As confidentially submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 24, 2019.
This draft registration statement has not been publicly filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission and all information herein remains strictly confidential.
Registration No. 333-
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
500 Saginaw Drive
Redwood City, CA 94063
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including
area code, of Registrant's principal executive offices)
John A. Orwin
President and Chief Executive Officer
500 Saginaw Drive
Redwood City, CA 94063
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including
area code, of agent for service)
Danielle E. Naftulin
Michael E. Tenta
3175 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Chief Financial Officer
500 Saginaw Drive
Redwood City, CA 94063
Bruce K. Dallas
Sarah K. Solum
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
1600 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public:
As soon as practicable after this Registration Statement is declared effective.
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. o
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. o
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. o
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. o
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 o||Accelerated filer o||Non-accelerated filer ý||
Smaller reporting company ý
Emerging growth company ý
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. o
CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
|Title of Each Class of Securities
To Be Registered
Class A common stock, $0.0001 par value per share
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 or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.
The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. These securities may not be sold until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell nor does it seek an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.
|PROSPECTUS (Subject to completion)||Dated April 24, 2019|
Class A Common Stock
This is an initial public offering of shares of our Class A common stock. We are offering shares of our Class A common stock. Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our Class A common stock. We will apply for listing of our Class A common stock on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol " ". We expect that the public offering price will be between $ and $ per share.
We are an "emerging growth company" under applicable Securities and Exchange Commission rules and will be subject to reduced public company reporting requirements for this prospectus and future filings.
Following this offering, we will have two classes of common stock: Class A common stock and Class B common stock. The rights of the holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock are identical, except with respect to voting and conversion. Each share of Class A common stock will be entitled to one vote and shares of Class B common stock will be non-voting, except as may be required by law. Each share of Class B common stock may be converted at any time into one share of Class A common stock at the option of its holder, subject to the ownership limitations provided for in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to become effective upon the closing of this offering.
Our business and an investment in our Class A common stock involve significant risks. These risks are described under the caption "Risk Factors" beginning on page 11 of this prospectus.
Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any other regulatory body 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.
Public offering price
Proceeds, before expenses, to us
The underwriters may also purchase up to an additional shares from us at the public offering price, less the underwriting discount, within 30 days from the date of this prospectus to cover overallotments.
The underwriters expect to deliver the shares against payment in New York, New York on , 2019.
Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Market and Industry Data
Use of Proceeds
Selected Consolidated Financial Data
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Certain Relationships and Related Person Transactions
Description of Capital Stock
Shares Eligible for Future Sale
Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to Non-U.S. Holders of Our Class A Common Stock
Changes in Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
Where You Can Find Additional Information
Index to Financial Statements
Through and including , 2019 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers effecting transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to a dealer's obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as an underwriter and with respect to an unsold allotment or subscription.
We and the underwriters have not authorized anyone to provide any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectuses we have prepared. We and the underwriters take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, shares of our Class A common stock only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. The information contained in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date of this prospectus, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or of any sale of our Class A common stock. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date.
For investors outside the United States: Neither we nor any of the underwriters have done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside 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 our Class A common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside of the United States.
Atreca, Inc. and our logo are our trademarks and are used in this prospectus. This prospectus also includes trademarks, tradenames and service marks that are the property of other organizations. Solely for convenience, our trademarks and tradenames referred to in this prospectus appear without the symbol, 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.
Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider and read carefully all of the risks and uncertainties described below, as well as other information included in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus and our "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations," before making an investment decision. The risks described below are not the only ones facing us. The occurrence of any of the following risks or additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. In such case, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your original investment. This prospectus also contains forward-looking statements and estimates that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of specific factors, including the risks and uncertainties described below.
Risks Related to Our Business
We are a preclinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a history of losses. We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability, which could result in a decline in the market value of our Class A common stock.
We are a preclinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a history of losses. Since our inception, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to research and development, raising capital, building our management team and building our intellectual property portfolio, and we have incurred significant operating losses. As of December 31, 2017 and 2018, we had accumulated deficits of $58.7 million and $96.6 million, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, our net losses were $27.5 million and $37.9 million, respectively. Substantially all of our losses have resulted from expenses incurred in connection with our research and development programs and from general and administrative costs associated with our operations. To date, we have not generated any revenue from product sales, and we have not sought or obtained regulatory approval for any product candidate. Furthermore, we do not expect to generate any revenue from product sales for the foreseeable future, and we expect to continue to incur significant operating losses for the foreseeable future due to the cost of research and development, preclinical studies and clinical trials and the regulatory approval process for our current and potential future product candidates.
We expect our net losses to increase substantially as we enter into clinical development of our lead product candidate, ATRC-101. However, the amount of our future losses is uncertain. Our ability to achieve or sustain profitability, if ever, will depend on, among other things, successfully developing product candidates, obtaining regulatory approvals to market and commercialize product candidates, manufacturing any approved products on commercially reasonable terms, entering into potential future partnerships, establishing a sales and marketing organization or suitable third-party alternatives for any approved product and raising sufficient funds to finance business activities. If we, or our potential future partners, are unable to commercialize one or more of our product candidates, or if sales revenue from any product candidate that receives approval is insufficient, we will not achieve or sustain profitability, which could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a history of successfully developing and commercializing pharmaceutical products.
ATRC-101 is in preclinical development and has never been tested in a human subject. It may fail in development or suffer delays that materially and adversely affect its commercial viability.
We have no products on the market or that have gained regulatory approval and ATRC-101, has not entered clinical trials. Other than ATRC-101, we currently have no product candidates. Neither ATRC-101 nor any of our potential future product candidates have ever been tested in humans. Our ability to achieve and sustain profitability depends on obtaining regulatory approvals for and successfully commercializing product candidates, either alone or with partners.
Before obtaining regulatory approval for the commercial distribution of product candidates, we or a partner must conduct extensive preclinical studies, followed by clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. In preliminary feedback, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, has communicated to us that, while it reserves the right to make final determinations upon review of our Investigational New Drug, or IND, application for ATRC-101, it is supportive of our proposed approach, including preclinical safety assessments and overall clinical trial design. However, there can be no guarantee that upon final review of the IND application, the FDA will not require changes. We cannot be certain of the timely completion or outcome of our preclinical studies and cannot predict if the FDA or other regulatory authorities will accept our proposed clinical programs or if the outcome of our preclinical studies will ultimately support the further development of our preclinical programs. As a result, we cannot be sure that we will be able to submit INDs or similar applications for our preclinical programs on the timelines we expect, if at all, and we cannot be sure that submission of INDs or similar applications will result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities allowing clinical trials to begin.
ATRC-101 is in preclinical development, and we are subject to the risks of failure inherent in the development of product candidates based on novel approaches, targets and mechanisms of action. Although we expect to initiate a Phase 1b clinical trial for ATRC-101 in patients with solid tumors in early 2020, there can be no guarantee that we will be able to do so. Accordingly, you should consider our prospects in light of the costs, uncertainties, delays and difficulties frequently encountered by preclinical stage biopharmaceutical companies such as ours.
We may not have the financial resources to continue development of, or to enter into new collaborations for, ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidates. This may be exacerbated if we experience any issues that delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, a product candidate, such as:
Further, we and our potential future partners may never receive approval to market and commercialize any product candidate. Even if we or a potential future partner obtains regulatory approval, the approval may be for targets, disease indications or patient populations that are not as broad as we intended or desired or may require labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings. We or a potential future partner may be subject to post-marketing testing requirements to maintain regulatory approval.
If ATRC-101 is ever tested in humans, it may not demonstrate the combination of safety and efficacy necessary to become approvable or commercially viable.
ATRC-101 has not been tested in humans. We may ultimately discover that ATRC-101 does not possess certain properties that we currently believe are helpful for therapeutic effectiveness and safety. For example, although ATRC-101 has exhibited encouraging results in animal studies, including anti-tumor activity and safety, it may not demonstrate the same properties in humans and may interact with human biological systems in unforeseen, ineffective or harmful ways. As a result, we may never succeed in developing a marketable product based on ATRC-101. If ATRC-101 or any of our potential future product candidates prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, our entire pipeline could have little, if any, value, which could require us to change our focus and approach to antibody discovery and development, which would have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Failure to successfully validate, develop and obtain regulatory approval for companion diagnostics for our product candidates could harm our drug development strategy and operational results.
As one of the elements of our clinical development approach, we may seek to screen and identify subsets of patients who are more likely to benefit from our product candidates. To achieve this, we may seek to develop and commercialize companion diagnostics by us or by third-party collaborators. Companion diagnostics are generally developed in conjunction with clinical programs for the associated product. The approval of a companion diagnostic as part of the product label would limit the use of the product candidate to those patients who are more likely to benefit from our product candidate.
Companion diagnostics are subject to regulation by the FDA and other regulatory authorities as medical devices and require separate clearance or approval prior to their commercialization. To date, the FDA has required premarket approval of all companion diagnostics for oncology therapies. We and our third-party collaborators may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining approval for these companion diagnostics. Any delay or failure by us or third-party collaborators to develop or obtain regulatory approval of a companion diagnostic could delay or prevent approval of our related product candidates. The time and cost associated with developing a companion diagnostic may not prove to have been necessary in order to successfully market the product.
We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our discovery platform to build a pipeline of product candidates.
A key element of our strategy is to use and expand our discovery platform to build a pipeline of product candidates and progress these product candidates through clinical development for the treatment of various diseases. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in our discovery and preclinical development of ATRC-101, ATRC-101 may not be safe or effective as a cancer treatment, and we may not be able to develop any other product candidates. Our discovery platform is evolving and may not reach a state at which building a pipeline of product candidates is possible. 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 being shown to have unacceptable toxicity or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will 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.
Our approach to developing and identifying our antibodies using our discovery platform is novel and unproven and may not result in marketable products.
We plan to develop a pipeline of product candidates using our discovery platform. We believe that we may be able to overcome certain key limitations of the current oncology drug discovery paradigm by focusing on an active human anti-tumor immune response that develops over time. However, our scientific research that forms the basis of our efforts to discover product candidates based on our discovery platform is ongoing. Further, the scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing therapeutic antibodies based on our platform has not been established. We may not be correct in our beliefs about the differentiated nature of our platform to competing technologies, and our platform may not prove to be superior. If our discovery platform is not able to develop approved antibody constructs that are effective at the necessary speed or scale, it could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The market may not be receptive to our current or potential future product candidates, and we may not generate any revenue from the sale or licensing of our product candidates.
Even if regulatory approval is obtained for a product candidate, including ATRC-101, we may not generate or sustain revenue from sales of the product. Market acceptance of our current and potential future product candidates will depend on, among other factors:
If any product candidate we commercialize fails to achieve market acceptance, it could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidate begins clinical trials or receives marketing approval and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by the product candidate, our ability to market and derive revenue from the product candidate could be compromised.
Undesirable side effects caused by ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidate could cause regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. While we have not yet initiated clinical trials for ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidate, it is likely that there will be side effects associated with their use. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated and the FDA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of a product candidate for any or all targeted indications. Such side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition and impair our ability to generate revenues.
Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of patients and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of a product candidate may only be uncovered when a significantly larger number of patients are exposed to the product candidate or when patients are exposed for a longer period of time.
In the event that any of our current or potential future product candidates receive regulatory approval and we or others identify undesirable side effects caused by one of these products, any of the following adverse events could occur, which could result in the loss of significant revenue to us and materially and adversely affect our results of operations and business:
Even if we consummate this offering, we will need substantial additional funds to advance development of product candidates and our discovery platform, and we cannot guarantee that we will have sufficient funds available in the future to develop and commercialize our current or potential future product candidates.
The development of biopharmaceutical product candidates is capital-intensive. If ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and clinical trials, we will need substantial additional funds to expand our development, regulatory, manufacturing,
marketing and sales capabilities. We have used substantial funds to develop our discovery platform and ATRC-101 and will require significant funds to continue to develop our discovery platform and conduct further research and development, including preclinical studies and clinical trials of ATRC-101 and additional potential future product candidates, to seek regulatory approvals for ATRC-101 and potential future product candidates and to manufacture and market products, if any, that are approved for commercial sale. In addition, upon the closing of this offering, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company.
As of December 31, 2018, we had $114.5 million in cash and cash equivalents. Based on our current operating plan, we believe that our cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2018, together with the estimated net proceeds from this offering, will be sufficient to fund our operations through . Our future capital requirements and the period for which we expect our existing resources to support our operations may vary significantly from what we expect. Our monthly spending levels vary based on new and ongoing research and development and other corporate activities. Because the length of time and activities associated with successful research and development of product candidates is highly uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development and any approved marketing and commercialization activities. The timing and amount of our operating expenditures will depend largely on:
To date, we have primarily financed our operations through the sale of equity securities and payments and other income received under discovery services agreements not related to our primary business. We may seek to raise any necessary additional capital through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements and other marketing and distribution arrangements. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in acquiring additional funding at levels sufficient to fund our operations or on terms favorable to us. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing when needed, we may have to delay, reduce the scope of or suspend one or more of our preclinical studies, clinical trials, research and development programs or commercialization efforts. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the development and commercialization of our current and potential future product candidates and the extent to which we may enter into collaborations with third parties to participate in their development and commercialization, we are unable to estimate the amounts of increased capital outlays and operating expenditures associated with our current and anticipated preclinical studies and clinical trials. To the extent that we raise additional capital through collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our current and potential future product candidates, future revenue
streams or research programs or to grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we do raise additional capital through public or private equity or convertible debt offerings, the ownership interest of our existing stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders' rights. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we may be subject to covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
We do not expect to realize revenue from product sales or royalties from licensed products in the foreseeable future, if at all, and unless and until our current and potential future product candidates are clinically tested, approved for commercialization and successfully marketed.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate and fail to capitalize on product candidates that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we intend to focus our efforts on specific research and development programs, including clinical development of ATRC-101. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of other opportunities, including with potential future product candidates that later prove to have greater commercial potential. 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 research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable product candidates. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through partnership, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate.
We have obtained rights to use human samples in furtherance of our research and development of our current and potential future product candidates. However, if we fail to obtain appropriate consent or exceed the scope of the permission to use these samples, we may become liable for monetary damages for, obligated to pay continuing royalties for or required to cease usage of the samples.
We begin our discovery process by gathering samples from patients. While we attempt to ensure that we, our study site partners or other providers have obtained these samples with informed consent and all necessary permissions, there is a risk that one or more patients or their representatives may assert that we have either failed to obtain informed consent or exceeded the scope of permission to use the patient's sample. We cannot guarantee that we would succeed in establishing that we had informed consent or appropriate permission, if a patient or patient representative contested the matter. In such circumstances, we could be required to pay monetary damages, to pay a continuing royalty on any products created or invented by analyzing the patient's sample or even to cease using the sample and any and all materials derived from or created through analysis of the sample, any of which could result in a change to our business plan and materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may not be able to enter into strategic transactions on acceptable terms, if at all, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize current and potential future product candidates, impact our cash position, increase our expense, and present significant distractions to our management.
From time to time, we may consider strategic transactions, such as collaborations, acquisitions of companies, asset purchases, joint ventures and out- or in-licensing of product candidates or technologies. For example, we will evaluate and, if strategically attractive, seek to enter into
collaborations, including with biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies or hospitals. The competition for partners is intense, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. If we are not able to enter into strategic transactions, we may not have access to required liquidity or expertise to further develop our potential future product candidates or our discovery platform. Any such collaboration, or other strategic transaction, may require us to incur non-recurring or other charges, increase our near- and long-term expenditures and pose significant integration or implementation challenges or disrupt our management or business. We may acquire additional technologies and assets, form strategic alliances or create joint ventures with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business, but we may not be able to realize the benefit of acquiring such assets. Conversely, any new collaboration that we do enter into may be on terms that are not optimal for us. These transactions would entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:
Accordingly, although there can be no assurance that we will undertake or successfully complete any transactions of the nature described above, any transactions that we do complete may be subject to the foregoing or other risks and our business could be materially harmed by such transactions. Conversely, any failure to enter any collaboration or other strategic transaction that would be beneficial to us could delay the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates and have a negative impact on the competitiveness of any product candidate that reaches market.
In addition, to the extent that any of our future partners were to terminate a collaboration agreement, we may be forced to independently develop our current and future product candidates, including funding preclinical studies or clinical trials, assuming marketing and distribution costs and maintaining, enforcing 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 materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If third parties on which we intend to rely to conduct certain preclinical studies, or any future clinical trials, do not perform as contractually required, fail to satisfy regulatory or legal requirements or miss expected deadlines, our development program could be delayed with material and adverse impacts on our business and financial condition.
We intend to rely on third-party clinical investigators, contract research organizations, or CROs, clinical data management organizations and consultants to design, conduct, supervise and monitor certain preclinical studies and any clinical trials. Because we intend to rely on these third parties and will not have the ability to conduct certain preclinical studies or clinical trials independently, we will have less control over the timing, quality and other aspects of such preclinical studies and clinical trials than we would have had we conducted them on our own. These investigators, CROs and
consultants will not be our employees and we will have limited control over the amount of time and resources that they dedicate to our programs. These third parties may have contractual relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors, which may draw time and resources from our programs. The third parties with which we may contract might not be diligent, careful or timely in conducting our preclinical studies or clinical trials, resulting in the preclinical studies or clinical trials being delayed or unsuccessful.
If we cannot contract with acceptable third parties on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, or if these third parties do not carry out their contractual duties, satisfy legal and regulatory requirements for the conduct of preclinical studies or clinical trials or meet expected deadlines, our clinical development programs could be delayed and otherwise adversely affected. In all events, we will be responsible for ensuring that each of our preclinical studies and clinical trials are conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. The FDA may require preclinical studies to be conducted in accordance with good laboratory practices and clinical trials to be conducted in accordance with good clinical practices, including for designing, conducting, recording and reporting the results of preclinical studies and clinical trials to ensure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of clinical trial participants are protected. Our reliance on third parties that we do not control will not relieve us of these responsibilities and requirements. Any adverse development or delay in our clinical trials could have a material and adverse impact on our commercial prospects and may impair our ability to generate revenue.
Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming and difficult to design and implement.
Human clinical trials are expensive and difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Because our current and potential future product candidates are based on new technologies and discovery approaches, we expect that they will require extensive research and development and have substantial manufacturing and processing costs. In addition, costs to treat patients and to treat potential side effects that may result from our product candidates may be significant. Accordingly, our clinical trial costs are likely to be high and could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our current or potential future 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 other regulatory authorities. In particular, we are preparing to advance ATRC-101 into a Phase 1b clinical trial in patients with a limited number of tumor types. We cannot predict how difficult it will be to enroll patients for trials in these indications. We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:
In addition, our future 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 at such clinical trial sites. Additionally, because some of our clinical trials will be in patients with advanced solid tumors, the patients are typically in the late stages of the disease and may experience disease progression or adverse events independent from our product candidates, making them unevaluable for purposes of the trial and requiring additional enrollment. Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of the planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.
We may not be able to conduct, or contract others to conduct, animal testing in the future, which could harm our research and development activities.
Certain laws and regulations relating to drug development require us to test our product candidates on animals before initiating clinical trials involving humans. Animal testing activities have been the subject of controversy and adverse publicity. Animal rights groups and other organizations and individuals have attempted to stop animal testing activities by pressing for legislation and regulation in these areas and by disrupting these activities through protests and other means. To the extent the activities of these groups are successful, our research and development activities may be interrupted or delayed.
Because we may rely on third parties for manufacturing and supply of our product candidates, some of which are or may be sole source vendors, for preclinical and clinical development materials and commercial supplies, our supply may become limited or interrupted or may not be of satisfactory quantity or quality.
We currently rely on third-party contract manufacturers for our preclinical and future clinical trial product materials and supplies. We do not produce any meaningful quantity of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical development, and we do not currently own manufacturing facilities for producing such supplies. Furthermore, some of our manufacturers represent our sole source of supplies of preclinical and future clinical development materials, including our source for the manufacture of ATRC-101. We cannot assure you that our preclinical or future clinical development product supplies and commercial supplies will not be limited or interrupted, especially with respect to our sole source third-party manufacturing and supply partners, or will be of satisfactory quality or continue to be available at acceptable prices. In particular, any replacement of our manufacturers could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements. For our current and future sole source third-party manufacturing and supply partners, we may be unable to negotiate binding agreements with them or find replacement manufacturers to support our preclinical and future clinical activities at commercially reasonable terms in the event that their services to us becomes interrupted for any reason. We do not currently have arrangements in place for a redundant or second-source supply for our sole source vendors in the event they cease to provide their products or services to us or do not timely provide sufficient quantities to us. Establishing additional or replacement sole source vendors, if
required, may not be accomplished quickly. Any delays resulting from manufacturing or supply interruptions associated with our reliance on third-party manufacturing and supply partners, including those that are sole source, could impede, delay, limit or prevent our drug development efforts, which could harm our business, result of operations, financial condition and prospects.
The manufacturing process for a product candidate is subject to FDA and other 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 cGMP. 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, or at all. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our current and future 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. 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.
We also expect to rely on third-party manufacturers if we receive regulatory approval for any product candidate. We have existing, and may 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 regulatory requirements, including those related to quality control and assurance. If we are unable to obtain or maintain third-party manufacturing for any product candidate, 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:
Our third-party manufacturers may be unable to successfully scale manufacturing of ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates in sufficient quality and quantity, which would delay or prevent us from developing product candidates and commercializing approved products, if any.
In order to conduct clinical trials for ATRC-101 as well as any potential future product candidates, we will need to manufacture large quantities of these product candidates. We may continue to and currently expect to use third parties for our manufacturing needs. Our manufacturing partners may be unable to successfully increase the manufacturing capacity for any current or potential future product candidate in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. In addition, quality issues may arise during scale-up activities. If our manufacturing partners are unable to successfully scale the manufacture of any current or potential future product candidate in sufficient quality and quantity, the development, testing and clinical trials of that product candidate may be delayed or infeasible, and regulatory approval or commercial launch of any potential resulting product may be delayed or not obtained, which could significantly harm our business.
If the market opportunities for our current and potential future product candidates, including ATRC-101, are smaller than we believe they are, our future product revenues may be adversely affected and our business may suffer.
Our understanding of the number of people who suffer from certain types of cancers and tumors that may be able to be treated with antibodies that have been and may in the future be identified by our discovery platform, including ATRC-101, is based on estimates. These estimates may prove to be incorrect, and new studies may reduce the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients in the United States or elsewhere may turn out to be lower than expected, may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our current or potential future product candidates or patients may become increasingly difficult to identify and access, all of which would adversely affect our business prospects and financial condition. In particular, the treatable population for ATRC-101 may further be reduced if our estimates of addressable populations are erroneous or sub-populations of patients do not derive benefit from ATRC-101.
Further, there are several factors that could contribute to making the actual number of patients who receive our current or potential future product candidates less than the potentially addressable market. These include the lack of widespread availability of, and limited reimbursement for, new therapies in many underdeveloped markets.
We face competition from entities that have developed or may develop product candidates for the treatment of the diseases that we may target, including companies developing novel treatments and technology platforms. If these companies develop technologies or product candidates more rapidly than we do, or if their technologies or product candidates are more effective, our ability to develop and successfully commercialize product candidates may be adversely affected.
The development and commercialization of drugs and therapeutic biologics is highly competitive. We compete with a variety of large pharmaceutical companies, multinational biopharmaceutical companies, other biopharmaceutical companies and specialized biotechnology companies, as well as technology being developed at universities and other research institutions. Our competitors are often larger and better funded than we are. Our competitors have developed, are developing or will develop product candidates and processes competitive with ours. Competitive therapeutic treatments include those that have already been approved and accepted by the medical community and any new treatments that are currently in development or that enter the market. We believe that a significant number of products are currently under development, and may become commercially
available in the future, for the treatment of conditions for which we may try to develop product candidates. There is intense and rapidly evolving competition in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical and antibody and immuno-oncology fields. We believe that while our discovery platform, its associated intellectual property, the characteristics of ATRC-101 and potential future product candidates and our scientific and technical know-how together give us a competitive advantage in this space, competition from many sources remains.
We are aware of a number of companies that are developing antibodies for the treatment of cancer. Many of these companies are well-capitalized and, in contrast to us, have significant clinical experience, and may include our future partners. In addition, these companies compete with us in recruiting scientific and managerial talent. Our success will partially depend on our ability to obtain, maintain, enforce and defend patents and other intellectual property rights with respect to antibodies that are safer and more effective than competing products. Our commercial opportunity and success will be reduced or eliminated if competing products that are safer, more effective, or less expensive than the antibodies we develop are or become available.
We expect to compete with antibody, biologics and other therapeutic platforms and development companies, including, but not limited to, companies such as Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation, AIMM Therapeutics B.V., Neurimmune Holding AG, OncoReponse, Inc., and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. In addition, we expect to compete with large, multinational pharmaceutical companies that discover, develop and commercialize antibodies and other therapeutics for use in treating cancer such as AstraZeneca plc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Genentech, Inc. and Merck & Co., Inc. If ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates are eventually approved, they will compete with a range of treatments that are either in development or currently marketed. For example, we expect that ATRC-101 and our potential future product candidates may compete against traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, as well as cell-based treatments for cancer, such as CAR-T therapies.
Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, manufacturing, marketing, sales and supply resources or experience than we do. If we successfully obtain approval for any product candidate, we will face competition based on many different factors, including the safety and effectiveness of our products, the ease with which our products can be administered, the timing and scope of regulatory approvals for these products, the availability and cost of manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities, price, reimbursement coverage and patent position. Competing products could present superior treatment alternatives, including by being more effective, safer, less expensive or marketed and sold more effectively than any products we may develop. Competitive products may make any product we develop obsolete or noncompetitive before we recover the expense of developing and commercializing such product. Such competitors could also recruit our employees, which could negatively impact our level of expertise and our ability to execute our business plan.
Any inability to attract and retain qualified key management, technical personnel and employees would impair our ability to implement our business plan.
Our success largely depends on the continued service of key management, advisors and other specialized personnel, including John A. Orwin, our president and chief executive officer, and Tito A. Serafini, our chief strategy officer and founder. We have a written employment agreement with each of Mr. Orwin and Dr. Serafini. The loss of one or more members of our executive team, management team or other key employees or advisors could delay our research and development programs and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The relationships that our key managers have cultivated within our industry make us particularly dependent upon their continued employment with us. We are dependent on the continued service of our technical personnel because of the highly technical nature of our product candidates and technologies and the specialized nature of the regulatory approval process. Because our management team and key employees are not obligated to provide us with continued service, they could terminate their employment with us at any time without penalty. Our future success will depend in large part on our continued ability to attract and retain other highly qualified scientific, technical and management personnel, as well as personnel with expertise in clinical testing, manufacturing, governmental regulation and commercialization. We face competition for personnel from other companies, universities, public and private research institutions, government entities and other organizations.
As of March 31, 2019, we had 85 full-time employees. Our focus on the development of ATRC-101 and potential future product candidates will require adequate staffing. We may need to hire and retain new employees to execute our future clinical development and manufacturing plans. We cannot provide assurance that we will be able to hire or retain adequate staffing levels to develop our current and potential future product candidates or run our operations or to accomplish all of our objectives.
We may experience difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations.
We have limited experience in product development and have not begun clinical trials for any product candidate. As our current and potential future product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and any clinical trials, we will need to expand our development, regulatory and manufacturing capabilities or contract with other organizations to provide these capabilities for us. We may also experience difficulties in the discovery and development of new potential future product candidates using our discovery platform if we are unable to meet demand as we grow our operations. In the future, we also expect to have to manage additional relationships with collaborators, suppliers and other organizations. Our ability to manage our operations and future growth will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures and secure adequate facilities for our operational needs. We may not be able to implement improvements to our management information and control systems in an efficient or timely manner and may discover deficiencies in existing systems and controls.
If any of our product candidates is approved for marketing and commercialization in the future and we are unable to develop sales, marketing and distribution capabilities on our own or enter into agreements with third parties to perform these functions on acceptable terms, we will be unable to successfully commercialize any such future products.
We currently have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities or experience. We will need to develop internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities to commercialize each current and potential future product candidate that gains FDA approval, which would be expensive and time-consuming, or enter into partnerships with third parties to perform these services. If we decide to market any approved products directly, we will need to commit significant financial and managerial resources to develop a marketing and sales force with technical expertise and supporting distribution, administration and compliance capabilities. If we rely on third parties with such capabilities to market any approved products or decide to co-promote products with partners, we will need to establish and maintain marketing and distribution arrangements with third parties, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to enter into such arrangements on acceptable terms or at all. In entering into third-party marketing or distribution arrangements, any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of the third parties and we cannot assure you that such third parties will establish adequate sales and distribution capabilities or be successful in gaining market acceptance
for any approved product. If we are not successful in commercializing any product approved in the future, either on our own or through third parties, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Our future growth may depend, in part, on our ability to operate in foreign markets, where we would be subject to additional regulatory burdens and other risks and uncertainties.
Our future growth may depend, in part, on our ability to develop and commercialize product candidates in foreign markets for which we may rely on partnership with third parties. We will not be permitted to market or promote any product candidate before we receive regulatory approval from the applicable regulatory authority in a foreign market, and we may never receive such regulatory approval for any product candidate. To obtain separate regulatory approval in foreign countries, we generally must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of such countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials and commercial sales, pricing and distribution of a product candidate, and we cannot predict success in these jurisdictions. If we obtain approval of any of our current or potential future product candidates and ultimately commercialize any such product candidate in foreign markets, we would be subject to risks and uncertainties, including the burden of complying with complex and changing foreign regulatory, tax, accounting and legal requirements and the reduced protection of intellectual property rights in some foreign countries.
Price controls imposed in foreign markets may adversely affect our future profitability.
In some countries, particularly member states of the European Union, the pricing of prescription drugs is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after receipt of marketing approval for a product. In addition, there can be considerable pressure exerted by governments and other stakeholders on prices and reimbursement levels, including as part of cost-containment measures. Political, economic and regulatory developments, in the United States or internationally, may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various European Union member states and parallel distribution, or arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. In some countries, we or future partners may be required to conduct clinical trials or other studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a product candidate to other available therapies in order to obtain or maintain reimbursement or pricing approval. 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 reimbursement of any current or potential future product candidate that is approved for marketing in the future is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business and results of operations or prospects could be materially and adversely affected and our ability to commercialize such product candidate could be materially impaired.
Our business entails a significant risk of product liability, and our inability to obtain sufficient insurance coverage could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
As we move into conducting clinical trials of ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates, we will be exposed to significant product liability risks inherent in the development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of antibody treatments. Product liability claims could delay or prevent completion of our development programs. If we succeed in marketing products, such claims could result in an FDA investigation of the safety and effectiveness of our products, our manufacturing processes and facilities or our marketing programs and potentially a recall of our products or more
serious enforcement action, limitations on the approved indications for which they may be used or suspension or withdrawal of approvals. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may also result in decreased demand for our products, injury to our reputation, costs to defend the related litigation, a diversion of management's time and our resources, substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients and a decline in our stock price. Any insurance we have or may obtain may not provide sufficient coverage against potential liabilities. Furthermore, clinical trial and product liability insurance is becoming increasingly expensive. As a result, our partners or we may be unable to obtain sufficient insurance at a reasonable cost to protect us against losses caused by product liability claims that could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations, provide accurate information to the FDA, comply with manufacturing standards we may establish, comply with federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended 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, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. For example, individuals conducting the non-interventional clinical studies that we sponsor through which we obtain antibodies for development into potential antibody-based therapeutics may violate applicable laws and regulations regarding patients' personal data. It is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct, 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 be in compliance with such laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a material and adverse effect on our business and financial condition, including the imposition of significant criminal, civil, and administrative fines or other sanctions, such as monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government-funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, integrity obligations, reputational harm and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
Failure to comply with health and data protection laws and regulations could lead to government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business.
We and our current and potential collaborators may be subject to federal, state and foreign data protection laws and regulations (i.e., laws and regulations that address privacy and data security). In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including federal health information privacy laws (e.g., the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH), state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply
to our operations or the operations of our collaborators. In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties (including research institutions from which we obtain clinical trial data) that are subject to privacy and security requirements under the HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, or other privacy and data security laws. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to criminal penalties if we knowingly obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.
International data protection laws, including Regulation 2016/679, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. The GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR introduced new data protection requirements in the European Union, as well as potential fines for noncompliant companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue. The regulation imposes numerous new requirements for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, including more stringent requirements relating to consent and the information that must be shared with data subjects about how their personal information is used, the obligation to notify regulators and affected individuals of personal data breaches, extensive new internal privacy governance obligations and obligations to honor expanded rights of individuals in relation to their personal information (e.g., the right to access, correct and delete their data). In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers. The GDPR will 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 to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Further, the United Kingdom's vote in favor of exiting 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.
In addition, California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which creates new individual privacy rights for California consumers (as defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA will require covered companies to provide new disclosure to consumers about such companies' data collection, use and sharing practices, provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information, and provide consumers with additional causes of action. The CCPA goes into effect on January 1, 2020, and the California Attorney General may bring enforcement actions for violations beginning July 1, 2020. The CCPA was amended on September 23, 2018, and it remains unclear what, if any, further modifications will be made to this legislation or how it will be interpreted. As currently written, the CCPA may impact our business activities and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data and protected health information.
Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Failure to comply with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals' privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time consuming to defend and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.
If we experience security or data privacy breaches or other unauthorized or improper access to, use of, or destruction of our proprietary or confidential data, employee data or personal data, we may face costs, significant liabilities, harm to our brand and business disruption.
In connection with our discovery platform and efforts, we may collect and use a variety of personal data, such as name, mailing address, email addresses, phone number and clinical trial information. Although we have extensive measures in place to prevent the sharing and loss of patient data in our sample collection process associated with our discovery platform, any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients' personal data could result in significant liability under state (e.g., state breach notification laws), federal (e.g., HIPAA, as amended by HITECH), and international law (e.g., the GDPR). Any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients' personal data may cause a material adverse impact to our reputation, affect our ability to conduct new studies and potentially disrupt our business. We may also rely on third-party service providers to host or otherwise process some of our data and that of users, and any failure by such third party to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to or disclosure of such information could have similarly adverse consequences for us. If we are unable to prevent or mitigate the impact of such security or data privacy breaches, we could be exposed to litigation and governmental investigations, which could lead to a potential disruption to our business.
We depend on sophisticated information technology systems to operate our business and a cyber-attack or other breach of these systems could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We rely on information technology systems that we or our third-party vendors operate to process, transmit and store electronic information in our day-to-day operations. The size and complexity of our information technology systems makes them vulnerable to a cyber-attack, malicious intrusion, breakdown, destruction, loss of data privacy or other significant disruption. A successful attack could result in the theft or destruction of intellectual property, data, or other misappropriation of assets, or otherwise compromise our confidential or proprietary information and disrupt our operations. Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent. We have invested in our systems and the protection and recoverability of our data to reduce the risk of an intrusion or interruption, and we monitor and test our systems on an ongoing basis for any current or potential threats. There can be no assurance that these measures and efforts will prevent future interruptions or breakdowns. If we or our third-party vendors fail to maintain or protect our information technology systems and data integrity effectively or fail to anticipate, plan for or manage significant disruptions to these systems, we or our third-party vendors could have difficulty preventing, detecting and controlling such cyber-attacks and any such attacks could result in losses described above as well as disputes with physicians, patients and our partners, regulatory sanctions or penalties, increases in operating expenses, expenses or lost revenues or other adverse consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and cash flows.
Our information technology systems could face serious disruptions that could adversely affect our business.
Our information technology and other internal infrastructure systems, including corporate firewalls, servers, leased lines and connection to the internet, face the risk of systemic failure that could disrupt our operations. A significant disruption in the availability of our information technology and other internal infrastructure systems could cause interruptions and delays in our research and development work.
If we do not comply with laws regulating the protection of the environment and health and human safety, our business could be adversely affected.
Our research, development and manufacturing involves the use of hazardous materials and various chemicals. We maintain quantities of various flammable and toxic chemicals in our facilities that are required for our research, development and manufacturing activities. We are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials. We believe our procedures for storing, handling and disposing of these materials in our facilities comply with the relevant guidelines of the state of California and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of these materials comply with the standards mandated by applicable regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be eliminated. If an accident occurs, we could be held liable for resulting damages, which could be substantial. We are also subject to numerous environmental, health and workplace safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures, exposure to blood-borne pathogens and the handling of animals and biohazardous materials. Although we maintain workers' compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of these materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. Although we have some environmental liability insurance covering certain of our facilities, we may not maintain adequate insurance for all environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological or hazardous materials. Additional federal, state and local laws and regulations affecting our operations may be adopted in the future. We may incur substantial costs to comply with, and substantial fines or penalties if we violate, any of these laws or regulations.
Our current operations are concentrated in one location, and we or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural or other disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Our current operations are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area. Any unplanned event, such as flood, fire, explosion, extreme weather condition, medical epidemics, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or manmade accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or lose our repository of blood-based and other valuable laboratory samples, may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and 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 disasters such as earthquakes or wildfires, both of which are prevalent in Northern California, floods or tsunamis could further disrupt our operations, and have a material negative impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, 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. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place 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 and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure you that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract
manufacturers, are unable to operate because of an accident or incident or for any other reason, even for a short period of time, any or all of our research and development programs may be harmed. Any business interruption may have a material and adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain or protect intellectual property rights related to our technology and current or future product candidates, or if our intellectual property rights are inadequate, we may not be able to compete effectively.
Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain and maintain protection for our owned and in-licensed intellectual property rights and proprietary technology. We rely on patents and other forms of intellectual property rights, including in-licenses of intellectual property rights and biologic materials of others, to protect our current or future discovery platform, product candidates, methods used to manufacture our current or future product candidates, and methods for treating patients using our current or future product candidates.
We in-license exclusive rights, including patents and patent applications relating to our discovery platform, from the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, or Stanford University. Patent applications for this in-licensed technology are still pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other national patent offices. There is no guarantee that such patent applications will issue as patents, nor any guarantee that issued patents will provide adequate protection for the in-licensed technology or any meaningful competitive advantage.
We also own several patents and applications on our own technology relating to our discovery platform. There is no guarantee that any patents covering this technology will issue from the patent applications we own, or, if they do, that the issued claims will provide adequate protection for our discovery platform or any meaningful competitive advantage.
We currently do not own or in-license any issued patents or pending non-provisional patent applications in connection with ATRC-101. We have filed multiple provisional patent applications in the United States in connection with ATRC-101 and related antibody variants. A provisional patent application is not eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of the filing date of the provisional patent application. If we do not timely file non-provisional patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our provisional patent applications and any patent protection on the inventions disclosed in our provisional patent applications. Moreover, there is no guarantee that any current or future patent applications will result in the issuance of patents that will effectively protect ATRC-101 or other product candidates or will effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive products.
The patent prosecution process is expensive, complex and time-consuming. Patent license negotiations also can be complex and protracted, with uncertain results. We may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, enforce or license all necessary or desirable patents and patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. The patent applications that we own or in-license may fail to result in issued patents, and, even if they do issue as patents, such patents may not cover our current or future technologies or product candidates in the United States or in other countries or provide sufficient protection from competitors. In addition, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued and its scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. Accordingly, we also rely on our
ability to preserve our trade secrets, to prevent third parties from infringing, misappropriating or violating our proprietary rights and to operate without infringing, misappropriating, or violating the proprietary rights of others.
Further, although we make reasonable efforts to ensure patentability of our inventions, we cannot guarantee that all of the potentially relevant prior art relating to our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications has been found. For example, publications of discoveries in scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, and in some cases not at all. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our discovery platform, our product candidates, or the use of our technologies. We thus cannot know with certainty whether we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned or in-licensed patents or pending applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. There is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications has been found. For this reason, and because there is no guarantee that any prior art search is absolutely correct and comprehensive, we may be unaware of prior art that could be used to invalidate an issued patent or to prevent our owned or in-licensed pending patent applications from issuing as patents. Invalidation of any of our patent rights, including in-licensed patent rights, could materially harm our business.
Moreover, the patent positions of biopharmaceutical companies are generally uncertain because they may involve complex legal and factual considerations that have, in recent years, been the subject of legal development and change. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our pending patent rights is uncertain. The standards applied by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, and foreign patent offices in granting patents are not always certain and moreover, are not always applied uniformly or predictably. For example, there is no uniform worldwide policy regarding patentable subject matter or the scope of claims allowable in patents. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our owned or in-licensed patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.
Even if patents do successfully issue and even if such patents cover our current or any future technologies or product candidates, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable. Any successful challenge to these patents or any other patents owned by or licensed to us could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any current or future technologies or product candidates that we may develop. Likewise, if patent applications we own or have in-licensed with respect to our development programs and current or future technologies or product candidates fail to issue, if their breadth or strength is threatened, or if they fail to provide meaningful exclusivity, other companies could be dissuaded from collaborating with us to develop current or future technologies or product candidates. Lack of valid and enforceable patent protection could threaten our ability to commercialize current or future products and could prevent us from maintaining exclusivity with respect to the invention or feature claimed in the patent applications. Any failure to obtain or any loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business and ability to achieve profitability. We may be unable to prevent competitors from entering the market with a product that is similar to or the same as ATRC-101 or future product candidates.
The filing of a patent application or the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its ownership, inventorship, scope, patentability, validity or enforceability. Issued patents and patent applications may be challenged in the courts and in the patent office in the United States and
abroad. For example, our applications or applications filed by our licensors may be challenged through third-party submissions, opposition or derivation proceedings. By further example, our issued patents or the issued patents we in-license may be challenged through reexamination, inter partes review or post-grant review proceedings before the patent office, or in declaratory judgment actions or counterclaims. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could prevent the issuance of, reduce the scope of, invalidate or render unenforceable our owned or in-licensed patent rights; limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical platforms and products; allow third parties to compete directly with us without payment to us; or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize products without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future platforms or product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Moreover, some of our owned and in-licensed patents and patent applications are or may in the future be co-owned with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third party co-owners' interest in such patents or patent application, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. We may need the cooperation of any such co-owners of our patents to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business prospects and financial conditions.
Our in-licensed patent rights may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. For example, we in-license certain patent rights from Stanford University, which co-owns rights with a governmental entity. As a result, the U.S. government may have certain rights, including so-called march-in rights, to such patent rights and any products or technology developed from such patent rights. When new technologies are developed with U.S. government funding, the U.S. government generally obtains certain rights in any resulting patents, including a nonexclusive license authorizing the U.S. government to use the invention for non-commercial purposes. These rights may permit the U.S. government to disclose our confidential information to third parties and to exercise march-in rights to use or to allow third parties to use our licensed technology. The U.S. government can exercise its march-in rights if it determines that action is necessary because we fail to achieve the practical application of government-funded technology, because action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs, to meet requirements of federal regulations, or to give preference to U.S. industry. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions in the United States. Any exercise by the U.S. government of such rights could harm our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we fail to comply with our obligations under any license, collaboration or other intellectual property-related agreements, we may be required to pay damages and could lose intellectual property rights that may be necessary for developing, commercializing and protecting our current or future technologies or product candidates or we could lose certain rights to grant sublicenses.
We are heavily reliant upon in-licenses to certain patent rights and proprietary technology from third parties that are important or necessary to our discovery platform and development of product candidates. For example, we rely on an intellectual property license from Stanford University for our discovery platform.
Our current license agreements impose, and any future license agreements we enter into are likely to impose, various development, commercialization, funding, milestone, royalty, diligence, sublicensing, insurance, patent prosecution and enforcement or other obligations on us. If we breach any of these obligations, or use the intellectual property licensed to us in an unauthorized manner, we may be required to pay damages and the licensor may have the right to terminate the license. License termination could result in our inability to develop, manufacture and sell products that are covered by the licensed technology or could enable a competitor to gain access to the licensed technology. In certain circumstances, our licensed patent rights are subject to our reimbursing our licensors for their patent prosecution and maintenance costs. For example, our license agreement with Stanford University requires us to bear the costs of filing and maintaining patent applications.
Furthermore, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing, prosecution, maintenance, enforcement and defense of patents and patent applications that we license from third parties. For example, pursuant to our license agreement with Stanford University, while we direct and are responsible for the preparation, filing, prosecution and maintenance, and, in certain circumstances, enforcement and defense of the patents and patent applications, all of these actions are subject to Stanford University's final approval. Given Stanford University's right of final approval, we therefore cannot be certain that these patents and patent applications will be prepared, filed, prosecuted, maintained, enforced and defended in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. If our licensors and future licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce and defend patents we may license, or lose rights to licensed patents or patent applications, our license rights may be reduced or eliminated. In such circumstances, our right to develop and commercialize any of our products or product candidates that is the subject of such licensed rights could be materially adversely affected.
Moreover, our licensors may own or control intellectual property that has not been licensed to us and, as a result, we may be subject to claims, regardless of their merit, that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the licensor's intellectual property rights. In addition, while we cannot currently determine the amount of the royalty obligations we would be required to pay on sales of future products if infringement or misappropriation were found, those amounts could be significant. The amount of our future royalty obligations will depend on the technology and intellectual property we use in products that we successfully develop and commercialize, if any. Therefore, even if we successfully develop and commercialize products, we may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.
In addition, the agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse impact on our business and ability to achieve profitability. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize any affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial conditions.
Patent terms may not be able to protect our competitive position for an adequate period of time with respect to our current or future technologies or product candidates.
Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, the standard patent term is typically 20 years after filing. Various extensions may be available. Even so, the life of a patent and the
protection it affords are limited. As a result, our owned and in-licensed patent portfolio provides us with limited rights that may not last for a sufficient period of time to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours. For example, given the large amount of time required for the research, development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized.
Extensions of patent term are available, but there is no guarantee that we would succeed in obtaining any particular extensionand no guarantee any such extension would confer patent term for a sufficient period of time to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours. In the United States, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the normal expiration of the patent, which is limited to the approved indication (or any additional indications approved during the period of extension). A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond 14 years from the date of product approval; only one patent may be extended; and extension is available for only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it. The applicable authorities, including the FDA and the USPTO in the United States, and any equivalent regulatory authority in other countries, may not agree with our assessment of whether such extensions are available, and may refuse to grant extensions to our patents, or may grant more limited extensions than we request. An extension may not be granted or may be limited where there is, for example, a failure to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failure to apply within applicable deadlines, failure to apply before expiration of relevant patents, or some other failure to satisfy applicable requirements. If this occurs, our competitors may be able to launch their products earlier by taking advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials along with our clinical and preclinical data. This could have a material adverse effect on our business and ability to achieve profitability.
Changes in U.S. patent law or the patent law of other countries or jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our current or any future technologies or product candidates.
Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States or elsewhere could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. The United States has enacted and implemented wide-ranging patent reform legislation. On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, was signed into law, which 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. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art, may affect patent litigation and switch the U.S. patent system from a "first-to-invent" system 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 the patent on an invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. These provisions also allow third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and set forth additional procedures to challenge the validity of a patent by the USPTO administered post grant proceedings, including derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review and interference proceedings. The USPTO developed additional regulations and procedures to govern administration of the Leahy-Smith Act, and many of the substantive changes to patent law associated with the Leahy-Smith Act, and, in particular, the first-to-file provisions, became effective on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, it is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. The Leahy-
Smith 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 issued owned or in-licensed patents, all of which could have a material adverse impact on our business prospects and financial condition.
As referenced above, for example, courts in the U.S. continue to refine the heavily fact-and-circumstance-dependent jurisprudence defining the scope of patent protection available for therapeutic antibodies, narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This creates uncertainty about our ability to obtain patents in the future and the value of such patents. We cannot provide assurance that future developments in U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO will not adversely impact our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications. The laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could weaken our and our licensors' ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing owned or in-licensed patents and patents that we might obtain or in-license in the future. Similarly, changes in patent law and regulations in other countries or jurisdictions or changes in the governmental bodies that enforce them or changes in how the relevant governmental authority enforces patent laws or regulations may have a material adverse effect on our and our licensors' ability to obtain new patents or to protect and enforce our owned or in-licensed patents or patents that we may obtain or in-license in the future.
Other companies or organizations may challenge our or our licensors' patent rights or may assert patent rights that prevent us from developing and commercializing our current or future products.
As the field of antibody-based immunotherapeutics matures, patent applications are being processed by national patent offices around the world. There is uncertainty about which patents will issue, and, if they do, there is uncertainty as to when, to whom, and with what claims. In addition, third parties may attempt to invalidate our or our licensors' intellectual property rights. Even if such rights are not directly challenged, disputes could lead to the weakening of our or our licensors' intellectual property rights. Our defense against any attempt by third parties to circumvent or invalidate our intellectual property rights could be costly to us, could require significant time and attention of our management, and could have a material and adverse impact on our profitability, financial condition and prospects or ability to successfully compete.
There are many issued and pending patents that claim aspects of our current or potential future product candidates and modifications that we may need to apply to our current or potential future product candidates. There are also many issued patents that claim antibodies or portions of antibodies that may be relevant for products we wish to develop.
Further, we cannot guarantee that we are aware of all of patents and patent applications potentially relevant to our technology or products. We may not be aware of potentially relevant third-party patents or applications for several reasons. For example, U.S. applications filed before November 29, 2000, and certain U.S. applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the U.S. remain confidential until patents issue. Patent applications in the United States and elsewhere are published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our product candidates or platform technologies could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our platform, our product candidates or the use of our technologies.
Thus, it is possible that one or more third parties will hold patent rights to which we will need a license, which may not be available on reasonable terms or at all. If such third parties refuse to grant us a license to such patent rights on reasonable terms or at all, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to redesign our technology, product candidates or the methods for manufacturing our product candidates, or to develop or license replacement technology, all of which may not be commercially or technically feasible. In such case, we may not be able to market such technology or product candidates and may not be able to perform research and development or other activities covered by these patents. This could have a material adverse effect on our ability to commercialize our product candidates and our business and financial condition.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world, which could negatively impact our business.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on current or future technologies or product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive. Competitors or other third parties may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export infringing products to territories where we have patent protection or licenses but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
Additionally, the laws of some foreign jurisdictions do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws in the United States. Many companies have encountered significant difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in such jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, including certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our owned and in-licensed patents or the marketing of competing products in violation of our intellectual property and proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our owned or in-licensed intellectual property and proprietary rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and could divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business. Such proceedings could also put our owned or in-licensed patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, could put our owned or in-licensed patent applications at risk of not issuing, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us or our licensors. We or our licensors may not prevail in any lawsuits or other adversarial proceedings that we or our licensors initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our and our licensors' efforts to enforce such intellectual property and proprietary rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or in-license.
Further, many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of its patents. If we or any of our licensors are forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position in the relevant jurisdiction may be impaired and our business prospects may be materially adversely affected.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or violating their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse impact on the success of our business.
Our commercial success depends, in part, upon our ability or the ability of our potential future collaborators to develop, manufacture, market and sell our current or any future product candidates and to use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating or violating the proprietary and intellectual property rights of third parties. The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive and complex litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights.
We or our licensors, or any future strategic partners, may be party to, or be threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our current or any potential future product candidates and technologies, including derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings before the USPTO and similar proceedings in jurisdictions outside of the United States such as opposition proceedings. In some instances, we may be required to indemnify our licensors for the costs associated with any such adversarial proceedings or litigation. For example, we are obligated under our license agreement with Stanford University to indemnify, hold harmless and defend Stanford University for damages from any claim of any kind arising out of or related to the license agreement with Stanford University. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us, our licensors or our strategic partners based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future, regardless of their merit. There is a risk that third parties may choose to engage in litigation or other adversarial proceedings with us, our licensors or our strategic partners to enforce or otherwise assert their patent rights. Even if we believe such claims are without merit, a court of competent jurisdiction could hold that these third-party patents are valid, enforceable and infringed, which could have a material adverse impact on our ability to utilize our discovery platform or to commercialize our current or any future product candidates. In order to successfully challenge the validity of any such U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity by presenting clear and convincing evidence of invalidity. There is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction, even if presented with evidence we believe to be clear and convincing, would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent.
Further, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such adversarial proceedings or litigation. If we are unable to successfully settle future claims on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to engage in or to continue costly, unpredictable and time-consuming litigation and may be prevented from or experience substantial delays in marketing our product candidates. If we, or our licensors, or any future strategic partners are found to infringe, misappropriate or violate a third-party patent or other intellectual property rights, we could be required to pay damages, including treble damages and attorney's fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed. In addition, we, or our licensors, or any future strategic partners may choose to seek, or be required to seek, a license from a third party, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. Even if a license can be obtained on commercially reasonable terms, the rights may be non-exclusive, which could give our competitors access to the same technology or intellectual property rights licensed to us, and we could be required to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. We also could be forced, including by court order, to cease utilizing, developing, manufacturing and commercializing our discovery platform or product candidates deemed to be infringing. We may be forced to redesign current or future technologies or products. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue or achieve profitability and possibly prevent us from generating revenue sufficient to sustain our operations.
In addition, we or our licensors may find it necessary to pursue claims or to initiate lawsuits to protect or enforce our owned or in-licensed patent or other intellectual property rights. The cost to us in defending or initiating any litigation or other proceeding relating to our owned or in-licensed patent or other intellectual property rights, even if resolved in our favor, could be substantial, and any litigation or other proceeding would divert our management's attention. Such litigation or proceedings could materially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. Some of our competitors may be able to more effectively to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation because they have substantially greater resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could delay our research and development efforts and materially limit our ability to continue our operations. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with certain such proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure. 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, such announcements could have a material adverse effect on the price of our Class A common stock.
If we or our licensors were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates or our technology, the defendant could counterclaim that such patent is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, for example, claiming patent-ineligible subject matter, lack of novelty, indefiniteness, lack of written description, non-enablement, anticipation or obviousness. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution. The outcome of such invalidity and unenforceability claims is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art of which we or our licensors and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection for one or more of our product candidates or certain aspects of our platform technology. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Patents and other intellectual property rights also will not protect our product candidates and technologies if competitors or third parties design around such product candidates and technologies without legally infringing, misappropriating or violating our owned or in-licensed patents or other intellectual property rights.
Intellectual property rights of third parties could adversely affect our ability to commercialize our current or future technologies or product candidates, and we might be required to litigate or obtain licenses from third parties to develop or market our current or future technologies or product candidates, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
Because the antibody landscape is still evolving, it is difficult to conclusively assess our freedom to operate without infringing, misappropriating or violating third-party rights. There are numerous companies that have pending patent applications and issued patents broadly covering antibodies generally or covering antibodies directed against the same targets as, or targets similar to, those we are pursuing. Our competitive position may materially suffer if patents issued to third parties or other third-party intellectual property rights cover our current or future technologies product candidates or elements thereof or our manufacture or uses relevant to our development plans. In such cases, we may not be in a position to develop or commercialize current or future technologies, product
candidates unless we successfully pursue litigation to nullify or invalidate the third-party intellectual property right concerned, or enter into a license agreement with the intellectual property right holder, if available on commercially reasonable terms. There may be issued patents of which we are not aware, held by third parties that, if found to be valid and enforceable, could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or product candidates. There also may be pending patent applications of which we are not aware that may result in issued patents, which could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or product candidates. If such an infringement claim should successfully be brought, we may be required to pay substantial damages or be forced to abandon our current or future technologies or product candidates or to seek a license from any patent holders. No assurances can be given that a license will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.
Third party intellectual property right holders may also actively bring infringement, misappropriation or violation or other claims alleging violations of intellectual property rights against us. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such claims. If we are unable to successfully settle future claims on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to engage in or to continue costly, unpredictable and time-consuming litigation and may be prevented from or experience substantial delays in marketing our product candidates. If we fail in any such dispute, in addition to being forced to pay damages, we may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from commercializing any of our current or future technologies or product candidates that are held to be infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating third-party intellectual property rights. We might, if possible, also be forced to redesign current or future technologies or product candidates so that we no longer infringe, misappropriate or violate the third-party intellectual property rights. Any of these events, even if we were ultimately to prevail, could require us to divert substantial financial and management resources that we would otherwise be able to devote to our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
As referenced above, in addition to seeking patent protection for certain aspects of our current or future technologies and product candidates, we also consider trade secrets, including confidential and unpatented know-how, important to the maintenance of our competitive position. However, trade secrets and know-how can be difficult to protect. We protect and plan to protect trade secrets and confidential and unpatented know-how, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to such knowledge, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, CROs, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants under which they are obligated to maintain confidentiality and to assign their inventions to us. Despite these efforts, we may not obtain these agreements in all circumstances. Moreover, individuals with whom we have such agreements may not comply with their terms. Any of these parties may breach such agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for any such breaches. We may also become involved in inventorship disputes relating to inventions and patents developed by our employees or consultants under such agreements. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret, or securing title to an employee- or consultant-developed invention if a dispute arises, is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts in the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions disfavor or are unwilling to protect trade secrets. Further, if any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would
have no right to prevent that competitor from using the technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position would be materially and adversely harmed.
We may be subject to claims that we or our employees or consultants have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of our employees' or consultants' former employers or their clients.
Many of our employees or consultants and our licensors' employees or consultants were previously employed at universities or biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. We may be subject to claims that one or more of these employees or consultants or we have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed trade secrets or other proprietary information of former employers. Litigation or arbitration may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel or may be enjoined from using such intellectual property. Any such proceedings and possible aftermath would likely divert significant resources from our core business, including distracting our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. A loss of key research personnel or their work product could limit our ability to commercialize, or prevent us from commercializing, our current or future technologies or product candidates, which could materially harm our business. Even if we are successful in defending against any such claims, litigation or arbitration could result in substantial costs and could be a distraction to management.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by government patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other government fees on patents or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various government patent agencies outside of the United States over the lifetime of our owned and in-licensed patents or applications and any patent rights we may own or in-license in the future. The USPTO and various non-U.S. government patent agencies require compliance with several procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply with these requirements, and we are also dependent on our licensors to take the necessary action to comply with these requirements with respect to our in-licensed intellectual property. In many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. There are situations, however, in which non-compliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, potential competitors might be able to enter the market with similar or identical products or platforms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business prospects and financial condition.
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 trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented, 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 use for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. 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 materially adversely affected.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our business.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business. The following examples are illustrative:
Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse impact on our business and financial condition.
Risks Related to Government Regulation
Clinical development includes a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results.
Our only product candidate, ATRC-101, is in preclinical development and its risk of failure is high. It is impossible to predict when or if ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidates will prove effective and safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical studies and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of that product candidate in humans. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the development process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of any of our current or potential future product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of
companies in the pharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials.
We expect to prepare and submit to the FDA an IND for ATRC-101 in late 2019, and we expect to initiate a Phase 1b clinical trial for ATRC-101 in patients with solid tumors in early 2020. Commencing this clinical trial is subject to finalizing the trial design and filing an IND with the FDA. Even after we file our IND, the FDA could disagree that we have satisfied their requirements to commence our clinical trials or disagree with our study design, which may require us to complete additional preclinical studies or amend our protocols or impose stricter conditions on the commencement of clinical trials.
We may experience delays in completing our preclinical studies and initiating or completing clinical trials of ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates. We do not know whether planned preclinical studies and clinical trials will be completed on schedule or at all, or whether planned clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. Our development programs may be delayed for a variety of reasons, including delays related to:
Furthermore, we expect to rely on our CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials and, while we expect to enter into agreements governing their committed activities, we have limited influence over their actual performance.
We could encounter delays if prescribing physicians encounter unresolved ethical issues associated with enrolling patients in clinical trials of our current or potential future product candidates in lieu of prescribing existing treatments that have established safety and efficacy profiles. Further, a clinical trial may be suspended or terminated by us, our partners, the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, the Data Safety Monitoring Board for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug or therapeutic biologic, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of any of our current or potential future product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidate will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue from such product candidates will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow our product development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue. Any of these occurrences
may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our current or potential future product candidates.
We may be unable to obtain U.S. or foreign regulatory approval and, as a result, be unable to commercialize ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates.
ATRC-101 and any potential future product candidates are subject to extensive governmental regulations relating to, among other things, research, testing, development, manufacturing, safety, efficacy, approval, recordkeeping, reporting, labeling, storage, packaging, advertising and promotion, pricing, marketing and distribution of drugs and therapeutic biologics. Rigorous preclinical testing and clinical trials and an extensive regulatory approval process are required to be successfully completed in the U.S. and in many foreign jurisdictions before a new drug or therapeutic biologic can be marketed. Satisfaction of these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time-consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. It is possible that none of the product candidates we may develop will obtain the regulatory approvals necessary for us or our potential future partners to begin selling them.
We have very limited experience in conducting and managing the clinical trials necessary to obtain regulatory approvals, including approval by the FDA. The time required to obtain FDA and other approvals is unpredictable but typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials, depending upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate. The standards that the FDA and its foreign counterparts use when regulating us require judgment and can change, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty how they will be applied. 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 or increased costs due to new government regulations, for example, from future legislation or administrative action, or from changes in FDA policy during the period of product development, clinical trials 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.
Because ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates we are developing may work through mechanisms of action or work against targets with which the FDA has limited early experience, the FDA and its foreign counterparts have not yet established any definitive policies, practices or guidelines in relation to these product candidates. While we believe these product candidates are regulated as therapeutic biologics that are subject to requirements for review and approval of a Biologics License Application, or BLA, by the FDA, the lack of policies, practices or guidelines may hinder or slow review by the FDA of any regulatory filings that we may submit. Moreover, the FDA may respond to these submissions by defining requirements we may not have anticipated. Such responses could lead to significant delays in the clinical development of these product candidates, including ATRC-101. In addition, because there may be approved treatments for some of the diseases for which we may seek approval, in order to receive regulatory approval, we may need to demonstrate through clinical trials that the current or potential future product candidates we develop to treat these diseases, if any, are not only safe and effective, but safer or more effective than existing products.
Any delay or failure in obtaining required approvals could have a material and adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue from the particular product candidate for which we are seeking approval. Further, we and our potential future partners may never receive approval to market and commercialize any product candidate. Even if we or a potential future partner obtains regulatory approval, the approval may be for targets, disease indications or patient populations that are not as broad as we intended or desired or may require labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings. We or a potential future partner may be subject to post-marketing testing requirements to maintain regulatory approval. If ATRC-101 or any of our potential future product candidates prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, we may have to re-engineer ATRC-101 or our potential future product candidates, and our entire pipeline could have little, if any, value, which could require us to change our focus and approach to antibody discovery and development, which would have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We are also subject to 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.
Even if we receive regulatory approval for any of our current or potential future product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, our current or potential future product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions and market withdrawal and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products.
Any regulatory approvals that we or potential future partners obtain for ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidate may also be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which a 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 such product candidate. In addition, if the FDA or other regulatory authority approves ATRC-101 or any potential future product candidate, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, import, export, advertising, promotion and recordkeeping for such product will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMP and good clinical practices for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, 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:
The FDA's 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, which would adversely affect our business.
We may attempt to secure approval from the FDA through the use of accelerated registration pathways. If unable to obtain approval under an accelerated pathway, we may be required to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which could increase the expense of obtaining, reduce the likelihood of obtaining or delay the timing of obtaining, necessary marketing approvals. Even if we receive accelerated approval from the FDA, if our confirmatory trials do not verify clinical benefit, or if we do not comply with rigorous post-marketing requirements, the FDA may seek to withdraw accelerated approval.
We may seek an accelerated approval development pathway for our product candidates, including ATRC-101. Under the accelerated approval provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, and the FDA's implementing regulations, the FDA may grant accelerated approval to a product designed to treat a serious or life-threatening condition that provides meaningful therapeutic advantage over available therapies and demonstrates an effect on a surrogate endpoint or intermediate clinical endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA considers a clinical benefit to be a positive therapeutic effect that is clinically meaningful in the context of a given disease. For the purposes of accelerated approval, a surrogate endpoint is a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, radiographic image, physical sign or other measure that is thought to predict clinical benefit but is not itself a measure of clinical benefit. An intermediate clinical endpoint is a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit. The accelerated approval development pathway may be used in cases in which the advantage of a new drug over available therapy may not be a direct therapeutic advantage, but is a clinically important improvement from a patient and public health perspective. If granted, accelerated approval is contingent on the sponsor's agreement to conduct, in a diligent manner, additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the drug's clinical profile or risks and benefits for accelerated approval. The FDA may require that any such confirmatory study be initiated or substantially underway prior to the submission of an application for accelerated approval. If such post-approval studies fail to confirm the drug's clinical profile or risks and benefits, the FDA may withdraw its approval of the drug.
If we choose to pursue accelerated approval, we intend to seek feedback from the FDA or will otherwise evaluate our ability to seek and receive such accelerated approval. There can be no assurance that, after our evaluation of the feedback from the FDA or other factors, we will decide to pursue or submit a BLA for accelerated approval or any other form of expedited development, review or approval. Furthermore, if we submit an application for accelerated approval, there can be no assurance that such application will be accepted or that approval will be granted on a timely basis, or at all. The FDA also could require us to conduct further studies or trials prior to considering our application or granting approval of any type. We might not be able to fulfill the FDA's requirements in a timely manner, which would cause delays, or approval might not be granted because our submission is deemed incomplete by the FDA.
Even if we receive accelerated approval from the FDA, we will be subject to rigorous post-marketing requirements, including the completion of confirmatory post-market clinical trials to verify the clinical benefit of the product, and submission to the FDA of all promotional materials prior to their dissemination. The FDA could seek to withdraw accelerated approval for multiple reasons, including if we fail to conduct any required post-market study with due diligence; a post-market study does not confirm the predicted clinical benefit; other evidence shows that the product is not safe or effective under the conditions of use; or we disseminate promotional materials that are found by the FDA to be false and misleading.
A failure to obtain accelerated approval or any other form of expedited development, review or approval for a product candidate that we may choose to develop would result in a longer time period prior to commercializing such product candidate, could increase the cost of development of such product candidate and could harm our competitive position in the marketplace.
Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, was enacted, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Among the provisions of the ACA, of greatest importance to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry are the following:
Some of the provisions of the ACA have yet to be fully implemented, and there have been legal and political challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. Since January 2017, President Trump has signed two executive orders and other directives designed to delay, circumvent, or loosen certain requirements mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, Congress has considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, two bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the ACA have been signed into law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the Tax Act, includes a provision that repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year, that is commonly referred to as the "individual mandate." Additionally, on January 22, 2018, President Trump signed a continuing resolution on appropriations for fiscal year 2018 that delayed the implementation of certain ACA-mandated fees, including the so-called "Cadillac" tax on certain high cost employer-sponsored insurance plans, the annual fee imposed on certain health insurance providers based on market share, and the medical device excise tax on non-exempt medical devices. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA), among other things, amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the "donut hole." In July 2018, CMS published a final rule permitting further collections and payments to and from certain ACA qualified health plans and health insurance issuers under the ACA risk adjustment program in response to the outcome of federal district court litigation regarding the method CMS uses to determine this risk adjustment. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the individual mandate is an inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the Tax Act, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. While the Texas U.S. District Court Judge, as well as the Trump Administration and CMS have stated that the ruling will have no immediate effect, it is unclear how this decision, subsequent appeals, and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA and our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation's automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken. 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. Additionally, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny recently over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products. For example, there have been several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. At the federal level, the Trump administration's budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 contains further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the 2019 budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. Further, the Trump administration released a "Blueprint" to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products and reduce
the out of pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. In addition, on January 31, 2019, the HHS Office of Inspector General, proposed modifications to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute discount safe harbor for the purpose of reducing the cost of drug products to consumers which, among other things, if finalized, will affect discounts paid by manufacturers to Medicare Part D plans, Medicaid managed care organizations and pharmacy benefit managers working with these organizations. Although a number of these, and other potential, proposals will require additional authorization to become effective, Congress and the executive branch have each indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative or administrative measures to control drug costs. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. These new laws and initiatives may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, which could have a material adverse effect on our future customers and accordingly, our financial operations.
We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our product candidates or additional pricing pressures.
If we or potential future partners, manufacturers or service providers fail to comply with healthcare laws and regulations, we or they could be subject to enforcement actions, which could affect our ability to develop, market and sell our products and may harm our reputation.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors, among others, will play a primary role in the prescription and recommendation of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our current and future arrangements with third-party payors, providers and customers, among others, may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, include the following:
Ensuring that our future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. If our operations are found to be in violation of any such requirements, we may be subject to penalties, including criminal and significant civil monetary penalties, damages, fines, individual imprisonment, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, integrity obligations, injunctions, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of pre-marketing product approvals, private qui tam actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government, refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, additional reporting requirements and oversight if subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. Although effective compliance programs can mitigate the risk of investigation and prosecution for violations of these laws, these risks cannot be entirely eliminated. Any action against us for an alleged or suspected violation could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and could divert our management's attention from the
operation of our business, even if our defense is successful. In addition, achieving and sustaining compliance with applicable laws and regulations may be costly to us in terms of money, time and resources.
If we fail to comply with U.S. and foreign regulatory requirements, regulatory authorities could limit or withdraw any marketing or commercialization approvals we may receive and subject us to other penalties that could materially harm our business.
Even if we receive marketing and commercialization approval of a product candidate, we will be subject to continuing regulatory requirements, including in relation to adverse patient experiences with the product and clinical results that are reported after a product is made commercially available, both in the United States and any foreign jurisdiction in which we seek regulatory approval. The FDA has significant post-market authority, including the authority to require labeling changes based on new safety information and to require post-market studies or clinical trials to evaluate safety risks related to the use of a product or to require withdrawal of the product from the market. The FDA also has the authority to require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or a REMS, after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved drug or therapeutic biologic. The manufacturer and manufacturing facilities we use to make a future product, if any, will also be subject to periodic review and inspection by the FDA and other regulatory agencies, including for continued compliance with cGMP requirements. The discovery of any new or previously unknown problems with our third party manufacturers, manufacturing processes or facilities may result in restrictions on the product, manufacturer or facility, including withdrawal of the product from the market. We intend to rely on third-party manufacturers and we will not have control over compliance with applicable rules and regulations by such manufacturers. Any product promotion and advertising will also be subject to regulatory requirements and continuing regulatory review. If we or our existing or future partners, manufacturers or service providers fail to comply with applicable continuing regulatory requirements in the U.S. or foreign jurisdictions in which we seek to market our products, we or they may be subject to, among other things, fines, warning letters, holds on clinical trials, delay of approval or refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approval, product recalls and seizures, administrative detention of products, refusal to permit the import or export of products, operating restrictions, injunction, civil penalties and criminal prosecution.
Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidate, such product candidate may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations or third-party coverage and reimbursement policies, which would harm our business.
Our ability to commercialize any products successfully will depend, in part, on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, such as government authorities, private health insurers and health maintenance organizations. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and private health insurers are critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use our future products, if any, unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost.
Cost-containment is a priority in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere. As a result, government authorities and other third party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Increasingly, third party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices
and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. Third-party payors also may request additional clinical evidence beyond the data required to obtain marketing approval, requiring a company to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of its product. Commercial third-party payors often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their reimbursement rates, but also have their own methods and approval process apart from Medicare determinations. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for pharmaceutical products in the U.S. can differ significantly from payor to payor. We cannot be sure that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, that the level of reimbursement will be adequate. Coverage and reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or are available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
Additionally, the regulations that govern regulatory approvals, pricing and reimbursement for new drugs and therapeutic biologics vary widely from country to country. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug or therapeutic biologic before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain regulatory approval for a product in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenues we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if our product candidates obtain regulatory approval.
We are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws with respect to our operations and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal or civil liability and harm our business.
We are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or the FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, and possibly other state and national anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees, agents, third-party intermediaries, joint venture partners and collaborators from authorizing, promising, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or benefits to recipients in the public or private sector. We interact with officials and employees of government agencies and government-affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations. In addition, we may engage third-party intermediaries to promote our clinical research activities abroad or to obtain necessary permits, licenses and other regulatory approvals. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, partners and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities.
In connection with this offering, we will adopt a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which will be effective upon the closing of this offering, and expect to prepare and implement policies and procedures to ensure compliance with such code. The Code of Business Conduct and Ethics mandates compliance with the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws applicable to our business throughout the world. However, we cannot assure you that our employees and third-party intermediaries will comply with this code or such anti-corruption laws. Noncompliance with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws could subject us to whistleblower complaints,
investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, other enforcement actions, disgorgement of profits, significant fines, damages, other civil and criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension or debarment from contracting with certain persons, the loss of export privileges, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas, investigations or other enforcement actions are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal litigation, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management's attention and resources and significant defense and compliance costs and other professional fees. In certain cases, enforcement authorities may even cause us to appoint an independent compliance monitor which can result in added costs and administrative burdens.
Comprehensive tax reform bills could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
On December 20, 2017, the U.S. Congress passed the Tax Act, enacting comprehensive tax legislation that includes significant changes to the taxation of business entities. These changes include, among others: a permanent reduction to the corporate income tax rate; a partial limitation on the deductibility of business interest expense; a shift of the U.S. taxation of multinational corporations from a tax on worldwide income to a territorial system (along with certain rules designed to prevent erosion of the U.S. income tax base); and a one-time tax on accumulated offshore earnings held in cash and illiquid assets, with the latter taxed at a lower rate. Notwithstanding the reduction in the corporate income tax rate, the overall impact of this tax reform remains uncertain, and our business and financial condition could be adversely affected. This prospectus does not provide an in-depth discussion of any such tax legislation or the manner in which it might affect purchasers of our Class A common stock. We urge our stockholders to consult with their legal and tax advisors with respect to any such legislation and the potential tax consequences of investing in our Class A common stock.
Risks Related to Our Class A Common Stock and this Offering
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.
We expect our operating results to be subject to quarterly fluctuations. Our net loss and other operating results will be affected by numerous factors, including:
If our quarterly operating results fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, the price of our Class A common stock could decline substantially. Furthermore, any quarterly fluctuations in our operating results may, in turn, cause the price of our stock to fluctuate substantially. We believe that quarterly comparisons of our financial results are not necessarily meaningful and should not be relied upon as an indication of our future performance.
Our stock price may be volatile and purchasers of our Class A common stock could incur substantial losses.
Our stock price is likely to be volatile. As a result of this volatility, investors may not be able to sell their Class A common stock at or above the initial public offering price. The market price for our Class A common stock may be influenced by many factors, including the other risks described in this section of the prospectus titled "Risk Factors" and the following:
In addition, the stock markets in general, and the markets for pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks in particular, have experienced extreme volatility that has been often unrelated to the operating performance of the issuer. These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of our Class A common stock, regardless of our operating performance.
You will experience immediate and substantial dilution as a result of this offering and may experience additional dilution in the future.
If you purchase Class A common stock in this offering, assuming a public offering price of $ per share, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover of this prospectus, you will incur immediate and substantial dilution of $ per share, representing the difference between the assumed initial public offering price of $ per share and our pro forma net tangible book value per share as of December 31, 2018 after giving effect to this offering, the conversion of all outstanding shares of our Series A, Series B, and Series C1 convertible preferred stock into Class A common stock immediately upon the closing of this offering, the conversion of all outstanding shares of our Series C2 convertible preferred stock into Class B common stock immediately upon the closing of this offering and the net exercise of one warrant subsequent to December 31, 2018. Moreover, we issued options, stock awards and warrants in the past to acquire Class A common stock and securities convertible into Class A common stock at prices significantly below the assumed initial public offering price. As of December 31, 2018, there were 12,818,129 shares of our Class A common stock subject to outstanding options, 300,000 shares of our Series A convertible preferred stock subject to outstanding warrants, 377,620 shares of our Class A common stock subject to an outstanding warrant and no shares of our Class B common stock outstanding. Subsequent to December 31, 2018, we granted options for shares of our Class A common stock. To the extent that any of these outstanding securities are ultimately exercised or settled, you will incur further dilution.
The future issuance of equity or of debt securities that are convertible into equity would dilute our share capital.
We may choose to raise additional capital in the future, depending on market conditions, strategic considerations and operational requirements. To the extent that additional capital is raised through the issuance of shares or other securities convertible into shares, our stockholders will be diluted. Future issuances of our Class A common stock or other equity securities, or the perception that such sales may occur, could adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock and impair our ability to raise capital through future offerings of shares or equity securities. No prediction can be made as to the effect, if any, that future sales of Class A common stock or the availability of Class A common stock for future sales will have on the trading price of our Class A common stock.
The dual class structure of our common stock and the option of the holder of shares of our Class B common stock to convert into shares of our Class A common stock may limit your ability to influence corporate matters.
Our Class A common stock, which is the stock we are offering in this initial public offering, has one vote per share, while our Class B common stock is non-voting. Nonetheless, each share of our Class B common stock may be converted at any time into one share of Class A common stock at the option of its holder, subject to the limitations provided for in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to become effective upon the closing of this offering. Consequently, if holders of Class B common stock following this offering exercise their option to make this conversion, this will have the effect of increasing the relative voting power of those prior holders of our Class B common stock, and correspondingly decrease the voting power of the current holders of our Class A common stock, which may limit your ability to influence corporate matters. Because our Class B common stock is generally non-voting, stockholders who own more than 10% of our common stock overall but 10% or less of our Class A common stock will not be required to report changes in their ownership from transactions in our Class B common stock pursuant to Section 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and would not be subject to the short-swing profit provisions of Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act. In addition, acquisitions of Class B common stock would not be subject to notification pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended.
An active trading market for our Class A common stock may not develop.
Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our Class A common stock. The initial public offering price for our Class A common stock will be determined through negotiations with the underwriters. Although we have applied to list our Class A common stock on The Nasdaq Global Market, an active trading market for our shares may never develop or be sustained following this offering. If an active market for our Class A common stock does not develop, it may be difficult for you to sell shares you purchase in this offering without depressing the market price for the shares or at all.
Because our management will have flexibility in allocating the net proceeds from this offering, you may not agree with how we use them and the proceeds may not be invested successfully.
We intend to use the net proceeds to us from this offering to fund preclinical and clinical development activities, further development of our discovery platform, discover new product candidates, hire additional personnel, make capital expenditures, pay costs of operating as a public company and fund other general purposes. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to in-license, acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies, products or assets. However, we have no current commitments or obligations to do so. Therefore, our management will have flexibility in allocating the net proceeds from this offering. Accordingly, you will be relying on the judgment of our management with regard to the allocation of these net proceeds, and you will not have the opportunity, as part of your investment decision, to assess whether the proceeds are being allocated appropriately. It is possible that the proceeds will be invested in a way that does not yield a favorable, or any, return for our company.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our company, or if they issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding our stock, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our Class A common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. We do not currently have and
may never obtain research coverage by securities and industry analysts. If no or few securities or industry analysts commence coverage of our company, the trading price for our Class A common stock would be negatively impacted. In the event we obtain securities or industry analyst coverage, if any of the analysts who cover us issue an adverse or misleading opinion regarding us, our business model, our intellectual property rights or our Class A common stock performance, or if our target studies and operating results fail to meet the expectations of the analysts, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.
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 the beneficial ownership of our capital stock as of March 31, 2019, after this offering, our executive officers and directors, together with holders of 5% or more of our capital stock before this offering and their respective affiliates, will beneficially own approximately % of our Class A and Class B common stock on an as-converted basis and % of our Class A common stock immediately prior to the closing of this offering. As a result, these stockholders, if acting together, will continue to have significant influence over the outcome of corporate actions requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors, any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets and any other significant corporate transaction. In addition, pursuant to a nominating agreement between us and Baker Brothers Life Sciences L.P. and 667, L.P., or together, Baker Brothers, following the closing of this offering and so long as Baker Brothers together with its affiliates beneficially owns at least 20,000,000 shares of our common stock, we will have the obligation to support the nomination of, and to cause our board of directors to include in the slate of nominees recommended to our stockholders for election, two individuals designated by Baker Brothers, each a Baker Designee, subject to customary conditions and exceptions, as well as the obligation to invite two board of directors observer designees of Baker Brothers to attend all meetings of our board of directors and all meetings of the committees of our board of directors as a nonvoting observer, if there is no Baker Designee on our board of directors, subject to customary conditions and exceptions. For more information regarding this agreement, see the section titled "Certain Relationships and Related Person TransactionsBaker Brothers Nominating Agreement." Baker Brothers and its affiliates may therefore have influence over management and control over matters requiring stockholder approval, including the annual election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or its assets, following the closing of this offering and for the foreseeable future.
The interests of these stockholders may not be the same as, and may even conflict with, your interests. For example, these stockholders could delay or prevent a change of control of our company, even if such a change of control would benefit our other stockholders, which could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their Class A common stock as part of a sale of our company or our assets and might affect the prevailing market price of our Class A common stock. The significant concentration of stock ownership may adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock due to investors' perception that conflicts of interest may exist or arise.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our Class A or Class B common stock by our existing stockholders in the public market could cause our stock price to fall.
If our existing stockholders sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our Class A 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 Class A common stock could decline.
Based on 12,719,411 shares of Class A common stock and no shares of Class B common stock outstanding at December 31, 2018, and after giving effect to the conversion of our outstanding Series A, Series B, Series C1 and Series C2 convertible preferred stock, immediately upon the closing of this offering we will have outstanding a total of 92,981,977 shares of Class A common stock and 23,605,150 shares of Class B common stock, assuming exercise of a warrant to purchase 377,620 shares of Class A common stock. Of these shares, only the shares of Class A 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.
We expect that the lock-up agreements pertaining to this offering will expire after 180 days from the date of this prospectus. Cowen and Company, LLC, Evercore Group L.L.C. and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, however, may, in their sole discretion, permit our officers, directors and other stockholders who are subject to these lock-up agreements to sell shares prior to the expiration of the lock-up agreements. In addition, shares of Class A common stock that are either subject to outstanding options or reserved for future issuance under our 2019 Plan, will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, the lock-up agreements and Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. If these additional shares of Class A common stock are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline.
After this offering, the holders of 103,490,096 shares of our Class A common stock (including Class A common stock issuable upon conversion of Class B common stock) at December 31, 2018 will be entitled to rights with respect to the registration of their shares under the Securities Act, subject to the 180-day lock-up agreements described above. See "Description of Capital StockRegistration 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 Class A common stock.
Future sales and issuances of our Class A or Class B common stock or rights to purchase Class A or Class B common stock, including pursuant to our 2019 Plan, could result in additional dilution of the percentage ownership of our stockholders and could cause our stock price to fall.
We expect that significant additional capital may be needed in the future to continue our planned operations, including further development of our discovery platform, preparing IND filings, conducting clinical trials, commercialization efforts, expanded research and development activities and costs associated with operating a public company. To raise capital, we may sell Class A or Class B common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities in one or more transactions at prices and in a manner we determine from time to time. If we sell Class A or Class B common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities, investors may be materially diluted by subsequent sales. Such sales may also result in material dilution to our existing stockholders, and new investors could gain rights, preferences and privileges senior to the holders of our Class A common stock, including shares of Class A common stock sold in this offering.
Pursuant to our 2019 Plan, our management is authorized to grant stock options to our employees, directors and consultants. Initially, the aggregate number of shares of our Class A common stock that may be issued pursuant to stock awards under our 2019 Plan is shares. Additionally, the number of shares of our Class A common stock reserved for issuance under our 2019 Plan will automatically increase on January 1 of each year, beginning on January 1, 2020 and
continuing through and including January 1, 2030, by % of the total number of shares of our capital stock outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year, or a lesser number of shares determined by our board of directors. Unless our board of directors elects not to increase the number of shares available for future grant each year, our stockholders may experience additional dilution, which could cause our stock price to fall.
We are an "emerging growth company" and our election of reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our Class A common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an "emerging growth company" as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this prospectus and our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. In addition, as an emerging growth company, we are only required to provide two years of audited financial statements and two years of selected financial data in this prospectus. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years following the completion of this offering, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier, including if we are deemed to be a "large accelerated filer," which occurs when the market value of our Class A common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30, or if we have total annual gross revenue of $1.07 billion or more during any fiscal year before that time, in which cases we would no longer be an emerging growth company as of the following December 31, or if we issue more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during any three-year period before that time, in which case we would no longer be an emerging growth company immediately. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we could still qualify as a "smaller reporting company," which would allow us to take advantage of many of the same exemptions from disclosure requirements including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 and reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in this prospectus and our periodic reports and proxy statements. We cannot predict if investors will find our Class A common stock less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our Class A common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our Class A common stock and our share price may be more volatile.
Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have elected to avail ourselves of an exemption that allows us to delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. As a result, we will not be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that comply with the public company effective dates, including but not limited to the new lease accounting standard. We have also elected to take advantage of certain of the 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 of these elections, the information that we provide to our stockholders may be different than you might receive from other public reporting companies. However, if we later decide to opt out of the extended period for adopting new accounting standards, we would need to disclose such decision and it would be irrevocable.
We will incur 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 and corporate governance practices.
As a public company, and particularly after we are no longer an emerging growth company, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of The Nasdaq Global Market and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on public companies, including establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and corporate governance practices. Our management and other personnel will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, we expect that these rules and regulations may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, which in turn could make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors. However, these rules and regulations are often subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices.
Our ability to use net operating losses, or NOLs, to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
In general, under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, a corporation that undergoes an "ownership change" is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change NOL or tax credits, or credits, to offset future taxable income. Our existing NOLs or credits may be subject to substantial limitations arising from previous ownership changes, and if we undergo an ownership change our ability to utilize NOLs or credits could be further limited by Section 382 of the Code. In addition, future changes in our stock ownership, many of which are outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. Our NOLs or credits may also be impaired under state law. Accordingly, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of our NOLs or credits. Furthermore, our ability to utilize our NOLs or credits is conditioned upon our attaining profitability and generating U.S. federal and state taxable income. As described above under "Risks Related to Business," we have incurred significant net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future; thus, we do not know whether or when we will generate the U.S. federal or state taxable income necessary to utilize our NOLs or credits.
We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If our remediation of the material weakness is not effective, or if we experience additional material weaknesses in the future 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, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our Class A common stock.
Prior to this offering, we have been a private company with limited accounting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal control over financial reporting. In connection with our preparation and the audits of our financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, we and our auditor identified a material weakness as defined under the Exchange Act and by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) in our internal control over financial reporting. The material weakness related to a lack of application-based
controls inherent in our enterprise resource planning, or ERP, system used for maintaining our financial books and records. 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 our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
We are implementing measures designed to improve our internal control over financial reporting to remediate this material weakness. We have implemented a new ERP system that is our system of record for our financial books and records from January 1, 2019 forward. This new ERP system has application-based controls inherent in its design that provide an internal control infrastructure for financial reporting and for our internal control procedures. With the oversight of senior management and our audit committee, we have begun taking steps to remediate the underlying causes of the material weakness. However, the implementation of these measures may not fully address this material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, and we may not be able to conclude that it has been fully remedied. Our failure to correct this material weakness or our failure to discover and address any other control deficiencies could result in inaccuracies in our financial statements and could also impair our ability to comply with applicable financial reporting requirements and make related regulatory filings on a timely basis. As a result, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, as well as the trading price and listing of our shares, may be materially and adversely affected. We cannot assure you that all of our existing material weaknesses have been identified, or that we will not in the future identify additional material weaknesses.
We and our auditor were not required to perform an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Accordingly, we cannot provide assurance that we have identified all, or that we will not in the future have additional, material weaknesses. Material weaknesses may still exist when we report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as required by reporting requirements under Section 404 after the completion of this offering.
If we fail to remediate the material weakness identified above, our management may conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective. This conclusion could adversely impact the market price of our shares due to a loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our reporting processes. Furthermore, if we fail to establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, our operating results and our ability to operate our business could be harmed.
Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be your sole source of gain.
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all of our future earnings, if any, to finance the growth and development of our business. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, of our Class A common stock will be your sole source of gain for the foreseeable future.
We may incur significant costs from class action litigation due to our expected stock volatility.
Our stock price may fluctuate for many reasons, including as a result of public announcements regarding the progress of our development efforts for our discovery platform and our product candidates, the development efforts of future partners or competitors, the addition or departure of our key personnel, variations in our quarterly operating results and changes in market valuations of biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This risk is especially relevant to us because
biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years. When the market price of a stock has been volatile as our stock price may be, holders of that stock have occasionally brought securities class action litigation against the company that issued the stock. If any of our stockholders were to bring a lawsuit of this type against us, even if the lawsuit is without merit, we could incur substantial costs defending the lawsuit. The lawsuit could also divert the time and attention of our management.
Anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of our company, which may be beneficial to our stockholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.
Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws may delay or prevent an acquisition of our company or a change in our management. In addition, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors. Because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions could in turn affect any attempt by our stockholders to replace current members of our management team. These provisions include:
Moreover, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, as amended, which prohibits a person who owns in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock from merging or combining with us for a period of three years after the date of the transaction in which the person acquired in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock, unless the merger or combination is approved in a prescribed manner. These provisions would apply even if the proposed merger or acquisition could be considered beneficial by some stockholders.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws designate the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders' ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws provide that, subject to limited exceptions, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders, any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, as amended, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws, any action to interpret, apply,
enforce or determine the validity of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or any other action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine.
Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws described above. These choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder's ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or bylaws inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
This prospectus contains forward-looking statements about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this prospectus, including statements regarding our future results of operations or financial condition, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as "anticipate," "believe," "contemplate," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "plan," "potential," "predict," "project," "should," "target," "will" or "would" or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following:
You should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and operating results. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors described in the section titled "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this prospectus. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on the forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus. The results, events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur, and actual results, events or circumstances could differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. You should read this prospectus and the documents that we reference in this prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, that we have filed with the SEC with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance and achievements may be materially different from what we expect.
In addition, statements that "we believe" and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based on information available to us as of the date of
this prospectus. While we believe that information provides a reasonable basis for these statements, that information may be limited or incomplete. Our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain, and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely on these statements.
The forward-looking statements made in this prospectus relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this prospectus to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this prospectus or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
This prospectus contains estimates, statistical data and other information concerning our industry and the market in which we operate, including market opportunity and market size, that is based on information on various publicly available sources, including data regarding the estimated size and patient populations of those and related markets, existing therapeutic options and the incidence of certain medical conditions. This industry and market information involves a number of assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to such estimates.
Industry data and other third-party information have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but we have not independently verified any third party information. In addition, projections, assumptions and estimates of our future performance and the future performance of the industry in which we operate is necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in the section titled "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this prospectus. These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by third parties and by us.
We estimate that we will receive net proceeds from this initial public offering of approximately $ million (or approximately $ million if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares of our Class A common stock in full) based on an assumed initial public offering price of $ per share, the midpoint of the estimated 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.
A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $ per share would increase (decrease) 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 estimated underwriting discounts and commissions. Similarly, each increase (decrease) of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares of Class A common stock offered by us would increase (decrease) the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $ million, assuming the assumed initial public offering price of $ per share remains the same, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions.
We currently expect to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with our existing cash and cash equivalents, as follows:
We may also use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to in-license, acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies, products or assets. However, we have no current commitments or obligations to do so.
This expected use of net proceeds from this offering represents our intentions based upon our current plans and business conditions. As of the date of this prospectus, we cannot predict with certainty all of the particular uses for the net proceeds to be received upon the closing of this offering or the amounts that we will actually spend on the uses set forth above. We will have broad discretion over how to use the net proceeds to us from this offering. Pending our use of the net proceeds from this offering as described above, we intend to invest these funds in investment-grade, interest-bearing instruments.
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination regarding the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant. Our future ability to pay cash dividends on our capital stock may also be limited by the terms of any future debt or preferred securities or future credit facility.
The following table sets forth our cash and cash equivalents and our capitalization as of December 31, 2018 as follows:
The pro forma and pro forma as adjusted information below is illustrative only, and our capitalization following the completion of this offering will be adjusted based on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. You should read this information in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in this prospectus and the "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" section and other financial information contained in this prospectus.
||December 31, 2018|
||Actual||Pro Forma||Pro Forma
||(in thousands, except share and per share data)
Cash and cash equivalents
Preferred stock warrant liability
Capital lease obligations
Convertible Series A preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share, Convertible Series B preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share and Convertible Series C1 preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share; 104,326,585 shares authorized; 79,884,946 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Convertible Series C2 preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share; 23,605,150 shares authorized; 23,605,150 shares issued and outstanding, actual; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Stockholders' equity (deficit):
Preferred stock, $0.0001 par value per share: no shares authorized, issued or outstanding, actual; and shares authorized and no shares issued or outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as adjusted
Class A common stock, $0.0001 par value per share; 191,398,492 shares authorized, 12,719,411 shares issued and outstanding, actual; shares authorized; pro forma and pro forma as adjusted; shares issued and outstanding, pro forma; shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted
Class B common stock, $0.0001 par value per share; 23,605,150 shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding, actual; 23,605,150 shares authorized; pro forma and pro forma as adjusted; 23,605,150 shares issued and outstanding, pro forma; shares issued and outstanding, pro forma as adjusted
Additional paid-in capital
Accumulated other comprehensive loss
Total stockholders' equity (deficit)
remains the same, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
The number of shares in the table above excludes:
If you invest in our Class A common stock in this offering, your ownership interest will be immediately diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our Class A common stock after this offering.
As of December 31, 2018, we had a historical net tangible book deficit of $93 million, or $7.31 per share. Our historical net tangible book deficit per share represents total tangible assets less total liabilities, divided by the number of shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock outstanding as of December 31, 2018.
As of December 31, 2018, our pro forma net tangible book value was approximately $116.6 million, or $1.00 per share after giving effect to the conversion of all of our outstanding preferred stock into shares of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock, the exercise of one warrant to purchase 377,620 shares of our Class A stock and the filing and effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, each of which will occur upon the closing of this offering.
After giving further effect to the sale of shares of Class A 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 the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of December 31, 2018 would have been approximately $ million, or approximately $ per share. This amount represents an immediate increase in pro forma net tangible book value of $ per share to our existing stockholders and an immediate dilution in pro forma net tangible book value of approximately $ per share to new investors purchasing shares of Class A common stock in this offering.
Dilution per share to new investors is determined by subtracting pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering from the initial public offering price per share paid by new investors. The following table illustrates this dilution (without giving effect to any exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase additional shares):
Assumed initial public offering price per share
Historical net tangible book value (deficit) per share as of December 31, 2018
Pro forma increase in historical net tangible book value per share attributable to the pro forma transactions described in the preceding paragraphs
Pro forma net tangible book value per share as of December 31, 2018
Increase in pro forma net tangible book value per share attributable to this offering
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering
Dilution per share to new investors in this offering
Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $ per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering by
approximately $ , and dilution in pro forma net tangible book value per share to new investors by approximately $ , assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and the estimated offering expenses payable by us. Each increase (decrease) of 1.0 million shares in the number of shares offered by us would increase (decrease) our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering by approximately $ per share and decrease (increase) the dilution to investors participating in this offering by approximately $ per share, assuming that the assumed initial public offering price remains the same, and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and the estimated offering expenses payable by us.
If the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares of our Class A common stock in full, the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value after the offering would be $ per share, the increase in pro forma net tangible book value per share to existing stockholders would be $ per share and the dilution per share to new investors would be $ per share, in each case assuming an initial public offering price of $ per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus.
The following table summarizes on the pro forma as adjusted basis described above, as of December 31, 2018, the differences between the number of shares purchased from us, the total consideration paid to us in cash and the average price per share paid by existing stockholders for shares issued prior to this offering and the price to be paid by new investors in this offering. The calculation below is based on the assumed initial public offering price of $ per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of the prospectus, before deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
||Shares Purchased||Total Consideration||Average Price
The foregoing tables and calculations exclude:
To the extent any other outstanding options or warrants are exercised, there will be further dilution to new investors. If all of such outstanding options and warrants had been exercised as of December 31, 2018, the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering would be $ , and total dilution per share to new investors would be $ .
If the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares of our Class A common stock in full:
The following selected consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 have been derived 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 the consolidated financial data set forth below in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes and the information in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" contained elsewhere in this prospectus.
||Year Ended December 31,|
||(in thousands, except share
and per share data)
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:
Research and development
General and administrative
Total operating expenses
Interest and other income (expense)
Preferred stock warrant liability revaluation
Gain (loss) on disposal of property and equipment
Loss before income tax benefit (expense)
Benefit (expense) from income taxes
Net loss per sharebasic and diluted
Weighted average shares used to compute net loss per sharebasic and diluted
Pro forma net loss per sharebasic and diluted (unaudited)(1)
Weighted average shares used to compute pro forma net loss per sharebasic and diluted (unaudited)(1)
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
Cash, cash equivalents and investments
Preferred stock warrant liability
Total stockholders' deficit
You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations together with our financial statements and related notes and other financial information included elsewhere in this prospectus. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this prospectus, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business, includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. See "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and "Risk Factors" for a discussion of forward-looking statements and important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements.
We are a biopharmaceutical company utilizing our differentiated platform to discover and develop novel antibody-based immunotherapeutics to treat a range of solid tumor types. While more traditional oncology drug discovery approaches attempt to generate antibodies against known targets, our approach relies on the human immune system to direct us to unique antibody-target pairs from patients experiencing a clinically meaningful, active immune response against their tumors. We have utilized our drug discovery approach to identify over 1,400 distinct human antibodies that bind preferentially to tumor tissue from patients who are not the source of the antibody. Our lead product candidate, ATRC-101, is a monoclonal antibody with a novel mechanism of action and target derived from an antibody identified using our discovery platform. ATRC-101 reacts in vitro with a majority of human ovarian, non-small cell lung, colorectal and breast cancer samples from multiple patients. It has demonstrated robust anti-tumor activity as a single agent in multiple preclinical models, including one model in which PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors typically display limited activity. We anticipate filing an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application for ATRC-101 in late 2019 and initiating a Phase 1b clinical trial in patients with solid tumors in early 2020.
Since commencing operations in 2010, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to research and development, raising capital, building our management team and building our intellectual property portfolio. We do not have any products approved for marketing or sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. We have funded our operations to date primarily from the sale of convertible preferred stock. We have also received more than $15 million in payments to date under our agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
We have incurred significant operating losses since our inception. Our ability to generate product revenue sufficient to achieve or sustain profitability will depend on the successful development, regulatory approval and eventual commercialization of one or more of our current or future product candidates. Our net losses were $27.5 million and $37.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, respectively. As of December 31, 2018, we had an accumulated deficit of $96.6 million. We anticipate that a substantial portion of our capital resources and efforts in the foreseeable future will be focused on discovering, completing the necessary development, obtaining regulatory approval for and preparing for potential commercialization of our product candidates. As of December 31, 2018, we had cash and cash equivalents of $114.5 million.
We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from period to period, depending on the
timing of our planned preclinical studies and clinical trials and expenditures on other research and development activities. We expect our expenses will increase substantially over time as we:
Furthermore, following the closing of this offering, we expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company, including significant legal, accounting, insurance, investor relations and other expenses that we have not incurred as a private company.
Financial Operations Overview
We have no products approved for marketing or commercial sale and have never generated any revenue from product sales.
Research and Development
Research and development expenses represent costs incurred in performing research, development and manufacturing activities in support of our own product development efforts and those of our collaborators, including intellectual property legal expenses, salaries, employee benefits and stock-based compensation for personnel contributing to research and development activities, laboratory supplies, outsourced research and development expenses, professional services and allocated facilities-related costs. We expense both internal and external research and development expenses as they are incurred. We do not currently allocate our costs by research and development program, as our research and development expenses include internal costs and external costs, neither of which are tracked by program. In particular, with respect to internal costs, several of our departments support multiple research and development programs. Non-refundable advance payments for services that will be used in or rendered for future research and development activities are recorded as prepaid expenses and recognized as expenses as the related services are performed.
We expect our research and development expenses to increase substantially for the foreseeable future as we continue to invest in our differentiated discovery platform to expand our pipeline of product candidates, advance our product candidates into and through preclinical studies and clinical trials and pursue regulatory approval of our product candidates. The processes of generating clinical candidates from our discovery platform and conducting the necessary preclinical and clinical research to obtain regulatory approval for those candidates is costly and time-consuming. Clinical trials generally become larger and more costly as they advance into later stages. The actual probability of success for our product candidates may be affected by a variety of factors, such as the safety and efficacy of our product candidates, early clinical data, investment in our clinical programs, competition, manufacturing capability and commercial viability. We may never succeed in obtaining
regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. As a result of the uncertainties discussed above and elsewhere in the prospectus, we are unable to determine the duration and completion costs of our research and development activities or when and to what extent we will generate revenue from the commercialization and sale of our product candidates.
General and Administrative
Our general and administrative expenses consist primarily of personnel costs, allocated facilities costs and other expenses for outside professional services, including legal, human resource, audit and accounting services.
Personnel costs consist of salaries, benefits and stock-based compensation for personnel not directly contributing to research and development activities. We expect to incur additional expenses as a result of operating as a public company, including expenses related to compliance with the rules and regulations of the SEC, The Nasdaq Global Market and any other securities exchange on which our securities are traded, additional insurance expenses, investor relations activities and other administrative and professional services. We also expect to increase the size of our administrative function to support the growth of our business.
Interest and Other Income (Expense)
Other income (expense) includes other income which represents amounts received from partners for research and discovery services, interest income earned on our cash, cash equivalents and investments, interest expense, revaluation expense resulting from the liability recorded for certain preferred stock warrants and gains or losses on the periodic disposals of property and equipment.
Results of Operations
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2017 and 2018
Research and development
General and administrative
Total operating expenses
Other income (expense), net:
Preferred stock warrant liability revaluation
Gain (loss) on disposal of property and equipment
Total other income (expense), net
Income tax benefit (expense)
Research and Development
The following table summarizes our research and development expenses incurred during the respective periods:
Research and development
Personnel related (including stock-based compensation)
Product and preclinical contract services
Laboratory supplies and equipment
Consulting, legal and other services
Total research and development expenses
Research and development expenses increased by $7.6 million, or 31%, during the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to higher personnel-related expenses of $2.7 million as a result of additional employee head count, a $2.2 million increase in product and preclinical development costs primarily associated with efforts to advance ATRC-101 towards an IND application in late 2019 and a $1.6 million increase in consulting, legal and other services costs primarily due to increasing legal costs as we work to expand our intellectual property estate around both our differentiated discovery platform and ATRC-101. Substantially all of our research and development expenses during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 related to improving our discovery platform, including our Immune Repertoire Capture® technology, continuing sponsorship of our non-interventional clinical studies to collect blood-based samples and internal and external preclinical development costs associated with ATRC-101, although to date we generally have not allocated research and development expenses to specific projects or research programs.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses increased by $2.5 million, or 55%, during the year ended December 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. The increase was primarily due to a $1.9 million increase in personnel-related expenses, including stock-based compensation, as a result of additional employee head count, as well as due to increases in facilities and legal expenses.
Other income is comprised of amounts earned from research and discovery services provided to partners and collaborators under service agreements. Other income decreased by $758,000 during the year ended December 31, 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017 due largely to reductions in the level of services being provided to external partners as a result of redirecting resources to internal programs, including ATRC-101.
Interest income increased to $714,000 during the year ended December 31, 2018 as compared to $152,000 during the year ended December 31, 2017 due to increased interest earned on our cash and cash equivalents balances which were significantly higher in 2018 as compared to 2017.
Interest expense during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 pertained to the interest portion of payments made on capital leases under which we acquired certain property and equipment.
Preferred Stock Warrant Liability Revaluation
Preferred stock warrant liability revaluation recognizes changes in the fair value of the preferred stock warrants. We recognized an expense of $33,000 during the year ended December 31, 2018 primarily as a result of an increase in the estimated fair market value of our company during that period.
Liquidity and Capital Resources; Plan of Operations
Due to our significant research and development expenditures, we have generated significant operating losses since inception. We have funded our operations primarily through the sale of convertible preferred stock. We have also received more than $15 million under our agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to date. In September 2018, we issued and sold 53,648,060 shares of Series C convertible preferred stock for gross proceeds of approximately $125 million. In August 2017, we issued and sold 18,008,749 shares of Series B Convertible preferred stock for gross proceeds of approximately $35.0 million. As of December 31, 2018, we had available cash and cash equivalents of $114.5 million and an accumulated deficit of $96.6 million.
Our primary uses of cash are to fund operating expenses, which consist primarily of funding our research, preclinical and clinical development activities, and related personnel and facilities costs. The timing and amount of future funding requirements depends on many factors, including the following:
Based on our current business plans, we believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents, will be sufficient to fund our planned operations for at least 12 months from the date of this
prospectus. Including the net proceeds from this offering, we believe we will have sufficient resources to fund our planned operations through . However, we will require additional funding to complete development of our product candidates and commercialize our products, if approved.
We may seek to raise any necessary additional capital through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements and other marketing and distribution arrangements. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in acquiring additional funding at levels sufficient to fund our operations or on terms favorable to us. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing when needed, we may have to delay, reduce the scope of or suspend one or more of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, research and development programs or commercialization efforts. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the development and commercialization of our product candidates and the extent to which we may enter into collaborations with third parties to participate in their development and commercialization, we are unable to estimate the amounts of increased capital outlays and operating expenditures associated with our current and anticipated preclinical studies and clinical trials. To the extent that we raise additional capital through collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our product candidates, future revenue streams or research programs or to grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we raise additional capital through public or private equity or convertible debt offerings, the ownership interest of our existing stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders' rights. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we may be subject to covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
The following table summarizes our cash flows for the periods indicated:
Cash used in operating activities
Cash (used in) provided by investing activities
Cash provided by financing activities
Net increase in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash
Cash Flows from Operating Activities
For the year ended December 31, 2018, cash used in operating activities was $34.7 million, which consisted of a net loss of $37.9 million, partially offset by $2.9 million in non-cash charges and a net change of $378,000 in our net operating assets and liabilities. The non-cash charges primarily consisted of stock-based compensation of $1.4 million and depreciation and amortization of $1.4 million. The change in operating assets and liabilities was primarily due to the net effect of an increase in payables and accruals of $1.8 million and an increase in prepaid expenses and other current assets of $1.4 million resulting from the timing of payments made for research and development activities.
For the year ended December 31, 2017, cash used in operating activities was $25.1 million, which consisted of a net loss of $27.5 million, partially offset by $1.6 million in non-cash charges and a net change of $871,000 in our net operating assets and liabilities. The non-cash charges consisted of depreciation and amortization of $1.2 million and stock-based compensation of $409,000. The change in operating assets and liabilities was primarily due to a decrease in prepaid expenses and other current assets of $596,000 resulting from the timing of payments from service agreements.
Cash Flows from Investing Activities
For the year ended December 31, 2018, cash provided by investing activities of $20.7 million, which was primarily attributable to maturities of investments totaling $22.4 million, partially offset by investments in property and equipment of $1.8 million.
For the year ended December 31, 2017, cash used in investing activities of $9.0 million, which was primarily related to $7.6 million in net purchases of investments along with $1.4 million of investments in property and equipment.
Cash Flows from Financing Activities
For the year ended December 31, 2018, cash provided by financing activities of $120.3 million, which related primarily to $125.0 million in cash proceeds received from the September 2018 issuance of our Series C convertible preferred stock, net of $4.7 million of issuance costs.
For the year ended December 31, 2017, cash provided by financing activities of $34.3 million, which related primarily to $35.0 million in cash proceeds received from the August 2017 issuance of our Series B convertible preferred stock, net of $667,000 of issuance costs.
Contractual Obligations and Other Commitments
The following table summarizes our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2018:
||Payments Due by Period|
|1 to 3 Years||4 to 5 Years||More than
Operating lease obligations
Capital lease obligations
Total contractual obligations
The operating lease obligations noted above represent operating lease obligations related to our currently occupied premises at 500 Saginaw Drive in Redwood City, California. These leases expire in the first half of 2020 and we are currently evaluating locations for a new corporate headquarters. In January 2019, we entered into a commercial lease agreement for an additional 33,000 square feet of office space in a separate facility. The lease term commenced on March 1, 2019 and expires 36 months from the commencement date. The initial base rent is approximately $181,000 per month and represents a total minimum rental commitment under the lease of approximately $6.7 million.
The capital lease obligations noted above represent certain property and equipment we acquired under capital leases. In 2017, we financed purchases of $226,000 in equipment under a capital lease agreement. Outstanding amounts under the capital lease agreements are generally secured by liens on the related property and equipment.
In addition, we enter into contracts in the normal course of business with contract research organizations for preclinical and clinical studies as well as with contract development manufacturing organizations for the manufacture of materials for those studies. These agreements generally provide for termination at the request of either party with less than one-year notice and are, therefore, cancelable contracts and not reflected in the table above.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
Since inception, we have not engaged in any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk
The primary objectives of our investment activities are to ensure liquidity and to preserve capital. We are exposed to market risks in the ordinary course of our business. These risks include interest rate sensitivities. We held cash, cash equivalents and investments of $30.6 million and $114.5 million as of December 31, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We generally hold our cash in interest-bearing money market accounts. Historical fluctuations in interest rates have not been significant for us. Due to the short-term maturities of our cash equivalents and the low risk profile of our investments, an immediate 100 basis point change in interest rates would not have a material effect on the fair market value of our cash equivalents.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our management's discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based on our financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, as well as the reported revenue generated, and reported expenses incurred during the reporting periods. Our estimates are based on our historical experience and on various other factors that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying value of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
While our significant accounting policies are described in the notes to our financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus, we believe that the following critical accounting policies are most important to understanding and evaluating our reported financial results.
Research and Development Expenses and Accrued Research and Development Costs
We expense research and development costs as incurred. Research and development expenses consist of personnel costs for our research and product development employees. Also included are non-personnel costs such as professional fees payable to third parties for preclinical studies, clinical trials and research services, laboratory supplies and equipment maintenance and depreciation, intellectual property licenses and other consulting costs.
We estimate preclinical studies, clinical trials and research expenses based on the services performed, pursuant to contracts with research institutions that conduct and manage preclinical studies, clinical trials and research services on our behalf. We estimate these expenses based on discussions with management and external service providers as to the progress or stage of completion of services and the contracted fees to be paid for such services. We record the estimated costs of research and development activities based upon the estimated amount services provided but not yet invoiced, and include these costs in development expenses. We accrue for
these costs based on factors such as estimates of the work completed and in accordance with agreements established with our third party service provides under the service agreements. We make significant judgments and estimates in determining the accrued liabilities balance in each reporting period. As actual costs become known, we adjust our accrued liabilities. We have not experienced any material differences between accrued costs and actual costs incurred. However, the status and timing of actual services performed may vary from our estimates, resulting in adjustments to expense in future periods. Changes in these estimates that result in material changes to our accruals could materially affect our results of operations. Payments associated with licensing agreements to acquire exclusive license to develop, use, manufacture and commercialize products that have not reached technological feasibility and do not have alternate future use are expensed as incurred.
Payments made to third parties under these arrangements in advance of the performance of the related services by the third parties are recorded as prepaid expenses until the services are rendered. We evaluate these payments for current or long-term classification based on when we expect to receive these services.
We maintain a stock-based compensation plan as a long-term incentive for employees, consultants and members of our board of directors. The plan allows for the issuance of non-statutory options, or NSOs, incentive stock options, restricted stock and restricted stock units to employees and NSOs to nonemployees.
Stock-based payments are measured using fair-value-based measurements and recognized as compensation expense over the service period in which the awards are expected to vest. Our fair-value-based measurements of awards to employees and directors as of the grant date utilize the single-option award-valuation approach, and we use the straight-line method for expense attribution. The valuation model used for calculating the estimated fair value of stock awards is the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. The Black-Scholes model requires us to make assumptions and judgments about the variables used in the calculations, including the expected term (weighted-average period of time that the options granted are expected to be outstanding), the expected volatility of our common stock, the related risk-free interest rate and the expected dividend. We have elected to recognize forfeitures of stock-based payment awards as they occur.
For stock-based awards issued to non-employees, we record expense related to stock options based on the fair value of the options calculated using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model over the service performance period.
The Black-Scholes option-pricing model requires the use of highly subjective assumptions which determine the fair value of stock-based awards. These assumptions include:
Fair Value of Common Stock
Historically, for all periods prior to this initial public offering, the fair values of the shares of common stock underlying our stock-based awards were determined on each grant date by our board of directors. Given the absence of a public trading market for our common stock, our board of directors exercised reasonable judgment and considered a number of objective and subjective factors to determine the best estimate of the fair value of our common stock, including our stage of development; our actual operating results and financial performance; progress of our research and development efforts; conditions in the industry and economy in general; the rights, preferences and privileges of our convertible preferred stock relative to those of our common stock; the likelihood of achieving a liquidity event for the holders of our common stock, such as an initial public offering or a sale of our company, given prevailing market conditions; equity market conditions affecting comparable public companies; the lack of marketability of our common stock and the results of independent third party valuations. Valuations of our common stock were prepared by an unrelated third party valuation firm in accordance with the guidance provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants 2013 Practice Aid, Valuation of Privately-Held-Company Equity Securities Issued as Compensation.
For our valuations performed prior to August 31, 2018, we used the Option Pricing Model Backsolve method to estimate the fair value of our common stock. In an option pricing method, or OPM, framework, the backsolve method for inferring the equity value implied by a recent financing transaction involves making assumptions for the expected time to liquidity, volatility and risk-free rate and then solving for the value of equity such that value for the most recent financing equals the amount paid. Furthermore, as of each of the valuation dates prior to August 31, 2018, we were at an early stage of development and future liquidity events were difficult to forecast. We applied a discount for lack of marketability to account for a lack of access to an active public market.
For valuations on or after August 31, 2018, we utilized a hybrid approach that primarily relies on the probability-weighted expected return method, or PWERM, an accepted valuation method under the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Practice Guide, for determining the fair value of our common stock. The PWERM is a scenario-based analysis that estimates the value per share of common stock based on the probability-weighted present value of expected future equity values for the common stock, under various possible future liquidity event scenarios, in light of the rights and preferences of each class of stock, discounted for a lack of marketability. Under our hybrid approach, the Option Pricing Model Backsolve approach was utilized to determine the fair value of our common stock in certain of the scenarios used in the PWERM approach.
After the closing of this offering, our board of directors will determine the fair value of each share of underlying common stock based on the closing price as reported on the date of grant on the primary stock exchange on which our common stock is traded.
The intrinsic value of all outstanding options as of March 31, 2019 was $ million based on $ per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
See Note 2 to our audited financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus for more information.
Internal Control over Financial Reporting
In connection with the audit of our financial statements, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. The material weakness related to a lack of application-based controls inherent in our enterprise resource planning, or ERP, system used for maintaining our financial books and records. 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 our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. If we fail to establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, our operating results and our ability to operate our business could be harmed.
We are implementing measures designed to improve our internal control over financial reporting to remediate this material weakness. We have implemented a new ERP system that is our system of record for our financial books and records from January 1, 2019 forward. This new ERP system has strong application-based controls inherent in its design that provide a much stronger internal control infrastructure for financial reporting and for our internal control procedures. With the oversight of senior management and our audit committee, we have begun taking steps to remediate the underlying causes of the material weakness.
We and our independent registered public accounting firm were not required to perform an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Accordingly, we cannot provide assurance that we have identified all, or that we will not in the future have additional, material weaknesses. Material weaknesses may still exist when we report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as required by reporting requirements under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after the completion of this offering.
Emerging Growth Company Status
We are an emerging growth company, as defined in the JOBS Act. Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can delay adopting new or revised accounting standards issued subsequent to the enactment of the JOBS Act until such time as those standards apply to private companies.
We elected to use this extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards, including but not limited to the new lease accounting standard, that have different effective dates for public and private companies until the earlier of the date that we (i) are no longer an emerging growth company or (ii) affirmatively and irrevocably opt out of the extended transition period provided in the JOBS Act. As a result, these financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with the new or revised accounting pronouncements as of public company effective dates. We early adopted Accounting Standards Update 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606), and Accounting Standards Update 2018-07, Improvements to Nonemployee Share-Based Payment Accounting (Accounting Standards Codification Topic 718), as the JOBS Act does not preclude an emerging growth company from early adopting a new or revised accounting standard earlier than the time that such standard applies to private companies. We expect to use the extended transition period for any other new or revised accounting standards during the period in which we remain an emerging growth company.
We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (i) the last day of our first fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of this offering, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenues of at least $1.07 billion or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th and (ii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the prior three-year period.
We are a biopharmaceutical company utilizing our differentiated platform to discover and develop novel antibody-based immunotherapeutics to treat a range of solid tumor types. While more traditional oncology drug discovery approaches attempt to generate antibodies against known targets, our approach relies on the human immune system to direct us to unique antibody-target pairs from patients experiencing a clinically meaningful, active immune response against their tumors. We have utilized our drug discovery approach to identify over 1,400 distinct human antibodies that bind preferentially to tumor tissue from patients who are not the source of the antibody. Our lead product candidate, ATRC-101, is a monoclonal antibody with a novel mechanism of action and target derived from an antibody identified using our discovery platform. ATRC-101 reacts in vitro with a majority of human ovarian, non-small cell lung, colorectal and breast cancer samples from multiple patients. It has demonstrated robust anti-tumor activity as a single agent in multiple preclinical models, including one model in which PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors typically display limited activity. We anticipate filing an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application for ATRC-101 in late 2019 and initiating a Phase 1b clinical trial in patients with solid tumors in early 2020.
Our discovery process begins by gathering blood samples, mostly through company-sponsored non-interventional clinical studies, from patients before, during and after they undergo approved cancer treatment. Through this process, we have built a broad repository of over 1,200 samples from over 400 donors, representing over 25 different solid tumor types. We identify patients with clinically meaningful responses to therapy and examine their samples for rare antibody-producing B cells called plasmablasts that are elevated during an active immune response. We believe that these human immune responses, which often occur over an extended period of time, generate antibodies accessible with our platform that would be difficult to obtain through shorter term, non-human immunization or in vitro strategies.
If plasmablasts are elevated in a particular sample, we then employ a multi-step process to generate a potential product candidate. We start by isolating single plasmablasts and determining the sequences of the co-expressed antibody genes using our proprietary Immune Repertoire Capture® technology. We analyze these sequences to select antibodies, which we synthesize as recombinant proteins. We then test these antibodies to identify those that bind to tumor tissue from patients who are not the source of the antibody, referred to as non-autologous tumor tissue, preferentially over normal tissue. We then analyze these "hit" antibodies using a number of in vitro and in vivo assays, and often make structural changes to generate leads. A select number of these leads are refined further using protein engineering to enhance their drug-like properties as we identify and characterize their targets in parallel prior to initiating preclinical development and IND-enabling studies.
Key attributes of our discovery platform
We believe our open-aperture approach to drug discovery provides us access to an underexploited antibody and drug target space. Our approach may lead us to antibodies that are unlikely to have arisen via more traditional approaches with targets that otherwise may not have been discoverable. We believe our approach and discovery platform provide us with the ability to:
Our lead product candidate: ATRC-101
Our lead product candidate, ATRC-101, is a monoclonal antibody derived from an antibody identified using our discovery platform and having robust preclinical anti-tumor activity. ATRC-101 functions through a novel mechanism of action, which we refer to as Driver Antigen Engagement. Driver Antigen Engagement involves systemic delivery of an agent that causes extensive remodeling of the tumor microenvironment and the destruction of tumor cells via both the innate and adaptive immune systems. We believe that the mechanism of action and target of ATRC-101 are unlike those of other anti-tumor antibodies that have been or are currently in clinical development.
ATRC-101 represents only one of over 1,400 antibodies that we have identified to date through our discovery platform that may have potential to generate broad anti-tumor activity via a variety of mechanisms of action. We believe that we will be able to exploit our growing library of novel antibodies in order to develop product candidates with additional distinct and compelling mechanisms of action for tumor destruction. For example, we have identified antibodies that can be coupled to T cell-activating domains in a bispecific format to kill tumor cells; others that directly target tumor cells leading to immune cell-mediated killing; and others that internalize upon binding to tumor cells and therefore may be able to deliver coupled toxins. We intend to continue our drug discovery efforts to build out a proprietary pipeline.
Our management team and institutional investors
We are led by a highly experienced management team with deep scientific and technical expertise and broad experience in discovering, developing and commercializing antibody therapeutics in oncology. Members of our executive team have founded multiple biopharmaceutical companies and have experience in senior roles at leading oncology firms including Genentech, Merck, Amgen, Pfizer, MedImmune and ARMO Biosciences. The breadth of our team's experience includes leading informatics and computational biology teams at Genentech and Merck, running clinical trials for novel antibody constructs at Amgen and leading the launch and commercialization of multiple products at Relypsa and the BioOncology Business Unit at Genentech. Additionally, members of our team have served as faculty members, established new laboratories or led research initiatives at institutions including the University of California, Berkeley and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute.
Since our founding, we have raised a total of $219 million in equity financing primarily from leading institutional investors. See "Principal Stockholders".
Our goal is to become a leading biopharmaceutical company by utilizing our differentiated platform to discover and develop antibody-based therapeutics against novel targets. In pursuit of that strategy we intend to:
We believe that the following key attributes and assets will enable us to execute on our strategy and become a leading biopharmaceutical company:
Background on Cancer and Cancer Immunotherapeutics
Cancer is a broad group of diseases in which cells divide and grow in an uncontrolled fashion, often spreading and forming malignancies that invade other parts of the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States with more than 600,000 deaths annually. In 2018, there were an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed.
The most common methods of treating patients with cancer are surgery, radiation and drug therapy. Among cancer drug therapies, cancer immunotherapy, sometimes referred to broadly as immuno-oncology, is playing an increasingly important role. The goal of cancer immunotherapy is to direct a patient's own immune system to destroy tumor tissue. Though challenges remain, immuno-oncology products have enjoyed considerable commercial success, with the worldwide market for these drugs estimated to have been $30 billion in 2017.
The immune system
The immune system detects and defends the human body from invading pathogens and identifies and eliminates abnormal cells. It is comprised of two subsystems: the innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate immune system includes cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells and natural killer, or NK, cells. The adaptive immune system provides an evolving defense mechanism and includes B cells, which generate antibodies, and T cells, which are responsible for cell-mediated adaptive immunity.
Immune cells such as T cells, macrophages and NK cells can kill tumor cells directly. Other immune cells are involved in destroying tumor cells more indirectly, via shaping the immune response overall and by influencing and directing these killing cells. Signaling molecules, such as cytokines, which are made by many immune cells, play an important role in shaping immune responses, and some cells, such as dendritic cells and B cells, are involved in instructing T cells via cell-to-cell contacts. The antibodies made by B cells function by binding to the target or antigen they are generated against. Antibodies that bind to tumor cell targets play multiple roles in anti-tumor immune responses: to act as "signposts" for NK cells and macrophages to identify and kill tumor cells, to stimulate macrophages and dendritic cells and to enable them to instruct T cells how to
target and kill tumor cells. Various players involved in the adaptive immune system and the innate immune system are illustrated in the figure below:
Affinity maturation and plasmablasts generation. B cells evolve during an active immune response to produce antibodies that bind to their targets with increasing specificity and affinity. Antigens are the targets, or portions of targets, that induce an adaptive immune response. The process through which B cell antibodies become better at recognizing and binding to their antigens is called affinity maturation. Affinity maturation takes place in tissues called germinal centers, which are located in lymph nodes and elsewhere, often near tumors. B cells enter the germinal centers, where they encounter types of dendritic cells and T cells, termed "follicular", that present to them processed antigens, including tumor antigens. The antigen presentation provides signals to drive both division of the B cell and mutation in its antibody protein sequences. The better the binding by its antibody to antigen, the stronger the signal a B cell receives to divide and evolve its antibody sequences. Eventually, through rounds of this process driven by antigen binding, groups of B cells with evolved, related antibodies, or clonal families, are generated and released from the germinal centers as B cells called plasmablasts. These cells can be found in the blood, and elevated numbers
of plasmablasts indicate an active immune response. The affinity maturation process and plasmablast generation are illustrated in the figure below:
Affinity maturation is capable of evolving antibodies that can bind well to antigens of many different molecular types. It is thought that the immune system is capable of generating an antibody that can bind to virtually any antigen. Thus, plasmablasts and their antibodies may, in principle, provide a means to identify the targets of an active immune anti-tumor response.
Components of an antibody. An antibody belongs to one of five classes (IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE or IgD) and, for IgG or IgA, belong to a specific subclass, such as IgG1 and IgG2a. An antibody of the IgG class is a Y-shaped protein made of two copies each of two different protein chains, called the heavy chain and the light chain. The heavy chain and light chain each have variable sequences, tailored typically by affinity maturation, that differ substantially from antibody to antibody, as well as sequences that are nearly constant among IgG antibodies, differing slightly across IgG subclasses. The variable sequences of one heavy chain and one light chain together form a functional region called the variable, or Fv, region, and as a result, each IgG antibody has two Fv regions. The Fv region is the portion of an antibody that binds to its antigen. Because Fv regions are formed from variable sequences, they are typically different across antibodies. Another important functional region of an antibody is formed by the constant sequences of the two heavy chains together and is called the Fc region. The Fc region does not interact with antigens but rather interacts with components of the immune system, including immune system cells. It interacts with these cells through a family of receptors expressed by these cells called IgG Fc receptors, or FcRs. These interactions allow antibodies to generate signals in and to be used by immune cells. Different types of immune system cells typically express different subsets of FcRs. Due to sequence differences, Fc regions differ across species and need to be matched with species-specific FcRs for maximum potency. Fc regions also differ enough in sequence across IgG subclasses within a species to bind with different
potencies to different FcRs. The following is a visual representation of the components that make up an antibody:
Current immunotherapeutic approaches
First-generation immunotherapies included early cancer vaccines, immune stimulants such as interferon-a and interleukin-2, and other cytokine drugs. These early immunotherapies provided important validation of the immune system's potential to treat cancer but were hindered by significant limitations such as low response rates and side effects.
As the field of immuno-oncology has evolved, new cancer immunotherapy approaches have emerged, including cellular and immune cell-engaging therapies, immunomodulators, antigen-directed therapies and checkpoint inhibitors. These approaches have built upon advances in our understanding of immune system function and tumor biology to create sophisticated therapeutic interventions intended to promote and enhance the body's immune response to cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors in particular have shown promising therapeutic effect and have been incorporated into the current standard of care for many types of cancer. Despite this broad adoption, only a minority of patients demonstrate clinical benefit from checkpoint inhibition. For example, a meta-analysis of 12 published well-controlled trials of PD-1 or PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors found that 2.2% of patients achieved complete responses compared with 0.5% of control patients. Partial responses were seen in 18.9% of treated patients compared to 8.9% of control patients. These results are indicative of a significant treatment gap, representing a large, unmet need for the majority of cancer patients who fail to obtain clinical benefit from currently available therapeutics.
Challenges in cancer immunotherapy drug discovery and development
The development of cancer immunotherapies typically requires the identification of a therapeutic target and generation of a molecule, often an antibody, to interact with that target. Historically, this discovery of targets for cancer immunotherapies has been driven by genetic sequencing and proteomic analysis of tumors as well as by hypotheses regarding how the binding to particular targets by antibodies, among other approaches, might impact disease. Once a target has been established, drug developers generate a human or humanized antibody to engage that target. Today, human antibodies are generated in multiple organisms, including humanized rodents, and in multiple in vitro discovery systems.
We believe this process suffers from certain limitations, including:
Our Solution: The Atreca Drug Discovery Platform
We believe we may be able to address certain key limitations of the current immuno-oncology drug discovery paradigm by focusing on the common phenomenon driving clinical responses in cancer immunotherapyan active human anti-tumor immune response. Our platform allows us to interrogate an active B cell response within an individual cancer patient to identify novel and relevant antibody-target pairs, which may enable us to develop antibody-based product candidates to treat large populations of patients with solid tumors. The figure below illustrates the overall concept of our drug discovery approach:
We built our discovery platform to enable the pursuit of our open-aperture approach to drug discovery and development. The steps in our process are as follows:
For additional information on our drug discovery platform and approach please see the section titled "BusinessThe Atreca Discovery Platform".
Key Attributes of our Discovery Platform
We believe our approach and discovery platform provide us with the following competitive advantages:
Our leads are derived from antibodies made by the human immune system. The antibodies from which we derive our leads have been generated by fully human immune systems in a fully human biological context. This suggests, and our experience confirms, that our antibodies will generally express well as recombinant proteins. They also have been generated through a process of affinity maturation and therefore typically have good affinity and specificity. Our antibodies are generated in human immune responses typically over many months, which we believe allows us to discover antibodies that would be difficult to obtain through shorter term, non-human immunization or in vitro strategies.
Our platform delivers potentially useful antibodies at a high rate and in a scalable fashion. The high rate at which our platform delivers potentially useful hit antibodies allows us to use multiple strategies and formats for generating pipeline assets, and provides the potential for multiple collaborations. This productivity also allows us to focus on the most promising hits and leads. Our hit generation process is also scalable and can continue to be expanded cost-effectively.
We are accessing a potentially large and underexploited tumor target space. Based on our current data as well as our understanding of the immune response, we believe we are accessing a potentially large and underexploited tumor target space. The human immune system recognizes a vast target space, which includes targets generated by phenomena such as variation in usage of parts of genes (exons), attachment of sugars (glycosylation) and other non-protein molecules, molecular complex formation, protein folding, expression and localization. We believe our differentiated platform and approach provide us access to yet-to-be explored opportunities.
Our platform identifies antibody-target pairs. Our discovery platform identifies antibodies binding to particular targets selected by the human immune response that generated the antibodies.
This is differentiated from traditional antibody drug discovery approaches, which require the separate development of an antibody directed to a predetermined target. We believe that our approach may provide an expedited path for discovering novel candidates that are more relevant for treating tumors.
Our platform delivers candidates that direct the immune system to tumor. Our approach is distinct from other strategies that interrupt signaling pathways between immune cells and tumor cells, such as checkpoint inhibitors, as well as other strategies that interrupt growth promoting pathways, such as HER2 and EGFR. We believe that our candidates can direct immune responses against tumors via multiple strategies, with different antigen-target pairs having different utility depending upon the format used.
Our product candidates have the potential to treat large populations of patients across multiple tumor types. In contrast with personalized therapies, our platform delivers candidates that bind to tumor from multiple patients beyond the donor patient. Our data suggest that many of these shared tumor targets will be expressed in multiple solid tumor types, increasing the potential range and utility of our treatments.
We believe that the significant time and capital we have invested in developing, refining and applying our differentiated discovery platform have provided us first-mover advantages and created barriers to entry. For example, establishing our non-interventional clinical studies to obtain patient samples, enabling longitudinal analyses, required approximately 1 to 2 years. Our bioinformatics expertise in assembling and analyzing our antibodies was built over seven years of operations. Our hit antibody generation process has been enhanced to deliver hits at a high rate, has already generated over 1,400 hit antibodies and is supported by a growing intellectual property portfolio. Additionally, our investments of capital and time to build industrialized wet-lab and supporting bioinformatics capacity across our platform, including the time required to identify and hire very qualified personnel, were substantial.
Our Multiple Approaches for Drug Development
We classify potential leads based on mechanism of action, rather than by target. We are currently pursuing programs with distinct mechanisms of action, including:
|Mechanism of Action||Description||Current Status|
|Driver Antigen Engagement||Tumor target binding by antibody activates the innate and adaptive immune systems to modify the tumor microenvironment and destroy tumor||ATRC-101 preclinical data demonstrate this mechanism of action and we are working to identify other antibody-target pairs that are active via this mechanism of action|
|T Cell Engagers||"Bispecifics" link tumor-targeting domains to domains that bind to T cells, simultaneously activating and directing T cells to the tumor for cell killing via T cell-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (TDCC)||Approximately 6% of our hit antibody Fv regions test positive in a single bispecific format in TDCC assays (>375 hit antibodies analyzed)|
|Directed Killing||With antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) or antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP), antibodies direct innate immune cells to kill tumor upon binding to them||Approximately 17% of our hit antibodies test positive in ADCC or ADCC assays (>375 hit antibodies analyzed)|
|Toxin-Conjugates (ADCs)||Cellular toxins are conjugated to internalizing tumor-targeting antibodies to generate cytotoxicity||Approximately 2% of our hit antibodies test positive in internalization assays (>700 hit antibodies analyzed)|
Our Lead Candidate: ATRC-101 for the Treatment of Solid Tumors
|Candidate||Mechanism of Action||Stage of Development||Upcoming Milestones||Worldwide Rights|
|ATRC-101||Driver Antigen Engagement||IND-enabling studies||
IND submission in late 2019
Phase 1b initiation in patients with solid tumors in early 2020
ATRC-101 is a monoclonal antibody derived from an antibody identified using our discovery platform. We believe that ATRC-101 may have broad potential as an immunotherapeutic agent in a range of solid tumors. ATRC-101 reacts in vitro with a majority of human ovarian, non-small cell lung, colorectal and breast cancer samples from multiple patients. It has also demonstrated robust anti-tumor activity as a single agent in multiple preclinical syngeneic tumor models, including one model in which PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors typically display limited activity. ATRC-101 has also demonstrated preclinical activity in combination with other immunotherapeutics, including PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors. Both the mechanism of action of ATRC-101, which we refer to as Driver Antigen Engagement, and its target appear unlike those of other anti-tumor antibodies that have been or are currently in clinical development. In histology studies, we did not observe binding above background levels across a range of normal human tissues. Additionally, in repeat-dose safety studies in both mice and non-human primates, we did not observe a safety signal.
We anticipate filing an IND for ATRC-101 in late 2019 and launching a Phase 1b clinical trial in patients with solid tumors in early 2020. Assuming we observe an acceptable safety profile, we then anticipate dosing ATRC-101 in combination with a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. ATRC-101 demonstrates the ability of our platform to generate antibody candidates with novel targets and mechanisms of action.
Derivation of ATRC-101
ATRC-101 is the product candidate antibody that incorporates engineered versions of the Fv regions of an antibody found through our discovery platform by analyzing a sample from a lung adenocarcinoma patient who had benefited from immunotherapy. In order to generate ATRC-101, we made changes to the protein sequence of the antigen-binding Fv portion of the original patient antibody, and we grafted this modified Fv onto constant region sequences of the IgG1 subclass that have been used in other, successfully developed antibody drugs. We made these changes to the Fv portion to increase the antibody's drug-like qualities, such as stability and manufacturability, to reduce the risk of potential immunogenicity and to enhance its activity. The antibody we generated from these changes is our product candidate, ATRC-101.
ATRC-101P is a fully human antibody with the patient's original and non-engineered Fv sequences, which was used in certain preclinical studies. Also during preclinical work, versions of ATRC-101 and ATRC-101P were used in which mouse constant region sequences were substituted for human constant region sequences. We refer to these antibodies as mATRC-101 and mATRC-101P. This substitution did not change the function of the Fv region, but it permitted a better evaluation of ATRC-101 and ATRC-101P in preclinical studies. For example, we usually made this substitution for syngeneic mouse tumor model studies, to enable better interaction of the antibody with FcRs on mouse immune cells, and in histological analyses on human tissue, to reduce
background signal. The various versions of the antibody that were used in preclinical studies are illustrated below:
Human tumor reactivity
We have tested the ability of ATRC-101 (as mATRC-101) to bind to its target in a range of tumor types derived from many different patients. Within tumors, mATRC-101 binds predominantly to tumor cells and not stroma or immune cells. Additionally, we have not observed binding above background levels in a panel of 30 normal human tissues, as assessed by an independent pathologist. The following images illustrate, in tumor tissue and normal adjacent tissue, the reactivity of mATRC-101 (red reflects tissue reactivity) compared to negative control and to a standard H&E stain (i.e., showing the structure of the untreated tissue):
Profiling the reactivity of mATRC-101 has shown that the antibody recognizes a tumor target in non-autologus tumor tissue. mATRC-101 also reacts across multiple tumor types. Across a set of over 1,000 human tumor samples, mATRC-101 had moderate or greater reactivity (score of ³ 2 on a scale of 0-4 and with ³ 40% of tumor cells positive) to tumors in 72% of all ovarian cancer, 65% of all non-small cell lung cancer, 57% of all colorectal cancer, 57% of all breast cancer and 43% of
all melanoma. Reactivity was higher in particular subsets of these cancers; for example, over 80% of serous cystadenocarcinoma ovarian cancer tumors were reactive.
Activity in tumor models
ATRC-101 (as mATRC-101) has demonstrated potent anti-tumor activity in the EMT6 mouse model. In contrast, PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors have only modest efficacy in this model, which is considered a model of the "T cell-excluded" tumor phenotype in patients. In this syngeneic tumor model, in which mice possess fully intact and functional immune systems, cancer cells were injected and tumors were allowed to grow before the mice were dosed with mATRC-101. At a dose of 10 mg/kg twice per week, tumor growth was completely suppressed and the tumors eliminated, with a significant effect on survival at a dose of 5 mg/kg twice per week compared to control (phosphate buffered saline, or PBS). In the first two panels below, the mice were sacrificed on day 21.
In a direct comparison, mATRC-101 dosed at 2.5 mg/kg twice per week had more anti-tumor activity in the EMT6 model than did an anti-PD-1 antibody dosed at 10 mg/kg twice per week.
Furthermore, dosing an anti-PD-1 (10 mg/kg) antibody with mATRC-101 (2.5 mg/kg) enhanced the anti-tumor activity observed.
mATRC-101 anti-tumor activity is enhanced by dosing with an anti-PD-1 antibody
Additionally, although we have more limited data, we have observed anti-tumor activity following mATRC-101 administration in the CT26 mouse model. In the CT26 model, which is differentiated from the EMT6 model and in which PD-1 and CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors can display more anti-tumor activity than in the EMT6 model, tumor growth was significantly suppressed (p < 0.01) by dosing with mATRC-101, with statistically significant (p < 0.01) positive effects on survival.
Summary of safety studies
Normal tissue binding. In initial studies, we assessed binding of ATRC-101 (using mATRC-101) in a range of normal human tissues using immunohistochemistry. Using a concentration of antibody that readily detected its target in tumor tissue, we did not observe a definitive signal across a range of 30 different normal human tissues, including cerebrum, cerebellum, heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, spleen and salivary gland.
In vivo safety assessments. In initial studies, ATRC-101 was administered in four repeat doses over four weeks to non-human primates. Repeat doses of up to 100 mg/kg were well-tolerated, and no definitive safety signals were observed across a range of parameters including cytokines in the serum, which were not influenced by ATRC-101 dosing. Similarly, in initial studies in tumor-bearing (EMT6 model) and normal mice, repeat dosing of up to 30 mg/kg for five doses over 15 days with both ATRC-101 and mATRC-101 were well-tolerated, with no definitive safety signals observed across a range of parameters, including serum cytokine levels.
In vivo studies to define cellular mechanism of action
We initially select Fv regions of the antibodies identified from cancer patients using our discovery platform based on their ability to recognize tumor tissue selectively and not based on any presumption of their targets or mechanisms of action. Our investigations into the mechanism of action of ATRC-101 (as mATRC-101P) revealed that:
Remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. mATRC-101P leads to a statistically significant increase in CD8+ T cells, also referred to as cytotoxic T cells, and M1-polarized macrophages (as measured by inducible nitric oxide synthase, or iNOS, expression) in tumors from treated animals, as assessed by quantitative immunohistochemistry. This is shown in the image below with mATRC-101P demonstrating increases in CD8+ T cells and M1-polarized macrophages (green) in the tumor microenvironment. The presence of both of these cell types indicates a shift to a more anti-tumorigenic tumor microenvironment. In the figure below, the insets within the lower quadrants are a standard H&E stain of the tumor tissue.
Changes in CD8+ T cell and M1-polarized (iNOS+) macrophages in EMT6 tumor in response to mATRC-101P
We confirmed, using quantitative analysis via flow cytometry of relative levels of different types of immune cells found in tumors from animals treated with mATRC-101P, that mATRC-101P dosing resulted in broad changes to the immune cell population in the tumor microenvironment. In addition to significant increases in CD8+ T cells in tumors relative to the total immune cell population, as was shown in the figure above, there were also increases in the relative levels of other immune cells associated with an anti-tumorigenic microenvironment, such as NK cells, CD4+ T cells as a group, and dendritic cells. Relative increases were also observed in other immune cell types typically viewed as having immunosuppressive roles such as regulatory T cells (Treg) and monocytic myeloid derived suppressor cells (M-MDSCs). The largest changes in the microenvironment caused by mATRC-101P treatment were significant decreases in the fraction of immune cells represented by F4/80+ cells, also known as tumor-associated macrophages, and granulocytic myeloid derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs), both of which are thought to be immunosuppressive and pro-tumorigenic. These broad changes involving cells from both the innate and adaptive immune
system point to significant shifts in the constitution of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, which we believe contribute to the activity seen in multiple animal tumor models.
Destruction of neoplastic cells in tumor tissue. These changes in the tumor microenvironment are also associated with killing fast-growing (neoplastic) cells, rather than other causes of tumor shrinkage. As shown in the figure below, dosing with mATRC-101P, relative to control (PBS), results in a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of neoplastic cells measured at week 2 in tumors in the EMT6 model. Dosing with mATRC-101P also results in a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of neoplastic cells measured at week 3, relative to both PBS and dosing with an anti-PD-1 antibody.
Induction of an "immune memory" against the tumor. Mice implanted with EMT6 cells whose tumors had been eliminated following dosing of 5-20 mg/kg with mATRC-101P as a single agent showed resistance to developing new tumors when re-implanted with EMT6 at a different site approximately three weeks after the last dose. This washout period is believed to be sufficient for the levels of mATRC-101P to be reduced to negligible amounts. Of 31 mice re-challenged with EMT6 tumor cells without additional treatment, 30 did not develop tumors over a five-week observation period, compared to the control group where all 20 of the animals did develop tumors during the same time period. These results are consistent with the development of immune memory, a property that arises from active engagement of the adaptive immune system.
Requirement for interactions with innate immune cell FcRs. Activity of mATRC-101P requires interaction of its Fc region with FcRs on innate immune cells (such as dendritic cells and macrophages). First, if a version of the Fc region is used on mATRC-101P that is mutated so that it binds poorly to signaling FcRs on immune cells (N297A), then anti-tumor activity is dramatically decreased. Second, as shown in the diagram below, if we use a mouse IgG1 version of the Fc region, which does not bind well to two types of signaling FcRs found only on innate immune cells is used on mATRC-101P, instead of an IgG2a version, which binds well to these FcRs, then anti-tumor activity is largely eliminated. Thus, the anti-tumor activity is dependent upon the Fc region of the antibody interacting with FcRs on innate immune cells. This mechanism of action is differentiated from those of checkpoint inhibitors and related compounds that target receptor-ligand pairs that are involved in the regulation of immune cell activity.
Requirement for a functional adaptive immune system. mATRC-101P does not have activity in the EMT6 model if the mouse strain used has a dysfunctional adaptive immune system. The EMT6 tumor model was run in mice that lacked T cells (nude mice), and which therefore lacked a functional B cell response as well. In other words, these mice lack a functional adaptive immune system but otherwise have an intact innate immune system. Activity of mATRC-101P was not observed in these mice.
Requirement for CD8+ T cells. Further evidence for involvement of the adaptive immune system comes from the dependence of mATRC-101P on cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. Dosing of
mATRC-101P in combination with an anti-CD8 antibody, which depletes CD8+ T cells, completely blocks anti-tumor activity in the EMT6 tumor model as shown in the figure below.
ATRC-101 mechanism of action: Driver Antigen Engagement
Based on our detailed in vivo studies of mATRC-101P, we believe that we have identified a novel mechanism of action for an oncology therapeutic, which we term Driver Antigen Engagement, involving both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Activation of the innate immune system appears local to the tumor as we observed no significant changes in circulating levels of cytokines. Furthermore, the requirement for an adaptive immune system differentiates the mechanism of ATRC-101 from those of other antibodies that rely on the innate immune system for activity, for example NK cell-mediated ADCC (antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity).
Driver Antigen Engagement. After systemic administration, we believe ATRC-101 will find and bind to its tumor-specific target, facilitating the delivery of the target to tumor-resident innate immune cells via their FcRs, which then will activate these cells. Activated innate immune cells are thought to change their behavior and to secrete cytokines and other inflammatory signaling molecules, which together lead to anti-tumorigenic changes in the tumor microenvironment. These activated innate immune cells and the modified tumor microenvironment then will promote an adaptive immune response involving at least cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, which attack and destroy the tumor cells. Thus, this target, a driver antigen, drives a tumor-destroying immune response involving both innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Driver antigens have been observed in the context of autoimmune disease, in which normal tissues are attacked by the immune system, initially using
specific antigens present in healthy tissue (for example, citrullinated proteins in rheumatoid arthritis). The image below depicts ATRC-101's Driver Antigen Engagement mechanism of action:
We believe that ATRC-101 has the potential to become an important treatment for solid tumors based on several factors: its broad reactivity across different types of human solid tumor samples; its differentiated mechanism of action; its potent preclinical anti-tumor activity; and its safety profile observed to date in preclinical studies. We intend to file an IND application with the FDA for ATRC-101 in late 2019 and, subject to authorization from the FDA, initiate a Phase 1b clinical trial in patients with solid tumors in early 2020. The FDA has communicated to us that, while it reserves the right to make final determinations upon reviewing our IND application, it is supportive of our proposed approach towards preclinical safety assessments and overall clinical trial design, including starting dose.
We expect our initial trial will be an open-label, dose escalation, monotherapy trial with an adaptive design in which we will enroll patients with tumor types limited to those for which ATRC-101 demonstrated a reactivity of at least 50% in preclinical studies, initially: ovarian, non-small cell lung, colorectal and breast cancers. Major objectives for the trial are to determine a maximum tolerated dose or recommended dose for future studies and to characterize the safety of ATRC-101 in enrolled subjects. Other goals include characterization of potential biomarkers and initial clinical activity. We will retrospectively analyze target expression on subject tumor tissue with a prototype in vitro diagnostic test currently under development.
Assuming ATRC-101 can be dosed safely as a single agent, we plan to expand this initial trial to include dosing ATRC-101 in combination with a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor.
Our Lead Generation Programs
Driver Antigen Engagement
We believe the mechanism of action of ATRC-101 involves systemic delivery of an agent that causes remodeling of the tumor microenvironment and the destruction of tumor cells via both the innate and adaptive immune systems. With our knowledge of the target of ATRC-101, we believe other targets may exist that are capable of driving such activity when bound by an antibody. We are therefore working to discover and develop distinct antibodies binding other targets that utilize this novel mechanism of action.
T cell engagers
Our hit antibodies are defined by their ability to react with non-autologous tumor tissue preferentially over normal adjacent tissue. In principle, therefore, their Fv regions can be used to direct cells of the immune system, such as T cells, to tumor cells. Furthermore, if the T cells can be activated when they are brought to the tumor cell, then tumor cell killing can occur. This "T cell engagement" is a well-validated approach utilized in both approved and clinical stage products. In this approach, tumor-targeting domains derived from antibodies are linked to protein domains that typically bind to a particular protein (CD3) on the surface of T cells, both bringing the T cell to the tumor cell while simultaneously activating it. These antibody-derived biologics are sometimes termed "bispecific", in that they are capable of binding to two different targets: the tumor target and the T cell target.
We are pursuing the discovery and development of bispecifics using our proprietary collection of novel tumor-targeting antibodies. To screen for the potential utility of an antibody-target pair, we first use antibody sequence information to create a bispecific T cell engager in one or more formats. We then test this bispecific for activity in vitro in an industry-standard assay for T cell dependent cellular cytotoxicity (TDCC). In this assay, primary human T cells isolated from a patient blood sample are co-incubated with tumor cells. The bispecific, in which the antibody-derived portion from our hit library is known to interact with the tumor cell, is added into the assay, and tumor cell killing is assessed over time. In this assay, a number of our hit antibodies converted into bispecifics display significant tumor cell killing activity. Our current data suggest that, using a single bispecific format, approximately 6% of our hit antibody Fv regions test positive in TDCC assays (>375 hit antibodies analyzed). In the figures below, two antibodies that have been converted into a bispecific T cell engager format display tumor cell killing activity, with approximately 100% cytotoxicity in the assay observed at a low nanomolar concentration of each bispecific, while the unmodified antibodies do not show cytotoxic activity in the assay at any concentrations tested.
Measurement of cytotoxic activity in TDCC assay
In the future, we may selectively pursue partnerships to access additional bispecific formats, technologies and know-how in order to discover and develop T cell engagers based on novel antibody-target pairs discovered using our platform.
Antibody-Directed Cellular Phagocytosis (ADCP) and Antibody-Directed Cellular Cytotoxicity (ADCC) are two mechanisms of action through which antibodies that bind to tumor cells can direct innate immune system cells to kill them. In both cases, the Fc portion of the antibody interacts with particular FcRs of innate immune system cells to mediate the killing. In ADCP, macrophages/
monocytes engulf tumor cells bound by antibodies, while in ADCC, NK cells use particular cellular machinery to kill antibody-bound tumor cells. Both ADCP and ADCC are validated mechanisms of action that contribute to the anti-tumor activity observed for marketed antibody drugs.
We have established in vitro assays for ADCC and ADCP activity and use these assays to screen our antibodies for those capable of driving tumor cell killing via ADCC and ADCP mechanisms. In these assays, a number of our hit antibodies display tumor cell killing activity. Our current data suggest that approximately 17% of our hit antibodies test positive in ADCC assays (>375 hit antibodies analyzed).
Given that ADCC and ADCP are thought to be more effective when a greater number of targets are bound on the surface of a tumor cell, we believe there may be utility in utilizing multiple antibodies from our hit library in combination, as separate entities or in bispecific formats, in order to drive activity via this mechanism of action. In the future, we may pursue partnerships to access particular technologies and know-how to discover and develop candidates with these mechanisms of action.
Cellular toxins can be conjugated to certain antibodies to generate or enhance their cytotoxicity. Such antibody drug conjugates require antibodies that internalize upon binding to their target, thereby delivering toxins directly to tumor cells. Our current data suggest that approximately 2% of hit antibodies test positive in internalization assays (>700 hit antibodies analyzed).
Given our data in these programs, we believe that we will be able to exploit our growing library of novel antibodies in order to develop product candidates with additional distinct and compelling mechanisms of action for tumor destruction beyond those described above. We intend to continue to build out a pipeline of novel product candidates targeted at a range of solid tumors to advance into clinical development.
Unmet Need in Solid Tumors Included in the ATRC-101 Phase 1b Clinical Trial
Our tissue profiling data and the unique mechanism of action of ATRC-101 suggest that it has potential to provide therapeutic benefit to patients with a wide range of solid tumors. These tumors include highly prevalent tumors with significant unmet need.
Expected New Cases
Surgery and cytotoxic chemotherapies are widely used to treat ovarian cancer; however, the five-year survival rate has improved only marginally from 42.2% in 1995 to 47.6% in patients diagnosed between 2009 and 2015. Treatment of patients with advanced, relapsed ovarian cancer with a combination of gemcitabine and carboplatin increased the progression free survival to 8.6 months from 5.8 months with carboplatin alone but had no significant effect on overall survival.
Drugs such as olaparib and rucaparib that inhibit poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, or PARP, have recently been approved based on progression free survival in the maintenance setting of up to 15.5 months. Immuno-oncology therapies, however, have to date had little impact in ovarian cancer.
Lung cancer is typically divided into two groups based upon the appearance of the tumor cellsnon-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 80% to 85% of lung cancer cases. The treatment paradigm for non-small cell lung cancer has significantly changed over the past few years. Previously patients were primarily treated with radiation therapy or combinations of cytotoxic drugs. Recent developments have led to the development of targeted therapies based on alteration in the genes for epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, and anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene, or ALK. Up to two thirds of advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients who are ineligible for or resistant to treatment with EGFR or ALK targeted therapies have tumors that express PD-L1 and are candidates for checkpoint inhibitor therapies, which lead to significant improvements in progression free survival and overall survival compared to standard chemotherapy. Despite the availability of these numerous therapies, the prognosis remains poor, with overall five-year survival for all patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer as low as 23%.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Approximately 35% of patients with a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer will die within five years. Treatment of colorectal cancer typically involves the use of cytotoxic chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment with anti-EGFR antibodies, typically in combination with chemotherapy, has been shown to be effective in a subset of colorectal cancer patients; however, over 40% of patients do not respond to anti-EGFR antibody therapies and of those that do, resistance often develops. Pembrolizumab, nivolumab and a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab have been approved for the treatment of a subset of four to five percent of colorectal cancer patients with mutations that lead to high genetic instability.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis for women in the United States. Breast cancer is conventionally divided into three forms, depending on whether the tumor is hormone receptor-positive (HR+), HER2 receptor-positive (HER2+), or neither (triple negative). The percentage of breast cancer patients with HER2+ disease is approximately 17%; triple negative is approximately 12%; and HR+ disease is approximately 83% (note that approximately 12% of patients have overlapping HR+/HER2+ disease). The treatment paradigm for breast cancer depends on the stage of the cancer at presentation (Stage I-IV), and on whether the tumor is HR+, HER2+, or triple negative.
Although some forms of breast cancer are less aggressive and have displayed improving survival rates, there are still highly aggressive forms of disease that represent significant unmet need. For example, triple-negative breast cancer tends to present at a higher grade than other types of breast cancer (often grade 3) and grows, spreads and recurs faster than most other types. Women with triple-negative breast cancer are also more likely to develop metastasis, and typically have a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to the lack of targeted therapies available for treatment. The FDA recently approved the first immunotherapy regimen in breast cancer, a combination of nab-paclitaxel and an anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy (atezolizumab) for frontline treatment patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic PD-L1-positive triple-
negative breast cancer. In the clinical trial supporting this approval, the objective response rate for the group of combination-treated patients was 56%.
The Atreca Discovery Platform
There are four fundamental pillars that support and distinguish our platform from other antibody drug discovery approaches. We leverage these pillars via our systematic antibody discovery process to identify, capture and analyze antibodies from patients whose immune systems are already responding to cancer treatment, and thus actively attacking their tumor tissue. Our systematic approach to discovery is scalable and differentiated from traditional discovery approaches. The following diagram shows our discovery platform pillars and discovery process:
The pillars of our discovery platform
The four fundamental pillars of our platform are: our sample acquisition and repository, our differentiated technology, our bioinformatics expertise and our industrialized wet-lab infrastructure.
Sample acquisition and repository. Our discovery approach relies on having a sufficient number of responder patient blood-derived samples. We attempt to source samples from the same patient over time, enabling longitudinal analyses, and from a wide range of tumor types. In order to accomplish this, we sponsor ongoing non-interventional clinical studies conducted at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Sarah Cannon Research Institute that yield samples for our growing repository. We also collaborate with academics at leading institutions in order to acquire our samples, including the University of California, San Francisco; Cleveland Clinic; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Baylor Scott & White Health. In addition, we acquire some samples through an internal clinical study and commercially. We have built our current repository of over 1,200 blood-derived samples from over 400 donors, representing over 25 different solid tumor types, over a period of six years.
Differentiated technology. Based upon technology licensed from Stanford University, our proprietary Immune Repertoire Capture® technology efficiently generates sequences of natively co-expressed heavy and light chains of antibodies from single cells, and moreover, corrects for sequence error and bias that is inherent in the output of section analysis of a group of antibody
sequences from a patient sample, which we define as a "repertoire". Without such error and bias correction, robust analyses of repertoires would be very difficult, since such process error is very often of the same order of magnitude as meaningful biological signal. Furthermore, we have built and utilize other differentiated technological expertise in our discovery platform. For example, we have invested heavily in flow cytometry infrastructure, expertise and process development, which enables us to use plasmablasts to focus our analysis on the active immune response in patient samples and to perform certain types of in vitro and in vivo downstream analyses that would be difficult to implement otherwise.
Bioinformatics expertise. A robust bioinformatics infrastructure and expertise underlies multiple aspects of our discovery platform. For example, in order to operationalize our Immune Repertoire Capture® technology, we have built an enhanced algorithmic pipeline in the cloud, comprising in part proprietary algorithms, to capture, process and deliver bias- and error-corrected natively paired, heavy and light chain sequences of antibodies expressed by single B cells. Applying the bioinformatics expertise we've developed, we analyze these sequences and their related data, to select antibodies for wet-lab analysis. To extract the most value from our industrialized approach to discovery, we capture our experimental data using a laboratory information management system and analyze data using in-house developed software tools.
Industrialized wet-lab infrastructure. In order to further enhance the analysis of antibodies discovered on our platform, we have increased the capacity of multiple functions, including histology, flow cytometry, in vitro functional assays, animal models and others. For example, our primary histology screen, involving analysis of the binding of patient antibodies in primary human tumor tissue, still leaves capacity for generating histological data for other in vitro and in vivo experiments. In our animal model work, we have validated four different syngeneic mouse tumor models in-house. Our dedicated bioinformatics supports our industrialized experimental infrastructure.
Atreca's discovery process
The major steps in our drug discovery approach that are differentiating and enabled by our discovery platform are sample acquisition, repertoire generation and analysis, hit generation, lead generation and candidate generation.
The starting points for our drug discovery efforts are blood samples from patients undergoing cancer therapy. It is critically important, therefore, that we have access to a broad set of high quality samples. Samples from donors in our trials are collected at the initiation of treatment and at multiple points during therapy. We begin by systematically acquiring blood samples from cancer patients at various stages of their treatment and immediately freezing down a particular group of cells isolated from the blood for possible analysis. Blood samples are typically processed to yield the peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or PBMCs, present, which are then frozen and stored pending further processing. All samples for our discovery efforts are collected with Institutional Review Board approval under informed consent that grants us freedom to commercialize products without donor remuneration.
Repertoire generation: plasmablast isolation
We believe that our approach is differentiated in part due to our focus on the active immune response in a patient whose immune system is attacking tumor tissue. Focusing on the plasmablasts in the blood from which we isolate our antibodies is key to our approach. We and others have shown that plasmablasts continue to be generated during states of chronic immune system activation, such as that of a cancer patient whose immune system is attacking tumor tissue over many months.
We isolate plasmablasts from patient blood sample PBMCs using fluorescence activated cell sorting based on the expression of surface markers such as CD19 in combination with other surface markers. Our process allows us to isolate individual cells, and we have developed the expertise and resources that enable us to accomplish this with the potential throughput to process thousands of samples a year.
Repertoire generation: Immune Repertoire Capture®
From the samples of patients who exhibit evidence of clinical benefit from treatment, we generate the sequences of the antibodies expressed by plasmablasts, thus focusing our discovery efforts on antibodies that we believe may be associated with anti-tumor immune responses to treatment.
In contrast to other approaches that identify antibody heavy and light chains separately and only later attempt to recreate native pairings, we keep these native pairings intact using our Immune Repertoire Capture® technology. During the synthesis of the cDNA from RNA, we attach to the cDNAs specialized nucleotide barcodes that are unique to each cell. These barcodes on the cDNAs of the B cell:
Our process yields error- and bias-corrected, natively paired antibody heavy and light chain sequences that include the signal sequence of the proteins partially into the constant region of the antibody chains. Due to these properties, these sequences are already in a format that enables us to take them directly into antibody expression systems, saving us considerable time and expense. The technology allows us to isolate and identify the precise sequences necessary to ultimately generate B cell antibodies as they arose in a patient.
During repertoire analysis, we analyze these collections of sequences to better understand how these antibody sequences relate to each other, both within a single patient sample and across samples. The high quality of our data enables us to perform such analyses.
As a first step, we determine the relatedness among these antibodies. In affinity maturation, lineages of B cells expressing related antibodies, or clonal families, are generated. Additionally, our barcoding technology allows us to track identical antibody sequences that are expressed by different plasmablasts. Using these data, we generate a phylogenetic or family tree in which we depict the relatedness among antibody sequences.
We use these relationships to identify the families of antibodies expressed by plasmablasts that are all related to one another via descent from a single B cell that started the maturation process; i.e., clonal families. Changes in clonal families occur in large part due to the nature of the biological processes that generate antibody diversity in germinal centers. Clonal expansions during an active immune response against tumor tissue indicate the sequences of antibodies that have the potential to be directed toward the patient's tumor. We believe that longitudinal analysis of changes in clonal families, especially when correlated with changes in disease status, provides information useful for selecting potentially valuable antibodies for further analysis in the laboratory.
Clonal expansions contain antibodies that are related to one another by descent from a single B cell that initiated the affinity maturation process
Furthermore, we can determine the sequence relationships among antibodies in a family. We can use this information to sample the diversity of antibodies in a family generated by a common B cell ancestor. We can also use more sophisticated analyses of antibody sequences, beyond simple sequence alignments, to identify evidence of convergent antibody generation across different patients.
We refer to the process of identifying antibodies that bind to non-autologous tumor tissue preferentially over normal tissue as "hit generation". We select approximately one percent of all antibody sequences in the repertoires that we generate from patient samples for further evaluation.
We convert the sequence information we obtain into antibody protein molecules that can be assessed for their tumor tissue binding properties. We have observed that substantially all of our selected antibodies can be manufactured at laboratory scale. We have developed a robust histology infrastructure as part of our platform that enables us to perform at full capacity a primary screen of hundreds of expressed antibodies per month against human tumor tissue samples and objectively score binding intensity to both the tumor as well as adjacent normal tissue. We have found that out
of all of the antibody sequences that we have chosen to test in this manner, approximately 45% bind to non-autologous tumor tissue selectively over normal adjacent tissue. We have, to date, identified over 1,400 distinct antibodies capable of targeting non-autologous tumors preferentially in this primary screen.
We then take these hit antibodies and analyze them in a series of in vitro and in vivo assays, including multiple animal models, to identify antibodies or antibody-derived entities that show relevant function as leads. In some cases, we, alone or with partners, may add, remove, or alter protein or other molecular components, as we analyze the antibodies to generate relevant function, such as T cell engagement or antibody-directed killing. We perform broader measurements of antibody binding in additional human tumor and normal tissue samples and tumor cell lines via histology and flow cytometry. These analyses, for example, enable us to distinguish whether the antibodies are directly binding to tumor cells or to other cells found in the tumor microenvironment such as stromal cells or immune cells. Because approximately 25% of our antibodies recognize and bind to the mouse version of their human target, we are often able to assess in vivo activity in syngeneic mouse tumor models without spending significant time and resources on generating antibodies with surrogate Fv domains.
The targets for leads are identified via a variety of means, including multiple types of antigen arrays, immunoprecipitation followed by mass-spectrometry (as the target of ATRC-101 was identified), and other techniques under development, followed by validation via standard recombinant methods. Target identification is often a resource-intensive and time-consuming process, and may not be successful in all cases. Leads undergo various protein sequence modifications to eliminate potential liabilities in stability, immunogenicity and manufacturing, and to increase target binding and activity, before being selected as clinical candidates to be taken into preclinical development.
Historically, we have entered into a number of discovery collaborations as we developed our discovery platform. These collaborations have generally focused on identifying novel antibodies in areas of significant unmet medical need.
We are currently engaged in a multi-year research and preclinical collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to optimize and advance human anti-CSP monoclonal antibodies identified by our proprietary Immune Repertoire Capture® technology with the potential to be developed as prophylactic/therapeutic antibodies for malaria. In addition, we are engaged in a three-year collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to perform research activities in the field of autoimmune diseases and to apply our proprietary Immune Repertoire Capture® technology to patient samples in order to compare the effects of different treatments on the humoral immune response.
While our current and past collaborations have provided support and validation as we have worked to develop our discovery platform, and while we may continue to enter into such collaborative research agreements in the future, we expect our primary focus for future collaborations will be on accelerating advancement of our product pipeline. To that end, we are focusing our business development efforts on potential partners that bring complementary technologies that may allow us to facilitate our generation of product candidates from our large pool of novel antibody-target pairs.
We use a third-party manufacturer to produce our antibodies and reagents for use in preclinical assessment of product candidates. We do not have, and we do not currently plan to acquire or develop, the infrastructure, facilities or capabilities to manufacture current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, bulk drug substance or filled drug product for use in human clinical trials. We intend to continue to utilize third-party manufacturers such as contract development manufacturing organizations, or CDMOs, to produce, test and release cGMP bulk drug substance and drug product for our planned clinical trials. We expect to continue to rely on such third parties to manufacture clinical trial material for the foreseeable future. We currently have a service agreement with a CDMO to develop and manufacture material in support of our IND application and clinical studies.
Our current and expected future contractual CDMOs have a long, successful track record of manufacturing clinical and commercial products for other companies under cGMP compliance and have previously been inspected by regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP standards.
We are aware of a number of companies that are developing antibodies for the treatment of cancer. Many of these companies are well-capitalized and, in contrast to us, have significant clinical experience, and may include our potential future partners. In addition, these companies compete with us in recruiting scientific and managerial talent. Our success will partially depend on our ability to obtain, maintain, enforce and defend patents and other intellectual property rights with respect to antibodies that are safer and more effective than competing products. Our commercial opportunity and success will be reduced or eliminated if competing products that are safer, more effective, or less expensive than the antibodies we develop are or become available.
We expect to compete with antibody, biologics and other therapeutic platforms and development companies, including, but not limited to, companies such as Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation, AIMM Therapeutics B.V., Neurimmune Holding AG, OncoReponse, Inc., and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. In addition, we expect to compete with large, multinational pharmaceutical companies that discover, develop and commercialize antibodies and other therapeutics for use in treating cancer such as AstraZeneca plc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Genentech, Inc. and Merck & Co., Inc. If ATRC-101 or potential future product candidates are eventually approved, they will compete with a range of treatments that are either in development or currently marketed. For example, we expect that ATRC-101 and our potential future product candidates may compete against traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, as well as cell-based treatments for cancer, such as CAR-T therapies.
Our success will significantly depend upon our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property and proprietary protection for our novel antibody-based immunotherapeutics to treat a range of solid tumors, as well as patent and other intellectual property and proprietary protection for our discovery platform, novel discoveries, and other important technology inventions and know-how. We rely, for example, on patents, trademarks, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, and invention assignment agreements to protect our intellectual property and proprietary innovations.
As set out in the "Risk FactorsRisks Related to Our Intellectual Property," our intellectual property and proprietary rights may be challenged, invalidated, circumvented, infringed or misappropriated, or may be insufficient to permit us to preserve or improve our competitive position.
Our intellectual property includes a portfolio of in-licensed and Atreca-owned patents and patent applications, relating to our discovery platform and the novel immunotherapeutic product candidates developed using that platform, including compositions of matter, methods of use, methods of treatment, and kits. Our lead immunotherapeutic product candidate, ATRC-101, is a monoclonal antibody with preclinical anti-tumor activity and is a variant of an antibody identified using our discovery platform. We have filed multiple U.S. provisional patent applications relating to ATRC-101 and other variants and anticipate that we will convert to nonprovisional utility patent applications or PCT applications in 2020.
As of April 15, 2019, we own:
As of April 15, 2019, we exclusively license from Stanford University relating to our platform-related technology:
As of April 15, 2019, we co-own:
In the United States, biological products are subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Public Health Service Act, and other federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations. These laws and their corresponding regulations govern, among other things, the research, development, clinical trial, testing, manufacturing, safety, efficacy, labeling, packaging, storage, record keeping, distribution, reporting, advertising and other promotional practices involving biological products. FDA approval must be obtained before the marketing of biological products. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.
U.S. biological products development process
The process required by the FDA before a biological product may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:
Before testing any biological product candidate in humans, the product candidate enters the preclinical testing stage. Preclinical tests, also referred to as nonclinical studies, include laboratory evaluations of product biological characteristics, chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies to assess the potential safety and activity of the product candidate. The conduct of the preclinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements including GLP.
The clinical trial sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and a proposed clinical protocol, to the FDA as part of the IND. Some preclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to ship an unapproved, investigational product in interstate commerce and to administer it to humans, and must become effective before clinical trials may begin. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA places the clinical trial on a clinical hold within that 30-day time period. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. The FDA also may impose clinical holds on a biological product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to, among other considerations, unreasonable and significant safety risk, inability to assess safety risk, lack of qualified investigators, a misleading or materially incomplete investigator brochure, or study design deficiencies. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, studies may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only under terms authorized by the FDA. Accordingly, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues or circumstances will not arise that delay, suspend or terminate such studies.
Clinical trials involve the administration of the biological product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the study sponsor's control. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria, and the parameters to be used to monitor subject safety, including stopping rules that assure a clinical trial will be stopped if certain adverse events should occur. Each protocol and any amendments to the protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Clinical trials must be
conducted and monitored in accordance with the FDA's regulations comprising the GCP requirements, including the requirement that all research subjects provide informed consent. Further, each clinical trial and its related documentation must be reviewed and approved by an IRB at or servicing each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted. An IRB is charged with protecting the welfare and rights of study participants and considers such items as whether the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the form and content of the informed consent that must be signed by each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative and must monitor the clinical trial until completed.
Clinical trials typically are conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:
Post-approval clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These clinical trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication, particularly for long-term safety follow-up.
During all phases of clinical development, the FDA requires extensive monitoring and auditing of all clinical activities, clinical data, and clinical trial investigators. Annual progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted to the FDA. Written IND safety reports must be promptly submitted to the FDA and the investigators for serious and unexpected adverse events, any findings from other studies, tests in laboratory animals or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human subjects, or any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must submit an IND safety report within 15 calendar days after the sponsor determines that the information qualifies for reporting. The sponsor also must notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction within seven calendar days after the sponsor's initial receipt of the information. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, if at all. The FDA or the sponsor, acting on its own or based on a recommendation from the sponsor's data safety monitoring board, may suspend a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB's requirements or if the biological product has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.
Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and also must develop additional information about the physical characteristics of the biological product as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. To help reduce the risk of the introduction of adventitious agents with use of biological products, emphasis is placed on the importance of manufacturing control for products
whose attributes cannot be precisely defined. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other things, the sponsor must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, potency and purity of the final biological product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the biological product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
U.S. review and approval processes
After the completion of clinical trials of a biological product, FDA approval of a BLA must be obtained before commercial marketing of the biological product. The BLA must include results of product development, laboratory and animal studies, human studies, information on the manufacture and composition of the product, proposed labeling and other relevant information.
Within 60 days following submission of the application, the FDA reviews a BLA submitted to determine if it is substantially complete before the FDA accepts it for filing. The FDA may refuse to file any BLA that it deems incomplete or not properly reviewable at the time of submission and may request additional information. In this event, the BLA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. In most cases, the submission of a BLA is subject to a substantial application user fee, although the fee may be waived under certain circumstances. Under the performance goals and policies implemented by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, for original BLAs, the FDA targets ten months from the filing date in which to complete its initial review of a standard application and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date for an application with priority review. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates, and the review process is often significantly extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. This review in total typically takes twelve months from the date the BLA is submitted to the FDA because the FDA has approximately two months to make a filing decision. The review process and the PDUFA goal date may be extended by three months if the FDA requests or the BLA sponsor otherwise provides additional information or clarification regarding information already provided in the submission within the last three months before the PDUFA goal date.
Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the BLA. The FDA reviews the BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe and potent, or effective, for its intended use, and has an acceptable purity profile, and whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP to assure and preserve the product's identity, safety, strength, quality, potency and purity. The FDA may refer applications for novel biological products or biological products that present difficult or novel questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions. During the biological product approval process, the FDA also will determine whether a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, is necessary to assure the safe use of the biological product. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the BLA must submit a proposed REMS; the FDA will not approve the BLA without a REMS, if required.
Before approving a BLA, the FDA typically will inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve the product unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving a BLA, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure that the clinical trials were conducted in compliance with IND study requirements and GCP requirements. To assure cGMP and
GCP compliance, an applicant must incur significant expenditure of time, money and effort in the areas of training, record keeping, production and quality control.
Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, as amended, a BLA or supplement to a BLA for a novel product (e.g., new active ingredient, new indication, etc.) must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of the biological product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of data or full or partial waivers.
Notwithstanding the submission of relevant data and information, the FDA may ultimately decide that the BLA does not satisfy its regulatory criteria for approval and deny approval. Data obtained from clinical trials are not always conclusive and the FDA may interpret data differently than we interpret the same data. If the FDA decides not to approve the BLA in its present form, the FDA will issue a complete response letter that usually describes all of the specific deficiencies in the BLA identified by the FDA. The deficiencies identified may be minor, for example, requiring labeling changes, or major, for example, requiring additional clinical trials. Additionally, the complete response letter may include recommended actions that the applicant might take to place the application in a condition for approval. If a complete response letter is issued, the applicant may either resubmit the BLA, addressing all of the deficiencies identified in the letter, or withdraw the application.
If a product receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific diseases and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited, including to subpopulations of patients, which could restrict the commercial value of the product. Further, the FDA may require that certain contraindications, warnings, precautions or drug-drug interactions be included in the product labeling. The FDA may impose restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing, or dispensing in the form of a REMS, or otherwise limit the scope of any approval. In addition, the FDA may require post marketing clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, designed to further assess a biological product's safety and effectiveness, and testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products that have been commercialized.
Expedited development and review programs
The FDA has various programs, including fast track designation, breakthrough therapy designation, accelerated approval and priority review, that are intended to expedite or simplify the process for the development and FDA review of drugs and biologics that are intended for the treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. These programs do not change the standards for approval but may help expedite the development or approval process. To be eligible for fast track designation, new drugs and biological products must be intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. Fast track designation applies to the combination of the product and the specific indication for which it is being studied. The sponsor of a new drug or biologic may request the FDA to designate the drug or biologic as a fast track product at any time during the clinical development of the product. One benefit of fast track designation, for example, is that the FDA may consider for review sections of the marketing application for a product that has received fast track designation on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted.
Under the FDA's breakthrough therapy program, products may be eligible for designation as a breakthrough therapy if they are intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence demonstrates that such product may have substantial improvement on one or more clinically significant endpoints over existing therapies. The benefits of breakthrough therapy designation
include the same benefits as fast track designation plus the FDA will seek to ensure the sponsor of a breakthrough therapy product receives timely advice and interactive communications to help the sponsor design and conduct a development program as efficiently as possible.
Any product is eligible for priority review if it has the potential to provide safe and effective therapy where no satisfactory alternative therapy exists or a significant improvement in the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a disease compared to marketed products. The FDA will attempt to direct additional resources to the evaluation of an application for a new drug or biological product designated for priority review in an effort to facilitate the review. Under priority review, the FDA's goal is to review an application in six months once it is filed, compared to ten months for a standard review.
Additionally, a product may be eligible for accelerated approval. Drug or biological products studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening illnesses and that provide meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing treatments may receive accelerated approval, which means that they may be approved on the basis of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials establishing that the product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit, or on the basis of an effect on an intermediate clinical endpoint other than survival or irreversible morbidity. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biological product receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. In addition, the FDA currently requires as a condition for accelerated approval pre-approval of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product.
Maintaining substantial compliance with applicable federal, state, and local statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Rigorous and extensive FDA regulation of biological products continues after approval, particularly with respect to cGMP. As the manufacturer of our products we are required to comply with applicable requirements in the cGMP regulations, including quality control and quality assurance and maintenance of records and documentation. Other post-approval requirements applicable to biological products include reporting of cGMP deviations that may affect the identity, potency, purity and overall safety of a distributed product, record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse effects, reporting updated safety and efficacy information, and complying with electronic record and signature requirements. After a BLA is approved, the product also may be subject to official lot release. As part of the manufacturing process, we are required to perform certain tests on each lot of the product before it is released for distribution. If the product is subject to official release by the FDA, we shall submit samples of each lot of product to the FDA together with a release protocol showing a summary of the history of manufacture of the lot and the results of all of the tests performed on the lot. The FDA also may perform certain confirmatory tests on lots of some products, such as viral vaccines, before releasing the lots for distribution. In addition, the FDA conducts laboratory research related to the regulatory standards on the safety, purity, potency, and effectiveness of biological products.
We also must comply with the FDA's advertising and promotion requirements, such as those related to direct-to-consumer advertising, the prohibition on promoting products for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product's approved labeling (known as "off-label use"), industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities, and promotional activities involving the internet. Discovery of previously unknown problems or the failure to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements may result in restrictions on the marketing of a product or withdrawal of the product from the market as well as possible civil or criminal sanctions. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant or manufacturer to administrative or judicial actions, civil
or criminal sanctions and adverse publicity. FDA sanctions could include refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, license revocation, clinical holds, warning or untitled letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, mandated corrective advertising or communications with doctors or other stakeholders, debarment, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal penalties. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.
Biological product manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved biological products are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP and other laws. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. Discovery of problems with a product after approval may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer, or holder of an approved BLA, including withdrawal of the product from the market. In addition, changes to the manufacturing process or facility generally require prior FDA approval before being implemented and other types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications and additional labeling claims, are also subject to further FDA review and approval.
Government regulation outside of the United States
Whether or not we obtain FDA approval for a product, we must obtain the requisite approvals from regulatory authorities in foreign countries prior to the commencement of clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application, or CTA, much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the European Union, for example, a CTA must be submitted for each clinical trial to each country's national health authority and an independent ethics committee, much like the FDA and an IRB, respectively. Once the CTA is approved in accordance with a country's requirements, the corresponding clinical trial may proceed.
The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
Other Healthcare Laws
In addition to FDA restrictions on marketing of pharmaceutical and biological products, several other types of state and federal laws have been applied to restrict certain general business and marketing practices in the biopharmaceutical industry in recent years. These laws include, among others, anti-kickback statutes, false claims statutes and other healthcare laws and regulations, some of which are described below.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce, or in return for, purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any healthcare item or service reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally financed healthcare programs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, collectively, the ACA, amended the intent element of the federal statute so that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to commit a violation. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers, among others, on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution or other regulatory sanctions, the exceptions
and safe harbors are drawn narrowly, and practices that involve remuneration intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor.