10-K 1 bioc-10k_20201231.htm 10-K bioc-10k_20201231.htm

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

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

FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                      TO                      

Commission File Number: 001-36284

 

Biocept, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

80-0943522

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

 

 

9955 Mesa Rim Road, San Diego, California

 

92121

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (858) 320-8200

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

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $.0001 per share

BIOC

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      NO  

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.    YES      NO  

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

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

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

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

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

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

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

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market on June 30, 2020, was $93,146,301.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 19, 2021 was 13,402,368.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this Form 10-K, are incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10-14 of this Form 10-K. Except for the portions of the Proxy Statement specifically incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K, the Proxy Statement shall not be deemed to be filed as part hereof.

 

 


 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Part I

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1

 

Business

 

 

5

  

Item 1A

 

Risk Factors

 

 

40

  

Item 1B

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

 

71

  

Item 2

 

Properties

 

 

71

  

Item 3

 

Legal Proceedings

 

 

71

  

Item 4

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

 

71

  

 

 

 

Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5

 

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

 

 

72

  

Item 6

 

Selected Financial Data

 

 

72

  

Item 7

 

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

 

 

73

  

Item 7A

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

 

84

  

Item 8

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

 

85

  

Item 9

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

 

120

  

Item 9A

 

Controls and Procedures

 

 

120

  

Item 9B

 

Other Information

 

 

120

  

 

 

 

Part III

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

 

121

  

Item 11

 

Executive Compensation

 

 

121

  

Item 12

 

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

 

 

121

  

Item 13

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

 

121

  

Item 14

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

 

121

  

 

 

 

Part IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

 

122

  

Item 16

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

 

122

  

 

 

 

Signatures

 

 

 

 

128

  

 



CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Annual Report, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements included or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. You can identify these and other forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “may,” “will,” “could,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “intend,” “believe,” “continue” or the negative of such terms, or other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements also include the assumptions underlying or relating to such statements. In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.

Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth below under the caption “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report and elsewhere in this Annual Report. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for us to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they are made except as required by law. Readers should, however, review the factors and risks we describe in this Annual Report and in the reports we subsequently file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC.

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RISK FACTOR SUMMARY

Below is a summary of the material factors that make an investment in our common stock speculative or risky. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under the heading “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission before making investment decisions regarding our common stock.

 

We are an early stage molecular oncology diagnostics company with a history of net losses; we expect to incur net losses in the future, and we may never achieve sustained profitability.

 

 

We need to raise additional capital to continue as a going concern.

 

 

If we are unable to increase sales of our current products, assays and services or successfully develop and commercialize other products, assays and services, our revenues will be insufficient for us to achieve profitability.

 

 

If we cannot develop products, assays and services to keep pace with rapid advances in technology, medicine and science, our operating results and competitive position could be harmed.

 

 

If our sole laboratory facility becomes damaged or inoperable, or we are required to vacate the facility, our ability to sell and provide our products and diagnostic assays and pursue our research and development efforts may be jeopardized.

 

 

Our business is subject to risks arising from epidemic diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

We expect to continue to incur significant expenses to develop and market products and diagnostic assays, which could make it difficult for us to achieve and sustain profitability.

 

 

Clinical utility studies are important in demonstrating to both customers and payers an assay’s clinical relevance and value. If we are unable to identify collaborators willing to work with us to conduct clinical utility studies, or the results of those studies do not demonstrate that an assay provides clinically meaningful information and value, commercial adoption of such assay may be slow, which would negatively impact our business.

 

 

The loss of key members of our executive management team could adversely affect our business.

 

 

Our failure to continue to attract, hire and retain a sufficient number of qualified sales professionals would hamper our ability to increase demand for our products and diagnostic assays, to expand geographically and to successfully commercialize any other products or assays we may develop.

 

 

We depend on third parties for the supply of blood samples and other biological materials that we use in our research and development efforts. If the costs of such samples and materials increase or our third-party suppliers terminate their relationship with us, our business may be materially harmed.

 

 

We currently rely on third-party suppliers for our BCTs, shipping kits, and critical materials needed to perform our current assays, as well as our planned future products, assays and services, and any problems experienced by them could result in a delay or interruption of their supply to us.

 

 

Our commercial success could be compromised if hospitals or other clients do not pay our invoices or if third-party payers, including managed care organizations and Medicare, do not provide coverage and reimbursement, breach, rescind or modify their contracts or reimbursement policies or delay payments for our current assays and our planned future assays.

 

 

We expect to depend on Medicare and a limited number of private payers for a significant portion of our revenues and if these or other payers stop providing reimbursement or decrease the amount of reimbursement for our current assays and our planned future assays, our revenues could decline.

 

 

Because of certain Medicare billing policies, we may not receive complete reimbursement for assays provided to Medicare patients. Medicare reimbursement revenues are an important component of our business model, and private payers sometimes look to Medicare determinations when making their own payment determinations; therefore, incomplete or inadequate reimbursement from Medicare would negatively affect our business.

3


 

 

 

Long payment cycles of Medicare, Medicaid and/or other third-party payers, or other payment delays, could hurt our cash flows and increase our need for working capital.

 

 

If we were required to conduct additional clinical studies or trials before continuing to offer assays that we have developed or may develop as LDTs, those studies or trials could lead to delays or failure to obtain necessary regulatory approval, which could cause significant delays in commercializing any future products and harm our ability to achieve sustained profitability.

 

 

If we are unable to maintain effective proprietary rights for our products or services, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets.

 

 

 

 

4


 

PART I

 

Item 1. Business

Overview

We are an early-stage molecular oncology diagnostics company that develops and commercializes proprietary circulating tumor cell, or CTC, and circulating tumor nucleic acid including circulating tumor DNA, or ctDNA, and circulating tumor RNA, or ctRNA, assays using a standard blood sample, or “liquid biopsy.” Effective January 2020, we also adapted and validated this technology for commercial use in cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, to identify tumor cells that have metastasized to the central nervous system, or CNS, in patients with advanced lung cancer or breast cancer.

In June of 2020, to respond to a national public health emergency  precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we introduced molecular testing for SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, using a United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, based “RT-PCR” method developed by Thermo-Fisher.

In June 2020, we entered into a development agreement with Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc., or Aegea, focused on the co-development by us and Aegea of a highly sensitive PCR-based assay designed by Aegea for detecting the COVID-19 virus.  Pursuant to the development agreement, we receive compensation for development services performed based on time and materials expended. In early March 2021, we announced a supply agreement with Aegea for the PCR-based COVID-19 assay kit.  Under the supply agreement, Aegea will supply the COVID-19 assay kit to us for validation in our high-complexity molecular clinical laboratory that is certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, or CLIA, and licensed by the California Department of Public Health, and accredited by the College of American Pathologists, or CAP, and subsequent commercialization of a laboratory developed test, or LDT.

Our current and planned blood and CSF assays are intended to provide information to aid healthcare providers by identifying tumor cells associated with progression or metastasis, and identifying specific oncogenic alterations that may qualify a subset of cancer patients for targeted therapy. These assays may also be used for monitoring response to treatment or to identify specific resistance mechanisms.

“Liquid biopsies” are intended to supplement or replace the need for additional invasive surgical tissue biopsies or repeated lumbar punctures to find tumor material (intact cells or tumor derived nucleic acid known as ctDNA and ctRNA) in blood or CSF. Our molecular assays are also designed to help find molecular alterations in situations where tumor tissue or CSF cytology samples are insufficient and/or unable to provide the molecular subtype information necessary for clinical decisions.

Our assays have the potential to provide faster, more contemporaneous information regarding therapy response or the characteristics of a patient’s disease when compared with surgical tissue biopsies which must be scheduled or radiographic imaging which may take a month or more to illustrate progression.

Our current assays and our planned future assays focus on key solid tumor indications utilizing our Target-SelectorTM liquid biopsy technology platform for the biomarker analysis of CTCs and ctDNA from a standard blood or CSF sample. Our patented Target-Selector™ CTC platform assays are based on an internally developed microfluidics-based cell capture and analysis platform, with enabling features that change how information provided by CTC testing is used by clinicians. Our patented Target-Selector™ molecular technology enables detection of mutations and genome alterations with enhanced sensitivity and specificity, and is applicable to nucleic acid from ctDNA, and could potentially be validated for other sample types such as bone marrow, or tissue (surgical resections and/or biopsies). Our Target-Selector™ CTC and molecular platforms provide both biomarker detection as well as monitoring capabilities and require only a patient blood sample or CSF sample to inform treatment decisions. In January 2019, we began offering research use only, or RUO, liquid biopsy kits containing our patented and proprietary ctDNA Target SelectorTM testing for certain specific cancer genes to laboratories and researchers worldwide. In March 2020 we released an update for our RUO EGFR Target SelectorTM Kit which expanded the sample types validated to include both blood and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded, or FFPE. In March 2020 we also released a RUO BRAF Target SelectorTM   validated for both ctDNA and FFPE.

At our corporate headquarters facility located in San Diego, California, we operate a clinical laboratory that is certified under CLIA, licensed by the California Department of Public Health, and accredited by CAP. At this facility we perform our current assays, and we continue to perform research and development for our planned future assays. In addition, we currently manufacture our microfluidic channels and various chemistries used in our testing process, however, we have identified and have been working with a manufacturer to outsource certain manufacturing activities in the near term to reduce costs and

5


improve efficiency. The assays we offer and intend to offer are classified as LDTs under CLIA regulations. CLIA certification is required before any clinical laboratory, including ours, may perform testing on human specimens for the purpose of obtaining information for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease or the assessment of health. In addition, we participate in and have received CAP accreditation, which includes rigorous bi-annual laboratory inspections and requires adherence to specific quality standards.

Our primary sales strategy is to engage medical oncologists and other physicians in the United States at private and group practices, hospitals, laboratories and cancer centers. In addition, we market our clinical trial and research services to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations. We also market and sell molecular assay kits which enable laboratories other than Biocept to perform our testing in house. Sales of these kits began in the first quarter of 2019. Further, sales to laboratory supply distributors of our proprietary blood collection tubes, or BCTs, commenced in June 2018, which allow for the intact transport of liquid biopsy samples for research use only from regions around the world.

Our revenue generating efforts are focused in three areas:

 

providing laboratory services to medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians or healthcare providers treating patients with cancer or COVID-19 who use the biomarker information we provide in order to determine the best treatment plan for their patients;

 

providing laboratory services using both our CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays in order to help pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies run clinical studies establishing the use of novel drug therapies used to treat cancer; and

 

licensing and/or selling our proprietary testing and/or technologies, including our BCTs and assay kits, to partners in the United States and abroad.

We plan to grow our business by directly offering our Target-Selector™ liquid biopsy CTC and molecular assays to medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians or heath care providers who treat patients with cancer. Based on our product development data, as well as discussions with our key collaborators, we believe that our planned future assays, particularly those related to CSF, should provide important information and clinical value to physicians. Our CSF assays in particular are sufficiently unique in capturing tumor cells that we intend to file for a U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, “Breakthrough Designation” in second half of 2021.

Using our Target-Selector assays, cells in CSF or blood can be further interrogated to find various molecular alterations or “biomarkers” that can deliver important, actionable information not provided by other assays. For example, the historic clinical CTC test is the FDA approved CellSearch® test, which provides CTC enumeration in blood, but is not FDA approved for use in CSF or to perform biomarker analysis in blood or CSF. We believe our ability to rapidly translate insights about the utility of cytogenetic, immunocytochemical and molecular biomarkers to provide information to medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians for treatment decisions in the clinical setting will improve patient treatment and management, and that these assays will become a key component of the standard of care for personalized cancer treatment.

Market Overview

Cancer Market Overview

Despite many advances in the treatment of cancer, it remains one of the greatest areas of unmet medical need. According to the World Cancer Report 2020, cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization, there were approximately 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million cancer related deaths in 2018. The number of new cases is also expected to rise by approximately 70% over the next two decades. According to the World Health Organization, the most common causes of cancer death are cancers of the lung (21%), liver (10%), colon (9%), stomach (9%), and breast (7%). The incidence of, and deaths caused by, the major cancers are staggering, with over 3.9 million patients who have had a diagnosis of these cancers and are either living with these diseases and are undergoing treatment or are being monitored. For example, in breast cancer, many women have been deemed cancer-free, but continue to undergo periodic monitoring to assure there has been no disease recurrence.

Our commercialized assays and other planned future assays only require a readily accessible standard venous blood sample or a CSF sample obtained by lumbar puncture, or “spinal tap.”  These may be performed at various times over the course of a patient’s life with cancer to help manage these patients.  Clinical indications may include diagnosing metastasis in the CNS,

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supporting the selection of appropriate treatment, establishing treatment response, or monitoring of residual disease which involves determining the presence or absence of tumor at multiple time points during the course of a patient’s disease. Because our assays require only a standard blood or CSF sample, they can be particularly useful to avoid the need for surgical biopsy or repeated sampling of the cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, which is often needed to establish a diagnosis with less sensitive techniques such as cytology. This can be particularly advantageous when the patient has advanced disease and is not a good candidate for surgery or other more invasive diagnostic methods such as CT guided needle biopsy of the lung.  At the time of progression or recurrence there may be insufficient time and/or an urgent or precarious clinical status which does not favor the use of an invasive tissue biopsy to obtain diagnostic material. Additionally, many studies have shown that most tumors mutate during treatment and as the disease progresses, so genomic information from the initial tumor tissue may not be able to best inform treatment decisions at the time of metastasis.

Again, a significant benefit of our technology is that it allows physicians to assess the current status of tumors using a standard blood or CSF sample, known commonly as a “liquid biopsy” rather than an invasive tissue biopsy obtained by surgery or other more invasive procedures.

The following data published by the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society’s shows estimated new cases and deaths for 2019, and prevalence in 2019, in the United States for the major solid cancer types:

Cancer Type

 

Est. Incidence

(New Cases/Year-

2019)

 

 

Est. Mortality

(Deaths/Year-2019)

 

 

Est. Prevalence

(Diagnosed and

Alive as of 2019)*

 

Bladder

 

 

80,470

 

 

 

17,670

 

 

 

624,490

 

Breast

 

 

271,270

 

 

 

42,260

 

 

 

3,861,520

 

Cervical

 

 

13,170

 

 

 

4,250

 

 

 

283,120

 

Colorectal

 

 

145,660

 

 

 

51,020

 

 

 

1,544,770

 

Uterine/Cervix

 

 

61,380

 

 

 

10,920

 

 

283,120

 

Renal/Pelvis

 

 

73,820

 

 

 

14,770

 

 

569,570

 

Lung

 

 

228,150

 

 

 

142,620

 

 

 

571,340

 

Melanoma

 

 

96,480

 

 

 

7,239

 

 

 

2,028,750

 

Ovarian

 

 

22,530

 

 

 

15,082

 

 

 

249,230

 

Pancreatic

 

 

56,770

 

 

 

45,790

 

 

 

68,615

 

Prostate

 

 

174,650

 

 

 

31,620

 

 

 

3,650,030

 

Thyroid

 

 

52,070

 

 

 

2,170

 

 

 

705,050

 

 

*

American Cancer Society’s Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2019-2021

In addition to the human toll, the financial cost of cancer is overwhelming. An independent study published in 2010 and conducted jointly by the WHO ranked cancer as the most economically devastating cause of death in the world - estimated to be as high as $1.14 trillion globally. According to the National Cancer Institute, the direct cost of cancer care in the United States in 2030 is forecasted to be $158 billion.

Cancer is a Heterogeneous Disease

Cancer constitutes a heterogeneous class of diseases, characterized by uncontrolled cell growth that results from a combination of both environmental and hereditary risk factors. Many different tissue types can become malignant, such as breast, lung, liver, and skin, and even within a particular tumor there is heterogeneity, with certain cancer cells in a patient bearing specific cellular or genetic biomarkers which others lack. Only in recent years has technology progressed sufficiently to enable researchers to understand many cancers at a cellular and molecular level, attribute specific cancers to associated genetic changes, and determine the extent to which these changes are seen in a patient’s tumor.

Cancer cells contain genetic alterations compared to normal human cells. Common genetic abnormalities correlated to cancer include gains or losses of genetic material on specific chromosomal regions, or loci, or changes in specific genes, or mutations, which ultimately result in detrimental cellular changes followed by cancerous or pre-cancerous conditions. For example, multiple gains or losses on various chromosomes, and the rearrangement of genetic material among chromosomes, or chromosomal translocations, have been observed in different cancer types, such as HER2 in breast cancer and ALK rearrangements in NSCLC. In addition, mutations within gene sequences, or single nucleotide variations, can give rise to aberrant proteins that do not perform their functions correctly, leading to uncontrolled cell growth. Such genetic alterations

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can be a result of multiple factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental or lifestyle factors or viral infections. Importantly, these genetic changes or aberrant proteins can be used as biomarkers to help guide appropriate treatment. Detecting these biomarkers, particularly those representing drug targets, or those indicative of responsiveness or resistance of a tumor’s cells to specific therapies, helps clinicians to select drugs, design treatment regimens and optimize patient care and management. Assays that provide such predictive information have the potential to dramatically improve treatment outcomes for patients suffering from cancer.

Limitations of Traditional Cancer Diagnostic and Profiling Approaches

Cancer is difficult to diagnose and manage due to its heterogeneity at morphologic, genetic and clinical levels. Traditional methods of diagnosis for solid tumors, routinely used as the initial step in cancer detection, involve a tissue biopsy followed by a pathologist examining a thin slice of potentially cancerous tissue under a microscope. A recently obtained tissue sample is used in combination with chemical staining techniques to enable analysis of the biopsy. After staining, the pathologist determines through visual inspection whether the biopsy contains normal or cancerous cells, with those that are deemed cancerous being graded on a level of aggressiveness. Often an analysis of biomarkers relevant to that tumor type is also performed on the tissue, ranging from IHC to FISH, to mutation analysis by various means such as microarrays and sequencing. After the diagnosis, a clinical workup is performed according to established guidelines for the specific cancer type. From there, the physician determines the stage of progression of the cancer based on a series of clinical measures, such as size, grade, metastasis risk, symptoms and patient history, and decides on a treatment plan that may include surgery, watchful waiting, radiation, chemotherapy, or stem cell transplantation.

This type of analysis is dependent on the availability of a recently obtained tissue biopsy for the pathologist to analyze. Such a biopsy is often not available. A tumor may not be readily accessible for biopsy, a patient’s condition may be such that a biopsy is not advised, and for routine periodic patient monitoring to evaluate potential progression or recurrence, a biopsy is a fairly invasive procedure and not typically performed. As the length of time between when the original biopsy, diagnosis or surgery is conducted to the current evaluation of the patient increases, the likelihood that an original biopsy specimen is truly representative of the current disease condition declines, as does the usefulness of the original biopsy for making treatment decisions. This risk intensifies in situations where a drug therapy is being administered, because the drug can put selective pressure on the tumor cells to adapt and change.

Similarly, the heterogeneity referred to above means that different parts or areas of the same tumor can have different molecular features or properties. In evaluating a biopsy specimen, the pathologist will take a few thin slices of the tumor for microscopic review rather than exhaustively analyzing the whole tumor mass. The pathologist can only report on the tumor sections analyzed and if other parts of the tumor have different features, such as biomarkers corresponding to specific treatments, they can be missed. A more representative analysis of the entire tumor, as well as any metastases if they are present, is very helpful.

CTCs, ctDNA, ctRNA and Cancer

CTCs are cancer cells that have detached from the tumor matrix and entered the patient’s blood or other bodily fluids. These cells are representative of the tumor and its metastases and can function as their surrogates. Testing CTCs can complement pathologic information drawn from a biopsy or resected tissue sample, helping to ensure that the analysis is comprehensive and not biased by tumor heterogeneity and sampling issues. They can also provide critical data when a biopsy is not possible. Clinical studies have demonstrated that the presence and number of CTCs provides information on the likely course of certain types of disease for the cancer patient, or in other words they are considered “prognostic.” Since CTCs are representative of the tumor, they can also be used for biomarker analysis, such as helping to guide therapy selection. Such analyses are “predictive” in that they offer insight into the likely responsiveness or resistance to particular therapies. After surgery and during any subsequent therapy or monitoring period, blood samples can periodically be drawn in a standard manner and analyzed to evaluate a therapy’s continuing effectiveness, as well as to detect other biomarkers such as new genetic mutations that may arise as a result of selection pressure by a particular therapy or by chance. Physicians can use this information to determine which therapy is most likely to benefit their patients at particular times through the course of their disease. Treatment decisions based on patient-specific information are the foundation of personalized medicine, and assays that guide a physician in the selection of individualized therapy for a patient are termed “predictive assays.”

ctDNA and ctRNA are nucleic acids that are released into blood by dying tumor cells. Cell death occurs in all tissues, especially those that are rapidly dividing, and in cancer, where cell growth is not only rapid but also uncontrolled. Parts of tumors often outgrow their blood supply, resulting in cell death. Tumor cells dying as a result of therapy also release nucleic

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acid into blood. As a consequence, ctDNA is common in cancer patients and scientists believe that like CTCs, it may be more representative of a patient’s entire tumor than a few thin sections from a tissue biopsy, thus reducing the heterogeneity problem. ctDNA is found in the plasma component of blood and is readily accessible in a standard blood sample. Analyzing ctDNA for mutations that are used as biomarkers for therapy selection shows great promise. One of the strengths of this approach, in addition to not requiring a tissue biopsy, is that it is not dependent on capturing rare tumor cells from blood to provide a sample for testing. The difficulty with this approach is that the cellular context is lost since the ctDNA is mixed with a much larger amount of circulating DNA from normal cells that are continuously dying and being replaced in the body, thus making analysis challenging. This requires a mutation detection methodology with enhanced sensitivity and specificity, to distinguish mutations in particular gene regions in cancer cells from the normal gene sequence present in those same genes in normal cells which co-exist in blood as normal cells die and are replaced in the body. Our Target-Selector™ technology provides this necessary sensitivity and specificity and creates an opportunity for ctDNA analysis to complement CTC analysis, or potentially to serve as the platform for stand-alone assays.

Given the incidence of cancer in the United States, with an estimated 1,800,000 new cases in 2019 for the major solid tumors targeted by our planned future assay products, the markets for our current and planned future cancer diagnostic assays are very large. Furthermore, these market opportunities are even greater due to the benefits of CTC and ctDNA testing, including not only the ability to offer physicians a simple way to augment an initial tumor biopsy analysis but also to provide a means for relatively frequent monitoring of the tumor’s molecular status, utilizing a standard blood sample as a “liquid biopsy.” The latter application enables the physician to determine if or how a tumor is changing over time or is responding to therapy and what the next treatment should be. For example, in the United States, the incidence of new cases of breast cancer alone is estimated to be over 271,000 in 2019, and the prevalence of this disease is over 2.8 million (the number of women with a history of breast cancer in the United States, including women being treated and women who have finished treatment), with an estimated 330,000 lumpectomies performed annually in the United States. Of these lumpectomies, 20% need to be repeated because on pathological examination it is shown the procedure did not result in “clean margins,” thus suggesting the entire tumor was not removed, according to a Johns Hopkins report. If a CTC assay were performed at the time of initial diagnosis, at the time of surgery, or in lieu of, or as an adjunct to, a PET/CT scan (as a CTC assay has the potential to identify a single tumor cell in a blood sample, while a scan requires a tumor mass of millions of cells to be detectable), to monitor disease progression or test for recurrence, thousands of assays, in breast cancer alone, could be performed per year with still relatively low market penetration.

Use of CTC- and ctDNA-Derived Biomarker Data in Cancer Treatment

CTCs and ctDNA are derived from, and are understood to be representative of, a solid tumor and its metastases and can be analyzed as adjuncts to or in place of the tumor, especially when a recent tumor biopsy is not available. This is also referred to as a liquid biopsy. In theory, almost any analysis that can be performed on tumor tissue can also be performed on CTCs, while ctDNA, because it is only nucleic acid, is more limited. We have focused our analysis of CTCs and ctDNA on known biomarkers associated with specific therapies to support treatment decisions and therapy selection made by physicians. The biomarkers we analyze consist of proteins or protein modifications that can be identified by immunocytochemical means, cytogenetic or chromosomal aberrations, which are detected by FISH. Gene expression changes or molecular alterations in CTCs or ctDNA are often detected by molecular diagnostic assays, including Target-Selector™ techniques (ICC/FISH) and gene sequencing. Specific examples include (i) for ICC, the detection of the estrogen receptor protein in breast cancer, indicative of the likely responsiveness to hormonal therapies like tamoxifen, often sold under the trade name Nolvadex®, (ii) for FISH, the presence of an amplified HER2 gene in breast cancer, indicative of the likely responsiveness to HER2-targeted agents like trastuzumab, often sold under the trade name Herceptin®, and (iii) for mutation detection, the presence of an EGFR activating mutation in NSCLC like L858R, indicative of the likely responsiveness to EGFR-targeted agents like Tarceva®. All of these biomarkers are currently tested on tumor tissue and can be tested on CTCs, and in the latter case on ctDNA. The resulting information could then be used to guide patient care, and specifically treatment selection.

To date, these types of molecular and genetic detection methods have been successfully utilized to provide predictive information for several cancers including breast, colon, NSCLC, melanoma and others in the form of companion diagnostics, typically performed on tumor tissue. CTC and ctDNA assays, which analyze the same biomarkers in a more convenient standard blood sample test that also permits periodic monitoring, could be used in the same way.

Our Business Strategy

We provide medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians and health care providers that treat cancer with a means to profile and characterize the genomic alterations of their patients’ tumors by analyzing CTCs and ctDNA found in

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standard blood draws or CSF obtained by lumbar puncture, avoiding the need for surgical tissue biopsy or other more inconvenient or invasive methods. Our assays are designed to address three principal clinical questions:

Is there tumor? We believe that our technology, which provides information on the presence of CTCs in blood and tumor cells in the CSF can be used to diagnose the progression of disease, in particular, it can be used to confirm suspected CNS metastasis of lung or breast cancer.  

Is there a target for therapy? Our technology can be used to assess molecular biomarkers in CTCs or ctDNA, that can provide information to physicians to help guide the selection of more effective targeted therapies where available.

Is there a trend? Our assays can be used to follow the response to therapy, by providing a more sensitive and quantitative measure of tumor burden than other methods such as CSF cytology or radiologic imaging.

Our goal is to become the standard of care for cancer patients with advanced disease.  Our approach is to develop and commercialize CTC and ctDNA assays and services that enable us to offer actionable information from a standard blood or CSF sample for a range of solid tumor types so that oncologists can make treatment decisions which improve patient care. To achieve this, we intend to:

Develop and commercialize a portfolio of proprietary CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays that enable physicians to personalize cancer treatment. Our predictive biomarker assays are designed to provide a more complete profile of a patient’s disease than other current liquid biopsy tests that are based on either CTCs or ctDNA and ctRNA alone. Other CTC assays on the market lack molecular biomarker capability. Other ctDNA assays on the market lack information regarding the presence of tumor cells which can inform treatment decisions in suspected CNS metastasis.  Our combined CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays are expected to offer enhanced sensitivity and specificity compared to CSF cytology alone, based on initial studies. Our ctDNA and ctRNA assays based on the Target-Selector™ technology, enable earlier detection of therapy-associated mutation targets or resistance markers, to support treatment decisions, even in cases where tissue is too limited to be informative using other molecular methods. We have launched our Target-Selector™ offering in a number of key indications such as breast cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer, which are performed in our CLIA-accredited testing facility. We plan to perform the necessary validation studies to allow us to commercialize these assays through our clinical laboratory.

Scale our sales and marketing capabilities. Our direct sales force with specialized experience in cancer diagnostic testing focuses on key identified territories in order to provide geographic coverage throughout the United States. At December 31, 2020, we had 11 sales representatives, and depending on our assay volume, potentially grow this number to 20 to 25 sales representatives.  This team will educate physicians directly on the benefits of our assays and the clinical data supporting them, as well as provide support to and serve as technical specialists for our partners. In addition to our internal efforts, we are actively seeking commercial partnerships that can increase our market reach.

Develop and expand our collaborations with leading university hospitals and research centers. We collaborate with key thought leaders, physicians and clinical researchers, including those at Northwestern University Lurie Cancer Center, Stanford University, Penn State University, the University of California, San Diego, the St John’s Cancer Institute at Santa Monica (formerly John Wayne Cancer Institute), Columbia University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, and many others. Our collaborations enable us to test new technologies, validate the effectiveness and utility of our planned future assays in a clinical setting and provide us access to clinically well-characterized and highly annotated patient data. These samples and data accelerate our validation process and facilitate the testing and refinement of our planned new assays.

Enhance our efforts in reaching and educating medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians and health care providers about CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays. According to the State of Cancer Care in America 2014 Report, published in the Journal of Oncology Practice in March 2014, there were approximately 13,400 medical oncologists in the United States or 16,500 if gynecologic and pediatric oncologists are included. With the support of our key thought leader collaborators, we intend to focus on medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, and other physicians who treat cancer patients by targeting our sales and marketing efforts on this important customer segment. We believe this will expand and optimize the use of our oncology testing services and personalize the cancer treatment provided by our clients so that they can better serve their cancer patients.

Increase our efforts to provide biopharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations with our current and planned CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays and services. To improve the outcome of clinical trials for oncology drugs, and more rapidly advance targeted therapeutics, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies engage diagnostic companies that have advanced molecular assays that specifically address their needs. These include CTC and ctDNA

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and ctRNA assays that provide the ability to characterize patient-specific biomarkers and monitor changes over time. There are over 5,000 active trials in the United States in breast, lung, colorectal, prostate and gastric cancers and melanoma according to clinicaltrials.gov. We expect to increase our sales and marketing focus in this business as well as seek additional collaborations and partnerships with diagnostic, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies.

 

Become an enabling technology to cancer targeted therapies. Biopharmaceutical companies will increasingly focus on the personalized cancer diagnostic sector as the potential and prevalence of molecularly targeted oncology therapies approved by the FDA along with companion diagnostics increases. As targeted therapies move into their next phase, the market is beginning to see next generation of drugs such as Astra Zeneca’s Tagrisso (Osimertinib) that work after a patient on targeted therapy begin to progress and show a resistance mechanism that is identifiable / targetable, in this case a mutation in EGFR known as T790M. With these drugs, the original biopsy tissue would not show the resistance mechanism, so the patient must either undergo a re-biopsy procedure. In many cases re-biopsy is not medically feasible and liquid biopsy offers a more cost effective and safer alternative in this application. Another area of interest for the pharmaceutical industry is in immuno-oncology. This is the challenge of helping the body to counter the cancer cell’s ability to evade the immune system. Several protein-based tests are being developed in tissue to work as complimentary or companion diagnostics to these new and promising drugs, but the use of these tests will be limited as a result of limitations of tissue biopsies. Our solution is to test for these proteins with a liquid biopsy-based CTC test rather than relying on tissue biopsies.

Conduct additional clinical studies with our current CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays and assays we plan to introduce in various cancer types. Clinical utility and validation studies for our planned ctDNA assays may rely on archived plasma or blood samples from clinical trials in which patient outcomes are already available, in a retrospective-prospective design that significantly shortens the length of such studies.

Continue to enhance our current and planned future CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays and reduce the costs associated with providing them through internal research and development and partnering with leading technology developers and reagent suppliers. We intend to work closely with select key technology developers and suppliers to further automate the optical interpretation of our current assays and our planned additional CTC assays, including enumeration, immunocytochemical biomarker staining and FISH. We have and currently utilize an automation system that significantly reduces the hands-on time of our cytogenetic technologists for microfluidic channel analysis while increasing the uniformity of the data we generate. This system is also expected to provide the ability to evaluate multiple fluorescent signals of different wavelengths simultaneously for multiplexed analysis, further enhancing efficiency.

Our Competitive Advantages

We believe that the competitive advantages of our molecular assays, including our assays which are still under development, would include the following.

Our current Target-Selector molecular assays enable, and we anticipate our planned future CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA assays will each enable, detailed analysis of a patient’s cancer utilizing a standard blood sample, facilitating testing at any time, including when a biopsy is not available or inconclusive, offering real-time monitoring of the cancer and the response of the cancer therapy, and allowing medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, pulmonologists, urologists, integrative oncologists, naturopathic doctors and  pathologists and other physicians to select timely modifications to treatment regimens. Because CTCs and ctDNA and ctRNA are derived from the primary tumor or its metastases, they function as surrogates for the tumor, with the advantage of being readily accessible in a standard blood or CSF sample. This is especially important in situations where a biopsy is not available or advised. The simplicity of obtaining a standard blood sample permits repeat testing in a monitoring mode to detect recurrence or progression and to offer information on treatment modifications based on a current assessment of the cancer’s properties. A key advantage to using Biocept is our ability to interrogate both CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA biomarker targets.

Our current Target-Selector assays each provide and we anticipate our planned future assays will each provide more information than competitors’ existing tests, as a result of being able to provide biomarker results for both ctDNA, ctRNA and CTCs. We anticipate that such additional biomarker information will enable a physician to develop a personalized treatment plan. By including biomarker information in our analysis, in addition to CTC enumeration, our current assays and our planned future assays are designed to provide a more complete profile of a patient’s disease than existing CTC or ctDNA and ctRNA. We intend for our assays to contain actionable information to assist physicians in selecting appropriate therapies for individual patients. Our ctDNA and ctRNA assays are expected to offer enhanced sensitivity and specificity based on our

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patented technology, enabling earlier detection of therapy-associated mutation targets or resistance markers, again supporting treatment decisions.

Our current Target-Selector and our planned future assays are designed to capture and detect a broader range of CTCs than existing tests and to be applicable to, or quickly modifiable for, a wide range of cancer types. Our antibody capture cocktail includes antibodies targeting not only EpCAM, the traditional epithelial CTC capture antigen utilized in the CellSearch® system and in other platforms, but also other epithelial antigens as well as mesenchymal and cancer stem cell antigens, indicative of cells having undergone the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. These cells may be more relevant for metastasis. Our detection methods include cytokeratin staining with a broader range of cytokeratin isotypes than existing CTC tests, and we have introduced additional staining which would enable detection of cells specifically captured with our antibody cocktail, including EMT cells lacking cytokeratin. We believe that through our enhanced staining, more CTCs and different types of CTCs will be able to be identified and potentially at earlier stages of disease, resulting in fewer non-informative cases and more information for physicians.

Our current and planned CTC and ctDNA Target-Selector assays will be flexible and readily configurable to accommodate new biomarkers with clinical relevance as they are identified. In theory, our platforms permit essentially any analysis that is currently performed on tumor tissue to be performed on CTCs, including immunocytochemical staining, FISH and molecular analysis. As new therapies are approved, and to the extent that they are targeted therapies for which knowledge of a particular gene amplification event, mutation or presence, absence or modification, such as phosphorylation, of a protein are indicative of likely response or resistance to that therapy, we will be able to include them in our assays with minimal changes. This is attractive to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are developing such therapies or seeking ways to make their clinical trials more efficient, as this flexibility enables them to focus on patients more likely to respond to a particular therapy and demonstrate a benefit from that therapy.

Collaborative relationships with physicians at Northwestern University Lurie Cancer Center, Stanford University, Penn State University, the University of California, San Diego, the St. John Cancer Center of Santa Monica (former John Wayne Cancer Institute), Columbia University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, and others. We have worked closely with dozens of physicians at many leading academic institutions on various collaborative projects in different cancer types including breast, NSCLC, prostate, colorectal, ovarian, bladder and endometrial. These projects provide us access to leading researchers, clinicians and key thought leaders, access to valuable patient samples and insight into clinical applications for our assays. Some of these projects have resulted in publications in leading journals, such as Cancer Discovery and Cancer Medicine, which enhances our standing in the oncology community and supports our marketing efforts.

Our planned Target-Selector mutation assays would not be platform dependent. These assays are being designed to be able to be performed on almost any molecular instrument, which will provide flexibility in laboratory operations. To the extent we elect to develop these assays as IVDs, including by pursuing CE marks for such assays to be marketed outside the United States, the ability to rapidly deploy them on different approved instrument platforms already in many laboratories should greatly simplify their distribution and commercialization.

Our Assays, Products and Services

Assays, Products and Services

We currently offer and conduct our commercialized diagnostic assays and offer our clinical trial services at our CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited and state-licensed laboratory. We have commercialized our Target-Selector™ assays for a number of solid tumor indications such as: breast cancer, NSCLC, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreaticobiliary cancer, and ovarian cancer. These assays utilize our dual CTC and ctDNA technology platforms and provide biomarker analysis from a patient’s blood sample. In addition, to assist with the United States’ urgent need for widespread COVID-19 testing, we launched our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing at our laboratory during the second quarter of 2020.

Our current assays and clinical trial services include:

CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA Testing. Our current assays and our other planned cancer diagnostic assays are based on our Target-Selector™ technologies. After completing testing, we or our partners provide our customers with an easy to understand report that describes the results of the analyses performed, which is designed to help medical oncologists,

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neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians make better decisions about the treatment of their patients.

Clinical Trial Services. We plan to utilize our clinical laboratory and translational research capabilities to provide clinical trial and research services to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations to improve the efficiency and economic viability of their clinical studies. Our clinical studies and translational research services could leverage our knowledge of CTCs and ctDNA and ctRNA and our ability to develop and implement new cytogenetic, immunocytochemical and molecular diagnostic assays. Our current assays can, and our other planned cancer diagnostic assays and biomarker assays are anticipated to be able to, help optimize clinical trial patient selection and/or monitor cancer drivers during the course of treatment or disease progression. Demonstration of clinical utility of our assays would more easily enable these tests to be adopted in standard clinical practice, helping physicians select the most appropriate therapy for their patients.

RT-PCR COVID-19 Testing. We are currently performing RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 and have received more than 300,000 samples for processing to date.  We believe that our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing will be an important aspect of our business until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

In the case of our breast and gastric cancer offerings, biomarker analysis involves fluorescence in situ hybridization, or FISH, for the detection and quantitation of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2, gene copy number as well as immunocytochemical, or ICC, analysis of estrogen receptor, or ER, protein, progesterone receptor, or PR, protein, in breast cancer and androgen receptor, or AR, protein in prostate cancer; all of these tests are currently available commercially. We have also validated and offer a Next Generation sequencing assay for use in breast cancer. A patient’s HER2 status provides the physician with information about the appropriateness of therapies such as Herceptin® or Tykerb®. ER and PR status provides the physician with information about the appropriateness of endocrine therapies such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.

Our lung cancer biomarker analysis offering currently includes FISH testing for ALK, ROS1, RET, MET and FGFR1 gene rearrangements, as well as analysis for the T790M, Deletion 19, and L858R mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR gene, as well as BRAF and KRAS. The L858R mutation of the EGFR gene and Exon 19 deletions as activators of EGFR kinase activity.  For lung cancer, we also offer a resistance profile assay consisting of the biomarkers MET, HER2 (both of which we perform using our technology for CTCs), KRAS, and T790M (both of which are performed using ctDNA in plasma). These assays can be used by physicians to identify the mechanism causing disease progression for patients with NSCLC who are being treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitor, or TKI, therapy and therefore may qualify patients for inclusion in a clinical trial. We have also validated and offer a Next Generation sequencing assay for use in NSCLC.

Fibroblast growth receptor 1, or FGFR1, amplification is offered using our CTC technology. FGFR1 is present in several tumor types, including both NSCLC and small cell lung cancer, or SCLC, and has been shown to be a prognostic indicator of progression. FGFR1 is also a key target for several drugs undergoing clinical development.

We analytically validated PD-L1 testing utilizing our CTC technology in 2016. PD-L1 is a biomarker that is informative for immuno-oncology therapies currently marketed for lung cancer and melanoma, as well as therapies in development for other tumor types. We collaborated with David Rimm, M.D., Ph.D., a pathologist at Yale Medical School and a scientific advisor to us, on the analytical development of this assay.

We plan to release additional blood-based biomarker assays, such as those that test for ESR1, to our current menu of liquid biopsy assays using blood samples. In addition, we plan to complete the development and offer multiplexed biomarker tests, which will allow the detection and quantitative monitoring of multiple biomarkers in a single assay.

In August 2017, we announced that we had executed a distribution agreement for our proprietary blood collection tubes with VWR International, LLC which can preserve intact cells (such as CTCs) for up to 96 hours and ctDNA for up to 8 days, allowing for the intact transport of RUO liquid biopsy samples from regions around the world.

We intend to continue to commercialize cancer diagnostic assays in the United States as LDTs performed in our CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited, and state-licensed laboratory. We plan to evaluate potential opportunities for the commercialization of our products in other countries. We believe the Target-Selector™ technology can be used for molecular biomarker screening, marked as RUO test kits.

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We launched the first of our RUO Target Selector kit products, ctDNA EGFR, in January 2019. Additionally, we plan to evaluate opportunities for licensing of our products and proprietary technologies to partners in the United States and abroad.

In December 2018, we entered into a Software License and Laboratory Data Supply Agreement with Prognos, Inc., an innovator in predicting disease by applying artificial intelligence, or AI, to clinical laboratory diagnostics. Under the agreement, we will supply de-identified data from its liquid biopsy testing to Prognos, which will leverage its AI capabilities to help its pharmaceutical clients ensure that the right patients receive the right therapies. This agreement could provide revenue sharing opportunities in future periods.

In May 2019, we announced launch of the Oncomine NGS lung cancer panel in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific. We have been notified that we have received positive coverage for our test by Palmetto MolDx, who is contracted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, to vet new technologies and assays.  This means that they have determined our test is reasonable and necessary for the care of patients diagnosed with late state Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.  This is the first step in gaining reimbursement for a proprietary test, and we are in the process of negotiating coding and pricing.  Once that is finalized, Noridian (the Medicare carrier for our region) must review and accept the recommendation for payment from Palmetto.  If they agree with the recommendation from Palmetto MolDx, then Noridian will adopt the payment and reimbursement recommendation or develop their own, and we can then receive payment from Medicare for our lung cancer panel. 

In June 2019, we announced launch of the Oncomine NGS breast cancer panel, a multi-gene liquid biopsy panel specifically developed for breast cancer, in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific. This panel is being marketed to physicians and cancer researchers for the detection and monitoring of actionable genomic biomarkers associated with breast cancer.

In November 2019, we announced launch of our liquid biopsy test to detect TRK biomarkers in the blood of patients diagnosed with cancer.  Identification of TRK protein enables physicians to rapidly and cost-effectively identify the potential presence of NTRK fusions used to inform on treatment options.

In April 2020, we announced the availability of RUO kits that can allow molecular laboratories around the world to utilize Biocept’s Target-Selector™ molecular assay kits to detect key oncogene mutations through the analysis of both Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissue gained from surgical biopsies as well as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) gained from blood-based liquid biopsies.  In addition, we announced the award of CE (Conformité Européene)-IVD Mark for our Target-Selector™ molecular assay EGFR kit.

In May 2020, we announced the availability of a Target-Selector™ molecular assay RUO kit for the detection of BRAF mutations in ctDNA and FFPE samples.

We launched our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business during the second quarter of 2020. We have received more than 300,000 samples for processing through our RT-PCR technology at our laboratory through the date of filing and we believe that performing highly accurate RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 will be an important aspect of our business until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

We also expanded our prostate panel offerings as a key element for growing the demand for our testing among urologists, including the AR-V7 assay which helps physicians determine if a patient should stay on hormone therapy or switch to chemotherapy, as well as PTEN, MET, MYC, and EGFR FISH assays which provide valuable prognostic information as to the aggressiveness of a patient’s prostate cancer.

Pharmaceutical, Research and Health Economic Collaborations

We continue to execute on our strategies intended to expand our business globally, as well as to engage with pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials and assay development. We have preferred provider agreements in place in Mexico with Quest Diagnostics to support testing for Astra Zeneca. In addition, we have distribution agreements in place in Mexico.

As a follow up to the CTC findings published in Cancer Medicine, we were involved in a clinical study led by investigators at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Study enrollment was completed. During the screening phase of this study, our CLIA-certified, CAP accredited laboratory tested blood samples from a cohort of patients with HER2 negative tissue status, with the aim to identify individuals with HER2 amplified CTCs. These patients were then assigned to chemotherapy plus

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Herceptin®.  Additional CTC testing with HER2 FISH biomarker analyses were performed at subsequent time points. At the December 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, we presented findings of 311 patients tested with HER2 negative tissue status, where 22% had CTCs with HER2 gene amplification at disease progression.  HER2 gene amplification subsequently categorized these patients as potential candidates for anti-HER2 therapy as the cancer evolved. Moreover, our multi-antibody CTC capture method identified a substantial subset of patients who would not likely have had detectable CTCs with commonly used CTC capture technologies. This added 10% (included in the 22%) to the number of women who were candidates for this highly specific targeted therapy.

With our cooperation, researchers at Columbia University published a study in the journal Clinical and Translational Oncology in January 2015. The study demonstrated the high correlation (79%) of circulating tumor cells, primary tumor tissue biopsy and metastatic tumor tissue biopsy in the determination of hormone receptor status, or ER/PR, of breast cancer patients. The investigators also found that this high correlation was strongest when comparing metastatic tissue biopsy to CTCs (83%). The conclusion of the study was that determining ER/PR status in CTCs using our platform is feasible, with high concordance in ER/PR between tumor tissue (as determined with immunohistochemistry, or IHC) and CTCs (as determined with immunocytochemistry, or ICC). The authors suggest a larger trial to determine the prognostic significance of these findings.

In September 2015, we presented the clinical validation data of our ctDNA assay in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego.  The results demonstrated a very high level of concordance to tissue results (88%), together with >95% analytical sensitivity and 99% analytical specificity, supporting our offering of a validated, robust non-invasive solution for mutation identification and monitoring in patients with lung cancer. Subsequent FDA approval of Tagrisso®, a third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor, presented an opportunity for patients to be monitored using a ctDNA and ctRNA assay.

During 2016, we announced a pharmaceutical collaboration agreement that provides testing for a clinical trial, which includes metastatic lung cancer patients with leptomeningeal or brain metastases. In this exploratory trial, we tested both cerebrospinal fluid and blood for molecular alterations that could be impacted by treatment. A second pharmaceutical collaboration was announced in 2016, which entails a milestone-based assay development project focused on hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC, or liver cancer. Custom assays utilizing both our CTC and ctDNA and ctRNA technologies were developed for identifying specified biomarkers and capturing HCC CTCs for potential clinical trial use.

In April 2016, we announced a study collaboration with Dr. Giuseppe Giaccone at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to assess resistance biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, patients treated with EGFR inhibitors or chemotherapy. Later in 2016, we announced another collaboration involving a study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology, or ESMO, Annual Congress in October 2016, evaluating the detection of EGFR alterations (del19, L858R and T790M) by our Target-Selector liquid biopsy. Subsequent to this study, we have earned business in both Mexico and Columbia for EGFR gene mutation testing in blood to qualify patients for a pharmaceutical company’s targeted therapy. The relationship also resulted in a study initiated during the following year that includes peripheral blood CTC assessment of PD-L1 protein expression in patients undergoing chemotherapy as a monotherapy or in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor.

In December 2016, we announced a clinical study agreement with Columbia University Medical Center to evaluate the clinical utility of our Target-Selector platform to diagnose leptomeningeal metastases, or LM, in breast cancer patients. This work was expanded in the fourth quarter of 2018 to include patients with other primary solid tumor types. Dr. Kevin Kalinsky leads this study to test CTCs in cerebrospinal fluid and blood, where CTC analysis will be compared to standard methods for confirming LM diagnosis. In September 2020, Dr. Kalinsky moved to Emory University in Atlanta, but his work with Columbia University on this project continues.

In May 2017, we entered into a clinical study agreement with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Led by recognized oncologist and ALK alteration researcher, Dr. Saad Khan, the study is designed to evaluate the clinical utility of our Target-Selector platform for patients diagnosed with ALK-positive NSCLC and treated with ALK-inhibitor therapy. A second arm of the study evaluated patients with rare cancers such as anaplastic thyroid cancer to determine if genetic drivers such as ALK gene rearrangements can be identified and treated with targeted therapy to improve patient outcomes.

In November 2017, we announced a collaboration involving 100 patients in a clinical study with the University of California, San Diego. The study entails clinical validation of specified PD-L1 antibody clones on our Target-Selector CTC platform.

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Concordance of PD-L1 protein expression in tissue biopsy versus liquid biopsy, as well as correlation of therapeutic response with PD-L1 liquid biopsy status, are the study objectives.  

Two complementary posters on the highly sensitive Target Selector ctDNA assays were presented in 2018. The first poster entitled “Biocept Study Shows Incorporation of Thermo Fisher QuantStudio 5 PCR Instrument into Target Selector Platform Improves Sensitivity and Specificity in Detection of Lung Cancer Biomarkers” was presented in January 2018 at the Fifth AACR-IASLC International Joint Conference: Lung Cancer Translational Science from the Bench to the Clinic. The related poster, entitled “Validation of highly sensitive TargetSelector™ ctDNA assays for EGFR, BRAF, and KRAS mutations” was presented at the April 2018 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. Together, these posters highlight improvements to the Target Selector ctDNA platform, enabling more sensitive mutation detection down to a single copy, thereby increasing the likelihood of identifying actionable molecular drivers towards guiding targeted therapy decisions and better management of a patient’s cancer.

In collaboration with Dr. Shilpa Gupta from the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, a poster was presented at the April 2018 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. The results demonstrated proof-of-concept use of our Target-Selector CTC platform, correlating CTC count with clinical responses in refractory testicular cancer patients undergoing therapy. This work is part of a Phase 2 clinical trial of brentuximab vedontin (an anti-CD-30 antibody) with bevacizumab in refractory CD-30 + germ cell tumors. The capability for our Target-Selector CTC platform to monitor this rare cancer type presents the potential for a precision medicine-based approach to guide treatment decisions for these patients.

During the first half of 2018, three key case studies were published in peer-reviewed journals. In April, the 2018 Spring issue of Oncology & Hematology Review featured a case report demonstrating the clinical utility of our CTC platform whereby identification of an ALK rearrangement enabled sequential targeted therapy and improved quality of life in a patient with NSCLC.  This case illustrated the use of our technology to monitor therapeutic response and early detection of drug resistance to manage patient disease through the course of treatment with various ALK inhibitors. A Letter to the Editor in the May 2018 issue of Journal of Thoracic Oncology described the identification of a ROS1 rearrangement by Biocept CTC analysis using FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization). The ROS1 translocation was concordant with tissue biopsy. In contrast, next-generation sequencing analysis of plasma by another vendor failed to detect the genetic alteration in the patient with lung cancer. Also, in May 2018, a case report describing the application of our CTC technology in the management of metastatic breast cancer was published in Clinics in Oncology.  This work described a patient with recurrent breast cancer where numerous tissue-based evaluations of the individual’s bone-only metastases had repeated challenges or inclusive results.  HER2 amplification detected in CTCs from blood provided crucial information towards changing treatment strategies to include anti-HER therapy, consequently extending and improving the patient’s quality of life. Each of the three published cases provide real-life examples in lung and breast cancer towards establishing the importance of liquid biopsy to identify and monitor clinically actionable biomarkers to improve outcomes of patients with cancer.

In July 2018, we announced a collaboration involving two studies with the University of California, San Diego. Each of the two studies will enroll 100 patients with solid tumors, for a total of 200 patients. One study will assess the feasibility of using our CTC and ctDNA methodologies to predict post-resection disease recurrence in patients with Stage II or III cancer, and the other study will use our technology to predict response to therapy in patients with metastatic disease. Dr. Rebecca Shatsky and Dr. Razelle Kurzrock are the investigators key to both studies.   

In August 2018, we announced a Quality Improvement Initiative with Highmark Health to help improve molecular testing rates of NCCN Category I Guidelines for NSCLC. The Initiative aims to improve health outcomes by using liquid biopsy to more rapidly assess a patient's actionable biomarker status towards selecting appropriate therapy, while reducing the overall cost of care. The project will evaluate at least 100 patients in the Highmark Health-affiliated Allegheny Health Network, or AHN, Cancer Institute. Patients will receive our CTC and ctDNA testing in addition to tissue biopsy with the goal of obtaining biomarker status results for a higher percentage of patients compared to standard testing.

Two scientific posters featuring the Target Selector™ CTC and ctDNA platforms were presented in September 2018 at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, or IASLC, 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer. Data from these clinical studies demonstrate the ability of our technology to detect and monitor CTC counts and actionable biomarkers in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, of patients with advanced NSCLC. The first poster described interim results of a collaboration with Dr. Janakiraman Subramanian at the Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. This study evaluates CTC enumeration in advanced stage NSCLC patients before and during the course of chemotherapy. Interim data

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suggest that CTC counts may have prognostic and predictive potential to assess therapeutic benefit. The second poster was in collaboration with Kadmon Corporation, featuring CTC and ctDNA analyses and monitoring in the CSF of NSCLC patients with LM who were treated with tesevatib in Kadmon’s clinical trial KD019-206. In this study, alterations detected in the CSF of patients were concordant with original tissue biopsies, and serial monitoring of CTCs and ctDNA biomarkers in CSF were consistent with the overall clinical.

A case series was published in the January 2019 issue of the peer reviewed journal, Clinics in Oncology. The work highlights the clinical utility of liquid biopsy to stratify patients who may benefit from targeted therapy, describing three patients with metastatic NSCLC for whom tissue biopsy was insufficient for molecular profiling. In all three cases, our ctDNA liquid biopsy analyses detected an activating EGFR mutation. EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy subsequently was initiated. Complete response lasting approximately two years was observed in one patient. For two patients, our ctDNA testing was performed at signs of clinical progression and Osimertinib was administered upon our liquid biopsy identification of the EGFR T790M resistance marker. In sum, patient survival was dramatically extended in all cases presented where targeted therapies were prescribed based on liquid biopsy results.

In April 2019, we presented a poster at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The work describes analytical validation of Target Selector ESR1 Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, ctDNA assays with single copy mutant detection. The assays have a limit of detection, or LOD, 0.03% or better, with >99% sensitivity for mutant allele fractions, or MAF, ranging from greater than 5% down to 0.03%.  ESR1 gene mutations are associated with acquired drug resistance in up to 55% of patients with estrogen receptor, or ER, positive metastatic breast cancer, or mBC, who received anti-estrogen treatment. Detection of ESR1 mutations may enable the prediction of treatment failure and disease progression in these patients. As new therapies are developed that antagonize ER activity by mechanisms that differ from current drug treatments, ESR1 mutation testing can be a helpful tool to identify patients who may benefit from these alternative agents.

In October 2019, we announced the publication of a peer-reviewed journal article featuring the analytical validation results demonstrating the high sensitivity of our Target SelectorTM testing for EGFR, BRAF, and KRAS mutation in plasma circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). The article was published in the journal, PLOS ONE, Volume 14, October 2019, and will also be included as part of a special collection of topical articles, entitled Targeted Anticancer Therapies and Precision Medicine In Cancer.

In November 2019, we presented clinical data highlighting performance of our Target SelectorTM tests and kits for detecting actionable oncology biomarkers at the 2019 Association for Molecular Pathology, or AMP, Annual Meeting held at the Baltimore Convention Center, in Baltimore, MD.  The content of our posters will be published in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

In December 2019, we presented clinical data supporting the use of our Target Selector TM CTC platform as an aid in the monitoring and treatment of breast cancer in a poster session at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, or SABS. The data demonstrated the Target SelectorTM platform’s ability to accurately detect, enumerate, and interrogate CTCs in a cohort of over 1,500 patients, representing various clinical and treatment stages of breast cancer.

In March 2020, we announced publication of clinical data in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Pathology that further validates the Company's Target Selector™ qPCR Assay using "Switch Blocker" technology to identify cancer-related mutations in liquid biopsy samples.  The study examined 127 clinical assays for mutations commonly associated with cancer found in the EGFR, BRAF and KRAS genes. Each Target Selector™ assay in the study demonstrated extremely high accuracy, sensitivity and specificity when compared to results obtained from tissue samples, showing a 93%-96% concordance to blinded tissue samples across all assays.

In October 2020, we announced results from a prospective study comparing our Target Selector™ CSF testing to conventional cytology in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLS, and LM showing that our Target Selector™ CSF testing may provide a more robust method for detecting lung cancer metastasis in CSF than the current standard of cytology analysis.  

In November 2020, we announced results of a study analyzing CSF samples in patients with primary lung or breast cancer with either brain or LM disease. The findings indicate that Target Selector™ CSF assays are a viable and sensitive platform for CTC detection and molecular analysis compared to the current standard of care, CSF cytology, which is typically used to establish or confirm LM disease when cytology imaging findings are suspicious or equivocal.

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In December 2020, we announced results from a prospective study showing Target Selector™ was highly accurate in monitoring HER2 alterations in patients with metastatic breast cancer. The results were featured in a poster presentation at the virtual 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

In February 2021, we presented data at the Molecular Med Tri-Con Virtual Conference, showing that our  Target Selector™ molecular assay kit detects mutations in up to 50% of tissue biopsy specimens, from patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, that were deemed quantity not sufficient (QNS) by conventional methods.

Provider Agreements

In January 2017, we announced that we had secured an in-network provider agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the largest provider of health benefits in Texas. In addition, we entered into a national master business agreement with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a not-for-profit trade association that provides multiple services for its 38-member Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plan companies across the U.S., including forming national strategic vendor partnerships. We were selected by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based on a rigorous request-for-proposal progress. This agreement establishes pricing for our Target-Selector™ liquid biopsy testing service through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s group purchasing organization, CareSourcing Workgroup. The pricing offered by the CareSourcing Workgroup group purchasing organization is available to those Blue Cross and Blue Shield member health plans that have, or may seek, in-network agreements with us.

In June 2017, we entered into a participating provider agreement with MediNcrease Health Plans, LLC and a preferred provider agreement with Scripps Health Plan Services, Inc., both establishing pricing for our Target-Selector™ liquid biopsy testing service.

In December 2017, we signed an agreement with Wellmark, Inc., the largest health insurer in Iowa and South Dakota. The agreement marks our third Blue Cross Blue Shield contract and enables patients diagnosed with cancer the ability to access our proprietary testing services in-network under their Wellmark health plan.

 

In August 2018, we entered into a quality initiative program with Highmark and Alleghany Health Network as a result of the Caresourcing Workgroup. The focus is to improve access to molecular testing to members with a diagnosis of lung cancer. Enrollment began in August 2018 and has been steadily increasing.

In July 2019, we announced that we entered into a Laboratory Services Provider Agreement with Beacon Laboratory Benefit Solutions, Inc., a nationally recognized premier provider of laboratory benefit management technology solutions to health and managed care companies in the United States.

In February 2020, we announced that we entered into an agreement with a California-based independent physician association, or IPA, to provide our liquid biopsy testing services to physicians and patients in their network.  Our Target SelectorTM offering includes the choice of individual biomarker tests or a larger liquid biopsy panel, enabling physicians to select the best approach for each patient.

In June 2020, we announced that we entered into a managed care provider agreement with Medical Cost Containment Professional LLC (MCCP), to process out-of-network claims for Biocept’s Target SelectorTM liquid biopsy testing. MCCP is a reference-based pricing insurance network that includes more than 150,000 providers nationwide.

 

In August 2020, we announced the expansion of our agreement with MultiPlan, Inc. to include COVID-19 testing services at a pre-negotiated price per test.  MultiPlan is a healthcare cost management company offering payment integrity, network-based and analytics-based services.  With the expanded agreement, our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing, in addition to our liquid biopsy oncology testing services, are now accessible to consumers who have access to the PHCS and MultiPlan Networks, MultiPlan’s national primary and complementary networks.  More than 1 million healthcare providers participate in MultiPlan’s networks and 60 million health plan members have access to the company’s services.

 

In addition, in August 2020, we entered into an agreement with a healthcare group to provide RT-PCR COVID-19 testing to skilled nursing facilities.  The group operates and supports more than 50 facilities in multiple states, with most located in California, the state with one of the most stringent COVID-19 testing regulations in the United States. 

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In September 2020, we announced that Highmark, America’s fourth largest Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate, has made a positive coverage determination that our Target SelectorTM liquid biopsy assay has been accepted for medical coverage for use in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with NSCLC.  In addition, we announced that we entered into an agreement with Health Net Federal Services LLC to be an in-network provider for Target Selector™ liquid biopsy oncology platform testing for cancer patients in the TRICARE West (TriWest) region network.  TriWest provides healthcare services to approximately three million members of the U.S. military and their families. 

In December 2020, we announced entering into laboratory services agreements with two Southern California regional independent physician associations (IPAs) providing physicians and patients in-network access to our full array of Target Selector™ liquid biopsy assays and services.  Both IPAs are headquartered in San Diego and combined they serve more than 70,000 covered lives in the Southern California region.

We are currently contracted with nine preferred provider organization networks, three large health plans, and five regional independent physician associations, and expect to continue to gain contracts in order to be considered as an “in-network” provider with additional plans.

Laboratory Testing

From our CLIA-certified laboratory in San Diego, California, we provide test results from our current and planned CTC and ctDNA assays to medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians in community hospitals, cancer centers, group practices and offices. At the federal level, clinical laboratories, such as ours, must be certified under CLIA in order for us to perform testing on human specimens. Our laboratory is also accredited by CAP, which is one of six accreditation organizations approved by CMS under CLIA. Our clinical laboratory is located in California and we hold the requisite license from the California Department of Public Health to operate our laboratory. In addition, we hold licenses issued by the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to test specimens from patients in those states or received from ordering physicians from those states. In addition, our clinical reference laboratory is required to be licensed on a product-specific basis by New York as an out of state laboratory and our products, as LDTs, must be approved by the New York State Department of Health before they are offered in New York. As part of this process, the State of New York requires validation of our assays. We currently do not have the necessary New York license, but we are in the process of addressing the requirements for licensure in New York.

Clinical Study Biomarker Testing Services

Industry research has revealed that many promising drugs have produced disappointing results in clinical trials. For example, a study by Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto estimated that over a five-year study period 85% of the new therapies for solid tumors which were tested in early clinical trials in the United States, Europe and Japan failed, and that of those that survive through to Phase III trials, only a third will be approved. Given such a high failure rate of oncology drugs in clinical development, combined with constrained budgets for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, there is a significant need for drug developers to utilize molecular diagnostics to help decrease these failure rates. For specific molecular-targeted therapeutics, the identification of appropriate biomarkers may help to optimize clinical trial patient selection and success rates by helping clinicians identify patients that are most likely to benefit from a therapy based on their individual genetic profile.

 

In addition to testing for physicians and their patients, we offer liquid biopsy testing services to help increase the efficiency and economic viability of biomarker analysis pertinent to clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations. Our liquid biopsy testing services are aimed at developing customizable assays and techniques utilizing CTC and ctDNA technologies to provide sensitive, real-time characterization of an individual patient’s tumors using a standard blood sample. These assays may be useful as, and ultimately developed into, companion diagnostics associated with a specific therapeutic. Additionally, through our services, we may gain further insights into biomarkers for disease progression and drug resistance, as well as those associated with current drug development efforts, which we can incorporate into assays.

Assay Development Process

Our Target-Selector™ assays were, and our planned additional CTC and molecular assays are being, developed and validated in conjunction with leading academic and clinical research centers to ensure that the needs of the clinical community are being met with the latest research on key biomarkers that affect patient care. We utilize a research and validation process to help ensure that we are providing diagnostic, prognostic and predictive information that is clinically relevant and accurate.

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The timeframe for this process from design through development and market launch is dependent upon, among other things, the biomarkers in question having been discovered and validated before we incorporate them in an assay, the specific clinical claims we plan to pursue, and the availability of high-quality samples for validation. Our development protocol calls for us to monitor and review the process in four stages as detailed below:

Stage 1, Research. We review known, validated biomarkers, preferably associated with a specific therapeutic or other high value treatment decision, and discuss with clinical collaborators and key thought leaders to characterize the opportunity, the specific clinical setting and the product profile of the candidate assay.

Stage 2, Assay Development. We design the assay, which typically has two parts: efficient capture of CTCs and/or isolation of ctDNA from the targeted cancer type and development of the biomarker assays that will be included. For example, the first part may involve modification of the antibody capture cocktail and the second could include development of specific Target-Selector™ mutation assays or testing of FISH probes. Assay development utilizes contrived analytical samples, normal control specimens and ultimately clinical samples to assure performance. The assay development process includes defining the performance characteristics of the assay as well as developing standard protocols for our CLIA-certified, CAP accredited, and state-licensed laboratory, where the assay will ultimately be performed. This assessment includes such features as accuracy, precision (inter-assay, intra-assay, inter-operator, inter-instrument, etc.), sensitivity, and specificity.

Stage 3, Clinical Validation. When the assay is performing as desired it undergoes a rigorous validation process which includes both analytical and clinical validation. Clinical accuracy is performed and validated against an orthogonal reference for that biomarker, which is typically tumor tissue analysis. Depending on the tumor type and specimen requirement, samples are collected from patients through collaborators, or in the case of molecular assays, from commercial sample banks, where clinical information on the patients, including outcomes, is already available.  We create standard operating procedures, quality assurance and quality control measures to ensure reproducibility and high standards of quality.

Stage 4, Availability for Commercialization. Upon the completion of clinical validation and before launch, we take several steps to prepare an assay for marketing as an LDT. We create standard operating procedures and quality assurance and quality control measures to ensure repeatability and high standards of quality. We train both our commercial and laboratory staff on the interpretation and use of the data. Licenses and approvals for our laboratory to perform or use LDTs have been obtained from the appropriate regulatory authorities, such as CMS, which oversees CLIA, and different state regulatory bodies.

We currently offer 25 assays that are available for clinical use that have completed all four stages of the development protocol. Other assays for both CTCs and blood and CSF molecular testing are in earlier stages of development. Markers for such assays include, but are not limited to, ESR1, PSA, CD68, NTRK2, NTRK3, MSI and a multiplexed assay.

We may be required to seek FDA clearance or approval to expand the commercial use of assays to other laboratories and testing sites in the United States. We may also need to complete additional activities to submit each of these assays for regulatory clearance or approval before commercialization in each of the international markets where introduction is planned.

If the FDA finalizes its current draft guidance on a risk-based framework for regulation of LDTs, our process would also need to allow for obtaining FDA review, clearance or approval, as applicable, which would add delay, expense and risk to our current assay development process. In November 2016, the FDA put the process to review and issue this guidance on hold and has not yet provided further information as to when the process will move forward.

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Technology Development

In addition to developing new CTC and molecular assays for different cancers to be offered through our CLIA laboratory and adapting additional predictive biomarkers to these assays as their importance is demonstrated by the scientific and clinical research communities, we continue to focus on improving the base technologies underlying our assays and processes. We are exploring various ways to improve CTC capture efficiency and detection, as well as approaches to sub-categorize CTCs into different populations that may have clinical relevance. For example, by determining which antigens individual CTCs expressed that enabled their capture, we could differentiate, and enumerate, various CTC phenotypes, for example, epithelial versus mesenchymal. We are also working to simplify the assay process, and in general to provide a broader range of useful data on a patient’s cancer to assist the physician in determining an appropriate treatment. Some of these projects and initiatives include:

Improve Ability to Capture CTCs

Continued modification and optimization of our microfluidic channel as a way to further enhance CTC capture efficiency. Capture efficiency directly impacts sensitivity, informative rate, and the ability to perform accurate and reliable biomarker analyses on the CTCs, all of which increase the value of our offering. We are utilizing some of our early research experience to improve CTC capture rates and reduce background contamination from normal white blood cells.

Automation of Our Assay Process

Development of automation throughout the assay process, but particularly at the visual evaluation steps, which include enumeration, any ICC for biomarkers beyond those used to identify CTCs, for example protein biomarkers, and FISH analysis, is a way to drive efficiencies, reduce costs, speed up turnaround time, and generate more reliable, uniform, and in some cases more sensitive data. We have implemented an automation solution for the visual analysis, which has been validated and implemented in our CLIA laboratory. We have also developed automated systems for the separation, processing and washing steps before running a sample on the microfluidic channel, which has also been validated and implemented in the CLIA laboratory. We are currently implementing further steps in automation, including running the microfluidic channels and performing FISH. We believe these measures will reduce costs and time as well as allow for higher-throughput as sample volumes increase.

Development of Second-Generation Platform for CTC Testing

We are continuing to evaluate and develop techniques for CTC capture that take advantage of our antibody enrichment cocktail and our staining technology to modify our current CTC process into a simpler IVD testing kit format. In addition to reducing internal costs, such an advance would enable us to offer a testing kit format that can access the worldwide CTC testing market. We believe that the distribution of such kits could create a new business opportunity for us.

Utilization of ctDNA Technology for Highly Multiplexed Mutation Testing

The ctDNA technology should enable us to multiplex mutation testing such that larger panels of genes can be analyzed in a single step and interfaced with genetic sequencing. This should position us for the analysis at the molecular level of whole signaling pathways or enzyme cascades. We plan to take advantage of the sensitivity and specificity of the ctDNA technology and leverage interest in the clinical research community for detecting any actionable biomarker in a particular tumor, as opposed to only those that are known to occur at relatively higher frequencies in that type of tumor. Such multiplexed mutation assays, relying on our ctDNA technology, could provide a more global evaluation of a tumor through analysis of either CTCs or ctDNA. This would offer a broader range of potential treatment options as well as enable the monitoring of the effectiveness of those treatments over time.

Development of Single Cell CTC Isolation Techniques for Molecular Analysis

Tumor heterogeneity is a well-recognized problem for tissue analysis and is in part addressed by focusing on CTCs, which may provide a more universal sampling of a tumor. One result of this can be a diverse population of CTCs in a sample, with different phenotypes and genotypes represented. We are working with a collaborator on techniques for subsequent sorting of our highly enriched CTC samples released from our microfluidic channels into pools of CTCs with similar phenotypes, and ultimately to single CTCs, for molecular analysis.

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Translational/Clinical Research

In the course of our research and validation studies, we have processed and analyzed thousands of normal control and cancer patient samples. Our initial focus has been on breast cancer, where validation studies for our CTC assay, including enumeration of CTCs on the Biocept platform compared to the CellSearch® system, and HER2 FISH performed on CTCs and compared with HER2 analysis performed on tumor tissue from the same patients, involved over 120 patient samples. The results of our validation studies, and the demonstration of a reliable and reproducible method for CTC capture and analysis using our platform were published in a paper entitled “Novel Platform for the Detection of Cytokeratin Positive (CK+) and Cytokeratin Negative (CK-) CTCs” appearing in the December 2011 issue of Cancer Discovery and a paper entitled “Efficient capture of circulating tumor cells with a novel immunocytochemical microfluidic device” appearing in the September 2011 issue of BioMicrofluidics.

Additional studies were conducted in breast and other tumor types, including lung, prostate and colorectal cancers, utilizing patient samples for comparison to the CellSearch® system. In head-to-head studies, our system detected cytokeratin positive CTCs in comparable numbers of breast cancer patients, and in considerably more patients in the other cancer types (Cancer Discovery, December 2011). Moreover, the results clearly demonstrated that the use of our antibody enrichment cocktail enabled recovery of more CTCs compared to using only anti-EpCAM antibodies. These data served as a clinical validation study for CTC enumeration. When our staining is applied to detect cytokeratin-negative CTCs, we expect to see far more CTCs based on preliminary studies reported in a paper entitled “Detection of EpCAM-Negative and Cytokeratin-Negative CTCs in Peripheral Blood” appearing in the 2011 issue of the Journal of Oncology.

Our system has the added advantage of post-capture immunofluorescent, cytogenetic and molecular genomic analyses of the CTCs. Cells captured by Biocept’s proprietary Target-Selector™ system can be analyzed directly within the microfluidic channel, removing the need to re-deposit cells on a slide and thereby minimizing cell loss or damage. Furthermore, given the transparency of the microfluidic channel, captured cells can be immediately analyzed on a microscope. Together, these two important features allow for a very efficient process that is well suited for a laboratory developed test (LDT) performed in a CLIA laboratory. The post-capture analyses directed towards evaluation of biomarkers, are particularly important and valuable to physicians and patients since they focus on actionable information related to therapy selection. We have performed several clinical research studies in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center investigators involving various tumor types, including breast, ovarian, endometrial, lung, colorectal, bladder and prostate cancers.

In a collaboration with physicians and researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, we evaluated matched samples of tumor tissue, blood for CTCs, and bone marrow for DTCs in recently diagnosed breast cancer patients to identify HER2 amplification. Positive HER2 status would indicate eligibility for HER2-targeted therapies like Herceptin®, a potentially life-saving treatment. These results were presented at both the 2011 and 2012 annual meetings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. In a 95-patient study published in Cancer Medicine (2013, 2(2) 226-233), HER2 positive CTCs and/or DTCs were identified in 18.9% of cases in which the primary tumor was HER2 negative. In the same cohort of patients, only 12.6% were HER2 positive in their primary tumor. In other words, beyond the 12 (of 95) patients for whom traditional tumor tissue analysis had indicated benefit from Herceptin-based therapy, the Target-Selector™ assay detected HER2 gene amplification in 18 (of 95) patients who (despite the fact they were identified as being HER2 negative by primary-tumor testing) could benefit from Herceptin-based therapy. Patients classified as HER2 negative based on tumor tissue and found to have HER2 positive CTCs and/or DTCs were subsequently monitored by our collaborators at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to assess their overall and progression-free survival. Tumor heterogeneity is one likely cause of the discordance for HER2 status between tumor tissue and our assay performed on blood and bone marrow samples. Tumor heterogeneity indicates an important clinical application for the CTC analysis with the Target-Selector™ assay. Our technology can use a standard blood sample to confirm and crosscheck tissue analysis performed by the pathologist at the time of biopsy or surgery, especially if HER2 negative.

Our Target-Selector™ platform is well suited towards blood-based analysis of breast cancer biomarkers. A 24-patient study published with Columbia University (Clinical and Translational Oncology, 2015, 17(7):539-46) demonstrated the feasibility of CTC testing to evaluate ER and PR status in metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients. Results showed a concordance of 83% and 68% in ER/PR status between CTCs vs. metastatic tissue tumor, and CTCs vs. primary tissue, respectively. More recently, a December 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium poster presentation featured the evaluation of 74 mBC patients. This collaborative work with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, demonstrated detection of CTCs in 99% of mBC patient samples. In addition, ER protein expression concordance was 84% in cytokeratin positive cells and 18% in

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cytokeratin negative cells. FISH-based analysis of captured CTCs displayed tissue concordances of 93% and 68% for HER2 gene amplification in cytokeratin positive CTCs and cytokeratin negative CTCs, respectively; FGFR1 amplification concordances to tissue were 79% and 67% for cytokeratin positive CTCs and cytokeratin negative CTCs, respectively. While further investigation is needed to elucidate the significance of cytokeratin negative cells as a possible prognostic indicator to evaluate ER, HER2 and FGFR1 biomarkers in mBC patients, our ability to assess cytokeratin positive and negative CTCs affords a distinct advantage over other CTC technologies that rely solely upon characterization of cytokeratin positive CTCs.

We have also developed proprietary and robust technology to detect and quantify mutant ctDNA in plasma originating from the same blood sample that is used for the previously described CTC analyses. In collaboration between Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia and AstraZeneca, a clinical evaluation of blood-based liquid biopsy mutational profiling using our service was performed on 60 advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients. Target-Selector™ assays are highly sensitive with the ability to detect EGFR mutations down to one mutant copy per milliliter of plasma. The high concordance of ctDNA versus tissue exhibited in this work highlights Target-Selector™ plasma ctDNA assays as a viable and practical means to detect EGFR activating and acquired resistance mutations relevant for guiding targeted therapy decisions.

Clinical utility studies, which demonstrate the specific clinical setting in which a particular CTC or ctDNA assay is used, and how to use the information generated for medical, specifically treatment-related, decision making is a key part of our strategy and research and development plan. Data resulting from such studies is critical not only in the sales and marketing process, but also for reimbursement, as many health plans and government payers now ask for peer-reviewed publications describing such studies and results before agreeing to coverage of a specific assay. We are involved in and plan to become involved in numerous studies to further demonstrate the clinical utility of our assays.

Sales and Marketing

On December 31, 2020, our sales organization consisted of 11 sales representatives placed in strategic locations around the country that have high concentrations of cancer patients, and we may, depending on assay volume, potentially grow this number to 20-25 sales representatives within two years and to 30-35 within five years. We have defined sales territories and have hired sales professionals with extensive successful experience in clinical oncology sales or oncology diagnostic testing sales from leading biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical or specialty reference laboratory companies. We plan on growing this specialized, oncology-focused sales force and supporting it with clinical specialists who bring significant technical knowledge in the use of CTC and ctDNA assays.

Finally, we have invested in managed care sales and marketing experts to pursue favorable payment and coverage for our liquid biopsy testing services. The key value proposition for these customers will include clinical utility and cost savings by offering our assays as a complement and/or alternative to expensive surgeries when tumor biopsy tissue is insufficient or not available.

Our sales and marketing efforts are and will be based on a five-part marketing strategy:

Work with oncologists, other physicians and group practices at community hospitals and cancer centers to educate them on the advantages and opportunities that CTC and ctDNA assays provide for better information, allowing them to select the most appropriate therapy for their patients, and how and when these assays are most effectively used;

build relationships with key thought leaders in oncology, specifically in the cancer types for which we are offering or plan to offer assays, to educate and support community oncologists;

collaborate with leading research universities and institutions that enable the validation of our new assays, as well as the generation of clinical utility data;

partner with pharmaceutical companies for clinical trial work focusing on CTC and ctDNA testing and analysis; and

add value for the payer community by delivering clinically actionable information and providing a cost-effective alternative to access clinically actionable information using a simple blood test.

We also take advantage of customary marketing channels commonly used by the diagnostic and pharmaceutical industries, such as medical meetings, broad-based publication of our scientific and clinical data, and the internet. In addition, we provide easy-to-access information to our customers through our website and a data portal for physicians who wish to access test

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results electronically. Our customers value secure and easily accessible information in order to quickly review their patients’ information and begin developing a treatment protocol.

Outside the United States

Outside the United States, where a central laboratory business model is less developed, we will evaluate opportunities with our existing and other partners for the conversion and/or development of our current and planned CTC and ctDNA assays into test systems or IVDs, and related strategies to develop and serve such regional oncology markets. We also plan to sell our clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical companies and research organizations outside the United States.

We plan to cooperate with partners on accessing markets internationally. We plan for this to be accomplished either through partnerships with local groups and distributors or the development of IVD test kits and/or test systems, including instrumentation.

Competition

As a cancer diagnostics company focused on current and planned assays for CTCs and ctDNA from standard blood samples, we rely extensively on our ability to combine novel technology and biomarker information with high-quality, state-of-the art clinical laboratory testing. We believe that we compete principally on the basis of:

Our ability to utilize standard blood samples, enabling frequent testing of patients through the course of their disease in addition to, or without a biopsy, thereby reducing cost and trauma, saving time, and providing real-time information on the status of the tumor;

our ability to include biomarker information in our analysis, in addition to CTC enumeration, thereby providing a more complete profile of a patient’s disease than existing CTC tests. This clinically actionable information can assist physicians in selecting more personalized treatment plans for individual patients;

our current and planned future CTC assays’ ability to capture and detect a broader range of CTC phenotypes than existing tests, and potentially at earlier stages of disease, resulting in fewer non-informative cases and more information for physicians. For example, our antibody capture cocktail targets not only EpCAM but also other epithelial antigens as well as mesenchymal and cancer stem cell antigens, indicative of cells having undergone the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. These cells may be more relevant for metastasis;

our ability to rapidly integrate new biomarkers, either validated in academic laboratories or of interest to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies in the context of their new therapies, into our current and planned future assays, facilitating the expansion of actionable information for medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians;

our research and clinical collaborations with key academic and clinical study groups, which enhance our research and development resources and, by enhancing our standing in the oncology community, support our marketing efforts; and

our current and planned ctDNA assays based on our patented technology, which currently offer and are expected to continue to offer enhanced sensitivity and specificity in detecting mutation targets or resistance markers, again supporting treatment decisions.

We believe that we compete favorably with respect to these factors, although we cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to do so in the future or that new products or assays that perform better than our current and planned future assays and services will not be introduced. We believe that our continued success depends on our ability to:

Expand and enhance our current and planned Target-Selector™ assays to provide clinically meaningful information in additional cancers;

work with clinicians to design and implement clinical studies that demonstrate the clinical utility of our products;

continue to innovate and maintain scientifically advanced technology including development and regulatory approvals;

successfully market and sell assays;

continue to comply with regulatory guidelines and obtain appropriate regulatory approvals in the United States and abroad as applicable;

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continue to validate our pipeline of assays;

conduct or collaborate with clinical utility studies to demonstrate the application and medical value of our assays;

continue to seek to obtain positive coverage and reimbursement decisions from Medicare and private third-party payers;

continue to enter into sales and marketing partnerships;

maintain existing and enter into new research and clinical collaborations with key academic and clinical study groups;

continue to attract and retain skilled scientific, clinical, laboratory, and marketing personnel;

continue to participate in and gain clinical trial work through biopharma partnerships;

receive payment for the testing we provide for patients;

obtain patents or other protection for our technologies, assays and services; and

obtain and maintain our clinical reference laboratory accreditations and licenses.

Our principal competition comes from established molecular diagnostic clinical testing services and products, used by medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians, which are based on tumor tissue analysis. It may be difficult  to change established clinical practices  and behavior of medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians to get them to adopt the use of our blood-based CTC and ctDNA assays, in their practices in conjunction with or instead of molecular diagnostic tests from tissue biopsies.  

Blood or liquid biopsy molecular tests based on CTC and ctDNA assays for oncology applications represent a new area of science and medicine and we cannot predict what products or assays others will develop that may compete with or provide results similar or superior to the results we are able to achieve with the products or assays we develop.  

We face competition from specialty oncology diagnostic companies that are conducting research and development to develop proprietary CTC or ctDNA based assays and assay test panels for use in genomic profiling and monitoring solid tumor cancers. Competitors developing ctDNA bases assays and assay panels include but are not limited to companies such as Guardant Health, Foundation Medicine, Tempus Laboratories, NeoGenomics, Invitae, Natera, Inivata and Biodesix. EPIC Sciences, Menarini Silicon Biosystems, Biofluidica and Angle PLC offer CTC-based assays. These companies, in addition to operating research and development laboratories, have established CLIA-certified testing laboratories and have developed  LDT (lab developed tests) that they market directly to oncologists and pathologists. A few of these companies, like Guardant Health and Foundation Medicine, have achieved FDA clearance for their proprietary laboratory tests.  

There are a number of national and regional specialty diagnostic companies, such as Caris Life Sciences and CSI, which are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, who while not currently offering CTC or ctDNA assays are selling to oncologists and pathologists and could develop or offer ctDNA or CTC or assays. In addition large laboratory services companies such as Quest and LabCorp which provide a broad array of  cancer diagnostic assays and testing services could also offer CTC or ctDNA based clinical testing services.

Another new area of science and medicine is CTC and ctDNA assays performed from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples for neuro-oncology applications.  There is currently limited competition for our CSF-based CTC and ctDNA assays.  There are no known specialty oncology diagnostic companies or large laboratory services companies that offer CSF-based CTC and ctDNA tests for neuro-oncology applications as a standard commercial clinical testing service. A few academic based pathology labs such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center offer CSF-based testing mainly for research purposes.  

There are a number of companies which are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, who while not currently offering CTC or ctDNA assays are selling to the medical oncologists and pathologists and could develop or offer CTC or ctDNA assays. Large laboratory services companies such as Quest and LabCorp provide more generalized cancer diagnostic assays and testing but could also offer a CTC or ctDNA assay service. Companies like Abbott, Danaher and others could develop equipment or reagents in the future as well. Currently, companies like Streck, Roche and Exact Sciences offer BCTs, and in the future, companies like Covidien, Beckton Dickinson, Thermo Fisher, and other large medical device companies may develop BCTs as well.

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There are a number of life science technology companies that are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Illumina, Abbott Molecular, Bio-Rad, Sysmex, Qiagen, and Roche Diagnostics, that are selling equipment and reagents kits for ctDNA assays and assay panels. These companies compete with our ctDNA assay kit products and blood collection tubes. Menarini Silicon Biosystems sells equipment and reagents kits for CTC assays. These companies market their products to specialty laboratories that offer molecular based testing for oncology applications, including national reference laboratories, regional laboratories and pathology laboratories that are part of academic medical centers and hospital systems.  These laboratories may purchase these products and developed ctDNA and CTC based laboratory developed tests that are marketed to medical oncologists and pathologists that compete with our lab services.  

Some of our present and potential competitors have widespread brand recognition and substantially greater financial and technical resources and development, production and marketing capabilities than we do. Others may develop lower-priced, less complex assays that payers, medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians could view as functionally equivalent to our current or planned future assays, which could force us to lower the list price of our assays and impact our operating margins and our ability to achieve and maintain profitability. In addition, technological innovations that result in the creation of enhanced products or diagnostic tools that are more sensitive or specific or offer more content than our tests may enable other clinical laboratories, hospitals, physicians or medical providers to provide specialized products or diagnostic assays similar to ours in a more patient-friendly, efficient or cost-effective manner than is currently possible. If we cannot compete successfully against current or future competitors, we may be unable to increase or create market acceptance for sales of our current or planned future products or assays, which could prevent us from increasing or sustaining our revenues or achieving or sustaining profitability.

We expect that biopharmaceutical companies will increasingly focus resources on development of  targeted oncology therapies that may require a companion diagnostic test approved by the FDA. Biocept may face increasing competition from companies that offer CTC or ctDNA assays or products that are approved by the FDA as an IVD for companion diagnostic uses.

Additionally, projects related to cancer diagnostics and particularly genomics have received increased government funding, both in the United States and internationally. As more information regarding cancer genomics becomes available to the public, we anticipate that more products aimed at identifying targeted treatment options will be developed and that these products may compete with ours. In addition, competitors may develop their own versions of our current or planned future products or assays in countries where we did not apply for patents or where our patents have not issued and compete with us in those countries, including encouraging the use of their product or assay by physicians or patients in other countries.

Third-Party Suppliers and Manufacturers

Some of the components used in our current or planned future products are currently sourced from a supplier for which alternative suppliers exist, but we have not validated the products of such alternative suppliers, and substitutes for these components might not be able to be obtained easily or may require substantial design or manufacturing modifications. Any significant problem experienced by any one of our suppliers may result in a delay or interruption in the supply of components to us until that supplier cures the problem or an alternative source of the component is located and qualified. Any delay or interruption would likely lead to a delay or interruption in our manufacturing operations. The inclusion of substitute components must meet our product specifications and could require us to qualify the new supplier with the appropriate government regulatory authorities.

Patents and Technology

The proprietary nature of, and protection for, our products, services, processes, and know-how are important to our business. Our success depends in part on our ability to protect the proprietary nature of our products, services, technology, and know-how, to operate without infringing on the proprietary rights of others, and to prevent others from infringing our proprietary rights. We seek patent protection in the United States and internationally for our products, services and other technology. Our policy is to patent or in-license the technology, inventions and improvements that we consider important to the development of our business.

We also rely on trade secrets, know-how, and continuing innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We cannot be certain that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed by us in the future, nor can we be sure that any of our existing patents or any patents granted to us in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our technology.

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Our success depends on an intellectual property portfolio that supports our future revenue streams and erects barriers to our competitors. We are maintaining and building our patent portfolio through filing new patent applications, prosecuting existing applications, and licensing and acquiring new patents and patent applications.

We have issued patents with broad claims covering our blood collection tube, antibody cocktail approach, microchannel, CTC detection methodologies, and ctDNA analysis. In addition to issued patents in the U.S., we have patents for our proprietary microchannel in China, South Korea, Europe, Hong Kong, Canada and Japan, and for our antibody cocktail in Australia, Europe, Canada, China, Hong Kong and Japan. Our patent estate continues to evolve, and in addition to the broad patent estate around our CTC platform, we also have issued patents in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, China and South Korea for our novel switch blocker technology, solidifying our proprietary enrichment methodology for detecting ctDNA with very high sensitivity. We also have recently issued patents in the U.S. Australia, and Japan for a unique primer switch technology which can be used for detecting rare genetic alterations, and for improving the performance of PCR based amplification assays. Our CTC platform patents were filed from 2005 through 2012, and we expect to have patent protection into the 2030s. Our CTC patents and applications cover not only cancer as a target, but also prenatal and other rare cells of interest. Recently granted patents in the U.S. cover the capture of any target of interest on any solid surface using our antibody capture approach. The patent for our proprietary specimen collection tubes expires in 2031, and the patents for our ctDNA technology expire in the early 2030s.

As of December 31, 2020, we owned 53 issued patents and have 9 patent applications pending. Of these, 17 were issued U.S. patents and 3 were pending patent applications in the U.S., while 36 were issued patents in non-U.S. territories and 6 were pending patent applications in non-U.S. territories.

Microfluidic Channels. As of December 31, 2020, we had 3 issued U.S. patents as well as granted patents in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, China, South Korea, , which cover our microfluidic channel technology. A further U.S. patent application is pending.

Blood Collection Tubes. In 2015, we received a U.S. patent related to our blood collection tubes, which contain reagents designed to prevent clumping of blood cells and CTCs that could clog the microfluidic channels and disrupt our assays.

Antibody Enrichment Cocktail. As of December 31, 2020, we had 3 issued U.S. patents and 1 pending U.S. patent application, and 2 European patents, as well as other corresponding foreign patent applications directed to our antibody capture cocktail technology. This technology includes using antibodies to a number of tumor-associated antigens from cancer cells of both epithelial and mesenchymal phenotype, as well as cancer stem cells.

Enhanced Staining. As of December 31, 2020, we had 1 issued U.S. patent, as well as issued patents in Europe, Canada, China, and Japan directed to this technology.

Target-Selector Mutation Detection Technology. As of December 31, 2020, we co-owned 2 issued U.S. patents and 1 pending U.S. application, 2 issued Australian patents, 1 issued Chinese patent, 2 issued Japanese patents, and 1 issued European (7 countries) patent, with Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc., or Aegea. Under our agreement with Aegea, we have certain exclusive rights for oncology clinical testing and diagnostics as well as limited rights for oncology basic and clinical research.  Lyle J. Arnold, Ph.D., our Chief Scientist, Senior Vice President, is the controlling person of Aegea.

Operations and Production Facilities

Our research and development laboratory, our CLIA-certified, CAP accredited, and state-licensed diagnostic testing laboratory, and our manufacturing facility are located in our San Diego, California headquarters. The laboratories employ commercial state-of-the-art equipment as well as custom-made components specific to our CTC process that are generated in a small in-house engineering shop. The manufacturing facility used for the production of our microfluidic channels is a Class 10,000 suite in which polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS, is formed into the base of our proprietary microfluidic channels in a molding process. A glass cover slip suitable for optical analysis is added to seal the channels and make them watertight. Plasma activation is utilized to bond the PDMS with other functional groups typically leaving an amine functional group for binding. The inside of the microfluidic channels is subsequently chemically derivatized to enable the attachment of binding elements that strongly bind to antibody-tagged (fluorescently conjugated) or coated CTCs. Because the microfluidic channels have micrometer dimensions, and we are seeking individual cells in a blood sample to interact with the surface of the microfluidic channel, dust particles and other microscopic debris that could clog the channel need to be avoided. Humidity is also a factor that affects binding capability especially in the plasma activation step.

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The process of performing our assays is straightforward. When a health care professional takes a standard venous blood sample from a patient for CTC or ctDNA testing, he or she will place the blood sample in our blood collection tubes, complete a requisition form, and package the specimen in our shipping kit for direct shipment to us. Once we receive the specimen at our laboratory and we enter all pertinent information about the specimen into our clinical laboratory information system, our laboratory technologists prepare the specimen for processing and analysis. Laboratory technologists, including clinical laboratory technologists and clinical laboratory scientists then conduct the analysis, including enumeration of CTCs and biomarker analysis such as FISH. Usage of fluorescent tags enables colored imaging in this process to increase the biomarker analysis capability. The data, including images and the processed cells, are sent to our in-house or contracted pathologists or a commercialization partner’s pathologists who are experienced in the analysis and evaluation requested by the referring oncologist or pathologist.

After analysis, our in-house or contracted pathologists or a commercialization partner’s pathologists use laboratory information systems to prepare a comprehensive report, which may include selected relevant images associated with the specimen. Our Internet reporting portal allows a referring oncologist or pathologist to access his or her patient’s test results in real time in a secure manner that we believe to be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, and other applicable standards. The reports are generated in industry standard .pdf formats which allows for high-definition color images to be reproduced clearly. We send the results to the ordering physician and bill the payer using third-party medical billing software.

Quality Management Program

We have established a Quality Management Program for our research, development and CLIA certified testing laboratories. This program is designed to help ensure accurate and timely test results, to produce consistent high-quality testing services, as well as procedures which allow for the continual improvement of established and new operations. Our Quality Management Program foundation is built upon a rigorous documentation program which allows transparent quality assurance and performance improvement plans, necessary to ensure the highest quality of diagnostic testing services. This program is designed to satisfy the requirements of local and state licensures, as well as those for accreditation by CAP. The CAP accreditation program involves unannounced on-site inspections of our laboratories. CAP is an independent, non-governmental organization of board-certified pathologists that accredits laboratories nationwide on a voluntary basis and that has been recognized by the CMS as an accreditation organization to inspect laboratories to determine adherence to CLIA standards.

We are committed to providing reliable and accurate diagnostic testing to our customers. Accurate specimen sample management, timely communication of test results, and strict adherence to patient privacy policies are a critical core competency of our company. We monitor and improve our performance through our internal audit program, which investigates any abhorrent results, continually track performance indicators, perform internal proficiency testing and host external quality audits, primarily conducted by CAP.

In addition to the compulsory proficiency programs and external inspections required by CMS and other regulatory agencies, we have developed a variety of internal systems and procedures to emphasize, monitor and continuously improve the quality of our operations. We maintain internal quality controls by routinely processing specimens with known diagnoses in parallel with patient specimens. We also have an internally administered proficiency program for specimen testing.

Third-Party Payer Reimbursement

Revenues from our clinical laboratory testing are derived from several different sources. Depending on the billing arrangement, instructions of the ordering physician and applicable law, parties that reimburse us for our services include:

Third-party payers that provide coverage to the patient, such as an insurance company, a managed care organization or a governmental payer program;

physicians or other authorized parties, such as hospitals or independent laboratories, that order the testing service or otherwise refer the services to us;

 

patients in cases where the patient has no insurance, has insurance that partially covers and reimburses the testing, or owes a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible amount;

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collaboration partners; or

biopharmaceutical companies, universities or researchers for clinical trial work.

We are reimbursed for two categories of testing, anatomic pathology, which includes cell staining and the enumeration component of CTC assays, FISH, ICC and immunofluorescence, and molecular pathology, which includes mutation analysis. Reimbursement under the Medicare program for the diagnostic services that we offer is based on either the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, or PFS, or the Medicare Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, or CLFS, each of which is subject to geographic adjustments and is updated annually. Medical services provided to Medicare beneficiaries that require a degree of physician supervision, judgment or other physician involvement, such as pathology services, are generally reimbursed under the PFS, whereas clinical diagnostic laboratory tests are generally reimbursed under the CLFS. Some of the services that we provide are genetic and molecular testing, which are reimbursed as clinical diagnostic laboratory tests.

Regardless of the applicable fee schedule, Medicare payment amounts are established for each Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT, code. In addition, under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, Medicare also sets a cap on the amount that it will pay for any individual assay. This cap, usually referred to as the National Limitation Amount, is set at a percentage of the median of all the contractor fee schedule amounts for each billing code.

Medicare also has policies that may limit when we can bill directly for our services and when we must instead bill another provider, such as a hospital. When the testing that we perform is done on a specimen that was collected while the patient was in the hospital, as either an inpatient or outpatient, we may be required to bill the hospital for clinical laboratory services and for the technical component of pathology services. Which party is to be billed depends primarily on whether the service was ordered at least 14 days after the patient’s discharge from the hospital. Complying with these requirements is complex and time-consuming and may affect our ability to collect for our services. In addition, hospitals may refuse to pay our invoices or may demand pricing that negatively affects our profit margin.

Medicare generally requires a beneficiary to pay a 20% co-insurance amount for most services billed under the PFS. Medicare covers the remaining 80% in such circumstances. There is currently no patient co-payment or co-insurance amount applicable to testing billed under the CLFS. Patients often have supplemental insurance policies that cover the co-insurance amount for physician services.

Medicare has coverage policies that can be national or regional in scope. Coverage means that assay is approved as a benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. If there is no coverage, neither the supplier nor any other party, such as a reference laboratory, may receive reimbursement from Medicare for the service. There is currently no national coverage policy regarding the CTC enumeration portion of our testing. Because our laboratory is in California, the regional Medicare Administrative Contractor, or MAC, for California is the relevant MAC for all our testing. The previous MAC for California, Palmetto GBA, LLC, or Palmetto, which is contracted with CMS to administer the Molecular Diagnostic Services, or MolDx, program that sets guidelines for coding, coverage and reimbursement of molecular diagnostic assays, adopted a negative coverage policy for CTC enumeration. The current MAC for California, Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC, is adopting the coverage policies from Palmetto. Therefore, the enumeration portion of our testing is not currently covered, and we will receive no payment from Medicare for this portion of the service unless and until the coverage policy is changed. Although approximately 78% and 86% of all billable cases received during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively, relate to our Target-Selector™ biomarker assays, we continue to receive orders for our traditional enumeration testing, which counts disease burden, and therefore the enumeration testing receives no payment from Medicare based upon the existing coverage decision. The CTC enumeration counts disease burden and is a prognostic test, and although oncologists find the information valuable, it does not currently meet many of the medical necessity requirements of Medicare and the payers. We intend to pursue payment for the capture portion of our CTC technology that allows us to run our diagnostic testing for some of our Target-Selector™ assays.

Reimbursement rates paid by private third-party payers can vary based on whether we are considered to be an “in-network” provider, a participating provider, a covered provider, an “out-of-network” provider or a non-participating provider. These definitions can vary among payers, but we are generally considered an “out-of-network” or non-participating provider by most private third-party payers. An in-network provider usually has a contract with the payer or benefits provider. This contract governs, among other things, service-level agreements and reimbursement rates. In certain instances, an insurance company may negotiate an in-network rate for our testing. An in-network provider may have rates that are lower per assay than those that are out-of-network, and that rate can vary widely. The rate varies based on the payer, the testing type and

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often the specifics of the patient’s insurance plan. If a laboratory agrees to contract as an in-network provider, it generally expects to receive quicker payment and access to additional covered patients.

Billing and Billing Codes for Third-Party Payer Reimbursement

CPT codes are the main billing code set used by physicians, hospitals, laboratories and other health care professionals to report separately-payable clinical laboratory and pathology services for reimbursement purposes. The CPT coding system is maintained and updated on an annual basis by the American Medical Association. We believe there are existing codes that describe nearly all the steps in our testing process. We currently use a combination of codes to bill for our testing and analysis.

In order to ensure our coding is compliant, we have engaged industry experts to provide guidance on the proper coding of our assays. These experts include consultants at Senergene Solutions, LLC, Codemap, LLC and ADVI Health, LLC. However, coding can be complex, and payers may require differing codes for a given assay to effect payment. Changes in coding and reimbursement could adversely impact our revenues going forward, or payers could request that we reimburse them for payments we have already received. There can be no guarantees that Medicare and other payers will establish new positive or adequate coverage policies or reimbursement rates, or not change existing positive coverage policies, in the future.

We are moving forward with plans to obtain reimbursement coverage for the capture components of our assays. For other tests, we are able to utilize existing CPT codes from the PFS and CLFS. For these established CPT codes (for example, the codes for molecular testing, FISH and ICC), positive coverage determinations have been adopted as part of national Medicare policy or under applicable Local Coverage Determinations. Specific codes for our assays, however, do not assure an adequate coverage policy or reimbursement rate. Please see the section entitled “Legislative and Regulatory Changes Impacting Clinical Laboratory Tests” for further discussion of certain legislative and regulatory changes to these billing codes and the anticipated impact on our business.

Coverage and Reimbursement for our Current Assays and our Planned Future Assays

Our Medicare Administrative Contractor has issued a negative coverage determination for the enumeration component of all CTC assays. We have received reimbursement for the enumeration component of our assays from some private payers, including major private third-party payers, based on submission of standard CPT codes. FISH, ICC and Molecular Testing CPT codes are the subject of positive coverage national or local Medicare determinations. We believe these codes can be used to bill for the analysis components of our current and planned future CTC assays, however, CMS, Palmetto or Noridian could adopt specific negative coverage policies for CTCs or ctDNA analysis in the future.

We expect these analysis components to have a significantly greater reimbursement value than the enumeration components of our current and anticipated CTC assays, based on a comparison of what we believe CellSearch® enumeration reimbursement rates currently are, versus existing reimbursement rates for analysis components such as FISH and ICC analysis and molecular testing.

Additionally, on March 16, 2018 CMS issued a final determination decision memo for Next-Generation Sequencing, or NGS, tests for Medicare Beneficiaries with Advanced Cancer (CAG-00450N).  Under this final determination, NGS tests that gain FDA approval or clearance as a companion diagnostic will receive coverage, and the final determination of coverage for NGS tests that are LDTs will be left up to the local MAC. Currently, only 1 of our 15 CLIA validated assays is NGS-based; however, we plan to offer additional NGS assays in the future. To gain coverage for those assays, we will need to apply to Palmetto, which is the MAC that evaluates and recommends payment coverage or denial for molecular testing in our jurisdiction. Historically, Palmetto has offered a path to reimbursement by providing coverage while data is being gathered known as Coverage with Data Development, or CDD. Going forward, the extent to which CDD will be continued, if at all, or to the extent that a process will be available in its place, if any, are unclear.  

We believe, based on research showing that approximately 54% of new cancers occur in persons age 65 and older and that almost all Americans age 65 and older are enrolled in Medicare that a substantial portion of the patients for whom we would expect to perform cancer diagnostic assays will have Medicare as their primary medical insurance. We cannot assure you that, even if our current and our planned future assays are otherwise successful, reimbursement for the currently Medicare-covered portions of our current and our planned future assays would, without Medicare reimbursement for the enumeration portion, produce sufficient revenues to enable us to reach profitability and achieve our other commercial objectives.

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Where there is a private or governmental third-party payer coverage policy in place, we bill the payer and the patient in accordance with the established policy. Where there is no coverage policy in place, we pursue reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. Our efforts in obtaining reimbursement based on individual claims, including pursuing appeals or reconsiderations of claims denials, could take a substantial amount of time, and bills may not be paid for many months, if at all. Furthermore, if a third-party payer denies coverage after final appeal, payment may not be received at all. We are working to decrease risks of nonpayment by implementing a revenue cycle management system.

 

We cannot predict whether, or under what circumstances, payers will reimburse for all components of our assays. Payment amounts can also vary across individual policies. Full or partial denial of coverage by payers, or reimbursement at inadequate levels, would have a material adverse impact on our business and on market acceptance of our assays.

Legislative and Regulatory Changes Impacting Clinical Laboratory Tests

From time to time, Congress has revised the Medicare statute and the formulas it establishes for both the CLFS, and the PFS. Annually, CMS releases the payment amounts under the Medicare fee schedules. The rates are important because they not only determine our reimbursement under Medicare, but those payment amounts are also often used as a basis for payment amounts set by other governmental and private third-party payers. For example, state Medicaid programs are prohibited from paying more than the Medicare fee schedule limit for clinical laboratory services furnished to Medicaid recipients.

In accordance with Section 1833 (h)(2)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act, the annual update to the CLFS for calendar year 2021 is 0.60% (see 42 CFR405.509(b)(1)). With respect to our diagnostic services for which we expect to be reimbursed under PFS, CMS issues a Final Rule on an annual basis. Since 2015, the PFS Final Rules have included both increases and decreases in certain relative value units and geographic adjustment factors used to determine reimbursement for a number of codes used in our current assays and our planned future assays. These codes describe services that we must perform in connection with our assays and we bill for these codes in connection with the services that we provide.

Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, or collectively the ACA, enacted in March 2010, made a number of substantial changes in the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers.

Although some of these provisions may negatively impact payment rates for clinical laboratory tests, the ACA also extended coverage to over 30 million previously uninsured people, which resulted in an increase in the demand for certain diagnostic assays. There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. For example, President Trump signed several executive orders and other directives designed to delay, circumvent, or loosen certain requirements mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, Congress considered legislation to repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, it has enacted laws that modify certain provisions of the ACA such as removing penalties effective January 1, 2019, for not complying with the ACA’s individual mandate to carry health insurance and eliminating the implementation of certain ACA-mandated fees, including but not limited the Medical Device Excise Tax. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of legislation enacted in 2017, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling 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. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case, although it is unclear when a decision will be made or how the Supreme Court will rule. Although the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the Constitutionality of the ACA, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation, and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden Administration will impact the ACA.

Moreover, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, or PAMA, was signed to law, which, among other things, significantly altered the current payment methodology under the CLFS. Under the law,  applicable clinical laboratories must report laboratory test payment data for

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each Medicare-covered clinical diagnostic laboratory test that it furnishes during the specified time period. The reported data must include the payment rate (reflecting all discounts, rebates, coupons and other price concessions) and the volume of each test that was paid by each private payer (including health insurance issuers, group health plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicaid managed care organizations). Effective January 1, 2018, the Medicare payment rate for each clinical diagnostic laboratory test is equal to the weighted median amount for the test from the most recent data collection period. The payment rate applies to laboratory tests furnished by a hospital laboratory if the test is separately paid under the hospital outpatient prospective payment system. PAMA’s reporting obligations began in 2017 and occur every three years thereafter (or annually in the case of advanced diagnostic laboratory tests). In January 2020, CMS announced that data reporting for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests is delayed by one year. Moreover, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, further delays the reporting period by an additional year. Therefore, data that was originally supposed to be reported between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020 must now be reported between January 1, 2022 and March 31, 2022. Covered laboratories must report data from the original data collection period of January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019. Data reporting for these tests will then resume on a three-year cycle beginning in 2025. In addition, CMS updated the statutory phase-in provisions such that, for 2020, the rates for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests may not be reduced by more than 10% of the rates for 2019. Pursuant to the CARES Act, the statutory phase-in of payment reductions has been extended through 2024, with a 0% reduction cap for 2021, and a 15% reduction cap for each of 2022, 2023, and 2024. The PAMA rate changes to our tests that were impacted did not materially affect our payments beginning in 2018; however, we cannot predict how this may change future payment in coming years. Also, under PAMA, CMS is required to adopt temporary billing codes to identify new tests and new advanced diagnostic laboratory tests that have been cleared or approved by the FDA. For an existing test that is cleared or approved by the FDA and for which Medicare payment is made as of April 1, 2014, CMS is required to assign a unique billing code if one has not already been assigned by the agency. In addition to assigning the code, CMS is required to publicly report payment for the tests. Further, under PAMA, CMS is required to adopt temporary billing codes to identify new tests and new advanced diagnostic laboratory tests that have been cleared or approved by the FDA.

Further, with respect to the Medicare program, Congress has proposed on several occasions to impose a 20% coinsurance charge on patients for clinical laboratory tests reimbursed under the CLFS, which would require us to bill patients for these amounts. Because of the relatively low reimbursement for many clinical laboratory tests, in the event that Congress were to ever enact such legislation, the cost of billing and collecting for these services would often exceed the amount actually received from the patient and effectively increase our costs of billing and collecting.

Some of our Medicare claims may be subject to policies issued by Palmetto and Noridian Healthcare Solutions, our former and current MACs for California, respectively. Palmetto has issued a Local Coverage Determination, whereby Palmetto will not cover many molecular diagnostic assays, such as the enumeration component of our current assays, unless the test is expressly included in a National Coverage Determination issued by CMS or a Local Coverage Determination or coverage article issued by Palmetto. Currently, laboratories may submit coverage determination requests to Palmetto for consideration and apply for a unique billing code for each assay (which is a separate process from the coverage determination). In the event that a non-coverage determination is issued, the laboratory must wait six months following the determination to submit a new request. Palmetto currently has a negative coverage determination for the enumeration component of CTC assays, but there is no such negative coverage determination for the analysis component of such CTC assays. Denial (or continuation of denial) of coverage for the enumeration component of our current and anticipated CTC assays by Palmetto or its successor MAC, Noridian Healthcare Solutions, which adopts coverage policies set by the MolDx program, or reimbursement at inadequate levels, would have a material adverse impact on our business and on market acceptance of our current assays and our planned future assays. Noridian Healthcare Solutions intends to follow, for CTC assays, the positive or negative coverage determinations which from time-to-time Palmetto makes as well as any coverage policy changes set by the MolDx program. On November 27, 2013, Palmetto denied our request for coverage for the enumeration/detection portion of our testing. We have not received any other indications to suggest that the negative coverage determination will be reversed. The CTC enumeration counts disease burden and is a prognostic test, and although oncologists find this information valuable, it does not meet many of the medical necessity requirements of Medicare and the payers. We intend to pursue payment for the capture portion of our CTC technology that allows us to run our diagnostic testing for some of our Target-Selector™ assays.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CMS and the Office of Civil Rights issued a final rule in February 2014 to amend both the HIPAA and CLIA regulations. The final rule amended the HIPAA privacy rule to remove the CLIA laboratory exceptions, and as a result, HIPAA-covered laboratories are now required to provide individuals, upon request, with access to their completed test reports. Similarly, the final rule amended CLIA to state that CLIA laboratories

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and CLIA-exempt laboratories may provide copies of the patient’s completed rest reports that, using the laboratory’s authentication process, can be identified as belonging to that patient.

Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governmental Regulations

Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 and State Regulation

As a provider of laboratory testing on human specimens for the purpose of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment, we are required to hold certain federal, state and local licenses, certifications and permits to conduct our business. In 1988, Congress enacted CLIA, which established quality standards for all laboratories providing testing to ensure the accuracy, reliability and timeliness of patient test results regardless of where the test was performed. Our laboratory holds a CLIA certificate of accreditation from CAP, and is in good standing. As to state laws, we are required to meet certain laboratory licensing and other requirements. Our laboratory holds the required licenses from the applicable state agencies in which we operate. For more information on state licensing requirements, see the sections entitled see the section entitled “Governmental Regulations—California State Laboratory Licensing” and “Governmental Regulations—Other States’ Laboratory Licensing.”

Under CLIA, a laboratory is defined as any facility which performs laboratory testing on specimens derived from humans for the purpose of providing information for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease, or the impairment of, or assessment of health of human beings. CLIA also requires that we hold a certificate applicable to the complexity of the categories of testing we perform and that we comply with certain standards. CLIA further regulates virtually all clinical laboratories by requiring they comply with various operational, personnel, facilities administration, quality and proficiency testing requirements intended to ensure that their clinical laboratory testing services are accurate, reliable and timely. CLIA certification is also a prerequisite to be eligible to be reimbursed for services provided to state and federal health care program beneficiaries. CLIA is user-fee funded. Therefore, all costs of administering the program must be covered by the regulated facilities, including certification and survey costs.

We are subject to survey and inspection every two years to assess compliance with program standards and may be subject to additional unannounced inspections. Laboratories performing high-complexity testing are required to meet more stringent requirements than laboratories performing less complex tests. In addition, a laboratory like ours that is certified as “high complexity” under CLIA may obtain analyte-specific reagents, which are used to develop laboratory developed tests, or LDTs.

In addition to CLIA requirements, we must comply with the standards set by CAP, which accredits our laboratory. Under CMS requirements, accreditation by CAP is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of CLIA. Therefore, because we are accredited by CAP, we are deemed to also comply with CLIA. CLIA also provides that a state may adopt laboratory regulations that are more stringent than those under federal law, and certain states have implemented their own more stringent laboratory regulatory schemes.

Federal, State and Foreign Fraud and Abuse Laws

A variety of federal and state laws prohibit fraud and abuse regarding the preparation and submissions of claims for services as well as avoiding unlawful inducements in our relations with those who may refer patients to our laboratory. These laws are interpreted broadly and enforced aggressively by various state and federal agencies, including CMS, the Department of Justice, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, and various state agencies. In addition, the Medicare and Medicaid programs increasingly use a variety of contractors to review claims data and to identify improper payments as well as fraud and abuse. These contractors include Recovery Audit Contractors, Medicaid Integrity Contractors and Zone Program Integrity Contractors. In addition, CMS conducts Comprehensive Error Rate Testing audits, the purpose of which is to detect improper Medicare payments. In addition, many private insurers as well as other managed care organizations have their own internal auditing programs to ensure against any false claims being submitted.  Any overpayments identified must be repaid unless a favorable decision is obtained on appeal. In some cases, these overpayments can be used as the basis for an extrapolation, by which the error rate is applied to a larger universe of claims, and which can result in even higher repayments.

 

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, receiving, or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, to induce or in return for either the referral of an individual, or the furnishing, recommending, or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of any health care item or service reimbursable,

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in whole or in part, under a federal health care program. The definition of “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value, including gifts, discounts, credit arrangements, payments of cash, ownership interests and providing anything at less than its fair market value. Recognizing that the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is broad and may technically prohibit many innocuous or beneficial arrangements within the health care industry, the Office of Inspector General for HHS has issued a series of regulatory “safe harbors.” These safe harbor regulations set forth certain requirements that, if met, will assure immunity from prosecution under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Although full compliance with these provisions protects against prosecution under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the failure of a transaction or arrangement to fit within a specific safe harbor does not necessarily mean that the transaction or arrangement is illegal or that prosecution under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute will be pursued. For further discussion of the impact of federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws and regulations on our business, see the section entitled “Risk Factors—Regulatory Risks Relating to Our Business.” We are subject to federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws and regulations and could face substantial penalties if we are unable to fully comply with such laws.

In addition, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, also created new federal civil and criminal penalties, regarding health care fraud and false statements relating to health care matters. The health care fraud statute prohibits knowingly and willfully executing a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program, including private third-party payers. A violation of this statute is a felony and may result in fines, imprisonment or exclusion from federal health care programs, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The false statements statute prohibits 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 health care benefits, items or services. A violation of this statute is a felony and may result in fines, imprisonment or exclusion from federal health care programs.

Another development affecting the health care industry is the increased enforcement of the federal False Claims Act and, in particular, actions brought pursuant to the False Claims Act’s “whistleblower” or “qui tam” provisions. The False Claims Act imposes liability on any person or entity that, among other things, knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the federal government. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow a private individual to bring actions on behalf of the federal government and permit such individuals to share in any amounts paid by the entity to the government in fines or settlement. In addition, various states have enacted false claim laws analogous to the federal False Claims Act, and some of these state laws apply where a claim is submitted to any third-party payer. When an entity is determined to have violated the False Claims Act, it may be required to pay up to three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus significant civil monetary penalties.

Further, the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, or EKRA, prohibits payments for referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, and laboratories. EKRA’s reach extends beyond federal health care programs to include private insurance (i.e., it is an “all payer” statute). The full scope of such law is uncertain and is subject to a variety of interpretations.

Additionally, the civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, 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.

The federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (with certain exceptions) to report annually to CMS, information related to payments or other transfers of value made to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report such information regarding its payments and other transfers of value to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives during the previous year. However, at this time, such reporting requirements do not extend to clinical laboratories such as ours.

Also, many states have laws similar to those listed above that may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of payer.

Additionally, in Europe various countries have adopted anti-bribery laws providing for severe consequences, in the form of criminal penalties and/or significant fines for individuals and/or companies committing a bribery offence. Violations of these anti-bribery laws, or allegations of such violations, could have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and reputation. For instance, in the United Kingdom, under the Bribery Act 2010, a bribery occurs when a person offers, gives or

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promises to give a financial or other advantage to induce or reward another individual to improperly perform certain functions or activities, including any function of a public nature. Bribery of foreign public officials also falls within the scope of the Bribery Act 2010. Under the new regime, an individual found in violation of the Bribery Act 2010 faces imprisonment of up to 10 years. In addition, the individual can be subject to an unlimited fine, as can commercial organizations for failure to prevent bribery.

 

Despite our implementation of a robust healthcare compliance program, we may be subject, from time to time, to inspections, investigations, and other enforcement actions by governmental authorities. If we are found not to be in compliance with applicable laws or regulations, the applicable governmental authority can impose significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, such as fines, delay, suspend, or revoke regulatory  approvals, institute proceedings to recoupment of monies, impose marketing or operating restrictions, enjoin future violations, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, and assess similar  significant penalties against our officers or employees.

Physician Self-Referral Prohibitions

Under a federal law directed at “self-referral,” commonly known as the “Stark Law”, there are prohibitions, with certain exceptions, on Medicare and Medicaid payments for laboratory tests referred by physicians who personally, or through a family member, have a “financial relationship”—including an investment or ownership interest or a compensation arrangement—with the clinical laboratory performing the tests. Several Stark Law exceptions are relevant to arrangements involving clinical laboratories, including: (1) fair market value compensation for the provision of items or services; (2) payments by physicians to a laboratory for clinical laboratory services; (3) certain space and equipment rental arrangements that satisfy certain requirements, (4) personal services arrangements that satisfy certain requirements; and (v) ownership in certain publicly traded companies. The laboratory cannot submit claims to the Medicare Part B program for services furnished in violation of the Stark Law, and Medicaid reimbursements may be at risk as well. Penalties for violating the Stark Law include significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, such as the return of funds received for all prohibited referrals, fines, civil monetary penalties exclusion from the federal health care programs integrity oversight and reporting obligations, and imprisonment. Many states have comparable laws that are not limited to Medicare and Medicaid referrals.

Corporate Practice of Medicine

A number of states, including California, do not allow business corporations to employ physicians to provide professional services to patients. This prohibition against the “corporate practice of medicine” is aimed at preventing corporations such as us from exercising control over the medical judgments or decisions of physicians in treating patients. The state licensure statutes and regulations and agency and court decisions that enumerate the specific corporate practice rules vary considerably from state to state and are enforced by both the courts and regulatory authorities, each with broad discretion. If regulatory authorities or other parties in any jurisdiction successfully assert that we are engaged in the unauthorized corporate practice of medicine, we could be required to restructure our contractual and other arrangements. In addition, violation of these laws may result in significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, such as sanctions imposed against us and/or the professional through licensure proceedings, and exclusion from state and federal health care programs. However, it is important to note that laboratories may contract with physicians to act as medical directors for their company as long as none of the compensation is for professional services rendered to patients.

Direct Billing Laws and Other State Law Restrictions on Billing for Laboratory Services

Laws and regulations in certain states prohibit laboratories from billing physicians or other purchasers directly for testing that they order. Some of those laws and regulations apply only to anatomic pathology services while others extend to other types of testing. Some states may allow laboratories to bill physicians directly but may prohibit the physician (and, in some cases, other purchasers) from charging more than the purchase price for the services (or may allow only for the recovery of acquisition costs) or may require disclosure of certain information on the invoice. In some cases, and if not prohibited by law or regulation, we may bill physicians, hospitals and other laboratories directly for the services that they order. An increase in the number of states that impose similar restrictions could adversely affect us by encouraging physicians to perform laboratory services in-house or by causing physicians to refer services to other laboratories that are not subject to the same restrictions.

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CMS promulgated in 2009, a revision to the regulation that prohibits the mark up of purchased diagnostic services 42 C.F.R. §414.50 (the “Anti-Markup Rule”). The Anti-Markup Rule prohibits a physician or other supplier from marking up the price paid for the technical or professional component of a diagnostic test that was ordered by the billing physician or supplier and which was performed by a physician who does not share a practice with the billing physician or supplier. The billing physician is prohibited from billing the Medicare program an amount greater than the lesser of: (i) the performing supplier’s net charge to the billing physician; (ii) the billing physician’s actual charge; or (iii) the fee schedule amount for the test that would be allowed if the performing supplier billed directly.

Physician Licensing

A number of the states where specimens originate require that the physician interpreting those specimens be licensed by that particular state. Physicians who fail to comply with these licensure requirements could face fines or other penalties for practicing medicine without a license and we could be required to pay those fines on behalf of our pathologists or subject to liability under the federal False Claims Act and similar state laws if we bill for services furnished by unlicensed pathologists. We do not believe that the services our pathologists perform constitute the practice of medicine in any state in which our pathologists are not licensed.

In addition, many states also prohibit the splitting or sharing of fees between physicians and non-physician entities. We do not believe that our contractual arrangements with physicians, physician group practices or hospitals will subject us to claims under such regulations. However, changes in the laws may necessitate modifications in our relationships with our clients.

California State Laboratory Licensing

Our laboratory is licensed and in good standing under the State of California Department of Public Health standards. Our current licenses permit us to receive specimens obtained in California.

California state laws and regulations also establish standards for the day-to-day operations of clinical laboratories, including physical facility requirements and equipment, quality control and proficiency testing requirements. If we are found to be out of compliance with California statutory or regulatory standards, we may be subject to suspension, restriction or revocation of our laboratory license or assessed civil money penalties. The operator of a noncompliant laboratory may also be found guilty of a misdemeanor under California law. A finding of noncompliance, therefore, may result in harm to our business.

Other States’ Laboratory Licensing

Several states require the licensure of out-of-state laboratories that accept specimens from those states. We hold licenses from the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to test specimens from patients in those states or received from ordering physicians in those states. We are currently in the process of addressing the requirements for licensure in New York.

From time to time, other states may require out of state laboratories to obtain licensure in order to accept specimens from such states. If we identify any other state with such requirements or if we are contacted by any other state advising us of such requirements, we intend to follow instructions from the state regulators as to how we should comply with such requirements.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

We perform our laboratory tests as LDTs. Historically, the FDA has exercised enforcement discretion with respect to most LDTs and has not required laboratories that offer LDTs to comply with the agency’s requirements for medical devices (e.g., establishment registration, device listing, quality systems regulations, premarket clearance or premarket approval, and post-market controls). In recent years, however, the FDA has stated it intends to end its policy of enforcement discretion and regulate certain LDTs as medical devices. To this end, on October 3, 2014, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents, entitled “Framework for Regulatory Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)” and “FDA Notification and Medical Device Reporting for Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)”, respectively, that set forth a proposed risk-based regulatory framework that would apply varying levels of FDA oversight to LDTs. The FDA has indicated that it does not intend to modify its policy of enforcement discretion until the draft guidance documents are finalized. In January 2017, the FDA announced that final guidance on the oversight of LDTs would allow for further public discussion. On January 13, 2017, the FDA issued a “Discussion Paper on Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs),” which states that the material in the document does not represent a final version of the LDT draft guidance documents that were published in 2014 or position of the FDA;

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rather, the document is a method to encourage additional dialogue. The timing of when, if at all, the draft guidance documents will be finalized is unclear, and even then, the new regulatory requirements are proposed to be phased-in consistent with the schedule set forth in the guidance. Nevertheless, the FDA may decide to regulate certain LDTs on a case-by-case basis at any time. LDTs with the same intended use as a cleared or approved companion diagnostic are defined in FDA’s draft guidance as “high-risk LDTs (Class III medical devices)” for which premarket review would be first to occur.

We provide our Target Selector Kit Product, ctDNA, EGFR, for research use only, or RUO, applications, although our customers may use these products to develop their own products that are subject to regulation by the FDA. RUO products fall under the FDA’s jurisdiction if they are used for clinical rather than research purposes. Consequently, our products are labeled “For Research Use Only.”  The FDA’s 2013 Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff on “Distribution of In Vitro Diagnostic Products Labeled for Research Use Only or Investigational Use Only,” explains that the FDA will review the totality of the circumstances when evaluating whether equipment and testing components are properly labeled as RUO. Merely including a labeling statement that a product is intended for research use only will not necessarily exempt the device from the FDA’s 510(k) clearance, premarket approval, or other requirements, if the circumstances surrounding the distribution of the product indicate that the manufacturer intends its product to be used for clinical diagnostic use. These circumstances may include written or verbal marketing claims or links to articles regarding a product’s performance in clinical applications, a manufacturer’s provision of technical support for clinical validation or clinical applications, or solicitation of business from clinical laboratories, all of which could be considered evidence of intended uses that conflict with RUO labeling.

Failure to comply with applicable FDA regulatory requirements may trigger a range of enforcement actions by the FDA including warning letters, civil monetary penalties, injunctions, criminal prosecution, recall or seizure, operating restrictions, partial suspension or total shutdown of production, and denial of or challenges to applications for clearance or approval, as well as significant adverse publicity.

The FDA’s Breakthrough Devices program is a voluntary program intended to expedite the development, assessment and review of certain medical devices that provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating human diseases or conditions for which no approved or cleared treatment exists or that offer significant advantages over existing approved or cleared alternatives. All submissions for devices designated as Breakthrough Devices will receive priority review, meaning that the review of the submission is placed at the top of the appropriate review queue and receives additional review resources, as needed. Although Breakthrough Device designation or access to any other expedited program may expedite the development or approval process, it does not change the standards for approval. Access to an expedited program may also be withdrawn by the FDA if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. Additionally, qualification for any expedited review procedure does not ensure that we will ultimately obtain regulatory clearance or approval for such product.

Other Regulatory Requirements

Our laboratory is subject to federal, state and local regulations relating to the handling and disposal of regulated medical waste, hazardous waste and biohazardous waste, including chemical, biological agents and compounds, blood and bone marrow samples and other human tissue. Typically, we use outside vendors who are contractually obligated to comply with applicable laws and regulations to dispose of such waste. These vendors are licensed or otherwise qualified to handle and dispose of such waste.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established extensive requirements relating to workplace safety for health care employers, including requirements to develop and implement programs to protect workers from exposure to blood-borne pathogens by preventing or minimizing any exposure through needle stick or similar penetrating injuries.

Compliance Program

The health care industry is highly regulated and scrutinized with respect to fraud, abusive billing practices and improper financial relationships between health care companies and their referral sources. The Office of the Inspector General of HHS, or OIG, has published compliance guidance, including the Compliance Program Guidance for Clinical Laboratories in August of 1998, and advisory opinions. The Company has implemented a robust Compliance Program, which is overseen by our Board of Directors. Its objective is to ensure compliance with the myriad of federal and state laws, regulations and governmental guidance applicable to our business. Our program consists of training/education of employees and monitoring and auditing Company practices. The Board of Directors has formed a Compliance Committee of the Board, which meets

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regularly to discuss all compliance-related issues that may affect the Company. The Company reviews its policies and procedures as new regulations and interpretations come to light to comply with applicable regulations. The Chief Compliance Officer reports directly to the Compliance Committee.

Hotline

As part of its Compliance Program, the Company provides a hotline for employees who wish to anonymously or confidentially report suspected violations of our codes of conduct, policies/procedures, or laws and regulations. Employees are strongly encouraged to report any suspected violation if they do not feel the problem can be appropriately addressed through the normal chain of command. The hotline does not replace other resources available to our employees, including supervisors, managers and human resources staff, but is an alternative channel available. The hotline forwards all reports to the Compliance Officer who is responsible for investigating, reporting to the Compliance Committee, and documenting the disposition of each report. The hotline forwards any calls pertaining to the financial statements or financial issues to the Chairman of the Audit Committee. The Company does not allow any retaliation against an employee who reports a compliance related issue in good faith.

Confidentiality and Security of Personal Health Information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended (“HIPAA”), contains provisions that protect individually identifiable health information from unauthorized use or disclosure by “covered entities,” such as certain healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses and their respective “business associates,” as well as their covered subcontractors, that perform services for them, which involve the creation, receipt, use, maintenance, transmission or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of a covered entity. The Office for Civil Rights of HHS, the agency responsible for enforcing HIPAA, has published regulations to address the privacy, or the Privacy Rule, and security, or the Security Rule, of protected health information, or PHI. The Company is a covered entity under HIPAA and has adopted policies and procedures to comply with the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule and HIPAA. The health care facilities and providers that refer specimens to the Company are also bound by HIPAA.  HIPAA also requires that all providers who transmit claims for health care goods or services electronically utilize standard transaction and data sets and use standardized national provider identification codes. The Company has taken necessary steps to comply with HIPAA regulations, utilizes standard transaction data sets, and has obtained and implemented national provider identifiers, or NPIs, as the standard unique health identifier in filing and processing health care claims and other transactions.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, which extends the scope of HIPAA to permit enforcement against business associates for a violation, establishes new requirements to notify the Office for Civil Rights of a breach of PHI, and allows the Attorneys General of the states to bring actions to enforce violations of HIPAA. Rules implementing various aspects of HIPAA are continuing to be promulgated. With respect to these rules, CMS requires all HIPAA-covered entities such as the Company to conduct electronic claim submissions and related electronic transactions under the HIPAA transaction standard called Version 5010.

In addition to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule described above, the Company is subject to state laws regarding the handling and disclosure of patient records and patient health information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule regulations do not supersede state laws that may be more stringent; therefore, we are required to comply with both federal privacy and security regulations and varying state privacy and security laws and regulations. These laws vary widely. Penalties for violation include sanctions against a laboratory’s licensure as well as civil or criminal penalties. Additionally, private individuals may have a right of action against the Company for a violation of a state’s privacy laws. We believe we are in material compliance with current state laws regarding the confidentiality of health information and will continue to monitor and comply with new or changing state laws.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, enacted on December 4, 2003, directed the Federal Trade Commission to implement regulations to protect consumers against identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission issued what are referred to as the “Red Flag Rules”, but the effective date for enforcement was delayed several times. The Red Flag Rules were subject to enforcement as of January 1, 2012. The Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010 (“RFPCA”) gave some relief to health care providers by changing the definition of “creditor”, thereby narrowing the application to health care providers who do not otherwise obtain or use consumer reports or furnish information to consumer reporting agencies in connection with a credit transaction. Health care providers who act as a “creditor” to any of its patients with respect to a “covered account” are required to implement an identity theft protection program to safeguard patient information. A creditor includes any entity that regularly in the course of business obtains or uses consumer reports in connection with credit

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transactions, furnishes information to a consumer reporting agency in connection with a credit transaction, or advances funds to or on behalf of a person based on the person’s obligation to repay the funds or repayable from specific property pledged by or on behalf of the person. But, a creditor, as defined in the RFPCA, that advances funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service provided by the creditor to that person is not subject to the Red Flag Rules. The Company has developed a written program designed to identify and detect the relevant warning signs – or “red flags” – of identity theft and establish appropriate responses to prevent and mitigate identity theft in order to comply with the Red Flag Rules. We are also developing a plan to update the program, and the program will be managed by senior management staff under the policy direction of our Board of Directors. The Company intends to take such steps as necessary to determine the extent to which the Red Flag Rules apply to it and to take such steps as necessary to comply.

Employees

As of December 31, 2020, we had a total of 104 full-time employees, 8 of whom hold doctorate degrees and 11 of whom are engaged in full-time research and development activities, as well as 5 part-time and 25 temporary employees. None of our employees are represented by a labor union.

Available Information

Our website address is www.biocept.com. We post links to our website to the following filings as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC: annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All such filings are available through our website free of charge. The SEC also maintains an internet site at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.

Company Information

We moved our principal executive offices and our laboratory operations during the fourth quarter of 2020 to our current location at 9955 Mesa Rim Road, San Diego, California 92121. Our telephone number is (858) 320-8200 and our website address is www.biocept.com. The information contained in, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated into and is not part of this annual report. We were incorporated in California on May 12, 1997 and reincorporated as a Delaware corporation on July 30, 2013.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

An investment in our securities involves a high degree of risk. You should consider carefully the risks described below, together with all of the other information included in this Annual Report, as well as in our other filings with the SEC, in evaluating our business. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, operating results and future prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that case, the trading price of our common stock may decline and you might lose all or part of your investment. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks that we currently do not know about or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also impair our business, financial condition, operating results and prospects. Certain statements below are forward-looking statements. For additional information, see the information included under the heading “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

Risks Relating to Our Financial Condition and Capital Requirements

We are an early stage molecular oncology diagnostics company with a history of net losses; we expect to incur net losses in the future, and we may never achieve sustained profitability.

We have historically incurred substantial net losses, including net losses of $25.1 million and $17.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively. While for the first time in our operating history we have generated net income in the fourth quarter of 2020 from our  revenues from COVID-19 testing, it is expected that once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, that we will continue to incur net losses and negative cash flows from operations for the foreseeable future. At December 31, 2020, our accumulated deficit was approximately $263.5 million. Before 2008, we were pursuing a business plan relating to fetal genetic disorders and other fields, all of which were unrelated to cancer diagnostics. The portion of our accumulated deficit that relates to the period from inception through December 31, 2007 is approximately $66.5 million.

We expect our losses to continue as a result of costs relating to our laboratory operations as well as increased sales and marketing costs and ongoing research and development expenses. These losses have had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our working capital, total assets and stockholders’ equity. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with our commercialization efforts, we are unable to predict when we will become profitable, and we may never become profitable. Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our inability to achieve and then maintain profitability would negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We need to raise additional capital to continue as a going concern.

We expect to continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future and will have to raise additional capital to fund our planned operations and to meet our long-term business objectives. However, the COVID-19 testing revenue during 2020 and through the first quarter of 2021, has provided the Company with increased levels of cash inflows from operations, and it is expected to continue, albeit at lower and declining levels, throughout at least the next twelve months.  Until we can generate significant cash from operations, including product and assay revenues, we expect to continue to fund our operations with the proceeds from offerings of our equity securities or debt, or transactions involving product development, technology licensing or collaboration. We can provide no assurances that any sources of a sufficient amount of financing will be available to us on favorable terms, if at all. General market conditions resulting from ongoing issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as market conditions affecting companies in the life sciences industry in general, may make it difficult for us to obtain financing from the capital markets on attractive terms, or at all.  Failure to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts would significantly impact our ability to continue as a going concern. The actual amount of funds that we will need and the timing of any such investment will be determined by many factors, some of which are beyond our control.

Risks Relating to Our Business and Strategy

If we are unable to increase sales of our current products, assays and services or successfully develop and commercialize other products, assays and services, our revenues will be insufficient for us to achieve profitability.

We currently derive substantially all of our revenues from sales of diagnostic assays. We began offering our assays through our Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, or CLIA, certified, College of American Pathologists, or CAP accredited, and state-licensed laboratory in 2014. Additionally, the sale of our proprietary blood collection tubes, or BCTs commenced in June 2018, which allow for the intact transport of liquid biopsy samples for research use only, or RUO, from

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regions around the world. We are in varying stages of research and development for other products and diagnostic assays that we may offer. If we are unable to increase sales of our existing products and diagnostic assays or successfully develop and commercialize other products and diagnostic assays, we will not produce sufficient revenues to become profitable.

If we are unable to execute our sales and marketing strategy for our products and diagnostic assays and are unable to gain acceptance in the market, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenue to sustain our business.

We are an early stage molecular oncology diagnostics company and have engaged in only limited sales and marketing activities for the diagnostic assays we currently offer through our CLIA-certified, CAP accredited, and state-licensed laboratory. To date, our revenue has been insufficient to fund operations.

Although we believe that our current assays and our planned future assays, our molecular kits as well as our blood and viral collection tube product, represent a promising commercial opportunity, our products or assays may never gain significant acceptance in the marketplace and therefore may never generate substantial revenue or profits for us. We will need to establish a market for our products and diagnostic assays and build that market through physician education, awareness programs and the publication of clinical trial results. Gaining acceptance in medical communities requires, among other things, publications in leading peer-reviewed journals of results from studies using our current products, assays and services and/or our planned future products, assays and services. The process of publication in leading medical journals is subject to a peer review process and peer reviewers may not consider the results of our studies sufficiently novel or worthy of publication. Failure to have our studies published in peer-reviewed journals would limit the adoption of our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services.

Our ability to successfully market the products and diagnostic assays that we have developed, and may develop in the future, will depend on numerous factors, including:

conducting clinical utility studies of such assays in collaboration with key thought leaders to demonstrate their use and value in important medical decisions such as treatment selection;

whether our current or future partners, vigorously support our offerings;

the success of our sales force;

whether healthcare providers believe such diagnostic assays provide clinical utility;

whether the medical community accepts that such diagnostic assays are sufficiently sensitive and specific to be meaningful in-patient care and treatment decisions;

our ability to continually source raw materials, BCTs, shipping kits and other products that we sell or consume in our manufacturing process that are of sufficient quality and supply;

our ability to continue to fund planned sales and marketing activities; and

whether private health insurers, government health programs and other third-party payers will adopt liquid biopsy-based assays in their guidelines, or cover such diagnostic assays and, if so, whether they will adequately reimburse us.

The COVID-19 pandemic may also increase the risk of certain of the events described above and delay our development timelines. Failure to achieve widespread market acceptance of our current products, assays and services, as well as our planned future products, assays and services, would materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we cannot develop products, assays and services to keep pace with rapid advances in technology, medicine and science, our operating results and competitive position could be harmed.

In recent years, there have been numerous advances in technologies relating to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Several new cancer drugs have been approved, and a number of new drugs in clinical development may increase patient survival time. There have also been advances in methods used to identify patients likely to benefit from these drugs based on analysis of biomarkers. We must continuously develop new products and diagnostic assays and enhance any existing products, assays and services to keep pace with evolving standards of care. Our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services could become obsolete unless we continually innovate and expand them to demonstrate benefit

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in the diagnosis, monitoring or prognosis of patients with cancer. New cancer therapies typically have only a few years of clinical data associated with them, which limits our ability to develop products and diagnostic assays based on, for example, biomarker analysis related to the appearance or development of resistance to those therapies. If we cannot adequately demonstrate the applicability of our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services to new treatments, by incorporating important biomarker analysis, sales of our products, assays and services could decline, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The COVID-19 pandemic may also increase the risk of certain of the events described above and delay our development timelines.

If our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services do not continue to perform as expected, our operating results, reputation and business will suffer.

Our success depends on the market’s confidence that we can continue to provide reliable, high-quality products and assay results. We believe that our customers are likely to be particularly sensitive to product or assay defects and errors. As a result, the failure of our current or planned future products or assays to perform as expected, including with respect to our ability to maintain the sensitivity, specificity, concordance or reproducibility of such assays, would significantly impair our reputation and the public image of our products and cancer assays, and we may be subject to legal claims arising from any defects or errors. This could also impact our ability to get paid or the amount we are paid.

If our sole laboratory facility becomes damaged or inoperable, or we are required to vacate the facility, our ability to sell and provide our products and diagnostic assays and pursue our research and development efforts may be jeopardized.

We currently derive our revenues from our diagnostic assays conducted in our CLIA-certified, CAP accredited, and state-licensed laboratory. We do not have any clinical reference laboratory facilities other than our facility in San Diego, California. We completed the process of moving our operations and equipment to our new laboratory facility in San Diego in December 2020. Our new facilities and equipment could be harmed or rendered inoperable by natural or man-made disasters, including fire, earthquake, flooding and power outages, which may render it difficult or impossible for us to sell our products or perform our diagnostic assays for some period of time. The inability to sell our current or planned future products, or to perform our current assays and our planned future assays, or the backlog of assays that could develop if our facility is inoperable for even a short period of time, may result in the loss of customers or harm to our reputation or relationships with scientific or clinical collaborators, and we may be unable to regain those customers or repair our reputation in the future. Furthermore, our facilities and the equipment we use to perform our research and development work could be costly and time-consuming to repair or replace.

The San Diego area has recently experienced serious fires and power outages and is considered to lie in an area with earthquake risk.

Additionally, a key component of our research and development process involves using biological samples as the basis for our diagnostic assay development. In some cases, these samples are difficult to obtain. If the parts of our current or future laboratory facility where we store these biological samples were damaged or compromised, our ability to pursue our research and development projects, as well as our reputation, could be jeopardized. We carry insurance for damage to our property and the disruption of our business, but this insurance may not be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all.

Further, if our current or future CLIA-certified, CAP accredited, and state-licensed laboratory becomes inoperable or unqualified in any way we may not be able to license or transfer our technology to another facility with the necessary qualifications, including state licensure and CLIA certification, under the scope of which our current assays and our planned future assays could be performed. Even if we find a facility with such qualifications to perform our assays, it may not be available to us on commercially reasonable terms.

Our business is subject to risks arising from epidemic diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

A pandemic, including COVID-19 or other public health epidemic, poses the risk that we or our employees, contractors, suppliers, courier delivery services and other partners may be prevented from conducting business activities for an indefinite period of time, including due to spread of the disease within these groups or due to shutdowns that may be requested or

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mandated by governmental authorities. While it is not possible at this time to estimate the impact that COVID-19 could have on our business, the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures have had and may continue to have an adverse impact on global economic conditions which could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition, including impairing our ability to raise capital when needed. The continued spread of COVID-19 and the measures taken by the governments of countries affected could disrupt the supply chain of material needed for our assays, interrupt our ability to receive samples, impair our ability to perform or deliver the results from our tests, impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services causing a decrease in test volumes, delay coverage decisions from Medicare and third party payors, delay ongoing and planned clinical trials involving our tests and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We estimate that the COVID-19 pandemic led to an approximate 15 to 25% decline in oncology commercial volume from current customers for the year ended December 31, 2020, and also impacted opportunities for us to gain new customers due to the temporary closing of many physician offices and labs.  Beginning the week of March 16, 2020, much of our workforce began working from home either all or substantially all of the time, except for staff in our clinical laboratory and manufacturing operations. The effects of the stay-at-home orders and our work-from-home policies may negatively impact productivity, disrupt our business and delay our development programs and regulatory timelines and negatively impact our commercial activities, the magnitude of which will depend, in part, on the length and severity of the restrictions and other limitations on our ability to conduct our business in the ordinary course. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our business, results of operations and financial position will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

The successful development of a vaccine for COVID-19 may harm our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business.

We launched our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business during the second quarter of 2020. We have received more than 300,000 samples for processing through our RT-PCR technology at our laboratory to date and we believe that performing highly accurate RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 will be an important aspect of our business until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we saw a significant increase in our net revenues due to our substantial COVID-19 testing volumes during that time. In early 2021, the FDA approved multiple COVID vaccines for administration to the public. The ability to effectively and comprehensively administer COVID-19 vaccines across the United Stated will impact revenues generated by our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business, and we will likely lose much of the revenue generated related to COVID-19 testing once demand for such testing declines.

If we cannot compete successfully with our competitors, we may be unable to increase or sustain our revenues or achieve and sustain profitability.

Our principal competition comes from established molecular diagnostic clinical testing services and products, used by medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians, which are based on tumor tissue analysis. It may be difficult  to change established clinical practices  and behavior of medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians to get them to adopt the use of our blood-based CTC and ctDNA assays, in their practices in conjunction with or instead of molecular diagnostic tests from tissue biopsies.  

Blood or liquid biopsy molecular tests based on CTC and ctDNA assays for oncology applications represent a new area of science and medicine and we cannot predict what products or assays others will develop that may compete with or provide results similar or superior to the results we are able to achieve with the products or assays we develop.  

We face competition from specialty oncology diagnostic companies that are conducting research and development to develop proprietary CTC or ctDNA based assays and assay test panels for use in genomic profiling and monitoring solid tumor cancers. Competitors developing ctDNA bases assays and assay panels include but are not limited to companies such as Guardant Health, Foundation Medicine, Tempus Laboratories, NeoGenomics, Invitae, Natera, Inivata and Biodesix. EPIC Sciences, Menarini Silicon Biosystems and Angle PLC offer CTC-based assays. These companies, in addition to operating research and development laboratories, have established CLIA-certified testing laboratories and have developed  LDT (lab developed tests) that they market directly to oncologists and pathologists. A few of these companies, like Guardant Health, have achieved FDA clearance for their proprietary laboratory tests.  

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There are a number of national and regional specialty diagnostic companies, such as Caris Life Sciences and CSI, which are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, who while not currently offering CTC or ctDNA assays are selling to oncologists and pathologists and could develop or offer ctDNA or CTC or assays. In addition large laboratory services companies such as Quest and LabCorp which provide a broad array of cancer diagnostic assays and testing services could also offer CTC or ctDNA based clinical testing services.

Another new area of science and medicine is CTC and ctDNA assays performed from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples for neuro-oncology applications and there is currently limited competition for our CSF-based CTC and ctDNA assays.  There are no known specialty oncology diagnostic companies or large laboratory services companies that offer CSF-based CTC and ctDNA tests for neuro-oncology applications as a standard commercial clinical testing service. A few academic based pathology labs such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center offer CSF-based testing mainly for research purposes.  

There are a number of companies which are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, who while not currently offering CTC or ctDNA assays are selling to the medical oncologists and pathologists and could develop or offer CTC or ctDNA assays. Large laboratory services companies such as Quest and LabCorp provide more generalized cancer diagnostic assays and testing but could also offer a CTC or ctDNA assay service. Companies like Abbott, Danaher and others could develop equipment or reagents in the future as well. Currently, companies like Streck, Roche and Exact Sciences offer BCTs, and in the future, companies like Covidien, Beckton Dickinson, Thermo Fisher, and other large medical device companies may develop BCTs as well.

There are a number of life science technology companies that are focused on the oncology diagnostic market, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Illumina, Abbott Molecular, Bio-Rad, Sysmex, Qiagen, and Roche Diagnostics, that are selling equipment and reagents kits for ctDNA assays and assay panels. These companies compete with our ctDNA assay kit products and blood collection tubes. Menarini Silicon Biosystems sells equipment and reagents kits for CTC assays. These companies market their products to specialty laboratories that offer molecular based testing for oncology applications, including national reference laboratory, regional laboratories and pathology laboratories that are part of academic medical centers and hospital systems.  These laboratories may purchase these products and developed ctDNA and CTC based laboratory developed tests that are marketed to medical oncologists and pathologists that compete with our lab services.  

Some of our present and potential competitors have widespread brand recognition and substantially greater financial and technical resources and development, production and marketing capabilities than we do. Others may develop lower-priced, less complex assays that payers, medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians could view as functionally equivalent to our current or planned future assays, which could force us to lower the list price of our assays and impact our operating margins and our ability to achieve and maintain profitability. In addition, technological innovations that result in the creation of enhanced products or diagnostic tools that are more sensitive or specific or offer more content than ours may enable other clinical laboratories, hospitals, physicians or medical providers to provide specialized products or diagnostic assays similar to ours in a more patient-friendly, efficient or cost-effective manner than is currently possible. If we cannot compete successfully against current or future competitors, we may be unable to increase or create market acceptance and sales of our current or planned future products or assays, which could prevent us from increasing or sustaining our revenues or achieving or sustaining profitability.

We expect that biopharmaceutical companies will increasingly focus resources on development of  targeted oncology therapies that may require a companion diagnostics test approved by the FDA. Biocept may face increasing competition from companies that offer CTC or ctDNA assays or products that are approved by the FDA as an IVD for companion diagnostic uses.

Additionally, projects related to cancer diagnostics and particularly genomics have received increased government funding, both in the United States and internationally. As more information regarding cancer genomics becomes available to the public, we anticipate that more products aimed at identifying targeted treatment options will be developed and that these products may compete with ours. In addition, competitors may develop their own versions of our current or planned future products or assays in countries where we did not apply for patents or where our patents have not issued and compete with us in those countries, including encouraging the use of their product or assay by physicians or patients in other countries.

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We expect to continue to incur significant expenses to develop and market products and diagnostic assays, which could make it difficult for us to achieve and sustain profitability.

In recent years, we have incurred significant costs in connection with the development of our products and diagnostic assays. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, our research and development expenses were $4.7 million and $5.2 million, respectively, and our sales and marketing expenses were $5.9 million and $6.4 million, respectively. We expect our expenses to continue to increase for the foreseeable future as we conduct studies of our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services, continue to establish our sales and marketing organization, drive adoption of and reimbursement for our products and diagnostic assays and develop new products, assays and services. As a result, we need to generate significant revenues in order to achieve sustained profitability.

If medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians decide not to order our current or planned future assays, or if laboratory supply distributors or their customers decide not to order our current or planned future products, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenue to sustain our business.

To generate demand for our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services, we will need to educate medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, and other physicians and other health care professionals, as well as laboratory and medical equipment suppliers, on the clinical utility, benefits and value of the products, assays and services we provide through published papers, presentations at scientific conferences, educational programs and one-on-one education sessions by members of our sales force. In addition, we need to educate medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians of our ability to obtain and maintain coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payers. We need to hire additional commercial, scientific, technical and other personnel to support this process. Unless an adequate number of medical practitioners order our current assays and our planned future assays, or unless an adequate number of laboratory supply distributors order our current and planned future products, we will likely be unable to create demand in sufficient volume for us to achieve sustained profitability. Our ability to interface with physicians and other medical professionals has been impacted and will likely continue to be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Clinical utility studies are important in demonstrating to both customers and payers an assay’s clinical relevance and value. If we are unable to identify collaborators willing to work with us to conduct clinical utility studies, or the results of those studies do not demonstrate that an assay provides clinically meaningful information and value, commercial adoption of such assay may be slow, which would negatively impact our business.

Clinical utility studies show when and how to use a clinical test or assay and describe the particular clinical situations or settings in which it can be applied and the expected results. Clinical utility studies also show the impact of the test or assay results on patient care and management. Clinical utility studies are typically performed with collaborating oncologists or other physicians at medical centers and hospitals, analogous to a clinical trial, and generally result in peer-reviewed publications. Sales and marketing representatives use these publications to demonstrate to customers how to use a clinical test or assay, as well as why they should use it. These publications are also used with payers to obtain coverage for a test or assay, helping to assure there is appropriate reimbursement.

We need to conduct additional studies for our assays, increase assay adoption in the marketplace and obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement. Should we not be able to perform these studies, or should their results not provide clinically meaningful data and value for medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians, adoption of our assays could be impaired, and we may not be able to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for them. The COVID-19 pandemic may also increase the risk of certain of the events described above and delay our development timelines.

The loss of key members of our executive management team could adversely affect our business.

Our success in implementing our business strategy depends largely on the skills, experience and performance of key members of our executive management team and others in key management positions. The collective efforts of each member of the executive team and others working with them as a team are critical to us as we continue to develop our technologies, products, services, assays and research and development and sales programs. As a result of the difficulty in locating qualified new management, the loss or incapacity of existing members of our executive management team could adversely affect our

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operations. If we were to lose one or more of these key employees, we could experience difficulties in finding qualified successors, competing effectively, developing our technologies and implementing our business strategy. Our executive management team each have employment agreements, however, the existence of an employment agreement does not guarantee retention of members of our executive management team and we may not be able to retain those individuals for the duration of or beyond the end of their respective terms. We do not maintain “key person” life insurance on any of our employees.

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

The loss of a key employee, the failure of a key employee to perform in his or her current position or our inability to attract and retain skilled employees could result in our inability to continue to grow our business or to implement our business strategy.

There is a scarcity of experienced professionals in our industry. If we are not able to retain and recruit personnel with the requisite technical skills, we may be unable to successfully execute our business strategy.

The specialized nature of our industry results in an inherent scarcity of experienced personnel in the field. Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel, including scientific, technical, commercial, business, regulatory and administrative personnel, necessary to support our anticipated growth, develop our business and perform certain contractual obligations. Given the scarcity of professionals with the scientific knowledge that we require and the competition for qualified personnel among life science businesses, we may not succeed in attracting or retaining the personnel we require to continue and grow our operations.

Our failure to continue to attract, hire and retain a sufficient number of qualified sales professionals would hamper our ability to increase demand for our products and diagnostic assays, to expand geographically and to successfully commercialize any other products or assays we may develop.

To succeed in selling our products and diagnostic assays and any other products or assays that we are able to develop, we must expand our sales force in the United States and/or internationally by recruiting additional sales representatives with extensive experience in oncology and established relationships with medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, oncology nurses, and other physicians and hospital personnel, as well as laboratory supply distributors. To achieve our marketing and sales goals, we will need to continue to build our sales and commercial infrastructure. Sales professionals with the necessary technical and business qualifications are in high demand, and there is a risk that we may be unable to attract, hire and retain the number of sales professionals with the right qualifications, scientific backgrounds and relationships with decision-makers at potential customers needed to achieve our sales goals. We expect to face competition from other companies in our industry, some of whom are much larger than us and who can pay greater compensation and benefits than we can, in seeking to attract and retain qualified sales and marketing employees. If we are unable to hire and retain qualified sales and marketing personnel, our business will suffer.

Our dependence on commercialization partners for sales of products, assays and services could limit our success in realizing revenue growth.

We intend to grow our business through the use of commercialization partners for the sales, marketing and commercialization of our current products, assays and services, as well as our planned future products, assays and services, and to do so we must enter into agreements with these partners to sell, market or commercialize our products, assays and services. These agreements may contain exclusivity provisions and generally cannot be terminated without cause during the term of the agreement. We may need to attract additional partners to expand the markets in which we sell products or assays. These partners may not commit the necessary resources to market and sell our products and diagnostics assays to the level of our expectations, and we may be unable to locate suitable alternatives should we terminate our agreement with such partners or if such partners terminate their agreement with us.

If current or future commercialization partners do not perform adequately, or we are unable to locate commercialization partners, we may not realize revenue growth.

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We depend on third parties for the supply of blood samples and other biological materials that we use in our research and development efforts. If the costs of such samples and materials increase or our third-party suppliers terminate their relationship with us, our business may be materially harmed.

We have relationships with suppliers and institutions that provide us with blood samples and other biological materials that we use in developing and validating our current assays and our planned future assays. If one or more suppliers terminate their relationship with us or are unable to meet our requirements for samples, we will need to identify other third parties to provide us with blood samples and biological materials, which could result in a delay in our research and development activities and negatively affect our business. In addition, as we grow, our research and academic institution collaborators may seek additional financial contributions from us, which may negatively affect our results of operations.  To the extent that the third parties supplying us with blood samples or other biological materials are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our costs and availability of such supplies may be impacted.

We currently rely on third-party suppliers for our BCTs, shipping kits, and critical materials needed to perform our current assays, as well as our planned future products, assays and services, and any problems experienced by them could result in a delay or interruption of their supply to us.

We currently purchase our BCTs and raw materials for our microfluidic channels and assay reagents under purchase orders and do not have long-term contracts with most of the suppliers of these materials. If suppliers were to delay or stop producing our BCTs, shipping kits, materials or reagents, or if the prices they charge us were to increase significantly, or if they elected not to sell to us, we would need to identify other suppliers. We could experience delays in obtaining BCTs and shipping kits, manufacturing the microfluidic channels, or performing assays while finding another acceptable supplier, which could impact our results of operations. The changes could also result in increased costs associated with qualifying the new BCTs, shipping kits, materials or reagents and in increased operating costs. Further, any prolonged disruption in a supplier’s operations could have a significant negative impact on our ability to perform diagnostic assays in a timely manner and sell our products. If our third-party suppliers’ operations are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience supply delays or interruptions.

 

Some of the components used in our current or planned future products are currently sourced from a supplier for which alternative suppliers exist but we have not validated the products of such alternative suppliers, and substitutes for these components might not be able to be obtained easily or may require substantial design or manufacturing modifications. Any significant problem experienced by any one of our suppliers may result in a delay or interruption in the supply of components to us until that supplier cures the problem or an alternative source of the component is located and qualified. Any delay or interruption would likely lead to a delay or interruption in our manufacturing operations or product sales. The inclusion of substitute components must meet our product specifications and could require us to qualify the new supplier with the appropriate government regulatory authorities.

If we were sued for product liability or professional liability, we could face substantial liabilities that exceed our resources.

The marketing, sale and use of our products and current assays, as well our planned future products, assays and services, could lead to the filing of product liability claims against us if someone alleges that our products or assays failed to perform as designed. We may also be subject to liability for errors in the assay results we provide to physicians or for a misunderstanding of, or inappropriate reliance upon, the information we provide. A product liability or professional liability claim could result in substantial damages and be costly and time-consuming for us to defend.

Although we believe that our existing product and professional liability insurance is adequate, our insurance may not fully protect us from the financial impact of defending against product liability or professional liability claims. Any product liability or professional liability claim brought against us, with or without merit, could increase our insurance rates or prevent us from securing insurance coverage in the future. Additionally, any product liability lawsuit could damage our reputation, result in the recall of products or assays, or cause current partners to terminate existing agreements and potential partners to seek other partners, any of which could impact our results of operations.

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If we use biological and hazardous materials in a manner that causes injury, we could be liable for damages.

Our activities currently require the controlled use of potentially harmful biological materials and chemicals. We cannot eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury to employees or third parties from the use, storage, handling or disposal of these materials. In the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources or any applicable insurance coverage we may have. Additionally, we are subject to, on an ongoing basis, federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and specified waste products. The cost of compliance with these laws and regulations may become significant and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. In the event of an accident or if we otherwise fail to comply with applicable regulations, we could lose our permits or approvals or be held liable for damages or penalized with fines.

We may acquire other businesses or form joint ventures or make investments in other companies or technologies that could harm our operating results, dilute our stockholders’ ownership, increase our debt or cause us to incur significant expense.

As part of our business strategy, we may pursue acquisitions of businesses and assets. We also may pursue strategic alliances and joint ventures that leverage our core technology and industry experience to expand our offerings or distribution. We have no experience with acquiring other companies and limited experience with forming strategic alliances and joint ventures. We may not be able to find suitable partners or acquisition candidates, and we may not be able to complete such transactions on favorable terms, if at all. If we make any acquisitions, we may not be able to integrate these acquisitions successfully into our existing business, and we could assume unknown or contingent liabilities. Any future acquisitions also could result in significant write-offs or the incurrence of debt and contingent liabilities, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Integration of an acquired company also may disrupt ongoing operations and require management resources that would otherwise focus on developing our existing business. We may experience losses related to investments in other companies, which could have a material negative effect on our results of operations. We may not identify or complete these transactions in a timely manner, on a cost-effective basis, or at all, and we may not realize the anticipated benefits of any acquisition, technology license, strategic alliance or joint venture.

To finance any acquisitions or joint ventures, we may choose to issue shares of our common stock as consideration, which would dilute the ownership of our stockholders. If the price of our common stock is low or volatile, we may not be able to acquire other companies or fund a joint venture project using our stock as consideration. Alternatively, it may be necessary for us to raise additional funds for acquisitions through public or private financings. Additional funds may not be available on terms that are favorable to us, or at all.

 

If we cannot support demand for our current products, assays and services, as well as our planned future products, assays and services, including successfully managing the evolution of our laboratory service, our business could suffer.

As our product and assay volume grows, we will need to increase our assay capacity, implement automation, increase our scale and related processing, customer service, billing, collection and systems process improvements and expand our internal quality assurance program and technology to support assays on a larger scale. Examples of challenges we may face include, but are not limited to, maintaining the same validated sensitivity in our assays for both CTC and ctDNA analysis as our assay volume increases. We will also need additional clinical laboratory scientists and other scientific and technical personnel to process these additional assays. Any increases in scale, related improvements and quality assurance may not be successfully implemented and appropriate personnel may not be available. As additional products, assays and services are commercialized, we may need to bring new equipment online, implement new systems, technology, controls and procedures and hire personnel with different qualifications. Failure to implement or maintain necessary procedures or to hire the necessary personnel could result in a higher cost of processing or an inability to meet market demand. We cannot assure you that we will be able to perform assays on a timely basis, or procure BCTs, shipping kits or other materials we sell, at a level consistent with demand, that our efforts to scale our commercial operations will not negatively affect the quality of our assay results, or that we will respond successfully to the growing complexity of our operations. If we encounter difficulty meeting market demand or quality standards for our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services, including with respect to our assays our ability to maintain the sensitivity, specificity, concordance and reproducibility of such assays, our reputation could be harmed, and our future prospects and business could suffer, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

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Billing for our diagnostic assays is complex, and we must dedicate substantial time and resources to the billing process to be paid.

Billing for clinical laboratory assay services is complex, time-consuming and expensive. Depending on the billing arrangement and applicable law, we bill various payers, including Medicare, insurance companies and patients, all of which have different billing requirements. We generally bill third-party payers for our diagnostic assays and pursue reimbursement on a case-by-case basis where pricing contracts are not in place. To the extent laws or contracts require us to bill patient co-payments or co-insurance, we must also comply with these requirements. We may also face increased risk in our collection efforts, including potential write-offs of doubtful accounts and long collection cycles, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Several factors make the billing process complex, including:

differences between the list price for our assays and the reimbursement rates of payers;

compliance with complex federal and state regulations related to billing Medicare;

risk of government audits related to billing Medicare;

disputes among payers as to which party is responsible for payment;

differences in coverage and in information and billing requirements among payers, including the need for prior authorization and/or advanced notification;

the effect of patient co-payments or co-insurance;

changes to billing codes and/or coverage policies that apply to our assays;

incorrect or missing billing information; and

the resources required to manage the billing and claims appeals process.

We use standard industry billing codes, known as Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT, codes, to bill for our diagnostic assays. These codes can change over time. When codes change, there is a risk of an error being made in the claim adjudication process. These errors can occur with claims submission, third-party transmission or in the processing of the claim by the payer. Claim adjudication errors may result in a delay in payment processing or a reduction in the amount of the payment received. Coding changes, therefore, may have an adverse effect on our revenues. There can be no assurance that payers will recognize these codes in a timely manner or that the process of transitioning to such a code and updating their billing systems and ours will not result in errors, delays in payments and a related increase in accounts receivable balances.

As we introduce new assays, we will need to add new codes to our billing process as well as our financial reporting systems. Failure or delays in effecting these changes in external billing and internal systems and processes could negatively affect our collection rates, revenue and cost of collecting.

Additionally, our billing activities require us to implement compliance procedures and oversight, train and monitor our employees, challenge coverage and payment denials, assist patients in appealing claims, and undertake internal audits to evaluate compliance with applicable laws and regulations as well as internal compliance policies and procedures. Payers also conduct external audits to evaluate payments, which add further complexity to the billing process. If the payer makes an overpayment determination, there is a risk that we may be required to return some portion of prior payments we have received. These billing complexities, and the related uncertainty in obtaining payment for our assays, could negatively affect our revenue and cash flow, our ability to achieve profitability, and the consistency and comparability of our results of operations.

We rely on third-party billing provider software, and an in-house billing function, to transmit claims to payers, and any delay in transmitting claims could have an adverse effect on our revenue.

While we manage the overall processing of claims, we rely on third-party billing provider software to transmit the actual claims to payers based on the specific payer billing format. We have previously experienced delays in claims processing when our third-party provider made changes to its invoicing system. Additionally, coding for diagnostic assays may change, and such changes may cause short-term billing errors that may take significant time to resolve. If claims are not submitted to

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payers on a timely basis or are erroneously submitted, or if we are required to switch to a different software provider to handle claim submissions, we may experience delays in our ability to process these claims and receipt of payments from payers, or possibly denial of claims for lack of timely submission, which would have an adverse effect on our revenue and our business.

We may encounter manufacturing problems or delays that could result in lost revenue.

We currently manufacture our proprietary microfluidic channels at our San Diego facility and intend to continue to do so. We believe we currently have adequate manufacturing capacity for our microfluidic channels. If demand for our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services increases significantly, we will need to either expand our manufacturing capabilities or outsource to other manufacturers. If we or third-party manufacturers engaged by us fail to manufacture and deliver our microfluidic channels or certain reagents in a timely manner, our relationships with our customers could be seriously harmed. We cannot assure you that manufacturing, or quality control problems will not arise as we attempt to increase the production of our microfluidic channels or reagents or that we can increase our manufacturing capabilities and maintain quality control in a timely manner or at commercially reasonable costs. If we cannot manufacture our microfluidic channels consistently on a timely basis because of these or other factors, it could have a significant negative impact on our ability to perform assays and generate revenues. We may encounter supply chain constraints in obtaining the raw materials needed to manufacture our products due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

International expansion of our business would expose us to business, regulatory, political, operational, financial and economic risks associated with doing business outside of the United States.

Our business strategy is to pursue increased international expansion, including partnering with academic and commercial testing laboratories, and introducing our technology outside the United States as part of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test kits and/or testing systems utilizing our technologies. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including:

multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations such as tax laws, export and import restrictions, employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;

failure by us or our distributors to obtain regulatory approvals for the sale or use of our current products or assays and our planned future products or assays in various countries;

difficulties in managing foreign operations;

complexities associated with managing government payer systems, multiple payer-reimbursement regimes or self-pay systems;

logistics and regulations associated with shipping blood samples, including infrastructure conditions and transportation delays;

limits on our ability to penetrate international markets if our current products or assays and our planned future products or assays cannot be processed by an appropriately qualified local laboratory;

financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty enforcing contracts and collecting accounts receivable and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;

reduced protection for intellectual property rights, or lack of them in certain jurisdictions, forcing more reliance on our trade secrets, if available;

natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, terrorism and political unrest, outbreak of disease, boycotts, curtailment of trade and other business restrictions; and

failure to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including its books and records provisions and its anti-bribery provisions, by maintaining accurate information and control over sales activities and distributors’ activities.

Any of these risks, if encountered, could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and consequently, have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

General economic or business conditions may have a negative impact on our business.

Continuing concerns over United States health care reform legislation and energy costs, geopolitical issues, the availability and cost of credit and government stimulus programs in the United States and other countries have contributed to increased

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volatility and diminished expectations for the global economy. These factors, combined with low business and consumer confidence and high unemployment, precipitated an economic slowdown and recession. If the economic climate deteriorates, our business, including our access to patient samples and the addressable market for products or diagnostic assays that we may successfully develop, as well as the financial condition of our suppliers and our third-party payers, could be adversely affected, resulting in a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Intrusions into our computer systems could result in compromise of confidential information.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our technology or systems that we interface with, including the Internet and related systems, may be vulnerable to physical break-ins, hackers, improper employee or contractor access, computer viruses, programming errors, or similar problems. Any of these might result in confidential medical, business or other information of other persons or of ourselves being revealed to unauthorized persons.

There are a number of state, federal and international laws protecting the privacy and security of health information and personal data. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, amended the privacy and security provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. HIPAA imposes limitations on the use and disclosure of an individual’s healthcare information by certain healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and health insurance plans, collectively referred to as covered entities, and also grants individuals rights with respect to their health information. HIPAA also imposes compliance obligations and corresponding penalties for non-compliance on individuals and entities that provide services involving the creation, receipt, maintenance or transmission of individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of covered entities, collectively referred to as business associates as well as their covered subcontractors. HITECH also made significant increases in the penalties for improper use or disclosure of an individual’s health information under HIPAA and extended enforcement authority to state attorneys general. As amended by HITECH and subsequently by the final omnibus rule adopted in 2013, or Final Omnibus Rule, HIPAA also imposes notification requirements on covered entities in the event that certain health information has been inappropriately accessed or disclosed: notification requirements to individuals, federal regulators, and in some cases, notification to local and national media. Notification is not required under HIPAA if the health information that is improperly used or disclosed is deemed secured in accordance with encryption or other standards developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS. Most states have laws requiring notification of affected individuals and/or state regulators in the event of a breach of personal information, which is a broader class of information than the health information protected by HIPAA. Many state laws impose significant data security requirements, such as encryption or mandatory contractual terms to ensure ongoing protection of personal information. Activities outside of the United States implicate local and national data protection standards, impose additional compliance requirements and generate additional risks of enforcement for non-compliance.  For example, if we obtain certain personal information regarding residents in the European Union, we may be subject to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. We may be required to expend significant capital and other resources to ensure ongoing compliance with applicable privacy and data security laws, to protect against security breaches and hackers or to alleviate problems caused by such breaches.

We depend on our information technology and telecommunications systems, and any failure of these systems could harm our business.

We depend on information technology and telecommunications systems for significant aspects of our operations. In addition, our third-party billing software provider depends upon telecommunications and data systems provided by outside vendors and information we provide on a regular basis. These information technology and telecommunications systems support a variety of functions, including assay processing, sample tracking, quality control, customer service and support, billing and reimbursement, research and development activities and our general and administrative activities. Information technology and telecommunications systems are vulnerable to damage from a variety of sources, including telecommunications or network failures, malicious human acts and natural disasters. Moreover, despite network security and back-up measures, some of our servers are potentially vulnerable to physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses and similar disruptive problems. Despite the precautionary measures we have taken to prevent unanticipated problems that could affect our information technology and telecommunications systems, failures or significant downtime of our information technology or telecommunications systems or those used by our third-party service providers could prevent us from processing assays, providing assay results to medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, other physicians, billing payers, processing reimbursement appeals, handling patient or physician inquiries, conducting research and development activities and managing the administrative aspects of our business. Any disruption or

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loss of information technology or telecommunications systems on which critical aspects of our operations depend could have an adverse effect on our business.

Regulatory Risks Relating to Our Business

Healthcare policy changes, including recently enacted legislation reforming the U.S. health care system, may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, or collectively the ACA, enacted in March 2010, made a number of substantial changes in the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers.

Although some of these provisions may negatively impact payment rates for clinical laboratory tests, the ACA also extends coverage to over 30 million previously uninsured people, which resulted in an increase in the demand for our current assays and our planned future assays. There have been executive, judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. For example, President Trump signed several executive orders and other directives designed to delay, circumvent, or loosen certain requirements mandated by the ACA. Concurrently, Congress considered legislation that would repeal or repeal and replace all or part of the ACA. While Congress has not passed repeal legislation, it has enacted laws that modify certain provisions of the ACA such as removing penalties effective January 1, 2019, for not complying with the ACA’s individual mandate to carry health insurance and eliminating the implementation of certain ACA-mandated fees, including but not limited the Medical Device Excise Tax. On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling 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. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing this case although it is unclear when or how the Supreme Court will rule. Although the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the Constitutionality of the ACA, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation, and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the ACA.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, or PAMA, was signed to law, which, among other things, significantly altered the current payment methodology under the Medicare Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, or CLFS. Beginning in 2017 and every three years thereafter (or annually in the case of advanced diagnostic laboratory tests), applicable clinical laboratories must report laboratory test payment data for each Medicare-covered clinical diagnostic laboratory test that it furnishes during the specified time period. The reported data must include the payment rate (reflecting all discounts, rebates, coupons and other price concessions) and the volume of each test that was paid by each private payer (including health insurance issuers, group health plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicaid managed care organizations). Effective January 1, 2018, the Medicare payment rate for each clinical diagnostic laboratory test is equal to the weighted median amount for the test from the most recent data collection period. The payment rate applies to laboratory tests furnished by a hospital laboratory if the test is separately paid under the hospital outpatient prospective payment system. The PAMA rate changes to our tests that were impacted did not materially affect our payments beginning in 2018; however, we cannot predict how this may change future payment in coming years. In January 2020, CMS announced that data reporting for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests was delayed by one year. Additionally, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020 and was designed to provide financial support and resources to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, further delayed the reporting period. The next data reporting period is now January 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022 and will be based on the data collection period of January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019. CMS further clarified that reporting will resume on a three-year cycle thereafter (i.e. 2025, 2028, etcetera).  In addition, CMS updated the statutory phase-in provisions such that, for 2020, the rates for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests may not be reduced by more than 10% of the rates for 2019. Pursuant to the CARES Act, the statutory phase-in of payment reductions has been extended through 2024, with a 0% reduction cap for 2021, and a 15% reduction cap for each of 2022, 2023, and

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2024. It is unclear what impact new quality and payment programs or new pricing structures, such as those adopted under PAMA, may have on our business, financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.

Also, under PAMA, the CMS is required to adopt temporary billing codes to identify new tests and new advanced diagnostic laboratory tests that have been cleared or approved by the FDA. For an existing test that is cleared or approved by the FDA and for which Medicare payment is made as of April 1, 2014, CMS is required to assign a unique billing code if one has not already been assigned by the agency. In addition to assigning the code, CMS is required to publicly report payment for the tests. Further, under PAMA, CMS is required to adopt temporary billing codes to identify new tests and new advanced diagnostic laboratory tests that have been cleared or approved by the FDA. We cannot determine at this time the full impact of PAMA, including its implementing regulations, on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Additionally, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend proposals in spending reductions to Congress. The Joint Select Committee did not achieve its targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers and suppliers of up to 2% per fiscal year, starting in 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional congressional action is taken. COVID-19 relief legislation suspended the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. The full impact on our business the sequester law is uncertain. In addition, the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, or MCTRJCA, mandated an additional change in Medicare reimbursement for clinical laboratory tests.   

In April 2020, the CMS announced that it would increase the reimbursement for certain COVID-19 molecular tests making use of high-throughput technologies developed by the private sector that allow for increased testing capacity, faster results, and more effective means of combating the spread of the virus to $100 per test, effective April 14, 2020. However, beginning January 1, 2021, Medicare changed the base reimbursement rate for COVID-19 diagnostic tests run on high-throughput technologies to $75 per test with an additional payment of $25 per test if certain additional requirements are met. We are currently reviewing how this reimbursement policy will impact laboratories and the patients we serve.

Some of our laboratory assay business is subject to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and, under the current statutory formula, the rates for these services are updated annually. For the past several years, the application of the statutory formula would have resulted in substantial payment reductions if Congress failed to intervene. In the past, Congress passed interim legislation to prevent the decreases. If Congress fails to intervene to prevent the negative update factor in future years, the resulting decrease in payment may adversely affect our revenue and results of operations. If in future years Congress does not adopt interim legislation to block or offset, and/or CMS does not moderate, any substantial CMS-proposed reimbursement reductions, the resulting decrease in payments from Medicare could adversely impact our revenues and results of operations.

In addition, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We cannot predict whether future health care initiatives will be implemented at the federal or state level, particularly in light of the new presidential administration, or how any future legislation or regulation may affect us. The expansion of government’s role in the U.S. health care industry, and changes to the reimbursement amounts paid by Medicare and other payers for our current assays and our planned future assays, may reduce our profits, if any, and have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Moreover, Congress has proposed on several occasions to impose a 20% coinsurance payment requirement on patients for clinical laboratory tests reimbursed under the CLFS, which would require us to bill patients for these amounts. In the event that Congress were to ever enact such legislation, the cost of billing and collecting for our assays could often exceed the amount actually received from the patient.

Our commercial success could be compromised if hospitals or other clients do not pay our invoices or if third-party payers, including managed care organizations and Medicare, do not provide coverage and reimbursement, breach, rescind or modify their contracts or reimbursement policies or delay payments for our current assays and our planned future assays.

Medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians may not order our current assays and our planned future assays unless third-party payers, such as managed care organizations and government payers (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid), pay a substantial portion of the assay price. Coverage and

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reimbursement by a third-party payer may depend on a number of factors, including a payer’s determination that assays using our technologies are:

not experimental or investigational;

medically necessary;

appropriate for the specific patient;

cost-effective;

supported by peer-reviewed publications; and

included in clinical practice guidelines.

Uncertainty surrounds third-party payer coverage and adequate reimbursement of any test incorporating new technology, including tests developed using our technologies. Technology assessments of new medical tests conducted by research centers and other entities may be disseminated to interested parties for informational purposes. Third-party payers and health care providers may use such technology assessments as grounds to deny coverage for a test or procedure. Technology assessments can include evaluation of clinical utility studies, which define how a test is used in a particular clinical setting or situation.

Because each payer generally determines for its own enrollees or insured patients whether to cover or otherwise establish a policy to reimburse our diagnostic assays, seeking payer approvals is a time-consuming and costly process. We cannot be certain that coverage for our current assays and our planned future assays will be provided in the future by additional third-party payers or that existing agreements, policy decisions or reimbursement levels will remain in place or be fulfilled under existing terms and provisions. If we cannot obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement from private and governmental payers such as Medicare and Medicaid for our current assays, or new assays or assay enhancements that we may develop in the future, our ability to generate revenues could be limited, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow. Further, we may experience delays and interruptions in the receipt of payments from third-party payers due to missing documentation and/or other issues, which could cause delay in collecting our revenue.

In addition, to the extent that our assays are ordered for Medicare inpatients and outpatients, only the hospital may receive payment from the Medicare program for the technical component of pathology services and any clinical laboratory services that we perform, unless the testing is ordered at least 14 days after discharge and certain other requirements are met. We therefore must look to the hospital for payment for these services under these circumstances. If hospitals refuse to pay for the services or fail to pay in a timely manner, our ability to generate revenues could be limited, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.

We expect to depend on Medicare and a limited number of private payers for a significant portion of our revenues and if these or other payers stop providing reimbursement or decrease the amount of reimbursement for our current assays and our planned future assays, our revenues could decline.

Approximately 38% and 51% of total net revenues during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively, were associated with Medicare and CARES Act reimbursement. Approximately 21% and 20% of total net revenues during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively, were associated with Blue Cross Blue Shield reimbursement. We cannot assure you that, even if our current assays and our planned future assays are otherwise successful, reimbursement for the currently Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield covered-portions of our current assays and our planned future assays would, without such contracted payer reimbursement for the capture/enumeration portion, produce sufficient revenues to enable us to reach profitability and achieve our other commercial objectives.

Medicare and other third-party payers may change their coverage policies or cancel future contracts with us at any time, review and adjust the rate of reimbursement or stop paying for our assays altogether, which would reduce our total revenues. Payers have increased their efforts to control the cost, utilization and delivery of health care services. In the past, measures have been undertaken to reduce payment rates for and decrease utilization of clinical laboratory testing generally. Because of the cost-trimming trends, third-party payers that currently cover and provide reimbursement for our current assays and our planned future assays may suspend, revoke or discontinue coverage at any time, or may reduce the reimbursement rates

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payable to us. Any such action could have a negative impact on our revenues, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

In addition, we are currently considered a “non-contracted provider” by many private payers because we have not entered into a specific contract to provide diagnostic assays to their insured patients at specified rates of reimbursement. Additionally, a significant amount of our non-Medicare business (private payers) has historically not been contracted, and reimbursement for this business has historically not been at “in network” rates and has therefore been inconsistent. We first began to contract private payer networks in 2015, and since then our number of accessions treated as “in network” has increased as we continue to execute additional contracts, and reimbursement is improving. We are currently contracted with nine preferred provider organization networks, three large health plans, and five regional independent physician associations, and expect to continue to gain contracts in order to be considered as an “in-network” provider with additional plans. If we were to become a contracted provider with additional payers in the future, the amount of overall reimbursement we receive would likely decrease because we could be reimbursed less money per assay performed at a contracted rate than at a non-contracted rate, which could have a negative impact on our revenues. Further, we typically are unable to collect payments from patients beyond that which is paid by their insurance and will continue to experience lost revenue as a result.

Because of certain Medicare billing policies, we may not receive complete reimbursement for assays provided to Medicare patients. Medicare reimbursement revenues are an important component of our business model, and private payers sometimes look to Medicare determinations when making their own payment determinations; therefore, incomplete or inadequate reimbursement from Medicare would negatively affect our business.

Medicare has coverage policies that can be national or regional in scope. Coverage means that assay is approved as a benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. If there is no coverage, neither the supplier nor any other party, such as a reference laboratory, may receive reimbursement from Medicare for the service. There is currently no national coverage policy regarding the CTC enumeration portion of our assays. Because our laboratory is in California, the regional Medicare Administrative Contractor, or MAC, for California is the relevant MAC for all our assays. The previous MAC for California, Palmetto, which is contracted with CMS to administer the Molecular Diagnostic Services, or MolDx, program that sets guidelines for coding, coverage and reimbursement of molecular diagnostic assays, adopted a negative coverage policy for CTC enumeration. The current MAC for California, Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC, is adopting the coverage policies from Palmetto. Therefore, the enumeration portion of our assays is not currently covered, and we will receive no payment from Medicare for this portion of the service unless and until the coverage policy is changed. Although approximately 78% and 86% of all billable cases received, excluding COVID-19 testing cases, during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively, relate to our Target-Selector™ biomarker assays, we continue to receive orders for traditional enumeration testing, which counts disease burden, and therefore the enumeration testing receives no payment from Medicare based upon the existing coverage decision. The CTC enumeration counts disease burden and is a prognostic assay, and although valuable, it does not meet many of the medical necessity requirements of Medicare and the payers. We intend to pursue payment for the capture portion of our CTC technology that allows us to run our diagnostic testing for some of our Target-Selector™ assays.

We cannot assure you that, even if our current assays and our planned future assays are otherwise successful, reimbursement for the currently Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Healthcare-covered portions of our current assays and our planned future assays would, without such contracted payer reimbursement for the capture/enumeration portion, produce sufficient revenues to enable us to reach profitability and achieve our other commercial objectives.

The processing of Medicare claims is subject to change at CMS’ discretion at any time. Cost containment initiatives may be a threat to Medicare reimbursement levels (including for the covered components of our current assays and our planned future assays, including FISH analysis and molecular assays) for the foreseeable future.

We may not receive breakthrough device designation by the FDA for our Target-Selector CSF Assay, and even if we do, such designation may not lead to a faster development, regulatory review or clearance process, and it may not increase the likelihood that the assay will receive marketing authorization from the FDA.

We intend to seek breakthrough device designation from the FDA in the second half of 2021 for our Target-Selector CSF assay.  The FDA’s breakthrough devices program is a voluntary program for certain medical devices that provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. The goal of the program is to provide patients and healthcare providers with timely access to these medical devices by speeding up their development,

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assessment and review, while preserving the statutory standards for premarket approval, 510(k) clearance and de novo marketing authorization, consistent with the FDA’s mission to protect and promote public health.

Even if received, breakthrough device designation may not result in a faster development process, review or clearance compared to conventional FDA procedures and does not assure ultimate marketing authorization by the FDA. In addition, even if a product qualifies as a breakthrough device, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification and revoke such designation.

Long payment cycles of Medicare, Medicaid and/or other third-party payers, or other payment delays, could hurt our cash flows and increase our need for working capital.

Medicare and Medicaid have complex billing and documentation requirements that we must satisfy in order to receive payment, and the programs can be expected to carefully audit and monitor our compliance with these requirements. We must also comply with numerous other laws applicable to billing and payment for healthcare services, including, for example, privacy laws. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in, among other things, non-payment, refunds, exclusion from government healthcare programs, and civil or criminal liabilities, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our revenues and earnings. In addition, failure by third-party payers to properly process our payment claims in a timely manner could delay our receipt of payment for our products and services, which may have a material adverse effect on our cash flows.

Complying with numerous regulations pertaining to our business is an expensive and time-consuming process, and any failure to comply could result in substantial penalties.

We are subject to CLIA, a federal law regulating clinical laboratories that perform testing on specimens derived from humans for the purpose of providing information for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease. Our clinical laboratory must be certified under CLIA in order for us to perform testing on human specimens. CLIA is intended to ensure the quality and reliability of clinical laboratories in the United States by mandating specific standards in the areas of personnel qualifications, administration, and participation in proficiency testing, patient test management, quality control, quality assurance and inspections. We have a current certificate of accreditation under CLIA to perform high complexity testing, and our laboratory is accredited by one of the CLIA-approved accreditation organizations. To renew this certificate, we are subject to survey and inspection every two years. Moreover, CLIA and CAP inspectors may make periodic inspections of our clinical laboratory outside of the renewal process. The failure to comply with CLIA or CAP requirements can result in enforcement actions, including the revocation, suspension, or limitation of our CLIA and/or CAP certificate of accreditation, as well as a directed plan of correction, state on-site monitoring, civil money penalties, civil injunctive suit and/or criminal penalties. We must maintain CLIA compliance and certification to be eligible to bill for assays provided to Medicare beneficiaries. If we were to be found out of compliance with CLIA program requirements and subjected to sanctions, our business and reputation could be harmed. Even if it were possible for us to bring our laboratory back into compliance, we could incur significant expenses and potentially lose revenue in doing so.

In addition, our laboratory is located in California and is required by state law to have a California state license; as we expand our geographic focus, we may need to obtain laboratory licenses from additional states. California laws establish standards for operation of our clinical laboratory, including the training and skills required of personnel and quality control. In addition, we hold licenses from the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Rhode Island to test specimens from patients in those states or received from ordering physicians in those states. In addition, our clinical reference laboratory is required to be licensed on a product-specific basis by New York as an out of state laboratory and our products, as LDTs, must be approved by the New York State Department of Health before they are offered in New York. As part of this process, the State of New York requires validation of our assays. We currently do not have the necessary New York license, but we are in the process of addressing the requirements for licensure in New York. Other states may have similar requirements or may adopt similar requirements in the future. Finally, we may be subject to regulation in foreign jurisdictions if we seek to expand international distribution of our assays outside the United States.

If we were to lose our CLIA certification or California laboratory license, whether as a result of a revocation, suspension or limitation, we would no longer be able to offer our assays, which would limit our revenues and harm our business. If we were to lose, or fail to obtain, a license in any other state where we are required to hold a license, we would not be able to test specimens from those states. If we were to lose our CAP accreditation, our reputation for quality, as well as our business, financial condition and results of operations, could be significantly and adversely affected.

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If the FDA were to begin requiring approval or clearance of our current products or assays and our planned future products or assays, we could incur substantial costs and time delays associated with meeting requirements for pre-market clearance or approval or we could experience decreased demand for, or reimbursement of, our assays.

We provide our assays as LDTs. Historically; the FDA has exercised enforcement discretion with respect to most LDTs and has not required laboratories that offer LDTs to comply with the agency’s requirements for medical devices (e.g., establishment registration, device listing, quality systems regulations, premarket clearance or premarket approval, and post-market controls). In recent years, however, the FDA has stated it intends to end its policy of enforcement discretion and regulate certain LDTs as medical devices. To this end, on October 3, 2014, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents, entitled “Framework for Regulatory Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)” and “FDA Notification and Medical Device Reporting for Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)”, respectively, that set forth a proposed risk-based regulatory framework that would apply varying levels of FDA oversight to LDTs. The FDA has indicated that it does not intend to modify its policy of enforcement discretion until the draft guidance documents are finalized. In January 2017, the FDA announced that final guidance on the oversight of LDTs would allow for further public discussion. On January 13, 2017 the FDA issued a “Discussion Paper on Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs),” which states that the material in the document does not represent a final version of the LDT draft guidance documents that were published in 2014 or position of the FDA; rather, the document is a method to encourage additional dialogue. The timing of when, if at all, the draft guidance documents will be finalized is unclear, and even then, the new regulatory requirements are proposed to be phased-in consistent with the schedule set forth in the guidance. Nevertheless, the FDA may decide to regulate certain LDTs on a case-by-case basis at any time. LDTs with the same intended use as a cleared or approved companion diagnostic are defined in FDA’s draft guidance as “high-risk LDTs (Class III medical devices)” for which premarket review would be first to occur.

FDA review, if required and successfully accomplished, would be expected to have some advantages. Certain health insurance payers have paid higher amounts over LDT prices for FDA approved or cleared tests, recognizing the additional costs of bringing a test through regulatory review. Some payers also accept FDA approval or clearance as a presumptive evidence of an assay’s analytic validity and clinical validity, which can reduce the barriers to coverage since the payer can focus its review on clinical utility.

The container we provide for collection and transport of blood samples from a health care provider to our clinical laboratory, as well as our BCTs, may be medical devices subject to the FDA regulation but are currently exempt from pre-market review by the FDA. While we believe that we are currently in material compliance with applicable laws and regulations, we cannot assure you that the FDA or other regulatory agencies would agree with our determination, and a determination that we have violated these laws, or a public announcement that we are being investigated for possible violations of these laws, could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations or financial condition.

Some of the materials we use for our current products, assays and services and may use in our planned future products, assays and services are labeled for RUO. In November 2013, the FDA finalized guidance regarding the sale and use of products labeled for research or investigational use only. Among other things, the guidance advises that the FDA continues to be concerned about distribution of research or investigational use only products intended for clinical diagnostic use and that the manufacturer’s objective intent for the product’s intended use will be determined by examining the totality of circumstances, including advertising, instructions for clinical interpretation, presentations that describe clinical use, and specialized technical support, surrounding the distribution of the product in question. The FDA has advised that if evidence demonstrates that a product is inappropriately labeled for research or investigational use only, the device would be misbranded and adulterated within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Some of the materials and reagents obtained by us from suppliers for use in our current products, assays and services and our planned future products, assays and services are currently labeled as research or investigational use only products. If the FDA were to undertake enforcement actions, some of our suppliers might cease selling research or investigational use products to us, and any failure to obtain an acceptable substitute could significantly and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, including increasing the cost of materials or reagents used in our current products, assays and services or planned future products, assays and services or delaying, limiting or prohibiting the purchase of materials or reagents necessary to sell our current products or planned future products or to perform our current assays or our planned future assays.

Our BCTs and Target Selector kits are marketed for RUO and distributed and sold to end users, some of which will be researchers and institutions while other end users could be labs performing clinical testing that will create their own LDTs. Some end users may assert that our ROU products caused their assays to perform inadequately or give erroneous results. If that was the case, we could potentially incur additional liabilities.

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Further, HHS requested that its Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society make recommendations about the oversight of genetic testing. A final report was published in April 2008. If the report’s recommendations for increased oversight of genetic testing were to result in further regulatory burdens, they could negatively affect our business and delay the commercialization of assays in development.

Additionally, on March 16, 2018 CMS issued a final determination decision memo for Next-Generation Sequencing, or NGS, tests for Medicare Beneficiaries with Advanced Cancer (CAG-00450N).  Under this final determination, NGS tests that gain FDA approval or clearance as a companion diagnostic will receive coverage, and the final determination of coverage for NGS tests that are LDTs will be left up to the local MAC. Currently, only 1 of our 15 CLIA validated assays is NGS-based; however, we plan to offer additional NGS assays in the future. To gain coverage for those assays, we will need to apply to Palmetto, which is the MAC that evaluates and recommends payment coverage or denial for molecular testing in our jurisdiction. Historically, Palmetto has offered a path to reimbursement by providing coverage while data is being gathered known as Coverage with Data Development, or CDD. Going forward, the extent to which CDD will be continued, if at all, or to the extent that a process will be available in its place, if any, are unclear.  

The requirement of pre-market review could negatively affect our business until such review is completed and clearance to market or approval is obtained. The FDA could require that we stop selling our products or diagnostic assays pending pre-market clearance or approval. If the FDA allows our products or assays to remain on the market but there is uncertainty about our products or assays, if they are labeled investigational by the FDA or if labeling claims the FDA allows us to make are very limited, orders from laboratory supply distributors and physicians, or reimbursement from third-party payers, may decline. The regulatory approval process may involve, among other things, successfully completing additional clinical trials and making a 510(k) submission or filing a pre-market approval application with the FDA. If the FDA requires pre-market review, our products or assays may not be cleared or approved on a timely basis, if at all. We may also decide voluntarily to pursue FDA pre-market review of our products or assays if we determine that doing so would be appropriate.

If we were required to conduct additional clinical studies or trials before continuing to offer assays that we have developed or may develop as LDTs, those studies or trials could lead to delays or failure to obtain necessary regulatory approval, which could cause significant delays in commercializing any future products and harm our ability to achieve sustained profitability.

If the FDA decides to require that we obtain clearance or approvals to commercialize our current assays or our planned future assays, we may be required to conduct additional pre-market clinical testing before submitting a regulatory notification or application for commercial sales. In addition, as part of our long-term strategy we may plan to seek FDA clearance or approval, so we can sell our assays outside our CLIA laboratory; however, we would need to conduct additional clinical validation activities on our assays before we can submit an application for FDA approval or clearance. Clinical trials must be conducted in compliance with FDA regulations or the FDA may take enforcement action or reject the data. The data collected from these clinical trials may ultimately be used to support market clearance or approval for our assays. It may take two years or more to conduct the clinical studies and trials necessary to obtain approval from the FDA to commercially launch our current assays and our planned future assays outside of our clinical laboratory. Even if our clinical trials are completed as planned, we cannot be certain that their results will support our assay claims or that the FDA or foreign authorities will agree with our conclusions regarding our assay results. Success in early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will be successful, and we cannot be sure that the later trials will replicate the results of prior clinical trials and studies. If we are required to conduct pre-market clinical trials, whether using prospectively acquired samples or archival samples, delays in the commencement or completion of clinical testing could significantly increase our assay development costs and delay commercialization. Many of the factors that may cause or lead to a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to delay or denial of regulatory clearance or approval. The commencement of clinical trials may be delayed due to insufficient patient enrollment, which is a function of many factors, including the size of the patient population, the nature of the protocol, the proximity of patients to clinical sites and the eligibility criteria for the clinical trial. Moreover, the clinical trial process may fail to demonstrate that our current assays and our planned future assays are effective for the proposed indicated uses, which could cause us to abandon an assay candidate and may delay development of other assays.

We may find it necessary to engage contract research organizations to perform data collection and analysis and other aspects of our clinical trials, which might increase the cost and complexity of our trials. We may also depend on clinical investigators, medical institutions and contract research organizations to perform the trials properly. If these parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, or if the quality, completeness or

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accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols or for other reasons, our clinical trials may have to be extended, delayed or terminated. Many of these factors would be beyond our control. We may not be able to enter into replacement arrangements without undue delays or considerable expenditures. If there are delays in testing or approvals as a result of the failure to perform by third parties, our research and development costs would increase, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory clearance or approval for our current assays and our planned future assays. In addition, we may not be able to establish or maintain relationships with these parties on favorable terms, if at all. Each of these outcomes would harm our ability to market our assays or to achieve sustained profitability.

We are subject to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and could face substantial penalties if we are unable to fully comply with such laws.

We are subject to health care fraud and abuse regulation and enforcement by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. These health care laws and regulations include, for example:

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from soliciting, receiving, offering or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in return for or to induce either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or services for which payment may be made under a federal health care program such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs;

the federal physician self-referral prohibition, commonly known as the Stark Law, which prohibits physicians from referring Medicare or Medicaid patients to providers of “designated health services” with whom the physician or a member of the physician’s immediate family has an ownership interest or compensation arrangement, unless a statutory or regulatory exception applies;

the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, or EKRA, which prohibits payments for referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, and laboratories. EKRA’s reach extends beyond federal health care programs to include private insurance (i.e., it is an “all payer” statute);

HIPAA, which established additional federal civil and criminal liability for, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program or making false statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items or services;

HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and its implementing regulations, which imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information on “covered entities,” including certain healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses, as well as their respective “business associates” that create, receive, maintain or transmit individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of a covered entity, and their subcontractors that use, disclose or otherwise process individually identifiable health information;

federal false claims and civil monetary penalties laws, which, prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, false or fraudulent claims for payment to the federal government;

the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act requirements under the ACA, which require certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report to CMS information related to payments and other transfers of value made to or at the request of covered recipients, such as physicians, (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, and certain physician ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers also will be required to report such information regarding its payments and other transfers of value to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants, and certified nurse midwives during the previous year; and

state law equivalents of each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payer, including commercial insurers.

Further, the ACA, among other things, amended the intent requirement of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and certain criminal health care fraud statutes. Where the intent requirement has been lowered, a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, the government may now 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 statutes. Any action brought against us for

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violation of these laws or regulations, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws and regulations, we may be subject to any applicable penalty associated with the violation, including, among others, significant administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages and fines, imprisonment, integrity oversight and reporting obligations, and exclusion from participation in government funded healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid programs, including the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal-the California Medicaid program) or other state or federal health care programs. Additionally, we could be required to refund payments received by us, and we could be required to curtail or cease our operations. Any of the foregoing consequences could seriously harm our business and our financial results.

We are required to comply with laws governing the transmission, security and privacy of health information that require significant compliance costs, and any failure to comply with these laws could result in material criminal and civil penalties.

Under the administrative simplification provisions of HIPAA, HHS has issued regulations which establish uniform standards governing the conduct of certain electronic health care transactions and protecting the privacy and security of protected health information used or disclosed by health care providers and other covered entities.

The privacy regulations regulate the use and disclosure of protected health information by covered entities engaging in certain electronic transactions or “standard transactions.” They also set forth certain rights that an individual has with respect to his or her protected health information maintained by a covered entity, including the right to access or amend certain records containing protected health information or to request restrictions on the use or disclosure of protected health information. The HIPAA security regulations establish administrative, physical and technical standards for maintaining the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information in electronic form. These standards apply to covered entities and also to “business associates” or third parties providing services to covered entities involving the use or disclosure of protected health information. The HIPAA privacy and security regulations establish a uniform federal “floor” and do not supersede state laws that are more stringent or provide individuals with greater rights with respect to the privacy or security of, and access to, their records containing protected health information. As a result, we may be required to comply with both HIPAA privacy regulations and varying state privacy and security laws.

Moreover, HITECH, among other things, established certain health information security breach notification requirements, which were later further modified by the Final Omnibus Rule. In the event of a breach of unsecured protected health information, a covered entity must notify each individual whose protected health information is breached, federal regulators and in some cases, must publicize the breach in local or national media. Certain breaches may be publicized by federal regulators who publicly identify the breaching entity, the circumstances of the breach and the number of individuals affected.

These laws contain significant fines and other penalties for wrongful use or disclosure of protected health information. Given the complexity of HIPAA and HITECH and their overlap with state privacy and security laws, and the fact that these laws are rapidly evolving and are subject to changing and potentially conflicting interpretation, our ability to comply with the HIPAA, HITECH and state privacy requirements is uncertain and the costs of compliance are significant. Adding to the complexity is that our operations are evolving, and the requirements of these laws will apply differently depending on such things as whether or not we bill electronically for our services. The costs of complying with any changes to the HIPAA, HITECH and state privacy restrictions may have a negative impact on our operations. Noncompliance could subject us to criminal penalties, civil sanctions and significant monetary penalties as well as reputational damage.

Clinical research is heavily regulated and failure to comply with human subject protection regulations may disrupt our research program leading to significant expense, regulatory enforcement, private lawsuits and reputational damage.

Clinical research is subject to federal, state and, for studies conducted outside of the United States, international regulation. At the federal level, the FDA imposes regulations for the protection of human subjects and requirements such as initial and ongoing institutional review board review; informed consent requirements, adverse event reporting and other protections to minimize the risk and maximize the benefit to research participants. Many states impose human subject protection laws that mirror or in some cases exceed federal requirements. HIPAA also regulates the use and disclosure of protected health information in connection with research activities. Research conducted overseas is subject to a variety of national protections such as mandatory ethics committee review, as well as laws regulating the use, disclosure and cross-border transfer of personal data. For example, if we obtain certain personal information regarding residents in the European Union, we may be

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subject to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. The costs of compliance with these laws may be significant and compliance with regulatory requirements may result in delay. Noncompliance may disrupt our research and result in data that is unacceptable to regulatory authorities, data lock or other sanctions that may significantly disrupt our operations.

Violation of a state’s prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine could result in a material adverse effect on our business.

A number of states, including California, do not allow business corporations to employ physicians to provide professional services. This prohibition against the “corporate practice of medicine” is aimed at preventing corporations such as us from exercising control over the medical judgments or decisions of physicians. The state licensure statutes and regulations and agency and court decisions that enumerate the specific corporate practice rules vary considerably from state to state and are enforced by both the courts and regulatory authorities, each with broad discretion. If regulatory authorities or other parties in any jurisdiction successfully assert that we are engaged in the unauthorized corporate practice of medicine, we could be required to restructure our contractual and other arrangements. In addition, violation of these laws may result in significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties imposed against us and/or the professional through licensure proceedings, and exclusion from state and federal health care programs.

Intellectual Property Risks Related to Our Business

If we are unable to obtain and maintain effective patent rights for our products or services, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets.

We rely upon a combination of patents, trade secret protection, and confidentiality agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our technologies, products and services. Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection in the United States and in other countries with respect to our proprietary technology and products.

We have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel technologies and products that are important to our business. This 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 or in a timely manner. The possibility exists that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.

The patent position of diagnostic companies generally is highly uncertain and involves complex legal and factual questions for which legal principles remain unsolved. The patent applications that we own, or in-license, may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our products or services in the United States or in other foreign countries. There is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found, which can invalidate a patent or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. Even if patents do successfully issue, and even if such patents cover our products and services, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability, or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed, found unenforceable or invalidated. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our intellectual property, provide exclusivity for our products and services, or prevent others from designing around our claims. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business.

We, independently or together with our licensors, have filed several patent applications covering various aspects of our products and services. We cannot offer any assurances about which, if any, patents will issue, the breadth of any such patent or whether any issued patents will be found invalid and unenforceable or will be threatened by third parties. Any successful opposition to these patents or any other patents owned by or licensed to us after patent issuance could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any products and services that we may offer. Further, if we encounter delays in regulatory approvals, the period of time during which we could market a product or service under patent protection could be reduced.

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Patent policy and rule changes could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents.

Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection. The laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. 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. We therefore cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to make the invention claimed in our owned and licensed patents or pending applications, or that we or our licensor were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. Assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, in the United States prior to March 15, 2013, the first to make the claimed invention is entitled to the patent, while outside the United States, the first to file a patent application is entitled to the patent. After March 15, 2013, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the Leahy-Smith Act, enacted on September 16, 2011, the United States has moved to a first to file system. The Leahy-Smith Act also includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and may also affect patent litigation. The effects of these changes are currently unclear as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, must still implement various regulations, the courts have yet to address any of these provisions and the applicability of the act and new regulations on specific patents discussed herein have not been determined and would need to be reviewed. In general, 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.

If we are unable to maintain effective proprietary rights for our products or services, we may not be able to compete effectively in our markets.

In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable or that we elect not to patent, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our products and services that involve proprietary know-how, information or technology that is not covered by patents. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors, and contractors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors.

Although we expect all of our employees and consultants to assign their inventions to us, and all of our employees, consultants, advisors, and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information, or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, we cannot provide any assurances that all such agreements have been duly executed or that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our trade secrets could impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating the trade secret.

 

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

Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. There have been many lawsuits and other proceedings involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including patent infringement lawsuits, interferences, oppositions, and reexamination proceedings before the USPTO and corresponding foreign patent offices. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing products and services. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our products and services may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties.

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Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization. There may be third-party patents or patent applications with claims to materials, formulations, methods of manufacture, or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our products and services. We have conducted freedom to operate analyses with respect to only certain of our products and services, and therefore we do not know whether there are any third-party patents that would impair our ability to commercialize these products and services. We also cannot guarantee that any of our analyses are complete and thorough, nor can we be sure that we have identified each and every patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant or necessary to the commercialization of our products and services. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our products or services may infringe.

For example, in August 2016, we received a letter from MolecularMD Corp. offering a license to two U.S. Patents owned by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and licensed to MolecularMD Corp., that are relevant to one of the biomarkers we detect in our Liquid Biopsy Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ assay and our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ assay. One of the two patents is expected to expire in 2026. The other patent is expected to expire in 2028. Although we believe that the claims of both patents relevant to our assays would likely be held invalid, we cannot provide any assurances that a court or an administrative agency would agree with our assessment. If the validity of the relevant claims in question is upheld upon a validity challenge, then we may be liable for past damages and would need a license in order to continue commercializing our Liquid Biopsy Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ Assay and our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ Assay in the United States. However, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

In addition, we are aware of a U.S. Patent owned by Amgen, Inc. that is relevant to one of the biomarkers we detect in our Liquid Biopsy Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ assay and our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ assay. The patent is expected to expire in 2028. Although we believe that the claims of the patent relevant to our assays would likely be held invalid, we cannot provide any assurances that a court or an administrative agency would agree with our assessment. If the validity of the relevant claims in question is upheld upon a validity challenge, then we may be liable for past damages and would need a license in order to continue commercializing our Liquid Biopsy Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ assay and our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ assay in the United States. However, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

We are also aware of a U.S. Patent owned by Genentech, Inc. that is relevant to one of the biomarkers we detect in our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ assay and our Liquid Biopsy Colon Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ assay. The patent is expected to expire in 2025. Although we believe that the claims of the patent relevant to our assays would likely be held invalid, we cannot provide any assurances that a court or an administrative agency would agree with our assessment. If the validity of the relevant claims in question is upheld upon a validity challenge, then we may be liable for past damages and would need a license in order to continue commercializing our Liquid Biopsy Lung Cancer Resistance Profile Target-Selector™ assay and our Liquid Biopsy Colon Cancer Profile Target-Selector™ assay in the United States. However, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

In addition, in July 2016, we received a communication from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (“Mayo”) offering a license to a U.S. Patent owned by Mayo that is relevant to an antibody that we use in our Liquid Biopsy Immuno-Oncology PD-L1 assay. The patent is expected to expire in 2021. At present, we believe that we will need a license to this patent to continue commercializing our Liquid Biopsy Immuno-Oncology PD-L1 assay. We are currently in discussions with Mayo and believe a license can be obtained on commercially reasonable terms. However, if we are unable to secure such a license, we may be liable for past damages, and our business could be materially and adversely affected.

In addition, in December 2020, we received a communication from counsel for RavGen, Inc., or RavGen, offering to discuss licensing terms for certain patents owned by RavGen, which RavGen’s communication alleged are relevant to Biocept’s Target SelectorTM Liquid Biopsy test kits and panels. We are currently assessing the RavGen patents and are in discussions with RavGen’s counsel. If we are unable to secure a license on commercially reasonable terms, and if RavGen subsequently files suit and a court or jury makes a determination that our test kits and panels infringe any valid RavGen patent claims, then we may be liable for damages, and our business could be materially and adversely affected. In addition, third parties may obtain patents in the future and claim that use of our technologies infringes upon these patents. If any third-party patents were

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held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our products or services, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize such products or services unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or are finally determined to be invalid or unenforceable. Such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Parties making claims against us may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize one or more of our products or services. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties, redesign our infringing products or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure.

We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to our products or services through acquisitions and in-licenses.

We currently have rights to the intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patents that we own, to develop our products and services. Because our programs may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license, or use these proprietary rights. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes, or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify as necessary for our products or services. 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, cash 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 sometimes collaborate with U.S. and foreign institutions to accelerate our research or development under written agreements with these institutions. Typically, these institutions provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such option, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program.

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.

Although we are not currently involved in any litigation, we may be involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or the patents of our licensors, which could be expensive, time consuming, and unsuccessful.

Competitors may infringe our patents or the patents of our licensors. Although we are not currently involved in any litigation, if we or one of our licensing partners were to initiate legal proceedings against a third-party to enforce a patent covering one of our products or services, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product or service 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 could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable.

Interference proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. Our defense of litigation or interference proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could have a

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material adverse effect on our ability to raise sufficient capital to continue our research programs, license necessary technology from third parties, or enter into development partnerships that would help commercialize our products or services.

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

 

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants, or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties or that our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers.

We employ certain individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants, and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, and we are not currently subject to any claims that our employees, consultants, or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties, we may in the future be subject to such claims. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel, which could adversely impact our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

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

Although we are not currently experiencing any claims challenging the inventorship of our patents or ownership of our intellectual property, we may in the future be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our patents or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our products or services. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

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

As is the case with other biopharmaceutical 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. Therefore, obtaining and enforcing biotechnology patents is costly, time consuming, and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States has recently enacted and is currently implementing wide-ranging patent reform legislation. 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. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

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

Filing, prosecuting, and defending patents on products and services in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from

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practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and may also export infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

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

 

Our collaborators may assert ownership or commercial rights to inventions we develop from our use of the biological materials which they provide to us, or otherwise arising from the collaboration.

We collaborate with several institutions, physicians and researchers in scientific matters. We do not have written agreements with certain of such collaborators, or the written agreements we have do not cover intellectual property rights. Also, we rely on numerous third parties to provide us with blood samples and biological materials that we use to develop assays. If we cannot successfully negotiate sufficient ownership and commercial rights to any inventions that result from our use of a third-party collaborator’s materials, or if disputes arise with respect to the intellectual property developed with the use of a collaborator’s samples, or data developed in a collaborator’s study, we may be limited in our ability to capitalize on the market potential of these inventions or developments.

Risks Relating to Our Common Stock

The price of our common stock may be volatile.

Market prices for our common stock have historically been volatile. The factors that may cause the market price of our common stock to fluctuate include, but are not limited to:

progress, or lack of progress, in performing, developing and commercializing our current assays and our planned future assays;

favorable or unfavorable decisions about our assays from government regulators, insurance companies or other third-party payers;

our ability to recruit and retain qualified research and development personnel;

changes in investors’ and securities analysts’ perception of the business risks and conditions of our business;

changes in our relationship with key collaborators;

changes in the market valuation or earnings of our competitors or companies viewed as similar to us;

changes in key personnel;

depth of the trading market in our common stock;

changes in our capital structure, such as future issuances of securities or the incurrence of additional debt;

disruptions caused by man-made or natural disasters or public health pandemics or epidemics or other business interruptions, including, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic;

changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;

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the granting or exercise of employee stock options or other equity awards;

realization of any of the risks described herein; and

general market and economic conditions.

In addition, the equity markets have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market prices for the securities of public companies for a number of reasons, including reasons that may be unrelated to our business or operating performance. These broad market fluctuations may result in a material decline in the market price of our common stock and you may not be able to sell your shares at prices you deem acceptable. In the past, following periods of volatility in the equity markets, securities class action lawsuits have been instituted against public companies. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial cost and the diversion of management attention.

Our failure to meet the continued listing requirements of The Nasdaq Capital Market could result in a de-listing of our common stock.

If we fail to satisfy the continued listing requirements of The Nasdaq Capital Market, such as the corporate governance requirements, the minimum closing bid price requirement, or the minimum stockholders’ equity requirement, Nasdaq may take steps to de-list our common stock. For example, in May 2016, we received a letter from Nasdaq indicating that we are not in compliance with the minimum stockholders’ equity requirement of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(b)(1), and in each of June 2016, November 2016, January 2018 and September 2019, we received letters from Nasdaq indicating that we were not in compliance with the minimum bid price requirement of Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(a)(2), which requires that companies listed on The Nasdaq Capital Market maintain a minimum closing bid price of at least $1.00 per share. Although we were able to regain compliance with the Nasdaq continued listing requirements discussed in the May 2016, June 2016, November 2016, January 2018 and September 2019 letter, there can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain compliance with the continued listing requirements of the Nasdaq Capital Market. If we fail to maintain compliance with Nasdaq’s continued listing requirements, Nasdaq may take steps to de-list our common stock. Such a de-listing would likely have a negative effect on the price of our common stock and would impair your ability to sell or purchase our common stock when you wish to do so. In the event of a de-listing, we would take actions to restore our compliance with Nasdaq’s listing requirements, but we can provide no assurance that any such action taken by us would allow our common stock to become listed again, stabilize the market price or improve the liquidity of our common stock, or prevent future non-compliance with Nasdaq’s listing requirements.

Our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly.

We expect our operating results to be subject to quarterly fluctuations. Our net loss and other operating results will be affected by numerous factors, including:

the rate of adoption and/or continued use of our current assays and our planned future assays by healthcare practitioners;

variations in the level of expenses related to our development programs;

addition or reduction of resources for sales and marketing;

addition or termination of clinical utility studies;

any intellectual property infringement lawsuit in which we may become involved;

the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on our core oncology business;

the impact of a COVID-19 vaccine on our ability to generate revenues from our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business;

third-party payer coverage and reimbursement determinations affecting our assays; and

regulatory developments affecting our assays.

If our quarterly operating results fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Furthermore, any quarterly fluctuations in our operating results may, in turn, cause the price of our stock to fluctuate substantially.

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Future sales of our common stock or other securities, or the perception that future sales may occur, may cause the market price of our common stock to decline, even if our business is doing well.

Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock or other securities, or the perception that these sales may occur, could materially and adversely affect the price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. For example, in May 2020, the SEC declared effective a shelf registration statement filed by us. This shelf registration statement allows us to issue any combination of our common stock, preferred stock, debt securities and warrants from time to time for an aggregate initial offering price of up to $100 million. The specific terms of additional future offerings, if any, under this shelf registration statement would be established at the time of such offerings. Depending on a variety of factors, including market liquidity of our common stock, the sale of shares under this shelf registration statement may cause the trading price of our common stock to decline. The sale of a substantial number of shares of our common stock under this shelf registration statement, or anticipation of such sales, could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline or make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and at a price that we might otherwise desire.

We had outstanding 13,402,368 shares of common stock as of March 19, 2021, most of which are not subject to resale restrictions under Rule 144 of the Securities Act. In addition, as of March 19, 2021, we had outstanding preferred stock convertible into 46,651 shares of our common stock, options to purchase 1,054,682 shares of our common stock, 36 shares of common stock were issuable upon the settlement of outstanding restricted stock units, or RSUs, and 993,844 shares of our common stock were issuable upon the exercise of outstanding warrants. Shares issued upon the exercise of stock options or upon the settlement of outstanding RSUs generally will be eligible for sale in the public market, except that affiliates will continue to be subject to volume limitations and other requirements of Rule 144 under the Securities Act. The issuance or sale of such shares could depress the market price of our common stock.

In the future, we also may issue our securities if we need to raise additional capital. The number of new shares of our common stock issued in connection with raising additional capital could constitute a material portion of the then-outstanding shares of our common stock.

If we are unable to favorably assess the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and our stock price could be materially adversely affected.

Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing by us conducted in connection with Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm conducted in connection with Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after we no longer qualify as a “non-accelerated filer,” with less than $100 million in annual revenues, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock.

We are required to disclose changes made in our internal control procedures on a quarterly basis and our management is required to assess the effectiveness of these controls annually. However, for as long as we are a “smaller reporting company” with less than $100 million in annual revenues, our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404. An independent assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls could detect problems that our management’s assessment might not. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls could lead to financial statement restatements and require us to incur the expense of remediation.

Anti-takeover provisions of our certificate of incorporation, our bylaws and Delaware law could make an acquisition of us, which may be beneficial to our stockholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove the current members of our board and management.

Certain provisions of our amended certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change of control that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which you might otherwise receive a premium for your shares. Furthermore, these provisions could prevent or frustrate

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attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove members of our Board of Directors. (For example, Delaware law provides that if a corporation has a classified board of directors, stockholders cannot remove any director during his or her term without cause.) These provisions also could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for our common stock, thereby depressing the market price of our common stock. Stockholders who wish to participate in these transactions may not have the opportunity to do so. These provisions, among other things:

classify our Board of Directors into three classes of equal (or roughly equal) size, with all directors serving for a three-year term and the directors of only one class being elected at each annual meeting of stockholders, so that the terms of the classes of directors are “staggered”;

allow the authorized number of directors to be changed only by resolution of our Board of Directors;

authorize our Board of Directors to issue, without stockholder approval, preferred stock, the rights of which will be determined at the discretion of the Board of Directors and that, if issued, could operate as a “poison pill” to dilute the stock ownership of a potential hostile acquirer to prevent an acquisition that our Board of Directors does not approve;

establish advance notice requirements for stockholder nominations to our Board of Directors or for stockholder proposals that can be acted on at stockholder meetings; and

limit who may call a stockholders meeting.

In addition, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, or DGCL, which may, unless certain criteria are met, prohibit large stockholders, in particular those owning 15% or more of the voting rights on our common stock, from merging or combining with us for a prescribed period of time.

Because we do not expect to pay cash dividends for the foreseeable future, you must rely on appreciation of our common stock price for any return on your investment. Even if we change that policy, we may be restricted from paying dividends on our common stock.

We do not intend to pay cash dividends on shares of our common stock for the foreseeable future. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon results of operations, financial performance, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors our Board of Directors deems relevant. Accordingly, you will have to rely on capital appreciation, if any, to earn a return on your investment in our common stock. Investors seeking cash dividends in the foreseeable future should not purchase our common stock.

Changes in tax laws or regulations that are applied adversely to us or our customers may have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.

 

New income, sales, use or other tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be enacted at any time, which could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance. Further, existing tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may affect us, and certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could be repealed or modified in future legislation. For example, the CARES Act modified certain provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the CARES Act or any newly enacted federal tax legislation. Changes in corporate tax rates, the realization of net deferred tax assets relating to our operations, the taxation of foreign earnings, and the deductibility of expenses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or future reform legislation could have a material impact on the value of our deferred tax assets, could result in significant one-time charges, and could increase our future U.S. tax expense.

Our effective tax rate may fluctuate, and we may incur obligations in tax jurisdictions in excess of accrued amounts.

We are subject to taxation in numerous U.S. states and territories. As a result, our effective tax rate is derived from a combination of applicable tax rates in the various places that we operate. In preparing our financial statements, we estimate the amount of tax that will become payable in each of such places. Nevertheless, our effective tax rate may be different than experienced in the past due to numerous factors, including the results of examinations and audits of our tax filings, our inability to secure or sustain acceptable agreements with tax authorities, changes in accounting for income taxes and changes

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in tax laws. Any of these factors could cause us to experience an effective tax rate significantly different from previous periods or our current expectations and may result in tax obligations in excess of amounts accrued in our financial statements.

Our ability to use our estimated net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.

Our ability to utilize our estimated federal net operating loss, carryforwards and federal tax credits may be limited under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as modified by the CARES Act, federal net operating losses incurred in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such federal net operating losses in tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, is limited to 80% of taxable income. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or the CARES Act. In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” generally defined as a cumulative change in its equity ownership by “5-percent shareholders” of greater than 50 percentage points (by value) over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its estimated pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes (such as research tax credits) to offset its post-change taxable income and taxes, as applicable, may be limited. As of December 31, 2020, we had estimated federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $75.4 million and $44.2 million, respectively, and estimated federal and California research and development tax credits of approximately $577,000 and $3.9 million, respectively, which could be limited if we have experienced or do experience any “ownership changes.” We have not completed a study to assess whether an ownership change has occurred or whether there have been multiple ownership changes since our formation, due to the complexity and cost associated with such a study, and the fact that there may be additional ownership changes in the future. We believe, however, that multiple ownership changes likely occurred. In addition, at the state level, there may be periods during which the use of net operating loss carryforwards is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed. For example, California imposed limits on the usability of California state net operating losses and certain state tax credits in tax years beginning after 2019 and before 2023. We have estimated that the use of our net operating loss is limited and the amounts above remain fully offset by a valuation allowance.

We could be subject to securities class action litigation.

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

General Risk Factors

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

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, the listing requirements of The Nasdaq Stock Market and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Compliance with these rules and regulations includes significant legal and financial compliance costs, makes some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly, and increases demand on our systems and resources. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. In order to maintain and, if required, improve our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting to meet this standard, significant resources and management oversight may be required. As a result, management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could harm our business and operating results. Stockholder activism, the current political environment and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which may lead to additional compliance costs and impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate.

In addition, changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure are creating uncertainty for public companies, increasing legal and financial compliance costs and making some activities more time consuming. These laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and

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governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices. We intend to invest resources to comply with evolving laws, regulations and standards, and this investment may result in increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management’s time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities. If our efforts to comply with new laws, regulations and standards differ from the activities intended by regulatory or governing bodies due to ambiguities related to practice, regulatory authorities may initiate legal proceedings against us and our business may be harmed.

If securities or industry analysts issue an adverse opinion regarding our stock or do not publish research or reports about our company, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that equity research analysts publish about us, our business and our competitors. We do not control these analysts or the content and opinions or financial models included in their reports. Securities analysts may elect not to provide research coverage of our company, and such lack of research coverage may adversely affect the market price of our common stock. The price of our common stock could also decline if one or more equity research analysts downgrade our common stock or if those analysts issue other unfavorable commentary or cease publishing reports about us or our business. If one or more equity research analysts cease coverage of our company, we could lose visibility in the market, which in turn could cause our stock price to decline.

 

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

Not applicable.

Item 2. Properties.

We have a lease for approximately 39,600 square feet of space in San Diego, California for use as a clinical reference laboratory and corporate headquarters, including manufacturing and research laboratories. As of December 31, 2020, the average rent for the remaining lease period is approximately $140,000 per month. This lease expires in June 2031.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

In the normal course of business, we may be involved in legal proceedings or threatened legal proceedings. We are not party to any legal proceedings or aware of any threatened legal proceedings which are expected to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.


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PART II

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

Market Information

Our common stock is traded on The Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “BIOC.”

Holders of Record

As of March 19, 2021, there were 24 holders of record of our common stock. The actual number of common stockholders is greater than the number of record holders, and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees. This number of holders of record also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared dividends on our equity securities, and currently do not plan to declare dividends on shares of our common stock in the foreseeable future. We expect to retain our future earnings, if any, for use in the operation and expansion of our business. Subject to the foregoing, the payment of cash dividends in the future, if any, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon such factors as earnings levels, capital requirements, our overall financial condition and any other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. Additionally, any payment of a dividend would require the prior approval of our lender.

Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans

Information about our equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Part III, Item 12 of this Annual Report.

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

Not applicable.

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

The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations should be read together with our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in the Annual Report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements based upon our current plans, estimates, beliefs and expectations that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under the sections entitled “Risk Factors,” “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and elsewhere in this Annual Report.

We are an early-stage molecular oncology diagnostics company that develops and commercializes proprietary circulating tumor cell, or CTC, and circulating tumor nucleic acid including circulating tumor DNA, or ctDNA, and circulating tumor RNA, or ctRNA, assays using a standard blood sample, or “liquid biopsy.” Effective January 2020, we also adapted and validated this technology for commercial use in cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, to identify tumor cells that have metastasized to the central nervous system, or CNS, in patients with advanced lung cancer or breast cancer.

In June of 2020, to respond to a national public health emergency precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we introduced molecular testing for SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, using a United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, based “RT-PCR” method developed by Thermo-Fisher.

In June 2020, we entered into a development agreement with Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc., or Aegea, focused on the co-development by us and Aegea of a highly sensitive PCR-based assay designed by Aegea for detecting the COVID-19 virus.  Pursuant to the development agreement, we receive compensation for development services performed based on time and materials expended. In early March 2021, we announced a supply agreement with Aegea for the PCR-based COVID-19 assay kit.  Under the supply agreement, Aegea will supply the COVID-19 assay kit to us for validation in our high-complexity molecular clinical laboratory that is certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, or CLIA, and licensed by the California Department of Public Health, and accredited by the College of American Pathologists, or CAP, and subsequent commercialization of a laboratory developed test, or LDT.

Our current and planned blood and CSF assays are intended to provide information to aid healthcare providers by identifying tumor cells associated with progression or metastasis, and identifying specific oncogenic alterations that may qualify a subset of cancer patients for targeted therapy. These assays may also be used for monitoring response to treatment or to identify specific resistance mechanisms.

“Liquid biopsies” are intended to supplement or replace the need for additional invasive surgical tissue biopsies or repeated lumbar punctures to find tumor material (intact cells or tumor derived nucleic acid known as ctDNA and ctRNA) in blood or CSF. Our molecular assays are also designed to help find molecular alterations in situations where tumor tissue or CSF cytology samples are insufficient and/or unable to provide the molecular subtype information necessary for clinical decisions.

Our assays have the potential to provide faster, more contemporaneous information regarding therapy response or the characteristics of a patient’s disease when compared with surgical tissue biopsies which must be scheduled or radiographic imaging which may take a month or more to illustrate progression.

Our current assays and our planned future assays focus on key solid tumor indications utilizing our Target-SelectorTM liquid biopsy technology platform for the biomarker analysis of CTCs and ctDNA from a standard blood or CSF sample. Our patented Target-Selector™ CTC platform assays are based on an internally developed microfluidics-based cell capture and analysis platform, with enabling features that change how information provided by CTC testing is used by clinicians. Our patented Target-Selector™ molecular technology enables detection of mutations and genome alterations with enhanced sensitivity and specificity, and is applicable to nucleic acid from ctDNA, and could potentially be validated for other sample types such as bone marrow, or tissue (surgical resections and/or biopsies). Our Target-Selector™ CTC and molecular platforms provide both biomarker detection as well as monitoring capabilities and require only a patient blood sample or CSF sample to inform treatment decisions. In January 2019, we began offering research use only, or RUO, liquid biopsy kits containing our patented and proprietary ctDNA Target SelectorTM testing for certain specific cancer genes to laboratories and researchers worldwide. In March 2020 we released an update for our RUO EGFR Target SelectorTM Kit which expanded the sample types validated to include both blood and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded, or FFPE. In March 2020 we also released a RUO BRAF Target SelectorTM   validated for both ctDNA and FFPE.

At our corporate headquarters facility located in San Diego, California, we operate a clinical laboratory that is certified under CLIA, licensed by the California Department of Public Health, and accredited by CAP. At this facility we perform our current assays, and we continue to perform research and development for our planned future assays. In addition, we currently

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manufacture our microfluidic channels and various chemistries used in our testing process, however, we have identified and have been working with a manufacturer to outsource certain manufacturing activities in the near term to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The assays we offer and intend to offer are classified as LDTs under CLIA regulations. CLIA certification is required before any clinical laboratory, including ours, may perform testing on human specimens for the purpose of obtaining information for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease or the assessment of health. In addition, we participate in and have received CAP accreditation, which includes rigorous bi-annual laboratory inspections and requires adherence to specific quality standards.

Key Factors Affecting our Results of Operations and Financial Condition

Our overall long-term growth plan depends on our ability to continue to develop and commercialize products and assays through our CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited, and state-licensed laboratory. We have commercialized our Target-Selector assays for breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreaticobiliary cancer, and ovarian cancer, and plan to continue to launch a series of cancer diagnostic assays for different predictive biomarkers assays in the United States as LDTs performed in our laboratory, and enhance revenue for these products through the efforts of our sales and marketing organization. Our sales strategy is to engage medical oncologists, neuro-oncologists, surgical oncologists, urologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and other physicians in the United States at private and group practices, hospitals and cancer centers. We also plan to continue to evaluate potential opportunities for the commercialization of our products and assays in other countries. Additionally, sales of our proprietary blood collection tubes, or BCTs, which allow for the intact transport of liquid biopsy samples for research use only, or RUO, from regions around the world, commenced during 2018. In addition to testing for physicians and their patients, we offer clinical trials testing and research services to help increase the efficiency and economic viability of clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations both within and outside of the United States. We are currently exploring the possibility of introducing ctDNA technology outside the United States as part of IVD test kits and/or testing systems utilizing our Target-Selector technologies. We plan to continue to cooperate with partners on accessing markets internationally either through partnerships with local groups and distributors or through the development of IVDs and/or test systems, including instrumentation. We also have a research and development program focused on technology enhancements, novel platform development, and evaluating clinical applications for our cancer diagnostic tests in different cancer types and clinical settings.

To facilitate market adoption of our products and assays, we anticipate having to successfully complete additional clinical utility studies with clinical samples to generate clinical utility data and then publish our results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Our ability to complete such clinical studies is dependent upon our ability to leverage our collaborative relationships with leading institutions to facilitate our research, to conduct the appropriate clinical studies and to obtain favorable clinical data. We collaborate with physicians and researchers at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, University of Colorado, the University of California, San Diego, the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Vanderbilt University, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Georgetown University and plan to expand our collaborative relationships to include other key thought leaders at other institutions for the cancer types we target with our Target-Selector commercialized assays and our planned future assays, as well as for our current and planned future products. Such relationships help us develop and validate the effectiveness and utility of our products, commercialized assays and our planned future assays in specific, clinical settings and provide us access to patient samples and data.

We believe that the factors discussed in the following paragraphs have had and are expected to continue to have a material impact on our results of operations and financial condition.

Revenues

The Company's commercial revenues are generated from diagnostic services provided to patient’s physicians and billed to third-party insurance payers such as managed care organizations, Medicare and Medicaid and patients for any deductibles, coinsurance or copayments that may be due. The Company recognizes revenue in accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or ASC 606, which requires that an entity recognize revenue when it transfers promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.

We bill third-party payers on a fee-for-service basis at our list price and third-party commercial revenue is recorded net of contractual discounts, payer-specific allowances and other reserves. Our development services revenues are supported by contractual agreements and generated from assay development services provided to entities, as well as certain other

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diagnostic services provided to physicians. Diagnostic services are completed upon the delivery of assay results to the prescribing physician, at which time we bill for the service.

Our gross commercial revenues billed are subject to estimated deductions for such contractual discounts, payer-specific allowances and other reserves to arrive at reported net revenues, which relate to differences between amounts billed and corresponding amounts estimated to be subsequently collected. These third-party payer discounts and sales allowances are estimated based on a number of assumptions and factors, including historical payment trends, seasonality associated with the annual reset of patient deductible limits on January 1 of each year, and current and estimated future payments. The estimates of amounts that will ultimately be realized from commercial diagnostic services require significant judgment by us. Patients do not enter into direct agreements with us that commit them to pay any portion of the cost of the tests in the event that they have not met their annual deductible limit under their insurance policy, if any, or if their insurance otherwise declines to reimburse us. Adjustments to the estimated payment amounts are recorded at the time of final collection and settlement of each transaction as an adjustment to commercial revenue.

Costs and Expenses

We classify our costs and expenses into four categories: cost of revenues, research and development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative. Our costs and expenses principally consist of facility costs and overhead, personnel costs, outside services and consulting costs, laboratory consumables, development costs, and legal fees.

Cost of Revenues. Our cost of revenues consists principally of facility costs and overhead, personnel costs, and laboratory and manufacturing supplies and materials. We are pursuing various strategies to reduce and control our cost of revenues, including automating aspects of our processes, developing more efficient technology and methods, and attempting to negotiate improved terms and volume discounts with our suppliers.

Research and Development Expenses. We incur research and development expenses principally in connection with our efforts to develop and improve our tests. Our primary research and development expenses consist of direct personnel costs, laboratory equipment and consumables, and overhead expenses. We anticipate that research and development expenses will remain consistent in the near-term, principally to develop and validate tests in our pipeline and to perform work associated with clinical utility studies and development collaborations. In addition, we expect that our costs related to collaborations with research and academic institutions will increase. All research and development expenses are charged to operations in the periods in which they are incurred.

Sales and Marketing Expenses. Our sales and marketing expenses consist principally of personnel and related overhead costs for our sales team and their support personnel, travel and entertainment expenses, and other selling costs including sales collaterals and trade shows. We anticipate sales and marketing expenses to increase as we work on generating higher revenues and marketing additional offerings.

General and Administrative Expenses. General and administrative expenses consist principally of personnel-related expenses, professional fees, such as legal, accounting and business consultants, insurance costs, and other general expenses. We expect that our general and administrative expenses will increase as we expand our business operations. We further expect that general and administrative expenses will increase due to increased information technology, legal, insurance, accounting and financial reporting expenses associated with expanded commercial activities.

Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates

Our management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is based on our financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. The preparation of our financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates based on historical experience and make various assumptions, which management believes to be reasonable under the circumstances, which form the basis for judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

75


The notes to our audited financial statements, which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report, contain a summary of our significant accounting policies. We consider the following accounting policies critical to the understanding of the results of our operations:

Revenue recognition;

stock-based compensation; and

going concern.

Revenue Recognition and Related Reserves

Our commercial revenues are generated from diagnostic services provided to patient’s physicians and billed to third-party insurance payers such as managed care organizations, Medicare and Medicaid and patients for any deductibles, coinsurance or copayments that may be due. We recognize revenue in accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or ASC 606, which requires that an entity recognize revenue when it transfers promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.

Contracts

For our commercial revenues, while we market directly to physicians, our customer is the patient. Patients do not enter into direct agreements with us, however, a patient’s insurance coverage requirements would dictate whether or not any portion of the cost of the tests would be patient responsibility. Accordingly, we establish a contract with a commercial patient in accordance with other customary business practices, as follows:

 

Approval of a contract is established via the order and accession, which are submitted by the patient’s physician.

We are obligated to perform our diagnostic services upon receipt of a sample from a physician, and the patient and/or applicable payer are obligated to reimburse us for services rendered based on the patient’s insurance benefits.

Payment terms are a function of a patient’s existing insurance benefits, including the impact of coverage decisions with CMS and applicable reimbursement contracts established between us and payers, unless the patient is a self-pay patient, whereby we bill the patient directly after the services are provided.

Once we deliver a patient’s assay result to the ordering physician, the contract with a patient has commercial substance, as we are legally able to collect payment and bill an insurer and/or patient, regardless of payer contract status or patient insurance benefit status.

Consideration associated with commercial revenues is considered variable and constrained until fully adjudicated, with net revenues recorded to the extent that it is probable that a significant reversal will not occur.

Our development services revenues are supported by contractual agreements and generated from assay development services provided to entities, as well as certain other diagnostic services provided to physicians, and revenues are recognized upon delivery of the performance obligations in the contract.

Performance Obligations

A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct good or service, or a bundle of goods or services, to the customer. For commercial and development services revenues, our contracts have a single performance obligation, which is satisfied upon rendering of services, which culminates in the delivery of a patient’s assay result(s) to the ordering physician or entity. The duration of time between test order receipt and delivery of a valid assay result to the ordering physician or entity is typically less than two weeks, and for our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing, typically 48 hours or less. Accordingly, we elected the practical expedient and therefore, we do not disclose the value of unsatisfied performance obligations.

Transaction Price

The transaction price is the amount of consideration that we expect to collect in exchange for transferring promised goods or services to a customer, excluding amounts collected on behalf of third parties, such as sales taxes. The consideration expected from a contract with a customer may include fixed amounts, variable amounts, or both. Our gross commercial revenues billed, and corresponding gross accounts receivable, are subject to estimated deductions for such allowances and reserves to arrive at reported net revenues, which relate to differences between amounts billed and corresponding amounts estimated to be subsequently collected, and is deemed to be variable although the variability is not explicitly stated in any contract. Rather,

76


the implied variability is due to several factors, such as the payment history or lack thereof for third-party payers, reimbursement rate changes for contracted and non-contracted payers, any patient co-payments, deductibles or compliance incentives, the existence of secondary payers and claim denials. We estimate the amount of variable consideration using the most likely amount approach to estimating variable consideration for third-party payers, including direct patient bills, whereby the estimated reimbursement for services are established by payment histories on CPT codes for each payer, or similar payer types. When no payment history is available, the value of the account is estimated at Medicare rates, with additional other payer-specific reserves taken as appropriate. Collection periods for billings on commercial revenues range from less than 30 days to several months, depending on the contracted or non-contracted nature of the payer, among other variables. The estimates of amounts that will ultimately be realized from commercial diagnostic services for non-contracted payers require significant judgment by management.

We limit the amount of variable consideration included in the transaction price to the unconstrained portion of such consideration. Revenue is recognized up to the amount of variable consideration that is not subject to a significant reversal until additional information is obtained or the uncertainty associated with the additional payments or refunds is subsequently resolved. Differences between original estimates and subsequent revisions, including final settlements, represent changes in the estimate of variable consideration and are included in the period in which such revisions are made. We monitor our estimates of transaction price to depict conditions that exist at each reporting date. If we subsequently determine that we will collect more consideration than we originally estimated for a contract with a customer, we will account for the change as an increase in the estimate of the transaction price in the period identified as an increase to revenue. Similarly, if we subsequently determine that the amount it expects to collect from a customer is less than it originally estimated, we will generally account for the change as a decrease in the estimate of the transaction price as a decrease to revenue, provided that such downward adjustment does not result in a significant reversal of cumulative revenue recognized. Revenue recognized from changes in transaction prices was not significant during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020. Further, although the Company believes that its estimate for contractual allowances and other reserves is appropriate, it is possible that the Company will experience an impact on cash collections as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allocate Transaction Price

For our commercial revenues, the entire transaction price is allocated to the single performance obligation contained in a contract with a customer. For our development services revenues, the contracted transaction price is allocated to each single performance obligation contained in a contract with a customer as performed.

Point-in-time Recognition

Our single performance obligation is satisfied at a point in time, and that point in time is defined as the date a patient’s successful assay result is delivered to the patient’s ordering physician or entity. We consider this date to be the time at which the patient obtains control of the promised diagnostic assay service. 

Contract Balances

The timing of revenue recognition, billings and cash collections results in accounts receivable recorded in our balance sheets. Generally, billing occurs subsequent to delivery of a patient’s test result to the ordering physician or entity, resulting in an account receivable.  

Practical Expedients

We do not adjust the transaction price for the effects of a significant financing component, as at contract inception, we expect the collection cycle to be one year or less.

We expense sales commissions when incurred because the amortization period is one year or less, which are recorded within sales and marketing expenses.  

We incur certain other costs that are incurred regardless of whether a contract is obtained. Such costs are primarily related to legal services and patient communications. These costs are expensed as incurred and recorded within general and administrative expenses. 

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Stock-Based Compensation

We account for stock-based compensation under the provisions of ASC Topic 718, Compensation—Stock Compensation, which requires the measurement and recognition of compensation expense for all stock-based awards made to employees and directors based on estimated fair values on the grant date. We estimate the fair value of stock option awards on the date of grant using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, or Black-Scholes valuation model. The fair value of RSUs is determined by the price of our common stock on the date of grant. The value of the portion of the award that is ultimately expected to vest is recognized as expense over the requisite service periods using the straight-line method. We estimate forfeitures at the time of grant and revise our estimates in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from those estimates.

We account for stock-based compensation awards to non-employees in accordance with ASC Topic 505-50, Equity-Based Payments to Non-Employees. Under ASC 505-50, we determine the fair value of the warrants or stock-based compensation awards granted as either the fair value of the consideration received, or the fair value of the equity instruments issued, whichever is more reliably measurable. All issuances of equity instruments issued to non-employees as consideration for goods or services received by us are accounted for based on the fair value of the equity instruments issued. These awards are recorded in expense and additional paid-in capital in stockholders’ equity over the applicable service periods based on the fair value of the options at the end of each period.

Calculating the fair value of stock-based awards requires the input of highly subjective assumptions into the Black-Scholes valuation model. Stock-based compensation expense is calculated using our best estimate, which involves inherent uncertainties, and the application of our management’s judgment. Significant estimates include the fair value of our common stock at the date of grant for awards granted prior to our initial public offering, the expected life of the stock option, stock price volatility, risk-free interest rate and forfeiture rate.

Going Concern

We assess and determine our ability to continue as a going concern under the provisions of ASC Topic 205-40, Presentation of Financial Statements—Going Concern, which requires us to evaluate whether there are conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date that our annual and interim financial statements are issued. Certain additional financial statement disclosures are required if such conditions or events are identified. If and when an entity’s liquidation becomes imminent, financial statements should be prepared under the liquidation basis of accounting.

Determining the extent, if any, to which conditions or events raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, or the extent to which mitigating plans sufficiently alleviate any such substantial doubt, as well as whether or not liquidation is imminent, requires significant judgment by us. We have determined that it is not probable based on projected cash flows that substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern exists for the one-year period following the date that the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020 were issued.

Reverse Split

In September 2020, pursuant to approval by our stockholders and board of directors, we filed an amendment to our Certificate of Amendment to our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation to effect a one-for-ten reverse stock split of our outstanding common stock. All references to share and per share amounts in this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been restated to reflect the one-for-ten reverse stock split, except for the authorized number of shares of the Company’s common stock of 150,000,000 shares, which was not affected by the one-for-ten reverse stock split.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and the extent to which COVID-19 may impact our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.  We estimate that the COVID-19 pandemic led to an approximate 15 to 25% decline in commercial volume from current customers, and also impacted opportunities for us to gain new customers with the closing of many physician offices and labs.  We are continuing to vigilantly monitor the situation with our primary focus on the health and safety of our employees and clients.

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In April 2020, we announced that we verified a COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test and that we would begin accepting physician-ordered testing requests.  The testing volume was initially limited by the national shortage of specimen collection kits.  On June 22, 2020, we announced the availability of 10,000 specimen collection kits for COVID-19 testing for physician ordering.  Collected specimens are shipped to our high-complexity, CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited and BSL-2 safety level laboratory in San Diego with results returned to ordering physicians in an estimated 24 to 48 hours.  We have received more than 300,000 samples for processing through our RT-PCR technology at our laboratory to date and we believe that performing highly accurate RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 will be an important aspect of our business until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

On June 3, 2020, we entered into a development agreement with Aegea focused on the co-development by Biocept and Aegea of a highly sensitive PCR-based assay designed by Aegea for detecting the COVID-19 virus.  In early March 2021 we announced a supply agreement with Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc. for a new PCR-based COVID-19 assay kit designed by Aegea and co-developed by Aegea and Biocept.  Under the supply agreement, Aegea will supply the COVID-19 assay kit to Biocept for validation in its CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited high-complexity molecular lab and subsequent commercialization of a laboratory developed test (LDT).

Results of Operations

Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2020

The following table sets forth certain information concerning our results of operations for the periods shown:

 

 

 

For the year ended December 31,

 

 

Change

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

 

$

5,529

 

 

$

27,461

 

 

$

21,932

 

 

 

397

%

Cost of revenues

 

 

10,978

 

 

 

21,337

 

 

 

10,359

 

 

 

94

%

Research and development expenses

 

 

4,697

 

 

 

5,220

 

 

 

523

 

 

 

11

%

General and administrative expenses

 

 

6,970

 

 

 

9,973

 

 

 

3,003

 

 

 

43

%

Sales and marketing expenses

 

 

5,941

 

 

 

6,400

 

 

 

459

 

 

 

8

%

Loss from operations

 

 

(23,057

)

 

 

(15,469

)

 

 

7,588

 

 

 

(33

%)

Interest expense, net

 

 

(250

)

 

 

(236

)

 

 

14

 

 

 

(6

%)

Warrant inducement expense

 

 

(1,831

)

 

 

(2,102

)

 

 

(271

)

 

 

15

%

Loss before income taxes

 

 

(25,138

)

 

 

(17,807

)

 

 

7,331

 

 

 

(29

%)

Income tax expense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

%

Net loss

 

 

(25,138

)

 

 

(17,807

)

 

 

7,331

 

 

 

(29

%)

Deemed dividend related to warrants down round provision

 

 

(122

)

 

 

(3

)

 

 

119

 

 

 

(98

%)

Net loss attributable to common shareholders

 

$

(25,260

)

 

$

(17,810

)

 

$

7,450

 

 

 

(29

%)

The composition of the Company’s net revenues recognized during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, disaggregated by source and timing of recognition, are as follows:

 

 

For the year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

Net commercial revenues recognized upon delivery

 

$

5,116,210

 

 

$

26,863,292

 

Development services revenues recognized upon delivery

 

 

212,344

 

 

 

177,286

 

Kits and Blood Collection Tubes (BCT)

 

 

200,012

 

 

 

420,820

 

Total net revenues

 

$

5,528,566

 

 

$

27,461,398

 

79


 

Net Revenues

Net revenues were approximately $27,461,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared with approximately $5,529,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, an increase of $21,932,000, or 397%, with the increase attributable to significant RT-PCR COVID-19 testing volumes during the year ended December 31, 2020.  

Revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 included $26.9 million in commercial test revenue, which includes $23.3 million attributable to RT-PCR COVID-19 testing, $177,000 in development services test revenue and $421,000 in revenue for distributed products, Target Selector™ RUO kits, CEE-Sure® blood collection tubes and payments from Aegea Biotechnologies, Inc. for services associated with the development of a COVID-19 assay.  Revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 included $5.1 million in commercial test revenue, $212,000 in development services test revenue and $200,000 from distributed products. The increase in net revenues is due to an increase in overall accession volumes, which is attributable to the COVID-19 testing business, which was launched during the second quarter of 2020, resulting in approximately 188,000 delivered accessions during the year ended December 31, 2020.  

The net estimated revenue per commercial accession delivered during the year ended December 31, 2020 was $140, based on 191,461 commercial accessions delivered, while during the year ended December 31, 2019 it was approximately $1,202, based on 4,256 commercial accessions delivered.  The decrease in net estimated revenue per commercial accession delivered as compared to the prior year is primarily the result of lower net revenue per accession delivered from the portion of our accession volume related to our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing and a reduced number of biomarkers reported for each oncology case. Total accessions received for the year ended December 31, 2020 were 200,326, inclusive of 199,268 commercial accessions.

The following table sets forth certain information regarding commercial accessions delivered during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, as follows:

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

Change

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

# / $

 

 

%

 

# Commercial accessions delivered

 

4,256

 

 

 

191,461

 

 

 

187,205

 

 

See Note (1)

 

$ Value estimated per commercial accession delivered

$

1,202

 

 

$

140

 

 

$

(1,062

)

 

 

(88

%)

*(1) Not meaningful due to COVID-19 volume.

Additionally, overall development revenues stayed relatively flat as compared to the same period in the prior year. The net revenue per development services accession increased primarily due to the higher number of biomarkers ordered during the current period as compared to the same period in the prior year, partially offset by a lower number of development services accessions delivered as follows:  

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

Change

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

#

 

 

%

 

# Development services cases delivered

 

509

 

 

 

459

 

 

 

(50

)

 

 

(10

%)

$ Value estimated per development services accession

   delivered

$

361

 

 

$

386

 

 

$

25

 

 

 

7

%

Costs and Expenses

Cost of Revenues. Cost of revenues was approximately $21,337,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared with approximately $10,978,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, representing an increase of $10,359,000, or 94% primarily resulting from increased revenues related to our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing business.  As we continue to leverage the fixed components of our costs, our cost of revenues as a percentage of net revenues decreased by approximately 120.8% for the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared to the same period in the prior year. Cost of revenues are comprised of, but not limited to, expenses related to personnel costs, materials, shipping and other direct costs, as well as equipment depreciation and software amortization expenses.

Research and Development Expenses. Research and development expenses were approximately $5,220,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared with approximately $4,697,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, an increase of $523,000, or 11%. The increase was primarily attributable to costs related to launching our RT-PCR COVID-19 testing

80


during the year December 31, 2020, ongoing development and validation costs related to oncology liquid biopsy panels and laboratory testing automation projects. Research and development expenses are comprised of, but not limited to, personnel costs, material, shipping and other direct costs, computer and laboratory equipment maintenance and facility related costs.

General and Administrative Expenses. General and administrative expenses were approximately $9,973,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared with approximately $6,970,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, an increase of $3,003,000, or 43%. The increase was due to reporting a department previously under sales and marketing under general and administrative costs beginning in mid-2019, as well as higher investor relations expenses, directors and officer’s liability insurance, consulting and legal costs as compared to the prior year. General and administrative expenses are comprised of, but not limited to, personnel costs, facilities, depreciation, repairs and maintenance costs, stock-based compensation expenses, patent and legal costs, accounting and audit fees, as well as insurance, office and other expenses.

Sales and Marketing Expenses. Sales and marketing expenses were approximately $6,400,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared with approximately $5,941,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, an increase of $459,000, or 8%. The increase was primarily attributable to higher sales commissions due to higher revenues during the period. Sales and marketing expenses are comprised of, but not limited to, personnel costs, trade show and other marketing related expenses, as well as office and other costs.

Interest Expenses.  Interest expenses were $236,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to $250,000 for the year ended December 31, 2019, representing a reduction of $14,000 or 6%.  Interest expenses are comprised of interest incurred related to finance leases used to obtain equipment.

Warrant Inducement and Other Expenses.  Warrant inducement and other expenses were approximately $2,102,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared with approximately $1,831,000 for the same period in 2019, an increase of $271,000, or 15%.  The increase was due to a higher fair value recognized in the first quarter of 2020 for the inducement warrants issued in January 2020 and warrant modification costs than for the inducement warrants issued in the May 2019 in connection with the warrant exercise offering.

Income Tax Expense

Over the past several years we have generated operating losses in all jurisdictions in which we may be subject to income taxes. As a result, we have accumulated significant net operating losses and other deferred tax assets. Because of our history of losses and the uncertainty as to the realization of those deferred tax assets, a full valuation allowance has been recognized. We do not expect to report a provision for income taxes until we have a history of earnings, if ever, that would support the realization of our deferred tax assets.

We have not completed a study to assess whether an ownership change has occurred or whether there have been multiple ownership changes since our formation, due to the complexity and cost associated with such a study, and the fact that there may be additional ownership changes in the future, however, we believe multiple ownership changes likely occurred. As a result, we have estimated that the use of our net operating loss is limited and the remaining net operating loss carryforwards and research and development credits we estimate can be used in the future remain fully offset by a valuation allowance to reduce the net asset to zero.

Inflation

We do not believe that inflation has had a material adverse impact on our business or operating results during the periods presented.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

We are actively working to improve our financial position and enable the growth of our business, by raising new capital and generating revenues.

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Cash Flows

Our net cash flow from operating, investing and financing activities for the periods below were as follows:

 

 

 

For the year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash provided by/(used in):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

 

$

(23,049

)

 

$

(19,787

)

Investing activities

 

 

(735

)

 

 

(867

)

Financing activities

 

 

29,663