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10-K
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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022

OR

 

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

 

Commission File Number: 001-39509

 

Dyne Therapeutics, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

36-4883909

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

1560 Trapelo Road

Waltham, Massachusetts

02451

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (781) 786-8230

 

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

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.0001 par value per share

 

DYN

 

Nasdaq Global Select Market

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES No

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

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

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

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

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

 

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

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

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

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

The aggregate market value of Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant computed by reference to the price of the registrant’s Common Stock as of June 30, 2022, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was approximately $216.3 million (based on the last reported sale price on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as of such date). For this computation, the registrant has excluded the market value of all shares of Common Stock reported as beneficially owned by its executive officer and directors; such exclusion shall not be deemed to constitute an admission that any such person is an affiliate of the registrant.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of February 28, 2023 was 56,338,214.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

The Registrant intends to file a definitive proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A relating to the 2023 Annual Meeting of Stockholders within 120 days of the end of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2022. Portions of such definitive proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein.

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

2

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

52

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

116

Item 2.

Properties

116

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

116

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

116

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

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

117

Item 6.

[Reserved]

117

Item 7.

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

118

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

129

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

129

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

129

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

129

Item 9B.

Other Information

130

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspection

130

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

131

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

131

Item 12.

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

131

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

131

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

131

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

132

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

134

 

i


 

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements and Industry Data

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or this Annual Report, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, that involve substantial risk and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical fact, contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenue, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management, are forward-looking statements. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “would,” or the negative of these words or other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words.

 

The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include, among other things, statements about:

 

the initiation, timing, progress and results of our research and development programs, preclinical studies and clinical trials;
the anticipated timing of the submission and clearance of investigational new drug applications, or INDs, and comparable foreign applications for any product candidates we may develop;
the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and our response to it;
our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements, need for additional financing and the period over which we believe our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements;
our plans to develop and, if approved, subsequently commercialize any product candidates we may develop;
the timing of and our ability to submit applications for, obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for any product candidates we may develop;
the potential advantages of our FORCE platform;
our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy;
our intellectual property position and our expectations regarding our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection;
our ability to identify additional products, product candidates or technologies with significant commercial potential that are consistent with our commercial objectives;
the impact of government laws and regulations;
our competitive position and expectations regarding developments and projections relating to our competitors and any competing therapies that are or become available;
developments and expectations regarding our competitors and our industry;
our ability to establish and maintain collaborations or obtain additional funding; and
our expectations regarding the time during which we will be an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act.

 

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 we make. We have included important factors in this Annual Report, particularly in Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report, that we believe could cause actual results or events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements that we make. Moreover, we operate in a competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risk factors and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. Our

ii


 

forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, collaborations, joint ventures or investments we may make or enter into.

 

You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we have filed or incorporated by reference as exhibits to this Annual Report with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report are made as of the date of this Annual Report, and we do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.

 

This Annual Report includes statistical and other industry and market data that we obtained from independent industry publications and research, surveys and studies conducted by independent third parties as well as our own estimates of the prevalence of certain diseases and conditions. The market data used in this Annual Report involves a number of assumptions and limitations, and you are cautioned not to give undue weight to such data. Industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. Our estimates of the patient population with the potential to benefit from treatment with any product candidates we may develop include several key assumptions based on our industry knowledge, industry publications, third-party research and other surveys, which may be based on a small sample size and may fail to accurately reflect the addressable patient population. While we believe that our internal assumptions are reasonable, no independent source has verified such assumptions.

 

 

iii


 

Risk Factor Summary

 

Our business is subject to a number of risks that, if realized, could materially affect our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition. These risks are discussed more fully in the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

our limited operating history may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability;
we are early in our development efforts. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development, and we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. As a result, it will be many years before we commercialize a product candidate, if ever. If we are unable to advance product candidates through preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtain marketing approval and ultimately commercialize them, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed;
we may encounter substantial delays in commencement, enrollment or completion of our clinical trials or our product candidates may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to warrant further development or satisfy the applicable regulatory authorities, which could prevent us from commercializing any product candidates we determine to develop on a timely basis, if at all;
our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates based on our FORCE platform is unproven, and we may not be successful in our efforts to develop our product candidates;
the outcome of preclinical studies and earlier-stage clinical trials may not be predictive of future results or the success of later preclinical studies and clinical trials;
if our product candidates cause undesirable side effects or have other unexpected adverse properties, such side effects or properties could delay or prevent regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences following any potential marketing approval;
we rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our product manufacturing, research, preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily;
we face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before us or more successfully than we do;
our rights to develop and commercialize any product candidates are subject and may in the future be subject, in part, to the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by third parties. If we fail to comply with our obligations under current or future intellectual property license agreements or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our current or any future licensors, we could lose intellectual property rights that are important to our business;
if we or our licensors are unable to obtain, maintain and defend patent and other intellectual property protection for any product candidates or technology, or if the scope of the patent or other intellectual property protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates or our technology may be adversely affected due to such competition; and
the COVID-19 pandemic may affect our ability to initiate and complete preclinical studies, delay the progress of our ongoing clinical trials or the initiation of future clinical trials, disrupt regulatory activities, or have other adverse effects on our business and operations. In addition, this pandemic has caused substantial disruption to supply chains and may adversely impact economies worldwide, which could negatively impact our operations.

iv


 

PART I

Item 1. Business.

 

Overview

We are a clinical-stage muscle disease company dedicated to advancing innovative life-transforming therapeutics for people living with genetically driven diseases. We are utilizing our proprietary FORCE platform to overcome the current limitations of muscle tissue delivery and advance modern oligonucleotide therapeutics for muscle diseases. Our proprietary FORCE platform therapeutics consist of an oligonucleotide payload that we rationally design to target the genetic basis of the disease we are seeking to treat, a clinically validated linker and an antigen-binding fragment, or Fab, that we attach to the payload using the linker. With our FORCE platform, we have the flexibility to deploy different types of oligonucleotide payloads with specific mechanisms of action that modify target functions. We leverage this modularity to focus on muscle diseases with high unmet need, with etiologic targets and with clear translational potential from preclinical disease models to well-defined clinical development and regulatory pathways.

 

Using our FORCE platform, we are assembling a broad portfolio of muscle disease therapeutics, including our programs in myotonic dystrophy type 1, or DM1, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, and facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, or FSHD. In addition, we plan to expand our portfolio through development efforts focused on rare skeletal muscle diseases, as well as cardiac and metabolic muscle diseases, including some with larger patient populations. We have identified product candidates for each of our DM1, DMD and FSHD programs that are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development. The following table summarizes our portfolio:

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_0.jpg 

 

 

For our product candidate DYNE-101, in September 2022 we began enrollment in ACHIEVE, an ongoing Phase 1/2 global clinical trial in adult patients with DM1. ACHIEVE, which is designed to be a registrational trial, consists of a 24-week multiple ascending dose, or MAD, randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data on safety, tolerability and splicing from the MAD portion of the trial in the second half of 2023.

2

 


 

 

For our product candidate DYNE-251, in August 2022 we began enrollment in DELIVER, an ongoing Phase 1/2 global clinical trial in males with DMD who have mutations amenable to exon 51 skipping therapy. DELIVER, which is designed to be a registrational trial, consists of a 24-week MAD randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data on safety, tolerability and dystrophin from the MAD portion of the trial in the second half of 2023.

 

In September 2022, we announced that we are prioritizing our focus and resources on our clinical programs, DYNE-101 for DM1 and DYNE-251 for DMD. As a result, we announced the deferral of the Investigational New Drug, or IND, application submission for our product candidate DYNE-301 for FSHD that we had originally targeted for the second half of 2022. We plan to provide an update on the FSHD program by the end of 2023.

 

Our approach

Oligonucleotide therapeutics are a genetic medicine modality that, using nucleic acids, specifically aims to correct the function of disease-causing genes by either degrading the target gene transcript or modifying expression of a target protein. While some oligonucleotide therapeutics have been approved, the development of oligonucleotide therapeutics has been limited by challenges in the delivery of the oligonucleotide to the tissue that requires therapy. To overcome these limitations, our FORCE platform utilizes the importance of Transferrin receptor 1, or TfR1, which is highly expressed on the surface of muscle cells, as the foundation of our novel approach of linking therapeutic payloads to our TfR1-binding Fab to deliver targeted therapeutics for muscle diseases. The mechanism of FORCE delivery is designed to utilize the natural biology of TfR1. We do not use membrane destabilizing agents to enter the cell or to escape the endosome. As a result, FORCE displays a distinct pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile, with the potential for a wide therapeutic index.
 

We have designed our proprietary FORCE platform using our deep knowledge of muscle biology and oligonucleotide therapeutics. Our therapeutics consist of three essential components: a proprietary Fab, a clinically validated linker and an oligonucleotide payload that we attach to our Fab using the linker. We engineered our proprietary Fab to bind to TfR1 to enable targeted delivery to skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle. We selected the linker for our platform based on its clinically validated safety and efficacy in approved products, its serum stability and its ability to release the therapeutic payload within the muscle cell. We attach the Fab and linker to a therapeutic payload that can be an antisense oligonucleotide, or ASO, a small interfering RNA, or siRNA, a phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer, or PMO, or a small molecule that we rationally select to target the genetic basis of disease to potentially stop or reverse disease progression. We use the same Fab and linker for our product candidates which enables modularity of the platform.

 

We have demonstrated proof-of-concept of our FORCE platform in multiple in vitro and in vivo studies. In murine and non-human primate, or NHP, studies, we have delivered antisense oligonucleotides, or ASOs, and phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers, or PMOs to genetic targets within muscle tissue and observed durable, disease-modifying, functional benefit in preclinical models of disease.

 

The following graphic illustrates the three components of our therapeutics:
 

FORCE platform

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_1.jpg 

 

Proprietary antibody (Fab)

Our proprietary Fabs are engineered to bind to TfR1 to enable targeted delivery of nucleic acids and other molecules to skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle. A Fab is the region of an antibody that binds to antigens. We selected a Fab antibody over monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, due to its potential significant advantages when targeting TfR1 to enable muscle delivery, including enhanced tissue penetration, increased tolerability due to lower protein load and reduced risk of immune system activation due to the lack of the Fc domain, the portion of an antibody that interacts with the immune system, on the Fab. To identify the proprietary Fab we use in our product candidates, we generated and screened proprietary antibodies for selectivity to TfR1 in order to enhance muscle specificity and for binding to TfR1 without interfering with the receptor’s function of transporting iron into cells.

 

Clinically validated linker

The role of the linker is to connect, or conjugate, the Fab and the oligonucleotide payload. As a result, it is critical that the linker maintain stability in serum and provide release kinetics that favor sufficient payload accumulation in the targeted muscle cell. We have selected the Val-Cit linker for our product candidates based on its clinically validated safety and efficacy in approved products, its serum stability and its endosomal release attributes. We believe that serum stability is necessary to enable systemic intravenous administration, stability of the conjugated oligonucleotide in the bloodstream, delivery to muscle tissue and internalization of the therapeutic payload in the muscle cells. In preclinical studies, our Val-Cit linker facilitated precise conjugation of multiple types of payloads to our proprietary Fabs, including ASOs, small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, and PMOs. This flexibility enables us to rationally select the appropriate type of payload to address the genetic basis of each muscle disease. Additionally, our linker and conjugation chemistry allow us to optimize the ratio of payload molecules attached to each Fab for each type of

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payload. We believe that our linker and conjugation chemistry will enable us to rapidly design, produce and screen molecules to enable new muscle disease programs.

 

Optimized payload

With our FORCE platform, we have the flexibility to deploy different types of therapeutic payloads with specific mechanisms of action that modify target functions. Using this modularity, we rationally select the therapeutic payload for each program to match the biology of the target, with the aim of addressing the genetic basis of disease and stopping or reversing disease progression. For instance, in our DM1 program, where the genetic driver of DM1 is mutant DMPK pre-mRNA located in the nucleus, we have determined to use an ASO because ASOs have advantages in degrading RNA in the nucleus when compared to siRNAs. In the case of our DMD program, we are utilizing an exon skipping PMO payload with the goal of enhancing dystrophin expression. In the case of certain cardiac and metabolic programs where the genetic targets are focused in the cytoplasm, we have engineered proprietary siRNA payloads to reduce the expression of these cytoplasmic targets.

 

Advantages of our FORCE platform

Our FORCE platform is designed to deliver disease-modifying therapeutics for a broad portfolio of serious muscle diseases. We believe that our FORCE platform may provide the following potential advantages:

 

Targeted delivery to muscle tissue;
Potent targeting of the genetic basis of disease to stop or reverse disease progression;
Enhanced tolerability;
Extended durability;
Redosable administration;
Well-established and scalable manufacturing; and
Accelerated and efficient development enabled by use of a single Fab and linker across all of our product candidates and programs.

 

Our strategy

Our goal is to become the leading muscle disease company by advancing innovative life-transforming therapeutics for genetically driven diseases. To accomplish this, we intend to continue building a team that shares our commitment to patients, to continue to enhance our platform and to advance our pipeline. The key elements of our strategy are to:

 

Advance our co-lead programs in DM1 and DMD to clinical proof-of-concept and approval to offer meaningful benefit to patients;
Progress our FSHD program to the clinic with the goal of ultimately offering a therapeutic for a disease with no approved treatments;
Establish a DMD franchise by expanding our DMD program to reach additional DMD patient populations;
Expand our pipeline of therapeutics for muscle diseases to fully exploit the potential of our proprietary FORCE platform;
Selectively enter into strategic collaborations to maximize the value of our pipeline and our proprietary FORCE platform; and
Build a sustainable leadership position in muscle diseases with a deep connection to patients, caregivers, the research community and physicians.

 

Our culture and team

We have established a patient-focused culture that drives our shared mission of developing life-transforming therapeutics for people living with serious muscle diseases. Our shared definition of success

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is simple: we do what we say we are going to do. We keep our commitments to patients, employees and other Dyne stakeholders. We endeavor to act with integrity and transparency.

 

Our management team is led by Joshua Brumm, our President and Chief Executive Officer, who brings over 15 years of leadership experience with life sciences companies; Susanna High, our Chief Operating Officer, who has more than two decades of experience leading corporate strategy, portfolio management, business planning and operations for biotechnology companies; Wildon Farwell, M.D., our Chief Medical Officer, who has significant expertise in clinical development and medical affairs in neuromuscular diseases and oligonucleotide therapies; and Oxana Beskrovnaya, Ph.D., our Chief Scientific Officer, who has extensive experience in musculoskeletal and renal research. Our organization is comprised of 123 talented individuals with significant experience across discovery, preclinical research, manufacturing, clinical development and operations. We have also established scientific and clinical advisory boards comprised of leading experts in the fields of muscle disease drug discovery and development and nucleic acid therapeutics, who share our mission of delivering disease-modifying therapeutics for patients with serious muscle diseases.

 

Our portfolio

We are creating a pipeline of product candidates and programs to address diseases with high unmet need with etiologic targets. Our initial focus is on DM1, DMD and FSHD with potential pipeline expansion opportunities in additional rare skeletal muscle diseases, as well as cardiac and metabolic muscle diseases. In selecting diseases to target with our FORCE platform, we seek diseases with clear translational potential from preclinical disease models to well-defined clinical development and regulatory pathways, and where we believe that we would be able to commercialize any products that we develop and are approved with an efficient, targeted sales force. We have global commercial rights to all of our programs.


Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1)

 

Overview

We are developing our product candidate, DYNE-101, to address the genetic basis of DM1 by targeting the toxic nuclear DMPK RNA that causes the disease. DYNE-101 consists of our proprietary Fab conjugated with our linker to an ASO and is designed to reduce the accumulation of DMPK pre-mRNA in the nucleus, release splicing proteins and potentially stop or reverse disease progression. In in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies supporting our DM1 program, we have observed a reduction in nuclear foci and toxic nuclear DMPK RNA, correction of splicing changes, reversal of myotonia, which is a neuromuscular condition in which the relaxation of a muscle is impaired, and enhanced muscle distribution. In 2022, we submitted regulatory filings and received subsequent clearances in multiple countries outside of the United States for DYNE-101. DYNE-101 is currently being evaluated in the ACHIEVE trial, a Phase 1/2 global clinical trial of adult patients with DM1. ACHIEVE, which is designed to be a registrational trial, consists of a 24-week MAD randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data from the MAD placebo-controlled portion of the ACHIEVE trial on safety, tolerability and splicing in the second half of 2023.

 

Disease overview and prevalence

DM1 is a monogenic, autosomal dominant, progressive disease that primarily affects skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscles. DM1 patients can suffer from various manifestations of the disease including myotonia, muscle weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory problems, fatigue, cardiac abnormalities, gastrointestinal, or GI, complications, early cataracts and cognitive and behavioral impairment.

 

DM1 is caused by an abnormal expansion in a region of the DMPK gene. Specifically, DM1 is caused by an increase in the number of CTG triplet repeats found in the 3’ non-coding region of the DMPK gene. The number of repeats ranges from up to approximately 35 in healthy individuals to many thousands in DM1 patients. The higher-than-normal number of triplet repeats form large hairpin loops that entrap the DMPK pre-mRNA in the nucleus and impart toxic activity, referred to as a toxic gain-of-function mutation. The mutant DMPK pre-mRNA sequesters in the nucleus, forming nuclear foci that bind splicing proteins.

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This inhibits the ability of splicing proteins to perform their normal function in the nucleus of guiding pre-mRNA processing of gene transcripts from many other genes. As a result, multiple pre-mRNAs that encode key proteins are mis-spliced. This mis-splicing in the nucleus results in the translation of atypical proteins which ultimately cause the clinical presentation of DM1. When nuclear DMPK levels are reduced, the nuclear foci that bind splicing proteins are diminished, releasing splicing proteins, allowing normal mRNA processing and translation of normal proteins, and potentially stopping or reversing disease progression. This disease process is illustrated below:

 

DM1: Genetic basis and clinical presentation

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_2.jpg 

 

DM1 is estimated to have a genetic prevalence of 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 8,000 people in the United States and Europe, affecting over 40,000 people in the United States and over 74,000 people in Europe. However, we believe that the patient population is currently underdiagnosed due to lack of available therapies as is observed for other rare diseases. DM1 is highly variable with respect to disease severity, presentation and age of onset.

 

We are advancing our own efforts to better characterize the actual DM1 patient population through a natural history study that we are sponsoring. We believe that the introduction of new therapies for DM1 will cause the diagnosis rate to improve, resulting in an increase in the overall prevalence estimates for the disease. Based on age of onset and severity of symptoms, DM1 is typically categorized into four overlapping phenotypes: late-onset; classical (adult-onset); childhood; and congenital (cDM1):
 

Overview of DM1 phenotypes

 

 

 

 

 

Phenotype

Clinical presentation

Estimated % of DM1 patients

Age of onset

Late-onset

• Myotonia

• Muscle weakness

• Cataracts

10%

40 - 70 years

Classical (Adult-onset)

• Muscle weakness and wasting

• Myotonia

• Cardiac conduction abnormalities

• Respiratory insufficiency

• Fatigue/Excessive daytime sleepiness

• GI disturbance

• Cataracts

65%

Early teens - 50 years

Childhood

• Psychological problems

15%

1 - 10 years

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• Low IQ

• Incontinence

 

 

Congenital (cDM1)

• Infantile hypotonia

• Severe generalized weakness

• Respiratory deficits

• Intellectual disability

• Classic signs present in adults

10%

Birth

 

 

All DM1 phenotypes, except the late-onset form, are associated with high levels of disease burden and premature mortality. The clinical course of DM1 is progressive, and may become extremely disabling, especially when more generalized limb weakness and respiratory muscle involvement develops. Systemic manifestations such as fatigue, GI complications, cataracts and excessive daytime sleepiness greatly impact a patient’s quality of life. As a result, DM1 leads to physical impairment, activity limitations and decreased participation in social activities and work. Excluding congenital DM1 deaths, life expectancy ranges from 45 years to 60 years. Approximately 80% of early mortality is caused by cardiorespiratory complications. Respiratory failure due to muscle weakness (especially diaphragmatic weakness) causes at least 50% of early mortality, and cardiac abnormalities, including sudden death, account for approximately 30% of early mortality.

 

Current approaches and limitations

There are currently no disease-modifying therapies to treat DM1 that are approved and treatment is focused largely on symptom management or palliative therapies. There are a number of product candidates in development, including product candidates in late-stage clinical development that also are focused on symptom management or palliative therapies and do not target toxic nuclear DMPK RNA, which is the genetic basis of the disease. There remains a high unmet medical need for new disease-modifying therapies.

 

Our approach

Our program is designed to address the genetic basis of DM1 by targeting the toxic nuclear DMPK RNA that is the cause of the disease. Our product candidate, DYNE-101, consists of our proprietary Fab linked to an ASO to reduce the levels of mutant DMPK RNA in the nucleus, thereby releasing splicing proteins, allowing normal mRNA processing and translation of normal proteins, and potentially stopping or reversing disease progression. The ASO is a gapmer oligonucleotide that is designed to translocate to the nucleus, bind its complementary sequence on the DMPK RNA, recruit RNAseH1 to degrade DMPK RNA and thus reduce toxic nuclear DMPK RNA. We have chosen to develop our product candidate with an ASO because single-stranded ASOs preferentially target nuclear RNAs, which is essential for degradation of toxic nuclear DMPK RNA.

 

Another company previously attempted to develop a naked ASO to treat DM1 but discontinued its program due to challenges related to delivery. Specifically, the program was unable to reach the oligonucleotide muscle tissue concentration required to reduce nuclear DMPK levels, correct splicing abnormalities and address the clinical presentation. The other company believed there was a need to focus on more potent delivery to muscle. We believe that our FORCE platform has the potential to overcome the limitations faced by the other company and address the genetic basis of DM1 by achieving enhanced delivery of therapeutic ASOs to muscle.

 

Preclinical data

We have conducted extensive preclinical studies supporting the development of DYNE-101 in multiple preclinical disease models. In in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies, we observed a reduction of nuclear foci, correction of splicing and reversal of myotonia in disease models, reduction of toxic human nuclear DMPK in a hTfR1/DMSXL DM1 mouse model developed by us, as well as enhanced muscle distribution.

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We believe these data support the potential for our oligonucleotide therapy to be a disease-modifying therapy for patients with DM1.

 

Data from Multiple DM1 Models Demonstrated that FORCE was Delivered to Muscle and Drove Disease Modification

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_3.jpg 

 

In preclinical studies in DM1 patient cells that contained toxic nuclear DMPK RNA, we observed that administration of DYNE-101 resulted in a robust, dose-dependent reduction of DMPK RNA, nuclear foci and correction of splicing defects.

 

In DM1, the higher-than-normal number of CUG repeats form large hairpin loops that remain trapped in the nucleus, forming nuclear foci that bind splicing proteins and inhibit the ability of splicing proteins to perform their normal function. When toxic nuclear DMPK levels are reduced, the nuclear foci are diminished, releasing splicing proteins, allowing restoration of normal mRNA processing, and potentially stopping or reversing disease progression. In these studies, we evaluated patient cells with approximately 380 and 2,600 CTG repeats, the latter representing a severe form of DM1.

 

As illustrated in the figure below, a single dose of DYNE-101 led to a reduction in toxic nuclear DMPK RNA and foci as determined through a fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. The reduced nuclear DMPK foci are indicated by the reduction in red punctate staining in the figure below for DYNE-101 as compared to a saline control (shown as PBS).

 

We also observed correction of splicing of downstream RNAs such as Bridging Integrator Protein 1, or BIN1. Toxic DMPK RNA in the nucleus binds splicing proteins, inhibiting splicing protein function, and thereby reducing Exon 11 in BIN1 RNA.


In DM1 Patient Cells, DYNE-101 Demonstrated Robust Dose-dependent DMPK Knockdown, Foci Reduction, and Splicing Correction

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_4.jpg 

 

We have also observed correction of splicing in the HSA-LR DM1 mouse model. The HSA-LR mouse model is a well-validated model of DM1 that exhibits pathologies that are very similar to human DM1 patients. This model accumulates toxic RNA with triplet repeats within the nucleus and sequesters proteins responsible for splicing such as Muscleblind-like Protein, or MBNL, thus causing mis-splicing of multiple RNAs such as CLCN1 (chloride channel) and Atp2a1 (calcium channel), among others. This mis-splicing causes the mice to exhibit myotonia, which is a hallmark of the DM1 clinical presentation in humans.

 

In preclinical studies evaluating an ASO conjugated to a Fab targeting TfR1, which we refer to as FORCE, we observed a dose-dependent correction of splicing in multiple RNAs and multiple muscles and reversal of myotonia in HSA-LR mice. In these studies, as shown in the figures below, we evaluated the correction of splicing in more than 30 different RNAs that are critical for contraction and relaxation of muscle in HSA-LR mice. In DM1, significant RNA mis-splicing of these RNAs reduces muscle function. We observed a dose-dependent correction of splicing for all of the tested RNAs in the gastrocnemius, quadriceps and tibialis anterior muscles.

 

FORCE Drove Dose-Dependent Splicing Correction Across Full Panel of Genes in HSALR DM1 Mouse Model

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_5.jpg 

 

The figure below presents the levels of splicing derangement observed for saline and different doses of FORCE presented on a composite basis across the more than 30 RNAs that we tested in each muscle type.

 

FORCE dose-dependently corrected splicing in multiple muscles in HSA-LR DM1 mouse model

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_6.jpg 

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In addition to these reductions in splicing derangement across multiple genes and muscles, we observed in the HSA-LR model disease modification and almost complete reversal of myotonia after a single dose (20 mg/kg) of FORCE. As shown in the figure below, we evaluated the severity of myotonia on a four-point scale 14 days following dosing with saline (PBS), naked ASO and FORCE, with grade 0 representing no myotonia, grade 1 representing myotonic discharge as measured by electromyography (EMG) in less than 50% of needle insertions, grade 2 representing myotonic discharge in greater than 50% of needle insertions and grade 3 representing myotonic discharge with nearly every needle insertion. We conducted this evaluation in quadriceps, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles.
 

Single dose of FORCE reversed myotonia in HSA-LR DM1 mouse model

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_7.jpg 

 

Separately, in a third-party study of a naked ASO conducted in the same HSA-LR model by the company that discontinued its program due to delivery challenges, reductions in myotonia were observed after one month following eight 25 mg/kg doses of a naked ASO administered biweekly for a total dose of 200 mg/kg.

 

We believe the correction of splicing and reduction of myotonia we observed in our studies show that the intravenously administered FORCE was internalized into multiple muscles, enabling the ASO payload to enter the nucleus and degrade toxic DMPK RNA, thereby releasing splicing proteins to correct splicing of multiple RNAs and reverse myotonia.

 

We have developed an innovative hTfR1/DMSXL mouse model designed to evaluate pharmacodynamics and accelerate the advancement of our DM1 program. This model was designed with two key characteristics:

 

it expresses a human TfR1, or hTfR1, rather than the murine TfR1 expressed in wild-type mice, enabling uptake of human TfR1-targeting Fabs; and

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it expresses murine wild-type DMPK and toxic human nuclear DMPK that represents a severe DM1 phenotype with more than 1,000 CTG repeats.

 

These characteristics have enabled us to evaluate the ability of DYNE-101 to reduce toxic human nuclear DMPK RNA. This hTfR1/DMSXL mouse model is illustrated below:

 

Overview of hTfR1/DMSXL DM1 mouse model

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_8.jpg 

 

In hemizygous hTfR1/DMSXL mice, which carry one copy of the human DMPK gene, we conducted fractionation studies in which we observed direct evidence that toxic human DMPK RNA is trapped in the nucleus as shown in the figure below.

 

Toxic Human DMPK is Trapped in Nuclei in hTfR1/DMSXL Hemizygous Model

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_9.jpg 

Note: Fractions from gastrocnemius of vehicle-treated hTfR1/DMSXL hemizygous model. Data are mean ±SD; n=2


As shown in the figure below, we also observed that DYNE-101 acted within the nucleus to degrade toxic human DMPK RNA.

 

DYNE-101 Achieved Robust Toxic Human DMPK Knockdown in Nuclei of hTfR1/DMSXL Hemizygous Model

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_10.jpg 

Note: hTfR1/DMSXL hemizygous model. Single IV 10 mg/kg dose on d0, samples from gastrocnemius analyzed d28; Data are mean ±SD; n = 2

 

Homozygous hTfR1/DMSXL mice carry two copies of the human DMPK gene yielding higher DMPK expression compared with hemizygous DMSXL mice and have a DM1 splicing phenotype. In hTfR1/DMSXL homozygous mice, DYNE-101 delivered sustained knockdown of toxic human DMPK RNA (49 percent) and foci area (49 percent) in heart tissue leading to splicing correction at four weeks. Similar results were observed in skeletal muscle, with DYNE-101 demonstrating toxic human DMPK RNA knockdown of 40 percent in the diaphragm, 49 percent in the tibialis anterior, and 44 percent in the gastrocnemius, along with correction of splicing in each muscle at four weeks. Separately, in a third-party study of a naked ASO conducted in a DMSXL mouse model, after 44 days and significantly more and higher doses of the naked ASO, the naked ASO achieved toxic human nuclear DMPK knockdown at levels comparable to what we observed in our studies of the hTfR1/DMSXL mouse model.

 

DYNE-101 Demonstrated Toxic DMPK KD, Foci Reduction and Splicing Correction in Heart of hTfR1/DMSXL Homozygous Model

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_11.jpg 

Note: hTfR1/DMSXL homozygous model. 2 x 10 mg/kg on d0 and d7, analyzed d28. Composite splicing index includes changes in Ldb3 exon (E) 11, Mbnl2 E6, and Nfix E7. Data are mean ± SD, n = 6 - 7.; * p <0.05; **** p < 0.0001


DYNE-101 Demonstrated Toxic
DMPK KD and Splicing Correction in Skeletal Muscles of hTfR1/DMSXL Homozygous Model

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_12.jpg 

Note: hTfR1/DMSXL homozygous model. 2 x 10 mg/kg on d0 and d7, analyzed d28. Composite splicing indices include Bin1 E11, Insr E11, Ldb3 E11, Mbnl2 E6, Nfix E7, and Ttn E313 mis-splicing measured by qRT-PCR. Data are means ± SD; n = 4–7; **** p < 0.0001 by t-test.

 

We also evaluated DYNE-101 in non-human primates. Currently there are no known DM1 disease models in non-human primates. As a result, any therapeutic candidate that reduces DMPK RNA expression in non-human primates is a result of targeting cytoplasmic wild-type DMPK RNA and not reflective of disease modification, which would require targeting toxic DMPK RNA in the nucleus. Consequently, we utilize non-human primate studies to evaluate muscle delivery, pharmacokinetics and tolerability of our FORCE platform. We have observed up to 70% wild-type DMPK RNA knockdown in NHPs at two months after two monthly doses of DYNE-101. In addition, in a 13-week GLP toxicology study in NHPs, DYNE-101 was well tolerated. No dose limiting toxicity was observed up to a maximally

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feasible dose. No changes in cardiac, respiratory, neurologic or ophthalmic endpoints were observed; no effect on kidney or liver function; no effect on coagulation; and no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) was identified at the highest dose tested based on conclusions of a third-party contract research organization, or CRO.

 

ACHIEVE - Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial

DYNE-101 is currently being evaluated in the ACHIEVE trial, a global Phase 1/2 clinical trial consisting of a 24-week MAD, randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. The trial, which is designed to be registrational, is expected to enroll approximately 64 adult patients with DM1 who are 18 to 49 years of age. The primary endpoints are safety and tolerability; with secondary endpoints of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, including change from baseline in splicing, as well as measures of muscle strength and function. In the MAD portion of the ACHIEVE trial, patients will be randomized to receive DYNE-101 or placebo intravenously every four weeks or every eight weeks for 24 weeks, depending on cohort. Patient cohorts will be dosed from 1.8 mg/kg to 10.2 mg/kg (approximate ASO dose) across four cohorts. Following the placebo-controlled period, patients transition to DYNE-101 treatment in the open-label portion of the trial and in the long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data on safety, tolerability and splicing from the MAD portion of the trial in the second half of 2023.

 

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)

 

Overview

We are developing program candidates under our DMD program to address the genetic basis of DMD by delivering a PMO to muscle tissue to promote the skipping of specific DMD exons in the nucleus, allowing muscle cells to create a more complete, functional dystrophin protein and to potentially stop or reverse disease progression. We believe that PMOs, with their preferential targeting of nuclear mechanisms, are the best payload to address nuclear exon skipping. In in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies, our PMOs when conjugated to a Fab targeting TfR1 have shown increased exon skipping, increased dystrophin expression, reduced muscle damage and increased muscle function. We are seeking to build a global DMD franchise by initially focusing on the development of our product candidate DYNE-251 for patients with mutations amenable to skipping Exon 51, to be followed by the development of therapeutics for patients with mutations amenable to skipping other exons, including Exon 53, 45 and 44. In 2022, we submitted regulatory filings and received subsequent clearances in multiple countries, including the United States, for DYNE-251. DYNE-251 is currently being evaluated in the DELIVER trial, a Phase 1/2 global clinical trial in males with mutations amenable to skipping exon 51. The DELIVER trial consists of a 24-week MAD randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data on safety, tolerability and dystrophin from the MAD portion of the trial are anticipated in the second half of 2023. In October 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Fast Track designation for DYNE-251.

 

Disease overview and prevalence

DMD is a monogenic, X-linked, disease caused by mutations in the gene that encodes for the dystrophin protein. Dystrophin protein is essential to maintain the structural integrity and normal function of muscle cells for walking, breathing and cardiac function. In patients with DMD, mutations in the dystrophin gene lead to certain exons being misread, resulting in the loss of function of the dystrophin protein. The reduction or absence of dystrophin leads to damage to muscle cell membranes, resulting in muscle cell death and progressive loss of muscle function.

 

DMD symptoms typically begin to manifest with weakness and progressive loss of muscle function beginning in the first few years of life. Young boys experience progressive muscle wasting and have difficulty standing up, climbing stairs, running, breathing and performing daily functions. As the disease progresses the severity of damage to skeletal and cardiac muscles results in patients experiencing total loss of ambulation in the pre-teenage or early teenage years. Progressive loss of upper extremity function is often observed in the mid-to-late teens followed by respiratory and/or cardiac failure, resulting in death

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before the age of 30. The below graphic highlights the mechanism of exon skipping and resulting dystrophin expression in healthy individuals and in DMD patients and how our DMD program is designed to address the genetic basis of DMD.

 

Targeting the Genetic Basis of DMD

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_13.jpg 


We estimate that DMD occurs in approximately one in every 3,500 to 5,000 live male births and that approximately 12,000 to 15,000 patients in the United States, and approximately 25,000 patients in Europe, have DMD. Approximately 80% of patients with DMD have DMD mutations amenable to exon skipping in the nucleus. Exons 51, 53, 45 and 44 represent nearly half of the total mutations observed in DMD that are amenable to exon skipping, as illustrated in the figure below.

 

Overview of DMD exons amenable to skipping

 

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_14.jpg 

 

 

Current approaches and limitations

Currently, patients with DMD are treated with corticosteroids to manage the inflammatory component of the disease. There are four FDA-approved naked PMO-based oligonucleotide therapies, each addressing a specific mutation: EXONDYS 51 (eteplirsen), which is approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 51 skipping, VYONDYS 53 (golodirsen), which is approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping, VILTEPSO (vitolarsen), which is approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping and AMONDYS 45 (casimersen), which is approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to EXON 45 skipping. However, each of the drugs requires weekly intravenous infusions. Eteplirsen, golodirsen and casimersen have demonstrated a less than 1% mean increase in dystrophin in clinical trials and vitolarsen has demonstrated an approximately 3% increase in dystrophin in clinical trials. The FDA-approved labels for all four drugs state that a clinical benefit has not yet been established and that continued approval may be contingent upon the verification of such clinical benefit in confirmatory clinical trials. In Europe, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, has rejected an application for approval of eteplirsen citing insufficient evidence of clinical benefit. In addition, a fourth drug, TRANSLARNA (ataluren), has only been conditionally approved in the European Union, Iceland and South Korea for non-sense mutations in DMD in ambulatory patients aged five years and older. Each of these approved products seeks to address DMD through the exon skipping approach we are pursuing, but we believe their limited efficacy is due to poor muscle uptake and biodistribution. There are a number of product candidates in development, including product candidates in late-stage clinical development, which seek to address DMD through the exon skipping approach we are pursuing, including naked oligonucleotides, targeted oligonucleotides and PMOs conjugated to charged peptides, as well as product candidates that seek to address DMD through gene editing and gene replacement with viral gene therapies and with other approaches. We believe that each of these approaches currently have significant limitations, and that there continues to be a high unmet medical need for new disease-modifying therapies.

 

Our approach

Our DMD program is designed to address the genetic basis of DMD by promoting the skipping of specific DMD exons in the nucleus, allowing muscle cells to create more complete, functional dystrophin protein.

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Under our DMD program, we are developing program candidates that incorporate our proprietary Fab targeting TfR1 conjugated to a PMO designed to promote the skipping of specific DMD exons in the nucleus. Existing clinical data generated by others supports the benefits of utilizing a single stranded ASO or PMO to skip the faulty exon in the nucleus of DMD patient cells. We believe our Fab targeting TfR1 allows for more efficient delivery of a PMO to skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle cells, creating an opportunity to increase dystrophin expression, enable less frequent dosing and provide greater clinical benefit compared to current therapeutic approaches. We plan to develop our program candidates for DMD with a PMO, initially for Exon 51 and in the future for other exon mutations including Exons 53, 45 and 44.

 

Preclinical data

We have conducted multiple in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies of our FORCE platform in DMD that have shown increased exon skipping, increased dystrophin expression, reduced muscle damage and increased muscle function. We believe these data support the potential for DYNE-251 to be a disease-modifying therapy for patients with DMD amenable to skipping Exon 51.

 

In studies in the mdx mouse DMD model, a validated and widely accepted mouse model in DMD which has a mutation in Exon 23, we observed that single intravenous doses of an Exon 23-targeting PMO conjugated to a Fab targeting TfR1 which we refer to as FORCE-M23D, achieved robust, durable exon skipping in cardiac and skeletal muscles after a single dose. We observed at four weeks after a single dose of 30 mg/kg (also shown in figure below):

 

90% of wild-type dystrophin restoration by Western Blot with approximately 80% dystrophin-positive fibers in the diaphragm
77% of wild-type dystrophin restoration by Western Blot with approximately 80% dystrophin-positive fibers in the heart
51% of wild-type dystrophin restoration by Western Blot with approximately 68% dystrophin-positive fibers in the quadriceps


FORCE Achieved Robust and Durable Dystrophin Expression and Sarcolemma Localization in mdx Mouse Muscle

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_15.jpg 

Note: Single IV 30 mg/kg dose of FORCE-M23D in mdx mouse model on day 0; analysis on week 4 for all muscles. N= 3 - 5 per cohort.

 

As shown in the figure below, in these studies we observed dystrophin membrane localization last up to 12 weeks in the quadriceps after a single dose, with FORCE treatment demonstrating approximately 68% to 83% of positive fibers between weeks four and eight. Additionally, in the mdx model, we observed that

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treatment with FORCE resulted in enhanced functional benefit in multiple standardized assessments and a reduction in serum creatinine kinase, a biomarker of muscle damage.

 

FORCE Achieved Durable Dystrophin Localization to Sarcolemma in Quadriceps

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_16.jpg 

 

Because NHPs are not a DMD disease model, dystrophin expression cannot be measured but exon skipping and safety and tolerability can be evaluated. We observed robust Exon 51 skipping in cardiac and skeletal muscles in NHPs after five weekly 30 mg/kg doses of DYNE-251, measured eight weeks post initial dose. As shown in the figure below, Exon 51 skipping was 43 percent in the heart, 52 percent in the diaphragm, and 18 percent in the quadriceps.
 

DYNE-251 Achieved Robust Exon Skipping in NHP Skeletal and Cardiac Muscles

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_17.jpg 

Note: Data are means ± SD. N = 3 - 5 per cohort.

 

We also evaluated the safety and tolerability of DYNE-251 in a GLP toxicology study. We observed a favorable safety profile with no dose limiting toxicity after an aggressive five weekly dosing schedule where we dosed up to the maximally feasible highest dose. No changes in cardiac, respiratory,

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neurologic, or ophthalmic parameters were observed; no effects on kidney or liver function or coagulation, and therefore, NOAEL was identified at the highest dose tested in the study, based on conclusions of a third-party CRO.

 

DELIVER - Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial
 

DYNE-251 is currently being evaluated in the DELIVER trial, a Phase 1/2 global clinical trial consisting of a 24-week MAD randomized, placebo-controlled period, a 24-week open-label extension and a 96-week long-term extension. The trial, which is designed to be registrational, is expected to enroll approximately 46 ambulant and non-ambulant males with DMD who are ages 4 to 16 and have mutations amenable to exon 51 skipping therapy. The primary endpoints are safety, tolerability and change from baseline in dystrophin levels as measured by Western blot. Secondary endpoints include measures of muscle function, exon skipping and pharmacokinetics.

 

In the MAD portion of the DELIVER trial, patients will be randomized to receive DYNE-251 or placebo every four weeks intravenously for 24 weeks based on a global protocol designed to incorporate feedback from multiple regulatory authorities, including on starting dose. Patient cohorts will be dosed from 0.7 mg/kg to 40 mg/kg (approximate PMO dose) in the United States. Outside the United States, patient cohorts will be dosed from 5 mg/kg to 40 mg/kg. Following the placebo-controlled period, patients transition to DYNE-251 treatment in the open-label portion of the trial and in the long-term extension. We anticipate reporting initial data on safety, tolerability and dystrophin from the MAD portion of the trial are anticipated in the second half of 2023.

 

Next steps

We are seeking to build a global DMD franchise by initially focusing on the development of DYNE-251 in patients with mutations amenable to skipping Exon 51, to be followed by the development of therapeutics for patients with mutations amenable to skipping other exons, including Exons 53, 45 and 44.

 

Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy (FSHD)

 

Overview

We are developing our product candidate, DYNE-301 to address the genetic basis of FSHD by reducing DUX4 expression in muscle tissue. We exclusively licensed from the University of Mons, or UMONS, intellectual property covering multiple ASOs that have been shown to potently target DUX4 in preclinical studies. DYNE-301, consists of our proprietary Fab conjugated with our linker to an ASO that is designed to address the genetic basis of FSHD by reducing DUX4 expression in muscle tissue. We generated proof-of-concept data showing that DYNE-301 reduced expression of key DUX4 biomarkers in FSHD patient myotubes, a type of muscle cell. We continue to evaluate the optimal approach to target DUX4 and translate our preclinical work to a tractable clinical development pathway, and we plan to provide an update on the FSHD program by the end of 2023.

 

Disease overview and prevalence

FSHD is one of the most common muscular dystrophies and affects both sexes equally, with onset typically in teens and young adults. FSHD is characterized by progressive skeletal muscle loss that initially causes weakness in muscles in the face, shoulders, arms and trunk and progresses to weakness in muscles in lower extremities and the pelvic girdle. Skeletal muscle weakness results in significant physical limitations, including progressive loss of facial muscles that can cause an inability to smile or communicate, difficulty using arms for activities of daily living and difficulty getting out of bed, with many patients ultimately becoming dependent upon the use of a wheelchair for daily mobility activities. We estimate that the patient population is between 16,000 and 38,000 in the United States and approximately 35,000 in Europe. We believe that there may be additional patients who are not formally diagnosed due to a perceived difficulty of obtaining a diagnosis and the fact that there are no approved treatments. Approximately two-thirds of cases are familial-inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion and one-third of

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cases occur randomly or as a result of environmental factors. FSHD affects all ethnic groups with similar incidence and prevalence.

 

FSHD is caused by aberrant expression of the DUX4 gene in muscle resulting in inappropriate presence of the DUX4 protein, a transcription factor causing the expression of other genes. Normally, DUX4-driven gene expression is limited to early embryonic development, after which time the DUX4 gene is silenced. In patients with FSHD, a genetic mutation causes expression of DUX4 protein to continue after embryonic development. The DUX4 protein regulates the expression of multiple genes encoding other proteins, some of which are toxic to muscle. Evidence of aberrant expression of DUX4 and the genes it activates, including ZSCAN4, MBD3L2, and TRIM43, is a major molecular signature that distinguishes muscles affected by FSHD from healthy muscle. The aberrant expression of DUX4 in FSHD results in muscle death and replacement by fat, which leads to the progressive muscle weakness and disability which characterize the disease, as shown in the figure below.

 

FSHD: genetic basis and disease process

 

https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_18.jpg 

 

Current approaches and limitations

There are currently no approved therapies for FSHD, and patients are treated with pain management and physical therapy. There are a number of product candidates in clinical development, including losmapimod, a p38 MAPK inhibitor that is intended to modulate DUX4 expression and is being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical trial. To aid in the development of therapies for FSHD, we are sponsoring an ongoing natural history study seeking to validate new clinical outcome assessments and evaluate physiological biomarkers to support the design and implementation of future clinical trials.

 

Our approach

We generated proof-of-concept data showing that DYNE-301 reduced expression of key DUX4 biomarkers in FSHD patient myotubes.

 

As shown in the figure below, we evaluated DYNE-301 (FORCE-FM10), and naked FM10 in an immortalized FSHD patient cell line. Three well-known DUX4 transcriptome markers MBD3L2, TRIM43, and ZSCAN4 were tracked and a significant increase in expression was observed in these markers once cells were differentiated to myotubes. DYNE-301 was subsequently evaluated in vitro and showed potent suppression of these DUX4 transcriptome markers with IC50 in the low nanomolar range and also demonstrated superior reduction of these same markers compared to naked (unconjugated) PMO.

 

DYNE-301 Highly Potent and Suppressed Expression of Key DUX4 Biomarkers in FSHD Patient Myotubes

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https://cdn.kscope.io/8a258ea0ee68eed06584066de6162d06-img107152145_19.jpg 

 

Next steps

In September 2022, we announced that we are prioritizing our focus and resources on our clinical programs, DYNE-101 for DM1 and DYNE-251 for DMD. As a result, we announced the deferral of the IND application submission for DYNE-301 for FSHD that we had originally targeted for the second half of 2022. We plan to provide an update on the FSHD program by the end of 2023.

 

Discovery programs

We intend to expand our FORCE portfolio by pursuing programs in additional indications, including additional rare skeletal muscle diseases, as well as cardiac and metabolic muscle diseases. By rationally selecting therapeutic payloads to conjugate with our proprietary Fab and linker, we plan to develop product candidates to address the genetic basis of additional muscle diseases. In selecting these payloads, we plan to prioritize ASOs for indications driven by nuclear genetic targets and siRNAs for indications driven by cytoplasmic targets. We have completed screening and identified potent ASO and siRNA payloads against a number of cardiac and metabolic targets. We may selectively establish strategic collaborations for certain of these programs where we believe we could benefit from the resources or capabilities of other biopharmaceutical companies. We may also seek strategic collaborations where we believe we can utilize our FORCE platform to enhance delivery of third-party payloads to muscle tissue.
 

In addition to our muscle disease portfolio, we believe there is an opportunity to leverage our TfR1 antibody expertise to develop novel antibodies that cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver therapeutics to CNS tissue through systemic intravenous administration. These antibodies will likely have different characteristics, such as TfR1 affinity, than the antibodies we have optimized for muscle delivery.

 

Manufacturing

We do not own or operate manufacturing facilities. We currently rely on third-party contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, and suppliers for our Fab antibody, linker and oligonucleotide payloads that comprise our program candidates and the conjugation of these components. We plan to use third-party CMOs to support our IND-enabling studies and to fully supply our clinical trials and commercial activities but may also seek to eventually establish our own manufacturing facility for long-term commercial supply. As we scale manufacturing, we intend to continue to expand and strengthen our network of CMOs. We

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believe there are multiple sources for all of the materials required for the manufacture of our product candidates, as well as multiple CMOs who could assemble the antibody, linker and payload that comprise our program candidates.

 

Manufacturing is subject to extensive regulations that impose procedural and documentation requirements. These regulations govern record keeping, manufacturing processes and controls, personnel, quality control and quality assurance. Our CMOs are required to comply with these regulations and are assessed through regular monitoring and formal audits. Our third-party manufacturers are required to manufacture any product candidates we develop under current Good Manufacturing Practice, or cGMP, requirements and other applicable laws and regulations.

 

We have personnel with extensive technical, manufacturing, analytical and quality experience to oversee all contracted manufacturing and testing activities. We have established a CMC Advisory Board to support our manufacturing personnel.

 

Intellectual property

We strive to protect our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, platforms, program candidates, product candidates and components thereof, their methods of use and processes for their manufacture that we believe are important to our business, including by obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent and other intellectual property rights for the foregoing in the United States and in foreign jurisdictions. We also rely on trade secrets and confidentiality agreements to protect our confidential information and know-how and other aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection.

 

Our future commercial success depends in part on our ability to:

 

obtain, maintain, enforce and defend patent and other intellectual property rights for our important technology, inventions and know-how;
preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets and other confidential information;
obtain and maintain licenses to use and exploit intellectual property owned or controlled by third parties;
operate without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating any valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights of third parties; and
defend against challenges and assertions by third parties challenging the validity or enforceability of our intellectual property rights, or our rights in our intellectual property, or asserting that the operation of our business infringes, misappropriates or otherwise violates their intellectual property rights.

 

As of December 31, 2022, we owned 57 patent application families related to our business, comprised of 15 U.S. provisional patent applications, eight issued U.S. patents, 32 pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, 24 pending Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, patent applications, and 132 pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Eurasia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa, and we exclusively licensed one patent family, comprised of two issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications and one issued European patent that has been validated in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

 

Our owned and licensed patent estate covers various aspects of our programs and technology, including our FORCE platform, proprietary antibodies, oligonucleotide conjugates, methods of treatment and aspects of manufacturing. Any U.S. or foreign patents issued from national stage filings of our PCT patent applications and any U.S. patents issued from non-provisional applications we may file in connection with our provisional patent applications would be scheduled to expire on various dates from 2039 through 2043, without taking into account any possible patent term adjustments or extensions and assuming

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payment of all appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity and other governmental fees. Further details on certain segments of our patent portfolio are included below.

 

FORCE platform

With regard to our FORCE platform, as of December 31, 2022, we owned four pending PCT patent applications, eight pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, and 32 pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Eurasia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa. These applications relate to various aspects of our FORCE platform including proprietary antibodies, oligonucleotide conjugates, methods of manufacture and methods of treatment. Any patents issued from these applications are expected to expire from 2039 to 2042; however, patent term extension may be available.

 

DM1 program

With regard to our DM1 program, as of December 31, 2022, we owned two pending PCT patent applications, four pending U.S. provisional patent applications, two issued U.S. patents, five pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, and 25 pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Eurasia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa. These applications relate to composition of matter and methods of treating disease involving our FORCE platform in the context of DM1. The two issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2039 without taking into account any possible patent term extensions. Any additional patents issued from these applications are expected to expire from 2039 to 2043; however, patent term extension may be available.

 

DMD programs (Exons 51, 53, 44, 45, and other)

With regard to our DMD programs, as of December 31, 2022, we owned nine pending PCT patent applications, three pending U.S. provisional patent applications, five issued U.S. patents, four pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, and 25 pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, Europe, Eurasia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa. These patent filings relate to composition of matter and methods of treating disease involving our FORCE platform in the context of DMD. The five issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2039 without taking into account any possible patent term extensions. Any additional patents issued from these applications are expected to expire in 2039, 2041, 2042 and 2043; however, patent term extension may be available.

 

FSHD program

With regard to our FSHD Program, as of December 31, 2022, we owned two pending PCT patent applications, four issued U.S. patents, six pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, and 25 pending foreign patent applications in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Eurasia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa. These patent filings relate to composition of matter and methods of treating disease involving our FORCE platform in the context of FSHD. The four issued U.S. patents are expected to expire in 2039 without taking into account any possible patent term extensions. Any additional patents issued from these applications are expected to expire in 2039, 2041, 2042 and 2043; however, patent term extension may be available. We also in-license a patent family from UMONS comprised of two issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. patent applications and one issued European patent that has been validated in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. The issued patents expire in 2031; however, a patent term extension may be available.

 

Discovery programs

With regard to our discovery programs, as of December 31, 2022, we owned one pending PCT patent application, three pending U.S. non-provisional patent applications, and five pending foreign patent applications in China, Canada, Europe and Japan. These applications relate to composition of matter and methods of treating disease involving our FORCE platform in the context of a variety of additional rare skeletal muscle diseases, as well as cardiac and metabolic muscle diseases. Any patents issued from

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these applications are expected to expire in 2039, 2041 and 2042; however, patent term extension may be available.

 

Patent prosecution

A PCT patent application is not eligible to become an issued patent until, among other things, we file one or more national stage patent applications in the jurisdictions in which we seek patent protection and do so within prescribed timelines of the PCT application’s priority date. These prescribed timelines are generally 30 months, 31 months or 32 months, depending on the jurisdiction. If we do not timely file any national stage patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our PCT patent application and any potential patent protection on the inventions disclosed in such PCT patent application.

 

Moreover, a provisional patent application is not eligible to become an issued patent. A provisional patent application may serve as a priority filing for a non-provisional patent application we file within 12 months of such provisional patent application. If we do not timely file non-provisional patent applications, we may lose our priority date with respect to our existing provisional patent applications and any potential patent protection on the inventions disclosed in our provisional patent applications.

 

While we intend to timely file additional provisional patent applications and national stage and non-provisional patent applications relating to our PCT patent applications, we cannot predict whether any of our patent applications will result in the issuance of patents. If we do not successfully obtain patent protection, or if the scope of the patent protection we or our licensors obtain with respect to our product candidates or technology is insufficient, we will be unable to use patent protection to prevent others from using our technology or from developing or commercializing technology and products similar or identical to ours or other similar competing products and technologies. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell, importing or otherwise commercializing any of our technology, inventions and improvements, either directly or indirectly, will depend in part on our success in obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing patent claims that cover our technology, inventions and improvements.

 

The patent positions of companies like ours are generally uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions. The protection afforded by a patent varies on a product-by-product basis, from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction, and depends upon many factors, including the type of patent, the scope of its coverage, the availability of patent term adjustments and regulatory-related patent term extensions, the availability of legal remedies in a particular jurisdiction and the validity and enforceability of the patent. Patent laws and related enforcement in various jurisdictions outside of the United States are uncertain and may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. Changes in the patent laws and rules, whether by legislation, judicial decisions or regulatory interpretation, in the United States and other jurisdictions may have uncertain affects that could improve or diminish our ability to protect our inventions and obtain, maintain, defend and enforce our patent rights, and could therefore affect the value of our business in uncertain ways.

 

The area of patent and other intellectual property rights in biotechnology is evolving and has many risks and uncertainties, and third parties may have blocking patents and other intellectual property that could be used to prevent us from commercializing our platform and product candidates and practicing our proprietary technology. Our patent rights may be challenged, narrowed, circumvented, invalidated or ruled unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop third parties from marketing and commercializing related platforms or product candidates or limit the term of patents that cover our platform and any product candidates. In addition, the rights granted under any issued patents may not provide us with protection or competitive advantages against third parties with similar technology, and third parties may independently develop similar technologies.

 

Moreover, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product, it is possible that before any of our product candidates can be commercialized, any related patent may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby

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reducing any competitive advantage provided by the patent. For this and other risks related to our proprietary technology, inventions, improvements, platforms and product candidates and intellectual property rights related to the foregoing, please see the section entitled “Risk factors—Risks related to our intellectual property.”

 

Patent term

The term of individual patents depends upon the laws of the jurisdictions in which they are obtained. In most jurisdictions in which we file, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest date of filing of the first non-provisional patent application to which the patent claims priority. However, the term of U.S. patents may be extended or adjusted for delays incurred due to compliance with FDA requirements or by delays encountered during prosecution that are caused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO. For example, in the United States, a patent claiming a new biologic product, its method of use or its method of manufacture may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, for up to five years beyond the normal expiration date of the patent. Patent term extension cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date in the United States. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent for which extension is sought. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. During the period of extension, if granted, the scope of exclusivity is limited to the approved product for approved uses. Some foreign jurisdictions, including Europe and Japan, have analogous patent term extension provisions, which allow for extension of the term of a patent that covers a drug approved by the applicable foreign regulatory agency. For more information on patent term extensions, see Item 1. “Business—Government regulation—Patent term restoration and extension” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In the future, if and when any product candidates we may develop receive FDA approval, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on issued patents covering those product candidates. Moreover, we intend to seek patent term adjustments and extensions for any of our issued patents in any jurisdiction where such adjustments and extensions are available. However, there is no guarantee that the applicable authorities, including the USPTO and FDA, will agree with our assessment of whether such adjustments and extensions should be granted, and even if granted, the length of such adjustments and extensions.

 

Trade secrets

In addition to patent protection, we also rely on trade secrets, know-how, unpatented technology and other proprietary information to strengthen our competitive position. We currently, and may continue in the future continue to, rely on third parties to assist us in developing and manufacturing our products. Accordingly, we must, at times, share trade secrets, know-how, unpatented technology and other proprietary information, including those related to our platform, with them. We may in the future also enter into research and development collaborations with third parties that may require us to share trade secrets, know-how, unpatented technology and other proprietary information under the terms of research and development partnerships or similar agreements. Nonetheless, we take steps to protect and preserve our trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information and prevent the unauthorized disclosure of the foregoing, including by entering into non-disclosure and invention assignment agreements with parties who have access to our trade secrets or other confidential and proprietary information, such as employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, contract research and manufacturing organizations, sponsored researchers and other advisors, at the commencement of their employment, consulting or other relationships with us. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems, to guard against any misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information by third parties.

 

Despite these efforts, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or other confidential or proprietary information. In addition, we cannot provide any assurances that all of the foregoing non-disclosure and invention assignment agreements have been duly executed, and any of the counterparties

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to such agreements may breach them and disclose our trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information. Although we have confidence in the measures we take to protect and preserve our trade secrets and other confidential and proprietary information, they may be inadequate, our agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for such breaches. Moreover, to the extent that our employees, contractors, consultants, collaborators and advisors use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to our rights in any know-how or inventions arising out of such work. For more information, please see the section entitled “Risk factors—Risks related to our intellectual property.”

 

License agreement with the University of Mons

In April 2020, we entered into a license agreement with UMONS, or the UMONS Agreement, pursuant to which UMONS granted to us an exclusive, worldwide license to certain patents and patent applications related to oligonucleotides for our FSHD program and a non-exclusive, worldwide license to existing, related know-how. Each of the issued patents licensed to us under the UMONS Agreement is scheduled to expire in 2031. The licenses under the UMONS Agreement confer on us the right to research, develop and commercialize products, which we refer to as licensed products, and to practice processes, in each case, covered by the licensed patents and existing, related know-how.

 

Under the UMONS Agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to develop at least one licensed product and, to the extent regulatory approval is obtained in such jurisdictions, to commercialize at least one licensed product in the United States and the United Kingdom or a member country of the European Union. Unless terminated earlier, the UMONS Agreement will remain in effect until the last to expire of the licensed patent rights on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis. UMONS may terminate the UMONS Agreement in the event of a material breach by us and our failure to cure such breach within a specified time period. We may voluntarily terminate the UMONS Agreement with prior notice to UMONS.

 

In connection with our entry into the UMONS Agreement, we paid UMONS an upfront payment of €50,000. We also agreed to make milestone payments to UMONS upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones up to a maximum aggregate total of €400,000 for the first licensed product to achieve such milestones and up to a maximum aggregate total of €200,000 for each subsequent licensed product to achieve each such milestones, as well as a low single-digit percentage royalty on net sales of licensed products by us, our affiliates and sublicensees. These royalty obligations continue on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis until the expiration of the last licensed patent rights covering such licensed product in such country. In addition, if we sublicense rights under the UMONS Agreement, we are required to pay a low double-digit percentage of the sublicense revenue to UMONS. Additionally, if we choose to file, prosecute or maintain any patents included in the licensed patent rights under the UMONS Agreement, we will be required to bear the full cost and expenses of preparing, filing, prosecuting and maintaining any such patents.

 

Competition

The biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries generally, and the muscle disease field specifically, are characterized by rapid evolution of technologies, sharp competition and strong defense of intellectual property. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will have to compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. While we believe that our technology, development experience and scientific knowledge in the field of muscle diseases, oligonucleotide therapeutics and manufacturing provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions.

 

There are currently no approved therapies to treat the underlying cause of DM1. Product candidates currently in development to treat DM1 include: tideglusib, a GSK3-ß inhibitor in late-stage clinical development by AMO Pharma Ltd. for the congenital phenotype of DM1; pitolisant, a selective histamine 3 receptor antagonist / inverse agonist being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for non-muscular

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symptoms of DM1 by Harmony Biosciences Holdings, Inc.; AT466, an AAV-antisense candidate in preclinical development by Audentes Therapeutics, Inc.; AOC-1001, an antibody linked siRNA being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial by Avidity Biosciences, Inc., or Avidity; gene editing treatments in preclinical development by Biogen, Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or Vertex; an RNA-targeting gene therapy in preclinical development by Locana, Inc.; small molecules interacting with RNA in preclinical development by Expansion Therapeutics, Inc.; therapeutics based on biomolecular condensate biology in preclinical development by Dewpoint Therapeutics, Inc. and Faze Medicines, Inc.; gene targeted chimera small molecules in preclinical development by Design Therapeutics, Inc.; EDODM1, a peptide-linked PMO in preclinical development by Pepgen, Inc.; ENTR-701, an endosomal escape vehicle technology with a CUG steric blocker oligonucleotide by Entrada Therapeutics, Inc. (in collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.); and NT0200, a peptide-nucleic acid (PNA) in preclinical development by Neubase Therapeutics, Inc.

 

Currently, patients with DMD are treated with corticosteroids to manage the inflammatory component of the disease. EMFLAZA (deflazacort) is an FDA-approved corticosteroid marketed by PTC Therapeutics, Inc., or PTC. In addition, there are four FDA-approved exon skipping drugs: EXONDYS 51 (eteplirsen), VYONDYS 53 (golodirsen) and AMONDYS 45 (casimersen), which are naked PMOs approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 51, Exon 53 and Exon 45 skipping, respectively, and are marketed by Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc., or Sarepta, and VILTEPSO (vitolarsen), a naked PMO approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping, which is marketed by Nippon Shinyaku Co. Ltd. Companies focused on developing treatments for DMD that target dystrophin mechanisms, as does our DMD program, include Sarepta with SRP-5051, a peptide-linked PMO being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for patients amenable to Exon 51 skipping, Wave Life Sciences Ltd. with WVE-N531, a stereopure oligonucleotide being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial for patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping, PTC with ataluren, a small molecule targeting nonsense mutations in a Phase 3 clinical trial with conditional market authorization in the EMA, Entrada Therapeutics, Inc. with ENTR-601-44, an endosomal escape vehicle technology for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 44 skipping currently on clinical hold, Pepgen, Inc., with EDO51, a peptide-linked PMO for patients amenable to Exon 51 skipping which is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers; BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. with BMN 351, an oligonucleotide therapy that targets dystrophin production which is in preclinical development and Avidity with AOC 1044, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate that targets dystrophin production for patients amenable to Exon 44 skipping being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial. In addition, several companies are developing gene therapies to treat DMD, including Milo Biotechnology (AAV1-FS344), Pfizer Inc. (PF-06939926), Sarepta (SRP-9001 and Galgt2 gene therapy program), Solid Biosciences Inc. (SGT-003) and REGENXBIO Inc (RGX-202). Gene editing treatments that are in preclinical development are also being pursued by Vertex and Sarepta. We are also aware of several companies targeting non-dystrophin mechanisms for the treatment of DMD.

 

There are currently no therapies to treat the underlying cause of FSHD. Products currently in development to treat FSHD include: ARO-DUX4, an siRNA therapy in preclinical development by Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AOC-1020, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial by Avidity, MC-DX4, a microRNA targeting therapy in preclinical development by miRecule, Inc. (in collaboration with Sanofi, Inc.), creatine monohydrate, a supplement that enhances muscle performance, which is being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and losmapimod, a p38 MAPK inhibitor that may modulate DUX4 expression, which is being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical trial by Fulcrum Therapeutics Inc.

 

We will also compete more generally with other companies developing alternative scientific and technological approaches, including other companies working to develop conjugates with oligonucleotides for extra-hepatic delivery, including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aro Biotherapeutics, Inc., Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Avidity, Denali Therapeutics, Inc., Novo Nordisk A/S, DTx Pharma, Inc., Gennao Bio, Inc., Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., NeuBase Therapeutics, Inc. and Sarepta, as well as gene therapy and gene editing approaches.

 

Many of our competitors, either independently or with strategic partners, have substantially greater financial, technical and human resources than we do. Accordingly, our competitors may be more

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successful than we are in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approval for treatments and achieving widespread market acceptance. Merger and acquisition activity in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries may result in resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. These companies also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials and acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.

 

Our commercial opportunity could be substantially limited if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are more effective, safer, less toxic, more convenient or less expensive than products we may develop. In geographies that are critical to our commercial success, competitors may also obtain regulatory approvals before us, resulting in our competitors building a strong market position in advance of the entry of our products. In addition, our ability to compete may be affected in many cases by insurers or other third-party payers seeking to encourage the use of other drugs. The key competitive factors affecting the successful of all any products we may develop are likely to be their efficacy, safety, convenience, price and availability of reimbursement.

 

Government regulation

Government authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level and in other countries and jurisdictions, including the European Union, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, pricing, reimbursement, sales, quality control, approval, packaging, storage, recordkeeping, labeling, advertising, promotion, distribution, marketing, post-approval monitoring and reporting and import and export of pharmaceutical products, including biological products. The processes for obtaining marketing approvals in the United States and in foreign countries and jurisdictions, along with subsequent compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and other regulatory authorities, require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

 

Licensure and regulation of biologics in the United States

In the United States, any product candidates we may develop would be regulated as biological products, or biologics, under the Public Health Service Act, or PHSA, and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and their implementing regulations and guidance.

 

A company, institution, or organization which takes responsibility for the initiation and management of a clinical development program for such products is referred to as a sponsor. A sponsor seeking approval to market and distribute a new drug or biological product in the United States must typically secure the following:

 

preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies all performed in accordance with the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practices, or GLP, regulations and other applicable requirements;
completion of the manufacture, under cGMP conditions, of the drug substance and drug product that the sponsor intends to use in human clinical trials along with required analytical and stability testing;
design of a clinical protocol and submission to the FDA of an IND application for human clinical testing, which must become effective before human clinical trials may begin;
approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, representing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;
performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety, potency and purity of the product candidate for each proposed indication, in accordance with current Good Clinical Practices, or GCP;
preparation and submission to the FDA of a biologics license application, or BLA, for a biologic product requesting marketing for one or more proposed indications, including submission of

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detailed information on the manufacture and composition of the product in clinical development and proposed labelling;
review of the product by an FDA advisory committee, where appropriate or if applicable;
satisfactory completion of one or more FDA inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities, including those of third parties, at which the product, or components thereof, are produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
satisfactory completion of any FDA audits of the preclinical studies and clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GLP, as applicable, and GCP, and the integrity of clinical data in support of the BLA;
payment of user Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, securing FDA approval of the BLA and licensure of the new biologic product; and
compliance with any post-approval requirements, including the potential requirement to implement a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, and any post-approval studies or other post-marketing commitments required by the FDA.

 

Preclinical studies and investigational new drug application

Before testing any biologic product candidate in humans, including an antibody, the product candidate must undergo preclinical testing. Preclinical tests include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as studies to evaluate the potential for efficacy and toxicity in animal studies. These studies are generally referred to as IND-enabling studies. The conduct of the preclinical tests and formulation of the compounds for testing must comply with federal regulations and requirements. The results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND application.

 

An IND is an exemption from the FDCA that allows an unapproved product candidate to be shipped in interstate commerce for use in an investigational clinical trial and a request for FDA authorization to administer such investigational product to humans. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless before that time the FDA raises concerns or questions about the product or conduct of the proposed clinical trial, including concerns that human research subjects will be exposed to unreasonable health risks. In that case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding FDA concerns before the clinical trials can begin or recommence.

 

As a result, submission of the IND may result in the FDA not allowing the trials to commence or allowing the trial to commence on the terms originally specified by the sponsor in the IND. If the FDA raises concerns or questions either during this initial 30-day period, or at any time during the IND review process, it may choose to impose a partial or complete clinical hold. Clinical holds are imposed by the FDA whenever there is concern for patient safety, may be a result of new data, findings, or developments in clinical, preclinical and/or chemistry, manufacturing and controls or where there is non-compliance with regulatory requirements. This order issued by the FDA would delay either a proposed clinical trial or cause suspension of an ongoing trial, until all outstanding concerns have been adequately addressed and the FDA has notified the company that investigations may proceed. This could cause significant delays or difficulties in completing our planned clinical trial or future clinical trials in a timely manner.

 

Expanded access to an investigational drug for treatment use

Expanded access, sometimes called “compassionate use,” is the use of investigational products outside of clinical trials to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no comparable or satisfactory alternative treatment options. The rules and regulations related to expanded access are intended to improve access to investigational products for patients who may benefit from investigational therapies. FDA regulations allow access to investigational products under an IND by the company or the treating physician for treatment purposes on a case-by-case basis for: individual patients (single-patient IND applications for treatment in emergency settings and non-emergency

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settings); intermediate-size patient populations; and larger populations for use of the investigational product under a treatment protocol or treatment IND application.

 

When considering an IND application for expanded access to an investigational product with the purpose of treating a patient or a group of patients, the sponsor and treating physicians or investigators will determine suitability when all of the following criteria apply: patient(s) have a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition, and there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy to diagnose, monitor, or treat the disease or condition; the potential patient benefit justifies the potential risks of the treatment and the potential risks are not unreasonable in the context or condition to be treated; and the expanded use of the investigational drug for the requested treatment will not interfere with initiation, conduct, or completion of clinical investigations that could support marketing approval of the product or otherwise compromise the potential development of the product.

 

There is no obligation for a sponsor to make its drug products available for expanded access. Drug and biologic companies must, however, make publicly available their policies for expanded access for individual patient access to products intended for serious diseases. Sponsors are required to make such policies publicly available upon the earlier of initiation of a Phase 2 or Phase 3 trial; or 15 days after the investigational drug or biologic receives designation as a breakthrough therapy, Fast Track product, or regenerative medicine advanced therapy.

 

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

 

Human clinical trials in support of a BLA

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients with the disease or condition to be treated under the supervision of a qualified principal investigator in accordance with GCP requirements. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the trial, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety, and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. A protocol for each clinical trial and any subsequent protocol amendments must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND.

 

A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. When a foreign clinical trial is conducted under an IND, all FDA IND requirements must be met unless waived. When a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must ensure that the trial complies with certain regulatory requirements of the FDA in order to use the trial as support for an IND or application for marketing approval. Specifically, the FDA requires that such trials be conducted in accordance with GCP, including review and approval by an independent ethics committee and informed consent from participants. The GCP requirements encompass both ethical and data integrity standards for clinical trials. The FDA’s regulations are intended to help ensure the protection of human subjects enrolled in non-IND foreign clinical trials, as well as the quality and integrity of the resulting data. They further help ensure that non-IND foreign trials are conducted in a manner comparable to that required for clinical trials in the United States.

 

Further, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB either centrally or individually at each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted. The IRB will consider, among other things, clinical trial design, patient informed consent, ethical factors, the safety of human subjects, and the possible liability of the institution. An IRB must operate in compliance with FDA regulations. The FDA, IRB, or the clinical trial sponsor may suspend or discontinue a clinical trial at any time for various reasons, including a finding that the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements or that the participants are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Clinical testing also must satisfy extensive GCP rules and the requirements for informed consent.

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Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board, or DSMB. This group may recommend continuation of the trial as planned, changes in trial conduct, or cessation of the trial at designated check points based on certain available data from the trial to which only the DSMB has access. Finally, research activities involving infectious agents, hazardous chemicals, recombinant DNA and genetically altered organisms and agents may be subject to review and approval of an Institutional Biosafety Committee, or IBC, in accordance with NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules.

 

Clinical trials typically are conducted in three sequential phases, but the phases may overlap or be combined. Additional studies may be required after approval.

 

Phase 1 clinical trials are initially conducted in a limited population to test the product candidate for safety, including adverse effects, dose tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and pharmacodynamics in healthy subjects or patients.
Phase 2 clinical trials are generally conducted in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, evaluate the efficacy of the product candidate for specific targeted indications and determine dose tolerance and optimal dosage. Multiple Phase 2 clinical trials may be conducted by the sponsor to obtain information prior to beginning larger and more costly Phase 3 clinical trials.
Phase 3 clinical trials proceed if the Phase 2 clinical trials demonstrate that a dose range of the product candidate is potentially effective and has an acceptable safety profile. Phase 3 clinical trials are undertaken within an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage, provide substantial evidence of clinical efficacy and further test for safety in an expanded and diverse patient population at multiple, geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. A well-controlled, statistically robust Phase 3 trial may be designed to deliver the data that regulatory authorities will use to decide whether or not to approve, and, if approved, how to appropriately label a biologic; such Phase 3 studies are referred to as “pivotal.”

 

In some cases, the FDA may approve a BLA for a product but require the sponsor to conduct additional clinical trials to further assess the product’s safety and effectiveness after approval. Such post-approval trials are typically referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials. These studies are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and to document a clinical benefit in the case of biologics approved under accelerated approval regulations. If the FDA approves a product while a company has ongoing clinical trials that were not necessary for approval, a company may be able to use the data from these clinical trials to meet all or part of any Phase 4 clinical trial requirement or to request a change in the product labeling. The failure to exercise due diligence with regard to conducting Phase 4 clinical trials could result in withdrawal of approval for products.

 

A clinical trial may combine the elements of more than one phase and the FDA often requires more than one Phase 3 trial to support marketing approval of a product candidate. A company’s designation of a clinical trial as being of a particular phase is not necessarily indicative that the study will be sufficient to satisfy the FDA requirements of that phase because this determination cannot be made until the protocol and data have been submitted to and reviewed by the FDA. Moreover, as noted above, a pivotal trial is a clinical trial that is believed to satisfy FDA requirements for the evaluation of a product candidate’s safety and efficacy such that it can be used, alone or with other pivotal or non-pivotal trials, to support regulatory approval. Generally, pivotal trials are Phase 3 trials, but they may be Phase 2 trials if the design provides a well-controlled and reliable assessment of clinical benefit, particularly in an area of unmet medical need.

 

In December 2022, with the passage of Food and Drug Omnibus Reform Act, or FDORA, Congress required sponsors to develop and submit a diversity action plan for each Phase 3 clinical trial or any other “pivotal study” of a new drug or biological product. These diversity action plans are meant to encourage the enrollment of more diverse patient populations in late-stage clinical trials of FDA-regulated products. Specifically, diversity action plans must include the sponsor’s goals for enrollment, the underlying

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rationale for those goals, and an explanation of how the sponsor intends to meet them. In addition to these requirements, the legislation directs the FDA to issue new guidance on diversity action plans.

 

Finally, sponsors of clinical trials are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information on a public registry (clinicaltrials.gov) maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, or NIH. In particular, information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators and other aspects of the clinical trial is made public as part of the registration of the clinical trial. The NIH’s Final Rule on registration and reporting requirements for clinical trials became effective in 2017. Although the FDA has historically not enforced these reporting requirements due to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’, or HHS, long delay in issuing final implementing regulations, the FDA has issued several Notices of Noncompliance to manufacturers since April 2021.

 

Pediatric Studies

 

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003, a BLA or supplement thereto must contain data that are adequate to assess the safety and effectiveness of the product for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations, and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. Sponsors must also submit pediatric study plans prior to the assessment data. Those plans must contain an outline of the proposed pediatric study or studies the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, any deferral or waiver requests, and other information required by regulation. The sponsor, the FDA, and the FDA’s internal review committee must then review the information submitted, consult with each other, and agree upon a final plan. The FDA or the sponsor may request an amendment to the plan at any time.

 

For products intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, the FDA must, upon the request of a sponsor, meet to discuss preparation of the initial pediatric study plan or to discuss deferral or waiver of pediatric assessments. In addition, FDA will meet early in the development process to discuss pediatric study plans with sponsors and FDA must meet with sponsors by no later than the end-of-phase 1 meeting for serious or life-threatening diseases and by no later than 90 days after FDA’s receipt of the study plan.

 

The FDA may, on its own initiative or at the request of the sponsor, grant deferrals for submission of some or all pediatric data until after approval of the product for use in adults, or full or partial waivers from the pediatric data requirements. A deferral may be granted for several reasons, including a finding that the product or therapeutic candidate is ready for approval for use in adults before pediatric trials are complete or that additional safety or effectiveness data needs to be collected before the pediatric trials begin. The law now requires the FDA to send a PREA Non-Compliance letter to sponsors who have failed to submit their pediatric assessments required under PREA, have failed to seek or obtain a deferral or deferral extension or have failed to request approval for a required pediatric formulation. It further requires the FDA to publicly post the PREA Non-Compliance letter and sponsor’s response. Unless otherwise required by regulation, the pediatric data requirements do not apply to products with orphan designation, although FDA has recently taken steps to limit what it considers abuse of this statutory exemption.

 

Compliance with cGMP requirements

Before approving a BLA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in full compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. The PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products like biologics whose attributes cannot be precisely defined.

 

Manufacturers and others involved in the manufacture and distribution of products must also register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies. Both domestic and foreign manufacturing establishments must register and provide additional information to the FDA upon their initial participation in the manufacturing process. Any product manufactured by or imported from a facility that has not registered, whether foreign or domestic, is deemed misbranded under the FDCA. Establishments may be

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subject to periodic unannounced inspections by government authorities to ensure compliance with cGMPs and other laws. Inspections must follow a “risk-based schedule” that may result in certain establishments being inspected more frequently. Manufacturers may also have to provide, on request, electronic or physical records regarding their establishments. Delaying, denying, limiting, or refusing inspection by the FDA may lead to a product being deemed to be adulterated.

 

The PREVENT Pandemics Act, enacted in December 2022, clarifies that foreign drug manufacturing establishments are subject to registration and listing requirements even if a drug or biologic undergoes further manufacture, preparation, propagation, compounding or processing at a separate establishment outside the United States prior to being imported or offered for import into the United States.

 

Submission and filing of a BLA

The results of product candidate development, preclinical testing and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, are submitted to the FDA as part of a BLA requesting license to market the product. The BLA must contain extensive manufacturing information and detailed information on the composition of the product and proposed labeling as well as payment of a user fee. Under federal law, the submission of most BLAs is subject to an application user fee, which for federal fiscal year 2023 is $3.25 million for an application requiring clinical data. The sponsor of a licensed BLA is also subject to an annual program fee, which for fiscal year 2023 is approximately $394,000. Certain exceptions and waivers are available for some of these fees, such as an exception from the application fee for products with orphan designation and a waiver for certain small businesses.

 

The FDA conducts a preliminary review of all applications within 60 days of receipt and must inform the sponsor at that time or before whether an application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. In pertinent part, FDA’s regulations state that an application “shall not be considered as filed until all pertinent information and data have been received” by the FDA. In the event that FDA determines that an application does not satisfy this standard, it will issue a Refuse to File, or RTF, determination to the sponsor. The FDA may request additional information rather than accept an application for filing. In this event, the application must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application is also subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing.

 

Once the submission of the BLA has been accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review of the application. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under the PDUFA, the FDA has ten months in which to complete its initial review of a standard application and respond to the sponsor, and six months for a priority review of the application. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority BLAs. The review process may often be significantly extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification. The review process and the PDUFA goal date may be extended by three months if the FDA requests or if the sponsor otherwise provides additional information or clarification regarding information already provided in the submission within the last three months before the PDUFA goal date.

 

In connection with its review of an application, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product candidate is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in full compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. The PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products like biologics whose attributes cannot be precisely defined. Additionally, before approving an application, the FDA will typically inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. With passage of FDORA, Congress clarified the FDA’s authority to conduct inspections by expressly permitting inspection of facilities involved in the preparation, conduct, or analysis of clinical and non-clinical studies submitted to the FDA as well as other persons holding study records or involved in the study process.

 

Under the PHSA, the FDA may approve a BLA if it determines that the product is safe, pure and potent, and the facility where the product will be manufactured meets standards designed to ensure that it continues to be safe, pure and potent. On the basis of the FDA’s evaluation of the application and

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accompanying information, including the results of the inspection of the manufacturing facilities and any FDA audits of preclinical and clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCPs, the FDA may issue an approval letter or a complete response letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. If the application is not approved, the FDA will issue a complete response letter, which will contain the conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the application, and when possible, will outline recommended actions the sponsor might take to obtain approval of the application. Sponsors that receive a complete response letter may submit to the FDA information that represents a complete response to the issues identified by the FDA. Such resubmissions are classified under PDUFA as either Class 1 or Class 2. The classification of a resubmission is based on the information submitted by a sponsor in response to an action letter. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under PDUFA, the FDA has two months to review a Class 1 resubmission and six months to review a Class 2 resubmission. The FDA will not approve an application until issues identified in the complete response letter have been addressed.

 

The FDA may also refer the application to an advisory committee for review, evaluation and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. In particular, the FDA may refer applications for novel biologic products or biologic products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee.

 

Typically, an advisory committee is a panel of independent experts, including clinicians and other scientific experts, that reviews, evaluates and provides a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

 

If the FDA approves a new product, it may limit the approved indication(s) for use of the product. It may also require that contraindications, warnings, or precautions be included in the product labeling. In addition, the FDA may call for post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, to further assess the product’s efficacy and/or safety after approval. The agency may also require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution restrictions or other risk management mechanisms, including REMS, to help ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks. REMS can include medication guides, communication plans for healthcare professionals and elements to assure safe use, or ETASU. ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring and the use of patent registries. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-market studies or surveillance programs. After approval, many types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

 

Fast Track, breakthrough therapy, priority review and regenerative medicine advanced therapy designations

The FDA is authorized to designate certain products for expedited review if they are intended to address an unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition. These programs are referred to as Fast Track designation, breakthrough therapy designation, priority review designation and regenerative medicine advanced therapy, or RMAT, designation. These designations are not mutually exclusive, and a product candidate may qualify for one or more of these programs. While these programs are intended to expedite product development and approval, they do not alter the standards for FDA approval.

 

Specifically, the FDA may designate a product for fast-track review if it is intended, whether alone or in combination with one or more other products, for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, and it demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. For fast-track products, sponsors may have greater interactions with the FDA and the FDA may initiate review of sections of a fast-track product’s application before the application is complete. This rolling review may be available if the FDA determines, after preliminary evaluation of clinical data

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submitted by the sponsor, that a fast-track product may be effective. The sponsor must also provide, and the FDA must approve, a schedule for the submission of the remaining information and the sponsor must pay applicable user fees. However, the FDA’s time period goal for reviewing a fast-track application does not begin until the last section of the application is submitted. In addition, the Fast Track designation may be withdrawn by the FDA if the FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data emerging in the clinical trial process.

 

Second, in 2012, Congress enacted the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. This law established a new regulatory scheme allowing for expedited review of products designated as “breakthrough therapies.” A product may be designated as a breakthrough therapy if it is intended, either alone or in combination with one or more other products, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. The FDA may take certain actions with respect to breakthrough therapies, including holding meetings with the sponsor throughout the development process; providing timely advice to the product sponsor regarding development and approval; involving more senior staff in the review process; assigning a cross-disciplinary project lead for the review team; and taking other steps to design the clinical trials in an efficient manner. Breakthrough designation may be rescinded if a product no longer meets the qualifying criteria.

 

Third, the FDA may designate a product for priority review if it is a product that treats a serious condition and, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. The FDA determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether the proposed product represents a significant improvement when compared with other available therapies. Significant improvement may be illustrated by evidence of increased effectiveness in the treatment of a condition, elimination or substantial reduction of a treatment-limiting product reaction, documented enhancement of patient compliance that may lead to improvement in serious outcomes, and evidence of safety and effectiveness in a new subpopulation. A priority designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications, and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on a marketing application from ten months to six months. Priority designation may be rescinded if a product no longer meets the qualifying criteria.

 

With passage of the Cures Act in December 2016, Congress authorized the FDA to accelerate review and approval of products designated as regenerative medicine advanced therapies. A product is eligible for RMAT designation if it is a regenerative medicine therapy that is intended to treat, modify, reverse or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition. The benefits of a regenerative medicine advanced therapy designation include early interactions with FDA to expedite development and review, benefits available to breakthrough therapies, potential eligibility for priority review, and accelerated approval based on surrogate or intermediate endpoints. RMAT designation may be rescinded if a product no longer meets the qualifying criteria.

 

Accelerated approval pathway

The FDA may grant accelerated approval to a product for a serious or life-threatening condition that provides meaningful therapeutic advantage to patients over existing treatments based upon a determination that the product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The FDA may also grant accelerated approval for such a condition when the product has an effect on an intermediate clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality, or IMM, and that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on IMM or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. Products granted accelerated approval must meet the same statutory standards for safety and effectiveness as those granted traditional approval.

 

For the purposes of accelerated approval, a surrogate endpoint is a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, radiographic image, physical sign, or other measure that is thought to predict clinical benefit but is not itself a measure of clinical benefit. Surrogate endpoints can often be measured more

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easily or more rapidly than clinical endpoints. An intermediate clinical endpoint is a measurement of a therapeutic effect that is considered reasonably likely to predict the clinical benefit of a product, such as an effect on IMM. The FDA has limited experience with accelerated approvals based on intermediate clinical endpoints but has indicated that such endpoints generally may support accelerated approval where the therapeutic effect measured by the endpoint is not itself a clinical benefit and basis for traditional approval, if there is a basis for concluding that the therapeutic effect is reasonably likely to predict the ultimate clinical benefit of a product.

 

The accelerated approval pathway is most often used in settings in which the course of a disease is long and an extended period of time is required to measure the intended clinical benefit of a product, even if the effect on the surrogate or intermediate clinical endpoint occurs rapidly. Thus, accelerated approval has been used extensively in the development and approval of products for treatment of a variety of cancers in which the goal of therapy is generally to improve survival or decrease morbidity and the duration of the typical disease course requires lengthy and sometimes large trials to demonstrate a clinical or survival benefit.

 

The accelerated approval pathway is usually contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct, in a diligent manner, additional post-approval confirmatory studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. As a result, a product candidate approved on this basis is subject to rigorous post-marketing compliance requirements, including the completion of Phase 4 or post-approval clinical trials to confirm the effect on the clinical endpoint. Failure to conduct required post-approval studies, confirm a clinical benefit during post-marketing studies or dissemination of false or misleading promotional materials would allow the FDA to withdraw the product from the market on an expedited basis. All promotional materials for product candidates approved under accelerated regulations are subject to prior review by the FDA.

 

With passage of FDORA in December 2022, Congress modified certain provisions governing accelerated approval of drug and biologic products. Specifically, the new legislation authorized the FDA to: require a sponsor to have its confirmatory clinical trial underway before accelerated approval is awarded, require a sponsor of a product granted accelerated approval to submit progress reports on its post-approval studies to the FDA every six months (until the study is completed); and use expedited procedures to withdraw accelerated approval of an NDA or BLA after the confirmatory trial fails to verify the product’s clinical benefit. Further, FDORA requires the FDA to publish on its website “the rationale for why a post-approval study is not appropriate or necessary” whenever it decides not to require such a study upon granting accelerated approval.

 

Post-approval regulation

If regulatory approval for marketing of a product or new indication for an existing product is obtained, the sponsor will be required to comply with all regular post-approval regulatory requirements as well as any post-approval requirements that the FDA have imposed as part of the approval process. The sponsor will be required to report certain adverse reactions and production problems to the FDA, provide updated safety and efficacy information and comply with requirements concerning advertising and promotional labeling requirements. Manufacturers and certain of their subcontractors are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements, including cGMP regulations, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon manufacturers. Accordingly, the sponsor and its third-party manufacturers must continue to expend time, money and effort in the areas of production and quality control to maintain compliance with cGMP regulations and other regulatory requirements.

 

A product may also be subject to official lot release, meaning that the manufacturer is required to perform certain tests on each lot of the product before it is released for distribution. If the product is subject to official lot release, the manufacturer must submit samples of each lot, together with a release protocol showing a summary of the history of manufacture of the lot and the results of all of the manufacturer’s tests performed on the lot, to the FDA. The FDA may in addition perform certain confirmatory tests on lots

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of some products before releasing the lots for distribution. Finally, the FDA will conduct laboratory research related to the safety, purity, potency and effectiveness of pharmaceutical products.

 

Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements and standards is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post- market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

 

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;
fines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;
refusal of the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications, or suspension or revocation of product license approvals;
product recall, seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products; or
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

 

Pharmaceutical products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. Although healthcare providers may prescribe products for uses not described in the drug’s labeling, known as off-label uses, in their professional judgment, drug manufacturers are prohibited from soliciting, encouraging or promoting unapproved uses of a product. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. In September 2021, the FDA published final regulations which describe the types of evidence that the agency will consider in determining the intended use of a biologic.

 

It may be permissible, under very specific, narrow conditions, for a manufacturer to engage in nonpromotional, non-misleading communication regarding off-label information, such as distributing scientific or medical journal information. Moreover, with the passage of the Pre-Approval Information Exchange Act in December 2022, sponsors of products that have not been approved may proactively communicate to payors certain information about products in development to help expedite patient access upon product approval. Previously, such communications were permitted under FDA guidance but the new legislation explicitly provides protection to sponsors who convey certain information about products in development to payors, including unapproved uses of approved products.

 

If a company is found to have promoted off-label uses, it may become subject to adverse public relations and administrative and judicial enforcement by the FDA, the DOJ, or the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as state authorities. This could subject a company to a range of penalties that could have a significant commercial impact, including civil and criminal fines and agreements that materially restrict the manner in which a company promotes or distributes drug products. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion and has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.

 

Orphan drug designation

Orphan drug designation in the United States is designed to encourage sponsors to develop products intended for treatment of rare diseases or conditions. In the United States, a rare disease or condition is statutorily defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or that affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the biologic for the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product in the United States.

 

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Orphan drug designation qualifies a company for tax credits and market exclusivity for seven years following the date of the product’s marketing approval if granted by the FDA. An application for designation as an orphan product can be made any time prior to the filing of an application for approval to market the product. A product becomes an orphan when it receives orphan drug designation from the Office of Orphan Products Development at the FDA based on acceptable confidential requests made under the regulatory provisions. The product must then go through the review and approval process like any other product.

 

A sponsor may request orphan drug designation of a previously unapproved product or new orphan indication for an already marketed product. In addition, a sponsor of a product that is otherwise the same product as an already approved orphan drug may seek and obtain orphan drug designation for the subsequent product for the same rare disease or condition if it can present a plausible hypothesis that its product may be clinically superior to the first drug. More than one sponsor may receive orphan drug designation for the same product for the same rare disease or condition, but each sponsor seeking orphan drug designation must file a complete request for designation.

 

If a product with orphan designation receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation or for a select indication or use within the rare disease or condition for which it was designated, the product generally will receive orphan drug exclusivity. Orphan drug exclusivity means that the FDA may not approve another sponsor’s marketing application for the same product for the same indication for seven years, except in certain limited circumstances. If a product designated as an orphan drug ultimately receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what was designated in its orphan drug application, it may not be entitled to exclusivity.

 

Orphan drug exclusivity will not bar approval of another product under certain circumstances, including if the company with orphan drug exclusivity is not able to meet market demand or the subsequent product is shown to be clinically superior to the approved product on the basis of greater efficacy or safety, or providing a major contribution to patient care. This is the case despite an earlier court opinion holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously required the FDA to recognize orphan drug exclusivity regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Under legislation passed in 2020, the requirement for a product to show clinical superiority applies to drug products that received orphan drug designation before enactment of amendments to the FDCA in 2017 but have not yet been approved by FDA.

 

In September 2021, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that, for the purpose of determining the scope of market exclusivity, the term “same disease or condition” in the statute means the designated “rare disease or condition” and could not be interpreted by the FDA to mean the “indication or use.” Thus, the court concluded, orphan drug exclusivity applies to the entire designated disease or condition rather than the “indication or use.” Although there have been legislative proposals to overrule this decision, they have not been enacted into law. On January 23, 2023, the FDA announced that, in matters beyond the scope of the court’s order, the FDA will continue to apply its existing regulations tying orphan-drug exclusivity to the uses or indications for which the orphan drug was approved.

 

Pediatric exclusivity

Pediatric exclusivity is another type of non-patent marketing exclusivity in the United States and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of regulatory exclusivity to the term of any existing regulatory exclusivity, including the non-patent and orphan exclusivity. This six-month exclusivity may be granted if a BLA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data. The data do not need to show the product to be effective in the pediatric population studied; rather, if the clinical trial is deemed to fairly respond to the FDA’s request, the additional protection is granted. If reports of requested pediatric studies are submitted to and accepted by the FDA within the statutory time limits, whatever statutory or regulatory periods of exclusivity that cover the product are extended by six months.

 

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Biosimilars and exclusivity

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or, collectively, the ACA, which was signed into law in March 2010, included a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or BPCIA. The BPCIA established a regulatory scheme authorizing the FDA to approve biosimilars and interchangeable biosimilars. A biosimilar is a biological product that is highly similar to an existing FDA-licensed “reference product.” To date, the FDA has approved a number of biosimilars and the first interchangeable biosimilar product was approved on July 30, 2021 and a second product previously approved as a biosimilar was designated as interchangeable in October 2021. The FDA has also issued numerous guidance documents outlining its approach to reviewing and licensing biosimilars and interchangeable biosimilars under the PHSA.

 

Under the BPCIA, a manufacturer may submit an application for licensure of a biologic product that is “biosimilar to” or “interchangeable with” a previously approved biological product or “reference product.” In order for the FDA to approve a biosimilar product, it must find that there are no clinically meaningful differences between the reference product and proposed biosimilar product in terms of safety, purity and potency. For the FDA to approve a biosimilar product as interchangeable with a reference product, the agency must find that the biosimilar product can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product, and (for products administered multiple times) that the biologic and the reference biologic may be switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic. In December 2022, Congress clarified through FDORA that the FDA may approve multiple first interchangeable biosimilar biological products so long as the products are all approved on the first day on which such a product is approved as interchangeable with the reference product.

 

An application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date of approval of the reference product. The FDA may not approve a biosimilar product until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was approved. Even if a product is considered to be a reference product eligible for exclusivity, another company could market a competing version of that product if the FDA approves a full BLA for such product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of their product. The BPCIA also created certain exclusivity periods for biosimilars approved as interchangeable products. There have been recent government proposals to reduce the 12-year reference product exclusivity period, but none has been enacted to date. At the same time, since passage of the BPCIA, many states have passed laws or amendments to laws, which address pharmacy practices involving biosimilar products.

 

Federal and state data privacy and security laws

Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, HHS has issued regulations to protect the privacy and security of protected health information, or PHI, used or disclosed by covered entities including certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses. HIPAA also regulates standardization of data content, codes and formats used in healthcare transactions and standardization of identifiers for health plans and providers. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 or HITECH, and their regulations, including the final omnibus rule published on January 25, 2013, also imposes certain obligations on the business associates of covered entities and their subcontractors that obtain protected health information in providing services to or on behalf of covered entities. In addition to federal privacy regulations, there are a number of state laws governing confidentiality and security of health information that are applicable to our business. In addition to possible federal administrative, civil and criminal penalties for HIPAA violations, state attorneys general are authorized to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce HIPAA and seek attorney’s fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. Accordingly, state attorneys general have brought civil actions seeking injunctions and damages resulting from alleged violations of HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. New laws and regulations governing privacy and security may be adopted in the future as well.

 

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Additionally, California recently enacted legislation that has been dubbed the first “GDPR-like” law in the United States. Known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, it creates new individual privacy rights for consumers (as that word is broadly defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020 and requires covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers, provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales of personal information, and allow for a new cause of action for data breaches. Additionally, effective starting on January 1, 2023, the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, will significantly modify the CCPA, including by expanding consumers’ rights with respect to certain sensitive personal information. The CPRA also creates a new state agency that will be vested with authority to implement and enforce the CCPA and the CPRA. The CCPA and CPRA could impact our business activities depending on how it is interpreted and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to not only cyber threats but also the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data and protected health information.

 

Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors available under such laws, it is possible that some of our current or future business activities, including certain clinical research, sales and marketing practices and the provision of certain items and services to our customers, could be subject to challenge under one or more of such privacy and data security laws. The heightening compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and secure systems to comply with different privacy compliance and/or reporting requirements in multiple jurisdictions could increase the possibility that a healthcare company may fail to comply fully with one or more of these requirements. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the privacy or data security laws or regulations described above that are applicable to us, or any other laws that apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including potentially significant criminal, civil and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional reporting requirements and/or oversight if we become subject to a consent decree or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. To the extent that any product candidates we may develop, once approved, are sold in a foreign country, we may be subject to similar foreign laws.

 

Patent term restoration and extension

In the United States, a patent claiming a new biologic product, its method of use or its method of manufacture may be eligible for a limited patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act, which permits a patent extension of up to five years for patent term lost during product development and FDA regulatory review. Assuming grant of the patent for which the extension is sought, the restoration period for a patent covering a product is typically one-half the time between the effective date of the IND involving human beings and the submission date of the BLA, plus the time between the submission date of the BLA and the ultimate approval date. Patent term restoration cannot be used to extend the remaining term of a patent past a total of 14 years from the product’s approval date in the United States. Only one patent applicable to an approved product is eligible for the extension, and the application for the extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the patent for which extension is sought. A patent that covers multiple products for which approval is sought can only be extended in connection with one of the approvals. The USPTO reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension in consultation with the FDA.

 

Regulation and procedures governing approval of medicinal products in the European Union

In order to market any product outside of the United States, a company must also comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries and jurisdictions regarding quality, safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of products. Whether or not it obtains FDA approval for a product, a sponsor will need to obtain the necessary approvals by the comparable foreign regulatory authorities before it can commence clinical trials or marketing of the product in those countries or jurisdictions. Specifically, the process governing approval of medicinal products in the European Union generally follows the same lines as in the United States. It entails satisfactory completion of preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled

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clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the product for each proposed indication. It also requires the submission to the relevant competent authorities of a marketing authorization application, or MAA, and granting of a marketing authorization by these authorities before the product can be marketed and sold in the European Union.

 

Clinical trial approval

On January 31, 2022, the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 became effective in the European Union and replaced the prior Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. The new regulation aims at simplifying and streamlining the authorization, conduct and transparency of clinical trials in the European Union. Under the new coordinated procedure for the approval of clinical trials, the sponsor of a clinical trial to be conducted in more than one Member State of the European Union, or EU Member State, will only be required to submit a single application for approval. The submission will be made through the Clinical Trials Information System, a new clinical trials portal overseen by the EMA and available to clinical trial sponsors, competent authorities of the EU Member States and the public.

 

Beyond streamlining the process, the new regulation includes a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors, and a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States concerned). Part II is assessed separately by each Member State concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.

 

The new regulation did not change the preexisting requirement that a sponsor must obtain prior approval from the competent national authority of the EU Member State in which the clinical trial is to be conducted. If the clinical trial is conducted in different EU Member States, the competent authorities in each of these EU Member States must provide their approval for the conduct of the clinical trial. Furthermore, the sponsor may only start a clinical trial at a specific study site after the applicable ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion.


Parties conducting certain clinical trials must, as in the United States, post clinical trial information in the EU at the EudraCT website: https://eudract.ema.europa.eu.

 

PRIME designation in the European Union

In March 2016, the EMA launched an initiative to facilitate development of product candidates in indications, often rare, for which few or no therapies currently exist. The PRIority MEdicines, or PRIME, scheme is intended to encourage drug development in areas of unmet medical need and provides accelerated assessment of products representing substantial innovation reviewed under the centralized procedure. Products from small- and medium-sized enterprises may qualify for earlier entry into the PRIME scheme than larger companies. Many benefits accrue to sponsors of product candidates with PRIME designation, including but not limited to, early and proactive regulatory dialogue with the EMA, frequent discussions on clinical trial designs and other development program elements, and accelerated marketing authorization application assessment once a dossier has been submitted. Importantly, a dedicated EMA contact and rapporteur from the Committee for Human Medicinal Products, or CHMP, or Committee for Advanced Therapies are appointed early in the PRIME scheme facilitating increased understanding of the product at the EMA’s Committee level. A kick-off meeting initiates these relationships and includes a team of multidisciplinary experts at the EMA to provide guidance on the overall development and regulatory strategies.

 

Marketing authorization

To obtain a marketing authorization for a product under the European Union regulatory system, a sponsor must submit an MAA, either under a centralized procedure administered by the EMA or one of the

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procedures administered by competent authorities in European Union Member States (decentralized procedure, national procedure, or mutual recognition procedure). A marketing authorization may be granted only to a sponsor established in the European Union. Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 provides that prior to obtaining a marketing authorization in the European Union, a sponsor must demonstrate compliance with all measures included in an EMA-approved Pediatric Investigation Plan, or PIP, covering all subsets of the pediatric population, unless the EMA has granted a product-specific waiver, class waiver or a deferral for one or more of the measures included in the PIP.

 

The centralized procedure provides for the grant of a single marketing authorization by the European Commission that is valid for all European Union member states. Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004, the centralized procedure is compulsory for specific products, including for medicines produced by certain biotechnological processes, products designated as orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy products and products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, including products for the treatment of cancer. For products with a new active substance indicated for the treatment of other diseases and products that are highly innovative or for which a centralized process is in the interest of patients, the centralized procedure may be optional. Manufacturers must demonstrate the quality, safety and efficacy of their products to the EMA, which provides an opinion regarding the MAA. The European Commission grants or refuses marketing authorization in light of the opinion delivered by the EMA.

 

Under the centralized procedure, the CHMP established at the EMA is responsible for conducting an initial assessment of a product. Under the centralized procedure in the European Union, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA is 210 days, excluding clock stops when additional information or written or oral explanation is to be provided by the sponsor in response to questions of the CHMP. Accelerated evaluation may be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and, in particular, from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such a request, the time limit of 210 days will be reduced to 150 days, but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that it is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment.

 

Regulatory data protection in the European Union

In the European Union, new chemical entities approved on the basis of a complete independent data package qualify for eight years of data exclusivity upon marketing authorization and an additional two years of market exclusivity pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 726/2004, as amended, and Directive 2001/83/EC, as amended. Data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the European Union from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic (abbreviated) application for a period of eight years. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization application can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic medicinal product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. The overall ten-year period will be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to authorization, is held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies. Even if a compound is considered to be a new chemical entity so that the innovator gains the prescribed period of data exclusivity, another company may market another version of the product if such company obtained marketing authorization based on an MAA with a complete independent data package of pharmaceutical tests, preclinical tests and clinical trials.

 

Patent term extensions in the European Union and other jurisdictions

The European Union also provides for patent term extension through Supplementary Protection Certificates, or SPCs. The rules and requirements for obtaining a SPC are similar to those in the United States. An SPC may extend the term of a patent for up to five years after its originally scheduled expiration date and can provide up to a maximum of fifteen years of marketing exclusivity for a drug. In certain circumstances, these periods may be extended for six additional months if pediatric exclusivity is obtained. Although SPCs are available throughout the European Union, sponsors must apply on a

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country-by-country basis. Similar patent term extension rights exist in certain other foreign jurisdictions outside the European Union.

 

Periods of authorization and renewals

A marketing authorization is valid for five years, in principle, and it may be renewed after five years on the basis of a reevaluation of the risk-benefit balance by the EMA or by the competent authority of the authorizing member state. To that end, the marketing authorization holder must provide the EMA or the competent authority with a consolidated version of the file in respect of quality, safety and efficacy, including all variations introduced since the marketing authorization was granted, at least six months before the marketing authorization ceases to be valid. Once renewed, the marketing authorization is valid for an unlimited period, unless the European Commission or the competent authority decides, on justified grounds relating to pharmacovigilance, to proceed with one additional five-year renewal period. Any authorization that is not followed by the placement of the drug on the European Union market (in the case of the centralized procedure) or on the market of the authorizing member state within three years after authorization ceases to be valid.

 

Regulatory requirements after marketing authorization

Following approval, the holder of the marketing authorization is required to comply with a range of requirements applicable to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion and sale of the medicinal product. These include compliance with the European Union’s stringent pharmacovigilance or safety reporting rules, pursuant to which post-authorization studies and additional monitoring obligations can be imposed. In addition, the manufacturing of authorized products, for which a separate manufacturer’s license is mandatory, must also be conducted in strict compliance with the EMA’s GMP requirements and comparable requirements of other regulatory bodies in the European Union, which mandate the methods, facilities and controls used in manufacturing, processing and packing of drugs to assure their safety and identity. Finally, the marketing and promotion of authorized products, including industry-sponsored continuing medical education and advertising directed toward the prescribers of drugs and/or the general public, are strictly regulated in the European Union under Directive 2001/83EC, as amended.

 

Orphan drug designation and exclusivity

Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 and Regulation (EC) No. 847/2000 provide that a product can be designated as an orphan drug by the European Commission if its sponsor can establish: that the product is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of (1) a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition affecting not more than five in ten thousand persons in the European Union when the application is made, or (2) a life-threatening, seriously debilitating or serious and chronic condition in the European Union and that without incentives it is unlikely that the marketing of the drug in the European Union would generate sufficient return to justify the necessary investment. For either of these conditions, the sponsor must demonstrate that there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the condition in question that has been authorized in the European Union or, if such method exists, the drug will be of significant benefit to those affected by that condition.

 

An orphan drug designation provides a number of benefits, including fee reductions, regulatory assistance and the possibility to apply for a centralized European Union marketing authorization. Marketing authorization for an orphan drug leads to a ten-year period of market exclusivity. During this market exclusivity period, neither the EMA nor the European Commission or the member states can accept an application or grant a marketing authorization for a “similar medicinal product.” A “similar medicinal product” is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication. The market exclusivity period for the authorized therapeutic indication may, however, be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation because, for example, the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify market exclusivity.

 

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Brexit and the regulatory framework in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU took place on January 31, 2020. The EU and the U.K. reached an agreement on their new partnership in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, or the Agreement, which was applied provisionally beginning on January 1, 2021 and which entered into force on May 1, 2021. The Agreement focuses primarily on free trade by ensuring no tariffs or quotas on trade in goods, including healthcare products, such as medicinal products. Thereafter, the EU and the U.K. will form two separate markets governed by two distinct regulatory and legal regimes. As such, the Agreement seeks to minimize barriers to trade in goods while accepting that border checks will become inevitable as a consequence that the U.K. is no longer part of the single market. As of January 1, 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or the MHRA, became responsible for supervising medicines and medical devices in Great Britain, comprising England, Scotland and Wales under domestic law whereas Northern Ireland continues to be subject to EU rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The MHRA will rely on the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1916) (as amended), or the HMR, as the basis for regulating medicines. The HMR has incorporated into the domestic law the body of EU law instruments governing medicinal products that pre-existed prior to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.

 

Since a significant proportion of the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the U.K. covering the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales, and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from EU directives and regulations, Brexit may have a material impact upon the regulatory regime with respect to the development, manufacture, importation, approval and commercialization of our product candidates in the U.K. For example, the U.K. is no longer covered by the centralized procedures for obtaining EU-wide marketing authorization from the EMA, and a separate marketing authorization will be required to market our product candidates in the U.K. Until December 31, 2023, it is possible for the MHRA to rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization via the centralized procedure.

 

Furthermore, while the GDPR continues to apply in the United Kingdom in substantially unvaried form under the UK GDPR and is complemented by the United Kingdom Data Protection Act of 2018, which achieved Royal Assent on May 23, 2018 and remains effective in the United Kingdom in amended form, it is still unclear whether transfers of data from the EEA to the United Kingdom will remain lawful under GDPR. As noted above, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for a transitional period during which the United Kingdom will be treated like a European Union member state in relation to processing and transfers of personal data for four months from January 1, 2021. This may be extended by two further months. After such period, the United Kingdom will be a “third country” under the GDPR unless the European Commission adopts an adequacy decision in respect of transfers of personal data to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has already determined that it considers all of the EU 27 and EEA member states to be adequate for the purposes of data protection, ensuring that data flows from the United Kingdom to the EU/EEA remain unaffected. We may, however, incur liabilities, expenses, costs and other operational losses under GDPR and applicable European Union Member States and the United Kingdom privacy laws in connection with any measures we take to comply with them.

 

General Data Protection Regulation

The collection, use, disclosure, transfer or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the European Union, including personal health data, is subject to the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, including requirements relating to processing health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, providing notification of data breaches, and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the European Union, including the United States, and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data

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subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. Compliance with the GDPR will be a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase the cost of doing business or require companies to change their business practices to ensure full compliance.

 

Additionally, in October 2022, President Biden signed an executive order to implement the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework, which would serve as a replacement to the EU-US Privacy Shield. The European Commission initiated the process to adopt an adequacy decision for the EU-US Data Privacy Framework in December 2022. It is unclear if and when the framework will be finalized and whether it will be challenged in court. The uncertainty around this issue may further impact our business operations in the EU.

 

For more information on these matters and the GDPR, please see the section entitled “Risk Factors—Risks related to regulatory approval and other regulatory and legal compliance matters—We are subject to stringent privacy laws, information security laws, regulations, policies and contractual obligations related to data privacy and security and changes in such laws, regulations, policies, contractual obligations and failure to comply with such requirements could subject us to significant fines and penalties, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.”

 

Coverage, pricing and reimbursement

Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we may seek regulatory approval by the FDA or other government authorities. In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payers to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Patients are unlikely to use any product candidates we may develop unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of such product candidates. Even if any product candidates we may develop are approved, sales of such product candidates will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payers, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers and managed care organizations, provide coverage and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, such product candidates. The process for determining whether a payer will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payer will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payers are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payers may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.

 

In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable marketing approvals. Nonetheless, product candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payer not to cover any product candidates we may develop could reduce physician utilization of such product candidates once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, a payer’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payer’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payers will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payer to payer. Third-party reimbursement and coverage may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. In addition, any companion diagnostic tests require coverage and reimbursement separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement for their companion pharmaceutical or biological products. Similar challenges to obtaining coverage and reimbursement, applicable to pharmaceutical or biological products, will apply to any companion diagnostics.

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The containment of healthcare costs also has become a priority of federal, state and foreign governments and the prices of pharmaceuticals have been a focus in this effort. Governments have shown significant interest in implementing cost-containment programs, including price controls, restrictions on reimbursement and requirements for substitution of generic products. Adoption of price controls and cost-containment measures, and adoption of more restrictive policies in jurisdictions with existing controls and measures, could further limit a company’s revenue generated from the sale of any approved products. Coverage policies and third-party reimbursement rates may change at any time. Even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which a company or its collaborators receive marketing approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.

 

If we obtain approval in the future to market in the United States any product candidates we may develop, we may be required to provide discounts or rebates under government healthcare programs or to certain

government and private purchasers in order to obtain coverage under federal healthcare programs such as Medicaid. Participation in such programs may require us to track and report certain drug prices. We may be subject to fines and other penalties if we fail to report such prices accurately.

 

Outside the United States, ensuring adequate coverage and payment for any product candidates we may develop will face challenges. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control in many countries. Pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can extend well beyond the receipt of regulatory marketing approval for a product and may require us to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost effectiveness of any product candidates we may develop to other available therapies. The conduct of such a clinical trial could be expensive and result in delays in our commercialization efforts.

 

In the European Union, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies (so called health technology assessments) in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the European Union provides options for its member states to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. European Union member states may approve a specific price for a product or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions. Recently, many countries in the European Union have increased the amount of discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the European Union. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various European Union member states, and parallel trade (arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states), can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products, if approved in those countries.

 

Healthcare law and regulation

Healthcare providers and third-party payers play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of pharmaceutical products that are granted marketing approval. Arrangements with providers, consultants, third-party payers and customers are subject to broadly applicable fraud and abuse, anti-kickback, false claims laws, reporting of payments to physicians and teaching hospitals and patient privacy laws and regulations and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain our business and/or financial

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arrangements. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, include the following:

 

the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;
the federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, false statement laws and civil monetary penalties laws, which prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false, fictitious or fraudulent or knowingly making, using or causing to made or used a false record or statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;
the federal regulations relating to pricing and submission of pricing information for government programs, including penalties for knowingly and intentionally overcharging 340b eligible entities and the submission of false or fraudulent pricing information to government entities;
HIPAA, which created additional federal criminal laws that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters;
HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, including the final omnibus rule published in January 2013, which impose obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, on 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, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making, or offering or promising to make improper payments to non-U.S. officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or otherwise seeking favorable treatment;
the federal transparency requirements known as the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, under the ACA, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, information related to payments and other transfers of value made by that entity to physicians, other healthcare providers and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members; and
analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to healthcare items or services that are reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payers, including private insurers.

 

Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government in addition to requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other healthcare providers, drug pricing or marketing expenditures. In addition, certain state and local laws require drug manufacturers to register pharmaceutical sales representatives. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

 

If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, imprisonment, integrity oversight and reporting obligations and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.

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Healthcare reform

A primary trend in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere is cost containment. There have been a number of federal and state proposals during the last few years regarding the pricing of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, limiting coverage and reimbursement for drugs and other medical products, government control and other changes to the healthcare system in the United States.

 

By way of example, the United States and state governments continue to propose and pass legislation designed to reduce the cost of healthcare. In March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the ACA, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for products under government healthcare programs.

 

Since enactment of the ACA, there have been, and continue to be, numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. For example, various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing legal and constitutional challenges in the U.S. Supreme Court. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business.

 

Further, there have been several recent U.S. congressional inquiries and proposed federal and proposed and enacted state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, reduce the costs of drugs under Medicare and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products.

 

For example, on August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, or IRA, was signed into law by President Biden. The new legislation has implications for Medicare Part D, which is a program available to individuals who are entitled to Medicare Part A or enrolled in Medicare Part B to give them the option of paying a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. Among other things, the IRA requires manufacturers of certain drugs to engage in price negotiations with Medicare (beginning in 2026), with prices that can be negotiated subject to a cap; imposes rebates under Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D to penalize price increases that outpace inflation (first due in 2023); and replaces the Part D coverage gap discount program with a new discounting program (beginning in 2025). The IRA permits the Secretary of the HHS to implement many of these provisions through guidance, as opposed to regulation, for the initial years.

 

Specifically, with respect to price negotiations, Congress authorized Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain costly single-source drug and biologic products that do not have competing generics or biosimilars and are reimbursed under Medicare Part B and Part D. CMS may negotiate prices for ten high-cost drugs paid for by Medicare Part D starting in 2026, followed by 15 Part D drugs in 2027, 15 Part B or Part D drugs in 2028, and 20 Part B or Part D drugs in 2029 and beyond. This provision applies to drug products that have been approved for at least 9 years and biologics that have been licensed for 13 years, but it does not apply to drugs and biologics that have been approved for a single rare disease or condition. Further, the legislation subjects drug manufacturers to civil monetary penalties and a potential excise tax for failing to comply with the legislation by offering a price that is not equal to or less than the negotiated “maximum fair price” under the law or for taking price increases that exceed inflation. The legislation also requires manufacturers to pay rebates for drugs in Medicare Part D whose price increases exceed inflation. The new law also caps Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs at an estimated $4,000 a year in 2024 and, thereafter beginning in 2025, at $2,000 a year.

 

These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing. We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for any product candidates we may develop or additional pricing pressures.

 

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Employees and human capital

As of February 28, 2023, we had 123 full-time employees, including a total of 37 employees with M.D. or Ph.D. degrees. Of these full-time employees, 96 employees are engaged in research and development. None of our employees are represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

 

Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, training, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and additional employees. The principal purposes of our equity incentive plans are to attract, retain and motivate selected employees, consultants and directors through the granting of stock-based compensation awards.

 

Our corporate information

We were incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware on December 1, 2017 under the name Dyne Therapeutics, Inc. Our principal executive offices are located at 1560 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachusetts 02451 and our telephone number is (781) 786-8230.

 

We own or have rights to trademarks, service marks and trade names that we use in connection with the operation of our business, including our corporate name, logos and website names. The service marks and trademarks that we own include the marks Dyne Therapeutics™ and FORCE™. Other trademarks, service marks and trade names appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, some of the trademarks, service marks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are listed without the ® and ™ symbols, but we will assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights to our trademarks, service marks and trade names.

 

Available information

We file reports and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, as required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. You can review our electronically filed reports and other information that we file with the SEC on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.

 

Our website address is https://www.dyne-tx.com. We make available free of charge through our website our Annual Report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act. We make these reports available through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such reports with, or furnish such reports to, the SEC. In addition, we regularly use our website to post information regarding our business, product development programs and governance, and we encourage investors to use our website, particularly the information in the section entitled “Investors & Media,” as a source of information about us.

 

The foregoing references to our website are not intended to, nor shall they be deemed to, incorporate information on our website into this Annual Report on Form 10-K by reference. We have included our website address in this Annual Report on Form 10-K as an inactive textual reference.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Our business is subject to numerous risks. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto in evaluating our company. The risks described below are not the only risks facing our company. The occurrence of any of the following risks, or of additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial, could cause our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition to suffer materially.

 

Risks related to our financial position and need for additional capital

We have incurred significant losses since our inception, have no products approved for sale and we expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future.

Since inception, we have incurred significant operating losses. Our net losses were $149.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 and $168.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2022. As of December 31, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $396.6 million. To date, we have financed our operations with the proceeds raised from the sale of equity securities. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to research and development. We are still in the early stages of development of our programs and product candidates. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development and we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future. Our operating expenses and net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if and as we:

 

advance our product candidates for DM1, DMD and FSHD and conduct research programs in additional indications;
expand the capabilities of our proprietary FORCE platform;
seek marketing approvals for any product candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
obtain, expand, maintain, defend and enforce our intellectual property portfolio;
hire additional clinical, regulatory and scientific personnel;
establish manufacturing sources for any product candidate we may develop, including the Fab antibody, Val-cit linker and therapeutic payload that will comprise the product candidate, and secure supply chain capacity to provide sufficient quantities for preclinical and clinical development and commercial supply;
ultimately establish a sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval; and
add operational, legal, compliance, financial and management information systems and personnel to support our research, product development and future commercialization efforts, as well as to support our operations as a public company.

 

Even if we obtain regulatory approval of, and are successful in commercializing, one or more of any product candidates we may develop, we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other costs to develop and market additional product candidates. 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.

 

We have never generated revenue from product sales and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development. We have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate, and we expect that it will be many years, if ever, before we have a product candidate ready for commercialization. To become and remain profitable, we must

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succeed in developing, obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals for, and eventually commercializing a product or products that generate significant revenue. The ability to achieve this success will require us to be effective in a range of challenging activities, including:

 

identifying product candidates and completing preclinical and clinical development of any product candidates we may identify;
obtaining regulatory approval for any product candidates we may develop;
manufacturing, marketing and selling any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval;
achieving market acceptance of any products for which we obtain regulatory approval as a viable treatment option; and
satisfying any post-marketing requirements.

 

We are only in the preliminary stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never generate revenues that are significant enough to achieve profitability. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development, and we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development, we are unable to accurately estimate or know the nature, timing or costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the preclinical and clinical development and commercialization of any product candidate we may develop or when, or if, we will be able to generate revenues or achieve profitability.

 

If we are successful in obtaining regulatory approval to market one or more of our products, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain regulatory approval, the accepted price for the product, the ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement, and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of our addressable patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, or the treatment population is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such products, even if approved.

 

Even if we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable could impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or even continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause our stockholders to lose all or part of their investment.

 

We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development activities or commercialization efforts.

We expect our expenses to increase substantially in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we advance the clinical development of DYNE-101 and DYNE-251, the development of DYNE-301 and additional research programs, and arrange for the manufacturing of, and potentially seek marketing approval for any product candidates we may develop. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any product candidates we may develop, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, on attractive terms or at all, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or future commercialization efforts.

 

As of December 31, 2022, we had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $256.0 million. We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements through 2024. However, we have based this estimate on assumptions that may prove to be wrong, and our operating plan may change as a result of

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many factors currently unknown to us. As a result, we could deplete our capital resources sooner than we currently expect and could be forced to seek additional funding sooner than planned.

 

Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

 

the identification of additional research programs and product candidates;
the scope, progress, timing, costs and results of preclinical and clinical development for any product candidates we may develop;
the scope, costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of any product candidates we may develop;
the cost and timing of manufacturing activities;
the costs and scope of the continued development of our FORCE platform;
the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting applications for patents, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims, including claims of infringement, misappropriation or other violations of third-party intellectual property;
the costs and timing of future commercialization activities, including product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any product candidates we may develop for which we receive marketing approval;
the costs of satisfying any post-marketing requirements;
the revenue, if any, received from commercial sales of product candidates we may develop for which we receive marketing approval;
the costs of operational, financial and management information systems and associated personnel;
the associated costs in connection with any acquisition of in-licensed products, intellectual property and technologies; and
the costs of operating as a public company.

 

Identifying product candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve product sales. In addition, even if we successfully identify and develop product candidates and those are approved, we may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenues, if any, may not be sufficient to sustain our operations. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.

 

Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our operations. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, when needed or at all. We have no committed source of additional capital and, if we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts, when needed or on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to significantly curtail, delay or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs or the commercialization of any product candidates we may develop, or be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We could be required to seek collaborators for product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or on terms that are less favorable than might otherwise be available or relinquish or license on unfavorable terms our rights to product candidates in markets where we otherwise would seek to pursue development or commercialization ourselves. Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations and cause the price of our common stock to decline.

 

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.

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Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenues, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and/or licensing arrangements. We do not have any committed external source of funds. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, our stockholders’ ownership interests will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect the rights of common stockholders. Any debt financing or preferred equity financing, if available, may involve, agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, selling or licensing our assets, making capital expenditures, declaring dividends or encumbering our assets to secure future indebtedness.

 

If we raise additional funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements when needed or on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or eliminate some or all of our research and development programs, pipeline expansion or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.

 

Our limited operating history may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.

We commenced operations in 2017, and our operations to date have been limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, conducting research and development activities and filing and prosecuting patent applications. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development, and their risk of failure is high. We have not yet demonstrated our ability to complete any clinical trials, obtain marketing approvals, manufacture product on a commercial scale or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales, marketing and distribution activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Consequently, any predictions our stockholders make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history or a history of successfully developing and commercializing products.

 

Our limited operating history may make it difficult to evaluate our technology and industry and predict our future performance. Our limited history as an operating company makes any assessment of our future success or viability subject to significant uncertainty. We will encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by early stage companies in rapidly evolving fields. If we do not address these risks successfully, our business will suffer.

 

In addition, as our business grows, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, restrictions, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors. We are in the process of transitioning from a company with a primarily research focus to a company primarily focused on conducting development activities. In the future, we will need to transition to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We may not be successful in such transitions.

 

Our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be subject to limitations.

We have a history of cumulative losses and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses in the foreseeable future; thus, we do not know whether or when we will generate taxable income necessary to utilize our net operating losses, or NOLs, or research and development tax credit carryforwards. As of December 31, 2022, we had federal NOL carryforwards of $221.1 million and state NOL carryforwards of $221.9 million.

 

In general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, and corresponding provisions of state law, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change,” generally defined as a greater than 50 percentage point change (by value) in its equity ownership by certain stockholders over a three-year period, is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change

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NOLs and pre-change research and development tax credit carryforwards to offset post-change taxable income. We completed a Section 382 study of transactions in our stock through January 25, 2021 and concluded that we have experienced ownership changes since inception that we believe under Section 382 and 383 of the Code will result in limitation on our ability to use certain pre-change NOLs and credits. In addition, we may experience subsequent ownership changes as a result of future equity offerings or other changes in the ownership of our stock, some of which are beyond our control. As a result, if, and to the extent that, we earn net taxable income, our ability to use our NOL carryforwards and research and development tax credit carryforwards to offset such taxable income may be subject to limitations.

 

There is also a risk that due to regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of NOLs, or other unforeseen reasons, our existing NOLs could expire or otherwise become unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities. As described below in “Changes in tax laws or in their implementation or interpretation may adversely affect our business and financial condition,” legislation enacted in 2017, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the Tax Act, as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, includes changes to U.S. federal tax rates and the rules governing NOL carryforwards that may significantly impact our ability to utilize our NOLs to offset taxable income in the future. In addition, state NOLs generated in one state cannot be used to offset income generated in another state. For these reasons, even if we attain profitability, we may be unable to use a material portion of our NOLs and other tax attributes.

 

Risks related to discovery and development

We are early in our development efforts. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development and we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. As a result it will be years before we commercialize a product candidate, if ever. If we are unable to identify and advance product candidates through preclinical studies and clinical trials, obtain marketing approval and ultimately commercialize them, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

We are early in our development efforts and have focused our efforts to date on developing our platform, identifying our programs and commencing the clinical development of our product candidates. Our product candidates are in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development, and we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. Our ability to generate product revenue, which we do not expect will occur for many years, if ever, will depend heavily on the successful development and eventual commercialization of our product candidates, which may never occur. We currently generate no revenue from sales of any product, and we may never be able to develop or commercialize a marketable product.

 

Commencing clinical trials in the United States is subject to acceptance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, of an IND and finalizing the trial design based on discussions with the FDA and other regulatory authorities. In the event that the FDA requires us to complete additional preclinical studies or we are required to satisfy other FDA requests prior to commencing clinical trials, the start of our first clinical trials may be delayed. Even after we receive and incorporate guidance from the FDA, the FDA could disagree that we have satisfied their requirements to commence any clinical trial or change their position on the acceptability of our trial design or the clinical endpoints selected, which may require us to complete additional preclinical studies or clinical trials or impose stricter approval conditions than we currently expect.

 

For example, the FDA placed on clinical hold our IND application to initiate a clinical trial of DYNE-251 in patients with DMD amenable to skipping exon 51. We received a clinical hold letter from the FDA on Friday, January 14, 2022 requesting additional clinical and non-clinical information for DYNE-251, which we were required to submit before the FDA ultimately cleared the IND in July 2022.

 

There are equivalent processes and risks applicable to clinical trial applications in other countries, including countries in the European Union.

 

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Commercialization of any product candidates we may develop will require preclinical and clinical development; regulatory and marketing approval in any jurisdiction where we seek to commercialize such product candidates, such as the FDA and the European Medicines Agency, or EMA; manufacturing supply, capacity and expertise; a commercial organization; and significant marketing efforts. The success of product candidates we may develop will depend on many factors, including the following:

 

timely and successful completion of preclinical studies;
effective INDs or comparable foreign applications that allow commencement of clinical trials or future clinical trials for any product candidates we may develop;
successful enrollment and completion of clinical trials, including under the FDA’s current Good Clinical Practices, or cGCPs, current Good Laboratory Practices, or cGLPs, and any additional regulatory requirements from foreign regulatory authorities;
positive results from our clinical trials or future clinical trials that support a finding of safety and effectiveness and an acceptable risk-benefit profile in the intended populations;
receipt of marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
establishment of arrangements through our own facilities or with third-party manufacturers for clinical supply and, where applicable, commercial manufacturing capabilities;
establishment, maintenance, defense and enforcement of patent, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property protection or regulatory exclusivity for any product candidates we may develop;
commercial launch of any product candidates we may develop, if approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
acceptance of the benefits and use of our product candidates we may develop, including method of administration, if and when approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payers;
effective competition with other therapies;
maintenance of a continued acceptable safety, tolerability and efficacy profile of any product candidates we may develop following approval; and
establishment and maintenance of healthcare coverage and adequate reimbursement by payers.

 

If we do not succeed in one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop, which would materially harm our business. If we are unable to advance our product candidates into and through clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize our product candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

 

We may encounter substantial delays in commencement, enrollment or completion of our clinical trials or we may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities, which could prevent us from commercializing any product candidates on a timely basis, if at all.

The risk of failure in developing product candidates is high. It is impossible to predict when or if any product candidate would prove effective or safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of product candidates in humans. We have not yet completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. Clinical trials may fail to demonstrate that our product candidates are safe for humans and effective for indicated uses. Even if the clinical trials are successful, changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment or promulgation of additional statutes, regulations or guidance or changes in regulatory review for each submitted product application may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application.

 

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Before we can commence clinical trials for a product candidate, we must complete extensive preclinical testing and studies that support our INDs and other regulatory filings. We cannot be certain of the timely identification of a product candidate or the completion or outcome of our preclinical testing and studies and cannot predict whether the FDA will accept our proposed clinical programs or whether the outcome of our preclinical testing and studies will ultimately support the further development of any product candidates. Conducting preclinical testing is a lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process. The length of time may vary substantially according to the type, complexity and novelty of the program, and often can be several years or more per program. As a result, we cannot be sure that we will be able to submit INDs for our preclinical product candidates on the timelines we expect, if at all, and we cannot be sure that submission of INDs will result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to begin.

 

Furthermore, product candidates are subject to continued preclinical safety studies, which may be conducted concurrently with our clinical testing. The outcomes of these safety studies may delay the launch of or enrollment in clinical trials and could impact our ability to continue to conduct our clinical trials.

 

Clinical testing is expensive, is difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is uncertain as to outcome. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, or at all. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing, which may result from a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to, flaws in trial design, dose selection issues, patient enrollment criteria and failure to demonstrate favorable safety or efficacy traits.

 

Other events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include:

 

delays in reaching a consensus with regulatory authorities on trial design;
delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical research organizations, or CLROs, and clinical trial sites;
delays in opening clinical trial sites or obtaining required institutional review board, or IRB, or independent ethics committee approval, or the equivalent review groups for sites outside the United States, at each clinical trial site;
imposition of a clinical hold by regulatory authorities as a result of a serious adverse event or after an inspection of our clinical trial operations or trial sites;
negative or inconclusive results observed in clinical trials, including failure to demonstrate statistical significance, which could lead us, or cause regulators to require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon product development programs;
failure by us, any CLROs we engage or any other third parties to adhere to clinical trial requirements;
failure to perform in accordance with the FDA’s cGCPs;
failure by physicians to adhere to delivery protocols leading to variable results;
delays in the testing, validation, manufacturing and delivery of any product candidates we may develop to the clinical sites, including delays by third parties with whom we have contracted to perform certain of those functions;
failure of our third-party contractors to comply with regulatory requirements or to meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all;
delays in having patients complete participation in a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;
clinical trial sites or patients dropping out of a trial;
selection of clinical endpoints that require prolonged periods of clinical observation or analysis of the resulting data;
occurrence of serious adverse events associated with the product candidate that are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits;

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occurrence of serious adverse events associated with a product candidate in development by another company, which are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits, and which may negatively impact the perception of our product due to a similarity in technology or approach;
changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols;
changes in the legal or regulatory regimes domestically or internationally related to patient rights and privacy; or
lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

 

Any inability to successfully complete preclinical studies and clinical trials could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenues from product sales, regulatory and commercialization milestones and royalties. In addition, if we make manufacturing or formulation changes to any product candidates, we may need to conduct additional studies or trials to bridge our modified product candidates to earlier versions. Clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize any product candidates we may develop or allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop and may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

Additionally, if the results of our clinical trials are inconclusive or if there are safety concerns or serious adverse events associated with any product candidates we may develop, we may:

 

be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for product candidates, if at all;
obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;
obtain approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;
be subject to changes in the way the product is administered;
be required to perform additional clinical trials to support approval or be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements;
have regulatory authorities withdraw, or suspend, their approval of the product or impose restrictions on its distribution in the form of a modified risk evaluation and mitigation strategy;
be subject to the addition of labeling statements, such as warnings or contraindications;
be sued; or
experience damage to our reputation.

 

In particular, each of the conditions for which we plan to develop product candidates are rare genetic diseases with limited patient pools from which to draw for clinical trials. Further, because it can be difficult to diagnose these diseases in the absence of a genetic screen, we may have difficulty finding patients who are eligible to participate in our studies. The eligibility criteria of our clinical trials will further limit the pool of available study participants. Additionally, the process of finding and diagnosing patients may prove costly. The treating physicians in our clinical trials may also use their medical discretion in advising patients enrolled in our clinical trials to withdraw from our studies to try alternative therapies.

 

Our approach to the discovery and development of product candidates based on our FORCE platform is unproven, and we may not be successful in our efforts to identify, discover or develop potential product candidates.

The success of our business depends upon our ability to identify, develop and commercialize products based on our proprietary FORCE platform. Our therapeutics are constructed from three components: a proprietary Fab, a clinically validated linker and an oligonucleotide payload that we attach to our Fab using the linker. The Fab is engineered to bind to TfR1 to enable targeted delivery of nucleic acids and other molecules to skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle.

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All of our product candidates are still in varying stages of preclinical and clinical development, and our approach to treating muscle disease is unproven. Our research programs may fail to identify additional product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. Our research methodology may be unsuccessful in identifying additional potential product candidates and our potential product candidates may be shown to have harmful side effects in preclinical in vitro experiments or animal model studies. In addition, our product candidates may not show promising signals of therapeutic effect in such experiments or studies or they may have other characteristics that may make the product candidates impractical to manufacture, unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval. Further, because all of our product candidates and programs are based on our FORCE platform, adverse developments with respect to one of our product candidates and programs may have a significant adverse impact on the actual or perceived likelihood of success and value of our other product candidates and programs.

 

In addition, we have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate or successfully developed any product candidates, and our ability to identify and develop product candidates may never materialize. The process by which we identify and develop product candidates may fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including those discussed in these risk factors. In addition:

 

we may not be able to assemble sufficient resources to acquire or discover product candidates;
competitors may develop alternatives that render our product candidates obsolete or less attractive;
product candidates we develop may nevertheless be covered by third parties’ patents or other intellectual property rights;
product candidates may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance;
product candidates may not be effective in treating their targeted diseases or disorders;
the market for a product candidate may change so that the continued development of that product candidate is no longer reasonable;
a product candidate may not be capable of being produced in commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; or
the regulatory pathway for a product candidate may be too complex and difficult to navigate successfully or economically.

 

If we are unable to identify and discover suitable product candidates for clinical development, this would adversely impact our business strategy and our financial position and share price and could potentially cause us to cease operations.

 

The outcome of preclinical studies and earlier-stage clinical trials may not be predictive of future results or the success of later preclinical studies and clinical trials.

We are in the early stage of the development of our platform, programs and product candidates, and have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. As a result, our belief in the capabilities of our platform is based on early research and preclinical studies. However, the results of preclinical studies may not be predictive of the results of later preclinical studies or clinical trials, and the results of any early-stage clinical trials may not be predictive of the results of later clinical trials. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products. Our clinical trials may not ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of any product candidates we may develop. There is a high failure rate for product candidates proceeding through clinical trials. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in

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clinical development even after achieving encouraging results in earlier studies. Any such setbacks in our clinical development could materially harm our business and results of operations.

 

If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of patients in clinical trials, our ability to complete clinical trials may be adversely impacted.

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of any product candidates we may develop is critical to our success. We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment and trial completion is affected by factors including:

 

perceived risks and benefits of novel unproven approaches;
size of the patient population, in particular for rare diseases such as the diseases on which we are initially focused, and process for identifying patients;
design of the trial protocol;
eligibility and exclusion criteria;
perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
availability of competing therapies and clinical trials;
severity of the disease or disorder under investigation;
proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;
ability to obtain and maintain patient consent;
risk that enrolled patients will drop out before completion of the trial;
patient referral practices of physicians; and
ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment.

 

Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients for clinical trials would result in significant delays and could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in these clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our product candidates, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing. Furthermore, we rely on and expect to continue to rely on contract research organizations, or CROs, CLROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials and we will have limited influence over their performance.

 

Even if we are able to enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials, we may have difficulty maintaining patients in our clinical trials. Many of the patients who end up receiving placebo may perceive that they are not receiving the product candidate being tested, and they may decide to withdraw from our clinical trials to pursue other alternative therapies rather than continue the trial with the perception that they are receiving placebo. If we have difficulty enrolling or maintaining a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials, we may need to delay, limit or terminate clinical trials, any of which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

If any product candidates we may develop cause undesirable side effects or have other unexpected adverse properties, such side effects or properties could delay or prevent regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences following any potential marketing approval.

We have not completed a clinical trial of any product candidate. It is impossible to predict when or if any product candidates we may develop will prove safe in humans. There can be no assurance that our technologies will not cause undesirable side effects.

 

Although other oligonucleotide therapeutics have received regulatory approval, our approach, which combines oligonucleotides with a Fab, is a novel approach to oligonucleotide therapy. As a result, there is uncertainty as to the safety profile of product candidates we may develop compared to more

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well-established classes of therapies, or oligonucleotide therapeutics on their own. Moreover, there have been only a limited number of clinical trials involving the use of conjugated oligonucleotide therapeutics and none involving the proprietary technology used in our FORCE platform.

 

If any product candidates we develop are associated with serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or unexpected characteristics, we may need to abandon their development or limit development to certain uses or subpopulations in which the serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective, any of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Many product candidates that initially showed promise in early-stage testing have later been found to cause side effects that prevented further clinical development of the product candidates.

 

If in the future we are unable to demonstrate that such side effects were caused by factors others than our product candidates, the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, any product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Even if we are able to demonstrate that any future serious adverse events are not product-related and regulatory authorities do not order us to cease further development of our product candidates, such occurrences could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial. Moreover, if we elect, or are required, to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any product candidate, the commercial prospects of such product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates may be delayed or eliminated. Any of these occurrences may harm our ability to develop other product candidates, and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

 

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

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we focus on research programs and product candidates that we identify for specific indications among many potential options. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential, or we may choose to focus our efforts and resources on a potential product candidate that ultimately proves to be unsuccessful. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable medicines. 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 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. Any such event could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

Clinical trial and product liability lawsuits against us could divert our resources, could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit commercialization of our product candidates.

We will face an inherent risk of clinical trial and product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in clinical trials, and we will face an even greater risk if we commercially sell any products that we may develop. While we currently have no product candidates that have been approved for commercial sale, the use of product candidates by us in clinical trials, and the sale of any approved products in the future, may expose us to liability claims. These claims might be made by patients that use the product, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies or others selling such products. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

 

decreased demand for any product candidates we may develop;

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injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
significant costs to defend any related litigation;
substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients;
loss of revenue;
reduced resources of our management to pursue our business strategy; and
the inability to commercialize any product candidates we may develop.

 

We have increased our insurance coverage in countries in which we plan to conduct clinical trials and will need to increase our insurance coverage if we conduct clinical trials in additional countries or of additional product candidates or if we commence commercialization of any product candidates. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise. If a successful clinical trial or product liability claim or series of claims is brought against us for uninsured liabilities or in excess of insured liabilities, our assets may not be sufficient to cover such claims and our business operations could be impaired.

 

Risks related to our dependence on third parties

We rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our product manufacturing, research and preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.

We do not expect to independently conduct all aspects of our product manufacturing, research and preclinical and clinical testing. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties with respect to many of these items, including contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, for the manufacturing of any product candidates we test in preclinical or clinical development, as well as CROs for portions of our animal testing, preclinical research and for the conduct of our clinical trials. Any of these third parties may terminate their engagements with us at any time. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements, it could delay our product development activities.

 

Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibility to ensure compliance with all required regulations and study protocols. For example, for product candidates that we develop and commercialize on our own, we will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our IND-enabling studies and clinical trials are conducted in accordance with the study plan and protocols. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with cGCPs for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. We also are required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions. If we or any of our CROs or other third parties, including trial sites, fail to comply with applicable cGCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with cGCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under conditions that comply with the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practices. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

 

Although we design the clinical trials for our product candidates, CROs conduct some or all of the clinical trials. As a result, many important aspects of our development programs, including their conduct and timing, will be outside of our direct control. Our reliance on third parties to conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials will also result in less direct control over the management of data developed through preclinical studies and clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff.

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Communicating with outside parties can also be challenging, potentially leading to mistakes as well as difficulties in coordinating activities. Outside parties may:

 

have staffing difficulties;
fail to comply with contractual obligations;
experience regulatory compliance issues;
undergo changes in priorities or become financially distressed; or
form relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors.

 

These factors may materially adversely affect the willingness or ability of third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials and may subject us to unexpected cost increases that are beyond our control. In addition, any third parties conducting our clinical trials will not be our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our clinical programs. If the CROs and other third parties do not perform preclinical studies and clinical trials in a satisfactory manner, if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, or if they breach their obligations to us or fail to comply with regulatory requirements, the development, regulatory approval and commercialization of any product candidates we may develop may be delayed, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates or our development programs may be materially and irreversibly harmed. If we are unable to rely on preclinical and clinical data collected by our CROs and other third parties, we could be required to repeat, extend the duration of or increase the size of any preclinical studies or clinical trials we conduct and this could significantly delay commercialization and require greater expenditures.

 

If third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our studies in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated study plans and protocols, we will not be able to complete, or may be delayed in completing, the preclinical studies and clinical trials required to support future IND submissions and approval of any product candidates we may develop.

 

We currently depend on a small number of third-party suppliers for the manufacture of our Fab, the linker and oligonucleotide payloads. The loss of these or future third-party suppliers, or their inability provide us with sufficient supply, could harm our business.

We do not own or operate manufacturing facilities and have no current plans to develop our own clinical or commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities. We rely on a small number of third-party suppliers for the manufacture of our Fab, linker and oligonucleotide payloads. We expect to continue to depend on third-party suppliers for the manufacture of any product candidates that we evaluate in preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as for commercial manufacture if those product candidates receive marketing approval. The facilities used by third-party manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must be approved by the FDA and any comparable foreign regulatory authority pursuant to inspections that will be conducted after we submit a BLA to the FDA or any comparable filing to a foreign regulatory authority. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and are completely dependent on, third-party manufacturers for compliance with cGMP requirements for manufacture of products. If these third-party manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority, they will not be able to secure and/or maintain regulatory approval for their manufacturing facilities.

 

Our product candidates consist of a proprietary Fab conjugated with a linker to an oligonucleotide. Our Fab is manufactured by starting with cells which are stored in a cell bank. If we lose multiple cell banks, our manufacturing will be adversely impacted by the need to replace the cell banks.

 

In addition, we have no control over the ability of third-party manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of any product candidates we may develop or if it withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities,

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which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market any product candidates we may develop, if approved. Our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, seizures or recalls of product candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our product candidates.

 

We may also seek to eventually establish our own manufacturing facility for the long-term commercial supply of any product candidates we may develop and which receive regulatory approval. If we determine to establish our own manufacturing facility and manufacture our products on our own, we will need to obtain the resources and expertise in order to build such manufacturing capabilities and to conduct such manufacturing operations. In addition, our conduct of such manufacturing operations will be subject to the extensive regulations and operational risks to which our third-party suppliers are subject. If we are not successful in building these capabilities or complying with the regulations or otherwise operating our manufacturing function, our commercial supply could be disrupted and our business could be materially harmed.

 

Our or a third party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements on commercially reasonable terms and in compliance with cGMP could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:

 

an inability to initiate preclinical studies or clinical trials of product candidates;
delays in submitting regulatory applications, or receiving marketing approvals, for product candidates;
subjecting third-party manufacturing facilities or our manufacturing facilities to additional inspections by regulatory authorities;
requirements to cease development or to recall batches of product candidates; and
in the event of approval to market and commercialize any product, an inability to meet commercial demands for the product.

 

We are party to manufacturing agreements with a number of third-party manufacturers. We may be unable to maintain these agreements or establish any additional agreements with third-party manufacturers or to do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to maintain or establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

 

failure of third-party manufacturers to comply with regulatory requirements and maintain quality assurance;
breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party;
failure to manufacture according to our specifications;
failure to manufacture according to our schedule or at all;
misappropriation of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how; and
termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us.

 

We may compete with third parties for access to manufacturing facilities. There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us.

 

We do not currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply or a second source for all required raw materials. If our existing or future third-party manufacturers cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers and we may be unable to replace them on a timely basis or at all.

 

Additionally, if supply from one approved manufacturer is interrupted, there could be a significant disruption in supply. An alternative manufacturer would need to be qualified through a BLA supplement

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which could result in further delay. The regulatory agencies may also require additional studies or trials if a new manufacturer is relied upon for commercial production. Switching manufacturers may involve substantial costs and is likely to result in a delay in our desired clinical and commercial timelines.

 

These factors could cause the delay of clinical trials, regulatory submissions, required approvals or commercialization of our product candidates, cause us to incur higher costs and prevent us from commercializing our products successfully. Furthermore, if our suppliers fail to meet contractual requirements, and we are unable to secure one or more replacement suppliers capable of production at a substantially equivalent cost, our clinical trials may be delayed or we could lose potential revenue.

 

Our current and anticipated future dependence upon third parties for the manufacture of any product candidates we develop may adversely affect our development programs and our ability to commercialize any products that receive marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis.

 

We may from time to time be dependent on single-source suppliers for some of the components and materials used in the product candidates we may develop.

We may from time to time depend on single-source suppliers for some of the components and materials used in any product candidate we may develop. For instance, we currently use a single supplier for each of our Fab, linker and payloads. We cannot ensure that these suppliers or service providers will remain in business, have sufficient capacity or supply to meet our needs or that they will not be purchased by one of our competitors or another company that is not interested in continuing to work with us. Our use of single-source suppliers of raw materials, components, key processes and finished goods could expose us to several risks, including disruptions in supply, price increases or late deliveries. There are, in general, relatively few alternative sources of supply for substitute components. These vendors may be unable or unwilling to meet our future demands for our clinical trials or commercial sale. Establishing additional or replacement suppliers for these components, materials and processes could take a substantial amount of time and it may be difficult to establish replacement suppliers who meet regulatory requirements. Any disruption in supply from any single-source supplier or service provider could lead to supply delays or interruptions which would damage our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

If we have to switch to a replacement supplier, the manufacture and delivery of any product candidates we may develop could be interrupted for an extended period, which could adversely affect our business. Establishing additional or replacement suppliers, if required, may not be accomplished quickly. If we are able to find a replacement supplier, the replacement supplier would need to be qualified and may require additional regulatory authority approval, which could result in further delay. While we seek to maintain adequate inventory of the single source components and materials used in our products, any interruption or delay in the supply of components or materials, or our inability to obtain components or materials from alternate sources at acceptable prices in a timely manner, could impair our ability to meet the demand for our investigational medicines.

 

We may enter into collaborations with third parties for the research, development and commercialization of certain of the product candidates we may develop. If any such collaborations are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of those product candidates.

We may seek third-party collaborators for the research, development and commercialization of certain of the product candidates we may develop. If we enter into any such arrangements with any third parties, we will likely have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our collaborators dedicate to the development or commercialization of any product candidates we may seek to develop with them. Our ability to generate revenues from these arrangements will depend on our collaborators’ abilities to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements. We cannot predict the success of any collaboration that we enter into.

 

Collaborations involving our research programs or any product candidates we may develop pose numerous risks to us, including the following:

 

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collaborators would have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these collaborations;
collaborators may not pursue development and commercialization of any product candidates we may develop or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in the collaborator’s strategic focus or available funding or external factors such as an acquisition that diverts resources or creates competing priorities;
collaborators may delay programs, preclinical studies or clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for programs, preclinical studies or clinical trials, stop a preclinical study or clinical trial or abandon a product candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with any product candidates we may develop if the collaborators believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;
collaborators may be acquired by a third party having competitive products or different priorities, causing the emphasis on our product development or commercialization program under such collaboration to be delayed, diminished or terminated;
collaborators with marketing and distribution rights to one or more products may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such product or products;
collaborators may not properly obtain, maintain, enforce or defend our intellectual property or proprietary rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
disputes may arise between the collaborators and us that result in the delay or termination of the research, development, or commercialization of any product candidates we may develop or that result in costly litigation or arbitration that diverts management attention and resources;
we may lose certain valuable rights under certain circumstances, including if we undergo a change of control;
collaborations may be terminated and, if terminated, may result in a need for additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates we may develop; and
collaboration agreements may not lead to development or commercialization of product candidates in the most efficient manner or at all.

 

If our collaborations do not result in the successful development and commercialization of product candidates, or if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may not receive any future research funding or milestone or royalty payments under the collaboration. If we do not receive the funding we expect under these agreements, our development of product candidates could be delayed, and we may need additional resources to develop product candidates. In addition, if one of our collaborators terminates its agreement with us, we may find it more difficult to find a suitable replacement collaborator or attract new collaborators, and our development programs may be delayed or the perception of us in the business and financial communities could be adversely affected. All of the risks relating to product development, regulatory approval and commercialization described in this “Risk Factors” section apply to the activities of our collaborators.

 

These relationships, or those like them, 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 could face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Our ability to reach a definitive collaboration agreement will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration, and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of several factors. If we license rights to any product candidates we or

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our collaborators may develop, 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.

 

If conflicts arise between us and our potential collaborators, these parties may act in a manner adverse to us and could limit our ability to implement our strategies.

If conflicts arise between us and our potential collaborators, the other party may act in a manner adverse to us and could limit our ability to implement our strategies. Our collaborators may develop, either alone or with others, products in related fields that are competitive with the product candidates we may develop that are the subject of these collaborations with us. Competing products, either developed by the collaborators or to which the collaborators have rights, may result in the withdrawal of support for our product candidates.

 

Some of our future collaborators could also become our competitors. Our collaborators could develop competing products, preclude us from entering into collaborations with their competitors, fail to obtain timely regulatory approvals, terminate their agreements with us prematurely, fail to devote sufficient resources to the development and commercialization of products, or merge with or be acquired by a third party who may do any of these things. Any of these developments could harm our product development efforts.

 

If we are not able to establish collaborations on commercially reasonable terms, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

Our research programs and product candidates and the potential commercialization of any product candidates we may develop will require substantial additional cash to fund expenses. For some of the product candidates we may develop, we may decide to collaborate with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the development and potential commercialization of those product candidates.

 

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate collaborators. Whether we reach a definitive agreement for a collaboration will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the collaborator’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed collaboration, and the proposed collaborator’s evaluation of a number of factors. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA, the EMA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject product candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such product candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally. The collaborator may also consider alternative product candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to collaborate on and whether such a collaboration could be more attractive than the one with us.

 

Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators.

 

We may not be able to negotiate collaborations on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so, we may have to curtail the development of the product candidate for which we are seeking to collaborate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization, reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our own expenditures on the development of the product candidate.

 

We are dependent on third-party vendors to provide certain licenses, products and services and our business and operations, including clinical trials, could be disrupted by any problems with our significant third-party vendors.

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We engage a number of third-party suppliers and service providers to supply critical goods and services, such as contract research services, contract manufacturing services and IT services. Disruptions to the business, financial stability or operations of these suppliers and service providers, including due to strikes, labor disputes or other disruptions to the workforce, for instance, if, as a result of COVID-19, employees are not able to come to work, or to their willingness and ability to produce or deliver such products or provide such services in a manner that satisfies the requirements put forth by the authorities, or in a manner that satisfies our own requirements, could affect our ability to develop and market our future product candidates on a timely basis. If these suppliers and service providers were unable or unwilling to continue to provide their products or services in the manner expected, or at all, we could encounter difficulty finding alternative suppliers. Even if we are able to secure appropriate alternative suppliers in a timely manner, costs for such products or services could increase significantly. Any of these events could adversely affect our results of operations and our business.

 

Risks related to commercialization

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

The development and commercialization of new drug products is highly competitive. We face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may develop from major pharmaceutical companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies worldwide. There are a number of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that currently market and sell products or are pursuing the development of products for the treatment of many of the disorders for which we are conducting research and development programs. Some of these competitive products and therapies are based on scientific approaches that are the same as or similar to our approach, and others are based on entirely different approaches. Potential competitors also include academic institutions, government agencies and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization.

 

Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than our product candidates or that would render any product candidates that we may develop obsolete or non-competitive. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing any product candidates we may develop against competitors.

 

We expect to face competition from existing products and product candidates in development for each of our programs and product candidates. There are currently no approved therapies to treat the underlying cause of DM1. Product candidates currently in development to treat DM1 include: tideglusib, a GSK3-ß inhibitor in late-stage clinical development by AMO Pharma Ltd. for the congenital phenotype of DM1; pitolisant, a selective histamine 3 receptor antagonist / inverse agonist being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for non-muscular symptoms of DM1 by Harmony Biosciences Holdings, Inc.; AT466, an AAV-antisense candidate in preclinical development by Audentes Therapeutics, Inc.; AOC-1001, an antibody linked siRNA being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial by Avidity Biosciences, Inc., or Avidity; gene editing treatments in preclinical development by Biogen, Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or Vertex; an RNA-targeting gene therapy in preclinical development by Locana, Inc.; small molecules interacting with RNA in preclinical development by Expansion Therapeutics, Inc.; therapeutics based on biomolecular condensate biology in preclinical development by Dewpoint Therapeutics, Inc. and Faze Medicines, Inc.; gene targeted chimera small molecules in preclinical development by Design Therapeutics, Inc.; EDODM1, a peptide-linked PMO in preclinical development by Pepgen, Inc.; ENTR-701, an endosomal escape vehicle technology with a CUG steric blocker oligonucleotide by Entrada Therapeutics, Inc. (in collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.); and NT0200, a peptide-nucleic acid (PNA) in preclinical development by Neubase Therapeutics, Inc.

 

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Currently, patients with DMD are treated with corticosteroids to manage the inflammatory component of the disease. EMFLAZA (deflazacort) is an FDA-approved corticosteroid marketed by PTC Therapeutics, Inc., or PTC. In addition, there are four FDA-approved exon skipping drugs: EXONDYS 51 (eteplirsen), VYONDYS 53 (golodirsen) and AMONDYS 45 (casimersen), which are naked PMOs approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 51, Exon 53 and Exon 45 skipping, respectively, and are marketed by Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc., or Sarepta, and VILTEPSO (vitolarsen), a naked PMO approved for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping, which is marketed by Nippon Shinyaku Co. Ltd. Companies focused on developing treatments for DMD that target dystrophin mechanisms, as does our DMD program, include Sarepta with SRP-5051, a peptide-linked PMO being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for patients amenable to Exon 51 skipping, Wave Life Sciences Ltd. with WVE-N531, a stereopure oligonucleotide being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial for patients amenable to Exon 53 skipping, PTC with ataluren, a small molecule targeting nonsense mutations in a Phase 3 clinical trial with conditional market authorization in the EMA, Entrada Therapeutics, Inc. with ENTR-601-44, an endosomal escape vehicle technology for the treatment of DMD patients amenable to Exon 44 skipping currently on clinical hold, Pepgen, Inc., with EDO51, a peptide-linked PMO for patients amenable to Exon 51 skipping which is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers; BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. with BMN 351, an oligonucleotide therapy that targets dystrophin production which is in preclinical development and Avidity with AOC 1044, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate that targets dystrophin production for patients amenable to Exon 44 skipping being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial. In addition, several companies are developing gene therapies to treat DMD, including Milo Biotechnology (AAV1-FS344), Pfizer Inc. (PF-06939926), Sarepta (SRP-9001 and Galgt2 gene therapy program), Solid Biosciences Inc. (SGT-003) and REGENXBIO Inc (RGX-202). Gene editing treatments that are in preclinical development are also being pursued by Vertex and Sarepta. We are also aware of several companies targeting non-dystrophin mechanisms for the treatment of DMD.

 

There are currently no therapies to treat the underlying cause of FSHD. Products currently in development to treat FSHD include: ARO-DUX4, an siRNA therapy in preclinical development by Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AOC-1020, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial by Avidity, MC-DX4, a microRNA targeting therapy in preclinical development by miRecule, Inc. (in collaboration with Sanofi, Inc.), creatine monohydrate, a supplement that enhances muscle performance, which is being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and losmapimod, a p38 MAPK inhibitor that may modulate DUX4 expression, which is being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical trial by Fulcrum Therapeutics Inc.

 

We will also compete more generally with other companies developing alternative scientific and technological approaches, including other companies working to develop conjugates with oligonucleotides for extra-hepatic delivery, including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aro Biotherapeutics, Inc., Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Avidity, Denali Therapeutics, Inc., Novo Nordisk A/S, DTx Pharma, Inc., Gennao Bio, Inc., Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., NeuBase Therapeutics, Inc. and Sarepta, as well as gene therapy and gene editing approaches.

 

Many of the companies against which we compete or against which we may compete in the future have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals and marketing approved products than we do. Accordingly, our competitors may be more successful than us in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining approval for treatments and achieving widespread market acceptance, rendering our treatments obsolete or non-competitive.

 

Additionally, mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller and other early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These third parties compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel, establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.

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If we successfully obtain approval for any product candidate, we will face competition based on many different factors, including the safety and effectiveness of our products, the ease with which our products can be administered and the extent to which patients accept relatively new routes of administration, the timing and scope of regulatory approvals for these products, the availability and cost of manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities, price, reimbursement coverage and patent position. Competing products could present superior treatment alternatives, including by being more effective, safer, more convenient, less expensive or marketed and sold more effectively than any products we may develop. Competitive products or technological approaches may make any products we develop, or our FORCE platform, obsolete or noncompetitive before we recover the expense of developing and commercializing our product candidates. If we are unable to compete effectively, our opportunity to generate revenue from the sale of our products we may develop, if approved, could be adversely affected.

 

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

 

If any product candidate we may develop receives marketing approval, it may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payers and others in the medical community. Sales of medical products depend in part on the willingness of physicians to prescribe the treatment, which is likely to be based on a determination by these physicians that the products are safe, therapeutically effective and cost-effective. In addition, the inclusion or exclusion of products from treatment guidelines established by various physician groups and the viewpoints of influential physicians can affect the willingness of other physicians to prescribe the treatment. We cannot predict whether physicians, physicians’ organizations, hospitals, other healthcare providers, government agencies or private insurers will determine that our product is safe, therapeutically effective and cost-effective as compared with competing treatments. Efforts to educate the medical community and third-party payers on the benefits of any product candidates we may develop may require significant resources and may not be successful. If any product candidates we may develop do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenues and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of any product candidates we may develop, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:

 

the efficacy and safety of such product candidates as demonstrated in clinical trials;
the potential advantages and limitations compared to alternative treatments;
the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts;
the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;
the clinical indications for which the product is approved;
the convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;
the willingness of the target patient population to try new therapies and of physicians to prescribe these therapies;
the strength of marketing and distribution support;
the timing of market introduction of competitive products;
the availability of third-party coverage and adequate reimbursement;
the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and
any restrictions on the use of our products, if approved, together with other medications.

 

If the market opportunities for any product candidates we develop are smaller than we believe they are, our revenue may be adversely affected, and our business may suffer. Because the target patient populations of our programs are small, and the addressable patient population even smaller, we must be able to successfully identify patients and capture a significant market share to achieve profitability and growth.

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We focus our research and product development on treatments for rare diseases. Given the small number of patients who have the diseases that we are targeting, it is critical to our ability to grow and become profitable that we continue to successfully identify patients with these rare diseases. Our projections of both the number of people who have these diseases, as well as the subset of people with these diseases who have the potential to benefit from treatment with any product candidates we may develop, are based on our beliefs and estimates. These estimates have been derived from a variety of sources, including the scientific literature, surveys of clinics, patient foundations or market research that we conducted, and may prove to be incorrect or contain errors. New studies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. The effort to identify patients with diseases we seek to treat is in early stages, and we cannot accurately predict the number of patients for whom treatment might be possible. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for each of our product candidates may be limited or may not be amenable to treatment with our product candidates, and new patients may become increasingly difficult to identify or gain access to, which would adversely affect our results of operations and our business. Further, even if we obtain significant market share for our product candidates, because the potential target populations are very small, we may never achieve profitability despite obtaining such significant market share.

 

Our target patient populations are relatively small, and there is currently no standard of care treatment directed at some of our target indications, such as FSHD. As a result, the pricing and reimbursement of any product candidates we may develop, if approved, is uncertain, but must be adequate to support commercial infrastructure. If we are unable to obtain adequate levels of reimbursement, our ability to successfully market and sell product candidates will be adversely affected.

 

The pricing, insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly approved products is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for our future product candidates, if approved, could limit our ability to market those products and decrease our ability to generate product revenue.

The initial target platforms in our pipeline are indications with small patient populations. For product candidates that are designed to treat smaller patient populations to be commercially viable, the reimbursement for such product candidates must be higher, on a relative basis, to account for the lack of volume. Accordingly, we will need to implement a coverage and reimbursement strategy for any approved product candidate that accounts for the smaller potential market size. If we are unable to establish or sustain coverage and adequate reimbursement for any future product candidates from third-party payers, the adoption of those product candidates and sales revenue will be adversely affected, which, in turn, could adversely affect the ability to market or sell those product candidates, if approved.

 

We expect that coverage and reimbursement by third-party payers will be essential for most patients to be able to afford these treatments. Accordingly, sales of our future product candidates will depend substantially, both domestically and internationally, on the extent to which the costs of our product candidates will be paid by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or will be reimbursed by government authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payers. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment.

 

There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement by government authorities for new products are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, since CMS decides whether and to what extent a new product will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payers tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. However, one payer’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payers will also provide coverage for the drug product. Further, a payer’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Reimbursement agencies in the European Union may be more conservative than CMS.

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Outside the United States, international operations are generally subject to extensive governmental price controls and other market regulations, and we believe the increasing emphasis on cost-containment initiatives in Europe, Canada and other countries has and will continue to put pressure on the pricing and usage of therapeutics such as any product candidates we may develop. In many countries, particularly the countries of the European Union, the prices of medical products are subject to varying price control mechanisms as part of national health systems. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. As a result, we might obtain marketing approval for a product in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay or might even prevent our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy periods of time. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. In general, the prices of products under such systems are substantially lower than in the United States. Other countries allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control company profits. Additional foreign price controls or other changes in pricing regulation could restrict the amount that we are able to charge for product candidates. Accordingly, in markets outside the United States, the reimbursement for any product candidates we may develop may be reduced compared with the United States and may be insufficient to generate commercially reasonable revenues and profits.

 

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payers, in the United States and internationally, to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and level of reimbursement for new products approved and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for any product candidates we may develop. We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any product candidates we may develop due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of certain third-party payers, such as health maintenance organizations, and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products into the healthcare market. There have been instances in which third-party payers have refused to reimburse treatments for patients for whom the treatment is indicated in the FDA-approved product label. Even if we are successful in obtaining FDA approvals to commercialize our product candidates, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to secure reimbursement for all patients for whom treatment with our product candidates is indicated.

 

In addition to CMS and private payers, professional organizations such as the American Medical Association, can influence decisions about reimbursement for new products by determining standards for care. In addition, many private payers contract with commercial vendors who sell software