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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
FORM
20-F
 
 
(Mark One)
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
 
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
OR
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
for the transition period from                to                
OR
 
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Commission file number
001-40505
 
 
Ambrx Biopharma Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
Not Applicable
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Cayman Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation)
10975 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, California 92037
,
United States
(address of principal executive offices)
Feng Tian, Ph.D.
President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Ambrx Biopharma Inc.
10975 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, California 92037
,
United States
(858)
875-2400
Feng.Tian@ambrx.com
(Name, Telephone,
E-mail
and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
 
 
Securities registered or to be registered, pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of each class
 
Trading
Symbol
 
Name of each exchange
on which registered
American Depositary Shares (ADSs), each representing seven ordinary shares, par value $0.0001 per ordinary share
 
AMAM
 
The New York Stock Exchange
Ordinary shares, par value $0.0001 per share *
     
The New York Stock Exchange *
 
*
Not for trading, but only in connection with the registration of the American Depositary Shares.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
None
 
 
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital stock or common stock as of the close of business covered by the annual report.
Ordinary shares, par value $0.0001 per share: 300,015,224 ordinary shares as of December 31, 2021, comprised of (i) 270,120,548 ordinary shares that were fully paid, issued and outstanding and (ii) 29,894,676 ordinary shares that were outstanding and have been issued to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as depositary, for future sales and issuances of ADSs, if any, as further described in this annual report.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes   ☐    No   ☒
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.     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
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, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer      Accelerated filer  
       
Non-accelerated filer      Emerging growth company  
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, 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.   ☒
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
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.    ☐  Yes    ☒  No
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
 
U.S. GAAP  ☒           International Financial Reporting Standards as issued             Other  ☐
            by the International Accounting Standards Board            
 
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    Item 17   ☐    Item 18   ☐
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act).    Yes   ☐    No   ☒
Audit Firm ID: 34   Auditor Name: Deloitte & Touche LLP   Auditor Location: San Diego, California, United States
 
 
 

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2

GENERAL INFORMATION
Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report to the terms “Ambrx,” “Ambrx Biopharma,” “the company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Ambrx Biopharma Inc. and its subsidiaries.
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL AND OTHER INFORMATION
Our consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
Our functional currency is the U.S. dollar. Unless otherwise specified, all monetary amounts presented are in U.S. dollars.
We have made rounding adjustments to some of the figures included in this Annual Report. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in some tables may not be an arithmetic aggregation of the figures that preceded them.
 
3

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act), that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the words “may,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “objective,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue” and “ongoing,” or the negative of these terms, or other comparable terminology intended to identify statements about the future. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and opinions contained in this Annual Report are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report and, while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. Forward-looking statements include statements about:
 
   
the timing, progress and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates, including our product development plans and strategies;
 
   
the timing, scope and likelihood of regulatory filings and approvals, including final regulatory approval of our product candidates;
 
   
the potential benefits and market opportunity for our product candidates and technologies;
 
   
expectations regarding the size, scope and design of clinical trials;
 
   
our manufacturing, commercialization, and marketing plans and strategies;
 
   
our plans to hire additional personnel and our ability to attract and retain such personnel;
 
   
our estimates of the number of patients who suffer from the diseases we are targeting and potential growth in the patient populations;
 
   
our expectations regarding the approval and use of our product candidates as first, second or subsequent lines of therapy or in combination with other drugs;
 
   
our competitive position and the development and impact of competing therapies that are or may become available;
 
   
expectations regarding future events under licensing and research and development agreements, including potential future payments, as well as our plans and strategies for entering into further licensing and research and development agreements;
 
   
our intellectual property position, including the scope of protection we are able to establish and maintain for intellectual property rights covering product candidates we may develop, including the extensions of existing patent terms where available, the validity of intellectual property rights held by third parties, and our ability not to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate any third-party intellectual property rights;
 
   
the rate and degree of market acceptance and clinical utility of our product candidates we may develop;
 
   
our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing;
 
   
our future financial performance;
 
   
the period over which we estimate our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our future operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements;
 
   
the impact of laws and regulations; and
 
   
the impact of
the COVID-19 pandemic
and actions to slow its spread.
 
4

You should refer to the section titled “Item 3.D. Risk Factors” for a discussion of important factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. We claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for all forward-looking statements.
You should read this Annual Report and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
Unless otherwise indicated, information contained in this Annual Report concerning our industry and the markets in which we operate, including our general expectations and market position, market opportunity and market size estimates, is based on information from independent industry analysts, third-party sources and management estimates. Management estimates are derived from publicly available information released by independent industry analysts and third-party sources, as well as data from our internal research, and are based on assumptions made by us based on such data and our knowledge of such industry and market, which we believe to be reasonable. In addition, while we believe the market opportunity information included in this Annual Report is generally reliable and is based on reasonable assumptions, such data involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed under the section of this Annual Report titled “Item 3.D Risk Factors.”
SUMMARY OF RISK FACTORS
Investing in our shares involves numerous risks, including the risks described in “Item 3.D Risk Factors” of this Annual Report. Below are some of our principal risks, any one of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects:
 
   
We have incurred net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We may never generate any revenue or become profitable or, if we achieve profitability, may not be able to sustain it.
 
   
We will need to obtain substantial additional funding to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If we are unable to raise this capital when needed, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or other operations.
 
   
We are early in our development efforts and have a limited history of conducting clinical trials to test our product candidates in humans.
 
   
Our business is highly dependent on our lead product candidate, ARX788, and we must complete additional clinical testing before we can seek regulatory approval and begin commercialization of ARX788 for any indication. If we are unable to obtain regulatory approval for, and successfully commercialize, ARX788, our business may be materially harmed and such failure may affect the viability of our other product candidates.
 
   
Preclinical and clinical development is a lengthy, expensive and uncertain process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials are not always predictive of future results. If our preclinical studies and clinical trials are not sufficient to support regulatory approval of any of our product candidates, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development of such product candidate.
 
5

   
Our product candidates are based on novel technologies, making it difficult to predict the timing, results and cost of product candidate development and likelihood of obtaining regulatory approval.
 
   
We may encounter substantial delays in initiating or completing our clinical trials.
 
   
Serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or other unexpected properties of our product candidates may be identified during development or after approval, which could lead to the discontinuation of our clinical development programs, refusal by regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, if discovered following marketing approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or limitations on the use of our product candidates thereby limiting the commercial potential of such product candidate.
 
   
We rely on third parties to conduct, supervise, and monitor our clinical trials and perform some of our research and preclinical studies. If these third parties do not satisfactorily carry out their contractual duties or fail to meet expected deadlines, our development programs may be delayed or subject to increased costs, each of which may have an adverse effect on our business and prospects.
 
   
We are currently party to several in-license agreements under which we acquired rights to use, develop, manufacture and/or commercialize certain of our platform technologies and resulting product candidates. If we breach our obligations under these agreements, we may be required to pay damages, lose our rights to these technologies or both, which would adversely affect our business and prospects.
 
   
We are dependent on our license agreements and R&D Agreements with various partners to develop and commercialize products using our technologies in various fields and indications as well as certain of our product candidates in certain geographies. The failure to maintain our R&D Agreements with our collaboration partners or the failure of our partners to perform their obligations under our R&D Agreements with them, could negatively impact our business.
 
   
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products more quickly or marketing them more successfully than us.
 
   
If we are unable to obtain and maintain sufficient intellectual property protection for our platform technologies and product candidates, or if the scope of the intellectual property protection is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our products may be adversely affected.
 
6

PART I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Not applicable.
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Not applicable.
 
7

Item 3. Key Information
 
 
A.
[Reserved]
 
 
B.
Capitalization and indebtedness.
Not applicable    
 
 
C.
Reasons for the offer and use of proceeds.
Not applicable
 
 
D.
Risk Factors.
 
8

RISK FACTORS
An investment in our American Depositary Shares (ADSs), involves a high degree of risk. The occurrence of any of the events or developments described below could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and/or prospects or cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements we have made in this report and those we may make from time to time. In such an event, the market price of our ADSs could decline and you may lose all or part of your investment. You should consider all of the risk factors described when evaluating our business.
Risks Related to Our Financial Position, Capital Requirements and Limited Operating History
We have incurred net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We may never generate any revenue or become profitable or, if we achieve profitability, may not be able to sustain it.
We have never generated any revenue from product sales and have incurred net losses each year since we commenced operations. For the year ended December 31, 2021, our net loss attributable to our shareholders was $68.1 million. We expect that it will be several years, if ever, before we have a product candidate that will achieve regulatory approval and be commercialized. We expect to incur increasing levels of operating losses over the next several years and for the foreseeable future as we advance our product candidates through clinical development. Our prior losses, combined with expected future losses, have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on our shareholders’ equity and working capital.
To become and remain profitable, we must develop and eventually commercialize a product or products with significant market potential. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, obtaining marketing approval for these product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling those products for which we may obtain marketing approval and satisfying any post-marketing requirements. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we succeed in commercializing one or more of our product candidates, we may never generate revenue that is significant enough to achieve profitability. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis and we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenditures to develop and market additional product candidates. Our failure to become and remain profitable could decrease the value of our ADSs and impair our ability to raise capital, maintain our research and development efforts, expand our business or continue our operations.
Our limited operating history may make it difficult for you to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.
We are a clinical-stage biologics company with a limited operating history. As an organization, we have not demonstrated an ability to successfully complete late-stage clinical trials, obtain regulatory approvals, manufacture our product candidates at commercial scale or arrange for a third party to do so on our behalf, conduct sales and marketing activities necessary for successful commercialization, or obtain reimbursement in the countries of sale. We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, and delays in achieving our business objectives. Our short history as an operating company makes any assessment of our future success or viability subject to significant uncertainty. If we do not address these risks successfully or are unable to transition at some point from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities, then our business will be materially harmed.
We will need to obtain substantial additional funding to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates. If we are unable to raise this capital when needed, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our product development programs or other operations.
Since our inception, we have financed our operations primarily through sales of our capital stock and funding from our collaborations. The development of biological product candidates is capital intensive. As our product
 
9

candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and clinical trials, we will need substantial additional funds to pay external development costs and expand our clinical, regulatory, quality and manufacturing capabilities. If we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to marketing, sales, manufacturing and distribution. Furthermore, we have incurred and expect to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $170.1 million in cash and cash equivalents. Based upon our current operating plan, we estimate that our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements for at least the next 12 months from the date of this Annual Report.
We have based these estimates on assumptions that may prove to be incorrect or require adjustment as a result of business decisions, and we could utilize our available capital resources sooner than we currently expect. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:
 
   
the initiation, trial design, progress, timing, costs and results of drug discovery, preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, and in particular the clinical trials for ARX788;
 
   
the number and characteristics of product candidates that we pursue, as well as the indications for which we develop our product candidates;
 
   
the length of our clinical trials, including, among other things, as a result of delays in enrollment, difficulties enrolling sufficient subjects or delays or difficulties in clinical trial site initiations;
 
   
the outcome, timing and costs of seeking regulatory approvals for our product candidates;
 
   
the costs of manufacturing our product candidates, in particular for clinical trials in preparation for marketing approval and in preparation for commercialization;
 
   
the costs of any third-party products used in our combination clinical trials that are not covered by such third party or other sources;
 
   
the costs associated with hiring additional personnel and consultants as our preclinical, manufacturing, regulatory and clinical activities increase;
 
   
whether and when we receive marketing approvals and revenue from any commercial sales of any of our product candidates, if approved;
 
   
the cost of commercialization activities for any of our product candidates, if approved, including marketing, sales and distribution costs;
 
   
the emergence of competing therapies and other adverse market developments;
 
   
the ability to establish and maintain strategic collaboration, licensing or other arrangements and whether and when we receive or are obligated to make payments under such arrangements;
 
   
the extent to which we
in-license
or acquire other products and technologies and the terms of these transactions;
 
   
the costs involved in preparing, filing, prosecuting, maintaining, expanding, defending and enforcing patent claims, including litigation costs and the outcome of such litigation;
 
   
our need and ability to retain key management and hire scientific, technical, business, and medical personnel;
 
   
our implementation of additional internal systems and infrastructure, including operational, financial and management information systems;
 
   
the costs associated with expanding our facilities or building out our laboratory space;
 
   
the extent of the impacts and duration of the
COVID-19
pandemic; and
 
   
the costs of operating as a public company.
 
10

Because we do not expect to generate revenue from product sales for several years, if at all, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations and expected increases in expenses. Until such time as we can generate significant revenue from sales of our product candidates, if ever, we expect to finance our cash needs through equity offerings, debt financings or other capital sources, including potentially grants, collaborations, licenses or other similar arrangements. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations, even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans. The impact of the
COVID-19
pandemic, the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, changes in interest rates and economic inflation on capital markets may affect the availability, amount and type of financing available to us in the future. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we would be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or future commercialization efforts.
Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our shareholders restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.
Until such time, if ever, as we can generate substantial product revenue, we expect to finance our operations through equity offerings, debt financings or other capital sources, including potentially grants, collaborations, licenses or other similar arrangements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as an ADS holder. Debt financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, make capital expenditures or declare dividends.
If we raise funds through collaborations 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 when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development or future commercialization efforts or grant rights to develop and market product candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves.
Risks Related to the Discovery, Development and Regulatory Approval of Our Product Candidates
We are early in our development efforts and have a limited history of conducting clinical trials to test our product candidates in humans.
We are early in our development efforts and most of our operations to date have been limited to developing our platform technologies and conducting drug discovery and preclinical studies. As a result, there are many steps in the drug development process that we must still successfully complete and have limited experience with as a company.
Our ability to successfully complete development of any of our current and future product candidates will depend on a number of factors, including:
 
   
successful completion of preclinical studies;
 
   
submission of Investigational New Drug (IND) or other regulatory applications to allow for initiation of our planned and future clinical trials and authorizations from regulators to initiate clinical trials;
 
   
successful initiation, execution and completion of, planned and future clinical trials and achieving positive results from such trials;
 
   
demonstrating a risk-benefit profile acceptable to regulatory authorities;
 
   
clinical trial data that are sufficient to support marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
 
11

   
and obtaining and maintaining patent, trade secret and other intellectual property protection and regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates and avoiding infringement of third party intellectual property rights.
If we do not achieve one or more of these requirements in a timely manner, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully complete development of our product candidates, which would materially harm our business.
Our business is highly dependent on our lead product candidate, ARX788, and we must complete additional clinical testing before we can seek regulatory approval and begin commercialization of ARX788 for any indication. If we are unable to obtain regulatory approval for, and successfully commercialize, ARX788, our business may be materially harmed and such failure may affect the viability of our other product candidates.
There is no guarantee that any of our product candidates will proceed in preclinical or through clinical development or achieve regulatory approval. The process for obtaining marketing approval for any product candidate is very long and risky and there will be significant challenges for us to address in order to obtain marketing approval as planned or, if at all.
There is no guarantee that the results obtained in current clinical trials of ARX788 or future clinical trials will be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval. In addition, because our lead product candidate is our most advanced product candidate, and because our other product candidates and future product candidates are based or will be based on our synthetic amino acid (SAA) technology, if our lead product candidate encounters safety or efficacy problems, developmental delays, regulatory issues, or other problems, our development plans and business related to our other current or future product candidates could be significantly harmed. In addition, our most advanced internal product candidates in our antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) franchise rely on AS269, our proprietary cytotoxic payload, meaning that a toxicity, manufacturing or other issue with AS269, including an issue identified during clinical trials of ARX788, could negatively impact these other product candidates, which would harm our business. A failure of our lead product candidate may affect the ability to obtain regulatory approval to continue or conduct clinical programs for our other or future product candidates. Moreover, anti-tumor activity may be different in each of the different tumor types we plan on evaluating in our clinical trials. As a consequence, we may have to negotiate with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reach agreement on defining the optimal patient population, study design and size in order to obtain regulatory approval, any of which may require additional resources and delay the timing of our clinical trials and ultimately the approval, if any, of any of our product candidates. Further, competitors who are developing products with similar technology may experience problems with their products that could become, or be perceived to be, problems with our product candidates.
Preclinical and clinical development is a lengthy, expensive and uncertain process. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials are not always predictive of future results. If our preclinical studies and clinical trials are not sufficient to support regulatory approval of any of our product candidates, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development of such product candidate.
The research and development of drugs and biological products is extremely risky. Only a small percentage of product candidates that enter the development process ever receive marketing approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the product candidates in humans. Clinical testing is expensive, can take many years to complete and its outcome is uncertain. We may face unforeseen challenges in our product candidate development strategy, and we can provide no assurances that we will ultimately be successful in our current and future clinical trials or that our product candidates will be able to receive regulatory approval. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our product candidates and other products, even those with the same or similar mechanisms of action, may not be predictive of the results of later-stage
 
12

clinical trials. For example, it is not uncommon for product candidates to exhibit unforeseen safety or efficacy issues when tested in humans despite promising results in preclinical animal models. In particular, while we have conducted preclinical studies of ARX517 and other product candidates, we do not know how any of these product candidates will perform in clinical trials. In addition, while we have seen promising results in clinical trials of ARX788, we do not know whether initial tumor responses will be durable, whether ARX788 will show similar activity against additional tumor types, whether results in clinical trials conducted in China, including those sponsored by NovoCodex, a subsidiary of ZMC, will be replicated in trials conducted in the United States or other countries, whether current trial design or dose selection is appropriate, or whether adverse events will arise over time.
In particular, most of the ARX788 clinical data that has been generated to date has been in patient cohorts based on a 1.5 mg/kg Q3W dose with a frozen liquid formulation. The ARX788 formulation has evolved from a frozen liquid formulation, which is viable for early-stage clinical trials, to a more commercially viable lyophilized powder formulation. Based on the PK analysis, the lyophilized powder formulation appears to have a slightly lower exposure compared to frozen liquid formulation. Guided by PK modeling, a safety lead-in phase was added to ACE-Breast-03 with a total of 20 subjects randomized 1:1 to the 1.6 mg/kg and 1.7 mg/kg Q3W arm. We also added a new dose expansion part to our ACE-Pan tumor-01 trial to study the two doses of lyophilized powder formulation. The totality of safety, PK and efficacy data from the two studies will be used to determine the Recommended Phase 2 Dose (RP2D) for the lyophilized powder formulation. Once the RP2D is determined, we will open enrollment in the main study of ACE-Breast-03 at RP2D. Further dose optimization of the ARX788 may be needed in the future when more clinical data become available.
Future results of preclinical and clinical testing of our product candidates are also less certain due to the novel and relatively untested nature of our approach in engineering and developing engineered precision biologics (EPBs) and incorporating SAAs into proteins. In general, clinical trial failure may result from a multitude of factors including flaws in study design, dose selection, patient enrollment criteria and failure to demonstrate favorable safety or efficacy traits. As such, failure in clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. A number of companies in the biologics industry have suffered setbacks in the advancement of clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials.
Additionally, some of our ongoing and future clinical trials may be open-label in study design and may be conducted at a limited number of clinical sites on a limited number of patients. An “open-label” clinical trial is one where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational product candidate or either an existing approved drug or placebo. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational product candidate and sometimes may do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect as patients in open-label clinical trials are aware when they are receiving treatment. For example, given that our Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 includes an open-label dosing design, the results from this clinical trial may not be predictive of future clinical trial results with this or other product candidates for which we conduct an open-label clinical trial when studied in a controlled environment with a placebo or active control.
Prior to obtaining approval to commercialize any product candidate in the United States or internationally, we must demonstrate with substantial evidence from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, and to the satisfaction of the FDA, National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, that such product candidate is safe and effective for its intended uses. Results from preclinical studies and clinical trials can be interpreted in different ways. Even if we believe that the preclinical or clinical data for our product candidates are promising, such data may not be sufficient to support approval by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities. The FDA or other regulatory authorities may also require us to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials for our product candidates either prior to or post-approval, or they may object to elements of our clinical development program, requiring their alteration. Furthermore, there is no assurance the clinical data from any of our planned
 
13

clinical trials or clinical trials sponsored by our collaboration partners in China, where the patients are predominately of Chinese descent, will produce similar results in patients of different races, ethnicities or those of
non-Chinese
descent.
If the results of our clinical trials are inconclusive or if there are safety concerns or adverse events associated with our product candidates, we may:
 
   
incur unplanned costs;
 
   
be delayed in or prevented from continuing clinical development and obtaining marketing approval for our product candidates;
 
   
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, including boxed warnings or contraindications;
 
   
be subject to changes or limitations in the way the product is administered;
 
   
be required to perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials to support approval or be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements;
 
   
have regulatory authorities withdraw their approval of the product, if granted, or impose restrictions on its distribution in the form of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS);
 
   
become subject to litigation; or
 
   
experience damage to our reputation.
If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not positive or are not as positive as we expect or if there are safety concerns, our business and results of operations may be adversely affected and we may incur significant additional costs.
In addition, even if the clinical trials are successfully completed, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and we cannot guarantee that the FDA, NMPA or EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities will interpret the results as we do, and more clinical trials could be required before we submit our product candidates for approval. To the extent that the results of the clinical trials are not satisfactory to the FDA, NMPA or EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities for support of a marketing application, approval of our product candidates may be significantly delayed, or we may be required to expend significant additional resources, which may not be available to us, to conduct additional clinical trials in support of potential approval of our product candidates.
Our product candidates are based on novel technologies, making it difficult to predict the timing, results and cost of product candidate development and likelihood of obtaining regulatory approval.
We have concentrated our research and development efforts on product candidates using our platform technologies, and our future success depends on the successful development of this approach. We have not yet succeeded and may not succeed in demonstrating efficacy and safety for any product candidates based on our platform technologies, and use of our platform technologies may not ever result in marketable therapies. In particular, while we believe that our site-specific incorporation of SAAs into proteins may be capable of overcoming certain challenges faced by traditional ADC approaches, we cannot be certain that our technologies will result in the intended benefits or will not result in unforeseen negative consequences, particularly because there is limited experience in the field with this approach to engineering
bio-conjugates.
In addition, the clinical trial requirements of the FDA, NMPA, EMA and comparable regulatory agencies and the criteria these regulators use to determine the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially
 
14

according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the potential products. The regulatory approval process for novel product candidates such as ours can be more expensive and take longer than for other, better known or extensively studied approaches.
The ADC and immuno-oncology fields are also rapidly evolving and as competitors use or develop alternative technologies, any failures of related product candidates could adversely impact our programs. For example, other companies are developing novel conjugation approaches to ADCs and are developing TLR7/8 agonists, some of which are conjugated to monoclonal antibodies in the immuno-oncology space. Regardless of our belief that our approach of EPBs has advantages over conventional biologics and
bio-conjugates,
issues encountered with other programs could create a negative perception of or increase scrutiny for our platform technologies and product candidates.
As an organization, we are in the process of conducting Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 2/3 clinical trials, have never conducted later-stage clinical trials or submitted a biologics license application (BLA), and may be unable to do so for any of our product candidates.
We are early in our development efforts for our product candidates, and we will need to successfully complete clinical development, including later-stage and pivotal clinical trials, in order to obtain FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authority approval to market ARX788 or any future product candidates. Carrying out later-stage clinical trials and the submission of a successful BLA is a complicated process. As an organization, we are in the process of conducting Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 2/3 clinical trials for ARX788 and have not yet conducted any, and have relied, and will continue to rely, on collaboration partners to conduct later stage or potentially pivotal clinical trials for ARX788 and other current and future product candidates. We have limited experience as a company in preparing, submitting and prosecuting regulatory filings and have not previously submitted a BLA or other comparable foreign regulatory submission for any product candidate. We also plan to conduct a number of clinical trials for multiple product candidates in parallel over the next several years. This may be a difficult process to manage with our limited resources. In addition, we have had limited interactions with the FDA and cannot be certain how many clinical trials of our product candidates will be required or how such trials will have to be designed. Consequently, we may be unable to successfully and efficiently execute and complete necessary clinical trials in a way that leads to regulatory submission and approval of any of our product candidates. We may require more time and incur greater costs than our competitors and may not succeed in obtaining regulatory approvals of product candidates that we develop. Failure to commence or complete, or delays in, our planned clinical trials, could prevent us from or delay us in submitting BLAs for and commercializing our product candidates.
We may encounter substantial delays in initiating or completing our clinical trials.
Clinical trials may not be initiated or completed on schedule, if at all. For example, we cannot begin Phase 1 clinical trials until we complete certain preclinical development activities and submit and receive authorization to proceed under IND applications and the timing and success of these events are uncertain. We may experience delays in obtaining the FDA’s authorization to initiate clinical trials under future INDs. Even after we are authorized to proceeds with clinical trials, numerous events could prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development, including:
 
   
delays in reaching a consensus with regulatory authorities on trial design;
 
   
delays in reaching agreement or failing to agree on acceptable terms with prospective contract research organizations (CROs) and clinical trial sites;
 
   
delays in opening sites, including delays in obtaining required approvals from institutional review boards (IRBs) and recruiting suitable patients to participate in our clinical trials;
 
   
delays in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;
 
15

   
failure by our CROs, other third parties or us to adhere to the trial protocol or applicable regulatory requirements, including the FDA’s good clinical practices (GCPs) or applicable regulatory requirements in other countries;
 
   
regulatory authorities finding deficiencies in the manufacturing processes or facilities of third-party manufacturers with which we or any of our potential future collaborators contract for clinical supplies;
 
   
delays in the testing, validation, manufacturing and delivery of our product candidates to the treatment sites, including due to a facility manufacturing any of our product candidates or any of their components being ordered by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities to temporarily or permanently shut down due to violations of current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) regulations or other applicable requirements, or infections or cross-contaminations of product candidates in the manufacturing process;
 
   
imposition of a clinical hold by institutional review boards (IRBs) or regulatory authorities as a result of a serious adverse event (SAE), concerns with a class of product candidates, after an inspection of our clinical trial operations or trial sites, or for other reasons;
 
   
suspensions or terminations by us, the IRBs of the institutions at which such trials are being conducted, by the Safety Review Committee or Data Safety Monitoring Board, for such trial or by regulatory authorities due to a number of factors, including those described above;
 
   
patients not completing participation in a trial, returning for post-treatment
follow-up
or otherwise failing to adhere to clinical trial protocols;
 
   
lack of adequate funding; or
 
   
changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols.
In addition, the ongoing
COVID-19
pandemic (and the measures taken by governmental authorities to slow its spread) and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia could disrupt the supply chain and the manufacture or shipment of drug substances and finished drug products for our product candidates for use in our research and clinical trials, delay, limit or prevent our employees and CROs from continuing research and development activities, impede the ability of patients to enroll or continue in clinical trials, or impede testing, monitoring, data collection and analysis or other related activities, any of which could delay our clinical trials and increase our development costs, and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, the
COVID-19
pandemic has impacted our clinical trial sites in the United States and Australia, with some sites temporarily suspending or slowing enrollment due to quarantines, travel limitations, site personnel shortages or patients’ fear of contracting
COVID-19.
Any inability to timely initiate and successfully complete clinical trials could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to achieve regulatory and commercialization milestones. Clinical trial delays could also shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, or allow our competitors to bring comparable drugs to market before we do, which could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If we experience delays or difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our research and development efforts and business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Successful and timely completion of clinical trials will require that we identify, qualify and enroll a sufficient number of patients. These trials and other trials we conduct may be subject to delays as a result of patient enrollment taking longer than anticipated, patient withdrawal or adverse events. For example, we and our partners have multiple ongoing and planned clinical trials for our lead internal product candidate, ARX788,
 
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which will require a substantial number of patients to be enrolled on an aggregate basis. Delays in enrolling patients in these trials would adversely impact our overall clinical development strategy for ARX788 and delay our ability to seek regulatory approval.    
Our clinical trials compete with other clinical trials that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in trials being conducted by others.
Because the number of qualified clinical investigators and clinical trial sites is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. Moreover, because certain of our product candidates represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment and because certain of our product candidates have not been tested in humans before, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as other available therapies, rather than enroll patients in any future clinical trial.
In addition to the potentially small populations, the eligibility criteria of our planned clinical trials will further limit the pool of available study participants as we will require that patients have specific characteristics. Additionally, the process of finding and diagnosing patients may prove costly. We also may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients to complete our clinical studies because of the perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study, the availability and efficacy of competing therapies and clinical trials, the proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective patients, the availability of genetic sequencing information for patient tumors so that we can identify patients with the targeted genetic mutations, and the patient referral practices of physicians. If patients are unwilling to participate in our studies for any reason, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of potential products may be delayed.
Patient enrollment depends on many factors, including:
 
   
the size and nature of the patient population;
 
   
the severity of the disease under investigation;
 
   
eligibility criteria for the trial;
 
   
the proximity of patients to clinical sites;
 
   
the design of the clinical protocol;
 
   
the ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;
 
   
the ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;
 
   
the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before the administration of our product candidates or trial completion;
 
   
reporting of the preliminary results of our clinical trials;
 
   
the number of competing clinical trials;
 
   
the availability of new drugs approved for the indication the clinical trial is investigating;
 
   
clinicians’ and patients’ perceptions as to the potential advantages of the drug being studied in relation to other available therapies; and
 
   
other factors we may not be able to control.
In addition, the
COVID-19
pandemic has impacted clinical trials broadly, including our own, with some sites temporarily suspending or slowing enrollment due to quarantines, travel limitations, site personnel shortages or
 
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patients unwilling to enroll out of fear of contracting
COVID-19.
Enrollment and retention of patients in clinical trials could also be disrupted by geopolitical events, including civil or political unrest (such as the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia), terrorism, insurrection or war,
man-made
or natural disasters, or public health pandemics or epidemics or other business interruptions, including the current
COVID-19
pandemic and future outbreaks of the disease. These factors may make it difficult for us to enroll enough patients to complete our clinical trials in a timely and cost-effective manner. Delays in the completion of any clinical trial of our product candidates will increase our costs, slow down our product candidate development and approval process and delay or potentially jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue. In addition, some of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates.
Serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or other unexpected properties of our product candidates may be identified during development or after approval, which could lead to the discontinuation of our clinical development programs, refusal by regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, if discovered following marketing approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or limitations on the use of our product candidates thereby limiting the commercial potential of such product candidate.
To date, we have only tested ARX788 in a limited number of cancer patients and these clinical trial participants have only been observed for a limited period of time after dosing. As we continue developing ARX788 and initiate clinical trials of our other current and future product candidates, SAEs, undesirable side effects, relapse of disease or unexpected characteristics may emerge causing us to abandon these product candidates or limit their development to more narrow uses or subpopulations in which the SAEs or undesirable side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective or in which efficacy is more pronounced or durable. For example, the general goal of ADC approaches is to deliver a toxic payload to a tumor site to kill the cancer cells, but the unintended exposure of healthy cells to the cytotoxic payload has resulted in numerous ADC candidates failing in development due to safety issues and has limited the therapeutic window of approved ADC therapies, and we cannot guarantee that our ADC candidates will not suffer from similar safety issues. Should we observe unexpected types or levels of SAEs in our clinical trials or identify other undesirable side effects or other unexpected safety findings, our trials could be delayed or even stopped and our development programs may be halted entirely. For example, in an earlier
first-in-human
(FIH) study conducted in Australia and New Zealand with doses ranging from 0.33 to 2.9 mg/kg, two pneumonitis SAEs were observed in the 2.2 mg/kg cohort, including one death of an
85-year-old
patient, who suffered a concurrent pulmonary embolism. Our partner voluntarily terminated the FIH study after 9 patients were dosed and ran a new study to narrow the increments of dose escalation, exclude patients who may be at risk of pneumonitis and provide guidance to investigators to monitor and appropriately manage pneumonitis events. While we believe that the SAEs encountered in the FIH study were due to high doses being studied and other trial design flaws and our doses of 1.5 mg/kg to 1.7 mg/kg are lower than the 2.2 mg/kg dosed in the FIH study and have been observed to be generally well-tolerated to date, our ongoing or future trials may encounter similar safety issues, particularly as we enroll more patients at higher doses of ARX788. In addition to pneumonitis, there have been other adverse events of special interests observed in ARX788 clinical trials, such as ocular adverse events and mild to moderate ALT/AST increase. In particular, ocular adverse events have occurred with high incidence rate in ARX788 clinical trials, and while only one of these events was reported as a drug-related SAE and we have since implemented preventative measures such as eye drops for trial participants, we cannot guarantee that ocular adverse events with greater severity will not occur or that the incidence of these adverse events, even if
non-serious,
will not harm our ability to obtain marketing approvals for ARX788 or, if approved, to achieve market adoption. In the ongoing Phase 2/3
ACE-Breast-02
clinical trial being conducted in China by NovoCodex, of approximately 197 patients that had been randomized to the ARX788 treatment arm as of March 31, 2022, 27 patients experienced drug-related SAEs, including three patients who died (one of respiratory failure, one of pneumonitis, and one of interstitial lung disease). In addition, as of March 31, 2022, an aggregate of eight drug-related SAEs had been reported from the 183 patients dosed with ARX788 in the
ACE-Breast-01,
ACE-Pan
tumor-01
and
ACE-Gastric-01
trials of ARX788.
 
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Even if our product candidates initially show promise in early clinical trials, the side effects of biological products are frequently only detectable after they are tested in larger, longer and more extensive clinical trials or, in some cases, after they are made available to patients on a commercial scale after approval. Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine if the SAEs or unexpected side effects were caused by the product candidate or another factor, especially in oncology subjects who may suffer from other medical conditions and be taking other medications. For example, treatment of cancer patients with our immuno-oncology (IO) product candidates may be in combination with other cancer drugs, such as other immuno-oncology agents, monoclonal antibodies or other protein-based drugs or small molecule anti-cancer agents such as targeted agents or chemotherapy, which can cause side effects or adverse events that are unrelated to our product candidate but may still impact the success of our clinical trials. Additionally, the inclusion of critically ill patients in our clinical trials may result in deaths or other adverse medical events due to other therapies or medications that such patients may be using or other underlying conditions. As described above, any of these events could prevent us from obtaining regulatory approval or achieving or maintaining market acceptance of our product candidates and impair our ability to commercialize our products.
If serious adverse or unexpected side effects are identified during development or after approval and are determined to be attributed to our product candidate, we may be required to develop a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) plan to ensure that the benefits of treatment with such product candidate outweigh the risks, which may include, among other things, a medication guide, communication plan to healthcare practitioners or additional elements to assure safe use, such as patient education, extensive patient monitoring through registries or restricted distribution methods. Product-related side effects could also result in potential product liability claims. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
In addition, if one or more of our product candidates receives marketing approval, and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, or any other similar biologics, after such approval, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:
 
   
regulatory authorities may suspend, withdraw or limit approvals of such product;
 
   
regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label, including a “boxed” warning or contraindication, or issue safety alerts, Dear Healthcare Provider letters, press releases or other communications containing warnings or other safety information about the product;
 
   
regulatory authorities may require a REMS plan to mitigate risks;
 
   
we may be required to change the way a product is distributed or administered, conduct additional clinical trials, or change the labeling of the product;
 
   
the product may become less competitive, and our reputation may suffer;
 
   
we may decide to remove the product from the marketplace; and
 
   
we may be subject to regulatory investigations and government enforcement actions, including fines, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.
Interim, topline and preliminary data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials may change as more data become available, and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.
This Annual Report contains, and we have disclosed and intend to publicly disclose from time to time in the future, interim, topline or preliminary data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change as more data become available. We may also announce topline data following the completion of a preclinical study or clinical trial, which may be subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the
 
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data related to the particular study or trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the interim, topline or preliminary results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim, topline and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Adverse differences between previous preliminary or interim data and future interim or final data could significantly harm our business prospects.
From time to time, we may also disclose interim data from our clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available or as patients from our clinical trials continue other treatments for their disease. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects. Further, disclosure of interim data by us, our collaboration partners, or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our ADSs.
Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product, our company in general and our ADSs. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is based on what is typically extensive information, and you or others may not agree with what we determine to be material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product candidate or our business. If the interim, topline, or preliminary data that we report differ from future or more comprehensive data, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for and commercialize our product candidates, our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition may be harmed.
We may not be able to submit INDs or IND amendments to commence additional clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA may not permit us to proceed.
We may not be able to submit future INDs for our product candidates on the timelines we expect. For example, we may experience manufacturing delays or other delays with
IND-enabling
studies. Moreover, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing further clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate clinical trials. Additionally, even if such regulatory authorities agree with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND, we cannot guarantee that such regulatory authorities will not change their requirements in the future. These considerations also apply to new clinical trials we may submit as amendments to existing INDs or to a new IND. Any failure to submit INDs on the timelines we expect or to obtain regulatory approvals for our trials may prevent us from completing our clinical trials or commercializing our products on a timely basis, if at all.
We intend to investigate ARX788 and potentially other product candidates in combination with other therapies, which exposes us to additional risks.
We intend to investigate ARX788 and potentially other product candidates in combination with one or more other approved or unapproved therapies to treat cancer or other diseases. Even if any product candidate we develop were to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to be subject to the risks that the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities outside of the United States could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with any of those existing therapies. If the therapies
 
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we use in combination with our product candidates are replaced as the standard of care for the indications we choose for any of our product candidates, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to conduct additional clinical trials. The occurrence of any of these risks could result in our own products, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially.
We also may choose to evaluate our current product candidates or any other future product candidates in combination with one or more cancer therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We will not be able to market and sell our current product candidates or any product candidate we develop in combination with an unapproved cancer therapy for a combination indication if that unapproved therapy does not ultimately obtain marketing approval either alone or in combination with our product. In addition, unapproved cancer therapies face the same risks described with respect to our product candidates currently in development and clinical trials, including the potential for serious adverse effects, delay in their clinical trials and lack of FDA approval.
If the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities do not approve these other products or revoke their approval of, or if safety, efficacy, quality, manufacturing or supply issues arise with, the products we choose to evaluate in combination with our product candidate we develop, we may be unable to obtain approval of or market such combination therapy.
We may seek Breakthrough Therapy designation or additional Fast Track designations by the FDA for one or more of our product candidates, but we may not receive such designations, and even if we do, such designations may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We may seek Breakthrough Therapy or additional Fast Track designations for some of our product candidates. If a drug or biologic is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and clinical or preclinical data demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the product candidate may be eligible for Fast Track designation. The benefits of Fast Track designation include more frequent interactions between FDA and the sponsor of the trial to discuss the product candidate’s development plan and extent of safety data needed to support approval and use of biomarkers. Product candidates that have been designated as Fast Track are also eligible for rolling review, which means that a sponsor can submit completed sections of its BLA for review by FDA, rather than waiting until every section of the BLA is completed before the entire application can be reviewed. BLA review usually does not begin until the entire application has been submitted to the FDA.
A Breakthrough Therapy is defined as a drug or biologic that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product candidate may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. A product candidate designated as a Breakthrough Therapy by the FDA may be eligible for all features of Fast Track designation, intensive guidance on an efficient product development program, beginning as early as Phase 1, and organizational commitment involving senior managers at the FDA.
Product candidates designated as Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy by the FDA may also be eligible for other expedited approval programs, including accelerated approval and priority review, but such designation does not assure any such qualification or ultimate marketing approval by the FDA. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant these designations, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for a designation, we cannot assure you that the FDA would decide to grant it. Though we have obtained Fast Track designation for ARX788 as monotherapy for the treatment of advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who have received one or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting and even if we obtain additional Fast Track designations and/or Breakthrough Therapy designation for ARX788 or any of our other product candidates, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval
 
21

compared to
non-expedited
FDA review procedures. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation or Breakthrough Therapy designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by emerging data or the product development program is no longer being pursued. In addition, while ARX788 was granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the NMPA for the second-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, we cannot guarantee that we or our partner, NovoCodex will ultimately realize the potential benefits of Breakthrough Therapy designation in China.
We may in the future seek additional orphan drug designations by the FDA for ARX788 or certain of our other product candidates, but we may be unable to obtain such designations or maintain or ultimately realize the potential benefits of orphan drug designation for ARX788 and any other product candidates that obtain such designation, which may cause our revenue, if any, to be reduced.
We received orphan drug designation for ARX788 for the treatment of gastric cancer, including cancer at the gastroesophageal junction. The FDA grants orphan designation to drugs or biologics that are intended to treat a rare disease or condition with fewer than 200,000 patients in the United States or that affects 200,000 or more persons in the United States but where there is no reasonable expectation for a sponsor to recover the costs of developing and marketing the drug or biologic in the United States. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting an NDA or BLA. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages, and application fee waivers. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the generic identity of the drug or biologic and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. However, orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time nor regulatory review time of a product candidate nor gives the candidate any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process.
In addition, if a product that has orphan designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for a particular active ingredient for the indication for which it has orphan designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, which means the FDA may not approve any other application to market the same drug or biologic for the same indication for a period of seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity or where the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity to meet the needs of patients for which the product was designated. As a result, even if one of our product candidates receives orphan exclusively, the FDA can still approve other drugs and biologics that have a different active ingredient for use in treating the same indication or disease. Furthermore, the FDA can waive orphan exclusively if we are unable to manufacture sufficient supply of our product.
We may seek orphan drug designation for ARX788 and certain of our other product candidates in additional orphan indications in which there is a medically plausible basis for the use of these products. Even if we obtain orphan drug designation, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may also be unavailable if we or our collaborators seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan designated indication and may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. In addition, even if we seek orphan drug designation for certain of our other product candidates, we may never receive such designations. Even if we obtain orphan drug designation, we may not be the first to obtain marketing approval for any particular orphan indication due to the uncertainties associated with developing pharmaceutical products. Further, even if we obtain orphan exclusivity for a product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs or biologics can be approved for the same condition.
On August 3, 2017, the Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA). FDARA, among other things, codified the FDA’s preexisting regulatory interpretation, to require that a drug or biologic sponsor demonstrate the clinical superiority of an orphan product that is otherwise the same as a previously approved drug for the same rare disease in order to receive orphan exclusivity. The law reverses prior precedent holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously requires that the FDA recognize the orphan exclusivity period
 
22

regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Moreover, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress did not further change this interpretation when it clarified that the interpretation codified in FDARA would apply in cases where FDA issued an orphan designation before the enactment of FDARA but where product approval came after the enactment of FDARA. The FDA may further reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.
Accelerated approval by the FDA, even if granted for ARX788 or any other product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.
We plan to seek approval of ARX788 and may seek approval of other product candidates using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. Accelerated approval requires the data to indicate the product candidate has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or an effect on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality that is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. We plan to seek accelerated approval of ARX788 following the completion of the initial Phase 2 clinical trials, with subsequent trials providing the basis for full approval. However, it is possible that at the time of a BLA submission, ARX788 would not be eligible for accelerated approval or the FDA could determine that accelerated approval is not warranted. In particular, because the FDA has already approved therapies for breast cancer, including those targeting HER2, and because additional products may be approved while we are developing ARX788, it is difficult to predict whether accelerated approval will be possible for ARX788 at the time we expect to submit a BLA. If data from our initial Phase 2 clinical trials do not provide evidence sufficient for accelerated approval, additional clinical testing would be required to support approval. While we intend to initiate randomized Phase 3 clinical trials for ARX788 regardless, if we were unable to obtain accelerated approval based on the results of our Phase 2 clinical trial, it could significantly delay the approval of, and our ability to commercialize, ARX788.
As a condition of accelerated approval, the FDA requires that a sponsor of a product receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence. In addition, the FDA currently requires as a condition for accelerated approval
pre-approval
of promotional materials, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Even if we do receive accelerated approval, we may not experience a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and receiving accelerated approval does not provide assurance of ultimate full FDA approval.
We currently conduct and may in the future conduct clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States, and the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not accept data from such trials.
We are currently conducting a Phase 2 trial of ARX788 in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that will involve clinical sites in the United States and various other countries, as well as a Phase 1 pan tumor trial of ARX788 in patients with HER2-positive cancers in Australia and the United States. Our partner NovoCodex is currently conducting a Phase 1 and Phase 2/3 clinical trial of ARX788 in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in China and a Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 in patients with HER2-positive gastric/GEJ cancer in China. NovoCodex also initiated a potentially registrational Phase 2/3 clinical trial in patients with HER2-positive gastric/GEJ cancer in China for which we, as the sponsor outside of China, intend subsequently to enroll patients in this trial in additional countries after submission of clinical trial applications for those jurisdictions. We also plan to conduct one or more future clinical trials of ARX788 and other product candidates outside the
 
23

United States, including in Europe. The acceptance of trial data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States or another jurisdiction by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may be subject to certain conditions or may not be accepted at all. In cases where data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States are intended to serve as the sole basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the United States population and United States medical practice; (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and (iii) the data may be considered valid without the need for
an on-site inspection
by the FDA or, if the FDA considers such an inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an
on-site
inspection or other appropriate means. Additionally, the FDA’s clinical trial requirements, including sufficient size of patient populations and statistical powering, must be met. Many foreign regulatory bodies have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA, NMPA, EMA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA, NMPA, EMA or any comparable regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our business plan, and which may result in our product candidates not receiving approval or clearance for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.
Our product candidates must meet extensive regulatory requirements before they can be commercialized and any regulatory approval may contain limitations or conditions that require substantial additional development expenses or limit our ability to successfully commercialize the product.
Our product candidates and the activities associated with their clinical development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, labeling, storage, record-keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, import, export, marketing and distribution are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA in the United States and by comparable foreign regulatory authorities in foreign markets. In the United States, we are not permitted to market our product candidates until we receive regulatory approval from the FDA. Whether the results from our ongoing clinical trials and other trials will suffice to obtain approval will be a review issue and the FDA may not grant approval and may require that we conduct one or more controlled clinical trials to obtain approval. Securing regulatory approval requires the submission of information about the product manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the relevant regulatory authority. The process of obtaining regulatory approval is expensive, often takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials and can vary substantially based upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved, as well as the target indications and patient population. Despite the time and expense invested in clinical development of product candidates, regulatory approval is never guaranteed.
To date, we have not submitted a BLA or other marketing authorization application to the FDA or similar drug approval submissions to comparable foreign regulatory authorities for any product candidate. Prior to obtaining approval to commercialize a product candidate in the United States or abroad, we or our potential future collaborators must demonstrate with substantial evidence from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, and to the satisfaction of the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities, that such product candidates are safe and effective for their intended uses. Even if we believe the preclinical or clinical data for our product candidates are promising, such data may not be sufficient to support approval by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities. In particular, because we are seeking to identify and develop product candidates using new technologies, there is heightened risk that the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities may impose additional requirements prior to granting marketing approval, including enhanced safety studies or monitoring. Furthermore, as more product candidates within a particular class of products proceed through clinical development to regulatory review and approval, the amount and type of clinical data that may be required by regulatory authorities may increase or change.
 
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The FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities can delay, limit or deny approval of a product candidate for many reasons, including:
 
   
such authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;
 
   
negative or ambiguous results from our clinical trials or results may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities for approval;
 
   
serious and unexpected product-related side effects may be experienced by participants in our clinical trials or by individuals using biological products similar to our product candidates;
 
   
the population studied in the clinical trial may not be sufficiently broad or representative to assure safety in the full population for which we seek approval;
 
   
such authorities may not accept clinical data from trials which are conducted at clinical facilities or in countries where the standard of care is potentially different from that of the United States;
 
   
we may be unable to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks or that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication;
 
   
such authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;
 
   
such authorities may not agree that the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates are acceptable or sufficient to support the submission of an application for regulatory approval or other submissions or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere, including due to clinical trial issues encountered as a result of
COVID-19
pandemic, and such authorities may impose requirements for additional preclinical studies or clinical trials;
 
   
such authorities may disagree regarding the formulation, labeling and/or the specifications of our product candidates;
 
   
approval may be granted only for indications that are significantly more limited than what we apply for and/or with other significant restrictions on distribution and use;
 
   
such authorities may fail to approve any required companion diagnostics to be used with our product candidates;
 
   
such authorities may find deficiencies in the manufacturing processes or facilities of our third-party manufacturers with which we or any of our potential future collaborators contract for clinical and commercial supplies; or
 
   
the approval policies or regulations of such authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our or any of our potential future collaborators’ clinical data insufficient for approval.
With respect to foreign markets, approval procedures vary among countries and, in addition to the foregoing risks, may involve additional product testing, administrative review periods and agreements with pricing authorities. In addition, events raising questions about the safety of certain marketed pharmaceuticals may result in increased cautiousness by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities in reviewing new products based on safety, efficacy or other regulatory considerations and may result in significant delays in obtaining regulatory approvals.
Even if we eventually complete clinical trials and receive approval to commercialize our product candidates, the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authority may grant approval contingent on the performance of costly additional clinical trials, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and/or the implementation of a REMS. The FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authority also may approve a product candidate for a more limited indication or patient population than we originally requested or may not approve the labeling that we believe is necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of a product. Manufacturers of our products and manufacturers’ facilities are also required to comply with cGMP regulations, which include requirements related
 
25

to quality control and quality assurance, as well as the corresponding maintenance of records and documentation. Further, regulatory authorities must approve these manufacturing facilities before they can be used to manufacture our products, and these facilities are subject to continual review and periodic inspections by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP regulations.
Any delay in obtaining, or inability to obtain, applicable regulatory approval would delay or prevent commercialization of that product candidate and would materially and adversely impact our business and prospects.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, they will remain subject to ongoing regulatory oversight. Additionally, our product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions on marketing or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates, when and if any of them are approved.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates, they will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export, sampling and record-keeping. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMP regulations, good laboratory practices (GLPs) and GCPs for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval, all of which may result in significant expense and limit our ability to commercialize such products. In addition, any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may also be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product candidate. The FDA may also require a REMS as a condition of approval of our product candidates, which could include requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. Such regulatory requirements may differ from country to country depending on where we have received regulatory approval.
The FDA’s, NMPA’s, EMA’s or comparable regulatory authorities’ policies may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability. Moreover, if there are changes in the application of legislation or regulatory policies, or if problems are discovered with a product or our manufacture of a product, or if we or one of our distributors, licensees or
co-marketers
fails to comply with regulatory requirements, the regulators could take various actions. These include:
 
   
issuing warning or untitled letters or holds on clinical trials;
 
   
mandating modifications to promotional materials or require us to provide corrective information to healthcare practitioners, or require other restrictions on the labeling or marketing of such products;
 
   
seeking an injunction or imposing civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;
 
   
suspension or imposition of restrictions on operations, including product manufacturing or marketing or withdrawal of the product from the market;
 
   
seizure or detention of products, refusal to permit the import or export of products or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;
 
   
suspension, modification or revocation of our marketing approvals;
 
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suspension of any ongoing clinical trials;
 
   
refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to applications submitted by us;
 
   
imposition of a REMS, which may include distribution or use restrictions; or
 
   
requiring us to conduct additional post-market clinical trials, change our product labeling or submit additional applications for marketing authorization.
Moreover, the FDA and other regulatory authorities strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about biological products. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA as reflected in the product’s approved labeling. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of such
off-label
uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted
off-label
uses may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of
off-label
use and has enjoined several companies from engaging in
off-label
promotion. The FDA has also requested that companies enter into consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct must be changed or curtailed. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Noncompliance by us or any future collaborator with regulatory requirements regarding safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance, and with requirements related to the development of products for the pediatric population, can also result in significant financial penalties. Similarly, failure to comply with regulatory requirements regarding the protection of personal information can also lead to significant penalties and sanctions.
Noncompliance with EU requirements regarding safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance, and with requirements related to the development of products for the pediatric population, also can result in significant financial penalties. Similarly, failure to comply with the EU’s requirements regarding the protection of personal information can also lead to significant penalties and sanctions.
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity. The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
If any of these events occurs, our ability to sell such product may be impaired, and we may incur substantial additional expense to comply with regulatory requirements, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.
Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable foreign regulatory authorities must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval and licensure procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate
 
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must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.
We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of product candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining comparable foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with comparable foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.
Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, or approved or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new biologics to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns continue to prevent the FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Separately, in response to the global
COVID-19
pandemic, since March 2020 when foreign and domestic inspections were largely placed on hold, the FDA has been working to resume routine surveillance, bioresearch monitoring and
pre-approval
inspections on a prioritized basis. The FDA has developed a rating system to assist in determining when and where it is safest to conduct prioritized domestic inspections and resumed inspections in China and India in early 2021. In April 2021, the FDA issued guidance for industry formally announcing plans to employ remote interactive evaluations, using risk management methods, to meet user fee commitments and goal dates. Should the FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel, the FDA has stated that it generally intends to issue a complete response letter. Further, if there is inadequate information to make a determination on the acceptability of a facility, the FDA may defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. In 2020 and 2021, several companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the
COVID-19
pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.
We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on 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 must prioritize our research programs and will need to focus our discovery and development on select product candidates and indications. Correctly prioritizing
 
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our research and development activities is particularly important for us due to the breadth of potential product candidates and indications that we believe could be pursued using our platform technologies. Specifically, we believe our SAA technology’s broad applicability allows us to develop a wide array of product candidate modalities, such as ADCs, bispecific antibodies, PEGylated peptides, modified cytokines, and immuno-stimulating antibody complexes. While we expect to add new franchises as we expand our technology platform and explore new disease areas, we will not have the resources necessary to pursue all of the potential applications of our technology. As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with potential product candidates or for certain indications that later prove to have greater prospects for success or return on our investment. 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 products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may also 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.
We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional product candidates in the future.
Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential product candidates, yet fail to yield product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:
 
   
our inability to design such product candidates with the properties that we desire; or
 
   
potential product candidates may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance.
Research programs to identify new product candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. If we are unable to identify suitable additional candidates for preclinical and clinical development, our opportunities to successfully develop and commercialize therapeutic products will be limited.
Risks Related to Manufacturing and Reliance on Third Parties
We rely on third parties to conduct, supervise, and monitor our clinical trials and perform some of our research and preclinical studies. If these third parties do not satisfactorily carry out their contractual duties or fail to meet expected deadlines, our development programs may be delayed or subject to increased costs, each of which may have an adverse effect on our business and prospects.
We do not have the ability to conduct all aspects of our preclinical testing or clinical trials ourselves. As a result, we are, and expect to remain, dependent on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including our ongoing Phase 1 clinical trials and any future clinical trials of our product candidates. Specifically, CROs that manage preclinical studies and our clinical trials as well as clinical investigators and consultants play a significant role in the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials and the subsequent collection and analysis of data. The timing of the initiation and completion of these studies and trials will therefore be partially controlled by such third parties and may result in delays to our development programs. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our preclinical studies and clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal requirements, and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs and other third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and these third parties are required to comply with GLP and GCP requirements, which are regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the Competent Authorities of the Member States of the European Economic Area, and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these GLP and GCP requirements through periodic inspections of preclinical study sites, trial sponsors, clinical trial investigators and clinical trial sites. If we or any of these third parties or clinical trial sites fail to comply with applicable GLP or
 
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GCP requirements, the data generated in our preclinical studies and clinical trials may be deemed unreliable, and the FDA, NMPA, EMA or comparable regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional preclinical or clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with the GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product produced under cGMP regulations and will require a large number of test patients. Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients may require us to stop and/or repeat clinical trials, which would delay the marketing approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.
Any such CROs, clinical trial investigators or other third parties on which we rely are not and 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 adequate time and resources to our development activities or perform as contractually required. These risks are heightened as a result of the efforts of government agencies and the CROs themselves to limit the spread of
COVID-19,
including quarantines and
shelter-in-place
orders. If any of these third parties fails to meet expected deadlines, adhere to our clinical protocols or meet regulatory requirements, otherwise performs in a substandard manner, or terminates its engagement with us, the timelines for our development programs may be delayed or our development activities may be suspended or terminated. If any of our clinical trial sites terminates for any reason, we may experience the loss of
follow-up
information on subjects enrolled in such clinical trials unless we are able to transfer those subjects to another qualified clinical trial site, which may be difficult or impossible. In addition, clinical trial investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and may receive cash or equity compensation in connection with such services. If these relationships and any related compensation result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or the FDA, NMPA, EMA or any comparable regulatory authority concludes that the financial relationship may have affected the interpretation of the trial, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection of any marketing application we submit by the FDA, NMPA, EMA or any comparable regulatory authority. Any such delay or rejection could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates.
Furthermore, these third parties may also have relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for our product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully commercialize our products.
Switching or adding third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials involves substantial cost and requires extensive management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new third party commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines.
We contract with third parties for the manufacturing and supply of certain of our product candidates for use in preclinical testing and clinical trials, which supply may become limited or interrupted or may not be of satisfactory quality and quantity.
We do not have any manufacturing facilities. We produce relatively small quantities of product for evaluation in our research programs in our laboratory. We rely on third parties for the manufacture of a portion of our product candidates for preclinical testing and all of our product candidates for clinical testing and we will continue to rely on such third parties for commercial manufacture if any of our product candidates are approved. This reliance increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our product candidates or products, if approved, or such quantities at an acceptable cost or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts. Currently, our drug raw materials for our manufacturing activities are supplied by
 
30

multiple source suppliers. We have agreements for the supply of drug materials with manufacturers or suppliers that we believe have sufficient capacity to meet our demands. In addition, we believe that adequate alternative sources for such supplies exist. However, there is a risk that, if supplies are interrupted, it would materially harm our business.
Furthermore, all entities involved in the preparation of therapeutics for clinical trials or commercial sale, including our existing contract manufacturers for our product candidates, are subject to extensive regulation. Components of a finished therapeutic product approved for commercial sale or used in clinical trials must be manufactured in accordance with cGMP requirements. These regulations govern manufacturing processes and procedures, including record keeping, and the implementation and operation of quality systems to control and assure the quality of investigational products and products approved for sale. Poor control of production processes can lead to the introduction of contaminants, or to inadvertent changes in the properties or stability of our product candidates that may not be detectable in final product testing. We or our contract manufacturers must supply all necessary documentation in support of a BLA on a timely basis and must adhere to the FDA’s GLP and cGMP regulations enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program. Comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require compliance with similar requirements. We have analytical and process development capabilities and can manufacture
non-cGMP
material in our laboratory. We generally perform cell line, analytical and process development for our product candidates internally and manufacture the drug necessary to conduct
non-GLP
preclinical studies of our investigational product candidates. We occasionally outsource the production of research and development material. We do not have, and we do not currently plan to, acquire or develop the facilities or capabilities to manufacture bulk drug substance or filled drug product for use in human clinical trials. We rely on third-party manufacturers to produce the bulk drug substances required for our clinical trials and expect to continue to rely on third parties to manufacture and test clinical trial drug supplies for the foreseeable future. The facilities and quality systems of our third-party contract manufacturers must pass a
pre-approval
inspection for compliance with the applicable regulations as a condition of marketing approval of our product candidates. We do not control the manufacturing activities of, and are completely dependent on, our contract manufacturers for compliance with cGMP regulations.
In the event that any of our manufacturers fails to comply with such requirements or to perform its obligations to us in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, including due to the impact of the
COVID-19
pandemic or the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, we may be forced to manufacture the materials ourselves, for which we currently do not have the capabilities or resources, or enter into an agreement with another third-party, which we may not be able to do on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. In particular, any replacement of our manufacturers could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty transferring such skills or technology to another third-party and a feasible alternative may not exist. In addition, certain of our product candidates and our own proprietary methods have never been produced or implemented outside of our company, and we may therefore experience delays to our development programs if and when we attempt to establish new third-party manufacturing arrangements for these product candidates or methods. These factors would increase our reliance on such manufacturer or require us to obtain a license from such manufacturer in order to have another third-party manufacture our product candidates. If we are required to or voluntarily change manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new manufacturer maintains facilities and procedures that comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. We will also need to verify, such as through a manufacturing comparability study, that any product produced by the new manufacturer is equivalent to that produced in a prior facility. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturer and equivalent product could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates in a timely manner or within budget.
 
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A third-party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements, do so on commercially reasonable terms and timelines and comply with cGMP requirements could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:
 
   
inability to meet our product specifications and quality requirements consistently;
 
   
an inability to initiate or continue clinical trials of our product candidates under development;
 
   
delay in submitting regulatory applications, or receiving marketing approvals, for our product candidates, if at all;
 
   
loss of the cooperation of future collaborators;
 
   
subjecting third-party manufacturing facilities or our manufacturing facilities to additional inspections by regulatory authorities;
 
   
requirements to cease development or to recall batches of our product candidates; and
 
   
in the event of approval to market and commercialize our product candidates, an inability to meet commercial demands for our product or any other future product candidates.
Manufacturing ADC products is complex and our third-party manufacturers may encounter difficulties in production. If any of our third-party manufacturers encounter such difficulties, our ability to provide supply of our product candidates for clinical trials or our products for patients, if approved, could be delayed or prevented.
Manufacturing ADC products is complex and requires the use of innovative technologies to handle living cells. Each lot of an approved biological product must undergo thorough testing for identity, strength, quality, purity and potency. Manufacturing these products requires facilities specifically designed for and validated for this purpose and sophisticated quality assurance and quality control procedures are necessary. Slight deviations anywhere in the manufacturing process, including filling, labeling, packaging, storage and shipping and quality control and testing, may result in lot failures, product recalls or spoilage. When changes are made to the manufacturing process, we may be required to provide preclinical and clinical data showing the comparable identity, strength, quality, purity or potency of the products before and after such changes. If microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered at manufacturing facilities, such facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination, which could delay clinical trials and adversely harm our business. The use of biologically derived ingredients can also lead to allegations of harm, including infections or allergic reactions, or closure of product facilities due to possible contamination.
In addition, there are risks associated with large scale manufacturing for clinical trials or commercial scale including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process
scale-up,
process reproducibility, stability issues, compliance with good manufacturing practices, lot consistency, significant lead times and timely availability of raw materials. Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, there is no assurance that we or our manufacturers will be able to manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA, NMPA or EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential commercial launch of the product or to meet potential future demand. If our manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Due to the early nature of our product candidates, the drug product may not be stable over time, causing changes to be made to the manufacturing or storage process which may result in delays or stopping the development of the product candidate.
 
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Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing may result in additional costs or delays.
As product candidates progress through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials to marketing approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield, manufacturing batch size, change drug product dosage form, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. While we have successfully scaled bacterial fermentation of our ReCODE platform to the commercial-scale of 50,000 liters and have scaled our EuCODE platform to 2,000 liters and we have successfully manufactured ARX788 with a new dosage form (a more commercially viable lyophilized formulation) and demonstrated analytical comparability with
pre-change
clinical trial materials, further changes may be required to the manufacturing processes and deviations anywhere in the manufacturing process, including filling, labeling, packaging, storage and shipping and quality control and testing, may result in lot failures, product recalls or spoilage. When changes are made to the manufacturing process, we may be required to provide preclinical and clinical data showing the comparable identity, strength, quality, purity or potency of the products before and after such changes. Any of these changes could also cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue.
Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Because we rely on third parties to research and develop and to manufacture our product candidates, we must share trade secrets with them. We seek to protect our proprietary technology in part by entering into confidentiality agreements and, if applicable, material transfer agreements, consulting agreements or other similar agreements with our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants prior to beginning research or disclosing proprietary information. These agreements typically limit the rights of the third parties to use or disclose our confidential information, including our trade secrets. Despite the contractual provisions employed when working with third parties, the need to share trade secrets and other confidential information increases the risk that such trade secrets become known by our competitors, are inadvertently incorporated into the technology of others, or are disclosed or used in violation of these agreements. Given that our proprietary position is based, in part, on our
know-how
and trade secrets, a competitor’s independent discovery of our trade secrets or other unauthorized use or disclosure would impair our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on our business.
In addition, these agreements typically restrict the ability of our advisors, employees, third-party contractors and consultants to publish data potentially relating to our trade secrets, although our agreements may contain certain limited publication rights. For example, any academic institution that we may collaborate with will likely expect to be granted rights to publish data arising out of such collaboration and any joint research and development programs may require us to share trade secrets under the terms of our research and development or similar agreements. Despite our efforts to protect our trade secrets, our competitors may discover our trade secrets, either through breach of our agreements with third parties, independent development or publication of information by any of our third-party collaborators. A competitor’s discovery of our trade secrets would impair our competitive position and have an adverse impact on our business.
Risks Related to Commercialization
Any approved products may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers, healthcare payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.
If any of our product candidates receive marketing approval, they may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, healthcare payors and others in the medical community. For example, current
 
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cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are well established in the medical community, and physicians may continue to rely on these treatments. Most of our product candidates target mechanisms for which there are limited or no currently approved products, which may result in slower adoption by physicians, patients and payors. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant product revenue and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including:
 
   
efficacy and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments;
 
   
our ability to offer our products for sale at competitive prices;
 
   
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 availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from government and commercial third-party payors, and the willingness of patients to pay out of pocket for our products, once approved, in the absence of adequate third party payor reimbursement;
 
   
the strength of marketing and distribution support; and
 
   
the prevalence and severity of any side effects.
We may not be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates, if approved, due to unfavorable pricing regulations or third-party coverage and reimbursement policies, which could make it difficult for us to sell our product candidates profitably.
Obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval for a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process, with uncertain results, that could require us to provide supporting scientific, clinical and cost effectiveness data for the use of our products to the payor. There may be significant delays in obtaining such coverage and reimbursement for newly approved products, and coverage may not be available, or may be more limited than the purposes for which the product is approved by the FDA, NMPA or EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. Moreover, eligibility for coverage and reimbursement does not imply that a product will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, intellectual property, manufacture, sale and distribution expenses. Interim reimbursement levels for new products, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Reimbursement rates may vary according to the use of the product and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on reimbursement levels already set for lower cost products and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Net prices for products may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors, by any future laws limiting drug prices and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of product from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States.
There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products. In the United States, there is no uniform policy among third-party payors for coverage and reimbursement. Third-party payors often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting reimbursement policies, but also have their own methods and approval process apart from Medicare coverage and reimbursement determinations. Therefore, one third-party payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage for the product.
Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:
 
   
a covered benefit under its health plan;
 
   
safe, effective and medically necessary;
 
34

   
appropriate for the specific patient;
 
   
cost-effective; and
 
   
neither experimental nor investigational.
We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if coverage and reimbursement are available, what the level of reimbursement will be. Obtaining reimbursement for our products may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with branded therapeutics and therapeutics administered under the supervision of a physician. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products that we develop could have a material adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.
Reimbursement may impact the demand for, and the price of, any product for which we obtain marketing approval. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product by a third-party payor, the resulting reimbursement payment rates may not be adequate or may require
co-payments
that patients find unacceptably high. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions, and their prescribing physicians, generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with those medications. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover all or a significant portion of the cost of our products. Therefore, coverage and adequate reimbursement are critical to a new product’s acceptance. Coverage decisions may depend upon clinical and economic standards that disfavor new products when more established or lower cost therapeutic alternatives are already available or subsequently become available.
For products administered under the supervision of a physician, obtaining coverage and adequate reimbursement may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with such drugs. Additionally, separate reimbursement for the product itself may or may not be available. Instead, the hospital or administering physician may be reimbursed only for providing the treatment or procedure in which our product is used. Further, from time to time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revises the reimbursement systems used to reimburse healthcare providers, including the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System, which may result in reduced Medicare payments.
We expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any of our product candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription medicines, medical devices and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the successful commercialization of new products. Further, the adoption and implementation of any future governmental cost containment or other health reform initiative may result in additional downward pressure on the price that we may receive for any approved product. In addition, coverage policies and third-party payor reimbursement rates may change at any time. Therefore, even if favorable coverage and reimbursement status is attained for one or more products for which we receive regulatory approval, less favorable coverage policies and reimbursement rates may be implemented in the future.
Additionally, while we currently intend to rely on commercially-available diagnostic tests, we may in the future be required to develop, alone or through a diagnostic test collaborator, new companion diagnostic tests for use with our product candidates. In this case we, or our collaborators, would be required to obtain coverage and reimbursement for these tests separate and apart from the coverage and reimbursement we may seek for our product candidates. For any newly-developed companion diagnostic test, there would be significant uncertainty regarding our ability to obtain coverage and adequate reimbursement for the same reasons applicable to our product candidates. Outside of the United States, many countries require approval of the sale price of a product before it can be marketed, and the pricing review period only begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some of these countries, we may be required
 
35

to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our product candidate to other available therapies. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain marketing approval for a product candidate in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenue, if any, we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if such product candidates obtain marketing approval.
The market opportunities for any current or future product candidate we develop, if and when approved, may be limited to those patients who are ineligible for established therapies or for whom prior therapies have failed, and may be small.
Cancer therapies are sometimes characterized by line of therapy (first-line, second-line, third-line, etc.) and the FDA often approves new therapies initially only for a particular line or lines of use. When cancer is detected early enough, first-line therapy, usually chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of these, is sometimes adequate to cure the cancer or prolong life without a cure. Second- and third-line therapies are administered to patients when prior therapy is not effective. We expect to initially seek approval of ARX788 and any other product candidates we develop as a therapy for patients who have received one or more prior treatments. Subsequently, for those products that prove to be sufficiently beneficial, if any, we would expect to seek approval potentially as a first-line therapy, but there is no guarantee that product candidates we develop, even if approved, would be approved for first-line therapy, and, prior to any such approvals, we may have to conduct additional clinical trials.
The number of patients who have the cancers we are targeting as well as the subset of patients with these cancers in a position to receive a particular line of therapy may turn out to be lower than expected. Additionally, the potentially addressable patient population for our current programs or future product candidates may be limited, if and when approved. Further, new therapies may change the estimated incidence or prevalence of the cancers that we are targeting. Even if we obtain significant market share for any product candidate, if and when approved, if the potential target populations are small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining marketing approval for additional indications, including to be used as first- or second-line therapy.
Our product candidates for which we intend to seek approval as biological products may face competition sooner than anticipated.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the Affordable Care Act or ACA) signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA) which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with
FDA-licensed
reference biological product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this
12-year
period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of their product.
We believe that any of our product candidates approved as a biological product under a BLA should qualify for the
12-year
period of exclusivity. However, the FDA may determine that previously marketed biologics may limit or eliminate the
12-year
exclusivity. There is also a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to congressional action, court decisions or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider our product candidates to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Other aspects of the BPCIA, some of which may impact the BPCIA exclusivity provisions, have
 
36

also been the subject of recent litigation. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for
non-biological
products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.
If any approved products are subject to biosimilar competition sooner than we expect, we will face significant pricing pressure and our commercial opportunity will be limited.
If the market opportunities for any of our product candidates are smaller than we believe they are, our revenue may be adversely affected, and our business may suffer.
We are focused initially on the development of treatments for cancer. Our projections of addressable patient populations that have the potential to benefit from treatment with our product candidates are based on estimates. If any of our estimates are inaccurate, the market opportunities for any of our product candidates could be significantly diminished and have an adverse material impact on our business.
If any of our product candidates are approved for marketing and commercialization and we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market our product candidates, we will be unable to successfully commercialize our product candidates if and when they are approved.
We have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities or experience. To achieve commercial success for any approved product for which we retain sales and marketing responsibilities, we must either develop a sales and marketing organization, which would be expensive and time consuming, or outsource these functions to other third parties. In the future, we may choose to build a focused sales and marketing infrastructure to sell, or participate in sales activities with our collaborators for, some of our product candidates if and when they are approved.
There are risks involved with both establishing our own sales and marketing capabilities and entering into arrangements with third parties to perform these services. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any product launch. If the commercial launch of a product candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.
Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize future products on our own include:
 
   
our inability to recruit and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
 
   
the inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or educate adequate numbers of physicians on the benefits of prescribing any future products;
 
   
the lack of complementary products to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product portfolios; and
 
   
unforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.
If we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales, marketing and distribution services, our product revenue or the profitability of these product revenue to us are likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any products that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to sell and market our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. In entering into third-party marketing or distribution arrangements, any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of the third parties and we cannot assure you that such third parties will establish adequate sales
 
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and distribution capabilities or devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market any future products effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third parties, we will not be successful in commercializing our product candidates.
Any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or recall or withdrawal from the market, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if we experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates, when and if any of them are approved.
The FDA and other federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) closely regulate compliance with all requirements governing prescription drug products, including requirements pertaining to marketing and promotion of products in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling and manufacturing of products in accordance with cGMP requirements. The FDA and DOJ impose stringent restrictions on manufacturers’ communications
regarding off-label use
and if we do not market our products for their approved indications, or if other of our marketing claims are deemed false or misleading, we may be subject to enforcement action. Violations of such requirements may lead to investigations alleging violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes, including the False Claims Act and other federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws as well as state consumer protection laws.
Our failure to comply with all regulatory requirements, and later discovery of previously unknown adverse events or other problems with our products, manufacturers or manufacturing processes, may yield various results, including:
 
   
litigation involving patients taking our products;
 
   
restrictions on such products, manufacturers or manufacturing processes;
 
   
restrictions on the labeling or marketing of a product;
 
   
restrictions on product distribution or use;
 
   
requirements to conduct post-marketing studies or clinical trials;
 
   
warning or untitled letters;
 
   
withdrawal of the products from the market;
 
   
refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications that we submit;
 
   
recall of products;
 
   
fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenue;
 
   
suspension or withdrawal of marketing approvals;
 
   
suspension of any ongoing clinical trials;
 
   
damage to relationships with any potential collaborators;
 
   
unfavorable press coverage and damage to our reputation;
 
   
refusal to permit the import or export of our products;
 
   
product seizure; or
 
   
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.
If any of these events occurs, our ability to sell such product may be impaired, and we may incur substantial additional expense to comply with regulatory requirements, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
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We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products more quickly or marketing them more successfully than us.
The development and commercialization of new products is highly competitive. We largely compete in the segments of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other related markets that develop cancer treatments. 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 any products that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, if ever, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market or make our development more complicated. Moreover, with the proliferation of new drugs and therapies into oncology, we expect to face increasingly intense competition as new technologies become available. If we fail to stay at the forefront of technological change, we may be unable to compete effectively. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. The highly competitive nature of and rapid technological changes in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries could render our product candidates or our technology obsolete, less competitive or uneconomical.
Other ADCs have already been approved and other products in the same class are further along in development. As more product candidates within a particular class of biological products proceed through clinical development to regulatory review and approval, the amount and type of clinical data that may be required by regulatory authorities may increase or change. Consequently, the results of our clinical trials for product candidates in those classes will likely need to show a risk benefit profile that is competitive with or more favorable than those products and product candidates in order to obtain marketing approval or, if approved, a product label that is favorable for commercialization. If the risk benefit profile is not competitive with those products or product candidates, we may have developed a product that is not commercially viable, that we are not able to sell profitably or that is unable to achieve favorable pricing or reimbursement. In such circumstances, our future product revenue and financial condition would be materially and adversely affected.
There are many companies pursuing a variety of approaches to protein conjugations and modifications. Multiple companies, including larger and more-established companies, are pursuing traditional approaches that rely upon natural amino acids, usually a cysteine or lysine, as a conjugation site. Another approach looks to modify the sugar residues of naturally occurring amino acids. Our approach is to encode a
non-natural
amino acid at optimized positions within the proteins, and Sutro Biopharma, Inc., Synthorx Inc. and other early stage companies also use this approach. Other companies using antibody-drug conjugates to target innate immune receptors include Actym Therapeutics, Mersana, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Immunotherapy and validated pathway approaches are further being pursued by many smaller biotechnology companies as well as larger pharmaceutical companies. We also face competition from validated pathway therapy treatments offered by companies such as AstraZeneca, Byondis, Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, MacroGenics, Pieris, Puma, Seattle Genetics, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, and Zymeworks. We also face competition from companies that continue to invest in innovation in the antibody-drug conjugate field, including but not limited to AbbVie, ADC Therapeutics, Astellas, BioAtla, Celldex, CytomX, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Genmab, ImmunoGen, Immunomedics, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, MorphoSys AG, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Seattle Genetics, Sutro Biopharma, and VelosBio.
Specifically, the partnership between Astra Zeneca and Daiichi Sankyo has accelerated the expansion of the clinical development program for Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu, a HER2 ADC, with now almost 50 ongoing clinical trials in a broad range of cancer types and cancer stages. The scope and resources being dedicated to the Enhertu program may negatively impact our planned clinical trials and development for ARX788, including as a result of challenges in patient enrollment due to the lack of patients or as a result of their ability to complete clinical trials or obtain approvals more rapidly than us. For example, in September 2021, Daiichi Sankyo released the results for its Destiny-Breast03 clinical trial, studying the activity of Enhertu compared to Kadcyla in second line
 
39

metastatic breast cancer. With statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in the primary endpoint progression free survival over Kadcyla, both National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) soon revised the HER2+ metastatic breast cancer treatment guideline to displace Kadcyla with Enhertu as the new standard of care in second line HER2+ breast cancer. As a result, we have revised our planned Phase 3 trial in second line HER2+ breast cancer to compare ARX788 against Kadcyla as the standard of care, and focus on studying ARX788 activity in breast cancer patients who have failed previous treatment with Enhertu.
Many of our competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, preclinical testing, clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing than we do. Future collaborations and mergers and acquisitions may result in further resource concentration among a smaller number of competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors will also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and subject registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or that may be necessary for, our programs.
The key competitive factors affecting the success of all of our programs are likely to be efficacy, safety, and convenience. If we are not successful in developing, commercializing and achieving higher levels of reimbursement than our competitors, we will not be able to compete against them and our business would be materially harmed.
Risks Related to Our
In-Licenses
and Other Strategic Agreements
We are currently party to several
in-license
agreements under which we acquired rights to use, develop, manufacture and/or commercialize certain of our platform technologies and resulting product candidates. If we breach our obligations under these agreements, we may be required to pay damages, lose our rights to these technologies or both, which would adversely affect our business and prospects.
We rely, in part, on license and other strategic agreements, which subject us to various obligations, including diligence obligations with respect to development and commercialization activities, payment obligations for achievement of certain milestones and royalties on product sales, negative covenants and other material obligations. For example, we have exclusively licensed certain patent rights from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) related to various aspects of our technology platform. If we fail to comply with the obligations under our license agreements, or use the intellectual property licensed to us in an unauthorized manner, we may be required to pay damages and our licensors may have the right to terminate the license. If our license agreements are terminated, we may not be able to develop, manufacture, market or sell the products covered by our agreements and those being tested or approved in combination with such products. Such an occurrence could materially adversely affect the value of the product candidates being developed under any such agreement.
In addition, the agreements under which we license intellectual property or technology to or from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates.
Our business also would suffer if any current or future licensors fail to abide by the terms of the license, if the licensors fail to enforce licensed patents against infringing third parties, if the licensed patents or other rights are found to be invalid or unenforceable, or if we are unable to enter into necessary licenses on acceptable terms.
 
40

Moreover, our licensors may own or control intellectual property that has not been licensed to us and, as a result, we may be subject to claims, regardless of their merit, that we are infringing or otherwise violating the licensor’s rights.
In addition, while we cannot currently determine the amount of the royalty obligations we would be required to pay on sales of future products, if any, the amounts may be significant. The amount of our future royalty obligations will depend on the technology and intellectual property we use in products that we successfully develop and commercialize, if any. Therefore, even if we successfully develop and commercialize products, we may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.
If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of the relevant research programs or product candidates and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could suffer.
We are dependent on our license agreements and R&D Agreements with various partners to develop and commercialize products using our technologies in various fields and indications as well as certain of our product candidates in certain geographies. The failure to maintain our R&D Agreements with our collaboration partners or the failure of our partners to perform their obligations under our R&D Agreements with them, could negatively impact our business.
We have granted various collaboration partners exclusive licenses to certain patents, information and
know-how
related to our technologies or product candidates, including rights to develop and commercialize ARX788 and ARX305 in China to NovoCodex, and worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Pegbelfermin
(BMS-986036)
to Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). Consequently, our ability to realize value or generate any revenues from certain of our product candidates or in certain geographies for our product candidates depends on our collaboration partners’ willingness and ability to develop and obtain regulatory approvals for and successfully commercialize our
out-licensed
product candidates or other product candidates using our technology. We have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our collaboration partners will dedicate to these efforts. In particular, we will not be entitled to receive additional milestone or royalty payments from our existing collaborations absent further development and eventual commercialization of the licensed product candidates or other product candidates using our technology. For example, in August 2021, BMS provided notice that it closed the FA-Relaxin Studies CV019-008 and CV019-010 based on internal considerations and not upon any observed safety concerns, and in February 2022 BMS provided written notice to terminate the FA-Relaxin collaboration and license agreement.
We are subject to a number of other risks associated with our dependence on our license agreements and R&D Agreements, including:
 
   
our collaboration partners may not comply with applicable regulatory requirements with respect to developing or commercializing products under our agreements with them, which could adversely impact development, regulatory approval and eventual commercialization of such products. For example, our collaboration partners’ failure to comply with existing or future laws and regulations related to the management of human genetic resources (including materials and information) in China could lead to government enforcement actions, which could include fines, suspension of related activities and confiscation of related human genetic resources and gains generated from conducting these activities, or breach liability. Compliance or the failure to comply with such laws could increase the costs of, limit and cause significant delay in their clinical studies and research and development activities, which could materially and adversely affect our business and prospects as well;
 
   
we and our collaboration partners could disagree as to future development plans and our partners may delay initiation of or cease research efforts, preclinical studies or clinical trials;
 
   
there may be disputes between us and our collaboration partners, including disagreements regarding the terms of the applicable agreement or scope of the license, that may result in the delay of or failure to
 
41

 
achieve development, regulatory and commercial objectives that would result in milestone or royalty payments to us, the delay or termination of any future development or commercialization of our product candidates or other product candidates using our technology, and/or costly litigation or arbitration that diverts our management’s attention and resources;
 
   
our collaboration partners may not provide us with timely and accurate information regarding development progress and activities under the applicable agreement, which could adversely impact our ability to report progress to our investors and otherwise plan our own development activities;
 
   
business combinations or significant changes in our collaboration partners’ business strategy may adversely affect their ability or willingness to perform their obligations under the applicable agreement;
 
   
collaborators have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to a collaboration;
 
   
a collaborator with marketing and distribution rights to one or more products may not commit sufficient resources to their marketing and distribution;
 
   
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;
 
   
our collaboration partners may not properly maintain or defend our licensed intellectual property rights or may use our proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property rights or expose us to potential litigation; and
 
   
the royalties we are eligible to receive from our collaboration partners may be reduced or eliminated based upon their and our ability to maintain or defend our intellectual property rights.
With respect to ARX788 and ARX305, we have licensed development and commercialization rights in China to NovoCodex. We have limited control over NovoCodex’s development, regulatory and commercialization activities with respect to these product candidates in China; however, NovoCodex’s activities in China could have significant consequences to our ability to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize ARX788 and ARX305 in the United States and other territories for which we maintain rights. For example, if NovoCodex experiences a clinical failure or safety issues or receives negative decisions from regulatory authorities in China, it could negatively impact the value and prospects of the product candidate in the territories in which we retain rights.
Our license agreements and R&D Agreements are subject to early termination, including through the collaboration partner’s right to terminate without cause upon advance notice to us. For example, in June 2021, Agensys, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas Pharma Inc., terminated a collaboration agreement with us. Agensys terminated the agreement due to a lack of efficacy demonstrated by
ASP-1235,
a product candidate discovered through our collaboration. If an agreement is terminated early, we may not be able to find another collaborator for the further development or commercialization of the licensed product candidate or technology in the applicable field or geography on acceptable terms, or at all, and we may otherwise be unable to pursue continued development on our own. To the extent we enter into additional agreements for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, we would likely be similarly dependent on the performance of those third parties and subject to similar risks.
We may not be successful in establishing and maintaining additional research and development agreements, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates.
We intend to continue evaluating and, as deemed appropriate, enter into additional
out-licensing
and research and development agreements, including potentially with major biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. We face significant competition in seeking appropriate partners for our product candidates, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. In order for us to successfully partner our product candidates, potential partners
 
42

must view these product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate safety and efficacy and as being economically valuable in light of the terms that we are seeking and other available products for licensing by other companies. Due to our multiple existing license agreements and R&D Agreements, we may find it more difficult to secure additional collaborations for our technologies or product candidates if major biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies would prefer to have exclusive control over development in all geographies or indications within a field. Even if we are successful in our efforts to establish new collaborations, the terms that we agree upon may not be favorable to us, and we may not be able to maintain such collaborations if, for example, development or approval of a product candidate is delayed or sales of an approved product are disappointing. Any inability or delay in entering into new research and development agreements related to our product candidates, in particular in foreign countries where we do not have and do not intend to establish significant capabilities, could delay the development and commercialization of our product candidates or other product candidates using our technology and reduce their market potential.
We may not realize the benefits of any acquisitions,
in-licenses
or strategic alliances that we enter into.
We have entered into
in-license
agreements with multiple licensors and in the future may seek and form strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into acquisitions or additional licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing technologies and product candidates.
These transactions can entail numerous operational and financial risks, including exposure to unknown liabilities, disruption of our business and diversion of our management’s time and attention in order to manage a collaboration or develop acquired products, product candidates or technologies, incurrence of substantial debt or dilutive issuances of equity securities to pay transaction consideration or costs, higher than expected collaboration, acquisition or integration costs, write-downs of assets or goodwill or impairment charges, increased amortization expenses, difficulty and cost in facilitating the collaboration or combining the operations and personnel of any acquired business, impairment of relationships with key suppliers, manufacturers or customers of any acquired business due to changes in management and ownership and the inability to retain key employees of any acquired business. As a result, we may not be able to realize the benefits of such existing or future acquisitions or
in-licenses
if we are unable to successfully integrate them into our operations and company culture. Following a strategic transaction or license, we may not achieve the revenue or specific net income that justifies such transaction or such other benefits that led us to enter into the arrangement.
Risks Related to Our Industry and Business Operations
The
COVID-19
pandemic could continue to adversely impact our business, including our ongoing and planned clinical trials, supply chain and business development activities.
Since December 2019,
COVID-19,
a novel strain of coronavirus, has become a global pandemic, which has resulted in travel restrictions, quarantine orders and other restrictions by governments to reduce the spread of the disease. As a result of these orders, many of our employees continue to telecommute, which has impacted certain of our operations and may continue to do so over the long term. We may experience further limitations on employee resources in the future, including because of sickness of employees or their families. The effects of government actions and our own policies and those of third parties to reduce the spread of
COVID-19
may negatively impact productivity and slow down or delay our ongoing and future clinical trials, preclinical studies and research and development activities, and may cause disruptions to our supply chain and impair our ability to execute our business development strategy. In the event that government authorities were to enhance current restrictions, our employees who currently are not telecommuting may no longer be able to access our facilities, and our operations may be further limited or curtailed.
As
COVID-19
continues to spread and new variants of the virus emerge, we may experience ongoing disruptions that could severely impact our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials, including:
 
   
interruption or delays in our operations, which may impact our ability to conduct and produce preclinical results required for submission of an IND;
 
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delays in receiving authorizations from local regulatory authorities to initiate our planned clinical trials;
 
   
delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials due to patients’ concerns of contracting
COVID-19
while visiting hospitals, including patients with cancer who may be immunocompromised during the
COVID-19
pandemic;
 
   
delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
 
   
delays in clinical sites receiving the supplies and materials needed to conduct our clinical trials, including interruption in global shipping that may affect the transport of clinical trial materials;
 
   
changes in local regulations as part of a response to
COVID-19
which may require us to change the ways in which our clinical trials are conducted, which may result in unexpected costs, or to discontinue the clinical trials altogether;
 
   
diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;
 
   
interruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others, or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures, the occurrence of which could affect the integrity of clinical trial data;
 
   
interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may impact review and approval timelines;
 
   
risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will contract
COVID-19
while the clinical trial is ongoing, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events; and
 
   
refusal of the FDA to accept data from clinical trials in affected geographies outside the United States.
These and other disruptions in our operations and the global economy could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
Our clinical trials have been, and may in the future be, affected by the
COVID-19
pandemic. For example, some of our clinical trial sites in the United States and Australia slowed down or temporarily suspended enrollment of new patients, denied access to site monitors and otherwise curtailed certain operations. Similarly, our ability to recruit and retain principal investigators and site staff who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to
COVID-19,
may be adversely impacted. Our ongoing or planned clinical trials may also be impacted by interruptions or delays in the operations of the FDA, NMPA or EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We and our CROs have also made certain adjustments to the operation of our trials in an effort to ensure compliance with GCP, to assure the safety of trial participants, and to minimize risks to trial integrity during the pandemic in accordance with the guidance issued by the FDA and may need to make further adjustments in the future. Many of these adjustments are new and untested, may not be effective, and may have unforeseen effects on the enrollment, progress and completion of these trials and the findings from these trials. These events could delay our clinical trials, increase the cost of completing our clinical trials and negatively impact the integrity, reliability or robustness of the data from our clinical trials.
In addition, quarantines,
shelter-in-place
and similar government orders, or the perception that such orders, shutdowns or other restrictions on the conduct of business operations could occur, related to
COVID-19
or other infectious diseases could impact personnel at third-party manufacturing facilities upon which we rely, or the availability or cost of materials, which could disrupt the supply chain for our product candidates. The demand for vaccines and
COVID-19
treatments and potential for manufacturing facilities and materials to be commandeered under the Defense Production Act of 1950, or equivalent foreign legislation, may make it more difficult to obtain
 
44

materials or manufacturing slots for the products needed for our clinical trials which could lead to delays in these trials. To the extent our suppliers and service providers are unable to comply with their obligations under our agreements with them or they are otherwise unable to deliver or are delayed in delivering goods and services to us due to the
COVID-19
pandemic or government mandates to participate in
COVID-19
vaccine or treatment production, our ability to continue meeting clinical supply demand for our product candidates or otherwise advancing development of our product candidates may become impaired.
The spread of
COVID-19
and actions taken to reduce its spread may also materially affect us economically. While the potential economic impact brought by, and the duration of, the
COVID-19
pandemic may be difficult to assess or predict, there could be a significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity and financial position. In addition, the trading prices for other biologics companies have been highly volatile as a result of the
COVID-19
pandemic. As a result, we may face difficulties raising capital through sales of our ADSs or such sales may be on unfavorable terms.
COVID-19
and actions taken to reduce its spread continue to rapidly evolve. The extent to which
COVID-19
may impede the development of our product candidates, reduce the productivity of our employees, disrupt our supply chains, delay our clinical trials, reduce our access to capital or limit our business development activities, will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence. To the extent the
COVID-19
pandemic adversely affects our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section, such as those relating to the timing and results of our clinical trials and our financing needs.
Our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including
non-compliance
with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional failures to comply with the regulations of the FDA and
non-U.S.
regulators, provide accurate information to the FDA and
non-U.S.
regulators, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, additional reporting obligations and oversight if subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of
non-compliance
with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
 
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We face potential product liability, and, if successful claims are brought against us, we may incur substantial liability and costs. If the use of our product candidates harms patients or is perceived to harm patients even when such harm is unrelated to our product candidates, our regulatory approvals could be revoked or otherwise negatively impacted and we could be subject to costly and damaging product liability claims.
The use of our product candidates in clinical trials and the sale of any products for which we obtain marketing approval exposes us to the risk of product liability claims. Product liability claims might be brought against us by consumers, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies or others selling or otherwise coming into contact with our products. There is a risk that our product candidates may induce adverse events. If we cannot successfully defend against product liability claims, we could incur substantial liability and costs. In addition, regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:
 
   
impairment of our business reputation;
 
   
withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
 
   
costs due to related litigation;
 
   
distraction of management’s attention from our primary business;
 
   
substantial monetary awards to patients or other claimants;
 
   
the inability to commercialize our product candidates; and
 
   
decreased demand for our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale.
We believe our product liability insurance coverage is sufficient in light of our current clinical programs; however, we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in sufficient amounts to protect us against losses due to liability. If and when we obtain marketing approval for product candidates, we intend to expand our insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products; however, we may be unable to obtain product liability insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. On occasion, large judgments have been awarded in class action lawsuits based on drugs or medical treatments that had unanticipated adverse effects. A successful product liability claims, or series of claims brought against us could cause our stock price to decline and, if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could adversely affect our results of operations and business.
Patients with cancer are often already in severe and advanced stages of disease and have both known and unknown significant
pre-existing
and potentially life-threatening health risks. These patients are also currently on or have recently been on multiple other therapies for their cancer or other underlying conditions. During the course of treatment in our clinical trials, patients may suffer adverse events, including death, for reasons that may be related to our product candidates. Such events could subject us to costly litigation, require us to pay substantial amounts of money to injured patients, delay, negatively impact or end our opportunity to receive or maintain regulatory approval to market our product candidates, or require us to suspend or abandon our commercialization efforts. Even in a circumstance in which we do not believe that an adverse event is related to our product candidates, the investigation into the circumstance may be time-consuming or inconclusive. These investigations may interrupt our development efforts, delay our regulatory approval process, or limit the type of regulatory approvals our product candidates receive or maintain. As a result of these factors, a product liability claim, even if successfully defended, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We are highly dependent on our key personnel, and if we are not successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified personnel, we may not be able to successfully implement our business strategy.
Our ability to compete in the highly competitive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified directors and managerial, scientific and medical personnel. We are highly dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel.
 
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We conduct substantial operations at our facilities in San Diego. This region is headquarters to many other biologics companies and many academic and research institutions. Competition for skilled personnel in our market is intense and may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms or at all.
To induce valuable employees to remain at our company, in addition to salary and cash incentives, we have provided stock options that vest over time. The value to employees of stock options that vest over time may be significantly affected by movements in our stock price that are beyond our control and may at any time be insufficient to counteract more lucrative offers from other companies. Despite our efforts to retain valuable employees, members of our management, scientific and development teams may terminate their employment with us on short notice. Although we have employment agreements with certain of our key employees, these employment agreements provide for
at-will
employment, which means that any of our employees could leave our employment at any time, with or without notice. For example, our chief medical officer resigned in 2021 and chief business officer resigned in 2022. The loss of the services of our chief medical officer and chief business officer and any of our other executive officers, key employees, and scientific and medical advisors, and our inability to find suitable replacements could result in delays in product development and harm our business. We do not maintain “key person” insurance policies on the lives of these individuals or the lives of any of our employees. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior,
mid-level
and senior managers as well as junior,
mid-level
and senior scientific and medical personnel.
We expect to expand our development, regulatory and operational capabilities and, as a result, we may encounter difficulties in managing our growth, which could disrupt our operations.
As of December 31, 2021, we had 81 employees. As we advance our research and development programs, we will be required to further increase the number of our employees and the scope of our operations, particularly in the areas of clinical development, quality, regulatory affairs and, if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, sales, marketing and distribution. To manage any future growth, we must:
 
   
identify, recruit integrate, maintain and motivate additional qualified personnel;
 
   
manage our development efforts effectively, including the initiation and conduct of clinical trials for our product candidates, both as monotherapy and in combination with other therapeutics; and
 
   
improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.
Our future financial performance and our ability to develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates, if approved, will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth, and our management may also have to divert financial and other resources, and a disproportionate amount of its attention away from
day-to-day
activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time, to managing these growth activities.
If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.
Our business operations and current and future relationships with investigators, healthcare professionals, consultants, third-party payors and customers are subject, directly or indirectly, to federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, transparency laws and other healthcare laws and regulations. If we are unable to comply, or have not fully complied, with such laws, we could face substantial penalties.
Although we do not currently have any products on the market, our operations may be, directly or indirectly through our prescribers, customers and third-party payors, subject to various U.S. federal and state healthcare
 
47

laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the U.S. federal civil and criminal false claims laws and the Physician Payments Sunshine Act and regulations. Healthcare providers and others play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we obtain marketing approval. These laws may impact, among other things, our current business operations, including our clinical research activities, and proposed sales, marketing and education programs and constrain the business of financial arrangements and relationships with healthcare providers and other parties through which we may market, sell and distribute our products for which we obtain marketing approval. In addition, we may be subject to additional healthcare, statutory and regulatory requirements and enforcement by foreign regulatory authorities in jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. The laws that may affect our ability to operate include:
 
   
the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons or entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or paying any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe or certain rebates), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease, order or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under U.S. federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act or federal civil money penalties statute. This statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand, and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. Although there are several statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting certain common activities from prosecution, they are drawn narrowly, and practices that involve remuneration intended to induce prescribing, purchasing or recommending may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
 
   
the U.S. federal false claims, including the False Claims Act, which can be enforced through whistleblower actions, and civil monetary penalties laws, which, among other things, impose criminal and civil penalties against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the U.S. federal government, claims for payment or approval that are false or fraudulent, knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, or from knowingly making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the U.S. federal government. Manufacturers can be held liable under the False Claims Act even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. Companies that submit claims directly to payors may also be liable under the False Claims Act for the direct submission of such claims. The False Claims Act also permits a private individual acting as a “whistleblower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the False Claims Act and to share in any monetary recovery. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a violation of the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;
 
   
the U.S. federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which imposes criminal and civil liability for, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement, in connection with the delivery of, or payment for, healthcare benefits, items or services; similar to the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
 
   
HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, (HITECH), and their respective implementing regulations, impose requirements on certain covered healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses and their respective business
 
48

 
associates that perform services for them that involve the use, or disclosure of, individually identifiable health information as well as their covered subcontractors, relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of such individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions;
 
   
the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits, among other things, the adulteration or misbranding of drugs, biologics and medical devices;
 
   
the U.S. federal legislation commonly referred to as Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the ACA, and its implementing regulations, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report annually to the CMS information related to certain payments and other transfers of value to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors), other healthcare professionals (such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by the physicians described above and their immediate family members;
 
   
analogous state laws and regulations, including: state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to our business practices, including, but not limited to, research, distribution, sales and marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including private insurers; state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the U.S. federal government, or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to healthcare providers and other potential referral sources; state laws and regulations that require drug manufacturers to file reports relating to pricing and marketing information, which requires tracking gifts and other remuneration and items of value provided to healthcare professionals and entities; and state and local laws requiring the registration of pharmaceutical sales representatives; and
 
   
European and other foreign law equivalents of each of the laws, including reporting requirements detailing interactions with and payments to healthcare providers.
Additionally, as further discussed below, on November 20, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) finalized a regulation modifying the federal Anti-Kickback Statute regulatory safe harbors that, among other things, (i) removed safe harbor protection for certain price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers, and (ii) created new a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers.
Ensuring that our internal operations and future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations, agency guidance or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of the laws described above or any other governmental laws and regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from U.S. government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, or similar programs in other countries or jurisdictions, disgorgement, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of
non-compliance
with these laws and the delay, reduction, termination or restructuring of our operations. Further, defending against any such actions can be costly and time-consuming, and may require significant financial and personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found
 
49

to not be in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs and imprisonment. If any of the above occur, it could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.
Enacted and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may charge for such product candidates.
The United States and many foreign jurisdictions have enacted or proposed legislative and regulatory changes affecting the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any product for which we obtain marketing approval.
In March 2010, the ACA was enacted, which substantially changes the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacts the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. The ACA, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and promoted a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the implementation and impact of the ACA.
Since its enactment, there have been and there remain executive, judicial and congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. As a result, there have been delays in the implementation of, and action taken to repeal or replace, certain aspects of the ACA. For example, since January 2017, former President Trump signed several Executive Orders designed to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the ACA or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the ACA. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation to date, it has enacted laws that modify certain provisions of the ACA such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), which decreased the “individual mandate” to $0. On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Biden issued an executive order that initiated a special enrollment period for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is possible that the ACA will be subject to judicial or congressional challenges in the future. It is unclear how such challenged and the healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration, will impact the ACA or our business. We continue to evaluate the effect that the ACA and its possible repeal and replacement has on our business.
In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted. For example, in August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed into law, which, among other things, included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of, on average, 2% per fiscal year through 2031, with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, unless Congress takes additional action. Under current legislation the actual reduction in Medicare payments will vary from 1% in 2022 to up to 3% in the final fiscal year of this sequester.
Recently, there has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. congressional inquiries and legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. In addition, there have been several changes to the 340B drug pricing program, which imposes ceilings on prices that drug manufacturers can charge
 
50

for medications sold to certain healthcare facilities. Some of these changes are undergoing legal challenges, and their status is currently in question. It is unclear how these developments could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our future products and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products in the future, if any.
Additionally, on July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, the Trump administration announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that attempt to implement several of the administration’s proposals. As a result, the FDA released a final rule and guidance on September 24, 2020, effective November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the
point-of-sale,
as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. The implementation of the rule has been delayed by the Biden administration until January 1, 2023. On November 20, 2020, CMS issued an interim final rule implementing Former President Trump’s Most Favored Nation executive order, which would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered drugs to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries. As a result of litigation challenging the Most Favored Nation model, on December 27, 2021, CMS published a final rule that rescinded the Most Favored Nation model interim final rule. In July 2021, the Biden administration released an executive order, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” with multiple provisions aimed at prescription drugs. In response to Biden’s executive order, on September 9, 2021, HHS released a Comprehensive Plan for Addressing High Drug Prices that outlines principles for drug pricing reform and sets out a variety of potential legislative policies that Congress could pursue to advance these principles. No legislation or administrative actions have been finalized to implement these principles. In addition, Congress is considering drug pricing as part of other reform initiatives. Although a number of these executive orders and other proposed measures will require authorization through additional legislation to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, we expect that Congress will continue to seek new legislative measures to control drug costs. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare and other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payers. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control costs of pharmaceutical and biological products. Moreover, regional healthcare authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other healthcare programs.
We expect that the healthcare reform measures that have been adopted, and that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product and could seriously harm our future revenues. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the
COVID-19
pandemic.
Our product candidates are subject to government price controls in certain jurisdictions that may affect our revenue.
There has been heightened governmental scrutiny in the United States, China, the European Union, Japan and other jurisdictions of pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs. In the United States, such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for products. At the federal level, Congressional leadership and the Biden administration have each indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug
 
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costs. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly enacted legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Outside of the United States, particularly in the European Union, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a product. To obtain coverage and 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. If reimbursement of our products is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our business could be harmed.
Failure to comply with current or future federal, state and foreign laws and regulations and industry standards relating to privacy and data protection laws could lead to government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation, and/or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business.
We and our collaborators and third-party providers may be subject to federal, state and foreign data privacy and security laws and regulations. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including federal health information privacy laws, state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), that govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of our collaborators and third-party providers. In addition, we may obtain health information from third parties (including research institutions from which we obtain clinical trial data) that are subject to privacy and security requirements under HIPAA. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to significant penalties if we violate HIPAA.
In many jurisdictions, enforcement actions and consequences for noncompliance are rising. In the United States, these include enforcement actions in response to rules and regulations promulgated under the authority of federal agencies and state attorneys general and legislatures and consumer protection agencies. In addition, privacy advocates and industry groups have regularly proposed, and may propose in the future, self-regulatory standards that may legally or contractually apply to us. If we fail to follow these security standards, even if no customer information is compromised, we may incur significant fines or experience a significant increase in costs. Many state legislatures have adopted legislation that regulates how businesses operate online, including measures relating to privacy, data security and data breaches. Laws in all 50 states require businesses to provide notice to customers whose personally identifiable information has been disclosed as a result of a data breach. The laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach is costly. States are also constantly amending existing laws, requiring attention to frequently changing regulatory requirements. Furthermore, California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (the CCPA) which became effective on January 1, 2020. The CCPA gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. At this time, we do not collect personal information relating to residents of California but should we begin to do so, the CCPA will impose new and burdensome privacy compliance obligations on our business and will raise new risks for potential fines and class actions.
Foreign data protection laws, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. The GDPR, which came into effect on May 25, 2018, imposes strict requirements for processing the personal data of individuals within the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United Kingdom, including clinical trial data, as well as potential fines for noncompliant companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue. The GDPR imposes strict requirements for the collection, use and disclosure of personal data, including stringent
 
52

requirements relating to obtaining consent, 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. Among other requirements, the GDPR regulates transfers of personal data subject to the GDPR to third countries that have not been found to provide adequate protection to such personal data, including the United States, and the efficacy and longevity of current transfer mechanisms between the EU and the United States remains uncertain. For example, in 2016, the EU and United States agreed to a transfer framework for data transferred from the EU to the United States, called the Privacy Shield, but the Privacy Shield was invalidated in July 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union. At this time, we do not believe we are subject to the GDPR, but should this change, the GDPR will increase our responsibility and potential liability in relation to personal data that we process, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the new EU data protection rules.
Regulatory authorities in China have implemented and are considering a number of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning privacy data protection. On March 17, 2018, the General Office of the State Council of the PRC (the PRC State Council) promulgated the Measures for the Management of Scientific Data (the Scientific Data Measures) which provide a broad definition of scientific data and relevant rules for the management of scientific data. According to the Scientific Data Measures, any scientific data involving state secret, state security, social public interests, commercial secret or personal privacy may not be open and shared; where openness is indeed needed, the purpose, user’s qualification, conditions of confidentiality and other factors shall be reviewed, and the informing scope shall be strictly controlled. Further, any researcher conducting research funded, at least in part, by the PRC government is required to submit relevant scientific data for management by the entity to which such researcher is affiliated before such data may be published in any foreign academic journal. Currently, as the term “state secret” is not clearly defined, there is no assurance that we can always obtain relevant approvals for sending scientific data (such as the results of our
pre-clinical
studies or clinical trials conducted within China) abroad, or to our foreign partners in China. If we are unable to obtain the necessary approvals in a timely manner, or at all, our research and development of product candidates with our collaboration partners within PRC may be hindered, which may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial conditions and prospects. If relevant government authorities consider the transmission of our scientific data to be in violation of the requirements under the Scientific Data Measures, we may be subject to specific administrative penalties imposed by those government authorities. China’s Cyber Security Law, which became effective in June 2017, created China’s national-level data protection for “network operators,” which may include all organizations in China that provide services over the internet or another information network. Numerous regulations, guidelines and other measures are expected to be adopted under the umbrella of the Cyber Security Law. Drafts of some of these measures have now been published, including the draft rules on cross-border transfers published by the Cyberspace Administration of China in 2017, which may, upon enactment, require security review before transferring human health-related data out of China. In addition, certain industry-specific laws and regulations affect the collection and transfer of personal data in China. For example, the PRC State Council promulgated Regulations on the Administration of Human Genetic Resources (effective in July 2019), which require approval/filing from the Science and Technology Administration Department of the PRC State Council where human genetic resources are involved in any international collaborative project and additional approval/filing for any export or cross-border transfer of the human genetic resources samples or associated data. It is possible that these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our practices, potentially resulting in confiscation of human genetic resources samples and associated data and administrative fines. In addition, the interpretation and application of data protection laws in China and elsewhere are often uncertain and in flux.
Compliance with U.S. and foreign data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Failure by us or our collaborators and third-party providers to comply with U.S. and foreign data protection laws and regulations could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation and/or adverse publicity and could negatively
 
53

affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose such information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with data protection laws or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time consuming to defend, could result in adverse publicity and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
PRC regulations relating to offshore investment activities by PRC residents and enterprises may increase our administrative burden and restrict our overseas and cross-border investment activity. If our PRC resident and enterprise shareholders fail to make any required applications and filings under such regulations, we may be unable to distribute profits to such shareholders and may become subject to liability under PRC law.
In July 2014, PRC State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles (SAFE Circular 37) which replaces the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for PRC Residents to Engage in Financing and Round-tripping Investment via Overseas Special Purpose (SAFE Circular 75). SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents, including PRC individuals and PRC corporate entities, to register with SAFE or its local branches in connection with their direct or indirect offshore investment activities. SAFE Circular 37 is applicable to our shareholders who are PRC residents and may be applicable to any offshore acquisitions that we may make in the future.
Under SAFE Circular 37, PRC residents who make, or have prior to the implementation of SAFE Circular 37 made, direct or indirect investments in offshore special purpose vehicles (SPVs) are required to register such investments with SAFE or its local branches. In addition, any PRC resident who is a direct or indirect shareholder of an SPV, is required to update its registration with the local branch of SAFE with respect to that SPV, to reflect any change of basic information or material events. If any PRC resident shareholder of such SPV fails to make the required registration or to update the registration, the subsidiary of such SPV in China may be prohibited from distributing its profits or the proceeds from any capital reduction, share transfer or liquidation to the SPV, and the SPV may also be prohibited from making additional capital contributions into its subsidiaries in China. In February 2015, SAFE promulgated a Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Foreign Exchange Administration Policy on Direct Investment (SAFE Notice 13). Under SAFE Notice 13, applications for foreign exchange registration of inbound foreign direct investments and outbound direct investments, including those required under SAFE Circular 37, shall be filed with qualified banks instead of SAFE. Qualified banks should examine the applications and accept registrations under the supervision of SAFE.
We may not be aware of the identities of all of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents, nor can we compel our beneficial owners to comply with SAFE registration requirements. Therefore, we cannot assure you that all shareholders or beneficial owners of ours who are PRC residents or entities have completed any required registration under SAFE Circular 37 and any amendment will be completed in a timely manner, or at all. The failure of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents to register or amend their foreign exchange registrations pursuant to SAFE Circular 37 and subsequent implementation rules, or the failure of future beneficial owners of our company who are PRC residents to comply with the registration procedures set forth in SAFE Circular 37 and subsequent implementation rules, may subject such beneficial owners or Ambrx Shanghai to fines and legal sanctions. Failure to register or comply with relevant requirements may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital to Ambrx Shanghai and limit Ambrx Shanghai’s ability to distribute dividends to us. These risks may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
On December 26, 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) promulgated the Administrative Measures on Overseas Investments (NDRC Order No. 11), which took effect as of March 1, 2018. According to NDRC Order No. 11,
non-sensitive
overseas investment projects are subject to record-filing requirements with the local branch of the NDRC. On September 6, 2014, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
 
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promulgated the Administrative Measures on Overseas Investments, which took effect as of October 6, 2014. According to this regulation, overseas investments of PRC enterprises that involve
non-sensitive
countries and regions and
non-sensitive
industries are subject to record-filing requirements with a local MOFCOM branch. According to the Circular of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Issuing the Regulations on Foreign Exchange Administration of the Overseas Direct Investment of Domestic Institutions, which was promulgated by SAFE on July 13, 2009 and took effect on August 1, 2009, PRC enterprises must register for overseas direct investment with a local SAFE branch.
We may not be fully informed of the identities of all our shareholders or beneficial owners who are PRC entities, and we cannot provide any assurance that all of our shareholders and beneficial owners who are PRC entities have completed, or will complete upon our request, the overseas direct investment procedures under the aforementioned regulations or other related rules in a timely manner, or at all. If they fail to complete such required filings or registrations required by the overseas direct investment regulations, the relevant authorities may order them to suspend or cease the implementation of such investment impose warnings and sanctions on them, require them to make corrections within a specified time, or limit our ability to distribute dividends and proceeds to Ambrx Shanghai and limit Ambrx Shanghai’s ability to distribute dividends to us, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, as these foreign exchange and outbound investment related regulations and their interpretation and implementation have been constantly evolving, it is unclear how these regulations, and any future regulation concerning offshore or cross-border investments and transactions, will be interpreted, amended and implemented by the relevant government authorities. For example, we may be subject to a more stringent review and approval process with respect to our foreign exchange activities, such as remittance of dividends and foreign-currency-denominated borrowings, which may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. We cannot assure you that we have complied or will be able to comply with all applicable foreign exchange and outbound investment related regulations. In addition, if we decide to acquire a PRC domestic company, we cannot assure you that we or the owners of such company, as the case may be, will be able to obtain the necessary approvals or complete the necessary filings and registrations required by the PRC foreign exchange regulations. This may restrict our ability to implement our acquisition strategy and could adversely affect our business and prospects.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain and maintain sufficient intellectual property protection for our platform technologies and product candidates, or if the scope of the intellectual property protection is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our products may be adversely affected.
We rely upon a combination of patents,
know-how
and confidentiality agreements to protect the intellectual property related to our products and technologies and to prevent third parties from copying and surpassing our achievements, thus eroding our competitive position in our market.
Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection for our platform technologies, product candidates and their uses, as well as our ability to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of others. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our novel discoveries and technologies that are important to our business. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued or that issued patents will afford sufficient protection of our product candidates or their intended uses against competitors, nor can there be any assurance that the patents issued will not be infringed, designed around, invalidated by third parties, or effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies, products or product candidates.
Obtaining and enforcing patents is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications or maintain and/or enforce patents that may issue based on our
 
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patent applications, at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner, including delays as a result of the
COVID-19
pandemic impacting our or our licensors’ operations. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development results before it is too late to obtain patent protection. Although we enter into
non-disclosure
and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to patentable aspects of our research and development output, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties, any of these parties may breach these agreements and disclose such results before a patent application is filed, thereby jeopardizing our ability to seek patent protection.
Composition of matter patents for biological and pharmaceutical product candidates often provide a strong form of intellectual property protection for those types of products, as such patents provide protection without regard to any method of use. We cannot be certain that the claims in our pending patent applications directed to composition of matter of our product candidates will be considered patentable by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or by patent offices in foreign countries, or that the claims in any of our issued patents will be considered valid and enforceable by courts in the United States or foreign countries. Method of use patents protect the use of a product for the specified method. This type of patent does not prevent a competitor from making and marketing a product that is identical to our product for an indication that is outside the scope of the patented method. Moreover, even if competitors do not actively promote their product for our targeted indications, physicians may prescribe these products
“off-label.”
Although
off-label
prescriptions may infringe or contribute to the infringement of method of use patents, the practice is common and such infringement is difficult to prevent or prosecute.
The patent position of biologics companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation, resulting in court decisions, including Supreme Court decisions, which have increased uncertainties as to the ability to enforce patent rights in the future. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, or vice versa.
The patent application process is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, and there can be no assurance that we or any of our potential future collaborators will be successful in protecting our product candidates by obtaining and defending patents. For example, we may not be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights potentially relating to our product candidates or their intended uses, and as a result the impact of such third-party intellectual property rights upon the patentability of our own patents and patent applications, as well as the impact of such third-party intellectual property upon our freedom to operate, is highly uncertain. Patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing or, in some cases, not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. As a result, the issuance, inventorship, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Our pending patent applications may be challenged in patent offices in the United States and abroad. Even issued patents may later be found invalid or unenforceable or may be modified or revoked in proceedings instituted by third parties before various patent offices or in courts. For example, our pending patent applications may be subject to third-party
pre-issuance
submissions of prior art to the USPTO or our issued patents may be subject to post-grant review (PGR) proceedings, oppositions, derivations, reexaminations, or
inter partes
review (IPR) proceedings, in the United States or elsewhere, challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. Additionally, if there was relevant “prior art” with respect to our patent applications that was not disclosed to the USPTO, our granted patents could be limited or found invalid. An adverse determination in any such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and products. In addition, given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. The degree of future protection for our
 
56

proprietary rights is uncertain. Only limited protection may be available and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep any competitive advantage. Any failure to obtain or maintain patent protection with respect to our product candidates or their uses could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary
know-how
that is not patentable, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our discovery and development processes that involve proprietary
know-how,
information or technology that is not covered by patents. We may also rely on trade secret protection as temporary protection for concepts that may be included in a future patent filing. However, trade secret protection will not protect us from innovations that a competitor develops independently of our proprietary
know-how.
If a competitor independently develops a technology that we protect as a trade secret and files a patent application on that technology, then we may not be able to patent that technology in the future, may require a license from the competitor to use our own
know-how,
and if the license is not available on commercially-viable terms, then we may not be able to launch our product. Although we require all of our employees to assign their inventions to us, and require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third parties who have access to our proprietary
know-how,
information or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, we cannot be certain that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the United States. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property both in the United States and abroad. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized material disclosure of our intellectual property to third parties, we will not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, and this scenario could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot ensure that patent rights relating to inventions described and claimed in our pending patent applications will issue or that patents based on our patent applications will not be challenged and rendered invalid and/or unenforceable.
The patent application process is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, and there can be no assurance that we or any of our potential future collaborators will be successful in protecting our product candidates by obtaining and defending patents. We have pending U.S. and foreign patent applications in our portfolio; however, we cannot predict:
 
   
if and when patents may issue based on our patent applications;
 
   
the scope of protection of any patent issuing based on our patent applications;
 
   
whether the claims of any patent issuing based on our patent applications will provide protection against competitors;
 
   
whether or not third parties will find ways to invalidate or circumvent our patent rights, including designing around our patents;
 
   
whether or not others will obtain patents claiming aspects similar to those covered by our patents and patent applications;
 
   
whether we will need to initiate litigation or administrative proceedings to enforce and/or defend our patent rights which will be costly whether we win or lose; and/or
 
   
whether the patent applications that we own or
in-license
will result in issued patents with claims that cover our product candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries.
We cannot be certain that the claims in our pending patent applications directed to our product candidates and/or technologies will be considered patentable by the USPTO or by patent offices in foreign countries. The USPTO
 
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may determine that our patents or patent applications are invalid for obviousness. There can be no assurance that any such patent applications will issue as granted patents. One aspect of the determination of patentability of our inventions depends on the scope and content of the “prior art,” information that was or is deemed available to a person of skill in the relevant art prior to the priority date of the claimed invention. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the patentability of our patent claims or, if issued, affect the validity or enforceability of a patent claim. Even if the patents do issue based on our patent applications, third parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, patents in our portfolio may not adequately exclude third parties from practicing relevant technology or prevent others from designing around our claims. If the breadth or strength of our intellectual property position with respect to our product candidates is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop and threaten our ability to commercialize our product candidates. In the event of litigation or administrative proceedings, we cannot be certain that the claims in any of our issued patents will be considered valid by courts in the United States or foreign countries.
Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage.
The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:
 
   
others may be able to make product candidates that are similar to ours but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own or have exclusively licensed by designing around features of our product candidates;
 
   
we or our licensors or future collaborators might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent application that we own or have exclusively licensed;
 
   
we or our licensors or future collaborators might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;
 
   
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;
 
   
it is possible that noncompliance with the USPTO and foreign governmental patent agencies requirement for a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other provisions during the patent process can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, and partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction;
 
   
it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;
 
   
issued patents that we own or have exclusively licensed may be revoked, modified, or held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors;
 
   
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
 
   
we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
 
   
we cannot predict the scope of protection of any patent issuing based on our patent applications, including whether the patent applications that we own or
in-license
will result in issued patents with claims that directed to our product candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries;
 
   
there may be significant pressure on the U.S. government and international governmental bodies to limit the scope of patent protection both inside and outside the United States for disease treatments that prove successful, as a matter of public policy regarding worldwide health concerns;
 
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countries other than the United States may have patent laws less favorable to patentees than those upheld by U.S. courts, allowing foreign competitors a better opportunity to create, develop and market competing product candidates;
 
   
the claims of any patent issuing based on our patent applications may not provide protection against competitors or any competitive advantages, or may be challenged by third parties;
 
   
if enforced, a court may not hold that our patents are valid, enforceable and infringed;
 
   
we may need to initiate litigation or administrative proceedings to enforce and/or defend our patent rights which will be costly whether we win or lose;
 
   
we may choose not to file a patent application in order to maintain certain trade secrets or
know-how,
and a third party may subsequently file a patent application covering such intellectual property;
 
   
we may fail to adequately protect and police our trademarks and trade secrets; and
 
   
the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business, including if others obtain patents claiming subject matter similar to or improving that covered by our patents and patent applications.
Should any of these or similar events occur, they could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.
We may not identify relevant third-party patents or may incorrectly interpret the relevance, scope or expiration of a third-party patent, which might adversely affect our ability to develop and market our products.
We cannot guarantee that any of our patent searches or analyses, including the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete or thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every third-party patent and pending application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our product candidates in any jurisdiction.
The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending application may be incorrect. For example, we may incorrectly determine that our products are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third-party’s pending application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect. Our failure to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our products.
We are currently party to an
in-license
agreement under which we were granted rights to manufacture certain components of our product candidates. If we breach our obligations under these agreements, we may be required to pay damages, lose our rights to these technologies or both, which would adversely affect our business and prospects.
We rely, in part, on license and other strategic agreements, which subject us to various obligations, including payment obligations for achievement of certain milestones on product sales. For example, with respect to our ReCODE platform, we have an exclusive license to a patent portfolio containing three families of U.S. and foreign patents and patent applications
co-owned
by TSRI and The Regents of the University of California (The Regents). If we fail to comply with the obligations under our license agreements, including as a result of
COVID-19
impacting our operations, or use the intellectual property licensed to us in an unauthorized manner, we may be required to pay damages and our licensors may have the right to terminate the license. If our license agreements are terminated, we may experience significant delays, difficulties, and costs in developing new cell lines and identifying an alternative source to manufacture components of our candidate products covered by our agreements and those being tested or approved in combination with such products. Such an occurrence could materially adversely affect the value of the product candidates being developed under any such agreement.
 
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In addition, the agreements under which we license intellectual property or technology to or from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We control the prosecution of patents resulting from licensed technology. In the event we breach any of our obligations related to such prosecution, we may incur significant liability to our licensing partners.
Licensing of intellectual property involves complex legal, business and scientific issues and is complicated by the rapid pace of scientific discovery in our industry. Disputes may arise regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:
 
   
the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues;
 
   
the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;
 
   
the sublicensing of patent and other rights;
 
   
our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;
 
   
the ownership of inventions and
know-how
resulting from the creation or use of intellectual property by us alone or with our licensors and partners;
 
   
the scope and duration of our payment obligations; and
 
   
the priority of invention of patented technology.
If disputes over intellectual property and other rights that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates. We are generally also subject to all of the same risks with respect to protection of intellectual property that we license as we are for intellectual property that we own, which are described herein. If we or our licensor fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to develop, manufacture, or commercialize products could suffer.
In addition, while we cannot currently determine the amount of the royalty obligations we would be required to pay on sales of future products, if any, the amounts may be significant. The amount of our future royalty obligations will depend on the technology and intellectual property we use in products that we successfully develop and commercialize, if any. Therefore, even if we successfully develop and commercialize products, we may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.
If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of the relevant research programs or product candidates and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could suffer.
In the future, we may need to obtain additional licenses of third-party technology that may not be available to us or are available only on commercially unreasonable terms, and which may cause us to operate our business in a more costly or otherwise adverse manner that was not anticipated.
We currently own intellectual property directed to our product candidates and other proprietary technologies. Other pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions may also have filed or are planning to file patent
 
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applications potentially relevant to our business. From time to time, in order to avoid infringing these third-party patents, we may be required to license technology from additional third parties to further develop or commercialize our product candidates. Should we be required to obtain licenses to any third-party technology, including any such patents required to manufacture, use or sell our product candidates, such licenses may not be available to us on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. The inability to obtain any third-party license required to develop or commercialize any of our product candidates could cause us to abandon any related efforts, which could seriously harm our business and operations.
The licensing or acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and several more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us.
Moreover, some of our owned and
in-licensed
patents or patent applications or future patents are or may be
co-owned
with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party
co-owners’
interest in such patents or patent applications, such
co-owners
may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. In addition, we may need the cooperation of any such
co-owners
of our patents in order to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Furthermore, our owned and
in-licensed
patents may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.
If we are sued for infringing intellectual property rights of third parties, such litigation could be costly and time consuming and could prevent or delay us from developing or commercializing our product candidates.
Our commercial success depends, in part, on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our product candidates without infringing the intellectual property and other proprietary rights of third parties. Third parties may allege that we have infringed or misappropriated their intellectual property. Litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims, with or without merit, is unpredictable and generally expensive and time consuming and, even if resolved in our favor, is likely to divert significant resources from our core business, including distracting our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.
There is a substantial amount of intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and we may become party to, or threatened with, litigation or other adversarial proceedings regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates. We cannot be certain that our product candidates and other proprietary technologies we may develop will not infringe existing or future patents owned by third parties. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing or future intellectual property rights. We believe that the relevant claims of these third party patents are likely invalid or unenforceable, and we may choose to challenge those patents, though the outcome of any challenge that we may
 
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initiate in the future is uncertain. We may also decide in the future to seek a license to those third party patents, but we might not be able to do so on reasonable terms. Proving invalidity may be difficult. For example, in the United States, proving invalidity in court requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of validity enjoyed by issued patents. If we are found to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing or commercializing the infringing candidate product or product. Alternatively, we may be required to obtain a license from such third party in order to use the infringing technology and continue developing, manufacturing or marketing the infringing candidate product or product. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be
non-exclusive,
thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our investigational products or force us to cease some of our business operations, which could materially harm our business.
We may not be aware of patents that have already been issued and that a third party, for example, a competitor in the fields in which we are developing our product candidates, might assert are infringed by our current or future product candidates, including claims to compositions, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods of use or treatment that cover our product candidates. It is also possible that patents owned by third parties of which we are aware, but which we do not believe are relevant to our product candidates and other proprietary technologies we may develop, could be found to be infringed by our product candidate. In addition, because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our product candidates may infringe. Our competitors in both the United States and abroad, many of which have substantially greater resources and have made substantial investments in patent portfolios and competing technologies, may have applied for or obtained or may in the future apply for and obtain, patents that will prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with our ability to make, use and sell our product candidates. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have produced a considerable number of patents, and it may not always be clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of products or methods of use. The coverage of patents is subject to interpretation by the courts, and the interpretation is not always uniform. If we were sued for patent infringement, we would need to demonstrate that our product candidates, products or methods either do not infringe the patent claims of the relevant patent or that the patent claims are invalid or unenforceable, and we may not be able to do this. Proving invalidity may be difficult. For example, in the United States, proving invalidity in court requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of validity enjoyed by issued patents, and there is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent. Even if we are successful in these proceedings, we may incur substantial costs and the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel could be diverted in pursuing these proceedings, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during litigation. In addition, we may not have sufficient resources to bring these actions to a successful conclusion.
We may choose to challenge the enforceability or validity of claims in a third party’s U.S. patent by requesting that the USPTO review the patent claims in an
ex-parte
re-exam,
IPR or post-grant review proceedings. These proceedings are expensive and may consume our time or other resources. We may choose to challenge a third party’s patent in patent opposition proceedings in the EPO, or other foreign patent office. The costs of these opposition proceedings could be substantial, and may consume our time or other resources. If we fail to obtain a favorable result at the USPTO, EPO or other patent office then we may be exposed to litigation by a third party alleging that the patent may be infringed by our product candidates or proprietary technologies.
If we are found to infringe a third-party’s intellectual property rights, we could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing, manufacturing or commercializing the infringing product candidate or product. Alternatively, we may be required to obtain a license from such third-party in order to use the infringing
 
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technology and continue developing, manufacturing or marketing the infringing product candidate. However, we may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, it could be
non-exclusive,
thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. In addition, we could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent us from commercializing our product candidates or force us to cease some of our business operations, and could divert the time and attention of our technical personnel and management, cause development delays, and/or require us to develop
non-infringing
technology, which may not be possible on a cost-effective basis, any of which could materially harm our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties and other fees, redesign our infringing drug or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business.
We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time consuming and unsuccessful.
Competitors or other third parties may infringe our patents, trademarks or other intellectual property. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time consuming and divert the time and attention of our management and scientific personnel. Our pending patent applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until a patent issues from such applications. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents, in addition to counterclaims asserting that our patents are invalid or unenforceable, or both. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness,
non-enablement
or insufficient written description. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. In any patent infringement proceeding, there is a risk that a court will decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, and that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue. There is also a risk that, even if the validity of such patents is upheld, the court will construe the patent’s claims narrowly or decide that we do not have the right to stop the other party from using the invention at issue on the grounds that our patent claims do not cover the invention, or decide that the other party’s use of our patented technology falls under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1). An adverse outcome in a litigation or proceeding involving our patents could limit our ability to assert our patents against those parties or other competitors and may curtail or preclude our ability to exclude third parties from making and selling similar or competitive products. Any of these occurrences could adversely affect our competitive business position, business prospects and financial condition. Similarly, if we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.
Even if we establish infringement, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may or may not be an adequate remedy. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during litigation. There could also be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments. If securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs. Moreover, we cannot assure you that we will have sufficient financial or other resources to file and pursue such infringement claims, which typically last for years before they
 
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are concluded. Even if we ultimately prevail in such claims, the monetary cost of such litigation and the diversion of the attention of our management and scientific personnel could outweigh any benefit we receive as a result of the proceedings.
Because of the expense and uncertainty of litigation, we may not be in a position to enforce our intellectual property rights against third parties.
Because of the expense and uncertainty of litigation, we may conclude that even if a third-party is infringing our issued patent, any patents that may be issued as a result of our pending or future patent applications or other intellectual property rights, the risk-adjusted cost of bringing and enforcing such a claim or action may be too high or not in the best interest of our company or our shareholders, or it may be otherwise impractical or undesirable to enforce our intellectual property against some third parties. Our competitors or other third parties may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. In such cases, we may decide that the more prudent course of action is to simply monitor the situation or initiate or seek some other
non-litigious
action or solution. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could compromise our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our internal research programs,
in-license
needed technology or other product candidates, or enter into development partnerships that would help us bring our product candidates to market.
Further, proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any such lawsuits that we initiate and the damages and other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful.
We may be subject to claims that we have wrongfully hired an employee from a competitor or that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties.
As is common in the pharmaceutical industry, in addition to our employees, we engage the services of consultants to assist us in the development of our product candidates. Many of these consultants, and many of our employees, were previously employed at, or may have previously provided or may be currently providing consulting services to, other pharmaceutical companies including our competitors or potential competitors. We could in the future be subject to claims that we or our employees have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other confidential information of former employers or competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants do not use the intellectual property, proprietary information,
know-how
or trade secrets of others in their work for us, we may become subject to claims that we caused an employee to breach the terms of his or her
non-competition
or
non-solicitation
agreement, or that we or these individuals have, inadvertently or otherwise, used or disclosed the alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of a former employer or competitor.
While we may litigate to defend ourselves against these claims, even if we are successful, litigation could result in substantial costs and could be a distraction to management. If our defenses to these claims fail, in addition to requiring us to pay monetary damages, a court could prohibit us from using technologies or features that are essential to our product candidates, if such technologies or features are found to incorporate or be derived from the trade secrets or other proprietary information of the former employers. Moreover, any such litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our reputation, our ability to form strategic alliances or sublicense our rights to collaborators, engage with scientific advisors or hire employees or consultants, each of which would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
 
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Changes in patent law in the United States and other jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
As is the case with other biologics companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biologics industry involves both technological and legal complexity and is therefore costly, time consuming and inherently uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States could increase the uncertainties and costs, and may diminish our ability to protect our inventions, obtain, maintain, and enforce our intellectual property rights and, more generally, could affect the value of our intellectual property or narrow the scope of our owned and licensed patents.
Patent protection is available on a national or regional level. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents throughout the world and on all of our product candidates would be prohibitively expensive. As such, our intellectual property rights outside the United States may not extend to all other possible countries outside the United States and we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in countries outside the United States where we do not have patent protection, or from selling in and importing products into other jurisdictions made using our inventions in such countries outside the United States. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products or technology and may export otherwise infringing products or technology to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement rights are not as strong as those in the United States. These products may compete with our products, and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing. Further, the legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to pharmaceuticals or biologics, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. In addition, certain developing countries, including India, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled under certain circumstances to grant licenses to third parties at nominal or no consideration. In those countries, we and our licensors may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we or our licensors are compelled to grant a license to a third-party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. This could limit our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.
No earlier than October 1, 2022, European applications will soon have the option, upon grant of a patent, of becoming a Unitary Patent which will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Unitary Patent Court (UPC). This will be a significant change in European patent practice. As the UPC is a new court system, there is no precedent for the court, increasing the uncertainty of any litigation.
Patent reform legislation in the United States and other countries, including the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (the Leahy-Smith Act), signed into law on September 16, 2011, could increase those uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents. These include allowing third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, IPR, and derivation proceedings. Further, because of a lower evidentiary standard in these USPTO post-grant proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in United States federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would
 
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not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. Thus, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
After March 2013, under the Leahy-Smith Act, the United States transitioned to a first inventor to file system in which, assuming that the other statutory requirements are met, the first inventor to file a patent application will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether a third-party was the first to invent the claimed invention. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO after March 2013, but before we file an application covering the same invention, could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by such third party. This will require us to be cognizant going forward of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to our product candidates and other proprietary technologies we may develop or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications. Even where we have a valid and enforceable patent, we may not be able to exclude others from practicing the claimed invention where the other party can show that they used the invention in commerce before our filing date or the other party benefits from a compulsory license. However, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant
law-making
bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future. For example, in the 2013 case
Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v.
Myriad Genetics, Inc.
, the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain claims to DNA molecules are not patentable. While we do not believe that any of the patents owned or licensed by us will be found invalid based on this decision, we cannot predict how future decisions by the courts, the U.S. Congress or the USPTO may impact the value of our patents.
Obtaining and maintaining patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submissions, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for
non-compliance
with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuities fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or patent applications are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies in several stages over the lifetime of the patent and/or patent application. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies also require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. While an inadvertent lapse, including due to the effect of the
COVID-19
pandemic on us or our patent maintenance vendors, can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction.
Non-compliance
events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits,
non-payment
of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates, our competitive position would be adversely affected.
 
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We may rely on trade secret and proprietary
know-how
which can be difficult to trace and enforce and, if we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.
In addition to seeking patents for some of our technology and product candidates, we may also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented
know-how,
technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. Elements of our product candidate, including processes for their preparation and manufacture, may involve proprietary
know-how,
information, or technology that is not covered by patents, and thus for these aspects we may consider trade secrets and
know-how
to be our primary intellectual property. Any disclosure, either intentional or unintentional, by our employees, the employees of third parties with whom we share our facilities or third-party consultants and vendors that we engage to perform research, clinical trials or manufacturing activities, or misappropriation by third parties (such as through a cybersecurity breach) of our trade secrets or proprietary information could enable competitors to duplicate or surpass our technological achievements, thus eroding our competitive position in our market. Because we expect to rely on third parties in the development and manufacture of our product candidates, we must, at times, share trade secrets with them. Our reliance on third parties requires us to share our trade secrets, which increases the possibility that a competitor will discover them or that our trade secrets will be misappropriated or disclosed.
Trade secrets and
know-how
can be difficult to protect. We require our employees to enter into written employment agreements containing provisions of confidentiality and obligations to assign to us any inventions generated in the course of their employment. We and any third parties with whom we share facilities enter into written agreements that include confidentiality and intellectual property obligations to protect each party’s property, potential trade secrets, proprietary
know-how,
and information. We further seek to protect our potential trade secrets, proprietary
know-how,
and information in part, by entering into
non-disclosure
and confidentiality agreements with parties who are given access to them, such as our corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. With our consultants, contractors, and outside scientific collaborators, these agreements typically include invention assignment obligations. We cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or has had access to our trade secrets or proprietary technology and processes. We cannot be certain that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. We currently have and may in the future enter into more contract research and manufacturing relationships with organizations that operate in certain countries that are at heightened risk of theft of technology, data and intellectual property, including through direct intrusion by private parties or foreign actors, and those affiliated with or controlled by state actors. If our trade secrets are disclosed in a foreign jurisdiction, competitors worldwide could have access to our proprietary information and we may be without satisfactory recourse. Such disclosure could have a material adverse effect on our business. Moreover, our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights may be adversely affected by unforeseen changes in foreign intellectual property laws. Further, if any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third-party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor or other third-party, our competitive position would be harmed.
We may become subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.
We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our patents or other intellectual property as an inventor or
co-inventor.
The failure to name the proper inventors on a
 
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patent application can result in the patents issuing thereon being unenforceable. Inventorship disputes may arise from conflicting views regarding the contributions of different individuals named as inventors, the effects of foreign laws where foreign nationals are involved in the development of the subject matter of the patent, conflicting obligations of third parties involved in developing our product candidates or as a result of questions regarding
co-ownership
of potential joint inventions. Litigation may be necessary to resolve these and other claims challenging inventorship and/or ownership. Alternatively, or additionally, we may enter into agreements to clarify the scope of our rights in such intellectual property. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
Our licensors may have relied on third-party consultants or collaborators or on funds from third parties, such as the U.S. government, such that our licensors are not the sole and exclusive owners of the patents we
in-licensed.
If other third parties have ownership rights or other rights to our
in-licensed
patents, they may be able to license such patents to our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. This could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects.
In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.
Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates for an adequate amount of time.
Patent rights are of limited duration. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are paid timely, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years after its first effective filing date. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such product candidates are commercialized. Even if patents covering our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired for a product, we may be open to competition from biosimilar or generic products. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing product candidates similar or identical to ours. Upon issuance in the United States, the term of a patent can be increased by patent term adjustment, which is based on certain delays caused by the USPTO, but this increase can be reduced or eliminated based on certain delays caused by the patent applicant during patent prosecution. The term of a United States patent may also be shortened if the patent is terminally disclaimed over an earlier-filed patent. A patent term extension (PTE) based on regulatory delay may be available in the United States. However, only a single patent can be extended for each marketing approval, and any patent can be extended only once, for a single product. Moreover, the scope of protection during the period of the PTE does not extend to the full scope of the claim, but instead only to the scope of the product as approved. Laws governing analogous PTEs in foreign jurisdictions vary widely, as do laws governing the ability to obtain multiple patents from a single patent family. Additionally, we may not receive an extension if we fail to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, apply within applicable deadlines, fail to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise fail to satisfy applicable requirements. Furthermore, our patents covering certain components of our product candidates may expire prior to the commercialization of our product candidates or soon thereafter. As a result, third parties may be able to utilize these components of our products after expiration of these patents. For example, our initial
non-natural
pAF
 
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amino acid patent estate expires in 2025. However, our subsequent patent families, which cover our product candidates as ADCs or IOCs, and which also incorporate the
non-natural
pAF amino acid, expire between 2032 and 2039.
If we are unable to obtain PTE or restoration, or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we will have the right to exclusively market our product will be shortened and our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration and may take advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials by referencing our clinical and preclinical data to launch their product earlier than might otherwise be the case, and our revenue could be reduced, possibly materially.
If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.
Our current or future trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or descriptive or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we need for name recognition by potential partners or customers in our markets of interest. During trademark registration proceedings, we may receive rejections of our applications by the USPTO or in other foreign jurisdictions. Although we would be given an opportunity to respond to those rejections, we may be unable to overcome such rejections. In addition, in the USPTO and in comparable agencies in many foreign jurisdictions, third parties are given an opportunity to oppose pending trademark applications and to seek to cancel registered trademarks. Opposition or cancellation proceedings may be filed against our trademarks, and our trademarks may not survive such proceedings. If we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively and our business may be adversely affected. We may license our trademarks and trade names to third parties, such as distributors. Although these license agreements may provide guidelines for how our trademarks and trade names may be used, a breach of these agreements or misuse of our trademarks and tradenames by our licensees may jeopardize our rights in or diminish the goodwill associated with our trademarks and trade names.
Moreover, any name we have proposed to use with our product candidate in the United States must be approved by the FDA, regardless of whether we have registered it, or applied to register it, as a trademark. Similar requirements exist in Europe. The FDA typically conducts a review of proposed product names, including an evaluation of potential for confusion with other product names. If the FDA (or an equivalent administrative body in a foreign jurisdiction) objects to any of our proposed proprietary product names, it may be required to expend significant additional resources in an effort to identify a suitable substitute name that would qualify under applicable trademark laws, not infringe the existing rights of third parties and be acceptable to the FDA. Furthermore, in many countries, owning and maintaining a trademark registration may not provide an adequate defense against a subsequent infringement claim asserted by the owner of a senior trademark. At times, competitors or other third parties may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other registered trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. If we assert trademark infringement claims, a court may determine that the marks we have asserted are invalid or unenforceable, or that the party against whom we have asserted trademark infringement has superior rights to the marks in question. In this case, we could ultimately be forced to cease use of such trademarks.
Risks Related to Our Securities and Our Status as a Public Company
The trading price of our ADSs may be volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
The trading price of our ADSs has been and will likely continue to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including limited trading
 
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volume. The stock market in general and the market for biologics companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, investors may not be able to sell their ADSs at or above the price paid for the ADSs. In addition to the factors discussed in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this report, the factors that could cause significant fluctuations in the trading price of our ADSs include:
 
   
positive or negative results from preclinical studies and clinical trials by us, our collaborators or competitors;
 
   
concerns regarding the safety of our product candidates or ADCs in general;
 
   
the timing of commencing, enrolling and announcing results from clinical trials;
 
   
decisions as to which product candidates, indications or discovery programs we chose to pursue;
 
   
announcements regarding competitive products or technologies or the biologics industry in general;
 
   
actions taken or guidance provided by regulatory agencies with respect to our clinical trials or regulatory submissions;
 
   
changes or developments in laws or regulations applicable to our product candidates and our markets, including in the United States and China;
 
   
changes to our relationships with collaborators, manufacturers or suppliers;
 
   
the loss of any of our key scientific or management personnel;
 
   
changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;
 
   
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results;
 
   
changes in financial estimates or recommendations by securities analysts;
 
   
potential acquisitions, financing, collaborations or other corporate transactions;
 
   
the loss of rights under license, strategic or other research and development agreements;
 
   
the results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire
or in-license additional
product candidates;
 
   
the trading volume of our ADSs on the NYSE;
 
   
sales of our ADSs or ordinary shares by us, members of our senior management and directors or our significant shareholders or the anticipation that such sales may occur in the future;
 
   
general economic, geopolitical, and market conditions and overall fluctuations in the financial markets in the United States or China, including due to civil or political unrest (such as the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia), terrorism, insurrection or war,
man-made
or natural disasters;
 
   
stock market price and volume fluctuations of comparable companies and, in particular, those that operate in the biologics industry;
 
   
investors’ general perception of us and our business;
 
   
public health pandemics or epidemics, including the ongoing and future impact of the
COVID-19
pandemic and actions taken to slow its spread; and
 
   
other events and factors, many of which are beyond our control.
These and other market and industry factors may cause the market price and demand for our ADSs to fluctuate substantially, regardless of our actual operating performance, which may limit or prevent investors from selling their ADSs at or above the price paid for the ADSs and may otherwise negatively affect the liquidity of our ADSs. The trading prices for common stock of other biologics companies have also been highly volatile as a result of
the COVID-19 pandemic
and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
 
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Any such negative outcome could result in payments of substantial damages or fines, damage to our reputation or adverse changes to our business practices. Defending against litigation is costly and time consuming, and could divert our management’s attention and our resources. Furthermore, during the course of litigation, there could be negative public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, which could have a negative effect on the market price of our ADSs.
Holders of our ADSs have fewer rights than our shareholders and must act through the depositary to exercise their rights.
Holders of our ADSs do not have the same rights as our shareholders and may only exercise their voting rights with respect to the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Holders of the ADSs must appoint the depositary or its nominee as their representative to exercise the voting rights attaching to the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs. When a general meeting is convened, if you hold ADSs, you may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit you to withdraw the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. We will take all commercially reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to you in a timely manner, but we cannot assure you that you will receive voting materials in time to instruct the depositary to vote, and it is possible that you, or persons who hold their ADSs through brokers, dealers or other third parties, will not have the opportunity to exercise a right to vote. Furthermore, the depositary will not be liable for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may lack recourse if your ADSs are not voted as you request. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.
ADS holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.
The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our ordinary shares provides that holders and beneficial owners of ADSs irrevocably waive the right to a trial by jury in any legal proceeding arising out of or relating to the deposit agreement, our ordinary shares or the ADSs or the transactions contemplated thereby, including claims under federal securities laws, against us or the depositary to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. If this jury trial waiver provision is prohibited by applicable law, an action could nevertheless proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a jury trial waiver under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by a federal court. However, we believe that a jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a court of the State of New York or a federal court in New York, which have
non-exclusive
jurisdiction (other than for claims brought by holders of our ADSs, which may only be instituted in a state or federal court in New York, New York), over matters arising under the deposit agreement, applying such law. In determining whether to enforce a jury trial waiver provision, New York courts and federal courts will consider whether the visibility of the jury trial waiver provision within the agreement is sufficiently prominent such that a party has knowingly waived any right to trial by jury. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement, our ordinary shares and the ADSs and the transactions contemplated thereby. In addition, New York courts will not enforce a jury trial waiver provision in order to bar a viable setoff or counterclaim sounding in fraud or one which is based upon a creditor’s negligence in failing to liquidate collateral upon a guarantor’s demand, or in the case of an intentional tort claim (as opposed to a contract dispute), none of which we believe are applicable in the case of the deposit agreement, our ordinary shares or the ADSs or the transactions contemplated thereby. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any provision of the federal securities laws. If you or any other holder or beneficial owner of ADSs brings a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement, our ordinary shares or the ADSs or the transactions contemplated thereby, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us
 
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and / or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and / or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may augur different results than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action, depending on, among other things, the nature of the claims, the judge or justice hearing such claims, and the venue of the hearing.
You may not receive distributions on our ordinary shares represented by the ADSs or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to holders of ADSs.
Although we do not have any present plans to declare or pay any dividends on our ordinary shares, in the event we declare and pay any dividends, the depositary for the ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of our ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, in accordance with the limitations set forth in the deposit agreement, it may be unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to holders of ADSs. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any offering of ADSs, ordinary shares or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit distribution on the ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of the ADSs. This means that you may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value from them if it is unlawful or impractical to make them available to you. These restrictions may have an adverse effect on the value of your ADSs.
Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.
We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Also, under the deposit agreement, the depositary bank will not make rights available to you unless either both the rights and any related securities are registered under the Securities Act, or the distribution of them to ADS holders is exempted from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. Moreover, we may not be able to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act. If the depositary does not distribute the rights, it may, under the deposit agreement, either sell them, if possible, or allow them to lapse. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in your holdings.
Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our ADSs in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be your sole source of gains and you may never receive a return on your investment.
We have never declared or paid a dividend on our ordinary shares in the past, and we currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to fund the development and growth of our business. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in our ADSs to provide dividend income. Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends, subject to certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law, namely that our company may only pay dividends out of profits or out of the credit standing in our share premium account, and provided always that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if it would result in our inability to pay our debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. In addition, our shareholders may, subject to our memorandum and articles of association, by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our board of directors. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, on our ADSs will be your sole source of gains for the foreseeable future. Investors seeking cash dividends should not purchase our ADSs.
 
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Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $192.5 million of U.S. federal and $94.1 million of state net operating loss carryforwards available to reduce future taxable income. At December 31, 2021, we also had $10.4 million of U.S. federal and $8.0 million of state research and development tax credit carryforwards. It is possible that some of these net operating losses and other tax attributes may expire prior to our generating sufficient taxable income to use them. Under legislative changes made in December 2017, as modified by federal tax law changes enacted in March 2020, U.S. federal net operating losses incurred in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and in future years may be carried forward indefinitely, but, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the deductibility of such net operating losses is limited. In addition, the federal and state net operating loss carryforwards and certain tax credits may be subject to significant limitations under Section 382 and Section 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code), respectively, and similar provisions of state law. Under those sections of the Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” the corporation’s ability to use its
pre-change
net operating loss carryforwards and other
pre-change
attributes, such as research tax credits, to offset its post-change income or tax may be limited. In general, an “ownership change” will occur if there is a cumulative change in our ownership by
“5-percent
shareholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. We may have experienced such ownership changes in the past and also may experience ownership changes in the future as a result of future shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. If an ownership change occurs and our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credits is materially limited, it would harm our business by effectively increasing our future tax obligations.
In addition, for state income tax purposes, there may be periods during which the use of net operating losses is suspended or otherwise limited, including a recent California franchise tax law change limiting the usability of California state net operating losses to offset California taxable income in taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2020 and before January 1, 2022, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed.
We do not believe we were a passive foreign investment company (PFIC) but there can be no assurance we will not be a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes which could result in adverse tax consequences to U.S. Holders of ADSs or ordinary shares. If we are or become classified as a passive foreign investment company, our U.S. Holders of ADSs or ordinary shares may suffer adverse tax consequences as a result.
Generally, for any taxable year, if at least 75% of our gross income is passive income, or at least 50% of the value of our assets is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income, including cash, we would be characterized as a passive foreign investment company (PFIC), for U.S. federal income tax purposes. For purposes of these tests, passive income includes dividends, interest gains from commodities and securities transactions, the excess of gains over losses from the disposition of assets which produce passive income (including amounts derived by reason of the temporary investment of funds raised in offerings of our shares) and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. If we are characterized as a PFIC, our U.S. Holders (as defined in “Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders”) of ADSs or ordinary shares, may suffer adverse tax consequences, including having gains realized on the sale of our ordinary shares treated as ordinary income, rather than capital gain, the loss of the preferential rate applicable to dividends received on our ordinary shares by individuals who are U.S. Holders, and having interest charges apply to distributions by us and gains from the sales of our shares.
Based on our consolidated financial statements, the manner in which we conduct our business, relevant market data and our current expectations regarding the value and nature of our assets and the sources and nature of our income, we do not believe we were a PFIC for the taxable year ending December 31, 2021 and do not anticipate being a PFIC for our current taxable year or the foreseeable future. However, no assurance can be given in this regard because the determination of whether we are or will become a PFIC is a fact-intensive inquiry made on an annual basis that depends, in part, upon the composition of our income and assets. Fluctuations in the market
 
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price of the ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years because the value of our assets for the purpose of the asset test may be determined by reference to the market price of the ADSs. The composition of our income and assets may also be affected by how, and how quickly, we use our cash and other liquid assets.
For further discussion of the PFIC rules and adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences in the event we are classified as a PFIC, see the section titled “Taxation—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders” in this report. Each U.S. Holder should consult its own tax advisors with respect to the potential adverse U.S. tax consequences to it if we are or were to become a PFIC.
If a United States person is treated as owning at least 10% of our ordinary shares, including ordinary shares represented by ADSs, such holder may be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.
If a U.S. Holder is treated as owning (directly, indirectly or constructively) at least 10% of the value or voting power of our ordinary shares, including ordinary shares represented by ADSs, such U.S. Holder may be treated as a “United States shareholder” with respect to each “controlled foreign corporation” in our group (if any). Because our group includes at least one U.S. subsidiary, certain of
our non-U.S. subsidiaries
may be treated as controlled foreign corporations (regardless of whether Ambrx Biopharma Inc. is treated as a controlled foreign corporation). A United States shareholder of a controlled foreign corporation may be required to annually report and include in its U.S. taxable income its pro rata share of “Subpart F income,” “global intangible
low-taxed
income” and investments in U.S. property by controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether we make any distributions. An individual that is a United States shareholder with respect to a controlled foreign corporation generally would not be allowed certain tax deductions or foreign tax credits that would be allowed to a United States shareholder that is a U.S. corporation. Failure to comply with these reporting and tax paying obligations may subject you to significant monetary penalties and may prevent the statute of limitations with respect to your U.S. federal income tax return for the year for which reporting was due from starting. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisors regarding the potential application of these rules to their investment in our ADSs.
Future changes to tax laws could materially adversely affect our company and reduce net returns to our shareholders.
The tax treatment of our company is subject to changes in tax laws, regulations and treaties, or the interpretation thereof, tax policy initiatives and reforms under consideration and the practices of tax authorities in jurisdictions in which we operate, as well as tax policy initiatives and reforms related to the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation
and Development’s, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, Project, the European Commission’s state aid investigations and other initiatives. Such changes may include (but are not limited to) the taxation of operating income, investment income, dividends received or (in the specific context of withholding tax) dividends paid. We are unable to predict what tax reform may be proposed or enacted in the future or what effect such changes would have on our business, but such changes, to the extent they are brought into tax legislation, regulations, policies or practices, could affect our financial position and overall or effective tax rates in the future in countries where we have operations,
reduce post-tax returns
to our shareholders, and increase the complexity, burden and cost of tax compliance.
Tax authorities may disagree with our positions and conclusions regarding certain tax positions, resulting in unanticipated costs, taxes
or non-realization of
expected benefits.
A tax authority may disagree with tax positions that we have taken, which could result in increased tax liabilities. For example, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or another tax authority could challenge our allocation of income by tax jurisdiction and the amounts paid between our affiliated companies pursuant to our intercompany arrangements and transfer pricing policies, including amounts paid with respect to our intellectual property development. Similarly, a tax authority could assert that we are subject to tax in a jurisdiction where we believe we have not established a taxable connection, often referred to as a “permanent establishment” under
 
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international tax treaties, and such an assertion, if successful, could increase our expected tax liability in one or more jurisdictions. A tax authority may take the position that material income tax liabilities, interest and penalties are payable by us, in which case, we expect that we might contest such assessment. Contesting such an assessment may be lengthy and costly, and if we were unsuccessful in disputing the assessment, the implications could increase our anticipated effective tax rate, where applicable.
We will continue to incur significantly increased costs as a result of operating as a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.
As a public company in the United States, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses. These expenses will likely be even more significant after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company and/or a smaller reporting company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of the NYSE and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on public companies in the United States, including the establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and corporate governance practices. Our senior management and other personnel will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, these rules and regulations have made it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, which in turn could make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified senior management personnel or members for our board of directors.
However, these rules and regulations are often subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices.
Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Section 404), we will be required to furnish a report by our senior management on our internal controls over financial reporting. However, while we remain an emerging growth company or a smaller reporting company, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal controls over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. To prepare for eventual compliance with Section 404, we will be engaged in a process to document and evaluate our internal controls over financial reporting, which is both costly and challenging. In this regard, we will need to continue to dedicate internal resources, potentially engage outside consultants and adopt a detailed work plan to assess and document the adequacy of internal controls over financial reporting, continue steps to improve control processes as appropriate, validate through testing that controls are functioning as documented and implement a continuous reporting and improvement process for internal controls over financial reporting. Despite our efforts, there is a risk that we will not be able to conclude, within the prescribed time frame or at all, that our internal controls over financial reporting is effective as required by Section 404.
We are an “emerging growth company” and as a result of the reduced disclosure and governance requirements applicable to emerging growth companies, our ADSs may be less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404, exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We may take advantage of these exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five years, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier, including if the aggregate market value of our ordinary
 
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shares, including ordinary shares represented by ADSs, held
by non-affiliates exceeds
$700 million as of the end of our second fiscal quarter before that time, in which case we would no longer be an emerging growth company as of the following December 31st (the last day of our fiscal year). We cannot predict if investors will find our ADSs less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our ADSs and the price of our ADSs may be more volatile.
We qualify as a foreign private issuer and, as a result, we are not subject to U.S. proxy rules and are subject to Exchange Act reporting obligations that permit less detailed and frequent reporting than that of a U.S. domestic public company.
So long as we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the Exchange Act that are applicable to U.S. domestic public companies, including (i) the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act, (ii) the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time, and (iii) the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on
Form 10-Q containing
unaudited financial and other specified information, or current reports on
Form 8-K upon
the occurrence of specified significant events. In addition, foreign private issuers are not required to file their annual report on
Form 20-F until
120 days after the end of each fiscal year, while U.S. domestic issuers that are accelerated filers are required to file their annual report on
Form 10-K within
75 days after the end of each fiscal year. Foreign private issuers also are exempt from Regulation FD, aimed at preventing issuers from making selective disclosures of material information. As a result of the above, you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are not foreign private issuers.
If we lose our status as a foreign private issuer, we would be required to comply with the Exchange Act reporting and other requirements applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, which are more detailed and extensive than the requirements for foreign private issuers. We may also be required to make changes in our corporate governance practices in accordance with various SEC and NYSE rules. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws if we are required to comply with the reporting requirements applicable to a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly higher than the cost we would incur as a foreign private issuer. As a result, we expect that a loss of foreign private issuer status would increase our legal and financial compliance costs and would make some activities highly time-consuming and costly. We also expect that if we were required to comply with the rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, it would make it more difficult and expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain coverage. These rules and regulations could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors.
Since shareholder rights under Cayman Islands law differ from those under U.S. law, you may have difficulty protecting your shareholder rights.
We are an exempted company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Act (As Revised) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against our directors, actions by our minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more
 
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fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.
Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records, other than the memorandum and articles of association and any special resolutions passed by such companies, and the registers of mortgages and charges of such companies. The Registrar of Companies of the Cayman Islands shall make available the list of the names of the current directors of the Company (and where applicable the current alternate directors of the Company) for inspection by any person upon payment of a fee by such person. Our directors have discretion under our memorandum and articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.
Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, differ significantly from requirements for companies incorporated in other jurisdictions such as the United States. Currently, we do not plan to rely on home country practice with respect to any corporate governance matter. However, if we choose to follow home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by our management, members of our board of directors or our controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States. For a discussion of significant differences between the provisions of the Companies Act of the Cayman Islands and the laws applicable to companies incorporated in the United States and their shareholders, see “Differences in Corporate Law.”
Provisions in our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association may prevent or frustrate attempts by our shareholders to change our management and hinder efforts to acquire a controlling interest in us, and the market price of our ADSs may be lower as a result.
There are provisions in our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association that may make it difficult for a third party to acquire, or attempt to acquire, control of our company, even if a change of control was considered favorable by you and other shareholders. For example, our board of directors has the authority to issue up to 100,000,000 shares of an additional class or classes of shares, which could include preference shares. The board of directors can fix the price, rights, preferences, privileges, and restrictions of the other classes of shares without any further vote or action by our shareholders. The issuance of such shares may delay or prevent a change of control transaction. As a result, the market price of our ADSs and the voting and other rights of our shareholders may be adversely affected. An issuance of other classes of shares may result in the loss of voting control to other shareholders.
Our charter documents also contain other provisions that could have an anti-takeover effect, including:
 
   
only one of our three classes of directors will be elected each year;
 
   
shareholders are entitled to remove directors only for cause;
 
   
shareholders are not be permitted to take actions by written consent; and
 
   
shareholders must give advance notice to nominate directors or submit proposals for consideration at annual general meetings.
These provisions could discourage potential acquisition proposals and could delay or prevent a change of control transaction. They could also have the effect of discouraging others from making tender offers, including transactions that may be in your best interests. These provisions may also prevent changes in our management or limit the price that investors are willing to pay for our ADSs.
 
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You may be subject to limitations on transfers of your ADSs.
Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when deemed necessary or advisable by it in good faith in connection with the performance of its duties or at our reasonable written request, subject in all cases to compliance with applicable U.S. securities laws. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
General Risk Factors
Failure to build our finance infrastructure and improve our accounting systems and controls could impair our ability to comply with the financial reporting and internal controls requirements for publicly traded companies.
We operate in an increasingly demanding regulatory environment, which requires us to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the regulations of the NYSE, the rules and regulations of the SEC, expanded disclosure requirements, accelerated reporting requirements and more complex accounting rules. Company responsibilities required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act include establishing corporate oversight and adequate internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Effective internal controls are necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports and are important to help prevent financial fraud. Commencing with our fiscal year ending 2022, we must perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal controls over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting in our annual report for that year, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. As of the date of this Annual Report, we have never been required to test our internal controls within a specified period and, as a result, we may experience difficulty in meeting these reporting requirements in a timely manner.
We anticipate that the process of building our accounting and financial functions and infrastructure will require significant additional professional fees, internal costs and management efforts. We expect that we will need to implement a new internal system to combine and streamline the management of our financial, accounting, human resources and other functions. However, such a system would likely require us to complete many processes and procedures for the effective use of the system or to run our business using the system, which may result in substantial costs. Any disruptions or difficulties in implementing or using such a system could adversely affect our controls and harm our business. Moreover, such disruption or difficulties could result in unanticipated costs and diversion of management attention. In addition, we may discover weaknesses in our system of internal financial and accounting controls and procedures that could result in a material misstatement of our financial statements. Our internal control over financial reporting will not prevent or detect all errors and all fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected.
If we are not able to comply with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in a timely manner, or if we are unable to maintain proper and effective internal controls, we may not be able to produce timely and accurate financial statements. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our business and results of operations could be harmed, investors could lose confidence in our reported financial information and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the NYSE, the SEC or other regulatory authorities.
 
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If we are unable to maintain effective internal controls, our business, financial position and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We are subject to reporting and other obligations under the Exchange Act, including the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which require annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.
The rules governing the standards that must be met for management to determine that our internal control over financial reporting is effective are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation to meet the detailed standards under the rules. During the course of its testing, our management may identify material weaknesses or deficiencies which may not be remedied in time to meet the deadline imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. These reporting and other obligations place significant demands on our management and administrative and operational resources, including accounting resources.
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting. Our internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. Any failure to maintain effective internal controls could have an adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.
Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or acts of fraud.
We are subject to the periodic reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. We designed our disclosure controls and procedures to reasonably assure that information we must disclose in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, and recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well-conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met.
These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. For example, our directors or executive officers could inadvertently fail to disclose a new relationship or arrangement causing us to fail to make any related party transaction disclosures. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.
Future changes in financial accounting standards or practices may cause adverse and unexpected revenue fluctuations and adversely affect our reported results of operations.
Future changes in financial accounting standards may cause adverse, unexpected revenue fluctuations and affect our reported financial position or results of operations. Financial accounting standards in the United States are constantly under review and new pronouncements and varying interpretations of pronouncements have occurred with frequency in the past and are expected to occur again in the future. As a result, we may be required to make changes in our accounting policies. Those changes could affect our financial condition and results of operations or the way in which such financial condition and results of operations are reported. We have invested resources to comply with evolving standards, and this investment may result in increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from business activities to compliance activities.
Unstable market and economic conditions may have serious adverse consequences on our business and financial condition and the trading price of our ADSs.
The global credit and financial markets have recently experienced extreme volatility and disruptions, including severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic
 
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growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. This is as a result of a number of factors, including the
COVID-19
pandemic (and actions taken to slow its spread) and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any such economic downturn, volatile business environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult, more costly and more dilutive. Failure to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, financial performance and stock price and could require us to delay or abandon clinical development plans. In addition, there is a risk that one or more of our current service providers, manufacturers and other partners may not survive an economic downturn, which could directly affect our ability to attain our operating goals on schedule and on budget. Any of these events could have a material and negative impact on the trading price of our ADSs.
If equity research analysts do not publish research or reports, cease publishing research reports, or publish unfavorable research or reports, about us, our business or our market, the price and trading volume of our ADSs could decline.
The trading market for our ADSs will be influenced by the research and reports that equity research analysts publish about us and our business. Certain equity research analysts may never provide research coverage of our ADSs, and such lack of research coverage may adversely affect the market price of our ADSs. With respect to equity research analysts that do cover our ADSs, we will not have any control over the analysts or the content and opinions included in their reports. The price of our ADSs could decline if one or more equity research analysts downgrade our ADSs or issue other unfavorable commentary or research about us. If one or more equity research analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our ADSs could decrease, which in turn could cause the trading price or trading volume of our ADSs to decline.
We could be subject to securities class action litigation.
In the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a decline in the market price of its securities. This risk is especially relevant for us because pharmaceutical companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years. If we face such litigation, it could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could harm our business.
Our internal information technology systems, or those of our third-party CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, loss or leakage of data, and other disruptions, which could result in a material disruption of our product candidates’ development programs, compromise sensitive information related to our business or prevent us from accessing critical information, potentially exposing us to liability or otherwise adversely affecting our business.
We are increasingly dependent upon information technology systems, infrastructure and data to operate our business. In the ordinary course of business, we collect, store and transmit confidential information (including but not limited to intellectual property, proprietary business information and personal information). It is critical that we do so in a secure manner to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of such confidential information. We also have outsourced elements of our operations to third parties, and as a result we manage a number of third-party contractors who have access to our confidential information.
Despite the implementation of security measures, given their size and complexity and the increasing amounts of confidential information that they maintain, our internal information technology systems and those of our third-party CROs and other contractors and consultants are potentially vulnerable to breakdown or other damage or interruption from service interruptions, system malfunction, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures, as well as security breaches from inadvertent or intentional actions by our employees, contractors, consultants, business partners, and/or other third parties, or from cyber-attacks by malicious third parties (including the deployment of harmful malware, ransomware,
denial-of-service
attacks,
 
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social engineering and other means to affect service reliability and threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information), which may compromise our system infrastructure or lead to data leakage. Additionally, theft of our intellectual property or proprietary business information could require substantial expenditures to remedy. If we or our third-party collaborators, consultants, contractors, suppliers, or service providers were to suffer an attack or breach, for example, that resulted in the unauthorized access to or use or disclosure of personal or health information, we may have to notify consumers, partners, collaborators, government authorities, and the media, and may be subject to investigations, civil penalties, administrative and enforcement actions, and litigation, any of which could harm our business and reputation. The
COVID-19
pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia have generally increased the risk of cybersecurity intrusions. For example, there has been an increase in phishing and spam emails as well as social engineering attempts from “hackers” hoping to use the recent
COVID-19
pandemic and developments in Ukraine to their advantage. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability and reputational damage and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.
We cannot assure you that our data protection efforts and our investment in information technology will prevent significant breakdowns, data leakages, breaches in our systems or other cyber incidents that could have a material adverse effect upon our reputation, business, operations or financial condition. For example, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs and the development of our product candidates could be delayed. In addition, the loss of clinical trial data for our product candidates could result in delays in our marketing approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Furthermore, significant disruptions of our internal information technology systems or security breaches could result in the loss, misappropriation, and/or unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of, or the prevention of access to, confidential information (including trade secrets or other intellectual property, proprietary business information, and personal information), which could result in financial, legal, business, and reputational harm to us. For example, any such event that leads to unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of personal information, including personal information regarding our clinical trial subjects or employees, could harm our reputation directly, compel us to comply with federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents, subject us to mandatory corrective action, and otherwise subject us to liability under laws and regulations that protect the privacy and security of personal information, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damages that could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by earthquakes, fires or other natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Our headquarters and main research facility are located in San Diego, California, which in the past has experienced severe earthquakes and fires. If these earthquakes, fires, other natural disasters, terrorism and similar unforeseen events beyond our control prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters or research facility, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. We do not have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place and may incur substantial expenses as a result of the absence or limited nature of our internal or third-party service provider disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which, particularly when taken together with our lack of earthquake insurance, could have a material adverse effect on our business. Furthermore, integral parties in our supply chain are operating from single sites, increasing their vulnerability to natural disasters or other sudden, unforeseen and severe adverse events. If such an event were to affect our supply chain, it could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our clinical trials, our development plans and business.
 
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We are subject to certain U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations. We can face serious consequences for violations.
U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, or collectively, Trade Laws, prohibit, among other things, companies and their employees, agents, CROs, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We also expect our
non-U.S.
activities to increase over time. We expect to rely on third parties for research, preclinical studies, and clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other marketing approvals. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.
If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.
We, and the third parties with whom we share our facilities, are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Each of our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological and radioactive materials. Each of our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. We could be held liable for any resulting damages in the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use of hazardous materials by us or the third parties with whom we share our facilities, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.
Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.
In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research and development. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.
 
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Item 4. Information on the Company
 
 
A.
History and development of the company.
Ambrx Biopharma Inc. is an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands with limited liability. We commenced our operations in the United States in January 2003 through Ambrx, Inc., a Delaware corporation (Ambrx US). In May 2015, we incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands and have become the ultimate holding company through a series of transactions. As of December 31, 2020, we owned approximately 89% of Shanghai Ambrx Biopharma Company Limited, a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the People’s Republic of China (Ambrx Shanghai). As of the same date, Ambrx Shanghai owned 100% of Biolaxy Pharmaceutical Hong Kong Limited, a company incorporated in Hong Kong (Ambrx HK); Ambrx HK owned 100% of Ambrx US, and Ambrx US owned 100% of Ambrx Australia Pty Limited, a company incorporated in Australia (Ambrx AU).
We completed a reorganization of our corporate structure in May 2021 (the Reorganization). In connection with the Reorganization, we paid the minority shareholders of Ambrx Shanghai (Shanghai Shareholders) an aggregate of approximately $21.0 million in connection with our purchase of all outstanding Ambrx Shanghai shares held by the Shanghai Shareholders (representing the approximately 11% of Ambrx Shanghai that we did not own). Also in April 2021, we purchased all outstanding shares of Ambrx HK from Ambrx Shanghai for an aggregate purchase price of $190.0 million, through the issuance of a promissory note to Ambrx Shanghai by Ambrx Biopharma Inc. for the purchase price. As a result of these transactions, Ambrx Shanghai and Ambrx HK each became our wholly-owned subsidiaries.
In addition, in connection with the Reorganization, in June 2021 we issued and sold to certain of the Shanghai Shareholders an aggregate of 2,004,879 of our Series A preferred shares for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $2.1 million (the Shanghai Issuance) and the remaining Shanghai Shareholders purchased from us an aggregate of 18,999,753 of our Series A preferred shares for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $18.2 million (the Shanghai Obligated Issuance).
Our principal executive offices are located at 10975 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037. Our telephone number at this address is
(858) 875-2400. Our
registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the offices of Maples Corporate Services Limited, PO Box 309, Ugland House, Grand
Cayman, KY1-1104, Grand
Cayman KY1-1104, Cayman
Islands. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov. Investors should submit any inquiries to the address and telephone number of our principal executive offices set forth above. Our website is www.ambrx.com. The reference to our website is an inactive textual reference only and information contained in, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of this Annual Report. “Ambrx,” the Ambrx logo and other trademarks or service marks of Ambrx Biopharma Inc. appearing in this Annual Report are the property of Ambrx Biopharma Inc. Trade names, trademarks and service marks of other companies appearing in this Annual Report are the property of their respective holders.
Since our inception in 2003, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to acquiring rights to, and developing our product candidates, including preclinical studies and clinical trials and providing general and administrative support for our operations. We have not generated any revenue from product sales and we do not currently have any products approved for commercialization. We have financed our operations through a combination of debt and equity financings and government grants.
 
 
B.
Business overview.
Overview
We are a clinical-stage biologics company focused on discovering and developing a novel class of engineered precision biologics (EPBs), using our proprietary expanded genetic code technology platform that allows us to incorporate, in a site-specific manner, synthetic amino acids (SAAs) into proteins within living cells. Our product candidates are designed to overcome the inherent limitations of conventional conjugation approaches that use natural amino acids for
non-site-specific
conjugation, offering potential safety and efficacy benefits to treat
 
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patients across multiple therapeutic areas. We believe that our technology allows us to engineer a single optimized structure by designing the conjugation chemistries, selecting the precise number of amino acids and conjugation positions in the protein, and expanding the types of payloads that can be conjugated. Our precision engineering capabilities and the broad applicability of our expanded genetic code technology platform have the potential to enhance and enable the therapeutic functions of conventional biologics and
bio-conjugates.
Our SAA incorporation technology allows us to develop a wide array of product candidate modalities, such as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), bispecific antibodies, PEGylated peptides, modified cytokines and immuno-stimulating antibody conjugates (ISACs). Our most advanced internal product candidate is ARX788, an anti-HER2 ADC, currently being investigated in multiple clinical trials for the treatment of breast cancer, gastric/gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer and other solid tumors, including ongoing Phase 2/3 clinical trials for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and gastric cancer.
Initially, we are focusing our internal efforts on developing a portfolio of ADC and immuno-oncology conjugate (IOC) candidates. Our lead ADC candidate is ARX788, an anti-HER2 ADC currently being studied in breast, gastric and other solid tumor trials. The most advanced trial,
ACE-Breast-02,
is an ongoing Phase 2/3 clinical trial for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer being conducted in China by our partner, NovoCodex Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. (NovoCodex), a subsidiary of Zhejiang Medicine Co. Ltd. (ZMC). As of March 31, 2022, 393 patients had been enrolled in this trial (target enrollment 440 subjects) and we expect to report topline data for the interim analysis by the end of 2022. We believe that this trial is potentially registrational in China, meaning that if it is successfully completed, it could support a submission seeking regulatory approval. NovoCodex also initiated a potentially registrational global Phase 2/3 clinical trial in patients with HER2-positive gastric/GEJ cancer in China in August 2021, and we, as the sponsor outside of China, intend to later expand this trial to enroll patients in additional countries outside of China, after submission of clinical trial applications for those jurisdictions. As of March 31, 2022, 65 patients had been enrolled in this trial with a target enrollment of 405 subjects.
ACE-Breast-01
is an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 which is being conducted in China by NovoCodex in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients whose diseases have failed other available therapies, including anti-HER2 ADCs. In this trial, we have observed promising anti-tumor activity with a confirmed objective response rate (ORR) of 66% (19 of 29 patients) in the cohort of patients receiving 1.5 mg/kg of ARX 788 at every three weeks (Q3W) as of December 14, 2021. In the cohorts of patients receiving 1.3 mg/kg of ARX788 at Q3W or every four weeks (Q4W), we have observed an ORR of 50% (8 of 16 patients). The objective response rate has not changed since April 2021 to the current report date of March 2022. We have received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ARX788 as a monotherapy for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients who have received one or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting. In addition, the China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) granted ARX788 Breakthrough Therapy designation for the second-line treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in May 2021.
Although we have not been required to repeat Phase 1 trials to initiate Phase 2 or Phase 3 HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer trials in the United States, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not interpret the results of the trials being conducted in China by our partner, NovoCodex, as we do. Our clinical strategy includes additional clinical trials which we expect to serve as the basis of our U.S. marketing applications, including ACE-
Breast-03,
our first global, potentially pivotal trial for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer for which we are screening patients for enrollment.
ACE-Pan
tumor-01
is our ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 in the United States and Australia in multiple HER2-expressing tumors. In the dose escalation portion of this trial, we have observed a confirmed ORR of 67% (2 of 3 patients) in the cohort of patients receiving the 1.5 mg/kg Q4W dose and no confirmed responses in the cohort of patients receiving the 1.3 mg/kg Q4W dose, each as of April 8, 2021. The objective response rate has not changed from April 2021 to December 13, 2021.
ACE-Gastric-01
is an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 in HER2-positive metastatic gastric/GEJ cancer where patients have failed other available therapies, including trastuzumab, which is being conducted in China by our partner, NovoCodex. In this trial, we have observed promising anti-tumor activity in
 
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the cohorts of patients receiving 1.7 mg/kg of ARX788 Q3W, with a 43% (3 out of 7) confirmed ORR, 1.5 mg/kg of ARX788 Q3W, with a 46% (6 of 13 patients) confirmed ORR, and a 43% (3 of 7 patients) confirmed ORR in the cohort of patients receiving 1.3 mg/kg of ARX788 at Q3W as of December 14, 2021. We have received Orphan Drug designation from the FDA for the treatment of gastric cancer, including cancer at the GEJ. Treatment with ARX788 in the
ACE-Breast-01,
ACE-Pan
tumor-01
and
ACE-Gastric-01
trials has also been generally well-tolerated and while most patients in these trials have experienced at least one drug-related adverse event, there have only been an aggregate of eight drug-related serious adverse events (SAEs) reported from the 183 patients dosed with ARX788 in these trials as of March 31, 2022.
Based on clinical data generated to date, we initiated
ACE-Breast-03,
our first global, potentially pivotal trial for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. As of March 31, 2022, 13 patients have been treated. We expect to report preliminary results in 2023.
Within our ADC franchise, we also have two earlier-stage product candidates: ARX517, an anti-PSMA ADC for the treatment of prostate cancer and other solid tumors for which we initiated a Phase 1 clinical trial in 2021 and are currently in dose escalation to identify the recommended Phase 2 dose, and ARX305, an anti-CD70 ADC for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and other cancers. The Investigational New Drug (IND) application for ARX305 received FDA clearance in February 2022. We anticipate that we will start the first in human trial for ARX305 in 2022. Additionally, our IOC franchise consists of multiple product candidates targeting broad immuno-oncology applications. These candidates include ARX822, a
CD3-folate
bispecific, and ARX102, a smart
PEG-IL-2
cytokine. We are currently conducting
IND-enabling
studies for ARX102 with an IND expected to be submitted in the second half of 2022. Additionally, we have several ongoing collaborations with large global pharmaceutical companies. These collaborations include three clinical-stage programs and several earlier-stage preclinical programs. In connection with our pipeline programs and platform technologies, we own or control over 850 issued patents and pending patent applications.
Our mission is to discover and develop a pipeline of EPBs to treat a broad range of diseases and disorders, with an initial focus on cancers with a high unmet medical need. We believe that combining our pioneering efforts in expanded genetic code and site-specific
bio-conjugates
with a team of dedicated professionals bound by a culture and vision that embraces innovation, practicality, and accountability will allow us to pursue our mission.
Conventional Biologics and
Bio-Conjugates,
and Their Inherent Limitations
Biologics have been used increasingly on a global basis and in multiple therapeutic areas, expanding the overall drug market and reducing the market share of small molecule drugs. The market for biologics initially included conventional biologics such as insulin, growth hormones, and monoclonal antibodies. However, despite the clinical benefit provided by these natural peptides and antibodies, there remained a significant need for more effective therapies. Since then, the industry has developed
bio-conjugates
to generate more efficacious treatments, including approved drugs such as Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan), Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), Kadcyla
(ado-trastuzumab
emtansine) and Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan).
Bio-conjugates
are the product of joining two or more biologically active components into a single drug. These constructs can introduce new mechanisms of action, increase efficacy, reduce toxicity, and provide improved clinical outcomes and convenience.
Bio-conjugates
have also significantly expanded the potential landscape of targets that can be accessed by conventional biologics by providing several new approaches for each target, such as an ADC or an ISAC.
Today’s leading
bio-conjugates
typically rely on cysteine and lysine, two naturally occurring amino acids with “handles” for conjugations. Unfortunately, utilizing natural amino acids for conjugation can limit drug design in several ways. First, the conjugation chemistry is predetermined with limited room to optimize reactivity, stability and selectivity. Second, the location and number of these natural amino acids within the protein further diminish the ability to control the site of conjugation and the number of conjugations. Third, additional manufacturing steps and controls are required for conventional conjugations. As such, conventional conjugation techniques result in a mixture of random,
non-uniform
and
un-optimized
drug conjugates that can potentially limit therapeutic efficacy and introduce drug safety concerns.
 
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Designing the conjugation chemistry and selecting the precise number and conjugation positions in the protein are critical elements to
in vivo
stability, offering potential safety and efficacy benefits. We believe that conjugation chemistry using natural amino acids is more likely to result in the toxic payload detaching from the antibody before reaching the tumor, a leading cause for
off-target
toxicity. The random placement of conjugates and unstable chemical bonds has further hampered the safety and efficacy of conventional
bio-conjugates.
For example, some antibodies have up to 80 lysine residues available for conjugation and attempting to conjugate a specific number of payload molecules to every antibody molecule, which is referred to as the
drug-to-antibody
ratio (DAR), cannot be achieved homogenously due to the random nature of the reaction of conventional approaches. Given these limitations, conventional conjugation methods target average DAR, rather than a homogeneous DAR where each antibody has the same number of drug conjugations. As a result, a substantial amount of the antibodies in the mixture will not have the same DAR as the average DAR, with some antibodies remaining “naked” with no drug attached, while others become “under- or over-populated” with attached linker-payloads. This heterogenous population of drug-loaded antibodies can impact properties such as drug clearance, pharmacokinetics and biodistribution. As such, drug manufacturers must strive to minimize the standard deviation of the DAR from the stated average DAR in order to prevent undesirable or unpredictable drug properties, including dosing challenges and safety issues.
Our Solution
Our product candidates are designed to overcome the inherent limitations of these conventional conjugation approaches, offering potential safety and efficacy benefits to treat patients across multiple therapeutic areas. Key elements of our approach to developing a novel class of EPBs include:
 
   
Our proprietary technology platform of expanded the genetic code allows us to incorporate SAAs, in a site-specific manner into proteins within living cells, including both bacterial and mammalian cells.
 
   
The site-specifically incorporated SAA creates a unique and predictable attachment point for our conjugations, allowing us to obtain over 90% homogeneity.
 
   
We have a wide range of proprietary payloads and linkers for site-specific conjugation to achieve the designed biological functions for our EPBs.
Our platform allows for highly predictable properties, including consistent homogeneity and stability, which translates into potential expansion of the therapeutic window compared to conventional approaches. The figure below summarizes DAR, in the case of an ADC, for both conventional technologies that use natural amino acids, such as lysine to cysteine with an average DAR of approximately 4, and our proprietary conjugation technology, which uses SAAs for conjugation. To achieve effective homogeneity, we have created site-specific ADCs with payloads conjugated onto the incorporated SAA, with more than 90% achieving DAR 2 and the rest achieving DAR 1.
 
 
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Expanded Genetic Code and Site-Specific SAAs
Our proprietary expanded genetic code technology platform allows us to site-specifically incorporate SAAs into proteins within living cells. It provides a fundamentally original approach to expressing a new class of proteins in living cells. Our approach is described in the figure below.
 
The components of this process are:
 
(1)
Our synthetic amino acids (SAAs)
: We use SAAs with unique chemical handles not found on naturally occurring amino acids, which serve as unique and predictable attachment points for our conjugations. SAAs provide us with freedom in designing our conjugation chemistry to incorporate desired specificity and stability unmatched when using natural amino acids.
 
(2)
Our orthogonal tRNA synthetase
: Our specially engineered tRNA synthetase is an enzyme that is imported into the cell to catalyze a reaction that loads only a specific SAA onto our orthogonal tRNA (transferring RNA). Our orthogonal tRNA synthetase will not recognize any of the 20 natural amino acids and will not load the recognized specific SAA onto any native tRNAs in the employed cell system.
 
(3)
Our orthogonal transferring RNA (tRNA)
: Our specially engineered RNA molecule is responsible for transferring the loaded amino acid by its corresponding tRNA synthetase to the ribosome, which is the protein factory of a cell. There, the amino acids are assembled into a protein following the sequence instruction of messenger RNA (mRNA) transcribed from the DNA of the gene of interest. Our orthogonal tRNA is imported into the cell and cannot be recognized by any native tRNA synthetases in the cell. It can
 
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  only be recognized by our imported orthogonal tRNA synthetase and loaded with the specific SAA corresponding to the orthogonal tRNA synthetase.
 
(4)
Our unique codon
: In nature, all proteins consist of 20 natural amino acids, with each acid encoded at the DNA level by a set of triplet codons. The linear orders of these amino acids are determined by the sequence of DNA of each gene. Our technology platform expands this fixed genetic code to code an SAA, for example by enabling a specific stop codon, such as an amber stop codon, which does not code any natural amino acids.
 
(5)
Our precision engineered protein incorporated with site-specific SAA:
When we incorporate an SAA into a protein, we mutate the codon at a desired site into the amber stop codon in the DNA of the gene of interest, to provide instructions to the cell machinery to incorporate the SAA. The DNA of the gene of interest, orthogonal tRNA and orthogonal tRNA synthetase are transferred into the cell system, and, in the case of mammalian systems, transferred into the genome of the cell. The DNA is transcribed into mRNA for the gene of interest, tRNA and mRNA of orthogonal tRNA synthetase which is further translated into the orthogonal tRNA synthetase enzyme. Into the cell culture medium, we feed the cell with an SAA. The SAA is recognized by our imported enzyme, orthogonal tRNA synthetase, and is loaded onto the imported orthogonal tRNA. Our orthogonal tRNA transfers the loaded SAA to the protein assembling factory, the ribosome, where the 20 natural amino acids as well as our SAA are assembled linearly by following the strict instruction of the mRNA for the gene of interest, such as an antibody. When the amber stop codon is reached, instead of terminating the protein synthesis as would naturally occur, this codon is recognized by our engineered orthogonal tRNA. Upon recognition, the SAA that is loaded on the tRNA is now incorporated into this
pre-identified
location. Using this process, protein synthesis continues until the entire desired protein is synthesized. We have developed systems to incorporate SAAs into proteins in industry standard cell lines, including
E.coli
and Chinese hamster ovarian (CHO) cells.
Our Protein Expression Systems: EuCODE and ReCODE
EuCODE and ReCODE are the core platforms that allow us to incorporate SAAs into proteins in mammalian and bacterial cells, respectively. The concept and components for this technology were first developed at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and were exclusively licensed to us in 2003. We improved the bacterial incorporation technology developed at TSRI to establish our ReCODE platform. Our ReCODE system can be utilized for the expression of small, single domain and simple proteins that do not require post-translational modification. We subsequently invented a more advanced platform, EuCODE, which is a mammalian expression system for large, multi-domain and more complex proteins. EuCODE can also provide post- translational modifications, such as glycosylation, which are critical for certain functions of biologics. We use our EuCODE and ReCODE expression platforms in the manufacturing of our product candidates in various stages of clinical development.
Our Site-Specific Conjugation Technologies
After the proteins are made by our EuCODE and ReCODE technologies, we conjugate a designed moiety, such as PEG or payload to the SAAs, to achieve a desired therapeutic effect. We have a portfolio of designed SAAs with unique chemical handles for site-specific conjugation.
Taking SAA
para
-acetylphenylalanine (pAF) as an example, the ketone functional group on pAF is designed to form an oxime bond specifically with its counterpart hydroxylamine group. When creating an ADC, such as ARX788, after the site-specific incorporation of pAF into the antibody, the ketone group is presented to the specific location on the antibody and is ready for conjugation. Under appropriate conditions, upon mixing the antibody incorporated with pAF and AS269, which is designed to include a hydroxylamine group, the ketone group of pAF on the protein will react specifically with hydroxylamine group on AS269 to form an oxime bond. As a result, AS269 is conjugated site-specifically to the location where pAF is incorporated into the antibody, yielding a homogeneous ADC.
 
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The oxime bond formed on our protein has been demonstrated to be highly stable under physiological conditions. Through multiple preclinical studies and clinical trials conducted by us, cleavage of the bond has not been detected, even after the conjugated proteins were degraded into single amino acids. In the case of ARX788, the detectable metabolite was
pAF-AS269,
in which AS269 remained conjugated to pAF through the oxime bond, demonstrating the stability of the chemical bond.
In preclinical MDAMB361DYT2 HER2-positive xenograft models, anti-tumor activity of ARX788 was tested against an ADC produced using conventional cysteine conjugation. ARX788 uses our proprietary AS269 payload conjugated with oxime chemistry, while the conventional ADC uses maleimide chemistry. As depicted in the graphic below, we observed that our site-specific conjugation resulted in improved anti-tumor activity, even at a lower DAR of 2, compared to the conventional ADC, which has a DAR of 4.5.
 
 
We believe the enhanced anti-tumor activity versus conventional ADCs demonstrated by ARX788 is a result of improved ADC stability, and can be translated into more efficient and targeted delivery of the payload to the tumor.
Our Proprietary Payloads and Linkers for Conjugation
When coupled with the flexible nature of our
bio-conjugation
chemistry, our portfolio of proprietary payloads and linkers enable us to optimize potential product candidates in the design phase by testing and selecting those with the best features.
Our collection of proprietary cytotoxic payloads, which include tubulin inhibitors and DNA alkylating agents, can be coupled with a wide selection of proprietary linkers, both cleavable and
non-cleavable,
to meet various design needs. As an example, AS269 is specifically designed to form a highly stable covalent bond with our synthetic amino acids and to kill tumor cells only upon entry into the cell when aided by the conjugated targeting antibody, thereby reducing
off-target
concerns. In multiple cell-based assays and animal models of cancer, we observed broad activity for AS269, making it an attractive candidate to use in our current and potential future
bio-conjugates.
AS269 is generally
non-cell
permeable and appears to be a poor substrate for multidrug resistance proteins (MDRs), which could enhance its potency and reduce cancer cell resistance. In preclinical studies for all three of our current ADC programs, including ARX788, ARX517 and ARX305, we observed that ADCs designed in conjunction with AS269 outperformed other ADC designs. Given the promising preclinical data, we advanced three ADC programs using the AS269 payload and this payload has the potential to provide not only- safety and efficacy benefits, but also a streamlined manufacturing process with a single payload drug master file.
Beyond cytotoxic payloads used for our ADC product candidates, we have a portfolio of proprietary PEGs, small molecule targeting agents, potent TLR7/8 agonists and other components for designing EPBs. We continue to
 
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explore novel approaches, including payloads that enable different mechanisms of action, prodrug strategies, and conditional activation technology.
Our Innovation Engine
We believe that our expanded genetic code technology platform, which provides us with the ability to incorporate, in a site-specific manner, SAAs into proteins within living cells, is a fundamental breakthrough in drug design. We believe our proprietary platform will serve as an innovation engine and we can leverage our EPBs to take recombinant DNA technologies into new territories by improving and enabling the field of
bio-conjugates.
We intend not only to advance our current programs through clinical development but also to design and develop additional EPBs.
Our proprietary and enabling technology includes algorithms to scan and select promising sites for protein modification that preserve the native structure and function of proteins, antibodies, and antibody fragments, while enhancing their performance as
bio-conjugates.
We optimize EPBs by rapidly screening a panel of homogeneous recombinant proteins with SAAs inserted at predefined locations. This screening includes parameters such as expression, conjugation efficiency, and solubility, and a range of other biophysical properties as well as
in vitro
and
in vivo
biological characteristics such as pharmacology, potency and toxicity.
Our ability to rapidly assess and optimize
bio-conjugates
based on how different structures and payloads interact to enhance therapeutic performance is an invaluable design process typically reserved for modern small molecule drugs. As a result, we can create and test multiple conjugation structures in the design phase, generating data in cell-based and animal-based models of disease before selecting development candidates to advance into further testing and clinical trials.
As the pioneer and a leader in the EPB field, we continue to invest in the innovation and expansion of our underlying technology platforms, EuCODE and ReCODE. We plan to explore additional capabilities, including (i) incorporating more SAAs into proteins, thereby allowing more chemistries and functionalities, (ii) developing design systems that may allow us to incorporate two distinct SAAs into one protein, and (iii) further engineering our cell lines and expanding our approach into more cellular systems.
We believe our proprietary conjugation technologies provide us with a unique advantage compared to other
bio-conjugate
companies, which will allow us to continue advancing and expanding our pipeline across our core ADC and IOC franchises.
 
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Summary of Our Product Pipeline
We have engineered a pipeline of targeted oncology and immuno-oncology product candidates that are diversified across mechanisms of action, target indications and development stages. We believe our platform and technologies can significantly improve patients’ treatment outcomes in indications of high unmet need. Our initial focus is to discover, develop and commercialize EPBs with new and improved properties to treat and potentially cure a broad range of cancers. The following chart summarizes our current internal product candidate pipeline.
 
 
*
NovoCodex is our commercial and development partner in China for ARX788 and ARX305, where we continue to use data generated by NovoCodex to support our clinical development and regulatory filings. See “Business overview – Collaborations – License Agreement with NovoCodex (ARX788)” for more information on our agreement with NovoCodex, including our rights to use such data.
ADC Franchise
Conventional ADCs can have significant limitations in conjugation chemistry, conjugation position, and homogeneity, which may limit their therapeutic potential and give rise to safety concerns. We have designed the product candidates in our ADC franchise with the potential to effectively and safely deliver a cytotoxic payload to a tumor site, benefiting from characteristics generally not available to conventional ADCs such as increased stability of conjugation chemistries, optimized conjugation locations and improved homogeneity.
Our lead ADC program is ARX788, an anti-HER2 ADC currently being studied broadly in breast and gastric cancer, including cancer at the GEJ, and other solid tumor trials. The most advanced trial of ARX788 is an ongoing potentially registrational Phase 2/3 trial for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in China,
ACE-Breast-02,
and we have multiple additional potentially registrational global trials ongoing, such as
ACE-Gastric-02,
and
ACE-Breast-03.
In addition to ARX788, our ADC franchise has two additional programs: ARX517, an anti-PSMA ADC for prostate cancer and other solid tumors, which is currently in a Phase 1a clinical trial in the US, and ARX305, an anti-CD70 ADC for CD70-positive renal cell carcinoma and other cancers, for which we are planning to initiate a Phase 1a clinical trial in 2022. These programs use the same cytotoxic payload as ARX788, which we believe will streamline development, clinical, regulatory, and manufacturing requirements.
 
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ARX788
ARX788, an anti-HER2 ADC, is our most advanced ADC program in ongoing Phase 2/3 trials for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and gastric/GEJ cancer to support potential registration in China and outside of China. In an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of ARX788 in HER2-positive breast cancer in China
(ACE-Breast-01),
as of December 14, 2021, in the 1.5 mg/kg Q3W cohort, ARX788 had achieved a confirmed ORR of 66% (19 of 29 patients) and a disease control rate (DCR) of 100%, and a confirmed ORR of 50% (8 of 16 patients) and DCR of 88% in the 1.3 mg/kg cohorts. ARX788 has also shown a favorable tolerability profile in this trial, with two drug-related SAEs reported, in heavily
pre-treated
cancer patients whose disease had failed other available therapies, including currently approved and experimental HER2-targeting therapies, such as ADCs, TKIs and bispecific antibodies.
The FDA granted ARX788 Fast Track designation as monotherapy for the treatment of advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who have received one or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting and Orphan Drug designation for the treatment of gastric cancer, including cancer at the GEJ, in December 2020 and January 2021, respectively. The China NMPA granted ARX788 Breakthrough therapy designation for the second-line treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in May 2021, which was one of only five product candidates that were granted Breakthrough therapy designations by the China NMPA in 2021.
ARX788 is a homogeneous and highly stable ADC, which targets the HER2 receptor and contains two cytotoxic AS269 payloads site-specifically conjugated to a trastuzumab-based antibody. ARX788 was designed to maximize its potential for anti-tumor activity by optimizing the number and position of the payloads and the chemical bonds that conjugate the payloads to the antibody. AS269 is a proprietary payload specifically designed to form a highly stable covalent bond with our SAAs and kill tumor cells only upon entry into the cell when aided by the conjugated targeting antibody, thereby limiting
off-target
effects on healthy tissue.
We believe ARX788 has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for HER2-positive cancers, including those in patients with metastatic disease and in earlier stages of adjuvant and neoadjuvant settings. Our initial focus is on the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast and gastric cancers, including at the GEJ. However, we believe ARX788 may benefit a broader spectrum of cancer patients, including
HER2-low
breast cancer patients where no targeted treatment is available, as well as HER2-positive and
HER2-low
patients in other malignancies, such as
non-small
cell lung cancer (NSCLC), urothelial, biliary tract, colon, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. We plan to initiate multiple trials to expand indications and geographic reach. As of March 31, 2022, we together with NovoCodex, have dosed an aggregate of 436 patients (estimated) with ARX788 at least once across all clinical trials.
Adhering to our clinical strategy, we and our partner NovoCodex are currently conducting the following clinical trials globally
(ex-China)
and in China, respectively:
 
   
ACE-Breast-01:
Phase 1 dose escalation and cohort expansion trial in China for patients with HER2-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose diseases have failed multiple prior lines of therapy.
 
   
ACE-Breast-02:
Phase 2/3 randomized trial in China for HER2-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer patients who have previously received first-line treatment of trastuzumab and less than two lines of chemotherapy.
 
   
ACE-Breast-03:
Phase 2
single-arm
global trial for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients whose diseases have failed
T-DM1,
and/or
T-DXd,
and/or tucatinib-containing regimens.
 
   
ACE-Breast-08:
Phase 1b/2 single arm trial in China for HER2-positive breast cancer patients who have failed prior Herceptin and TKI treatment.
 
   
ACE-Pan
tumor-01:
Phase 1 dose escalation and expansion trial in the United States and Australia for patients with various tumors with HER2 expression. Cohorts in the expansion phase include HER2
 
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positive breast cancer, HER2 low breast cancer, HER2 positive gastric/GEJ, HER2 overexpressing solid tumors, HER2 mutated solid tumors.
 
   
ACE-Pan tumor-03: Phase 1b/2 single arm basket trial in China for HER2-positive solid tumor patients who have failed standard of care treatment.
 
   
ACE-Gastric-01:
Phase 1 dose escalation trial in China for HER2-positive gastric/GEJ cancer patients.
 
   
ACE-Gastric-02:
Global Phase 2/3 randomized trial initially in China for patients with HER2-positive gastric/GEJ cancer.
Additionally, we plan to initiate multiple global potentially registrational and exploratory trials of ARX788 to expand indications and geographic reach, including
ACE-Breast-05,
a Phase 3 global randomized trial comparing ARX788 to physician’s choice in HER2 low metastatic breast cancer, which we plan to initiate in the second half of 2023.
In addition, the following investigator-sponsored clinical trials are ongoing/planned:
 
   
ACE-Breast-06:
Phase 2 single arm trial in China for advanced HER2+ breast cancer with brain metastases. First patient dosed in August 2021.
 
   
ACE-Breast-07:
Phase 2 single arm trial in China in
HER2-low
breast cancer, which is anticipated to start in 2022.
 
   
DREAM-02: Phase 2 single arm trial in China of pyrotinib maleate combined with ARX788 as neoadjuvant therapy in the treatment of HER2-positive stage II-III breast cancer. First patient dosed in November 2021.
 
   
I-SPY
2.2 trial sponsored by Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative for HER2 positive breast cancer patients in US in neoadjuvant setting for ARX788 as single agent as well as in combination with