UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from ____ to ____
Commission file number: 001-37798
Selecta Biosciences, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction
of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
65 Grove Street, Watertown, MA
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code
|Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:|
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, $0.0001 par value per share||SELB||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o No ý
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports); and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☒ No 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||☐||Accelerated filer |
|Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company|
|Emerging growth company|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attested to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock as reported on the Nasdaq Stock Market on June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter, was $247,960,409.
As of March 5, 2021 the registrant had 112,373,199 shares of common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement relating to its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or the Annual Report, contains forward-looking statements. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy, prospective products, product approvals, research and development costs, timing and likelihood of success, the plans and objectives of management for future operations and future results of anticipated products, the impact of the coronavirus, COVID-19 on our business and operations and our future financial results, and the period over which we estimate our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our future operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.
In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “could,” “intend,” “target,” “project,” “contemplate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential”, or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report are only predictions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report and are subject to a number of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, including the factors described under the sections in this Annual Report titled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” as well as the following:
•our status as a development-stage company and our expectation to incur losses in the future;
•our future capital needs and our need to raise additional funds;
•our ability to build a pipeline of product candidates and develop and commercialize such pipeline;
•our unproven approach to therapeutic intervention;
•our ability to enroll patients in clinical trials, timely and successfully complete those trials and receive necessary regulatory approvals;
•our ability to access manufacturing facilities and to receive or manufacture sufficient quantities of our product candidates;
•our ability to maintain our existing or future collaborations or licenses;
•the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations, the continuity of our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and general economic conditions;
•our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights;
•federal, state, and foreign regulatory requirements, including FDA regulation of our product candidates;
•our ability to obtain and retain key executives and attract and retain qualified personnel;
•developments relating to our competitors and our industry, including the impact of government regulation; and
•our ability to successfully manage our growth.
Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties.
You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements. Except as required by applicable law, we do not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.
Item 1. Business
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company leveraging our ImmTOR™ immune tolerance platform with the goals of amplifying the efficacy of biologics, including enabling the re-dosing of life-saving gene therapies, and restoring self-tolerance in autoimmune diseases. Our ImmTOR platform encapsulates rapamycin, also known as sirolimus, an immunomodulator, in biodegradable nanoparticles and is designed to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance.
The ImmTOR platform has the potential to mitigate the formation of anti-drug antibodies, or ADAs, against biologic drugs and restore self-tolerance to auto-antigens in autoimmune diseases. ADAs can start developing in the body with the first dose of a biologic therapy and can render subsequent doses ineffective or unsafe, potentially depriving patients of life-saving therapeutic options and limiting the likelihood of success for many otherwise promising novel biologic drugs and technologies. Additionally, we believe, based on preclinical data, that ImmTOR combined with adeno-associated virus, or AAV, gene therapy has the potential to increase transgene expression and to prevent undesired immune responses to the AAV capsid and the transgene product that can occur with the first dose of gene therapy.
We believe ImmTOR has the potential to enhance the efficacy without compromising the safety of biologic therapies, improve product candidates under development, and enable novel therapeutic modalities. We have developed a portfolio of proprietary and collaboration-driven applications of ImmTOR, and we plan to continue to develop proprietary compounds and pursue collaboration-driven development in certain disease areas, which could include strategic collaborations, out-licensing, and in-licensing transactions.
Our ImmTOR Platform
ImmTOR consists of our biodegradable nanoparticles encapsulating the immunomodulator rapamycin. Rapamycin is the active ingredient of Rapamune, an immunosuppressant which has extensive prior use in humans and is currently FDA-approved as a prophylaxis of organ rejection in kidney transplant patients aged 13 or older. Poly(D,L-lactide), or PLA is part of the broader poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or PLGA, family of biodegradable polymers that have more than 30 years of commercial use and are formulation components in a number of approved products. Polyethylene glycol, or PEG, has been widely studied in clinical trials and is also a formulation component in many approved biologic products.
Our nanoparticles are designed to remain intact after injection into the body and accumulate predominantly in lymph nodes, the spleen, and the liver, where the immune response is coordinated. The nanoparticles are designed to be processed by specialized immune cells, such as dendritic cells and other antigen-presenting cells that initiate and regulate immune responses. ImmTOR is intended to induce a tolerogenic phenotype in these antigen-presenting cells, which then process and present co-administered antigen in a manner that results in the induction of antigen-specific regulatory T cells. To mitigate the formation of ADAs and induce immune tolerance in the body, we administer our ImmTOR with an antigen, such as a therapeutic enzyme, a viral vector in the case of our gene therapy program, or an auto-antigen, which is depicted in the figure below.
Co-administration of ImmTOR with an auto-antigen, viral vector, or therapeutic enzyme.
In the case of a biologic drug, ImmTOR is designed to be administered in conjunction with such biologic drug to mitigate the formation of ADAs without requiring the alteration of the drug or its dose regimen. As a result, we believe ImmTOR may provide us with significant opportunities in the areas of immune tolerance and ADA prevention because ImmTOR is designed
so that it can be co-administered at the beginning of therapy with many different biologic drugs, including enzymes and viral vectors. Importantly, we believe each pairing of ImmTOR with a biologic drug also offers us the opportunity to pursue a distinct proprietary product candidate, which we believe has the potential to be separately patented, approved and marketed. ImmTOR is manufactured in facilities subject to current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements using well-defined commercial operations, which, we believe, further enhances the scalability of our tolerance programs.
During preclinical studies, we observed that delivering an antigen together with ImmTOR provided the appropriate signals in vivo to induce regulatory T cells, which, in turn, inhibited effector immune responses, such as the formation of ADAs. In our preclinical studies, we observed that ImmTOR labeled with a fluorescent dye selectively accumulated in lymphoid organs where it was processed by antigen-presenting cells. The figure below depicts a model of how ImmTOR would be taken up by a dendritic cell in the spleen. We believe that both the biologic drug and ImmTOR are taken up and processed by dendritic cells and other antigen presenting cells in a manner that may induce regulatory T cells, which can potentially block the activation of helper T cells, mitigating the formation of ADAs.
ImmTOR and Antigen/Biologic Drug Presentation and Related Immune Tolerance Induction
ImmTOR leverages nanoparticle technology to target rapamycin, an approved immunomodulatory drug, to antigen presenting cells to generate antigen-specific immune tolerance when combined with the antigen of interest. We believe our ImmTOR platform has a broad range of potential applications.
•Enzyme therapies. Enzyme therapies are a frequently used class of biologic drugs to treat rare diseases. Through our analysis of biologic drugs, including our preclinical studies, we have observed that enzymes are especially prone to undesired immune responses. Our product candidate, SEL-212, which is currently in Phase 3 clinical development includes pegadricase, a pegylated uricase enzyme, which is an example of a highly immunogenic enzyme for which we are applying ImmTOR with the intention of improving the enzyme’s efficacy and safety. We are also combining ImmTOR with an IgA protease for the treatment of IgA nephropathy. We intend to seek, if appropriate, licenses to other enzymes that we would evaluate in combination with ImmTOR.
•Gene therapies. We believe gene therapies have the potential to address key unmet medical needs for many rare genetic diseases, but undesired immune responses to the viral vectors used for gene replacement, augmentation and editing may be restricting their broader use. Through our analysis of genetic diseases, we have identified applications and patient segments that we believe would benefit from our ImmTOR platform. We intend to develop ImmTOR-enabled non-immunogenic gene therapy candidates which are designed to be utilized with AAV, vectors (e.g., AAV8, AAV5). We believe our product candidates have the potential to increase transgene expression and to prevent undesired immune responses to the vector and transgene product that can occur with the first dose of gene therapy by
using our ImmTOR platform. Our initial area of focus is on genetic metabolic diseases but may also include lysosomal storage diseases and genetic muscular diseases. We believe we are the first company to systematically pursue the development of AAV gene therapy product candidates with the goal of enabling repeat administration. We have engaged third parties with experience in gene therapy and rare diseases to support the development of our proprietary products. We also have licensed our ImmTOR platform to Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc., or AskBio, Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc., or Sarepta, and Spark Therapeutics, Inc., or Spark, for certain pre-specified targets.
•Restoring self-tolerance to auto-antigens: We believe that ImmTOR has the potential to restore self-tolerance to autoimmune diseases. Our first program in autoimmune diseases is in primary biliary cholangitis, or PBC. PBC has a significant unmet medical need and a well-defined target antigen, known as PDC-E2.
•Other products and product candidates affected by undesired immune responses. We have generated preclinical data which we believe suggests a broad potential benefit of ImmTOR for immune tolerance. For many biologic drugs, undesired immune responses limit efficacy and cause safety concerns. We intend to strategically out-license ImmTOR for use with other products that are outside our focus to larger biopharmaceutical companies. We believe our ImmTOR platform may also be of interest to biopharmaceutical companies with novel biologic development concepts or product candidates in clinical development that have demonstrated initial efficacy but are experiencing issues with safety or sustained efficacy due to inhibitory ADAs.
Our Product Candidates
Below is a summary of our ongoing discovery, research and development programs:
|Program||Phase of Development||Next Steps||Commercial Rights|
|Amplifying the Efficacy of Biologic Therapies (Enzyme Therapies)|
|SEL-212 (Chronic Refractory Gout)||Phase 3 clinical trials (DISSOLVE I / DISSOLVE II)||Complete enrollment 2H 2021; top-line data 2H 2022||Sobi|
|IgA Nephropathy||Preclinical||IND filing 4Q 2021||Selecta|
|Amplifying the Efficacy of Biologic Therapies (Gene Therapies)|
|Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA)||Preclinical||Commence phase 1/2 2Q 2021; preliminary data 4Q 2021||Selecta and AskBio|
|Ornithine Transcarbamylase (OTC) Deficiency||IND-enabling||Clinical program expected to commence in 2022||Selecta|
(Empty AAV Capsid+ImmTOR)
|Data expected in 4Q 2021||Selecta and AskBio|
|Pompe Disease||Preclinical||Plans to be announced by our collaborator||AskBio|
|Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)||Preclinical||Plans to be announced by our collaborator||Sarepta|
|Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy||Preclinical||Plans to be announced by our collaborator||Sarepta|
Restoring Self-Tolerance in Autoimmune Diseases
|Primary Biliary Cholangitis||Preclinical||IND filing expected in 2022||Selecta|
Amplifying the Efficacy of Biologics: Enzyme Therapy – Chronic Refractory Gout
SEL-212 is designed to be a monthly treatment for chronic refractory gout, a debilitating rare disease with an unmet medical need. SEL-212 consists of a combination of our ImmTOR platform co-administered with pegadricase. Pegadricase is an investigational recombinant pegylated uricase (urate oxidase), an enzyme not naturally found in humans, and is therefore highly immunogenic. This enzyme is designed to treat patients with symptomatic gout, refractory to standard uric acid lowering treatment, by breaking down the excess uric acid to the more soluble allantoin. In preclinical studies, we observed that ImmTOR, when co-administered with pegadricase, induced antigen-specific immune tolerance to pegadricase and substantially reduced the formation of associated ADAs. Based on our clinical data, we believe that SEL-212 has the potential to control serum uric acid, or SUA levels and mitigate the formation of ADAs in response to the therapeutic enzyme. Additionally, we believe that SEL-212 serves as proof of concept for the ImmTOR platform in ameliorating the unwanted immune response to an immunogenic biologic. SEL-212 is in two pivotal Phase 3 studies versus placebo, which we refer to as DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II, and with topline data expected in the second half of 2022. SEL-212 has been licensed (except as to Greater China) to Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB, or Sobi, pursuant to our license and development agreement dated June 11, 2020 with Sobi, or the Sobi License.
The market for gout therapy
Gout, a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis resulting from excess accumulation of uric acid and deposition of uric acid crystals in joints and soft tissues, including those of the kidney and heart, causing harmful inflammation, is caused by an overproduction of uric acid and/or an inability of the kidneys to excrete adequate amounts of uric acid from the body. High concentrations of SUA lead to formation of uric acid crystals in joints and tissues, causing pain, inflammation and joint damage, and increase the risk for other conditions, including cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, joint and kidney disease.
Patients who are unable to reduce their SUA levels below 6.0 mg/dL with oral drugs are diagnosed with refractory gout. Chronic refractory gout constitutes a subset of gout patients exhibiting chronic high SUA levels and painful and damaging uric acid deposits. We estimate that there are approximately 160,000 chronic refractory gout patients in the U.S.
We believe SEL-212 may potentially address several key unmet needs in the treatment of chronic refractory gout: the durable control of SUA levels, the elimination of painful and damaging uric acid deposits, reduction in incidence and severity of flares, based on our preclinical studies, clinical studies, and market research. SEL-212 is designed to address these unmet medical needs while improving the dosing regimen to a once-monthly treatment.
We announced the top-line data of our Phase 2 head-to-head clinical trial, which we refer to as the COMPARE trial, against pegloticase, which is marketed as KRYSTEXXA®, in September 2020. SEL-212 showed a numerically higher response rate to pegloticase on the primary endpoint during months 3 and 6 combined, but did not meet the primary endpoint of statistical superiority. SEL-212 did demonstrate a statistically significant higher response rate of SEL-212 during the third month of treatment, as well as a statistically significant greater overall reduction in mean SUA levels in SEL-212 versus pegloticase. SEL-212 demonstrated a numerically higher response rate of SEL-212 during the sixth month of treatment. In patients with tophi at baseline, SEL-212 demonstrated substantially higher responder rates for SEL-212 compared to pegloticase on the primary endpoint, and a statistically significant reduction in mean SUA when compared to pegloticase. Approximately 41% of patients in the Phase 2 COMPARE trial had visible tophi at baseline. SEL-212 showed favorable safety results and was well-tolerated; there were no deaths during the study. There were no notable differences in serious Treatment Emergent Adverse Events, or TEAEs, treatment-related serious TEAEs, or infusion reactions between the two groups. A full analysis of safety signals, including gout flare incidence and severity, requires evaluation of the full data set and will be reported together with the full efficacy analysis in a manuscript in a medical journal.
We and Sobi commenced the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program of SEL-212 in September 2020. The Phase 3 clinical program consists of two double blinded, placebo-controlled trials of SEL-212, DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II. Each trial is expected to enroll 105 patients, with 35 patients receiving 0.1 mg/kg of ImmTOR and 0.2 mg/kg of pegadricase, 35 patients receiving 0.15 mg/kg of ImmTOR and 0.2 mg/kg of pegadricase, and 35 patients receiving placebo. DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II both have a 6-month primary endpoint with a 6-month safety extension for DISSOLVE I. Topline data from the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program is expected in the second half of 2022. The Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program is being conducted by Selecta and funded by Sobi.
SEL-212 consists of ImmTOR co-administered with pegadricase. Our ImmTOR consists of nanoparticles composed of poly(D,L-lactide), or PLA, and poly(D,L-lactide)-block-poly(ethylene-glycol), or PLA-PEG, encapsulating rapamycin. Our pegadricase consists of a uricase modified with poly(ethylene-glycol), or PEG.
Pegadricase is a pegylated version of the therapeutic enzyme uricase, which we have licensed from Shenyang Sunshine Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., or 3SBio, exclusively for all markets, except Japan and Greater China, and exclusively for Japan only in combination with our ImmTOR platform. Uricase is an enzyme endogenous to all mammals, except for humans and certain primates, which converts uric acid to the more soluble metabolite, allantoin. There is a natural limit to the amount of uric acid
that can be excreted by the kidneys, which decreases with age and can be reduced by some medications. By converting uric acid to allantoin, uricase provides an additional way for the body to reduce uric acid. In our Phase 1/2 program, out of 19 patients dosed with the pegadricase alone, three patients were responders at week 4.
SEL-212 Clinical Development
Phase 1a and Phase 1b clinical trials
We conducted Phase 1a and Phase 1b clinical trials for SEL-212 at multiple sites in the United States.
The Phase 1a trial consisted of a single ascending-dose trial of pegadricase alone in 22 patients with elevated SUA levels greater than 6.0 mg/dL. At the outset of the trial, each of five cohorts received a single intravenous infusion of pegadricase at ascending dose levels. We monitored the patients during a 30-day period post-infusion. We commenced enrollment of the clinical trial in the second quarter of 2015 and completed the treatment portion of the trial in November 2015. We observed that pegadricase showed no serious adverse events, or SAEs, and was well tolerated at the five dose levels tested. Additionally, we observed that pegadricase rapidly reduced and sustained average SUA levels below 6.0 mg/dL for each cohort for 14 to 30 days, depending on the dose level. Consistent with our preclinical studies in animals, pegadricase induced uricase-specific ADAs in all patients with varying levels in this Phase 1a trial.
The Phase 1b clinical trial enrolled 63 patients with SUA levels greater than 6.0 mg/dL. One group of five patients received a single 0.4 mg/kg dose of pegadricase alone. Four groups of patients, each containing two placebo-control patients and five test article patients, received a placebo or a single intravenous infusion of ImmTOR alone at the following ascending dose levels: 0.03 mg/kg, 0.1 mg/kg, 0.3 mg/kg and 0.5 mg/kg. Four groups of patients received a single intravenous infusion of ImmTOR at ascending dose levels of 0.03 mg/kg (5 patients), 0.1 mg/kg (10 patients), 0.15 mg/kg (5 patients) or 0.3 mg/kg (5 patients) with a fixed dose of pegadricase of 0.4 mg/kg, which we collectively call the SEL-212 cohorts. All patients were followed for at least 30 days after their initial dose.
At the completion of our Phase 1b program for SEL-212 we had dosed a total of 64 patients in the trial with either SEL-212 (ImmTOR and pegadricase), ImmTOR alone, pegadricase alone or placebo. The median serum acid level of patients enrolled was 7.3 mg/dL, with a mean of 7.4 mg/dL at baseline. Patients presented with an average of 5.3 co-morbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes.
We have generally observed that SEL‑212 and its components, ImmTOR and pegadricase, have been well tolerated in this patient population. There were a total of six SAEs in the Phase 1b trial. Of the six SAEs, three were determined to not to be related to study drug by investigators. Of the remaining three SAEs that were determined to possibly or likely be related to study drug, two were cases of stomatitis that occurred at the highest dose of ImmTOR tested (0.5 mg/kg), leading us to define 0.3 mg/kg as the maximum tolerated dose of ImmTOR in this patient population. The remaining SAE was a case of drug hypersensitivity that occurred at a dose of 0.1 mg/kg of ImmTOR in combination with 0.4 mg/kg of pegadricase. In all cases, the patient fully recovered from the SAE without residual effects.
Phase 2 dose-finding clinical trial
We enrolled patients with symptomatic gout and elevated SUA levels in an open-label, multiple ascending-dose Phase 2 clinical trial of SEL-212 at 15 active U.S. clinical sites. The primary and secondary endpoints for this trial included safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and reduction of SUA and ADA levels, in addition to data regarding flares and other patient-related observations.
The following are the results from the 152 patients dosed in the Phase 2 trial with the primary clinical endpoint of SUA levels below 6 mg/dL:
•Control and 0.05 mg/kg ImmTOR Dose Cohorts (cohorts receiving five monthly doses of pegadricase alone or three monthly doses of 0.2 mg/kg or 0.4 mg/kg of pegadricase + 0.05 mg/kg of ImmTOR followed by two monthly doses of pegadricase alone): Dosing of patients in the control cohorts receiving pegadricase alone was stopped early due to a loss of clinical activity caused by the immunogenicity of the enzyme. Clinical activity was lost by week 12 in the majority of patients receiving pegadricase in combination with the 0.05 mg/kg dose of ImmTOR.
•0.08 and 0.1 mg/kg ImmTOR Dose Cohorts (cohorts receiving three monthly doses of 0.2 mg/kg or 0.4 mg/kg of pegadricase + 0.08 or 0.10 mg/kg of ImmTOR followed by two monthly doses of pegadricase alone): A majority of patients in these cohorts maintained clinical activity while receiving the combination therapy through week 12. These results were consistent with the level of clinical activity observed through day 30 at a similar SEL-212 dose level in our Phase 1b trial. At the 0.1 mg/kg dose level, half of the patients that maintained clinical activity through week 12 also maintained clinical activity through week 20.
•0.125 and 0.15 mg/kg ImmTOR Dose Cohorts (cohorts receiving three monthly doses of pegadricase +0.125 or 0.15 mg/kg of ImmTOR followed by two monthly doses of pegadricase alone): A majority of patients in these cohorts maintained clinical activity while receiving the combination therapy through week 12. These results were consistent
with the level of clinical activity observed through day 30 at a similar SEL-212 dose level in our Phase 1b trial. Approximately 81% of evaluable patients (N=27) receiving up to 0.15 mg/kg ImmTOR in combination with 0.2 or 0.4 mg/kg of pegadricase followed by 2 monthly doses of pegadricase alone had SUA control below 6 mg/dL at week 12.
•0.10 and 0.15 mg/kg ImmTOR 5 Combination Dose Cohorts (cohorts receiving five monthly doses of pegadricase +0.10 or 0.15 mg/kg of ImmTOR ): Five monthly doses of SEL-212 resulted in sustained SUA control and was well tolerated over the entire treatment period. 100% of the patients that had SUA levels below 6 mg/dL at 12 weeks maintained control through 20 weeks. Approximately 66% of evaluable patients (21/32) completed week 20 with SUA levels below 6 mg/dL.
SEL-212 was generally well-tolerated at clinically active doses following repeated administrations in the trial. Twenty patients reported a total of 23 SAEs in the Phase 2 clinical trial. Nine SAEs were reported in the five dose combination cohorts, seven of which were reported to be not related or unlikely related to study drug, and two of which were infusion reactions. All SAEs were successfully treated without further issues.
Phase 2 head-to-head clinical trial (COMPARE)
In March 2019, we initiated a non-registrational Phase 2 head-to-head clinical trial of SEL-212 (COMPARE), in which SEL-212 was compared against the current FDA-approved therapy for chronic refractory gout, pegloticase, in multiple clinical sites in the United States. The two-armed, open label trial enrolled 170 patients with 87 patients receiving pegloticase (as set forth in the prescribing information) and the other 83 patients receiving six monthly doses of SEL-212 (0.15 mg/kg of ImmTOR and 0.2 mg/kg of pegadricase).
On September 30, 2020, we announced the topline results from the COMPARE trial. SEL-212 showed a numerically higher response rate to pegloticase on the primary endpoint during months 3 and 6 combined, but did not meet the primary endpoint of statistical superiority. SEL-212 did demonstrate a statistically significant higher response rate of SEL-212 during the third month of treatment, as well as a statistically significant greater overall reduction in mean SUA levels in SEL-212 versus pegloticase in months 3 and 6 combined. SEL-212 demonstrated a numerically higher response rate of SEL-212 during the sixth month of treatment. In patients with tophi at baseline, SEL-212 demonstrated substantially higher responder rates for SEL-212 compared to pegloticase on the primary endpoint, and a statistically significant reduction in mean SUA when compared to pegloticase. Approximately 41% of patients in the Phase 2 COMPARE trial had visible tophi at baseline, which is lower than expected for the general refractory gout population. SEL-212 showed a favorable safety profile and was well-tolerated. There were no deaths during the study. There were no notable differences in serious TEAEs, treatment-related serious TEAEs, or infusion reactions between the two groups. A full analysis of safety signals, including gout flare incidence and severity, requires evaluation of the full data set and will be reported together with the full efficacy analysis in a manuscript in a medical journal.
Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program
In September 2020, we commenced the Phase 3 clinical program of SEL-212, which we refer to as DISSOLVE. We are responsible for the execution of the DISSOLVE program and are being reimbursed by Sobi on a quarterly basis for expenses incurred in connection with these activities. The Phase 3 clinical program consists of two double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials of SEL-212. We refer to these trials as DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II. Each trial is expected to enroll 105 patients, with 35 patients receiving 0.1 mg/kg of ImmTOR and 0.2 mg/kg of pegadricase, 35 patients receiving 0.15 mg/kg of ImmTOR and 0.2 mg/kg of pegadricase, and 35 patients receiving placebo. We commenced enrollment of DISSOLVE I in September 2020 and DISSOLVE II in December 2020. DISSOLVE I is enrolling patients in the United States only and will have a 6-month primary endpoint followed by a 6-month safety extension. DISSOLVE II will have a 6-month primary endpoint with no extension. The primary endpoint of the DISSOLVE program is the maintenance of SUA levels below 6 mg/dL at 6 months. Topline data from the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program is expected in the second half of 2022.
Amplifying the Efficacy of Biologics: Enzyme Therapy – IgA Nephropathy
The second indication in our enzyme therapy program is IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune kidney disease that occurs when immune complexes of a subclass of antibodies called immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) accumulates in the kidneys.
On October 8, 2020, we entered into an Option and License Agreement, or the IGAN Agreement, with IGAN Biosciences, Inc., or IGAN. Pursuant to the IGAN Agreement, IGAN has granted us an exclusive license to research, evaluate, and conduct pre-clinical development activities on IGAN’s proprietary IgA proteases. Previous studies in animal models conducted at independent laboratories demonstrated that IgA protease removed injurious IgA immune complexes from kidneys and reduced inflammation, fibrosis, and hematuria. These results suggest that it is an excellent candidate to potentially decrease the rate of disease progression and possibly even reverse the disease. The barrier to IgA protease commercialization is the bacterial origin of the protease, which makes it immunogenic. Our ImmTOR platform has shown in clinical studies the ability to mitigate the formation of ADAs to immunogenic enzymes, which has been demonstrated with our Phase 3 lead product candidate, SEL-212. We intend to combine IgA protease with our ImmTOR platform to develop a novel combination product candidate for the treatment of IgA nephropathy and IgA-mediated diseases. We will have an option term of 24 months, during which we can
elect to obtain an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize the product candidate to treat all IgA-mediated diseases, including IgA nephropathy, Linear IgA bullous dermatitis, IgA pemphigus, and Henoch-Schonlein purpura (also known as IgA vasculitis).
We plan to file an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application, for this program by the fourth quarter of 2021.
Amplifying the Efficacy of Biologics: Gene Therapies
When used in combination with AAV gene therapy vectors, ImmTOR has been observed to inhibit the immune response to the vector and enable successful redosing in mice and nonhuman primates. Currently, the ability to re-administer systemic AAV gene therapy is limited by the development of neutralizing antibodies. The ability to safely re-dose AAV may help achieve therapeutic benefit in patients who are under-dosed; it may also help restore transgene expression in patients, particularly pediatric patients, who may lose expression over time as they grow. In addition, a study conducted in nonhuman primates showed that co-administration of AAV vector and ImmTOR in non-human primates, or NHPs, enabled higher and more durable transgene expression after the first dose of gene therapy as well as robust inhibition of anti-AAV8 immunoglobulin G, or IgG and neutralizing antibodies. The observation that co-administration of AAV vector and ImmTOR leads to higher transgene expression demonstrates the potential for dosing lower levels of AAV gene therapies when combined with ImmTOR. Thus integrating ImmTOR into a gene therapy protocol has the potential to provide a first dose benefit by enhancing liver-directed transgene expression and durability, as well as the potential for enabling re-dosing.
Our lead gene therapy program is in collaboration with AskBio in methylmalonic acidemia, or MMA, an inherited disorder in which the body is unable to process certain proteins and fats (lipids) properly. We and AskBio plan to file an IND for this product candidate, MMA-101, in MMA and commence a Phase 1 clinical trial in the first half of 2021 under this collaboration. We expect to report initial data from this trial by the end of 2021. In October and November 2020, we and AskBio received rare pediatric disease designation and orphan drug designation, respectively, from the FDA for MMA-101, for the treatment of MMA due to methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, or MMUT gene mutations. See “⸻Licenses and Collaborations⸻AskBio” for more information.
Our proprietary gene therapy product candidate, SEL-313, is being developed to treat ornithine transcarbamylase, or OTC deficiency, and is currently in preclinical development. OTC deficiency is a rare genetic disorder that causes ammonia to accumulate in the blood due to mutations in the OTC gene, which is critical for proper function of the urea cycle. The most severe form of the disorder presents within the first few days of life. Severe symptoms include inability to control body temperature and breathing rate, seizures, coma, developmental delays and intellectual disability. Less severe forms of the disorder are characterized by delirium, erratic behavior, aversion to high protein foods, vomiting and seizures.
The SEL-399 program combines an empty AAV capsid (EMC-101), which is an AAV capsid containing no transgene, with ImmTOR and is being conducted in partnership with AskBio. Building on the preclinical data we have generated showing ImmTOR’s effect on mitigating or reducing the formation of neutralizing antibodies to AAV gene therapies, we have commenced a clinical trial of SEL-399 in healthy adult volunteers in Belgium. The goal of the SEL-399 clinical trial is to demonstrate the appropriate dose of ImmTOR in humans to mitigate the formation of antibodies to AAV capsids used in gene therapies. An initial control cohort of healthy volunteers received a single dose of EMC-101 in December 2020 and dose escalating cohorts of EMC-101 plus ImmTOR were initiated in February 2021. Topline results from the clinical trial are expected in the fourth quarter of 2021.
We have several additional programs in development with our collaborators.
Restoring Self-tolerance in Autoimmune Diseases
Our lead autoimmune diseases indication is PBC, a T-cell driven autoimmune disease that causes progressive destruction of the bile ducts. Patients with PBC are in need of a highly-targeted, liver-directed approach to treating the root cause of the disorder. We believe PBC has a well-defined target antigen, significant unmet medical need, and is well suited to the application of our ImmTOR immune tolerance platform, as preclinical data suggest that ImmTOR has the potential to enhance the tolerogenic environment in the liver and provide a hepatoprotective benefit.
Licenses and Collaborations
Swedish Orphan Biovitrum
In June 2020, we announced that we had entered into the Sobi License, pursuant to which we agreed to grant Sobi an exclusive, worldwide (except as to Greater China) license to develop, manufacture and commercialize SEL-212, which is currently in development for the treatment of chronic refractory gout. In September 2020, pursuant to the Sobi License, Sobi paid us a one-time, up-front payment of $75 million. Sobi has also agreed to make milestone payments totaling up to $630 million to us upon the achievement of various development and regulatory milestones and sales thresholds for annual net sales of SEL-212, and tiered royalty payments ranging from the low double digits on the lowest sales tier to the high teens on the highest sales tier.
Additionally, Sobi purchased an aggregate of 5,416,390 shares of our common stock at $4.6156 for aggregate gross proceeds of $25 million, which we refer to as the Sobi Private Placement. The closing of the Sobi Private Placement occurred on July 31, 2020.
Under the Sobi License, we will have operational oversight of the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program of SEL-212 (DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II) that commenced in September 2020, at Sobi’s expense.
In October 2020, we entered into the IGAN Agreement. Pursuant to the IGAN Agreement, IGAN granted us an exclusive license to research, evaluate, and conduct pre-clinical development activities on IGAN’s proprietary IgA proteases. We have an option term of 24 months, or the Option Term, during which we can elect to obtain an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize the product to treat all IgA-mediated diseases, including IgA nephropathy, Linear IgA bullous dermatitis, IgA pemphigus, and Henoch-Schonlein purpura (also known as IgA vasculitis).
Upon execution of the IGAN Agreement, we paid IGAN a one-time up-front payment of $500,000 and we would owe additional payments to IGAN if we were to opt-in to an exclusive license agreement, as well as upon the achievement of certain development and sales milestones.
During the Option Term, we may terminate the IGAN Agreement immediately for any reason upon written notice to IGAN. If we opt-in to an exclusive license agreement, we may terminate the IGAN Agreement upon 120 days’ written notice.
In June 2020, we entered into a research license and option agreement with Sarepta, or the Sarepta Agreement. Pursuant to the agreement, we granted Sarepta a license to research and evaluate ImmTOR in combination with Sarepta’s AAV gene therapy or gene editing technology, using viral or non-viral delivery, or the Sarepta Product, to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and certain Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy subtypes, or the Sarepta Indications. Sarepta will have an option term of 24 months during which it can opt-in to obtain an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize the Sarepta Product to treat at least one Sarepta Indication, with a potential to extend the option term if Sarepta pays an additional fee to us. Sarepta made an up-front payment to us upon signing of the agreement, and we are eligible to receive additional payments under the option term. If Sarepta opts-in to an exclusive license agreement, we could receive option exercise payments per indication, we would be entitled to significant development and commercial milestone payments and tiered royalties ranging from the mid-to-high single digits based on net sales.
Feasibility Study and License Agreement
In August 2019, we entered into a feasibility study and license agreement with AskBio, or the AskBio Collaboration Agreement. The initial product candidate being developed under this collaboration is gene therapy for MMA which can cause severe developmental defects and premature death as a result of an accumulation of toxic metabolites. We previously conducted preclinical studies for this product candidate and will leverage that previous work within the collaboration. We expect to commence a Phase 1 clinical trial in MMA-101 in the first half of 2021, with initial proof of concept data expected by the end of 2021. The initial proof-of-concept data will potentially validate the use of our ImmTOR platform to mitigate the formation of neutralizing anti-AAV capsid antibodies, which currently precludes re-dosing. If the proof-of-concept studies are successful, we will proceed with a collaboration to pursue the development and commercialization of AAV gene therapy product candidates utilizing ImmTOR for the treatment of certain agreed serious rare and orphan genetic diseases.
Additionally, the SEL-399 program in collaboration with AskBio, combines an empty AAV capsid (EMC-101), which is an AAV capsid containing no transgene, with ImmTOR. We commenced the trial in healthy adult volunteers in December 2020, with the goal to demonstrate the appropriate dose of ImmTOR in humans to mitigate the formation of antibodies to AAV capsids used in gene therapies. Topline results are expected in the fourth quarter of 2021.
We and AskBio will share responsibility for the research, development and commercialization of products developed under this collaboration. The parties will also share research, development and commercialization costs equally for all collaboration products, but with a right of either party to opt out of certain products, and thereby no longer be required to share costs for such products. Each party will receive a percentage of net profits for each product sold under the collaboration equal to the percentage of shared costs borne by such party in the development of such product. Pursuant to the AskBio Collaboration Agreement, AskBio is responsible for manufacturing the AAV capsids and AAV vectors and we are responsible for manufacturing ImmTOR.
License Agreement for Pompe Disease
In December 2019, we entered into the AskBio License Agreement which provides AskBio with exclusive worldwide rights to our ImmTOR platform to research, develop and commercialize certain AAV-gene therapy products targeting the GAA gene, or derivatives thereof, to treat Pompe Disease. Pursuant to the AskBio License Agreement, AskBio paid us upfront fees of
an aggregate of $7.0 million. Also pursuant to the AskBio License Agreement, AskBio agreed to make additional payments to us based on the achievement of certain development and commercial milestones of up to an aggregate of $237.0 million. AskBio will also be obligated to make tiered royalty payments, at percentages in the mid-to-high single digits, to us based on achievement of certain sales milestones.
We will supply AskBio with our ImmTOR platform and AskBio will be responsible for all preclinical, clinical and commercial manufacture and supply of products licensed under the AskBio License Agreement (other than ImmTOR) and carry out all other activities related to the research, development, and commercialization of such products at its sole expense, including all regulatory activities related thereto. The AskBio License Agreement contains other customary terms and conditions, including representations and warranties, covenants, termination, and indemnification obligations in favor of each party.
In 2016, we entered into a license and option agreement with Spark, or the Spark License Agreement, which provides Spark with exclusive worldwide rights to our ImmTOR platform to research, develop and commercialize gene therapies for Factor VIII, an essential blood clotting protein relevant to the treatment of hemophilia A.
Pursuant to the Spark License Agreement, Spark paid us an upfront payment of $15.0 million. We will be eligible to receive up to an aggregate of $430.0 million in milestone payments, with up to $65.0 million being based on Spark’s achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones and up to $365.0 million for commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties on global net sales at percentages ranging from mid-single to low-double digits.
Each party is responsible for its own costs and expenses incurred in connection with its respective activities under the Spark License, except that Spark has agreed to reimburse us for the full-time equivalent and out-of-pocket costs incurred in performing certain tasks or assistance specifically requested by Spark. We retain the responsibility to manufacture Spark’s preclinical, clinical and commercial requirements for the ImmTOR platform, subject to the terms of the Spark License Agreement.
The Spark License Agreement will continue on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis until the expiration of Spark’s royalty payment obligations with respect to such product in such country unless earlier terminated by the parties. The Spark License Agreement may be terminated by Spark for convenience upon ninety days’ notice. Either party may terminate the Spark License Agreement on a target-by-target basis for the material breach of the other party with respect to such target.
In connection with the Spark License Agreement, we also entered into a stock purchase agreement with Spark, pursuant to which Spark purchased in the aggregate $15.0 million of shares of our common stock.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 2008, we entered into a license agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, which we refer to in its amended form as the MIT License. We amended the MIT License in January 2010, August 2013, November 2016, December 2019 and June 2020. Under the MIT License, we acquired an exclusive worldwide license, with the right to grant sublicenses, to develop, make, sell, use and import certain licensed products that are therapeutic or prophylactic vaccines and use certain licensed processes in the exercise of rights to the licensed products, the manufacture, sale and practice of which are covered by patent rights owned or controlled by MIT, including patents jointly owned with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, or Brigham, the President and Fellows of Harvard College, the Immune Disease Institute and the Children’s Medical Center Corporation. Our exclusivity is subject to certain retained rights of these institutions and other third parties.
Upon our entry into the MIT License, we paid MIT a non-refundable license issue fee, reimbursed certain of MIT’s costs and issued shares of our common stock to MIT and the other institutional patent owners which were subject to certain anti-dilution, registration and other protective rights. We are obligated to pay MIT creditable annual maintenance fees, low-single-digit running royalty on annual net sales, developmental milestones up to an aggregate of $1.5 million, a mid-single digit percentage of certain payments we receive from corporate partners and a specified percentage of certain income received from sublicensees after 2009 between 10% and 30%. We may terminate the MIT License at any time upon six months’ written notice. MIT has the right to terminate the MIT License immediately upon written notice to us if we cease to carry on our business related to the MIT License, fail to maintain insurance as required under the MIT License, file for bankruptcy, fail to pay amounts due under the MIT License, challenge or assist others in bringing a challenge to MIT’s patents or fail to cure material breach within 60 days’ written notice thereof. Absent early termination, the MIT License will continue until the expiration or abandonment of the last to expire patent right subject to the MIT License.
In June 2020, we entered into a Fifth Amendment to the MIT License, or the MIT Amendment, which was effective as of May 15, 2020. Pursuant to the MIT Amendment, certain of our diligence obligations were extended to the second quarter of 2021, including a diligence obligation to commence a Phase 3 trial for a licensed product by a specific date in the second quarter of 2021. Additionally, certain of our development and regulatory milestones and payments upon achievement of such milestones were adjusted.
Shenyang Sunshine Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
In 2014, we entered into a license agreement with 3SBio, as amended in 2017, which we refer to as the 3SBio License. Pursuant to the 3SBio License, we were granted an exclusive license to certain pegadricase-related patents and related know-how owned or in-licensed by 3SBio for the worldwide (except for Greater China and Japan) development and commercialization of products based thereupon for human therapeutic, diagnostic and prophylactic use. We are also granted a worldwide (except for Greater China) exclusive license to develop, commercialize and manufacture or have manufactured products combining our proprietary ImmTOR platform with pegadricase or related compounds supplied by 3SBio (or otherwise supplied if our rights to manufacture are in effect) for human therapeutic, diagnostic and prophylactic use. We were also granted a co-exclusive license to manufacture and have manufactured pegadricase and related compounds for our preclinical and clinical use or, if the 3SBio License is terminated for 3SBio’s material breach, for any use under the 3SBio License. In addition, the 3SBio License, as amended, permits us to utilize one or more third parties to provide up to 20% of our commercial supply of pegadricase. Otherwise, except in the case of a supply shortage on the part of 3SBio, we are obligated to obtain at least 80% of our supply of such compounds for Phase 3 clinical trials and commercial use from 3SBio under the terms of our separate Commercial Supply Agreement with 3SBio dated August 1, 2019.
Under the 3SBio License we have paid to 3SBio an aggregate of $7.0 million in upfront and milestone-based payments. We are required to make future payments to 3SBio contingent upon the occurrence of events related to the achievement of clinical and regulatory approval milestones of up to an aggregate of $15.0 million for products containing our ImmTOR platform. We are also required to pay 3SBio tiered royalties on annual worldwide net sales related to the pegadricase component of products at percentages ranging from the low-to-mid single digits for products containing our ImmTOR platform, subject to specified reductions. These royalties are payable, on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis until the later of (i) the date that all of the patent rights for that product have expired in that country or (ii) a specified number of years from the first commercial sale of such product in such country.
The 3SBio License expires on the date of expiration of all of our royalty payment obligations unless earlier terminated by either party for an uncured material default of the other party or for the other party’s bankruptcy. We may also terminate the 3SBio License on a country-by-country or product-by-product basis for any reason effective upon 60 days’ prior written notice to 3SBio or, with respect to a given product, immediately upon written notice to 3SBio if we identify a safety or efficacy concern related to such product.
We manufacture ImmTOR using a scalable, self-assembly nanoemulsion process with well-defined, pharmaceutical unit operations. This proprietary, highly specialized and precisely controlled manufacturing process enables us to reproducibly manufacture ImmTOR across many production scales, from milligram-scale at the laboratory bench to hundreds of grams to multi-kilogram scale for commercial production. We have also developed and executed the required detailed analytic characterization of our products.
For our most advanced product candidate, SEL-212, we are producing ImmTOR at an approximately 400-gram scale process, which, at the doses being tested in the Phase 3 DISSOLVE program, we believe will be suitable for commercialization. The process is designed such that this same equipment is capable of potentially producing up to a one kilogram batch size scale. As our nanoparticle manufacturing process is compact, and therefore also portable, our strategy is to transfer our custom designed process skids to a contract manufacturing organization, or CMO, and have the CMO produce the nanoparticles, under our direction. This is the strategy we use for production of clinical supplies for clinical trials and would be the expected strategy for commercial production.
The pegadricase enzyme for SEL-212 is produced by fermentation in E. coli and is sourced from 3SBio in China. Through a licensing arrangement, we own exclusive worldwide rights to pegadricase outside of China, with co-ownership of rights in Japan and with 3SBio owning all rights in China. Under this arrangement, 3SBio has agreed to supply us with pegadricase. We also have a second supplier for pegadricase in the United States.
Our ImmTOR platform is designed to deliver precise instructions to the immune system as a result of the natural predisposition of the immune system to interrogate nanoparticles such as viruses. In connection with our founding, we licensed multiple patent families, including a patent family based in part on the pioneering research performed by our co-founders at Harvard University, MIT and Brigham. We have also conducted extensive research in-house to further research this area, leading to key discoveries regarding and uses for our ImmTOR technology. We have aggressively sought to extend and protect the proprietary intellectual property underlying the composition and use of ImmTOR for antigen-specific immunotolerance.
We endeavor to protect our nanoparticle technology, which we consider fundamental to our business, by seeking, maintaining and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties, relating to our program, product candidates, their methods of use and the processes for their manufacture. Our practice is to strive to protect our intellectual property by, among other methods, pursuing and obtaining patent protection in the United States and in jurisdictions
outside of the United States related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, programs and product candidates that are commercially important to the operation and growth of our business. We also rely on trade secrets and know-how relating to our proprietary technology, programs and product candidates, continuing innovation and in-licensing opportunities to maintain, advance and fortify our proprietary position in our nanoparticle-based immunotherapy program and product candidates. Our commercial success will depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for our program technology, inventions and improvements; to preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; to maintain our licenses to use intellectual property owned or controlled by third parties; to defend and enforce our proprietary rights, including our patents; and to operate without infringing the patents and proprietary rights of third parties.
We have developed and in-licensed numerous patents and patent applications and possess substantial know-how and trade secrets relating to our nanoparticle-based immunotherapy technology, program and product candidates. Our patent portfolio contains a number of issued patents in the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions. We also own a number of pending patent applications in the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions. These patents and patent applications include claims related to:
•tolerance immunotherapy programs;
•methods and compositions related to our proprietary nanoparticles in a variety of applications, including tolerance applications, such as:
◦mitigating anti-drug antibodies and/or their effects associated with protein drugs, such as for chronic refractory gout, including coverage for ImmTOR co-administered with pegadricase, which related patents are expected to expire between 2032 and 2040, and
◦genetic therapies (such as viral vector gene therapy), including coverage for ImmTOR co-administered with a viral vector, which related patents are expected to expire between 2032 and 2040; and
•development and commercialization of SEL-212, including both composition of matter and method of treatment claims (there are multiple patent families with claims that cover the SEL-212 product, one of which is a licensed, issued U.S. patent that expires in August 2021).
In addition, we have exclusively or non-exclusively licensed intellectual property, including U.S. issued patents, foreign issued patents, and pending applications in both the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions. The licensed patents and patent applications cover various aspects of the technology being developed by us, including claims directed to compositions of matter and methods of use, and have been filed in various countries worldwide including in North America, Europe and Asia, with material expiration dates varying from 2021 to, if claims are issued, 2029. In addition to filing and prosecuting patent applications in the United States, we often file analogous patent applications in the European Union and in additional foreign countries where we believe such filing is likely to be beneficial, including but not limited to, Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, South Korea, Mexico, India, Israel and/or Japan.
Each patent’s term depends upon the laws of the countries in which they are obtained. The patent term in most countries in which we file is 20 years from the earliest date of filing of a non-provisional patent application. Notably, the term of U.S. patents may be extended due to delays incurred due to compliance with FDA or by delays encountered during prosecution that are caused by the USPTO. For example, the Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension for FDA-approved drugs of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent, depending upon the length of time the drug is under regulatory review. There is a limit to the amount of time a patent may be extended in the United States; no patent extension can extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. Similar patent term extensions are available in Europe and other jurisdictions for patents that cover regulatory-approved drugs. Currently, we own or license patents and patent applications with expected material expiration dates ranging from 2021 to 2040. However, the actual patent protection period varies on a product-by-product basis, from country-to-country, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of regulatory-related extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular country and the validity and enforceability of the patent.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products. We face potential competition from many different sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize may compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future.
Our competitors may have significantly greater financial resources, established presence in the market, expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical and clinical testing, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement and marketing approved products than we do. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, sales, marketing and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials,
as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.
The key competitive factors affecting the success of any other tolerance or immune stimulation product candidates that we develop, if approved, are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price, the level of generic competition and the availability of reimbursement from government and other third-party payors.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of generic or biosimilar products.
SEL-212 may compete with others in the gout market, including KRYSTEXXA, which contains a pegylated uricase similar to the pegadricase component of SEL-212 and is indicated for the treatment of refractory gout. Horizon Pharma plc, whose affiliates own KRYSTEXXA, may find other approaches to eliminate undesired immunogenicity to KRYSTEXXA. Long-term treatment with global immunosuppressive products may increase the susceptibility to contract infections, tumors and may lead to organ failure.
Large companies with active research to prevent the formation of ADAs and treat allergies or autoimmune diseases include Sanofi S.A., Pfizer Inc., and Merck & Co., Inc. Small, early-stage biopharmaceutical companies active in the research for new technologies to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance include Anokion SA, Apitope International NV, Caladrius Biosciences, Cour Pharmaceutical Development Company, Inc., Dendright International, Inc., Parvus Therapeutics, REGiMMUNE Corporation, Rubius Therapeutics, Inc., Tolerion, Inc., Topas Therapeutics GmbH, SQZ Biotechnologies and Txcell SA. Biopharmaceutical companies active in the research for ornithine transcarbamylase include Ultragenyx, Poseida, TranslateBio, Arcturus, and Kaleido. Biopharmaceutical companies active in the research for MMA include LogicBio, Poseida, and Moderna. Biopharmaceutical companies active in the research for IgA nephropathy include Calliditas, Omeros, Travere, EMD Serono, Novartis, Ionis, Visterra, Reata, and Alnylam. Biopharmaceutical companies active in the research for PBC include Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Genfit, GenKyoTex, GSK, Eli Lily, and CymaBay.
Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacturing, quality control, approval, labeling, packaging, storage, record-keeping, promotion, advertising, distribution, post-approval monitoring and reporting, marketing and export and import of products such as those we are developing.
SEL-212 is subject to regulation in the United States as a combination product. If marketed individually, each component would be subject to different regulatory pathways and would require approval of independent marketing applications by the FDA. A combination product, however, is assigned to a Center that will have primary jurisdiction over its regulation based on a determination of the combination product’s primary mode of action, which is the single mode of action that provides the most important therapeutic action. In the case of SEL-212, we believe that the primary mode of action is attributable to the biologic component of the product. In the case of SEL-212, which we believe will be regulated as a therapeutic biologic, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, or CDER, will have primary jurisdiction over premarket development. We expect to seek approval of SEL-212 through a single BLA reviewed by CDER, and we do not expect that the FDA will require a separate marketing authorization for each constituent of SEL-212.
Biological products are subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FD&C Act, and the Public Health Service Act, or PHS Act, and other federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations. SEL-212 and any other product candidates that we develop must be approved by the FDA before they may be legally marketed in the United States and by the appropriate foreign regulatory agency before they may be legally marketed in foreign countries.
U.S. biological products development process
The process required by the FDA before a biologic, including a gene therapy, may be marketed in the United States is summarized below.
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 chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as animal studies to assess the potential safety and activity of the product candidate. The conduct of the preclinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements including GLPs.
The clinical study 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 which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA places the clinical study 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 study can begin. The FDA may also impose clinical holds on a biological product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns or non-compliance. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, trials may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only under terms authorized by the FDA. In addition to the submission of an IND to the FDA, supervision of certain human gene transfer trials may also require evaluation and assessment by an institutional biosafety committee, or IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution.
Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical study, dosing procedures, patient selection and exclusion criteria, and the parameters to be used to monitor patient safety, including stopping rules that assure a clinical study 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 patients provide informed consent. Further, each clinical study must be reviewed and approved by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, at or servicing each institution at which the clinical study will be conducted. Human clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:
•Phase 1. The biological product candidate is initially introduced into healthy human patients and tested for safety.
•Phase 2. The biological product candidate is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance, optimal dosage and dosing schedule.
•Phase 3. Clinical trials are undertaken to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy, potency, and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical study sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product labeling.
Post-approval clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication, particularly for long-term safety follow-up.
The FDA or the sponsor or its data safety monitoring board may suspend a clinical study at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research patients or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical study at its institution if the clinical study is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the biological product candidate has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.
Sponsors of clinical trials of FDA-regulated products, including biologics, are also required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information, which is publicly available at www.clinicaltrials.gov. Concurrent with clinical trials, companies must also finalize a process for manufacturing the product in commercial quantities in accordance with GMP requirements.
After the completion of clinical trials of a biological product candidate, 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 trials, human trials, information on the manufacture and composition of the product, proposed labeling and other relevant information. In addition, under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, a BLA or supplement to a BLA must contain data to assess the safety and effectiveness of the biological product candidate 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 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, requires that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug or biological product that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within sixty days after a Type C meeting or as may be agreed between the sponsor and FDA. Unless otherwise required by regulation, PREA does not apply to any biological product for an indication for which orphan designation has been granted.
Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, each BLA must be accompanied by a user fee. The FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on BLAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication.
Within 60 days following submission of the application, the FDA reviews a BLA submitted to determine if it is substantially complete before the agency 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. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe, pure and potent for its intended use and whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP requirements 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 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 candidate. 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 will inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured to determine that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and are adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications.
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 the applicant interprets 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. 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.
One of the performance goals agreed to by the FDA under the PDUFA is to review 90% of standard BLAs in 10 months from the filing date and 90% of priority BLAs in six months from the filing date, whereupon a review decision is to be made. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority BLAs.
The FDA may grant orphan designation to drugs or biologics intended to treat a rare disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States, there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and marketing the product for this type of disease or condition will be recovered from sales in the United States. Orphan designation must be requested before submitting a BLA. After the FDA grants orphan designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process.
In the United States, orphan designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. In addition, if a product receives the first FDA approval for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to orphan exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application to market the same product for the same indication for a period of seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity or where the manufacturer with orphan exclusivity is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the approved orphan designated product. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different products for the indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same product but for a different indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan product exclusivity also could block the approval of one of our products for seven years if a competitor obtains approval of the same biological product as defined by the FDA or if our product candidate is determined to be contained within the competitor’s product for the same indication or disease. If a drug or biological product designated as an orphan product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to orphan product exclusivity.
Rare Pediatric Disease Designation
The Rare Pediatric Disease designation program allows for a sponsor who receives an approval for a product to potentially qualify for a voucher that can be redeemed to receive a priority review of a subsequent marketing application for a different product.
Expedited Development and Review Programs
The FDA has a Fast Track program that is intended to expedite or facilitate the process for reviewing new biological products that meet certain criteria. Specifically, new biological products are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the disease or condition. Fast Track designation applies to the combination of the product and the specific indication for which it is being studied. The sponsor of a new biologic may request that the FDA designate the biologic as a Fast Track product at any time during the clinical development of the product. The FDA may consider for review sections of the marketing application for a Fast Track product on a rolling basis before the complete application is submitted, if the sponsor provides a schedule for the submission of the sections of the application, the FDA agrees to accept sections of the application and determines that the schedule is acceptable, and the sponsor pays any required user fees upon submission of the first section of the application.
Any product submitted to the FDA for marketing, including under a Fast Track program, may be eligible for other types of FDA programs intended to expedite development and review, such as priority review and accelerated approval. Any product is
eligible for priority review if it treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness compared to marketed products. Additionally, a product may be eligible for accelerated approval. 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 be eligible for accelerated approval, which means that they may be approved on the basis of adequate and well-controlled clinical studies 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 a clinical endpoint other than survival or irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. As a condition of approval, the FDA may require that a sponsor of a biological product subject to accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical studies. In addition, the FDA currently requires as a condition for accelerated approval pre-approval of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Fast Track designation, priority review and accelerated approval do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process.
In addition, under the provisions of FDASIA, the FDA established a Breakthrough Therapy Designation which is intended to expedite the development and review of products that treat serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The designation includes all of the features of Fast Track designation, as well as more intensive FDA interaction and guidance.
Rigorous and extensive FDA regulation of biological products continues after approval, particularly with respect to cGMP requirements. Manufacturers of our products 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 record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse effects and reporting updated safety and efficacy information.
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 civil or criminal sanctions and adverse publicity. FDA sanctions could include refusal to approve pending applications, withdrawal of an approval, clinical hold, 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, debarment, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal penalties.
Biosimilars and Exclusivity
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA, which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product.
Biosimilarity, which requires that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies and a clinical study or studies. Interchangeability requires that a product is biosimilar to the reference product and the product must demonstrate that it can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product in any given patient and, for products that are administered multiple times to an individual, the biologic and the reference biologic may be alternated or switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic. However, complexities associated with the larger, and often more complex, structures of biological products, as well as the processes by which such products are manufactured, pose significant hurdles to implementation of the abbreviated approval pathway that are still being worked out by the FDA.
Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this 12-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of their product. The BPCIA also created certain exclusivity periods for
certain biosimilars approved as interchangeable products. At this juncture, it is unclear whether products deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA will, in fact, be readily substituted by pharmacies, which are governed by state pharmacy law.
A biological product can also obtain pediatric market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent term, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric study in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a study.
The BPCIA is complex and continues to be interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, the ultimate impact, implementation and meaning of the BPCIA is subject to significant uncertainty.
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 studies or marketing of the product in those countries.
The requirements and process governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, the clinical studies are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
In the European Economic Area, or EEA, which is composed of the 27 member states of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA.
There are two types of MAs.
•The Community MA, which is issued by the European Commission through the Centralized Procedure, based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, of the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, and which is valid throughout the entire territory of the EEA. The Centralized Procedure is mandatory for certain types of products, such as biotechnology medicinal products, orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products), and medicinal products that contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, auto-immune and viral diseases. The Centralized Procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health in the EU. Under the Centralized Procedure the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application is 210 days (excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP). Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when the authorization of a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and in particular from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. Under the accelerated procedure the standard 210 days review period is reduced to 150 days.
•National MAs, which are issued by the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA and only cover their respective territory, are available for products not falling within the mandatory scope of the Centralized Procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in a Member State of the EEA, this National MA can be recognized in another Member States through the Mutual Recognition Procedure. If the product has not received a National MA in any Member State at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various Member States through the Decentralized Procedure.
To obtain regulatory approval of an investigational biological product under European Union regulatory systems, we must submit a marketing authorization application, which is similar to the U.S. BLA. The European Union also provides opportunities for market exclusivity. For example, in the European Union, upon receiving marketing authorization, new chemical entities generally receive eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity. If granted, data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic or biosimilar application. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic or biosimilar product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. However, there is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the European Union’s regulatory authorities to be a new chemical entity, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity. Products receiving orphan designation in the European Union can receive ten years of market exclusivity, during which time no marketing authorization application shall be accepted and no marketing authorization shall be granted for a similar medicinal product for the same indication. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in the European Union for pediatric studies. No extension to any supplementary protection certificate can be granted on the basis of pediatric studies for orphan indications.
The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the European Union are similar in principle to those in the United States. Under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) 141/2000, a medicinal product may be designated as orphan if (1) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (2) either (a) such
condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the European Union when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the European Union to justify investment; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the European Union, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition, as defined in Regulation (EC) 847/2000. Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. The application for orphan drug designation must be submitted before the application for marketing authorization. The applicant will receive a fee reduction for the marketing authorization application if the orphan drug designation has been granted, but not if the designation is still pending at the time the marketing authorization is submitted. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.
The 10-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if the:
•second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior;
•applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or
•applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.
For other countries outside of the European Union, such as countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia, the requirements governing the conduct of clinical studies, product licensing, pricing and reimbursement vary from country to country. In all cases, again, the clinical studies are conducted in accordance with GCP and the applicable regulatory requirements and the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki.
When conducting clinical trials in the EU, we must adhere to the provisions of the European Union Clinical Trials Directive (Directive 2001/20/EC) and the laws and regulations of the EU Member States implementing them. These provisions require, among other things, that the prior authorization of an Ethics Committee and the competent Member State authority is obtained before commencing the clinical trial. In 2014, the EU passed the Clinical Trials Regulation (Regulation 536/2014), which will replace the current Clinical Trials Directive. To ensure that the rules for clinical trials are identical throughout the European Union, the EU Clinical Trials Regulation was passed as a regulation that is directly applicable in all EU member states. All clinical trials performed in the European Union are required to be conducted in accordance with the Clinical Trials Directive until the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable. According to the current plans of the EMA, the Clinical Trials Regulation is expected to become applicable in 2020.
We are also subject to data privacy and security laws in the jurisdictions outside of the U.S. in which we are established, run clinical trials or in which we sell or market our products once approved. For example, in Europe we are subject to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR) in relation to our collection, control, processing and other use of personal data (i.e. data relating to an identifiable living individual). We process personal data in relation to participants in our clinical trials in the EEA., including the health and medical information of these participants. The GDPR is directly applicable in each E.U. Member State, however, it provides that E.U. Member States may introduce further conditions, including limitations which could limit our ability to collect, use and share personal data (including health and medical information), or could cause our compliance costs to increase, ultimately having an adverse impact on our business. The GDPR imposes onerous accountability obligations requiring data controllers and processors to maintain a record of their data processing and implement policies as part of its mandated privacy governance framework. It also requires data controllers to be transparent and disclose to data subjects (in a concise, intelligible and easily accessible form) how their personal information is to be used, imposes limitations on retention of personal data; defines for the first time pseudonymized (i.e., key-coded) data; introduces mandatory data breach notification requirements; and sets higher standards for data controllers to demonstrate that they have obtained valid consent for certain data processing activities. We are also subject to E.U. rules with respect to cross-border transfers of personal data out of the E.U. and EEA. We are subject to the supervision of local data protection authorities in those E.U. jurisdictions where we are established or otherwise subject to the GDPR. Fines for certain breaches of the GDPR are significant: up to the greater of EUR 20 million or 4% of total global annual turnover. In addition to the foregoing, a breach of the GDPR could result in regulatory investigations, reputational damage, orders to cease/ change our use of data, enforcement notices, as well potential civil claims including class action type litigation where individuals suffer harm. Moreover, the United Kingdom leaving the E.U. could also lead to further legislative and regulatory changes. It remains unclear how the United Kingdom data protection laws or regulations will develop in the medium to longer term and how data transfer to the United Kingdom from the E.U. will be regulated. However, the United Kingdom has transposed the GDPR into domestic law with the Data Protection Act 2018, which remains in force following the United Kingdom's departure from the EU.
Other Healthcare Laws
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, receiving or providing any remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, to induce or in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for or recommending the purchase, lease, or order of any item or service reimbursable, in whole or in part, under Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs. The term “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers and formulary managers on the other. In addition, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. The majority of states also have anti-kickback laws, which establish similar prohibitions and in some cases may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers.
The federal false claims and civil monetary penalties laws, including the civil False Claims Act, prohibit any person or entity from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false, fictitious or fraudulent claim for payment to, or approval by, the federal government or knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim to the federal government, or from knowingly making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation. A claim includes “any request or demand” for money or property presented to the U.S. government. Violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute may also constitute a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act. Actions under the civil False Claims Act may be brought by the Attorney General or as a qui tam action by a private individual in the name of the government. Violations of the civil False Claims Act can result in very significant monetary penalties and treble damages. In addition, the civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person who is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent. Many states also have similar fraud and abuse statutes or regulations that apply to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs, or, in several states, apply regardless of the payor.
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, prohibits, among other actions, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a healthcare benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
In addition, there has been a recent trend of increased federal and state regulation of payments made to physicians and certain other healthcare providers. The ACA imposed, among other things, new annual reporting requirements through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act for covered manufacturers for certain payments and “transfers of value” provided to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), certain other health care professionals beginning in 2022, and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.
We may also be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, impose specified requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information held by covered entities and their business associates. Among other things, HITECH made HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to, as well as imposed certain other privacy obligations on, “business associates,” defined as independent contractors or agents of covered entities that create, receive, maintain or transmit protected health information in connection with providing a service for or on behalf of a covered entity. HITECH also increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities, business associates and possibly other persons, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. Even when HIPAA does not apply, according to the Federal Trade Commission or the FTC, failing to take appropriate steps to keep consumers’ personal information secure constitutes unfair acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, or the FTCA, 15 U.S.C § 45(a). The FTC expects a company’s data security measures to be reasonable and appropriate in light of the sensitivity and volume of consumer information it holds, the size and complexity of its business, and the cost of available tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities. Individually identifiable health information is considered sensitive data that merits stronger safeguards. The FTC’s guidance for appropriately securing consumers’ personal information is similar to what is required by the HIPAA Security Rule.
Coverage and Reimbursement
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any pharmaceutical or biological products for which we obtain regulatory approval. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed
treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Moreover, for drugs and biologics administered under the supervision of a physician, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with such products. Sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will therefore depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities, managed care plans, private health insurers and other organizations.
The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a pharmaceutical or biological product typically is separate from the process for setting the price of such product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover our product candidates could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a pharmaceutical or biological product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. Additionally, coverage and reimbursement for products can differ significantly from payor to payor. One third-party payor’s decision to cover a particular medical product or service does not ensure that other payors will also provide coverage for the medical product or service, or will provide coverage at an adequate reimbursement rate.
A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. Government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medical products. For example, the ACA, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; introduced a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans; subjected drug manufacturers to new annual fees based on pharmaceutical companies’ share of sales to federal healthcare programs; and created a new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.
Since its enactment, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. By way of example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017, or the TCJA, was enacted, which, among other things, removes penalties for not complying with the individual mandate to carry health insurance. Further, in 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the TCJA, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. In December 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. It is unclear how these decisions, subsequent appeals, if any, and other efforts to challenge, repeal or replace the ACA will impact the law.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. This included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will stay in effect through 2027 unless additional Congressional action is taken. On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and imaging centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Recently there has also been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had 43 full-time employees and one part-time employee, 30 of whom are primarily engaged in research and development activities and five of whom are officers of Selecta Biosciences, Inc. As of December 31, 2020, we also had one full-time consultant. Twenty-three of our employees have either one or both of an M.S. or Ph.D. degree. We consider the intellectual capital of our employees to be an essential driver of our business and key to future prospects. To attract and retain a high-quality, experienced workforce, we offer a competitive mix of compensation and insurance benefits for our employees, as well as participation in our equity programs. Employees working 30 hours or more a week are eligible to participate in our medical, prescription, dental, vision, Flexible Spending Account and life insurance and disability plans. To
assist employees with costs associated with rising healthcare costs, we pay 100% of an employee’s deductible and co-insurance payments. We also offer employees an annual bonus plan and a 401(k)-retirement plan with a company match. All employees are awarded new hire equity and annual equity as well as the opportunity to participate in our Employee Stock Purchase Plan. Our 2020 annualized voluntary turnover rate was 4.93%. None of our employees are represented by a labor union and we consider our employee relations to be good.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented changes in our business in March 2020 in an effort to protect our employees, and to support appropriate health and safety protocols. In particular, we closed our principal executive office with our administrative employees continuing their work remotely and limited the number of staff in any given research and development laboratory.
We file electronically with the SEC our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and other information. Our SEC filings are available to the public over the Internet at the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov. We make available on our website at www.selectabio.com, free of charge, copies of these reports as soon as reasonably practicable after filing or furnishing these reports with the SEC.
RISK FACTORS SUMMARY
Investing in our common stock involves various risks. You should carefully read and consider the matters discussed in this Annual Report under the heading “Risk Factors,” which include the following risks:
•We are a development-stage company and have incurred significant losses since our inception. We expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
•We will need substantial additional funding in order to complete development of our product candidates and commercialize our products, if approved.
•The terms of our credit facility place restrictions on our operating and financial flexibility.
•Our product candidates are based on our ImmTOR platform, which is an unproven approach designed to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance to biologic drugs.
•Regulatory authorities in the United States and European Union have limited experience in reviewing and approving gene therapy products.
•Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome.
•The outbreak of COVID-19 may continue to adversely impact our business, including sourcing raw materials and supplies to produce our product candidates, our preclinical studies and clinical trials.
•We rely on 3SBio in China as our primary supplier of pegadricase and on other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
•We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including by failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.
•If we or our licensors are unable to adequately protect our proprietary technology, or obtain and maintain issued patents that are sufficient to protect our product candidates, others could compete against us more directly, which would negatively impact our business.
•We may not have the funds necessary to fulfill our obligation to repurchase certain warrants.
•We are involved in two securities class action lawsuits.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider carefully the risks described below, together with the other information included or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In these circumstances, the market price of our common stock could decline. Other events that we do not currently anticipate or that we currently deem immaterial may also affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital
We are a development-stage company and have incurred significant losses since our inception. We expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
Since inception, we have incurred significant operating losses in every year. Our net losses were $68.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, and $55.4 million and $65.3 million for each of the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $404.6 million. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through public offerings and private placements of our securities, funding received from research grants and collaboration arrangements and our credit facility. We currently have no source of product revenue, and we do not expect to generate product revenue for the foreseeable future. All of our revenue to date has been collaboration and grant revenue. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to developing our ImmTOR platform, identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and our clinical trials. We are in the early stages of development of most of our product candidates, and we have not completed development of any ImmTOR-enabled therapies. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future. We expect that our expenses will increase substantially as we:
•continue the research and development of our product candidates;
•seek to enhance our ImmTOR platform and discover and develop additional product candidates;
•seek to maintain and enter into collaboration, licensing and other agreements, including, but not limited to research and development, and/or commercialization agreements;
•seek regulatory approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
•potentially establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure and scale up external manufacturing capabilities to commercialize any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval;
•maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio, including through licensing arrangements;
•add clinical, scientific, operational, financial and management information systems and personnel, including personnel to support our product development and potential future commercialization efforts; and
•experience any delays or encounter any issues with any of the above, including, but not limited to, failed studies, complex results, safety issues or other regulatory, manufacturing or scale-up challenges.
To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in developing and eventually commercializing products that generate significant revenue. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical testing and clinical trials of our product candidates, discovering additional product candidates, obtaining regulatory approval and securing reimbursement for these product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval, and establishing and managing our collaborations at various stages of a product candidate’s development. We are only in the preliminary stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenues that are significant enough to achieve profitability.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with pharmaceutical and biological product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. If we are required by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to perform studies in addition to those currently expected, or if there are any delays in completing our clinical trials or the development of any of our product candidates, our expenses could increase and product revenue could be further delayed.
Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress our value and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our research and development efforts, diversify our product offerings or continue our operations.
We will need substantial additional funding in order to complete development of our product candidates and commercialize our products, if approved. If we are unable to raise capital when needed and on terms favorable to us, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or commercialization efforts.
We expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue to develop our gene therapy program, including our collaboration with AskBio, research and develop our autoimmune program, and continue research and development for our other product candidates. In addition, if we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding to continue operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our clinical trials, our other research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.
We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash as of December 31, 2020 will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second quarter of 2023. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our capital resources sooner than we currently expect.
Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
•the scope, progress, results and costs of our clinical trials, preclinical development, and laboratory testing;
•the number of product candidates that we pursue;
•our collaboration agreements remaining in effect, our entering into additional collaboration agreements and our ability to achieve milestones under these agreements;
•our headcount growth and associated costs;
•the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;
•the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
•the revenue, if any, from commercial sales of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
•the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;
•the effect of competing technological and market developments; and
•the extent to which we acquire or invest in businesses, products and technologies, including entering into licensing or collaboration arrangements for product candidates.
Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. In addition, we cannot guarantee that future financing will be available in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all. Market volatility resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic or other factors could also adversely impact our ability to access capital as and when needed. Moreover, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders, and the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares to decline. The sale of additional equity or convertible securities would dilute all of our stockholders. The incurrence of indebtedness could result in increased fixed payment obligations and we may be required to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We could also be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborators or others at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or product candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects.
If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs, including our clinical trial programs, or the commercialization of any product candidates, or be unable to sustain or expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The terms of our credit facility place restrictions on our operating and financial flexibility. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, the terms of any new debt could further restrict our ability to operate our business.
On August 31, 2020, we entered into a term loan, or the 2020 Term Loan, of up to $35.0 million, consisting of term loans in an aggregate amount of $25.0 million, or the Term A Loan, and term loans in an aggregate amount of $10.0 million, or the Term B Loan, governed by a loan and security agreement among us and Oxford Finance LLC, or Oxford, as collateral agent and a lender, and Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB, as a lender. The Term A Loan was funded in full on August 31, 2020, the proceeds of which were used to repay our previously existing 2017 term loan and for general corporate and working capital purposes. The Term B Loan will be available, subject to Oxford’s discretion and customary terms and conditions, during the period commencing on the date we have delivered to Oxford and SVB evidence: (i) we or one of our collaboration partners has enrolled its first randomized patient for a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the treatment of MMA and (ii) we have enrolled the
first patient in each of two Phase 3 pivotal trials evaluating SEL-212, or the Second Draw Period Milestone, and ending on the earliest of (i) the date which is 30 days following the date the Second Draw Period Milestone is achieved, (ii) September 30, 2021 (iii) and the occurrence of an event of default, other than an event of default that has been waived in writing by Oxford and SVB in their sole discretion. Because we have enrolled the first patient in each of our two Phase 3 trials for SEL-212, the Second Draw Period Milestone has been achieved, and we expect the Term B Loan will be available to be drawn, once we or AskBio enroll the first randomized patient in our planned Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the treatment of MMA.
The 2020 Term Loan is secured by a lien on substantially all of our assets, other than intellectual property, provided that such lien includes any rights to payments and proceeds from the sale, licensing or disposition of intellectual property. We also granted Oxford a negative pledge with respect to our intellectual property.
Failure to satisfy our current and future debt obligations, including covenants to take or avoid specific actions, under the 2020 Term Loan could result in an event of default, our lenders could accelerate all of the amounts due. If we raise any additional debt financing, the terms of such additional debt could further restrict our operating and financial flexibility.
Our ability to use our net operating loss and research and development tax credit carryforwards to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
We have net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, for federal and state income tax purposes that may be available to offset our future taxable income, if any. In general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the U.S. 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 use its pre-change NOLs to offset future taxable income. If the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, challenges our analysis that existing NOLs will not expire before utilization due to previous ownership changes, or if we undergo an ownership change in connection with or after a public offering, our ability to use our NOLs could be limited by Section 382 of the Code. Future changes in our stock ownership, some of which are outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. Furthermore, our ability to use NOLs of companies that we may acquire in the future may be subject to limitations. As a result, we may not be able to use a material portion of the NOLs reflected on our balance sheet, even if we attain profitability. The reduction of the corporate tax rate under the TCJA may cause a reduction in the economic benefit of our NOLs and other deferred tax assets available to us. Under the TCJA, although the treatment of NOLs arising on or before December 31, 2017 has generally not changed, NOLs arising on or after January 1, 2018 will generally only be able to offset 80% of taxable income. Subsequently, in March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, removed the 80% limitation rule for tax years 2018 through 2020, and as of taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, the 80% limitation has been reinstated. This change may require us to pay federal income taxes in future years despite generating a loss for federal income tax purposes in prior years.
Risks Related to the Development of our Product Candidates
Our product candidates are based on our ImmTOR platform, which is an unproven approach designed to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance to biologic drugs. We are very early in most of our clinical development efforts and may not be successful in our efforts to use our ImmTOR platform to build a pipeline of product candidates and develop marketable drugs.
All of our product candidates are derived from our ImmTOR platform, which is an unproven approach to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance and to mitigate the immunogenicity of biologic therapies currently being implemented to treat patients. We are primarily developing our ImmTOR platform to improve and enable activity in biologics that are designed to treat rare and serious diseases.
While we have completed our early development clinical trials and a Phase 2 clinical trial for SEL-212, we have not completed a clinical trial for any other product candidate, nor have we demonstrated our ability to successfully complete any Phase 3 or other pivotal clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture a commercial product, or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct other sales and marketing activities necessary for successful product commercialization. We may have problems identifying new product candidates and applying our technologies to these other areas. Even if we are successful in identifying new product candidates, they may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of harmful side effects, limited efficacy or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. The success of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including the following:
•design, initiation and completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials with positive results;
•reliance on third parties (including but not limited to collaborators, licensees, clinical research organizations and contract manufacturing organizations);
•receipt of marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
•obtaining and maintaining patent and trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates and not infringing or violating patents or other intellectual property of third parties;
•making arrangements with third-party manufacturers for, or establishing, commercial manufacturing capabilities, or establishing such capabilities ourselves;
•launching commercial sales of our products, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
•acceptance of our products, if and when approved, by patients and the medical community;
•effectively competing with other therapies;
•obtaining and maintaining coverage and adequate reimbursement by third-party payors, including government payors, for our products, if approved;
•maintaining an acceptable safety profile of our products following approval; and
•maintaining and growing an organization of scientists and business people who can develop and commercialize our product candidates and technology.
The occurrence of any of the foregoing would effectively prevent or delay approval of our lead and other product candidates.
We are applying our ImmTOR platform to antigen-specific immune tolerance for gene therapy involving gene augmentation, replacement or editing. Regulatory authorities in the United States and European Union have limited experience in reviewing and approving gene therapy products, which could affect the time and data required to obtain marketing authorization of any of our product candidates.
Our future success depends in part on our successful development of viable gene therapy product candidates utilizing our ImmTOR platform. We may experience problems or delays in developing such product candidates and any such problems or delays (i) may result in unanticipated costs and time to develop our product candidates and/or (ii) may not be resolved in a satisfactory manner.
The clinical trial requirements of the FDA and other regulatory authorities and the criteria these regulators use to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the potential products. The regulatory approval process for product candidates created with novel genome editing technology such as ours can be more lengthy, rigorous and expensive than the process for other better known or more extensively studied product candidates and technologies. Since we are developing novel treatments for diseases in which there is little clinical experience with new endpoints and methodologies, there is heightened risk that the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or comparable regulatory bodies may not consider the clinical trial endpoints to provide clinically meaningful results, and the resulting clinical data and results may be more difficult to analyze. This may be a particularly significant risk for many of the genetically defined diseases for which we may develop product candidates alone or with collaborators due to small patient populations for those diseases, and designing and executing a rigorous clinical trial with appropriate statistical power is more difficult than with diseases that have larger patient populations. Regulatory agencies administering existing or future regulations or legislation may not allow production and marketing of products utilizing genome editing technology in a timely manner or under technically or commercially feasible conditions. Even if our product candidates obtain required regulatory approvals, such approvals may later be withdrawn as a result of changes in regulations or the interpretation of regulations by applicable regulatory agencies.
Additionally, under the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules, or the NIH Guidelines, supervision of human gene transfer trials includes evaluation and assessment by an institutional biosafety committee, or IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment, and such review may result in some delay before initiation of a clinical trial. While the NIH Guidelines are not mandatory unless the research in question is being conducted at or sponsored by institutions receiving NIH funding of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research, many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily follow them.
A similar framework is in place in the EU. The EMA has a Committee for Advanced Therapies, or CAT, that is responsible for assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of advanced-therapy medicinal products. Advanced-therapy medical products include gene therapy medicine, somatic-cell therapy medicines and tissue-engineered medicines. The role of the CAT is to prepare a draft opinion on an application for marketing authorization for a gene therapy medicinal candidate that is submitted to the EMA. In the EU, the development and evaluation of a gene therapy medicinal product must be considered in the context of the relevant EU guidelines. The EMA may issue new guidelines concerning the development and marketing authorization for gene therapy medicinal products and require that we comply with these new guidelines. Similarly, complex regulatory environments exist in other jurisdictions in which we might consider seeking regulatory approvals for our product candidates, further complicating the regulatory landscape. As a result, the procedures and standards applied to gene therapy products and cell therapy products may be applied to any of our gene therapy or genome editing product candidates, but that remains uncertain at this point.
Changes in applicable regulatory guidelines may lengthen the regulatory review process for our product candidates, require additional studies or trials, increase development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of such product candidates, or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. Additionally, adverse developments in clinical trials conducted by others of gene therapy products or products created using genome editing technology, or adverse public perception of the field of genome editing, may cause the FDA, the EMA and other regulatory bodies to revise the requirements for approval of any product candidates we may develop or limit the use of products utilizing genome editing technologies, either of which could materially harm our business. Furthermore, regulatory action or private litigation could result in expenses, delays or other impediments to our research programs or the development or commercialization of current or future product candidates.
As we advance any gene therapy product candidates, we will be required to consult with various regulatory authorities, and we must comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations, which may change from time to time including during the course of development of our product candidates. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue the clinical development of certain of our product candidates. These additional processes may result in a review and approval process that is longer than we otherwise would have expected. Even if we comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations, and even if we maintain close coordination with the applicable regulatory authorities with oversight over our product candidates, our development programs may fail to succeed. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept a marketing application as deficient or may decide that our data is insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. In addition, varying interpretations of the data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing could delay, limit or prevent marketing approval of a product candidate. Additionally, adverse developments in clinical trials conducted by others of gene therapy products or products created using genome editing technology, or adverse public perception of the field of genome editing, may cause the FDA and other regulatory bodies to revise the requirements for approval of any product candidates we may develop or limit the use of products utilizing genome editing technologies, either of which could materially harm our business. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a potential product to market would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.
Aside from SEL-212, our product candidates are in preclinical development. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our product candidates will prove effective and safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval, and the risk of failure through the development process is high. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. Preclinical development is costly and inherently uncertain. Early preclinical results may not be predictive of future results, however, if our technology proves to be ineffective or unsafe as a result of, among other things, adverse side effects, pre-existing anti-drug antibodies that can neutralize the viral vector and block gene transfer, or cellular immune response to the transduced cells, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the clinical development and commercialization of our product candidates.
Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the product candidate for its intended indications. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and its outcome is inherently uncertain. A failed clinical trial can occur at any stage of testing. Moreover, the outcome of preclinical testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results. For example, the topline clinical trial results we reported from our Phase 2 head-to-head COMPARE study of SEL-212 may not be predictive of future results. Moreover, we may not be able to complete, or may be required to deviate from the current clinical trial protocol for a variety of reasons.
Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials after achieving positive results in preclinical development or early-stage clinical trials, and we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. SAEs caused by, or other unexpected properties of, any product candidates that we may choose to develop could cause us, an institutional review board or regulatory authority to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials of one or more of such product candidates and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of marketing approval by the FDA or comparable non-U.S. regulatory authorities. If any product candidate that we may choose to develop is associated with SAEs or other unexpected properties, we may need to abandon development or limit development of that product candidate to certain uses or subpopulations in which those undesirable characteristics would be expected to be less prevalent, less severe or more tolerable from a risk-benefit perspective. For example, in the SEL-403 Phase 1 clinical trial, a Grade 5 SAE (patient death) occurred that was deemed by the trial investigator to be probably related to SVP-Rapamycin and possibly related to the patient's pleural mesothelioma condition which led us to abandon development of SEL-403. In the SEL-212 Phase 1/2 clinical program, multiple SAEs have occurred, and future SAEs may occur causing us to incur additional costs or experience delays in
completing, or causing us to ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates, and delay or prevent our ability to obtain FDA approval. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data is often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials nonetheless failed to obtain FDA or other regulatory authority approval. If we fail to produce positive results in clinical trials of our product candidates, the development timeline and regulatory approval and commercialization prospects for our product candidates, and, correspondingly, our business and financial prospects, would be negatively impacted.
In addition, we cannot be certain as to what type and how many clinical trials the FDA will require us to conduct before we may gain regulatory approval to market any of our product candidates in the United States or other countries, if any. Prior to approving a new therapeutic product, the FDA generally requires that safety and efficacy be demonstrated in two adequate and well-controlled clinical trials. We expect that we and Sobi will need to conduct more than one Phase 3 trial for SEL-212 for a chronic refractory gout indication in order to gain approval from the FDA. Even if we and Sobi conduct more than one Phase 3 trial for SEL-212, the FDA may not accept the data, and may delay, limit or deny approval of SEL-212, which could have an impact on the timing of development milestone payments owed to us by Sobi.
We may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval for, or commercialize, our product candidates, including:
•clinical trials of our product candidates may produce unfavorable, incomplete or inconclusive results;
•regulators or institutional review boards may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;
•we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with contract research organizations, or CROs, or clinical trial sites;
•we may be unable to recruit suitable patients to participate in a clinical trial, the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we expect, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we expect or participants may drop out of these clinical trials at a higher rate than we expect;
•the number of clinical trial sites required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we expect;
•our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all;
•we may have to suspend or terminate clinical trials of our product candidates for various reasons, including a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
•investigators, regulators, data safety monitoring boards or institutional review boards may require that we or our investigators suspend or terminate clinical research, or we may decide to do so ourselves;
•investigators may deviate from the trial protocol, fail to conduct the trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or misreport study data;
•the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we expect or we may have insufficient resources to pursue or complete certain aspects of our clinical trial programs or to do so within the timeframe we planned;
•the supply or quality of raw materials or manufactured product candidates (whether provided by us or third parties) or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient, inadequate or not available at an acceptable cost, or in a timely manner, or we may experience interruptions in supply;
•regulators may revise the requirements for approving our product candidates, or such requirements may not be as we expect;
•the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design or our interpretation of data from preclinical studies and clinical trials, or may change the requirements for approval even after it has reviewed and commented on the design of our clinical trials; and
•regarding trials managed by our existing or any future collaborators, our collaborators may face any of the above issues, and may conduct clinical trials in ways they view as advantageous to them but potentially suboptimal for us.
If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are only modestly positive or if there are safety concerns, or if we are forced to delay or abandon certain clinical trials or other testing in order to conserve capital resources, we may:
•be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates, if at all;
•lose the support of collaborators, requiring us to bear more of the burden of research and development;
•obtain marketing approval in some countries and not in others;
•obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;
•obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;
•be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements; or
•have a product removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.
In addition, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the likelihood that we encounter such difficulties or delays in initiating, enrolling, conducting or completing our planned and ongoing clinical trials. We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by a data safety monitoring board for such trial or by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination 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 comparable foreign 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, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. In addition, changes in regulatory requirements and policies may occur, and we may need to amend clinical trial protocols to comply with these changes. Amendments may require us to resubmit our clinical trial protocols to IRBs for reexamination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial.
Our product development costs will increase if we experience delays in clinical testing or in obtaining marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. Significant preclinical or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and harming our business and results of operations.
If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or prevented.
We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. In addition, from time to time our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that treat the same indications as our product candidates, and patients who would otherwise be eligible for our clinical trials may instead enroll in clinical trials of our competitors’ product candidates. For example, SEL-212 is being developed for the treatment of chronic refractory gout, which affects a small patient population in the United States. Accordingly, there is a limited number of patients who could enroll in our clinical studies for SEL-212. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic could affect our ability to enroll or sustain patients in our clinical trials. Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials would result in significant delays and could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in our clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates, which could cause the value of our common stock to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing.
The outbreak of COVID-19 may continue to adversely impact our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our business and we expect it to continue to do so. In response to the spread of COVID-19, we closed our principal executive office with our administrative employees continuing their work outside of our office and limited the number of staff in any given research and development laboratory. As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States and elsewhere, we may experience disruptions that could severely impact our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials, including:
•delays in receiving approval from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;
•delays or difficulties in enrolling or sustaining patients in our clinical trials;
•delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
•delays in clinical sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct our clinical trials, such as ImmTOR including interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials;
•changes in local regulations as part of a response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted, which may result in unexpected costs, or to discontinue the clinical trials altogether;
•diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals and clinics serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital and clinic staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;
•interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others, or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures, or the closing of clinical trial sites due to the virus, the occurrence of which could affect the integrity of clinical trial data;
•risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will acquire COVID-19 while the clinical trial is ongoing, or will withdraw from the clinical trial due to concerns over COVID-19, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events, or reducing the statistical power of the clinical trials;
•interruptions or delays in preclinical studies due to restricted or limited operations at our research and development laboratory facility;
•delays in necessary interactions with local regulators, ethics committees and other important agencies and contractors due to limitations in employee resources or forced furlough of government employees;
•limitations in employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people;
•refusal of the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in affected geographies;
•changes to the clinical endpoints, statistical analysis plan, or enrollment plans for ongoing clinical trials due to limitations in patients, resources, or sites due to COVID-19;
•interruption or delays to our sourced discovery and clinical activities; and
•impacts from prolonged remote work arrangements, such as increased cybersecurity risks and strains on our business continuity plans.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence.
We may conduct clinical trials for product candidates at sites outside the United States, and the FDA may not accept data from trials conducted in such locations or the complexity of regulatory burdens may otherwise adversely impact us.
Opening trial sites outside the United States may involve additional regulatory, administrative and financial burdens, including compliance with foreign and local requirements relating to regulatory submission and clinical trial practices. Although the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of these data is subject to certain conditions imposed by the FDA. For example, the clinical trial must be well designed and conducted and performed by qualified investigators in accordance with good clinical practices, or GCPs, and the FDA must be able to validate the data from the trial through an onsite inspection, if necessary. Generally, the patient population for any clinical trials conducted outside the United States must be representative of the population for which we intend to seek approval in the United States. In addition, while these clinical trials are subject to the applicable local laws, FDA acceptance of the data will be dependent upon its determination that the trials also complied with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. Nonetheless, there can be no assurance that the FDA will accept data from trials conducted outside the United States. If the FDA does not accept the data from any trial that we conduct outside the United States, it would likely result in the need for additional clinical trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay or permanently halt our development of any applicable product candidates.
Additional risks inherent in conducting international clinical trials include:
•foreign regulatory requirements that could burden or limit our ability to conduct our clinical trials;
•increased costs and heightened supply constraints associated with the acquisition of standard of care drugs and/or combination or comparator agents for which we may bear responsibility in certain jurisdictions;
•administrative burdens of conducting clinical trials under multiple foreign regulatory schema;
•foreign exchange fluctuations;
•more burdensome manufacturing, customs, shipment and storage requirements;
•cultural differences in medical practice and clinical research;
•lack of consistency in standard of care from country to country;
•diminished protection of intellectual property in some countries; and
•changes in country or regional regulatory requirements.
We may not be able to qualify for or obtain various designations from regulators that would have the potential to expedite the review process of one or more of our product candidates and even if we do receive one or more such designations there is no guarantee that they will ultimately expedite the process, or aid in our obtaining marketing approval or provide market exclusivity.
There exist several designations that we can apply for from the FDA and other regulators that would provide us with various combinations of the potential for expedited regulatory review, certain financial incentives as well as the potential for post-approval exclusivity for a period of time. These designations include but are not limited to orphan drug designation, breakthrough therapy designation, accelerated approval, fast track status and priority review for our product candidates. For example, we and AskBio received orphan drug designation for MMA-101 in November 2020. We expect to seek one or more of these designations for our current and future product candidates. There can be no assurance that any of our other product candidates will qualify for any of these designations. There can also be no assurance that any of our product candidates that do qualify for these designations will be granted such designations or that the FDA will not revoke a designation it grants at a later date. Further, there can be no assurance that any of our product candidates that are granted such designations will ever benefit from such designations or that the FDA would not withdraw such designations once granted. Were we to receive a designation that promised a period of market exclusivity, such as orphan drug exclusivity, such exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition. Further with respect to orphan drug status, even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior if it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care.
Interim, top-line and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
From time to time, we may publish interim, top-line or preliminary data from our clinical studies, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a full analyses of all data related to the particular trial. For example, we and Sobi announced top-line data from the Phase 2 COMPARE trial for SEL-212 in September 2020. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the top-line results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Preliminary or top-line data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, preliminary and top-line data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. We may also disclose interim data from our clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects.
Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and our company in general. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is based on what is typically extensive information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure. Any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant by you or others with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product candidate or our business. If the interim, top-line, or preliminary data that we report differ from final results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, product candidates may be harmed, which could seriously harm our business.
Negative public opinion and increased regulatory scrutiny of gene therapy and genetic research may damage public perception of our product candidates or compromise our ability to conduct our business or obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates.
Gene therapy remains a novel technology. Public perception may be influenced by claims that gene therapy is unsafe, and gene therapy may not gain the acceptance of the public or the medical community. In particular, our success will depend upon physicians specializing in the treatment of those diseases that our product candidates target and prescribing treatments that involve the use of our product candidates in lieu of, or in addition to, existing treatments they are already familiar with and for
which greater clinical data may be available. More restrictive government regulations or negative public opinion would have a negative effect on our business or financial condition and may delay or impair the development and commercialization of our product candidates or demand for any products we may develop.
Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.
Undesirable side effects caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other comparable foreign authorities. Further, therapies such as those we are developing involve unique side effects that could be exacerbated compared to side effects from other types of therapies with singular components. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. For example, a patient in the Phase 1 trial of SEL-403 experienced a Grade 5 SAE (patient death) related to pneumonitis, which was deemed by the trial investigator to be probably related to ImmTOR and possibly related to the patient’s pleural mesothelioma condition, and in November 2018, the FDA placed the IND for SEL-403 on full clinical hold due to adverse events observed in the Phase 1 trial. We terminated the license of LMB-100, a component of SEL-403, from NCI in April 9, 2019 and are no longer pursuing this product candidate.
Further, the clinical development of SEL-212 over many years has required multiple clinical trials and resulted in the use of different formulations of ImmTOR. While we do not believe that such differences in formulation will affect the safety or the efficacy of SEL-212, we cannot guarantee that any such formulation changes will not negatively impact the results of any clinical trials related to SEL-212, or result in a significant difference in the safety and efficacy of SEL-212.
The drug-related side effects observed in our clinical trials could also affect patient enrollment in our clinical trials or the ability of any enrolled patients to complete such trials or result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Additionally, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
•regulatory authorities may withdraw approvals of such product;
•regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “black box” warning or a contraindication;
•regulatory authorities may impose additional restrictions on the marketing of, or the manufacturing processes for, the particular product;
•we may be required to create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;
•we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients, or become subject to fines, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties;
•our reputation may suffer; and
•we could be required to develop a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) plan to prevent, monitor and/or manage a specific serious risk by informing, educating and/or reinforcing actions to reduce the frequency and/or severity of the event.
Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of a particular product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, if our product candidates are associated with undesirable side effects in certain patient populations, such as pediatric patients or the elderly, we may need to abandon their development or limit development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective, any of which would harm our business.
Risks Related to our Dependence on Third Parties and Manufacturing
We rely on 3SBio in China as our primary supplier of pegadricase and on other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical testing, and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Our reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or that such quantities may not be available at an acceptable cost, or in compliance with regulatory requirements, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts.
We obtain the biologic pegadricase, a component of SEL-212, primarily from 3SBio in China. Under the 3SBio License, we have limited rights to manufacture pegadricase and while we have entered into a contract with a back-up supplier located outside of China, we expect to continue to rely on 3SBio as the primary supplier of pegadricase for the foreseeable future.
Any disruption in production or inability of 3SBio in China to produce adequate quantities of pegadricase to meet our needs could impair our ability to operate our business on a day-to-day basis and to continue our research and development of our future product candidates. Furthermore, since 3SBio is located in China, we are exposed to the possibility of product supply disruption and increased costs in the event of changes in the policies, laws, rules and regulations of the United States or Chinese governments, political unrest or unstable economic conditions in China. For example, trade tensions between the United States and China have been escalating in recent years. Most notably, several rounds of U.S. tariffs have been placed on Chinese goods being exported to the United States. Each of these U.S. tariff impositions against Chinese exports were followed by a round of retaliatory Chinese tariffs on U.S. exports to China. Pegadricase is subject to, and any other components we purchase from China may be subject to these tariffs, which could increase our manufacturing costs and could make our products, if successfully developed and approved, less competitive than those of our competitors whose inputs are not subject to these tariffs.
Moreover, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain of our suppliers and CMOs in the United States, China and other countries may be affected, which could disrupt their activities. We could face difficulty sourcing key components necessary to produce supply of SEL-212, which may negatively affect our clinical development activities and our agreement with Sobi. If COVID-19 continues to impact U.S. business operations, including those of our CMOs and suppliers, we could face additional disruptions to our supply chain that could affect the supply of drug product for our preclinical studies and clinical trials. Additionally, as our CMOs are producers of drug substances and drug products, including vaccines and therapeutics, they could be compelled by a national government, or choose themselves, to shift their resources to the production of a COVID-19 vaccine and/or therapeutics for COVID-19, which could disrupt any scheduled drug substance or drug product batches we may have and may prevent us from obtaining supplies for our programs in a timely manner to meet our development timelines.
Any of these matters could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. Any issues related to the manufacturing lots or similar action regarding pegadricase used in preclinical studies or clinical trials could delay the studies or trials or detract from the integrity of the trial data and its potential use in future regulatory filings. In addition, manufacturing interruptions or failure to comply or maintain compliance with regulatory requirements by 3SBio could significantly delay our clinical development of potential products and reduce third-party or clinical researcher interest and support of our proposed trials. These interruptions or failures could also impede commercialization of our future product candidates and impair our competitive position. Further, we may be exposed to fluctuations in the value of the local currency in China. Future appreciation of the local currency could increase our costs. These factors and increasing wage rates due to increased demand for skilled laborers and the declining availability of skilled labor in China could cause our labor costs to rise.
We rely, and expect to continue to rely, in addition to 3SBio, on other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates for supply in preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as for commercial manufacture if any of our product candidates receive marketing approval. Our reliance on such third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates on a timely basis or at all, or that such quantities will be available at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts. For example, we rely on third parties for the manufacture of our gene therapy preclinical materials. Gene therapy is a relatively new area for commercial biopharmaceutical development and there are a limited number of CMOs with adequate facilities and expertise in this area. As a result, we may be unable to successfully manufacture our gene therapy preclinical materials through a third party or scale up the manufacture of our gene therapy product candidates for clinical testing or commercialization, if at all.
We may be unable to establish any agreements with third-party manufacturers on acceptable terms or at all, and even if we do rely on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including the:
•inability, failure or unwillingness of third-party manufacturers to comply with regulatory requirements, maintain quality assurance, meet our needs, specifications or schedules or continue to supply products to us;
•reduced control we have over product development, including with respect to our lead product candidate, due to our reliance on such third-party manufacturers,
•breach of manufacturing agreements by the third-party manufacturers;
•misappropriation or disclosure of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how;
•relationships that the third-party manufacturer may have with others, some of which may be our competitors, and, if it does not successfully carry out its contractual duties, does not meet expectations, experiences work stoppages, or needs to be replaced, we may need to enter into alternative arrangements, which may not be available, desirable or cost-effective; and
•termination or nonrenewal of agreements by third-party manufacturers at times that are costly or inconvenient for us.
The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must be approved by the FDA pursuant to inspections that will be conducted after we submit our marketing application to the FDA. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturing partners for compliance with the regulatory requirements, known as current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, for manufacture of our product candidates. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or others, they will not be able to secure and/or maintain regulatory approval for their manufacturing facilities. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers or suppliers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our product candidates or if it withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our product candidates, if approved. Our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocations, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products. In addition, there are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations that might be capable of manufacturing our products. Therefore, our product candidates and any future products that we may develop may compete with other products for access to manufacturing facilities. Any failure to gain access to these limited manufacturing facilities could severely impact the clinical development, marketing approval and commercialization of our product candidates.
Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval. We do not currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply or a second source for required raw materials used in the manufacture of our product candidates or for the manufacture of finished product. Moreover, we often rely on one CMO to produce multiple product components. For instance, one of our CMOs produces several polymers used in our ImmTOR platform. If our current CMOs cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers and we may be unable to replace them on a timely basis or at all. Our current and expected future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our product candidates or products could delay, prevent or impair our development and commercialization efforts.
If we are unable to maintain any of our existing collaborations, or if these arrangements are not successful, or we are unable to enter into future licenses, our business could be adversely affected.
We have entered into collaborations with other parties, including pharmaceutical companies and universities, to develop products based on our ImmTOR platform, and such collaborations and licensing arrangements currently represent a significant portion of our product pipeline and are expected to represent a larger portion of our pipeline in the future. Certain of our collaborations have provided us with important funding for some of our development programs and we expect to receive additional funding under collaborations in the future although not all of our collaborations may result in funding to us, and certain collaborations, licenses and agreements may result in increased expenditures by us. Our existing collaborations, and any future collaborations, may pose a number of risks, including the following:
•collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations;
•collaborators may not perform their obligations as expected;
•collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates that achieve regulatory approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on preclinical or clinical trial results, changes in the collaborators’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;
•collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
•collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates, which may cause collaborators to cease to devote resources to the commercialization of our product candidates;
•a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates that achieve regulatory approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;
•disagreements with collaborators, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of product candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to product candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;
•collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
•collaborators may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability;
•collaborations may be terminated and we would potentially lose the right to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates as well as have difficulty entering into a similar collaboration where the potential collaborator is aware of the prior termination;
•collaborators may learn about our technology and use this knowledge to compete with us in the future;
•there may be conflicts between different collaborators that could negatively affect those collaborations and potentially others; and
•the number and type of our collaborations could adversely affect our attractiveness to future collaborators or acquirers.
We are actively exploring licenses and other strategic collaborations with additional pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for development and potential commercialization of therapeutic products. However, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may not be able to access specific antigens that would be suitable to development with our technology, have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to fund and undertake development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into collaborations and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market or continue to develop our programs, and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct our clinical trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including by failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.
We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties, such as CROs, clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to conduct and manage our clinical trials, including our ongoing Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program for SEL-212, consisting of the DISSOLVE I and DISSOLVE II trials, which we have agreed to continue to run on behalf of Sobi, and for our other product candidates. We also expect to rely on other third parties to store and distribute drug supplies for our clinical trials.
Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities will reduce our control over these activities but does not relieve us of our responsibilities. We remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with GCP regulations, for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, safety and welfare of trial participants are protected. Other countries’ regulatory agencies also have requirements for clinical trials. If we or any of our CROs or third-party contractors fail to comply with applicable GCPs, the data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. We also are required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, www.ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions.
Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, do not comply with confidentiality obligations, do not meet expected deadlines, experience work stoppages, terminate their agreements with us or need to be replaced, or do not conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we may need to enter into new arrangements with alternative third parties, which could be difficult, costly or impossible, and our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, or may need to be repeated. If any of the foregoing occur, we may not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for our product candidates or in commercializing our product candidates.
We have no experience manufacturing our product candidates at commercial scale, and if we decide to establish our own commercial manufacturing facility, we cannot assure you that we can manufacture our product candidates in compliance with regulations at a cost or in quantities necessary to make them commercially viable.
We have a pilot manufacturing facility at our Watertown, Massachusetts location where we conduct process development, scale-up activities and the manufacture of ImmTOR product candidates for preclinical use. We rely on our scaled equipment installed at our CMOs for the manufacture of the clinical supply of all of our product candidates. If our facility, or our CMOs’ facilities, were damaged or destroyed, or otherwise subject to disruption, it would require substantial lead-time to replace our manufacturing capabilities. In such event, we would be forced to identify and rely entirely on alternative third-party contract manufacturers for an indefinite period of time. Any disruptions or delays at our facility or its failure to meet regulatory compliance would impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, which would adversely affect our business and results of operations.
In addition, the FDA and other comparable foreign regulatory agencies must, pursuant to inspections that are conducted after submitting a BLA or relevant foreign marketing submission, confirm that the manufacturing processes for the product candidate meet cGMP regulations. We do not currently have any of our own manufacturing facilities that meet the FDA’s cGMP requirements for the production of any product candidates used in humans, and rely on our CMOs for clinical production.
We may choose to establish a manufacturing facility for our product candidates for production at a commercial scale. However, we have no experience in commercial-scale manufacturing of our product candidates and this activity will require substantial additional funds and qualified employees. We may not be able to develop commercial-scale manufacturing facilities that are adequate to produce materials for additional later-stage clinical trials or commercial use.
Risks Related to Commercialization of our Product Candidates and Legal Compliance Matters
Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.
If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:
•the efficacy, safety and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments;
•our ability to offer our products for sale at competitive prices;
•the convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;
•product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities, including any limitations or warnings contained in a product’s approved labeling, including any black box warning or REMS;
•the willingness of the target patient population to try new treatments and of physicians to prescribe these treatments;
•our ability to hire and retain a sales force in the United States;
•the strength of marketing and distribution support;
•the availability of third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement for our product candidates, once approved;
•the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and
•any restrictions on the use of our products together with other medications.
We currently have no sales organization. If we are unable to establish effective sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, or enter into agreements with third parties with such capabilities, we may not be successful in commercializing our product candidates if and when they are approved.
We do not have a sales or marketing infrastructure and have no experience in the sale, marketing or distribution of pharmaceutical products. To achieve commercial success for any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval, we will need to establish a sales and marketing organization or make arrangements with third parties to perform sales and marketing functions and we may not be successful in doing so. We expect to build a focused sales and marketing infrastructure to market or co-promote our product candidates in the United States and potentially elsewhere, if and when they are approved. There are risks involved with establishing our own sales, marketing and distribution capabilities. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time-consuming and could delay any product launch. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
We face substantial competition, including from biosimilars, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing competing products before or more successfully than we do.
The development and commercialization of new drug and biologic products and technologies is highly competitive and is characterized by rapid and substantial technological development and product innovations. We are aware that pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Horizon Pharma plc, offer or are pursuing the development of pharmaceutical products or technologies that may address one or more indications that our product candidates target, as well as smaller, early-stage companies, that offer or are pursuing the development of pharmaceutical products or technologies that may address one or more indications that our product candidates target. We face competition with respect to our current product candidates, and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide.
Many of the companies against which we are competing or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources, established presence in the market and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and reimbursement for product candidates and in marketing approved products than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors.
These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, sales and marketing and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market, especially for any competitor developing a competing immunomodulating therapeutic that will likely share our same regulatory approval requirements. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payors seeking to encourage the use of generic or biosimilar products.
We expect the product candidates we develop will be regulated as biological products, or biologics, and therefore they may be subject to competition sooner than anticipated.
The BPCIA was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act to establish an abbreviated pathway for the approval of biosimilar and interchangeable biological products. The regulatory pathway establishes legal authority for the FDA to review and approve biosimilar biologics, including the possible designation of a biosimilar as “interchangeable” based on its similarity to an approved biologic. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product cannot be approved by the FDA until 12 years after the reference product was approved under a BLA. The law is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA, and as a result, its ultimate impact, implementation, and meaning are subject to uncertainty. However, any such processes could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.
We believe that any product candidate approved in the United States as a biological product under a BLA should qualify for the 12-year period of exclusivity. However, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to Congressional action or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider the subject product candidates to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, will be substituted for any one of the reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.
Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidates, the products may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations or third-party coverage or reimbursement policies, any of which would have a material adverse effect on our business.
Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval, especially novel products like our gene therapy product candidates, and may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices associated with gene therapy product candidates. Our ability to commercialize any product candidates successfully will depend, in part, on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels.
Obtaining and maintaining adequate reimbursement for our products may be difficult. We cannot be certain if we will obtain an adequate level of reimbursement for our products by third-party payors. Even if we do obtain adequate levels of reimbursement, third-party payors, such as government or private healthcare insurers, carefully review and question the coverage of, and challenge the prices charged for, products. Government authorities and third-party payors have attempted to
control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Third-party payors often require that pharmaceutical companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for products. We may also be required to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies to justify coverage and reimbursement or the level of reimbursement relative to other therapies. Some third-party payors may require pre-approval of coverage for new and innovative therapies, such as our product candidates, before they will provide reimbursement. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or reimbursement is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.
There may be significant delays in obtaining reimbursement for newly approved products, and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the product is approved by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Moreover, eligibility for reimbursement does not imply that a product will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution. Interim reimbursement levels for new products, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the product and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost products and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Net prices for products may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of products from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products that we develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.
The regulations that govern marketing approvals, pricing, coverage and reimbursement for new products vary widely from country to country. Current and future legislation may significantly change the approval requirements in ways that could involve additional costs and cause delays in obtaining approvals. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a product before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control, including possible price reductions, even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain marketing 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 marketing approval. There can be no assurance that our product candidates, if they are approved for sale in the United States or in other countries, will be considered medically necessary for a specific indication or cost-effective, or that coverage or an adequate level of reimbursement will be available.
Moreover, there is heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed bills designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products. There can be no assurance that our product candidates, will not be subject to heightened governmental scrutiny, unfavorable regulatory inquiry or action, or Congressional inquiry.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and limit commercialization of any products that we may develop.
We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in clinical trials and will face an even greater risk if we commercially sell any products that we may develop. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
•regulatory investigations, product recalls or withdrawals, or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;
•decreased demand for any product candidates or products that we may develop;
•injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
•loss of clinical trial participants or increased difficulty in enrolling future participants;
•significant costs to defend the related litigation or to reach a settlement;
•substantial payments to trial participants or patients;
•loss of revenue;
•reduced resources of our management to pursue our business strategy;
•the inability to commercialize any products that we may develop;
•distraction of management’s attention from our primary business; and
•substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants;
We maintain general liability, product liability and umbrella liability insurance. Our existing insurance coverage may not fully cover potential liabilities that we may incur. We may need to increase our insurance coverage as we expand our clinical trials or if we commence commercialization of our product candidates. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise. A product liability claim or series of claims brought against us could cause our share price to decline and, if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could adversely affect our results of operations and business, including preventing or limiting the commercialization of any product candidates we develop.
Our relationships with healthcare providers, customers and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, exclusion from government healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.
Arrangements with physicians, others who may be in a position to generate business for us, and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations include the following:
•the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;
•the federal False Claims Act, which impose criminal and civil penalties against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government claims for payment that are false or fraudulent. Private individuals (e.g., whistleblowers) can bring these actions on behalf of the government; in addition, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;
•HIPAA which imposes criminal and civil liability for, among other things, executing or attempting to execute a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;
•HIPAA, as amended by HITECH and its implementing regulations, which also imposes obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, on certain types of people and entities with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
•the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires applicable manufacturers of certain products for which payment is available under a federal healthcare program to report annually to the government information related to certain payments or other “transfers of value” made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), certain other health care professionals beginning in 2022, and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by the physicians and their immediate family members;
•analogous state laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by third-party payors, including private insurers; and requirements to comply with federal and pharmaceutical industry compliance guidelines;
•state data privacy and price transparency laws, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are broader than and not preempted by HIPAA or the Sunshine Act, thus complicating compliance efforts; by way of example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which went into effect January 1, 2020, among other things, creates new data privacy obligations for covered companies and provides new privacy rights to California residents, including the right to opt out of certain disclosures of their information. The CCPA also creates a private right of action with statutory damages for certain data breaches, thereby potentially increasing risks associated with a data breach. Although the law includes limited exceptions, including for “protected health information” maintained by a covered entity or business associate, it may regulate or impact our processing of personal information depending on the context; and
•similar healthcare laws and regulations in the European Union and other jurisdictions, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers and laws governing the privacy and
security of certain protected information, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which imposes obligations and restrictions on the collection and use of personal data relating to individuals located in the European Union (including health data); in addition, the United Kingdom leaving the E.U. could also lead to further legislative and regulatory changes. It remains unclear how the United Kingdom data protection laws or regulations will develop in the medium to longer term and how data transfer to the United Kingdom from the E.U. will be regulated. However, the United Kingdom has transposed the GDPR into domestic law with the Data Protection Act 2018, which remains in force following the United Kingdom's departure from the E.U.
Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices, including our relationships with physicians and other healthcare providers, some of whom may recommend, purchase and/or prescribe our product candidates, if approved, may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, exclusion of products from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs. The risk of our being found in violation of these laws is increased by the fact that many of them have not been fully interpreted by the regulatory authorities or the courts, and their provisions are open to a variety of interpretations.
Recently enacted and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain.
In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.
For example, the ACA, a sweeping law intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the healthcare and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms.
Since its enactment, there have been judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. By way of example, the TCJA was enacted, which, among other things, removes penalties for not complying with the individual mandate to carry health insurance. In 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas, ruled that the individual mandate is a critical and inseverable feature of the ACA, and therefore, because it was repealed as part of the TCJA, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. In December 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well. It is unclear how these decisions, subsequent appeals, if any, and other efforts to challenge, repeal or replace the ACA will impact the ACA or our business. We cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any healthcare reform legislation or the impact of potential legislation on us.
We expect that the ACA, as well as other healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding, more rigorous coverage criteria, new payment methodologies and additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products.
Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, approved or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and or approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new drugs and biologics to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has periodically modified its regular practices with respect to inspection of manufacturing facilities. The FDA intends to use this risk-based assessment system to identify the categories of
regulatory activity that can occur within a given geographic area, ranging from mission critical inspections to resumption of all regulatory activities. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We are subject to U.S. and certain foreign export and import controls, sanctions, embargoes, anti-corruption laws, and anti-money laundering laws and regulations. Compliance with these legal standards could impair our ability to compete in domestic and international markets. We can face criminal liability and other serious consequences for violations, which can have a material adverse effect on our business.
We are subject to export control and import laws and regulations, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations administered by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. customs regulations, various economic and trade sanctions regulations including those administered or enforced by relevant government authorities, such as by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control or the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, and other state and national anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in the countries in which we conduct activities. U.S. sanctions laws and regulations may govern or restrict our business and activities in certain countries and with certain persons. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees, agents, contractors and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or anything else of value to recipients in the public or private sector. We may engage third parties for clinical trials outside of the United States, to sell our product candidates abroad once we enter a commercialization phase, and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our employees, agents, contractors and other partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. Our violations of the laws and regulations described above may result in substantial civil and criminal fines and penalties, imprisonment, the loss of export or import privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm and other consequences.
If we or our contract manufacturers or other third parties fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We and our contract manufacturers and other third parties with whom we do business are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including biological materials and chemicals. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. The failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
Risks Related to our Intellectual Property
If we or our licensors are unable to adequately protect our proprietary technology, or obtain and maintain issued patents that are sufficient to protect our product candidates, others could compete against us more directly, which would negatively impact our business.
Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our proprietary technology and products. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel technologies and product candidates. We also rely on trade secrets to protect aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection.
The patent prosecution process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost, in a timely manner or in all jurisdictions. As we reach the statutory deadlines for deciding whether and where to initiate prosecution in specific foreign jurisdictions by filing national stage applications based on our Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, applications, we will have to decide whether and where to pursue patent protection for the various inventions claimed in our patent portfolio, and we will only have the opportunity to obtain patents in those jurisdictions where we pursue protection. 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. It is possible that defects of form in the preparation or filing of our patents or patent applications may exist, or may arise in the future, such as, with respect to proper priority claims, inventorship, claim scope or patent term adjustments. If there are material defects in the form or preparation of our patents or patent applications, such patents or applications may be invalid and unenforceable. Moreover, our competitors may independently develop equivalent knowledge, methods and know-how. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business. We also cannot guarantee that any of our patent searches or analyses, including but not limited to the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete and thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our product candidates in any jurisdiction.
In some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents covering technology that we license from third parties. We may also require the cooperation of our licensors to enforce any licensed patent rights, and such cooperation may not be provided. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. Moreover, we have obligations under our licenses, and any failure to satisfy those obligations could give our licensor the right to terminate the license. Termination of a necessary license could have a material adverse impact on our business.
We cannot provide any assurances that the issued patents we currently own, or any future patents, include claims with a scope sufficient to protect our product candidates or otherwise provide any competitive advantage. Further, it is possible that a patent claim may provide coverage for some but not all parts of a product candidate or third-party product. These and other factors may provide opportunities for our competitors to design around our patents.
Moreover, other parties may have developed technologies that may be related or competitive to our approach, and may have filed or may file patent applications, and may have received or may receive patents that may overlap or conflict with our patent applications, either by claiming similar methods or by claiming subject matter that could dominate our patent position. In addition, it may be some time before we understand how the patent office reacts to our patent claims and whether they identify prior art of relevance that we have not already considered.
Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we were the first to make the inventions claimed in any owned patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions, nor can we know whether those from whom we may license patents were the first to make the inventions claimed or were the first to file. For these and other reasons, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are subject to a level of uncertainty. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued that protect our technology or products, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.
We may be subject to a third-party preissuance submission of prior art to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or become involved in opposition, derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or products and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize product candidates without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future product candidates. Furthermore, an adverse decision in an interference proceeding can result in a third party receiving the patent right sought by us, which in turn could affect our ability to develop, market or otherwise commercialize our product candidates. The issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patents are subject to a level of uncertainty.
The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. Due to legal standards relating to patentability, validity, enforceability and claim scope of patents covering biotechnological and pharmaceutical inventions, our ability to obtain, maintain and enforce patents is uncertain and involves complex legal and factual questions. Even if issued, a patent’s validity, inventorship, ownership or enforceability is not conclusive. Accordingly, rights under any existing patent or any
patents we might obtain or license may not cover our product candidates, or may not provide us with sufficient protection for our product candidates to afford a commercial advantage against competitive products or processes, including those from branded and generic pharmaceutical companies.
In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how, information, or technology that is not covered by our patents. Although our agreements require all of our employees to assign their inventions to us, and we require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any other third parties who have access to our trade secrets, proprietary know-how and other confidential information and technology to enter into appropriate confidentiality agreements, we cannot be certain that our trade secrets, proprietary know-how, and other confidential information and technology will not be subject to unauthorized disclosure or that our competitors will not otherwise gain access to or independently develop substantially equivalent trade secrets, proprietary know-how, and other information and technology. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property globally. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized disclosure of our intellectual property related to our product candidates and technology to third parties, we may not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could adversely affect our business and operations.
Any litigation to enforce or defend our patent rights, even if we were to prevail, could be costly and time-consuming and would divert the attention of our management and key personnel from our business operations. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded if we were to prevail may not be commercially meaningful. Even if we are successful, domestic or foreign litigation, or USPTO or foreign patent office proceedings, may result in substantial costs and distraction to our management. We may not be able, alone or with our licensors or potential collaborators, to prevent misappropriation of our proprietary rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect such rights as fully as in the United States. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or other proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation or other proceedings. In addition, during the course of this kind of litigation or proceedings, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments or public access to related documents. If investors perceive these results to be negative, the market price for our common stock could be adversely affected.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets and know-how, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to seeking patents for some of our technology and product candidates, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect these trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also seek to enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees, advisors and consultants. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Our trade secrets may also be obtained by third parties by other means, such as breaches of our physical or computer security systems. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. Moreover, if any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate it, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to, or independently developed by, a competitor, our competitive position would be harmed.
Changes in U.S. patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our product candidates.
As is the case with other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involves both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming and inherently uncertain. In addition, recent patent reform legislation could further increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. The Leahy-Smith Act America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, included a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation. The USPTO recently developed new regulations and procedures to govern administration of the Leahy-Smith Act, including its first-to-file provisions. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO before us could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by the third party. This requires us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Thus, for our U.S. patent applications containing a priority claim after March 16, 2013, the date such provisions became effective, there is a greater level of uncertainty in the patent law. Moreover, some of the patent applications in our portfolio will be subject to examination under the pre-Leahy-Smith Act law
and regulations, while other patents applications in our portfolio will be subject to examination under the law and regulations, as amended by the Leahy-Smith Act. This introduces additional complexities into the prosecution and management of our portfolio.
In addition, the Leahy-Smith Act limits where a patentee may file a patent infringement suit and provides opportunities for third parties to challenge any issued patent in the USPTO. These provisions apply to all of our U.S. patents, even those issued before March 16, 2013. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in U.S. federal court necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a federal court action.
Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims because it may be easier for them to do so relative to challenging the patent in a federal court action. It is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. However, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
In addition, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. From time to time, the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal courts, the U.S. Congress or the USPTO may change the standards of patentability, and any such changes could have a negative impact on our business.
Depending on these and other decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change or be interpreted in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce any patents that may issue to us in the future. In addition, these events may adversely affect our ability to defend any patents that may issue in procedures in the USPTO or in courts.
Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
Our commercial success depends upon our ability, and the ability of our collaborators, to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is considerable intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. While no such litigation has been brought against us and we have not been held by any court to have infringed a third party’s intellectual property rights, we cannot guarantee that our technology, product candidates or use of our product candidates do not infringe third-party patents.
We are aware of numerous patents and pending applications owned by third parties, and we monitor patents and patent applications in the fields in which we are developing product candidates, both in the United States and elsewhere. However, we may have failed to identify relevant third-party patents or applications. For example, applications filed before November 29, 2000 and certain applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the United States remain confidential until patents issue. Moreover, it is difficult for industry participants, including us, to identify all third-party patent rights that may be relevant to our product candidates and technologies because patent searching is imperfect due to differences in terminology among patents, incomplete databases and the difficulty in assessing the meaning of patent claims. We may fail to identify relevant patents or patent applications or may identify pending patent applications of potential interest but incorrectly predict the likelihood that such patent applications may issue with claims of relevance to our technology. In addition, we may be unaware of one or more issued patents that would be infringed by the manufacture, sale or use of a current or future product candidate, or we may incorrectly conclude that a third-party patent is invalid, unenforceable or not infringed by our activities. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our technologies, our product candidates or the use of our product candidates.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are characterized by extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. Other parties may allege that our product candidates or the use of our technologies infringes patent claims or other intellectual property rights held by them or that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. We may become party to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates and technology, including interference or derivation proceedings before the USPTO and similar bodies in other countries. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing intellectual property rights and intellectual property rights that may be granted in the future.
Patent and other types of intellectual property litigation can involve complex factual and legal questions, and their outcome is uncertain. If we are found, or believe there is a risk we may be found, to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be required or may choose to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing and marketing our product candidates and technology. However, we may not be able to obtain any such license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease commercializing the infringing technology
or product. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business.
Even if we are successful in such proceedings, we may incur substantial costs and divert management time and attention in pursuing these proceedings, which could have a material adverse effect on us. Patent litigation is costly and time-consuming. We may not have sufficient resources to bring these actions to a successful conclusion. There could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
Any of these risks coming to fruition could have a material adverse impact on our business.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, and our issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable or could be interpreted narrowly if challenged in court.
Competitors may infringe our intellectual property, including our patents or the patents of our licensors. As a result, we may be required to file infringement claims to stop third-party infringement or unauthorized use. This can be expensive, particularly for a company of our size, and time-consuming. If we initiated legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent, if and when issued, covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge include alleged failures to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness or non-enablement, or failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter. Grounds for unenforceability assertions include allegations that someone connected with the prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the United States or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review, inter partes review, interference proceedings and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, such as opposition proceedings. Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment of our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates or competitive products. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to validity, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Moreover, even if not found invalid or unenforceable, the claims of our patents could be construed narrowly or in a manner that does not cover the allegedly infringing technology in question. Such a loss of patent protection would have a material adverse impact on our business.
The lives of our patents may not be sufficient to effectively protect our products and business.
Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after its first effective non-provisional filing date. Although various extensions may be available, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition. In addition, although upon issuance in the United States a patent’s life can be increased based on certain delays caused by the USPTO, this increase can be reduced or eliminated based on certain delays caused by the patent applicant during patent prosecution. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. If we do not have sufficient patent life to protect our product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses, our business and results of operations will be adversely affected.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for noncompliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent and, in some jurisdictions, during the pendency of a patent application. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. While an inadvertent lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Noncompliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would have an adverse effect on our business.
If we fail to comply with our obligations in our intellectual property licenses and funding arrangements with third parties, we could lose rights that are important to our business.
We are party to multiple license agreements that impose, and we may enter into additional licensing and funding arrangements with third parties that may impose, diligence, development and commercialization timelines, milestone payment, royalty, insurance and other obligations on us. Under our existing licensing agreements, we are obligated to pay royalties on net product sales of product candidates or related technologies to the extent they are covered by the agreement. Our results of operations will be affected by the level of royalty payments that we are required to pay to third parties. We cannot precisely predict the amount, if any, of royalties that we will be required to pay to third parties in the future. Any disagreements with the counterparty over the amount of royalties owed could lead to litigation, which is costly. In addition, if we fail to comply with our obligations under current or future license agreements, our counterparties may have the right to terminate these agreements, in which event we might not be able to develop, manufacture or market any product candidate that is covered by these agreements, or may face other penalties under the agreements. Such an occurrence could materially adversely affect the value of product candidates being developed using rights licensed to us under any such agreement. Termination of these agreements or reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements may result in our having to negotiate new or reinstated agreements with less favorable terms, or cause us to lose our rights under these agreements, including our rights to important intellectual property or technology. Furthermore, our counterparties may allege that we are operating outside the scope of the licenses granted and terminate our license or otherwise require us to alter development, manufacturing or marketing activities.
We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to our product candidates through acquisitions and in-licenses.
We currently have rights to certain intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patents and patent applications that we own, to develop our product candidates. Because we may find that our programs require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. We may be unable to acquire or in-license compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary for our product candidates. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, financial resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment.
We may also be unable to maintain third-party intellectual property rights. For example, MIT may terminate the MIT License if we fail to meet our diligence obligations under the agreement.
If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of that program and our business and financial condition could suffer.
We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that our employees or we have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.
Many of our employees were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. We may also engage advisors and consultants who are concurrently employed at universities or other organizations or who perform services for other entities. Although we try to ensure that our employees, advisors and consultants do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, advisors or consultants have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such party’s former or current employer or in violation of an agreement with another party. Although we have no knowledge of any such claims being alleged to date, if such claims were to arise, litigation may be necessary to defend against any such claims.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees, consultants, advisors and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our and their assignment agreements may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Similarly, we may be subject to claims that an employee, advisor or consultant performed work for us that conflicts with that person’s obligations to a third party, such as an employer, and thus, that the third party has an ownership interest in the intellectual property arising out of work performed for us. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Although we have no knowledge of any such claims being alleged to date, if such claims were to arise, litigation may be necessary to defend against any such claims.
If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
We will not seek to protect our intellectual property rights in all jurisdictions throughout the world and we may not be able to adequately enforce our intellectual property rights even in the jurisdictions where we seek protection.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on product candidates in all countries and jurisdictions throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States could be less extensive than in the United States, assuming that rights are obtained in the United States and assuming that rights are pursued outside the United States. In this regard, in addition to the United States, we also seek to protect our intellectual property rights in other countries. The statutory deadlines for pursuing patent protection in individual foreign jurisdictions are based on the priority date of each of our patent applications. For all of the patent families in our portfolio, including the families that may provide coverage for our lead product candidate, the relevant statutory deadlines have not yet expired. Therefore, for each of the patent families that we believe provide coverage for our lead product candidate, we will need to decide whether and where to pursue additional protection outside the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries, do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, for our existing patent rights outside the United States and any foreign patent rights we may decide to pursue in the future, we may not be able to obtain relevant claims and/or we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions.
Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we do not pursue and obtain patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as in the United States. These products may compete with our product candidates and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Even if we pursue and obtain issued patents in particular jurisdictions, our patent claims or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent third parties from so competing.
If we do not obtain additional protection under the Hatch-Waxman Act and similar foreign legislation extending the terms of our patents for our product candidates, our business may be harmed.
Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA regulatory approval for our product candidates, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term restoration under the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. Patent term restorations, however, are limited to a maximum of five years and cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval by the FDA.
The application for patent term extension is subject to approval by the USPTO, in conjunction with the FDA. It takes at least six months to obtain approval of the application for patent term extension. We may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or restoration or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we will have the right to exclusively market our product will be shortened, our competitors may obtain earlier approval of competing products and our ability to generate revenues could be materially adversely affected.
Risks Related to our Operations
Our corporate strategy may not be successful.
On January 3, 2019, following a strategic business review, we announced a strategy to focus on the development of SEL-212 for the treatment of chronic refractory gout and advancement of our ImmTOR platform in the area of gene therapy, specifically ImmTOR in combination with AAV gene therapy for the treatment of CN and MMA, as well as the deprioritization of our oncology development program. The success of this strategic shift depends on our ability to successfully develop our product candidates, hire and retain senior management or other highly qualified personnel, prioritize competing projects and efforts and obtain sufficient resources, including additional capital, as well as our ability to enter into collaborations with third parties. The early stage development of novel product candidates is highly unpredictable due to the lengthy and expensive process of clinical drug development, potential for safety, efficacy or tolerability problems with such product candidates, unexpected expenses or inaccurate financial assumptions or forecasts, potential delays or unfavorable decisions of regulatory agencies and competition for targeted indications or within targeted markets. Accordingly, there are no assurances our change in strategic focus will be successful, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We are highly dependent on Carsten Brunn, Ph.D., our President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the other principal members of our management, scientific and clinical team. Although we have entered into employment agreements or offer letters with Dr. Brunn and other executive officers, each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time. We do not maintain “key person” insurance for any of our executives or other employees.
Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing, technology and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize product candidates. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed by employers other than us and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.
We have incurred increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to compliance initiatives and corporate governance practices.
As a public company, we have incurred and expect to continue to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC 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 need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations bring with them significant legal and financial compliance costs and made some activities more time-consuming and costly.
Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404, we are required to furnish a report by our management on our internal control over financial reporting. However, while we remain an emerging growth company, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. If we are unable to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, we may not have adequate, accurate or timely financial information, and we may be unable to meet our reporting obligations as a public company or comply with the requirements of the SEC or Section 404. This could result in a restatement of our financial statements, the imposition of sanctions, including the inability of registered broker dealers to make a market in our common stock, or investigation by regulatory authorities. Any such action or other negative results caused by our inability to meet our reporting requirements or comply with legal and regulatory requirements or by disclosure of an accounting, reporting or control issue could adversely affect the trading price of our securities and our business. Material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting could also reduce our ability to obtain financing or could increase the cost of any financing we obtain. This could result in an adverse reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements.
A variety of risks associated with maintaining our subsidiary in Russia or expanding operations internationally could adversely affect our business.
In addition to our U.S. operations, we maintain a wholly owned subsidiary in Russia, Selecta (RUS). We may face risks associated with maintaining our subsidiary in Russia, or with any international operations, including possible unfavorable regulatory, pricing and reimbursement, legal, political, tax and labor conditions, which could harm our business. We may also rely on collaborators to commercialize any approved product candidates outside of the United States. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including but not limited to:
•multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations, such as privacy regulations, tax laws, export and import restrictions, employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;
•failure by us to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for the use of our product candidates in various countries;
•additional potentially relevant third-party patent rights;
•complexities and difficulties in obtaining protection of and enforcing our intellectual property rights;
•difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;
•complexities associated with managing multiple-payor reimbursement regimes, government payors or patient self-pay systems;
•limits on our ability to penetrate international markets;
•financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty collecting accounts receivable, the impact of local and regional financial crises on demand and payment for our product candidates and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenues;
•natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, events of terrorism and political unrest, outbreak of disease, including the COVID-19 coronavirus, boycotts, curtailment of trade and other business restrictions and economic weakness, including inflation;
•changes in diplomatic and trade relationships;
•challenges in enforcing our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the United States;
•restriction on cross-border investment, including enhanced oversight by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and substantial restrictions on investment from China;
•certain expenses including, among others, expenses for travel, translation and insurance;
•legal risks, including use of the legal system by the government to benefit itself or affiliated entities at our expense, including expropriation of property; and
•regulatory and compliance risks that relate to maintaining accurate information and control over sales and activities that may fall within the purview of the FCPA its books and records provisions, or its anti-bribery provisions.
Any of these factors could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our results of operations.
Our business and operations would suffer in the event of system failures or unauthorized or inappropriate use of or access to our systems.
Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our current and future contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we are not aware of any such material system failure, accident or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. Likewise, we rely on third parties to manufacture our product candidates and conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
Acquisitions or joint ventures could disrupt our business, cause dilution to our stockholders and otherwise harm our business.
We may acquire other businesses, product candidates or technologies as well as pursue strategic alliances, joint ventures, technology licenses or investments in complementary businesses. We have not made any acquisitions to date, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven. Any of these transactions could be material to our financial condition and operating results and expose us to many risks, including:
•disruption in our relationships with future customers or with current or future distributors or suppliers as a result of such a transaction;
•unexpected liabilities related to acquired companies;
•difficulties integrating acquired personnel, technologies and operations into our existing business;
•diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to acquisition integration challenges;
•increases in our expenses and reductions in our cash available for operations and other uses;
•possible write-offs or impairment charges relating to acquired businesses; and
•inability to develop a sales force for any additional product candidates.
Foreign acquisitions involve unique risks in addition to those mentioned above, including those related to integration of operations across different cultures and languages, currency risks and the particular economic, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries.
Also, the expected benefit of any acquisition may not materialize. Future acquisitions or dispositions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses or
write-offs of goodwill, any of which could harm our financial condition. We cannot predict the number, timing or size of future joint ventures or acquisitions, or the effect that any such transactions might have on our operating results.
Risks Related to our Common Stock
The market price of our common stock may be volatile and fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for purchasers of our common stock.
The trading price of our common stock is likely to be volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. The stock market in general and the market for smaller biopharmaceutical companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, you may not be able to sell your common stock at or above the price at which you purchased. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by many factors, including:
•the success of competitive products or technologies;
•results or progress, or changes in approach or timelines, of clinical trials of our product candidates or those of our competitors;
•failure or discontinuation of any of our development programs;
•commencement of, termination of, or any development related to any collaboration or licensing arrangement;
•regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries;
•development of new product candidates that may address our markets and make our product candidates less attractive;
•changes in physician, hospital or healthcare provider practices that may make our product candidates less useful;
•announcements by us, our collaborators or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, collaborations or capital commitments;
•announcement or market expectation of additional financing efforts;
•developments or disputes concerning patent applications, issued patents or other proprietary rights;
•the recruitment or departure of key personnel;
•the level of expenses related to any of our product candidates or clinical development programs;
•failure to meet or exceed financial estimates, projections or development timelines of the investment community or that we provide to the public;
•the results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire or in-license additional product candidates or products;
•actual or expected changes in estimates as to financial results, development timelines or recommendations by securities analysts;
•variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;
•changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;
•sale of common stock by us or our stockholders in the future as well as the overall trading volume of our common stock;
•market conditions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors;
•general economic, industry and market conditions; and
•the other factors described in this “Risk Factors” section.
Our executive officers, directors, and principal stockholders, if they choose to act together, will continue to have the ability to control or significantly influence all matters submitted to stockholders for approval.
Our executive officers, directors and stockholders who own more than 5% of our outstanding common stock and their respective affiliates, in the aggregate, hold shares representing approximately 30.9% of our outstanding voting stock as of December 31, 2020. As a result, if these stockholders choose to act together, they would be able to control or significantly influence all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, as well as our management and affairs. For example, these persons, if they choose to act together, would control or significantly influence the election of directors, the composition of our management and approval of any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our common stock.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. These sales, or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our common stock reduce. As of December 31, 2020, we had 108,071,249 shares of common stock outstanding. In addition, as of December 31, 2020, 7,775,249 and 87,500 shares of common stock that are subject to outstanding options or restricted stock unit awards, respectively, under our outstanding equity plans are eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, and Rule 144 under the Securities Act. If these additional shares of common stock are sold, or it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline.
We may not have the funds necessary to fulfill our obligation to repurchase certain warrants.
Under certain circumstances, holders of certain warrants issued in December 2019 may require us to repurchase the remaining unexercised portion of such warrants for an amount of cash equal to the value of the warrant as determined in accordance with the Black-Scholes option pricing model and the terms of the warrants. Our ability to repurchase the warrants depends on our ability to generate cash flow in the future. To some extent, this is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative and regulatory factors and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot be certain that we will maintain sufficient cash reserves or that our business will generate cash flow from operations at levels sufficient to permit us to repurchase the warrants.
We are an “emerging growth company,” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act, and may remain an emerging growth company until December 31, 2021, the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the closing of the initial public offering of our common stock. However, if certain events occur prior to the end of such five-year period, including if we become a “large accelerated filer,” our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion or we issue more than $1.07 billion of non-convertible debt in any three-year period, we will cease to be an emerging growth company prior to the end of such five-year period. For so long as we remain an emerging growth company, we are permitted and intend to rely on exemptions from certain disclosure requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. These exemptions include:
•not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting;
•not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;
•reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation; and
•exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.
We have, historically, relied on these exemptions, and we may continue to do so until they are no longer available to us. In addition, the JOBS Act provides that an emerging growth company can take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. This allows an emerging growth company to delay the adoption of these accounting standards until they would otherwise apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption and, therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.
Provisions in our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws 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 restated certificate of incorporation and our restated bylaws, which became effective upon the closing of the initial public offering of our common stock may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change in control of our company that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which you might otherwise receive a premium for your shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, thereby depressing the market price of our common stock. In addition, because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, 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.
Moreover, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, which 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.
Furthermore, our restated certificate of incorporation specifies that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for most legal actions involving claims brought against us by stockholders. We believe this provision benefits us by providing increased consistency in the application of Delaware law by chancellors particularly experienced in resolving corporate disputes, efficient administration of cases on a more expedited schedule relative to other forums and protection against the burdens of multi-forum litigation. However, the provision may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors, officers, employees and agents as it may limit any stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that such stockholder finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents.
We are involved in two securities class action lawsuits.
In the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a decline in the market price of its securities. This risk is especially relevant for us because biopharmaceutical companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years. Involvement in such litigation, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could harm our business. On August 4, 2020, a putative stockholder of Selecta filed a stockholder derivative action purportedly on behalf of Selecta and against certain current and former members of our board of directors, as well as one affiliated company owned by a current board member, in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, namely Franchi v. Barabe, et al. The complaint alleges that the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duties and committed corporate waste when they authorized the private placement transaction, announced on December 19, 2019, at a price allegedly below fair value. On September 25, 2020, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. On November 6, 2020, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, and the defendants filed a second motion to dismiss on January 8, 2021.
On December 31, 2020, we received a stockholder litigation demand from other shareholders, relating to the same private placement transaction. While we intend to vigorously defend against this demand, which we believe to be without merit, there can be no assurance as to the outcome of any stockholder litigation. Unfavorable outcomes in securities class action litigation could require us to pay extensive damages, which could delay or prevent our ability to develop our product candidates and harm our operations.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Our corporate headquarters are currently located at 65 Grove Street, Watertown, Massachusetts and consist of 25,078 total square feet of leased office and laboratory space under a lease that expires in May 2028.
We also lease approximately 2,500 square feet of office and laboratory space in Moscow, Russia on a month-to-month basis.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
On August 4, 2020, a putative stockholder of Selecta filed a stockholder derivative action, purportedly on behalf of Selecta and against certain current and former members of the Company’s Board of Directors, as well as one affiliated company owned by a current board member, in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, namely Franchi v. Barabe, et al. The complaint alleges that the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duties and committed corporate waste when they authorized a private placement transaction, announced on December 19, 2019, at a price allegedly below fair value. The complaint further alleges that the four defendant directors who participated in the private placement were unjustly enriched in connection with the transaction. On September 25, 2020, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. On November 6, 2020, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, and the defendants filed a second motion to dismiss on January 8, 2021. On December 31, 2020, we received a litigation demand letter from two other putative stockholders relating to the same private placement transaction.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is publicly traded on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol “SELB.”
As of March 5, 2021, there were approximately 112,373,199 shares of our common stock outstanding held by approximately 33 holders of record. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders, and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We intend to retain future earnings, if any, to finance the operation and expansion of our business and do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination related to our dividend policy will be made at the discretion of our board of directors after considering our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors the board of directors deems relevant, and subject to the restrictions contained in any future financing instruments. In addition, our loan and security agreement with Oxford and SVB currently prohibits us from paying dividends on our equity securities, and any future debt agreements may likewise preclude us from paying dividends. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations⸻Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
Stock Performance Graph
The graph set forth below compares the cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock between June 21, 2016 (the date of our initial public offering) and December 31, 2020, with the cumulative total return of (a) the Nasdaq Composite Index and (b) the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, over the same period. This graph assumes the investment of $100 at the market close on June 21, 2016 in our common stock, the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index and assumes the reinvestment of dividends, if any. The stock price performance of the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.
Comparison Of Cumulative Total Return Selecta Biosciences, Inc.,
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX AND NASDAQ BIOTECHNOLOGY INDEX
This performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities or the Exchange Act.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer or Affiliated Purchasers
We did not repurchase any of our equity securities during the quarter ended December 31, 2020.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities and Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities
On June 11, 2020, we entered into a stock purchase agreement, or the Sobi Purchase Agreement, with Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB (Publ) pursuant to which we sold an aggregate of 5,416,390 shares of our common stock at a purchase price
equal to $4.6156 per share, which represented 120% of the 10-day volume-weighted average price of our common stock prior to signing, for aggregate gross proceeds of $25 million, or the Sobi Private Placement. The closing of the Sobi Private Placement occurred on July 31, 2020. The shares of common stock acquired in the Sobi Private Placement are subject to a one-year lock-up from closing, during which time Sobi is prohibited from selling or otherwise disposing of such shares.
On December 18, 2019, we entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement, or the 2019 Purchase Agreement, with purchasers including certain members of our board of directors. Pursuant to the 2019 Purchase Agreement, we sold (i) an aggregate of 37,634,883 shares of our common stock at a purchase price of $1.46 per share, which was equal to the most recent consolidated closing bid price on the Nasdaq Stock Market on December 18, 2019, (ii) warrants to purchase an aggregate of 22,988,501 shares of common stock at a purchase price equal to $0.125 per share underlying each warrant, and (iii) pre-funded warrants to purchase an aggregate of 8,342,128 shares of common stock at a purchase price equal to $1.46 per share underlying each pre-funded warrant, for aggregate net proceeds of approximately $65.6 million, after deducting approximately $4.4 million in placement agent commissions and other transaction costs. Each warrant has an exercise price per share of common stock equal to $1.46 per share. Each pre-funded warrant has an exercise price per share of common stock equal to $0.0001 per share. The closing of the offering occurred on December 23, 2019.
On August 19, 2019, we sold 3,178,174 shares of our common stock pursuant to a stock purchase agreement, or the 2019 Private Placement, to individual investors, including certain executive officers and members of the board of directors of Selecta for aggregate net proceeds of approximately $5.7 million, after deducting transaction costs, at a purchase price equal to $1.81 per share, which was equal to the most recent consolidated closing bid price on the Nasdaq Stock Market on August 19, 2019. The shares in the 2019 Private Placement were issued as “restricted securities” (as defined in Rule 144 of the Securities Act) and carry no registration rights that require or permit the filing of any registration statement.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion and other parts of this Annual Report on Form 10-K contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, such as statements regarding our plans, objectives, expectations, intentions and projections. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.” A discussion of the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to the year ended December 31, 2018 has been reported previously in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on March 12, 2020, under the heading “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company leveraging our ImmTOR™ immune tolerance platform with the goals of amplifying the efficacy of biologics, including enabling the re-dosing of life-saving gene therapies, and restoring self-tolerance in autoimmune diseases. Our ImmTOR platform encapsulates rapamycin, also known as sirolimus, an immunomodulator, in biodegradable nanoparticles and is designed to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance.
We believe ImmTOR has the potential to enhance the efficacy without compromising the safety of biologic therapies, improve product candidates under development, and enable novel therapeutic modalities. We have developed a portfolio of proprietary and collaboration-driven applications of ImmTOR, and we plan to continue to develop proprietary compounds and pursue collaboration-driven development in certain disease areas, which could include strategic collaborations, out-licensing, and in-licensing transactions.
Impact of COVID-19
We are closely monitoring how COVID-19 is affecting our employees, business, preclinical studies and clinical trials. In response to the spread of COVID-19, we have closed our executive offices with our administrative employees continuing their work outside of our offices and limited the number of staff in any given research and development laboratory. Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may result in difficulties or delays in initiating, enrolling, conducting or completing our planned and ongoing clinical trials, and the incurrence of unforeseen costs as a result of preclinical study or clinical trial delays. While the COVID-19 pandemic has not had a material impact on our clinical programs as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, it could have an impact on our ability to complete the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program of SEL-212, and our
ability to commence preclinical and clinical studies of our IgA nephropathy, gene therapy, and autoimmune disease programs, and our ability to obtain supply of both active drug substances and finished drug product as well as efficient execution of the overall supply chain for SEL-212 and our other programs. We have been proactively working with our CRO, clinical sites, and principal investigators to provide patients with more convenient locations to have their SUA measured for the primary endpoint of the study, such as at local laboratories or their homes, as well as alternative sites to receive infusions of study drug. We are also working with our primary and back-up suppliers for SEL-037 (pegadricase) and SEL-110 (ImmTOR) to ensure that we have adequate supply of our materials for both our clinical and preclinical programs. As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we believe we will have adequate supply of all material necessary to conduct our Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program of SEL-212 in chronic refractory gout and to begin our clinical trial in gene therapy under our collaboration with AskBio.
At this time, there is significant uncertainty relating to the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of related responses. Any impact of COVID-19 on our business, revenues, results of operations and financial condition will largely depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the pandemic, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions, the ultimate impact on financial markets and the global economy, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease. See “Risk Factors⸻The outbreak of COVID-19 may continue to adversely impact our business, including our preclinical studies and clinical trials.” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
To date, we have financed our operations primarily through public offerings and private placements of our securities, funding received from research grants and collaboration arrangements and our credit facility. We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any product sales. All of our revenue to date has been collaboration and grant revenue.
Since inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. We incurred net losses of $68.9 million and $55.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $404.6 million. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for at least the next several years as we:
•continue the research and development of our other product candidates as well as product candidates that we may be developing jointly with collaboration partners;
•seek to enhance our ImmTOR platform and discover and develop additional product candidates;
•seek to enter into collaboration, licensing and other agreements, including, but not limited to research and development, and/or commercialization agreements;
•seek regulatory approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
•potentially establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure and scales-up external manufacturing capabilities to commercialize any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval;
•maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio, including through licensing arrangements; and
•add clinical, scientific, operational, financial and management information systems and personnel, including personnel to support our product development and potential future commercialization efforts and to support our operations as a public company.
Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenues, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, license and collaboration agreements, and research grants. We may be unable to raise capital when needed or on reasonable terms, if at all, which would force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or future commercialization efforts. We will need to generate significant revenues to achieve profitability, and we may never do so.
We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents, short term investments, and restricted cash as of December 31, 2020 will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second quarter of 2023. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our capital resources sooner than we currently expect.
The consolidated financial information presented below includes the accounts of Selecta Biosciences, Inc. and our wholly owned subsidiaries, Selecta (RUS) LLC, a Russian limited liability company, or Selecta (RUS), and Selecta Biosciences Security Corporation, a Massachusetts securities corporation. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated.
Collaboration and grant revenue
To date, we have not generated any product sales. Our revenue consists of collaboration and grant revenue, which includes amounts recognized related to upfront and milestone payments for research and development funding under collaboration and license agreements. In addition, we earn revenue under the terms of government contracts or grants, which require the performance of certain research and development activities. We expect that any revenue we generate will fluctuate from quarter to quarter because of the timing and amount of fees, research and development reimbursements and other payments from collaborators. We do not expect to generate revenue from product sales for at least the next several years. If we or our collaborators fail to complete the development of our product candidates in a timely manner or fail to obtain regulatory approval as needed, our ability to generate future revenue will be harmed, and will affect the results of our operations and financial position. For a further description of the agreements underlying our collaboration and grant-based revenue, see Notes 2 and 12 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Research and development
Our research and development expenses consist of external research and development costs, which we track on a program-by-program basis and primarily include CMO-related costs, fees paid to CROs and internal research and development costs, which are primarily compensation expenses for our research and development employees, lab supplies, analytical testing, allocated overhead costs and other related expenses. Our internal research and development costs are often devoted to expanding our programs and are not necessarily allocable to a specific target.
We have incurred a total of $295.3 million in research and development expenses from inception through December 31, 2020, with a majority of the expenses being spent on the development of SEL-212 and a prior nicotine vaccine candidate, and the remainder being spent on our various discovery and preclinical stage product candidate programs and the general expansion of our technology.
In connection with our intention to focus on advancing our ImmTOR platform, we have ceased ongoing work on our immune stimulation programs SELA-070 and SEL-701, and currently do not have plans to move these programs forward or to perform any additional work on either of these programs.
We expense research and development costs as incurred. Conducting a significant amount of research and development is central to our business model. Product candidates in clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of development, primarily due to the size, duration and cost of clinical trials. The successful development of our clinical and preclinical product candidates is highly uncertain. Clinical development timelines, the probability of success and development costs can differ materially from our expectations. For example, if the FDA or another regulatory authority were to require us to conduct clinical trials beyond those which we currently expect will be required for the completion of clinical development of a product candidate, or if we experience significant delays in enrollment in any of our clinical trials, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time to complete any clinical development.
The following table sets forth the components of our research and development expenses during the periods indicated (in thousands):
| ||Year ended December 31,|
|Research and development expenses (key projects and initiatives):|
|SEL-212||$||32,288 ||$||25,489 ||$||22,770 |
|AskBio collaboration||2,807 ||— ||— |
|SELA-070||— ||46 ||1,602 |
|Discovery and preclinical stage product candidate programs, collectively||1,717 ||1,614 ||2,623 |
|Other internal research and development expenses||17,693 ||15,594 ||20,692 |
| Total research and development expenses||$||54,505 ||$||42,743 ||$||47,687 |
On June 11, 2020, we and Sobi entered into the Sobi License. Pursuant to the Sobi License, clinical trial costs incurred to complete development of SEL-212, including but not limited to costs incurred while conducting and completing the Phase 3 DISSOLVE trials, will be reimbursed by Sobi. These costs, when reimbursed, will be recognized as revenue consistent with the revenue recognition methodology disclosed in Footnote 12. The reimbursable costs exclude any costs of additional development activities required that are related to ImmTOR and that are unrelated to SEL-212.
General and administrative
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related benefits, including stock-based compensation, related to our executive, finance, business development and support functions. Other general and administrative expenses include facility-related costs not otherwise allocated to research and development expenses, travel expenses for our general and
administrative personnel and professional fees for auditing, tax and corporate legal services, including intellectual property-related legal services.
Investment income consists primarily of interest income earned on our cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments.
Interest expense consists of interest expense on amounts borrowed under our credit facilities.
Other income (expense)
Other income (expense) was de minimis during each the years ended December 31, 2020, and 2018, and for the year ended December 31, 2019 it consists primarily of issuance fees associated with warrant liabilities.
Change in fair value of warrant liabilities
Common warrants classified as liabilities are remeasured at fair value, utilizing a Black-Scholes valuation methodology, quarterly with the change in fair value recognized as a component of earnings.
Foreign currency transaction gain (loss)
The functional currency of our Russian subsidiary is the Russian ruble. In addition to holding cash denominated in Russian rubles, our Russian bank accounts also hold cash balances denominated in U.S. dollars to facilitate payments to be settled in U.S. dollars or other currencies. As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, we maintained cash of $0.3 million and $0.4 million, respectively, in Russian banks, all of which was denominated in U.S. dollars. The amounts denominated in U.S. dollars and used in transacting the day-to-day operations of our Russian subsidiary are subject to transaction gains and losses, which are reported as incurred.
Results of Operations
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019
The following is a comparison of revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (in thousands, except percentages):
| ||Year Ended December 31,||Increase|
|Collaboration revenue||$||16,597 ||$||6,677 ||$||9,920 ||149 ||%|
During the year ended December 31, 2020, collaboration revenue increased by $9.9 million, or 149%, from collaboration revenue generated in 2019. During the year ended December 31, 2020 we recognized $16.6 million under the license agreement with Sobi resulting from the shipment of clinical supply and the reimbursement of costs incurred for the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program and a de minimis amount recognized for shipments under the collaboration agreement with Sarepta. During the year ended December 31, 2019, we recognized $6.7 million in revenue upon expiration of the term for Spark to exercise additional target options that represented material rights and less than $0.1 million of revenue for two shipments to Spark under our collaboration agreement.
Research and development
The following is a comparison of research and development expenses for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (in thousands, except percentages):
| ||Year Ended December 31,||Increase|
|Research and development||$||54,505 ||$||42,743 ||$||11,762 ||28 ||%|
During the year ended December 31, 2020, our research and development expenses increased by $11.8 million, or 28%, as compared to 2019. The increase in cost was primarily the result of expenses incurred for the Phase 3 DISSOLVE clinical program for SEL-212, the Phase 2 COMPARE trial for SEL-212 and for the AskBio Collaboration.
General and administrative
The following is a comparison of general and administrative expenses for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (in thousands, except percentages):
| ||Year Ended December 31,||Increase|
|General and administrative||$||18,913 ||$||16,389 ||$||2,524 ||15 ||%|
During the year ended December 31, 2020, our general and administrative expenses increased by $2.5 million, or 15%, as compared to 2019. The increase in costs was the result of expenses for patent and professional fees offset by reduced consulting fees and travel expenses.
Investment income was $0.3 million and $0.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The decrease reflects reduced interest rates.
Loss on extinguishment of debt
For the year ended December 31, 2020, we recognized a $0.5 million loss on extinguishment of the 2017 Term Loan (see Note 9).
Foreign currency transaction gain (loss)
We recognized minimal foreign currency gains of less than $0.1 million and minimal losses of less than $0.1 million during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Interest expense was $1.6 million and $1.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, representing interest expense and amortization of the carrying costs of our credit facilities.
Change in fair value of warrant liabilities
For the year ended December 31, 2020, we recognized a $10.4 million charge for the increase in the fair value of warrant liabilities utilizing the Black-Scholes valuation methodology. The increase in value was primarily driven by an increase in the share price and volatility (see Note 5). For the year ended December 31, 2019, we recognized $0.9 million as a change in the fair value of warrant liabilities primarily driven by an increase in the share price from issuance.
Other income (expense)
Other income (expense) was $0.1 million and ($1.3 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The other expense during 2019 was the result of fees incurred as a result of the issuance of liability classified common warrants in our December 2019 private placement.
Net loss for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $68.9 million compared to $55.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Since our inception, we have incurred recurring net losses. We expect that we will continue to incur losses and that such losses will increase for the foreseeable future. We expect that our research and development and general and administrative expenses will continue to increase and, as a result, we will need additional capital to fund our operations, which we may raise through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, third-party funding and other collaborations and strategic alliances.
From our inception through December 31, 2020, we have raised an aggregate of $549.1 million to fund our operations, which includes $118.5 million from the sale of preferred stock, $11.1 million in government grant funding, $36.7 million from borrowings under our credit facility, $165.9 million from our collaborations and license agreements, $64.5 million in combined net proceeds from our initial public offering, $149.3 million in combined net proceeds from private placements and follow-on offerings of our common stock, and $3.1 million in aggregate net proceeds from “at-the-market” offerings of our common stock.
On October 8, 2020, we entered into the IGAN Agreement, and paid IGAN a $0.5 million one-time up-front payment.
On June 13, 2020, we entered into the Sarepta Agreement. We received a $2.0 million upfront payment.
On June 11, 2020, we entered into the Sobi License. Sobi paid us a one-time, up-front payment of $75 million, and upon the closing of the Sobi Private Placement, we received an additional $25 million from Sobi in consideration for Sobi’s purchase of our common stock at $4.6156 per share. We are eligible to receive $630 million in milestone payments upon the achievement of various development and regulatory milestones and sales thresholds for annual net sales of SEL-212, and tiered royalty payments ranging from the low double digits on the lowest sales tier to the high teens on the highest sales tier. Additionally, Sobi has agreed to fund the Phase 3 clinical program of SEL-212, which commenced in September 2020. We expect this to substantially reduce our annual operating expenses.
On December 17, 2019, we entered into the AskBio License Agreement. Pursuant to the AskBio License Agreement, AskBio has exercised its option to exclusively license intellectual property rights covering ImmTOR to research, develop, and commercialize certain AAV gene therapy products utilizing ImmTOR, and targeting the GAA gene, or derivatives thereof, to treat Pompe Disease. We received $7.0 million of upfront fees pursuant to the AskBio License Agreement and are eligible to receive $237 million in milestone payments, and royalties on net sales ranging from the mid-to-high single digits.
In August 2017, we entered into a sales agreement, or the 2017 Sales Agreement, with Jefferies LLC, as sales agent, to sell shares of our common stock with an aggregate value of up to $50 million in an “at-the-market” offering. In August 2020, concurrent with the filing of a new shelf registration statement, we entered into a new sales agreement, or the 2020 Sales Agreement, with Jefferies LLC, as sales agent, pursuant to which we may, from time to time, issue and sell common stock with an aggregate value of up to $50 million in an “at-the-market” offering. The 2017 Sales Agreement terminated pursuant to its terms in August 2020.
Sales of common stock, if any, pursuant to the 2020 Sales Agreement, may be made in sales deemed to be an “at the market offering” as defined in Rule 415(a) of the Securities Act, including sales made directly through the Nasdaq Stock Market or on any other existing trading market for our common stock. We intend to use the proceeds from the offering for working capital and other general corporate purposes. We may suspend or terminate the 2020 Sales Agreement at any time.
From August 11, 2017, the date we entered into the 2017 Sales Agreement, to December 31, 2019, we sold 615,453 shares of our common stock pursuant to the 2017 Sales Agreement at an average price of approximately $1.84 per share for aggregate net proceeds of $1.0 million, after deducting commissions and other transaction costs. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we sold 1,069,486 shares of our common stock pursuant to the 2017 Sales Agreement and 2020 Sales Agreement, as applicable, at an average price of approximately $2.16 per share for aggregate net proceeds of $2.1 million, after deducting commissions and other transaction costs.
As of December 31, 2020, our cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash were $140.1 million, of which $1.4 million was restricted cash related to lease commitments and $0.3 million was held by our Russian subsidiary designated solely for use in its operations. Our Russian subsidiary cash is consolidated for financial reporting purposes.
In addition to our existing cash equivalents, we receive research and development funding pursuant to our collaboration agreements. Currently, funding from payments under our collaboration agreements represent our only source of committed external funds.
On August 31, 2020, we entered into a term loan of up to $35.0 million, consisting of term loans in an aggregate amount of $25.0 million, or the Term A Loan, and term loans in an aggregate amount of $10.0 million, or the Term B Loan, governed by a loan and security agreement among us and Oxford, as collateral agent and a lender, and SVB, as a lender. The Term A Loan was funded in full on August 31, 2020, the proceeds of which were used to repay our previously existing 2017 Term Loan and for general corporate and working capital purposes. The Term B Loan will be available, subject to the collateral agent’s discretion and customary terms and conditions, during the period commencing on the date we have delivered to Oxford and SVB evidence: (i) we or one of the our collaboration partners has enrolled its first randomized patient for a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the treatment of MMA, and (ii) we have enrolled the first patient in each of two Phase 3 pivotal trials evaluating SEL-212, or the Second Draw Period Milestone, and ending on the earliest of (i) the date which is thirty (30) days following the date the Second Draw Period Milestone is achieved, (ii) September 30, 2021 (iii) and the occurrence of an event of default, other than an event of default that has been waived in writing by Oxford and SVB in their sole discretion. Because we have enrolled the first patient in each of our two Phase 3 trials for SEL-212, the Second Draw Period Milestone has been achieved, and we expect the Term B Loan will be available to be drawn, once we or AskBio enroll the first randomized patient in our planned Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the treatment of MMA.
The 2020 Term Loan is secured by a lien on substantially all of our assets, other than intellectual property, provided that such lien on substantially all assets includes any rights to payments and proceeds from the sale, licensing or disposition of intellectual property. We also granted Oxford a negative pledge with respect to our intellectual property.
The 2020 Term Loan contains customary covenants and representations, including but not limited to financial reporting obligations and limitations on dividends, indebtedness, collateral, investments, distributions, transfers, mergers or acquisitions, taxes, corporate changes, deposit accounts, and subsidiaries. The 2020 Term Loan also contains other customary provisions, such as expense reimbursement, non-disclosure obligations as well as indemnification rights.
The events of default under the 2020 Term Loan include, but are not limited to, our failure to make any payments of principal or interest under the 2020 Term Loan or other transaction documents, our breach or default in the performance of any covenant under the 2020 Term Loan or other transaction documents, the occurrence of a material adverse event, making a false or misleading representation or warranty in any material respect under the 2020 Term Loan, our insolvency or bankruptcy, any attachment or judgment on our assets of at least approximately $0.5 million, or the occurrence of any default under any of our agreements or obligations involving indebtedness in excess of approximately $0.5 million. If an event of default occurs, Oxford and SVB are entitled to take enforcement action, including acceleration of amounts due under the 2020 Term Loan. If we raise any additional debt financing, the terms of such additional debt could further restrict our operating and financial flexibility.
For a further description of the 2020 Term Loan, see Note 9 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Plan of operations and future funding requirements
As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we have not generated any product sales. We do not know when, or if, we will generate revenue from product sales. We will not generate significant revenue from product sales unless and until we obtain regulatory approval and commercialize one of our current or future product candidates. Our primary uses of capital are, and we expect will continue to be, compensation and related expenses, third-party clinical research and development services, laboratory and related supplies, clinical costs, legal and other regulatory expenses, and general overhead costs. We expect that we will continue to generate losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect the losses to increase as we continue the development of, and seek regulatory approvals for, our product candidates, and begin to commercialize any approved products. We are subject to risks in the development of our products, and we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. We expect that we will need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations.
As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $404.6 million. We anticipate operating losses to continue for the foreseeable future due to, among other things, costs related to research, development of our product candidates, conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, and our administrative organization. We will require substantial additional financing to fund our operations and to continue to execute our strategy, and we will pursue a range of options to secure additional capital.
We are exploring various sources of funding such as strategic collaborations and the issuance of equity to fund our operations. If we raise additional funds through strategic collaborations and alliances, which may include existing collaboration partners, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies or product candidates, or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity, the ownership interest of our existing shareholders will be diluted and other preferences may be necessary that adversely affect the rights of existing shareholders.
We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash as of December 31, 2020 will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second quarter of 2023. Additionally, while the potential economic impact brought by and the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic may be difficult to assess or predict, the widespread pandemic has resulted in, and may continue to result in, significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital as and when needed. We have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and we could use our capital resources sooner than we currently expect.
Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
•the number of product candidates that we pursue;
•our collaboration agreements remaining in effect, our entering into additional collaboration agreements and our ability to achieve milestones under these agreements;
•the cost of manufacturing clinical supplies of our product candidates;
•our headcount growth and associated costs;
•the scope, progress, results and costs of preclinical development, laboratory testing and clinical trials for our other product candidates;
•the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;
•the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
•the revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of our product candidates for which we receive marketing approval;
•the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;
•the effect of competing technological and market developments; and
•the extent to which we acquire or invest in businesses, products and technologies, including entering into licensing or collaboration arrangements for product candidates.
As noted above, the magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our liquidity future funding requirements is uncertain as of the filing date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K as this continues to evolve globally.
Summary of Cash Flows
| ||Year Ended December 31,|
|Cash provided by (used in):|
|Operating activities||$||34,881 ||$||(51,435)||$||(59,161)|
|Investing activities||(741)||229 ||25,272 |
|Financing activities||14,431 ||105,041 ||697 |
|Effect of exchange rate changes on cash||(58)||34 ||(153)|
|Net change in cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash||$||48,513 ||$||53,869 ||$||(33,345)|
Net cash provided by operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $34.9 million compared to $51.4 million used in the same period in 2019. The increase in net cash provided by operating activities was primarily due to the recognition of $94.1 million in deferred revenue, and a $2.8 million change in accounts receivable, offset by a $0.4 million change in accrued expenses and other liabilities, and $7.1 million changes in prepaid expenses, deposits and other assets and accounts payable when compared to the prior year and a $3.2 million increase in recorded net loss after adjusting for non-cash items.
Net cash used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $0.7 million compared to net cash provided by investing activities of $0.2 million in the same period in 2019. The net cash used in investing activities in 2020 was to purchase property and equipment.
The net cash provided by investing activities in 2019 was the result of purchases of short-term investments of $18.2 million, offset by $16.4 million of maturities and $2.0 million of sales of short term investments.
Net cash provided by financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $14.4 million compared to net cash provided by financing activities of $105.0 million in the same period in 2019. The net cash provided by financing activities in 2020 was the result of $10.3 million from the Sobi Private Placement, $24.7 million from the Term A Loan, $2.1 million net proceeds from “at-the-market” offerings, and $1.0 million proceeds from warrant exercises, offset by $4.4 million of issuance costs paid for December 2019 financing and $19.3 million principal payment on outstanding debt.
The net cash provided by financing activities in 2019 was the result of $30.9 million net proceeds from an underwritten follow-on offering of our common stock in January, $75.7 million net proceeds from private placement offerings in August and December and $1.0 million net proceeds from “at-the-market” offerings, offset by $2.8 million principal payment on outstanding debt.
Research and development contract obligations
Under our license agreement with MIT, milestone payments are due upon the occurrence of certain events and royalty payments commence upon our commercialization of a product. As of December 31, 2020, contractual obligations were $0.4 million. We have assumed license payments are fully offset by royalty payments in 2028.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
For a discussion of recently adopted or issued accounting pronouncements please see Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates
Our management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is based on our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities in our consolidated financial statements, as well as the reported revenues and expenses during the reporting periods. These items are monitored and analyzed by us for changes in facts and circumstances, and material changes in these estimates could occur in the future. We base our estimates on historical experience, known trends and events, 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. Changes in estimates are reflected in reported results for the period in which they become known. Actual results may differ materially from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
Clinical Trial Costs
Clinical trial expenses are a significant component of research and development expenses, and we outsource a significant portion of these costs to third parties. Third party clinical trial expenses include patient costs, clinical research organization costs and costs for data management. The accrual for site and patient costs includes inputs such as estimates of patient enrollment, patient cycles incurred, clinical site activations, and other pass-through costs. Payments for these activities are based on the terms of the individual arrangements, which may differ from the pattern of costs incurred, and are reflected on the consolidated balance sheets as a prepaid asset or accrued clinical trial cost. These third party agreements are generally cancellable, and related costs are recorded as research and development expenses as incurred. Non-refundable advance clinical payments for goods or services that will be used or rendered for future research and development activities are recorded as a prepaid asset and recognized as expense as the related goods are delivered or the related services are performed. We also record accruals for estimated ongoing clinical research and development costs. When evaluating the adequacy of the accrued liabilities, we analyze progress of the studies, including the phase or completion of events, invoices received and contracted costs. Significant judgments and estimates may be made in determining the accrued balances at the end of any reporting period. Actual results could differ from the estimates made by us. The historical clinical accrual estimates made by us have not been materially different from the actual costs.
Revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services, in an amount that reflects the consideration which the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. Pursuant to ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606), a customer is a party that has contracted with an entity to obtain goods or services that are an output of the entity’s ordinary activities in exchange for consideration. To determine revenue recognition for arrangements that an entity determines are within the scope of ASC 606, we perform the following five steps: (i) identify the contract(s) with a customer; (ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract, including whether they are distinct in the context of the contract; (iii) determine the transaction price, including the constraint on variable consideration; (iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and (v) recognize revenue when (or as) we satisfy each performance obligation. We only apply the five-step model to contracts when it is probable that the entity will collect the consideration it is entitled to in exchange for the goods or services it transfers to the customer. At contract inception, once the contract is determined to be within the scope of ASC 606, we assess the goods or services promised within each contract and determines those that are performance obligations, and assesses whether each promised good or service is distinct. If a promised good or service is not distinct, it is combined with other performance obligations. We then recognize as revenue the amount of the transaction price that is allocated to the respective performance obligation when (or as) the performance obligation is satisfied. For example, certain performance obligations associated with Sobi, AskBio, and Sarepta (see Note 12 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K) will be satisfied over time, and revenue will be recognized using the output method, based on the proportion of actual deliveries to the total expected deliveries over the initial term.
Collaboration and Grant Revenue: We currently generate our revenue through grants, collaboration and license agreements with strategic collaborators for the development and commercialization of product candidates. Grants and license agreements with customers are accounted for in accordance with ASC 606. We analyze collaboration arrangements by first assessing
whether they are within the scope of ASC Topic 808, Collaborative Arrangements (ASC 808), and evaluate whether such arrangements involve joint operating activities performed by parties that are both active participants in the activities and exposed to significant risks and rewards that are dependent on the commercial success of such activities. Collaboration agreements with customers that are not within the scope of ASC 808 are accounted for in accordance with ASC 606. To the extent the collaboration agreement is within the scope of ASC 808, we also assess whether any aspects of the agreement are within the scope of other accounting literature (specifically ASC 606). We early adopted ASU No. 2018-18, Collaborative Arrangements (Topic 808): Clarifying the Interaction between Topic 808 and Topic 606, which provides guidance on evaluating certain transactions between collaborative arrangement participants. If we conclude that some or all aspects of the agreement are distinct and represent a transaction with a customer, we account for those aspects of the arrangement within the scope of ASC 606. We recognize the shared costs incurred that are not within the scope of other accounting literature as a component of the related expense in the period incurred by analogy to ASC 730, Research and Development (ASC 730), and record reimbursements from counterparties as an offset to the related costs. In determining the appropriate amount of revenue to be recognized as we fulfill our obligations under the agreements in accordance with ASC 606, we perform the five steps above. As part of the accounting for the arrangement, we must develop assumptions that require judgment to determine the stand-alone selling price for each performance obligation identified in the contract. We use key assumptions to determine the stand-alone selling price, which may include market conditions, reimbursement rates for personnel costs, development timelines and probabilities of regulatory success.
The terms of our arrangements typically include one or more of the following: (i) up-front fees; (ii) milestone payments related to the achievement of development, regulatory, or commercial goals; (iii) royalties on net sales of licensed products; (iv) reimbursements or cost-sharing of research and development expenses; and (v) profit/loss sharing arising from co-promotion arrangements.
Licenses of intellectual property: If the license to our intellectual property is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in the arrangement, we recognize revenues from non-refundable, up-front fees allocated to the license when the license is transferred to the customer and the customer is able to use and benefit from the license. If not distinct, the license is combined with other performance obligations in the contract. For licenses that are combined with other performance obligations, we assess the nature of the combined performance obligation to determine whether the combined performance obligation is satisfied over time or at a point in time and, if over time, the appropriate method of measuring progress for purposes of recognizing revenue. We evaluate the measure of progress each reporting period and, if necessary, adjusts the measure of performance and related revenue recognition. Optional licenses are evaluated to determine if they are issued at a discount, and therefore, represent material rights and accounted for as separate performance obligations.
Milestone Payments: At the inception of each arrangement that includes developmental and regulatory milestone payments, we evaluate whether the achievement of each milestone specifically relates to our efforts to satisfy a performance obligation or transfer a distinct good or service within a performance obligation. If the achievement of a milestone is considered a direct result of our efforts to satisfy a performance obligation or transfer a distinct good or service and the receipt of the payment is based upon the achievement of the milestone, the associated milestone value is allocated to that distinct good or service. If the milestone payment is not specifically related to our effort to satisfy a performance obligation or transfer a distinct good or service, the amount is allocated to all performance obligations using the relative standalone selling price method. We also evaluate the milestones to determine whether they are considered probable of being reached and estimate the amount to be included in the transaction price using the most likely amount method. If it is probable that a significant revenue reversal would not occur, the associated milestone value is included in the transaction price to be allocated, otherwise, such amounts are constrained and excluded from the transaction price. At the end of each subsequent reporting period, we re-evaluate the probability of achievement of such development milestones and any related constraint, and if necessary, adjust our estimate of the transaction price. Any such adjustments to the transaction price are allocated to the performance obligations on the same basis as at contract inception. Amounts allocated to a satisfied performance obligation shall be recognized as revenue, or as a reduction of revenue, in the period in which the transaction price changes.
Manufacturing Supply Services: Arrangements that include a promise for future supply of drug substance or drug product for either clinical development or commercial supply at the customer’s discretion are evaluated to determine if they are distinct and optional. For optional services that are distinct, we assess if they are priced at a discount, and therefore, provide a material right to the licensee to be accounted for as separate performance obligations.
Royalties: For arrangements that include sales-based royalties, including milestone payments based on the level of sales, and the license is deemed to be the predominant item to which the royalties relate, we will recognize revenue at the later of (i) when the related sales occur or (ii) when the performance obligation to which some or all of the royalty has been allocated has been satisfied (or partially satisfied) in accordance with the royalty recognition constraint.
In December 2019, we issued common warrants in connection with a securities purchase agreement between us and a group of institutional investors and certain members of our board of directors. Pursuant to the terms of these common warrants,
we could be required to settle the common warrants in cash in the event of certain acquisitions of us and, as a result, the common warrants are required to be measured at fair value and reported as a liability on the balance sheet. We recorded the fair value of the common warrants of $40.7 million upon issuance using the Black-Scholes valuation model, and are required to revalue the common warrants at each reporting date with any changes in fair value recorded on our statement of operations. Inputs used to determine estimated fair value of the common warrant liabilities include the estimated fair value of the underlying stock at the valuation date, the estimated term of the warrants, risk-free interest rates, expected dividends and the expected volatility of the underlying stock. As of December 31, 2020, the fair value of the common warrants of $28.7 million was recorded as a long-term liability on our balance sheet, which resulted in a change in fair value of $10.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2020.
We account for all stock-based compensation granted to employees and non-employees using a fair value method. Stock-based compensation is measured at the grant date fair value using the Black-Scholes option pricing model and is recognized over the requisite service period of the awards, usually the vesting period, on a straight-line basis, net of estimated forfeitures. To the extent that actual forfeitures differ from management’s estimates, the differences are recorded as a cumulative adjustment in the period the estimates were adjusted. Stock-based compensation expense recognized in the consolidated financial statements is based on awards that ultimately vest.
Emerging Growth Company Status
The JOBS Act permits an ‘‘emerging growth company’’ such as us to take advantage of an extended transition period to comply with new or revised accounting standards applicable to public companies until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption and, therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. We will remain an emerging growth company until December 31, 2021, the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the closing of the initial public offering of our common stock. However, if certain events occur prior to the end of such five-year period, including if we become a “large accelerated filer,” our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion or we issue more than $1.07 billion of non-convertible debt in any three-year period, we will cease to be an emerging growth company prior to the end of such five-year period.
Smaller Reporting Company
We qualify as a “smaller reporting company” under the rules of the Securities Act and the Exchange Act. As a result, in addition to the exemptions available to us as an “emerging growth company,” we may choose to take advantage of certain scaled disclosure requirements available specifically to smaller reporting companies. Additionally, even if we cease to be an emerging growth company as noted above, as long as we continue to be a smaller reporting company, we may continue to rely on the reduced executive compensation disclosure obligations available to emerging growth companies. We will remain a smaller reporting company until the last day of the fiscal year in which the aggregate market value of our common stock held by non-affiliated persons and entities, or our public float, was less than $250 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter, or the last day of the fiscal year in which we have at least $100 million in revenue and at least $700 million in public float as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter.
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
The market risk inherent in our financial instruments and in our financial position represents the potential loss arising from adverse changes in interest rates. As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, we had cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash and investments of $140.1 million and $91.6 million, respectively, consisting of non-interest and interest-bearing money market accounts. Our primary exposure to market risk is interest rate sensitivity, which is affected by changes in the general level of U.S. interest rates. Due to the short-term and the low risk profile of our money market accounts and investments, and our current plan to hold investments to maturity, an immediate 100 basis point change in interest rates would not have a material effect on the fair market value of our cash equivalents or short-term investments.
In addition, we are subject to currency risk for balances held in Russian rubles in our foreign subsidiary. We hold portions of our funds in both U.S. dollars and Russian rubles. The exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and Russian ruble changes from period to period. As of December 31, 2020, we held cash and cash equivalents totaling $0.3 million in Russian banks to support our Russian subsidiary, all of which were denominated in U.S. dollars. We do not hedge against foreign currency risks. We do not believe that inflation and changing prices had a significant impact on our results of operations for any periods presented herein.
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
The consolidated financial statements together with the report of our independent registered public company accounting firm, required to be filed pursuant to this Item 7 are appended to this Annual Report on Form 10-K. An index of those consolidated financial statements is found in Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Limitations on effectiveness of controls and procedures
In designing and evaluating our disclosure controls and procedures, management recognizes that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving the desired control objectives. In addition, the design of disclosure controls and procedures must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints and that management is required to apply judgment in evaluating the benefits of possible controls and procedures relative to their costs.
Evaluation of disclosure controls and procedures
Our management, with the participation of our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, evaluated, as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures (as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act). Based on that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were effective at the reasonable assurance level as of December 31, 2020.
Management’s annual report on internal control over financial reporting
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over our financial reporting, as such term is defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act.
Our management conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting based on the criteria set forth in “Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013)” issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
Based on this assessment, our management concluded that, as of December 31, 2020, our internal control over financial reporting was effective.
Attestation Report of the Registered Public Accounting Firm
This Annual Report on Form 10-K does not include an attestation report of our registered public accounting firm due to an exemption established by the JOBS Act for “emerging growth companies.”
Changes in internal control over financial reporting
There were no changes in our internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Exchange Act) during the three months ended December 31, 2020 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
Item 9B. Other Information
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Our board of directors has adopted a written Code of Business Conduct and Ethics applicable to all officers, directors and employees, including our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, or persons performing similar functions. We have posted a current copy of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics on our website at www.selectabio.com in the “Investors & Media” section under “Corporate Governance.” We intend to satisfy the disclosure requirement under Item 5.05 of Form 8-K regarding amendment to, or waiver from, a provision of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, as well as the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC’s requirement to disclose waivers with respect to directors and executive officers, by posting such information on our website at the address and location specified above. The information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The information required by this Item is contained in part under the caption “Information about our Executive Officers” at the end of Part I of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The remainder of the response to this item will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders under the headings “Proposal 1⸻Election of Directors,” “Delinquent Section 16(a) Reports,” and “Committees of the Board” and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 11. Executive Compensation
The information required by this Item regarding executive compensation will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders under the headings “Executive and Director Compensation” and “Compensation Committee Interlocks and Insider Participation” and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
The information required by this Item will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders under the headings “Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management” and “Executive and Director Compensation⸻Equity Compensation Plan Information” and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
The information required by this Item will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders under the headings “Corporate Governance,” “Committees of the Board” and “Certain Relationships” and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
The information required by this Item regarding principal accountant fees and services will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders under the heading “Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm Fees and Other Matters” and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
(a)(1) Financial Statements
The financial statements listed below are filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
(a)(2) Financial Statement Schedules
All financial schedules have been omitted because the required information is either presented in the consolidated financial statements filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or the notes thereto or is not applicable or required.
The following is a list of exhibits filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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|Exhibit Description||Form||File No.||Exhibit||Filing|
Lease, dated as of September 30, 2008, as amended by the First Amendment, dated as of July 12, 2011, the Second Amendment, dated as of October 11, 2011 and the Third Amendment, dated as of April 6, 2015, by and between the Registrant and ARE-480 Arsenal Street, LLC |S-1||333-211555||10.13||5/24/2016|
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|101.INS||Inline XBRL Instance Document - the Instance Document does not appear in the interactive data file because its XBRL tags are embedded within the Inline XBRL Document|| || || || ||***|
|101.SCH||Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Schema Document|| || || || ||***|
|101.CAL||Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Calculation Linkbase Document|| || || || ||***|
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|101.PRE||Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Presentation Linkbase Document|| || || || ||***|
|104||Cover Page Interactive Data File (formatted as Inline XBRL and contained in Exhibit 101)||***|