SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☒||QUARTERLY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the quarterly period ended March 31, 2021
|☐||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: 001-36783
BELLICUM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification Number)
3730 Kirby Drive, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77098
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share||BLCM||The Nasdaq Capital Market|
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,”
and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
As of May 10, 2021, there were 8,397,803 outstanding shares of Bellicum’s common stock, par value, $0.01 per share.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I. FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Item 1. Financial Statements
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
(in thousands, except par value and share data)
|March 31, 2021||December 31, 2020|
Cash and cash equivalents
|$||28,082 ||$||35,495 |
|Restricted cash||1,501 ||1,501 |
Accounts receivable, interest and other receivables
|375 ||2 |
Prepaid expenses and other current assets
|1,481 ||802 |
|Assets held for sale||— ||1,643 |
Total current assets
|31,439 ||39,443 |
Operating lease right-of-use assets
|— ||645 |
Property and equipment, net
|63 ||189 |
|5 ||307 |
|$||31,507 ||$||40,584 |
LIABILITIES, REDEEMABLE PREFERRED STOCK AND STOCKHOLDERS’ DEFICIT
|$||669 ||$||891 |
Accrued expenses and other current liabilities
|5,120 ||4,165 |
Warrant derivative liability
|11,863 ||10,345 |
Private placement option liability
|8,622 ||7,803 |
Current portion of lease liabilities
|31 ||825 |
|Liabilities held for sale||— ||672 |
Total current liabilities
|26,305 ||24,701 |
Long-term lease liabilities
|27 ||344 |
|26,332 ||25,045 |
Commitments and contingencies
Redeemable preferred stock: $0.01 par value; 10,000,000 shares authorized
Series 1 redeemable convertible preferred stock, $0.01 par value, 1,517,500 shares authorized at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, 452,000 shares issued and outstanding at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020
|18,036 ||18,036 |
Common stock, $0.01 par value; 80,000,000 shares authorized at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, 8,386,019 shares issued and 8,318,273 shares outstanding at March 31, 2021; 8,385,650 shares issued and 8,317,904 shares outstanding at December 31, 2020
|84 ||84 |
Treasury stock: 67,746 shares held at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020
Additional paid-in capital
|544,464 ||543,561 |
Accumulated other comprehensive loss
Total stockholders’ deficit
Total liabilities, preferred stock and stockholders' deficit
|$||31,507 ||$||40,584 |
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these unaudited consolidated financial statements.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive (Loss) Income
(in thousands, except share and per share amounts)
Three Months Ended March 31,
Research and development
|6,460 ||10,448 |
General and administrative
|2,012 ||4,171 |
Total operating expenses
|8,472 ||14,619 |
|Other operating expense|
|Loss on lease termination||464 ||— |
Loss from operations
Other income (expense):
|10 ||354 |
Change in fair value of warrant and private placement option liabilities
Total other (expense) income
Net (loss) income
|Less: undistributed earnings to participating securities||— ||(12,084)|
|Net (loss) income attributable to common shareholders||$||(11,267)||$||5,492 |
Net (loss) income per common share attributable to common shareholders, basic
|Net (loss) income per common share attributable to common shareholders, diluted||$||(1.12)||$||1.09 |
Weighted-average shares outstanding, basic
|10,034,970 ||5,039,695 |
|Weighted-average shares outstanding, diluted||10,034,970 ||5,040,056 |
Net (loss) income
Other comprehensive (loss) income:
Foreign currency translation adjustment
Comprehensive (loss) income
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these unaudited consolidated financial statements.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Redeemable Convertible Preferred Stock and Stockholders’ Deficit
(amounts in thousands, except share data)
Three Months Ended March 31, 2021
|Series 1 Preferred||Common Stock||Treasury Stock||Additional Paid-In Capital||Accumulated Deficit||Accumulated Other Comprehensive Loss||Total Stockholders' Deficit|
Balance, December 31, 2020
|452,000 ||$||18,036 ||8,385,650 ||$||84 ||(67,746)||$||(5,056)||$||543,561 ||$||(540,747)||$||(339)||$||(2,497)|
|Share-based compensation||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||903 ||— ||— ||903 |
|Exercise of restricted stock unit awards||— ||— ||369 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Comprehensive income||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||(11,267)||— ||(11,267)|
Balance, March 31, 2021
|452,000 ||$||18,036 ||8,386,019 ||$||84 ||(67,746)||$||(5,056)||$||544,464 ||$||(552,014)||$||(339)||$||(12,861)|
Three Months Ended March 31, 2020
|Series 1 Preferred||Common Stock||Treasury Stock||Additional Paid-In Capital||Accumulated Deficit||Accumulated Other Comprehensive Loss||Total Stockholders' Deficit|
Balance, December 31, 2019
|538,000 ||$||21,468 ||5,076,593 ||$||507 ||(67,746)||$||(5,056)||$||511,684 ||$||(533,025)||$||(327)||$||(26,217)|
|1-for-10 reverse stock split||— ||— ||— ||(457)||— ||— ||457 ||— ||— ||— |
|Share-based compensation||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||1,323 ||— ||— ||1,323 |
|Issuance of common stock upon vesting of restricted stock units||— ||— ||1,045 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Conversion of redeemable convertible preferred stock into common stock||(4,000)||(160)||40,000 ||1 ||— ||— ||159 ||— ||— ||160 |
|Comprehensive loss||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||17,576 ||(13)||17,563 |
Balance, March 31, 2020
|534,000 ||$||21,308 ||5,117,638 ||$||51 ||(67,746)||$||(5,056)||$||513,623 ||$||(515,449)||$||(340)||$||(7,171)|
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these unaudited consolidated financial statements.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
Three Months Ended March 31,
Cash flows from operating activities:
Net (loss) income
|Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:|
|903 ||1,323 |
Depreciation and amortization expense
|47 ||537 |
Change in fair value of warrant and private placement option liabilities
Amortization of right-of-use assets
|33 ||85 |
Accretion of lease liability
Amortization of deferred issuance costs
|— ||214 |
| Loss on lease termination, net||464 ||— |
Changes in operating assets and liabilities:
Accounts receivable, interest and other receivables
|— ||257 |
Prepaid expenses and other assets
Accrued liabilities and other
Net cash used in operating activities
Cash flows from investing activities:
Proceeds from sale of property and equipment
|900 ||— |
Purchases of property and equipment
Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities
Cash flows from financing activities:
|Payment on debt||— ||(2,000)|
Payment on financing lease obligations
Net cash used in financing activities
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash
Net change in cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of period
|36,996 ||93,816 |
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of period
|$||29,583 ||$||75,494 |
Supplemental cash flow information:
Cash paid during the period for interest
|$||— ||$||792 |
Non-cash investing and financing activities:
| Conversion of redeemable preferred stock into common stock||$||— ||$||160 |
| Reclassification of property and equipment, net to assets held for sale||$||— ||$||199 |
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these unaudited consolidated financial statements.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Notes to Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
NOTE 1 - ORGANIZATION, BASIS OF PRESENTATION AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Bellicum”) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel cellular immunotherapies for various forms of cancer. Bellicum is devoting substantially all of its present efforts to developing next-generation CAR-T product candidates in cellular immunotherapy.
Bellicum has two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Bellicum Pharma Limited, a private limited company organized under the laws of the United Kingdom, and Bellicum Pharma GmbH, a private limited liability company organized under German law. Both were formed for the purpose of developing product candidates in Europe. Bellicum, Bellicum Pharma Limited and Bellicum Pharma GmbH are collectively referred to herein as the “Company”. All intercompany balances and transactions among the consolidated entities have been eliminated in consolidation.
Operating segments are identified as components of an enterprise about which separate discrete financial information is available for evaluation by the chief operating decision-maker. The Company has determined that it has one operating and reporting segment as it allocates resources and assesses financial performance on a consolidated basis. The Company’s chief operating decision maker is its Chief Executive Officer who manages operations and reviews the financial information as a single operating segment for purposes of allocating resources and evaluating its financial performance.
Reverse Stock Split
On February 5, 2020, the Company filed a Certificate of Amendment of the Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware to (i) effect a reverse stock split of all issued and outstanding shares of the Company’s common stock at a ratio of 1-for-10 and (ii) reduce the number of authorized shares of the Company’s common stock from 200,000,000 to 40,000,000. The accompanying consolidated financial statements and notes to the consolidated financial statements gives retroactive effect to the reverse stock split for all periods presented.
On June 15, 2020, the Company filed with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware a Second Certificate of Amendment to the Company’s Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation to increase the authorized number of shares of the Company’s common stock from 40,000,000 shares to 80,000,000 shares
Basis of Presentation
The accompanying unaudited condensed financial statements have been prepared in conformity with the authoritative U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) for interim financial information and pursuant to Form 10-Q and Article 10 of Regulation S-X of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Accordingly, the accompanying unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements do not include all of the information and notes required by GAAP for complete financial statements. The unaudited interim financial statements reflect all adjustments which, in the opinion of management, are necessary for a fair statement of the results for the periods presented. All such adjustments are of a normal and recurring nature. The unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2020 has been derived from the audited consolidated financial statements at that date but does not include all information and footnotes required by GAAP for complete financial statements. The operating results presented in these unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future periods. These unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, as filed with the SEC on March 31, 2021.
The accompanying interim condensed financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, which assumes that the Company will continue to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business. However, as of March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, the Company had an accumulated deficit of $552.0 million and $540.7 million, respectively, and at March 31, 2021, the Company had cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of approximately $29.6 million. Based on the Company’s current business plan, management believes that existing cash and cash equivalents, revenues and other cash inflows will be insufficient to fund its operations within one year from the date these financial statements are issued, and therefore, substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern exists. This basis of accounting contemplates the recovery of the Company’s assets and the satisfaction of the Company’s liabilities and commitments in the normal course of business and does not include any adjustments to reflect the possible future effects of the recoverability and classification of recorded asset amounts or amounts and classification of liabilities that might be necessary should the Company be unable to continue as a going concern. The Company has recorded losses from operations since its inception and if the Company does not successfully obtain regulatory approval and commercialize any of its product candidates, the Company will not be able to achieve profitability.
The Company is subject to risks common to companies in the biotechnology industry and the future success of the Company is dependent on its ability to successfully complete the development of, and obtain regulatory approval for, its product candidates, manage the growth of the organization, obtain additional financing necessary in order to develop, launch and commercialize its product candidates, and compete successfully with other companies in its industry.
The Company believes that there is substantial doubt that its current capital resources, which consist of cash and cash equivalents are sufficient to fund operations through at least the next twelve months from the date the accompanying interim financial statements are issued based on the expected cash burn rate. The Company may be required to raise additional capital to fund future operations through the sale of additional equity, incurrence of debt, the entry into licensing or collaboration agreements with partners, grants or other sources of financing. Sufficient funds may not be available to the Company at all or on attractive terms when needed from equity or debt financings. If the Company is unable to obtain additional funding from these or other sources when needed, or to the extent needed, it may be necessary to significantly reduce its controllable and variable expenditures and current rate of spending through reductions in staff and delaying, scaling back, or suspending certain research and development, sales and marketing programs and other operational goals. Moreover, if we do not obtain such additional funds, there could be substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern and increased risk of insolvency, which could result in a total loss of investment to our stockholders and other security holders.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of the interim condensed consolidated financial statements in accordance with GAAP requires management to make certain estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, and expenses. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
Significant Accounting Policies
There have been no significant changes to the accounting policies during the three months ended March 31, 2021, as compared to the significant accounting policies described in Note 1 of the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” in the Company’s audited financial statements included in its Annual Report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.
Cash, Cash Equivalents and Restricted Cash
The Company considers all short-term, highly liquid investments with maturity of three months or less from the date of purchase and that can be liquidated without prior notice or penalty, to be cash equivalents.
The following table provides a reconciliation of cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash reported within the balance sheets that sum to the total of the same such amounts shown in the statements of cash flows.
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||December 31, 2020|
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||28,082 ||$||35,495 |
|Restricted cash||1,501 ||1,501 |
|Total cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash shown in the statements of cash flows||$||29,583 ||$||36,996 |
In connection with the closing of the Asset Purchase Agreement with M.D. Anderson on April 14, 2020, $1.5 million of the cash proceeds received are subject to certain escrow provisions and recorded as restricted cash. The funds are required to be held for a period of up to 18 months subsequent to the April 14, 2020 closing date and are listed as Restricted cash at March 31, 2021, and December 31, 2020.
Disposition of Assets and Liabilities Held for Sale and Held for Use
In the fourth quarter of 2020, in connection with the Company's restructuring plan, Management elected to seek an exit to its leased R&D facility in Houston, Texas. As a result of this decision, the Company reclassified the assets and liabilities associated with the leased facility as held for sale. The reclassified assets and liabilities included a right-of-use asset of $0.5 million, property and equipment of $2.3 million and the related lease liability of $0.7 million. Based on the cost to exit the lease and the net realizable value of the related assets the Company recognized an impairment charge of $1.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The disposal of the assets and liabilities associated with the facility was completed on February 26, 2021. Under the terms of the agreement a third party assumed the lease for the facility. In addition, the third party paid $1.1 million to the Company for substantially all of the property, and equipment associated with the location. The consideration included $0.9 million in cash and an unsecured promissory note for $0.2 million.
On March 15, 2021 the Company entered an agreement to terminate its sub-lease of the South San Francisco office space contingent upon consent of the prime lessor. Under the terms of the agreement, the company agreed to pay a lease termination fee of $0.9 million while the security deposit of $0.2 million will be returned to the Company. The decision to exit this lease reflects the ability of the Company to carry on administrative function remotely. On March 26, 2021, the Company met all of the conditions of the agreement and disposed of substantially all of the assets and liabilities associated with the lease including the a right-of-use asset of $0.6 million, leased equipment with net book value less than $0.1 million, and the related lease liability of $1 million. The Company recognized a loss on termination of $0.5 million during the three months ended March 31, 2021.
Accrued Expenses and Other Current Liabilities
Accrued expenses and other liabilities consist of the following:
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||December 31, 2020|
|Accrued payroll||$||255 ||$||1,029 |
|Accrued patient treatment costs||1,345 ||899 |
|Accrued manufacturing costs||24 ||24 |
|Accrued professional services||404 ||294 |
|Accrued lease termination fee||895 ||— |
|Accrued other||2,197 ||1,919 |
|Total accrued expenses and other current liabilities ||$||5,120 ||$||4,165 |
Freestanding warrants are classified as liabilities in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets as they are exercisable for multiple underlying instruments that are potentially redeemable. The Company accounts for these warrants at fair value on the date of issuance and are subject to re-measurement to fair value at each balance sheet date. Any change in fair value is recognized as a component of other income (expense) on the accompanying condensed consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive (loss) income. The Company will continue to adjust the liability for changes in fair value until the earlier of the exercise or expiration of the warrants or a change in control, as defined. The warrants are freely exercisable at any time from the issuance date until the expiration date, provided exercise does not cause a warrant holder to exceed a pre-determined beneficial ownership limit.
The Company estimates the fair value of these liabilities using the Black-Scholes valuation technique which utilizes assumptions including (i) the fair value of the underlying stock at the valuation measurement date, (ii) volatility of the price of the underlying stock, (iii) the expected term, and (iv) risk-free interest rates.
Private Placement Option
The Company has entered into a security purchase agreement that contains a call option on preferred shares that are puttable outside the control of the Company. The Company recorded the option as a liability and measured the fair value of the option at the time of issuance. The Company will re-measure the option to fair value at each balance sheet date and record changes in fair value in other income (expense) in the accompanying condensed consolidated statement of operations and comprehensive income (loss) at each reporting period. Offering expenses arising from the issuance of the private placement option were expensed as incurred.
The Company estimates the fair value of these liabilities using a binomial lattice model, which utilizes assumptions including (i) the fair value of the underlying stock at the valuation measurement date, (ii) volatility of the price of the underlying stock, (iii) the expected term, and (iv) risk-free interest rates.
Preferred shares issued by the Company that are subject to mandatory redemption are classified as liability instruments in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets and are measured at fair value at the date of issuance. Conditionally redeemable preferred shares (including preferred shares that feature redemption rights that are either within the control of the holder or subject to redemption upon the occurrence of uncertain events not solely within the Company’s control) are classified within mezzanine equity in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets. At all other times, preferred shares are classified within stockholders’ deficit.
At the inception of a contractual arrangement, the Company determines whether the contract contains a lease by assessing whether there is an identified asset and whether the contract conveys the right to control the use of the identified asset in exchange for consideration over a period of time. If both criteria are met, upon lease commencement, the Company records a lease liability which represents the Company’s obligation to make lease payments arising from the lease, and a corresponding right-of-use (“ROU”) asset which represents the Company’s right to use an underlying asset during the lease term.
Operating leases are recognized as ROU assets and operating lease liabilities on the balance sheet based on the present value of the future minimum lease payments over the lease term at commencement date calculated using the Company's incremental borrowing rate applicable to the underlying asset unless the implicit rate is readily determinable. Any lease incentives received are deferred and recorded as a reduction of the ROU asset and amortized over the term of the lease. Rent expense, comprised of amortization of the ROU asset and the implicit interest accreted on the operating lease liability, is recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term. The Company determines the lease term as the noncancellable period of the lease and may include options to extend or terminate the lease when it is reasonably certain that the Company will exercise such options. Leases with a term of 12 months or less are not recognized on the balance sheets.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Fair value is defined as the exchange price that would be received for an asset or an exit price paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants in a principal market on the measurement date.
Accounting standards include disclosure requirements around fair values used for certain financial instruments and establish a fair value hierarchy. The three-tier hierarchy defines a three-tiered valuation hierarchy for disclosures that prioritizes valuation inputs into three levels based on the extent to which inputs used in measuring fair value are observable in the market, as described further in Note 2.
Observable inputs reflect readily obtainable data from independent sources, and unobservable inputs reflect the Company’s market assumptions.
These inputs are classified into the following hierarchy:
Level 1 Inputs - quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets that the reporting entity has the ability to access at the measurement date;
Level 2 Inputs - inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are observable for the asset, either directly or indirectly; and
Level 3 Inputs - unobservable inputs for the assets.
The categorization of a financial instrument within the valuation hierarchy is based upon the lowest level of input that is significant to the fair value measurement.
The Company believes the recorded values of its financial instruments, including cash and cash equivalents, accounts payable, and accrued liabilities approximate their fair values due to the short-term nature of these instruments.
Financial Instruments and Credit Risks
Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to credit risk include cash and cash equivalents and accounts receivable. Cash is deposited in demand accounts in federally insured domestic institutions to minimize risk. Insurance is provided through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Security Investor Protection Corporation. Although the balances in these accounts exceed the federally insured limit from time to time, the Company has not incurred losses related to these deposits.
Equity Issuance Costs
Equity issuance costs represent costs paid to third parties in order to obtain equity financing. The costs related to preferred and common stock have been netted against the proceeds of the equity issuances.
Net Income (Loss) per Share of Common Stock Attributable to Common Stockholders
Basic and diluted net (loss) income per share attributable to common stockholders is based on the more dilutive method of either the two-class method or the treasury stock method. Basic net (loss) income per share attributable to common stockholders is calculated by dividing the net (loss) income attributable to common stockholders by the weighted-average number of shares of common stock outstanding during the period without consideration for common stock equivalents. Undistributed earnings allocated to participating securities are subtracted from net income in determining net income attributable to common stockholders. Diluted net (loss) income per share gives effect to dilutive stock options, warrants and other potentially dilutive common stock equivalents outstanding during the period, assuming the exercise of all “in-the-money” common stock equivalents based on the average market price during the period.
For warrants that are recorded as a liability in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets, the calculation of diluted loss per share requires that, to the extent the average market price of the underlying shares for the reporting period exceeds the exercise price of the warrants and the presumed exercise of the warrants is dilutive to loss per share for the period, an adjustment is made to net loss used in the calculation to remove the change in fair value of the warrants from the numerator for the period. Likewise, an adjustment to the denominator is required to reflect the related dilutive shares, if any, under the treasury stock method.
The following table sets forth the computation of basic and diluted earnings per share:
|(in thousands, except share and per share amounts)||March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
|Net (loss) income per share - basic:|
|Net (loss) income||$||(11,267)||$||17,576 |
|Less: undistributed earnings to participating securities||— ||(12,084)|
|Net (loss) income attributed to common shareholders||$||(11,267)||$||5,492 |
|Weighted average shares for basic net (loss) income per share||10,034,970||5,039,695|
|Basic net (loss) income per share||$||(1.12)||$||1.09 |
|Net (loss) income per share - diluted:|
|Net (loss) income attributed to common shareholders||$||(11,267)||$||5,492 |
|Weighted average shares for basic net (loss) income per share||10,034,970||5,039,695|
|Effect of dilutive securities:|
|Stock options and restricted stock units||—||361|
|Weighted average shares for diluted net (loss) income per share||10,034,970||5,040,056|
|Diluted net (loss) income per share||$||(1.12)||$||1.09 |
The following outstanding shares of common stock equivalents were excluded from the computations of diluted net income (loss) per share of common stock attributable to common stockholders for the periods presented as the effect of including such securities would be anti-dilutive.
|March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
|Common Stock Equivalents:||Number of Shares|
|Redeemable convertible series 1 preferred stock||452,000 ||— |
|Warrants to purchase common stock||11,616,080 ||— |
|Private placement option||9,675,000 ||9,675,000 |
|Options to purchase common stock||1,400,470 ||1,051,665 |
|Unvested shares of restricted stock units||262,010 ||4,334 |
|Total common stock equivalents||23,405,560 ||10,730,999 |
New Accounting Requirements and Disclosures
Fair Value Measurement
In August 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-13, Fair Value Measurement (Topic 820): Disclosure Framework—Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurement, which modifies fair value disclosures and removes some disclosure requirements for both public and private companies. In addition, public companies are subject to some new disclosure requirements which requires to disclose the changes in unrealized gains and losses for the period included in other comprehensive income for recurring Level 3 fair value measurements held at the end of the reporting period and the range and weighted average of significant unobservable inputs used to develop Level 3 fair value measurements. ASU No. 2018-13 is effective for all entities for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2019. Early adoption is permitted. The Company adopted the standard effective January 1, 2020 with no material effect on its financial statements.
Financial Instruments – Credit Losses
In June 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments — Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, which requires the measurement of all expected credit losses for financial assets including trade receivables held at the reporting date based on historical experience, current conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts. ASU No. 2016-13 is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2019. The Company adopted the standard effective January 1, 2020 with no material effect on its financial statements. Subsequent to the issuance of ASU 2016-13, the FASB issued ASU 2018-19, Codification Improvements to Topic 326, Financial Instruments - Credit Losses. This ASU does not change the core principle of the guidance in ASU 2016-13, instead these amendments are intended to clarify and improve operability of certain topics included within the credit losses guidance. The FASB also subsequently issued ASU No. 2019-04, Codification Improvements to Topic 326, Financial Instruments—Credit Losses, Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815), and Financial Instruments (Topic 842), which did not change the core principle of the guidance in ASU 2016-13 but clarified that expected recoveries of amounts previously written off and expected to be written off should be included in the valuation account and should not exceed amounts previously written off and expected to be written off. The guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2019 for public business entities, excluding smaller reporting companies. Early adoption is permitted. As a smaller reporting company, the guidance will be effective for the Company during the first quarter of 2023. The Company is in the process of assessing the impact adoption will have on its consolidated financial statements.
In December 2019, the FASB issued ASU No. 2019-12, Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes (Topic 740). The guidance eliminates certain exceptions for recognizing deferred taxes for investments, performing intraperiod allocation and calculating income taxes in interim periods. This guidance also includes guidance to reduce complexity in certain areas, including recognizing deferred taxes for tax goodwill and allocating taxes to members of a consolidated group. ASU 2019-12 is effective for annual and interim periods in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019. The Company adopted the standard effective January 1, 2020 with no material effect on its financial statements.
In January 2020, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2020-01, Investments—Equity Securities (Topic 321), Investments—Equity Method and Joint Ventures (Topic 323), and Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815)—Clarifying the Interactions between Topic 321, Topic 323, and Topic 815 (a consensus of the Emerging Issues Task Force), which clarifies the interaction of the accounting for equity securities, investments accounted for under the equity method, and certain forward contracts and purchased options. This update is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020, and interim periods within those fiscal years, and early adoption is permitted. The Company is in the process of determining the impact the adoption will have on its consolidated financial statements as well as whether to early adopt the new guidance.
NOTE 2 - FAIR VALUE MEASUREMENTS AND INVESTMENT SECURITIES
The following table presents the Company’s investment securities (including, if applicable, those classified on the Company’s balance sheet as cash equivalents) that are measured at fair value on a recurring basis as of March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020:
Fair Value at March 31, 2021
Fair Value at December 31, 2020
|Level 1||Level 2|| Level 3|
|Money market funds and treasury bills||$||20,473 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||27,463 ||$||— ||$||— |
|Total cash equivalents||$||20,473 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||27,463 ||$||— ||$||— |
As of March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, $1.5 million of restricted cash on the Company's balance sheet is held in a money market fund.
Money market funds, U.S. Treasury, U.S. government agency-backed securities, corporate debt securities and municipal bonds are valued based on various observable inputs such as benchmark yields, reported trades, broker/dealer quotes, benchmark securities and bids.
Warrant Derivative Liability and Private Placement Option Liability
The Company's financial liabilities recorded at fair value on a recurring basis include the fair values of the warrant derivative liability and the private placement option liability. As of March 31, 2021, the fair values of the warrant derivative liability and the private placement option liability are classified as current liabilities in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets. These liabilities will be shown as current liabilities on the balance sheet when it is deemed more probable than not by management to be exercised within one year.
Inputs used to determine estimated fair value (Level 3) of the warrants include the fair value of the underlying stock relative to the warrant exercise price at the valuation measurement date, volatility of the price of the underlying stock, the expected term of the warrants, and risk-free interest rates.
The fair value of the warrants has been estimated with the following weighted-average assumptions, including the most sensitive input, volatility:
|March 31, 2021||December 31, 2020|
Risk-free interest rate
Expected term (years)
Inputs used to determine estimated fair value (Level 3) of the private placement option include the fair value of the underlying stock relative to the preferred share conversion price and warrant exercise price at the valuation measurement date, volatility of the price of the underlying stock, the expected term of the call option on the preferred shares and expected term of the warrants, and risk-free interest rates.
The fair value of the private placement option has been estimated with the following weighted-average assumptions, including the most sensitive input, volatility:
|March 31, 2021|
December 31, 2020
|Risk-free interest rate||1.50 ||%||0.77 ||%|
|Volatility||95.00 ||%||90.00 ||%|
|Expected term (years)||7.00||7.00|
The following table provides the warrant derivative and private placement option reported at fair value and measured on a recurring basis:
Fair Value at March 31, 2021
Fair Value at December 31, 2020
|(in thousands)||Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
|Warrant derivative liability||$||— ||$||— ||$||11,863 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||10,345 |
|Private placement option liability||— ||— ||8,622 ||— ||— ||7,803 |
|Total fair value||$||— ||$||— ||$||20,485 ||$||— ||$||— ||$||18,148 |
The ending balance of the Level 3 financial instruments presented above represents the Company's best estimate of valuation and may not be substantiated by comparison to independent markets and, in many cases, could not be realized in immediate settlement of the instruments.
NOTE 3 - LEASES
The Company determines whether an arrangement is a lease at its inception. Operating leases relate primarily to office space and manufacturing facilities with remaining lease terms of one year to seven years, some of which include options to extend the lease term for up to five years. Management considered the options in determining the lease term used to establish the Company's ROU assets and lease liabilities.
As most of the Company's leases do not provide an implicit rate, the Company's incremental borrowing rate based on the information available at lease commencement date was used to determine the present value of lease payments.
Components of lease cost are as follows:
|Three Months Ended|
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
Finance lease cost:
|Amortization of leased asset||$||10 ||$||18 |
|Interest on lease liabilities||4 ||6 |
|Operating lease cost||54 ||305 |
|Short-term lease cost||52 ||34 |
|Total lease cost||$||120 ||$||363 |
NOTE 4 - PUBLIC OFFERING AND PRIVATE PLACEMENT
November 2020 Underwritten Offering
In November 2020, the Company closed an underwritten offering of 1,040,000 shares of its common stock, pre-funded warrants to purchase 3,109,378 shares of its common stock, and accompanying common warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 4,149,378 shares of its common stock. Each share of common stock and pre-funded warrant to purchase one share of common stock was sold together with a common warrant to purchase one share of common stock. The public offering price of each share of common stock and accompanying common warrant was $6.025 and $6.024 for each pre-funded warrant. The pre-funded warrants were immediately exercisable at a price of $0.001 per share of common stock. The common warrants were immediately exercisable at an exercise price of $6.50 per share of common stock and will expire five years from the date of issuance. The shares of common stock and pre-funded warrants, and the accompanying common warrants, were issued separately and were immediately separable upon issuance. The gross proceeds to the Company were approximately $25.0 million before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering expenses.
August 2019 Public Offering
On August 16, 2019, the Company entered into an underwriting agreement (the “Underwriting Agreement”) with Jefferies LLC and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, as representatives of the several underwriters named therein (the “Underwriters”), relating to an underwritten public offering (the “Offering”) of 575,000 shares of the Series 1 Redeemable Convertible Non-Voting Preferred Stock of the Company (the “Series 1 Preferred Stock”) and warrants (the “Public Warrants”) to purchase up to 5,750,000 shares of its common stock. Each share of Series 1 Preferred Stock was being sold together with a warrant to purchase 10 shares of common stock at a combined price to the public of $100.00. Under certain circumstances, each warrant to purchase 10 shares of common stock will be exercisable, at the irrevocable election of the holder, for one share of Series 1 Preferred Stock. The offering closed on August 21, 2019, and the net proceeds to the Company from the Offering was approximately $53.8 million after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the Company, and excluding any proceeds that the Company may receive upon exercise of the Public Warrants.
All of the Public Warrants sold in the Offering have an exercise price of $13.00 per share of common stock or, in certain circumstances, for $130.00 per share of Series 1 Preferred Stock, subject to proportional adjustments in the event of stock splits or combinations or similar events. The Public Warrants will be immediately exercisable upon issuance, provided that the holder will be prohibited, subject to certain exceptions, from exercising a warrant for shares of common stock to the extent that immediately prior to or after giving effect to such exercise, the holder, together with its affiliates and other attribution parties, would own more than 9.99% of the total number of shares of common stock then issued and outstanding, which percentage may be changed at the holder’s election to a lower percentage at any time or to a higher percentage not to exceed 19.99% upon 61 days’ notice to the Company. The Public Warrants will expire on August 21, 2026, unless exercised prior to that date. No shares have been exercised as of the balance sheet date.
On August 16, 2019, the Company entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement (the “Securities Purchase Agreement”) with certain institutional investors named therein (the “Purchasers”), pursuant to which the Company has agreed to issue in a private placement (i) 350,000 shares of its Series 2 Redeemable Convertible Non-Voting Preferred Stock (the “Series 2 Preferred Stock”), at a purchase price of $100.00 per share, and related warrants (the “Private Warrants”) to purchase up to 2,800,000 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $10.00 per share, and (ii) 250,000 shares of its Series 3 Redeemable Convertible Non-Voting Preferred Stock (the “Series 3 Preferred Stock” and, together with the Series 1 Preferred Stock and Series 2 Preferred Stock, the “Preferred Stock”), at a purchase price of $140.00 per share, and related warrants (also, “Private Warrants”) to purchase up to 875,000 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $14.00 per share. The purchase and sale of the securities issuable under the private placement agreement may occur in two or more separate closings, each to be conducted at the Purchasers’ discretion within five days’ notice to the Company. The purchase and sale were subject to the Company’s obtaining stockholder approval for additional authorized shares of Common Stock or a reverse stock split (the “Required Stockholder Approval”), which occurred in the first quarter of 2020. The right of the Purchasers to purchase such securities will expire two and a half years after the Required Stockholder Approval, on June 15, 2022, with respect to the Series 2 Preferred Stock, and three years after such stockholder approval, on January 15, 2023, with respect to the Series 3 Preferred Stock, if not exercised prior to that date. No shares have been exercised as of the balance sheet date.
The Company received $11.2 million in option proceeds, net of offering costs, upon the execution of the Securities Purchase Agreement. Total offering costs incurred by the Company related to the Public Warrants, Private Warrants and options amounted to $3.0 million.
The following table reflects the fair value roll forward reconciliation of the warrant derivative and private placement option liabilities for the period ended March 31, 2021:
|(in thousands)||Warrant Derivative Liability||Private Placement Option Liability||Total|
Balance, December 31, 2020
|$||10,345 ||$||7,803 ||$||18,148 |
|Change in fair value||1,518 ||819 ||2,337 |
Balance, March 31, 2021
|$||11,863 ||$||8,622 ||$||20,485 |
NOTE 5 - REDEEMABLE CONVERTIBLE PREFERRED STOCK
In August 2019, the Company sold Series 1 Preferred Stock pursuant to the Offering. The Company has 10,000,000 authorized shares of preferred stock with a par value of $0.01, of which the Company has designated 1,517,500 shares as Series 1 redeemable convertible non-voting preferred stock, 350,000 shares as Series 2 redeemable convertible non-voting preferred stock and 250,000 shares as Series 3 redeemable convertible non-voting preferred stock. There were 452,000 shares of Series 1 preferred stock issued and outstanding as of March 31, 2021. There were no shares of Series 2 or 3 preferred stock issued and outstanding as of March 31, 2021.
As of March 31, 2021, the Company classified the Series 1 Preferred Stock as mezzanine equity, as the Series 1 Preferred Stock is redeemable at the option of the holders upon passage of time, which is outside of the Company’s control to prevent.
The Series 1 Preferred Stock is not currently redeemable and is only redeemable upon a fundamental change in a redemption price. The Company does not believe a fundamental change is considered probable until it occurs. Subsequent adjustment of the amount presented in mezzanine equity to its redemption amount is unnecessary if it is not probable that the instrument will become redeemable. As (i) the Series 1 Preferred Stock is only redeemable upon a fundamental change, the occurrence of which is not probable, and (ii) the occurrence of Transition Date (defined below) is probable, the Company did not accrete the Series 1 Preferred Stock to its redemption amount.
Each share of Preferred Stock is initially convertible into 10 shares of Common Stock. The conversion price at which Preferred Stock may be converted into shares of common stock, is subject to adjustment in connection with certain specified events.
Until the applicable Transition Date (defined below), at any time on or after the date that is the fifth (5th) anniversary of the initial issue date of the applicable series of preferred stock, all or any portion of the preferred stock is redeemable at the option of the holder at a redemption price of $100.00 per share (for Series 1 and Series 2 Preferred Stock) and $140.00 per share (for Series 3 Preferred Stock). The “Transition Date” means:
•With respect to the Series 1 preferred stock, the first date following August 21, 2021, on which each of the Conditions (as defined below) is met (the “Series 1 Transition Date”);
•With respect to the Series 2 preferred stock, the first date following the six-month anniversary of the Series 1 Transition Date on which each of the Conditions is met (the “Series 2 Transition Date”); and
•With respect to the Series 3 preferred stock, the first date following the six-month anniversary of the Series 2 Transition Date on which each of the Conditions is met.
The “Conditions” mean: (1) the closing price of the Company’s common stock has been equal to or exceeded $25.00 per share for 180 calendar days (for determining if the Conditions are met for the Series 1 preferred stock and Series 2 preferred stock) and $35.00 per share (for the Series 3 preferred stock) for 180 calendar days; (2) the 50-day average trading volume of the Company’s common stock on the Nasdaq stock market is greater than 50,000 shares; and (3) a Phase 3 or Phase 2 pivotal clinical trial for one of the Company’s CAR T product candidates has been initiated, meaning that at least one clinical trial site has been activated.
Shares of Preferred Stock will be entitled to receive dividends equal to (on an as-if-converted-to-common stock basis), and in the same form and manner as, dividends actually paid on shares of common stock.
Until the applicable Transition Date, in the event of a liquidation, dissolution, winding up or deemed liquidation, holders of the Preferred Stock will receive a payment equal to the applicable per share purchase price of their Preferred Stock before any proceeds are distributed to the holders of Common Stock. The liquidation preferences, protective voting provisions and redemption rights of the Preferred Stock will terminate upon the occurrence of certain events.
Shares of Preferred Stock will generally have no voting rights, except to the extent expressly provided in the Company’s certificate of incorporation or as otherwise required by law.
NOTE 6- SHARE-BASED COMPENSATION PLANS
Share-Based Compensation Plans
The Company has five share-based compensation plans, including the 2019 Equity Incentive Plan (the “2019 Plan”) which was adopted in June 2019. Each plan authorizes the granting of shares of common stock and options to purchase common stock to employees and directors of the Company, as well as non-employee consultants, and allows the holder of the option to purchase common stock at a stated exercise price. The only plan under which the Company may currently grant equity awards is the 2019 Plan although there remain outstanding awards under the other four plans. Options vest according to the terms of the grant, which may be immediately or based on the passage of time, generally over four years, and have a term of up to 10 years. Unexercised stock options terminate on the expiration date of the grant. The Company recognizes the share-based compensation expense over the requisite service period of the individual grantees, which generally equals the vesting period.
2019 Equity Incentive Plan
The 2019 Plan is designed to secure and retain the services of the Company’s employees and directors. The 2019 Plan is successor to and continuation of the 2014 Equity Incentive Plan, as amended, the (“2014 Plan”), and no additional awards may
be issued from the 2014 Plan. Subject to adjustment for certain changes in the Company’s capitalization, the aggregate number of shares of common stock that may be issued under the 2019 Plan (the “Share Reserve”) will not exceed the sum of (i) 250,000 new shares, plus (ii) an additional 600,000 shares that were approved at the Company’s Special Meeting of Stockholders in January 2020, (iii) an additional 500,000 shares that were approved at the Company's Annual Meeting of Stockholders in June 2020, and plus (iii) the Prior Plans’ Returning Shares, as defined in the 2019 Plan documents, in an amount not to exceed 600,540 shares, including any stock award granted under the 2014 Plan, 2011 Stock Option Plan, as amended, or 2006 Stock Option Plan, as amended, that were outstanding as of the date the 2019 Plan was approved by the Company's stockholders, as such shares become available from time to time.
The following shares of common stock (the “2019 Plan Returning Shares”) will also become available again for issuance under the 2019 Plan: (i) any shares subject to a stock award granted under the 2019 Plan that are not issued because such stock award expires or otherwise terminates without all of the shares covered by such stock award having been issued; (ii) any shares subject to a stock award granted under the 2019 Plan that are not issued because such stock award is settled in cash; and (iii) any shares issued pursuant to a stock award granted under the 2019 Plan that are forfeited back to or repurchased by the Company because of a failure to vest.
The 2019 Plan provides for the grant of incentive stock options, non-statutory stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock awards, restricted stock unit awards, performance stock awards, and other stock awards.
The following table summarizes the stock option activity for all stock plans during the three months ended March 31, 2021:
|Options and Inducement Awards|
Outstanding at December 31, 2020
Outstanding at March 31, 2021
Exercisable at March 31, 2021
The following table summarizes the restricted stock unit award activity for all stock plans during the three months ended March 31, 2021:
|Restricted Stock Unit Awards|
Outstanding at Outstanding at December 31, 2020
Outstanding at March 31, 2021
2014 Employee Stock Purchase Plan
The 2014 Employee Stock Purchase Plan (the “ESPP”) provides for eligible Company employees, as defined by the ESPP, to be given an opportunity to purchase the Company's common stock at a discount, through payroll deductions, with stock purchases being made upon defined purchase dates. The ESPP authorizes the issuance of up to 55,000 shares of the Company’s common stock to participating employees and allows eligible employees to purchase shares of common stock at a 15% discount from the lesser of the grant date or purchase date fair market value. There were no shares purchased by employees under the ESPP in either of the three months ended March 31, 2021 and 2020.
A summary of activity within the ESPP follows:
|Three Months Ended|
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
|Deductions from employees||$||— ||$||64 |
|Share-based compensation expense recognized||— ||25 |
|Remaining share-based compensation expense||— ||157 |
The ESPP has been suspended since December, 2020, resulting in the inactivity during the first quarter. As of March 31, 2021, there were 18,488 shares available for issuance under the ESPP.
Share-Based Compensation Expense
The fair value of option grants is determined using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model and has been estimated with the following weighted-average assumptions:
|Three Months Ended|
|March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
Risk-free interest rate
|0.90 ||%||1.40 ||%|
|90.67 ||%||80.69 ||%|
Expected life (years)
Expected dividend yield
|— ||— |
Share-based compensation expense by classification for the three months ended March 31, 2021 and 2020 are as follows:
|Three Months Ended|
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
|Research and development||$||263 ||$||548 |
|General and administrative||640 ||775 |
| Total||$||903 ||$||1,323 |
At March 31, 2021, total compensation cost not yet recognized was $4.8 million and the weighted-average period over which this amount is expected to be recognized is 1.8 years.
NOTE 7 - COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
Co-Development and Co-Commercialization Agreement - Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc
On December 16, 2016, the Company entered into a Co-Development and Co-Commercialization Agreement with and Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc (“Adaptimmune”) in order to facilitate a staged collaboration to evaluate, develop and commercialize next generation T cell therapies. Under the Agreement, the parties agreed to evaluate the Company’s GoTCR technology (inducible MyD88/CD40 co-stimulation, or “iMC”) with Adaptimmune’s affinity-optimized SPEAR® T cells for the potential to create enhanced TCR product candidates. Depending on results of the preclinical proof-of-concept phase, the parties expect to progress to a two-target co-development and co-commercialization phase. To the extent necessary, and in furtherance of the parties’ proof-of-concept and co-development efforts, the parties granted each other a royalty-free, non-transferable, non-exclusive license covering their respective technologies for purposes of facilitating such proof-of-concept and co-development efforts. In addition, as to covered therapies developed under the agreement, the parties granted each other a reciprocal exclusive license for the commercialization of such therapies. With respect to any joint commercialization of a covered therapy, the parties agreed to negotiate in good faith the commercially reasonable terms of a co-commercialization agreement. The parties also agreed that any such agreement shall provide for, among other things, equal sharing of the costs of any such joint commercialization and the calculation of profit shares as set forth in the Agreement. The Agreement will expire on a country-by-country basis once the parties cease commercialization of the T cell therapies covered by the Agreement, unless earlier terminated by either party for material breach, non-performance or cessation of development, bankruptcy/insolvency, or failure to progress to co-development phase.
License Agreement - Baylor
In March 2016, the Company and Baylor College of Medicine (“BCM”) entered into two additional license agreements pursuant to which the Company obtained exclusive rights to technologies and patent rights owned by BCM. The Company paid BCM a nonrefundable license fee of $100,000 and could incur additional payments upon the achievement of certain milestone events as set forth in the agreement. If the Company is successful in developing any of the licensed technologies, resulting sales would be subject to a royalty payment in the low single digits.
License Agreement - Agensys, Inc.
On December 10, 2015, the Company and Agensys, Inc. (“Agensys”), entered into a license agreement (the “Agensys Agreement”), pursuant to which (i) Agensys granted the Company, within the field of cell and gene therapy of diseases in humans, an exclusive, worldwide license and sublicense to its patent rights directed to prostate stem cell antigen 1 (“PSCA”) and related antibodies, and (ii) the Company granted Agensys a non-exclusive, fully paid license to the Company’s patents directed to inventions that were made by the Company in the course of developing the Company’s licensed products, solely for use with Agensys therapeutic products containing a soluble antibody that binds to PSCA or, to the extent not based upon the Company’s other proprietary technology, to non-therapeutic applications of antibodies not used within the field. As consideration for the rights granted to the Company under the Agreement, the Company agreed to pay to Agensys a non-refundable upfront fee of $3.0 million, which was included in license fee expense. The Company is also required to make aggregate milestone payments to Agensys of up to (i) $5.0 million upon the first achievement of certain specified clinical milestones for its licensed products, (ii) $50.0 million upon the achievement of certain specified clinical milestones for each licensed product, and (iii) $75.0 million upon the achievement of certain sales milestones for each licensed product. The Agreement additionally provides that the Company will pay to Agensys a royalty that ranges from the mid to high single digits based on the level of annual net sales of licensed products by the Company, its affiliates or permitted sublicensees. The royalty payments are subject to reduction under specified circumstances. These milestone and royalty payments will be expensed as incurred. Under the Agreement, Agensys also was granted the option to obtain an exclusive license, on a product-by-product basis, from the Company to commercialize in Japan each licensed product developed under the Agensys Agreement that has completed a phase 2 clinical trial. As to each such licensed product, if Agensys or its affiliate, Astellas Pharma, Inc., exercises the option, the Agensys Agreement provides that the Company will be paid an option exercise fee of $5.0 million. In addition, the Agensys Agreement provides that the Company will be paid a royalty that ranges from the mid to high single digits based on the level of annual net sales in Japan of each such licensed product. If the option is exercised, the aggregate milestone payments payable by the Company to Agensys, described above with respect to each licensed product, would be reduced by up to an aggregate of $65.0 million upon the achievement of certain specified clinical and sales milestones. The Agensys Agreement will terminate upon the expiration of the last royalty term for the products covered by the Agensys Agreement, which is the earlier of (i) the date of expiration or abandonment of the last valid claim within the licensed patent rights covering any licensed products under the Agreement, (ii) the expiration of regulatory exclusivity as to a licensed product, and (iii) 10
years after the first commercial sale of a licensed product. Either party may terminate the Agensys Agreement upon a material breach by the other party that remains uncured following 60 days after the date of written notice of such breach (or 30 days if such material breach is related to failure to make payment of amounts due under the Agensys Agreement) or upon certain insolvency events. In addition, Agensys may terminate the Agensys Agreement immediately upon written notice to the Company if the Company or any of its affiliates or permitted sublicensees commences an interference proceeding or challenges the validity or enforceability of any of Agensys’ patent rights.
License Agreement - BioVec
On June 10, 2015, the Company and BioVec Pharma, Inc. (“BioVec”) entered into a license agreement (the “BioVec Agreement”) pursuant to which BioVec agreed to supply the Company with certain proprietary cell lines and granted to the Company a non-exclusive, worldwide license to certain of its patent rights and related know-how related to such proprietary cell lines. As consideration for the products supplied and rights granted to the Company under the BioVec Agreement, the Company agreed to pay to BioVec an upfront fee of $100,000 within business days of the effective date of the BioVec Agreement and a fee of $300,000 within business days of its receipt of the first release of GMP lot of the products licensed under the BioVec Agreement. In addition, the Company agreed to pay to BioVec an annual fee of $150,000, commencing 30 days following the first filing of an Investigational New Drug Application, or its foreign equivalent, for a product covered by the license; with such annual fees being creditable against any royalties payable by the Company to BioVec under the BioVec Agreement. The Company also is required to make a $250,000 milestone payment to BioVec for each of the first three licensed products to enter into a clinical phase trial and one-time milestone payments of $2.0 million upon receipt of a registration granted by the Federal Drug Administration or European Medicines Agency on each of the Company’s first three licensed products. The BioVec Agreement additionally provides that the Company will pay to BioVec a royalty in the low single digits on net sales of products covered by the BioVec Agreement. The Company may also grant sublicensees under the licensed patent rights and know-how to third parties for limited purposes related to the use, sale and other exploitation of the products licensed under the BioVec Agreement. The BioVec Agreement will continue until terminated. The BioVec Agreement may be terminated by the Company, in its sole discretion, at any time upon 90 days written notice to BioVec. Either party may terminate the BioVec Agreement in the event of a breach by the other party of any material provision of the BioVec Agreement that remains uncured on the date that is 60 days after written notice of such failure or upon certain insolvency events that remain uncured following the date that is 30 days after the date of written notice to a party regarding such insolvency event.
On May 29, 2019, Bellicum was served with a second amended complaint indicating that the Company had been added as an additional defendant in an ongoing civil tort lawsuit, captioned Kelly v. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles et al., filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC681477. On July 10, 2019 plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint seeking unspecified monetary damages including punitive damages and alleging claims for wrongful death, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, medical battery on decedent, medical battery on individual plaintiffs, products liability - failure to warn, breach of express warranty and products liability design or manufacturing defect. Bellicum filed a demurrer and motion to strike plaintiffs’ third amended complaint, which were granted in part on August 5, 2020 with the Court dismissing (without prejudice) all claims against Bellicum with the exception of the breach of express warranty and products liability design or manufacturing defect causes of action. The Court also granted Bellicum’s motion to strike plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages. On September 15, 2020, plaintiffs filed a fourth amended complaint alleging the same causes of action and damages against Bellicum as were pled in the third amended complaint. On November 3, 2020 Bellicum filed a demurrer and motion to strike the fourth amended complaint, which currently is set for hearing on June 23, 2021. A trial date has not been set in the case.
NOTE 8 - SUBSEQUENT EVENTS
Takeda Supply Agreement
On May 4, 2021, the Company entered a multi-year supply agreement with Takeda Development Center Americas, Inc. (Takeda). The Company is expecting revenue of $0.7 million in 2021, with the possibility of additional revenue from sales in future periods.
Compliance with NASDAQ Listing Rules
On May 5, 2021, the Company was notified by The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, that the Company was in breach of Listing Rule 5450(b)(2)(A), or the Market Value Rule, for continued listing on The Nasdaq Capital Market because the market value of our listed securities for 30 consecutive business days had been less than $35 million. In accordance with Nasdaq
Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(C), the Company has until November 1, 2021, to regain compliance with the Market Value Rule. To regain compliance, the market value of the Company's listed securities must close at $35 million or more for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days any time prior to November 1, 2021.
Item 2. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, filed with the SEC on March 31, 2021, or our Annual Report, as well as our unaudited condensed financial statements and related notes included in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, or this Quarterly Report.
This report contains forward-looking statements and information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, which are subject to the “safe harbor” created by those sections. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects and plans and objectives of management. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “designed,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions and expectations disclosed in the forward-looking statements that we make. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, the risks set forth in Part II, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report and in our other filings with the SEC. The forward-looking statements are applicable only as of the date on which they are made, and we do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel, controllable cellular immunotherapies for various forms of cancer, including both hematological cancers and solid tumors. We are advancing CAR-T cell therapies which are an innovative approach in which a patient’s or donor’s T cells are genetically modified to carry chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs. We are using our proprietary Chemical Induction of Dimerization, or CID, technology platform to engineer our product candidates with switch technologies that are designed to control components of the immune system in real time. By incorporating our CID platform, our product candidates may offer better efficacy and safety outcomes than are seen with current cellular immunotherapies.
Cell behavior is controlled by cascades of specialized signaling proteins. CID consists of molecular switches, modified forms of these signaling proteins, which are triggered inside the patient by infusion of a small molecule, instead of by natural upstream signals. We genetically introduce these molecular switches into the appropriate immune cells and deliver the cells to the patient in the manner of conventional cellular immunotherapy. We have developed two such switches: an “activation switch,” designed to stimulate activation, proliferation and persistence of the immunotherapy cells and provide other immunomodulatory benefits, and a “safety switch,” designed to initiate programmed cell death, or apoptosis, of the immunotherapy cells. Each of our product candidates incorporates one or both switches, for enhanced, real time control of efficacy and safety:
•The inducible MyD88/CD40 (iMC) activation switch that is incorporated into our GoCAR product candidates is designed to enhance CAR-based cell therapies by augmenting multiple mechanisms of action, including: 1) boosting effector cell proliferation; 2) enhancing functional persistence by resisting exhaustion and inhibitory signals found in the tumor microenvironment; and 3) stimulating the cancer patient’s own immune system to intensify tumor killing. Unlike other CAR therapies that can behave unpredictably due to their autonomous activity, GoCAR antitumor effects are controlled through scheduled administration of rimiducid. In the event of severe side effects, GoCAR activity can be attenuated by extending the interval between rimiducid doses or suspending further rimiducid administration.
•Our CaspaCIDe™ safety switch (also known as inducible Caspase-9, or iC9) is designed to be inactive unless the patient experiences a serious side effect (e.g., CRS, neurologic toxicities or off-tumor / on-target toxicities). In that event, rimiducid or temsirolimus is administered to induce Caspase-9 and eliminate the cells, with the goal of attenuating the therapy and resolving the serious side effect.
•Some of our product candidates are “dual-switch” GoCARs that are designed to provide a user-controlled system for managing proliferation, persistence and safety of tumor antigen-specific CAR cells by incorporating both our iMC and
CaspaCIDe switches. We also have an active research effort to further develop and enhance these molecular switch approaches.
By incorporating our novel switch technologies, we are developing product candidates with the potential to elicit positive clinical outcomes and ultimately change the treatment paradigm in various areas of cellular immunotherapy. Our most advanced programs are described below.
•BPX-601 is an autologous GoCAR-T product candidate containing our proprietary iMC activation switch, designed to treat solid tumors expressing prostate stem cell antigen, or PSCA. We believe iMC enhances T cell proliferation and persistence, enhances host immune activity, and modulates the tumor microenvironment to improve the potential to treat solid tumors compared to traditional CAR-T therapies. A Phase 1/2 clinical trial called BP-012 in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer expressing PSCA is ongoing.
•BPX-603 is an autologous dual-switch GoCAR-T product candidate containing both the iMC activation and CaspaCIDe safety switches. BPX-603 is our first controllable dual-switch GoCAR-T product candidate and is designed to target solid tumors that express the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 antigen, or HER2. A Phase 1/2 clinical trial called BPX-603-201A in patients with HER2+ solid tumors is ongoing.
•Rivo-cel (rivogenlecleucel, formerly known as BPX-501), is a product candidate containing our proprietary CaspaCIDe safety switch that is intended to improve outcomes of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of hematologic malignancies and inherited blood disorders. We are pursuing a strategic partner for rivo-cel to assume future development and commercialization responsibilities. Concurrently, we have reduced and expect to continue to reduce our rivo-cel related activities.
We have developed efficient and scalable processes to manufacture genetically modified T cells of high quality, which are currently being used to generate products for our clinical trials. We are leveraging this know how in combination with our proprietary cellular control technologies, resources, capabilities and expertise for the manufacture of CAR product candidates to create and develop first and best-in-class product candidates.
Impact of COVID-19
In 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, was identified. Due to the rapid and global spread of the virus, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. To slow the proliferation of COVID-19, governments have implemented extraordinary measures, which have included the mandatory closure of businesses, restrictions on travel, and quarantine and physical distancing requirements. We have not experienced and do not anticipate a substantial impact to our operations as a result of the pandemic or these government measures. However, depending the duration and severity of the pandemic, we could experience impact in the future, including with respect to the operations of our manufacturing partners, clinical trial sites and regulatory agencies, all of which we are substantially dependent upon for our business. We are continuing to closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business.
Results of Operations
The following table sets forth a summary of our statement of operations for the periods indicated:
|Three Months Ended||Change|
|(in thousands)||March 31, 2021||March 31, 2020|
|Research and development||6,460 ||10,448 ||(3,988)|
|General and administrative||2,012 ||4,171 ||(2,159)|
|Total operating expenses||8,472 ||14,619 ||(6,147)|
|Loss on lease termination||464 ||— ||464 |
|Loss from operations||(8,936)||(14,619)||5,683 |
|Other income (expense):|
|Interest income||10 ||354 ||(344)|
|Interest expense||(4)||(985)||981 |
|Change in fair value of warrant and private placement option liabilities||(2,337)||32,826 ||(35,163)|
|Total other income (expense)||(2,331)||32,195 ||(34,526)|
|Net income (loss)||$||(11,267)||$||17,576 ||$||(28,843)|
Research and Development Expenses (R&D)
The decrease in R&D expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the same period last year, was primarily due to reduced expenses related to rivo-cel activities and the reduction in force that was implemented during the second half of 2020, partially offset by an increase in expenses related to our GoCAR-T program. This resulted in a $3.4 million reduction in salaries, benefits, travel, and share-based compensation related charges and a $0.6 million reduction from general R&D expenses primarily due to lower clinical trial charges.
General and Administrative Expenses (G&A)
The decrease in G&A expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the same period last year, was primarily due to the effects of the aforementioned reduction in force that reduced employee-related charges by $1.5 million. Additionally, our exit from the Houston and South San Francisco leases along with the sale of our Houston facilities resulted in a combined reduction of $0.6 million in facility charges and depreciation expenses.
Loss on Lease Termination
On March 15, 2021, the Company entered an agreement to terminate its sub-lease of the South San Francisco office space contingent upon consent of the prime lessor. Under the terms of the agreement, the company agreed to pay a lease termination fee of $0.9 million while the security deposit of $0.2 million will be returned to the Company. The decision to exit this lease reflects the ability of the Company to carry on administrative function remotely. On March 26, 2021, the Company met all of the conditions of the agreement and disposed of substantially all of the assets and liabilities associated with the lease including the a right-of-use asset of $0.6 million, leased equipment with net book value less than $0.1 million, and the related lease liability of $1.0 million. The Company recognized a loss on termination of $0.5 million during the three months ended March 31, 2021.
Other Income (Expense)
Other expense primarily consists of interest income, offset by interest expense, and changes in fair values of our warrant liability and the private placement option, which are remeasured at each reporting period. Due to the nature of the inputs in the model used to assess the fair value of the warrant liability and private placement option, the Company may experience significant fluctuations at each reporting period. These fluctuations may be due to a variety of factors, including changes in our stock price and changes in stock price volatility over the remaining term of the warrants and options.
The change in other income (expense) for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the same period last year, was primarily due to a $32.8 million gain recognized in the period ended March 31, 2020 from the change in fair value of our warrant and private placement option liabilities. For the same period in 2021, the change in fair value of those liabilities resulted in a loss of $2.3 million. In addition, interest expense for the three months ended March 31, 2021 was less than $0.1 million compared to $1.0 million for the same period a year ago. This is due to extinguishment of debt that occurred in the latter half of 2020.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Going Concern and Management's Plans
The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared on the basis that we will continue as a going concern, which contemplates realization of assets and the satisfaction of liabilities in the normal course of business. As of March 31, 2021, we had cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash of $29.6 million and net cash used in operations of approximately $8.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021.
Our cash resources are primarily consumed by operating activities and we expect negative cash flows from operations to continue, for at least the next 12 months. Our primary uses of capital are, and we expect will continue to be, compensation and related expenses, third-party clinical research and development services, laboratory and related supplies, clinical costs, legal and other regulatory expenses, facility costs and general overhead costs. Based on our current research and development plans and our timing expectations related to the progress of our programs, we believe there is substantial doubt that our cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second half of 2022.
We plan to continue to attempt to obtain future financing and/or engage in strategic transactions, but we cannot predict, with certainty, the outcome of our actions to generate liquidity, including the availability of additional equity or debt financing, or whether such actions would generate the expected liquidity as currently planned. To continue as a going concern, we may postpone or eliminate some of our research and development programs and reduce our administrative costs. We may also intend to seek additional funding including, but not limited to any or all of the following potential sources:
We have an effective shelf registration statement on Form S-3 for the offer and sale of up to $400.0 million of our securities, of which approximately $290.5 million remains available for future offerings. We may pursue additional funding through the sale of our securities in one or more offerings under this registration statement, however we cannot assure you that we will be able to do so on favorable terms. If we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interests of our stockholders will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that could adversely affect the rights of our existing stockholders. If we raise additional capital through the issuance of debt securities, we could incur fixed payment obligations and become subject to certain restrictive covenants, including limitations on our ability to incur additional debt and acquire or license intellectual property rights, and other operating restrictions that could restrict our ability to conduct our business.
In addition, we may receive additional capital through the exercise of outstanding warrants to purchase our stock. As of March 31, 2021, warrants to purchase 5,750,000 shares of our Series 1 preferred stock at an exercise price of $130.00 per share (equivalent to $13.00 per share of common stock) and warrants to purchase 4,149,378 shares of our common stock at an exercise price of $6.50 per share were outstanding. The preferred stock warrants expire on August 21, 2026 and the common warrants expire on November 3, 2025.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken to slow its spread, the global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility, including diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. If equity and credit markets deteriorate, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult to obtain, more costly and/or more dilutive. Moreover, if we do not obtain such additional funds, there could be substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern and increased risk of insolvency, which could result in a total loss of investment to our stockholders and other security holders.
Net cash used in operating activities during the quarter ended March 31, 2021, was $8.3 million compared to $16.3 million for the same period last year. The primary operating activities during the three months ended March 31, 2021, were (1) $11.3 million of net losses, (2) a non-cash loss of $2.3 million recognized from the change in the derivative warrant and private placement option fair value liability, (3) a non-cash loss of $0.5 million recognized upon the termination of the South San Francisco lease, and (4) $0.9 million share-based compensation expenses. These activities were partially offset by a $0.8 million decrease from changes in operating assets and liabilities.
Net cash provided by investing activities during the quarter ended March 31, 2021, was $0.9 million compared to net cash used in investing activities of less than $0.1 million for the same period last year. The cash provided by investing activities during the three months ended March 31, 2021, was primarily due to the proceeds from the sale of the Houston facilities' assets that were classified as assets held for sale at the year ended December 31, 2020.
Net cash used in financing activities during the quarter ended March 31, 2021 was less than $0.1 million due to payment on financing lease obligations compared to net cash provided by financing activities of $2.0 million for the same period last year primarily due to stock offering proceeds.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
There have been no material changes to the Company's critical accounting policies and use of estimates from those disclosed in the Company’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020. For a discussion of our critical accounting policies and use of estimates, refer to Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Estimates in Part II, Item 7 of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
The Company is subject to several recently issued accounting pronouncements. Note 1 – Organization, Basis of Presentation, and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies – New Accounting Requirements and Disclosures which is contained in Part I, Item 1 of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, describes these new accounting pronouncements and is incorporated herein by reference.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
During the periods presented, we did not have, and we do not currently have, any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Item 3. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risks
There have been no material changes to the information provided under Item 7A. “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk” which is included and described in the Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Item 4. Controls and Procedures
Management’s Evaluation of our Disclosure Controls and Procedures
Our management, with the participation of our Principal Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures, as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act, as of March 31, 2021. The term “disclosure controls and procedures,” as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act, means controls and other procedures of a company that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by a company in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms. Disclosure controls and procedures include, without limitation, controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by a company in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to the company’s management, including its Principal Executive and Principal Financial and Officers, as appropriate, to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
Management recognizes that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving their objectives and management necessarily applies its judgment in evaluating the cost-benefit relationship of possible controls and procedures. Based on the evaluation of our disclosure controls and procedures as of March 31, 2021, our Principal Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer concluded that, as of such date, our disclosure controls and procedures were effective.
Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting
There were no changes in our internal control over financial reporting during our latest fiscal quarter that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
PART II. OTHER INFORMATION
Item 1. Legal Proceedings
The information set forth under the “Litigation” subheading in Note 7 - Commitments and Contingencies of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Part I, Item I of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Summary of Risk Factors
There are a number of risks related to our business and our securities. Below is a summary of material factors that make an investment in our securities speculative or risky. Importantly, this summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, as well as other risks that we face, can be found under the heading “Risk Factors” below.
•We have incurred net losses from operations in every year since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur these net losses in the future.
•We will require significant funding to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If we fail to obtain additional financing, we may have to delay, reduce or eliminate our development programs or commercialization efforts.
•Many of our current product candidates are in early stage clinical trials, and we may experience unfavorable results in the future.
•Our business could be adversely affected by the effects of health epidemics, including the recent COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the business or operations of our research partners, customers and other third parties with whom we conduct business.
•If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
•Adverse side effects or other safety risks associated with our product candidates could delay or preclude approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials, abandon product candidates, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.
•The regulatory approval process is lengthy and time-consuming, and we may experience significant delays in the clinical development and regulatory approval of our product candidates.
•We depend on intellectual property licensed from third parties and termination of any of these licenses could result in the loss of significant rights, which would harm our business.
•If our efforts to protect the proprietary nature of our technologies are not adequate, we may not be able to compete effectively in our market.
•We have limited foreign intellectual property rights and may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
•If we fail to satisfy applicable listing standards, our common stock may be delisted from the Nasdaq Capital Market.
•Our principal stockholders own a significant percentage of our stock and can exert significant control over matters subject to stockholder approval.
Our business and results of operations are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. You should carefully consider the following risk factors, as well as the other information in this report, and in our other public filings. The occurrence of any of the following risks could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and/or growth prospects or cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements we have made in this report and those we may make from time to time. You should consider all of the risk factors described when evaluating our business. We have marked with an asterisk (*) those risk factors that reflect additional risk factors since the issuance of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 31, 2021, or our Annual Report.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
We have incurred net losses from operations in every year since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur these net losses in the future.*
We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history. We have no products approved for commercial sale and have incurred significant losses since our inception in 2004. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through equity and debt financings. As of March 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $552.0 million. We expect to continue to incur significant losses from operations for the foreseeable future, and we expect these accumulated losses to increase as we continue our research and development of, and seek regulatory approvals for, our product candidates.
In addition, if we obtain regulatory approval of and seek to commercialize any of our product candidates, we will likely incur significant sales, marketing and manufacturing expenses and may continue to incur substantial research and development expenses for additional post-marketing approval development requirements related to such product.
We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.
We will require significant funding to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If we fail to obtain additional financing, we may have to delay, reduce or eliminate our development programs or commercialization efforts.*
This report includes disclosures stating that our existing cash resources and our accumulated stockholders’ deficit raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash since our inception. We expect to continue to spend substantial amounts to continue the preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates and other research and development programs.
As of March 31, 2021, we had cash, restricted cash and cash equivalents of approximately $29.6 million. We maintain our cash and cash equivalents with high quality, accredited financial institutions. These amounts at times may exceed federally insured limits. Currently, substantial doubt exists that our cash, restricted cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through at least the first half of 2022. Our cash position, together with our short-term liabilities and anticipated operating losses due to continued research and development projects, raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.
We expect to finance future cash needs through public or private equity offerings, debt financings, strategic partnerships and alliances or licensing arrangements. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve and has already resulted in a significant disruption of global financial markets. Our ability to raise additional capital may be adversely impacted by potential worsening global economic conditions and the recent disruptions to, and volatility in, the credit and financial markets in the U.S. and worldwide resulting from the pandemic. If the disruption persists and deepens, we could experience an inability to access additional capital, which could in the future negatively affect our capacity to fund research and development programs, including discovery research, preclinical and clinical development activities. In addition, the securities purchase agreement for the August 2019 private placement transaction requires us to obtain investor consent prior to taking a range of corporate financing actions, including issuing equity securities that are senior or pari passu to the Series 3 preferred stock and incurring new debt in excess of $1,000,000. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us, we will need to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of our product candidates. We also could be required to:
•Seek collaborators for one or more of our current or future product candidates on terms that are less favorable than might otherwise be available;
•relinquish or license on unfavorable terms our rights to technologies or product candidates that we otherwise would seek to develop or commercialize ourselves; or
•seek a third party to acquire us or our assets.
If we are unable to raise additional funds on a timely basis, we may be required to reduce expenses through the delay, reduction or curtailment of our development programs, or implement further reduction of costs for facilities and administration. For example, in October 2020, we announced that we implemented a restructuring plan, which included, among other things, a 79%
reduction in staff, from 68 to 14 full-time employees, by the end of 2020 and discontinuation of discovery research and new product development. We have incurred $2.5 million in restructuring expenses, including severance expenses of $1.2 million and the Houston office's impairment of $1.3 million. Moreover, if we do not raise such additional funds, there will continue to be substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern and increased risk of insolvency, which could result in a total loss of investment to our stockholders and other security holders.
The FDA and other regulatory authorities may disagree with our regulatory plans and we may fail to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates.
Our business and future success depends, in part, on our ability to obtain regulatory authority assent to conduct human clinical trials, obtain regulatory approval to launch a product based on evidence of clinical safety and efficacy and then successfully commercialize our clinical product candidates. All of our product candidates will require additional clinical and non-clinical development, regulatory review and approval in multiple jurisdictions, substantial investment, and access to sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity and significant marketing efforts before we can expect to generate any revenue from product sales.
Our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:
•The FDA or comparable regulatory authority or an Institutional Review Board or comparable ethics oversight body may decline to clear the applicable Investigational New Drug Application (IND) or equivalent regulatory submission necessary to conduct human clinical trials;
•we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities that our product candidates have the necessary safety, purity, and potency for any of their proposed indications;
•the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for approval;
•we may be unable to demonstrate that our product candidates’ clinical and other benefits outweigh their safety risks;
•we may encounter serious and unexpected adverse events during clinical trials that render our products unsafe for use in humans;
•the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;
•the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to the satisfaction of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to support the submission of a BLA or other comparable submission in foreign jurisdictions or to obtain regulatory approval in Europe, the U.S. or elsewhere;
•the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may fail to approve our manufacturing processes and/or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we contract for clinical and commercial supplies; and
•the approval policies or regulations of the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.
Biopharmaceutical product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of uncertainty. We have never generated any revenue from product sales and may never be profitable.
We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to developing our proprietary CID technology platform, identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials. We are in the early stages of developing our product candidates, and we have not completed development of any products. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends in large part on our ability, alone or with partners, to successfully complete the development of, obtain the necessary regulatory approvals for, and commercialize, product candidates. We do not anticipate generating revenues from sales of products for the foreseeable future. Our ability to generate future revenues from product sales depends heavily on our success in:
•completing requisite clinical trials through all phases of clinical development of our current product candidates;
•seeking and obtaining marketing approvals for product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials, if any;
•launching and commercializing product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval, if any, with a partner or, if launched independently, successfully establishing a sales force, marketing and distribution infrastructure;
•identifying and developing new product candidates;
•progressing our pre-clinical programs into human clinical trials;
•establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties;
•developing new molecular switches based on our proprietary CID technology platform;
•maintaining, protecting, expanding and enforcing our intellectual property; and
•attracting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel.
Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with biologic product development, we are unable to predict the likelihood or timing for when we may receive regulatory approval of any of our current or future product candidates or when we will be able to achieve or maintain profitability, if ever. If we do not receive regulatory approvals, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations will be adversely affected. Even if we obtain the regulatory approvals to market and sell one or more of our product candidates, we may never generate significant revenues from any commercial sales for several reasons, including because the market for our products may be smaller than we anticipate, or products may not be adopted by physicians and payors or because our products may not be as efficacious or safe as other treatment options. If we fail to successfully commercialize one or more products, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain and grow our business and our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations will be adversely affected. In addition, our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA, or foreign regulatory agencies, to perform studies and clinical trials in addition to those that we currently anticipate for our product candidates, or if there are any delays in our or our partners completing clinical trials or the development of any of our product candidates. Further, if one or more of the product candidates that we independently develop is approved for commercial sale, we expect to incur significant costs associated with commercializing any such product candidates. Finally, even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis.
Our CID technology is novel and largely unproven.
Our proprietary CID technology platform is novel and there are no approved products or third-party product candidates in late-stage clinical trials based on this technology. Additionally, the safety and efficacy profile of rimiducid has not been subject to large scale clinical testing. If rimiducid is found to have a poor safety profile in clinical trials, or if our technology is not effective, we may be required to redesign all of our product candidates, which would require significant time and expense. In addition, our CID platform technology may not be applicable or effective in the development of additional cellular immunotherapies beyond our current programs which would adversely affect our business and prospects.
Cell therapies are novel and present significant challenges.
CAR-T and other cell therapy product candidates represent a relatively new field of cellular immunotherapy. Advancing this novel and personalized therapy creates significant challenges for us, including:
•obtaining regulatory approval, as the FDA and other regulatory authorities have limited experience with commercial development of cell therapies for cancer;
•sourcing clinical and, if approved, commercial supplies for the materials used to manufacture and process our product candidates;
•developing a consistent and reliable process, while limiting contamination risks, for engineering and manufacturing T cells and other immune cell types ex vivo and infusing the engineered cells into the patient;
•educating medical personnel regarding the potential safety benefits, as well as the challenges, of incorporating our product candidates into their treatment regimens;
•establishing sales and marketing capabilities upon obtaining any regulatory approval to gain market acceptance of a novel therapy; and
•the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors for our novel and personalized therapy.
Our inability to successfully develop CAR T and other cell therapies or develop processes related to the manufacture or commercialization of these therapies would adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects.
Our clinical trials may fail to adequately demonstrate the safety and efficacy of any of our product candidates, which would prevent or delay regulatory approval and commercialization.
Clinical testing is expensive, takes many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the clinical trial process and our product candidates are subject to the risks of failure inherent in biologic drug development. Success in early clinical trials does not mean that later clinical trials will be successful because product candidates in later-stage clinical trials may fail to demonstrate sufficient safety or efficacy despite having progressed through initial clinical testing, even at statistically significant levels. We will be required to demonstrate through clinical trials that our product candidates are safe and effective for use in the target indication before we can obtain regulatory approvals for commercial sale. Companies frequently suffer significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials, even after earlier clinical trials have shown promising results and most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products. We expect there may be greater variability in results for cellular immunotherapy products processed and administered on a patient-by-patient basis like some of our CID technology-based development and product candidates than for “off-the-shelf” products, like many drugs.
If any of our product candidates fail to demonstrate sufficient safety or efficacy, we would experience potentially significant delays in, or be required to abandon our development of the product candidate, which would have a material and adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Many of our current product candidates are in early stage clinical trials, and we may experience unfavorable results in the future.*
Phase 1/2 clinical trials are ongoing for BPX-601 for the treatment of prostate and pancreatic cancer and for BPX-603 in HER2-positive solid tumors. We may not be able to commence clinical trials in the time frames we expect or we may encounter delays. For example, in December 2020, we announced that the FDA had placed a clinical hold on our BPX-601 trial in pancreatic cancer due to the death of a patient in the trial. Although the FDA released the hold in January 2021, there can be no assurance that future patient deaths in this or any of our clinical trials will not trigger additional clinical holds. As these product candidates are in early stages of development, we face significant uncertainty regarding how effective and safe they will be in human patients and the results from preclinical studies, such as in vitro and in vivo studies, of BPX-601 and BPX-603 may not be indicative of the results of clinical trials of these product candidates. For example, in October 2020, we announced that the first four pancreatic cancer patients treated with BPX-601 followed by repeat rimiducid dosing showed evidence of rimiducid-mediated CAR-T cell activation but clinically meaningful efficacy as measured by RECIST criteria was not observed. Preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval for their products.
Even if clinical trials are successfully completed, the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities may not interpret the results as we do, and more clinical trials could be required before we submit our product candidates for approval. To the extent that the results of our clinical trials are not satisfactory to the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities for support of a marketing application, approval of our product candidates may be significantly delayed, or we may be required to expend significant additional resources, which may not be available to us, to conduct additional clinical trials in support of potential approval of our product candidates.
We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our CID platform to build a pipeline of product candidates and develop marketable products.
We believe that our CID platform, which serves as the foundation of our CaspaCIDe and GoCAR-T technologies, can be further leveraged to discover other novel technologies, therapeutic applications and market opportunities. We are at an early stage of development and our platform has not yet, and may never lead to, approved or marketable products. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development, including for reasons related to their harmful side effects, limited efficacy or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates based upon our technological approach, we may not be able to obtain product or partnership revenues in future periods, which would adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely and will continue to rely on third parties to conduct our clinical trials. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize our product candidates.
We depend and will continue to depend upon independent investigators and collaborators, such as universities, medical institutions, and strategic partners to conduct our preclinical and clinical trials under agreements with us. Negotiations of budgets and contracts with study sites may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs. We will rely heavily on these third parties over the course of our clinical trials, and we control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with applicable protocol, legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with good clinical practices, or GCPs, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCPs through periodic inspections of clinical trial sponsors, principal investigators and clinical trial sites. If we or any of these third parties fail to comply with applicable GCP regulations, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities could require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. It is possible that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities could determine that any of our clinical trials fail to comply with the GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with biologic product produced under current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, and will require a large number of test patients. Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.
Any third parties conducting our clinical trials are and will not be our employees and, except for remedies available to us under our agreements with these third parties, we cannot control whether they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing preclinical, clinical and nonclinical programs. These third parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other drug development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols or regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.
Switching or adding third parties to conduct our clinical trials involves substantial cost and requires extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new third party commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines.
Also, we are conducting clinical trials in Europe and may plan additional testing of our technology and product candidates in other foreign jurisdictions. We currently have limited staffing and capabilities in foreign countries and may not be able to effectively resolve potential disputes with our independent investigators and collaborators.
Our business could be adversely affected by the effects of health epidemics, including the recent COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the business or operations of our research partners, customers and other third parties with whom we conduct business.*
Our business could be adversely affected by health epidemics in regions in which we have operations or conduct research activities or clinical trials. Such health epidemics could also affect the business or operations of contract manufacturers, raw material suppliers, clinical trial sites, and other third parties with whom we conduct business.
For example, the effects of government stay-at-home orders or related adjustments in our business are likely to negatively impact productivity, disrupt our business and delay our timelines, 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.
Severe and/or long-term disruptions in our operations will negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition. Specifically, COVID-19 related delays in clinical trial enrollment, patient care, data availability, or monitoring may delay the timeline to our integrity of data from our trials and could affect their acceptability to the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which would represent significant setbacks for the applicable program. To date, we have experienced COVID-19-related impacts on screening and enrollment which may impact the speed of enrollment and the timing of data presentations from our ongoing studies. More significant disruptions may occur if the pandemic worsens in the geographies in which our
study sites or manufacturing facilities are located. In addition, quarantines, stay-at-home, executive and similar government orders, or the perception that such orders, shutdowns or other restrictions on the conduct of business operations could occur, impact personnel at third-party manufacturing facilities in the United States and other countries, or the availability or cost of materials, which would disrupt our supply chain. In fact, in April 2020 M.D. Anderson informed the Company of its decision to temporarily halt all research activity in order to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19 on their institution and their patients and this includes temporarily suspending activity in the manufacturing facility in which the product candidates for our clinical development programs are manufactured. M.D. Anderson subsequently restarted manufacturing but if the pandemic worsens and they again suspend research activities, we may be unable to enroll patients in our clinical trials until manufacturing resumes at the facility.
The spread of COVID-19, which has caused a broad impact globally, may materially affect us economically. While the potential economic impact brought by, and the duration of, COVID-19 may be difficult to assess or predict, it has significantly disrupted global financial markets, and may limit our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity. A recession or market correction resulting from the spread of COVID-19 could materially affect our business and the value of our common stock.
The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak or a similar health epidemic is highly uncertain and subject to change. We do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, our clinical trials, healthcare systems or the global economy as a whole. However, the effects could have a material impact on our operations, and we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely. In addition, to the extent the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak adversely affects our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks and uncertainties described elsewhere in this “Risk Factors” section.
If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.
We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who remain in the study until its conclusion. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:
•the patient eligibility criteria defined in the protocol;
•the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;
•the proximity of patients to study sites;
•the design of the clinical trial;
•our ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;
•our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;
•the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
•the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the clinical trials before completion; and
•competing clinical trials and approved therapies available for patients.
In particular, some of our clinical trials will look to enroll patients with characteristics which are found in a very small population, for example, patients with rare cancers with specific attributes that are targeted with our product candidates. Our clinical trials will compete with other companies' clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our clinical trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials in these clinical trial sites. Moreover, because our product candidates represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy and antibody therapy, rather than enroll patients in any of our future clinical trials. Patients may also be unwilling to participate in our clinical trials because of negative publicity from adverse events in the biotechnology or gene therapy industries.
Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of the planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these clinical trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.
Any adverse developments that occur during any clinical trials conducted by academic investigators, our collaborators or other entities conducting clinical trials under independent INDs may affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval or commercialize our product candidates.
Rimiducid and CaspaCIDe-containing cell therapy constructs are being used by third parties in clinical trials for which we are collaborating or in clinical trials which are completely independent of our development programs. We have little to no control over the conduct of those clinical trials. If serious adverse events occur during these or any other clinical trials using our product candidates, the FDA and other regulatory authorities may delay, limit or deny approval of our product candidate or require us to conduct additional clinical trials as a condition to marketing approval, which would increase our costs. If we receive regulatory approval for any product candidate and a new and serious safety issue is identified in clinical trials conducted by third parties, the applicable regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product or otherwise restrict our ability to market and sell our product. In addition, treating physicians may be less willing to administer our product due to concerns over such adverse events, which would limit our ability to commercialize our product.
Adverse side effects or other safety risks associated with our product candidates could delay or preclude approval, cause us to suspend or discontinue clinical trials, abandon product candidates, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.*
Adoptive cell therapy with T cells is associated with a range of potentially severe immune-mediated adverse effects. In third party clinical trials involving CAR-T cells, the most prominent acute toxicities included symptoms thought to be associated with the release of cytokines, such as fever, low blood pressure and kidney dysfunction. Some patients also experienced toxicity of the central nervous system, such as confusion, cranial nerve dysfunction and speech impairment. Adverse side effects attributed to CAR-T cells were severe and life-threatening in some patients. The life-threatening events were related to kidney dysfunction and toxicities of the central nervous system. Severe and life-threatening toxicities occurred primarily in the first two weeks after cell infusion and generally resolved within three weeks. In the past, several patients have also died in clinical trials by others involving CAR-T cells.
Undesirable side effects observed in our clinical trials, whether or not they are caused by our product candidates, could result in the delay, suspension or termination of clinical trials by us, the FDA or other regulatory authorities for a number of reasons. In addition, because the patients in our clinical trials are suffering from life-threatening diseases, are often suffering from multiple complicating conditions and, in the case of transplant patients, are in a position of extreme immune deficiency at the time that they receive our therapy, it may be difficult to accurately assess the relationship between our product candidates and adverse events experienced by very ill patients. If we elect or are required to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any product candidates that we develop, the commercial prospects of such product candidates will be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates will be delayed or eliminated. Serious adverse events observed in clinical trials could hinder or prevent market acceptance of the product candidate at issue. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations significantly.
Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming and difficult to design and implement.
Human clinical trials are expensive and difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Because our product candidates are based on relatively new technology, we expect that they will require extensive research and development and have substantial manufacturing and processing costs. Costs to treat patients with relapsed/refractory cancer and to treat potential side effects that may result from therapies such as our current and future product candidates can be significant. Accordingly, our clinical trial costs are likely to be significantly higher than for more conventional therapeutic technologies or drug products. In addition, our proposed product candidates involve several complex and costly manufacturing and processing steps, the costs of which will be borne by us. The costs of our clinical trials may increase if the FDA does not agree with our clinical development plans or requires us to conduct additional clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates.
We face significant competition from other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and our operating results will suffer if we fail to compete effectively.*
The biopharmaceutical industry is characterized by intense competition and rapid innovation. Our competitors may be able to develop other compounds or drugs that are able to achieve similar or better results. Our potential competitors include major multinational pharmaceutical companies, established biotechnology companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and universities and other research institutions. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations and well-established sales forces. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through
collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. Competition may increase further as a result of advances in the commercial applicability of technologies and greater availability of capital for investment in these industries. Our competitors, either alone or with collaborative partners, may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis drug or biologic products that are more effective, safer, more easily commercialized or less costly than our product candidates or may develop proprietary technologies or secure patent protection that we may need for the development of our technologies and products. We believe the key competitive factors that will affect the development and commercial success of our product candidates are efficacy, safety, tolerability, reliability, convenience of use, price and reimbursement.
Specifically, genetically engineering T cells faces significant competition from multiple companies, including, Adaptimmune, Allogene Therapeutics, Inc., Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc., Autolus Therapeutics plc, bluebird bio, Inc., Bristol-Meyer Squibb Co., Cellectis SA, Celyad S.A., Fate Therapeutics Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Intrexon Corporation, Immune Design Corp., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceutical, Kuur Therapeutics, Legend Biotech, Lyell Immunopharma, Inc., Medigene AG, MolMed S.p.A., Mustang Bio, Inc., NantKwest, Inc., Nkarta Inc., Novartis AG, Obsidian Therapeutics, Poseida Therapeutics, Precision Biosciences, Inc., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, and Ziopharm Oncology.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, the availability and price of our competitors’ products could limit the demand and the price we are able to charge for our product candidates. We may not be able to implement our business plan if the acceptance of our product candidates is inhibited by price competition or the reluctance of physicians to switch from existing methods of treatment to our product candidates, or if physicians switch to other new drug or biologic products or choose to reserve our product candidates for use in limited circumstances. For additional information regarding our competition, see “Item 1. Business Competition” under Part I of our Annual Report.
We are highly dependent on our key personnel, and if we are not successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified personnel, we may not be able to successfully implement our business strategy. Workforce and expense reductions may have an adverse impact on our internal programs, our ability to hire and retain key personnel and may be distracting to management.
Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers, other key employees, and other scientific and medical advisors, and our inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business.
Pursuant to our restructuring plan announced in October 2020, we have reduced our staff to 10 employees as of March 31, 2021. This reduction in our staff included our Chief Financial Officer, our Chief Legal and Strategy Officer and various scientific personnel. Depending on our need for additional funding and expense control, we may be required to implement further workforce and expense reductions in the future. Further workforce and expense reductions may not result in efficiencies and anticipated savings and could result in reduced progress on our internal programs. In addition, employees, whether or not directly affected by a reduction, may seek future employment with our business partners or competitors. Although our employees are required to sign a confidentiality agreement at the time of hire, the confidentiality of certain proprietary information and knowledge may not be maintained in the course of any such future employment. Further, we believe that our future success will depend in large part upon our ability to attract and retain highly skilled personnel. We may have difficulty retaining and attracting such personnel as a result of a perceived risk of future workforce and expense reductions. In addition, the implementation of expense reduction programs may result in the diversion of efforts of our executive management team and other key employees, which could adversely affect our business.
To induce valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options and restricted stock units, or RSUs, that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options and RSUs that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Although we have employment agreements with our key employees, these employment agreements provide for at-will employment, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. We do not maintain “key man” insurance policies on the lives of these individuals or the lives of any of our other employees. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled scientific and medical personnel.
The terms of our 2019 private placement of equity restrict our operating and financial flexibility, and give priority to certain investors, both of which could significantly harm our liquidity, financial condition, operating results, business and prospects and cause the price of our common stock to decline.*
In August 2019, we completed an underwritten public offering of 575,000 shares of our Series 1 preferred stock and warrants to purchase up to 5,750,000 shares of our common stock. Concurrent with the public offering we entered into an agreement with certain institutional investors providing for a private placement, pursuant to which we agreed to sell at two or more separate closings, each at the option of the investors and subject to certain conditions, shares of Series 2 preferred stock and warrants to purchase common stock, and shares of Series 3 preferred stock and warrants to purchase common stock, for aggregate gross proceeds of up to $70.0 million. Pursuant to the terms of the securities purchase agreement for the private placement transaction, the investors in the private placement transaction have consent rights over certain significant matters of our business. These include decisions to authorize or issue equity securities that are senior or pari passu to the Series 3 preferred stock with respect to liquidation preference, the incurrence of indebtedness in excess of $1,000,000, the sale or license of certain of the Company’s technology and the payment of dividends. As a result, these stockholders, acting together, will have significant influence over certain matters affecting our business. The investors in the private placement may not exercise their rights to purchase additional tranches of preferred stock and may not consent to us seeking additional funds through debt or other equity financings. In addition, potential additional investors in the Company may decline to do so because of the preferential rights granted under the private placement agreement. Each of these factors could negatively impact our liquidity, financial condition, operating results, business and prospects and cause the price of our common stock to decline.
We are reliant on a third party to manufacture our clinical product candidates and may not be able to secure adequate manufacturing capacity.*
In April 2020, we announced the closing of the sale of our U.S. manufacturing facility to M.D. Anderson. When M.D. Anderson assumed ownership of the facility, we became reliant on M.D. Anderson to supply our current clinical product candidates. We have endeavored to structure the transaction in a manner that ensures availability of adequate capacity and priority access thereto for the continued clinical development of our product candidates. Given the complexity of the manufacturing processes for cellular therapies, M.D. Anderson may be unable to effectively manufacture or release our products in accordance with applicable cGMP standards, or may not have sufficient capacity to fulfill demand for products for our clinical trials, which could result in significant costs or delays to our programs.
We oversee a complex manufacturing supply chain of cellular therapy product candidates, viral vectors and small molecule drugs.*
Because of the complex nature of our cell therapy products, we need to oversee the manufacture of multiple components that require a diverse knowledge base and appropriate manufacturing personnel. The supply chain for these components is separate and distinct, and no single manufacturer can supply more than one component of each of our products. Additionally, it is likely that the cell therapy products will need to be made within an appropriate geographic location for the area in which the products will be utilized, so one cell therapy manufacturing facility may not be able to supply diverse geographic areas. Any lack of capabilities to store, freeze, thaw and infuse our cell therapies would adversely affect our business and prospects.
Our autologous GoCAR-T product candidates, including BPX-601 and BPX-603 are manufactured on a patient-by-patient basis using each patient’s own cells. Efficient manufacturing of these products relies upon our ability to sufficiently expand and activate the cells of patients who have undergone multiple lines of prior therapy, often including immunosuppressive chemotherapy. Manufacturing of GoCAR-T cells requires adequate supply of viral vector to genetically modify them. We rely on third parties to manufacture viral vector, and they may be unable to manufacture sufficient quantity and quality of virus to meet the demand from our clinical trials. Rimiducid, the small molecule drug used to activate both our iMC and iC9 switches, is a complex molecule to synthesize and is relatively insoluble and lipophilic, rendering it difficult to formulate. We have limited internal expertise in small molecule drug development and manufacturing, and we have identified specialty contract manufacturers to produce the rimiducid drug substance and drug product. It is uncertain whether the drug substance and drug product manufacturers will be able to manufacture sufficient quantity and quality of rimiducid to conduct the necessary non-clinical and clinical trials.
We have not yet caused our product candidates to be manufactured or processed on a commercial scale. We may not be able to scale patient-by-patient manufacturing and processing to satisfy clinical or commercial demands for any of our product candidates. In addition, our anticipated reliance on a limited number of third-party manufacturers for manufacturing exposes us to the following risks:
•We may be unable to identify manufacturers on acceptable terms or at all because the number of potential manufacturers is limited, and any replacement contractor must be approved by regulatory authorities. This approval would require new testing and compliance inspections. In addition, a new manufacturer would have to be educated in, or develop substantially equivalent processes for, production of our products after receipt of regulatory approval, if any.
•Our third-party manufacturers might be unable to timely formulate and manufacture our product or produce the quantity and quality required to meet our clinical and commercial needs, if any.
•Our future contract manufacturers may not perform as agreed or may not remain in the contract manufacturing business for the time required to supply our clinical trials or to successfully produce, store and distribute our products.
•Manufacturers are subject to ongoing periodic unannounced inspection by regulatory agencies to ensure strict compliance with cGMP and other government regulations and standards. We do not have control over third-party manufacturers’ compliance with these regulations and standards.
•We may not own, or may have to share, the intellectual property rights to any improvements made by our third-party manufacturers in the manufacturing process for our products.
•Our third-party manufacturers could breach or terminate their agreement with us.
Each of these risks could delay our clinical trials, the approval, if any of our product candidates or the commercialization of our product candidates or result in higher costs or deprive us of potential product revenue. In addition, we will rely on third parties to perform release tests on our product candidates prior to delivery to patients. If these tests are not appropriately done and test data are not reliable, patients could be put at risk of serious harm.
We have limited information available regarding the ultimate cost of our products, and cannot estimate what the cost of our products will be upon commercialization, should that occur.
We do not yet have sufficient information to reliably estimate the cost of the commercial manufacturing and processing of our product candidates, and the actual cost to manufacture and process our product candidates could materially and adversely affect the commercial viability of our product candidates. As a result, we may never be able to develop a commercially viable product. Because of the patient-specific nature of our manufacturing process, it is not amenable to traditional “scale up” to manufacture larger lots as is performed for traditional drugs and biological agents.
Cell-based therapies rely on the availability of specialty raw materials, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all.
Gene-modified cell therapy manufacture requires many specialty raw materials, some of which are manufactured by small companies with limited resources and experience to support a commercial product. Some suppliers typically support biomedical researchers or blood-based hospital businesses and may not have the capacity to support commercial products manufactured under cGMP by biopharmaceutical firms. The suppliers may be ill-equipped to support our needs, especially in non-routine circumstances like an FDA inspection or medical crisis, such as widespread contamination. We also do not have commercial supply arrangements with many of these suppliers and may not be able to contract with them on acceptable terms or at all. Accordingly, we may experience delays in receiving key raw materials to support clinical or commercial manufacturing.
In addition, some raw materials are currently available from a single supplier, or a small number of suppliers. We cannot be sure that these suppliers will remain in business, or that they will not be purchased by one of our competitors or another company that is not interested in continuing to produce these materials for our intended purpose.
A variety of risks associated with marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.*
We plan to seek regulatory approval of our product candidates outside of the U.S. and, accordingly, we will be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries if we obtain the necessary approvals, including:
•differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries;
•unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;
•economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
•compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
•foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;
•foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
•difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations;
•workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the U.S.;
•potential liability under the FCPA or comparable foreign regulations;
•challenges enforcing our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the U.S.;
•production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad;
•differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems and price controls; and
•business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism.
These and other risks associated with our international operations may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.
We may form or seek strategic alliances or enter into additional licensing arrangements in the future, and we may not realize the benefits of such alliances or licensing arrangements.
We may form or seek strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations and enter into additional licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our development and commercialization efforts with respect to our product candidates and any future product candidates that we may develop. Any of these relationships may require us to incur non-recurring and other charges, increase our near and long-term expenditures, issue securities that dilute our existing stockholders or disrupt our management and business. In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic partnership or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because they may be deemed to be at too early of a stage of development for collaborative effort and third parties may not view our product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate safety and efficacy. If we license products or businesses, we may not be able to realize the benefit of such transactions if we are unable to successfully integrate them with our existing operations and company culture. It is possible that, following a strategic transaction or license, we may not achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction. Any delays in entering into new strategic partnership agreements related to our product candidates could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates in certain geographies for certain indications, which would harm our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to identify a strategic partner for rivo-cel, we may not realize value from this asset and we will continue to incur substantial costs.
We are actively pursuing a strategic partner for our CaspaCIDe-containing polyclonal T cell product candidate called rivogenleceucel, or rivo-cel. A partner would assume current and future development and commercialization responsibilities for this product candidate on a worldwide basis. Concurrently, we have substantially reduced and will continue to reduce our rivo-cel-related activities and spending. For example, we have closed our UK office, which was established to prepare for commercialization in Europe. If we are unable to identify an appropriate strategic partner or to negotiate and consummate a license agreement with such a partner, then it will be impossible to submit the planned Marketing Authorisation Applications, or MAA required to seek approval to commercialize this product candidate in Europe. Such a delay in the process of preparing and submitting the MAA will make it more difficult for us or any possible strategic partner to restart the process in the future and ultimately obtain approval for the product, increasing the likelihood that we may be unable to derive any meaningful revenue from this asset. In addition, we are obligated to continue certain regulatory and clinical activities following conclusion
of the rivo-cel clinical trials and if we are unable to identify a strategic partner, we will continue to incur the costs for the internal and external resources required to complete those activities.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Because we rely on third parties to manufacture our drug substance and our drug product, and because we collaborate with various organizations and academic institutions on the advancement of our technology platform, we must, at times, share trade secrets with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology in part by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, collaborative research agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements with our collaborators, advisors, employees and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, such as trade secrets. Despite these contractual provisions, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others, or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our know-how and trade secrets, a competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets or other unauthorized use or disclosure would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business.
We may use our financial and human resources to pursue a particular research program or product candidate and fail to capitalize on programs or product candidates that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Because we have limited resources, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with certain programs or product candidates or for indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs for product candidates may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through strategic collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate, or we may allocate internal resources to a product candidate in a therapeutic area in which it would have been more advantageous to enter into a partnering arrangement.
We and our contractors utilize hazardous materials in our business operations, and any claims relating to improper handling, storage, or disposal of these materials could harm our business.
Our activities involve the controlled use of potentially hazardous substances, including chemical and biological materials, by our third-party manufacturers. Our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the U.S. governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of medical and hazardous materials, and similar laws in other geographic regions. Although we believe that our manufacturers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from medical or hazardous materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We do not have any insurance for liabilities arising from medical or hazardous materials. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.
Our internal computer systems, or those used by our clinical investigators, contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches.
Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses and unauthorized access. While we have not experienced any such material system failure or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage
to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
System outages, network disruptions and cyber-security threats could interrupt the operation of our business.
We are dependent on the use of information technology systems for our operations. Outages, disruptions and threats could have an adverse impact on our ability to conduct operations. Cyber-security threats, such as malware, phishing and network attacks, are on the rise. These attacks can affect the availability of our information technology systems, including their data, as well as the confidentiality and integrity of these systems. A security breach poses a risk to confidential data, including but not limited to intellectual property and trade secrets resulting in financial, legal or reputational harm to us. Insider threats may exist if an individual authorized to access our technology systems improperly discloses sensitive data to unauthorized persons or the public. We also have outsourced elements of our operations, including elements of our information technology infrastructure, and thus manage several independent vendor relationships with third parties who may have access to our confidential information. Confidentiality agreements are in place for authorized users and third parties to support the prevention of confidential information being improperly disclosed. We have policies and procedures in place, including controls around the access and activity of authorized users, active system monitoring, back-up and recovery, information technology security and mandatory annual information technology security awareness training to assist in the prevention and mitigation of an outage, disruption or threat. In addition, we have invested in high availability, redundant technologies that will reduce the risk of an outage, disruption or threat. However, our efforts may not prevent an outage, disruption or threat that would materially adversely affect us. We also may not have sufficient liability insurance, either type or amount, to cover us against claims related to a cyber-security threat.
Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.
Our operations, and those of our clinical investigators, contractors and consultants, could be subject to power shortages, telecommunications failures, water shortages, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, fires, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics and other natural or man-made disasters or business interruptions, for which we are predominantly self-insured. The occurrence of any of these business disruptions could seriously harm our operations and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce and process our product candidates on a patient by patient basis. Our ability to obtain clinical supplies of our product candidates could be disrupted if the operations of these suppliers are affected by a man-made or natural disaster or other business interruption. In particular, certain third-party manufacturers may be unable to comply with their contractual obligations to us due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, including reduced operations or headcount reductions, or otherwise, and in certain cases we may have limited recourse if the non-compliance is due to factors outside of the manufacturer’s control.
Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.*
We are exposed to the risk of employee fraud or other illegal activity by our employees, independent contractors, consultants, commercial partners and vendors. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct that fails to: comply with the laws of the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies; provide true, complete and accurate information to the FDA and other similar foreign regulatory bodies, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws in the U.S. and similar foreign fraudulent misconduct laws, or report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. If we obtain FDA approval of any of our product candidates and begin commercializing those products in the U.S., our potential exposure under such laws will increase significantly, and our costs associated with compliance with such laws are also likely to increase. These laws may impact, among other things, our current activities with principal investigators and research patients, as well as proposed and future sales, marketing and education programs. In particular, the promotion, sales and marketing of healthcare items and services, as well as certain business arrangements in the healthcare industry, are subject to extensive laws designed to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, structuring and commission(s), certain customer incentive programs and other business arrangements generally. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of patient recruitment for clinical trials. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include, but are not limited to:
•the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the
purchase, lease, order or recommendation of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs;
•federal civil and criminal false claims laws and civil monetary penalties law, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment or approval from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third-party payors that are false or fraudulent or knowingly making a false statement to improperly avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;
•the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which created new federal criminal statutes that prohibit knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any healthcare benefit program, regardless of the payor (e.g., public or private) and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up by any trick or device a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services relating to healthcare matters;
•HIPAA, as amended by the Health and Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose requirements on covered entities, including certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their respective business associates that perform services for them that involve the use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information and their covered subcontractors, relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information without appropriate authorization;
•the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and its implementing regulations, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals 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 the HHS, 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 require certain manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to report annually ownership and investment interests held by such physicians and their immediate family members, and beginning in 2022, will require applicable manufacturers to report information regarding payments and other transfers of value provided in the previous year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants and certified nurse midwives;
•federal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers; and
•foreign laws that govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by or are in conflict with HIPAA, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018, and which imposes privacy and security obligations on any entity that collects and/or processes health data from individuals located in the European Union. Under the GDPR, fines of up to 20 million euros or up to 4% of the annual global turnover of the infringer, whichever is greater, could be imposed for significant non-compliance. As well as complicating our compliance efforts, non-compliance with these laws could result in penalties or significant legal liability. The GDPR includes more stringent operational requirements for processors and controllers of personal data and creates additional rights for data subjects.
Additionally, we are subject to state and foreign equivalents of each of the U.S. healthcare laws described above, among others, some of which may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of the payor.
We have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent inappropriate conduct may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations. Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements will comply with applicable healthcare laws may involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental and enforcement authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law interpreting applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, disgorgement, monetary fines, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, imprisonment, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight if
we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and curtailment of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. In addition, the approval and commercialization of any of our product candidates outside the U.S. will also subject us to foreign equivalents of the healthcare laws mentioned above, among other foreign laws.
If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.
We face an inherent risk of product liability as a result of the clinical testing of our product candidates and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products. We may be sued if our product candidates cause or are perceived to cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranties. For example, in May 2019, we were added as an additional defendant in an ongoing civil tort lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles, California. The complaint alleges claims for wrongful death, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, medical battery on decedent, medical battery on individual plaintiffs, products liability-failure to warn, breach of express warranty and products liability design or manufacturing defect. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit or cease commercialization of our product candidates. Even successful defense would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, federal or state liability claims may result in:
•decreased demand for our product candidates;
•injury to our reputation;
•withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
•initiation of investigations by regulators;
•costs to defend the related litigation;
•a diversion of management’s time and our resources;
•substantial monetary awards to clinical trial participants or patients;
•product recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;
•loss of revenue;
•exhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;
•the inability to commercialize any product candidate; and
•a decline in our share price.
Our inability to obtain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of any products we develop, alone or with corporate collaborators. We currently carry product liability insurance covering our clinical trials, with other coverage limits as appropriate for certain foreign jurisdictions. Although we maintain such insurance, our insurance policies may have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.
Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which provides temporary relief from certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that had imposed limitations on the utilization of certain losses, interest expense deductions, and minimum tax credits. We are currently in the process of assessing the tax-related provisions of the CARES Act and its potential impact on us.
As of December 31, 2020, we had aggregate U.S. net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $448.3 million, and aggregate U.S. federal and Texas state research and development credits of approximately $12.5 million and $5.3 million, respectively. These net operating loss carryforwards could expire unused and be unavailable to offset future income tax
liabilities. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and Cares Act, federal net operating losses incurred in taxable years ending after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of federal net operating losses generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 may be limited to 80% of current year taxable income for years beginning on or after January 1, 2021. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change” (which is generally defined as a greater than 50% change (by value) in its equity ownership over a three-year period), the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change income or taxes may be limited. We may have experienced one or more ownership changes in the past, including with respect to our August 2019 public offering, and we may also experience additional ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. If an ownership change occurs and our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards is materially limited, it would harm our future operating results by effectively increasing our future tax obligations.
Risks Related to Government Regulation
The regulatory approval process is lengthy and time-consuming, and we may experience significant delays in the clinical development and regulatory approval of our product candidates.
We have not previously submitted a BLA to the FDA, or similar approval filings to other foreign authorities. A BLA must include extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to establish the product candidate’s safety, purity and potency for each desired indication. It must also include significant information regarding the chemistry, manufacturing and controls for the product. We expect the novel nature of our product candidates to create further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval. For example, FDA’s Office of Tissues and Advanced Therapies, or OTAT, has limited experience with combination products that include a small molecule component. Approval of our GoCAR-T product candidates, will likely require this FDA office to consult with other divisions of the FDA, which may result in further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval, including in developing final product labeling. The regulatory approval pathway for our product candidates may be uncertain, complex, expensive and lengthy, and approval may not be obtained.
We may also experience delays in completing planned clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including delays related to:
• the availability of financial resources to commence and complete our planned clinical trials;
• reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different clinical trial sites;
• recruiting suitable patients to participate in a clinical trial;
• having patients complete a clinical trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;
• clinical trial sites deviating from clinical trial protocol, failing to follow GCPs, or dropping out of a clinical trial;
• adding new clinical trial sites; or
• manufacturing sufficient quantities of qualified materials under cGMPs and applying them on a subject by subject basis for use in clinical trials.
We could also encounter delays if physicians encounter unresolved ethical issues associated with enrolling patients in clinical trials of our product candidates in lieu of prescribing existing treatments that have established safety and efficacy profiles. Further, a clinical trial may be suspended or terminated by us, the IRBs for the institutions in which such clinical trials are being conducted, the Data Monitoring Committee for such clinical trial, or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or clinical trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a product candidate, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. For example, in December 2020 we announced that the FDA had placed a clinical hold on our BPX-601 trial in pancreatic cancer due to the death of a patient in the trial. Although the FDA released the hold in January 2021, there can be no assurance that future patients’ deaths in this or any of our clinical trials will not trigger additional clinical holds. If we experience termination of, or delays in the completion of, any clinical trial of our product candidates, the commercial prospects for our product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down our product development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue.
Many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the EU or U.S., including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials. Studies and clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions.
We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the EU and U.S. have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.
Even if we receive regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense and we may be subject to penalties and/or withdrawal of product approval if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.*
Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates will require surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, in order to approve our product candidates, which could entail requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our product candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our product candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include, among other things, submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMPs and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. Additionally, a company may not promote “off-label” uses for its drug products. An off-label use is the use of a product for an indication that is not described in the product’s FDA-approved label in the U.S. or for uses in other jurisdictions that differ from those approved by the applicable regulatory agencies. Physicians, on the other hand, may prescribe products for off-label uses. Although the FDA and other regulatory agencies do not regulate a physician’s choice of drug treatment made in the physician’s independent medical judgment, they do restrict promotional communications from companies or their sales force with respect to off-label uses of products for which marketing clearance has not been issued. Companies may only share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with a product’s FDA approved labeling. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our product candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:
•restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our product candidates, withdrawal of the product from the market, or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;
•fines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;