SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☒||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission file number: 000-30171
SANGAMO THERAPEUTICS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
incorporation or organization)
|7000 Marina Blvd.|
|(Address of principal executive offices)||(Zip Code)|
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share||SGMO||Nasdaq Global Select Market|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☒||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant based upon the closing sale price of the common stock on June 30, 2019 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter), as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market was $1,244,723,752. For purposes of this calculation, directors and executive officers of the registrant have been deemed affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
As of February 21, 2020, a total of 116,022,630 shares of common stock $0.01 par value per share were outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain information required by Part III, Items 10-14 of this Form 10-K is incorporated by reference to the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this Form 10-K, provided that if such Proxy Statement is not filed within such period, such information will be included in an amendment to this Form 10-K to be filed within such 120-day period.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Some statements contained in this report are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or the Exchange Act. These statements relate to our future events, including our anticipated operations, research, development and commercialization activities, clinical trials, operating results and financial condition. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performances or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about:
•anticipated product candidate development and potential commercialization of any resulting products;
•the initiation, scope, rate of progress, enrollment, anticipated results and timing of our preclinical studies and clinical trials and those of our collaborators or strategic partners;
•the therapeutic and commercial potential of, and the ability of Sangamo and our collaborators or strategic partners to advance the development of, product candidates using our zinc finger protein, or ZFP, technology platform, including our ability to effectively deliver our zinc finger nucleases, or ZFNs, and ZFP transcription factors, or ZFP-TFs, to produce a clinical benefit;
•the benefits of the acquisition of Sangamo Therapeutics France S.A.S., or Sangamo France (formerly known as TxCell S.A.);
•our ability to establish and maintain collaborative, licensing and other similar arrangements, including whether or not the collaboration and licensing agreement and stock purchase agreement with Biogen MA, Inc. and Biogen International GmbH, collectively Biogen, become effective;
•anticipated revenues from existing and new collaborations and the timing thereof;
•our research and development and other expenses;
•our ability to obtain adequate preclinical and clinical supplies of our product candidates from current and potential new suppliers and manufacturers;
•the ability of Sangamo and our collaborators or strategic partners to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for product candidates using our ZFP technology platform;
•our ability to comply with, and the impact of, regulatory requirements, obligations and restrictions on our business;
•our ability to protect our intellectual property and operate our business without infringing upon the intellectual property rights of others, including our ability to obtain rights to the gene transfer technologies required to develop and commercialize our product candidates;
•our estimates regarding the sufficiency of our cash resources and our expenses, capital requirements and need for additional financing, and our ability to obtain additional financing;
•our ability to manage the growth of our business;
•our projected operating and financial performance;
•our operational and legal risks; and
•our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and any other statements that are not historical facts.
In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as: “anticipates,” “believes,” “continues,” “could,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “seeks,” “should,” “will” and similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect our current views with respect to future events, are based on assumptions and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Given these risks and uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We discuss many of these risks in greater detail under the headings “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in this Form 10-K. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events or developments. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 1 – BUSINESS
We are a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on translating ground-breaking science into genomic medicines with the potential to transform patients’ lives using our platform technologies in gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation.
Our strategy is to maximize the value and therapeutic use of our technology platforms. For certain therapies, we intend to capture the value of our proprietary gene therapy and genome editing products by incorporating these technologies into our manufacturing, development and commercial operations. For other therapies, we intend to partner with biopharmaceutical companies to develop products as appropriate. Decisions to partner product candidates will be based on review of our internal resources, internal know-how, and commercial considerations. In our proprietary clinical development programs, we are focused on three therapeutic areas: inherited metabolic diseases, or IMDs, central nervous system, or CNS, diseases and immunology, which comprises inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
We are a leader in the research and development of zinc finger proteins, or ZFPs, a naturally occurring class of transcription factor proteins found in humans and other species. We have used our internal know-how and technical expertise to develop a proprietary synthetic ZFP platform with potential clinical utility in ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation. ZFPs can be engineered to make zinc finger nucleases, or ZFNs, proteins that can be used to specifically modify DNA sequences by knocking in or knocking out select genes, or genome editing, and ZFP transcription-factors, or ZFP-TFs, proteins that can be used to selectively increase or decrease gene expression. In the process of developing this platform, we have additionally accrued significant scientific, manufacturing, development capabilities, and related know-how that are broadly applicable to the field of gene therapy and have used this knowledge to advance a gene therapy platform.
We have a substantial intellectual property portfolio protecting our technology and product candidates. We continue to license and file new patent applications to strengthen and consolidate our existing patent portfolio. We believe that our intellectual property position is critical to our ability to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation products and services.
In February 2020, we entered into a global licensing collaboration agreement with Biogen for the research, development and commercialization of gene regulation therapies for the treatment of neurological diseases, including ST-501 a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease, and ST-502, a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for alpha-synuclein related diseases including Parkinson’s disease, among other targets. After the collaboration agreement becomes effective, Biogen will pay us an upfront payment of $125.0 million. Concurrently with the execution of the collaboration agreement, we also entered into a stock purchase agreement with Biogen MA, Inc. pursuant to which Biogen MA, Inc. agreed to acquire $225.0 million of shares of our common stock. We are also eligible to receive research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments that could total up to approximately $2.37 billion if Biogen selects all of the targets allowed under the agreement and all the specified milestones set forth in the agreement are achieved, which includes up to $925.0 million in pre-approval milestone payments and up to $1,445.0 million in first commercial sale and other sales-based milestone payments. The consummation of the transactions under each of the Biogen collaboration agreement and the stock purchase agreement is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended. For more information regarding the Biogen agreements, see “—Collaborations—Biogen.”
In late December 2019, we completed the transfer to Pfizer of the SB-525 hemophilia A gene therapy investigational new drug, or IND, application for which we earned a $25.0 million milestone payment under the terms of our collaboration agreement with Pfizer for the global development and commercialization of gene therapies for hemophilia A. In 2019, we also completed the manufacturing technology transfer to Pfizer. Pfizer is now advancing SB-525 into a Phase 3 registrational clinical study, which is expected to provide the basis for seeking regulatory approval as a therapeutic. We presented updated follow-up of the Phase 1/2 Alta Study assessing SB-525 in adult patients with severe hemophilia A in partnership with Pfizer at the 61stAmerican Society of Hematology, or ASH, annual meeting in December 2019. The data showed that SB-525 was generally well tolerated and demonstrated sustained increased Factor VIII levels following treatment with SB-525 through to 44 weeks, the extent of follow-up for the longest treated patient in the 3e13 vg/kg dose cohort.
We are also evaluating our wholly-owned investigational ST-920 gene therapy for Fabry disease, a rare inherited metabolic disease. In 2019, the IND was accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and a clinical trial authorization, or CTA, was granted in the United Kingdom. The FDA also granted Orphan Drug Designation to ST-920 for the
treatment of Fabry disease. We are currently evaluating ST-920 in adult males with classic Fabry disease in the Phase 1/2 STAAR study, an open-label, dose-ascending clinical trial.
We presented preliminary data from the Phase 1/2 THALES Study assessing ST-400, investigational ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy in patients with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia in partnership with Sanofi at ASH. In December 2019, we also achieved a $7.5 million milestone from Sanofi for the first patient dosed in its Phase 1/2 PRECIZN-1 trial evaluating BIVV003, investigational ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy for the treatment of sickle cell disease, or SCD.
In late 2019, we received CTA authorization in the United Kingdom for the Phase 1/2 STEADFAST clinical study evaluating the CAR-Treg cell therapy TX200 for kidney transplantation, which we expect to initiate in 2020.
Finally, in November 2019, we established a new Scientific Advisory Board comprising industry and academic international thought leaders who will advise us on our current and future clinical programs and research and development strategy.
INTRODUCTION TO OUR TECHNOLOGY
We conduct research & development across four distinct but complementary technology platforms – gene therapy, ex vivo cell therapy, in vivo genome editing, and in vivo genome regulation. We believe that the optionality and diversity inherent to our technology platforms enables us to design therapeutic approaches to resolve the underlying genetic causes of disease, using whichever technology is best suited to deliver that treatment.
ZFPs are Naturally Occurring Transcription Factors in Humans
ZFPs are naturally occurring transcription factors in humans. A transcription factor recognizes and binds to a specific DNA sequence within or near a particular gene and causes expression of that gene to be “turned on” (activated) or “turned off” (repressed). ZFPs are the most common class of naturally occurring transcription factors in a wide range of organisms from yeast to humans. Functional domains may be added to ZFPs that enable genome editing (with enzymes such as nucleases or integrases) or genome regulation (with activators and repressors) at a specific genomic site determined by the ZFP DNA-binding domain.
Schematic of the two-domain structure of a ZFP and its therapeutic functional domain
Consistent with the structure of natural ZFPs, we take a modular approach to the design of the proteins that we engineer. The ZFP portion of our engineered proteins, the DNA-recognition domain, is typically composed of four to six zinc fingers. Each individual finger recognizes and binds to a three or four base pair sequence of DNA and multiple fingers can be linked together to recognize longer stretches of DNA, thereby improving specificity. By modifying the amino acid sequence of a ZFP, we can engineer novel ZFPs capable of recognizing the unique DNA sequences of a chosen genomic target. The engineered ZFP DNA-binding domain is then linked to a functional domain. The ZFP DNA-binding domain brings this functional domain to the target of interest. Our ability to use our highly specific ZFPs to precisely target a DNA sequence to a
gene of interest provides us with a range of genome editing and genome regulation functionalities that can be applied to multiple cell types.
Our engineered ZFPs can be attached to a cleavage domain of a restriction endonuclease, an enzyme that cuts DNA, creating a zinc finger nuclease, or ZFN. When a pair of ZFNs binds DNA in the correct orientation and spacing, a cut is introduced into the DNA sequence between the ZFP binding sites. DNA binding by both ZFNs is necessary for cleavage, and the two halves of the endonuclease must be present in the correct orientation to interact with one another in order to mediate DNA cleavage. This break in the DNA triggers a natural process of DNA repair within the cell. This endogenous DNA repair process may be harnessed to achieve one of several outcomes that may be therapeutically useful (Figure 2). If cells are treated with ZFNs alone, the repair process joins the two ends of the broken DNA together and frequently results in the loss (deletion) or addition (insertion) of a small amount of genetic material at the site of the break. These insertions and deletion events are collectively known as "indels". These disrupt the target DNA sequence and result in the expression of a truncated or non-functional protein from the targeted gene, effectively “knocking out” the gene function. ZFN-mediated genome editing can be used to disrupt genes that are involved in disease pathology. We are using ZFN-mediated genome editing of the BCL11A erythroid specific enhancer, or ESE, in hematopoietic stem progenitor cells, or HSPCs, as the basis of a potential long-lasting and once only treatment for beta thalassemia (ST-400) and SCD (BIVV-003).
Schematic of ZFP genome editing and genome regulation
In contrast, if cells with a mutation in a particular gene are treated not only with ZFNs, but also with an additional DNA sequence that encodes the correct gene sequence (referred to as a “donor” DNA) and with ZFNs that recognize and bind to sequences flanking the mutation, the cell’s repair machinery can use the donor DNA as a template to correct the mutated gene. This ZFN-mediated gene correction enables the corrected gene to be expressed in its natural chromosomal context and may provide a novel approach for the precise repair of DNA sequence mutations responsible for certain monogenic diseases. In addition to providing a donor sequence that encodes a complete gene, a new copy of a gene can also be precisely added into the genome at a specific location. The ability to precisely place a gene-sized segment of DNA specifically into a pre-determined location in the genome broadens the range of mutations of a gene that can be corrected in a single step. It also reduces the insertional mutagenesis concerns associated with traditional integrating gene replacement approaches such as lentiviruses, in which the insertion of a new corrective copy of the gene typically occurs at random locations in the genome. Our ZFN technology is used to insert a gene encoding a therapeutic protein into a location such as the Albumin gene, an approach that we are investigating as a single and potentially curative treatment for mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II) as well as several other rare diseases.
We are also evaluating ZFP-TFs, which have the potential to regulate the expression of a target gene (Figure 2). For instance, attaching an activation domain to a ZFP will cause a target gene to be expressed at increased levels, relative to an untreated cell. Alternatively, a repression domain causes the gene to be downregulated or completely turned off. We have several preclinical programs evaluating the potential of ZFP-TFs that have been designed to down regulate the expression of genes as potential treatments for CNS diseases, including programs for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (being
evaluated pursuant to a collaboration agreement with Biogen) and partnered programs for Huntington’s disease (being evaluated pursuant to a collaboration agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, or Takeda), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (being evaluated pursuant to a collaboration agreement with Pfizer Inc., or Pfizer).
ZFPs provide the Opportunity to Develop a New Class of Human Therapeutics
We believe that our ZFP technology provides a unique and proprietary basis for a broad new class of drugs that have differentiated technical advantages over small-molecule drugs, protein pharmaceuticals, RNA-based therapeutics, conventional gene therapy approaches and other gene and genome editing platforms, potentially enabling us to develop therapies that address a broad range of unmet medical needs.
We can generate highly specific ZFNs for genome editing and ZFP-TFs for genome regulation using a range of proprietary methods. We are developing delivery strategies to administer these therapeutics, including using mRNA, adeno-associated virus, or AAV, adenovirus, plasmid, lipid nanoparticles and direct injection into brain tissue or into the cerebrospinal fluid. As more genes and DNA sequences are linked to specific diseases, we believe that the clinical breadth and scope of our ZFP therapeutic reagents will continue to expand.
THERAPEUTIC PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
We focus on translating ground-breaking science into genomic medicines with the potential to transform patients’ lives using our platform technologies in gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation.
Our Product Development Programs
Gene therapy programs
SB-525 continues to be developed as an investigational gene therapy for severe hemophilia A, under a global collaboration with Pfizer, for the research, development and commercialization of gene therapy product candidates for severe hemophilia A. Under this agreement, we conducted the Phase 1/2 clinical trial and certain manufacturing activities for SB-525, while Pfizer is now handling the subsequent worldwide development, manufacturing, marketing and commercialization of SB-525.
In 2017, we initiated the Phase 1/2 Alta study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of SB-525 in adults with severe hemophilia A. The Alta study is an open label, ascending dose clinical trial in up to 20 adults with severe hemophilia A. In December 2019, we and Pfizer announced updated initial data from the Phase 1/2 Alta study evaluating SB-525 including data from 11 patients treated across four ascending dose cohorts: 9e11 vg/kg (2 patients), 2e12 vg/kg (2 patients), 1e13 vg/kg (2 patients) and 3e13 vg/kg (5 patients). Dose dependent increases in factor VIII, or FVIII, activity over baseline were observed across the dose cohorts. FVIII is an essential blood-clotting protein encoded by the F8 gene. A lower-dose cohort indicated durable FVIII activity with up to 52 weeks of follow-up. In the 3e13 vg/kg dose cohort, patients achieved normal range FVIII activity within 5-7 weeks of treatment with SB-525. The first two patients treated in this cohort (Patients 7 and 8) achieved stable FVIII levels, demonstrating durability in the normal range through 44 and 37 weeks, respectively, as measured by the chromogenic assay. The two patients most recently treated in this cohort (Patients 10 and 11), with 22 and 12 weeks of follow-up, respectively, demonstrated a similar pattern of FVIII expression. The FVIII expression pattern observed in Patient 9 differed from that of other patients in the cohort. Seven weeks following treatment, Patient 9 achieved normal range FVIII levels. Beginning at week 13, FVIII levels in that patient fluctuated in a range below normal, but still well above the level needed to prevent spontaneous bleeding. At week 18, FVIII levels in Patient 9 began to increase, and as of the latest measurement at week 24, continued to rise. No patient in the 3e13 vg/kg dose cohort experienced bleeding events up to 44 weeks of follow-up, and no patient in this dose cohort required factor replacement following initial use of prophylactic factor.
SB-525 was generally well tolerated across all dose cohorts. The treatment-related adverse events include: alanine aminotransferase, or ALT, elevation (36.4%, n=4), pyrexia (27.3%, n=3), increased aspartate aminotransferase (18.2%, n=2), tachycardia (18.2% n=2), fatigue (9.1%, n=1), hypotension (9.1%, n=1) and myalgia (9.1%, n=1). One patient in the 3e13 vg/kg cohort experienced a treatment-related serious adverse event of hypotension (grade 3), as well as a fever (grade two), six hours following dosing with SB-525 that fully resolved within 24 hours. No similar events were reported in the other patients dosed in that cohort. No patients treated with SB-525 experienced an ALT elevation associated with loss of Factor VIII expression. In the 3e13 vg/kg dose cohort, four patients experienced transient low grade ALT elevations (>1.5 x baseline) that were managed with a tapering course of oral steroids. The study does not use corticosteroids prophylactically, initiating them only in the event of an ALT elevation that is greater than 1.5x baseline.
In late December 2019, we completed the transfer to Pfizer of the SB-525 hemophilia A gene therapy IND application for which we earned a $25.0 million milestone payment under the terms of our collaboration agreement with Pfizer for the global development and commercialization of gene therapies for hemophilia A. In 2019, we also completed the manufacturing technology transfer to Pfizer. Pfizer is now advancing SB-525 into a Phase 3 registrational clinical study, which is expected to provide the basis for seeking regulatory approval as a therapeutic.
Based on the results from the Alta study, the FDA has granted regenerative medicine advanced therapy, or RMAT, designation for SB-525 gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A. RMAT designation is granted to regenerative medicine therapies intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious condition, for which preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the medicine has the potential to address an unmet medical need. The RMAT designation includes all the benefits of the fast track and breakthrough therapy designation programs, including early interactions with the FDA. SB-525 has also been granted Orphan Drug and Fast Track designation by the FDA, as well as Orphan Medicinal Product designation by the European Medicines Agency, or EMA.
ST-920 and ST-101
We are also evaluating our wholly-owned investigational ST-920 gene therapy for Fabry disease, a rare inherited metabolic disease. In 2019, the IND was accepted by the FDA and a CTA was granted in the United Kingdom. The FDA also granted Orphan Drug Designation to ST-920 for the treatment of Fabry disease. We are currently evaluating ST-920 in adult males with classic Fabry disease in the Phase 1/2 STAAR study, an open-label, dose-ascending clinical trial.
In late 2019, we announced plans to advance ST-101, a wholly-owned investigational gene therapy for phenylketonuria, or PKU, a rare inherited disorder that originates from a defect in the PAH gene and results in harmful accumulation of phenylalanine in cells throughout the body. We anticipate filing an IND for ST-101 with the FDA in 2021.
Ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy programs
ST-400 and BIVV-003
In January 2014, we entered into an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement with Bioverativ Inc., (now Sanofi Genzyme, a global business unit of Sanofi, or Sanofi), to develop therapeutics for hemoglobinopathies, focused on beta thalassemia and SCD. Under the agreement, we are developing ST-400 and BIVV-003, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapies, for hemoglobinopathies including transfusion dependent beta thalassemia and SCD, respectively. ST-400 and BIVV-003 are related product candidates using the same technology involving gene editing of a patient's own hematopoietic stem progenitor cells using non-viral delivery of ZFN technology. We are conducting the Phase 1/2 THALES study, an open-label, single arm clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of ST-400 in up to six subjects with beta thalassemia. Recruitment of the Thales study is ongoing, with five of six patients enrolled. In August 2019 a third patient was dosed in the THALES study, and following dosing of this subject we achieved a $6.0 million milestone with Sanofi and also received $2.1 million from the
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In December 2019, the first subject was dosed in the SCD Phase 1 clinical trial, and following the dosing of this subject we achieved a $7.5 million milestone with Sanofi. Sanofi is recruiting the Phase 1/2 PRECIZN-1 study, an open-label, single arm clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of BIVV-003 in subjects with sickle cell disease. Sanofi is responsible for the subsequent development, manufacturing and commercialization of all licensed products.
In December 2019, we presented preliminary results from the first three patients treated in the THALES study evaluating ST-400. In the THALES study, HSPCs are collected from the patient, modified using ZFN gene editing technology to disrupt the ESE of the BCL11A gene, and cryopreserved prior to infusion back into the patient following myeloablative conditioning with busulfan.
As of the data cut date for the presentation, the three patients treated with ST-400 experienced prompt hematopoietic reconstitution, demonstrating neutrophil engraftment in 14-22 days and platelet engraftment in 22-35 days. No emerging clonal hematopoiesis had been observed as measured by on-target indel pattern monitoring in the three treated patients. Reported adverse events are consistent with the known toxicities of mobilization, apheresis, and myeloablative busulfan conditioning. Details of the date for each of three patients follows:
•Patient 1, age 36, has a β0/β0 genotype, the most severe form of TDT. Following ST-400 infusion, fetal hemoglobin levels increased to approximately 2.7 g/dL at Day 56 and remained elevated compared to baseline at 0.9 g/dL at week 39, the most recent measurement at the time of the data cut. After an initial transfusion-free duration of 6 weeks, the patient resumed intermittent packed red blood cell, or PRBC, transfusions, with an overall 33% reduction in annualized PRBC units transfused since engraftment. Patient 1 experienced one treatment-related serious adverse event, hypersensitivity during ST-400 infusion considered by the investigator to be likely related to the product cryoprotectant excipient, DMSO, and which resolved by the end of the infusion.
•Patient 2, age 30, is homozygous for the severe β+ IVS-I-5 (G>C) mutation. Following ST-400 infusion, fetal hemoglobin levels increased as compared with baseline, but have been <1 g/dL through to 26 weeks, the lowest induction level observed in the three patients treated to date. The patient is currently receiving intermittent PRBC transfusions.
•Patient 3, age 23, has a β0/β+ genotype that includes the severe IVS-II-654 (C>T) mutation. Following ST-400 infusion, fetal hemoglobin levels have increased as compared to baseline and were continuing to rise as of the latest measurement of 2.8 g/dL at Day 90. Following an initial transfusion-free period of seven weeks, the patient has received two PRBC transfusions commencing at 62 days post-infusion.
Not included in the presentation of the preliminary data discussed above are Patient 4, age 18 with a βWT (αα)/βº (αααα) genotype, and Patient 5, age 35 with a βº/β+ (severe IVS-I-110 G>A) genotype, each of which were dosed after the time of the data cut. We expect to enroll a sixth and final patient in the study in the coming months.
Kite Collaboration and TX200
In February 2018, we entered into a global collaboration and license agreement with Kite Pharma, Inc., or Kite, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or Gilead, for the research, development and commercialization of engineered cell therapies for cancer. Under this agreement, which we amended and restated in September 2019, we are working together with Kite on a research program to design ZFNs and viral vectors to disrupt and insert select genes in T-cells and natural killer cells, or NK-cells, including the insertion of genes that encode chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, T-cell receptors, or TCRs, and NK-cell receptors, or NKRs, directed to mutually agreed targets. Kite is responsible for all clinical development and commercialization of any resulting products and has announced that they expect to initiate a clinical trial in 2020 evaluating KITE-037, an allogeneic anti-CD19 CAR-T cell therapy.
Following the October 2018 acquisition of Sangamo Therapeutics France S.A.S., or Sangamo France (formerly TxCell, S.A.), we are evaluating the potential of CAR-Tregs (regulatory T-cells, or Tregs), genetically modified with a CAR in solid organ transplantation. We are also conducting preclinical studies to determine whether such agents have potential clinical utility in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, or MS, and inflammatory bowel diseases, or IBD. In addition, we intend to use our ZFN gene editing technology to potentially develop next-generation autologous and allogeneic CAR-Treg cell therapies for use in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In late 2019, a CTA was granted in Europe for TX200, an autologous CAR-Treg cell therapy for the prevention of solid organ transplant rejection. We expect to initiate the TX200 clinical trial in 2020.
In vivo genome editing programs
We have three proprietary in vivo genome editing programs being evaluated in Phase 1/2 clinical trials: SB-913 (Mucopolysaccharidosis type II, or MPS II), SB-318 (MPS I), and SB-FIX (hemophilia B). In April 2019, we announced that
we did not plan to treat additional patients in our SB-913, SB-318 and SB-FIX clinical trials with first generation ZFNs given that clinical benefit has not been demonstrated in the analyses conducted to date.
We are planning a new clinical trial for SB-913 to treat MPS II to evaluate second-generation ZFNs and other potential modifications that have the potential to enhance the clinical efficacy of this product. These include modifications that have the potential to enhance the efficiency of in vivo delivery of the ZFNs. We expect to use data from the new study evaluating second generation ZFNs to make a Phase 3 decision for the SB-913 program and to define the next steps, if any, for the SB-318 and SB-FIX programs.
In vivo genome regulation programs
We have several ongoing preclinical programs evaluating our ZFP-TF, genome regulation technology. ZFP-TFs act at the DNA level to selectively repress or activate the expression of specific genes to achieve a desired therapeutic effect. Genome regulation differs from other genome editing approaches as it is designed to enable precise, robust, and long-term activation or repression of a selected gene following a single AVV administration and does not cut or modify the target DNA. We are developing ZFP-TFs as a novel therapeutic approach for CNS diseases.
In March and April 2019, we presented preclinical data describing the effects of ZFP-TFs targeting the gene that encodes tau protein, delivered with AAVs in the mouse and nonhuman primate, or NHP, brain. Certain CNS diseases known as tauopathies, including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, are associated with tau proteins that have become dysfunctional as a result of their misfolding and accumulating in brain tissues. Intra-hippocampal ZFP-TF delivery to adult mice resulted in more than 80% tau reduction, and intravenous ZFP-TF administration reduced tau levels by 50-70% across the entire mouse brain. AAV ZFP-TFs targeting tau were administered to the adult NHP hippocampus using real-time MRI-guided stereotaxic infusion. The lowering of tau in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex of NHP was correlated with transgene expression levels. The treatment was well-tolerated for the duration of the study. We believe that together, these preclinical data from mice and NHPs highlight the potential for a single administration of a ZFP-TF to lower tau as a treatment for tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease.
In December 2019, we nominated ST-501 as a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease, with IND submission anticipated in 2021. We also nominated ST-502 as a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for alpha-synuclein related diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, with IND submission anticipated in 2022. In February 2020, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Biogen to further develop ST-501 and ST-502, among other targets. For more information regarding the Biogen collaboration, see “—Collaborations—Biogen.”
In December 2017, we entered into a research collaboration and license agreement with Pfizer for the development and commercialization of potential gene therapy products that use ZFP-TFs to treat ALS, and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, or FTLD, linked to mutations in the C9ORF72 gene. Under this agreement, we are working with Pfizer on a research program to identify, characterize and preclinically develop ZFP-TFs that satisfy pre-agreed criteria. Pfizer is responsible for subsequent development, manufacturing and commercialization of all licensed products.
Pursuant to a collaboration agreement with Takeda, we have a preclinical program for Huntington’s disease in which we are evaluating a ZFP-TF designed to differentially down regulate the mutated disease-causing huntingtin gene, or HTT gene, while preserving the expression of the normal version of the gene.
Legacy Clinical Research Programs
SB-728– Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS
HIV infection results in the death of immune cells, particularly CD4+ T-cells, and leads to AIDS, a condition in which the body’s immune system is depleted to such a degree that the patient is unable to fight off common infections. Ultimately, these patients succumb to opportunistic infections or cancers.
Currently, there are over 30 antiretroviral drugs approved by the FDA to treat people infected with HIV. While these drugs can suppress virus in the blood to undetectable levels, they cannot eliminate the reservoir of cells containing genomically-integrated HIV from the body. Hence, individuals infected with HIV need to take antiretroviral drugs continuously. There is no therapeutic approach available that protects CD4+ T-cells, suppresses viral load, reduces the viral reservoir and that does not require daily dosing.
SB-728 uses our ZFN-mediated genome editing technology to disrupt the CCR5 gene in cells of a patient’s immune system to make these cells permanently resistant to HIV infection. CCR5 is a co-receptor for HIV entry into T-cells and if CCR5 is not expressed on the cell surface HIV cannot infect them or infects them with lower efficiency. The aim of this approach is to provide the patient with a population of HIV-resistant cells that can fight HIV and opportunistic infections, by mimicking the naturally occurring CCR5 delta-32 mutation that renders a population of individuals largely resistant to infection
by the most common strains of HIV. We are evaluating this genome editing approach to disrupt the CCR5 gene in both T-cells and HSPCs as two potential therapeutic candidates, SB-728-T and SB-728-HSPC, respectively.
We have conducted several clinical trials with SB-728-T, which were designed to evaluate safety and tolerability of SB-728-T, as well as the effect of SB-728-T on subjects’ CD4 T-cell counts, levels of CCR5-modified T-cells, viral burden during a treatment interruption from anti-retroviral therapy, or ART, and measure of the viral reservoir. The data to date have demonstrated an ability to efficiently knock out the CCR5 gene in T-cells by ZFN-driven genome editing and grow the cells ex vivo, that a single infusion of SB-728-T led to proven engraftment, expansion and persistence of T-cells in vivo, sustained increases in CD4 T-cell counts, a significant and continuous decay of the HIV reservoir and the ability of certain subjects to control their viral loads for prolonged periods in the absence of ART. Over 100 subjects have been treated to date and the treatment appears to be well-tolerated.
In addition, we have an ongoing investigator-sponsored Phase 1/2 clinical trial (SB-728mR-HSPC) to investigate SB-728-HSPC as a self-renewable and potentially lifelong source of HIV-resistant immune cells.
We plan to advance the SB-728 program through potential future collaborations.
We have established collaborative and strategic partnerships for several of our therapeutic programs and also for several non-therapeutic applications of our technology. We will continue to pursue further partnerships when appropriate with selected pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to fund internal research and development activities and to assist in product development and commercialization. Decisions to partner product candidates will be based on review of our internal resources, internal know-how, and commercial considerations. We are applying our ZFP technology platform to several commercial applications in which our products provide us and our strategic partners and collaborators with potential technical, competitive and economic advantages.
In February 2020, we entered into a global licensing collaboration agreement with Biogen for the research, development and commercialization of gene regulation therapies for the treatment of neurological diseases. We plan to leverage our proprietary ZFP technology delivered via AAV to modulate expression of key genes involved in neurological diseases.
Under the Biogen collaboration agreement, we will grant to Biogen an exclusive, royalty bearing and worldwide license, under our relevant patents and know-how, to develop, manufacture and commercialize certain ZFP and/or AAV-based products directed to up to 12 neurological disease gene targets selected by Biogen. Biogen has already selected three of these: ST-501 for tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease, ST-502 for synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease, and a third undisclosed neuromuscular disease target. Biogen has exclusive rights to nominate up to nine additional targets over a target selection period of five years. For each gene target selected by Biogen, we will perform early research activities, costs for which will be shared by the companies, aimed at the development of the combination of proprietary CNS delivery vectors and ZFP-TFs targeting therapeutically relevant genes. Biogen will then assume responsibility and costs for the IND-enabling studies, clinical development, related regulatory interactions, and global commercialization. We will primarily be responsible for GMP manufacturing activities for the initial clinical trials for the first three products of the collaboration and plan to leverage our in-house manufacturing capacity. Biogen will assume responsibility for GMP manufacturing activities beyond the first clinical trial for each of the first three products. Subject to certain exceptions set forth in the Biogen collaboration agreement, we will be prohibited from developing, manufacturing or commercializing any therapeutic product directed to the targets selected by Biogen.
After the Biogen collaboration agreement becomes effective, Biogen will pay us an upfront payment of $125.0 million. We are also eligible to receive research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments that could total up to approximately $2.37 billion if Biogen selects all of the targets allowed under the agreement and all the specified milestones set forth in the agreement are achieved, which includes up to $925.0 million in pre-approval milestone payments and up to $1,445.0 million in first commercial sale and other sales-based milestone payments. In addition, we will also be eligible to receive tiered high single-digit to sub-teen royalties on potential net commercial sales of licensed products arising from the collaboration. These royalty payments will be subject to reduction due to patent expiration, entry of biosimilar products to the market and payments made under certain licenses for third-party intellectual property.
The Biogen collaboration agreement will continue, on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis, until the expiration of the applicable royalty term. Biogen has the right to terminate the collaboration agreement, in its entirety or on target-by-target basis, for any reason after a specified notice period. Each party has the right to terminate this agreement on account of the other party’s bankruptcy or material, uncured breach. In addition, we may terminate the collaboration agreement if Biogen challenges any patents licensed by us to Biogen.
Concurrently with the execution of the collaboration agreement, we also entered into a stock purchase agreement with Biogen MA, Inc., pursuant to which Biogen MA, Inc. will purchase 24,420,157 shares of our common stock, or the Biogen Shares, at a price per share of $9.2137, for an aggregate purchase price of $225.0 million.
Pursuant to the terms of the stock purchase agreement, Biogen has agreed not to, without our prior written and subject to specified conditions and exceptions, directly or indirectly acquire shares of our outstanding common stock, seek or propose a tender or exchange offer or merger between the parties, solicit proxies or consents with respect to any matter, or undertake other specified actions related to the potential acquisition of additional equity interests in us. Subject to customary exceptions, such standstill restrictions expire on the earlier of the three-year anniversary of the effectiveness of the Biogen collaboration agreement and the date that Biogen beneficially owns less than 5% of our common stock.
The stock purchase agreement also provides that until the first anniversary of the effectiveness of the Biogen collaboration agreement, Biogen will hold and not sell any of the Biogen Shares and from the first anniversary through the second anniversary, Biogen will hold and not sell at least 50% of the Biogen Shares, in addition to being subject to certain volume limitations. The stock purchase agreement further provides that, subject to certain limitations, upon Biogen’s request, we will register for resale any of the Biogen Shares on a registration statement to be filed with the SEC, until such time as all remaining Biogen Shares may be sold pursuant to Rule 144 promulgated under the Securities Act during any 90-day period.
In addition, Biogen has agreed that, excluding specified extraordinary matters, it will vote the Biogen Shares in accordance with our recommendation and has granted us an irrevocable proxy with respect to the foregoing. Such voting provisions expire on the earlier of (i) the two-year anniversary of the effectiveness of the Biogen collaboration agreement, (ii) the date that Biogen beneficially owns less than 5% of our common stock and (iii) the date the Biogen collaboration agreement is terminated; provided, however, that in no event shall such expiration date be prior to the one-year anniversary of the effectiveness of the Biogen collaboration agreement.
The consummation of the transactions under each of the Biogen collaboration agreement and the stock purchase agreement is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended.
In February 2018, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Kite, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gilead, which became effective in April 2018 and was amended and restated in September 2019, for the research, development and commercialization of potential engineered cell therapies for cancer. Kite will be responsible for all clinical development and commercialization of any resulting products and has announced that it expects to initiate a clinical trial evaluating KITE-037, an allogeneic anti-CD19 CAR-T cell therapy, in 2020.
Subject to the terms of this agreement, we granted Kite an exclusive, royalty-bearing, worldwide, sublicensable license, under our relevant patents and know-how, to develop, manufacture and commercialize, for the purpose of treating cancer, specific cell therapy products that may result from the research program and that are engineered ex vivo using selected ZFNs and AAVs developed under the research program, to express CARs, TCRs or NKRs directed to candidate targets.
During the research program term and subject to certain exceptions, except pursuant to this agreement, we will be prohibited from researching, developing, manufacturing and commercializing, for the purpose of treating cancer, any cell therapy product that, as a result of ex vivo genome editing, expresses a CAR, TCR or NKR that is directed to a target expressed on or in a human cancer cell. After the research program term concludes and subject to certain exceptions, except pursuant to this agreement, we will be prohibited from developing, manufacturing and commercializing, for the purpose of treating cancer, any cell therapy product that, as a result of ex vivo genome editing, expresses a CAR, TCR or NKR that is directed to a candidate target.
We received a $150.0 million upfront payment from Kite when the agreement became effective in April 2018. In addition, Kite reimburses our direct costs to conduct the joint research program, and Kite will be responsible for all subsequent development, manufacturing and commercialization of any licensed products. We are also eligible to receive contingent development- and sales-based milestone payments that could total up to $3.01 billion if all the specified milestones set forth in this agreement are achieved. Of this amount, approximately $1.26 billion relates to the achievement of specified research, clinical development, regulatory and first commercial sale milestones, and approximately $1.75 billion relates to the achievement of specified sales-based milestones if annual worldwide net sales of licensed products reach specified levels. Each development- and sales-based milestone payment is payable (i) only once for each licensed product, regardless of the number of times that the associated milestone event is achieved by such licensed product, and (ii) only for the first ten times that the associated milestone event is achieved, regardless of the number of licensed products that may achieve such milestone event. In addition, we will be entitled to receive escalating, tiered royalty payments with a percentage in the single digits based on potential future annual worldwide net sales of licensed products. These royalty payments will be subject to reduction due to patent expiration, entry of biosimilar products to the market and payments made under certain licenses for third-party intellectual property.
Kite has the right to terminate this agreement, in its entirety or on a per licensed product or per candidate target basis, for any reason after a specified notice period. Each party has the right to terminate this agreement on account of the other party’s bankruptcy or material, uncured breach.
We have two separate collaboration agreements with Pfizer. In May 2017, we entered into an exclusive, global collaboration and license agreement with Pfizer, pursuant to which we established a collaboration for the research, development and commercialization of SB-525, our gene therapy product candidate for hemophilia A, and closely related products, which we amended in December 2019.
Under this agreement, we were responsible for conducting the Phase 1/2 clinical trial and certain manufacturing activities for SB-525, while Pfizer is responsible for subsequent worldwide development, manufacturing, marketing and commercialization of SB-525. We may also collaborate in the research and development of additional AAV-based gene therapy products for hemophilia A.
We received an upfront fee of $70.0 million and achieved a $25.0 million milestone in December 2019 upon completion of the transfer of the IND for SB-525 to Pfizer. We are eligible to receive further development milestone payments contingent on the achievement of specified clinical development, intellectual property, regulatory and first commercial sale milestones for SB-525 and potentially other products. The total amount of potential clinical development, intellectual property, regulatory, and first commercial sale milestone payments, assuming the achievement of all specified milestones in this agreement, is $475.0 million, which includes up to $300.0 million for SB-525 and up to $175.0 million for other products that may be developed under the agreement, subject to reduction on account of payments made under certain licenses for third party intellectual property. In addition, Pfizer agreed to pay us royalties for each potential licensed product developed under the agreement that are an escalating tiered, double-digit percentage of the annual net sales of such product and are subject to reduction due to patent expiration, entry of biosimilar products to the market and payment made under certain licenses for third party intellectual property.
Subject to the terms of the agreement, we granted Pfizer an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-bearing license, with the right to grant sublicenses, to use certain technology controlled by us for the purpose of developing, manufacturing and commercializing SB-525 and related products. Pfizer granted us a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty free, fully paid license, with the right to grant sublicenses, to use certain manufacturing technology developed under the agreement and controlled by Pfizer to manufacture our products that utilize the AAV delivery system. During a specified period, neither we nor Pfizer will be permitted to clinically develop or commercialize, outside of the collaboration, certain AAV-based gene therapy products for hemophilia A.
Unless earlier terminated, the agreement has a term that continues, on a per product and per country basis, until the later of (i) the expiration of patent claims that cover the product in a country, (ii) the expiration of regulatory exclusivity for a product in a country, and (iii) 15 years after the first commercial sale of a product in a country. Pfizer has the right to terminate the agreement without cause in its entirety or on a per product or per country basis. The agreement may also be terminated by either party based on an uncured material breach by the other party or the bankruptcy of the other party. Upon termination for any reason, the license granted by us to Pfizer to develop, manufacture and commercialize SB-525 and related products will automatically terminate. Upon termination by us for cause or by Pfizer any country or countries, Pfizer will automatically grant us an exclusive, royalty-bearing license under certain technology controlled by Pfizer to develop, manufacture and commercialize SB-525 in the terminated country or countries.
In December 2017, we entered into a separate exclusive, global collaboration and license agreement with Pfizer for the development and commercialization of potential gene therapy products that use ZFP-TFs to treat ALS and FTLD linked to mutations of the C9ORF72 gene. Pursuant to this agreement, we agreed to work with Pfizer on a research program to identify, characterize and preclinically develop ZFP-TFs that bind to and specifically reduce expression of the mutant form of the C9ORF72 gene.
We received a $12.0 million upfront payment from Pfizer and are eligible to receive up to $60.0 million in development milestone payments from Pfizer contingent on the achievement of specified preclinical development, clinical development and first commercial sale milestones, and up to $90.0 million commercial milestone payments if annual worldwide net sales of the licensed products reach specified levels. In addition, Pfizer will pay us royalties based on an escalating tiered, mid- to high-single digit percentage of the annual worldwide net sales of the licensed products. These royalty payments are subject to reduction due to patent expiration, entry of biosimilar products to the market and payments made under certain licenses for third party intellectual property. Each party will be responsible for the cost of its performance of the research program. Pfizer will be operationally and financially responsible for subsequent development, manufacturing and commercialization of the licensed products.
Subject to the terms of the agreement, we granted Pfizer an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-bearing, license under our relevant patents and know-how to develop, manufacture and commercialize gene therapy products that use resulting ZFP-TFs that satisfy pre-agreed criteria. During a specified period, neither our company nor Pfizer will be permitted to research, develop, manufacture or commercialize outside of the collaboration any ZFPs that specifically bind to the C9ORF72 gene.
Unless earlier terminated, the agreement has a term that continues, on a per licensed product and per country basis, until the later of (i) the expiration of patent claims that cover the licensed product in a country, (ii) the expiration of regulatory exclusivity for a licensed product in a country, and (iii) 15 years after the first commercial sale of a licensed product in a major market country. Pfizer has the right to terminate the agreement without cause in its entirety or on a per product or per country basis. The agreement may also be terminated by either party based on an uncured material breach by the other party or the bankruptcy of the other party. The agreement will also terminate if we are unable to identify any lead candidates for development within a specified period of time or if Pfizer elects not to advance a lead candidate beyond a certain development milestone within a specified period of time. Upon termination for any reason, the license granted by us to Pfizer to develop, manufacture and commercialize licensed products under the agreement will automatically terminate. Upon termination by us for cause or by Pfizer without cause for any licensed product or licensed products in any country or countries, we will have the right to negotiate with Pfizer to obtain a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license under certain technology controlled by Pfizer to develop, manufacture and commercialize the licensed product or licensed products in the terminated country or countries.
Following termination by us for Pfizer’s material breach, either party will not be permitted to research, develop, manufacture or commercialize ZFPs that specifically bind to the C9ORF72 gene for a period of time.
In January 2014, we entered into an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement with Sanofi to develop therapeutics for hemoglobinopathies, focused on beta thalassemia and SCD. Under the agreement, we are jointly conducting two research programs: the beta thalassemia program and the SCD program. In the beta thalassemia program, we are responsible for all discovery, research and development activities through the first human clinical trial. In the SCD program, both parties are responsible for research and development activities through the submission of an IND application for ZFP therapeutics intended to treat SCD.
Under both programs, Sanofi is responsible for subsequent worldwide clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization of licensed products developed under the agreement. At the end of the specified research terms for each program or under certain specified circumstances, Sanofi has the right to step in and take over any of our remaining activities. Furthermore, we have an option to co-promote in the United States any licensed products to treat beta thalassemia and SCD developed under the agreement, and Sanofi will compensate us for such co-promotion activities. Subject to the terms of the agreement, we have granted Sanofi an exclusive, royalty-bearing license, with the right to grant sublicenses, to use certain ZFP and other technology controlled by us for the purpose of researching, developing, manufacturing and commercializing licensed products developed under the agreement. We have also granted Sanofi a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, fully paid license, with the right to grant sublicenses, under our interest in certain other intellectual property developed pursuant to the agreement. During the term of the agreement, we are not permitted to research, develop, manufacture or commercialize, outside of the agreement, certain gene therapy products that target genes relevant to the licensed products.
Under the agreement, we received an upfront license fee of $20.0 million, a $6.0 million milestone in August 2019, upon dosing of the third subject in the ST-400 beta thalassemia Phase 1 clinical trial, a $7.5 million milestone in December 2019 upon dosing of the first subject in the SCD Phase 1 clinical trial, and are eligible to receive additional development and sales milestone payments upon the achievement of specified regulatory, clinical development and sales milestones. The total amount of potential regulatory, clinical development, and sales milestone payments, assuming the achievement of all specified milestones in the agreement, is $276.3 million. In addition, we will receive royalty payments for each licensed product that are a tiered double-digit percentage of annual net sales of each product.
The agreement may be terminated by (i) us or Sanofi for the uncured material breach of the other party, (ii) us or Sanofi for the bankruptcy or other insolvency proceeding of the other party; (iii) Sanofi, upon 180 days’ advance written notice to us and (iv) Sanofi, for certain safety reasons upon written notice to, and after consultation with, us. As a result, actual future milestone payments could be lower than the amounts stated above.
In January 2012, we entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Shire International GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Takeda, which we amended and restated in September 2015, to research, develop and commercialize human therapeutics and diagnostics for monogenic diseases based on our ZFP technology. We received an upfront license fee of $13.0 million in 2012 and recognized a $1.0 million milestone payment in 2014. Pursuant to the amended and restated agreement, Takeda has an exclusive, worldwide license to ZFP therapeutics for treating Huntington’s disease.
Under the amended and restated agreement, Takeda has full control over, and full responsibility for the costs of, the Huntington’s disease program, subject to certain obligations, including the obligation to retain us to perform ZFP design, optimization and assessment services and to reimburse us for the costs of such services. Takeda does not have any milestone payment obligations but is required to pay single digit percentage royalties to us, up to a specified maximum cap, on the commercial sales of ZFP therapeutic products for Huntington’s disease. During the term of the amended and restated agreement, we are not permitted to research, develop or commercialize, outside of the agreement, certain products that target the HTT gene.
Under the amended and restated agreement, we have full control over, and full responsibility for the costs of, the hemophilia A and B programs returned to us by Takeda, subject to certain diligence obligations. We also granted Takeda a right of first negotiation to obtain a license to such programs under certain circumstances. We are required to pay single digit percentage royalties to Takeda, up to a specified maximum cap, on commercial sales of therapeutic products from the programs returned to us by Takeda.
The amended and restated agreement may be terminated by (i) us or Takeda, in whole or in part, for the uncured material breach of the other party, (ii) us or Takeda for the bankruptcy or other insolvency proceeding of the other party and (iii) Takeda, in its entirety, effective upon at least 90 days’ advance written notice.
In addition to our partnerships for the development of human therapeutic applications, we have also licensed our technology in several other areas, such as plant agriculture and research reagents, including the production of transgenic animals and cell-line engineering. These license partners include Dow AgroSciences LLC, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, Genentech, Inc., Open Monoclonal Technology, Inc. and F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.
Patents and licenses are important to our business. Our strategy is to file or license patent applications to protect technology, inventions and improvements to inventions that we consider important for the development of our genome editing and genome regulation technologies. We seek patent protection and licenses that relate to our technology and candidates in our pipeline and/or may be important to our future. We have filed numerous patents and patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or U.S. PTO, and foreign jurisdictions. This proprietary intellectual property includes methods relating to the design of zinc finger proteins, Transcription Activator-Like Effector, or TALE, proteins and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, or CRISPR/Cas editing systems, therapeutic applications of genome editing technology, enabling technologies related to our platform and the use of genome editing across a variety of applications. We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark, proprietary know–how, continuing technological innovations, trade secret laws, as well as confidentiality agreements, materials transfer agreements, research agreements and licensing agreements, to establish and protect our proprietary rights.
We have exclusively licensed intellectual property directed to the design, selection, and use of ZFPs, ZFNs and ZFP-TFs for genome editing and genome regulation from the California Institute of Technology, or Cal Tech, and the University of Utah, or Utah. These licenses grant us exclusive rights to make, use and sell ZFPs, ZFNs and ZFP-TFs under two families of patent filings. As of February 14, 2020, these patent families encompass four U.S. and over 20 foreign active granted patents, with two pending U.S. patent applications. The patent expiration dates are based on 20 years from the filing date of the earliest non-provisional patent application in each patent family, however, patents in our portfolio may be subject to patent term adjustment, or PTA (due to delays in patent prosecution by the U.S. PTO), patent term extension, or PTE (due to review of a patented product by a regulatory agency), or terminal disclaimers, or TD, each of which could positively or negatively impact the estimated expiration date.
Our license agreement with Cal Tech granted us a worldwide exclusive license to certain patents related to chimeric nucleases for genome targeting for all fields of use, which expire in September 2023, absent any PTA, PTE or TD. Our license agreement with Utah granted us a worldwide exclusive license to technology and patents relating to the use of ZFNs for all fields of use, which expire in January 2023, absent any PTA, PTE or TD.
We have also entered into licenses potentially useful for specific therapeutic uses of our genome editing technologies with the Regents of the University of California, or UC, and the Children’s Medical Center Corporation, or CMCC. The patents included in these licenses relate to CNS disorders and hemoglobinopathies, respectively. These licenses include three patent families, including three issued U.S. patents, 12 allowed or granted foreign patents, 25 pending foreign patent applications and three pending U.S. patent applications. The UC patents expire in May of 2021, the first CMCC patent family expires in September 2029, and the second expires in November 2033, in each case, absent any PTA, PTE or TD.
Our subsidiary, Sangamo France, has a license agreement with the University of British Columbia pursuant to which it exclusively licensed the right to the CAR for use in TX200. This license includes one patent family which expires in September 2038, absent any PTA, PTE or TD.
Our Intellectual Property
In addition to our in-licensed patent portfolio, we have numerous issued patents and pending patent filings directed to the design, composition and use of ZFPs, ZFNs, ZFP-TFs, TALE proteins and CRISPR/Cas editing systems and other technologies related to our program.
Some of the earliest zinc finger patents in our portfolio began expiring in 2015, with the average expiration of our currently issued patents expiring late-2026. However, we have continued to build on this patent portfolio and have been issued additional patents and have applications pending that provide protection for our ZFP technology. Additionally, patents that may be issued from our pending applications will extend the patent exclusivity of our patent estate.
We believe that our licensed patents and patent applications, as well as our issued patents and pending patent applications, in the aggregate, will provide us with a substantial intellectual property position in our commercial development of our gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation programs. In this regard, patents issued to us, applied for by us, or exclusively and non-exclusively licensed to us, cover the following types of inventions, processes and products:
•ZFP and ZFN design, engineered nucleases (e.g., CAS), and compositions (four patents issued with expiration dates ranging from 2029 to 2036), absent any PTA, PTE or TD): Includes DNA target site selection, zinc finger binding domain design, nuclease domain design, linker design, DNA nickases, ZFP libraries databases and methods of construction, as well as methods to increase zinc finger binding specificity (see, e.g., US9982245, US10066242, US10113207);
•ZFP Therapeutics (three patents issued with expiration dates ranging from 2028 to 2031, absent any PTA, PTE or TD): Methods relating to activation and inhibition of endogenous genes, identification of accessible regions within chromatin, including treatment of Huntington’s disease, HIV, cancer therapeutics, modulation of cardiac contractility and methods to regulate the glucocorticoid receptor (see, e.g., US9943565);
•Nuclease Therapeutics (12 patents issued with expiration dates ranging from 2031 to 2036, absent any PTA, PTE or TD): Treatments for HIV, beta thalassemia and SCD, hemophilia IMDs, genome editing, Parkinson’s Disease, regulation of the expression of PD1; Immunomodulatory therapeutics; Cystic Fibrosis; CNS disease; Severe combined immunodeficiency, Modified T-cells, including HLA knock out and methods of editing stem cells (see, e.g., US9877988, US9963715, US10072066, US10081661, US10143760); and
•Non-Therapeutic Applications of ZFPs and Nucleases (seven patents issued with expiration dates ranging from 2028 to 2035, absent any PTA, PTE or TD): Identification of regulatory sequences, analysis of gene regulation, structure and biological function, methods of agricultural biotechnology, methods of altering cellular differentiation state, development of cell lines for improved protein production, methods of transgenic animal development, engineering of stem cells, methods of genome editing (see, e.g., US9890395).
The patent positions of pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, including our patent position, are uncertain and involve complex legal and factual questions for which important legal tenets are largely unresolved and are subject to interpretation and refinement by the court system. Patent applications may not result in the issuance of patents and the coverage claimed in a patent application may be significantly reduced before a patent is issued. Although we have filed for patents on some aspects of our technology, we cannot provide assurances that patents will be issued as a result of these pending applications or that any patent that has been or may be issued will be upheld. The laws of some foreign countries may not protect our proprietary rights to the same extent as do the laws of the United States. For example, our issued European patents EP2171052 and EP2527435 have been opposed in Europe. Our EP2281050 case was revoked during Opposition in November 2016. The claims of these patents may be amended such that claim scope is reduced or the patents may be revoked as a result of these procedures.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements. Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications will be due to be paid to the U.S. PTO and various governmental patent agencies outside of the United States in several stages over the lifetime of the patents and/or applications. We have systems in place to remind us to pay these fees, and we employ an outside firm and rely on our outside counsel to pay these fees due to non-U.S. patent agencies. The U.S. PTO and various non-U.S. governmental patent agencies require compliance with a
number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ professionals to help us comply, and in many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. However, there are situations in which non-compliance 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. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market and this circumstance would have a material adverse effect on our business. We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.
Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These products may compete with our products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.
Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.
In the future, third parties may assert patent, copyright trademark, and other intellectual property rights to technologies that are important to our business. The outcome following any potential legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. Any claims asserting that our products infringe or may infringe proprietary rights of third parties, if determined adversely to us, could significantly harm our business. See “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Intellectual Property”.
We, and our licensed partners, are leaders in the research, development, and commercialization of gene therapies, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapies, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation using ZFP DNA-binding proteins.
We are aware of several companies focused on other methods for editing genes and regulating gene expression and a limited number of commercial and academic groups pursuing the development of ZFP genome regulation and genome editing technologies. The fields of gene therapy, gene-edited cell therapy, genome editing and genome regulation are highly competitive, and we expect competition to persist and intensify in the future from a number of different sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; academic and research institutions; and government agencies that will seek to develop ZFPs as well as technologies that will compete with our ZFP technology platform, such as TALE proteins and the CRISPR/Cas9 editing system.
Accordingly, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection, receiving FDA approval, or commercializing competitive products before us. If we commence commercial product sales, we may be competing against companies with greater marketing, sales, distribution and manufacturing capabilities, areas in which we have limited or no experience. In addition, any product candidate that we successfully develop may compete with existing products that have long histories of safe and effective use.
Although we are in the clinical development phase of operations and have no current therapeutic product sales, we believe the following companies, products and/or technologies may potentially be competitive with our technology or our product candidates under development:
•Protein pharmaceuticals under development at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Pfizer, Bayer AG, Novo Nordisk A/S, Sanofi, Takeda, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., Biogen, Acceleron Pharma Inc.,
ArmaGen, Inc., Amicus Therapeutics, Inc., Protalix Biotherapeutics, Inc., F. Hoffman-LaRoche Ltd., Novartis AG, or Novartis, and numerous other pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.
•Gene therapy companies developing gene-based products in clinical trials. Orchard Therapeutics plc’s Strimvelis™ (acquired from GlaxoSmithKline plc, or GSK) is approved in Europe, Spark Therapeutics, Inc.’s LUXTURNA™ is approved in the United States and Europe, and bluebird bio’s ZYNTEGLO™ is approved in Europe. Other competitors in this category may include, but not be limited to, uniQure N.V., BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., REGENXBIO Inc., Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc., Voyager Therapeutics, Inc., Takeda, Pfizer, Freeline Therapeutics, Amicus Therapeutics, Inc., and Novartis.
•Cell therapy companies developing cell-based products. Novartis’ Kymriah™ and Gilead’s Yescarta™, two gene-modified cell-based therapies, are approved in both the United States and Europe. Other competitors in this category may include, but not be limited to, Adaptimmune Therapeutics PLC, bluebird bio, Inc., Cellectis S.A., Sana, Lyell, Inc., Kite/Gilead, AvroBio, Inc., Medeor Therapeutics, Inc., CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Intellia Therapeutics, Inc., Casebia Therapeutics, Targazyme, Inc., ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc., Tmunity Therapeutics, Inc., Caladrius Biosciences, Inc., TRACT Therapeutics, Inc., Cellenkos™, Inc., Regcell Co., Ltd., Allogene, Fate Therapeutics, NKarta Therapeutics and Bristol Myers Squibb.
•Nuclease technologies under development for therapeutic applications of genome modification including companies such as Editas Medicine, Inc., CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Caribou Biosciences, Inc. and Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. developing the CRISPR/Cas9 editing system, Cellectis S.A. developing TALE nucleases and meganucleases, bluebird bio, Inc. developing Homing Endonucleases and MegaTALs and Precision BioSciences, Inc. developing meganucleases.
•Antisense therapeutics and RNA interference technology, including RNAi and microRNA, which are technologies that may compete with us in the development of novel therapeutic products acting through the regulation of gene expression. These technologies are being developed by several companies including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Moderna, Inc., Sanofi and Regulus Therapeutics Inc.
•Small molecules in development from both in-house drug discovery programs of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, GSK, Novartis AG and Merck & Co., Inc., as well as from biotechnology companies with expertise and capabilities in small molecule discovery and development such as Gilead, Sanofi, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc., which has a small molecule product in development for SCD.
•Monoclonal antibody companies and product candidates from certain biotechnology firms such as Genentech, Inc. and Amgen Inc.
We expect to face intense competition from other companies for collaborative arrangements with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for establishing relationships with academic and research institutions, for licenses to proprietary technology and for subjects in our clinical trials of treatments for rare diseases. These competitors, either alone or with their collaborative partners, may succeed in developing technologies or products that are more effective or less costly than ours.
Our ability to compete successfully will depend, in part, on our ability to:
•develop safe, efficacious and commercially attractive proprietary products;
•obtain access to gene transfer technology on commercially reasonable terms;
•obtain required regulatory approvals;
•obtain reimbursement for our products in approved indications;
•attract and retain qualified scientific and product development personnel;
•enter into collaborative and strategic partnerships with others, including our competitors, to develop our technology and product candidates;
•obtain and enforce patents, licenses or other proprietary protection for our products and technologies;
•formulate, manufacture, market and sell any product that we develop;
•develop and maintain products that reach the market first and are technologically superior to or are of lower cost than other products in the market; and
•recruit subjects into our clinical trials in a timely fashion
We currently rely on contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, to produce our preclinical and clinical product candidates in accordance with FDA and EMA mandated regulations, also known as current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs. We employ a technical operations staff in the areas of process development, analytical development, quality control, quality assurance, project management, and manufacturing to facilitate appropriate oversight of our CMOs, support of our regulatory filings and execution of clinical trials. We are building a cGMP manufacturing facility in our new headquarters building in Brisbane, CA. This facility is being designed to manufacture Phase 1/2 clinical trial supplies for our gene therapy and cell therapy pipeline and potentially collaboration programs and is currently anticipated to become operational in 2020. We are also building a cell therapy manufacturing facility at our site in Valbonne, France. We intend to continue to rely on CMOs for the manufacture of our product candidates for any Phase 3 clinical trials, and if approved, for commercial supply. We believe this balanced approach to manufacturing, investing in internal capacity/capabilities while strengthening our commitment to external capacity, will enable us to meet our anticipated pipeline needs. Additionally, in 2019 we signed an expanded services agreement with Brammer Bio MA, a Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. subsidiary, or Brammer, which provided us with access to dedicated AAV manufacturing capacity up to 2000-L bioreactor scale capable of handling large-scale, commercial-grade runs for products such as ST-920, our gene therapy product candidate for Fabry disease. The agreement also allows us to leverage Brammer’s viral vector manufacturing know-how in our new Brisbane facility in order to provide a seamless transition from early development to late-stage clinical trials and commercial-scale manufacturing.
We currently leverage three distinct manufacturing platforms: AAV vector production for our genome editing and gene therapy product candidates, HSPC modification for our cell therapy product candidates and engineered T-cell therapies. We use a commercial scale baculovirus manufacturing platform to manufacture AAV vectors for genome editing and gene therapy, with each AAV vector packaging a different transgene specific to the target indication or ZFN. The manufacturing process for our HSPC cell therapy product candidates utilizes the patient’s own HSPCs. These HSPCs are transfected using mRNA to produce ZFNs that target specific DNA sites, resulting in modified HSPCs. The third platform utilizes our ZFN technology to transform CAR-Tregs for autologous and allogeneic cell therapies. With the acquisition of Sangamo France, we also added capabilities to manufacture regulatory T-cells in therapeutic quantities to be used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
We operate within the heavily regulated pharmaceutical framework and much of our operations, including nonclinical and clinical trials, development, manufacturing, commercialization, marketing and reimbursement are subject to regulatory approvals. Relevant regulatory authorities include, but are not limited to, the FDA, the EMA, Commission of the European Union, or EU, Member State agencies, including the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA.
In the United States, the FDA regulates biologic products including gene therapy and human cellular therapy products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, the Public Health Service Act, or the PHSA, and regulations and guidance implementing these laws. The FDCA, PHSA and their corresponding regulations govern, among other things, the testing, manufacturing, safety, efficacy, labeling, packaging, storage, record keeping, distribution, reporting, advertising and other promotional practices involving biologic products. Applications to the FDA are required before conducting human clinical testing of biologic products and in the EU approval must be obtained from the EMA. FDA approval also must be obtained before marketing of biologic products. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources and we may not be able to obtain the required regulatory approvals.
A number of agencies, including the FDA and the EMA, have accelerated approval programs, including for innovative products and in areas of high unmet medical need, such as PRIME in the EU. These programs require a certain level of evidence demonstrating safety and efficacy in patients from early stage clinical trials. Entry into one of these accelerated schemes may result in assistance with the scientific opinion and faster approval timelines. Some of these programs may offer joint approval and reimbursement advice. It is noted that even applications in an accelerated assessment scheme may be assessed under standard timelines, where the regulatory authority deems it necessary to address more questions.
U.S. Biologic Products Development Process
Our product candidates must be approved by the FDA before they may be legally marketed in the United States. The process required by the FDA before a biologic product candidate may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:
•completion of preclinical laboratory tests and in vivo studies in accordance with the FDA’s current Good Laboratory Practice, or GLP, regulations and applicable requirements for the humane use of laboratory animals or other applicable regulations;
•submission to the FDA of an application for an IND exemption, which allows human clinical trials to begin unless FDA objects within 30 days;
•approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, reviewing each clinical site before each clinical trial may be initiated;
•performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials according to the FDA’s Good Clinical Practice, or GCP, regulations, and any additional requirements for the protection of human research subjects and their health information, to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed biologic product candidate for its intended use;
•preparation and submission to the FDA of a biologics license application, or BLA, for marketing approval that includes substantial evidence of safety, purity and potency from results of nonclinical testing and clinical trials;
•review of the product by an FDA advisory committee, if applicable;
•satisfactory completion of an FDA inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the biologic product candidate is produced to assess compliance with cGMP requirements and to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the biologic product candidate’s identity, safety, strength, quality, potency and purity;
•potential FDA audit of the nonclinical and clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the BLA; and
•payment of user fees and FDA review and approval, or licensure, of the BLA.
Before testing any biologic product candidate in humans, including a gene therapy product candidate, the product candidate must undergo preclinical testing. Preclinical tests, also referred to as nonclinical studies, include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, toxicity and formulation, as well as in vivo studies to assess the potential safety and activity of the product candidate and to establish a rationale for therapeutic use. The conduct of the preclinical tests must comply with federal regulations and requirements including GLPs.
Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually must complete some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity, and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug and finalize a process for manufacturing the drug in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the drug candidate and, among other things, the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality and purity of the final drug product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the drug candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
Human gene transfer protocols are subject to the FDA’s oversight and other clinical trial regulations, and oversight at the local level as set forth in National Institutes of Health, or NIH, Guidelines. Specifically, under the NIH Guidelines, supervision of human gene transfer trials includes evaluation and assessment by an institutional biosafety committee, or IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment, and such review may result in some delay before initiation of a clinical trial. Compliance with the NIH Guidelines is mandatory for investigators at institutions receiving NIH funds for research involving recombinant DNA. However, many companies and other institutions, not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines, voluntarily follow them.
The clinical trial sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data or literature and a proposed clinical protocol, to the FDA as part of the IND. Some preclinical testing may continue even after the IND is submitted. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA places the clinical trial on a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. The FDA also may impose clinical holds on a biologic product candidate at any time before or during clinical trials due to safety concerns or non-compliance. If the FDA imposes a clinical hold, trials may not recommence without FDA authorization and then only under terms authorized by the FDA. Accordingly, we cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing clinical studies to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate such studies.
EU Drug Development Process
Similar to the United States, the EU regulatory framework sets both EU-wide and national, Member State-specific requirements for the development and approval of medicinal products. Article 8(3) of Directive 2001/83/EC sets out the contents of a marketing authorization, or MA, application and all the information that must be submitted for the evaluation of a medicinal product. Certain preclinical (also termed “non-clinical”) data is required in order to enable clinical trials and later be used in dossier for a marketing authorization application. All studies should take place in accordance with GLP and all applicable EMA, Commission and European Pharmacopoeia guidelines on preclinical studies, including guidance on quality, non-clinical and clinical aspects of medicinal products containing genetically modified cells.
The requisite amount of preclinical data enables the design of a clinical trial, from Phase 1 (first-in-human clinical trials) through to Phases 2 and 3, which are safety and efficacy and dosing studies and similar restrictions and requirements apply as in the U.S. regarding preclinical data, approvals for trials using vectors. The preclinical tests should establish parameters such as toxicity, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic properties, the quality of gene transfer medicinal products. Due to the particular nature of gene therapy medicinal products, it is recognized that that it may not always be possible for the non-clinical safety studies to be in conformity with the principles of GLP and a proper justification should be submitted where a pivotal non-clinical safety study has not been conducted under GLP rules.
Clinical studies are crucial to obtaining the required data and the requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials are further analyzed below.
All medicinal products and advanced therapy medicinal products, or ATMPs, must be manufactured in accordance with the guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practice, or GMP, and in a GMP licensed facility, which can be subject to GMP inspections.
Human Clinical Trials Under an IND
Clinical trials involve the administration of the biologic product candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators which generally are physicians not employed by, or under, the control of the trial sponsor. Clinical trials are conducted under written study protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection and exclusion criteria and the parameters to be used to monitor subject safety, including stopping rules that assure a clinical trial will be stopped if certain adverse events should occur. Each protocol and any amendments to the protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Clinical trials must be conducted and monitored in accordance with the FDA’s regulations comprising the GCP requirements, including the requirement that all research subjects provide informed consent.
Further, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB at or servicing each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted. An IRB is charged with protecting the welfare and rights of trial participants and considers items such as whether the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the form and content of the informed consent that must be signed by each clinical trial subject, or their legal representative, reviews and approves the study protocol, and must monitor the clinical trial until completed.
Human clinical trials typically are conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:
•Phase 1. The biologic product candidate initially is introduced into a small number of human subjects and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion and, if possible, to gain an early understanding of its effectiveness. Phase 1 clinical trials of gene therapies are typically conducted in patients rather than healthy volunteers.
•Phase 2. The biologic product candidate is evaluated in a limited patient population to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product candidate for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance, optimal dosage and dosing schedule.
•Phase 3. Phase 3 clinical trials are commonly referred to as “pivotal” studies, which typically denotes a study which presents the data that the FDA or other relevant regulatory agency will use to determine whether or not to approve a biologic product. In Phase 3 studies, the biologic product candidate is administered to an expanded patient population, generally at multiple geographically dispersed clinical trial sites in adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to generate sufficient data to statistically confirm the potency and safety of the product for approval. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the product candidate and provide an adequate basis for product labeling.
Post-approval clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial approval. These clinical trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication,
particularly for long-term safety follow-up. Sometimes approval for a product is conditional upon the completion of post-marketing clinical studies.
During all phases of clinical development, regulatory agencies (such as the FDA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory agencies) require extensive monitoring and auditing of all clinical activities, clinical data and clinical trial investigators. Annual progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted to the FDA.
Written IND safety reports must be promptly submitted to the FDA, the NIH and the investigators for: serious and unexpected adverse events; any findings from other trials, in vivo laboratory tests or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human subjects; or any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure. The sponsor must submit an IND safety report within 15 calendar days after the sponsor determines that the information qualifies for reporting. The sponsor also must notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction within seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information.
The FDA or the sponsor or its data safety monitoring board may suspend a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the biologic product candidate has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients.
The FDA usually recommends that sponsors observe subjects for potential gene therapy-related delayed adverse events for up to a 15-year period, including a minimum of five years of annual examinations followed by 10 years of annual queries, either in person or by questionnaire. In January 2020, the FDA issued draft guidance to elaborate on many of the factors that should be considered for this long-term observation.
In the EU, clinical trials almost always require approval from a national competent authority of the relevant Member State and an approval from an Ethics Committee. If the medicinal product is considered to be a genetically modified organism, or GMO, then GMO approval must also be obtained. There is no harmonization between Member States regarding the approach to and timelines of GMO approval, which results in significant challenges and time restrictions.
The conduct of clinical trials should follow the approved clinical trial protocol and be in accordance with the principles of GCP. Gene therapy medicinal products are in addition subject to the rules of GCP for ATMPs (currently in draft form), which outline specific additional safeguards and requirements. Record retention requirements are increased for ATMPs and there are relevant long-term follow up and human safety and traceability requirements.
Compliance with cGMP Requirements
Manufacturers of biologics must comply with applicable current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, regulations, including quality control and quality assurance and maintenance of records and documentation. Manufacturers and others involved in the manufacture and distribution of such products also must register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies. Both domestic and foreign manufacturing establishments must register and provide additional information to the FDA upon their initial participation in the manufacturing process. Any material changes to the manufacturing equipment, process or location of the approved manufacturing site must be reported to the relevant agency/authority. Establishments may be subject to periodic, unannounced inspections by government authorities (including regulatory agencies) to ensure compliance with cGMP requirements and other laws. Discovery of problems may result in a government entity placing restrictions on a product, manufacturer or holder of an approved BLA, and may extend to requiring withdrawal of the product from the market, issue warning or similar letters or seeking civil, criminal or administrative sanctions against the company. The FDA will not approve a BLA unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specification.
Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional preclinical studies and must also develop additional information about the physical characteristics of the biologic product candidate as well as finalize a process for manufacturing the product candidate in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. To help reduce the risk of the introduction of adventitious agents or of causing other adverse events with the use of biologic products, the PHSA emphasizes the importance of manufacturing control for products whose attributes cannot be precisely defined. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the product candidate and, among other requirements, the sponsor must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, potency and purity of the final biologic product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the biologic product candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.
U.S. Review and Approval Processes
The results of the preclinical tests and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product’s Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls, or CMC, and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of a BLA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications.
Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, each BLA must be accompanied by a significant user fee. The FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. The PDUFA also imposes an annual program fee for approved biologics. Fee waivers or reductions are available in certain circumstances, including a waiver of the application fee for the first application filed by a small business.
The FDA reviews a BLA within 60 days of submission to determine if it is substantially complete before the agency accepts it for filing. The FDA may refuse to file any BLA that it deems incomplete or not properly reviewable at the time of submission and may request additional information. In that event, the BLA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth, substantive review of the BLA.
The FDA reviews the BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product candidate is safe and potent, or effective, for its intended use, has an acceptable purity profile and whether the product candidate is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP to assure and preserve the product candidate’s identity, safety, strength, quality, potency and purity. The FDA may refer applications for novel biologic products or biologic products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions. During the product approval process, the FDA also will determine whether a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, is necessary to assure the safe use of the product candidate. REMS use risk minimization strategies beyond the professional labeling to ensure that the benefits of the product outweigh the potential risks. To determine whether a REMS is needed, the FDA will consider the size of the population likely to use the product, seriousness of the disease, expected benefit of the product, expected duration of treatment, seriousness of known or potential adverse events, and whether the product is a new molecular entity. A REMS could include medication guides, physician communication plans and elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the BLA must submit a proposed REMS; the FDA will not approve the BLA without a REMS, if required.
Before approving a BLA, the FDA will inspect the facilities at which the product candidate is manufactured. The FDA will not approve the product candidate unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product candidate within required specifications. Additionally, before approving a BLA, the FDA typically will inspect one or more clinical sites to assure that the clinical trials were conducted in compliance with IND trial requirements and GCP requirements.
On the basis of the BLA and accompanying information, including the results of the inspection of the manufacturing facilities, the FDA may issue an approval letter or a complete response letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the biologic product with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A complete response letter generally outlines the deficiencies in the submission and may require substantial additional testing or information in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. If and when those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the BLA, the FDA will issue an approval letter.
If a product candidate receives regulatory approval, the approval may be significantly limited to specific diseases and dosages or the indications for use may otherwise be limited. Further, the FDA may require that certain contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling. The FDA may impose restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing or dispensing in the form of a REMS, or otherwise limit the scope of any approval. In addition, the FDA may require post-marketing clinical trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, designed to further assess a biologic product’s safety and effectiveness, and testing and surveillance programs to monitor the safety of approved products that have been commercialized.
The FDA has agreed to specified performance goals in the review of BLAs under the PDUFA. One such goal is to review standard BLAs in 10 months after the FDA accepts the BLA for filing, and priority BLAs in six months, whereupon a review decision is to be made. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard and priority BLAs and its review goals are subject to change from time to time. The review process and the PDUFA goal date may be extended by three months if the FDA requests or the BLA sponsor otherwise provides additional information or clarification regarding information already provided in the submission within the last three months before the PDUFA goal date.
EU Review and Approval Process
Before a medicinal product can be placed on the market in the EU, it must have received an MA. This could either be at national or EU level under a mutual recognition, decentralized or centralized procedure. Our product candidates are innovative treatments, which will bear the classification of ATMP and/or orphan status. As such, the appropriate authorization procedure is the centralized procedure, which involves an MA being granted by the European Commission following a positive opinion by the EMA. A centralized MA is simultaneously valid in all EU Member States and the European Economic Area, or EEA, (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). A centralized MA also results in a single set of product information (patient information leaflet, labelling and summary of product characteristics) for all EU Member States.
The timeline for the grant of a centralized MA since the time of the application is 210 days for the assessment of the application (including “clock stops” for the applicant to prepare answers to the questions from the EMA). The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or the CHMP, may either provide a positive or negative opinion. Following a positive opinion, the European Commission will usually issue its legally binding MA after 67 days. A negative opinion may be appealed by the applicant who must submit a request for re-examination within 60 days. There is the possibility for accelerated timelines of drug applications for eligible applicants, which can reduce the timeline to 150 days, if the applicant can produce sufficient justification.
If the MA application contains less comprehensive than the required standard as at the time of the application, when there are public health grounds and often in the case of orphan medicinal products, the EMA may recommend to the European Commission that it issues a different type of an MA, as follows: (a) a Conditional MA (valid for one year and renewable), when the medicinal product shows a positive benefit-risk balance and targets an unmet medical need and it is expected that the applicant will be able to provide comprehensive data in due course; or (b) an MA under ‘exceptional circumstances’, when it is not expected that the applicant will be able to provide comprehensive efficacy and safety data (often for very rare indications).
Rigorous and extensive FDA regulation of biologic products continues after approval, particularly with respect to cGMP requirements. Manufacturers are required to comply with applicable requirements in the cGMP regulations, including quality control and quality assurance and maintenance of records and documentation. Other post-approval requirements applicable to biologic products include reporting of cGMP deviations that may affect the identity, potency, purity and overall safety of a distributed product, record-keeping requirements, reporting of adverse effects, reporting updated safety and efficacy information and complying with electronic record and signature requirements. After a BLA is approved, the product also may be subject to official lot release. If the product is subject to official release by the FDA, the manufacturer submits samples of each lot of product to the FDA, together with a release protocol, showing a summary of the history of manufacture of the lot and the results of all tests performed on the lot. The FDA also may perform certain confirmatory tests on lots of some products before releasing the lots for distribution. In addition, the FDA conducts laboratory research related to the regulatory standards on the safety, purity, potency and effectiveness of biologic products. Failure to comply with the FDA’s post-approval regulations can result in withdrawal of product approval and licensure.
A sponsor also must comply with the FDA’s or appropriate national authority’s advertising and promotion requirements, such as the prohibition on promoting products for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the product’s approved labeling (known as “off-label use”). Discovery of previously unknown problems or the failure to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements may result in restrictions on the marketing of a product or withdrawal of the product from the market as well as possible civil or criminal sanctions. In addition, changes to the manufacturing process or facility generally require prior FDA approval before being implemented and other types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications and additional labeling claims, are also subject to further FDA review and approval.
Orphan and RMAT designation
We maintain product candidates that have obtained FDA and EU orphan designation. See the “—Therapeutic Product Development” section above. These products are intended for treating rare conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S., or that affect more than 200,000 persons but are not expected to recover the costs of developing and marketing a treatment drug. In the EU, these rare conditions are defined as having a prevalence of no more than five in every 10,000 people in the EU. Once a medicinal product with orphan designation obtains a marketing approval, it can benefit from a marketing exclusivity period in respect of the specific orphan indication for which the drug has been approved for a period of seven years in the U.S. and for up to ten years in the EU. This measure is intended at incentivizing the development of medicines for rare diseases. The product must be able to maintain its orphan designation, by reference to the criteria of (a) prevalence of the condition and (b) significant benefit of the product over competing products. If the manufacturer is no longer able to assert that the product meets the orphan designation criteria or is not able to provide sufficient quantities, it may lose the orphan market exclusivity.
We have also received RMAT designation for our SB-525 product candidate to treat severe hemophilia A. RMAT designation is intended to expedite review of a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and for which preliminary clinical evidence indicates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition.
RMAT designation provides potential benefits that include more frequent meetings with the FDA to discuss the development plan for the product candidate, and eligibility for rolling review and priority review of the related BLA. Products granted RMAT designation may also be eligible for accelerated approval on the basis of a surrogate or intermediate endpoint reasonably likely to predict long-term clinical benefit, or reliance upon data obtained from a meaningful number of sites, including through expansion to additional sites. However, RMAT designation does not change the FDA’s standards for product approval. Additionally, RMAT designation can be revoked if the criteria for eligibility cease to be met as clinical data emerges.
Clinical Trial Data Disclosure
Many jurisdictions have mandatory clinical trial information obligations on sponsors. In the EU this is under the Transparency Regulation No. 1049/ 2001, EMA Policy 0043, EMA Policy 0070, as well as the new Clinical Trials Regulation No. 536/2014, all of which impose on sponsors the obligation to make publicly available certain information stemming from clinical studies. In the EU, the transparency framework provides for a wide right for (EU-based at the moment) interested parties to submit an access to documents request to the EMA for information included in the marketing authorization application dossier for approved medicinal products. Only very limited information is exempted from disclosure (i.e. commercially confidential information, which is construed increasingly narrowly and protected personal data). It is possible for competitors to access and use this data in their own research and development programs anywhere in the world, once this data is in the public domain.
Although we currently do not have any products on the market, we may be subject to additional healthcare regulation and enforcement by the federal government and by authorities in the states and foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. Such laws include, without limitation:
•the federal healthcare Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid;
•federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal False Claims Act, and civil monetary penalty laws, which prohibit, among other things, individuals or entities from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, claims for payment or approval that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;
•the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program and also created federal criminal laws that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services;
•HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their implementing regulations, which impose obligations, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information held by certain healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses, known as covered entities, and individuals and entities that perform services for them that involve individually identifiable health information, known as business associates;
•the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the ACA, which requires certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies to report annually to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians, as defined by such law, and teaching hospitals, and ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members;
•analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; some state laws require
pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to other healthcare providers and healthcare entities, marketing expenditures; or drug pricing; and/or ensure the registration of sales personnel; and
•state and foreign laws govern the privacy and security of health information in specified circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.
If our operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that apply to us, we may be subject to significant penalties, including, without limitation, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, individual imprisonment, suspension or withdrawal of our marketing and commercialization in respect of our commercially approved products, and 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, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results. Responding to investigations can be time-and resource-consuming and can divert management’s attention from the business. Any such investigation or settlement could increase our costs or otherwise have an adverse effect on our business. See “Risk Factors—Our current and future relationships with healthcare providers, customers and third-party payors subject us to applicable anti- kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. If we fail to comply with federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, including healthcare, privacy and data security laws and regulations, we could face substantial penalties and our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects could be adversely affected.”
The U.S. and some foreign jurisdictions are considering enacting or have enacted a number of additional legislative and regulatory proposals to change the healthcare system in ways that could affect our ability to sell our product candidates profitably, if approved. Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in healthcare systems with the stated goals of containing healthcare costs, improving quality and expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts, which include major legislative initiatives, such as the ACA, to reduce the cost of care through changes in the healthcare system, including limits on the pricing, coverage, and reimbursement of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, especially under government-funded health care programs, and increased governmental control of drug pricing. The ACA and its implementing regulations, among other things, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for certain drugs and biologics, including products similar to our product candidates, that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs, created a new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which provides incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research, established a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must now agree to offer 70% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D, and created a licensure framework for follow-on biologic products.
There remain legal and political challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, as well as efforts by the current administration to repeal or replace certain aspects of the ACA. Several bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the ACA have been signed into law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or Tax Act, included a provision that repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the ACA on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”. In addition, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the ACA-mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminates the health insurer tax. In addition, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.”
On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid as well.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, created measures for spending reductions by Congress. A Joint
Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with recommending a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021, was unable to reach required goals, thereby triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect in April 2013, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will remain in effect through 2029 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, or the ATRA, was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.
Also, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny recently over pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state 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 pharmaceutical products. At the federal level, the current administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 contained further drug price control measures that could be enacted during the budget process or in other future legislation, including, for example, measures to permit Medicare Part D plans to negotiate the price of certain drugs under Medicare Part B, to allow some states to negotiate drug prices under Medicaid, and to eliminate cost sharing for generic drugs for low-income patients. Further, the current administration released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs of drugs that contains additional proposals to increase drug manufacturer competition, increase the negotiating power of certain federal healthcare programs, incentivize manufacturers to lower the list price of their products, and reduce the out-of-pocket costs of drug products paid by consumers. The Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has solicited feedback on some of these measures and, at the same, has implemented others under its existing authority. While some of these and other measures may require additional authorization to become effective, Congress and the current administration have each indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed 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.
In the United States, the EU and other potentially significant markets for our product candidates, government authorities and third-party payors are increasingly attempting to limit or regulate the price of medical products and services, particularly for new and innovative products and therapies, which has resulted in lower average selling prices. Furthermore, the increased emphasis on managed healthcare in the United States and on country and regional pricing and reimbursement controls in the EU will put additional pressure on product pricing, reimbursement and usage, which may adversely affect our future product sales and results of operations. These pressures can arise from rules and practices of managed care groups, judicial decisions and governmental laws and regulations related to Medicare, Medicaid and healthcare reform, pharmaceutical reimbursement policies and pricing in general.
See “Risk Factors—Recently enacted and future legislation, including potentially unfavorable pricing regulations or other healthcare reform initiatives, may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain regulatory approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain.”
Pricing, Coverage and Reimbursement
Pricing and reimbursement of a therapeutic product will largely determine the affordability of the product, and whether the product is prescribed and supplied to patients and private insurance companies may take into account government reimbursement methodologies. Due to these proposed and enacted laws, as well as other actions, significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval, particularly for novel products. In both domestic and foreign markets, sales and reimbursement of any approved products will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, such as government health programs, commercial insurance and managed healthcare organizations provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels, for such products. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. Additionally, we may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of our products. If third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other therapies, these payors may not cover our products after approved as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of reimbursement may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products on a profitable basis. See “Risk Factors—Even if we are able to commercialize our product candidates, the products may not receive coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors in the United States and in other countries in which we seek to commercialize our products, which could harm our business.”
In the EU, pricing and reimbursement are the prerogative of Member States. Therefore, the requirements around reimbursement of medicinal products can vary widely. Each Member State can follow its own approach, subject to common rules of transparency, competition, and freedom of trade and movement in the EU. Many Member States, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, follow a health technology assessment, or HTA, procedure for medicinal products in order to assess the cost-effectiveness of a product which could then be recommended for reimbursement under the national health services. There is increasingly exchange of information concerning HTAs on a voluntary basis among EU Member States. In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is the body which conducts HTAs and issues guidance to be followed by the regional health bodies called clinical commissioning groups.
We are required to comply with privacy and data security laws in the United States and in other foreign jurisdiction in which we operate, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or CCPA, which apply to the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data. The collection, use, disclosure, transfer or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the European Union, including personal health data, is subject to GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR, which is wide-ranging in scope, imposes several requirements relating to the control over personal data by individuals to whom the personal data relates, the information provided to the individuals, the documentation we must maintain, the security and confidentiality of the personal data, data breach notification and the use of third party processors in connection with the processing of personal data. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the European Union, provides an enforcement authority and authorizes the imposition of large penalties for noncompliance, including the potential for fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the annual global revenues of the noncompliant company, whichever is greater. The GDPR requirements apply not only to third-party transactions, but also to transfers of information between us and our subsidiaries such as Sangamo France, including employee information. The GDPR has increased our responsibility and potential liability in relation to personal data that we process compared to prior European Union law, particularly in light of the acquisition of Sangamo France, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, which could divert management’s attention and increase our cost of doing business. However, despite our ongoing efforts to bring our practices into compliance with the GDPR, we may not be successful either due to various factors within our control or other factors outside our control. It is also possible that local data protection authorities may have different interpretations of the GDPR, leading to potential inconsistencies amongst various European Union Member States. Any failure or alleged failure (including as a result of deficiencies in our policies, procedures or measures relating to privacy, data security, marketing or communications) by us to comply with laws, regulations, policies, legal or contractual obligations, industry standards or regulatory guidance relating to privacy or data security, may result in governmental investigations and enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity.
In the United States, California adopted the CCPA, which became effective in January 2020. The CCPA establishes a privacy framework for covered businesses, including an expansive definition of personal information and data privacy rights for California residents. The CCPA includes a framework with potentially severe statutory damages and private rights of action. The CCPA requires covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers (as that word is broadly defined in the CCPA), provide such consumers new ways to opt-out of certain sales of personal information and allow for a new cause of action for data breaches. It remains unclear how the CCPA will be interpreted, but as currently written, it will likely impact our business activities and exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to not only cyber threats but also the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data. As we expand our operations, the CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Some observers have noted that the CCPA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent privacy legislation in the United States. Other states are beginning to pass similar laws.
Compliance with these and any other applicable privacy and data security laws and regulations is a rigorous and time-intensive process, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules. If we fail to comply with any such laws or regulations, we may face significant fines and penalties that could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, the laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach is costly. See “Risk Factors—Our current and future relationships with healthcare providers, customers and third-party payors subject us to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. If we fail to comply with federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, including healthcare, privacy and data security laws and regulations, we could face substantial penalties and our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects could be adversely affected.”
As of February 21, 2020, we had 354 full-time employees. Approximately 290 of these employees are located in California, seven of these employees are located in London, United Kingdom and the remaining 57 employees are located in
France. None of our employees located in California or London are represented by a collective bargaining organization or covered by a collective bargaining agreement, nor have we experienced work stoppages. Our employees located in France are represented by the Confédération Française de l’Encadrement - Confédération Générale des Cadres. We believe that our relations with our employees are good.
We were incorporated in June 1995 in the state of Delaware and in January 2017, we changed our name from “Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.” to “Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc.” Our principal executive offices are located at 7000 Marina Blvd, Brisbane, California 94005. Our telephone number is (510) 970-6000. SANGAMO®, Better Therapeutics By Design®, ZFP Therapeutic® and Engineering Genetic Cures® are our registered trademarks in the United States and Sangamo Therapeutics™ and Pioneering Genetic Cures™ are our trademarks. All other trademarks or trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners.
Our website is located at www.sangamo.com. This Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and our Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, are available (free of charge) on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file this material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Information found on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, the SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.
ITEM 1A – RISK FACTORS
An investment in our common stock involves significant risk. This Form 10-K contains forward-looking information based on our current expectations. Because our actual results may differ materially from any forward-looking statements made by or on our behalf, this section includes a discussion of important factors that could affect our actual future results, including, but not limited to, our revenues, expenses, net loss and net loss per share. You should carefully consider the information described in the following risk factors, together with the other information appearing elsewhere in this report, before making an investment decision regarding our common stock.
Risks Relating to Research, Development, Commercialization and Regulatory Approval of our Products and Technology
Our success depends substantially on the results of clinical trials of our therapeutic programs and ability to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, and we may be unable to demonstrate safety and efficacy of our product candidates.
We are a clinical-stage biotechnology company and have ongoing clinical trials evaluating product candidates that use our platform technologies in gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation. We do not have any products that have obtained regulatory approval and are substantially dependent on the results of clinical trials of our therapeutic programs. However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to achieve positive final safety and efficacy results in our current or future clinical trials for our product candidates. If we fail to demonstrate safety or obtain positive clinical trial results, are unable to meet the expected timeline of these clinical trials or release of data for these programs, or if we are unable to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates, our anticipated revenue from our product candidates and our prospects for profitability would be adversely affected, which would have an adverse effect on our business operations and financial conditions, which may cause a significant decline in our stock price.
We are exposed to numerous risks associated with conducting required clinical trials for the development of our product candidates, and there is no guarantee that we will be successful in any of our clinical trials or obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates.
We must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates before we can obtain marketing approval for any such candidates. We have limited experience in conducting later stage clinical trials and may not possess the necessary resources and expertise to complete such trials. Clinical testing is expensive, time consuming and uncertain. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage. Events that may prevent successful or timely completion of clinical development include, among others:
•delays in reaching a consensus with regulatory authorities on trial design;
•delays in reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective clinical research organizations, or CROs, and clinical trial sites;
•delays in opening clinical trial sites or obtaining required institutional review board, or IRB, or independent ethics committee approval at each clinical trial site;
•delays in recruiting and enrolling suitable subjects to participate in our clinical trials;
•imposition of a clinical hold by regulatory authorities as a result of a serious adverse event or after an inspection of our clinical trial operations or trial sites;
•failure by us, any CROs we engage or any other third parties to adhere to clinical trial requirements;
•failure to perform in accordance with the FDA, GCP, or applicable regulatory guidelines in the EU and other countries;
•delays in the testing, validation, manufacturing and delivery of our product candidates to the clinical sites, including delays by third parties with whom we have contracted to perform certain of those functions, or as a result of manufacturing or formulation changes to our product candidates;
•delays in having subjects complete participation in a trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;
•clinical trial sites or subjects dropping out of a trial;
•selection of clinical endpoints that require prolonged periods of clinical observation or analysis of the resulting data;
•occurrence of serious adverse events or other safety concerns associated with the product candidate that are viewed to outweigh its potential benefits, result in approval delays or other regulatory restrictions, or harm our reputation;
•occurrence of serious adverse events or other safety concerns in trials of the same class of agents conducted by other sponsors;
•failure to demonstrate that a product candidate is safe and effective for its proposed indication;
•changes in regulatory requirements and guidance that require amending or submitting new clinical protocols;
•unexpected costs and expenses and lack of sufficient funding for these programs; and
•loss of licenses to critical intellectual properties.
We have not yet reached agreement with regulatory authorities on the complete development pathway for certain product candidates, and such authorities have the ability to change decisions or guidance with respect to approvable endpoints, particularly as the technology continues to develop in these areas. Due to the novelty of certain programs, the endpoints needed to support regulatory approvals will likely be different from those originally anticipated. Any inability to successfully complete preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates, or complete such trials in the time frames anticipated, could result in additional costs to us or impair our ability to generate revenues from product sales, or achieve regulatory and commercialization milestones and royalties, or shorten any periods during which we may have exclusivity.
Even if a product candidate were to successfully obtain approval from the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities, any approval might contain significant limitations related to use restrictions for specified age groups, warnings, precautions or contraindications, or may be subject to burdensome post-approval study or risk management requirements. Also, any regulatory approval of our current or future product candidates, once obtained, may be withdrawn. If we are unable to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for our product candidates in one or more jurisdictions, or any approval contains significant limitations, we would not be able to generate anticipated revenues or become profitable, which would have an adverse effect on our business operations and financial conditions.
Success in research and preclinical studies or early clinical trial results may not be indicative of results obtained in later trials. Likewise, preliminary, initial or interim data from clinical trials should be considered carefully and with caution since the final data may be materially different from the preliminary, initial or interim data, particularly as more patient data become available.
Results from preclinical studies or early clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future clinical trial results, and interim results of a clinical trial are not necessarily indicative of final results. Our product candidates may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy in clinical development despite demonstrating positive results in preclinical studies or having successfully advanced through initial clinical trials or preliminary stages of clinical trials. From time to time, we have and may in the future publish or report preliminary, initial or interim data. Preliminary, initial or interim data from our clinical trials and those of our partners may not be indicative of the final results of the trial and are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and/or more patient data become available. In this regard, such data may show initial evidence of clinical benefit, but as patients continue to be followed and more patient data becomes available, there is a risk that any therapeutic effects will not be durable in patients and/or will decrease over time, or
cease entirely. Preliminary, initial or interim data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from such preliminary, initial or interim data. As a result, preliminary, initial or interim data should be considered carefully and with caution until the final data are available.
There is no guarantee that any of our pending clinical trials will be successful. Moreover, we have pending clinical trials involving our zinc finger nucleases, or ZFN, technology, where the clinical benefit has not been demonstrated in analyses conducted to date in the ongoing clinical trials. Although we are planning new clinical trials to evaluate updated ZFNs and other potential modifications to enhance the in vivo delivery of the ZFNs, there can be no assurance that we will be able to effectively deliver ZFNs to produce a clinical benefit to patients treated with our product candidates. In addition, our viral delivery systems and ZFN technologies continue to evolve and neither has been fully validated in human clinical trials for the therapeutic areas we are pursuing. If our viral delivery systems or ZFN technologies do not meet the safety criteria or cannot produce the desirable efficacy results we expect, we may be forced to suspend or terminate the affected program or seek alternative technologies to deliver ZFNs.
In addition, there is a high failure rate for drugs, biologic products and cell therapies proceeding through clinical trials. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials even after achieving promising results in preclinical testing and earlier-stage clinical trials. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical activities are subject to varying interpretations, which may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. Any such setbacks could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Our product candidates are subject to a lengthy and uncertain regulatory approval process in each jurisdiction where approval is sought.
A regulatory authority such as the FDA or the EMA, must approve any human therapeutic product before it can be marketed in such jurisdiction. The process for receiving regulatory approval is long and uncertain, and a potential product may not withstand the rigors of testing under the regulatory approval processes. Before commencing clinical trials in humans in the United States, we must submit an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, to the FDA. Certain countries outside of the United States have a similar process that requires the submission of a clinical trial application much like the IND prior to the commencement of human clinical trials. In the EU, for example, a clinical trial authorization, or CTA, must be submitted for each clinical protocol to each country’s national health authority and an independent ethics committee. Only after an IND becomes effective and/or the applicable CTA has been accepted may clinical trials begin. See “Business—Government Regulation” for details regarding the regulatory approval processes applicable to our product candidates. While there is some overlap, the regulatory requirements to conduct clinical trials and seek marketing approval vary by jurisdiction. There is no guarantee that the safety studies and other data generated will be sufficient to permit us to conduct clinical trials in all jurisdictions where planned, or once generated, that such clinical trial data will be sufficient to obtain marketing approval in all jurisdictions in which we intend to seek such approval. If we are not able to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals to conduct our clinical trials, or commercialize our products, or if such approvals are delayed or suspended, it would have an adverse effect on our business operations and trading price of our common stock.
We may not be able to find suitable patients or find it difficult to enroll patients for our clinical trials, which could delay or prevent us from proceeding with clinical trials of our product candidates.
Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical trials depends on our ability to recruit patients to participate as well as completion of required follow-up periods. For example, hemophilia trials often take longer to enroll due to the availability of existing treatments. There are also a number of other product candidates in development by our competitors, who compete for the same limited patient populations. We infused the first patient in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial evaluating ST-400 for the treatment of beta thalassemia in the first quarter of 2019 and have enrolled five out of the six targeted as of the date of this report. If we are not able to enroll the necessary number of patients in a timely manner, we may not be able to complete our clinical trials. We may face similar challenges or delays in our other or potential future clinical trials. If patients are unwilling to participate in our gene therapy studies because of negative publicity from adverse events related to the biotechnology or gene therapy fields, competitive clinical trials for similar patient populations or for other reasons, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product candidates, delays in testing the effectiveness of our product candidates or termination of the clinical trials altogether.
We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of patients, or those with required or desired characteristics, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment and trial completion is affected by factors including:
•size of the patient population and process for identifying subjects;
•design of the trial protocol;
•eligibility and exclusion criteria;
•perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
•perceived risks and benefits of gene therapy-based approaches to treatment of diseases;
•availability of competing therapies and clinical trials;
•severity of the disease under investigation;
•availability of genetic testing for potential patients;
•proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective subjects;
•ability to obtain and maintain subject consent;
•risk that enrolled subjects will drop out before completion of the trial;
•patient referral practices of physicians; and
•ability to monitor subjects adequately during and after treatment.
If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, or expand to additional jurisdictions, which could impose additional challenges on our company and expose us to risks. If we are not successful in conducting our clinical trials as planned, it would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may encounter difficulties that may delay, suspend or scale back our efforts to advance additional research programs through preclinical development, IND and foreign equivalent submissions and into clinical development.
We intend to advance early research programs through preclinical development and to submit new INDs, CTAs and equivalent filings in foreign regulatory jurisdictions necessary to commence and conduct human clinical trials evaluating the preclinical candidates in our pipeline. The preparation and submission of INDs and their foreign equivalents requires us to conduct rigorous and time-consuming preclinical testing, studies, and prepare documentation relating to, among other things, the toxicity, safety, manufacturing, chemistry and clinical protocol of our product candidates. We may experience unforeseen difficulties that could delay or otherwise prevent us from executing this strategy successfully. For example, we may encounter problems in the manufacturing of our products and fail to demonstrate consistency in the formulation of the drug. Our preclinical tests may produce negative or inconclusive results, which may lead us to decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional preclinical testing. If we cannot obtain positive results in preclinical testing, we may decide to abandon the projects altogether. In addition, our ability to complete and submit certain IND applications and foreign equivalent filings depends on the support of our partners and the timely performance of their obligations under relevant collaboration agreements. If our partners are not able to perform such obligations or if they choose to slow down or delay the progress, we may not be able to prepare and submit the intended INDs or their foreign equivalents on a timely basis or at all. Furthermore, the submission of several INDs and their foreign equivalents involves significant cost and labor, and we may not have sufficient resources and personnel to complete the filing of all intended INDs and their foreign equivalents, which may force us to scale back the number of INDs and their foreign equivalents or forego potential INDs and foreign equivalents that we believe are promising. Any delay, suspension or reduction of our efforts to pursue our preclinical and IND strategy could have an adverse effect on our business and cause our stock price to decline.
Special regulatory designations, such as RMAT, or orphan drug designations, may not be available for our product candidates or may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.
We have received RMAT, designation for our product candidate to treat severe hemophilia A. Additionally, some of our product candidates have also been granted Orphan Drug Designation by the FDA, and some have also been designated Orphan Medicinal Products by the EMA. Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and the EU, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. For additional information regarding these special regulatory designations, see “Business—Government Regulation.”
If we request such designations for our other current or future product candidates, there can be no assurances that the FDA or the EMA will grant any of our product candidates such designations. Additionally, such designations do not guarantee that any regulatory agency will accelerate regulatory review of, or ultimately approve, those product candidates, nor does it limit the ability of any regulatory agency to grant such designations to product candidates of other companies that treat the same indications as our product candidates prior to our product candidates receiving exclusive marketing approval. Such designations can also be revoked. RMAT designation can be revoked if the criteria for eligibility cease to be met as clinical data emerges. Orphan drug exclusivity may be revoked if any regulatory agency determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.
Our product candidates may cause undesirable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the approved indications or commercial potential, or result in significant negative consequences following any potential marketing approval.
During the conduct of clinical trials, patients report changes in their health, including illnesses, injuries and discomforts, to their study doctor. Often, it is not possible to determine whether or not the product candidate being studied caused these conditions, particularly as many of the diseases we are studying have complex comorbidities. If clinical experience indicates that our product candidates have side effects or cause serious or life-threatening side effects, the development of the product candidate may fail or be delayed, or, if the product candidate has received regulatory approval, such approval may be revoked, which would severely harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
There have been several significant adverse side effects in gene therapy treatments in the past, including reported cases of leukemia and death seen in other trials using other genomic therapies. Gene therapy is still a relatively new approach to disease treatment and additional adverse side effects could develop. There also is the potential risk of significantly delayed adverse events following exposure to gene therapy products due to persistent biologic activity of the genetic material or other components of products used to carry the genetic material. Possible adverse side effects that could occur with treatment with gene therapy products include an immunologic reaction early after administration that, while not necessarily adverse to the patient’s health, could substantially limit the effectiveness of the treatment.
Even if our product development efforts are successful and even if the requisite regulatory approvals are obtained, our products may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors and the medical community.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates that we may develop or acquire in the future, the applicable product may not gain market acceptance among physicians, healthcare payors, patients or the medical community. Market acceptance of any of our product candidates for which we receive approval depends on a number of factors, including:
•the efficacy and safety of such product candidates as demonstrated in clinical trials;
•the clinical indications and patient populations for which the product candidate is approved;
•acceptance by physicians, major cancer treatment centers and patients of the drug as a safe and effective treatment;
•the adoption of novel gene therapies by physicians, hospitals and third-party payors;
•the potential and perceived advantages of product candidates over alternative treatments;
•the safety of product candidates seen in a broader patient group, including its use outside the approved indications;
•any restrictions on use together with other medications;
•the prevalence and severity of any side effects;
•product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities;
•the timing of market introduction of our products as well as competitive products;
•the development of manufacturing and distribution processes for our product candidates;
•the cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;
•the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement and the willingness of patients to pay out-of-pocket in the absence of coverage or inadequacy of reimbursement by third-party payors and government authorities;
•relative convenience and ease of administration; and
•the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts and those of our collaborators.
If any of our product candidates are approved but fail to achieve market acceptance among physicians, patients, healthcare payors or treatment centers, we will not be able to generate significant revenues, which would compromise our ability to become profitable.
Even if we are able to commercialize our product candidates, the products may not receive coverage and adequate reimbursement from third-party payors in the United States and in other countries in which we seek to commercialize our products, which could harm our business.
Our ability to commercialize any product successfully will depend, in part, on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, determine which medications they will cover and establish reimbursement levels, which can affect demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain regulatory approval. Given the nature of the product candidates that we are developing, some patients may require treatment
only one time (e.g., single dose administration), and there is substantial uncertainty about the pricing structure for such products, and the level of coverage and reimbursement that will be available for a shift to single-dose treatment as compared to chronic therapy over a patient’s lifetime. If other companies establish a new pricing structure or business model, including payment based on demonstration of long term efficacy, our ability to price or obtain reimbursement for our products may be adversely affected. If such pricing structure or business model do not adequately fund the costs of our research and development, manufacturing and commercialization efforts, our business may be adversely affected.
In addition to uncertainty about the potential pricing structure for certain of our product candidates, cost containment is a recurrent trend in the healthcare industry. Government authorities and third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. We cannot be sure that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, what the level of reimbursement will be. If reimbursement is not available or is available only at limited levels, we may be unable to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain regulatory approval. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable reimbursement rates from both government-funded and private payors for any approved products that we develop could have an adverse effect on our operating results, our ability to raise capital needed to commercialize products and our overall financial condition.
Recently enacted and future legislation, including potentially unfavorable pricing regulations or other healthcare reform initiatives, may increase the difficulty and cost for us to obtain regulatory approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we may obtain.
The regulations that govern, among other things, regulatory approvals, coverage, pricing and reimbursement for new drug products vary widely from country to country. In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to successfully sell any product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval. Also, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny recently over pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state 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 pharmaceutical products. At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed 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, have been designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. For a discussion of health reform activity and the current pricing framework, see “Business—Government Regulation—Healthcare Reform” and “—Pricing, Coverage and Reimbursement.”
The continuing efforts of the government, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other payors of healthcare services to contain or reduce costs of healthcare and/or impose price controls may adversely affect:
•the demand for our product candidates, if we obtain regulatory approval;
•our ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;
•our ability to generate revenue and achieve or maintain profitability;
•the level of taxes that we are required to pay; and
•the availability of capital.
Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors, which may adversely affect our future profitability.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, our products will remain subject to regulatory scrutiny.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval in a jurisdiction, the regulatory authority may still impose significant restrictions on the indicated uses or marketing of our product candidates, or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-approval studies, post-market surveillance or patient or drug restrictions. For example, the FDA typically advises that patients treated with gene therapy undergo follow-up observations for potential adverse events for a 15-year period. Additionally, the holder of an approved BLA is required to comply with FDA rules and is subject to FDA review and periodic inspections, in addition to other potentially applicable federal and state laws, to ensure compliance with good manufacturing practices, or GMP, and adherence to commitments made in the BLA.
If we or a regulatory agency discovers previously unknown problems with a product such as adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, a regulatory agency may impose restrictions relative to that product or the manufacturing facility, including requiring recall or withdrawal of the product
from the market or suspension of manufacturing. Moreover, product labeling, advertising and promotion for any approved product will be subject to regulatory requirements and continuing regulatory review. Failure to comply with such requirements, when and if applicable, could subject us to a number of actions ranging from warning letters to product seizures or significant fines, among other actions. See “Business—Government Regulation—U.S. Review and Approval Processes” for more information.
Any government investigation of alleged violations of laws or regulations 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 generate revenues.
Our employees or contractors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with research, development, manufacturing or regulatory standards and requirements, which could cause significant liability for us and harm our reputation.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees and contractors, including intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations or similar regulations of comparable foreign regulatory authorities, provide accurate information to the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities, comply with manufacturing standards we have established, comply with federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and similar laws and regulations established and enforced by comparable foreign regulatory authorities, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. Misconduct by our employees and contractors could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter such 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 be in compliance with such laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business and results of operations, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, personal imprisonment, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, 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 curtailment or restructuring of our operations.
We may use our financial and human resources to pursue a particular research program or product candidate and fail to capitalize on programs or product candidates that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
We have limited resources, and may forego or delay pursuit of certain programs or product candidates that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities, or pursue partnering arrangements rather than retain sole responsibility for development. Our current and future research and development programs for product candidates may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate, we may pursue opportunities that end up having a number of competitors that are more advance than our product candidates, or relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through strategic collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases where it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate. We may also allocate internal resources to a product candidate in a therapeutic area in which it would have been more advantageous to enter into a partnering arrangement or that do not prove to have viable commercial opportunities. Any failure to use our financial and human resources efficiently could harm our business and operations.
Even if our technology proves to be effective, it still may not lead to commercially viable products.
Even if we, our collaborators or strategic partners are successful in using our zinc finger protein, or ZFP, technology in drug discovery, protein production, therapeutic development or other areas in which we have licensed our technology, such as plant agriculture, they may not be able to commercialize the resulting products or may decide to use other methods competitive with this technology. To date, no company has received marketing approval or has developed or commercialized any therapeutic or agricultural products based on our ZFP technology. Should our technology fail to provide safe, effective, useful or commercially viable approaches to the discovery and development of these product candidates, this would significantly limit our business and future growth and would adversely affect our value.
Risks Relating to Manufacturing
We are building a manufacturing facility that could support future clinical production of our product candidates. We have no experience as a company manufacturing pharmaceutical products, and there can be no assurance that we will
be able to build a compliant manufacturing facility or, if built, we will be able to successfully manufacture any of our product candidates.
We expect to utilize both contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, and our own facility to meet our projected needs for clinical supply. We intend to expand our manufacturing capacity by designing and building a manufacturing facility in Brisbane, California that we plan to initially use to support our clinical supply needs. To meet these objectives we will need to transition manufacturing processes and know-how of our product candidates to our own facility. Transferring manufacturing processes and know-how is complex and involves review and incorporation of both documented and undocumented processes that may have evolved over time. In addition, transferring production to different facilities may require utilization of new or different processes to meet the specific requirements of a given facility. Additional studies may also need to be conducted to support the transfer of certain manufacturing processes and process improvements. We cannot be certain that all relevant know-how and data has been adequately incorporated into the manufacturing process until the completion of studies (and the related evaluations) intended to demonstrate the comparability of material previously produced with that generated by our CMOs. Although some of our employees have experience in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products from prior employment at other companies, we, as a company, have no prior experience in pharmaceutical product manufacturing, and operating this facility will require us to comply with complex regulations and to continue to hire and retain experienced scientific, quality control, quality assurance and manufacturing personnel. Designing and building a manufacturing facility has been and will continue to be time-consuming and expensive, and we may experience delays or cost overruns. In addition, government approvals will be required for us to operate a manufacturing facility and can be time-consuming to obtain. As a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, we also will be required to demonstrate and maintain cGMP compliance. These requirements include, among other things, quality control, quality assurance and the maintenance of records and documentation. Furthermore, establishing manufacturing operations will require a reallocation of other resources, particularly the time and attention of our senior management. Even if we are able to establish our own manufacturing capabilities, we could encounter challenges in operating the manufacturing facility in compliance with cGMP, regulatory or other applicable requirements, resulting in potential negative consequences, including regulatory actions, which could undermine our ability to utilize this facility for our own manufacturing needs. Any failure or delay in the development of our manufacturing capabilities could adversely impact the development of our product candidates.
We operate laboratory and manufacturing as part of our facilities. If we use chemical biological and hazardous materials in a manner that causes injury or violates laws, we may be liable for damages.
There are risks associated with manufacturing our product candidates including, among others, cGMP compliance, cost overruns, technical problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, lot consistency, yields and timely availability of raw materials. Even if efficacy and safety data from our clinical trials would otherwise support regulatory approval for a product candidate, there is no assurance that we or any third-party manufacturer will be able to manufacture our product candidates to specifications at levels necessary to support or maintain regulatory approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities.
For example, some of our product candidates are biologics and their manufacture involves complex processes, including the development of cell lines or cell systems to produce the biologic, with the challenge of significant variability. Further, there are difficulties in growing large quantities of such cells, consistently and sufficiently isolating certain types of cells and harvesting and purifying the biologic produced by them. The cost to manufacture biologics is generally far higher than traditional small molecule chemical compounds, and the manufacturing process can be difficult to reproduce. Additionally, our research and development activities involve the controlled use of potentially harmful biological materials as well as hazardous materials, chemicals, and various radioactive compounds typically employed in the study of molecular and cellular biology. We routinely use cells in culture and gene delivery vectors, and we employ small amounts of radioisotopes in trace experiments. Although we maintain up-to-date licensing and training programs, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of accidental contamination or injury from the use, storage, handling, or disposal of these materials. In the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages that result, and any liability could exceed our resources. We currently carry insurance covering certain claims arising from our use of these materials. However, if we are unable to maintain our insurance coverage at a reasonable cost and with adequate coverage, our insurance may not cover any liability that may arise. We are subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations governing the use, storage, handling, and disposal of these materials and specified waste products.
Thus, there is no guarantee we will be successful in establishing a larger-scale commercial manufacturing process for our pipeline product candidates or obtaining the needed manufacturing capacity. Due to the high cost to manufacture, inherent uncertainty related to manufacturing costs, and uncertainty in our patient population, there is risk that some of our product candidates may not be commercially viable.
Supply interruptions may disrupt our inventory levels and the availability of our product candidates, and cause delays in obtaining regulatory approval, which could harm our business by reducing our potential revenues.
Our product candidates are manufactured using technically complex processes requiring specialized facilities, highly specific raw materials and other production constraints. The complexity of these processes, as well as strict government standards for the manufacture and storage of our products candidates, subjects us to production risks. While product batches released for use in clinical trials undergo sample testing, some defects may only be identified following product release. In addition, process deviations or unanticipated effects of approved process changes may result in these intermediate products not complying with stability requirements or specifications. For example, our product candidates must be stored and transported at temperatures within a certain range. If these environmental conditions deviate, our product candidates’ remaining shelf-lives could be impaired or their efficacy and safety could be adversely affected, making them no longer suitable for use.
The occurrence, or suspected occurrence, of production and distribution difficulties can lead to lost inventories, with consequential reputational damage and the risk of product liability. The investigation and remediation of any identified problems can cause development delays and substantial expense. Any unforeseen failure in the storage of the product or loss in supply could delay our clinical trials and, with respect to our product candidates that may be approved, result in a loss of our market share and negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We currently rely on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of manufacturing of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical development. If one of our third-party manufacturers fails to perform adequately or fulfill our needs, we may be required to incur significant costs and devote significant efforts, to find new suppliers or manufacturers.
We currently have limited experience in clinical-scale manufacturing of our product candidates and we rely upon third-party CMOs to manufacture and supply drug product for our preclinical and clinical studies. Although we are in the process of building out a cGMP compliant manufacturing facility in our Brisbane facility, it is not yet ready, and will only manufacture limited quantities of our product candidates for our early stage clinical trials. We intend to continue to rely on third parties for the manufacture of product candidates for later stage clinical trials, and commercial-scale manufacturing for any approved product. The manufacture of pharmaceutical products in compliance with the FDA’s cGMP requires significant expertise and capital investment, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls. Manufacturers of pharmaceutical products often encounter difficulties in production, including difficulties with production costs and yields, quality control, including stability of the product candidate and quality assurance testing, shortages of qualified personnel, as well as compliance with strictly enforced cGMP requirements, other federal and state regulatory requirements and foreign regulations. If our manufacturers were to encounter any of these difficulties or otherwise fail to comply with their obligations to us or under applicable regulations, our ability to provide study biologics in our clinical studies would be jeopardized. Any delay or interruption in the supply of clinical study materials could delay the completion of our clinical studies, increase the costs associated with maintaining our clinical study programs and, depending upon the period of delay, require us to commence new studies at significant additional expense or terminate the studies completely.
We and our CMOs must comply with cGMP requirements enforced by the FDA through its facilities inspection program. These requirements include, among other things, quality control, quality assurance and the maintenance of records and documentation. We and our CMOs may be unable to comply with these cGMP requirements and with other FDA, state and foreign regulatory requirements. The FDA or similar foreign regulatory agencies may also implement new standards at any time, or change their interpretation and enforcement of existing standards for manufacture, packaging or testing of products. We have limited control over our manufacturers’ compliance with these regulations and standards. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in fines and civil penalties, suspension of production, suspension or delay in product approval, product seizure or recall or withdrawal of product approval. If the safety of any product supplied is compromised due to our manufacturers’ failure to adhere to applicable laws or for other reasons, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our products and we may be held liable for any injuries sustained as a result. Any of these factors could cause a delay of clinical studies, regulatory submissions, approvals or commercialization of our product candidates, entail higher costs or impair our reputation.
Our current agreements with our CMOs do not provide for the entire supply of the drug product necessary for all anticipated clinical studies or for full scale commercialization. If we and our CMOs cannot agree to the terms and conditions for them to provide the drug product necessary for our clinical and commercial supply needs, we may not be able to manufacture the product candidate until a qualified alternative manufacturer is identified, which could also delay the development of, and impair our ability to commercialize our product candidates.
The number of third-party CMOs with the necessary manufacturing and regulatory expertise and facilities is limited, and it could be expensive and take a significant amount of time to arrange for alternative CMOs, which could have an adverse effect on our business. New manufacturers of any product candidate would be required to qualify under applicable regulatory requirements and would need to have sufficient rights under applicable intellectual property laws to the method of manufacturing the product candidate. Obtaining the necessary FDA approvals or other qualifications under applicable regulatory requirements and ensuring non-infringement of third-party intellectual property rights could result in a significant interruption of supply and could require the new manufacturer to bear significant additional costs which may be passed on to us.
Risks Relating to our Industry
Our product candidates are based on novel technologies, which makes it difficult to predict the timing and costs of development and of subsequently obtaining regulatory approval.
We have concentrated our research and development efforts on gene therapy, gene-edited cell therapy, genome editing and genome regulation. The regulatory approval process for novel product candidates such as ours is unclear and may be lengthier and more expensive than the process for other, better-known or more extensively studied product candidates.
Adverse developments in clinical trials of gene therapy products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for approval of our product candidates.
These regulatory review committees and advisory groups, and any new guidelines they promulgate, may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our current or future product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. As we advance our product candidates, we will be required to consult with these regulatory and advisory groups and comply with applicable guidelines. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of our product candidates. These additional processes may result in a review and approval process that is longer than we otherwise would have expected. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a potential product to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product revenue, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects would be harmed. Even if our product candidates are approved, we expect that the FDA will require us to submit follow-up data regarding our clinical trial subjects for a number of years after any approval. If this follow-up data shows negative long-term safety or efficacy outcomes for these patients, the FDA may revoke its approval or change the label of our products in a manner that could have an adverse impact on our business.
In addition, adverse developments in clinical trials of gene therapy or cell therapy products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other oversight bodies to change the requirements for approval of our product candidates. The FDA and EMA have only very recent and limited experience in the approval of in vivo gene therapy products. As a result, it is difficult to determine how long it will take or how much it will cost to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates.
If we or our competitors develop, acquire, or market technologies or products that are more effective than ours, our financial condition and ability to successfully market or commercialize our product candidates or be profitable would be adversely affected.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are highly competitive and subject to significant and rapid technological change. We are aware of several companies focused on other methods for editing cells, editing genes and regulating gene expression and a limited number of commercial and academic groups pursuing the development of genome editing and genome regulation technology. The field of applied gene-edited cell therapy, genome editing and genome regulation is highly competitive and we expect competition to persist and intensify in the future from a number of different sources, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic and research institutions, and government agencies that will seek to develop competing products as well as technologies that will compete with our ZFP technology platform. For example, in genome editing and gene therapy products, competing proprietary technologies with our product development focus include but are not limited to, recombinant proteins, other gene therapy/cDNAs, antisense, siRNA and microRNA approaches, exon skipping, small molecule drugs, monoclonal antibodies, CRISPR/Cas technology and TALE proteins, meganucleases, and MegaTALs. See “Business—Competition” for more information on the competition we may face.
Any products that we or our collaborators or strategic partners develop by using our ZFP technology platform will enter into highly competitive markets. Even if we are able to generate products that are safe and effective for their intended use, competing technologies may prove to be more effective or less expensive, which, to the extent these competing technologies achieve market acceptance, will limit our revenue opportunities. In some cases, competing technologies have proven to be effective and less expensive. Competing technologies may include other methods of regulating gene expression or modifying genes. ZFNs and ZFP-TFs have broad application in the life sciences industry and compete with a broad array of new technologies and approaches being applied to genetic research by many companies.
In addition to possessing competing technologies, our competitors include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with:
•substantially greater capital resources than ours;
•larger research and development staffs and facilities than ours; and
•greater experience in product development and in obtaining regulatory approvals and patent protection.
These organizations also compete with us to attract qualified personnel, attract parties for acquisitions, joint ventures or other collaborations and license the proprietary technologies of academic and research institutions that are competitive with
our technology, which may preclude us from pursuing similar opportunities. Accordingly, our competitors may succeed in obtaining patent protection or commercializing products before us. Even if our product candidate is more effective, it may be disadvantaged if it is not first to market. In addition, any products that we develop may compete with existing products or services that are well established in the marketplace. Further, some of our product candidates in development are designed to use once. Any success in developing single-dose therapeutics could cause us to lose potential recurring revenues from therapeutics that are designed to be taken over a patient’s lifetime.
Negative public opinion and increased regulatory scrutiny of gene therapy and genomic medicines may damage public perception of the safety of our product candidates and adversely affect our ability to conduct our business or obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates.
Genetically modified products are currently subject to public debate and heightened regulatory scrutiny, either of which could prevent or delay production of agricultural products. Gene therapy remains a novel technology, with only two in vivo gene therapy products approved for a genetic disease to date in the United States and only a few in vivo gene therapy products for genetic diseases approved to date in the EU. Public perception may be influenced by claims that gene therapy is unsafe, and gene therapy may not gain the acceptance of the public or the medical community. For example, reports of serious adverse events in a retroviral gene transfer trial for infants with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-linked SCID) in France and subsequent FDA actions putting related trials on hold in the United States had a significant negative impact on the public perception and stock price of certain companies involved in gene therapy, whether or not the specific company was involved with retroviral gene transfer, or whether the specific company’s clinical trials were placed on hold in connection with these events. Other adverse events could occur in the field of gene therapy and genomic medicine that could result in increased regulatory scrutiny, potential regulatory delays or negative impact on public perception of gene therapy and genomic medicines, which could cause our stock price to decline.
In particular, our success will depend upon physicians who specialize in the treatment of genetic diseases targeted by our product candidates, prescribing treatments that involve the use of our product candidates in lieu of, or in addition to, existing treatments with which they are familiar and for which greater clinical data may be available.
Even if the regulatory approval for genetically modified products developed using our technology is obtained, our success will also depend on public acceptance of the use of genetically modified products including drugs, plants, and plant products. Claims that genetically modified products are unsafe for consumption or pose a danger to the environment may influence public attitudes. Our genetically modified products may not gain public acceptance. More restrictive government regulations or negative public opinion would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects and may delay or impair the development and commercialization of our product candidates or demand for any products we may develop. For example, earlier gene therapy trials led to several well-publicized adverse events, including cases of leukemia and death seen in other trials using other vectors. Serious adverse events in our clinical trials, or other clinical trials involving gene therapy products or our competitors’ products, even if not ultimately attributable to the relevant product candidates, and the resulting publicity, could result in increased government regulation, unfavorable public perception, potential regulatory delays in the testing or approval of our product candidates, stricter labeling requirements for those product candidates that are approved and a decrease in demand for any such product candidates.
Our current and future relationships with healthcare providers, customers and third-party payors subject us to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations. If we fail to comply with federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, including healthcare, privacy and data security laws and regulations, we could face substantial penalties and our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects could be adversely affected.
Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any product candidates for which we obtain regulatory approval. Arrangements with healthcare providers, third-party payors and customers may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we would market, sell and distribute our products. As a biotechnology company, even though we will not control referrals of healthcare services or bill directly to Medicare, Medicaid or other third-party payors, federal and state healthcare laws and regulations pertaining to fraud and abuse and patients’ rights are and will be applicable to our business. For details regarding the restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations that may affect our ability to operate see “Business—Government Regulation—Additional Regulation”.
The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Scrutiny has also increased, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. Responding to investigations can be time-and resource-consuming and can divert management’s attention from the business. Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. If our operations or if any physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do
business are found to not be in compliance with applicable laws or applicable regulations, we and they could be subjected to significant civil, criminal and administrative enforcement actions, see “Business—Government Regulation—Additional Regulation”.
Further, we are required to comply with privacy and data security laws, such as the GDPR and the CCPA, which apply to the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data. For more information regarding these regulations, see “Business—Government Regulation—Privacy Regulation”. Any failure or alleged failure (including as a result of deficiencies in our policies, procedures or measures relating to privacy, data security, marketing or communications) by us to comply with laws, regulations, policies, legal or contractual obligations, industry standards or regulatory guidance relating to privacy or data security, may result in governmental investigations and enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity. In addition, new regulation, legislative actions or changes in interpretation of existing laws or regulations regarding data privacy and security (together with applicable industry standards) may increase our costs of doing business. In this regard, we expect that there will continue to be new proposed laws, regulations and industry standards relating to privacy and data protection in the United States, the EU and other jurisdictions, and we cannot determine the impact such future laws, regulations and standards will have on our business.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of any products that we may develop.
We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in human clinical trials and will face an even greater risk if we commercially sell any products that we may develop. Product liability claims may be brought against us by subjects enrolled in our clinical trials, patients, healthcare providers or others using, administering or selling our products. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we could incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:
•decreased demand for any product candidates or products that we may develop;
•termination of clinical trial sites or entire trial programs;
•injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
•withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
•significant costs to defend the related litigation;
•substantial monetary awards to trial subjects or patients;
•loss of revenue;
•diversion of management and scientific resources from our business operations; and
•the inability to commercialize any products that we may develop.
We currently hold product liability insurance coverage at a level that we believe is customary for similarly situated companies and adequate to provide us with insurance coverage for foreseeable risks, but which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise. We intend to expand our insurance coverage for products to include the sale of commercial products if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates in development, but we may be unable to obtain commercially reasonable product liability insurance for any products that receive regulatory approval. Large judgments have been awarded in class action lawsuits based on drugs that had unanticipated side effects. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us, particularly if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could decrease our cash and adversely affect our business.
Risks Relating to our Finances
We have incurred significant operating losses since inception and anticipate that we will incur continued losses for the foreseeable future.
We have generated operating losses since we began operations in 1995. The extent of our future losses and the timing of profitability are uncertain, and we expect to incur losses for the foreseeable future. We have been engaged in developing our ZFP technology since inception, which has and will continue to require significant research and development expenditures. To date, we have generated our funding from issuance of equity securities, revenues derived from collaboration agreements, other strategic partnerships in non-therapeutic applications of our technology, federal government research grants and grants awarded by research foundations. We expect to continue to incur additional operating losses for the next several years as we continue to advance our product candidates. If the time required to generate significant product revenues and achieve profitability is longer than we currently anticipate or if we are unable to generate liquidity through equity financing or other sources of funding, we may be forced to curtail or suspend our operations.
We may be unable to raise additional capital on favorable terms, if at all, which would harm our ability to develop our technology and product candidates, and could delay or terminate some or all of our programs. Future sales and issuances could also result in dilution to our stockholders.
We have incurred significant operating losses and negative operating cash flows since inception and have not achieved profitability. We expect capital outlays and operating expenditures to increase over the next several years as we expand our infrastructure and research and product development activities. While we believe our available cash resources, as well as funds received from corporate collaborators, strategic partners and research grants will enable us to maintain our currently planned operations through at least the next 12 months from the date the financial statements are issued, we will need to raise substantial additional capital to fund the development, manufacturing and potential commercialization of our product candidates. The February 2020 collaboration agreement and stock purchase agreements with Biogen are not yet effective, and we will not receive the upfront payment or the proceeds from the sale of our common stock until they become effective and customary closing conditions are met. We regularly consider fund raising opportunities and may decide, from time to time, to raise capital based on various factors, including market conditions and our plans of operation. In addition, as we focus our efforts on proprietary human therapeutics, we will need to seek FDA approvals of potential products, a process that could cost in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars per product. We may experience difficulties in accessing the capital market due to external factors beyond our control such as volatility in the equity markets for emerging biotechnology companies and general economic and market conditions both in the United States and abroad. We cannot be certain that we will be able to obtain financing on terms acceptable to us, or at all. Our failure to obtain adequate and timely funding will adversely affect our business and our ability to develop our technology and products candidates.
To the extent we raise additional capital by issuing equity securities, our stockholders may experience substantial dilution. We may sell common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities in one or more transactions at prices and in a manner we determine from time to time. If we sell common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities in more than one transaction, investors may be materially diluted by subsequent sales. These sales may also result in material dilution to our existing stockholders, and new investors could gain rights superior to our existing stockholders.
Our ability to use net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to limitations.
Although certain amount of our federal net operating loss carryforwards carry forward indefinitely (but are subject to a percentage limitation), a significant amount of our federal and all of our state net operating loss carryforwards will begin to expire, if not utilized, beginning in 2024 and 2029, respectively. The net operating loss carryforwards subject to expiration could expire unused and be unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities. In addition, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” which is generally defined as a greater than 50 percentage point change in its equity ownership value over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change income or taxes may be limited. We have experienced an ownership change in the past and we may also experience additional ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. If an ownership change occurs and our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards is materially limited, it would harm our future operating results by effectively increasing our future tax obligations. In addition, at the state level, there may be periods during which the use of net operating loss carryforwards is suspended or otherwise limited, which could accelerate or permanently increase state taxes owed. As a result, if we earn net taxable income, we may be unable to use all or a material portion of our net operating loss carryforwards and other tax attributes, which could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us and adversely affect our future cash flows.
Risks Relating to our Reliance on Third Parties
If conflicts arise between us and our contractors, collaborators or strategic partners, these parties may act in their self-interest, which may limit our ability to implement our strategies and otherwise harm our business and prospects.
If conflicts arise between our contractors, corporate or academic collaborators or strategic partners and us, the other party may act in its self-interest, which may limit our ability to implement our strategies. Some of our academic collaborators and strategic partners are conducting multiple product development efforts within each area that is the subject of the collaboration with us. Our collaborators or strategic partners may develop, either alone or with others, products in related fields that are competitive with the products or potential products that are the subject of these collaborations. Competing products, either developed by the collaborators or strategic partners or to which the collaborators or strategic partners have rights, may result in the withdrawal of partner support for our product candidates.
Some of our collaborators or strategic partners could also become our competitors in the future. Our collaborators or strategic partners could develop or invest in competing products, preclude us from entering into collaborations with their competitors, fail to obtain timely regulatory approvals, terminate their agreements with us prematurely, or fail to devote sufficient resources to the development and commercialization of product candidates covered by the applicable agreement.
In addition, conflicts could arise between us and our collaborators resulting from disputes regarding our or our collaborators’ or strategic partners’ performance under the applicable agreement, including disputes arising from alleged breaches of our agreements with our collaborators and strategic partners. For example, we have certain confidentiality obligations to our collaborators and strategic partners under our agreements with them, and it is possible that, in connection with the data security incident we disclosed in April 2018, we could be subject to claims that we have breached our confidentiality obligations, which could result in damages payable by us and/or the affected collaborator or strategic partner seeking to terminate its agreement with us.
Any of these developments could harm our product development efforts and otherwise adversely affect our business and prospects.
Our collaborators and strategic partners may control aspects of our research, development and manufacturing programs, including but not limited to, our clinical trials, which could result in delays and other obstacles in the commercialization of our proposed products.
We depend on third-party collaborators and strategic partners to design and conduct our clinical trials for some of our therapeutic programs. As a result, we may not be able to conduct these programs in the manner or on the time schedule we currently contemplate, which may negatively impact our business operations. In addition, if any of these collaborators or strategic partners withdraws support for our programs or proposed products or otherwise impair their development; our business could be negatively affected.
Our lack of control over the clinical development in our agreements with Biogen, Kite, Sanofi and Pfizer could cause delays or other difficulties in the development and commercialization of our product candidates, which may prevent us from completing the intended IND filings in a timely fashion and receiving any milestone, royalty payments and other benefits under the agreement. In addition, under their respective agreements, our third-party collaborators have certain rights to terminate the agreements by providing us with advance notices, therefore, the actual milestone payments that we may receive under these agreements may be substantially lower than the full amounts provided for under these agreements.
Our license collaborators or strategic partners may decide to adopt alternative technologies or products, or may be unable to develop commercially viable products with our technology, which would negatively impact our revenues and our strategy to develop these products.
Our collaborators or strategic partners may adopt alternative technologies, which could decrease the marketability of ZFP technology. Additionally, because many of our collaborators or strategic partners are likely to be working on more than one development project, they could choose to shift their resources to projects other than those they are working on with us. If they do so, this would delay our ability to test our technology and would delay or terminate the development of potential products based on our ZFP technology. Further, our collaborators and strategic partners may elect not to develop products arising out of our collaborative and strategic partnering arrangements or to devote sufficient resources to the development, manufacturing, marketing or sale of these products. If they terminate the collaborative relationship with us, we will be required to seek the support of other partners or collaborators. We may not have sufficient resources and expertise to develop these programs by ourselves, and we may not be able to identify a suitable partner or negotiate a favorable collaboration agreement to allow us to continue the development of these programs. If any of these events occur, we may not be able to develop our technologies or commercialize our products.
Commercialization of our technologies will depend, in part, on strategic partnering with other companies. If we are not able to find partners in the future or if our partners do not diligently pursue product development efforts, we may not be able to develop our technologies or product candidates, which could slow our growth and decrease the value of our stock.
We expect to rely, to some extent, on our strategic partners to provide funding in support of our research and to perform independent research and preclinical and clinical testing. Our technology is broad-based, and we do not currently possess the resources necessary to fully develop and commercialize potential products that may result from our technologies or the resources or capabilities to complete the lengthy marketing approval processes that may be required for the products. Therefore, we plan to rely on strategic partnerships to help us develop and commercialize our products. We have entered into collaborative agreements to provide funding and assistance in the development of certain product candidates through the clinical trial process. For example, we have an agreement with Biogen for ST-501, a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease, ST-502, a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for alpha-synuclein related diseases including Parkinson’s disease, among other targets for gene regulation therapies for the treatment of neurological diseases, we also have an agreement with Kite for potential engineered cell therapies for cancer, two separate agreements with Pfizer, one for SB-525 for hemophilia A, and another for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration linked to mutations of the C9ORF72 gene, and an agreement with Sanofi for our beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease product candidates.
If we are unable to find additional partners or if the partners are unable or unwilling to advance our programs, or if they do not diligently pursue product approval, this may slow our progress and adversely affect our ability to generate revenues.
In addition, our partners may sublicense or abandon development programs or we may have disagreements or disputes with our partners, which would cause associated product development to slow or cease. In addition, the business or operations of our partners may change significantly through restructuring, acquisition or other strategic transactions or decisions that may negatively impact their ability to advance our programs.
The loss of partnering agreements or inability to find future partnering agreements may delay or terminate the potential development or commercialization of products we may derive from our technologies, but it may also delay or terminate our ability to test our product candidates. If any partner fails to conduct the collaborative activities successfully or in a timely manner, the preclinical or clinical development or commercialization of the affected product candidates or research programs could be delayed or terminated.
Under typical partnering agreements, we would expect to receive revenue for the research and development of our product candidates based on achievement of specific milestones, as well as royalties based on a percentage of sales of the commercialized products. Achieving these milestones will depend, in part, on the efforts of our partner as well as our own. If we, or any partner, fail to meet specific milestones, then the partnership may be terminated, which could reduce our revenues.
Risks Relating to our Intellectual Property
Because it is difficult and costly to protect and maintain our proprietary rights, and third parties may have filed patent applications that are similar to ours, we may not be able to obtain or maintain proprietary protection of our technologies and products or we may only obtain protection in limited jurisdictions.
Our commercial success may depend in part on obtaining and enforcing patent protection for our technology and successfully defending any of our patents that may be challenged. Obtaining and enforcing pharmaceutical and biotechnology patents is costly, time consuming and complex, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications, or maintain, enforce and license any patents that may issue from such patent applications, at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. The patent positions of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies can be highly uncertain and can involve complex legal and factual questions. No consistent policy regarding the breadth of claims allowed in biotechnology patents has emerged to date. Accordingly, we cannot predict the breadth of claims that may issue from any patent applications that we own or license, nor are we able to predict whether any third-party patents might issue with claims that are relevant to our product candidates or technologies. Even if patents do successfully issue and even if such patents cover our product candidates, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed or invalidated. There is no assurance that all of the potentially relevant prior art relating to our patents and patent applications has been found, which can invalidate a patent or prevent a patent from issuing from a pending patent application. Furthermore, if third parties have filed similar patent applications, an interference or derivation proceeding in the United States can be initiated by the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office, a third party, or by us to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications.
We are a party to various license agreements that grant us rights under specified patents and patent applications. We are also party to various license agreements by which we grant third parties rights under specified patents and patent applications. Our current licenses contain performance obligations. If we fail to meet those obligations, the licenses could be terminated. If we are unable to continue to license these technologies on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, we may be forced to delay or terminate aspects of our product development and research activities.
With respect to our present and any future sublicenses, because our rights derive from those granted to our sublicensor, we are subject to the risk that our sublicensor may fail to perform its obligations under the master license or fail to inform us of useful improvements in, or additions to, the underlying intellectual property owned by the original licensor.
We are unable to exercise the same degree of control over intellectual property that we license from third parties as we exercise over our internally developed intellectual property. We do not control the prosecution of certain of the patent applications that we license from third parties; therefore, the patent applications may not be prosecuted as we desire or in a timely manner.
The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain, and we cannot ensure that:
•we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions covered by each of our pending patent applications;
•we or our licensors were the first to file patent applications for these inventions;
•the patents of others will not have an adverse effect on our ability to do business;
•others will not independently develop similar or alternative technologies or reverse engineer any of our products, processes or technologies;
•any of our pending patent applications will result in issued patents;
•any patents issued or licensed to us, our collaborators or strategic partners will provide a basis for commercially viable products or will provide us with any competitive advantages;
•any patents issued or licensed to us will not be challenged and invalidated by third parties; or
•we will develop additional products, processes or technologies that are patentable.
Others have filed and in the future are likely to file patent applications that are similar to ours. We are aware that there are academic groups and other companies that are attempting to develop technology that is based on the use of zinc finger, TALE, CRISPR/Cas and other DNA-binding proteins, and that these groups and companies have filed patent applications. Several patents with claims directed to this technology have issued, although we have no current plans to use the claimed inventions. If these or other patent applications issue as patents, it is possible that the holder of any patent or patents granted on these applications may bring an infringement action against us, our collaborators, or strategic partners claiming damages and seeking to enjoin commercial activities relating to the affected products and processes. The costs of litigating the claim could be substantial regardless of outcome. Moreover, we cannot predict whether we, our collaborators, or strategic partners would prevail in any actions. In addition, if the relevant patent claims were upheld as valid and enforceable and our products or processes were found to infringe a patent or patents, we or our collaborators may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, and we may be prevented from making, using, or selling the relevant product or process unless we or our collaborators could obtain a license or were able to design around the patent claims. We can give no assurance that such a license would be available to us or our collaborators on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, or that we would be able to successfully design around the relevant patent claims. There may be significant litigation in the genomics or cell therapy industry regarding patent and other intellectual property rights, which could subject us to litigation. If we become involved in litigation, it could consume a substantial portion of managerial and financial resources.
We rely on trade secrets to protect technology where we believe patent protection is not appropriate or obtainable. Trade secrets, however, are difficult to protect. While we require employees, academic collaborators and consultants to enter into confidentiality agreements, we may not be able to adequately protect our trade secrets or other proprietary information or enforce these confidentiality agreements.
Our collaborators, strategic partners, and scientific advisors have rights to publish data and information in which we may have rights. If we cannot maintain the confidentiality of our technology and other confidential information in connection with our collaborations and strategic partnerships, then we may not be able to receive patent protection or protect our proprietary information.
Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our product candidates for an adequate amount of time, and may vary based on jurisdiction.
Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date or from the filing date of the corresponding international application. Various extensions may be available. However, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. 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 generic medications. 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. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.
If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, the value of our technology could be adversely affected and our business would be harmed.
We rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements to protect proprietary know-how that is not patentable or that we elect not to patent, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our product candidate discovery and development processes that involve proprietary know-how, information or technology that is not covered by patents. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors, collaborators, partners and contractors. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of our premises and physical and electronic security of our information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures have been and may in the future be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. See also the risk factor titled, “Significant disruptions of our information technology systems or data security incidents could result in significant financial, legal, regulatory, business and reputational harm to us.” In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors.
Although we expect all of our employees and consultants to assign their inventions to us, and all of our employees, consultants, advisors, collaborators, partners and any third parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information or
technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, we cannot provide any assurances that all such agreements have been duly executed or that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our trade secrets could impair our competitive position and may have an adverse effect on our business. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating the trade secret. In addition, others may independently discover our trade secrets and proprietary information. For example, the FDA, as part of its Transparency Initiative, is currently considering whether to make additional information publicly available on a routine basis, including information that we may consider to be trade secrets or other proprietary information, and it is not clear at the present time how the FDA’s disclosure policies may change in the future, if at all.
Further, 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 material disclosure of the non-patented intellectual property related to our technologies to third parties, and there is no guarantee that we will have any such enforceable trade secret protection, we may not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to gene or cell therapy product components and processes for our development pipeline through acquisitions and in-licenses.
Presently, we believe we have rights to the intellectual property, through licenses from third parties and under patents that we own, to develop our gene and cell therapy product candidates. Because our programs may involve additional product candidates, such as TX200 and potential future CAR-Treg therapies that may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. In addition, our product candidates may require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently and these rights may be held by others. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities.
For example, we sometimes collaborate with U.S. and foreign academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical research or development under written agreements with these institutions. Typically, these institutions provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such right of first negotiation for intellectual property, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified time frame or under terms that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program.
In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights, our business, financial condition and prospects for growth could suffer.
If we fail to comply with our obligations in the agreements under which we license intellectual property rights from third parties or otherwise experience disruptions to our business relationships with our licensors, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.
We are a party to a number of intellectual property license agreements that are important to our business and expect to enter into additional license agreements in the future. Our existing license agreements impose, and we expect that future license agreements will impose, various diligence, milestone, royalty and other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with our obligations under these agreements, or we are subject to a bankruptcy, the licensor may have the right to terminate the license, in which event we would not be able to market products covered by the license.
We may need to obtain licenses from third parties to advance our research or allow commercialization of our product candidates, and we have done so from time to time. We may fail to obtain any of these licenses at a reasonable cost or on reasonable terms, if at all. In that event, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to develop or license replacement technology. If we are unable to do so, we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected product candidates, which could harm our business significantly. We cannot provide any assurances that third-party patents do not exist that might be enforced against our current product candidates or future products, resulting in either an injunction prohibiting our sales, or, with respect to our sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties and/or other forms of compensation to third parties.
In many cases, patent prosecution of our in-licensed technology is controlled solely by the licensor. If our licensors fail to obtain and maintain patent or other protection for the proprietary intellectual property we license from them, we could lose our rights to the intellectual property or our exclusivity with respect to those rights, and our competitors could market competing products using the intellectual property. In certain cases, 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 is of critical importance to our business and 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 under our collaborative development relationships;
•our diligence obligations under the license agreement and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;
•the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners; and
•the priority of invention of patented technology.
If disputes over intellectual property 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.
In addition, the agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology 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 an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. If disputes over intellectual property 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, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial conditions, results of operations, and prospects. As an example, Sangamo France has exclusively licensed the right to the CAR for use in TX200 from the University of British Columbia, or UBC. Should UBC terminate this license agreement, we may have to develop or acquire the appropriate CAR which would extend our anticipated development timeline and add expense, and which could result in our failure to realize the anticipated benefits of the acquisition of Sangamo France.
We may be involved in patent or intellectual property lawsuits or similar disputes involving patents under our control or patents of third-parties claiming infringement, which lawsuits could be expensive, time-consuming and impair or prevent development and commercialization activities.
Our commercial success depends in part on our avoiding infringement of the patents and proprietary rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation, both within and outside the United States, involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including patent infringement lawsuits, interferences, oppositions, ex parte reexaminations, post-grant review, and inter partes review proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or U.S. PTO, and corresponding foreign patent offices. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are pursuing development candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our product candidates may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties.
Third parties may assert that we are employing their proprietary technology without authorization, and such parties may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. There may be third-party patents or patent applications with claims to materials, formulations, methods of manufacture or methods for treatment related to the use or manufacture of our product candidates. For example, we are aware of certain patents held by a third party related to certain vector manufacturing methods that are currently being used in certain of our product candidates. We have not yet finalized the commercial scale manufacturing process for any of our product candidates. If our commercial scale manufacturing process utilizes these vector manufacturing methods, and if these third-party patents are in force at the time of commercialization, we may need to use or develop a non-infringing manufacturing method or seek a license to these patents. In any event, if any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover the manufacturing methods of any of our product candidates, any molecules formed during the manufacturing process or any final product itself, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize such product candidate unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire. Similarly, if any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our formulations, processes for manufacture or methods of use,
including combination therapy, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product candidate unless we obtained a license, or until such patents expires. Moreover, 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.
Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us, we may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties, redesign our infringing products or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure.
Competitors may also infringe our patents or the patents of our licensors. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that a patent of ours or our licensors is not valid, is unenforceable, in whole or in part, or may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology in question. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. Moreover, if we or one of our licensing partners initiated legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidate. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection could have an adverse impact on our business.
Interference or derivation proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the U.S. PTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions or other matters of inventorship with respect to our patents or patent applications or those of our licensors. An unfavorable outcome could expose us to significant monetary damages, result in the loss of valuable intellectual property, require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or if a non-exclusive license is offered and our competitors gain access to the same technology. Our defense of litigation, interference, derivation, or other proceedings may fail and, even if successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, alone or with our licensors, misappropriation of our intellectual property rights, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the United States.
Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation or administrative proceedings, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have an adverse effect on our ability to raise additional funds or otherwise have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.
We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties or that our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers.
We employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we try to ensure that our employees, consultants and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any of our employee’s former employer or other third parties. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel, which could adversely impact our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.
Changes in patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
As is the case with other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involve 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 or in other jurisdictions in which we seek patent protection could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. The United States enacted the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the America Invents Act, which includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and also may affect patent litigation. These include allowing third party submission of prior art to the U.S. PTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by U.S. PTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review, and derivation proceedings. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in U.S. PTO 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 U.S. PTO proceeding sufficient for the U.S. PTO 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. In addition, the challenged patents are not accorded the presumption of validity as they are in Federal District Court. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the U.S. PTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. Therefore, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned or in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our owned or in-licensed issued patents, all of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. Moreover, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents, once obtained. Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts, the U.S. PTO, and similar legislative, judicial and regulatory bodies in other jurisdictions, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.
We may be unable to license gene transfer technologies that we may need to commercialize our zinc finger protein technology and potential products, if approved.
In order to regulate or modify a gene in a cell, the ZFP must be efficiently delivered to the cell. We have licensed certain gene transfer technologies for our ZFP in research, including AAV and mRNA technology and we are evaluating these systems and other technologies that may need to be used in the delivery of ZFP into cells for in vitro and in vivo applications. We have not developed our own gene transfer technologies, and we rely on our ability to enter into license agreements to provide us with rights to the necessary gene transfer technology. Our approach has been to license appropriate technology as required. For example, we are aware of certain patents held by a third party related to certain vector manufacturing methods that are currently being used in certain of our product candidates. We have not yet finalized the commercial scale manufacturing process for any of our product candidates. If our commercial scale manufacturing process utilizes these vector manufacturing methods, and if these third-party patents are in force at the time of commercialization, we may need to use or develop a non-infringing manufacturing method or seek a license to these patents. However, we may not be able to license the gene transfer technologies on reasonable terms, if at all, required to develop and commercialize our product candidates. The inability to obtain a license to use gene transfer technologies with entities that own such technology on reasonable commercial terms, if at all, could delay or prevent the preclinical evaluation, drug development collaborations, clinical testing, and/or commercialization of our therapeutic product candidates.
We are conducting proprietary research to discover new product candidates. These programs increase our financial risk of product failure, may significantly increase our research expenditures, and may involve conflicts with future collaborators and strategic partners.
Our proprietary research programs consist of research that is funded solely by us or by grant funding and in which we retain exclusive rights to therapeutic products generated by such research. This is in contrast to certain of our research programs that may be funded by corporate partners in which we may share rights to any resulting products. Conducting proprietary research programs may not generate corresponding revenue and may create conflicts with our collaborators or strategic partners over rights to our intellectual property with respect to our proprietary research activities. Any conflict with our collaborators or strategic partners could reduce our ability to enter into future collaborations or partnering agreements and negatively impact our relationship with existing collaborators and partners that could reduce our revenue and delay or terminate our product development. As we continue to focus our strategy on proprietary research and therapeutic development, we expect to experience greater business risks, expend significantly greater funds and require substantial commitments of time from our management and staff.
Risks Relating to our Business Operations
Significant disruptions of our information technology systems or data security incidents could result in significant financial, legal, regulatory, business and reputational harm to us.
We are increasingly dependent on information technology systems and infrastructure to operate our business, which are large and complex. In the ordinary course of our business, we collect, store, process and transmit large amounts of sensitive information, including intellectual property, proprietary business information, personal information and other confidential information. It is critical that we do so in a secure manner to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of such sensitive information. We have also outsourced elements of our operations (including elements of our information technology infrastructure) to third parties, and as a result, we manage a number of third-party vendors who may or could have access to our computer networks or our confidential information. Many of those third parties in turn subcontract or outsource some of their responsibilities to third parties. While all information technology operations are inherently vulnerable to inadvertent or intentional security breaches, incidents, attacks and exposures, the size, complexity, accessibility and distributed nature of our information technology systems, and the large amounts of sensitive information stored on those systems, make such systems potentially vulnerable to unintentional or malicious, internal and external attacks on our technology environment. Attacks of this nature are increasing in their frequency, levels of persistence, sophistication and intensity.
Significant disruptions of our, our third-party vendors’ and/or business partners’ information technology systems or other similar data security incidents could adversely affect our business operations and/or result in the loss, misappropriation, and/or unauthorized access, use or disclosure of, or the prevention of access to, sensitive information, which could result in financial and reputational harm to us. For example, in April 2018, we announced a data security incident involving the compromise of a then senior executive’s company email account. Upon learning of the incident on March 28, 2018, external network security experts were promptly engaged, and the incident response team worked diligently to investigate the incident. We also promptly notified federal law enforcement of the incident. The investigation concluded that the incident was limited to the compromise of the then senior executive’s company email account for approximately 11 weeks. The investigation did not reveal any evidence that our network or other information technology systems were otherwise compromised in connection with the incident or that the incident resulted in the disclosure of or access to personal information about patients or other individuals besides the holder of the company email account that was affected. However, proprietary, confidential and other sensitive information of ours and that of other entities was accessed and may have been compromised as a result of the incident. Unforeseen developments related to this incident could occur, which could have a further adverse impact on us. We do not maintain cyber liability insurance and will therefore have no coverage for any losses resulting from this data security incident. Any litigation or regulatory review arising from this incident could result in significant legal exposure to us. In addition, information technology system disruptions, whether from attacks on our technology environment or from computer viruses, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures, could result in a material disruption of our facility, development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data.
While we aware of the company email incident described above, there is no way of knowing with certainty whether we have experienced any other data security incidents that have not been discovered. While we have no reason to believe this to be the case, attackers have become very sophisticated in the way they conceal access to systems, and many companies that have been attacked are not aware that they have been attacked. Any event, including the company email incident described above, that leads to unauthorized access, use or disclosure of personal information could, among other consequences, disrupt our business, harm our reputation, compel us to comply with applicable federal and/or state breach notification laws and foreign law equivalents. In addition, failure to maintain effective internal accounting controls related to security breaches and cybersecurity in general could impact our ability to produce timely and accurate financial statements and subject us to regulatory scrutiny. Moreover, data security incidents and other inappropriate access can be difficult to detect, and any delay in identifying them may lead to increased harm of the type described above. While we have implemented security measures intended to protect our information technology systems and infrastructure, there can be no assurance that such measures will successfully prevent service interruptions or further security incidents.
We plan to continue to operate the acquired Sangamo France business in France and the Sangamo UK business in the United Kingdom, which may expose us to unanticipated costs or events.
Sangamo France’s historical operations have been based in France and we plan to continue to operate the acquired Sangamo France business in France. Our operation of the acquired Sangamo France business in France involves significant risks, including:
•difficulty hiring and retaining appropriate personnel due to intense competition for such limited resources;
•disruptions in relations with our employees, including legacy Sangamo France employees; and
•compliance with regulatory requirements, including local French employment regulations and organized labor in France.
In addition, we have operations and conduct business through our UK subsidiary. As a result of our operations outside of the United States, we have become more exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the Euro and the U.S.
dollar and between the Pound Sterling and the U.S. Dollar. Given the volatility of currency exchange rates, there is no assurance that we will be able to effectively manage currency transaction and/or conversion risks. To date, we have not entered into derivative instruments to offset the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, which fluctuations could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In any event, difficulties resulting from these and other risks related to our operations outside of the United States could expose us to increased expenses, impair our development efforts, adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations, and harm our competitive position.
We may face difficulties as we expand our operations into countries in which we have no prior operating experience, and we may be exposed to risks associated with our operations and clinical trials in foreign jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business.
In addition to Sangamo France and Sangamo UK, we may expand our global footprint in order to enter into new markets. Operating in foreign jurisdictions requires significant resources and management attention and subjects us to regulatory, economic and political risks that are different from those we face in the United States. We cannot be sure that any further international expansion will be successful.
Certain countries in to which we may expand, may have less political, social or economic stability and less developed infrastructure and legal systems. In addition, it may be difficult for us to understand and accurately predict taste preferences and purchasing habits of consumers in these new geographic markets. It will be costly to establish, develop and maintain international operations and develop and promote our products, if and when approved, in international markets. We may also encounter regulatory, legal, personnel, technological and other difficulties that increase our expenses and/or delay our ability to become profitable in such countries, which could have an adverse effect on our business and operations. Consequently, we are, and will continue to be, subject to risks inherent with operating in foreign countries, in addition to those specific risks associated with Sangamo France and Sangamo UK, which include:
•the increased complexity and costs inherent in managing international operations, including in geographically disparate locations;
•diverse regulatory, financial and legal requirements, and any future changes to such requirements, in one or more countries where we are located or do business;
•differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems and price controls;
•adverse tax consequences, including changes in applicable tax laws and regulations;
•applicable trade laws, tariffs, export quotas, custom duties or other trade restrictions, and any changes to them;
•economic weakness, including inflation, or political or economic instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
•compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
•foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses or reduced revenues, and other obligations incident to doing business or operating in another country;
•liabilities for activities of, or related to, our international operations;
•challenges inherent in efficiently managing employees in diverse geographies, including the need to adapt systems, policies, benefits and compliance programs to differing labor and other regulations;
•workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States; and
•laws and regulations relating to data security and the unauthorized use of, or access to, commercial and personal information.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” may adversely impact our ability to obtain regulatory approvals of our product candidates in the European Union, result in restrictions or imposition of taxes and duties for importing our product candidates into the European Union, and may require us to incur additional expenses in order to develop, manufacture and commercialize our product candidates in the European Union.
Following the result of a referendum in 2016, the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020 pursuant to formal withdrawal agreements between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Under these agreements, the United Kingdom will be subject to a transition period until December 31, 2020, during which European Union rules will continue to apply. Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union are expected to continue in relation to the customs and trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union following the expiry of the transition period.
A significant proportion of the regulatory framework in the United Kingdom applicable to our business and our product candidates is derived from European Union directives and regulations, and as such, following the transition period, Brexit could negatively impact the regulatory regime with respect to the development, manufacture, importation, approval and commercialization of our product candidates in the United Kingdom or the European Union. Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, any clinical trial authorizations or marketing approvals, as a result of Brexit or otherwise, would prevent us from developing or commercializing our product candidates in the United Kingdom or the European Union and restrict our ability to generate revenue and achieve and sustain profitability. In addition, we may be required to pay taxes or duties or be subjected to other hurdles in connection with the importation of our clinical trial materials and/or our product candidates into the European Union or into the United Kingdom from the European Union, or we may incur expenses in establishing a manufacturing facility in the European Union in order to circumvent such hurdles. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to restrict or delay efforts to seek regulatory approval in the United Kingdom or the European Union for our product candidates, or incur significant additional expenses to operate our business, which could significantly and significantly harm or delay our ability to generate revenues or achieve profitability of our business. Any further changes in international trade, tariff and import/export regulations as a result of Brexit or otherwise may impose unexpected duty costs or other non-tariff barriers on us. These developments, or the perception that any of them could occur, may significantly reduce global trade and, in particular, trade between the impacted nations and the United Kingdom. It is also possible that Brexit may negatively affect our ability to attract and retain employees, particularly those from the European Union.
We and third parties on which we rely may be adversely affected by natural disasters and catastrophic or other events outside of our control, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster or event.
Natural disasters could severely disrupt our facilities and our operations and have a negative impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, pandemic or epidemic (such as the recently reported coronavirus outbreak originating in China that has resulted in global impacts on business and operations), political crisis, power outage or any other event that is out of our control occurred that prevented us or third parties on which we rely from using all or a significant portion of our or their facilities, that damaged critical infrastructure or that otherwise disrupted our or their operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us to continue our business and operations for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place currently are limited and may not prove adequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Such disasters or events occurring at facilities of third parties on which we rely could also negatively impact our business and operations.
We will need to grow the size of our organization, and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth and attracting and retaining employees.
We will need to grow the size of our organization in order to support our continued development and potential commercialization of our product candidates. In particular, we will need to add substantial numbers of additional personnel and other resources to support our development and potential commercialization of our product candidates. As our operations expand, we will also need to manage additional relationships with various strategic partners, suppliers and other third parties. We may not be able to attract or retain employees with the appropriate levels of experience and skills to accomplish our objectives. As our development and commercialization plans and strategies continue to develop, or as a result of any future acquisitions, our need for additional managerial, operational, manufacturing, sales, marketing, financial and other resources will increase. Future growth will also impose significant added responsibilities on members of management.
Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates and to compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to manage any future growth effectively. To that end, we must be able to manage our development efforts and preclinical studies and clinical trials effectively and hire, train and integrate additional management, research and development, manufacturing, administrative and sales and marketing personnel. Our failure to accomplish any of these tasks could prevent us from successfully growing our company.
We are dependent on certain key members of our executive team and certain of our scientific and manufacturing personnel, the loss of whose services may adversely impact the achievement of our objectives. While we have entered into employment agreements with each of our executive officers, any of them could leave our employment at any time, as all of our employees are “at will” employees. We do not have “key person” insurance on any of our employees. The loss of the services of one or more of such key employees might impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives.
Recruiting and retaining other qualified employees for our business, including scientific and technical personnel is, and will continue to be, critical to our success. There currently is a shortage of skilled individuals with substantial gene therapy experience, which is likely to continue. As a result, competition for skilled personnel, including in gene therapy research and vector manufacturing, is intense and the turnover rate can be high. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel on
acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic institutions for individuals with similar skill sets. In addition, failure to succeed in preclinical or clinical trials or applications for marketing approval may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The inability to recruit, or loss of services of certain executives or key employees, may impede the progress of our research, development and commercialization objectives and have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
We may not successful in our efforts to identify, discover or acquire new potential product candidates and may fail to capitalize on programs or product candidates that may be a greater commercial opportunity or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.
Part of our business strategy is to expand our product candidate pipeline by identifying and validating new product candidates, which we may develop ourselves, in-license or otherwise acquire from others. In the event that our existing product candidates do not receive regulatory approval or are not successfully commercialized, then the success of our business will depend on our ability to continue to expand our product pipeline through in-licensing or other acquisitions. We may be unable to identify relevant product candidates. If we do identify such product candidates, we may be unable to reach acceptable terms with any third party from which we desire to in-license or acquire them. Further, while we seek to mitigate risks and liabilities of potential acquisitions and in-licensing transactions through, among other things, due diligence, there may be risks and liabilities that such due diligence efforts fail to discover, that are not disclosed to us, or that we inadequately assess, or that we are not able to effectively manage. Additionally, we may not realize the anticipated benefits of such transactions for a variety of reasons, including the possibility that acquired product candidates, such as TX200, prove not to be safe or effective in clinical trials, the integration of an acquired product candidate, technology or business gives rise to unforeseen difficulties and expenditures, or that the expected benefits will not otherwise be realized or will not be realized within the expected timeframe.
Additionally, because we have limited resources, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with certain programs or product candidates or for indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our spending on current and future research and development programs may not yield any commercially viable products. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential for a particular product candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate through strategic collaboration, licensing or other arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate. Alternatively, we may allocate internal resources to a product candidate in a therapeutic area in which it would have been more advantageous to enter into a partnering arrangement.
Risks Relating to our Common Stock and Corporate Organization
Our stock price has been volatile and may continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses for investors, and could be influenced by public perception of genomic medicines and the biotechnology sector.
Our stock price has been volatile and may continue to be volatile, which could cause stockholders to incur substantial losses. An active public market for our common stock may not be sustained, and the market price of our common stock may continue to be highly volatile. The market price of our common stock has fluctuated significantly in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including but not limited to the following:
•announcements by us or collaborators providing updates on the progress or development status of product candidates or data from clinical trials;
•initiation or termination of clinical trials;
•changes in market valuations of similar companies;
•overall market and economic conditions, including the equity markets for emerging biotechnology companies;
•deviations in our results of operations from the guidance given by us;
•announcements by us or our competitors of new or enhanced products, technologies or services or significant contracts, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures or capital commitments;
•announcement of changes in business and operations by our collaborators and partners, or changes in our existing collaboration agreements;
•changes in public opinion of gene therapy and genomic medicines;
•regulatory developments, including increased regulatory scrutiny of gene therapy and genomic medicines;
•changes, by one or more of our security analysts, in recommendations, ratings or coverage of our stock;
•additions or departures of key personnel; and
•sales of our common stock or other securities by us, management or directors, liquidation of institutional funds that comprised large holdings of our stock and decreases in our cash balances.
These external events may have a negative impact on public perception of our business, which could cause our stock price to be volatile, and could result in a decline in the value of your investment in our company.
Actual or potential sales of significant amounts of shares of our common stock into the market could cause the market price of our common stock to fall or prevent it from increasing for numerous reasons.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. These sales, or the perception in the market that holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our common stock. Our outstanding shares of common stock may be freely sold in the public market at any time to the extent permitted by Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, or to the extent such shares have already been registered under the Securities Act and are held by non-affiliates of ours. We have filed registration statements registering all shares of common stock that we may issue under our equity compensation plans. Such shares can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to volume limitations and black-out periods applicable to affiliates.
In addition, in accordance with the guidelines specified under Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and our policies regarding stock transactions, certain of our employees, executive officers and directors have adopted, and may continue to adopt, stock trading plans pursuant to which they have arranged to sell shares of our common stock from time to time in the future. Generally, sales under such plans by our executive officers and directors require public filings. Our employees, executive officers, directors and affiliated stockholders also may buy or sell additional shares outside of a Rule 10b5-1 plan when they are not in possession of material, nonpublic information. Actual or potential sales of our common stock by such persons could be viewed negatively by other investors, and could cause the price of our common stock to fall or prevent it from increasing.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. In the event securities or industry analysts who cover us downgrade our stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price and trading volume to decline.
We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock so any returns will be limited to the value of our stock.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We currently anticipate that we will retain future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation of their stock.
Anti-takeover provisions in our certificate of incorporation, Delaware law and our bylaws could make an acquisition of our company more difficult and could prevent attempts by our stockholders to remove or replace current management.
Anti-takeover provisions of Delaware law and in our certificate of incorporation and our bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, even if a change in control would be beneficial to our stockholders. In addition, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors. In particular, under our certificate of incorporation our board of directors may issue up to 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock with rights and privileges that might be senior to our common stock, without the consent of the holders of the common stock. Moreover, without any further vote or action on the part of the stockholders, the board of directors would have the authority to determine the price, rights, preferences, privileges, and restrictions of the preferred stock. This preferred stock, if it is ever issued, may have preference over, and harm the rights of, the holders of common stock. Although the issuance of this preferred stock would provide us with flexibility in connection with possible acquisitions and other corporate purposes, this issuance may make it more difficult for a third party to acquire a majority of our outstanding voting stock.
Similarly, our authorized but unissued common stock is available for future issuance without stockholder approval. Our certificate of incorporation further provides that stockholders may not take action by written consent.
In addition, our amended and restated bylaws:
•establish advance notice requirements for nominations for election to the board of directors or proposing matters that can be acted upon at stockholders’ meetings; and
•prohibit stockholders from calling a special meeting of stockholders.
We are also subject to Section 203 of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, which provides, subject to certain exceptions, that if a person acquires 15% of our voting stock, the person is an “interested stockholder” and may not
engage in “business combinations” with us for a period of three years from the time the person acquired 15% or more or our voting stock. The application of Section 203 may, in some circumstances, deter or prevent a change in control of our company even when such change may be beneficial to our stockholders.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware will be the exclusive forum for the adjudication of certain disputes, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware is the sole and exclusive forum for:
•any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf;
•any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee or stockholder of Sangamo to us or our stockholders;
•any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, our charter or our bylaws, as to which the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and
•any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine.
This provision further provides that any person or entity that acquires any interest in shares of our capital stock will be deemed to have notice of and consented to the provisions of such provision.
While this provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the Securities Act, or any claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction, this provision may nonetheless limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. If a court were to find this provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could seriously harm our business.
ITEM 1B – UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2 – PROPERTIES
Our corporate headquarters occupies approximately 87,700 square feet of office and research and development laboratory facilities in Brisbane, California, pursuant to a lease that expires in May 2029. We also lease approximately 45,600 square feet of research and office space in Richmond, California, subject to leases that expire in August 2026. We also lease approximately 20,800 square feet of office, research and development space in Valbonne, France, subject to leases that expire beginning in June 2025 through March 2028. We believe that our facilities are currently adequate to meet our needs. As we continue to expand our operations, we may need to lease or purchase additional facilities.
ITEM 3 – LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
We are not a party to any material pending legal proceeding. From time to time, we may be involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business.
ITEM 4 – MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5 – MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “SGMO.”
As of February 21, 2020, there were 55 holders of record of our common stock. This number does not include “street name,” or beneficial holders, whose shares are held of record by banks, brokers, financial institutions and other nominees.
We have not paid dividends on our common stock, and currently do not plan to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future.
Stock Performance Graph
The above Stock Performance Graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, each as amended, except to the extent that the Company specifically incorporates it by reference into such filing.
ITEM 6 – SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following Selected Financial Data should be read in conjunction with “Item 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Item 8 – Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results.
|Year Ended December 31,|
|(In thousands, except per share data)|
|Statement of Operations Data:|
|Revenues||$||102,428 || ||$||84,452 || ||$||36,567 || ||$||19,389 || ||$||39,539 || |
|Research and development||145,922 || ||114,866 || ||65,728 || ||65,618 || ||67,198 || |
|General and administrative||61,686 || ||46,736 || ||27,200 || ||26,330 || ||19,197 || |
|Total operating expenses||207,608 || ||161,602 || ||92,928 || ||91,948 || ||86,395 || |
|Loss from operations||(105,180)|| ||(77,150)|| ||(56,361)|| ||(72,559)|| ||(46,856)|| |
|Interest and other income, net||9,761 || ||8,261 || ||1,793 || ||887 || ||431 || |
|Benefit from income taxes||— || ||— || ||— || ||14 || ||5,722 || |
|Net loss||(95,419)|| ||(68,889)|| ||(54,568)|| ||(71,658)|| ||(40,703)|| |
|Net loss attributable to non-controlling interest||(233)|| ||(555)|| ||— || ||— || ||— || |
|Net loss attributable to Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. stockholders||$||(95,186)|| ||$||(68,334)|| ||$||(54,568)|| ||$||(71,658)|| ||$||(40,703)|| |
|Basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. stockholders||$||(0.85)|| ||$||(0.70)|| ||$||(0.70)|| ||$||(1.02)|| ||$||(0.58)|| |
|Shares used in computing basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. stockholders||112,114 || ||96,941 || ||78,084 || ||70,553 || ||69,757 || |
|As of December 31,|
|Balance Sheet Data:|
Cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, and interest receivable
|$||384,988 || ||$||400,508 || ||$||244,560 || ||$||142,759 || ||$||209,307 || |
|Working capital||335,601 || ||332,010 || ||203,538 || ||136,289 || ||192,485 || |
|Total assets||637,516 || ||590,395 || ||286,741 || ||157,891 || ||217,235 || |
|Accumulated deficit||(656,985)|| ||(562,696)|| ||(495,479)|| ||(440,911)|| ||(369,253)|| |
|Total stockholders' equity||432,739 || ||367,257 || ||187,900 || ||136,195 || ||192,439 || |
Sangamo France was acquired in October 2018 and the results of operations have been included in the selected consolidated financial data since the date of acquisition (see Note 5 – Acquisition of Sangamo France to our Consolidated Financial Statements).
ITEM 7 – MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The discussion in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” contains trend analysis, estimates and other forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act, as amended, and Section 21E of the Exchange Act, as amended. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements containing the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “continue,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” and other words of similar import or the negative of those terms or expressions. Such forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, estimates and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those set forth in such forward-looking statements as a result of, but not limited to, the “Risk Factors” described in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on form 10-K. You should
read the following discussion and analysis along with the “Selected Financial Data” and the Consolidated Financial Statements and notes attached to those statements included elsewhere in this report.
In addition, the section of this “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” generally discusses 2019 and 2018 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2019 and 2018. Discussions of 2017 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2018 and 2017 are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, filed with the SEC on March 1, 2019.
We are a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on translating ground-breaking science into genomic medicines with the potential to transform patients’ lives using our platform technologies in gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation.
Our strategy is to maximize the value and therapeutic use of our technology platforms. For certain therapies, we intend to capture the value of our proprietary gene therapy, cell therapy, genome editing and genome regulation products by incorporating these technologies into our manufacturing, development and commercial operations. For other therapies, we intend to partner with biopharmaceutical companies to develop products as appropriate. Decisions to partner product candidates will be based on review of our internal resources, internal know-how, and commercial considerations. In our proprietary clinical development programs, we are focused on three therapeutic areas: IMDs, CNS diseases and immunology, which comprises inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
We are a leader in the research and development of ZFPs, a naturally occurring class of transcription factor proteins found in humans and other species. We have used our internal know-how and technical expertise to develop a proprietary synthetic ZFP platform with potential clinical utility in ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation. ZFPs can be engineered to make ZFNs that can be used to specifically modify DNA sequences by knocking in or knocking out select genes, or genome editing ZFP-TFs proteins that can be used to selectively increase or decrease gene expression. In the process of developing this platform, we have additionally accrued significant scientific, manufacturing, development capabilities, and related know-how that are broadly applicable to the field of gene therapy and have used this knowledge to advance a gene therapy platform.
We have a substantial intellectual property portfolio protecting our technology and product candidates. We continue to license and file new patent applications to strengthen and consolidate our existing patent portfolio. We believe that our intellectual property position is critical to our ability to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize gene therapy, ex vivo gene-edited cell therapy, in vivo genome editing and in vivo genome regulation products and services.
In February 2020, we entered into a global licensing collaboration agreement with Biogen for the research, development and commercialization of gene regulation therapies for the treatment of neurological diseases, including ST-501 a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease, and ST-502, a preclinical ZFP-TF product candidate for alpha-synuclein related diseases including Parkinson’s disease, among other targets. After the collaboration agreement becomes effective, Biogen will pay us an upfront payment of $125.0 million. Concurrently with the execution of the collaboration agreement, we also entered into a stock purchase agreement with Biogen MA, Inc., pursuant to which Biogen MA, Inc. agreed to acquire $225.0 million of shares of our common stock. We are also eligible to receive research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments that could total up to approximately $2.37 billion if Biogen selects all of the targets allowed under the agreement and all the specified milestones set forth in the agreement are achieved, which includes up to $925.0 million in pre-approval milestone payments and up to $1,445.0 million in first commercial sale and other sales-based milestone payments. The consummation of the transactions under each of the Biogen collaboration agreement and the stock purchase agreement is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended. For more information regarding the Biogen transactions, see “Business – Collaborations – Biogen” in Part I, Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Certain Components of Results of Operations
Our revenues have consisted primarily of revenues from upfront licensing fees, reimbursements for research services, milestones achievements and research grant funding. We expect revenues to continue to fluctuate from period to period and there can be no assurance that new collaborations or partner reimbursements will continue beyond their initial terms or that we are able to meet the milestones specified in these agreements.
We have incurred net losses since inception and expect to incur losses in the future as we continue our research and development activities. To date, we have funded our operations primarily through the issuance of equity securities and revenues from collaborations and research grants.
We expect to continue to devote substantial resources to research and development in the future and expect research and development expenses to increase in the next several years if we are successful in advancing our gene therapy and our genome editing programs in the clinic and progressing our earlier stage product candidates into clinical trials. Pursuant to the terms of the agreements with Kite, Pfizer and Sanofi, certain expenses related to research and development activities will be reimbursed to us. The reimbursement funds to be received from Kite, Pfizer and Sanofi will be recognized as revenue as the related costs are incurred and collection is reasonably assured.
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and personnel related expenses for executive, finance and administrative personnel, stock-based compensation expenses, professional fees, allocated facilities expenses, patent prosecution expenses and other general corporate expenses. As we continue to advance our product candidates into and through the clinic, we expect the growth of our business to require increased general and administrative expenses.
We adopted Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, Topic 842, Leases, or ASC Topic 842, on January 1, 2019, resulting in changes to our accounting policy for leases. We used the modified retrospective approach and recognized the cumulative effect of initially applying ASC Topic 842 as an adjustment to the opening balances of the lease related accounts and accumulated deficit at January 1, 2019. Accordingly, comparative information has not been adjusted and continues to be reported under previous accounting standards. Refer to Note 1 in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information and details on lease related accounts impacted by ASC Topic 842.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The accompanying discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations are based upon our Consolidated Financial Statements and the related disclosures, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the reported amounts in our Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions. We believe the following policies to be the most critical to an understanding of our financial condition and results of operations because they require us to make estimates, assumptions and judgments about matters that are inherently uncertain.
Effective January 1, 2018, we adopted the provisions of ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or ASC Topic 606, resulting in a change to our accounting policy for revenue recognition. ASC Topic 606 establishes a unified model to determine how revenue is recognized.
Contract revenues are derived from collaboration agreements and research activity grants and licensing. Research and licensing agreements typically include upfront signing or license fees, cost reimbursements, research services, minimum sublicense fees, milestone payments and royalties on future licensee’s product sales. We have both fixed and variable consideration. Non-refundable upfront fees and funding of research and development activities are considered fixed, while milestone payments are generally identified as variable consideration. Our research grants are typically multi-year agreements and provide for the reimbursement of qualified expenses for research and development as defined under the terms of the grant agreement. Revenues under research grant agreements are generally recognized when the related qualified research expenses are incurred. Deferred revenue represents the portion of research or license payments received but not earned.
In determining the appropriate amount of revenue to be recognized as we fulfill our obligations under our agreements, we perform the following steps: (i) identification of the promised goods or services in the contract; (ii) determination of whether the promised goods or services are performance obligations including whether they are distinct in the context of the contract; (iii) measurement of the transaction price, including the constraint on variable consideration; (iv) allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations based on estimated selling prices; and (v) recognition of revenue when (or as) we satisfy each performance obligation.
A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct good or service to the customer and is the unit of account in ASC Topic 606. Our performance obligations include license rights, development services, and services associated with the regulatory submission and approval processes. Revenues from research services earned under collaboration agreements are generally recognized as revenue as the related services are provided. Revenues from non-refundable upfront
fees are recognized over time either by measuring progress towards satisfaction of the relevant performance obligation, using the input method (i.e. cumulative actual costs incurred relative to total estimated costs) or on a straight-line basis when a performance obligation is expected to be satisfied evenly over a period of time (or when the entity has a stand-ready obligation). Significant management judgment is required to determine the level of effort required under an arrangement and the period over which we expect to complete our performance obligations under the arrangement which may include total internal personnel costs and external costs to be incurred as well as, in certain cases, the estimated stand-ready obligation period. Changes in these estimates can have a material effect on revenue recognized. If we cannot reasonably estimate when our performance obligations either are completed or become inconsequential, then revenue recognition is deferred until we can reasonably make such estimates. We include the unconstrained amount of estimated variable consideration in the transaction price. The amount included in the transaction price is constrained to the amount for which it is probable that a significant reversal of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur. At the end of each subsequent reporting period, we re-evaluate the estimated variable consideration included in the transaction price and any related constraint, and if necessary, adjust our estimate of the overall transaction price. Revenue is then recognized over the remaining estimated period of performance using the cumulative catch-up method. The estimated period of performance and project costs, such as personnel and manufacturing cost, are reviewed quarterly and adjusted, as needed, to reflect our current assumptions regarding the timing and costs of our deliverables.
As part of the accounting for these arrangements, we must develop assumptions that require judgment to determine the stand-alone selling price of each performance obligation identified in the contract. We used key assumptions to determine the stand-alone selling price, which may include forecasted revenues, development timelines, reimbursement rates for personnel costs, discount rates and probabilities of technical and regulatory success. Related costs and expenses under these arrangements have historically approximated the revenues recognized.
Revenues from collaboration agreements and research activity grants as a percentage of total revenues were as follows:
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Pfizer||40 ||%||47 ||%||47 ||%|
|Kite ||34 ||%||30 ||%||— || |
|Sanofi||22 ||%||16 ||%||34 ||%|
Receivables from collaborations are typically unsecured and are concentrated in the biopharmaceutical industry. Accordingly, we may be exposed to credit risk generally associated with biopharmaceutical companies or specific to our collaboration agreements. To date, we have not experienced any losses related to these receivables.
Funds received from third parties under contract or funds received from grant arrangements are generally recorded as revenue if we are deemed to be the principal participant in the arrangements because the activities under the contracts or grants are part of our development programs. Contract funds received are not refundable and are recognized when the related qualified research and development costs are incurred and there is reasonable assurance that the funds will be received. Funds received in advance are recorded as deferred revenue.
Valuation of Long-lived Assets including Goodwill and Intangible Assets
We allocate the fair value of purchase consideration in a business combination to the tangible assets acquired, liabilities assumed, and intangible assets acquired based on their estimated fair values. Any excess of purchase price over the fair value of net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. Such valuations require management to make significant estimates and assumptions, especially with respect to intangible assets. Significant estimates in valuing certain intangible assets include, but are not limited to, future expected cash flows from acquired in-process research and development, or IPR&D, projects. Management’s estimates of fair value are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable and, as a result, actual results may differ from estimates. Allocation of purchase consideration to identifiable assets and liabilities affects our amortization expense, as acquired finite-lived intangible assets are amortized over the useful life, whereas any indefinite lived intangible assets, including goodwill, are not amortized. During the measurement period, which is not to exceed one year from the acquisition date, we may record adjustments to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed, with the corresponding offset to goodwill. Upon the conclusion of the measurement period, any subsequent adjustments are recorded to earnings.
We review goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment at least annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances would more likely than not reduce the fair value these assets below their carrying values. As of December 31, 2019, no impairment of goodwill or indefinite-lived intangible assets has been identified.
Long-lived assets, including property and equipment and finite-lived intangible assets, are reviewed for possible impairment whenever events or circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable. The evaluation is performed at the lowest level for which identifiable cash flows are largely independent of the cash flows of other assets and liabilities. Recoverability of these assets is measured by a comparison of the carrying amounts to the future undiscounted cash flows the assets are expected to generate from the use and eventual disposition. If such review indicates that the carrying amount of property and equipment and intangible assets is not recoverable, the carrying amount of such assets is reduced to fair value. We have not recorded any significant impairment charges during the years presented.
Results of Operations
Years Ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017
|Year Ended December 31,|
|(In thousands, except percentage values)|
|Revenues||$||102,428 || ||$||84,452 || ||$||17,976 || ||21 ||%||$||84,452 || ||$||36,567 || ||$||47,885 || ||131 ||%|
Total revenues consisted of revenues from collaboration agreements and research grants. We anticipate revenues over the next several years will be derived primarily from our collaboration agreements with Biogen, Kite, Pfizer and Sanofi as we continue to recognize upfront and milestone payments received under such agreements over time.
The increase of $18.0 million in revenues in 2019 compared to 2018 was primarily attributed changes in the transaction prices of the Pfizer and Sanofi collaborations as a result of a $25.0 million milestone achievement upon completion of the transfer of the IND for SB-525 to Pfizer, $7.5 million pertaining to a milestone achievement with Sanofi upon dosing of the first subject in the sickle cell disease Phase 1 clinical trial in December 2019, and a $6.0 million milestone achievement with Sanofi upon dosing of the third subject in the Phase 1/2 THALES study in August 2019. In addition, we recorded an increase of $8.8 million related to our agreement with Kite. Approximately $2.0 million out of the milestones achieved in 2019 was deferred and is expected to be recognized in 2020. These amounts were partially offset by a decrease in revenues due to a change in project scope related to our hemophilia A agreement with Pfizer, which resulted in a change in the measurement of proportional performance. During 2019, revenues related to our collaborative agreements with Pfizer, Kite and Sanofi represented 40%, 34% and 22%, respectively, of total revenues.
|Year Ended December 31,|
|(In thousands, except percentage values)|
|Research and development||$||145,922 || ||$||114,866 || |