (12     (43,939     (232     (1,652

Other (expense)

                       (1
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (12   $ (43,939   $ (232   $ (1,653
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted-average number of shares outstanding used in computing net loss per share—basic and diluted

     7,250,000       7,252,307       7,250,000       7,250,000  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss per share—basic and diluted

   $ (0.00   $ (6.06   $ (0.03   $ (0.23
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Pro forma net income per share attributable to common stockholders:

        

Basic

        

Diluted

        

 

(In thousands)    As of March 31, 2021  
     Actual     Pro Forma As
Adjusted(1)(2)(3)
 

Balance Sheets Data:

    

Cash

   $ 785     $                

Working capital (deficit)(4)

     (2,095  

Total assets

     1,731    

Accumulated deficit

     (45,824  

Total stockholders’ deficit

     (2,095  

 

(1)

The pro forma as adjusted column in the balance sheet data table above gives effect to the issuance and sale of         shares of common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.



 

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(2)

Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of each of cash, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by approximately $         million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. Each increase or decrease of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares we are offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of each of cash, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by approximately $         million, based on the assumed initial public offering price per share, the midpoint of the price range as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same. The pro forma as adjusted information is illustrative only, and we will adjust this information based on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

 

(3)

We intend to apply $12.3 million of the net proceeds from the offering toward the payment of certain accrued expenses and contingent payments. This includes $6.2 million of salaries and bonuses contingent upon financing, including $3.7 million of salaries contingent upon the successful completion of the IPO, $2.0 million of bonuses to certain members of senior management contingent upon the successful completion of the IPO, and $0.5 million of bonuses contingent upon the completion of our first capital raise equal to at least $50 million. This also includes $2.0 million in contingent vendor payments, $0.3 million in contingent license fees, $3.7 million of accrued expenses to vendors and $0.1 million of accrued expenses due to related parties.

 

(4)

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



 

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RISK FACTORS

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

Risks Related to Our Operating History

We have incurred significant net losses since inception and we expect to continue to incur significant net losses for the foreseeable future.

We have incurred significant net losses since our inception and have financed our operations principally through personal payments made by our executive chairman and founder and by executing contracts with contingent payment plans that will require the use of proceeds from the IPO. We anticipate continuing to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations, and we do not expect to generate income, profits, or positive cash flow for the foreseeable future. For the period from inception January 2, 2019 to December 31, 2019 and the year ended December 31, 2020, we reported a net loss of $0.2 million and $1.7 million, respectively. For the three months ended March 31, 2020 and 2021, we reported a net loss of $12 thousand and $43.9 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2019 and 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $0.2 million and $1.9 million, respectively. As of March 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $45.8 million. We are still in the early stages of development of our product candidates and have not yet completed any clinical trials. As a result, we expect that it will be several years, if ever, before we have a commercialized product and generate revenue from product sales. Even if we succeed in receiving marketing approval for and commercializing one or more of our product candidates, we expect that we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenses in order to discover, develop and market additional potential products.

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

 

   

advance the development of our current product candidates (OCX-253, OCX-410, OCX-909, OCF-203, ODA-570, ODA-611, ODA-579, and OPS-172) through clinical development, and, if successful, later-stage clinical trials;

 

   

identify, in-license, invest in, or discover and develop new product candidates;

 

   

advance our preclinical development programs into clinical development;

 

   

experience delays or interruptions with our preclinical studies or clinical trials, our receipt of services from our third-party service providers on whom we rely, our supply chain or other regulatory challenges, including those due to the COVID-19 pandemic or to other unforeseen global events;

 

   

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

 

   

commercialize any one or more of our product candidates and any future product candidates, if approved;

 

   

increase the amount of research and development activities to identify and develop product candidates;

 

   

hire additional clinical development, quality control, scientific and management personnel, including personnel to support our clinical development and manufacturing efforts and our operations as a public company;

 

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expand our operational, financial and management systems and establish office, research and manufacturing space;

 

   

establish a business development, partnering, sales, marketing, medical affairs and/or distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval and intend to commercialize on our own or jointly with third parties; and

 

   

maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio.

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

Our independent registered public accounting firm has included an explanatory paragraph relating to our ability to continue as a going concern in its audit report included in this prospectus. Even if we consummate this offering, we will need additional funding to complete the development of our product candidates. A failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or commercialization efforts.

Our independent registered public accounting firm included an explanatory paragraph in its audit report on our consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 and for the period from inception January 2, 2019 to December 31, 2019 and the year ended December 31, 2020 stating that our recurring losses from operations and negative cash flows and our need to raise additional funding to finance our operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We have insufficient committed sources of additional capital to fund our operations as described in this prospectus for more than a limited period of time. We will require substantial additional funding to meet our financial needs and to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or altogether cease our product development programs or commercialization efforts.

We believe that the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash, will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through the next three years. However, this funding will not be sufficient for us to fund any of our product candidates through regulatory approval, and we will need to raise additional capital to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates and in connection with our continuing operations and other planned activities. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 

   

the scope, progress, results and costs of discovery, laboratory testing, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical development for our current and future product candidates;

 

   

the development requirements of other product candidates that we may pursue;

 

   

the timing and amounts of any milestone or royalty payments we may be required to make or may be entitled to receive under license agreements;

 

   

the costs of building out our infrastructure including hiring additional clinical, quality control and manufacturing personnel;

 

   

the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;

 

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the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

   

the revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;

 

   

the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;

 

   

the costs of operating as a public company; and

 

   

the extent to which we acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies.

We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of our product candidates or other research and development initiatives. Any of our current or future license agreements may also be terminated if we are unable to meet the payment or other obligations under the agreements.

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

We may not be successful in our efforts to use our differentiated business model to build a pipeline of product candidates with commercial value.

A key element of our strategy is to use our differentiated business model to form or seek strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into licensing arrangements with third parties for programs, product candidates, technologies or intellectual property that we believe are novel, employ differentiated mechanisms of action, are more advanced in development than competitors, or have a combination of these attributes. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and licensing and acquisition opportunities, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. We may not be successful in our efforts in building a pipeline of product candidates through acquisitions, licensing or through internal development or in progressing these product candidates through clinical development. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in our identification, discovery and preclinical and clinical development of certain of our product candidates, these product candidates may not be safe or effective as cancer treatments, and we may not be able to develop any other product candidates. Although we analyze whether we can replicate scientific results observed prior to our acquisition or investment in a product candidate, we may not be successful in doing so after our investment. Our differentiated business model is evolving and may not succeed in building a pipeline of product candidates. Even if we are successful in building our pipeline of product candidates, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development or generate acceptable clinical data, including as a result of unacceptable toxicity or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to receive marketing approval from the FDA or other regulatory authorities or achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates, we will not be able to generate product revenue in the future, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely affect our stock price.

Additionally, we may pursue additional in-licenses or acquisitions of development-stage assets or programs, which entails additional risk to us. While we believe our subsidiary model offers an attractive platform for these transactions and for potential partners, our model is unique and we may not be able to attract or execute transactions with licensors or collaborators who may choose to partner with companies that employ more traditional licensing and collaboration approaches. Identifying, selecting, and acquiring promising product candidates requires substantial technical, financial and human resources expertise. Efforts to do so may not result in the actual acquisition or license of a successful product candidate, potentially resulting in a diversion of our management’s time and the expenditure of our resources with no resulting benefit. For example, if we are unable to identify programs that ultimately result in approved

 

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products, we may spend material amounts of our capital and other resources evaluating, acquiring, and developing products that ultimately do not provide a return on our investment. We expect to terminate programs in the future if they do not meet our criteria for advancement.

Our subsidiaries are party to certain agreements that provide our licensors, collaborators or other shareholders in our subsidiaries with rights that could delay or impact the potential sale of our subsidiaries or could impact the ability of our subsidiaries to sell assets, or enter into strategic alliances, collaborations or licensing arrangements with other third parties.

Each of our subsidiaries directly or indirectly licenses intellectual property from third parties and, future subsidiaries may be partially owned by third party investors. These third parties may have certain rights that could delay collaboration, licensing or other arrangement with another third party, and the existence of these rights may adversely impact the ability to attract an acquirer or partner.

We may form additional subsidiaries and enter into similar agreements with future partners or investors, or our subsidiaries may enter into further agreements, that in each case may contain similar provisions or other terms that are not favorable to us.

Our ability to realize value from our subsidiaries may be impacted if we reduce our ownership to a minority interest or otherwise cede control to other investors through contractual agreements or otherwise.

We currently wholly own all of our subsidiaries, and plan to remain majority owners of future subsidiaries. However, in the event that any of our subsidiaries require additional capital and its respective board of directors authorizes the transaction, our equity interest in our subsidiaries may be reduced to the extent such additional capital is obtained from third party investors rather than from us. Such transactions would still need to be approved by the board of directors of our respective subsidiary over which we maintain full control.

However, if we do not wish to or cannot provide additional capital to any of our subsidiaries, we may approve of an issuance of equity by a subsidiary that dilutes our ownership and may lose control over the subsidiary. In addition, if the affairs of such minority-owned subsidiaries were to be conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests or intentions of the Company, our business, reputation, and prospects may be adversely affected. For example, other shareholders in a minority-owned subsidiary could take actions without our consent, which could have an adverse impact on our investment in the subsidiary.

A single or limited number of subsidiaries may comprise a large proportion of our value.

A large proportion of our value may at any time reside in one or two of our subsidiaries, including intellectual property rights and the value ascribed to the product candidate or program that it is developing. Our consolidated financial condition and prospects may be materially diminished if the clinical development or potential commercialization prospects of a subsidiary’s product candidate or program or one or more of the intellectual property rights held by a specific subsidiary becomes impaired. Furthermore, a large proportion of our consolidated revenue may at any time be derived from one, or a small number of, licensed technologies, and termination or expiration of licenses to these technologies would likely have a material adverse effect on our consolidated revenue. Any material adverse impact on the value of a particular subsidiary, including its intellectual property rights or the clinical development of its product candidate or program, could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.

We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on product candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we must focus on a limited number of research programs and product candidates and on specific indications. As a result, we may forego or delay

 

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pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential, or fail to recognize or acquire assets that may be more promising than those we acquire. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future identification, discovery, and preclinical development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable products.

Our reliance on a central team consisting of a limited number of employees who provide various administrative, research and development, and other services across our organization presents operational challenges that may adversely affect our business.

As of March 31, 2021, we had nine full-time employees, upon which we rely for various administrative, research and development, and other support services shared among our other operating subsidiaries. We also have two consultants who we rely on for research and development, business development, and other services. While we believe this structure enables us to reduce certain infrastructure costs, the small size of our centralized team may limit our ability to devote adequate personnel, time, and resources to support the operations of all of our subsidiaries, including their research and development activities, and the management of financial, accounting, and reporting matters. Given that our employees and management are primarily incentivized at the parent company level, these employees and management team members may not be sufficiently incentivized to maximize the overall value of our entire organization. If our centralized team fails to provide adequate administrative, research and development, or other services across our entire organization, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed.

Some of our officers and directors currently serve, and in the future may serve, as directors or officers of our subsidiaries, and, as a result, have and may continue to have, fiduciary and other duties to our subsidiaries causing conflicts of interest with respect to their duties to us and their duties to our subsidiaries and in determining how to devote themselves to our affairs and the affairs of our subsidiaries. Our subsidiaries’ partners may also disagree with the sufficiency of resources that we provide to each subsidiary.

Certain of our officers, including our CEO, Elizabeth Ng, and our President and Director, Chirinjeev Kathuria, are also directors and/or officers of one or more of our subsidiaries and, as a result, have fiduciary or other duties both to us and our subsidiaries. The conflicts of interest that arise from such duties could interfere with the management of our subsidiaries and their programs and product candidates, or result in disagreements with our subsidiaries’ partners. For example, an individual who is both a director of one of our subsidiaries and Ocean Biomedical, Inc., owes fiduciary duties to the subsidiary and to the Company as a whole, and such individual may encounter circumstances in which his or her decision or action may benefit the subsidiary while having a detrimental impact on the Company, or vice versa, or on another subsidiary, including one for which he or she also serves as a director. Further, our officers and directors who are also officers and directors of our subsidiaries will need to allocate his or her time to responsibilities owed to Ocean Biomedical, Inc. and each of the subsidiaries for which he or she serves as an officer or director, and will make decisions on behalf of one entity that may negatively impact others. In addition, while most of our subsidiaries have waived any interest or expectation of corporate opportunities that is presented to, or acquired, created or developed by, or which otherwise comes into possession of any director or officer who is also a director or officer of Ocean Biomedical, Inc., disputes could arise between us and our subsidiary’s partners regarding a conflict of interest. These partners also may disagree with the amount and quality of resources that our officers and employees devote to the subsidiary they are invested in. Any such disputes or disagreements could distract our management, interfere with our relations with our partners, and take significant time to resolve, which could disrupt the development of our product candidates, delay our potential commercialization efforts, result in increased costs or make it less likely that other third parties will choose to partner with us in the future.

 

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We currently outsource, and intend to continue to outsource, nearly all our discovery, clinical development, and manufacturing functions to third-party providers or consultants. Outsourcing these functions has significant risks, and our failure to manage these risks successfully could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

Our business model relies upon the use of third parties, such as vendors and consultants, to conduct our drug discovery, preclinical testing, clinical trials, manufacturing, and all other aspects of clinical development. While our reliance on third parties allows us to purposely employ a small number of full–time employees, we may not effectively manage and oversee the third parties that our business depends upon and we have less control over our operations due to our reliance on third parties. While we believe our business model significantly reduces overhead cost, we may not realize the efficiencies of this arrangement if we are unable to effectively manage third parties or if our limited number of employees are unable to manage the operations of each of our subsidiaries, including the development of their programs and product candidates. The failure to successfully and efficiently outsource operational functions or appropriately manage the operations of our subsidiaries could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

Risks Related to Raising Additional Capital

Even if this offering is successful, we will require substantial additional capital to finance our operations. If we are unable to raise such capital when needed, or on acceptable terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce and/or eliminate one or more of our research and drug development programs, future commercialization efforts and/or other operations.

Developing biopharmaceutical products, including conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, is a very time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete. Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since inception. We expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we advance our preclinical and clinical development programs, seek regulatory approvals for our product candidates, and launch and commercialize any products for which we receive regulatory approval. Following this offering, we also expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in order to maintain our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on acceptable terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate one or more of our research and drug development programs or future commercialization efforts.

As of March 31, 2021, we had a cash balance of approximately $0.8 million. We do not have any cash equivalents. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that the net proceeds from this offering will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements for the next three (3) years. However, our actual capital requirements may vary significantly from what we expect, and we will in any event require additional capital in order to complete clinical development of any of our current programs. Our monthly spending levels will vary based on new and ongoing development and corporate activities. Because the length of time and the activities associated with development of our product candidates are highly uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development, marketing and commercialization activities. Our future funding requirements, both near and long-term, will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

   

the initiation, progress, timing, costs and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates, including whether and when to advance our diverse portfolio of product candidates;

 

   

the clinical development plans we establish for these product candidates;

 

   

the timelines of our clinical trials and the overall costs to finish the clinical trials;

 

   

the impact on timelines and costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other unforeseen events;

 

   

the number and characteristics of product candidates that we develop;

 

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the outcome, timing and cost of meeting regulatory requirements established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and other comparable foreign regulatory authorities;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

the extent to which we enter into additional collaboration agreements with regard to product discovery or acquire or in-license products or technologies;

 

   

the effect of competing technological and market developments;

 

   

the cost and timing of completion of commercial-scale outsourced manufacturing activities; and

 

   

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

We do not have a committed external source of funds or other support for our development efforts and we cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Until we can generate sufficient revenue to finance our cash requirements, which we may never do, we expect to finance our future cash needs through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements and other marketing or distribution arrangements. If we raise additional funds through public or private equity offerings, the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of our common stockholders such as you. Further, to the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of common stock or securities convertible or exchangeable into common stock, your ownership interest will be diluted. In addition, any debt financing may subject us to fixed payment obligations and covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. If we raise additional capital through marketing and distribution arrangements or other collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish certain valuable intellectual property or other rights to our product candidates, technologies, future revenue streams or research programs or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. We also may be required to seek collaborators for any of our product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or relinquish our rights to product candidates or technologies that we otherwise would seek to develop or commercialize ourselves. Market volatility and unforeseen events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, could also adversely impact our ability to access capital as and when needed. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of one or more of our product candidates or one or more of our other research and development initiatives. Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and cause the price of our common stock to decline.

The amount of our future losses is uncertain and our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly or may fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, each of which may cause our stock price to fluctuate or decline.

Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly in the future due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control and may be difficult to predict, including the following:

 

   

our ability to complete preclinical studies and successfully submit INDs or comparable applications for our product candidates;

 

   

the timing and success or failure of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates or competing product candidates, or any other change in the competitive landscape of our industry, including consolidation among our competitors or partners;

 

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whether we are required by the FDA or similar foreign regulatory authorities to conduct additional clinical trials or other studies beyond those planned to support the approval and commercialization of our product candidates or any future product candidates;

 

   

our ability to successfully recruit and retain subjects for clinical trials, and any delays caused by difficulties in such efforts, including the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

   

our ability to obtain marketing approval for our product candidates, and the timing and scope of any such approvals we may receive;

 

   

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

 

   

the cost of manufacturing our product candidates, which may vary depending on the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with manufacturers;

 

   

our ability to attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;

 

   

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

 

   

the level of demand for our product candidates should they receive approval, which may vary significantly;

 

   

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

 

   

general market conditions or extraordinary external events, such as recessions, natural disasters, and/or the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

   

the changing and volatile U.S. and global socio-economic and political environments; and

 

   

future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies or changes in tax laws.

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

Risks Related to Research and Development and the Biopharmaceutical Industry

Risks Related to Clinical Development

We are a biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history, and many of our development programs are in early stages of development. This may make it difficult to evaluate our prospects and likelihood of success.

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history, have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue. All of our product candidates are in the preclinical stages of development and will require additional preclinical studies or clinical development as well as regulatory review and approval, substantial investment, access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales. Our operations to date have been limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, establishing our intellectual property portfolio and performing research and development of our product candidates. Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates is unproven, and we do not know whether we will be able to develop any products of commercial value. In addition, our product candidates will require substantial additional development and

 

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clinical research time and resources before we would be able to apply for or receive regulatory approvals and begin generating revenue from product sales. We have not yet demonstrated the ability to progress any product candidate through clinical trials. We are still in preclinical development and may be unable to obtain regulatory approval, manufacture a commercial scale product, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Investment in biopharmaceutical product development is highly speculative because it entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential product candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate efficacy or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable. In addition, as a business with a limited operating history, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors and risks frequently experienced by early-stage biopharmaceutical companies in rapidly evolving fields. Consequently, we have no meaningful history of operations upon which to evaluate our business, and predictions about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or a history of successfully developing and commercializing drug and biological products.

Our business is dependent on the success of our product candidates that we advance into the clinic. We currently have no products that are approved for commercial sale and may never be able to develop marketable products. If one or more of our product candidates encounters safety or efficacy problems, development delays, regulatory issues or other problems, our development plans and business could be significantly harmed. Before we can generate any revenue from sales of any of our product candidates, we must undergo additional preclinical and clinical development, regulatory review and approval in one or more jurisdictions. In addition, if one or more of our product candidates are approved, we must ensure access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and conduct significant marketing efforts in connection with any commercial launch. These efforts will require substantial investment, and we may not have the financial resources to continue development of our product candidates.

We may experience setbacks that could delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, our product candidates, including:

 

   

timely completion of our preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

   

negative or inconclusive results from our preclinical studies or clinical trials or the clinical trials of others for product candidates similar to ours, leading to a decision or requirement to conduct additional preclinical testing or clinical trials or abandon a program;

 

   

the prevalence, duration and severity of potential product-related side effects experienced by subjects receiving our product candidates in our clinical trials or by individuals using drugs or therapeutics similar to our product candidates;

 

   

delays in submitting INDs or comparable foreign applications or delays or failure in obtaining the necessary approvals from regulators to commence a clinical trial, or a suspension or termination of a clinical trial once commenced;

 

   

conditions imposed by the FDA or comparable foreign authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials;

 

   

delays in enrolling subjects in clinical trials;

 

   

high drop-out rates of subjects from clinical trials;

 

   

inadequate supply or quality of product candidates or other materials necessary for the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

   

greater than anticipated clinical trial costs;

 

   

inability to compete with other therapies;

 

   

poor efficacy of our product candidates during clinical trials;

 

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unfavorable FDA or other regulatory agency inspection and review of a clinical trial site;

 

   

failure of our third-party contractors or investigators to comply with regulatory requirements or otherwise meet their contractual obligations in a timely manner, or at all;

 

   

delays related to the impact of recessions, man-made and/or natural disasters, pandemics, and/or any other such events;

 

   

delays and changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines, including the imposition of additional regulatory oversight around clinical testing generally or with respect to our technology in particular; or

 

   

varying interpretations of data by the FDA and similar foreign regulatory agencies.

We do not have complete control over many of these factors, including certain aspects of clinical development and the regulatory submission process, potential threats to our intellectual property rights and our manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales efforts or that of any future collaborator.

Our underlying technology is unproven and may not result in marketable products.

Our approach is designed to discover and develop targeted treatments for non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, glioblastoma, or GBM, and possibly other visceral cancers, by targeting the prototypic chitinase-like protein Chi3l1 which we have found is induced in human cancers including in primary lung cancer formation, in pulmonary melanoma metastasis, and in pulmonary breast cancer metastasis. These findings are the basis for our OCX-253, OCX-410 (PD-1), and OCX-909 (CTLA-4) programs. However, although multiple preclinical studies are currently underway, to date, our approach has not been tested in clinical trials for the treatment of NSCLC, GBM or other cancers.

Our approach to drug discovery and development in the area of fibrosis, with initial focus on targeting chitinase 1, or Chit1, is unproven and may not result in marketable products. Our approach is designed to discover and develop targeted treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, or HPS, and possibly other fibrotic diseases, by targeting Chit1 which we have found to be a master regulator of the TGF-ß1 mediated fibrosis response through various mechanisms. These findings are the basis for our OCF-203 program. However, although multiple preclinical studies are currently underway, to date, our approach has not been tested in clinical trials for the treatment of IPF, HPS, or other fibrotic conditions.

Our approach to therapeutics discovery and development in the area of malaria, with initial focus on targeting P. falciparum glutamic-acid-rich protein, or PfGARP, and P. falciparum schizont egress antigen, or PfSEA-1, is unproven and may not result in marketable products. Our approach is designed to discover and develop therapeutics for the treatment of malaria infections and short-term malaria prophylaxis, and to develop vaccines for immunization against malaria, by targeting PfGARP and PfSEA-1, as applicable. Our findings regarding PfGARP and PfSEA-1 form the basis for our ODA-611, ODA-579 and OCF-203 programs. However, although multiple preclinical studies are currently underway, to date, our approach has not been tested in clinical trials for the treatment of malaria infections, to provide malaria prophylaxis or to provide immunization against malaria.

Our approach to clinical development in the area of anti-inflammatories for COVID-19, with initial focus on the use of angiotensin 1-7, or Ang 1-7, may not result in marketable products. Ang 1-7 has been shown to cause an anti-inflammatory response by binding the Mas receptor on macrophages. These findings form the basis for our development programs to use angiotensin 1-7 (OPS-172) to treat symptoms of COVID-19. However, although multiple studies are currently underway and the clinical trial is expected to initiate in the second half of 2021, to date, this therapeutic moiety has not been clinically evaluated to provide treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.

 

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Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates based on our Whole Proteome Differential Screening target discovery platform represents a novel approach to product candidate development, which creates significant challenges for us.

Our future success depends on the successful development of our product candidates, some of which may be discovered or developed by our Whole Proteome Differential Screening target discovery program, or WPDS. WPDS is a new technology, and as such, it is difficult to predict whether WPDS will successfully enable us to successfully identify or develop product candidates. It is also difficult to accurately predict the developmental challenges we may incur for our product candidates as they proceed through product discovery or identification, preclinical studies and clinical trials. It is difficult for us to predict the time and cost of the development of product candidates identified by WPDS, and we cannot predict whether the application of our technology, or any similar or competitive technologies, will result in the identification, development, and regulatory approval of any products. There can be no assurance that any development problems we experience in the future related to our technology or any of our research programs will not cause significant delays or unanticipated costs, or that such development problems can be solved at all. Any of these factors may prevent us from completing our preclinical studies and clinical trials that we may initiate or commercializing any product candidates we may develop on a timely or profitable basis, if at all.

Due to our business model, we must make decisions on the allocation of resources to certain programs and product candidates; these decisions may prove to be wrong and may adversely affect our business.

We may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with respect to additional research programs or product candidates or for indications other than those we are currently targeting. To the extent we allocate resources to any particular product candidate, our ability to pursue development of another product candidate may be hindered. Some of these opportunities may later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. Therefore, our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities, or expend resources on product candidates that are not viable.

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

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

Although our business model relies in part on a plan to harness breakthrough inventions at research universities and medical centers and develop them into therapeutics that can address unmet medical needs, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional candidate opportunities at these institutions or others. Even if we were able to identify such opportunities, there can be no assurance that we will be able to in-license them or otherwise acquire rights to them on terms that are beneficial to us. Furthermore, we could face competition for such opportunities from other companies and from venture capital firms.

Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, such as:

 

   

our inability to design such product candidates with the pharmacological properties that we desire or attractive pharmacokinetics; or

 

   

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

Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. If we are unable to identify suitable compounds for preclinical and clinical development,

 

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we will not be able to obtain product revenue in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely impact our stock price.

We may not be able to file INDs or IND amendments or comparable applications to commence clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may not permit us to proceed.

We may not be able to file INDs or other comparable applications for our product candidates on the timelines we expect. For example, we or our third parties collaborators may experience manufacturing delays or other delays with preclinical studies or FDA or other regulatory authorities may require additional preclinical studies that we did not anticipate. Moreover, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND or other comparable application will result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities allowing clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that result in a decision by us, by institutional review boards or independent ethics committees, or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to suspend or terminate clinical trials, including as a result of a clinical hold. Additionally, even if FDA or other regulatory authorities agree with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND or comparable application, we cannot guarantee that they will not change their requirements or expectations in the future. These considerations also apply to new clinical trials we may submit as amendments to existing INDs or to a new IND or other comparable application. Any failure to file INDs or other comparable applications on the timelines we expect or to obtain regulatory approvals for our trials may prevent us from completing our clinical trials or commercializing our products on a timely basis, if at all.

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

To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to commercialize any product candidates, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our product candidates are safe and effective in humans. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. In particular, the general approach for FDA approval of a new product is dispositive data from two well-controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials of the relevant drug in the relevant patient population. Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve hundreds of patients, have significant costs and take years to complete. A product candidate can fail at any stage of testing, even after observing promising signals of activity in earlier preclinical studies or clinical trials. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their product candidates. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products and there can be no assurance that any of our clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development in any of our product candidates. Product candidates that appear promising in the early phases of development may fail to reach the market for several reasons, including but not limited to:

 

   

preclinical studies or clinical trials may show the product candidates to be less effective than expected (e.g., a clinical trial could fail to meet its primary and/or secondary endpoint(s)) or to have unacceptable side effects or toxicities, or unexpected adverse drug-drug interactions;

 

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failure to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful;

 

   

failure to execute the clinical trials caused by slow enrollment or subjects dropping out;

 

   

failure to receive the necessary regulatory approvals;

 

   

manufacturing costs, formulation issues, pricing or reimbursement issues, or other factors that make a product candidate uneconomical; and

 

   

the proprietary rights of others and their competing products and technologies that may prevent one of our product candidates from being commercialized.

In addition, differences in trial design between early-stage clinical trials and later-stage clinical trials make it difficult to extrapolate the results of earlier clinical trials to later clinical trials. Moreover, clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products. Additionally, some of our trials may be open-label studies, where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational product candidate or either an existing approved drug or placebo. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational product candidate and sometimes do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect, such as “patient bias” where patients in open-label clinical trials perceive their symptoms to have improved merely due to their awareness of receiving treatment. Moreover, patients selected for early clinical studies often include the most severe sufferers and their symptoms may have been bound to improve notwithstanding the new treatment. In addition, open-label clinical trials may be subject to an “investigator bias” where those assessing and reviewing the physiological outcomes of the clinical trials are aware of which patients have received treatment and may interpret the information of the treated group more favorably given this knowledge. Therefore, it is possible that positive results observed in open-label trials will not be replicated in later placebo-controlled trials.

In addition, the standards that the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities use when regulating us require judgment and can change, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty how they will be applied. The standards are also different for the development of small molecule drug products and for the development of biological products, both of which we are undertaking through our programs. Any analysis we perform of data from preclinical and clinical activities is subject to confirmation and interpretation by regulatory authorities, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. We may also encounter unexpected delays and/or increased costs due to new government regulations. Examples of such regulations include future legislation or administrative action, or changes in FDA policy during the period of product development and FDA regulatory review. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA or foreign regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be. The FDA may also require a panel of experts, referred to as an Advisory Committee, to deliberate on the adequacy of the safety and efficacy data to support approval. The opinion of the Advisory Committee, although not binding, may have a significant impact on our ability to obtain approval of any product candidates that we develop.

If we seek to conduct clinical trials in foreign countries or pursue marketing approvals in foreign jurisdictions, we must comply with numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries and may include all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities outside the United States and vice versa.

The acceptance of study data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States or another jurisdiction by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may be subject to certain conditions or

 

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may not be accepted at all. If data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice, and (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and pursuant to good clinical practice, or GCP, regulations. Additionally, the FDA’s clinical trial requirements, including sufficient size of patient populations and statistical powering, must be met. Many foreign regulatory authorities have similar approval requirements.

Successful completion of clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a marketing application to the FDA and similar marketing applications to comparable foreign regulatory authorities, for each product candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of any product candidates. We may experience negative or inconclusive results, which may result in our deciding, or our being required by regulators, to conduct additional clinical studies or trials or abandon some or all of our product development programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development of any of our product candidates.

We may experience delays in initiating or completing clinical trials. Clinical trials can be delayed or terminated for a variety of reasons, including:

 

   

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

 

   

the FDA or other comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design, including with respect to dosing levels administered in our planned clinical trials, which may delay or prevent us from initiating our clinical trials with our originally intended trial design;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

we may need to address any subject safety concerns that arise during the course of a clinical trial;

 

   

we may experience delays and interruptions to our manufacturing supply chain, or we could suffer delays in reaching, or we may fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with third-party service providers on whom we rely;

 

   

the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we anticipate;

 

   

logistical issues relating to any future clinical trials we may operate in developing countries;

 

   

we may elect to, or regulators, IRBs, Data Safety Monitoring Boards, or DSMBs, or ethics committees may require that we or our investigators, suspend or terminate clinical research or trials for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;

 

   

we may not have the financial resources available to begin and complete the planned trials, or the cost of clinical trials of any product candidates may be greater than we anticipate;

 

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the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate to initiate or complete a given clinical trial; and

 

   

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

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs or ethics committees of the institutions in which such clinical trials are being conducted, or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may suspend or terminate a clinical trial due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical trial protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from the product candidates, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

Moreover, principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive compensation in connection with such services. Under certain circumstances, we may be required to report some of these relationships to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may conclude that a financial relationship between us and a principal investigator has created a conflict of interest or otherwise affected interpretation of the study. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may therefore question the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized. This could result in a delay in approval, or rejection, of our marketing applications by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority, as the case may be, and may ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of one or more of our product candidates.

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

Our clinical trials may reveal significant adverse events or unexpected drug-drug interactions not seen in our preclinical studies and may result in a safety profile that could delay or prevent regulatory approval or market acceptance of any of our product candidates.

If significant adverse events or other side effects are observed in our clinical trials, we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts altogether. In addition, we may encounter unexpected drug-drug interactions in our planned trials, and may be required to further test those candidates, including in drug-drug interaction studies, which may be expensive, time-consuming and result in delays to our programs. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biopharmaceutical industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early stage trials have later been found to cause side effects that prevented their further development. Even if the side effects do not preclude the product candidate from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, undesirable side effects may inhibit market acceptance of the approved product due to its tolerability versus other therapies.

 

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

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of completion of our clinical trials depends in part on the speed at which we can recruit patients to participate in testing our product candidates, and we may experience delays in our clinical trials if we encounter difficulties in enrollment. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, or as needed to provide appropriate statistical power for a given trial. We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the trial until its conclusion. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:

 

   

the patient eligibility and exclusion criteria defined in the protocol;

 

   

the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints and the process for identifying patients;

 

   

the willingness or availability of patients to participate in our trials;

 

   

the proximity of patients to trial sites;

 

   

the design of the trial;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

reporting of the preliminary results of any of our clinical trials;

 

   

the availability of competing commercially available therapies and other competing product candidates’ clinical trials;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain patient informed consents;

 

   

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

 

   

factors we may not be able to control, such as current or potential pandemics that may limit patients, principal investigators or staff or clinical site availability (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic).

For example, we are initially developing OCF-203 for the treatment of IPF, a rare disease. In the United States, IPF is estimated to affect approximately 140,000 patients. As a result, we may encounter difficulties enrolling subjects in our clinical trials of OCF-203 due in part to the small size of the patient population. In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials in such clinical trial site. If any of our product candidates is shown to have undesirable side effects, some patients may decline or drop out of our clinical trials. Additionally, certain of our planned clinical trials may also involve invasive procedures which may lead some patients to decline or to drop out of trials.

Further, timely enrollment in clinical trials is reliant on clinical trial sites which may be adversely affected by global health matters, including, among other things, pandemics. For example, if a clinical trial

 

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site is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, patients may contract COVID-19 during participation in our trials or may be subject to isolation or shelter-in-place restrictions, which may cause them to drop out of our trials, miss scheduled doses or follow-up visits or otherwise fail to follow trial protocols. If patients are unable to follow the trial protocols or if our trial results are otherwise disrupted due to the effects of a pandemic or actions taken to mitigate its spread, the integrity of data from our trials may be compromised or not accepted by the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which would represent a significant setback for the applicable program.

The design or execution of our clinical trials may not support marketing approval.

The design or execution of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support marketing approval, and flaws in the design or execution of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. It is possible that we may need to amend our clinical trial designs, which would require us to resubmit our clinical trial protocols to IRBs and FDA for reexamination and approval, and may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of such clinical trials.

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

Further, the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and in determining when or whether marketing approval will be obtained for any of our product candidates. Our product candidates may not be approved even if they achieve their primary endpoints in future Phase 3 clinical trials or registrational trials. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our trial designs and our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may change requirements for the approval of a product candidate even after reviewing and providing comments or advice on a protocol for a pivotal Phase 3 or registrational clinical trial. In addition, any of these regulatory authorities may also approve a product candidate for fewer or more limited indications than we request or may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials. The FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not approve the labeling claims that we believe would be necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates, if approved.

We intend to develop OCX-253 and potentially other product candidates in combination with other therapies, which exposes us to additional risks.

We intend to develop OCX-253 and potentially other product candidates in combination with one or more approved or unapproved therapies to treat cancer or other diseases. Even if any product candidate we develop were to receive marketing approval for use in combination with other approved therapies, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities outside of the United States could still revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product. If the therapies used in combination with our product candidates are replaced as the standard of care for the indications we choose for any of our product candidates, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to conduct additional clinical trials. The occurrence of any of these risks could result in our own products, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.

Further, we will not be able to market and sell any product candidate we develop in combination with an unapproved cancer therapy for a combination indication if that unapproved therapy does not ultimately obtain marketing approval either alone or in combination with our product. In addition, unapproved cancer therapies face the same risks described with respect to our product candidates currently in development and clinical trials, including the potential for serious adverse effects, delay in their clinical trials and lack of FDA approval.

 

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If the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities do not approve these other products or revoke their approval of, or if safety, efficacy, quality, manufacturing or supply issues arise with, the products we choose to evaluate in combination with our product candidate we develop, we may be unable to obtain approval of or market such combination therapy.

If we are unable to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for any required companion diagnostic tests for our product candidates or experience significant delays in doing so, we may fail to obtain approval or may not realize the full commercial potential of these product candidates.

In connection with the clinical development of our product candidates for certain indications, we intend to engage third parties to develop or obtain access to in vitro companion diagnostic tests to identify patient subsets within a disease category who may derive benefit from our product candidates, as we are targeting certain genetically defined populations for our treatments. For example, in the OCX-253 program, we may develop a diagnostic tool for measuring the circulating Chi3l1 as a method of stratifying patients for particular clinical studies. Such companion diagnostics may be used during our clinical trials and may be required in connection with the FDA approval of our product candidates. To be successful, we or our collaborators will need to address a number of scientific, technical, regulatory and logistical challenges. Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation by the FDA and other regulatory authorities as medical devices and require separate regulatory approval prior to commercialization.

Given our limited experience in developing and commercializing diagnostics, we intend to rely on third parties for the design, development and manufacture of companion diagnostic tests for our therapeutic product candidates that may require such tests. If we enter into such collaborative agreements, we will be dependent on the sustained cooperation and effort of our future collaborators in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. We and our future collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining approval for the companion diagnostics, including issues relating to selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation of companion diagnostics. We and our future collaborators also may encounter difficulties in developing, obtaining regulatory approval for, manufacturing and commercializing companion diagnostics similar to those we face with respect to our therapeutic product candidates themselves, including issues with achieving regulatory clearance or approval, production of sufficient quantities at commercial scale and with appropriate quality standards, and in gaining market acceptance. If we are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostics for these therapeutic product candidates, or experience delays in doing so, the development of these therapeutic product candidates may be adversely affected, these therapeutic product candidates may not obtain marketing approval or such approval may be delayed, and we may not realize the full commercial potential of any of these therapeutics that obtain marketing approval. As a result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, a diagnostic company with whom we contract may decide to discontinue developing, selling or manufacturing the companion diagnostic test that we anticipate using in connection with development and commercialization of our product candidates or our relationship with such diagnostic company may otherwise terminate. We may not be able to enter into arrangements with another diagnostic company to obtain supplies of an alternative diagnostic test for use in connection with the development and commercialization of our product candidates or do so on commercially reasonable terms, which could adversely affect and/or delay the development or commercialization of our therapeutic product candidates.

We may in the future seek orphan drug designation for our product candidates, but we may be unable to obtain orphan drug designation and, even if we obtain such designation, we may not be able to realize or maintain the benefits of such designation, including potential marketing exclusivity of our product candidates, if approved.

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and other major markets, may designate products intended to treat conditions or diseases affecting relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, the FDA may designate a drug or biologic product candidate as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is

 

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generally defined as having a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the product will be recovered from sales in the United States. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting a marketing application. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the drug or biologic and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

Generally, if a product candidate with an orphan drug designation receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities from approving another marketing application for a product that constitutes the same drug treating the same indication for a period of seven (7) years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan drug exclusivity or where the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity. Orphan drug exclusivity may be revoked if any regulatory agency determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

We may seek orphan drug designation for OCF-203 for IPF and HPS, and some of our other future product candidates in additional orphan indications in which there is a medically plausible basis for the use of these products. We may be unable to obtain and maintain orphan drug designation and, even if we obtain such designation, we may not be able to realize the benefits of such designation, including potential marketing exclusivity of our product candidates, if approved.

Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product candidate from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition in the United States. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA may subsequently approve another drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the latter drug is not the same drug or is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care.

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

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

 

   

inability to bring a product candidate to the market;

 

   

decreased demand for our products;

 

   

injury to our reputation;

 

   

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

 

   

initiation of investigations by regulators;

 

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fines, injunctions or criminal penalties;

 

   

costs to defend the related litigation;

 

   

diversion of management’s time and our resources;

 

   

substantial monetary awards to trial participants;

 

   

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

 

   

loss of revenue;

 

   

exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;

 

   

the inability to commercialize any product candidate, if approved; and

 

   

decline in our share price.

Our inability to obtain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop. We will need to obtain additional insurance for clinical trials as our product candidates enter the clinic. However, we may be unable to obtain, or may obtain on unfavorable terms, clinical trial insurance in amounts adequate to cover any liabilities from any of our clinical trials. Our insurance policies may also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than us.

The development and commercialization of new drug products is highly competitive. We may face competition with respect to any product candidates that we seek to develop or commercialize in the future from major biopharmaceutical companies, specialty biopharmaceutical companies, and biotechnology companies worldwide. Potential competitors also include academic institutions, venture capital firms, hedge funds, government agencies, and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection, and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization.

There are a number of large biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are currently pursuing the development of products, or already have products in the market, for the treatment of cancer, fibrosis, malaria, and COVID-19. Although we believe that our approaches are unique, there is no assurance that they will demonstrate advantages or even parity against competitive products from other companies, including those with significant financial resources such as BristolMyersSquibb, Merck, Genentech, AstraZeneca/Daiichi Sankyo, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim and AbbVie, as well as emerging biotechnology companies such as Galapagos, Indalo, Kadmon Holdings, Galecto and Liminal BioSciences, to name a few. For additional information on our competitors please see the Business Section.

Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their strategic partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, and marketing approved products than we do.

Mergers and acquisitions in the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements

 

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with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, more convenient, or less expensive than any products that we may develop. Furthermore, products currently approved for other indications could be discovered to be effective treatments of fibrosis as well, which could give such products significant regulatory and market timing advantages over our product candidates. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, products or technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete and we may not be successful in marketing any product candidates we may develop against competitors. The availability of competitive products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any products that we may develop and commercialize.

Risks Related to Manufacturing

Because we rely on third-party manufacturing and supply vendors, our supply of research and development, preclinical and clinical development materials may become limited or interrupted or may not be of satisfactory quantity or quality.

We rely on third-party contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates for preclinical studies and clinical trials. We do not own manufacturing facilities for producing any clinical trial product supplies. There can be no assurance that our preclinical and clinical development product supplies will not be limited, interrupted, or of satisfactory quality or continue to be available at acceptable prices. For example, the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, or of any similar crises, may impact our ability to procure sufficient supplies for the development of our product candidates, particularly given delays or gaps in supply of materials driven by the prioritization of vaccine development during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, any replacement of a contract manufacturer could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements.

The manufacturing process for a product candidate is subject to FDA and foreign regulatory authority review. Suppliers and manufacturers must meet applicable manufacturing requirements and undergo rigorous facility and process validation tests required by regulatory authorities in order to comply with regulatory standards, such as current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMPs. In the event that any of our manufacturers fails to comply with such requirements or to perform its obligations to us in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we currently do not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with another third-party, which we may not be able to do on reasonable terms, if at all. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty transferring such skills or technology to another third-party and a feasible alternative may not exist. These factors would increase our reliance on such manufacturer or require us to obtain a license from such manufacturer in order to have another third-party manufacture our product candidates. If we are required to change manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. We will also need to verify, such as through a manufacturing comparability or bridging study, that any new manufacturing process will produce our product candidate according to the specifications previously submitted to the FDA or another regulatory authority. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturer could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates in a timely manner or within budget.

To the extent that we enter into future manufacturing arrangements with third parties, we will depend on these third parties to perform their obligations in a timely manner consistent with contractual and

 

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regulatory requirements, including those related to quality control and assurance. If we are unable to obtain or maintain third-party manufacturing for product candidates, or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to develop and commercialize our product candidates successfully. Our or a third-party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements and comply with cGMP could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:

 

   

an inability to initiate or continue clinical trials of product candidates under development;

 

   

delay in submitting regulatory applications, or receiving regulatory approvals, for product candidates;

 

   

loss of the cooperation of an existing or future collaborator;

 

   

subjecting third-party manufacturing facilities or our manufacturing facilities to additional inspections by regulatory authorities;

 

   

requirements to cease distribution or to recall batches of our product candidates; and

 

   

in the event of approval to market and commercialize a product candidate, an inability to meet commercial demands for our products.

Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.

As product candidates progress through preclinical to late stage clinical trials to marketing approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield, manufacturing batch size, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue.

In addition, there are risks associated with large scale manufacturing for clinical trials or commercial scale including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, compliance with good manufacturing practices, lot consistency and timely availability of raw materials. Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, there is no assurance that our manufacturers will be able to manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential commercial launch of the product or to meet potential future demand. Additionally, if we advance a biological candidate into IND-enabling studies, the manufacturing processes for biological products is more complex and expensive than with small molecule products and additional manufacturing suppliers may be needed to manufacture clinical supplies for these programs. If our manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.

The manufacture of drug products, and particularly biologics, is complex and our third-party manufacturers may encounter difficulties in production. If any of our third-party manufacturers encounter such difficulties, our ability to provide supply of our current product candidates or any future product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or prevented.

Manufacturing drugs, particularly biologics, especially in large quantities, is often complex and may require the use of innovative technologies to handle living cells. Each lot of an approved biologic must undergo thorough testing for identity, strength, quality, purity and potency. Manufacturing biologics

 

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requires facilities specifically designed for and validated for this purpose, and sophisticated quality assurance and quality control procedures are necessary. Slight deviations anywhere in the manufacturing process, including filling, labeling, packaging, storage and shipping and quality control and testing, may result in lot failures, product recalls or spoilage. When changes are made to the manufacturing process, we may be required to provide preclinical and clinical data showing the comparable identity, strength, quality, purity or potency of the products before and after such changes. If microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered at the facilities of our manufacturers, such facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination, which could delay clinical trials and adversely harm our business.

In addition, there are risks associated with large scale manufacturing for clinical trials or commercial scale including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, compliance with good manufacturing practices, lot consistency and timely availability of raw materials. Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our current product candidates or any future product candidates, there is no assurance that our manufacturers will be able to manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential commercial launch of the product or to meet potential future demand. If our manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.

Risks Related to Commercialization

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

Even if a product candidate we develop receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors, such as Medicare and Medicaid programs and managed care organizations, and others in the medical community. In addition, the availability of coverage by third-party payors may be affected by existing and future health care reform measures designed to reduce the cost of health care. If the product candidates we develop do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable.

The degree of market acceptance of any product candidate, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

   

the efficacy and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments;

 

   

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

 

   

the convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;

 

   

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

 

   

the price we pay or any of our future collaborators charge for our products;

 

   

the recommendations with respect to our product candidates in guidelines published by various scientific organizations applicable to us and our product candidates;

 

   

the strength of marketing and distribution support;

 

   

the ability to obtain sufficient third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement;

 

   

the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and

 

   

The size and effectiveness of our sales, marketing and distribution support.

 

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If government and other third-party payors do not provide coverage and adequate reimbursement levels for any products we commercialize, market acceptance and commercial success would be reduced.

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

Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized by line of therapy (first line, second line, third line, fourth line, etc.), and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for a particular line or lines of use. When cancer is detected early enough, first line therapy is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Whenever first line therapy, usually chemotherapy, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these, proves unsuccessful, second line therapy may be administered. Second line therapies often consist of more chemotherapy, radiation, antibody drugs, tumor-targeted small molecules, or a combination of these. Third line therapies can include chemotherapy, antibody drugs and small molecule tumor-targeted therapies, more invasive forms of surgery and new technologies. In our oncology program, we may initially seek approval of certain of our product candidates as a second or third line therapy, for use in patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic cancer. Subsequently, for those product candidates that prove to be sufficiently safe and beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval as a second line therapy and potentially as a first line therapy, but there is no guarantee that our product candidates, even if approved as a second or subsequent line of therapy, would be approved for an earlier line of therapy, and, prior to any such approvals, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials.

Our projections of both the number of people who have the cancers we are targeting, who may have their tumors genetically sequenced, as well as the subset of people with these cancers in a position to receive a particular line of therapy and who have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research, and may prove to be incorrect. Further, new therapies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of the cancers that we are targeting. Consequently, even if our product candidates are approved for a second or third line of therapy, the number of patients that may be eligible for treatment with our product candidates may turn out to be much lower than expected. In addition, we have not yet conducted market research to determine how treating physicians would expect to prescribe a product that is approved for multiple tumor types if there are different lines of approved therapies for each such tumor type.

We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience as a company in commercializing products, and we may have to invest significant resources to develop these capabilities. If we are unable to establish marketing and sales capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to market and sell our products, we may not be able to generate product revenue.

We have no internal sales, marketing or distribution capabilities, nor have we commercialized a product. If any of our product candidates ultimately receive regulatory approval, we expect to establish either an internal or external marketing and sales organization with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to commercialize each such product in major markets, which will be expensive and, to the extent we establish such organization in house, time consuming. We have no prior experience as a company in the marketing, sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products and there are significant risks involved in establishing or managing a sales organization, including our ability to hire, retain and incentivize qualified individuals, generate sufficient sales leads, provide adequate training to sales and marketing personnel and effectively manage a geographically dispersed sales and marketing team. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal or external sales, marketing and distribution capabilities would adversely impact the commercialization of these products. If we choose to collaborate with third parties that have direct sales forces and established distribution systems, either to augment our own sales force and distribution systems or in lieu of our own sales force and distribution systems, we may not be able

 

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to enter into collaborations or hire consultants or external service providers to assist us in sales, marketing and distribution functions on acceptable financial terms, or at all. In addition, our product revenues and our profitability, if any, may be lower if we rely on third parties for these functions than if we were to market, sell and distribute any products that we develop ourselves. We likely will have little control over such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. If we are not successful in commercializing our products, either on our own or through arrangements with one or more third parties, we may not be able to generate any future product revenue and we would incur significant additional losses.

Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

Third Party Risks Related to Our Product Development

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

We depend upon third parties to conduct all or certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, under agreements with universities, medical institutions, CROs, CMOs, strategic collaborators and others. We expect to continue to negotiate budgets and contracts with such third parties, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs.

We will rely especially heavily on third parties over the course of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and, as a result, we control only certain aspects of their activities. As a result, we have less direct control over the conduct, timing and completion of our preclinical studies and clinical trials and the management of data developed through preclinical studies and clinical trials than would be the case if we relied entirely upon our own staff. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies and trials are conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with GCP and cGMP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP and cGMP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, clinical investigators, manufacturers and trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP or cGMP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to suspend or terminate these trials or perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot be certain that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP or cGMP requirements.

Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Failure by us or by third parties we engage to comply with regulatory requirements can also result in fines, adverse publicity, and civil and criminal sanctions. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.

Any third parties conducting aspects of our preclinical studies, clinical trials or manufacturing process will not be our employees and, except for remedies that may be available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our preclinical studies and clinical programs. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other product development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the preclinical or clinical data they obtain is

 

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compromised due to the failure to adhere to our protocols or regulatory requirements or for other reasons or if due to federal or state orders or absenteeism due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other such crises they are unable to meet their contractual and regulatory obligations, our development timelines, including clinical development timelines, may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.

If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs, CMOs or others terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs, CMOs or other third parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms.

Switching or adding additional CROs or CMOs involves additional cost and requires extensive time and focus of our management. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO or CMO begins work. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired development timelines.

Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs and CMOs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

We rely on third parties for blood and other tissue samples and other materials required for our research and development activities, and if we are unable to reach agreements with these third parties our research and development activities would be delayed.

We rely on third parties, primarily hospitals, health clinics and academic institutions, for the provision of blood and other tissue samples, clinical and laboratory supplies and other materials required in our research and development activities. Obtaining these materials requires various approvals as well as reaching a commercial agreement on acceptable terms with the hospital or other provider of the materials. While we expect to enter into agreements with the institutions from which we receive our tissue samples, we do not have any exclusive arrangements with such sources and there is no guarantee that we will be able to enter into or renew such agreements on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. If we were unable to enter into or renew such agreements we would be forced to seek new arrangements with new hospitals, clinics or health institutions. If so, we may not be able to reach agreements with alternative partners or do so on terms acceptable to us. If we are unable to enter into such agreements, our research and development activities will be delayed and our ability to implement a key part of our development strategy will be compromised.

We are a party to license and sublicense agreements pursuant to which we are obligated to make substantial payments upon achievement of milestone events.

We are a party to various license and sublicense agreements that are important to our business and to our current and future product candidates. For example, we sublicense all of the technologies forming our oncology, fibrosis and infectious disease programs from Elkurt, Inc., or Elkurt, a company formed by our scientific co-founders Jack A. Elias, M.D. and Jonathan Kurtis, M.D., Ph.D., which licenses such technologies from Brown University. We also license all of the technologies forming our inflammation program from Stanford University. These agreements contain obligations that require us to make substantial payments in the event certain milestone events are achieved.

All of our current product candidates are being developed through license and sublicense agreements from Elkurt and Stanford University, as applicable. If any of our existing license or sublicense agreements were to be terminated, our business and prospects could be substantially harmed.

A core element of our business strategy also includes continuing to acquire or in-license additional technologies or product candidates. As a result, we intend to periodically explore a variety of possible

 

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strategic collaborations or licenses in an effort to gain access to additional product candidates, technologies or resources.

Furthermore, license agreements we enter into in the future may not provide exclusive rights to use intellectual property and technology in all relevant fields of use and in all territories in which we may wish to develop or commercialize our technology and products. As a result, we may not be able to prevent competitors from developing and commercializing competitive products in territories included in all of our licenses.

Collaborations are and will be important to our business. If we are unable to enter into new collaborations, or if these collaborations are not successful, our business could be adversely affected.

A part of our strategy is to maximize the value of our product candidates by evaluating partnerships where we believe partners can add significant commercial and/or development capabilities. Further, we have limited capabilities for product development and do not yet have any capability for commercialization. Accordingly, we have and may in the future enter into collaborations with other organizations to provide us with important technologies and funding for our programs and technology.

The collaborations we enter into may pose a number of risks, including the following:

 

   

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

 

   

collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

collaborators may not provide us with timely and accurate information regarding development progress and activity under any future license agreement, which could adversely impact our ability to report progress to our investors and otherwise plan development of our product candidates;

 

   

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

 

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

If the collaborations we enter into do not result in the successful discovery, development and commercialization of product candidates or if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under such collaboration. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this prospectus also apply to the activities of our therapeutic collaborators.

Additionally, if one of our existing or future collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may find it more difficult to attract new collaborators and our perception in the business and financial communities could be adversely affected. In addition, to the extent that any of our existing or future collaborators were to terminate a collaboration agreement, we may be forced to independently develop these product candidates, including funding preclinical or clinical trials, assuming marketing and distribution costs and defending intellectual property rights, or, in certain instances, abandon product candidates altogether, any of which could result in a change to our business plan and a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators for our product candidates, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. In order for us to successfully establish a collaboration for one or more of our product candidates, potential collaborators must view these product candidates as economically valuable in markets they determine to be attractive in light of the terms that we are seeking and other available products for licensing by other companies. Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large biopharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators. Our ability to reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. If we fail to enter into future collaborations or do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates, bring them to market and generate revenue from sales of drugs or continue to develop our technology, and our business may be materially and adversely affected. Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish new strategic collaborations, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us, and we may not be able to maintain such strategic collaborations if, for example, development or approval of a product candidate is delayed or sales of an approved product are disappointing. Any delay in entering into new strategic collaboration agreements related to our product candidates could delay the

 

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development and commercialization of our product candidates and reduce their competitiveness even if they reach the market.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

Our success depends in part on our ability to protect our intellectual property. It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights and technology, and we may not be able to ensure their protection.

Our business will depend in large part on obtaining and maintaining patent, trademark and trade secret protection of our proprietary technologies and our product candidates, their respective components, synthetic intermediates, formulations, combination therapies, methods used to manufacture them and methods of treatment, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. We currently license or sublicense all of the intellectual property underlying our product candidates from universities, and as such do not currently maintain patents regarding the intellectual property we use. Our ability to stop unauthorized third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our product candidates is dependent upon the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents that cover these activities and whether a court would issue an injunctive remedy. If we are unable to secure and maintain patent protection for any product or technology we develop, or if the scope of the patent protection secured is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize any product candidates we may develop may be adversely affected.

The patenting process is expensive and time-consuming, and we or our licensors may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. In addition, we or our licensors may not pursue, obtain, or maintain patent protection in all relevant markets. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Moreover, in some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license or sublicense from or license to third parties and are reliant on our licensors, sublicensors or licensees.

The strength of patents in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical field involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. The patent applications that we in-license or may own in the future may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our product candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries. Even if the patents do successfully issue, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our technology, including our product candidates, or prevent others from designing around our claims. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patent applications we hold with respect to our product candidates is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop, and threaten our ability to commercialize, our product candidates. Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we could market our product candidates under patent protection would be reduced.

We cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our technology, including our product candidates, and, if we were not, we may be precluded from obtaining patent protection for our technology, including our product candidates.

We cannot be certain that we are the first to invent the inventions covered by pending patent applications and, if we are not, we may be subject to priority disputes. Furthermore, for United States applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third-party or instituted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. Similarly, for United States applications in which at least one claim is not

 

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entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, derivation proceedings can be instituted to determine whether the subject matter of a patent claim was derived from a prior inventor’s disclosure.

We may be required to disclaim part or all of the term of certain patents or all of the term of certain patent applications. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the validity or enforceability of a patent or patent application claim. There also may be prior art of which we are aware, but which we do not believe affects the validity or enforceability of a claim, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to affect the validity or enforceability of a claim. No assurance can be given that if challenged, our patents would be declared by a court to be valid or enforceable or that even if found valid and enforceable, would adequately protect our product candidates, or would be found by a court to be infringed by a competitor’s technology or product. We may analyze patents or patent applications of our competitors that we believe are relevant to our activities, and consider that we are free to operate in relation to our product candidates, but our competitors may achieve issued claims, including in patents we consider to be unrelated, which block our efforts or may potentially result in our product candidates or our activities infringing such claims. The possibility exists that others will develop products which have the same effect as our products on an independent basis which do not infringe our patents or other intellectual property rights, or will design around the claims of patents that may issue that cover our products.

Recent or future patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. Under the enacted Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or America Invents Act, enacted in 2013, the United States moved from a “first to invent” to a “first-to-file” system. Under a “first-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. The America Invents Act includes a number of other significant changes to U.S. patent law, including provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and establish a new post-grant review system. The effects of these changes are currently unclear as the USPTO only recently developed new regulations and procedures in connection with the America Invents Act and many of the substantive changes to patent law, including the “first-to-file” provisions, only became effective in March 2013. In addition, the courts have yet to address many of these provisions and the applicability of the act and new regulations on specific patents discussed herein have not been determined and would need to be reviewed. However, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

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 make or use compounds that are similar to the compositions of our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of our patents or those of our licensors;

 

   

we or our licensors, as the case may be, may fail to meet our obligations to the U.S. government in regards to any in-licensed patents and patent applications funded by U.S. government grants, leading to the loss of patent rights;

 

   

we or our licensors, as the case may be, 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;

 

   

it is possible that our pending patent applications will not result in issued patents;

 

   

it is possible that there are prior public disclosures that could invalidate our or our licensors’ patents, as the case may be, or parts of our or their patents;

 

   

it is possible that others may circumvent our owned or in-licensed patents;

 

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it is possible that there are unpublished applications or patent applications maintained in secrecy that may later issue with claims covering our products or technology similar to ours;

 

   

the laws of foreign countries may not protect our or our licensors’, as the case may be, proprietary rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States;

 

   

the claims of our owned or in-licensed issued patents or patent applications, if and when issued, may not cover our product candidates;

 

   

our owned or in-licensed issued patents may not provide us with any competitive advantages, may be narrowed in scope, or be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges by third parties;

 

   

the inventors of our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications may become involved with competitors, develop products or processes which design around our patents, or become hostile to us or the patents or patent applications on which they are named as inventors;

 

   

our license with Stanford University in connection with our anti-inflammatory candidate for COVID-19 is nonexclusive, and as a result we may face competitors who might enter into similar nonexclusive licensing agreements with Stanford;

 

   

it is possible that our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications omit individual(s) that should be listed as inventor(s) or include individual(s) that should not be listed as inventor(s), which may cause these patents or patents issuing from these patent applications to be held invalid or unenforceable;

 

   

we have engaged in scientific collaborations in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Such collaborators may develop adjacent or competing products to ours that are outside the scope of our patents;

 

   

we may not develop additional proprietary technologies for which we can obtain patent protection;

 

   

it is possible that product candidates or diagnostic tests we develop may be covered by third parties’ patents or other exclusive rights;

 

   

the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business; or

 

   

given that the preclinical developments of our oncology, fibrosis and malaria programs have, to date, been funded through grants totaling $105.6 million (prior to in-licensing our product candidates), which includes grants from the federal government, it is possible that the federal government could invoke its march-in rights under 35 U.S.C. §203 if it deems that it is necessary for it, or for third parties it designates, to practice our patent rights in order to address a national public safety or national security threat.

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

Intellectual property rights we have licensed were generated through the use of U.S. government funding and are therefore subject to certain federal regulations. As a result, the U.S. government may have certain rights to intellectual property embodied in our current or future product candidates pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, or Bayh-Dole Act, and implementing regulations. These U.S. government rights in certain inventions developed under a government-funded program include a nonexclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable worldwide license to use inventions for any governmental purpose. In addition, the U.S. government has the right to require us or our licensors to grant exclusive, partially exclusive, or nonexclusive licenses to any of these inventions to a third party if it determines that: (i) adequate steps have not been taken to commercialize the invention; (ii) government action is necessary to meet public health or safety needs; or (iii) government action is necessary to meet requirements for public use under

 

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federal regulations (also referred to as “march-in rights”). Our product candidates in our oncology, fibrosis and malaria programs are subject to such march-in rights. The U.S. government also has the right to take title to these inventions if we, or the applicable licensor, fail to disclose the invention to the government and fail to file an application to register the intellectual property within specified time limits. These time limits have recently been changed by regulation, and may change in the future. Intellectual property generated under a government funded program is also subject to certain reporting requirements, compliance with which may require us or the applicable licensor to expend substantial resources. In addition, the U.S. government requires that any products embodying the subject invention or produced through the use of the subject invention be manufactured substantially in the United States. The manufacturing preference requirement can be waived if the owner of the intellectual property can show that reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to grant licenses on similar terms to potential licensees that would be likely to manufacture substantially in the United States or that under the circumstances domestic manufacture is not commercially feasible. This preference for U.S. manufacturers may limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. product manufacturers for products covered by such intellectual property. To the extent any of our current or future intellectual property is generated through the use of U.S. government funding, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act may similarly apply.

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

In addition to patent protection, we rely heavily upon know-how and trade secret protection, such as that involved in our WPDS platform, and we intend to enter into non-disclosure agreements and invention assignment agreements with our employees, consultants and third-parties prior to our listing on the Nasdaq Global Market, to protect our confidential and proprietary information, especially where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or obtainable. In addition to contractual measures, we expect to try to protect the confidential nature of our proprietary information using physical and technological security measures. Such measures may not, for example, in the case of misappropriation of a trade secret by an employee or third-party with authorized access, provide adequate protection for our proprietary information. Our security measures may not prevent an employee or consultant from misappropriating our trade secrets and providing them to a competitor, and recourse we take against such misconduct may not provide an adequate remedy to protect our interests fully. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, trade secrets may be independently developed by others in a manner that could prevent legal recourse by us. For example, the way in which we use our WPDS platform is proprietary and confidential. If one or more third parties obtain or are otherwise able to replicate these techniques, an important feature and differentiator of our clinical development strategy will become available to potential competitors. If any of our confidential or proprietary information, such as our trade secrets, were to be disclosed or misappropriated, or if any such information was independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position could be harmed.

In addition, courts outside the United States are sometimes less willing to protect trade secrets. If we choose to go to court to stop a third-party from using any of our trade secrets, we may incur substantial costs. These lawsuits may consume our time and other resources even if we are successful. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology.

Thus, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us. These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual or entity during the course of the party’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties except in specific circumstances. In the

 

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case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary technology by third parties. We have also adopted policies and conduct training that provides guidance on our expectations, and our advice for best practices, in protecting our trade secrets.

Risks Related to Third Party Intellectual Property

We have entered into and may enter into license, sublicense or other collaboration agreements in the future that may impose certain obligations on us. If we fail to comply with our obligations under such agreements with third parties, we could lose license or sublicense rights that may be important to our future business.

In connection with our efforts to expand our pipeline of product candidates, we have entered into and may enter into certain licenses, sublicenses or other collaboration agreements in the future pertaining to the in-license of rights to additional candidates. Such agreements impose various diligence, milestone payment, royalty, insurance or other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with these obligations, our licensor or collaboration partners may have the right to terminate the relevant agreement, in which event we would not be able to develop or market the products covered by such licensed or sublicensed intellectual property.

Moreover, disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

the priority of invention of patented technology.

We are currently party to various license and sublicense agreements that we depend on to operate our business, and our rights to use currently licensed intellectual property are be subject to the continuation of and our compliance with the terms of these agreements. In spite of our efforts, our licensors might conclude that we have materially breached our obligations under such license agreements and might therefore terminate the license agreements, thereby removing or limiting our ability to develop and commercialize products and technology covered by these license agreements. For example, Brown University may terminate their license agreements with us at any time and for any reason after November 1, 2021 if we have not raised at least $10 million in equity financing by then. In the event that we breach any of our sublicense agreements, or if any of the parties from whom we have sublicensed intellectual property breach the underlying license agreements, we may not be entitled to the intellectual property that we sublicense.

In addition, the agreements under which we currently license and sublicense intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or

 

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increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed or sublicensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.

In addition, we may have limited control over the maintenance and prosecution of these in-licensed patents and patent applications, or any other intellectual property that may be related to our in-licensed intellectual property. For example, we cannot be certain that such activities by any future licensors have been or will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights. We have limited control over the manner in which our licensors or sublicensors initiate an infringement proceeding against a third-party infringer of the intellectual property rights, or defend certain of the intellectual property that is licensed or sublicensed to us. It is possible that such infringement proceedings or defense activities may be less vigorous than had we conducted them ourselves.

Our collaborators may assert ownership or commercial rights to inventions they develop from research we support or that we develop from our use of the blood and other tissue samples and other materials required for our research and development activities, which they provide to us, or otherwise arising from the collaboration.

We collaborate with several institutions, universities, medical centers, physicians and researchers in scientific matters and expect to continue to enter into additional collaboration agreements. In certain cases, we do not have written agreements with these collaborators, or the written agreements we have do may not cover all instances of medical development that are researched by the counterparty. If we cannot successfully negotiate sufficient ownership and commercial rights to any inventions that result from our use of a third-party collaborator’s materials, or if disputes arise with respect to the intellectual property developed with the use of a collaborator’s samples, or data developed in a collaborator’s study, we may be limited in our ability to capitalize on the market potential of these inventions or developments.

Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization.

There may be third-party patents of which we are currently unaware with claims to compositions of matter, materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment that encompass the composition, use or manufacture of our product candidates. There may be currently pending patent applications of which we are currently unaware which may later result in issued patents that our product candidates or their use or manufacture may infringe. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. If any third-party patent were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover our product candidates, intermediates used in the manufacture of our product candidates or our materials generally, aspects of our formulations or methods of use, the holders of any such patent may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the product candidate unless we obtained a license or sublicense or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be held invalid or unenforceable. In either case, such a license or sublicense may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we are unable to obtain a necessary or sublicense to a third-party patent on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our ability to commercialize our product candidates may be impaired or delayed, which could in turn significantly harm our business. Even if we obtain a or sublicense, it may be nonexclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed or sublicensed to us. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, sublicense, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates.

Parties making claims against us may seek and obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our product candidates. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement

 

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against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, obtain one or more licenses or sublicenses from third parties, pay royalties or redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. We cannot predict whether any such license or sublicense would be available at all or whether it would be available on commercially reasonable terms. Furthermore, even in the absence of litigation, we may need to obtain licenses or sublicenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses or sublicenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we would be unable to further develop and commercialize our product candidates, which could harm our business significantly.

Third parties may assert that our employees, consultants or advisors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information or misappropriated trade secrets.

As is common in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, we collaborate with and/or employ and intend to collaborate with and/or employ individuals who were previously affiliated with universities or other biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, including those that operate in the same indications we do. Although no claims against us are currently pending, and although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of a former employer or other third parties. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses, and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and, if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. We may be unable to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings as a result of our currently limited financial resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other intellectual property related proceedings could adversely affect our ability to compete in the marketplace.

We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to develop any future product candidates on acceptable terms.

Because our programs may involve additional product candidates that may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights.

Our product candidates may also require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and these rights may be held by others. We may develop products containing our drug substance and pre-existing biopharmaceutical compounds. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary or important to our business operations. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all, which would harm our business. We may need to cease use of the compositions or methods covered by such third-party intellectual property rights, and may need to seek to develop alternative approaches that do not infringe on such intellectual property rights which may entail additional costs and development delays, even if we were able to develop such alternatives, which may not be feasible. Even if we are able to obtain a license or sublicense, it may be nonexclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology.

 

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Additionally, we currently collaborate and intend to continue collaborating with academic institutions to facilitate and/or complement our preclinical research and/or clinical development under written agreements with these institutions. In certain cases, these institutions may provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such options, if we are granted one, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to others, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property or to maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of such program and our business and financial condition could suffer.

The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and institutions, which may be more established, or have greater resources than we do, may also be pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider necessary or attractive in order to commercialize our product candidates. More established institutions may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully complete such negotiations and ultimately acquire the rights to the intellectual property surrounding the additional product candidates that we may seek to acquire.

Risks Related to Intellectual Property Litigation

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may prevent or delay our product discovery and development efforts.

Our commercial success depends in part on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including interference, derivation, inter partes review, post grant review, and reexamination proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions. We may be exposed to, or threatened with, future litigation by third parties having patent or other intellectual property rights alleging that our product candidates and/or proprietary technologies infringe their intellectual property rights. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates. As the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others. Moreover, it is not always clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of drugs, products or their methods of use or manufacture. Thus, because of the large number of patents issued and patent applications filed in our fields, there may be a risk that third parties may allege they have patent rights encompassing our product candidates, technologies or methods.

If a third party claims that we infringe its intellectual property rights, we may face a number of issues, including, but not limited to:

 

   

infringement and other intellectual property claims which, regardless of merit, may be expensive and time-consuming to litigate and may divert our management’s attention from our core business;

 

   

substantial damages for infringement, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product candidate or technology at issue infringes on or violates the third-party’s rights, and, if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the patent owner’s attorneys’ fees;

 

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a court prohibiting us from developing, manufacturing, marketing or selling our product candidates, or from using our proprietary technologies, unless the third-party licenses its product rights to us, which it is not required to do;

 

   

if a license is available from a third-party, we may have to pay substantial royalties, upfront fees and other amounts, and/or grant cross-licenses to intellectual property rights for our products and any license that is available may be nonexclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property; and

 

   

redesigning our product candidates or processes so they do not infringe, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time.

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 or could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure.

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

Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our current or future licensors. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that one or more of our patents is not valid or is unenforceable, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question or for other reasons. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable, or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business.

We may choose to challenge the patentability of claims in a third-party’s U.S. patent by requesting that the USPTO review the patent claims in an ex-parte re-examination, inter partes review or post-grant review proceedings. These proceedings are expensive and may consume our time or other resources. We may choose to challenge a third-party’s patent in patent opposition proceedings in the European Patent Office, or EPO, or other foreign patent office. The costs of these opposition proceedings could be substantial, and may consume our time or other resources. If we fail to obtain a favorable result at the USPTO, EPO or other patent office then we may be exposed to litigation by a third-party alleging that the patent may be infringed by our product candidates or proprietary technologies.

In addition, because some patent applications in the United States may be maintained in secrecy until the patents are issued, patent applications in the United States and many foreign jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, and publications in the scientific literature often lag behind actual discoveries, we cannot be certain that others have not filed patent applications for technology covered by our owned and in-licensed issued patents or our pending applications, or that we or, if applicable, a licensor were the first to invent the technology. Our competitors may have filed, and may in the future file, patent applications covering our products or technology similar to ours. Any such patent application may have priority over our owned and in-licensed patent applications or patents, which could 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 those owned by or in-licensed to us, we or, in the case of in-licensed technology, the licensor may have to participate in an interference or derivation proceeding declared by the USPTO to determine priority of invention in the United States. If we or one of our

 

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licensors is a party to an interference or derivation proceeding involving a U.S. patent application on inventions owned by or in-licensed to us, we may incur substantial costs, divert management’s time and expend other resources, even if we are successful.

Interference or derivation proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could result in a loss of our current patent rights and could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or if a nonexclusive license is offered and our competitors gain access to the same technology. Litigation or interference proceedings may result in a decision adverse to our interests and, even if we are successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our trade secrets or confidential information, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.

Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

Risks Related to Intellectual Property Laws

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 on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other provisions during the patent application process and following the issuance of a patent. While an inadvertent lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In certain circumstances, even inadvertent noncompliance events may permanently and irrevocably jeopardize patent rights. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Any patents, if issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court or the USPTO.

If we or one of our licensors initiate legal proceedings against a third-party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate, as applicable, is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace, and there are numerous grounds upon which a third-party can assert invalidity or unenforceability of a patent. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, inter partes review, post grant review, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer

 

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cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we, our patent counsel and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, or if we are otherwise unable to adequately protect our rights, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business and our ability to commercialize or license our technology and product candidates.

Likewise, without taking into account any possible patent term adjustments or extensions, our current sublicensed patents sublicensed from Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, and Stanford University may expire before, or soon after, our first product achieves marketing approval in the United States or foreign jurisdictions. Upon the expiration of our current patents, we may lose the right to exclude others from practicing these inventions. The expiration of these patents could also have a similar material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. We also have rights to pending patent applications covering our proprietary technologies or our product candidates, but we cannot be assured that the USPTO or relevant foreign patent offices will grant any of these patent applications.

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

Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. Assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, prior to March 16, 2013, in the United States, the first to invent the claimed invention was entitled to the patent, while outside the United States, the first to file a patent application was entitled to the patent. On March 16, 2013, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the America Invents Act, enacted in September 2011, the United States transitioned to a first inventor to file system in which, assuming that other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third party was the first to invent the claimed invention. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO on or after March 16, 2013, but before us could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by such third party. This will require us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to our product candidates or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval of any product candidates we may develop, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Action of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent extension term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval, only one patent may be extended and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents, or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially harmed.

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

Our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. We may license our trademarks and trade names to third parties, such as distributors. Though these license agreements may provide guidelines for how our trademarks and trade names may be used, a breach of these agreements or misuse of our trademarks and tradenames by our licensees may jeopardize our rights in or diminish the goodwill associated with our trademarks and trade names. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights related to trademarks, trade names, trade secrets, domain names, copyrights or other intellectual property may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and could adversely affect our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Risks Related to Managing Our Business and Operations

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, could adversely impact our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials.

In December 2019, a novel strain of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, was identified in Wuhan, China. This virus continues to spread globally and has spread to a number countries globally, including the United States. The outbreak and government measures taken in response have also had a significant impact, both direct and indirect, on businesses and commerce, as worker shortages have occurred; supply chains have been disrupted; facilities and production have been suspended; and demand for certain goods and services, such as medical services and supplies, has spiked, while demand for other goods and services, such as travel, has fallen. In response to the spread of COVID-19, we have closed our executive offices with our administrative employees continuing their work outside of our offices and limited the number of

 

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staff in any given research and development laboratory. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience disruptions that could severely impact our business, including:

 

   

interruptions in preclinical studies due to restricted or limited operations at our laboratory facilities or at facilities of our collaborators;

 

   

interruption of, or delays in receiving, supplies for preclinical and/or clinical trials from our CROs, CMOs or other collaborators due to staffing shortages, production slowdowns or stoppages and disruptions in delivery systems;

 

   

limitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people;

 

   

interruption or delays to our sourced discovery and clinical activities;

 

   

delays in receiving authorizations from regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;

 

   

delays or difficulties in commencing enrollment of patients in our clinical trials, enrolling and retaining patients in our clinical trials in adequate numbers and difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;

 

   

diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

   

interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site data monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures that are deemed nonessential, which may impact the integrity of subject data and clinical trial endpoints; and

 

   

interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may impact review and approval timelines.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the outbreak impacts our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the pandemic, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

Our internal computer systems, or those of our collaborators or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our product development programs.

Our internal computer systems and those of our current and any future collaborators and other contractors or consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. Such a material system failure, accident or security breach could result in a disruption of our development programs and our business operations, whether due to a loss of our trade secrets or other proprietary information or other similar disruptions. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from an of our clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of security breaches relating to companies providing or developing treatments or vaccines related to COVID-19. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability, our competitive position could be harmed and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.

 

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We could be subject to risks caused by misappropriation, misuse, leakage, falsification or intentional or accidental release or loss of information maintained in the information systems and networks of our company and our vendors, including personal information of our employees and study subjects, and company and vendor confidential data. In addition, outside parties may attempt to penetrate our systems or those of our vendors or fraudulently induce our personnel or the personnel of our vendors to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to our data and/or systems. We may experience threats to our data and systems, including malicious codes and viruses, phishing and other cyberattack. The number and complexity of these threats continue to increase over time. If a material breach of, or accidental or intentional loss of data from, our information technology systems or those of our vendors occurs, the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and our reputation and credibility could be damaged. We could be required to expend significant amounts of money and other resources to repair or replace information systems or networks. In addition, we could be subject to regulatory actions and/or claims made by individuals and groups in private litigation involving privacy issues related to data collection and use practices and other data privacy laws and regulations, including claims for misuse or inappropriate disclosure of data, as well as unfair or deceptive practices. The development and maintenance of these systems, controls and processes is costly and requires ongoing monitoring and updating as technologies change and efforts to overcome security measures become increasingly sophisticated. Moreover, despite our efforts, the possibility of these events occurring cannot be eliminated entirely. As we outsource more of our information systems to vendors, engage in more electronic transactions with payors and patients, and rely more on cloud-based information systems, the related security risks will increase and we will need to expend additional resources to protect our technology and information systems. In addition, there can be no assurance that our internal information technology systems or those of our third-party contractors, or our consultants’ efforts to implement adequate security and control measures, will be sufficient to protect us against breakdowns, service disruption, data deterioration or loss in the event of a system malfunction, or prevent data from being stolen or corrupted in the event of a cyberattack, security breach, industrial espionage attacks or insider threat attacks which could result in financial, legal, business or reputational harm.

We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by earthquakes or other natural disasters, as well as occurrences of civil unrest, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster, including earthquakes, outbreak of disease or other natural disasters and civil unrest.

Our operations may be adversely affected by fire, climate events, or other manmade or natural disasters or incidents, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster or event. Such incidents or events may result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or of our collaborators, and thus may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and may have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. Loss of access to these facilities may result in increased costs, delays in the development of our product candidates or interruption of our business operations. Natural or manmade disasters could further disrupt our operations, and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage, fire or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the research or manufacturing facilities of our third-party collaborators, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time.

Our disaster recovery and business continuity plans may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery, insurance coverage, and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

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Risks Related to Growing Our Organization

We may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could adversely affect our operations.

As of March 31, 2021, we had nine full-time employees. As our clinical development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, and as we transition into operating as a public company, we will need to expand our managerial, clinical, regulatory, sales, marketing, financial, development, manufacturing and legal capabilities or contract with third parties to provide these capabilities for us. As our operations expand, we expect that we will need to manage additional relationships with various strategic collaborators, suppliers and other third parties. Our future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

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

We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services, including contract manufacturers and companies focused on research and development and discovery activities. There can be no assurance that the services of independent organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality, accuracy or quantity of the services provided is compromised for any reason, our pre-clinical and clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain, or may be substantially delayed in obtaining, regulatory approval of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.

If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.

We may acquire additional technology and complementary businesses in the future. Acquisitions involve many risks, any of which could materially harm our business, including the diversion of management’s attention from core business concerns, failure to effectively exploit acquired technologies, failure to successfully integrate the acquired business or realize expected synergies or the loss of key employees from either our business or the acquired businesses.

The estimates of market opportunity and forecasts of market growth included in this prospectus may prove to be inaccurate, and even if the markets in which we compete achieve the forecasted growth, our business may not grow at similar rates, or at all.

Market opportunity estimates and growth forecasts included in this prospectus are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates which may not prove to be accurate. The estimates and forecasts included in this prospectus relating to size and expected growth of our target market may prove to be inaccurate. For example, if and when vaccines for COVID-19 become generally available, the addressable market for our anti-inflammatory program candidate, angiotensin 1-7, may

 

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decrease if the number of people who contract COVID-19 decreases. This could impair our ability to commercialize these therapies or to maximize their value to us. Even if the markets in which we compete meet the size estimates and growth forecasts included in this prospectus, our business may not grow at similar rates, or at all. Our growth is subject to many factors, including our success in implementing our business strategy, which is subject to many risks and uncertainties.

We may engage in strategic transactions, which could impact our liquidity, increase our expenses, and present significant distractions to our management.

We may consider engaging in a variety of different business arrangements, including mergers and acquisitions, spin-outs, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, co-marketing, co-promotion, distributorships, development and co-development, restructurings, divestitures, business combinations and investments on a global basis. Any such transaction(s) may require us to incur non-recurring or other charges, may increase our near- and long-term expenditures, grow and expand rapidly putting pressure on current resources and capabilities, and may pose significant integration challenges or disrupt our management or business, which could adversely affect our operations and financial results. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will undertake or successfully complete any transactions of the nature described above, and any transaction that we do complete could expose us to liability, delays, and implementation obstacles that could harm our business, financial condition, operating results, and prospects. We have no current commitment or obligation to enter into any transaction described above other than ones to which we are already committed.

Risks Related to Employee Matters

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

Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, including our CEO, Elizabeth Ng, MBA, our CSO, Jonathan Heller, Ph.D., and our EVP External Innovation, Daniel Behr, MBA and our scientific and medical personnel, including Dr. Elias and Dr. Kurtis. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees, and other scientific and medical advisors, and our inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business.

We conduct our operations in the greater Boston area and the San Francisco Bay area. These regions are home to many other biopharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and research institutions. Competition for skilled personnel in our market is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all.

To induce valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we intend to provide restricted stock awards and stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of restricted stock awards and stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control, and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Our key employees are at-will employees, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. In addition, we do not maintain key person insurance. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel.

 

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

We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other illegal activity by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners, collaborators and vendors. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct that fails to comply with the laws of the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies, provide true, complete and accurate information to the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws in the United States and similar foreign fraudulent misconduct laws, or report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. If we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the United States, our potential exposure under such laws will increase significantly, and our costs associated with compliance with such laws will also increase. These laws may impact, among other things, our current activities with principal investigators and research patients, as well as proposed and future sales, marketing and education programs. In connection with this offering, we will adopt a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any actions are instituted against us and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could result in the imposition of civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, monetary fines, imprisonment, disgorgement, possible exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings and the curtailment of our operations.

Risks Related to Tax and Accounting Matters

Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain tax credit carryforwards may be subject to limitation.

We may from time to time generate net operating loss carryforwards for U.S. federal and state income tax purposes that are subject to expiration. Under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, changes in our ownership may limit the amount of our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards that could be utilized annually to offset our future taxable income, if any. This limitation would generally apply in the event of a cumulative change in ownership of our company of more than 50 percentage points within a three-year period. Any such limitation may significantly reduce our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards before they expire. Private placements and other transactions that we may execute may trigger such an ownership change pursuant to Section 382. Any such limitation, sales of our common stock by our existing stockholders or additional sales of our common stock by us, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in future years. Our ability to utilize those net operating loss carryforwards could be limited by an “ownership change” as described above, which could result in increased tax liability to us. Net operating losses generated after December 31, 2017 are not subject to expiration, but may not be carried back to prior taxable years, except that net operating losses generated in 2018, 2019 and 2020 may be carried back five taxable years. Additionally, the deductibility of such U.S. federal net operating losses is limited to 80% of our taxable income in any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2020.

 

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We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If our remediation of this material weakness is not effective, or if we experience additional material weaknesses or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations.

In connection with our preparation and the audits of our financial statements as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 and for the period from inception January 2, 2019 to December 31, 2019 and the year ended December 31, 2020, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness as defined under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) in our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the company’s financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

Specifically, our material weakness is that management does not have adequate staffing in its accounting department and has not yet designed and implemented the appropriate processes and internal controls to support accurate and timely financial reporting.

We are working to remediate the material weakness and are taking steps to strengthen our internal control over financial reporting such as the hiring of Gurinder Kalra as Chief Financial Officer in first quarter of 2021. Additionally, we plan to further develop and implement formal policies, processes and documentation procedures relating to our financial reporting, including the oversight of third-party service providers. The actions that we are taking are subject to ongoing executive management review. If we are unable to successfully remediate the material weakness, or if in the future, we identify further material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis, and our financial statements may be materially misstated. We or our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting, which could harm our operating results, cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information and cause the trading price of our stock to fall. In addition, as a public company, we will be required to file accurate and timely quarterly and annual reports with the SEC under the Exchange Act. Any failure to report our financial results on an accurate and timely basis could result in sanctions, lawsuits, delisting of our shares from the Nasdaq Global Market or other adverse consequences that would materially harm our business. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC, and other regulatory authorities, and become subject to litigation from investors and stockholders, which could harm our reputation and our financial condition, or divert financial and management resources from our core business.

Neither our management nor an independent registered public accounting firm has performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, because no such evaluation has been required. Had we or our independent registered public accounting firm performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, additional material weaknesses may have been identified.

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 required 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, or any subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed

 

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to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our 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 stock.

We will be required to disclose changes made in our internal controls and procedures on a quarterly basis and our management will be required to assess the effectiveness of these controls annually, beginning with our second annual report on Form 10-K. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404, however they will not be required to do so for so long as we are an EGC. We could be an EGC for up to five years. An independent assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting could detect problems that our management’s assessment might not. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting could lead to restatements of our financial statements and require us to incur the expense of remediation.

Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or acts of fraud.

Upon completion of this offering, we will become subject to certain reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. Our disclosure controls and procedures are designed to reasonably assure that information required to be disclosed by us in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements or insufficient disclosures due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.

Risks Related to Marketing, Reimbursement, Healthcare Regulations and Ongoing Regulatory Compliance

Risks Related to Government Regulation

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

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval. In the United States, sales of any products for which we may receive regulatory marketing approval will depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and the Veterans Administration, managed care providers, private health insurers, and other organizations. Patients who are provided medical treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors are critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use our product candidates unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for, or accurately estimate the potential revenue from, our product candidates or assure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we may develop.

 

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Government authorities and other third-party payors decide which drugs and treatments they will cover and the amount of reimbursement. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:

 

   

a covered benefit under its health plan;

 

   

safe, effective and medically necessary;

 

   

appropriate for the specific patient;

 

   

cost-effective; and

 

   

neither experimental nor investigational.

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. As a result, obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval of a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to each payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products on a payor-by-payor basis, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product, the resulting reimbursement payment rates might not be adequate for us to achieve or sustain profitability or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Additionally, third-party payors may not cover, or provide adequate reimbursement for, long-term follow-up evaluations required following the use of product candidates, once approved. It is difficult to predict what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our product candidates, if approved.

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

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

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of biopharmaceutical products. Arrangements with third-party payors and customers can expose biopharmaceutical manufacturers to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, or AKS, and the federal False Claims Act, or FCA, which may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which such companies sell, market and distribute biopharmaceutical products. In particular, the research of our product candidates, as well as the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The applicable federal, state and foreign healthcare laws and regulations laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:

 

   

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal

 

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healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. A person or entity can be found guilty of violating the statute without actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, a claim submitted for payment to any federal health care program that includes items or services that were made as a result of a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between biopharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers, among others, on the other. There are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose, among other things, requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, known as covered entities, as well as their respective “business associates,” those independent contractors or agents of covered entities that perform services for covered entities that involve the creation, use, receipt, maintenance or disclosure of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;

 

   

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, created under the ACA, and its implementing regulations, which require some manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to CMS information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by

 

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physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made in the previous year to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners;

 

   

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

 

   

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

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

The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Ensuring business arrangements comply with applicable healthcare laws, as well as responding to possible investigations by government authorities, can be time- and resource-consuming and can divert a company’s attention from the business.

It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, reputational harm, possible exclusion from participation in federal and state funded healthcare programs, contractual damages and the curtailment or restricting of our operations, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws. Further, if any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs. Any action for violation of these laws, even if successfully defended, could cause a biopharmaceutical manufacturer to incur significant legal expenses and divert management’s attention from the operation of the business. Prohibitions or restrictions on sales or withdrawal of future marketed products could materially affect business in an adverse way.

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

If any of our product candidates are approved, they will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, storage, advertising, promotion, sampling, record-keeping, conduct

 

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of post-marketing studies and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-market information, including both federal and state requirements in the United States and requirements of comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In addition, we will be subject to continued compliance with cGMP and GCP requirements for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval.

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

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could entail requirements for long-term patient follow-up, a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools.

The FDA may impose consent decrees or withdraw approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

   

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

 

   

manufacturing delays and supply disruptions where regulatory inspections identify observations of noncompliance requiring remediation;

 

   

revisions to the labeling, including limitation on approved uses or the addition of additional warnings, contraindications or other safety information, including boxed warnings;

 

   

imposition of a REMS, which may include distribution or use restrictions;

 

   

requirements to conduct additional post-market clinical trials to assess the safety of the product;

 

   

fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

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

 

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The FDA and other regulatory agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses.

The FDA and other regulatory agencies strictly regulate the post-approval marketing, labeling, advertising, and promotion of products that are placed on the market. The FDA and other regulatory agencies impose stringent restrictions on sponsors’ communications regarding off-label use. Products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. However companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is not inconsistent with the labeling. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use ad has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. Violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, and other statutes, including the False Claims Act, and equivalent legislation in other countries relating to the promotion and advertising of prescription products may also lead to investigations or allegations of violations of federal and state and other countries’ health care fraud and abuse laws and state consumer protection laws. Even if it is later determined we were not in violation of these laws, we may be faced with negative publicity, incur significant expenses defending our actions and have to divert significant management resources from other matters. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

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

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

In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, was passed, which substantially changed the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% (increased pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or BBA, effective as of 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D.

Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. Various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing legal and constitutional challenges in the United States Supreme Court. It is unclear how such litigation and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA and our business. In addition, the former Trump administration issued various Executive Orders which eliminated cost sharing subsidies and various provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Additionally, Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or

 

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repealing the ACA. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. The Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs, including aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the BBA, will remain in effect through 2030, unless additional congressional action is taken. However, these Medicare sequester reductions have been suspended from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BBA also amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, by increasing the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and closing the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole”. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs.

At the federal level, the former Trump administration’s budget for fiscal year 2021 includes a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs. On March 10, 2020, the former Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. The former Trump administration previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers.

On July 24, 2020, the former United States president signed four Executive Orders directing the Secretary of HHS to: (1) eliminate protection under an Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbor for certain retrospective price reductions provided by drug manufacturers to sponsors of Medicare Part D plans or pharmacy benefit managers that are not applied at the point-of-sale; (2) allow the importation of certain drugs from other countries through individual waivers, permit the re-importation of insulin products, and prioritize finalization of FDA’s December 2019 proposed rule to permit the importation of drugs from Canada; (3) ensure that payment by the Medicare program for certain Medicare Part B drugs is not higher than the payment by other comparable countries (depending on whether pharmaceutical manufacturers agree to other measures); and (4) allow certain low-income individuals receiving insulin and epinephrine purchased by a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC, as part of the 340B drug program to purchase those drugs at the discounted price paid by the FQHC. On September 13, 2020, the former U.S. president signed an Executive Order directing HHS to implement a rulemaking plan to test a payment

 

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model, pursuant to which Medicare would pay, for certain high-cost prescription drugs and biological products covered by Medicare Part B, no more than the most-favored-nation price (i.e., the lowest price) after adjustments, for a pharmaceutical product that the drug manufacturer sells in a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that has a comparable per-capita gross domestic product. On November 20, 2020, CMS and the HHS Office of the Inspector General issued two final rules implementing changes to the Physician Self-Referral Law, or Stark Law, and the Anti-Kickback Statute. These new rules codify new value-based exceptions and safe harbors to the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute, as well as offer additional clarification in the form of updated definitions. We continue to analyze and monitor the potential impact of these new and amended exceptions and safe harbors.

HHS has solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule that would allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. Although a number of these and other measures may require additional authorization to become effective, Congress has indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative measures to control drug costs. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare and other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payers. In addition, individual states in the United States have also increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

Further, on May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act.

At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control biopharmaceutical and biologic product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

These laws, and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any of our product candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such product candidate is prescribed or used. Additionally, we expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any future approved product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, cost containment initiatives and additional legislative changes.

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

The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency

 

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have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of the SEC and other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities, is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.

Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times, and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the SEC, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 10, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to temporarily postpone most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities and products while local, national and international conditions warrant. On March 18, 2020, the FDA announced its intention to temporarily postpone routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities and provided guidance regarding the conduct of clinical trials, which the FDA continues to update. As of June 23, 2020, the FDA noted it was continuing to ensure timely reviews of applications for medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic in line with its user fee performance goals and conducting mission critical domestic and foreign inspections to ensure compliance of manufacturing facilities with FDA quality standards. On July 16, 2020, FDA noted that it is continuing to expedite oncology product development with its staff teleworking full-time. However, the FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and review timelines could be extended. As of July 2020, utilizing a rating system to assist in determining when and where it is safest to conduct such inspections based on data about the virus’ trajectory in a given state and locality and the rules and guidelines that are put in place by state and local governments, the FDA is either continuing to, on a case-by-case basis, conduct only mission critical inspections, or, where possible to do so safely, resuming prioritized domestic inspections, which generally include pre-approval inspections. Foreign pre-approval inspections that are not deemed mission-critical remain postponed, while those deemed mission-critical will be considered for inspection on a case-by-case basis. The FDA will use similar data to inform resumption of prioritized operations abroad as it becomes feasible and advisable to do so. The FDA may not be able to maintain this pace, and delays or setbacks are possible in the future. Should the FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel, the FDA has stated that it generally intends to issue a complete response letter. Further, if there is inadequate information to make a determination on the acceptability of a facility, the FDA may defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. Additionally, regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, upon completion of this offering and in our operations as a public company, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

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

Among other matters, U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, which are collectively referred to as Trade Laws, prohibit companies and their employees, agents, clinical research organizations, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from

 

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recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We also expect our non-U.S. activities to increase in time. We plan to engage third parties for clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals and we can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.

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

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

Compliance with governmental regulations regarding the treatment of animals used in research could increase our operating costs, which would adversely affect the commercialization of our products.

The Animal Welfare Act, or AWA, is the federal law that covers the treatment of certain animals used in research. Currently, the AWA imposes a wide variety of specific regulations that govern the humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of certain animals by producers and users of research animals, most notably relating to personnel, facilities, sanitation, cage size, and feeding, watering and shipping conditions. Third parties with whom we contract are subject to registration, inspections and reporting requirements under the AWA. Furthermore, some states have their own regulations, including general anti-cruelty legislation, which establish certain standards in handling animals. Comparable rules, regulations, and or obligations exist in many foreign jurisdictions. If we or our contractors fail to comply with regulations concerning the treatment of animals used in research, we may be subject to fines and penalties and adverse publicity, and our operations could be adversely affected.

Risks Related to Government Regulations Internationally

Even if we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates, we may never obtain approval or commercialize such products outside of the United States, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.

In order to market any products outside of the United States, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and efficacy. Clinical

 

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trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not mean that regulatory approval will be obtained in any other country. Approval procedures vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods. Seeking foreign regulatory approvals could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and may require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which would be costly and time consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. Satisfying these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. In addition, our failure to obtain regulatory approval in any country may delay or have negative effects on the process for regulatory approval in other countries. We do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, including international markets, and we do not have experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be harmed.

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

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

Much like the federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibition in the United States, the provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the EU. The provision of benefits or advantages to induce or reward improper performance generally is governed by the national anti-bribery laws of EU Member States, and in respect of the U.K. (which is longer a member of the EU), the U.K. Bribery Act 2010. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment. EU Directive 2001/83/EC, which is the EU Directive governing medicinal products for human use, provides that, where medicinal products are being promoted to persons qualified to prescribe or supply them, no gifts, pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind may be supplier, offered or promised to such persons unless they are inexpensive and relevant to the practice of medicine or pharmacy. Breach of this provision is an offence under the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which is the national implementing legislation of Directive 2001/83/EC in the U.K.

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

In addition, in most foreign countries, including those in the European Economic Area, or EEA, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing and reimbursement vary widely from country to country. For example, the EU provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national

 

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health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. Reference pricing used by various EU member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. In some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of any of our product candidates to other available therapies in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for biopharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the United States and generally prices tend to be significantly lower. Publication of discounts by third-party payors or authorities may lead to further pressure on the prices or reimbursement levels within the country of publication and other countries. If pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels or if reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, our revenues from sales and the potential profitability of any of our product candidates in those countries would be negatively affected.

We may incur substantial costs in our efforts to comply with evolving global data protection laws and regulations, and any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with such laws and regulations may harm our business and operations.

The global data protection landscape is rapidly evolving, and we may be or become subject to or affected by numerous federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, as well as regulatory guidance, governing the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, security and processing of personal data, such as information that we collect about participants and healthcare providers (including information relating to their representatives) in connection with clinical trials. Processing of personal data, including health related information, is increasingly subject to legislation and regulations in numerous jurisdictions around the world, including General Data Protection Regulation, (EU) 2016/679, or GDPR, and each of the California Data Privacy Protection Act of 2018, or CCPA, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, in the United States, among many others. Our regulatory obligations in foreign jurisdictions could harm the use or cost of our solution in international locations as data protection and privacy laws and regulations around the world continue to evolve. Implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, which may create uncertainty in our business, affect our or our service providers’ ability to operate in certain jurisdictions or to collect, store, transfer use and share personal data, result in liability or impose additional compliance or other costs on us. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with federal, state, or foreign laws or self-regulatory standards could result in negative publicity, diversion of management time and effort and proceedings against us by governmental entities or others.

Recently, the CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020 and provides new data privacy rights for consumers and new operational requirements for companies, which may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. The CCPA gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing, and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. The CCPA (a) allows enforcement by the California Attorney General, with fines set at $2,500 per violation (i.e., per person) or $7,500 per intentional violation and (b) authorizes private lawsuits to recover statutory damages for certain data breaches. Additionally, on November 3, 2020, California voters approved the California Privacy Rights Act or CPRA ballot initiative. The CPRA, which will come into effect on January 1, 2023, will significantly modify the CCPA and expand the privacy rights of California residents. We cannot yet predict the impact of the CPRA on our business or operations, but it may require us to incur additional costs and expenses. While there is currently an exception for protected health information that is subject to HIPAA and clinical trial regulations, as currently written, the CCPA may impact certain of our business

 

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activities. The new California law may lead to similar laws in other U.S. states or at a national level, which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business.

In addition to our operations in the United States, which may be subject to healthcare and other laws relating to the privacy and security of health information and other personal information, may seek to conduct clinical trials in EEA and may become subject to additional European data privacy laws, regulations and guidelines. The GDPR, became effective on May 25, 2018, and deals with the collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals in the EEA. The GDPR has extra-territorial application and applies not only to organizations with a presence in the EU or the UK but also to businesses based outside the EU or the UK that carry out processing that is related to (i) an offer of goods or services to individuals in the EU or the UK, or (ii) the monitoring of their behavior so long as this takes place in the EU or the UK, even if the data is stored outside the EU or the UK. Running clinical trials involving participants in the EU or the UK and processing personal data in the context of that activity will trigger the application of the GDPR. The GDPR imposes a broad range of strict requirements on companies subject to the GDPR, including requirements relating to having legal bases for processing personal information relating to identifiable individuals and restrictions on cross-border data transfers unless a legal mechanism as set out in the GDPR can be relied on, such as transferring such information outside the EEA, including to the United States, (as detailed further below) providing details to those individuals regarding the processing of their personal health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, keeping personal information secure, having data processing agreements with third parties who process personal information, responding to individuals’ requests to exercise their rights in respect of their personal information, reporting security breaches involving personal data to the competent national data protection authority and affected individuals, appointing data protection officers, conducting data protection impact assessments, and record-keeping.

The EU and UK may introduce further conditions, including limitations which could limit our ability to collect, use and share personal data (including health and medical information), or could cause our compliance costs to increase. In addition, the GDPR imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the EU/UK to third countries deemed to lack adequate privacy protections (including the United States), unless an appropriate safeguard specified by the GDPR is implemented, such as the Standard Contractual Clauses, or SCCs, approved by the European Commission, or a derogation applies. The Court of Justice of the European Union, or CJEU, recently deemed that the SCCs are valid. However, the CJEU ruled that transfers made pursuant to the SCCs and other alternative transfer mechanisms need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis to ensure EU standards of data protection are met in the jurisdiction where the data importer is based, and there continue to be concerns about whether the SCCs and other mechanisms will face additional challenges. European regulators have issued recent guidance following the CJEU ruling that imposes significant new diligence requirements on transferring data outside the EEA, including under an approved transfer mechanism. This guidance requires an “essential equivalency” assessment of the laws of the destination country. If essentially equivalent protections are not available in the destination country, the exporting entity must then assess if supplemental measures can be put in place that, in combination with the chosen transfer mechanism, would address the deficiency in the laws and ensure that essentially equivalent protection can be given to the data. Complying with this guidance will be expensive and time consuming and may ultimately prevent us from transferring personal data outside the EEA, which would cause significant business disruption. Until the legal uncertainties regarding how to legally continue transfers pursuant to the SCCs and other mechanisms are settled, we will continue to face uncertainty as to whether our efforts to comply with our obligations under the GDPR will be sufficient. This and other future developments regarding the flow of data across borders could increase the complexity of transferring personal data across borders in some markets and may lead to governmental enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.

 

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In addition, further to the UK’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, on January 31, 2020, the GDPR will continue to apply in the UK until the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. As of January 1, 2021, the GDPR will be brought into UK law as the ‘UK GDPR’, but there may be further developments about the regulation of particular issues such as UK-EU data transfers. We may be required to take steps to ensure the lawfulness of our data transfers, particularly if by the end of the transition period there will not be an EU Commission’s adequacy decision regarding the UK.

The GDPR increases substantially the penalties to which we could be subject in the event of any non-compliance, including fines of up to 10,000,000 Euros or up to 2% of our total worldwide annual turnover for certain comparatively minor offenses, or up to 20,000,000 Euros or up to 4% of our total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is greater, for more serious offenses. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. The GDPR also introduces the right for non-profit organizations to bring claims on behalf of data subjects.

Further, national laws of member states of the EU are in the process of being adapted to the requirements under the GDPR, thereby implementing national laws which may partially deviate from the GDPR and impose different obligations from country to country, so that we do not expect to operate in a uniform legal landscape in the EEA. Also, as it relates to processing and transfer of genetic data, the GDPR specifically allows national laws to impose additional and more specific requirements or restrictions, and European laws have historically differed quite substantially in this field, leading to additional uncertainty. The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the United Kingdom. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated now that the United Kingdom has left the EU.

In the event we commence clinical trials in the EEA, the GDPR may increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process where such processing is subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms and safeguards to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities, as well as materially and adversely affecting our operations and business performance. We expect that we will continue to face uncertainty as to whether our efforts to comply with any obligations under European privacy laws will be sufficient. If we are investigated by a European data protection authority, we may face fines and other penalties. Any such investigation or charges by European data protection authorities could have a negative effect on our existing business and on our ability to attract and retain new clients or biopharmaceutical partners. We may also experience hesitancy, reluctance, or refusal by European or multi-national clients or biopharmaceutical partners to continue to use our products and solutions due to the potential risk exposure as a result of the current (and, in particular, future) data protection obligations imposed on them by certain data protection authorities in interpretation of current law, including the GDPR. Such clients or biopharmaceutical partners may also view any alternative approaches to compliance as being too costly, too burdensome, too legally uncertain, or otherwise objectionable and therefore decide not to do business with us. Any of the forgoing could materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Additional laws and regulations governing international operations could negatively impact or restrict our operations.

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

 

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

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

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

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

Risks Related to Our Common Stock and this Offering

There has been no prior public market for our common stock, the stock price of our common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the initial public offering price.

Prior to this offering there has been no public market for shares of our common stock. You may not be able to sell your shares quickly or at the market price if trading in shares of our common stock is not active. The initial public offering price for our common stock will be determined through negotiations with the underwriters, and the negotiated price may not be indicative of the market price of the common stock after the offering. An active or liquid market in our common stock may not develop upon the completion of this offering or, if it does develop, it may not be sustainable. As a result of these and other factors, you may be unable to resell your shares of our common stock at or above the initial public offering price.

Further, an inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to enter into strategic collaborations or acquire companies or products by using our shares of common stock as consideration.

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

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

 

   

the commencement, enrollment or results of any clinical trials of any of our programs;

 

   

any delay in identifying and advancing a clinical candidate for our other development programs;

 

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any delay in our regulatory filings of our product candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the applicable regulatory authority’s review of such filings, including without limitation the FDA’s issuance of a “refusal to file” letter or a request for additional information;

 

   

adverse results or delays in our clinical trials;

 

   

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

 

   

adverse regulatory decisions, including failure to receive regulatory approval of any product candidate;

 

   

changes in laws or regulations applicable to any product candidate, including but not limited to clinical trial requirements for approvals;

 

   

adverse developments concerning our manufacturers;

 

   

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

 

   

our inability to establish collaborations, if needed;

 

   

our failure to commercialize our product candidates, if approved;

 

   

additions or departures of key scientific or management personnel;

 

   

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

 

   

introduction of new products or services offered by us or our competitors;

 

   

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

 

   

our ability to effectively manage our growth;

 

   

actual or anticipated variations in quarterly operating results;

 

   

our cash position;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

changes in the market valuations of similar companies;

 

   

changes in the structure of the healthcare payment systems;

 

   

overall performance of the equity markets;

 

   

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

 

   

trading volume of our common stock;

 

   

changes in accounting practices;

 

   

ineffectiveness of our internal controls;

 

   

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

 

   

significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;

 

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general political and economic conditions, including any impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; and

 

   

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

In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors, as well as local or global socio-economic and political factors, may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. If the market price of our common stock after this offering does not exceed the initial public offering price, you may not realize any return on your investment in us and may lose some or all of your investment. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities. This type of litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources.

We will be a “controlled company” within the meaning of Nasdaq rules and the rules of the SEC. As a result, we will qualify for exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements that provide protection to shareholders of other companies.

After completion of this offering, the Principal Shareholder will continue to own a majority of our outstanding ordinary shares. As a result, we will be a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq. Under these rules, a company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, group or another company is a “controlled company” and may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements, including:

 

   

the requirement that a majority of our board of directors consist of “independent directors” as defined under the rules of Nasdaq;

 

   

the requirement that we have a compensation committee that is composed entirely of directors who meet the Nasdaq independence standards for compensation committee members; and

 

   

the requirement that our director nominations be made, or recommended to our full board of directors, by our independent directors or by a nominations committee that consists entirely of independent directors.

Following this offering, we are permitted to utilize certain of these exemptions. If we utilize such exemptions available to controlled companies, we may not have a majority of independent directors, our nominations committee and compensation committee may not consist entirely of independent directors and such committees may not be subject to annual performance evaluations. Accordingly, under these circumstances, you will not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of Nasdaq.

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

We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, future debt or other financing arrangements may contain terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock.

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

Based on shares outstanding as of            and immediately following the completion of this offering, our executive officers, directors and their affiliates and our principal stockholders will beneficially hold, in

 

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the aggregate, approximately    % of our outstanding voting stock, excluding any shares purchased in this offering. These stockholders, acting together, would be able to significantly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval. For example, these stockholders would be able to significantly influence elections of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transaction. This may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our common stock that you may feel are in your best interest as one of our stockholders

Risks Related to this Offering

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

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

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

Substantial amounts of our outstanding shares may be sold into the market when lock-up or market standoff periods end. If there are substantial sales of shares of our common stock, the price of our common stock could decline.

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

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

In addition, shares of common stock that are either subject to outstanding options or reserved for future issuance under our existing equity compensation plans will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, the lock-up agreements and

 

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Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. If these additional shares of common stock are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline. Additionally, stockholders may experience additional dilution, which could cause the price of our common stock to decline, as the number of shares of our common stock reserved for issuance under our stock option and incentive plan increases.

After this offering, the holders of            shares of our common stock will be entitled to rights with respect to the registration of their shares under the Securities Act as provided under the terms of an investors’ rights agreement between us and the holders of our redeemable convertible preferred stock, subject to the 180-day lock-up agreements described above. See “Description of Capital Stock—Registration Rights.” Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in the shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act, except for shares held by affiliates, as defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act. Any sales of securities by these stockholders could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.

We have broad discretion in the use of our liquid assets and the net proceeds from this offering and may not use them effectively.

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

Our issuance of additional capital stock in connection with financings, acquisitions, investments, our stock incentive plans or otherwise will dilute all other stockholders.

We expect to issue additional capital stock in the future that will result in dilution to all other stockholders. We expect to grant equity awards to employees, directors, and consultants under our stock incentive plans. We may also raise capital through equity financings in the future. As part of our business strategy, we may acquire or make investments in complementary companies, products, or technologies and issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition or investment. Any such issuances of additional capital stock may cause stockholders to experience significant dilution of their ownership interests and the per share value of our common stock to decline.

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

We are an emerging growth company, or EGC, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or the JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012. For as long as we continue to be an EGC, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not EGCs, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this prospectus and our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes

 

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on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an EGC for up to five years following the year in which we complete this offering, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier. We will remain an EGC until the earlier of (i) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of this offering, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.07 billion or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th, and (ii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three year period.

We may choose to take advantage of some, but not all, of the available exemptions. We have taken advantage of reduced reporting burdens in this prospectus. In particular, we have not included all of the executive compensation information that would be required if we were not an EGC. We cannot predict whether investors will find our common stock less attractive if we rely on certain or all of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, EGCs can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies, which may make our financial statements less comparable to companies that comply with new or revised accounting pronouncements as of public company effective dates.

We are a smaller reporting company and, as a result of the reduced disclosure and governance requirements applicable to such companies, our common stock may be less attractive to investors.

We are a smaller reporting company, (i.e. a company with less than $250 million of public float) and we are eligible to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies. We have elected to adopt these reduced disclosure requirements. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive as a result of our taking advantage of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result of our choices, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

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

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

We expect the rules and regulations applicable to public companies to substantially increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. If these requirements divert the attention of our management and personnel from other business concerns, they

 

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could have an adverse effect on our business. The increased costs will decrease our net income or increase our net loss, and may require us to reduce costs in other areas of our business or increase the prices of our products or services. For example, we expect these rules and regulations to make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to incur substantial costs to maintain the same or similar coverage. We cannot predict or estimate the amount or timing of additional costs we may incur to respond to these requirements. The impact of these requirements could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers.

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

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, which are to become effective upon the completion of this offering, contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our board of directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. Some of these provisions include:

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

a requirement that special meetings of stockholders be called only by the board of directors acting pursuant to a resolution approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

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

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

 

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

Pursuant to our amended and restated by-laws, as will be in effect upon the completion of this offering, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any state law claims for: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty or other wrongdoing by any of our directors, officers, employees or agents to us or our stockholders; (iii) any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to any provision of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated by-laws; (iv) any action to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our certificate of incorporation or by-laws; or (v) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to the Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein, or the Delaware forum provision. This exclusive forum provision will not apply to any causes of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternate forum, the United States District Courts shall be the sole and exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, or the federal forum provision, as our principal office is located in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our common stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to the Delaware forum provision and the Federal forum provision; provided, however, that stockholders cannot and will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.

The Delaware forum provision and the federal forum provision may impose additional litigation costs on stockholders who assert the provision is not enforceable and may impose more general additional litigation costs in pursuing any such claims, particularly if the stockholders do not reside in or near the State of Delaware or the State of California. In addition, these forum selection clauses in our bylaws may limit our stockholders’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees even though an action, if successful, might benefit our stockholders. In addition, while the Delaware Supreme Court ruled in March 2020 that federal forum selection provisions purporting to require claims under the Securities Act be brought in federal court were “facially valid” under Delaware law, there is uncertainty as to whether other courts will enforce our Federal forum provision. If the Federal forum provision is found to be unenforceable, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters. The federal forum provision may also impose additional litigation costs on stockholders who assert the provision is not enforceable or invalid. The Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and the United States District Courts may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder considering an action may be located or would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments may be more or less favorable to us than our stockholders.

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

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

 

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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus, including the sections entitled “Prospectus Summary,” “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” contains forward-looking statements, within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, concerning our business, operations and financial performance and condition, as well as our plans, objectives and expectations for our business operations and financial performance and condition that are based on our management’s belief and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, these statements relate to our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenue, projected costs, prospects, plans, objectives of management and expected market growth, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this prospectus include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

   

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

 

   

the success, cost and timing of our product development activities and clinical trials of our product candidates, including the progress of, and results from, our planned clinical trials;

 

   

the success, cost and timing of completing IND-enabling studies of our preclinical product candidates, and the timing of our planned Investigational New Drug Application, or IND, submissions for such candidates;

 

   

our plans to initiate, recruit and enroll patients in, and conduct our planned clinical trials at the pace that we project;

 

   

the intended benefits of our business model;

 

   

our ability to acquire licenses or otherwise obtain new product candidates to add to our portfolio for clinical development;

 

   

our plans and strategy to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals of our product candidates;

 

   

our plans and strategy to obtain funding for our operations, including funding necessary to complete further development and, upon successful development, if approved, commercialize any of our product candidates;

 

   

the potential benefit of any future orphan drug designations for our product candidates;

 

   

our ability to compete with companies currently marketing or engaged in the development of treatments for fibrosis;

 

   

our plans and strategy regarding obtaining and maintaining intellectual property protection for our product candidates and the duration of such protection;

 

   

our plans and strategy regarding the manufacture of our product candidates for clinical trials and for commercial use, if approved;

 

   

our plans and strategy regarding the commercialization of any products that are approved for marketing;

 

   

the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates, and our ability to serve those markets, either alone or in combination with others;

 

   

our expectations regarding government and third-party payor coverage and reimbursement; and

 

   

our expected use of the proceeds from this offering.

 

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In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These statements are only predictions. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which are, in some cases, beyond our control and which could materially affect results. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this prospectus. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties occur, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, actual events or results may vary significantly from those implied or projected by the forward-looking statements. No forward-looking statement is a guarantee of future performance. You should read this prospectus and the documents that we reference in this prospectus and have filed with the SEC as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.

The forward-looking statements in this prospectus represent our views as of the date of this prospectus. We anticipate that subsequent events and developments will cause our views to change. However, while we may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements except to the extent required by applicable law. You should, therefore, not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this prospectus.

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

 

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MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA AND FORECASTS

We obtained the industry, market and competitive position data used throughout this prospectus from our own internal estimates and research, as well as from independent market research, industry and general publications and surveys, governmental agencies and publicly available information in addition to research, surveys and studies conducted by third parties. Internal estimates are derived from publicly available information released by industry analysts and third-party sources, our internal research and our industry experience, and are based on assumptions made by us based on such data and our knowledge of our industry and market, which we believe to be reasonable. In some cases, we do not expressly refer to the sources from which this data is derived. In that regard, when we refer to one or more sources of this type of data in any paragraph, you should assume that other data of this type appearing in the same paragraph is derived from the same sources, unless otherwise expressly stated or the context otherwise requires. In addition, while we believe the industry, market and competitive position data included in this prospectus is reliable and based on reasonable assumptions, such data involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed in the section entitled “Risk Factors.” These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by the independent parties or by us.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

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

Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $         million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. Each increase or decrease of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares we are offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $         million, assuming the assumed initial public offering price to the public remains the same, and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We do not expect that a change in the initial price to the public or the number of shares by these amounts would have a material effect on the uses of the proceeds from this offering, although it may accelerate the time at which we will need to seek additional capital.

The principal purposes of this offering are to increase our financial flexibility, create a public market for our common stock and facilitate our future access to capital markets.

We currently expect to use the net proceeds from this offering as follows:

 

   

approximately $         million to $         million to fund the clinical development of             to             ;

 

   

approximately $         million to $         million to fund the preclinical development of             through             ;

 

   

approximately $         million to $         million for the in-licensing or other acquisition of additional product candidates to expand our pipeline, though we have no current agreements, commitments or understandings with respect to any such in-license or acquisition; we intend to evaluate such opportunities and engage in related discussions with third parties from time to time; and

 

   

the remainder, if any, for business development activities, working capital and other general corporate purposes, including early stage research and development activities and $                 toward the payment of certain accrued expenses and contingent payments due, including $                 in contingent salary and bonuses owed to our employees, and IPO costs incurred in 2021 that are agreed to be paid upon the closing of this offering.

Based on our current plans, we believe our existing cash, together with the net proceeds from this offering, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through            .

The expected use of net proceeds from this offering represents our intentions based upon our present plans and business conditions. We cannot specify with certainty all of the particular uses for the net proceeds to be received upon the closing of this offering. Due to uncertainties inherent in the product development process, it is difficult to estimate the exact amounts of the net proceeds that will be used for any particular purpose. We may use our existing cash and the future payments, if any, generated from any future collaboration agreements to fund our operations, either of which may alter the amount of net proceeds used for a particular purpose. In addition, the amount, allocation and timing of our actual expenditures will depend upon numerous factors, including the results of our research and development efforts, the timing and success of clinical trials and the timing of regulatory submissions. Accordingly, we will have broad discretion in using these proceeds.

 

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Pending the uses described above, we plan to invest the net proceeds of this offering in short- and immediate- term, interest-bearing obligations, investment-grade instruments, certificates of deposit or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government.

 

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DIVIDEND POLICY

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We do not anticipate paying any dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. Any future determination to declare dividends will be subject to the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on various factors, including applicable laws, our results of operations, financial condition, future prospects and any other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Investors should not purchase our common stock with the expectation of receiving cash dividends.

 

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CAPITALIZATION

The following table sets forth our cash and our capitalization as of March 31, 2021:

 

   

on an actual basis;

 

   

on a pro forma basis to give effect to the filing and effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation immediately prior to the completion of this offering; and

 

   

on a pro forma as adjusted basis to give effect to (i) the pro forma adjustments described above, (ii) payment of certain accrued expenses and contingent payments and (iii) the issuance and sale of shares of our common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

You should read this information together with our financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus and the information set forth in the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

 

     As of March 31, 2021  
     Actual     Pro
Forma
     Pro Forma
As
Adjusted(1)(2)
 
     (in thousands, except share and per
share data)
 

Cash

   $ 785     $                    $                
  

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Accrued liabilities

   $ 3,826       

Stockholders’ deficit

       

Common stock, par value $0.000001 per share; 12,000,000 shares authorized, 7,263,834 shares issued and outstanding, actual;              shares authorized,             shares issued and outstanding, pro forma;              shares authorized,              shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted

       

Additional paid-in capital

     43,729       

Accumulated deficit

     (45,824     
  

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ deficit

     (2,095     
  

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total capitalization

   $ (2,095   $        $    
  

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1)

Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of each of cash, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by approximately $         million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. Each increase or decrease of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares we are offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of each of cash, working capital, total assets and total stockholders’ (deficit) equity by approximately $         million, based on the assumed initial public offering price per share, the midpoint of the price range as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same. The pro forma as adjusted information is illustrative only, and we will adjust this information based on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

 

(2)

We intend to apply $12.3 million of the net proceeds from the offering toward the payment of certain accrued expenses and contingent payments. This includes $6.2 million of salaries and bonuses contingent upon financing, including $3.7 million of salaries contingent upon the successful completion of the IPO, $2.0 million of bonuses to certain members of senior management contingent upon the successful

 

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  completion of the IPO, and $0.5 million of bonuses contingent upon the completion of our first capital raise equal to at least $50 million. This also includes $2.0 million in contingent vendor payments, $0.3 million in contingent license fees, $3.7 million of accrued expenses to vendors and $0.1 million of accrued expenses due to related parties.

The number of shares of common stock issued and outstanding pro forma and pro forma as adjusted in the table above is based on 7,263,834 shares of common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2021, and excludes:

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our Old 2021 Plan;

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2021 Plan, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part; and

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our 2021 ESPP, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part.

 

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DILUTION

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

Our historical net tangible book (deficit) value per share as of March 31, 2021 is determined by dividing our total tangible assets less our total liabilities, which are not included within stockholders’ deficit, by the number of shares of common stock outstanding as of such date. Our historical net tangible book value (deficit) was $(3.0) million, or $(0.42) per share as of March 31, 2021.

Our pro forma net tangible book value (deficit) as of March 31, 2021 was $(11.5) million, or $(1.58) per share. Our pro forma net tangible book value (deficit) per share represents the amount of our total tangible assets reduced by the amount of our total liabilities, as well as certain obligations that are contingent upon the closing of this offering, and divided by the total number of shares of our common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2021.

Our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value (deficit) represents our pro forma net tangible book (deficit) value, plus the effect of the sale of shares of common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Net tangible book value dilution per share to new investors represents the difference between the amount per share paid by purchasers of shares of common stock in this offering and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of common stock immediately after completion of this offering. After giving effect to our sale of shares of common stock in this offering at an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of March 31, 2021 would have been $         million, or $         per share. This represents an immediate increase in net tangible book value of $ per share to existing stockholders and an immediate dilution in net tangible book value of $         per share to purchasers of common stock in this offering, as illustrated in the following table:

 

Assumed initial public offering price per share

     $                

Historical net tangible book value (deficit) per share as of March 31, 2021

   $ (0.42  

Pro forma increase in net tangible book value (deficit) per share as of March 31, 2021

     (1.16  
  

 

 

   

Pro forma net tangible book value (deficit) per share as of March 31, 2021

     (1.58  
  

 

 

   

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

    
  

 

 

   

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

    
    

 

 

 

Dilution per share to new investors participating in this offering

     $    
    

 

 

 

If the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares from us is exercised in full, the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering would be $         per share, the increase in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share to existing stockholders would be $         per share and the dilution to new investors purchasing shares in this offering would be $         per share.

Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value by $         million, or $         per share, and dilution per share to investors in this offering by $         per share, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and

 

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commissions, and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. Each increase or decrease of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares we are offering would increase or decrease, as applicable, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value by approximately $         million, or approximately $         per share and would increase or decrease, as applicable, dilution per share to investors in this offering by approximately $         per share, assuming the assumed initial public offering price per share remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions, and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

If the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares from us is exercised in full, the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering would be $         per share, the increase in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share to existing stockholders would be $         per share and the dilution to new investors purchasing shares in this offering would be $         per share.

The following table shows, as of March 31, 2021, on a pro forma as adjusted basis (but before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us), the differences between the existing stockholders and the purchasers of shares in this offering with respect to the number of shares purchased from us, the total consideration paid, which includes net proceeds received from the issuance of common stock and the average price paid per share (in millions, except share and per share amounts and percentages):

 

     Shares Purchased     Total Consideration
(in millions)
    Weighted-
Average
Price

Per Share
 
     Number      Percent     Amount      Percent  

Existing stockholders before this offering

     7,263,834               $ 0.8               $ 0.11  

New investors participating in this offering

             $    
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

Totals

        100     $        100  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

The foregoing tables and calculations (other than the historical net tangible book value calculations) are based on 7,263,834 shares of common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2021, and excludes:

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our Old 2021 Plan;

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under the 2021 Plan, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part; and

 

   

             shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under the 2021 ESPP, which will become available for issuance upon the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus is a part.

To the extent that any options are issued under our stock-based compensation plans or we issue additional shares of common stock or convertible debt in the future, there will be further dilution to investors participating in this offering.

 

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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF

FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with our financial statements and the related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus. The information contained in this discussion and other parts of this prospectus include forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties, and assumptions in our business plans, strategy, and related financing. Our actual results could differ materially from the results discussed in or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could contribute or cause such differences include, but are not limited to, the information below and the information discussed in the sections “Risk Factors” and “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements.”

Overview

We are a biopharmaceutical company that seeks to bridge the “bench-to-bedside” gap between medical research discoveries and patient solutions. We do this by leveraging our strong relationships with research universities and medical centers to license their inventions and technologies with the goal of developing them into products that address diseases with significant unmet medical needs. We believe that our differentiated business model positions us to capture inventions created at these institutions that might otherwise fail to be commercialized to benefit patients. Our team of accomplished scientists, business professionals and entrepreneurs bring together the interdisciplinary expertise and resources required to develop and commercialize a diverse portfolio of assets. We are organized around a licensing and subsidiary structure that we believe will enable us to create mutual value both for us and potential licensing partners. We believe this structure, combined with the professional networks of our leadership team members, allows us to opportunistically build a continuous pipeline of promising product innovations through our existing and potential future relationships with research institutions. Our goal is to optimize value creation for each of our product candidates, and we intend to continuously assess the best pathway for each as it progresses through the preclinical and clinical development process—including through internal advancement, partnerships with established companies and spin-outs or initial public offerings, or IPOs—in order to benefit patients through the commercialization of these products. Our current active assets are licensed directly or indirectly from Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital. Our scientific co-founders, Dr. Jack A. Elias and Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, are both affiliated with Brown University and with Rhode Island Hospital. Our strategy is to accelerate the flow of the academic discoveries and the required clinical development required for these product candidates and advance them commercially. The number of potential opportunities at research universities and medical centers is large, but only a small fraction of these opportunities is currently tapped in the market. The gap remains wide and we believe this presents an attractive opportunity for us to become an industry leader by addressing a need to accelerate the advancement of therapeutics that can address significant unmet medical needs. The core elements that we believe differentiate our business model include:

 

   

Harnessing inventions and technologies from research universities and medical centers.     We are experienced at identifying and sourcing breakthrough discoveries at academic and research institutions, including our current partnerships with Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital.

 

   

Developing new drug therapies through an operationally efficient, evidence-based and milestone- driven approach.     Once we select an asset for development, we pursue what we believe are appropriate development strategies that we aim to execute efficiently by leveraging contract research and contract manufacturing organizations, or CROs and CMOs, and other drug development experts and consultants.

 

   

Building a diverse portfolio of product candidates.     We are evidence-based and program agnostic, meaning that our resources are driven strictly by program progress and milestone achievements. Our approach is to develop multiple diverse programs in parallel which mitigates business risk.

 

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Providing attractive economic upside to our partners at research universities and medical centers.     We have a structure wherein our parent company houses each program in a subsidiary. We believe this structure is optimal to provide attractive economic incentives to the discovering institution and its researchers.

 

   

Employing a multi-disciplinary approach to drug discovery and development across our programs. Our business model is based on bringing together the appropriate disciplines and expertise needed for each of our programs and leveraging learnings across programs and disease areas.

 

   

Exploiting multiple commercialization options to maximize each program’s value.     Throughout the development of our product candidates, we plan to continually assess that program’s potential paths to market, and we will endeavor to identify and maximize commercial value through various options, including internal advancement, partnerships with established companies, and spin-outs or IPOs.

 

   

Leadership team comprised of academic, scientific and business innovators.     We have assembled an industry-leading, multi-disciplinary team consisting of physicians, scientists and business leaders with significant experience in progressing product candidates from early-stage research through clinical trials, regulatory approval and ultimately to commercialization. Although our company has not yet developed or commercialized any biopharmaceutical products, key members of our management team have experience doing so in previous endeavors.

We believe our differentiated business model will enable us to commercialize our products, if approved, and will allow us to replicate our licensing partnerships through aligned incentive structures with research universities and medical centers.

Our pipeline consists of both preclinical and clinical-stage programs. We anticipate moving certain preclinical product candidates in our oncology, fibrosis and/or infectious disease programs into the clinic in the next 12 to 24 months. We also expect our anti-inflammatory product candidate, OPS-172 targeting angiotensin 1-7, or Ang 1-7, to commence Phase 1/2 clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 in the second half of 2021.

On December 31, 2020, we executed a Development and Manufacturing Services Agreement with Lonza AG and affiliate Lonza Sales AG. We engaged Lonza AG (and Lonza affiliates) for the development and manufacture of certain products and services along with assistance in developing the product OCX-253. Under this agreement, Lonza will perform the following key activities in two stages in support of our IND-enabling program plan: first, to perform a manufacturability assessment of the OCX-253 monoclonal antibody drug candidates, generate or arrange to be generated synthetic genes and single gene vectors and vector constructions, and conduct gene vector construct testing; and second, to generate and assess growth and productivity for cell lines to be used for synthesizing OCX-253 drug candidate. The agreement provides that we will pay for all raw materials and related fees. Further, the agreement stipulates immediate 100% payment of invoices for any stage of work worth less than GBP 50,000, and deferral of 50% of payment for any stage of work worth more than GBP 50,000 to the release of applicable batches or completion of applicable services.

In December 2020, the sole stockholder of the Company contributed 100% of his Founders Shares to Poseidon Bio, LLC (“Poseidon”), which became the sole stockholder of the Company. In February 2021, Poseidon transferred 142,157 shares of the Company’s common stock back to the Company’s founder. In February 2021, Poseidon amended and restated its operating agreement to allow additional members into Poseidon by issuing Class A units and Class B units in which the Company’s founder is the sole Class A unit holder who holds 100% of the voting power of Poseidon. In addition, certain executives and employees of the Company were granted Class B unit profit interests in Poseidon. These profit interests grants in the Company’s controlling shareholder were deemed to be transactions incurred by the shareholder and within the scope of FASB ASC 718, Stock Compensation. As a result, the related transactions by the stockholder were pushed down into the Company’s condensed consolidated interim financial statements. As of March 31, 2021, the Company’s founder held 100% of the voting power and 69% of the equity interests in Poseidon.

 

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In March 2021, the Company authorized the issuance of 17,519 shares of common stock in the Company to certain persons who were accredited investors (consisting of friends and family of our employees) at an aggregate offering price of $1.0 million. As of March 31, 2021, the Company has issued 13,834 shares of common stock at an aggregate offering price of $0.8 million of the total amounts approved. As of March 31, 2021, a total of 7,263,834 shares of common stock of the Company have been issued and Poseidon held 98% of the voting power of the Company.

Since our inception in 2019, we have devoted substantially all of our efforts to organizing the Company, research and development activities, business planning, building our intellectual property positions and providing general and administrative support for these operations. We have not generated any revenue from product sales.

We have incurred significant operating losses since inception. Our ability to generate product revenues sufficient to achieve profitability will depend heavily upon the successful development and eventual commercialization of one or more of our current products or any future products. Our net operating losses were $12 thousand and $43.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021, respectively. As of December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $1.9 million and $45.8 million, respectively. Our current liabilities are $2.3 million and $3.8 million as of December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021, respectively. The current liabilities consisted of accrued expenses including IPO costs, accounting and legal fees and accrued research and development costs. We expect that our expense and capital requirements will increase substantially in connection with ongoing activities to commercialize our products in the future. We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering to pay for accrued expenses and contingent liabilities discussed herein. We believe the anticipated net proceeds from this offering will enable us to fund operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through. See the section of this prospectus captioned “Use of Proceeds.”

We expect to continue to generate operating losses for the foreseeable future. Our future viability is dependent on the success of our research and development and our ability to access additional capital to fund our operations. There can be no assurance that our current operating plan will be achieved or that additional funding will be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

We are subject to risks and uncertainties common to early-stage companies in the biotechnology industry including, but not limited to, new technological innovations, protection of proprietary technology, dependence on key personnel, compliance with government regulations, and the ability to obtain additional capital to fund operations. Our therapeutic products will require significant additional research and development efforts, including preclinical and clinical testing and regulatory approval prior to commercialization. These efforts require additional capital, adequate personnel and extensive compliance- reporting capabilities. There can be no assurance that our research and development will be successfully completed, that adequate protection for our intellectual property will be obtained, that any products developed will obtain necessary government regulatory approval, or that any approved products will be commercially viable.

In January 2019, we formed wholly-owned subsidiaries of Ocean Biomedical, Inc. In February 2021, we formed a new wholly-owned subsidiary. The subsidiaries were formed to organize our therapeutic programs in order to optimize multiple commercialization options and to maximize each program’s value. We anticipate that additional subsidiaries will also be formed in connection with future programs to provide attractive economic upside to our partners at research universities and medical centers. Our license agreements with Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, and Stanford University are licensed or sublicensed, directly or indirectly, to the following subsidiaries:

 

   

Ocean Chitofibrorx, Inc. (January 15, 2019)—Fibrosis program (one license with Elkurt/Brown University)

 

   

Ocean Chitorx, Inc. (January 15, 2019)—Oncology programs (three licenses with Elkurt/Brown University)

 

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Ocean Sihoma, Inc. (January 15, 2019)—Malaria disease program (one license with Elkurt/Rhode Island Hospital)

 

   

Ocean Promise, Inc. (February 12, 2021)—Inflammation-COVID-19 program (one license with Stanford University)

COVID-19 Pandemic

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the global novel coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. As of May 2021, the Company’s operations have not been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, could materially and adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. The full extent of the impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain, including as a result of new information that may emerge concerning COVID-19 and actions taken to contain or treat COVID-19, as well as the economic impact. Given the uncertainty around the extent and timing of the potential future spread or mitigation efforts related to the current outbreak of COVID-19, the financial impact cannot be reasonably estimated at this time.

License Agreements

Stanford University Agreement

On June 25, 2020, the Company entered into a Nonexclusive License Agreement for COVID-19 Related Technology, or the Stanford Agreement, with Stanford University, or Stanford. Under the Stanford Agreement, Stanford grants to the Company a nonexclusive license to Stanford’s rights in a licensed patent related to therapeutic applications for COVID-19 to make, have made, use, import, offer to sell, and sell licensed product. Under the Stanford Agreement, the Company is responsible for reimbursement of patent costs. To date, the Company has reimbursed Stanford for patent costs in the amount of $1,280. There are no license or royalty fees under the Stanford Agreement, unless the Company exceeds a gross margin of 40% on the sale of licensed product in one or more Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries. At such time as the gross margin on the sale of licensed product in any OECD country exceeds 40% in a single calendar quarter, the parties will meet and determine appropriate additional financial consideration for Stanford, as well as the terms associated with such consideration. The Company may not sublicense under the Stanford Agreement. The contract term is one year from June 25, 2020, with a potential one-year extension with Stanford’s consent, not to be unreasonably withheld, if the Company is meeting its milestone commitments. Milestone commitments include the Company diligently developing, manufacturing, and selling licensed product, diligently developing markets for licensed product, and initiating a Phase 2/3 or Phase 3 clinical trial for angiotensin 1-7 within twelve months after the effective date of the Stanford Agreement. Either party may terminate the Stanford Agreement in certain situations, including Stanford being able to terminate the Stanford Agreement if the Company is not diligently developing and commercializing licensed product or misses a milestone commitment. In addition, in the event of a change of control to that part of the Company’s business that exercises all of the rights granted under the Stanford Agreement, or if the Stanford Agreement is assigned to a third party, the Company will pay Stanford $100,000. On March 3, 2021, the Stanford Agreement was amended and restated so that Company’s subsidiary, Ocean Promise, Inc, is now the party to the license agreement instead of Company, or the Restated Stanford Agreement. Under the Restated Stanford Agreement, the contract term is one year from March 3, 2021.

Elkurt/Brown License Agreements

On July 31, 2020, the Company entered into four separate Exclusive License Agreements, or the Brown License Agreements, with Elkurt Inc., or the Licensor, a licensee of Brown University. On March 21, 2021, the Company and the Licensor amended each of the Brown License Agreements. Elkurt, Inc., is a company formed by the Company’s scientific co-founders Jack A. Elias, M.D., former Dean of Medicine

 

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and current Special Advisor for Health Affairs to Brown University, and Jonathan Kurtis, M.D., PhD, Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown. Under the Brown License Agreements, the Licensor grants to the Company exclusive, royalty-bearing licenses to patent rights and nonexclusive, royalty-bearing licenses to know-how, solely to make, have made, market, offer for sale, use, and sell licensed products for use in certain fields.

For each of the Brown License Agreements, the Company is required to pay the Licensor a maintenance fee of $60,000, if paid by June 15, 2021, or $67,000, if paid after June 15, 2021 due in either case within fifteen days of an equity financing of at least $10 million, and an additional $3,000 annual maintenance fee thereafter until January 1, 2028, at which point the annual maintenance fee will become $4,000 per year. Upon successful commercialization, the Company is required to pay the Licensor between 0.5% to 1.5% of net sales based on the terms under the Brown License Agreements. In addition, the Company must pay the Licensor, under each of the Brown License Agreements, 25% of all non-royalty sublicense income prior to the first commercial sale, and 10% of non-royalty sublicense income thereafter, in the event that the Company enters into sublicenses for the subject intellectual property. If net sales or non-royalty sublicense income are generated from know-how products, the amounts otherwise due (royalty or non-royalty sublicense income) shall be reduced by 50%.

The Company will also pay the Licensor developmental and commercialization milestone payments for each of the Brown License Agreements ranging from $50,000 for the filing of an Investigational New Drug Application, or IND, or the equivalent outside of the United States, to $250,000 for enrollment of the first patient in a Phase 3 clinical trial in the United States or the equivalent outside of the United States. The Company is also responsible for reimbursement of patent costs. The Company records reimbursement of patent costs as general and administrative costs in the statements of operations as incurred. To date, the Company has reimbursed patent costs expenses to Brown University in the amount of $101,238.

The contract term for each of the Brown License Agreements continues until the later of the date on which the last valid claim expires or ten years. Either party may terminate each of the Brown License Agreements in certain situations, including the Licensor being able to terminate the Brown License Agreements at any time and for any reason after October 1, 2021 if the Company has not raised at least $10 million in equity financing by then. For the oncology programs, three of the license agreements have been sublicensed to the Company’s subsidiary, Ocean Chitorx, Inc., and for the Fibrosis program, one license agreement has been sublicensed to the Company’s subsidiary, Ocean Chitofibrorx, Inc.

Elkurt/Rhode Island Agreement

On January 25, 2021, the Company entered into an Exclusive License Agreement, or the Rhode Island License Agreement, with Licensor, a licensee of Rhode Island Hospital. In April 1, 2021, the Company and Licensor amended the Rhode Island License Agreement. Under the Rhode Island License Agreement, the Licensor grants to the Company an exclusive, royalty-bearing license to patent rights and a nonexclusive, royalty-bearing license to know-how, solely to make, have made, market, offer for sale, use, and sell licensed products for use in a certain field.

For the Rhode Island License Agreement, the Company is required to pay the Licensor $110,000, due within 45 days of an equity financing of at least $10 million or October 15, 2021, whichever comes first, and an additional $3,000 annual maintenance fee thereafter, until January 1, 2028, at which point the annual maintenance fee will become $4,000 per year. The Company is also required to pay the Licensor 1.5% of net sales under the Rhode Island License Agreement. In addition, the Company must pay the Licensor 25% of all non-royalty sublicense income prior to the first commercial sale, and 10% of non-royalty sublicense income thereafter, in the event that the Company enters into sublicenses for the subject intellectual property. If net sales or non-royalty sublicense income are generated from know-how products, the amounts otherwise due (royalty or non-royalty sublicense income) shall be reduced by 50%.

The Company will also pay the Licensor developmental and commercialization milestone payments under the Rhode Island Agreement, ranging from $50,000 for the filing of an IND, or the equivalent

 

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outside of the United States, to $250,000 for enrollment of the first patient in a Phase 3 clinical trial in the United States or the equivalent outside of the United States.

The contract term for the Rhode Island License Agreement began February 1, 2020 and will continue until the later of the date on which the last valid claim expires or fifteen years. Either party may terminate the License Agreement in certain situations, including the Licensor being able to terminate the license agreement at any time and for any reason by October 1, 2021, if the Company has not raised at least $10 million in equity financing by then. Currently, the Rhode Island License Agreement is still in effect and the license agreement has been sublicensed to the Company’s subsidiary, Ocean Sihoma, Inc.

Teton Therapeutics, Inc.

On April 15, 2020, the Company entered into an Exclusive License Agreement, or the Teton License Agreement, with Teton Therapeutics, Inc., or Teton. We amended and restated this agreement on February 25, 2021 in order to assign the program to our subsidiary in the future. Pursuant to the Teton License Agreement, the Company obtained an exclusive license under certain patent rights, or the Teton Patents, and under certain data, expression and purification methods, information and other know-how, or the Teton Know-How, in each case relating to therapies for neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2 and schwannomatosis. The Company has the right to make, have made, market, offer for sale, use and sell in the field of therapeutics for each of neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2 and schwannomatosis on a worldwide basis any products or services that are either covered by the Teton Patents or incorporates or otherwise utilizes any Teton Know-How, or any materials that are sold in conjunction with any such products or services, in each such case, a Teton Product. Under the license agreement, the Company will form a new subsidiary, Ocean Teton, Inc. and the Teton License Agreement will be assigned to the subsidiary.

Under the Teton License Agreement and after the date Ocean Teton, Inc. is formed and the assignment of the license to Ocean Teton, Inc. is completed, Ocean Teton, Inc. will develop and commercialize Teton Products in accordance with the development and commercialization plan, which will be mutually agreed upon with Teton.

In consideration for the rights under the license agreement and after the assignment date to Ocean Teton, Inc., Ocean Teton, Inc. is obligated to reimburse Teton for all documented, out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Teton before the Teton Assignment Date, which expenses are $42,000 payment of which is contingent on the Company forming the new subsidiary, Ocean Teton, Inc., as described above. In addition, for any sublicense income, the Company will pay Teton sublicense fees that are calculated on a tiered basis as a percentage of sublicense income including royalties and non-cash consideration. The percentage will differ based on whether the sublicense is executed prior to the fifth anniversary, between the fifth and eighth anniversary, or after the eighth anniversary of the effective date of the Teton License, with the percentage in each case in the low-double digits. After its formation, Ocean Teton, Inc. is also required to issue to each of Teton and a certain group of its research personnel a percentage of equity, with the percentage in each case in the low-double digits.

Under the Teton License Agreement, Teton retains control of the preparation, filing, prosecution and maintenance of the Teton Patents. Ocean Teton, Inc. is responsible for reimbursing Teton for all documented, out-of-pocket expenses incurred in performing such patent-related activities after the Teton Assignment Date but during the term of the Teton License Agreement.

Unless earlier terminated, the Teton License Agreement will terminate in its entirety upon the later of (a) the expiration of the last to expire valid claim of the Teton Patents covering any Teton Product, or (b) 20 years. The Company may terminate the Teton License Agreement in its entirety at any time for convenience. Either party may terminate the Teton License Agreement in its entirety for the other party’s uncured material breach after an opportunity for the other party to cure such material breach. Teton may terminate the Teton License Agreement in its entirety immediately upon notice if we or the Ocean Teton Subsidiary notifies Teton that it has not elected to pursue development of the licensed rights or upon 30 days’ notice if the Ocean Teton Subsidiary fails to commence certain studies within a certain number of years after the assignment date to the Ocean Teton Subsidiary. Teton may also terminate the Teton

 

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License Agreement for our or the Ocean Teton Entity’s insolvency. If the Teton License Agreement is terminated by either party for any reason, the Teton Licenses will terminate and the all rights thereunder will revert to Teton.

Components of our Results of Operations

Revenue

To date, we have not generated any revenue from any sources, including from product sales, and we do not expect to generate any revenue from the sale of products in the foreseeable future. If our development efforts for our product candidates are successful and result in regulatory approval, or license agreements with third parties, we may generate revenue in the future from product sales. However, there can be no assurance as to when we will generate such revenue, if at all.

Operating Expenses

Research and Development Expenses

To date, research and development expenses consist, or will consist, primarily of stock-based compensation expense and increased costs incurred for our research activities, including the development of our product candidates. We expense research and development costs as incurred, which we expect will include:

 

   

expenses incurred under our licenses and services agreements; and

 

   

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

We recognize external development costs based on an evaluation of the progress to completion of specific milestones using information provided to us by our service providers. This process involves reviewing open contracts and purchase orders, communicating with our personnel to identify services that have been performed on our behalf and estimating the level of service performed and the associated cost incurred for the service when we have not yet been invoiced or otherwise notified of actual costs. Such amounts are expensed as the related goods are delivered or the related services are performed, or until it is no longer expected that the goods will be delivered or the services rendered.

Our direct external research and development expenses consist (or are expected to consist) primarily of external costs, such as fees paid to outside consultants, CROs, CMOs and research laboratories in connection with our preclinical development, process development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. Our direct research and development expenses also include fees incurred under license agreements. We have not allocated and do not expect to allocate employee costs, costs associated with our discovery efforts, laboratory supplies, and facilities, including depreciation or other indirect costs, to specific programs because these costs are or will be deployed across multiple programs and, as such, are not separately classified. We use internal resources primarily to conduct our research and discovery as well as for managing our preclinical development, process development, manufacturing and clinical development activities. These employees work across multiple programs and, therefore, we do not track their costs by program.

Research and development activities are key to our business model. Product candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later stage clinical trials. As a result, we expect that our research and development expenses will increase substantially over the next several years, which will include:

 

   

expenses incurred under our licenses and services agreements to conduct the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials required to obtain regulatory approval;

 

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expenses incurred under agreements with contract research organizations, or CROs, that are primarily engaged in the oversight and conduct of our drug discovery efforts and preclinical studies, clinical trials and contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, that are primarily engaged to provide preclinical and clinical product for our research and development candidates;

 

   

other costs related to acquiring and manufacturing materials in connection with our drug discovery efforts and preclinical studies and clinical trial materials, including manufacturing validation batches, as well as investigative sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials, preclinical studies and other scientific development services;

 

   

employee-related expenses, including salaries and benefits, and stock-based compensation expense for employees engaged in research and development functions; and

 

   

costs related to compliance with regulatory requirements.

At this time, we cannot reasonably estimate or know the nature, timing and costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the preclinical and clinical development of any of our product candidates or when, if ever, material net cash inflows may commence from any of our product candidates. The successful development and commercialization of our product candidates is highly uncertain. This uncertainty is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development and commercialization, including the following:

 

   

scope, progress, outcome and costs of our preclinical development activities, clinical trials and other research and development activities;

 

   

ability to successfully in-license attractive product candidates from our partners;

 

   

establishing an appropriate safety and efficacy profile with Investigational New Drug, or IND, enabling studies;

 

   

successful patient enrollment in and the initiation and completion of clinical trials;

 

   

the timing, receipt and terms of approvals from applicable regulatory authorities including the FDA and other non-U.S. regulators;

 

   

the extent of any required post-marketing approval commitments to applicable regulatory authorities;

 

   

establishing clinical and commercial manufacturing capabilities with third-party manufacturers in order to ensure that we or our third-party manufacturers are able to produce product successfully;

 

   

development and timely delivery of clinical-grade and commercial-grade drug formulations that can be used in our clinical trials and for commercial launch;

 

   

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

 

   

maintaining a continued acceptable safety protocol of our product candidates following any approval; and

 

   

significant and potential changing government regulations.

Any changes in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of our product candidates in preclinical and clinical development could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of these product candidates, such as the FDA or another regulatory authority were to delay our planned start of clinical trials or require us to conduct other clinical trials or testing beyond those that we currently expect or if significant delays in enrollment in any of our planned clinical trials occurred. Such delays or changes may require us to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of clinical development of that product candidate.

 

 

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General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist, or will consist, primarily of salaries and benefits, travel and stock-based compensation expense for personnel in executive, business development, finance, legal, human resources, information technology, pre-commercial and support personnel functions. General and administrative expenses also include direct and allocated facility-related costs as well as insurance costs and professional fees for accounting and audit service, legal, patent, consulting, investor and public relations.

We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses will increase in the future as we increase our headcount to support our continued research activities and development of our product candidates and prepare for potential commercialization activities. We also anticipate that we will incur significantly increased accounting, audit, legal, regulatory, tax, compliance with Nasdaq and SEC requirements, and director and officer insurance costs as well as investor and public relations expenses associated with operating as a public company. If and when we believe a regulatory approval of a product candidate appears likely, we anticipate an increase in payroll and other employee-related expenses as a result of our preparation for commercial operations as it relates to the sales and marketing of that product candidate.

Income Taxes

Income taxes are recorded in accordance with ASC 740, Income Taxes, or ASC 740, which provides for deferred taxes using an asset and liability approach. We recognize deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the financial statements or tax returns. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the difference between the financial statement and tax bases of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse, and net operating loss, or NOL, carryforwards and research and development tax credit carryforwards. Valuation allowances are provided, if based upon the weight of available evidence, it is more likely than not that some or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. We have recorded a full valuation allowance to reduce our net deferred income tax assets to zero. In the event we were to determine that we would be able to realize some or all of our deferred income tax assets in the future, an adjustment to the deferred income tax asset valuation allowance would increase income in the period such determination was made.

Comparison of the Year ended December 31, 2020 and the Period January 2, 2019 (Date of our Inception) to December 31, 2019

 

(in thousands)

   For the Period
from Inception
January 2,

2019 to Year
Ended
December 31,

2019
     For the Year
Ended
December 31,
2020
     $ Change  

Revenue

   $      $      $  

Operating expenses

        

Research and development

     35        49        14  

General and administrative

     197        1,603        1,406  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     232        1,652        1,420  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Operating loss

     (232      (1,652      (1,420

Other (expense)

            (1      (1
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (232    $ (1,653    $ (1,421
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Operating Expenses

Research and development

Research and development expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 increased by approximately $14 thousand compared to the prior period, driven primarily by increased costs for outside services relating to the development of certain of our preclinical assets.

General and administrative

General and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020 increased by approximately $1.4 million compared to the prior period, driven primarily by increased professional costs related to our preparation for this offering and accessing the public markets, as well as legal and accounting fees.

Other (Expense)

Other (expense) consists of unrealized foreign currency transaction losses.

Comparison of the Three Months Ended March 31, 2021 and 2020

 

     Three Months Ended March 31,  
(in thousands)    2020     2021     $ Change  

Revenue

   $     $     $  

Operating expenses

      

Research and development

     —         25,413       25,413  

General and administrative

     12       18,526       18,514  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     12       43,939       43,927  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Loss from operations

     (12     (43,939     (43,927
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net loss

   $ (12   $ (43,939   $ (43,927
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating Expenses

Research and development

Research and development expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the three months ended March 31, 2020 increased by approximately $25.4 million driven by stock-based compensation expense and increased costs for outside services relating to the development of certain of our preclinical assets.

General and administrative

General and administrative expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the three months ended March 31, 2020 increased by approximately $18.5 million driven by stock-based compensation expense and increased professional costs related to our preparation for this offering and accessing the public markets, as well as legal and accounting fees.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Since our inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. We have not yet commercialized any products and we do not expect to generate revenue from sales of products for several years, if at all. To date, we have funded our operations through self-funding by our Founder and net proceeds of $1 million from issuance of shares of common stock consisting of friends and family of our employees. Based on our current operational plans and assumptions, we expect that the net proceeds from this offering will be sufficient to fund operations through             .

 

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We intend to apply $12.3 million of the net proceeds from the offering toward the payment of certain accrued expenses and contingent payments. This includes $6.2 million of salaries and bonuses contingent upon financing, including $3.7 million of salaries contingent upon the successful completion of the IPO, $2.0 million of bonuses to certain members of senior management contingent upon the successful completion of the IPO, and $0.5 million of bonuses contingent upon the completion of our first capital raise equal to at least $50 million. This also includes $2.0 million in contingent vendor payments, $0.3 million in contingent license fees, $3.7 million of accrued expenses to vendors and $0.1 million of accrued expenses due to related parties. We have based these estimates on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could utilize our available capital resources sooner than we expect. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to raise additional capital on reasonable terms or at all.

Funding Requirements

We expect our expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we advance the preclinical activities and clinical trials of our product candidates. In addition, upon the closing of this offering, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company, including significant legal, accounting, compliance, investor relations and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The timing and amount of our operating expenditures will depend on our ability to:

 

   

advance preclinical development of our early-stage programs;

 

   

manufacture, or have manufactured on our behalf, our preclinical and clinical drug material and develop processes for late state and commercial manufacturing;

 

   

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

 

   

establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize our product candidates for which we may obtain marketing approval and intend to commercialize on our own;

 

   

hire additional clinical, quality control and scientific personnel;

 

   

expand our operational, financial and management systems and increase personnel, including personnel to support our research and clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization efforts and our operations as a public company; and obtain, maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio.

We believe that the anticipated net proceeds from this offering will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through the next three years. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could utilize our available capital resources sooner than we expect. We anticipate that we will require additional capital as we seek regulatory approval of our product candidates and if we choose to pursue in-licenses or acquisitions of other product candidates. If we receive regulatory approval for our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution, depending on where we choose to commercialize. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with research, development and commercialization of biologic product candidates, we are unable to estimate the exact amount of our working capital.

License Fees

Our contractual obligations are expected to have an effect on our liquidity and cash flows in future periods. Under our license agreements with our academic research institution partners, fixed license maintenance fees of $350,000 are due in October 2021. In addition, under these license agreements, we are also required to make payments upon successful completion and achievement of certain milestones as well as royalty payments upon sales of products covered by such licenses. The payment obligations under the license and collaboration agreements are contingent upon future events such as our achievement of specified development, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. As the timing of these future

 

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milestone payments are not known, we have not included these fees in our condensed consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2020, which has been derived from audited financial statements, and the unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements as of March 31, 2021.

Contingent Compensation

As of March 31, 2021, we have salaries and bonuses that are contingently payable upon financing, collectively called contingent compensation, in the amount of $6.2 million. Of this amount, $3.7 million are salaries contingent upon the successful completion of our IPO, $2.0 million are bonus payments to certain members of senior management contingent upon the successful completion of our IPO, and $0.5 million are bonuses contingent upon the completion of our first capital raise equal to at least $50 million. These amounts will not be paid if the contingencies do not occur. Since the payment of obligations under the employment agreements are contingent upon these future events, which are not considered probable as such future events are deemed outside of our control, we have not included these amounts in our condensed consolidated financial statements.

Other Contractual Obligations

We have entered and anticipate we will continue to enter into contracts in the normal course of business with external organizations such as CMOs, CROs and other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to support clinical trials and preclinical research studies and testing. We expect that these contracts will be generally cancelable by us, and we anticipate that payments due upon cancellation will consist only of payments for services provided or expenses incurred, including noncancelable obligations of our service providers, up to the date of cancellation. We accrued CMO services in the amount of $50 thousand and $395 thousand as of December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021, respectively, under the Development and Manufacturing Services Agreement with Lonza AG and affiliate Lonza Sales AG in developing the product OCX-253.

Cash Flows

To date, we have not generated any revenue. Cash flows to date have resulted from payments made on behalf of the Company by related parties and net proceeds of $0.9 million from issuance of shares of common stock consisting of friends and family of our employees. As of March 31, 2021, the Company’s cash balance of approximately $0.8 million is held in a standard checking account. The Company does not have any cash equivalents. Accrued expenses of $2.3 million and $3.8 million as of December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021, respectively, are expected to be paid following the receipt of the proceeds from the IPO.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

To minimize the risk in the future, we intend to maintain our portfolio of cash equivalents in institutional market funds that are composed of U.S. Treasury and U.S. Treasury-backed repurchase agreements or short-term U.S. Treasury securities. We do not believe that inflation, interest rate changes, or exchange rate fluctuations had a significant impact on our results of operations for any periods presented herein.

Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates

Our consolidated financial statements are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or GAAP. The preparation of our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, costs and expenses. We base our estimates on historical experience, known trends and events, and various other factors that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. We evaluate our estimates and assumptions on an ongoing basis. Our actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions. While our significant

 

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accounting policies are described in more detail in Note 2 to our audited consolidated financial statements and Note 2 to our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus, we believe that the following accounting policies are those most critical to the judgments and estimates used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements.

Deferred Offering Costs

Deferred offering costs, consisting of direct legal fees directly related to the proposed IPO are capitalized. The deferred offering costs will be reclassified to additional paid in capital upon completion of the IPO. The amount is recorded as current assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheets. Additional offering costs will be incurred up to the IPO. Should the planned equity financing be abandoned, the deferred offering costs will be expensed immediately as a charge to operating expenses in the consolidated statement of operations.

Stock-Based Compensation for Profit Interests in Poseidon

We account for all stock-based payments to employees and non-employees, including profit interest grants in Poseidon based on their respective grant date fair values. We estimate the fair value of profit interest grants using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, which is affected principally by the estimated fair value of shares of our common stock and requires management to make a number of other assumptions, including the expected life of the profits interest, the volatility of the underlying shares, the risk-free interest rate and expected dividends. Expected volatility is based on the historical share volatility of a set of comparable publicly traded companies over a period of time equal to the expected term of the profits interests. Due to the lack of historical exercise history, the expected term of the profit interests is determined using the “simplified” method. The risk-free interest rate is determined by reference to the U.S. Treasury yield curve in effect at the time of grant of the award for time periods approximately equal to the expected term of the award. Expected dividend yield is zero based on the fact that we have never paid cash dividends and do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. The fair value of common stock underlying our profit interests was estimated by our board of directors considering, among other things, contemporaneous valuations of our common stock prepared by unrelated third-party valuation firms. The profit interests are valued based on the fair value of Poseidon units on the date of grant. The Company expenses stock-based compensation related to these profit interests over the requisite service period using the straight-line method such that recognized compensation expense is at least equal to the vested portion of the awards. All stock-based compensation costs are recorded in research and development expense or general and administrative expense in the consolidated statements of operations based upon the respective employee’s roles within our company. Forfeitures are recorded as they occur.

Segments

We operate and manage the business as one reportable and operating segment, which is the business of discovering and developing therapeutic products in oncology, fibrosis, infectious diseases and inflammation. Our chief executive officer, who is the chief operating decision maker, or CODM, reviews financial information on an aggregate basis for allocating and evaluating financial performance.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

We did not have during the periods presented, and we do not currently have, any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements

A description of recently issued accounting pronouncements that may potentially impact our financial position and results of operations is disclosed in Note 2 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

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Emerging Growth Company and Smaller Reporting Company Status

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 permits an “emerging growth company” such as us to take advantage of an extended transition period to comply with new or revised accounting standards applicable to public companies until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to not “opt out” of this provision and, as a result, we will adopt new or revised accounting standards at the time private companies adopt the new or revised accounting standard and will do so until such time that we either (i) irrevocably elect to “opt out” of such extended transition period or (ii) no longer qualify as an emerging growth company.

We are also a “smaller reporting company” meaning that the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates plus the proposed aggregate amount of gross proceeds to us as a result of this offering is expected to be less than $700 million and our annual revenue was less than $100 million during the most recently completed fiscal year. We may continue to be a smaller reporting company after this offering if either (i) the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates is less than $250 million or (ii) our annual revenue was less than $100 million during the most recently completed fiscal year and the market value of our stock held by non-affiliates is less than $700 million. If we are a smaller reporting company at the time that we cease to be an emerging growth company, we may continue to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are available to smaller reporting companies. Specifically, as a smaller reporting company we may choose to present only the two most recent fiscal years of audited financial statements in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and, similar to emerging growth companies, smaller reporting companies have reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation.

Internal Control over Financial Reporting

Internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Under standards established by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, a deficiency in internal control over financial reporting exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or personnel, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent or detect misstatements on a timely basis. The PCAOB defines a material weakness as a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected, on a timely basis.

In connection with the preparation and audits of our financial statements as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 included elsewhere in this prospectus, we and our independent registered public accounting firm have identified a material weakness as defined under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) in our internal control over financial reporting, as follows:

 

   

Management does not have adequate staffing in its accounting department and has not yet designed and implemented the appropriate processes and internal controls to support accurate and timely financial reporting.

We have begun taking measures, and plan to continue to take measures, to remediate any material weakness. These measures include hiring or engaging additional accounting personnel with familiarity with reporting under U.S. GAAP, and implementing and adopting additional controls and procedures. Our recruitment efforts to identify additional accounting personnel and implementation of additional accounting processes and controls are underway. Remediation costs consist primarily of additional personnel expenses, which we do not anticipate will have a material impact to our financial statements. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to this Offering and Ownership of Our Common Shares”. We may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, which may impair our ability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis.

 

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However, the implementation of these measures may not be sufficient to remediate the control deficiencies that may lead to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting or to prevent or avoid potential future material weaknesses. Moreover, our current controls and any new controls that we develop may become inadequate in the future because of changes in conditions in our business. Furthermore, we may not have identified all material weaknesses and weaknesses in our disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting may be discovered in the future. If we are unable to successfully remediate our existing or any future material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, or if we identify any additional material weaknesses, the accuracy and timing of our financial reporting may be adversely affected, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting, and our share price may decline as a result. We also could become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC, or other regulatory authorities. Any failure to develop or maintain effective controls or any difficulties encountered in their implementation or improvement could harm our operating results or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations and may result in a restatement of our financial statements for prior periods, which could cause the price of our common shares to decline.

 

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BUSINESS

Overview

Our Business

We are a biopharmaceutical company founded in 2019 that seeks to bridge the “bench-to-bedside” gap between medical research discoveries and patient solutions. We do this by leveraging our strong relationships with research universities and medical centers to license their inventions and technologies with the goal of developing them into products that address diseases with significant unmet medical needs. We believe that our differentiated business model positions us to capture inventions created at these institutions that might otherwise fail to be commercialized to benefit patients. Our team of accomplished scientists, business professionals and entrepreneurs brings together the interdisciplinary expertise and resources required to develop and commercialize a diverse portfolio of assets. We are organized around a licensing and subsidiary structure that we believe will enable us to create mutual value for us and potential licensing partners. We believe this structure, combined with the networks of our leadership team, allows us to opportunistically build a continuous pipeline of promising product innovations through our existing and potential future relationships with research institutions. Our goal is to optimize value creation for each of our product candidates, and we intend to continuously assess the best pathway for each as it progresses through the preclinical and clinical development process—including through internal advancement, partnerships with established companies and spin-outs or initial public offerings, or IPOs—in order to benefit patients through the commercialization of these products. Our current active assets are licensed directly or indirectly from Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital. Our scientific co-founders, Dr. Jack A. Elias and Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, are both affiliated with Brown University and with Rhode Island Hospital.

Our Pipeline

Our pipeline consists of both preclinical and clinical-stage programs. We anticipate moving certain preclinical product candidates in our oncology, fibrosis and/or infectious disease platforms, all licensed exclusively from Brown and Rhode Island Hospital, into the clinic in the next 12 to 18 months. We also expect that our anti-inflammatory product candidates licensed from Stanford, OPS-172, will commence Phase 1/2 clinical trials for the treatment of symptoms of COVID-19, in the second half of 2021. OPS-172 activates the renin–angiotensin system (RAS) by enhancing levels of angiotensin. 1-7 or Ang 1-7.

Our programs in oncology and fibrosis are based on discoveries of disease pathways and of related drug targets emerging from pioneering work in the field of chitinase biology by our scientific co-founder, Jack A. Elias, M.D., former Dean of Medicine and current Special Advisor for Health Affairs to Brown University.

In oncology, our product candidates are based on Dr. Elias’ findings that a protein called chitinase 3-like-1, or Chi3l1, is a key driver of multiple disease pathways, including those involved in primary and metastatic tumor development. In animal models of both lung cancer and glioblastoma, inhibition of Chi3l1 resulted in significant tumor reduction, and the reduction was even greater when the inhibition of Chi3l1 was combined with immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are used as immuno-therapies to stimulate the body’s immune response against cancer. Neutralizing antibodies against Chi3l1 have been developed that are highly avid, specific, react with mouse, human and monkey Chi3l1 and are effectively expressed and humanized. We are developing a mono-specific and two bi-specific humanized monoclonal antibodies, or mAb, product candidates targeting Chi3l1 for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, which affects approximately 460,000 people in the United States, and of glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, a usually lethal form of brain cancer that affects approximately 28,000 people in the United States. The median survival rate for individuals diagnosed with GBM is approximately 15 months and the five year survival is just 8% for those aged 45-54 and 5% for those aged 55-64.

Our product candidate in fibrosis is based on a drug target investigated by Dr. Elias and closely related to the Chi3l1 oncology target described above. Dr. Elias found that an enzyme called chitinase 1, or

 

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Chit1, is a key driver of fibrosis. Fibrosis is observed in an estimated 50% of all diseases. Fibrosis in the lungs tends to be progressive and can reduce their function. It is observed in an estimated 50% of all diseases. In animal models of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, and Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, or HPS, inhibition of Chit1 showed statistically significant reduced levels of fibrotic markers. We are developing a small molecule product candidate targeting Chit1 for the treatment of IPF, a debilitating lung disease affecting approximately 160,000 people in the United States, and of HPS, an ultra-rare disease affecting approximately 1,800 in the United States.

In infectious disease we are developing therapeutic and vaccine candidates against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills 500,000 children under the age of five globally each year, that infects 200-300 million people annually worldwide, and for which 3.4 billion people worldwide are at risk. Our product candidates in malaria are based on the discovery by Jonathan Kurtis, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program at Brown, of two novel malaria antigens, PfSEA-1 and PfGARP (as defined below). In non-human primate models of malaria, vaccination with PfGARP resulted in an 11.5-fold reduction of parasites in blood compared to controls. In in-vitro models, our therapeutic antibody candidate against PfGARP reduced parasite count by 99% compared to controls. We have three product candidates based on these new antigens: (1) a malaria vaccine candidate against PfSEA-1 and/or against PfGARP; (2) a humanized mAb malaria product candidate against PfGARP; and (3) a small molecule malaria product candidate, also against PfGARP.

Importantly, Dr. Kurtis’ antigen discoveries described above were enabled by his development of our Whole Proteome Differential Screening target discovery platform, or the WPDS platform. We believe the WPDS platform may enable us to discover new targets for other infectious diseases in the future. The WPDS platform leverages the fact that the immune system, when exposed to an infectious disease such as malaria, will often naturally produce a wide array of antibodies to try fighting the infection. Only a small subset of these antibodies may prove effective, and the WPDS platform is designed to identify these antibodies and their corresponding antigens. We believe that such antibodies and antigens could inform the development of therapeutic and/or vaccine candidates against the particular infectious disease. Prior to in-licensing our product candidates, the preclinical developments of the oncology, fibrosis and malaria programs described above have, to date, been funded through grants to our licensors totaling $105.6 million.

We have an individual anti-inflammatory product candidate: Ang 1-7 (OPS-172). Our licensor Stanford University has an active investigational new drug, or IND, application with the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA for this candidate, and they expect to commence a clinical trial to evaluate its potential in combination with standard of care in addressing inflammation in COVID-19 patients, in the second half of 2021. COVID-19 may be linked to an imbalance in the renin–angiotensin system or RAS, an intricate interlinked system of regulatory mediators involved in the control of blood pressure and hemostasis of several organs. ACE-2 is part of the RAS and SARS-CoV-2 reduces ACE2 expression when entering cells. Ang 1-7, produced by ACE2, has anti-inflammatory activity and acts to decrease the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. OPS-172, provides Ang 1-7 to directly increase the anti-inflammatory activity.

 

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The table below summarizes our product candidate pipeline, target indications, estimated addressable patient populations, and stage of development.

 

 

LOGO

Our Team

Our scientific co-founders are Dr. Elias and Dr. Kurtis. Our executive chairman and co-founder is Chirinjeev Kathuria, M.D, an investor and entrepreneur who has co-founded and driven the initial public offerings, or IPOs, of companies in various industries including healthcare, most recently as co-founder and executive chairman of UpHealth, Inc. a digital health company that announced a special purpose acquisition company transaction that valued UpHealth, Inc. at $1.35 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. Our chief executive officer, or CEO, Elizabeth Ng, brings a proven track record of building successful portfolios in biopharma companies including Merck & Co., Gilead Sciences, Inc. and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Our team brings expertise in science, medicine, agile drug development, pharma strategy, and innovation management. Collectively, members of the team have evaluated over 3,500 innovations; been involved in over 350 drug discovery / development programs, 21 clinical development programs, and 9 approved drugs; are listed as inventors in over 70 patents; have secured more than $120 million in venture capital funding; and have been involved in the launch of 6 biotech or life sciences companies and 3 IPOs. In addition, beyond our day-to-day leadership team, our scientific co-founders and members of our scientific advisory board, Dr. Elias and Dr. Kurtis, have authored or co-authored over 350 papers, secured more than $100 million in grant funding, and are listed as inventors in over 50 patents.

Our Strategy and Competitive Strengths

Our goal is to facilitate the flow of academic discoveries from bench-to-bedside by efficiently carrying out the translational and clinical development required to advance them commercially. The number of potential opportunities at research universities and medical centers is large (in 2018 they filed over 26,000 invention disclosures and spent over $71 billion in research) but only a small fraction of these opportunities is currently tapped by venture capitalists or pharmaceutical companies. There is a growing yet still small number of accelerator programs and incubators aiming to bridge the bench-to-bedside gap at specific institutions; however, the gap remains wide and we believe this presents an attractive opportunity for us to become an industry leader by addressing a need to accelerate the advancement of therapeutics that can address significant unmet medical needs.

The core elements that we believe differentiate our business model include:

 

   

Harnessing inventions and technologies from research universities and medical centers.    We search for opportunities wherever they can be found, and we believe “hidden gems” can be

 

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uncovered by our team. We are experienced at identifying and sourcing breakthrough discoveries at academic and research institutions, including our current partnerships with Brown University, Stanford University and Rhode Island Hospital. We know how to assess and test their scientific merits and commercial relevance, and we have extensive experience working with these institutions and licensing their assets. For example, our leadership team has evaluated thousands of innovations, taken multiple products through IND filings and into clinical development, and been involved in the launch of 10 biotech companies.

 

   

Developing new drug therapies through an operationally efficient, evidence-based and milestone-driven approach.    Once we select an asset for development, we pursue what we believe are appropriate development strategies that we aim to execute efficiently by leveraging contract research and contract manufacturing organizations, or CROs and CMOs, respectively, and other drug development experts and consultants. We aim to rapidly and efficiently advance our product candidates to objective critical decision points. We direct resources toward the opportunities that we believe are the most promising, and we discontinue programs that do not meet our performance thresholds. We are skilled at objectively directing internal resources, and at leveraging external resources (such as CROs, and CMOs), in order to progress product candidates in accordance with well-defined criteria for advancement within a lean cost structure.

 

   

Building a diverse portfolio of product candidates.    We are evidence-based and program agnostic, meaning that our resources are driven strictly by program progress and milestone achievements. Our approach is to develop multiple diverse programs in parallel. Our success is not dependent on any one particular program, disease area or indication, which mitigates business risk, and allows us the flexibility to opportunistically develop product candidates, regardless of therapeutic area. We believe that this model ensures that we remain focused on assets with the most promise. The unifying theme in our portfolio is to address significant unmet medical needs by commercializing innovative therapeutic products, if approved.

 

   

Providing attractive economic upside to our partners at research universities and medical centers.    We have a structure wherein our parent company houses each program in a subsidiary. We believe this structure is optimal to provide attractive economic incentives to the discovering institution and its researchers. Our subsidiary structure is intended to enable us to offer equity in future programs to the licensing institution and the researchers who discover our product candidates. We believe this structure will make us a partner of choice for both institutions and researchers and aligns our interests with theirs toward the goal of maximum returns.

 

   

Employing a multi-disciplinary approach to drug discovery and development across our programs.    Our business model is based on bringing together the appropriate disciplines and expertise needed for each of our programs and leveraging learnings across programs and disease areas. Common ties between many diseases are becoming apparent and similar therapeutic strategies are increasingly being applied to different diseases. For example, our oncology and fibrosis programs are both based upon chitinase biology. Another example is the confluence of thinking about immunology and oncology therapeutic approaches which led to the advent of immune checkpoint inhibitors.

 

   

Exploiting multiple commercialization options to maximize each program’s value.    Throughout the development of our product candidates, we continually assess that program’s potential paths to market, and we will endeavor to maximize commercial value through various options, including internal advancement, partnerships with established companies, and spin-outs or IPOs. We believe that our structure and operational strategy enables us to assess and pursue the course that maximizes outcomes for patients and value for our shareholders.

 

   

Leadership team comprised of academic, scientific and business innovators.    We have assembled an industry-leading, multi-disciplinary team consisting of physicians, scientists and business leaders with significant experience in progressing product candidates from early-stage research through clinical trials, regulatory approval and ultimately to commercialization.

 

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We believe our differentiated business model enables us to advance the commercialization of our products, if approved, and will allow us to replicate our licensing partnerships through aligned incentive structures with research universities and medical centers.

 

 

LOGO

Feeding our Pipeline: Harnessing Innovations from Research Centers

Our innovative business model is aimed at translating biomedical inventions from research universities and medical centers into products that we believe have the potential to dramatically improve patients’ lives. Unlike many biotech companies, our success is not dependent on any one particular program or disease. Our current pipeline is already well-diversified and our access to innovations from academic and medical institutions allows us the flexibility to opportunistically develop product candidates, regardless of therapeutic area. We believe our sources of medical discoveries include not only research universities and medical centers but also companies with assets that are not core to their business model.

We use highly selective criteria and stringent due diligence for selecting assets for development. Picking the right assets requires unbiased and objective science/technology and market assessments that are not affected by institutional legacies, not blinded by research myopia or academic necessities, and not influenced by “herd mentalities”. We seek to develop technologies that meet our stringent selection criteria and which are amenable to our controlled de-risking process that we believe can lead to clear and timely value inflection points and milestones. We intend to keep our focus on projects and technologies that demonstrate clear progress towards becoming commercially viable products. Our business model aims to diversify our approach away from a single vector of technology research or science, and instead to pursue a variety of promising research avenues simultaneously and cost effectively. As explained previously, we believe that we can address the resourcing challenges inherent in such diversity and that the diversity itself is an advantageous business strategy.

Our model for identifying, structuring and developing assets is based on the following tenets:

 

   

We believe we have a disciplined process for identification, selection and prioritization of programs:    We believe that only well-defined science can be monetized successfully. Independent analyses of pharmaceutical research and development productivity indicate that ill-defined science is a major cause of low success rates and eventual failure of programs. We believe that there is no substitute for a thorough science/technology assessment upfront as it is essential to have a clear understanding of the science and a clear vision of how a technology becomes a product before starting the development effort.

 

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Our approach to selecting programs is opportunistic:    We seek opportunities based on solid science, well-characterized drug mechanisms of action, and targets with true disease-modifying potential that can address significant unmet medical needs. While many such opportunities may be found at leading universities and medical centers, we search for promising technologies wherever they can be found. We believe that such technologies can be located at institutions across the world. We are open to evaluating programs at any stage of development. We are purposely opportunistic and agnostic as to therapeutic area. Our strategy is to bring the appropriate and the most current expertise to bear as needed for each program.

 

   

We aim for efficient therapeutic development operations:    Once we select an asset for development, we leverage our years of experience in drug development to create appropriate development strategies. We aim to execute such strategies efficiently by leveraging CROs and other drug development experts and consultants. The development process is managed by our experienced team with support from leaders and experts in the relevant disease areas. We aim to rapidly and efficiently advance our product candidates to objective critical decision points. We direct resources toward the opportunities that we believe are the most promising, and we discontinue programs that do not meet performance thresholds. Each development program is carried forward with what we believe to be the right balance of effort from our centralized resources and personnel, through which we share certain support functions across various programs, combined with specialist external providers as appropriate. This combination is designed to ensure that each program has the appropriate level and type of resources required to execute its unique development strategy while minimizing fixed costs at the program level.

 

   

We believe our structure supports our strategic aims:    We are structured in a manner where our parent company currently houses each program in a wholly-owned subsidiary. This structure is designed to leverage a main feature of our business model in which each program is derived from our acquisition of a license to assets from a research university or similar institution. This structure is intended to allow us to provide attractive economic incentives to the institution and its relevant investigators. We intend in the future, as new programs are licensed in by us, to grant a certain percentage of the ownership in the new subsidiaries we create for such programs, targeting 20% in aggregate, to the institution and to the researchers. This model is also designed to align our interests with those of our partners and to facilitate our access to the particular program’s scientific expertise and know-how. We believe this approach will make us the partner of choice or licensee of choice for institutions and researchers because we aim to act with greater speed and to provide better potential upside when compared to pharmaceutical companies or venture-backed biotechnology companies with whom the institution might also consider partnering.

 

   

We believe that our diversified pipeline approach provides us with meaningful advantages:    Unlike biotechnology companies that are focused on a narrow set of assets, on a single platform, or on a particular therapeutic area, we are advancing a diverse portfolio of several programs in parallel. In so doing, we aim to avoid the duplication of resources, the extra costs and the lack of valuable cross-pollination that would likely exist if each program were pursued as independent assets. We are evidence-based and program agnostic, where deployment of program resources are driven strictly by program progress and milestone achievements. We believe that our diverse, multi-program business model and our access to a robust pipeline of opportunities helps us to remain focused on the most promising assets. We believe this focus differentiates us advantageously from biotech companies that, by purposely being focused, have bet their fortunes on a limited number of programs.

 

   

We aim to create optionality for maximum impact and value creation in each program:    Throughout the development of any program we continuously assess that program’s potential paths to market and monetization. We anticipate that such paths may include: (a) taking a candidate all the way through to approval and product launch via internal funding; (b) externalizing development with a strategic partner that we believe is better suited to progress a program; and

 

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(c) spinning out or taking a candidate’s subsidiary public. We believe that our structure and operational strategy enables us to objectively assess and choose the option that maximizes potential value for patients and for our shareholders.

Our Structure: Supporting Innovation

We are structured in a manner where our parent company houses each program in a subsidiary. We currently house our programs in four wholly-owned subsidiaries and intend to grant a certain percentage of the ownership in future subsidiaries, typically 20% in aggregate, to the institution and to the relevant researchers. This anticipated organizational structure for future subsidiaries is unique in the market and we believe it will make us the partner of choice for institutions and inventors.

Currently, research universities and medical centers (institutions) have two primary options to commercialize their biomedical innovations and technologies: licensing to pharma, or licensing to startups that are usually founded or co-founded by the researchers (the inventors) behind the innovations. Most commonly, the IP policy of U.S. institutions specifies that economic value received from licenses is split equally among the institution, the individual inventor(s), and their department or school.

Licensing to a large pharmaceutical company is appealing due to the vast resources it may employ to pursue commercial development and the potential for large up-front and milestone payments. However, these companies often only license innovations later in their development. Therefore, licenses to large pharmaceutical companies are relatively rare.

Researchers often choose to license their innovations to startups because (i) they see greater economic upside (as compared to only receiving a fraction of what their institution receives), (ii) they view a startup as a way to retain more control over the development of their innovation and (iii) a startup may be the only option given the challenges of licensing to larger companies. The researcher typically takes a non-operating role as a scientific founder of the startup, and holds between a 10% and 20% equity stake in the enterprise, which will be subject to dilution over time.

We can provide the resources and capital of a pharma licensee while also providing the more compelling economic upsides of a startup. Each patent portfolio that we license in from an institution (capturing the discoveries of one or more researchers) are housed, or in the future will be housed in a separate unit or subsidiary which we title a ‘program’. We can provide the institution and the researchers a share in the potential economic upside of that particular program regardless of how that economic upside comes about. The proposed share we envision is a 20% total in such subsidiaries – with approximately 10% to the institution and approximately 10% to the researchers, a significantly higher stake than they would typically be able to hold in a startup venture.

We believe institutions and their researchers will prefer Ocean to launching a startup because Ocean eliminates the challenge of needing to raise capital and hire a team, and provides a greater share in the upside. Likewise, we believe Ocean will be a preferred choice as opposed to licensing to large pharmaceutical companies because receiving a percentage of any economic value, regardless of how it is derived, is often more attractive than relying on fixed milestone payments or single-digit royalties.

We believe our approach will give us preferred access to innovations at research universities and medical centers, and that this in turn will benefit our shareholders.

Our Pipeline Funnel Process

Our core competencies for acquiring and developing pipeline programs include: (1) identifying, assessing and selecting inventions and technologies (from research universities and medical centers) that we may directly or indirectly license and commercialize; 2) in-licensing selected inventions and technologies; and 3) developing those inventions and technologies into potential therapeutic products aimed at addressing unmet medical needs.

 

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Step One: New Program Identification, Assessment and Selection

Our close relationships with research universities and medical centers, along with their individual researchers, technology transfer offices, accelerator programs and entrepreneurship centers, provide us with access to biomedical inventions and technologies that we may directly or indirectly license and commercialize. Our multi-disciplinary Opportunity Assessment Committee, or OAC, is responsible for new program identification, assessment and selection – and for ensuring adherence to our due diligence process. The OAC is expected to be comprised of Dr, Jonathan Kurtis (Scientific Co-founder), Elizabeth Ng (Chief Executive Officer), Daniel Behr (Executive Vice President and Head of External Innovation and Academic Partnerships) , Sharon Talcott (Vice President of Strategic Partnerships), Gurinder Kalra (Chief Financial Officer) and Dr. Jonathan Heller (Chief Science Officer and Head of Research and Development). The OAC applies our disciplined and rigorous due diligence process to identify, assess quantitatively, and select those inventions and technologies based on criteria we believe ensures that each asset selected to enter our pipeline is consistent with our mission and commercialization objectives. Our criteria is listed below, and we score and weigh each criterion through a combination of data analytics, experience and judgment.

 

   

Robust and verifiable science that can lead to predictable outcomes

 

   

Well-characterized mechanisms with potential to be disease modifying

 

   

Development path with timely and achievable milestones / value inflection points

 

   

Solid and dominating intellectual property / patent position

 

   

Knowledge transfer assuredness (inventors available and approachable)

 

   

Potential for multiple products / applications

 

   

Potential to address significant unmet medical needs

 

   

Product advantages that are “must-haves” for patients, practitioners, and payors

 

   

Manufacturing and scale-up feasibility

 

   

Attractive market / competitive dynamics

 

   

Favorable pricing and reimbursement with good gross margin potential

Step Two: Executing License Agreements

After a new program is selected via the process outlined above, or in some cases as part of the selection process, we endeavor to negotiate and execute a license agreement with the relevant university or medical center. Our team has negotiated and executed dozens such license agreements, both as licensee and as licensor.

As mentioned previously, we believe our business model may make us the ‘licensee of choice’ for institutions and researchers because we aim to act with greater speed and to provide better potential upside when compared to the companies or spin-out startups to whom the institution might also consider licensing. In particular, by housing each program in a subsidiary, we can grant a certain percentage of that subsidiary’s ownership (targeting 20% in aggregate) to the institution and to the relevant researchers. We believe that receiving such percentage of economic value, regardless of how it is derived, will be more attractive to the institution than relying on the fixed milestone payments and single-digit royalties that are customary in other license agreements. Additionally, we believe that individual researchers will find it more attractive to have a direct stake in a program’s economic value as opposed to receiving a share (typically one third) of whatever economic value their institution would receive in customary license agreements. Lastly, we believe institutions and their researchers will prefer our approach over launching a startup because we eliminate the challenge of raising venture capital and securing a team, and because the percent equity ownership we can offer is likely to be higher than the single-digit figures that usually result after the typical dilution in startups.

 

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By offering a percentage ownership in a program’s subsidiary in lieu of the alternative license fees, milestone payments and royalties, we believe our license agreements (and the associated negotiation) will be greatly simplified while also being more attractive to our licensors and their individual researchers.

Step Three: Product Development, and Commercialization

We are an asset-focused company with an operating model designed for agile, capital efficient, and scalable therapeutic product development. We have a structure wherein our parent company houses each drug development program or therapeutic platform in a subsidiary. Each of these programs may include multiple product candidates or assets. This structure helps to ensure that we align interests and that we gain access to the particular program’s scientific expertise and know-how. The results and outcomes of one subsidiary do not directly affect others, and because our subsidiaries (or assets) are decoupled, success is not dependent on any one particular asset. We can thereby evaluate each asset’s preclinical, translational and clinical development progress objectively, which we believe enables us to allocate resources and capital throughout our portfolio based on each asset’s evidence-based progress and continued scientific and commercial merits. The continued merits of an asset are periodically assessed using some or all of the criteria outlined above which we use to assess potential new programs. We are agnostic as to which assets deliver success and believe this allows us to maintain focus on those which continue to show most potential.

Our product development and commercialization process reflects the disciplined and objective asset-centric philosophy described above. This process has the following features:

 

   

Evidence-based and science-driven decision making at each stage of translational and clinical development:    For each product candidate, key milestones or decision points are set based on their ability to validate technical and commercial viability, and feasibility, as viewed from industry and regulatory lenses. We support each product candidate with the interdisciplinary expertise and resources to reach these key decision points. We review progress on an on-going basis and constantly re-assess whether the program warrants continued investment – i.e., we recognize the dynamic nature of these product candidates and we re-evaluate them based on development progress, risk factors, and market dynamics.

 

   

Lean and agile translational development operations:    Each program is managed by our centralized team of experienced product development leaders who enlist the support of relevant external resources including CROs, CMOs, domain experts, consultants, etc. We believe this approach is most cost-effective for clinical and commercial development and that it allows us to minimize overhead while giving us the flexibility to tap into the most relevant and current talent for each program without having to rely on large teams of permanent hires.

In addition, our Research Review Committee, or RRC, which is expected to be comprised of Dr. Jack A. Elias (Scientific Co-founder), Jonathan Kurtis (Scientific Co-founder), Elizabeth Ng (Chief Executive Officer), Dr. Inderjote Kathuria ( Treasurer) and Dr. Jonathan Heller (Chief Science Officer and Head of Research and Development) will be responsible for the research, translational and preclinical efforts leading to filing an IND and moving a product candidate into human clinical trials.

Our Development Review Committee, or DRC, which is expected to be comprised of Dr. Jonathan Kurtis (Scientific Co-founder), Elizabeth Ng (Chief Executive Officer), Inderjote Kathuria (Treasurer) and Dr. Jonathan Heller (Chief Science Officer and Head of Research and Development), will be responsible for managing all clinical development efforts, including progress monitoring, allocation of resources, and continuous re-evaluation of a product candidate’s merits.

Both these committees will work in collaboration with our OAC described previously to ensure that each product candidate that enters our pipeline as well as existing ones continue to meet the criteria we have outlined above.

 

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Our Therapeutic Programs

Oncology Product Candidates for NSCLC and GBM:

 

   

OCX-253 anti-Chi3l1 Single-target mAb (NSCLC)

 

   

OCX-410 anti-Chi3l1/PD-1 Bi-specific mAb (NSCLC)

 

   

OCX-909 anti-Chi3l1/CTLA-4 Bi-specific mAb (GBM)

Our product candidates in our oncology are based on a drug target pioneered by Dr. Elias. His research demonstrated that a protein called chitinase 3-like-1, or Chi3l1, is a key driver of multiple disease pathways in primary and metastatic tumor development. Animal models of lung cancer and glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, showed that inhibition of Chi3l1 resulted in statistically significant tumor reduction – even more so when combined with immunotherapies to stimulate the body’s own immune response against cancer. Our oncology development pipeline consists of: (a) an antibody therapeutic product candidate inhibiting Chi3l1; (b) a bi-specific antibody product candidate inhibiting Chi3l1 plus PD-1, a checkpoint inhibitor protein; and (c) a bi-specific antibody product candidate inhibiting Chi3l1 plus CTLA-4, another checkpoint inhibitor protein. These product candidates are targeting non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, which accounts for about 85% of all lung cancers globally and affects about 460,000 people in the United States and 595,000 people in Europe, and glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, a brain cancer that kills approximately 60% of patients within 12 to 18 months from the time of diagnosis and for which new treatment therapies are needed.

NSCLC

Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, accounting for 2.1 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths in 2018. In the United States, lung cancer is the third most common and the deadliest malignancy. Approximately 541,000 people in the United States today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point in their lives. It is estimated that 229,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States, representing about 13% of all cancer diagnoses. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 85% of new lung cancer cases.

NSCLC continues to rank among the cancers with the lowest five-year survival rates and has one of the largest disease burdens in terms of disability-adjusted life years.

Staging is a way of describing the severity and extent of a cancer’s growth and spread. The stage of NSCLC is based on a combination of several factors, including the size and location of the primary tumor and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes and/or other parts of the body.

There are five stages for NSCLC: stage 0 and stages I through IV. In general, an earlier stage of NSCLC is linked with a better outcome. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of patients, in the order of 40% to 50%, are still diagnosed with hard-to-treat stage IV disease.

There are currently five main ways to treat NSCLC: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The use of these treatment options for NSCLC is based mainly on the stage of the cancer, but other factors, such as a person’s overall health and lung function, as well as certain traits of the cancer itself, such as its molecular characteristics, are also important.

Treatment decisions often follow either formal or informal guidelines. Treatment options can be ranked or prioritized into lines of therapy: first-line therapy, second-line therapy, third-line therapy, and so on. First-line therapy, sometimes called induction therapy, primary therapy or front-line therapy, is the first therapy that will likely be attempted. If a first-line therapy either fails to produce sufficient antitumor response or produces intolerable side effects, additional therapies may be substituted or added to the treatment regimen, known as second-line or third-line treatments. Often, multiple therapies may be administered simultaneously, known as combination therapy or polytherapy.

Surgery is usually the first choice for early stage disease followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Targeted therapies and immunotherapy are the main options in advanced disease, in stages III and IV.

 

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Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells.

Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body’s natural antitumor immune defenses. Lung cancers often contain genetic mutations that are seen as “non-self” by the host’s immune system because they are not seen in normal cells and tissues. The human immune system is designed to attack and eliminate cells and tissues that it detects as foreign or “non-self”. However, in many patients with cancer these desired antitumor responses are suppressed by the tumor and surrounding cells. This is done by activating one of a number of immune checkpoint inhibitor pathways, or ICPI pathways.

An example of the multiple ICPI pathways that have been discovered that has received significant attention in lung cancer is the programmed death-1/ PD-ligand 1, or PD-1/PD-L1, pathway. In many patients with lung cancer, the immune cells and nearby cells, such as macrophages express, PD-1 and the tumor cells express its binding partner PD-L1. When PD-L1 binds PD-1, it activates pathways that suppress the host’s antitumor immune response. On the other hand, therapeutics (usually antibodies) have been developed that prevent these PD-1/PD-L1 interactions. These therapies boost the host’s antitumor responses which augments its ability to attack the tumor. Because there are multiple ICPI pathways, assays that determine which pathway(s) is activated in a given tumor have been and are being developed. This allows the therapeutic intervention to be directed to the ICPI pathway that is most important in a given individual.

Importantly, immunotherapy has been generally regarded as revolutionizing the treatment of NSCLC, with immunotherapies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway now emerging as standard-of-care in some settings. However, despite the advent of these new therapies for NSCLC, there continues to be a need for other therapeutic options because only approximately 15% of patients respond to these interventions. In addition, among those that initially improve, the responses are often not durable and diminish over time. In many cases, tumors evolve compensatory mechanisms that circumvent the beneficial effects of an individual immunotherapy. Thus, a significant unmet medical need in NSCLC are treatment options that either restore or complement, the efficacy of anti PD-1 / PD-L1 and other ICPI-based therapies.

A general overview of immunotherapy and antibodies is presented below under “—A primer on antibodies and targeted therapies”.

We believe that OCX-253, our mono-specific mAb against Chi3l1, if approved, will likely be used individually or in combination with immunotherapies, such as anti-PD-1 therapeutics. Our belief is based on the observation that OCX-253 modulates multiple oncogenic pathways, or signaling networks used by cancer cells to control the growth and progression of tumors, in addition to its ability to modulate ICPI pathways. Should OCX-253 become a marketed treatment, we would anticipate it being initially used primarily in later-stage cancers, as with most recently approved oncology therapeutics. OCX-253 may progress towards being used for earlier stage cancers, and/or in combination with other medications, as clinician and regulatory agency experience with the drug grows and as our understanding of the needs of individual patients deepens.

OCX-410, our bi-specific mAb, is designed to combine the mechanism of actions of OCX-253 and anti-PD-1 therapeutics. We believe this is a promising combination because studies by Dr. Elias have demonstrated that this bi-specific antibody recruits immune cells, such as CD8+ cytotoxic T cells that kill tumor cells, and the physical interaction of these activated T cells to tumor cell membranes. If approved, we anticipate that OCX-410 will likely enter the market as a second-line therapy in patients with stage III or IV lung cancer who have failed anti PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapies. We believe that OCX-410 may eventually be used as a first-line treatment for patients with later stage NSCLC.

GBM

GBM is an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord, the components of the central nervous system, or CNS, and is the most common brain tumor in adults. GBMs are a type of astrocytoma, meaning that they arise from the star-shaped cells, known as astrocytes, in the CNS.

 

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Normally, these cells form a key component of the blood brain barrier, or BBB, a network of cells, proteins, and structural components that controls which substances can get into the central nervous system, or CNS, and which cannot. Astrocytes also normally help support nerve cells and carry nutrients to them.

Brain tumors are graded on an I to IV scale based on how fast they grow. Grade I brain tumors are the least aggressive. They grow very slowly and rarely spread into nearby tissues. Grade IV are the most aggressive. GBMs are grade IV astrocytomas. They grow quickly and often spread into nearby brain tissue. They rarely metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.

GBM is a rare disease, with a prevalence of 1-9 out of 100,000 individuals. The prevalence in the United States is estimated to be approximately 28,000 diagnosed individuals, and the annual incidence is estimated to be between 6,000 and 10,000. Primary GBM accounts for 90% of cases, mostly occurring in older individuals, while secondary GBM develops more slowly and occurs in relatively younger patients.

No curative therapies exist for GBM and the treatment landscape has not changed in recent years. A significant proportion, approximately 25%, of the GBM prevalent population is not actively treated due to rapid disease progression and an extremely poor prognosis. Surgery is standard-of-care followed by radiation and follow-up with chemo. If that does not work, then physicians may try a second line approach, such as switching chemo monotherapies. However, these second line therapies are rarely effective.

Our bispecific antibody candidate, OCX-909, is designed to combine the mechanism of actions of OCX-253 with an anti-CTLA-4 component. CTLA-4 is a protein receptor that functions as an immune checkpoint that binds to molecules called B7.1 and B7.2 to suppress antitumor immune responses in a manner similar to PD-1. We believe OCX-909 may produce antitumor response particularly in GBM because CTLA-4 is expressed in an exaggerated manner in many GBM tumors. If approved, we envision OCX-909 being potentially utilized as an alternative to surgery, or in the treatment regimen in both the neoadjuvant (before surgery) and adjuvant (after surgery) settings for patients with GBM.

A Primer on Antibodies, Antigens and Targeted Therapies

One way the body’s immune system attacks foreign substances is by making large numbers of antibodies. An antibody is a protein that binds to a specific antigen. An antigen is a molecule that is foreign to the human body; examples include viruses, bacteria, and tumor cells.

Antibodies have a distinct “Y” shape. Each upper arm of the “Y” is uniquely structured to bind to a specific part of a particular antigen, called an epitope. Once bound to the antigen, an antibody triggers other parts of the immune system to destroy the cells containing the antigen.

Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are antibodies that are designed and made as therapeutics to bind to specific antigen targets such as those present in a particular type of cancer cell, virus, or other pathogen. When mAbs are used in this manner they are referred to as targeted therapies. Therapeutic antibodies can also be engineered to recognize two epitopes simultaneously, making them “bispecific”. mAbs can bind directly to surface antigens to kill the cells containing the antigens and they can also help ramp up the immune system to make it more effective against the those cells.

The Chitinase Biology Behind Our Oncology Project Candidates

Dr. Elias has focused a significant amount of his research over the last decade on a gene family called the 18 glycosyl hydrolases and its chitinase and chitinase-like proteins, or CLP. The chitinases and CLP both bind chitin, a polysaccharide that is a major structural component of the exoskeletons of insects and other arthropods and the cell walls of fungi. The chitinases are true enzymes that cleave chitin into smaller saccharide units. In contrast, the CLPs bind to but do not cleave chitin.

 

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Chitin, Chitinases, and Chitinase-Like-Proteins

 

 

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Chitinase-3-like-1, or Chi3l1, also known as YKL-40, the prototypic CLP, was initially described as a soluble product of an osteosarcoma cell line and has since been found in several different laboratory cell lines and animal tissues. In humans, Chi3l1 is found on the cell surface, inside cells and in the circulation. It plays a major role in tissue injury, inflammation, tissue repair and remodeling responses in healthy individuals. It is produced by a variety of cells including epithelial cells and macrophages in response to cytokines, lipids, oxidant injury and other stimuli. It then feeds back to inhibit tissue injury by inhibiting cell death and apoptosis while stimulating fibroproliferative repair.

The levels of circulating and tissue Chi3l1 are increased in many human visceral cancers and animal tumor models including lung cancer and glioblastoma. In visceral tumors elevated serum levels of Chi3l1 correlate with a poor prognosis and shorter disease-free intervals and survival. Studies in animal models have also demonstrated that the inhibition of Chi3l1 can dramatically reduce tumor burden. Consequently, Chi3l1 is now appreciated to be a sensitive biomarker and an attractive therapeutic target for these malignancies. We intend to take advantage of both of these properties because the inhibition of Chi3l1 is a major focus in OCX-253,—410 and—909, and we intend to use Chi311’s properties as a biomarker to identify relevant populations for clinical trials of these product candidates.

Chi3l1 interacts with several different cell-surface proteins to mediate its cell and tissue responses. Studies by Dr. Elias and others have demonstrated that Chi3l1 binds to and signals via a number of cell surface receptors (proteins that pass signals between the outside and inside of cells) including the interleukin-13 receptor-α 2 and CRTH2. They have also demonstrated that IL-13Rα2 is the alpha subunit of multimeric receptor complexes that can include galectin 3 and CD44 as ß subunits. Chi3l1 can also interact with receptor tyrosine kinases, integrins αVß3 and αVß5 / syndecan 1 complexes, and the receptor for advanced glycation end products. These receptors activate a number of signaling pathways including MAPK kinases, Protein Kinase B/Akt and the Wnt/ß-catenin pathways and induce the production of VEGF intermediaries. As a result of these complex receptor-ligand interactions it is now known that Chi3l1 regulates oncogenesis via a number of mechanisms. Dr. Elias has demonstrated that Chi3l1 stimulates malignant responses by inhibiting tumor cell death, stimulating tumor cell proliferation, stimulating the B-Raf protooncogene, and stimulating the phosphorylation of cofilin. He has demonstrated that Chi3l1 also inhibits key antineoplastic pathways including those mediated by the tumor suppressors phosphatase and tensin homolog, or PTEN, and p53 thereby removing intracellular controls against unregulated cell growth. These molecules taken together form the tumor microenvironment, a localized set of conditions that supports the evolution and growth of tumors.

 

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In summary, Chi3l1 contributes to neoplasia, or the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells or tissues that is the hallmark of cancer, by regulating various pro- and anti-oncogenic pathways as shown in the illustration below:

Chi3l1 and its Roles in Disease Biology

 

 

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Dr. Elias and other investigators have also found a direct link between Chit1 and fibrotic diseases, such as IPF and HPS. This finding is the basis for our anti-Chit1 small molecule therapeutic product candidate, OCF-203, detailed later.

OCX-253—Anti-Chi3l1 mAb for Lung Cancer

Recent published studies have demonstrated that the levels of circulating Chi3l1 are elevated in many malignancies including cancers of the prostate, colon, rectum, ovary, kidney, breast, as well as GBM and malignant melanoma. In these diseases, the levels of Chi3l1 frequently correlate directly with disease progression and inversely with disease-free interval and survival. This is particularly striking in lung cancer where preclinical and clinical studies demonstrated that the serum and tissue levels of Chi3l1 are increased and are associated with adverse outcomes, such as poor prognosis and shorter survival. Dr Elias and colleagues have found that Chi3l1 plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of primary and metastatic lung cancer in murine models that have the same genetic mutations that are seen in human disease including activating mutations of the K-Ras oncogene. In murine models primary lung cancer is induced in mice that have activating mutations of Kras (the G12 D mutation) and null mutations of the tumor suppressor p53. Dr Elias and colleagues have additionally demonstrated that Chi3l1 is able to replace null mutations of p53 in the generation of primary lung cancer in murine models that only have activating mutations of the K-Ras oncogene. They also demonstrated that Chi3l1 is induced during pulmonary melanoma and pulmonary breast cancer metastasis in murine models of these diseases and that Chi3l1 induction is required for the generation of a metastasis permissive pulmonary microenvironment. As shown below, both primary tumor growth and metastatic spread were both significantly inhibited via immune inhibition of Chi3l1 using therapeutic antibodies (Fig. 1). These antibody findings are the basis for Ocean’s OCX-253 program in NSCLC. We plan to initially focus on a subset of patients who exhibit elevated levels of circulating Chi3l1 as they are anticipated to be the patient population most likely to respond to this

 

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product candidate. However, the treatable patient population may eventually expand as a consequence of the many critical pathways OCX-253 appears to impact (as described and shown in the figure above) and as our understanding of chitinase biology grows.

 

 

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Figure 1: In Animal Models, Antibodies Against Chi3l1 Show Reduction in Primary and Metastatic Tumors

OCX-410 and OCX-909—Anti-Chi3l1/PD-1 and Anti-Chi3l1/CTLA-4 Bispecific mAbs for NSCLC and GBM

Novel immunotherapeutic approaches have improved the prognosis for a number of cancers over the past decade. Cancer cells have unstable genomes and as a result accumulate genetic mutations that are not seen in normal cells and tissues. These non-self mutations generate non-self proteins that can be recognized and reacted to by the immune system. Normal white blood cells, particularly T lymphocytes, learn to recognize these novel antigens and kill the cells that express them. Under normal circumstances, immune responses are activated to deal with pathogens and non-self antigens but are then inhibited to prevent overexuberant, injury-inducing, immune responses. This immune inhibition is often mediated by immune checkpoint inhibitor pathways. Unfortunately, some tumors evolve to take advantage of these regulatory pathways to evade endogenous antitumor immune responses. For example, tumor cells may produce the regulatory protein cell death ligand 1, or PD-L1 or cluster of differentiation proteins 80 or 86. These proteins interact with their corresponding receptors on T cells, PD-1 and CTLA-4, respectively, to turn off the immune system response to the cancer. Multiple approved immunotherapies disrupt the connection between PD-1 or CTLA-4 and their ligands to restore immune activity against susceptible cancers.

Dr. Elias has demonstrated in widely accepted mouse models of fibrosis that PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, are induced in melanoma metastases by Chi3l1, and that Chi3l1 can stimulate these checkpoint inhibitors, thereby encouraging tumor growth. Further work by Dr. Elias has demonstrated that bispecific antibodies that bind to both Chi3l1 and PD-1 (or CTLA-4) dramatically improve the responses seen in cocultures of T cells and tumor cells with more tumor cells undergoing cell death when treated with the bispecific antibody than cells treated with mono-specific antibodies against the same targets, either individually or in combination (Fig. 2). These studies also demonstrated that these effects were mediated by an enhanced induction of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells that kill the tumor cells and an enhanced ability of these cytotoxic cells to bind to tumor cell membranes in cultures treated with the bispecific antibody compared to cultures treated with mono-specific antibodies against the same targets, administered either individually or in combination. These observations suggest that the proximity of the Chi3l1 and PD-1 (or CTLA-4) targets in the tumor microenvironment play a role in their vulnerability to this precision

 

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immunotherapy 9 (Fig. 3). Thus, we hypothesize that even patients whose tumors have been resistant to anti-PD-1 or anti-CTLA-4 antibody therapy may benefit from our bi-specific antibody product candidates that are designed to bind both Chi3l1 and immune checkpoint targets simultaneously. These bi-specific antibodies against Chi3l1 and PD-1 or CTLA-4 are the basis for our OCX-410 and OCX-909 programs, respectively.

 

 

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Figure 2: In vitro Experiments Show Improved Killing of Glioblastoma Tumor Cells with OCX-909 Bi-Specific Anti-Chi3l1 / Anti-CTLA-4 Antibody. **=p<0.01

 

 

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Figure 3: Mechanism of Action of OCX-410

We are planning to initially target checkpoint inhibitor positive NSCLC with OCX-410 and GBM with OCX-909 due to the previously published importance of these checkpoint inhibitors for these tumor types as well as Dr. Elias’ supporting data in preclinical models of these diseases. We intend to evaluate whether checkpoint inhibitor upregulation is critical for the activity of OCX-410 and OCX-909 in humans, and we intend to evaluate the response seen in checkpoint inhibitor negative patients as well. The outcome of these studies may help us to better identify our potential target patient population.

Oncology Product Candidates Clinical Development Plan

All three therapeutic antibody product candidates, OCX-253, OCX-410, and OCX-909, have been optimized against their respective targets, and we are beginning efforts to develop, through the

 

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establishment of manufacturing and supply relationships with third parties, a production system capable of supporting clinical use. A critical step in production is the creation of a master cell bank, or MCB, a depository where genetically identical antibody-producing cells are stored, by a CMO. The MCB is critical for production of consistent therapeutics through clinical development and, potentially, commercial production. We have collaborated on the first steps of MCB production for OCX-253 with Lonza Group AG, a global contract manufacturing organization and have completed development of 8 research cell lines that produce OCX-253 in February 2021. Initial assessments indicate that any of these cell lines could possibly be used to generate clinical and commercial grade OCX-253. Additional evaluations are under way to determine which of the 8 cell lines is preferred for the generation of the cGMP Master Cell Bank (MCB) and the generation of clinical drug material. We anticipate producing sufficient drug material to begin IND-enabling safety studies in the                . The OCX-410 and OCX-909 programs are expected to begin MCB generation in                . We anticipate filing IND applications with the FDA for all three product candidates in                .

We intend to model our Phase 1/2 clinical trials of OCX-253 and OCX-410 after Merck’s pembrolizumab KEYNOTE-001 trial (NCT01295827). This design is expected to allow for combined initial safety and efficacy endpoints using a single ascending dose, or SAD, strategy followed by a repeat dose regimen to identify tumor responses through generally accepted Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, or RECIST, criteria and time to tumor progression. Using RECIST criteria as the primary endpoint of the initial clinical trial will measure whether tumors shrink in response to treatment and allows for a relatively quick determination of whether our product candidates are likely to provide benefit in a larger, more extensive pivotal trial. The time to the tumor progression endpoint will likely be a secondary endpoint in these first trials but is the generally accepted primary endpoint for registrational trials in NSCLC.

GBM

The OCX-909 program for GBM has the additional challenge of successfully delivering the protein therapeutic product candidate to the brain where the BBB has questionable permeability. The BBB is a stretch of less-permeable blood vasculature in the CNS, as compared to the rest of the body. Its purpose is to carefully screen the entry and exit of molecules between the CNS and bloodstream. The BBB is a difficult hurdle to cross using small molecules delivered to the periphery, and consistent peripheral delivery of protein-based therapeutics, such as antibodies, to the brain has so far been elusive. Patients suffering from GBM may have a partially disrupted BBB due to changes in the vasculature associated with the tumors or their recent surgery, but the inconsistency of these disruptions may add considerable challenge to the development of a peripherally delivered medicament.

We plan to bypass the BBB using a number of approaches, alone or in combination. The first approach is intracerebral-ventricular, or ICV, delivery of OCX-909. We intend to make use of a port-reservoir system, such as an Ommaya reservoir, which is a small, plastic, coin-shaped device placed under the scalp and connected to a catheter placed in one of the brain’s ventricles. This would allow direct delivery of OCX-909 into the cerebral spinal fluid, or CSF, pool in the ventricles at the center of the brain. The size of the ICV space changes throughout the day, particularly during sleep, effectively pumping CSF, and the drug it contains, throughout the brain. Though placement of an Ommaya reservoir is somewhat invasive, it is frequently used in patients suffering from brain cancers, and we anticipate many of our patients will likely already have one in place.

We intend to model our Phase 1/2 clinical trial after the Phase 1/2 clinical trial of Johnson and Johnson’s Zarnestra sponsored by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (NCT00050986). The envisioned clinical trial plan involves a dose escalation SAD/multiple ascending dose, or MAD, strategy followed by continued assessments of safety parameters and efficacy using six-month progression free survival as the primary endpoint. We anticipate also monitoring tumor size during this trial using radiology techniques in the interest of acquiring efficacy data more rapidly than the primary endpoint is likely to provide.

 

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Our Phase 3 clinical trial for OCX-909 is tentatively planned to follow the example of Merck’s CENTRIC trial of Cilengitide (NCT00689221). The CENTRIC trial used overall survival as the approval endpoint leading to a study duration over five years. We intend to continue to work with the oncology community to develop novel validated biomarkers, which could allow for accelerated trials in GBM. We are optimistic that these novel tools may allow for accelerated trials in the GBM space which could speed the transition of OCX-909 to the market. We intend to seek orphan drug designation for OCX-909 in GBM and may also request priority review.

Fibrosis Product Candidate for IPF and HPS:

 

   

OCF-203 anti-Chit1 Small Molecule

Overview of Fibrotic Diseases

An important protective mechanism for tissue regeneration and wound healing is the formation of extracellular matrix, or ECM, a non-cellular portion of a tissue produced and secreted by cells and functions mainly to provide support for tissues.

Fibrosis is a pathologic condition where an excessive accumulation of ECM leads to organ disfunction and failure. Fibrotic diseases constitute a major health problem worldwide and encompass a wide spectrum of clinical entities including systemic fibrotic diseases such as systemic sclerosis, or SSc, scleroderma and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, as well as numerous organ-specific disorders including pulmonary, cardiac, liver and kidney fibrosis.

The United States government estimates that 45% of deaths in the United States can be attributed to fibrotic disorders. Fibrosis is a factor in various tissue and organ diseases as shown in the figure below.

 

 

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Figure 4

IPF

IPF is a chronic, progressive, and fibrotic interstitial lung disease of unknown cause, which occurs primarily in older adults. It results in irreversible loss of lung function with high morbidity and mortality rates. Median survival is three-to-five years following diagnosis.

 

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IPF is a rare disease with an estimated prevalence ranging from 10-to-60 per 100,000 in the United States and 1.3 to 32.5 per 100,000 in Europe depending on country, age, and risk factors. There is an estimated prevalence of approximately 160,000 in the United States, with most cases occurring in individuals over the age of 50 years. The United States incidence rate is approximately 55,000 cases per year, and the incidence is rising due to a growing elderly population and increased disease awareness and detection.

In practice, patients are diagnosed and categorized into three categories, as shown below, based on disease severity: mild, moderate, and severe. Their disease may be characterized based on two lung function measures: FVC, or forced vital capacity, and diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide, or DLCO,

 

 

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Figure 5

Current therapeutic standard-of-care utilizes Roche’s Esbriet (pirfenidone) or Boehringer’s Ofev (nintedanib). Pirfenidone and nintedanib slow pulmonary function loss with only modest deceleration of disease progression and no reversal, and their severe side effects (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) cause many patients to avoid or discontinue these therapies. These drugs are primarily used in the moderate patient segment—both mild and severe patients view the negative side effect profile as outweighing the benefits. Despite the side effects, it is estimated that approximately 58% of patients diagnosed with IPF take one of these therapeutics and, together, they generated global sales of approximately $3.0 billion in 2019. We believe that a therapy with even a modest improvement in side effect profile would likely see more utilization.

HPS

HPS is a rare, inherited genetic disorder which occurs when a child inherits defective genes from both parents. Although HPS is ultra-rare from a worldwide perspective, it has a much higher prevalence in Puerto Rico – where the prevalence is roughly 1 in 1,800 in the northwest region of the island, or an estimated 1,500 patients, accounting for more than 50% of the worldwide HPS population. HPS effects approximately 1 to 2 million individuals worldwide outside of Puerto Rico. The disease onset occurs as early as age 30, and the lifespan of patients with some of the most severe disease subtypes usually does not exceed 40 to 50 years. HPS is diagnosed through a combination of identifying signs of albinism, evaluation of patient blood, and/or genetic testing; however, early diagnosis of PF in HPS patients presents the same challenges as IPF diagnosis.

There is an unmet need for therapeutics to treat HPS-related pulmonary fibrosis, or HPS-PF, patients. There is no approved drug therapy, and no treatment except potential lung transplantation. The only pharmacological option for patients is off-label use of Esbriet, which may slow disease progression but only in patients who retain significant residual lung function. Published clinical studies of Esbriet and Ofev suggest that bleeding is more likely with Ofev, so its use is generally avoided in the HPS patient population.

We believe that OCF-203, if approved, has potential to address the need for a HPS therapeutic due to its novel therapeutic approach. It is also our belief that developing this product candidate for HPS may

 

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allow us to enter the broader fibrotic disease space in an expedited manner by pursuing an ultra-rare disease indication before potentially broadening to adjacent indications.

The Chitinase Biology Behind Our Fibrosis Product Candidate

Previously, we described Dr. Elias’ research on chitinase enzymes and CLP, and his discovery of the key role that a CLP called Chi3l1 plays in cancer. Dr. Elias also discovered that a chitinase called Chit1, also known as chitotriosidase, plays a central role in inflammation and in fibrotic diseases such as IPF and HPS. Chit1 is expressed in an exaggerated manner in IPF where it correlates inversely with Smad 7. Chit1 is also a critical biomarker and therapeutic target in Scleroderma-associated interstitial lung disease. This finding is the basis for our anti-Chit1 small molecule therapeutic product candidate, OCF-203.

OCF-203—Small Molecule Candidate for IPF and HPS

In animal models, Dr. Elias and his colleagues showed that Chit1 is a master regulator of transforming growth factor beta 1, an extensively-published biochemical pathway relevant to inflammation, tissue modeling, and fibrosis, and that it mediated fibrosis response through various mechanisms described below. Animal models of IPF exhibit similar pathology to that of humans, allowing for relevant testing of molecular mechanisms and potential therapeutics in these models. Transgenic laboratory animals developed in the Elias laboratory to over-express Chit1 were shown to be far more susceptible to lung fibrosis than their wild type counterparts, which further demonstrates the role of Chit1 as a factor in IPF.

Using high throughput screening, Dr. Elias identified a small molecule candidate for the OCF-203 program that prevented and reduced inflammation and fibrosis in the bleomycin mouse model of IPF (Fig. 5). Importantly, the molecular mediators of fibrosis, fibronectin, Col1A1, and Col3A1, were also substantially reduced in the IPF model animals that had received the OCF-203 candidate. Results were similar in a mouse model of HPS (Fig. 6), suggesting that the OCF-203 molecule could benefit this patient population as well. The biochemical pathways known to be impacted by Chit1 inhibition imply that there may be benefit of this product candidate for the potential treatment of other fibrotic diseases such as non-alcoholic-steatohepatitis, or NASH, and lysosomal storage disorders.

 

 

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Figure 6: OCF-203 Lead Candidate Treatment Reduces Observed Markers of Fibrosis in an Animal Model of IPF

 

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Figure 7: OCF-203 Lead Candidate Treatment of the Bleomycin HPS-1 Mouse Model results in Normalized Levels of Fibrotic Markers

No significant toxicity has been observed at therapeutic doses in the animal studies with the OCF-203 lead to date. This candidate molecule has been previously evaluated (by unrelated parties) in Japan in the mid-1960s for potential use as an antibiotic – though approval was never pursued. While the clinical data from these studies is not suitable for current regulatory filings, we believe it does support the safety observations seen in Dr. Elias’ recent animal studies and also provides invaluable information as to the behavior of this molecule and its derivatives that we can potentially use in the design of future clinical development work. Additionally, we believe OCF-203’s safety observations are further supported by past published literature which estimates that 6% of humans do not produce Chit1 and, though they may be more susceptible to infection by chitin-containing parasites, this deficiency may provide greater longevity and reduced age-related disease burden as compared to people who produce Chit1 normally. Taken together, these findings suggest that therapies that focus on inhibiting Chit1 may be well tolerated in patients. This is of import to IPF and HPS given that there are no currently approved drug therapies for HPS, and the currently approved therapies for IPF, pirfenidone and nintedanib, both carry a significant risk of severe side effects, as described previously.

Fibrosis Programs Clinical Development Plan

We have identified opportunities in the structure of OCF-203 that we believe may be able to improve the expected risk/benefit ratio for patients. We intend to embark on a limited structure-activity-relationship, or SAR, study through 2021 to evaluate these opportunities following which we plan to begin IND enabling studies in                      . We plan to submit our IND application to the FDA in                     .

Clinical Development

Clinical development of OCF-203 is expected to initiate with a single Phase 1/2 clinical trial in IPF that we plan will be followed by later stage clinical development for IPF and HPS in parallel. We intend to conduct a Phase 1/2 SAD/MAD trial in patients with IPF that is modeled after the Phase 2 portion of the Galapagos PINTA trial (NCT03725852). Our Phase 1/2 clinical trial is expected to be designed to provide human proof of concept data demonstrating the cessation of fibrosis progression, which would allow for the initiation of Phase 3 clinical trials in both IPF and HPS. The Phase 3 clinical trial of OCF-203 for the prevention of fibrotic progression in IPF will likely be modeled after the Genentech ASCEND trial (NCT01366209), while the Phase 3 clinical trial of OCF-203 for the prevention of fibrotic progression in

 

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HPS will likely be modeled after the National Human Genome Research Institute, or NHGRI, trial in HPS patients (NCT00001596). Both the Genentech and NHGRI trials were evaluating pirfenidone. We intend to seek orphan drug designation for OCF-203 in HPS.

Infectious Disease Product Candidates for Malaria

 

   

ODA-570 Vaccine for the Prevention of P. falciparum Infection

 

   

ODA-611 anti-PfGARP mAb for the Treatment of Symptomatic P. falciparum Infection

 

   

ODA-579 anti-PfGARP Small Molecule for the Treatment of Symptomatic P. falciparum Infection

Infectious diseases, caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites are the primary cause of more than 12.5% of all deaths worldwide. Efforts to reduce this death toll are hampered by drug resistant pathogens and, for many pathogens, a lack of effective vaccines. As detailed below, our infectious disease program is designed to address this significant unmet medical need and will initially focus on malaria, the greatest single agent killer of children worldwide. Please see Malaria Background following Malaria product candidate descriptions.

ODA-570—malaria vaccine

Using the WPDS platform, Dr. Kurtis has identified PfGARP and PfSEA-1 as parasite antigens that are recognized by antibodies in the plasma of children who are relatively resistant—but not in those who are susceptible—to malaria caused by P. falciparum.

PfSEA-1 is a parasite antigen with a mass of 244 kilodaltons, which has no significant similarity to proteins of known function. PfSEA-1 displays minimal sequence variation in the region we cloned (amino acids 810 to 1083) across hundreds of parasite strains. Antibodies made in mice immunized with recombinant PfSEA-1 have been shown to inhibit parasite growth by 58% to 74% across three parasite strains compared with controls (Fig 8). Similarly, purified human antibodies to PfSEA-1 have also been shown to significantly inhibit parasite growth in laboratory studies. In both cases, anti-PfSEA-1 antibodies trapped parasites within the red cell, preventing their egress, and led to parasite death.

 

 

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Figure 8. Antibodies to PfSEA-1 kill parasites. Polyclonal anti-PfSEA-1 antibodies in mice inhibit parasite growth by 74 % in vitro. Ring stage 3D7 parasites were cultured in the presence of anti-PfSEA-1 mouse sera at 1:10 dilution. Negative controls included no anti-sera and pre-immune mouse sera. Red blood cells (RBC).

In vaccine challenge experiments in mouse models of malaria infection, immunization with a recombinant protein encoding the P. berghei ANKA (a lethal mouse malaria strain) ortholog of PfSEA-1,

 

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or PbSEA-1, or antibodies to PbSEA-1 conferred marked protection against a lethal P. berghei ANKA challenge as evidenced by up to a 75% reduction in parasitemia seven days after challenge. In all five experiments performed, by day seven to eight after challenge, control mice had high parasitemia with associated morbidity, whereas none of the vaccinated mice had high parasitemia or overt morbidity. In experiments with long-term follow-up, both active immunization with rPbSEA-1 and passive transfer of antibodies to PbSEA-1 significantly reduced parasitemia and delayed mortality.

In human observational studies conducted in Tanzania, individuals with naturally acquired antibodies to PfSEA-1 were associated with significant protection from severe malaria, with no cases occurring while children had detectable antibodies to PfSEA-1 (Fig 9). In a second longitudinal Kenyan cohort, anti–PfSEA-1 antibodies were associated with significant protection against parasitemia in adolescents and young adults. Individuals with detectable IgG anti–rPfSEA-1 antibodies had 50% lower parasite densities over 18 weeks of follow-up compared with individuals with no detectable IgG anti-rPfSEA-1A antibodies.

 

 

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Figure 9. Antibodies to rPfSEA-1A predict reduced malaria severity and parasitemia. Incidence of severe malaria and death in Tanzanian children aged one and a half to three and a half years during intervals with detectable and undetectable antibodies to PfSEA-1 (1688 and 23,806 weeks, respectively). No cases of severe malaria or death occurred during intervals with detectable antibodies to rPfSEA-1A. Error bars represent 95% CI.

Based on these data, we hypothesize that vaccination of humans with PfSEA-1 could generate antibodies that trap parasites within a red cell and lead to parasite death.

PfGARP is a parasite antigen with a mass of 80 kilodaltons that is expressed on the external surface of erythrocytes (red blood cells) infected by early-to-late-trophozoite-stage parasites.

 

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Antibodies against PfGARP kill trophozoite-infected erythrocytes in culture by inducing programmed cell death in the parasites (see Fig 10). Vaccinating non-human primates with PfGARP has been shown to protect against a challenge with P. falciparum (see Fig 11). Furthermore, longitudinal cohort studies have shown that, compared to individuals who had naturally occurring anti-PfGARP antibodies, Tanzanian children without anti-PfGARP antibodies had a 2.5-fold-higher risk of severe malaria, and Kenyan adolescents and adults without these antibodies had a 2-fold-higher parasite density.

 

 

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Figure 10. Antibodies to PfGARP kill parasites. Polyclonal anti-PfGARP antibodies generated by DNA vaccination in mice (a) inhibit parasite growth by 94-99% in 3 parasite strains in vitro. Ring stage 3D7, Dd2, and D10 strain parasites (representative strains from Africa, Asia, and Papua New Guinea) were cultured in the presence of anti-PfGARP mouse sera at 1:10 dilution. Negative controls included no anti-sera and pre-immune mouse sera.

 

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Figure 11. Vaccination with PfGARP-A protects monkeys from challenge with P. falciparum. A) Animals were vaccinated with PfGARP-A mRNA-LNP (n=5 monkeys) poly(C) RNA-LNP (negative control, n=4 monkeys) and challenged IV with 104 P. falciparum FVO strain infected RBC. Parasitemia was followed daily. Points represent means, error bars represent SEM.) B) Animals were vaccinated with rPfGARP-A protein (n=5 monkeys) or control (n=4 monkeys) and challenged IV with 104 P. falciparum FVO strain infected RBC. Parasitemia was followed daily. Points represent means, error bars represent SEM. * indicates P < 0.05. ** indicates P < 0.01 in two-sided t-Tests.

We hypothesize that killing of trophozoite-infected erythrocytes by targeting PfGARP will kill P. falciparum malaria parasites before they cause disease. We also hypothesize that a vaccine targeting PfGARP could synergize with vaccine antigens, like PfSEA-1, that target parasite egress from erythrocytes.

Importantly, PfGARP and PfSEA-1 are novel targets with no homology, or similarity, to any human proteins and when these genes have been sequenced in thousands of parasite strains, they have minimal sequence variation in the region that is contained in our vaccine formulations. Based on these data, we believe that vaccination with PfGARP and/or PfSEA-1 is unlikely to generate immunologic toxicity in humans and further suggest that the parasite will likely not be able to mutate to escape the killing effect of the vaccine induced antibodies.

It is important to note that, unlike the target of the RTS,S vaccine (circumsporozoite protein), PfSEA-1 and PfGARP antigens are expressed in the host for 8 to 24 hours which allows sufficient time for them to be targeted by vaccine induced antibodies. This is in stark contrast to the circumsporozoite protein, which is only expressed during the sporozoite stage of the P. falciparum lifecycle and thus only available for intervention during the first five minutes of infection. Furthermore, P. falciparum disease progression is dependent upon repeated rounds of schizont formation, merozoite egress, and infection of new erythrocytes (see lifecycle description above), and each time the cycle repeats the parasite again becomes vulnerable to anti-PfSEA-1 or anti-PfGARP antibodies. In contrast, parasites that escape the small window of intervention induced by the RTS,S vaccine are not prevented from further growth and replication. The subsequent unimpeded progression through the parasite lifecycle is likely a primary contributor to the relatively low immunization success rate seen with RTS,S.

We are currently evaluating whether a vaccine targeting PfSEA-1, PfGARP or a combination of the two antigens would present the best opportunity to protect patients from P. falciparum infection.

 

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ODA-611—Anti-PfGARP mAbs

We produced a series of mAbs in mice that were immunized with laboratory generated recombinant PfGARP. Of the 16 mAbs that reacted with PfGARP in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA, only one mAb killed parasites in culture (see Fig 12). We sequenced and expressed the heavy-chain and light-chain variable regions (the genes that encode the mAb), and the resulting recombinant mAb had a dissociation constant, or Kd, of 2.9 nM, (indicating strong binding of the monoclonal to its target PfGARP) and killed parasites in culture. A monovalent antigen-binding fragment, or Fab, of this antibody also killed parasites in culture. These data confirmed that anti-PfGARP-mediated killing occurs in the absence of complement, cellular effector functions, or antigen cross-linking. We expect that a humanized version of this antibody will form the basis for our ODA-611 program.

 

 

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Figure 12. Monoclonal anti-PfGARP kill parasites. Anti-PfGARP mAb kills parasites. Ring stage 3D7 parasites were cultured in the presence of media alone, normal mouse IgG (1 mg/ml) or anti-PfGARP mAbs (mAb 7857 or mAb 7899, at 1 mg/ml).

ODA-579—small molecule targeting PfGARP

Our belief that PfGARP is a high value druggable target for anti-malarial drug development is based on PfGARP’s surface expression on infected RBCs, the absence of any significant amino acid homology with human host proteins, and the ability of antibody binding to PfGARP to kill parasites in vitro within 12-24 hours by activating parasite programed cell suicide.

To develop a drug based on PfGARP binding, Dr. Kurtis screened a small molecule library to identify compounds that inhibit the binding of anti-PfGARP antibody to PfGARP protein. Dr. Kurtis reasoned that compounds which bind to the same region of PfGARP that is targeted by the parasite-lethal anti-PfGARP antibodies would be enriched for effective anti-malarials. Dr. Kurtis screened 6,400 compounds using an assay that detects inhibition of binding of anti-PfGARP antibodies to immobilized PfGARP protein. Dr. Kurtis identified one compound as having anti-parasite activity.

Dr. Kurtis then conducted a limited Structure Activity Relationship, or SAR, campaign, evaluating 33 additional compounds with similarity to the structure of the first compound identified. Dr. Kurtis identified one compound with enhanced parasite killing activity compared to the original compound. This

 

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molecule has an IC50 (concentration of drug that results in half of the maximal killing effect) of between 1 and 4.8 uM in wild type parasites (3D7 strain) and no activity in a parasite strain that has had the PfGARP gene deleted (3D7 PfGARP KO) (see Fig 13). This result demonstrates both the specificity of drug activity for PfGARP, as well as the lack of general toxicity to eukaryotic cells. Toxicity assessments show no loss of viability in multiple mammalian cell lines at up to 400 uM, which was the highest concentration tested. These data are consistent with a selectivity index (ratio of IC50 for mammalian cells/IC50 for parasites) greater than 100.

 

 

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Figure 13. Molecule kills P. falciparum parasites. 3D7 (top) or 3D7 PfGARP KO (bottom) parasites were synchronized to the ring stage and incubated with a dilution series of compounds or media control for 48 hours followed by quantification of parasitemia by pLDH assay. Each dilution was evaluated in quadruplicate and error bars represent SD. The IC50 = 4.8 uM for killing of 3D7 parasites. Results representative of two independent experiments.

Our Whole Proteome Differential Screening Platform for Antigen Discovery

Our infectious disease product candidates are the result of decades of NIH-funded work by our co-founder, Dr. Kurtis and his team. Dr. Kurtis developed the WPDS platform and used this platform to identify our two vaccine candidate antigens for malaria: Plasmodium falciparum Schizont Egress Antigen-1, or PfSEA-1, and Plasmodium falciparum Glutamic Acid Rich Protein, or PfGARP. The WPDS platform was first described by Dr. Kurtis in 2005, and later used to identify PfSEA-1 (published in Science, the peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and one of the world’s top academic journals) in 2014. Dr. Kurtis has since perfected the WPDS platform to discover PfGARP as described in his Nature (the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal), 2020 publication.

The WPDS platform differs markedly from standard vaccine discovery approaches, which rely on the identification of immunodominant antigens (protein targets that generate large quantities of antibody) recognized by antibodies in animal models of human pathogens. Unfortunately, these animal models are often poor models of the complex human host-pathogen relationship and the immunodominant antigens are often decoys deployed by the pathogen to evade protective immune responses. Identifying the critical antigens that are the targets of protective antibodies on the pathogen is further complicated by the fact

 

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that susceptible humans make essentially the same antibody repertoire (i.e., recognize the same pathogen antigens) as resistant humans, thus masking the identity of the key, protective targets.

Dr. Kurtis designed the WPDS platform to specifically identify pathogen antigens that are only recognized by antibodies expressed by resistant, but not by susceptible, humans. The successful implementation of the WPDS platform requires blood samples from well characterized longitudinal cohort studies of individuals exposed to the pathogen, high quality gene libraries from the pathogen, and one-to-three months of experimental effort.

The WPDS platform identifies the pathogen antigens that are recognized by antibodies made by resistant individuals and then, importantly, removes, or excludes as vaccine targets, any antigens that are also recognized by susceptible individuals. This removal phase is essential as any antigen that is recognized by antibodies made by susceptible individuals cannot possibly be involved in providing protection.

We believe that the WPDS platform may be applicable to any human pathogen for which a subset of humans develops antibody-mediated resistance to infection/reinfection while a subset of humans remains susceptible. We believe that the platform may also enable us to identify targets against other infectious diseases.

The WPDS platform led to the discovery of novel targets against malaria, which are the basis for our anti-PfGARP therapeutics programs (ODA-611 and ODA-579) and for our vaccine program targeting PfGARP and PfSEA-1 (ODA-570).

Malaria Background: Epidemiology and Lifecycle

Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries, infecting 200-300 million individuals and killing nearly 500,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa each year. Nearly half of the world’s population, consisting of more than three billion individuals, is at risk of malaria infection. Recent estimates indicate that even these staggering figures significantly underestimate the actual disease burden. In addition, people from the United States and Europe (including military personnel) who travel to malaria endemic regions are also at risk of contracting malaria.

 

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Human malaria is caused by infection with one of five species of protozoan parasite of the genus Plasmodium. Infection with just one of these species, P. falciparum, accounts for more than 95% of all malaria-related deaths. Plasmodium parasites have a complex lifecycle (Fig. 14), which begins when humans become infected following the bite of an infected anopheline mosquito. During blood feeding, an infected female mosquito (only female mosquitos feed on blood, which is necessary for egg laying) injects a parasite stage called a sporozoite into the human blood stream. These sporozoites leave the blood stream and rapidly (within 5 minutes) infect liver cells. Within the liver cells, the sporozoites multiply asexually with each sporozoite giving rise to up to 10,000 merozoites. These merozoites rupture out of the liver cell and each merozoite rapidly infects (within 140 microseconds) an individual red blood cell. Within the red blood cell, the merozoite undergoes an approximately 48-hour developmental cycle. Each merozoite sequentially develops into a ring stage parasite, a trophozoite stage parasite, a schizont stage parasite and then the schizont stage parasite segments into approximately 20 daughter merozoites, which rupture from the red blood cell. Each of these twenty daughter merozoites infect new red blood cells. This blood stage infection expands exponentially until the red blood cell loss become sufficient to cause disease. In addition, the trophozoite- and schizont-stage infected red blood cells become very sticky, leading to clogged blood vessels and tissue damage to the infected human. Ultimately, some of the parasites differentiate into sexual stages, which are referred to as gametocytes, which can be taken up by a mosquito during a blood meal. Within the mosquito, these gametocytes develop into sporozoites, which can be injected into a new host when the mosquito takes her next bloodmeal.

 

 

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Figure 14. Lifecycle of Plasmodium falciparum (source: Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Apr. 2011, p. 379)

Limitations of Current Malaria Control Efforts

There are currently three approaches to control malaria, including insecticides to kill mosquitoes, bed nets to limit human-mosquito contact, and anti-malarial drugs used to treat infected individuals. While

 

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these interventions have some impact, each has significant limitations. Insecticides are expensive, difficult to apply, and harmful to the environment. More concerning is the emergence of widespread resistance of mosquitos to the insecticides which has led to the search for ever more lethal, and ecologically damaging, insecticides. Nevertheless, application of insecticides remains an important component of many national malaria control programs.

Bed nets have seen widespread distribution over the past 15 years based on data demonstrating that sleeping under an insecticide-impregnated bed net results in a low, but still significant, 16% reduction in child mortality. Bed nets suffer from issues of cost, maintenance (they must be repaired and re-dipped in insecticide), and compliance.

Given the low efficacy of bed nets and insecticides, the cornerstone of malaria control programs remains the treatment of symptomatic cases with anti-malarial drugs. Unfortunately, malaria parasites are particularly good at developing resistance to anti-malarial drugs and have done so for every anti-malarial drug ever developed. Currently, the most effective antimalarial drug is artemisinin and its derivatives. The recent development of artemisinin resistance in south east Asia, coupled with its detection in sub-Saharan Africa, threatens to reverse the reductions in malaria-attributed mortality seen in the past decade. Given the socio-ecological context of malaria, delayed access to drug treatment, with its consequent increased mortality, remains a major challenge to control programs.

The world continues to experience a high burden of malaria and we believe this calls for the development of new drugs and vaccines.

Current Landscape of Malaria Vaccines

A broadly effective malaria vaccine represents the holy-grail of malaria control efforts and has been pursued by scientists for decades without success. The most advanced malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S, has publicly reported relatively low efficacy (17% and 32% protection from severe malaria in infants and young children, respectively). More concerning, RTS,S reports two significant safety signals: a ten-fold increased risk of bacterial meningitis and two-fold increased risk of mortality in girls. These safety signals have resulted in a decision by the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, under recommendation by the World Health Organization, or WHO, to limit release of the RTS,S vaccine to a pilot introduction in three African countries (Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana) with detailed follow-up of safety outcomes that would then be used to decide whether to proceed with broad release.

The RTS,S vaccine seeks to generate antibodies that prevent the sporozoite from entering the liver cell, a process that takes less than five minutes. The high antibody levels necessary to block this rapid event are very difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain. Parasites which escape the RTS,S antibodies and invade a liver cell will give rise to a full-blown malaria infection as the vaccine has no impact on the red blood cell stages of the malaria life cycle. These fundamental properties of the RTS,S vaccine result in the vaccine’s poor efficacy and create a significant unmet medical need that our vaccine will endeavor to address.

Indications and Addressable Market for Malaria Programs

The target indication for our malaria vaccine ODA-570, is malaria in all at risk populations. This includes individuals living in malaria-endemic areas, as well as travelers to these areas. Based on the epidemiology, the addressable market for a malaria vaccine is more than three billion individuals.

Based on the immunology of malaria, we expect that the initial course of vaccination would entail three doses over a three-month period, with subsequent booster doses required every one-to-two years. In the developing world, we expect that our vaccine, if approved for marketing, will likely be included in the WHO-expanded program in immunization, or EPI, which currently achieves greater than 85% coverage for eligible children worldwide.

 

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We believe that our malaria antibody, ODA-611, may have both therapeutic and prophylactic applications. The target indication for ODA-611 is the prevention of malaria in short-term travelers to malaria endemic areas, including tourists, government employees and military personnel.

We expect the target indication for our malaria drug, ODA-579, to be the treatment of mild to moderately severe malaria infection. There are 200-300 million malaria infections per year. We estimate the addressable market for our anti-malarial drug to be more than 200 million persons per year.

In addition to this prophylactic indication, we believe that our anti-PfGARP antibody could have therapeutic use in individuals with severe malaria, who are typically unable to take oral medicines. While data on the incidence of severe malaria is difficult to obtain, more tha