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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C.  20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

OR

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

Commission File Number: 001-40363

TRANSCODE THERAPEUTICS, INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

Delaware

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

81-1065054

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

6 Liberty Square, #2382

Boston, Massachusetts

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

02109

(Zip Code)

(857) 837-3099

(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, $0.0001 par value per share

RNAZ

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

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

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

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

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

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

As of June 30, 2023, the last day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant was approximately $4.4 million, based upon the closing price of the Registrant’s common stock on June 30, 2023. In determining the market value of non-affiliate common stock, shares of the Registrant’s common stock beneficially owned by officers, directors and affiliates have been excluded. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 20, 2024, was 5,808,053.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference certain information from the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for its 2024 annual meeting of stockholders, which the Registrant intends to file pursuant to Regulation 14A with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the Registrant’s fiscal year end of December 31, 2023. Except with respect to information specifically incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K, the Proxy Statement is not deemed to be filed as part of this Form 10-K.

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TRANSCODE THERAPEUTICS, INC.

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

Table of Contents

Page

PART I

Item 1.

Business

7

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

57

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

121

Item 1C.

Cybersecurity

121

Item 2.

Properties

122

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

122

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

122

PART II

122

Item 5.

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

122

Item 6.

Reserved

123

Item 7.

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

123

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

142

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

142

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

142

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

143

Item 9B.

Other Information

144

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspection

144

PART III

144

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

144

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

144

Item 12.

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

144

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

145

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

145

PART IV

146

Item 15.

Exhibits, and Financial Statement Schedules

146

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

146

EXHIBIT INDEX

146

SIGNATURES

149

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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We intend these forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are included in this statement for purposes of complying with those safe harbor provisions. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

Øour cash position, our estimates and expectations regarding our capital requirements, cash and expense levels, liquidity sources and our ability to obtain, on satisfactory terms or at all, the financing required to support operations, research, development, clinical trials, and commercialization of products;
Øa potential delisting of our common stock from trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market;
Øthe results and timing of our preclinical and clinical trial activities;
Øour ability to expand our therapeutic candidate portfolio through internal research and development or the acquisition or in-licensing of intellectual property assets;
Øthe impact of the global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, including the spread of new strains of the virus, on our activities, including but not limited to our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients to advance our clinical trials;
Øthe therapeutic benefits, effectiveness and safety of our therapeutic candidates;
Øour ability to receive regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates in the United States, Europe and other geographies;
Øthe expected regulatory approval pathway for our therapeutic candidates;
Øpotential changes in regulatory requirements, and delays or negative outcomes from the regulatory approval process;
Øour ability to maintain adequate quality processes and oversight of vendors
Øour ability to secure raw materials to support continued drug substance and drug product manufacturing
Øour reliance on third-parties for the planning, conduct and monitoring of clinical trials, for the manufacture of clinical drug supplies and drug product and for other requirements;
Øour estimates of the size and characteristics of the markets that may be addressed by our therapeutic candidates;
Ømarket acceptance of our therapeutic candidates that are approved for marketing in the United States or other countries;
Øour ability to successfully commercialize our therapeutic candidates;
Øthe safety and efficacy of therapeutics marketed by our competitors that are targeted to indications which our therapeutic candidates have been developed to treat;
Øour ability to utilize our proprietary technological approach to develop and commercialize our therapeutic candidates;
Øour heavy dependence on licensed intellectual property, including our ability to source and maintain licenses from third-party owners;

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Øour ability to protect our intellectual property and operate our business without infringing the intellectual property rights of others;
Øour ability to attract, retain and motivate key personnel;
Øour ability to generate revenue and become profitable;
Øour reliance on third-party manufacturers to manufacture our drug substance and drug product that meets with our design specifications;
Øour dependance on contract research organizations and other parties to manage our clinical trials;
Øother risks and uncertainties, including those listed under the caption “Risk Factors” in this annual report;
Øthe outcome of our currently open Phase 0 trial, and our ability to complete this trial;
Øour ability to obtain, on satisfactory terms or at all, the financing required to support operations, research, development, clinical trials, and commercialization of products;
Øthe impact of natural disasters, global pandemics (including further outbreaks of existing strains of COVID-19 or new variants of the virus), armed conflicts and wars, labor disputes, lack of raw materials or other supplies, issues with facilities and equipment, or other forms of disruption to business operations at our facilities or those of our vendors; and
Øour ability to effect agreements with potential collaborators to license and commercialize our therapeutic candidates, including those for which we receive regulatory approval in the future in or outside the United States.

The risks set forth above are not exhaustive. Other sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K may include additional factors that could adversely affect our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all risk factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K reflect our current views with respect to future events and with respect to our business and future financial performance, and 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, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those described under Part II, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future. You are advised, however, to consult any further disclosure we make in our reports filed with the SEC.

This Annual Report on Form 10-K may include data that we obtained from industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies. Industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies generally indicate that their information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, although they do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also may include data based on our own internal estimates and research, including estimates regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (or related pandemic caused by coronavirus variants) on our financial statements and business operations. Our internal estimates have not been verified by any independent source and, while we believe any data obtained from industry publications and third-party research, surveys and studies are reliable, we have not independently verified such data. Such third-party data, as well as our internal estimates and research, are subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in Part II, Item 1A, “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These and other factors could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

3

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This Annual Report on Form 10-K may contain trademarks, service marks and trade names of third parties which are the property of their respective owners. Our use or display of third parties’ trademarks, service marks, trade names or products in this Annual Report on Form 10-K is not intended to, and does not imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship by us. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may appear without the ®, TM or SM symbols, but the omission of such references is not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the right of the applicable owner of these trademarks, service marks and trade names.

Summary of Material Risks

Our business is subject to numerous material and other risks and uncertainties that you should be aware of in evaluating our business. These risks are described more fully elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and include, but are not limited to, the following:

Øour low cash position and our estimates and expectations regarding our capital requirements, cash and expense levels, liquidity sources and our ability to obtain, on satisfactory terms or at all, the financing required to support operations, research, development, clinical trials, and commercialization of products;
Øour business is highly dependent on the success of TTX-MC138, our lead therapeutic candidate which is at the early stages of development. Our therapeutic and diagnostic candidates require significant additional preclinical, clinical development and manufacturing validation before we may be able to seek regulatory approval for and launch a product commercially;
Øa potential delisting of our common stock from trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market, including if our stockholders’ equity does not meet and maintain the $2.5 million minimum Nasdaq threshold or if the closing bid price of our common stock does not return to above $1.00 for ten consecutive days during the 180 days ending May 6, 2024;
Øour ability to continue as a going concern;
Øthe results and timing of our preclinical and clinical trial activities, including but not limited to our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients timely to advance our clinical trials;
Øif we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected;
Øour ability to expand our therapeutic candidate portfolio through internal research and development or the acquisition or in-licensing of intellectual property assets;
Øthe therapeutic benefits, effectiveness and safety of our therapeutic candidates;
Øour ability to receive regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates in the United States, Europe and other geographies;
Øthe expected regulatory approval pathway for our therapeutic candidates;
Øpotential changes in regulatory requirements, and delays or negative outcomes from the regulatory approval process;
Øour reliance on third-parties for the planning, conduct and monitoring of clinical trials, for the manufacture of clinical drug product and for other requirements;
Øour estimates of the size and characteristics of the markets that may be addressed by our therapeutic candidates;
Ømarket acceptance of our therapeutic candidates that are approved for marketing in the United States or other countries;
Øour ability to successfully manufacture and commercialize our therapeutic candidates;
Øthe safety and efficacy of therapeutics marketed by our competitors that are targeted to indications which our therapeutic candidates have been developed to treat;

4

Table of Contents

Øour ability to utilize our proprietary technological approach to develop and commercialize our therapeutic candidates;
Øour heavy dependence on licensed intellectual property, including our ability to source and maintain licenses from third-party owners;
Øour ability to protect our intellectual property and operate our business without infringing the intellectual property rights of others;
Øour ability to attract, retain and motivate key personnel;
Øour ability to generate revenue and become profitable;
Øour reliance on third-party manufacturers to manufacture and release our drug substance and drug product that meets our designated specifications;
Øour dependance on contract research organizations and other entities to manage our clinical trials;
Øour ability to initiate and complete our clinical trials;
Øpotential collaborations to license and commercialize any therapeutic candidates for which we receive regulatory approval in the future in or outside of the United States;
Øclinical development involves a lengthy, complex and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome, and the results of preclinical studies, manufacturing, and early-stage clinical trials of our therapeutic candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials;
Øwe may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development, manufacturing and commercialization of TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates;
Øquality problems could delay or prevent delivery of our materials for clinical trials or to the market;
Øchanges in methods of therapeutic candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delays;
Øour therapeutic candidates may cause undesirable side effects or death or have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, limit their commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences;
Øif we are unable to advance our therapeutic candidates to clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize our therapeutic candidates or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed;
Øeven if we receive regulatory approval of TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. We may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our therapeutic candidates;
Øobtaining and maintaining regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval for that or of any of our other therapeutic candidates in other jurisdictions;
Øwe expect to rely on third-parties to manufacture and supply materials we require for research and development, preclinical studies and clinical trials which could result in supplies that are limited or interrupted or which may not be of satisfactory quantity or quality or other delays or disruptions;
Øour ability to import drug product from outside the U.S. which may be expensive and require extensive regulatory approval resulting in potential delays in conducting clinical trials or commercial launch;

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Øongoing healthcare legislative and regulatory reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations;
Øwe face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing products before or more successfully than we do;
Øthe price of our common stock may be volatile and fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for purchasers of our common stock;
Øwe are subject to geopolitical risks, economic volatility, anti-corruption laws, export and import restrictions, local regulatory authorities and the laws and medical practices in foreign jurisdictions;
Øthe impact of natural disasters, global pandemics (including further outbreaks of existing strains of COVID-19 or new strains of the virus), labor disputes, lack of raw materials or other supplies, issues with facilities and equipment or other forms of disruption to business operations at our manufacturing or laboratory facilities or those of our vendors, or at clinical trial sites;
Øwe have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we are unable to remediate these material weaknesses, or if we identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect our business and the trading price of our common stock, and
Øother risks and uncertainties, including those listed under the caption “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other regulatory filings.

Reverse Stock Splits

On May 23, 2023, the Company effected a reverse split of the Company’s common stock, either issued and outstanding or held by the Company as treasury stock, (the “2023 Reverse Split”) previously approved by the Board and stockholders of the Company. The 2023 Reverse Split was at a ratio of one share for every 20 shares previously held with no change in the par value per share. The 2023 Reverse Split did not change the number of authorized shares of common stock.

On January 16, 2024, the Company effected a reverse split of the Company’s common stock, either issued and outstanding or held by the Company as treasury stock, (the “2024 Reverse Split”) previously approved by the Board and stockholders of the Company. The 2024 Reverse Split was at a ratio of one share for every 40 shares previously held with no change in the par value per share. The 2024 Reverse Split did not change the number of authorized shares of common stock.

All common stock share and per share data, and exercise price data for applicable common stock equivalents, included in these financial statements have been retroactively adjusted to reflect the 2023 Reverse Split and the 2024 Reverse Split.

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PART I

Except where the context otherwise requires or where otherwise indicated, the terms “TransCode Therapeutics,” “TransCode,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “our company,” the “Company,” and “our business” refer to TransCode Therapeutics, Inc.

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Overview

TransCode is an RNA oncology company created on the belief that cancer can be defeated through the intelligent design and effective delivery of RNA therapeutics. For decades, ribonucleic acid, or RNA, has been a topic of investigation by the scientific community as a potentially attractive therapeutic modality because it can target any gene and it lends itself to rational and straightforward drug design. RNA-based therapeutics are highly selective to their targets, potentially making available a broad array of previously undruggable targets in the human genome. We believe that a major limitation in using RNA as a therapeutic for cancer has been delivering it to tumors effectively. Our TTX platform, described in more detail below, is intended to overcome delivery issues of stability, efficiency, and immunogenicity faced by existing lipid and liposomal nanoparticle platforms while optimizing targeting of and accumulation in tumor cells and metastatic sites. The ability to deliver RNA therapeutics inside tumors and metastases gives us the potential to target genes of importance for cancer treatment that, until now, have remained undruggable using an RNA approach. We believe that demonstrating our ability to overcome the challenge of RNA delivery to genetic targets outside the liver, and specifically to tumors and metastases, would represent a major step forward in unlocking therapeutic access to genetic targets involved in a range of cancers.

TransCode has created a design engine to customize the development of RNA therapeutics. Our engine is modular, both at the levels of the core delivery vehicle, which we call TTX, and with respect to therapeutic loading. The size, charge, and surface chemistry of TTX can be tuned to optimize (i) delivery to the intended genetic target and (ii) the therapeutic load. The therapeutic load, consisting of synthetic oligonucleotides, can also be adapted to the specific approach being developed. Approaches can include RNA interference, or RNAi, such as small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, and non-coding RNA mimics. Other approaches can include antisense oligonucleotides, or ASOs, mRNA-based cancer vaccines and CRISPR-based gene repair and replacement platforms as well as Pattern Recognition Receptors such as RIG-I. Our TTX platform can further be used for developing RNA-targeted radiolabeled therapeutics and diagnostics and other custom products targeting known and novel biomarkers and other genetic elements as they are discovered and validated.

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Our lead therapeutic candidate, TTX-MC138, targets microRNA-10b, or miR-10b, a master regulator of metastatic cell viability in a range of cancers, including breast, pancreatic, ovarian, colon, glioblastomas, and several others. TransCode submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, an exploratory Investigational New Drug application, or eIND, on November 30, 2022.  The eIND was to conduct a First-in-Human, or FIH, clinical trial with a radiolabeled form of TTX-MC138 called TTX-MC138-NODAGA-Cu64. We received written authorization from the agency on December 23, 2022, to proceed with the Phase 0 clinical trial. The trial was designed to demonstrate quantitative delivery of TTX-MC138 to metastatic lesions in subjects with advanced solid tumors. The Phase 0 trial remains open and we have dosed one patient. We have submitted an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, for a Phase I/II clinical trial with TTX-MC138 and we expect the FDA to complete its review of our IND in the second quarter of 2024. Our preclinical programs include TTX-siPDL1, an siRNA-based modulator of programmed death-ligand 1, or PD-L1, and two indication agnostic programs, TTX-RIGA, an RNA-based agonist of the retinoic acid- inducible gene I, or RIG-I, targeting activation of innate immunity in the tumor microenvironment; and TTX- CRISPR, a CRISPR/Cas9-based therapy platform for the repair or elimination of cancer-causing genes inside tumor cells. Our pipeline also includes TTX-mRNA, a tumor-type specific mRNA-based platform for the development of cancer vaccines designed to activate cytotoxic immune responses against tumor cells.

MD Anderson Cancer Center Alliance

On July 29, 2022, we signed a five-year strategic collaboration agreement with The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (“MD Anderson”). Under this alliance, the Company anticipates making certain expenditures with respect to Phase I and Phase II clinical trials which it expects will be conducted in part by MD Anderson as a primary investigator site. MD Anderson will also provide preclinical work under the alliance. The details of clinical and preclinical work are to be mutually agreed by the parties prior to commencing work. We have committed to fund up to $10 million over the term of the collaboration. Of this amount, $500,000 was payable within the first year. Subsequent payments were to be $2 million on the first anniversary of the effective date of the agreement and $2.5 million on each of the second, third and fourth anniversaries thereof. These are funds we had already budgeted for research and development, so do not represent additional spending. We will need to raise additional funds to meet the subsequent payment obligations. The Company is currently in negotiations with MD Anderson regarding changes in planned work and payments as a result of changes in personnel at MD Anderson and progress of drug development activities. No additional payments are due from us until the terms of the agreement are renegotiated and work under the collaboration has begun.

Proprietary TTX Delivery Platform

The therapeutic potential of RNA in oncology remains an unrealized promise due to the difficulty in safely and effectively delivering oligonucleotides to tumors. TransCode believes it is now closer to solving this challenge by means of a proprietary oligonucleotide delivery platform, our TTX platform, which leverages an iron oxide nanoparticle, approved for clinical use as a cancer imaging agent and in treating iron deficiency anemia, as the physical carrier.

Due to its small 20-30 nanometer size, the TTX delivery system is expected to minimize early kidney and liver clearance, translating into a long circulation half-life that allows for efficient accumulation in tumor cells and metastatic sites. Nanoparticles similar in formulation to ours have an excellent clinical safety record of low toxicity and immunogenicity, and their built-in imaging capabilities have the bonus of enabling quantification of the particles’ delivery to target organs. The nanoparticles are functionalized with amino groups to provide stable links through disulfide bonds to the therapeutic oligonucleotides of interest. The nanoparticles are coated with dextran, a glucose polymer, to protect the oligonucleotides from degradation and to provide overall stability to the particle.

The small hydrodynamic size and the charge of the resulting nanoparticles should allow them to infiltrate the tumor microvasculature, extravasate into the interstitium of tumors and metastases, and be readily taken up by tumor cells. The physicochemical properties of the nanoparticles are expected to further facilitate their rapid uptake by tumor cells by exploiting the high metabolic activity of cancer cells, a process analogous to the mechanism behind the systemic loading of metastatic cancer cells with fluorodeoxyglucose for diagnostic Positron Emission Tomography. The combined result of a hydrodynamically-favored distribution and a metabolically triggered uptake should result in the enhanced ability of TransCode’s nanoparticles to access genetic targets inside tumor cells.

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Our Lead Therapeutic Candidate

Our scientific co-founders developed TransCode’s initial therapeutic candidate at The General Hospital Corporation, d/b/a Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH, to target microRNA-10b, a well-validated biomarker linked to metastatic cancer. In contrast, most anti-cancer therapies target primary tumors and do not address metastatic disease specifically. MicroRNA-10b has been shown to be the master regulator of metastatic disease in multiple tumor types. Effective therapeutics have not been developed targeting microRNA-10b because of challenges in delivering nucleic acids to tumors despite microRNA-10b’s strong association with cancer metastasis, as documented in over 700 peer-reviewed scientific publications deposited on PubMed that refer to miR-10b.

TTX-MC138 comprises proprietary iron-oxide nanoparticles and oligonucleotides which are synthetic LNA/DNA antisense molecules that specifically target microRNA-10b, a regulatory RNA. The nanoparticles serve as a vehicle to deliver oligonucleotides to metastatic tumor cells. The magnetic properties of these nanoparticles allow for monitoring of their delivery using non-invasive imaging, which we believe adds value for clinical implementation of this therapeutic approach.

Our scientific co-founders conducted a variety of preclinical animal studies involving human metastatic breast cancer models. In these studies, TTX-MC138 was successfully delivered to existing metastatic lesions in the lymph nodes, lungs, and bones as shown by non-invasive imaging performed 24 hours after injection. In five separate studies involving over 125 mice, TTX-MC138 was injected into mice in which human metastatic breast cancer cells had been implanted. These mouse models included the rodent 4T1-luc2 orthotopic allograft, which is a very aggressive model of stage IV metastatic breast cancer, the human MDA- MB-231-luc-D3H2LN xenograft, which is a stage II/III cancer model, and the human MDA-MB-231-BrM2-831 xenograft, which is a model of breast cancer metastatic to the brain. Tumors in mice implanted with MDA-MB-231 cells typically progress from localized disease to lymph node metastases within 21 days of implantation. Tumors in mice implanted with 4T1-luc2 cells typically progress to distant sites in the animals within 10 days of implantation.

To test TTX-MC138 in the model of lymph node metastatic breast cancer, mice had their primary tumors surgically removed four to five weeks after tumor inoculation, following confirmation of lymph node metastases via imaging. This was done to better simulate a clinical scenario, since the current standard of care involves surgical removal of the primary tumor in patients with lymph node metastatic breast cancer. Treatment with TTX-MC138 was then initiated during the week of tumor removal. Because tumors in mice replicate more rapidly than is typical in humans, we combined low-dose doxorubicin with TTX- MC138 because doxorubicin slows metastatic cell replication specific to these tumor models. Doing so allowed TTX-MC138 to inhibit the targeted RNA (miR-10b) inside the tumor cells more efficiently.

After four weeks of therapy, metastases in mice treated with TTX-MC138 regressed. By contrast, in the control groups, there was metastatic progression (Within-Subjects ANOVA: p < 0.05). Treatment was discontinued once complete metastatic regression was observed. By the end of the study at 12 weeks, there was no recurrence and 100% survival in treated subjects representing this cancer model.

In similar studies involving mice implanted with 4T1-luc2 breast tumors, we observed regression of distant metastases by week six, at which point treatment was stopped (Within-Subjects ANOVA: p < 0.05). Despite stopping treatment, the animals remained metastasis-free and by the end of the study, no recurrence of disease had been observed. There was evidence of complete regression without recurrence in 65% of treated subjects while 35% progressed due to insufficient inhibition of miR-10b in this group. We believe this was due to the high rate of tumor cell replication in this model resulting in dilution of the therapeutic. We do not expect this to be the case in humans with metastatic disease, in whom tumor cell replication is dramatically slower than in mice.

TransCode submitted to FDA an eIND application on November 30, 2022, to conduct a FIH clinical trial with TTX-MC138-NODAGA-Cu64 and received written authorization from the agency on December 23, 2022, to proceed with the Phase 0 clinical trial. Trial subjects were to receive a single injection of a microdose of radiolabeled TTX-MC138, termed TTX-MC138-NODAGA-Cu64, followed by imaging by integrated positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance imaging, or PET-MRI. The Phase 0 trial intended to quantify the amount of radiolabeled TTX-MC138 delivered to metastatic lesions and the pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of the therapeutic candidate in cancer patients. One patient was dosed in the Phase 0 trial. Data from that patient could inform therapeutic dose, timing, and potential safety in our later clinical trials. We believe that demonstrating our ability to overcome the challenge of RNA delivery to genetic targets outside of the liver, and specifically to tumors and metastases, would represent a major step forward in unlocking therapeutic access to genetic targets involved in a range of cancers.

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Modular Design Toolbox

We employ a design engine to enable development of therapeutic candidates that we believe can be efficiently delivered to genetic targets inside tumor cells. This approach is based on four complementary elements that together address the challenges of RNA drug development in oncology:

Genetic Code — Our approach to drug development takes advantage of our rapidly expanding knowledge about the human genome and the annotation of the genome — the knowledge about what different genes are responsible for especially in cancer. Armed with this knowledge, we can take advantage of the coded nature of the genome to design specific oligos that correspond to genetic targets of interest. Once we determine the code of the cancer target, we can develop therapeutic candidates using specific oligos that are harmonized to that target and potentially rewrite the story on cancer. This is what TransCode means — to change the code. After determining the genetic target of interest, we may be able to choose from a variety of RNA approaches best suited for that target. Those approaches will likely range from RNAi, which include siRNAs, antisense oligonucleotides, and non-coding RNA mimics; messenger RNA-based cancer vaccines; CRISPR-based gene repair and replacement platforms; or Pattern Recognition Receptors like RIG-I.

Modular Design for Therapeutic Development — Our discovery platform consists of a modular ‘toolbox’ for developing therapeutic candidates designed to attack specific disease-causing RNA targets based on the phenomenon of genetic complementarity. These therapeutic candidates incorporate synthetic oligonucleotides, or oligos, that can be designed as antagomirs, mimics, miRNA sponges, siRNA duplexes, ribozymes, and others depending on the desired therapeutic strategy. In addition to the varied oligo design approach, we can also synthesize nanocarriers with tunable chemistry properties. Combined, the modularity and tunability of these oligonucleotides and nanocarrier components may enable the potential to synthesize libraries of therapeutic agents designed for a given indication or a given patient in terms of therapeutic oligonucleotide design, size, surface coating and charge, hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity, and antigen- targeting through incorporation of targeting peptides.

Nanocarrier Delivery Mechanism — Our strategy seeks to leverage a nanoparticle that has been extensively used in humans for imaging by repurposing it to deliver oligonucleotides to cancer cells. The nanocarrier is tunable to pre-designed specifications to deliver therapeutic oligonucleotides to an RNA target in tumors and metastases without compromising its integrity. These nanocarriers differentiate us from competitive delivery approaches, many of which rely on lipid particles or chemical structures, such as GalNAc. Competitive delivery approaches effectively target sites in the liver but not sites in tumors and metastases. Our nanocarrier is derived from, and is chemically similar to, nanoparticles extensively used in imaging (Feridex, from Advanced Magnetics) or for treating iron deficiency anemia (Feraheme, also from Advanced Magnetics).

We believe that our competitive advantages include effectively reaching tumors and metastases, achieving robust target engagement in tumor cells, and an anticipated wide therapeutic window based on prior experience in preclinical models and clinical experience of others with similar iron oxide nanoparticles.

Image Guided — Because our therapeutic candidates are innately detectable using non-invasive imaging, we can monitor their delivery to the tissue of interest and measure their bioavailability. The ability to monitor delivery using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, can be instrumental in assessing and controlling the amount of oligonucleotide that reaches the targeted tissues. MRI use during the design phase of the therapeutic candidate could guide drug design, delivery schedule, route, and dose and could suggest alternatives should treatment with the therapeutic candidate fail in a given patient. This is critical during drug development because it should allow us to optimize drug design to maximize therapeutic effect.

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The following graphic summarizes our modular design approach:

Graphic

Our Team

At TransCode, we are driven to change how cancer is treated both as a therapeutic modality and in terms of improving patient outcomes. We believe in the potential of RNA therapeutics to offer patients complete regression of their disease without recurrence rather than the current norm of giving patients additional months of survival. We are led by an experienced team of dedicated scientists and experts with decades of experience in the foundational areas of RNA and drug development, including RNA chemistry and biology, and nanotechnology. Our Interim CEO, Thomas Fitzgerald, has experience with financings, mergers, acquisitions, licensings, partnership collaborations and other corporate transactions. Dr. Zdravka Medarova, our Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, is a geneticist and cancer biologist by training. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of non-coding RNAs for cancer therapy and one of the inventors of TransCode’s technology. She developed the core TTX delivery platform and validated many of the therapeutic targets. Dr. Anna Moore, our other scientific Co-Founder, is internationally known for her groundbreaking research on targeted imaging and image-guided therapy. Mr. Fitzgerald, who also serves as our CFO, has over 30 years of accomplishments as a CFO and an investment banker for companies from emerging growth to turnarounds to Fortune 500 companies in the life sciences, technology, financial and industrial sectors. While CFO at a prior company, he also served as interim CEO. In addition, the management team includes Susan Duggan, Senior VP of Operations. Our advisory team and industry-leading consultants have many years of experience in chemistry manufacturing controls, or CMC, scaleup and commercialization of oligonucleotide and nanoparticle-based therapeutics as well as strong expertise in medical, preclinical, quality systems management, regulatory affairs, business strategy, legal affairs, and clinical trial design.

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Our Pipeline

We plan to continue research on a variety of microRNAs and biomarkers involved in cancer cell proliferation, carcinogenesis and metastasis. Our lead candidate, TTX-MC138, entered its first phase of clinical assessment in August 2023. We may request various FDA designations or approvals including Breakthrough Therapy, Accelerated Approval, Priority Review and Fast Track Designation based on clinical development results, and Orphan Disease Designation as many cancer indications are classified as orphan diseases. In addition, we amended our worldwide exclusive license with MGH to include a small interfering RNA, or siRNA, therapeutic candidate against PD-L1 in pancreatic and other cancer types including melanoma, breast and non-small cell lung cancer. This technology was invented at MGH by one of our scientific co-founders. We recently evaluated the efficacy of TTX-MC138 applied as monotherapy in a murine model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this study, we treated mice bearing human pancreatic tumors implanted in their pancreata with TTX- MC138 once weekly for eight weeks. The candidate demonstrated a pharmacodynamic response by successfully inhibiting its target, microRNA-10b (miR-10b). Serum miR-10b was down-regulated by TTX-MC138 and was shown to be a potential surrogate biomarker of therapeutic efficacy, opening up the possibility of noninvasive monitoring of therapeutic response in human patients. Metastatic burden in these animals was inhibited by approximately 50% compared to animals treated with gemcitabine, the current standard of care.

The following table summarizes our development pipeline:

Graphic

Our Strategy

Our goal is to become a leading oncology-focused biotechnology company, leveraging our proprietary platform to discover, develop and commercialize transformative treatments that could result in cancer being managed as a chronic disease. Our primary near-term objective is to conduct the planned Phase 1 clinical trial with TTX-MC138. Key components of our strategy include the following:

ØPrioritize the clinical development of our TTX-MC138, TTX-siPDL1 and other programs to deliver potentially transformative therapies to patients. The modular design toolbox takes advantage of the “coded” nature of the genome and transcriptome. Because of that, synthetic oligonucleotides provide an ideal platform for rational design of therapeutic and diagnostic agents based on the phenomenon of complementarity. This approach can be used while relying on recent advances in bioinformatics, genomics, and transcriptomics. The therapeutic molecules can be antisense oligonucleotides, siRNA duplexes, ribozymes, miRNA mimics, immunostimulatory RNAs and others. These molecules can be synthesized to target portions of the code that are aberrant in disease and thus the unique genome of the patient would in turn direct us to an equally unique cocktail of therapeutic agents. We are specifically focused on delivering therapeutic solutions that reach previously inaccessible targets, in particular, those in which the biological pathways are clinically and genetically well-validated, to address significant unmet medical needs within broad patient populations. We believe that TTX-MC138, TTX-siPDL1, and our other programs have the potential to treat multiple cancer indications that fit these criteria.

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ØFurther expand the capabilities of our TTX delivery platform to additional RNA targets. We believe our ability to identify and utilize previously undruggable microRNAs, particularly those with selective or restricted expression, may unlock new opportunities across broad therapeutic applications.
ØContinue to build a broad and diverse pipeline of novel oncology therapeutic candidates. Guided by our drug development principles and the clinical results from our TTX-MC138 program, we intend to continue to identify therapeutic targets that have disruptive therapeutic potential and are predicted to be well-suited for a therapeutic approach. Given the unique genetic profiles in some of the patient populations that we aim to serve, we plan to continue to leverage a precision medicine approach to help identify patients with the highest probability of responding to our therapeutic candidates. The capabilities of our discovery platform, such as our expanded toolbox that includes our image capable delivery system, enable us to pursue targets linked to a wider range of indications.
ØExpand and protect our proprietary know-how and intellectual property. We are developing a broad patent portfolio meant to protect our intellectual property, which we intend to expand further. Our intellectual property, which includes proprietary know-how as well as various patents, applies not only to our licensed compounds but also to other technologies owned by or licensed to TransCode.
ØExplore synergistic collaboration opportunities. To further our goal of delivering transformative therapies to the broadest possible patient populations, we expect to leverage strategic partnerships that can contribute initially to complementary capabilities in cancer indications which require clinical studies and/or tumor indications that fall outside our core interests. Secondarily we are interested in partners that could potentially assist us in manufacturing, distribution, and commercialization in disease areas within our core area of therapeutic focus.

Background of RNA

RNA has long been viewed as an attractive therapeutic modality because it can be used to target a wide array of diseases; it involves rational and straightforward drug design, the drugs are highly selective for their target, and nominal amounts of drug are required to achieve powerful therapeutic activity. In addition, such drugs have the ability to engage targets that are otherwise ‘undruggable’ by targeted therapeutics, such as small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, thus opening up whole new avenues for treating intractable diseases. Turning this concept into a clinical reality, however, is no small feat. Therapeutic nucleic acids, such as mRNA, ASOs and siRNAs have been in clinical development for decades, and for much of this time, clinical success has been out of reach. This lack of clinical success is due to three delivery-related challenges:

1.protecting the therapeutic oligonucleotide from dismantling by the immune system,
2.maintaining stability long enough to allow for full therapeutic effect on the tumor, and
3.penetrating the target organs and cells.

Because of these challenges, RNA as a cancer treatment modality has been bypassed largely by the interest in other forms of treatment including immunotherapy. One enticing feature of RNA-targeting therapeutics is that once chemistry and delivery are optimized, designing and producing a lead compound for a new target is relatively straightforward, and their in vivo pharmacokinetic profiles are highly predictable. This means that the timeline from target identification to preclinical proof of concept in animal models, to having a lead compound ready to be tested in clinical trials, should be measurable in months rather than years, which has been the norm for drug development. This is reflected in a burgeoning clinical pipeline: currently more than a hundred investigational RNA-targeting drugs are under clinical development for disease indications encompassing neurodegeneration, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders and various cancers. Advancements in the field are now accelerating after years of slow progress. In 2016, nusinersen, a splice - switching ASO, was approved by the FDA and became the first drug to treat spinal muscular atrophy, a rare and often fatal disease of the nervous system, and 2018 witnessed the first ever approval of an RNAi drug — patisiran — to treat polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, another rare and devastating disease mediated by the liver. These successes validated the clinical utility of RNA-targeting therapeutics and brought forward lifesaving drugs for patients who previously had no effective treatment options.

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Our scientific approach is based on three complementary elements that address these challenges: the ability to precisely deliver an oligonucleotide to an RNA target without compromising the integrity of the oligonucleotide; a platform on which to develop oligonucleotides that are designed to attack specific disease-causing RNA targets; and an imaging capability for optimal targeting which can guide therapeutic intervention.

Our scientific co-founders initially developed the lead therapeutic candidate while at MGH to address the challenge of targeting microRNA-10b, a well validated target linked to metastatic cancer, which has been shown to cause approximately 90% of all cancer deaths. In contrast, most anti-cancer therapies target primary tumors and do not address metastatic disease specifically. So far, no effective therapeutic has been developed to target microRNA-10b because of the delivery challenge despite microRNA-10b’s strong association with cancer metastasis as documented in over 700 scientific publications deposited on PubMed that refer to miR-10b.

TTX Design

Our delivery solution utilizes a similar construct as products that are already in clinical use for other indications. It leverages a particle that has been extensively used for imaging purposes and has been repurposed to be used as a delivery system for oligonucleotides. The nanocarrier is tunable to pre-designed specifications to shuttle therapeutic oligonucleotides to tumors and metastases and to precisely deliver oligonucleotides to an RNA target without compromising their integrity. Our platform, which has undergone approximately 20 years of research and development optimization at both MGH and TransCode, is designed to deliver the oligonucleotide to the tumor cells with enhanced stability and binding affinity. We believe that the nanocarrier’s small size may allow for a long circulation time and efficient accumulation in metastatic tumor cells while minimizing kidney and liver clearance. A dextran coating stabilizes the oligonucleotide by blocking large nuclease proteins from gaining access to it. Our delivery platform allows for the custom development of therapeutic candidates as well as targeting of specific biomarkers in multiple cancer types.

We believe that another advantage of our TTX platform is noninvasive monitoring of delivery of the therapeutic candidate to target tissues using MRI. We believe that this advantage represents an indispensable tool to assess and control delivery to targeted tissues which has the potential to enhance both efficacy and safety. Our most advanced program focuses on metastatic cancers, which have been shown to be responsible for over nine million deaths per year worldwide. In preclinical studies in metastatic breast cancer and pancreatic cancer models in mice, our lead therapeutic candidate demonstrated the ability to be delivered to existing tumors and metastatic lesions and demonstrate complete regression without recurrence of metastasis during the study periods.

In one preclinical study using a stage II/III breast cancer model, our lead therapeutic candidate elicited complete regression without recurrence during the 12-week study period and 100% survival in the treated animals. In another preclinical study using an aggressive stage IV cancer model, our lead therapeutic candidate elicited complete regression without recurrence during the study period in 65% of animals treated. In a third preclinical study in an aggressive pancreatic cancer model, our lead therapeutic candidate inhibited metastatic disease by approximately 50% relative to animals treated with gemcitabine. At the end of the study, only 40% of the animals treated with TTX-MC138 had evidence of metastasis compared to 80% for animals treated with gemcitabine.

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Graphic

The general design of our therapeutic candidates is described in Fig. 1. The modular delivery system that constitutes the core of our therapeutic platform, TTX, comprises iron-oxide nanoparticles that have been designed for optimized delivery to primary and metastatic tumors. Based on the literature and our own studies, we believe that the delivery of TTX-candidates and other similar iron oxide nanoparticles to tumors and metastases relies on a combination of hemodynamic, physicochemical and metabolic factors. An approved iron oxide nanoparticle named Feraheme (ferumoxytol) used to treat iron deficiency anemia has been observed clinically to be long circulating with a blood half-life in humans of 17 – 24 hours. This far exceeds what we believe is the 3 – 6 hours for lipid nanoparticles. Iron oxide nanoparticles distribute to the interstitium (spaces between cells) of tumors and metastases via the enhanced permeability and retention, or EPR, effect, followed by uptake of the nanoparticles into tumor cells. Our nanoparticles are also coated with crosslinked dextran, a glucose polymer, which stabilizes the nanoparticles and further facilitates uptake. An additional advantage of our design derives from the capability for noninvasive imaging via magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, resulting from our incorporation of a superparamagnetic iron oxide into the design of TTX.

The clearance pathway for these nanoparticles is also well understood. Like other iron oxide nanoparticles, TTX accumulates in the organs of the reticuloendothelial system. There it is taken up by the cells and rapidly broken down. The iron from the iron oxide core enters the endogenous iron pool, whereas the dextran from the nanoparticle coating is cleared through the kidneys. After over 20 years of R&D optimization, we have extensively studied our delivery nanoparticle’s step-by-step synthesis and characterization, as well as the nanoparticle’s hydrodynamic size, surface charge, relaxivity, toxicity, stability and immunogenicity.

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The TTX delivery platform is highly differentiated from other oligonucleotide delivery systems that have been developed commercially (Fig. 2).

Graphic

We describe our delivery system as “Oligonucleotide Conjugated Nanoparticle” and believe it offers the following advantages:

ØSmall size (20-30 nanometers) gains access to tumors and metastases and avoids early clearance by the liver and kidneys; long circulation half-life;
ØLow risk of immunogenicity vs competitor lipid particles which have been shown to induce undesirable immune responses via a number of different mechanisms, including complement activation and inflammatory cytokine overproduction;
ØQuantitative non-invasive imaging via MRI & measurement of drug bioavailability during treatment;
ØSurface coating consisting of a non-metabolizable glucose polymer creates steric hindrance by blocking large nuclease proteins from gaining access to oligonucleotides during the binding process to our target microRNA and at the same time results in improved stability and cell uptake;
ØHighly stable, low toxicity potential; and
ØAccumulation inside tumors and metastases as well as greater binding affinity and specificity to intended genetic targets inside tumor cells.

Recent Publications

In collaboration with scientists from MGH, Harvard Medical School and Michigan State University, we have published the four manuscripts listed below. The publication by Smith et al. reviews recent progress towards translating short non-coding RNAs into the clinic. The manuscript by Le Fur et al. describes a method for radiolabeling our lead candidate, TTX-MC138, and employing microdosing PET-MRI to assess the tissue distribution of the therapeutic candidate. This manuscript serves as the basis for our FIH Clinical trial. The publication by Chen et al. reviews key microRNA targets, including miR-10b in glioblastoma. The fourth study by Moore et al. presents a case study of a feline patient with metastatic breast cancer treated with TTX-MC138.

Clinical Applications of Short Non-Coding RNA-Based Therapies in the Era of Precision Medicine. Smith ES, Whitty E, Yoo B, Moore A, Sempere LF, Medarova Z. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Mar 21;14(6):1588.

Radiolabeling and PET-MRI microdosing of the experimental cancer therapeutic, MN-anti-miR10b, demonstrates delivery to metastatic lesions in a murine model of metastatic breast cancer. Le Fur M, Ross A, Pantazopoulos P, Rotile N, Zhou I, Caravan P, Medarova Z, Yoo B. Cancer Nanotechnol. 2021;12(1):16.

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Role of microRNAs in glioblastoma. Chen M, Medarova Z, Moore A. Oncotarget. 2021 Aug 17;12(17):1707-1723.

Case Report: microRNA-10b as a Therapeutic Target in Feline Metastatic Mammary Carcinoma and its Implications for Human Clinical Trials. Moore A, Savan NA, Saavedra PV, Halim A, Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan V, Wang P, Yoo B, Kiupel M, Sempere L, Medarova Z. Front. Oncol. Sec. Cancer Molecular Targets and Therapeutics doi: 10.3389/fonc.2022.959630.

Case study in feline patient with metastatic breast adenocarcinoma

On October 12, 2022, we announced acceptance for publication by Frontiers in Oncology of a case study in a feline patient with spontaneous metastatic breast cancer treated with TransCode’s lead therapeutic candidate, TTX-MC138. The study was led by Dr. Anna Moore, Professor and Director of the Precision Health Program at Michigan State University and a scientific co-founder of TransCode.

To test the applicability of our therapeutic strategy in a larger animal, our scientific co-founders conducted a case study with a feline patient that had developed spontaneous mammary carcinoma, or FMC, the third most common cancer in cats and highly metastatic. FMC has high resemblance to human breast cancer compared to mammary carcinomas of other companion animals in terms of relative age at onset, incidence, risk factors, prognostic aspects, histopathology, biological behavior, metastatic pattern and response to therapy.

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Importantly, cats experience the same environmental risk factors as humans and are immunocompetent, more accurately reflecting the complex interplay between genetics, the immune system, and the tumor microenvironment than in smaller animals. Finally, there is greater homology between cats and humans than between rodents and humans for specific genes.

Graphic

Figure 3. miR-10b expression in primary and metastatic tumors from nine feline patients with FMC. 3A): Representative hematoxylin & eosin (H&E) sections of primary tumors and lymph node metastases showing histopathology similar to human breast cancer. Scale bar = 200μm. 3B): miR-10b expression in primary tumors and lymph node metastases in feline patients. Molecular subtypes are indicated by the color legend. In 55.5% of the tumors, miR-10b expression in lymph node metastases was significantly higher than in primary tumors with 60% of the lymph node metastases being HER2+ (n=3 replicates, p < 0.05).

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In the study, investigation of miR-10b expression in feline tissues confirmed the diversity and heterogeneity of FMC presentation in terms of miR-10b expression and tumor receptor positivity, which was similar to that in humans (Fig. 3). This points to the necessity of obtaining evidence of miR-10b expression from blood and biopsy samples to stratify patients who can potentially benefit from this therapeutic candidate. In human cancer, miR-10b expression has been shown to be significantly increased in later stage patients and in those with more aggressive types of cancers. We believe that to guide treatment in future clinical trials, patients may be selected based on their levels of miR-10b expression, similar to the current standard diagnostic tests with other cancer markers, such as HER2+. To translate our earlier successful studies in mice to humans, we believe that investigating the effectiveness of the therapeutic candidate in relevant spontaneous diseases in larger animals can be useful.

Previously, we showed that miR-10b plays a pivotal role in supporting metastatic cell viability and proliferation. To inhibit miR-10b, we designed and tested a miR-10b-specific therapeutic candidate, which caused lasting regression of established metastases in immunocompromised and immunocompetent murine models. This case study serves as the logical next step towards the clinical development of TTX-MC138 and may be followed by additional studies aimed at investigating the applicability of feline mammary carcinoma, a spontaneous cancer, as a translational model, bridging human clinical trials centered on noncoding RNAs as therapeutic targets.

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Graphic

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Figure 4. MRI of TTX-MC138 delivery to metastatic breast cancer in a feline patient. 4A) Pre-contrast and post- contrast T2* images (sagittal) of a cat injected with one dose of TTX-MC138. There was a notable loss in signal intensity over the secondary mammary lesion after injection of the therapeutic. 4B) Quantitative analysis of relaxation times (T2 pre — T2 post, ms) of the tissues, confirming accumulation of TTX-MC138. Data are represented as mean ± standard deviation, or s.d. 4C) Coronal post-contrast T2-weighted image showing signal voids identified by TTX-MC138 (arrows) corresponding to lesions in the abdominal area. 4D) Left: Fluorescence microscopy showing accumulation of TTX-MC138 in the lesion (red — Cy5.5 on the nanoparticle; blue-DAPI); Right: H&E staining of the consecutive slice. Scale bar =100μm. 4E) Animal weight during the course of the experiment.

Graphic

Figure 5. Target engagement and accumulation of TTX-MC138 in a patient with FMC. 5a) qRT-PCR of miR-10b expression in primary tumor and lymph node metastases before dosing, and lung metastases and abdominal metastases three months after second dose; brain served as control tissue. The expression of miR- 10b was significantly reduced post-dosing relative to pre-dosing, indicating successful target engagement (n = 3, p < 0.05). Data are represented as mean ± sd. 5b) In situ hybridization demonstrating significantly increased HOXD10 expression in metastatic lesions after dosing compared to that in tissues isolated during original tumor excision. Scale bar = 100μm. 5c) Fluorescence microscopy demonstrating accumulation of TTX- MC138 in lung metastases (left) and abdominal area metastases (right) three months after second dose. Scale bar = 200μm.

In the case study, a feline patient that previously had failed multiple rounds of standard-of-care treatment for advanced metastatic FMC and was at the end of its life expectancy, was dosed with TTX-MC138. Delivery of TTX-MC138 to the metastatic lesions was demonstrated using noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, (Fig. 4). Dosing with TTX-MC138 resulted in durable inhibition of the miR-10b target and induction of the downstream metastasis suppressor, HOXD10, lasting as long as three months after injection (Fig. 5). The patient tolerated the injection well with no adverse effects and vital signs remained within the normal range. The animal resumed normal eating, drinking, and grooming. Complete blood count, or CBC, and blood chemistry profiles did not show significant changes from the normal ranges except for transient elevation of potassium and Na/K ratio possibly due to dehydration. Liver aspartate transaminase, or AST, and creatine kinase, or CK, levels were slightly but transiently elevated after injection. All levels returned to normal two weeks after the injection. Importantly, weight gain of more than 5% was recorded (Fig. 4). Seven weeks after the first dose, the feline patient was dosed a second time and tolerated the injection well.

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The case study with our first-in-class miRNA-targeted therapeutic candidate presented here demonstrated its delivery to metastatic lesions. We believe this is an important step in preclinical development and further de-risking of our approach. Initial safety studies demonstrated good tolerability and the general lack of toxicity of the therapeutic candidate, which serves as another important milestone in its translation.

Furthermore, we observed target engagement by our lead therapeutic candidate, manifested as a significant decrease in miR-10b expression after two injections seven weeks apart. It is important to note that efficacy studies were not part of this investigation, and the dose of the therapeutic used here was lower than the animal equivalent dose, or AED, calculated based on the effective dose determined in our previous rodent studies. However, even at this reduced dose and suboptimal dosing schedule, we believe we achieved significant inhibition of the miR-10b target with virtually no toxicity. The patient survived for approximately five additional months compared to its life expectancy prior to dosing. Notwithstanding the need for additional therapeutic and toxicology studies, we believe that in combination with our other preclinical findings, this case study suggests the robustness and tolerability of a novel first-in-class therapeutic approach.

Other Publications

In addition to the above publications, we recently published findings in BioRxiv demonstrating the feasibility of our RIG-I targeting approach relevant to our TTX-RIGA candidate. This publication can be found at: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.12.08.519592v1.

Our Programs

Target Identification - microRNA’s

MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, are important post-transcriptional regulators (control of gene expression at the RNA level) of gene expression. The recent literature abounds in examples of the key role played by miRNAs in determining cell fate. These examples are particularly compelling with regard to cancer emergence, progression, and response to therapy. Consequently, miRNAs represent candidates as targets of therapeutic intervention. To specifically inhibit cancer causing miRNAs, we design therapeutics capable of first accumulating in tumor cells which then allow for target engagement of the specific miRNA of interest.

The process for therapeutic target identification is now well established. It involves differential expression analysis in cancer cell lines and animal models of cancer. These targets are then further validated as clinically actionable targets through examination of gene expression in genomic databases, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas, or TCGA, which can give us information about level of expression of each target in large populations of cancer patients and can correlate target expression to parameters such as patient survival and other clinical measures of outcome.

Target Engagement

Preclinical Proof of Delivery

In our preclinical studies, we used our lead therapeutic TTX-MC138, which is designed to specifically target miRNA-10b. The therapeutic candidate which was fluorescently labeled was injected into mice implanted with a murine breast cancer cell line. In this model, orthotopically implanted (breast area) tumors progress from localized disease to lymph node, lung, and bone metastases by 10 days after tumor inoculation. Optical imaging performed 24 hours after intravenous injection of TTX-MC138 revealed uptake by the metastatic lesions in the lymph nodes, lungs, and bone. Fluorescence microscopy confirmed widespread uptake by the metastatic tumor cells in these organs supporting our hypothesis that the therapeutic candidate, as designed can target disseminated cancer to distant organs. In addition to demonstrating delivery, we have also observed efficient target engagement. We analyzed the expression of the miRNA-10b target in a mouse model treated with TTX-MC138 and observed abolition of the target.

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Clinical Feasibility of Delivery

Clinical proof of delivery is based on studies in patients using the clinically approved agent Ferumoxytol, which is marketed as iron replacement therapy for patients with anemia and has also been used off-label in clinical studies as an imaging agent detectable by MRI. Imaging studies in patients with metastatic cancer have shown that the agent accumulates in clinical metastases (Fig. 6). Results quantifying the amount of iron oxide delivered to clinical metastases provide preliminary expectations that at clinically acceptable doses of TTX-MC138 (up to 5 mg/kg), we believe we will be able to achieve robust target engagement and therapeutic effects in human patients.

Graphic

Figure 6. Axial MR images in a 59 year-old male with multiple pancreatic carcinoid tumor dural metastases demonstrates two masses (arrows). Axial T2-weighted MR images show a heterogeneous mildly hyperintense appearance of the dural-based masses (arrows) on non-contrast MRI (left). New hypointensity in both masses (arrows) shown immediately after Ferumoxytol injection (middle). Hypointensity progressively darkens at 24 hours (right).

TTX-MC138

Metastatic cancer is the form of cancer which has spread from an original tumor location to new sites in the body. Treatment of metastatic cancer is more complicated than treating early-stage cancer. Most of the treatments for metastatic cancer are focused on providing palliative care. With increases in the prevalence of disease and in life expectancy, there is also a rise in R&D expenditures in the field of oncology.

According to the November 2020 report by Emergen Research, the global metastatic cancer treatment market size was $63.03 billion in 2019. This market is expected to reach $111.16 billion in 2027, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 7.3% over that period. Rising prevalence of cancer and high unmet medical needs of patients suffering from metastatic cancer are the drivers stimulating the growth of the metastatic cancer treatment market. We are developing TTX-MC138 for the treatment of metastatic cancer. TTX-MC138 targets the validated critical driver of metastatic progression, microRNA-10b. We believe that TTX-MC138 has the potential to improve outcomes over current treatment options as well as other drugs currently in development, which are geared towards treating primary cancer but of limited efficacy treating disseminated malignancy. In preclinical studies of animals with metastatic lesions, TTX-MC138 was successfully delivered to those lesions, eliminated metastasis in the animals and elicited complete regression without recurrence, resulting in 100% survival of subjects treated in a stage II/III cancer model and 65% survival of subjects treated in a very aggressive stage IV cancer model.

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MicroRNA-10b (miR-10b)

One of the first miRNAs to be shown as having aberrant expression in cancer was miR-10b. Since the inaugural study on miR-10b in Dr. Robert Weinberg’s lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, its role as a metastasis promoting factor has been extensively validated. To date, more than 700 studies have been published on miR-10b and cancer across at least 18 different cancer types. This immense set of information holds possibilities for novel methods to improve the lives of many. The therapeutic target, miRNA, is a regulatory RNA. MiRNAs are placed at the apex of the gene regulatory pyramid and play a fundamental role in defining cell fate. Therefore, we believe by targeting microRNAs, it may be possible to achieve a persistent therapeutic response in cancer patients. Our hypothesis is based on the rationale that the tumor cell phenotype is critically dependent on fundamental molecular pathways of oncogenesis and that altering these pathways can result in very specific and robust therapeutic effects. The miRNA genome is a target because it is uniquely altered in tumor cells and represents a “hub” of carcinogenesis, since a single microRNA can coordinately affect the expression of multiple genes resulting in a comprehensive therapeutic response. In addition, because of the fundamental role played by microRNAs in defining tumor cell phenotypes, evasion of this therapeutic intervention by mutation is less likely.

Metastatic cells are uniquely capable of leaving the primary tumor, surviving in circulation and colonizing a distant organ which has properties distinct from the primary tumor where the cells originated. Cells endowed with this capability evolve in response to an adaptive process driven by a cellular “survival instinct.” Specifically, as tumors proliferate, pockets arise inside them characterized by inadequate resource supply due to failure of the tumor vasculature to keep up with the rapidly increasing tumor cell burden. This generates local inhospitable areas of low pH, high inflammation, and insufficient stromal supportive network necessary to maintain the survival of the tumor cells. As a result, some of the tumor cells within these pockets evolve by activating mechanisms, such as those driven by high miR-10b expression, that allow them to survive in the absence of abundant nutrient supply and to persist without the strong attachment to the extracellular matrix. These newly emergent cells become “refugees” from the primary tumor, invisible to most diagnostic/imaging modalities and resistant to most currently available therapeutic modalities. In our search for the ideal therapeutic target, our co-founders identified microRNA-10b as critical for the survival of these cells. Our lead candidate is designed to enter these tumor cells and inhibit miR-10b. Without the high level of expression of miR-10b, these cells, stripped out of their natural microenvironment, do not have the adaptive mechanism they need in order to survive, so they simply die.

Preclinical and clinical evidence of miR-10b’s role in cancer

Against this conceptual framework, we have designed our lead therapeutic-candidate, TTX-MC138, which is designed with the potential to efficiently inhibit microRNA-10b in metastatic cancers. Studies in mouse models implanted with human metastatic breast cancer concluded that weekly treatment with TTX- MC138 in combination with low-dose chemotherapy was the likely reason for regression of established metastatic lesions in the lymph nodes, as well as distant organs such as the lungs and bone. Once disappearance of the metastatic lesions was observed in treated subjects with stage II, III and IV cancer models, treatment of the animals was stopped, and they were monitored for recurrence of tumors. The study observed no recurrence of metastatic disease within the observational period, suggesting that metastasis had been eliminated.

The choice of microRNA-10b as a target is supported by its potentially broad relevance to cancer. Recent studies have demonstrated that the influence of microRNA-10b extends beyond breast cancer to 17 other tumor types including pancreatic, lung, colorectal, gastric, bladder, ovarian, and hepatocellular cancer amongst others, suggesting that the described approach may be broadly applicable to metastatic disease. In addition, TTX-MC138’s mechanism of action is hormone receptor independent, and has been observed to treat metastatic breast cancer in rodents regardless of hormone receptor type (ER+/-, PR+/-, HER2+/-, or combinations thereof).

Our understanding of the miR-10b pathway and its effects is constantly evolving. However, the downstream effects of miR-10b as we currently understand them can be divided into six pathways: promotion of migration and invasion, promotion of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), inhibition of apoptosis, promotion of proliferation, induction of angiogenesis, and self-renewal.

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Known microRNA-10b targets include Homeobox D10, or HOXD10, implicated in tumor cell migration and invasion, c-JUN, a critical inducer of cell proliferation and tumor progression, and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), which results in maintained AKT activation, a Ser/Thr kinase associated with proliferation, apoptosis, and growth. This effect on the AKT pathway allows for the improved self-renewal found in cancer stem cells highly expressing miR-10b. The key pathways through which miR-10b exerts its pro-metastatic effects are summarized in Fig. 7.

Graphic

Figure 7. Key signaling pathways influenced by miR-10b.

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Figure 8. Depicts TTX-MC138 delivery to metastatic lesions, infiltrating tumor cells to engage and inhibit miR-10b, designed to lead to tumor cell death.

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Mechanism of Action of TTX-MC138

Our therapeutic concept is summarized in Fig. 8. TTX-MC138 represents a proprietary therapeutic candidate that inhibits microRNA-10b. In primary tumors, inhibition of microRNA-10b by TTX-MC138 leads to arrest of tumor cell dissemination to local and distant organs. We believe a combination of TTX-MC138 with low-dose doxorubicin may lead to metastatic cell death and complete and persistent regression of already formed metastatic lesions in local and distant organs. Low-dose doxorubicin was used to slow down cell division in tumor cells. In preclinical studies that utilize aggressive metastatic tumor models, the use of low dose doxorubicin was necessary to allow TTX-MC138 to fully inhibit microRNA-10b. Because metastatic growth is slower in humans, the use of a cytostatic such as doxorubicin will likely be unnecessary.

In our mechanistic studies, the studies described an effect of TTX-MC138 on HOXD10. A different study by a group from Tel Aviv University concluded that it likely had a robust effect on c-JUN. Specifically, the study showed that loss of cell contacts or restructuring of the cytoskeleton, manifested as loss of E-cadherin in metastatic cells, led to a significant increase in miR-10b expression. Interestingly, the increase in miR-10b expression was accompanied by an increase in the accumulation of c-Jun. Silencing miR-10b in metastatic breast cancer cells resulted in a reduced c-Jun expression, whereas overexpression of miR-10b elevated the accumulation of c-Jun. Furthermore, detailed mechanistic studies revealed that miR-10b activates the expression of c-Jun through RhoC and NF1, through a novel pathway for promoting migration and invasion of tumor cells.

Results

In our preclinical studies outlined in Fig. 9, when TTX-MC138 was combined with a low-dose cytostatic (doxorubicin), there was complete and persistent regression of pre-existing metastatic cancer with no evidence of recurrence and no systemic toxicity. In preclinical studies that utilized aggressive metastatic tumor models, doxorubicin was used to allow TTX-MC138 to fully inhibit microRNA-10b. Because metastatic cell growth is slower in humans, we do not believe that a cytostatic such as doxorubicin will be necessary.

Specifically, in a model of stage II/III breast cancer in mice with lymph node metastases, just four weekly treatments eliminated metastatic burden. By contrast, in the control groups, there was metastatic progression (Within-Subjects ANOVA: p < 0.05). Once metastases were eliminated, therapy was stopped. Thereafter, the animals were observed by bioluminescence optical imaging to detect recurrence. No recurrence of metastatic disease was observed by the end of the study at 12 weeks after tumor implantation. This translated into 100% survival.

Graphic

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Figure 9. Preclinical activity of TTX-MC138 in models of metastatic breast cancer.

In a model of stage IV breast cancer in mice, we obtained 65% survival. Specifically, in mice implanted with 4T1-luc2 breast tumors, we observed regression of distant metastases by week six, at which point treatment was stopped (Within-Subjects ANOVA: p < 0.05).

We found no elevation in serum biochemistry markers following treatment suggesting the absence of acute toxicity associated with the therapeutic candidate. In addition, histopathology of major organs resulted in no observed gross tissue abnormalities suggesting that there was no toxicity as a result of treatment.

Positive Preclinical Results with TTX-MC138 in Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

We recently evaluated the efficacy of our lead therapeutic candidate, TTX-MC138, applied as monotherapy in a murine model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this study, we treated mice bearing human pancreatic tumors implanted in their pancreata with TTX-MC138 once weekly for eight weeks. The candidate demonstrated a pharmacodynamic response by successfully inhibiting its target, microRNA- 10b (miR-10b). Serum miR-10b was down-regulated by TTX-MC138 and was shown to be a potential surrogate biomarker of therapeutic efficacy, opening up the possibility of noninvasive monitoring of therapeutic response in human patients. Animals treated with TTX-MC138 showed an approximate 50% reduction of metastases compared to animals treated with gemcitabine.

These new findings expand the potential therapeutic relevance of TTX-MC138 beyond breast cancer, in which activity had previously been shown in preclinical studies, to include pancreatic adenocarcinoma. However, there is no assurance that these preclinical results will be duplicated in further preclinical studies or in cancer patients suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Graphic

Figure 10. We recently evaluated the efficacy of our lead therapeutic candidate, TTX-MC138, applied as monotherapy in a murine model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this study, we treated mice bearing orthotopic xenografts derived from human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells with TTX-MC138 once weekly for eight weeks. Animals treated with phosphate buffered saline or gemcitabine served as controls. Metastasis was significantly inhibited in animals treated with TTX-MC138 versus controls. The number of animals with evidence of metastasis and the number of metastasis-bearing organs per animal were reduced by approximately 50% in animals treated with TTX-MC138 versus gemcitabine. Importantly, TTX-MC138 demonstrated a pharmacodynamic response by successfully inhibiting its target, microRNA-10b (miR-10b).

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Clinical Development Plan

Phase 0 — First-in-Human Clinical Study

We commenced our FIH Phase 0 clinical trial at MGH, a major cancer center, in August 2023. The primary purpose of conducting this trial was to demonstrate clinical delivery of TTX-MC138 to metastatic tumor lesions. Another objective of the Phase 0 trial was to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of our therapeutic candidate. While only one patient has been treated in this trial, we believe that we obtained the results we expected. Namely, the data from the first patient showed that radioactivity consistent with accumulation of TTX-MC138 was detected by noninvasive imaging in the regions of the metastatic lesions previously identified by fluorodeoxyglucose /positron emission tomography. In addition, radiolabeled TTX-MC138 had pharmacokinetic behavior consistent with that expected based on non-clinical IND-enabling studies. The patient tolerated the dosing with no reported adverse reactions. Metabolite analysis indicated circulation of intact radiolabeled TTX-MC138 for more than 20 hours, equivalent to that predicted by Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) modelling, and that the drug candidate analyzed in the blood was identical to that of the manufactured drug candidate, demonstrating in vivo stability. Complete analysis of data from this first patient is in process and will be included in the final report for the study.

The Phase 0 clinical trial offered the potential to:

Ødemonstrate quantifiable evidence of delivery of TTX-MC138 to metastatic lesions in subjects with advanced solid tumors;
Øinform Phase I/II clinical trials by measuring pharmacokinetics and biodistribution in some vital organs and other tissues;
Øinform therapeutic dose levels based on microdose results; and
Øvalidate delivery for the TTX pipeline more broadly, potentially opening-up additional relevant RNA targets that have been previously undruggable due to challenges with RNA delivery.

In addition to the data with Feraheme presented above, we dosed one patient with radiolabeled TTX-MC138 in our Phase 0 clinical trial. That patient had metastatic lesions in three locations – bone, lungs and liver. PET-MRI imaging of the patient after dosing with TTX-MC138 indicated evidence of radioactivity in the patient’s metastatic lesions (Figure 11), suggesting that TTX-MC138 accumulated in clinical metastates.

Graphic

Figure 11. Evidence of accumulation of radiolabeled TTX-MC138 in clinical metastases.

Anticipated Phase I Clinical Trial

We have submitted an IND for a Phase I/II clinical trial with TTX-MC138 and we expect the FDA to complete its review of our IND in the second quarter of 2024.

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Description

The anticipated Phase I dose escalation and expansion clinical trial, which is subject to FDA review and approval, is designed to assess the safety of the therapeutic candidate in humans, including observing potential side effects, and to determine the maximum tolerated dose, or MTD, of TTX-MC138 for treating subjects with metastatic cancer. It is anticipated that study subjects will have had prior surgical resection of their primary tumors.

Anticipated Design

ØTo evaluate the safety and tolerability of escalating dose levels of TTX-MC138 to determine the MTD.
ØTo evaluate the anti-tumor activity of TTX-MC138 in subjects with advanced solid tumors.
ØTo evaluate anti-tumor activity of escalating dose levels of TTX-MC138.
ØTo evaluate immunogenicity of TTX-MC138.
ØTo characterize the pharmacokinetics (PK) profile of TTX-MC138.
ØTo explore the pharmacodynamic (PD) effect of TTX-MC138 on biomarker expression, which may include miR-10b expression, Ki-67 tumor cell proliferation, and downstream miR-10b targets.
ØUp to 5 investigative sites.

This study is planned to be a dose escalation and expansion study in which a Bayesian Optimal Interval, or BOIN, Design will be employed to inform dose-escalation among cohorts in the dose escalation phase of the study.

TTX-siPDL1

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States with an overall 5-year survival rate of only 8%. Surgical resection remains the treatment of choice for patients with resectable disease. However, less than 20% of the diagnosed patients qualify for curative resections, 30% of patients present with regional disease, and 50% present with distal metastases with survival rates of 11% and 2%, respectively. The reasons behind such poor prognosis have been postulated to involve the advanced stage at the time of diagnosis, and resistance to standard chemotherapies. However, these therapies are heavily dependent on the patient’s overall health, and the overall survival benefit for the latest cytotoxic combination therapies is only approximately two to five months.

Considering the tremendous suffering caused by this disease and the modest progress achieved thus far with cytotoxic treatments, we believe there is a need to explore radical, transformative approaches for therapy that attack the disease from multiple angles. The last decade has seen tremendous progress in the field of cancer immunotherapy. In fact, immunotherapy represents the most promising new cancer treatment approach since the development of the first chemotherapies in the 1940s. Checkpoint inhibitors have worked against lethal cancers such as melanoma and some lung cancers — sometimes with dramatic success — and are being tested in dozens of other cancer types. However, pancreatic cancer has proven difficult to treat with conventional drugs and has been resistant to initial immunotherapy approaches. Partly, the reason for this is the tumor microenvironment that characterizes pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is both immunosuppressive in nature and a physical barrier for antibody and T lymphocyte infiltration. Consequently, it is important to design alternative approaches that combine innovative checkpoint inhibitors that can be delivered efficiently to tumor cells and tumor resident macrophages, and strategies that enhance the permeation of the tumor by T lymphocytes.

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The human immune system has T cells that help fight off diseases. T cells are like soldiers that help the body fight infections and other diseases, including cancer. However, cancer cells can escape T cell attacks by expressing a protein called PD-L1. PD-L1 works like a “stop sign” to inactivate T cells. The far left of Fig. 12 shows how cancer cells prevent T-cells from recognizing and killing them by producing PD-L1. To the right of the first graphic in Fig. 12 is a graphic that shows how current checkpoint inhibitors work to block PD-L1 expression. On the far right in Fig. 12 is a graphic showing how our therapeutic is designed to work using an approach to prevent the synthesis of PD-L1 altogether rather than blocking its function after the cancer cell has produced it. Because TTX-siPDL1 incorporates an siRNA against PD-L1 as its functional component, it inactivates PD-L1 at the post-transcriptional level. Namely, it triggers the degradation and/or translational repression of the PD-L1 messenger RNA (mRNA), preventing the cell from expressing the PD-L1 antigen.

Graphic

Figure 12. Mechanism of action of PD-L1 inhibitors. Cancer cells can escape immune attack by expressing a protein called PD-L1 which works like a “stop sign” to inactivate T cells. On the far left is a graphic showing how tumor cells produce PD-L1 to prevent T-cells from recognizing and killing the tumor cells. Second from the left is a graphic that shows how current checkpoint inhibitors work to block PD-L1 expression. The graphic second from the right shows how our TTX-siPDL1 is designed to work — preventing the synthesis of PD-L1 rather than blocking its function, leading to tumor cell death (far right).

Since we are utilizing an RNAi approach, our therapeutic has the potential to be more efficient, which could allow T cells to recognize and kill tumor cells more robustly than traditional checkpoint inhibitors. At this time, we believe we are the only company targeting PD-L1 using RNAi. As our initial therapeutic candidate, we are developing an alternative strategy that relies on combining gemcitabine (Gem), the standard of care treatment for pancreatic cancer, and our novel PD-L1 inhibitor (termed TTX-siPDL1). TTX- siPDL1 incorporates our proprietary nanoparticle delivery system that is specifically designed to efficiently deliver our therapeutic candidate to tumor cells in vivo, inhibiting PD-L1 expression by these cells via the RNA interference mechanism. We believe that this approach is advantageous over small molecules or antibodies because the small interfering RNA component inhibits the target antigen at the post-transcriptional level rather than at the protein level. Also, the RNA mechanism has been shown to be catalytic and has been observed in in vitro studies to require delivery of only picomolar amounts of siRNA to the tumor cell for the abolition of the target antigen. By contrast, small molecules or antibodies require the achievement of at least a 1:1 molar ratio of antigen to therapeutic molecule and could be ineffective in the event of a compensatory increase in the tumor cell’s expression of the target antigen.

In our initial preclinical study, we administered combination therapy consisting of gemcitabine and TTX- siPDL1 in a syngeneic murine pancreatic cancer model over a seven-week treatment period. Our study investigators observed significantly lower morbidity and toxicity, tumor regression and a dramatic improvement in survival. In particular, following dose optimization, a 90% reduction in tumor volume was observed after two weeks of treatment. Within the study, 100% of the control animals (i.e., those treated with an inactive version of TTX-siPDL1, named TTX-siSCR, in place of TTX-siPDL1) had succumbed to their tumors within six weeks after the beginning of treatment, while none of the experimental animals treated with a high dose of the active therapeutic candidate, TTX-siPDL1, had succumbed at week six of treatment, and 67% of these animals survived for 12 weeks.

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We believe an additional key advantage of our approach derives from the fact that it offers an opportunity to develop a clinically relevant, image-guided treatment protocol that provides knowledge about therapeutic outcome, expressed both as change in tumor volume and tumor growth rate. Importantly, the combination of hemodynamic and metabolic targeting is expected to achieve highly efficient distribution of the therapeutic in the tumor microenvironment and uptake inside tumor cells, as opposed to monoclonal antibodies which are not optimally targeted to the tumor microenvironment. As a result, TTX-siPDL1 could potentially have much more potent target engagement than currently-used checkpoint inhibitors, which are based on monoclonal antibodies.

Our pancreatic cancer studies illustrated the potential of a combination treatment with gemcitabine and TTX-siPDL1. Study mice co-treated with TTX-siPDL1 and gemcitabine showed significant inhibition of tumor growth relative to controls (p < 0.05). This difference was evident two weeks after beginning treatment (Fig. 13A).

The presumed advantage of the combination treatment was demonstrated in the study when assessing animal survival (Fig. 13B). In the study, 67% of the mice treated with gemcitabine and TTX-siPDL1 (high dose) survived for 12 weeks while 67% of the mice treated with gemcitabine and TTX-siPDL1 (low dose) survived until week eight. All of the control mice treated with TTX-siSCR and gemcitabine succumbed by week six. Within the study, all of the mice in the group treated with gemcitabine and TTX-siSCR developed large necrotic tumors, presumably due to the high rate of tumor growth. Tumor necrosis and ulceration were not seen in the animals treated with the combination therapeutic candidate.

Graphic

Figure 13. Outcome of treatment with TTX-siPDL1 and gemcitabine, or Gem. The mice were treated with Gem (333.3 mg/kg) in solution with a low dose of either TTX-siPDL1 or siSCR (10mg/kg Fe; 520 nmoles/kg siRNA in both groups) or a high dose of TTX-siPDL1 or siSCR (10 mg/kg Fe, 937 nmoles/kg siRNA in both groups).

Our preclinical data were used in support of our application for Orphan Drug Designation which we received in June 2022. More recently, we carried out studies in a highly aggressive syngeneic orthotopic animal model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or PDAC, that is characterized by intense desmoplasia, similar to human PDAC. Specifically, in this model, in untreated animals, tumor volume grew 788-fold over the course of 5 weeks, with 30-40% of the tumor mass attributed to a fibrous capsule. We implanted Hy15549 cells into the pancreas of C57BL/6 mice. Once tumors measured over 2 mm in diameter, as measured by anatomic MRI, treatment was initiated and involved gemcitabine (6.66 mg/mouse) and TTX-siPDL1 at two doses: low dose (1500 nmoles siRNA/kg) or high dose (2000 nmoles siRNA/kg). Our studies demonstrated that TTX-siPDL1 was successfully delivered and effective even in the highly desmoplastic and hypovascular Hy15549 murine model of PDAC, which has been deemed nonresponsive to antibody-based immune checkpoint blockade. Anatomic MRI showed that in the animals treated with high-dose TTX-siPDL1 alone or in combination with gemcitabine, tumor growth rates were lower than in the PBS controls (Fig. 14).

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After two weekly treatments with TTX-siPDL1 plus gemcitabine, tumor volumes were four times smaller than in untreated animals. Importantly, animal survival was improved dramatically in animals treated with TTX-siPDL1 plus gemcitabine compared to all other groups. Among the animals treated with TTX-siPDL1 plus gemcitabine, the hazard ratio for overall survival (OS) relative to PBS was 0.08. Interestingly, even in the absence of gemcitabine, TTX-siPDL1 as monotherapy improved survival more dramatically than gemcitabine (HR, 0.24 for TTX-siPDL1 vs. 0.42 for gemcitabine) (Fig. 14). Immunohistology on the tumor tissues post-necropsy indicated that the treatment inhibited PD-L1, increased CD8+T cell recruitment, reduced Treg abundance, and increased immune cell toxicity as measured by Granzyme B levels. These findings were accompanied by lower cell proliferation, as shown by Ki-67 staining. Finally, as an initial measurement of tissue damage due to the treatment, we analyzed major organs by histopathology and saw no differences from the vehicle-treated controls. Considering the aggressive and fibrous nature of the Hy15549 model and its resistance to traditional checkpoint inhibitors, the described RNAi-based therapeutic approach could be promising against PDAC and could make an impact on one of the most intractable cancers which has long evaded the power of modern medicine to deliver long-term survival.

Graphic

Figure 14. Combination treatment with gemcitabine and TTX-siPDL1 (depicted in Figure as MN-siPDL1). Image on left: Representative T2- weighted MR images during the course of treatment. Tumors were segmented manually using ImageJ. Graph in middle, top: Change in tumor volume during treatment Graph on right, top: Change in body weight during treatment. Graph in middle, bottom: Kaplan-Meier survival analysis demonstrating survival improvement in animals treated with high-dose TTX-siPDL1 plus gemcitabine vs. control groups. Table on right, bottom: Hazard Ratios for Overall Survival.

TTX-RIGA

Immunotherapies represent powerful alternatives to traditional clinical treatments for cancer. Recent developments in the use of Pattern Recognition Receptors, or PRRs, specifically retinoic acid-inducible gene I-like receptors, aim to harness the innate power of the immune system for anti-cancer therapy. Retinoic acid-inducible gene I, or RIG-I, is a cytosolic nucleic acid sensing Pattern Recognition Receptor of the innate immune system. It is essential for recognizing certain RNA viruses. RIG-I is ubiquitously expressed in all cell types including tumor cells. RIG-I engagement leads to tumor cell death, and to activation of the innate and adaptive immune systems. These factors suggest it could be an attractive therapeutic approach in oncology.

Understanding how to recruit RIG-I in a tumor-selective manner is critical for its adoption and further development as a clinical treatment modality. We are developing a therapeutic strategy for the tumor-selective template-based activation of RIG-I in cancer cells, directed by the specific overexpression of oncogenic miRNAs in tumors. We are in the early stages of the preclinical development of a novel tumor-selective RIG-I agonist to effectively activate RIG-I and induce type-I Interferon signaling and tumor cell apoptosis. RIG-I is ubiquitously expressed in all cell types including tumor cells. These factors suggest it could be an attractive therapeutic approach in oncology although there is no assurance that our efforts will be successful.

Tumor cell death induced by RIG-I activation has been reported in multiple types of cancer, including pancreatic, prostate, head and neck, gastric, and breast cancer as well as glioblastoma. However, RIG-I- based therapeutic strategies face multiple challenges, such as designing highly specific and stable agonists, and developing efficient agonist delivery modes while avoiding uncontrolled release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

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Our therapeutic candidate, TTX-RIGA, is in preclinical development. TTX-RIGA is designed to utilize our proprietary delivery system to deliver a RIG-I agonist to tumor cells. TTX-RIGA is intended to activate the RIG-I signaling pathway, in turn triggering an immune response that targets cancer. The results of the testing we have completed support continuation of our research with this candidate. A manuscript detailing feasibility studies with RIGA was recently published in BioRxiv. Furthermore, we have demonstrated successful synthesis of TTX-RIGA and its capability to agonize RIG-I and induce immune activation. In an animal model of melanoma, treatment with TTX-RIGA injected intravenously over six consecutive days inhibited tumor growth and, importantly, largely arrested the growth of secondary recurrent tumors implanted six days after the final treatment due to activation of a type I IFN immune response. This effect was not seen in animals injected intratumorally with a current standard-of-care RIG-I agonist (Fig. 15).

Graphic

Figure 15. C57BL/6 mice were implanted subcutaneously with B16-F10 cells. Treatment was initiated once tumors were established. Treatment continued until day 6 after tumor implantation. On day 12 after the beginning of treatment, a secondary tumor challenge with the same cell line was performed by subcutaneous implantation into the contralateral flank.

Accelerated Regulatory Programs

The FDA maintains several programs intended to facilitate and expedite development and review of new drugs addressing unmet medical needs or for treating serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. These programs include Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval. The purpose of these programs is to expedite either the development or the review of certain new drugs to get them to patients sooner than under standard FDA development and review procedures. We anticipate seeking one or more of these qualifications, but there is no assurance that we will obtain any of them.

Orphan Drug Designation

The Orphan Drug Act was enacted by the 97th Congress in 1983 to facilitate the development of drugs that impact smaller patient populations. Benefits available under the Orphan Drug Act include seven-year marketing exclusivity, 25% tax benefits for research & development activities performed in the U.S., a waiver of Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, Fees, and qualification to compete for research grants.

Based on in vivo studies using TTX-siPDL1 to treat human pancreatic tumors implanted in animals, we applied for and, in June 2022, received, Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. In addition, in February 2023, we received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA for TTX-MC138, also for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. We intend to conduct additional in vivo studies to support filings of other TTX-based drug candidates in other orphan disease indications including osteosarcoma and small cell lung cancer, or SCLC. In the Michigan State University laboratory of one of our scientific co-founders, animal testing of TTX-MC138 in glioblastoma cells has been completed. Mechanistic studies have produced efficacy signals in combination with temozolomide, or TMZ, in glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, cell lines. A manuscript summarizing results from this study has been submitted for publication.

There is no assurance that we will obtain any additional Orphan Drug Designations.

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INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Our intellectual property, or IP, portfolio is directed to our therapeutic and diagnostic candidates and their targeted use and development in specific patient populations and in specific indications. Comprised primarily of intellectual asset types of patents, trademarks, know-how and trade secrets, our rights-based portfolio currently consists of seven different patent families and one trademark. Our patent portfolio comprises issued patents, pending patent applications and new provisional patent applications. We have licensed rights to patents issued in the U.S. which we believe provides exclusivity for a significant portion of the potential worldwide market for TTX-MC138, our lead candidate, and are pursuing additional filings in both the U.S. and elsewhere. Patents we have licensed for a TTX-MC138-associated biomarker test have issued in both the U.S and in the European Union.

Trademarks

We own, have applied for or have rights to use one or more registered and common law trademarks, service marks and/or trade names in connection with our business in the United States and/or in certain foreign jurisdictions. On October 20, 2021, TransCode Therapeutics, Inc. applied to the United States Commissioner of Trademarks to register TRANSCODE THERAPEUTICS as a trademark under International Class 005, pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of cancer, diagnostic preparations for medical purposes, having Serial Number 97/083236.

Therapeutic Patent Rights Assigned to TransCode

Nanoparticles Comprising Target Binding Scaffold Proteins and their in vivo Delivery

ØU.S. Provisional Patent Application filed on May 5, 2023 (63/406,469)

Template Directed Immunomodulation for Cancer Therapy

ØInternational PCT Application (PCT/US2021/65580) filed December 30, 2021. Corresponding national stage applications are pending in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe and Korea.

Radiolabeled Nanoparticles and Template Directed Immunomodulation for Cancer Therapy

ØInternational PCT Application PCT/US2023/026460 and US 18/215,550 filed June 28, 2023.

Therapeutic Patent Rights (Covered under MGH License)

Therapeutic Nanoparticles and Methods of Use Thereof

ØUS 9,763,891 — Granted (Issued September 2017). Expiry not expected before 2032.
ØUS 9,629,812 — Granted (Issued April 2017). Expiry not expected before 2032.
ØUS 10,463,627 — Granted (Issued November 2019). Expiry not expected before 2032.

Biomarker Patent Rights (Diagnostic test)

miRNA Profiling Compositions and Methods of Use

ØUS 10,086,093 — Granted (Issued October 2018). Expiry not expected before 2034.
ØUS 18/339,621 (pending).
ØEP 2961386 — Granted (Issued July 2019). Expiry not expected before 2034.

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Compositions and Methods for Tunable Magnetic Nanoparticles

ØPCT/US 2020/63635 — Application filed December 7, 2020. Corresponding national stage applications are pending in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. Expiry not expected before 2040.

Compositions and Methods for Immune Checkpoint Inhibition

ØPCT/US 2019/050003 — Application filed September 6, 2019. Corresponding national stage filings pending in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. Expiry not expected before 2038.

Agents and Methods for Treating Pancreatic Ductal Carcinoma

ØUS 10,588,920 — Granted (Issued March 2020). Expiry not expected before 2036.
ØUS Ser. No. 17/469,530 (pending).

Radiolabeled Therapeutic Nanoparticles and Methods of Using the Same

ØPCT application PCT/US2021/057912 filed November 3, 2021. Corresponding national stage applications are pending in Japan, Europe, Korea and the United States. Expiry not expected before 2041.

EXCLUSIVE LICENSE AGREEMENT

In November 2018, we entered into a license agreement with MGH, or the MGH License, pursuant to which MGH granted us an exclusive, world-wide, royalty-bearing, sub-licensable license to certain MGH intellectual property which we collectively refer to as the Licensed Patents.

We are required to pay tiered royalties of a low to middle single-digit percentage on annual net sales of products related to the Licensed Patents. Initially, there were minimum royalties of $25,000 per year prior to the first commercial sale of a product or process covered by the Licensed Patents, and a minimum of $50,000 per year after the first commercial sale of a product or process covered by the Licensed Patent.

Upon the occurrence of certain milestones, we are also obligated to make payments of up to an additional$1.55 million in aggregate. As of the date of this annual report, no milestone events had been achieved.

Unless earlier terminated, the MGH License will expire upon the latest of (i) the date on which all issued patents and filed patent applications subject to the License have expired or been abandoned; (ii) expiration of the last to expire regulatory exclusivity covering a covered product or process; or (iii) 10 years after the first commercial sale of a product or process covered by the Licensed Patents.

In the event of a default in our performance of the MGH License that we fail to cure, MGH may terminate the MGH License with respect to the country or countries in which the default occurs. MGH may terminate the MGH License immediately upon written notice to us in the event of our bankruptcy, insolvency, dissolution or winding up, or if we fail to maintain the insurance required pursuant to the MGH License. MGH may also terminate the MGH License upon written notice if we fail to make payments due under the MGH License. We may terminate the MGH License at any time by providing ninety (90) days written notice to MGH. Any sublicenses granted by us under the MGH License shall be automatically terminated upon the termination of the MGH License, but MGH is required to make a good faith effort to enter into a direct license agreement with any sublicensee who so requests.

Amendment to License Agreement

In November 2020, we and MGH amended the MGH License. Under the amendment, the intellectual property licensed in 2018 was categorized as “Patent Family 1” and a provisional patent filing related to MGH’s nanoparticle technology was added to Patent Family 1. A second patent family, “Patent Family 2,” was created which includes MGH intellectual property targeting PD-L1.

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The minimum annual license fee prior to the first commercial sale of a product or process covered by the MGH License was increased to $30,000 per year for Patent Family 1 and a minimum annual license fee of $10,000 per year was added related to Patent Family 2. All other terms of the MGH License including milestone payments, royalties and payment terms related to sublicense income we may receive remain the same as in the original MGH License.

Upon expiration of the MGH License, the licenses granted to us pursuant thereto will be considered fully paid and royalty-free.

COMPETITION

The pharmaceutical industry is intensely competitive and constantly evolving. While we believe that our experience, scientific knowledge and intellectual property provide us with certain competitive advantages, these may not be sufficient to succeed. We face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Most of our potential competitors are larger than we are, and they have substantially greater capital and human resources than we do. Many also have established market positions and expertise and capabilities in sales, marketing, distribution, clinical trials and regulatory matters. Not only must we compete with other companies that are focused on RNA therapeutics and other therapeutics that treat cancer, but also any therapeutic candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize must compete with existing therapies and new therapies that may become available in the future. In addition, we compete with other life sciences companies generally for employees, consultants and advisors, supplies and materials, and laboratory facilities and equipment.

Our competitors may develop more successful products that are similar to ours, but sooner than we can commercialize ours, which may negatively impact our results.

There are several companies operating in the “targeted therapy” space, many of which have existed longer than we have, with the advantages described above. The development of targeted therapies requires the identification of good targets — that is, targets that play a key role in cancer cell growth and survival. (It is for this reason that targeted therapies are sometimes referred to as the product of “rational” drug design.)

One approach to identify potential targets is to compare individual proteins in cancer cells with those in normal cells. Proteins that are present in cancer cells but not normal cells, or that are more abundant in cancer cells, could be potential targets, especially if they are known to be involved in cell growth or survival. An example of such a differentially expressed target is the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein, or HER-2. HER-2 is expressed at high levels on the surface of some cancer cells. Several targeted therapies are directed against HER-2, including trastuzumab (Herceptin), which is approved to treat certain breast and stomach cancers that overexpress HER-2.

Another approach to identify potential targets is to determine whether cancer cells produce mutant (altered) proteins that drive cancer progression. For example, the cell growth signaling protein BRAF is present in an altered form (known as BRAF V600E) in many melanomas. Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) targets this mutant form of the BRAF protein and is approved to treat patients with inoperable or metastatic melanoma that contains this altered BRAF protein.

Researchers also look for abnormalities in chromosomes that are present in cancer cells but not in normal cells. Sometimes these chromosome abnormalities result in the creation of a fusion gene (a gene that incorporates parts of two different genes) whose product, called a fusion protein, may drive cancer development. Such fusion proteins are potential targets for targeted cancer therapies. For example, imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) targets the BCR-ABL fusion protein, which is made from pieces of two genes that join together in some leukemia cells and promotes their growth.

There are a number of oncology companies with targeted therapeutics for various cancers with therapeutic candidates in various stages of preclinical and clinical development. Companies focusing on RNA therapeutics for oncology include Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Ionis, Moderna, Alnylam, BioNTech, Dicerna, and Siranomics, among others. We believe these companies lack delivery systems that are able to target genes inside tumors and metastases. We know of no other RNA companies currently in clinical development that have an exclusive focus on cancer and whose pipelines are not limited to a single RNA technology such as siRNA or mRNA vaccines. By contrast, TransCode’s pipeline spans a spectrum of RNA technologies and includes ncRNAs, RNA vaccines, CRISPR technology, and immunostimulatory RNAs solely for oncology.

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Targeted therapy

Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules (“molecular targets”) that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer. Targeted cancer therapies are sometimes called “molecularly targeted drugs,” “molecularly targeted therapies,” “precision medicines,” or similar names.

Targeted therapies differ from standard chemotherapy in several ways:

ØTargeted therapies act on specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer, whereas most standard chemotherapies act on all rapidly dividing normal and cancerous cells.
ØTargeted therapies are deliberately chosen or designed to interact with their target, whereas many standard chemotherapies were identified because they kill cells.
ØTargeted therapies are often cytostatic (that is, they block tumor cell proliferation), whereas standard chemotherapy agents are cytotoxic (that is, they kill tumor cells).

Targeted therapies are currently the focus of intense anti-cancer drug development. Spending on targeted therapies continues to grow rapidly in all regions of the world and now represents 48% of total oncology spending, up 36% from 2010. As mentioned above, we are focused on targeted therapies for cancer treatment with TTX-MC138 as an example.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy has become an established pillar of cancer treatment improving the prognosis of many patients with a broad variety of hematological and solid malignancies. The two main drivers behind this success are checkpoint inhibitors, or CPIs, and chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR, T cells. For checkpoint blockade, current studies focus on combinational approaches, perioperative use, new tumor entities, response prediction, toxicity management and use in special patient populations. Regarding cellular immunotherapy, recent studies confirmed safety and efficacy of CAR T cells in larger cohorts of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia or diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Different strategies to translate the striking success of CAR T cells in B cell malignancies to other hematological and solid cancer types are currently under clinical investigation. Regarding the regional distribution of registered clinical immunotherapy trials, a shift from PD-1 / PD-L1 trials (mainly performed in the U.S. and in the European Union, or EU) to CAR T cell trials (majority of trials performed in the United States and China) can be noted.

The importance of immunotherapy is underscored by the fact that the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 2018 was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for the discovery of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein, or CTLA-4, and programmed cell death protein1 / programmed cell death protein ligand 1, or PD-1 / PD-L1. Malignant tumors take advantage of the inhibitory PD-1 / PD-L1 or CTLA-4 pathways to evade the immune system. Disrupting this axis by blocking monoclonal antibodies can induce durable remissions in different cancer types and has led to numerous FDA and European Medicines Agency, or EMA, approvals, among others, for the treatment of melanoma, lung cancer, urothelial cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, or HNSCC, renal cell carcinoma, or RCC, and Hodgkin’s disease.

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are targeted therapies for cancer. Although some tyrosine kinase inhibitors are used to treat other types of cancer, lapatinib (Tykerb) is the only one that is FDA-approved for the treatment of breast cancer. Lapatinib is only used to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

PARP inhibitors

Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, or PARP, inhibitors are a class of drugs under study for many types of cancer, including breast cancer. PARP is an enzyme involved in DNA repair. At this time, PARP inhibitors are only offered in clinical trials for people with metastatic breast cancer. Early findings suggest that PARP inhibitors hold the most promise for people with metastatic breast cancer who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

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Cyclin dependent kinase 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors

CDK4 and CDK6 are enzymes important in cell division. CDK4/6 inhibitors are a new class of drugs designed to interrupt the growth of cancer cells. The CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib (Ibrance) in combination with hormone therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancers.

PI3 kinase inhibitors

PI3 kinase is an enzyme important in cell growth. The PIK3CA gene helps control PI3 kinase enzyme activity. Some breast cancers have a mutation in the PIK3CA gene, and this mutation can affect PI3 kinase and cause the tumor to grow. PI3 kinase inhibitors are a new class of drugs designed to interrupt PI3 kinase signals and stop the growth of cancer cells. PI3 kinase inhibitors are under study for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

MANUFACTURING

Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC)

CMC is an extensive aspect of the IND-enabling process and is critical to setting appropriate timelines and connecting “deliverables” to clinical trials. The term “deliverables” refers to more than just the drug product itself. It also includes analytical standards and required documentation on drug purity, dose strength, storage, handling and stability. The materials for the analytical development process are produced as part of the CMC process and must be delivered before CMC development work can begin, as are activities that require analytical support for which time requirements must also be considered.

The design and manufacture of nanodrugs such as TTX-MC138 for miRNA targeting in tumor cells has gone through extensive research and development optimization at MGH prior to our company formation. Optimization work continues in our lab and at our CMO. The basic design of these nanodrugs includes dextran-coated iron oxide nanoparticles conjugated to an LNA-modified antisense oligonucleotide that stably binds and inhibits the complementary mature miRNA inside the metastatic lesion. The oligonucleotide drug substance incorporated in the final therapeutic candidate drug product is currently manufactured by our contract manufacturer, or CMO, in Germany. We believe this CMO will be able to meet our needs for oligonucleotide manufacturing meeting current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, or good laboratory practices, or GLP, (together sometimes referred to as GxP) at least for the near term. TransCode has been utilizing the manufacturing services of this CMO since 2017.

We engaged a different European CMO to produce the final therapeutic candidate drug product in which our oligonucleotides are attached to aminated dextran-coated iron oxide particles. The dextran-coated iron oxide particles are analogous in structure and size to those used in the FDA-approved, intravenously administered, iron replacement therapy known as Ferraheme®.

COMMERCIALIZATION

We retain worldwide commercialization rights for our key therapeutic and diagnostic candidates. We currently have no sales, marketing or product distribution capabilities. However, if our therapeutic candidates appear closer to FDA approval, we may explore commercialization partnerships with larger pharmaceutical organizations or out-license sales and marketing of those therapeutic candidates.

We also intend to consider opportunities to license certain of our technologies to other companies with an oncology focus. Our commercial plans and strategy for each particular program may change as programs advance, markets change, we obtain more clinical data, and we assess our capital requirements.

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GOVERNMENT REGULATION

The FDA and other regulatory authorities at federal, state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, import, export, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, marketing, post-approval monitoring and post-approval reporting of drugs. We, along with our vendors, contract research organizations and contract manufacturers, will be required to navigate the various preclinical, clinical, manufacturing and commercial approval requirements of the governing regulatory agencies of the countries in which we wish to conduct studies or seek approval of our therapeutic candidates. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals of drugs and ensuring subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources.

In the United States, where we are initially focusing our drug development activities, the FDA regulates drug products under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FD&C Act, its implementing regulations and other laws. Our therapeutic candidates are early-stage and none of our therapeutic candidates has been approved by the FDA for marketing in the United States. If we fail to comply with applicable FDA or other requirements at any time with respect to product development, clinical testing, approval or any other legal requirements relating to product manufacture, processing, handling, storage, quality control, safety, marketing, advertising, promotion, packaging, labeling, export, import, distribution, or sale, we may become subject to administrative or judicial sanctions or other legal consequences.

These sanctions or consequences could include, among other things, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications, issuance of clinical holds for ongoing studies, suspension or revocation of approved applications, warning or untitled letters, product withdrawals or recalls, product seizures, relabeling or repackaging, total or partial suspensions of manufacturing or distribution, injunctions, fines, civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

The process required by the FDA before our therapeutic candidates are approved as drugs for therapeutic indications and for marketing in the United States generally involves the following:

Øcompletion of extensive preclinical studies in accordance with applicable regulations, including studies conducted in accordance with GLP requirements;
Øsubmission to the FDA of an IND application, which must become effective before clinical trials may begin;
Øapproval by an IRB, or independent ethics committee at each clinical trial site before each trial may be initiated;
Øperformance of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials in accordance with applicable IND regulations, good clinical practice, or GCP, requirements and other clinical trial-related regulations to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product for each proposed indication;
Øsubmission to the FDA of a New Drug Application, or NDA;
Øa determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of an NDA, to accept the filing for review;
Øsatisfactory completion of one or more FDA pre-approval inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities where the drug will be produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, requirements to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the drug’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
Øpotential FDA audit of the clinical trial sites that generated the data in support of the NDA;
Øpayment of user fees for FDA review of the NDA; and
ØFDA review and approval of the NDA, including consideration of the views of any FDA advisory committee, prior to any commercial marketing or sale of the drug in the United States.

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The testing and approval process requires substantial time, effort and financial resources, and we cannot be certain that any approvals for our therapeutic candidates will be granted on a timely basis, if at all.

Preclinical and clinical trials for drugs

Before testing any drug in humans, the therapeutic candidate must undergo rigorous preclinical testing. Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluations of drug chemistry, formulation and stability, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess safety and in some cases to establish the rationale for therapeutic use. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal and state regulations and requirements, including GLP requirements for safety/toxicology studies. The results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information and analytical data must be submitted to the FDA as part of an IND. An IND is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational product to humans, and must become effective before clinical trials may begin. Some long-term preclinical testing may continue after the IND is submitted. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, raises concerns or questions about the content of the IND or clinical trial design, including concerns that human research subjects will be exposed to unreasonable health risks, and imposes a clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before the clinical trial can begin. Submission of an IND may result in the FDA not allowing clinical trials to commence or not allowing clinical trials to commence on the terms originally specified in the IND. A separate submission to an existing IND must also be made for each successive clinical trial conducted during product development of a therapeutic candidate, and the FDA must grant permission, either explicitly or implicitly by not objecting, before each clinical trial can begin.

The clinical stage of development involves the administration of the therapeutic candidate to healthy volunteers or patients under the supervision of qualified investigators, generally physicians not employed by or under the trial sponsor’s control, in accordance with GCP requirements, which include the requirements that all research subjects provide their informed consent for their participation in any clinical trial. Clinical trials are conducted under protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, dosing procedures, subject selection, inclusion and exclusion criteria and the parameters and criteria to be used in monitoring safety and evaluating effectiveness. Each protocol, and any subsequent amendments to the protocol, must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND. Furthermore, each clinical trial must be reviewed and approved by an IRB for each institution at which the clinical trial will be conducted to ensure that the risks to individuals participating in the clinical trials are minimized and are reasonable related to the anticipated benefits. The IRB also approves the informed consent form that must be provided to each clinical trial subject or his or her legal representative and must monitor the clinical trial until completed. The FDA, the IRB, or the sponsor may suspend or discontinue a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the subjects are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. There also are requirements governing the reporting of ongoing clinical trials and completed clinical trials to public registries. Information about clinical trials, including clinical trials results, must be submitted within specific timeframes for publication on the www.clinicaltrials.gov website.

A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside of the United States may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor must submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of an NDA. The FDA will accept a well-designed and well-conducted foreign clinical trial not conducted under an IND if the study was conducted in accordance with GCP requirements, and the FDA is able to validate the data through an onsite inspection if deemed necessary.

Clinical trials to evaluate therapeutic indications to support NDAs for marketing approval are typically conducted in three sequential phases, which may overlap.

ØPhase 1 — Phase 1 clinical trials involve initial introduction of the investigational product into healthy human volunteers or patients with the target disease or condition. These studies are typically designed to test the safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism and distribution of the investigational product in humans, excretion the side effects associated with increasing doses, and, if possible, to gain early evidence of effectiveness.
ØPhase 2 — Phase 2 clinical trials typically involve administration of the investigational product to a limited patient population with a specified disease or condition to evaluate the preliminary efficacy, optimal dosages and dosing schedule and to identify possible adverse side effects and safety risks.

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ØPhase 3 — Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve administration of the investigational product to an expanded patient population to further evaluate dosage, to provide statistically significant evidence of clinical efficacy and to further test for safety, generally at multiple geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These clinical trials are intended to establish the overall risk/benefit ratio of the investigational product and to provide an adequate basis for product approval and physician labelling.

FDA additionally allows for the conduct of exploratory IND studies, termed Phase 0 clinical trials. Exploratory IND trials are conducted under an IND early in clinical development, prior to traditional dose escalation, safety and tolerance studies that ordinarily initiate a clinical drug development program. Exploratory IND studies usually involve very limited human exposure and have no therapeutic or diagnostic intent. The goals of an exploratory IND study may include determining whether a mechanism of action defined in experimental systems can also be observed in humans, providing important information on pharmacokinetics, selecting the most promising lead product from a group of candidates designed to interact with a particular therapeutic target in humans, based on pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic properties, or exploring a product’s biodistribution characteristics using various imaging technologies.

In March 2022, the FDA released final guidance entitled “Expansion Cohorts: Use in First-In-Human Clinical Trials to Expedite Development of Oncology Drugs and Biologics,” which outlines how drug developers can utilize an adaptive trial design commonly referred to as a seamless trial design in early stages of oncology drug development (i.e., the First-in-Human clinical trial) to compress the traditional three phases of trials into one continuous trial called an expansion cohort trial. Information to support the design of individual expansion cohorts are included in IND applications and assessed by FDA. Expansion cohort trials can potentially bring efficiency to drug development and reduce developmental costs and time.

Post-approval trials, sometimes referred to as Phase 4 clinical trials, may be conducted after initial marketing approval. These trials are used to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and are commonly intended to generate additional safety data regarding use of the product in a clinical setting. In certain instances, the FDA may mandate the performance of Phase 4 clinical trials as a condition of approval of an NDA.

Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials, among other information, must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and written IND safety reports must be submitted to the FDA and the investigators fifteen days after the trial sponsor determines the information qualifies for reporting for serious and unexpected suspected adverse events, findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk for human volunteers and 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 also notify the FDA of any unexpected fatal or life-threatening suspected adverse reaction as soon as possible but in no case later than seven calendar days after the sponsor’s initial receipt of the information.

Concurrent with clinical trials, companies usually complete additional animal studies and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the therapeutic candidate. Companies must also finalize a process for manufacturing the drug product in commercial quantities in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the therapeutic candidate and manufacturers must develop, among other things, 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 therapeutic candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.

U.S. marketing approval for drugs

Assuming successful completion of the required clinical testing, the results of the preclinical studies and clinical trials, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacture, controls and proposed labeling, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product for one or more indications. An NDA is a request for approval to market a new drug for one or more specified indications and must contain proof of the drug’s safety and efficacy. The marketing application may include both negative and ambiguous results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as positive findings. Data may come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and efficacy of a product’s use or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators. To support marketing approval, the data submitted must be sufficient in quality and quantity to establish the safety and efficacy of the investigational product to the satisfaction of the FDA. FDA approval of an NDA must be obtained before a drug may be marketed in the United States.

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The FDA reviews all submitted NDAs before it accepts them for filing and may request additional information rather than accepting the NDA for filing. The FDA must make a decision on accepting an NDA for filing within 60 days of receipt, and such decision could include a refusal to file by the FDA. Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth substantive review of the NDA. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether the drug is safe and effective and whether the facility in which it is manufactured, processed, packaged or held meets standards designed to assure the product’s continued safety, quality and purity. Under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, the FDA targets ten months, from the filing date, in which to complete its initial review of a new molecular entity NDA and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date of a new molecular entity NDA for priority review. The FDA does not always meet its PDUFA goal dates for standard or priority NDAs, and the review process is often extended by FDA requests for additional information or clarification.

Further, under PDUFA, as amended, each NDA must be accompanied by a user fee. FDA adjusts the PDUFA user fees on an annual basis. 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. Additionally, no user fees are assessed on NDAs for products designated as orphan drugs, unless the product also includes a non-orphan indication.

The FDA also may require submission of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. The REMS plan could include medication guides, physician communication plans, assessment plans, and/or elements to assure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries, or other risk-minimization tools.

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

Before approving an NDA, the FDA typically will inspect the facility or facilities where the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve an application unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the Sponsor product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving an NDA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical trial sites to assure compliance with GCP and other requirements and the integrity of the clinical data submitted to the FDA.

After evaluating the NDA and all related information, including the advisory committee recommendation, if any, and inspection reports regarding the manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites, the FDA may issue an approval letter, or, in some cases, a complete response letter. A complete response letter generally contains a statement of specific conditions that must be met in order to secure final approval of the NDA and may require additional clinical or preclinical testing in order for the FDA to reconsider the application. Even with submission of this additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval. If and when those conditions have been met to the FDA’s satisfaction, the FDA will typically issue an approval letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications.

Even if the FDA approves a product, depending on the specific risk(s) to be addressed it may limit the approved indications for use of the product, require that contraindications, warnings or precautions be included in the product labeling, require that post-approval studies, including Phase 4 clinical trials, be conducted to further assess a drug’s safety after approval, require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the product after commercialization, or impose other conditions, including distribution and use restrictions or other risk management mechanisms under a REMS, which can materially affect the potential market and profitability of the product. The FDA may prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of post-marketing studies or surveillance programs. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes, and additional labeling claims, are subject to further testing requirements and FDA review and approval.

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Orphan drug designation and exclusivity

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant Orphan Drug Designation to a therapeutic candidate intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is a disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or if it affects more than 200,000 individuals in the United States, there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making the product available in the United States for the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product. Orphan Drug Designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. Orphan Drug Designation does not convey any advantage in or shorten the duration of the regulatory review and approval process, though companies developing orphan products are eligible for certain incentives, including tax credits for qualified clinical testing and waiver of application fees.

If a product that has Orphan Drug Designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to Orphan Drug Exclusivity, a seven-year period of marketing exclusivity during which the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same therapeutic agent for the same indication, except in limited circumstances, such as a subsequent product’s showing of clinical superiority over the product with orphan exclusivity or where the original applicant cannot produce sufficient quantities of product. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different therapeutic agents for the indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same therapeutic agent for a different indication than that for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan Drug Exclusivity could block the approval of one of our products for seven years if a competitor obtains approval for the same therapeutic agent for the same indication before we do, unless we are able to demonstrate that our product is clinically superior. If an orphan designated product receives marketing approval for an indication broader than what is designated, it may not be entitled to Orphan Drug Exclusivity. Further, orphan drug exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or the manufacturer of the approved product is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

Rare pediatric disease designation and priority review vouchers

Under the FD&C Act, the FDA incentivizes the development of drugs that meet the definition of a “rare pediatric disease,” defined to mean a serious or life-threatening disease in which the serious of life- threatening manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years and the disease affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States or affects more than 200,000 in the United States and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making in the United States a drug for such disease or condition will be received from sales in the United States of such drug. The sponsor of a therapeutic candidate for a rare pediatric disease may be eligible for a voucher that can be used to obtain a priority review for a subsequent human drug application after the date of approval of the rare pediatric disease drug product, referred to as a priority review voucher, or PRV. A sponsor may request rare pediatric disease designation from the FDA prior to the submission of its NDA. A rare pediatric disease designation does not guarantee that a sponsor will receive a PRV upon approval of its NDA. Moreover, a sponsor who chooses not to submit a rare pediatric disease designation request may nonetheless receive a PRV upon approval of their marketing application if they request such a voucher in their original marketing application and meet all of the eligibility criteria. If a PRV is received, it may be sold or transferred an unlimited number of times. Congress has extended the PRV program through September 30, 2026, with the potential for PRVs to be granted through that date.

Expedited development and review programs for drugs

The FDA maintains several programs intended to facilitate and expedite development and review of new drugs addressing unmet medical needs or for treating serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. These programs include Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval. The purpose of these programs is to expedite either the development or the review of certain new drugs to get them to patients sooner than under standard FDA development and review procedures. TransCode anticipates seeking one or more of these qualifications or designations, but there is no assurance that any will be obtained.

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A new drug is eligible for Fast Track designation if it is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition. Fast Track designation provides increased opportunities for sponsor interactions with the FDA during preclinical and clinical development, in addition to the potential for rolling review once a marketing application is filed, meaning that the agency may review portions of the marketing application before the sponsor submits the complete application, as well as Priority Review, discussed below. In addition, a new drug may be eligible for Breakthrough Therapy designation if it is intended to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. Breakthrough Therapy designation provides all the features of Fast Track designation in addition to intensive guidance on an efficient drug development program beginning as early as Phase 1, and FDA organizational commitment to expedited development, including involvement of senior managers and experienced review staff in a cross-disciplinary review, where appropriate.

Any product submitted to the FDA for approval, including a product with Fast Track or Breakthrough Therapy designation, may also be eligible for additional FDA programs intended to expedite the review and approval process, including Priority Review designation and accelerated approval. A product is eligible for Priority Review if it has the potential to provide a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a serious disease or condition. Under priority review, the FDA must review an application in six months compared to ten months for a standard review. Additionally, products are eligible for accelerated approval if they can be shown to have an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, or an effect on a clinical endpoint that can be measured earlier than an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality which is reasonably likely to predict an effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity, or prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments.

Accelerated approval is usually contingent on a sponsor’s agreement to conduct additional post- approval studies to verify and describe the product’s clinical benefit. The FDA may withdraw approval of a drug or indication approved under accelerated approval if, for example, the confirmatory trial fails to verify the predicted clinical benefit of the product. In addition, unless otherwise informed by the FDA, the FDA currently requires, as a condition for accelerated approval, that all advertising and promotional materials that are intended for dissemination or publication within 120 days following marketing approval be submitted to the agency for review during the pre-approval review period, and that after 120 days following marketing approval, all advertising and promotional materials must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the intended time of initial dissemination or publication.

Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or the time period for FDA review or approval may not be shortened. Furthermore, Fast Track designation, Breakthrough Therapy designation, Priority Review and Accelerated Approval do not change the scientific or medical standards for approval or the quality of evidence necessary to support approval but may expedite the development or review process.

Pediatric information and pediatric exclusivity

Under the Pediatric Research Equity Act, or PREA, certain NDAs and certain supplements to an NDA must contain data to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug for the claimed indications in all relevant pediatric subpopulations and to support dosing and administration for each pediatric subpopulation for which the product is safe and effective. The FDA may grant deferrals for submission of pediatric data or full or partial waivers. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, or FDASIA, amended the FD&C Act to require that a sponsor who is planning to submit a marketing application for a drug that includes a new active ingredient, new indication, new dosage form, new dosing regimen or new route of administration submit an initial Pediatric Study Plan, or PSP, within 60 days of an end-of-Phase 2 meeting or, if there is no such meeting, as early as practicable before the initiation of the Phase 3 or Phase 2/3 study. The initial PSP must include an outline of the pediatric study or studies that the sponsor plans to conduct, including study objectives and design, age groups, relevant endpoints and statistical approach, or a justification for not including such detailed information, and any request for a deferral of pediatric assessments or a full or partial waiver of the requirement to provide data from pediatric studies along with supporting information. The FDA and the sponsor must reach an agreement on the PSP. A sponsor can submit amendments to an agreed-upon initial PSP at any time if changes to the pediatric plan need to be considered based on data collected from preclinical studies, early phase clinical trials and/or other clinical development programs.

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A drug can also obtain pediatric market exclusivity in the United States. Pediatric exclusivity, if granted, adds six months to existing exclusivity periods and patent terms. This six-month exclusivity, which runs from the end of other exclusivity protection or patent term, may be granted based on the voluntary completion of a pediatric study in accordance with an FDA-issued “Written Request” for such a study.

U.S. post-approval requirements for drugs

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, reporting of adverse experiences with the product, complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include restrictions on promoting products for unapproved uses or patient populations (known as “off-label use”) and limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities. Although physicians may prescribe legally available products for off-label uses, manufacturers may not market or promote such uses. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability, including investigation by federal and state authorities. Prescription drug promotional materials must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use or first publication. Further, if there are any modifications to the drug, including changes in indications, labeling or manufacturing processes or facilities, the applicant may be required to submit and obtain FDA approval of a new NDA or NDA supplement, which may require the development of additional data or preclinical studies and clinical trials.

The FDA may impose a number of post-approval requirements as a condition of approval of an NDA. For example, the FDA may require post-market testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials, and surveillance to further assess and monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness after commercialization.

In addition, drug manufacturers and their subcontractors involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements, including cGMP, which impose certain procedural and documentation requirements upon us and our contract manufacturers. Failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements can subject a manufacturer to possible legal or regulatory action, such as warning letters, suspension of manufacturing, product seizures, injunctions, civil penalties or criminal prosecution. There is also a continuing, annual prescription drug product program user fee.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information, requirements for post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks, or imposition of distribution or other restrictions under a REMS. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

Ørestrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product, complete withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;
Øsafety alerts, Dear Healthcare Provider letters, press releases or other communications containing warnings or other safety information about the product;
Øfines, warning letters or holds on post-approval clinical trials;
Ørefusal of the FDA to approve applications or supplements to approved applications, or suspension or revocation of product approvals;
Øproduct seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products;
Øinjunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties; and
Øconsent decrees, corporate integrity agreements, debarment or exclusion from federal healthcare programs; or mandated modification of promotional materials and labeling and issuance of corrective information.

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FDA Regulation of In Vitro Diagnostics

In vitro diagnostics, including companion diagnostics and complementary diagnostics, are regulated as medical devices by FDA. In the United States, the FD&C Act, and its implementing regulations and other federal and state statutes and regulations, govern, among other things, medical device design and development, preclinical and clinical testing, premarket clearance or approval, registration and listing, manufacturing, labeling, storage, advertising and promotion, sales and distribution, export and import, and post-market surveillance. Unless an exemption or FDA exercise of enforcement discretion applies, diagnostic tests generally require marketing clearance or approval from FDA prior to commercialization. The two primary types of FDA marketing authorization applicable to a medical device are clearance of a premarket notification, or 510(k), and approval of a premarket approval application, or PMA.

To obtain 510(k) clearance for a medical device, or for certain modifications to devices that have previously received 510(k) clearance, a manufacturer must submit a premarket notification demonstrating that the proposed device is substantially equivalent to a previously cleared 510(k) device or to a pre-amendment device that was in commercial distribution before May 28, 1976, or a predicate device, for which the FDA has not yet called for the submission of a PMA. In making a determination that the device is substantially equivalent to a predicate device, the FDA compares the proposed device to the predicate device and assesses whether the subject device is comparable to the predicate device with respect to intended use, technology, design and other features which could affect safety and effectiveness. If the FDA determines that the subject device is substantially equivalent to the predicate device, the subject device may be cleared for marketing. The 510(k) premarket notification pathway generally takes from three to twelve months from the date the application is completed, but can take significantly longer.

A PMA must be supported by valid scientific evidence, which typically requires extensive data, including technical, preclinical, clinical and manufacturing data, to demonstrate to FDA’s satisfaction the safety and effectiveness of the device. For diagnostic tests, a PMA typically includes data regarding analytical and clinical validation studies. As part of its review of the PMA, FDA will conduct a pre-approval inspection of the manufacturing facility or facilities to ensure compliance with the quality system regulation, or QSR, which requires manufacturers to follow design, testing, control, documentation and other quality assurance procedures. FDA’s review of an initial PMA is required by statute to take between six to ten months, although the process typically takes longer, and may require several years to complete. If FDA evaluations of both the PMA and the manufacturing facilities are favorable, FDA will either issue an approval letter or an approvable letter, which usually contains a number of conditions that must be met in order to secure the final approval of the PMA. If FDA’s evaluation of the PMA or the manufacturing facilities is not favorable, FDA will deny the approval of the PMA or issue a not approvable letter. A not approvable letter will outline the deficiencies in the application and, where practical, will identify what is necessary to make the PMA approvable. Once granted, PMA approval may be withdrawn by FDA if compliance with post- approval requirements, conditions of approval or other regulatory standards is not maintained or problems are identified following initial marketing.

Companion diagnostics identify patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular therapeutic product; identify patients likely to be at increased risk for serious side effects as a result of treatment with a particular therapeutic product; or monitor response to treatment with a particular therapeutic product for the purpose of adjusting treatment to achieve improved safety or effectiveness. On July 31, 2014, FDA issued a final guidance document addressing the development and approval process for “In Vitro Companion Diagnostic Devices.” According to the guidance document, for novel therapeutic products that depend on the use of a diagnostic test and where the diagnostic device could be essential for the safe and effective use of the corresponding therapeutic product, the companion diagnostic device should be developed and approved or cleared contemporaneously with the therapeutic, although FDA recognizes that there may be cases when contemporaneous development may not be possible. However, in cases where a drug cannot be used safely or effectively without the companion diagnostic, FDA’s guidance indicates it will generally not approve the drug without the approval or clearance of the diagnostic device. FDA also issued draft guidance in July 2016 setting forth the principles for co-development of an in vitro companion diagnostic device with a therapeutic product. The draft guidance describes principles to guide the development and contemporaneous marketing authorization for the therapeutic product and its corresponding in vitro companion diagnostic.

The use of the companion diagnostic device will be stipulated in the labeling of the therapeutic product. This is also true for a complementary diagnostic, although it is not a prerequisite for receiving approval of the therapeutic as is generally the case with companion diagnostics.

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Once cleared or approved, an in vitro diagnostic device, including a companion diagnostic or complementary diagnostic, must adhere to post-marketing requirements including the requirements of FDA’s quality system regulation, adverse event reporting, recalls and corrections along with product marketing requirements and limitations. Like drug makers, in vitro diagnostic makers are subject to unannounced FDA inspections at any time during which FDA will conduct an audit of the product(s) and the company’s facilities for compliance with its authorities.

Other regulatory matters

Manufacturing, sales, promotion and other activities of therapeutic candidates following product approval, where applicable, or commercialization are also subject to regulation by numerous regulatory authorities in the United States in addition to the FDA, which may include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, other divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments and governmental agencies.

Other healthcare laws

Healthcare providers, physicians, and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we obtain marketing approval. Our business operations and any current or future arrangements with third-party payors, healthcare providers and physicians 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 develop, market, sell and distribute any drugs for which we obtain marketing approval. In the United States, these laws include, without limitation, state and federal anti-kickback, false claims, physician transparency, and patient data privacy and security laws and regulations, including but not limited to those described below.

ØThe federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving or providing any remuneration (including any kickback, bride, or certain rebate), 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, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program such as Medicare and Medicaid; a person or entity need not have actual knowledge of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. Violations are subject to civil and criminal fines and penalties for each violation, plus up to three times the remuneration involved, imprisonment, and exclusion from government healthcare programs. In addition, the government may assert that a claim that includes items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the civil False Claims Act.
ØThe federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the civil False Claims Act, or FCA, which prohibit individuals or entities from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment or approval that are false, fictitious or fraudulent; knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false statement or record material to a false or fraudulent claim or obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the federal government; or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay money to the federal government. Manufacturers can be held liable under the FCA even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. The FCA also permits a private individual acting as a “whistle-blower” to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging violations of the FCA and to share in any monetary recovery. When an entity is determined to have violated the federal civil False Claims Act, the government may impose civil fines and penalties for each false claim, plus treble damages, and exclude the entity from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs.
ØThe federal civil monetary penalties laws, which impose civil fines for, among other things, the offering or transfer or remuneration to a Medicare or state healthcare program beneficiary if the person knows or should know it is likely to influence the beneficiary’s selection of a particular provider, practitioner, or supplier of services reimbursable by Medicare or a state health care program, unless an exception applies.

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ØThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, imposes criminal and civil liability for knowingly and willfully executing a scheme, or attempting to execute a scheme, to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a healthcare benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense, or 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. Similar to the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the healthcare fraud statute implemented under HIPAA or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.
ØHIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, imposes, among other things, specified requirements on covered entities and their business associates relating to the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information including mandatory contractual terms and required implementation of technical safeguards of such information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates in some cases, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions.
ØThe Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the ACA, imposed new annual reporting requirements for certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics, and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for certain payments and “transfers of value” provided to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. In addition, many states also require reporting of payments or other transfers of value, many of which differ from each other in significant ways, are often not pre-empted, and may have a more prohibitive effect than the Sunshine Act, thus further complicating compliance efforts.
ØFederal consumer protection and unfair competition laws, which broadly regulate marketplace activities and activities that potentially harm consumers.
ØAnalogous state and foreign fraud and abuse laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may be broader in scope and apply regardless of payor. These laws are enforced by various state agencies and through private actions. Some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant federal government compliance guidance, require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other healthcare providers, and restrict marketing practices or require disclosure of marketing expenditures and pricing information. State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances. These data privacy and security laws may differ from each other in significant ways and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA, which may complicate compliance efforts.

State and foreign laws also govern the privacy and security of health information in some circumstances. These data privacy and security laws may differ from each other in significant ways and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA, which may complicate compliance efforts. California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which creates new individual privacy rights for California consumers (as defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA will require covered companies to provide certain disclosures to consumers about its data collection, use and sharing practices, and to provide affected California residents with ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information. The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020, and the California Attorney General will commence enforcement actions against violators beginning July 1, 2020. While there is currently an exception for protected health information that is subject to HIPAA and clinical trial regulations, as currently written, the CCPA may impact our business activities. The California Attorney General has proposed draft regulations, which have not been finalized to date, that may further impact our business activities if they are adopted. The uncertainty surrounding the implementation of CCPA exemplifies the vulnerability of our business to the evolving regulatory environment related to personal data and protected health information.

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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. Federal and state enforcement bodies have recently increased their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies and healthcare providers, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other related governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, disgorgement, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, reputational harm, additional oversight and reporting obligations if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar settlement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to similar actions, penalties and sanctions. Ensuring business arrangements comply with applicable healthcare laws, as well as responding to possible investigations by government authorities, can be time- and resource-consuming and can divert a company’s attention from its business.

Insurance Coverage and Reimbursement

In the United States and markets in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatments for their conditions and providers performing the prescribed services generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the associated healthcare costs. Thus, even if a therapeutic candidate is approved, sales of the product will depend, in part, on the extent to which third-party payors, including government health programs in the United States such as Medicare and Medicaid, commercial health insurers and managed care organizations, provide coverage, and establish adequate reimbursement levels for, the product. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the CMS, an agency within HHS. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree. No uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for drug products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the price or reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of medical products and services and imposing controls to manage costs. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, which might not include all of the approved products for a particular indication.

In order to secure coverage and reimbursement for any product that might be approved for sale, a company may need to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the product, in addition to the costs required to obtain FDA or other comparable regulatory approvals. Additionally, companies may also need to provide discounts to purchasers, private health plans or government healthcare programs. Nonetheless, therapeutic candidates may not be considered medically necessary or cost effective. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover a product could reduce physician utilization once the product is approved and have a material adverse effect on sales, our operations and financial condition. Additionally, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Further, one payor’s determination to provide coverage for a product does not assure that other payors will also provide coverage and reimbursement for the product, and the level of coverage and reimbursement can differ significantly from payor to payor.

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

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Current and future healthcare reform legislation

In the United States and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been, and likely will continue to be, a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system directed at broadening the availability of healthcare, improving the quality of healthcare, and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. For example, in March 2010, the United States Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act, which, among other things, includes changes to the coverage and payment for products under government health care programs. The Affordable Care Act includes provisions of importance to our potential therapeutic candidates that:

Øcreated an annual, non-deductible fee on any entity that manufactures, or imports specified branded prescription drugs and biologic products, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government healthcare programs;
Øexpanded eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to certain individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing a manufacturer’s Medicaid rebate liability;
Øexpanded manufacturers’ rebate liability under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program by increasing the minimum rebate for both branded and generic drugs and revising the definition of “average manufacturer price,” or AMP, for calculating and reporting Medicaid drug rebates on outpatient prescription drug prices;
Øaddressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;
Øexpanded the types of entities eligible for the 340B drug discount program;
Øestablished the Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program by requiring manufacturers to provide point-of-sale-discounts off the negotiated price of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period as a condition for the manufacturers’ outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D; and
Øcreated a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.

Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. Various portions of the ACA are currently undergoing legal and constitutional challenges in the United States Supreme Court and members of Congress have introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021, through August 15, 2021, for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. The implementation of the ACA is ongoing, the law appears likely to continue the downward pressure on pharmaceutical pricing, especially under the Medicare program, and may also increase our regulatory burdens and operating costs. Litigation and legislation related to the ACA are likely to continue, with unpredictable and uncertain results.

Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. In August 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011, among other things, included 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, will remain in effect through 2029 unless additional Congressional action is taken. In January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

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Moreover, payment methodologies may be subject to changes in healthcare legislation and regulatory initiatives. For example, CMS may develop new payment and delivery models, such as bundled payment models. In addition, recently there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their commercial products, which has resulted in several Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted state and federal legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for pharmaceutical products. On March 10, 2020, the former Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. Further, the former Trump administration previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained 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. HHS implemented certain measures. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. However, it is unclear whether the Biden administration will challenge, reverse, revoke or otherwise modify these executive and administrative actions. More recently, at the federal level, President Biden signed an Executive Order on July 9, 2021, affirming the administration’s policy to (i) support legislative reforms that would lower the prices of prescription drug and biologics, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, by imposing inflation caps, and, by supporting the development and market entry of lower-cost generic drugs and biosimilars; and (ii) support the enactment of a public health insurance option. Among other things, the Executive Order also directs HHS to provide a report on actions to combat excessive pricing of prescription drugs, enhance the domestic drug supply chain, reduce the price that the Federal government pays for drugs, and address price gouging in the industry; and directs the FDA to work with states and Indian Tribes that propose to develop section 804 Importation Programs in accordance with the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, and the FDA’s implementing regulations. In addition, individual states in the United States have also increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical 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 addition, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Outside the United States, ensuring coverage and adequate payment for a product also involves challenges. Pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to government control in many countries. Pricing negotiations with government authorities can extend well beyond the receipt of regulatory approval for a product and may require a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of a product to other available therapies. The conduct of such a clinical trial could be expensive and result in delays in commercialization.

In the European Union, or EU, pricing and reimbursement schemes vary widely from country to country. Some countries provide that products may be marketed only after a reimbursement price has been agreed. Some countries may require the completion of additional studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of a particular therapeutic candidate to currently available therapies or so-called health technology assessments, in order to obtain reimbursement or pricing approval. For example, the EU provides options for its member states to restrict the range of products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. EU member states may approve a specific price for a product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the product on the market. Other member states allow companies to fix their own prices for products but monitor and control prescription volumes and issue guidance to physicians to limit prescriptions.

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Recently, many countries in the EU have increased the discounts required on pharmaceuticals and these efforts could continue as countries attempt to manage healthcare expenditures, especially in light of the severe fiscal and debt crises experienced by many countries in the EU. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription products, has become intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products. Political, economic and regulatory developments may further complicate pricing negotiations, and pricing negotiations may continue after reimbursement has been obtained. Reference pricing used by various European Union member states, and parallel trade, i.e., arbitrage between low-priced and high-priced member states, can further reduce prices. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any products, if approved in those countries.

Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act

On August 16, 2022 the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was passed, which among other things, allows for CMS to negotiate prices for certain single-source drugs and biologics reimbursed under Medicare Part B and Part D, beginning with ten high-cost drugs paid for by Medicare Part D starting in 2026, followed by 15 Part D drugs in 2027, 15 Part B or Part D drugs in 2028, and 20 Part B or Part D drugs in 2029 and beyond.

The legislation subjects drug manufacturers to civil monetary penalties and a potential excise tax for failing to comply with the legislation by offering a price that is not equal to or less than the negotiated “maximum fair price” under the law or for taking price increases that exceed inflation. The legislation also caps Medicare beneficiaries’ annual out-of-pocket drug expenses at $2,000. The effect of Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on our business and the healthcare industry in general is not yet known.

Compliance with other federal and state laws or requirements; changing legal requirements

If any products that we may develop are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. Products must meet applicable child-resistant packaging requirements under the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Manufacturing, labeling, packaging, distribution, sales, promotion and other activities also are potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws, among other requirements to which we may be subject.

The distribution of pharmaceutical products is subject to additional requirements and regulations, including extensive record-keeping, licensing, storage and security requirements intended to prevent the unauthorized sale of pharmaceutical products.

The failure to comply with any of these laws or regulatory requirements subjects firms to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in criminal prosecution, fines or other penalties, injunctions, exclusion from federal healthcare programs, requests for recall, seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals, relabeling or repackaging, or refusal to allow a firm to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts. Any claim or action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. Prohibitions or restrictions on marketing, sales or withdrawal of future products marketed by us could materially affect our business in an adverse way.

Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling or packaging; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.

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Other U.S. environmental, health and safety laws and regulations

We may be subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. From time to time and in the future, our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials, and may also produce hazardous waste products. Even if we contract with third-parties for the disposal of these materials and waste products, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from the use or disposal of our hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations.

We maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees, but this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. However, we do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us.

In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Current or future environmental laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. In addition, failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.

Government regulation of drugs outside the United States

To market any product outside of the United States, we would need to comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements of other countries regarding safety and efficacy and governing, among other things, clinical trials, marketing authorization or identification of an alternate regulatory pathway, manufacturing, commercial sales and distribution of our products. For instance, in the United Kingdom and the European Economic Area, or the EEA (comprising the 27 EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), medicinal products must be authorized for marketing by using either the centralized authorization procedure or national authorization procedures.

Centralized procedure If pursuing marketing authorization of a therapeutic candidate for a therapeutic indication under the centralized procedure, following the opining of the European Medicines Agency’s, or EMA, Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or, CHMP, the European Commission issues a single marketing authorization valid across the EEA. The centralized procedure is compulsory for human medicines derived from biotechnology processes or advanced therapy medicinal products (such as gene therapy, somatic cell therapy and tissue engineered products), products that contain a new active substance indicated for the treatment of certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, viral diseases, and officially designated orphan medicines. For medicines that do not fall within these categories, an applicant has the option of submitting an application for a centralized marketing authorization to the EMA, as long as the medicine concerned contains a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, is a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation, or if its authorization would be in the interest of public health in the EEA. Under the centralized procedure the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA by the EMA is 210 days, excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP. Accelerated assessment might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is expected to be of a major public health interest, particularly from the point of view of therapeutic innovation. The timeframe for the evaluation of an MAA under the accelerated assessment procedure is 150 days, excluding clock stops.

ØNational authorization procedures — There are also two other possible routes to authorize products for therapeutic indications in several countries, which are available for products that fall outside the scope of the centralized procedure:
ØDecentralized procedure — Using the decentralized procedure, an applicant may apply for simultaneous authorization in more than one EU country of medicinal products that have not yet been authorized in any EU country and that do not fall within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure.

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ØMutual recognition procedure — In the mutual recognition procedure, a medicine is first authorized in one EU Member State, in accordance with the national procedures of that country. Following this, additional marketing authorizations can be sought from other EU countries in a procedure whereby the countries concerned recognize the validity of the original, national marketing authorization.

In the EEA, new products for therapeutic indications that are authorized for marketing (i.e., reference products) qualify for eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity upon marketing authorization. The data exclusivity period prevents generic or biosimilar applicants from relying on the preclinical and clinical trial data contained in the dossier of the reference product when applying for a generic or biosimilar marketing authorization in the EU during a period of eight years from the date on which the reference product was first authorized in the EU. The market exclusivity period prevents a successful generic or biosimilar applicant from commercializing its product in the EU until ten years have elapsed from the initial authorization of the reference product in the EU. The ten-year market exclusivity period can be extended to a maximum of eleven years if, during the first eight years of those ten years, the marketing authorization holder obtains an authorization for one or more new therapeutic indications which, during the scientific evaluation prior to their authorization, are held to bring a significant clinical benefit in comparison with existing therapies.

The criteria for designating an “orphan medicinal product” in the EEA are similar in principle to those in the United States. In the EEA a medicinal product may be designated as orphan if (1) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (2) either (a) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify investment; and (3) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition. Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. During this ten-year orphan market exclusivity period, no marketing authorization application shall be accepted, and no marketing authorization shall be granted for a similar medicinal product for the same indication. An orphan product can also obtain an additional two years of market exclusivity in the EU for pediatric studies. The ten-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Additionally, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar product for the same indication at any time if (i) the second applicant can establish that its product, although similar, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior; (ii) the applicant consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or (iii) the applicant cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.

Similar to the United States, the various phases of non-clinical and clinical research in the European Union are subject to significant regulatory controls.

The Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC, the Directive 2005/28/EC on GCP and the related national implementing provisions of the individual EU Member States govern the system for the approval of clinical trials in the European Union. Under this system, an applicant must obtain prior approval from the competent national authority of the EU Member States in which the clinical trial is to be conducted.

Furthermore, the applicant may only start a clinical trial at a specific study site after the competent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion. The clinical trial application must be accompanied by, among other documents, an investigational medicinal product dossier (the Common Technical Document) with supporting information prescribed by Directive 2001/20/EC, Directive 2005/28/EC, where relevant the implementing national provisions of the individual EU Member States and further detailed in applicable guidance documents.

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In April 2014, the new Clinical Trials Regulation, (EU) No 536/2014 (Clinical Trials Regulation) was adopted. It is expected that the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 will apply following confirmation of full functionality of the Clinical Trials Information System (CTIS), the centralized European Union portal and database for clinical trials foreseen by the regulation, through an independent audit. The regulation becomes applicable six months after the European Commission publishes notice of this confirmation. The Clinical Trials Regulation will be directly applicable in all the EU Member States, repealing the current Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC. Conduct of all clinical trials performed in the European Union will continue to be bound by currently applicable provisions until the new Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable. The extent to which ongoing clinical trials will be governed by the Clinical Trials Regulation will depend on when the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable and on the duration of the individual clinical trial. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years from the day on which the Clinical Trials Regulation becomes applicable the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial. The new Clinical Trials Regulation aims to simplify and streamline the approval of clinical trials in the European Union. The main characteristics of the regulation include: a streamlined application procedure via a single-entry point, the “EU portal”; a single set of documents to be prepared and submitted for the application as well as simplified reporting procedures for clinical trial sponsors; and a harmonized procedure for the assessment of applications for clinical trials, which is divided in two parts. Part I is assessed by the competent authorities of all EU Member States in which an application for authorization of a clinical trial has been submitted (Member States concerned). Part II is assessed separately by each Member State concerned. Strict deadlines have been established for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The role of the relevant ethics committees in the assessment procedure will continue to be governed by the national law of the concerned EU Member State. However, overall related timelines will be defined by the Clinical Trials Regulation.

The collection and use of personal health data in the European Union, previously governed by the provisions of the Data Protection Directive, is now governed by the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. While the Data Protection Directive did not apply to organizations based outside the EU, the GDPR has expanded its reach to include any business, regardless of its location, that provides goods or services to residents in the EU. This expansion would incorporate any clinical trial activities in EU members states. The GDPR imposes strict requirements on controllers and processors of personal data, including special protections for “sensitive information” which includes health and genetic information of data subjects residing in the EU. GDPR grants individuals the opportunity to object to the processing of their personal information, allows them to request deletion of personal information in certain circumstances, and provides the individual with an express right to seek legal remedies in the event the individual believes his or her rights have been violated. Further, the GDPR imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the European Union to the United States or other regions that have not been deemed to offer “adequate” privacy protections. Failure to comply with the requirements of the GDPR and the related national data protection laws of the European Union Member States, which may deviate slightly from the GDPR, may result in fines of up to 4% of global revenues, or €20,000,000, whichever is greater. As a result of the implementation of the GDPR, we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms ensuring compliance with the new data protection rules.

There is significant uncertainty related to the manner in which data protection authorities will seek to enforce compliance with GDPR. For example, it is not clear if the authorities will conduct random audits of companies doing business in the EU, or if the authorities will wait for complaints to be filed by individuals who claim their rights have been violated. Enforcement uncertainty and the costs associated with ensuring GDPR compliance are onerous and may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Should we utilize third-party distributors, compliance with such foreign governmental regulations would generally be the responsibility of such distributors, who may be independent contractors over whom we have limited control.

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Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom

In June 2016, the electorate in the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the EU (commonly referred to as “Brexit”). Thereafter, in March 2017, the country formally notified the European Union of its intention to EU withdraw pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The United Kingdom formally left the EU on January 31, 2020. A transition period began on February 1, 2020, during which EU pharmaceutical law remains applicable to the United Kingdom. This transition period ended on December 31, 2020. This means that since January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom operates under a distinct regulatory regime. EU pharmaceutical laws now only apply to the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland (as laid out in the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland). Since the regulatory framework for pharmaceutical products in the United Kingdom covering quality, safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, clinical trials, marketing authorization, commercial sales and distribution of pharmaceutical products is derived from European Union directives and regulations, Brexit could materially impact the future regulatory regime which applies to products and the approval of therapeutic candidates in the United Kingdom. It remains to be seen how, if at all, Brexit will impact regulatory requirements for therapeutic candidates and products in the United Kingdom. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, the United Kingdom’s medicines and medical devices regulator, published detailed guidance for industry and organizations to follow from January 1, 2021, at the completion of the transition period, which will be updated as the United Kingdom’s regulatory position on medicinal products evolves over time.

EMPLOYEES AND HUMAN CAPITAL RESOURCES

As of March 20, 2024, we had 10 employees, three of whom have Ph.D. degrees. All of our employees are full-time employees. Six employees are engaged primarily in research and development, clinical and quality systems, and four are engaged primarily in business development, corporate strategy, finance, and general management and administration. We supplement the efforts of our employees by use of consultants and advisors. None of our employees is represented by labor unions or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good. Our human capital is integral to helping us achieve our goal to change how cancer is treated both as a therapeutic modality and in terms of improving patient outcomes. Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and future employees. The principal purposes of our equity incentive plans are to attract, retain and motivate our employees, consultants and directors through the granting of stock-based compensation awards and cash-based performance bonus awards.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

Our website address is https://www.transcodetherapeutics.com. At this address we make available free of charge our Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and our 8-K reports, including exhibits, and amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after filed with or furnished to the SEC.

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks described below, as well as the other information in this annual report. Our business, prospects, financial condition, or operating results could be harmed by any of these risks, as well as other risks not currently known to us or that we currently consider immaterial. If any such risks or uncertainties actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition or operating results could differ materially from the plans, projections and other forward-looking statements included in the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” The trading price of our common stock could decline significantly due to any of these risks or other factors, and as a result, you may lose all or part of your investment.

Risks related to our financial position and need for additional capital

We could lose our listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market if we do not maintain our stockholders’ equity or if the closing bid price of our common stock does not increase. The loss of our Nasdaq listing would in all likelihood make our common stock significantly less liquid and adversely affect its value, including a total loss of value.

On May 16, 2023, we received a letter from the Listing Qualifications Department, or the Staff, of the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, stating that we were not in compliance with the stockholders’ equity requirement for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(b)(1) requires that companies listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market maintain stockholders’ equity of at least $2,500,000, or the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement, or that they meet one of the alternative listing standards: market value of listed securities of at least $35 million or net income of $500,000 from continuing operations in the most recently completed fiscal year, or in two of the three most recently completed fiscal years.

On June 30, 2023, we submitted a plan to Nasdaq describing how we intended to seek to regain compliance with the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement, or the Compliance Plan, but the Staff did not accept our Compliance Plan. Shortly thereafter, we submitted a request for a hearing to a Nasdaq Panel, or the Panel. The hearing was held on October 5, 2023. On October 26, 2023, we received a letter from the Panel granting an extension to continue our listing on Nasdaq until January 22, 2024, subject to two requirements, both of which we met.

On January 31, 2024, we received notice from Nasdaq that it had determined that we had regained compliance with the minimum stockholders’ equity requirement under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(b)(1) (the Equity Rule) for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5815(d)(4)(B), we are subject to a mandatory panel monitor through January 26, 2025. The Nasdaq notice also stated that if, within the one-year monitoring period, the Staff finds us again out of compliance with the Equity Rule that was the subject of the exception, notwithstanding Rule 5810(c)(2), we will not be permitted to provide the Staff with a plan of compliance with respect to that deficiency and the Staff will not be permitted to grant additional time for us to regain compliance with respect to that deficiency, nor will we be afforded an applicable cure or compliance period pursuant to Rule 5810(c)(3). Instead, the Staff will issue a Delist Determination Letter and we will have an opportunity to request a new hearing with the initial Hearing Panel or a newly convened Hearing Panel if the initial Panel is unavailable. We will have the opportunity to respond/present to the Hearing Panel as provided by Listing Rule 5815(d)(4)(C). Our securities may at that time be delisted from Nasdaq.

Additionally, on November 7, 2023, we received a letter from the Staff notifying us that for the 30 consecutive business day period between September 26, 2023, through November 6, 2023, our common stock had not maintained a minimum closing bid price of $1.00 per share, or the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, required for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(a)(2). Nasdaq provided us an initial period of 180 calendar days, or until May 6, 2024, or the Compliance Date, to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. If, at any time during this 180-day period, the closing bid price for our common stock is $1.00 per share or more for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days, or such longer period up to 20 consecutive business days as may be determined by the Staff in its discretion, the Staff will provide us written notification that we have complied with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. On January 16, 2024, we effected a 1-for-40 reverse stock split. However, the closing bid price of our common stock has not been above $1.00 for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days since then.

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If we do not regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement by the Compliance Date, we may be eligible for an additional 180 calendar day compliance period. To qualify, we would be required to meet the continued listing requirement for the market value of publicly held shares and all other initial listing standards for the Nasdaq Capital Market, with the exception of the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, and would need to provide written notice to Nasdaq of our intention to cure the deficiency during the additional compliance period. If it appears to the Staff that we will not be able to cure the Minimum Bid Price deficiency, the Staff will provide written notice to us that our common stock will be subject to delisting. At that time, we may appeal the Staff’s delisting determination to the Panel. There can be no assurance that if we do appeal any Staff delisting determination to the Panel, such appeal would be successful.

In the event of a delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market, we may seek to have our stock traded in the over-the-counter inter-dealer quotation system, more commonly known as the OTC. OTC transactions involve risks in addition to those associated with transactions in securities traded on the securities exchanges, such as the Nasdaq Capital Market, or, together, Exchange-listed stocks. Many OTC stocks trade less frequently and in smaller volumes than Exchange-listed stocks. Accordingly, our stock would be less liquid than it would be otherwise. Also, the prices of OTC stocks are often more volatile than Exchange-listed stocks. Additionally, institutional investors are usually prohibited from investing in OTC stocks, and it might be more challenging to raise capital.

As further described below, in light of our financial position and our need to raise additional capital, in the event of a delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market, delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market would materially limit our ability to obtain additional equity capital. We may need to seek an in-court or out-of-court restructuring of our liabilities. In the event of such restructuring activities, holders of our common stock and other securities will likely suffer a total loss of their investment.

We have identified conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue operations in the near-term and our independent registered public accounting firm has expressed substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We may need to seek an in-court or out-of-court restructuring of our liabilities, including potentially a bankruptcy proceeding, or to substantially reduce or totally cease our operations.

We may be forced to amend, delay, limit, reduce or terminate the scope of our development programs and/or limit or cease our operations if we are unable to obtain additional funding. As of December 31, 2023, we had cash of approximately $2.8 million. We believe that the net proceeds from our January 2024 offering, together with our existing funds, will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital requirements into late third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2024. Our recurring losses from operations and negative cash flow raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern without sufficient capital resources. Our independent registered public accounting firm included an explanatory paragraph in its report on our financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, with respect to this uncertainty. Our ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on our available cash, how well we manage that cash, and our operating requirements. We will need to raise additional capital to continue as a going concern. The failure to obtain sufficient additional funds on commercially acceptable terms to fund our operations and satisfy our obligations to creditors may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and jeopardize our ability to continue operations in the near-term. We will likely need to consider additional cost reduction strategies, which may include, among other actions, amending, delaying, limiting, reducing, or terminating our development programs, and we may need to seek an in-court or out-of-court restructuring of our liabilities, including potentially a bankruptcy proceeding, or to substantially reduce or totally cease our operations. In the event of such restructuring activities, holders of our common stock and other securities will likely suffer a total loss of their investment.

We have incurred significant losses since inception, and we expect to incur losses over the next several years and may not be able to achieve or sustain revenues or profitability in the future.

Investment in oncology product development is a highly speculative undertaking and entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential therapeutic candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate effect or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval or become commercially viable. We are still in the early stages of development of our therapeutic candidates. We have initiated a Phase 0 trial in which we have dosed 1 patient having advanced solid tumors. We have no products licensed for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales or otherwise to date, and we continue to incur significant research and development and other expenses related to our ongoing operations. We finance our current operations with funds obtained primarily from equity financings.

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We have incurred significant annual net losses in each period since inception. For the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, our net losses were approximately $18.5 million and $17.6 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, our accumulated deficit was approximately $46.4 million.

We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future, and we expect these losses to increase substantially if and as we:

Øconduct preclinical studies and clinical trials for our current and future therapeutic candidates;
Øcontinue our research and development efforts and submit INDs for future therapeutic candidates;
Øseek marketing approvals for any therapeutic candidates that successfully complete clinical trials;
Øbuild infrastructure to support sales and marketing for any approved therapeutic candidates;
Øscale up external manufacturing and distribution capabilities for clinical trials and, if approved, commercial supply of our therapeutic candidates;
Øexpand, maintain and attempt to protect our intellectual property portfolio;
Øhire additional clinical, regulatory, scientific and other personnel; and
Øoperate as a public company.

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with biopharmaceutical product development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of increased expenses we will incur or when, if ever, we will be able to achieve profitability. Even if we succeed in eventually commercializing one or more of our therapeutic candidates, we will continue to incur substantial research and development and other expenditures to develop, seek approval for, and market therapeutic candidates. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we succeed in commercializing one or more of our current therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates, we may never generate revenues that are significant or large enough to achieve profitability. In addition, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown challenges that may adversely affect our business. The size of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of future growth of our expenses and our ability to generate revenue. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had and will continue to have an adverse effect on stockholders’ equity (deficit).

We have never generated any revenue from product sales and may never be profitable.

Our ability to become profitable depends upon our ability to generate revenue. To date, we have not generated any revenue from any product sales. We have no products approved for commercial sale, and do not anticipate generating any revenue from product sales until after we have received marketing approval for the commercial sale of a therapeutic candidate, if ever. Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends significantly on our success in achieving a number of goals, including:

Øinitiating and completing research regarding preclinical and clinical development of, TTX-MC138 and any future therapeutic candidates;
Ødeveloping a sustainable and scalable manufacturing process for TTX-MC138 or our other therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates, including establishing and maintaining commercially viable supply and manufacturing relationships with third-parties;
Ølaunching and commercializing TTX-MC138, our other therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates for which we obtain marketing approvals, either directly or with a collaborator or distributor;
Øobtaining market acceptance of TTX-MC138, our other therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates as viable treatment options;

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Øaddressing any competing technological and market developments;
Øidentifying, assessing, acquiring and developing new therapeutic candidates;
Ønegotiating favorable terms in any collaboration, licensing, or other arrangements into which we may enter;
Øobtaining, maintaining, attempting protection of, and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets, and know-how; and
Øattracting, hiring, and retaining qualified personnel.

Even if our current therapeutic candidates or any future therapeutic candidates that we develop are approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing any such therapeutic candidate. Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities to change our manufacturing processes or assays, or to perform clinical, nonclinical, or other types of studies in addition to those that we currently anticipate.

If in the future we obtain regulatory approvals to market TTX-MC138 or other therapeutic candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon the size of the markets in the territories for which we gain marketing approval, the price for the product we obtain, the ability to obtain reimbursement at any price and whether we own the commercial rights for that territory. If the number of addressable patients is not as significant as we estimate, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than we expect, the labels for our current therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates contain significant safety warnings, regulatory authorities impose burdensome or restrictive distribution requirements, or the reasonably accepted patient population for treatment is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of such products, even if approved. If we are not able to generate sufficient revenue from the sale of any approved products, we could be prevented from or significantly delayed in achieving profitability.

Even if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our development efforts, obtain product approvals, diversify our product offerings or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.

We will need to raise substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be forced to delay, scale back or discontinue some of our therapeutic candidate development programs or commercialization efforts.

The development of pharmaceutical drugs is capital intensive. As of December 31, 2023, we had cash totaling approximately $2.8 million. We believe that these funds, together with the net proceeds from this offering, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the third quarter of 2024. As a result, we will need to raise additional capital to continue as a going concern. Unless we receive additional funding, we may not be able to complete our planned Phase 1 trial. Further, we may only be able to complete the trial in a small subset of patients and in only one tumor type. Even if completed, we will require additional funds to advance further. If we are capital constrained, we may not be able to meet our obligations. If we are unable to meet our obligations, or we experience a disruption in our cash flows, it could limit or halt our ability to continue to develop our therapeutic candidates or even to continue operations, either of which occurrence would have a material adverse effect on us.

We expect our expenses to continue to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue the research and development of, advance the preclinical and clinical activities of, and seek marketing approval for, our current or future therapeutic candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our current or future therapeutic candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution to the extent that such sales, marketing, product manufacturing and distribution are not the responsibility of our collaborators. We may also need to raise additional funds sooner if we choose to pursue additional indications and/or geographies for our current or future therapeutic candidates or otherwise expand more rapidly than we presently anticipate. Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur significant costs associated with operating as a public company. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be forced to delay, scale back or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our therapeutic candidates, delay our pursuit of potential licenses or acquisitions, or significantly reduce our operations.

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Our future capital requirements will depend on and could increase significantly as a result of many factors, including:

Øthe scope, progress, results and costs of drug discovery, preclinical development, laboratory testing and clinical trials for our current or future therapeutic candidates;
Øthe potential additional expenses attributable to adjusting our development plans (including any supply-related matters) to the COVID-19 pandemic;
Øthe scope, prioritization and number of our research and development programs;
Øthe costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our current or future therapeutic candidates;
Øour ability to establish and maintain collaborations on favorable terms, if at all;
Øthe achievement of milestones or occurrence of other developments that trigger payments under any additional collaboration agreements we obtain;
Øthe extent to which we are obligated to reimburse, or are entitled to reimbursement of, clinical trial costs under future collaboration agreements, if any;
Øthe costs of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending intellectual property-related claims;
Øthe extent to which we acquire or license other current or future therapeutic candidates and technologies;
Øthe costs of securing manufacturing arrangements for commercial production; and
Øthe costs of establishing or contracting for sales and marketing capabilities if we obtain regulatory approvals to market our current or future therapeutic candidates.

Identifying potential current or future therapeutic candidates, manufacturing, and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve drug sales. In addition, our current or future therapeutic candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenues, if any, will be derived from sales of drugs that we do not expect to be commercially available for many years, if ever. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional funding to achieve our business objectives.

Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our current or future therapeutic candidates.

Disruptions in the financial markets in general have made equity and debt financing more difficult to obtain and may have a material adverse effect on our ability to meet our fundraising needs. We cannot guarantee that future financing will be available in sufficient amounts or on terms favorable to us, if at all. Moreover, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders and the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares to decline. The sale of additional equity or convertible securities would dilute all of our stockholders. The incurrence of indebtedness could result in fixed payment obligations and we may be required to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We could also be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborators or otherwise at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or current or future therapeutic candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects.

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If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs or the commercialization of any therapeutic candidates or be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The amount of our future losses is uncertain, and our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly or may fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, each of which may cause our stock price to fluctuate or decline.

Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly in the future due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control and may be difficult to predict, including the following:

Øthe timing and success or failure of clinical trials for our therapeutic candidates or competing therapeutic candidates, or any other change in the competitive landscape of our industry, including consolidation among our competitors or partners;
Øour ability to successfully recruit and retain subjects for clinical trials, and any delays caused by difficulties in such efforts;
Øour ability to obtain marketing approval for our therapeutic candidates, and the timing and scope of any such approvals we may receive;
Øthe timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research and development activities relating to our therapeutic candidates, which may change from time to time;
Øthe cost of manufacturing our therapeutic candidates, which may vary depending on the quantity of production and the terms of our agreements with manufacturers;
Øthe quality and stability of our manufactured therapeutic candidates;
Øour ability to attract, hire and retain qualified personnel;
Øexpenditures that we will or may incur to develop additional therapeutic candidates;
Øthe level of demand for our therapeutic candidates should they receive approval, which may vary significantly;
Øthe risk/benefit profile, cost and reimbursement policies with respect to our therapeutic candidates, if approved, and existing and potential future therapeutics that compete with our therapeutic candidates;
Øgeneral market conditions or extraordinary external events, such as a recession or the COVID-19 pandemic;
Øthe changing and volatile U.S. and global economic environments; and
Øfuture accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies.

The cumulative effects of these factors could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. This variability and unpredictability could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any forecasts we may provide to the market, or if the forecasts we provide to the market are below the expectations of analysts or investors, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Such a stock price decline could occur even if we meet any guidance we may have provided publicly previously.

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Risks related to research and development and the biopharmaceutical industry

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

We are an early, clinical-stage oncology company with a limited operating history. We commenced operations in 2016, and until our IPO, our operations were limited to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, conducting limited discovery and research activities, filing patent applications, identifying potential therapeutic candidates, undertaking preclinical studies and preparing for clinical trials, process development and manufacturing of initial quantities of our therapeutic candidates and component materials. Our lead therapeutic candidate, TTX-MC138, is currently in the early stages of clinical development. We have not yet demonstrated our ability to successfully complete any clinical trials, obtain marketing approvals, manufacture a commercial-scale product or arrange for a third-party to do so on our behalf, or conduct sales, marketing and distribution activities necessary for successful product commercialization. Consequently, any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history.

Investment in oncology product development is a highly speculative undertaking and entails substantial upfront capital expenditures and significant risk that any potential therapeutic candidate will fail to demonstrate adequate effect or an acceptable safety profile, gain regulatory approval and become commercially viable.

We are unable to predict the full range of risks that may emerge, and we cannot guarantee that we will meet or achieve the clinical or commercial results we expect. The future of our business depends on us successfully developing, obtaining marketing approval for, and marketing profitably our therapeutic candidates. This requires many complex scientific activities, successful pursuit of regulatory approvals, appropriate market assessments, the strategic management of intellectual property and financial resources and effective management of many other aspects of our business. Products for which we receive regulatory approval must demonstrate safety and efficacy. Competitively, the products must improve patient outcomes, deliver benefits to intended customers, maintain an affordable price, and be superior to competitive products. To be successful, we must also be effective in driving awareness of our therapeutics to achieve market adoption for our approved products and to be profitable. The risks of missteps, setbacks, errors and failings with respect to any aspect of managing our business are an inherent part of attempted innovation in the life sciences industry. We may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may materially and adversely affect our business.

In addition, as an early-stage business, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known and unknown factors. We will need to transition at some point from a company with a research and development focus to a company capable of supporting commercial activities. We may not be successful in such a transition.

We expect our financial condition and operating results to continue to fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the results of any quarterly or annual periods as indications of future operating performance.

Because our therapeutic candidates are in an early stage of development, there is a high risk of failure, and we may never succeed in developing marketable products or generating therapeutic revenues.

Our therapeutic candidates are development-stage technologies which require more, complex future development as well as regulatory approval prior to commercialization. It is impossible to fully mitigate the risks associated with bringing forward new technology and developing therapeutic candidates. These therapeutic candidates may fail at any point in development, manufacturing or in clinical trials. Therefore, there is no assurance that any of our therapeutic candidates will be successfully developed, be approved or cleared for sale by regulators, be accepted in the market or be profitable. Any delay or setback in the development of a product-candidate could materially adversely affect us.

We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional therapeutic candidates or we may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular therapeutic candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on therapeutic candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

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In addition to development risks, we also face the risk that existing or evolving drug regulations may create barriers to licensure that we are unable to overcome, making it impossible for us to license any product we develop. Our therapeutic candidates may fail in clinical trials. We may never achieve the product claims necessary to successfully launch any products commercially.

We may not succeed in changing the practice of medicine such that our products are adopted as we anticipate. The data we generate in our clinical programs may not be viewed by physicians as strong enough for them to use and by third-party payers as effective enough for them to reimburse the cost of our products. Further, changes in the practice of medicine may render our approved products obsolete.

We also face the risk of:

Øcompetitors introducing technologies which render our development efforts or approved products obsolete;
Ødata from our clinical trials not being strong enough to support therapeutic approval or the marketing claims needed for market success and to achieve our financial projections; and
Øbeing unable to manufacture or supply, or have manufactured or supplied on our behalf, approved products cost-effectively.

Our business is highly dependent on the success of TTX-MC138, our lead candidate which is at the early stages of development. All of our therapeutic candidates may require significant additional manufacturing, preclinical and clinical development before we may be able to seek regulatory approval for and launch a product commercially.

We currently have no products that are approved for commercial sale and may never be able to develop marketable products. We are very early in our development efforts, and only one of our therapeutic candidates, TTX-MC138, is in clinical development with an open Phase 0 clinical trial and a planned Phase 1 clinical trial. If we are unable to successfully develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and commercialize TTX- MC138, or we experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed. Advancing TTX-MC138 will require substantial investment before we can seek regulatory approval and potentially launch commercial sales. Further development of TTX-MC138 will require production scaleup, clinical studies, regulatory review and approval in the U.S. and other jurisdictions, development of sufficient commercial manufacturing capacity, and significant marketing efforts before we can generate any revenue from product sales, if approved.

In developing TTX-MC138, among other risks, we may not be successful in synthesizing or producing the components of our proprietary formulation, or there may be toxicology issues from key components of our formulation that we have not anticipated. We have not manufactured TTX-MC138 using the current synthesis protocol, production processes, equipment and materials in the larger quantities that would be necessary to meet clinical trial treatment demands for all anticipated patients.

We may experience setbacks that could delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, our therapeutic candidates, including:

Ønegative or inconclusive results from our preclinical studies or clinical trials or positive results from the clinical trials of others for competing therapeutic candidates similar to ours, leading to their approval and a possible decision by us to conduct additional preclinical testing or clinical trials or abandon a program;
Øside effects related to our therapeutic candidates experienced by patients or subjects in our clinical trials or by individuals using drugs or therapeutics that we, the FDA, other regulators or others view as relevant to the development of our therapeutic candidates;
Ødelays in submitting IND applications or comparable foreign applications or delays or failure in obtaining the necessary approvals from regulators to commence a clinical trial, or a suspension or termination of a clinical trial once commenced;
Øconditions imposed by the FDA or comparable foreign authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials, including our clinical endpoints;
Ødelays in enrolling subjects in clinical trials, including due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

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Øhigh drop-out rates of subjects from clinical trials;
Øinadequate supply or quality of therapeutic candidates or other materials necessary for the conduct of our clinical trials;
Øgreater than anticipated clinical trial costs;
Øinability to compete with other therapies;
Øpoor efficacy of our therapeutic candidates during clinical trials;
Øtrial results taking longer than anticipated;
Øtrials being subjected to fraud or data capture failure or other technical mishaps leading to the invalidation of our trials in whole or in part;
Øunfavorable FDA or other regulatory agency inspection and review of a clinical trial site;
Øfailure of our third-party contractors or investigators to comply with regulatory requirements or otherwise meet their contractual obligations in a timely manner, or at all;
Ødelays related to the impact of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of COVID-19 on the FDA’s ability to continue its normal operations;
Ødelays and changes in regulatory requirements, policy and guidelines, including the imposition of additional regulatory oversight around clinical development generally or with respect to our technology in particular; or
Øvarying interpretations of data by the FDA and similar foreign regulatory agencies.

We do not have complete control over many of these factors, including certain aspects of clinical development and the regulatory submission process, potential threats to our intellectual property rights and our manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales efforts or that of any future collaborator.

Our therapeutic candidates may cause undesirable side effects or death or have other properties that could halt their clinical development, prevent their regulatory approval, limit their commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences.

Undesirable side effects or death caused by any of our therapeutic candidates could cause IRBs, our contract research organizations, or CROs, the FDA or other regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or discontinue clinical trials and could result in the denial of regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates. This, in turn, could prevent us from commercializing our therapeutic candidates and generating revenues from their sale.

Also, any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the affected product or could substantially increase the costs and expenses of commercializing the product, which in turn could delay or prevent us from becoming profitable.

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Clinical development involves a lengthy, complex and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome, and the results of preclinical studies and early-stage clinical trials of our therapeutic candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials.

To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to commercialize any therapeutic candidates, we must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our therapeutic candidates are safe and effective in humans. Clinical trials are expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. In particular, the general approach for FDA approval of a new drug is dispositive data from two well-controlled, Phase 3 clinical trials of the relevant drug in the relevant patient population. Phase 3 clinical trials typically involve hundreds of patients, have significant costs and take years to complete. A therapeutic candidate can fail at any stage of testing, even after observing promising signals of activity in earlier preclinical studies or clinical trials. The results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of our therapeutic candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. In addition, initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when such trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition from the failure of therapeutic candidates proceeding through clinical trials. Therapeutic candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety issues, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most therapeutic candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as therapeutic products, and there can be no assurance that any of our future clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates. Therapeutic candidates that appear promising in the early phases of development may fail to reach the market for several reasons, including:

Øpreclinical studies or clinical trials may show the therapeutic candidates to be less effective than expected (e.g., a clinical trial could fail to meet its primary endpoint(s)) or to have unacceptable side effects or toxicities;
Øfailure to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful;
Øfailure to receive the necessary regulatory approvals;
Ømanufacturing costs, development, scaling and formulation issues, pricing or reimbursement issues, or other factors that make a therapeutic candidate uneconomical; and
Øthe proprietary rights of others and their competing products and technologies that may prevent one of our therapeutic candidates from being commercialized.

In addition, differences in trial design between early-stage clinical trials and later-stage clinical trials make it difficult to extrapolate the results of earlier clinical trials to later clinical trials. Our FIH clinical trial with radiolabeled TTC-MC138 is designed as a single microdose trial, the purpose of which is to demonstrate safety and proof of delivery of TTX-MC138 to metastatic lesions. This design is not meant or expected to produce efficacy signals or to show that TTX-MC138 reaches into metastatic tumor cells although these may occur. Our planned Phase 1 clinical trial with TTX-MC138 is a Bayesian Optimal Interval Design, or BOIN design, with dose escalation and expansion.

Moreover, clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their therapeutic candidates performed satisfactorily in clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their products.

Additionally, we expect that some of our trials will be open-label studies, where both the patient and investigator know whether the patient is receiving the investigational therapeutic candidate as a monotherapy or in combination with an existing approved drug. Most typically, open-label clinical trials test only the investigational therapeutic candidate and sometimes do so at different dose levels. Open-label clinical trials are subject to various limitations that may exaggerate any therapeutic effect as patients in open-label clinical trials are aware when they are receiving treatment. In addition, open-label clinical trials may be subject to an “investigator bias” where those assessing and reviewing the physiological outcomes of the clinical trials are aware of which patients have received treatment and may interpret the information of the treated group more favorably given this knowledge. Therefore, it is possible that positive results observed in open-label trials will not be replicated in later placebo-controlled trials.

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In addition, the standards that the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities use when regulating our therapeutic candidates require judgment and can change, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty how they will be applied. Although we are initially focusing our efforts on development of small- molecule drug products, we may in the future pursue development of biological products, which could make us subject to additional regulatory requirements. Any analysis we perform of data from preclinical and clinical activities is subject to confirmation and interpretation by regulatory authorities, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. We may also encounter unexpected delays or increased costs due to new government regulations. Examples of such regulations include future legislation or administrative action, or changes in FDA policy during the period of product development and FDA regulatory review. We cannot predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA or foreign regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be. The FDA may also require a panel of experts, referred to as an Advisory Committee, to deliberate on the adequacy of the safety and efficacy data to support approval. The opinion of the Advisory Committee, although not binding, may have a significant impact on our ability to obtain approval of any therapeutic candidates that we develop.

We may seek to conduct clinical trials in foreign countries, as well as in the United States. If we continue to seek to conduct clinical trials in foreign countries or pursue marketing approvals in foreign jurisdictions, we must comply with numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries and may include all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval from foreign regulatory agencies may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities outside the United States and vice versa.

Successful completion of clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a marketing application to the FDA and similar marketing applications to comparable foreign regulatory authorities, for each therapeutic candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of any therapeutic candidates.

We may experience negative or inconclusive results, which may result in our deciding, or our being required by regulators, to conduct additional clinical studies or trials or abandon some or all of our product development programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Caution should be taken when interpreting the preliminary results of our preclinical studies or clinical trials, including our Phase 0 trial. These data may differ from future results of this study, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated.

From time to time, we may publicly disclose interim, preliminary or topline data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including our Phase 0 trial with radiolabeled TTX-MC138, which are based on preliminary analyses of then-available data. These results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following more comprehensive reviews of the data related to the particular study or trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the interim, preliminary or topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same studies, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results once additional data have been received and fully evaluated.

Interim data from studies or trials that we may complete, such as our Phase 0 trial for TTX-MC138, are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data becomes available or as patients from our clinical trials continue other treatments for their disease. The final results of the trial may not be as positive as the interim data and these differences could be meaningful. Topline data from completed studies remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the topline data we previously published. As a result, preliminary and topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available.

Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and our company in general. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is typically based on extensive data, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure.

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If the interim, preliminary or topline data that we report differs from subsequent results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions we reach, our ability to seek and obtain approval for, and commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition. In addition, disclosure of interim, preliminary or topline data by us or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our common stock.

If we encounter difficulties enrolling patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development activities could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.

We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for many reasons. The number of qualified clinical trial investigators and sites is limited. We expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use. This could reduce the number of patients available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial site. Clinical trials of other companies may be in similar therapeutic areas as ours. This competition will reduce the number and types of patients and qualified clinical investigators available to us because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by a competitor or clinical trial sites may not allow us to conduct our clinical trial at such site if competing trials are already being conducted there.

We may also encounter difficulties finding a clinical trial site at which to conduct our trials. Because our therapeutics represent a departure from more commonly used methods for cancer treatment, potential patients and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors, chemotherapy, radiation and monoclonal antibodies, rather than enroll patients in any of our clinical trials.

Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of our planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these clinical trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our therapeutic or any other future versions of it.

Our preclinical studies of, and clinical trials, if any, with, any of our therapeutic candidates may fail to demonstrate adequately the safety, potency, purity and efficacy necessary for continued and timely development, regulatory approval and commercialization.

Since the number of subjects that we plan to dose in our planned Phase 0 and Phase 1 clinical trials of TTX-MC138 is relatively small, the results from such clinical trials, once completed, may be less reliable than results achieved in larger clinical trials, which may hinder our efforts to obtain regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates.

Due to our limited resources and access to capital, we must make decisions on the allocation of resources to certain programs and therapeutic candidates; these decisions may prove to be wrong and may adversely affect our business.

We have limited financial and human resources and intend to initially focus on research programs and therapeutic candidates for a limited set of indications. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other therapeutic candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. In addition, we may seek to accelerate our development timelines, including by initiating certain clinical trials of our therapeutic candidates before earlier-stage studies have been completed. This approach may cause us to commit significant resources to prepare for and conduct later-stage trials for one or more therapeutic candidates that subsequently fail earlier-stage clinical testing. Therefore, our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities or expend resources on therapeutic candidates that are not viable.

There can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our therapeutic candidates or to develop suitable potential therapeutic candidates through internal research programs, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential therapeutic candidates or other potential programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.

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We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates in development.

Clinical trials are required to apply for regulatory approval to market TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates. Clinical trials are expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and are uncertain as to outcome. We do not know whether any clinical trials we begin will continue as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule or at all. Significant clinical trial delays also could allow competitors to bring products to market before we do and could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our therapeutic candidates, any of which could materially harm our business.

There is no assurance that we will not experience additional or other delays.

We also may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, any future clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive marketing approval for, or to commercialize, TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates in development, including:

Øregulators, IRBs, or ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;
Øthe FDA or other comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design, including with respect to dosing levels administered in our planned clinical trials, which may delay or prevent us from initiating our clinical trials with our originally intended trial design;
Øwe may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with prospective trial sites and prospective CROs, which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;
Øthe number of subjects required for clinical trials of any therapeutic candidates may be larger than we anticipate, or subjects may drop out of these clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;
Øour third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or may deviate from the clinical trial protocol or drop out of the trial, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites or investigators;
Ødue to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced delays in our preclinical development, including access to our lab and access to our animal facility, and may continue to experience delays and interruptions to our preclinical studies and clinical trials, we may experience delays or interruptions to our manufacturing supply chain, or we could suffer delays in reaching, or we may fail to reach, agreement on acceptable terms with third-party service providers on whom we rely;
Ødelays and interruptions to our clinical trials could extend the duration of the trials and increase the overall costs to finish the trials as our fixed costs are not substantially reduced during delays;
Øwe may elect to, or regulators, IRBs, Data Safety Monitoring Boards, or DSMBs, or ethics committees may require that we or our investigators, suspend or terminate clinical research or trials for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
Øwe may not have the financial resources available to begin and complete the planned trials, or the cost of clinical trials of any therapeutic candidates may be greater than we anticipate;
Øthe supply or quality of our therapeutic candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our therapeutic candidates may be insufficient or inadequate to initiate or complete a given clinical trial; and
Øthe FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data such as long-term toxicology studies or may impose other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial.

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Our product development costs will increase if we experience delays in clinical trials or in obtaining marketing approvals. We do not know whether any of our clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. If we do not achieve our product development goals in the time frames we announce and expect, the approval and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates may be delayed or prevented entirely. Significant clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which we may have the exclusive right to commercialize our therapeutic candidates and may allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our therapeutic candidates and harming our business and results of operations. Any delays in our clinical development programs may harm our business, financial condition and results of operations significantly.

Changes in methods of therapeutic candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.

As therapeutic candidates progress through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials to marketing approval and commercialization, various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and the product’s formulation, may be altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield, manufacturing batch size, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. These changes carry the risk that they will not achieve their intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our therapeutic candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our therapeutic candidates and jeopardize our ability to commercialize our therapeutic candidates and generate revenue.

In addition, there are risks associated with process development and large-scale manufacturing for clinical trials or commercial scale including, among others, cost overruns, potential problems with process scale-up, process reproducibility, stability issues, compliance with current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, requirements, lot consistency and timely availability of raw materials. Even if we obtain marketing approval for any of our therapeutic candidates, there is no assurance that our third-party manufacturers will be able to manufacture the approved product to specifications acceptable to the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities, to produce it in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements for the potential commercial launch of the product or to meet potential future demand. If our contract manufacturers are unable to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials or for commercialization, our development and commercialization efforts would be impaired, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.

Quality problems could delay or prevent delivery of our products to clinical trials or the market.

Quality is important due to (i) the serious and costly consequences of process or product failure and (ii) it being one required element of the regulatory approval process. Receiving quality certifications is critical to the development and marketing success of our technologies. If we fail to meet existing or future quality standards, development or commercialization of our technologies could be materially and adversely affected.

We are required to comply with FDA’s good clinical practice, or GCP, regulations for our clinical programs.

As it relates to the manufacturing of both our drug substance and drug product, we are required to adhere to FDA’s current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, regulations. Additionally, we must follow guidelines promulgated by the International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use, or ICH Guidelines. The ICH Guidelines to which we are subject are ICH E6 (R2) and ICH E8 (R1), “Designing quality into clinical studies,” for all tasks related to clinical programs, and ICH Q7 for the manufacture of our drug substance and drug product.

We need to implement a quality system designed to meet applicable requirements to conduct clinical trials and sell any therapeutic and diagnostic candidates for which we obtain approval in the U.S., Europe and in other countries. We cannot guarantee that our development standards, processes and procedures will meet applicable requirements for regulatory approval in any jurisdiction or that they will mitigate all of the risks associated with the development and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates. Even if we receive quality certifications, we could subsequently lose them or be required to take corrective actions if we do not continue to meet the requirements under applicable standards. If we fail to meet applicable quality requirements, it could have a material adverse effect on us.

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We may not be successful in our efforts to identify or discover additional therapeutic candidates in the future.

Our research programs may initially show promise in identifying potential therapeutic candidates, yet fail to yield therapeutic candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons, including:

Øour inability to design such therapeutic candidates with the pharmacological properties that we desire or attractive pharmacokinetics;
Øour inability to design and develop a suitable manufacturing process; or
Øpotential therapeutic candidates may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be medicines that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance.

Research programs to identify new therapeutic candidates require substantial technical, financial and human resources. If we are unable to identify suitable compounds for preclinical and clinical development, we will not be able to obtain product revenue in future periods, which likely would result in significant harm to our financial position and adversely impact our stock price.

If product liability lawsuits are brought against us, we may incur substantial financial or other liabilities and may be required to limit commercialization of our therapeutic candidates.

We face an inherent risk of product liability once we begin testing TTX-MC138 and any of our other therapeutic candidates in clinical trials and will face an even greater risk if we commercialize any products.

For example, we may be sued if our therapeutic candidates cause or are perceived to cause injury or are found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical trials, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our therapeutic candidates. Even a successful defense of these claims would require significant financial and management resources. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in:

Øinability to bring a therapeutic candidate to the market;
Ødecreased demand for our products;
Øinjury to our reputation;
Øwithdrawal of clinical trial subjects and inability to continue clinical trials;
Øinitiation of investigations by regulators;
Øregulatory or IRB action resulting in a clinical trial being placed on clinical hold;
Øfines, injunctions or criminal penalties;
Øcosts to defend the related litigation;
Ødiversion of management’s time and our resources;
Øsubstantial monetary awards to trial participants;
Øproduct recalls, withdrawals or labeling, marketing or promotional restrictions;

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Øloss of revenue;
Øexhaustion of any available insurance and our capital resources;
Øthe inability to commercialize any therapeutic candidate, if approved; and
Ødecline in our share price.

Our inability to obtain sufficient product liability insurance at an acceptable cost to protect against potential product liability claims could prevent or inhibit the commercialization of products we develop. We will need to obtain insurance for clinical trials as TTX-MC138, and any of our other therapeutic candidates begin clinical development. However, we may be unable to obtain, or may obtain on unfavorable terms, clinical trial insurance in amounts adequate to cover any liabilities from any of our clinical trials. Our insurance policies may also have various exclusions, and we may be subject to a product liability claim for which we have no coverage. We may have to pay any amounts awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. Even if our agreements with any future corporate collaborators entitle us to indemnification against losses, such indemnification may not be available or adequate should any claim arise.

Risks related to regulatory approval, healthcare regulations and ongoing regulatory compliance

We are very early in our development efforts. Only one of our therapeutic candidates has reached clinical development. If we are unable to advance our therapeutic candidates to clinical development, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately commercialize our therapeutic candidates or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be materially harmed.

We have very limited experience in conducting and managing the clinical trials necessary to obtain regulatory approvals, including approval by the FDA, and, as a company, we have no experience in obtaining approval of any product-candidate. The time required to obtain FDA and other approvals is unpredictable but typically takes one or more years following completion of clinical trials, depending upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product-candidate. We may encounter delays or rejections during any stage of regulatory review and approval process based upon the failure of clinical or laboratory data to demonstrate compliance with, or upon the failure of a product-candidate to meet, FDA requirements for safety, efficacy and quality.

The standards that the FDA and its foreign counterparts use when regulating us are not always applied predictably or uniformly and can change. Because the therapeutic candidates we are developing may represent a new class of drug, the FDA and its foreign counterparts have not yet established any definitive relevant policies, practices or guidelines in relation to these therapeutic candidates. The lack of policies, practices or guidelines may hinder or slow review by the FDA of regulatory filings that we may submit. Moreover, the FDA may respond to these submissions by defining requirements we may not have anticipated. Such responses could lead to significant delays in and added costs for the clinical development of our therapeutic candidates.

Any analysis of data from preclinical and clinical activities that we perform is subject to confirmation and interpretation by regulatory authorities, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. We may also encounter unexpected delays or increased costs due to new government regulations, for example, from future legislation or administrative action, or from changes in FDA policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and FDA regulatory review. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA or foreign regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.

In addition, the FDA may delay, limit, or deny approval of an IND or a product-candidate for many reasons, including:

Ødisagreement with the design or implementation of clinical trials;
Øwe may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA that a product-candidate is safe and effective for any indication;
Øwe may be unable to demonstrate that a product-candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;

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Øthe FDA may disagree with our interpretation of data from manufacturing results, preclinical studies or clinical trials;
Øthe results of our clinical trials may not demonstrate the safety or efficacy required by the FDA for approval; or
Øthe FDA may find deficiencies in our manufacturing processes or facilities; and the FDA’s approval policies or regulations may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.

After submission of a New Drug Application, or NDA, the FDA may refuse to review the application, deny approval of the application, require additional testing or data or, if the NDA is filed and later approved, require post-marketing testing and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of a product. Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, the FDA has agreed to certain performance goals in the review of NDAs. The FDA’s timelines are flexible and subject to change based on workload and other potential review issues which may delay FDA’s review of an NDA. For example, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, a number of companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and review timelines could be extended. Further, the terms of approval of any NDA, including the product labeling, may be more restrictive than we desire which could affect the marketability of our products.

Even if we comply with all FDA regulatory requirements, we may not obtain regulatory approval for any of our product-candidates. If we fail to obtain regulatory approval for any of our product-candidates, we will have no commercialized products for sale and therefore have no ability to general significant, if any, revenue.

Any delay or failure in obtaining required approvals could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenues from the particular therapeutic candidate for which we are seeking approval. Furthermore, any regulatory approval to market a product may be subject to limitations on the approved uses for which we may market the product or the labeling or other restrictions. In addition, the FDA has the authority to require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, plan as part of or after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved product, such as limiting prescribing to certain physicians or medical centers that have undergone specialized training, limiting treatment to patients who meet certain safe-use criteria and requiring treated patients to enroll in a registry. These limitations and restrictions may limit the size of the market for the product and affect reimbursement by third-party payors.

We are also subject to numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries and may include all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities outside the United States and vice versa.

If we or any collaborators, manufacturers or service providers fail to comply with applicable federal, state or foreign laws or regulations, we could be subject to enforcement actions, which could affect our ability to develop, market and sell our products successfully and could harm our reputation and lead to reduced acceptance of our products by the market. Enforcement actions can include, among others:

Øadverse regulatory inspection findings;
Øwarning letters;
Øvoluntary or mandatory product recalls or public notification or medical product safety alerts to healthcare professionals;
Ørestrictions on, or prohibitions against, marketing our products;
Ørestrictions on, or prohibitions against, importation or exportation of our products;
Øsuspension of review or refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications;

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Øexclusion from participation in government-funded healthcare programs;
Øexclusion from eligibility for the award of government contracts for our products;
Øsuspension or withdrawal of product approvals;
Øproduct seizures;
Øinjunctions; and
Øcivil and criminal penalties and fines.

In addition, if any of our products cause serious or unexpected side effects or are associated with other safety risks after receiving marketing approval, a number of potential significant negative consequences could result, including:

Øregulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product;
Øwe may be required to recall the product, change the way it is administered, conduct additional clinical trials or change the labeling of the product;
Øthe product may be rendered less competitive and sales may decrease;
Ølitigation or class action lawsuits;
Øour reputation may suffer generally both among clinicians and patients; or
Øregulatory authorities may require certain labeling statements, such as warnings or contraindications or limitations on the indications for use or impose restrictions on distribution in the form of a REMS in connection with approval, if any.

We may voluntarily suspend or terminate our clinical trials if at any time we believe that they present an unacceptable risk to participants or if preliminary data demonstrate that our products are unlikely to receive regulatory approval or unlikely to be successfully commercialized.

We have received Orphan Drug Designations for TTX-siPDL1 for pancreatic cancer and TTX-MC138 for pancreatic cancer, and may in the future seek Orphan Drug Designation for TTX-MC138 in other indications and for some of our other current and future therapeutic candidates, but we may be unable to obtain such designations or to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug status, including market exclusivity, which may cause our revenue, if any, to be reduced.

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan designation to a therapeutic candidate or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, defined as a disease or condition with a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the United States when there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making available the drug or biologic in the United States will be recovered from sales in the United States for that drug or biologic.

Orphan Drug Designation must be requested before submitting an NDA. In the United States, Orphan Drug Designation entitles a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers. After the FDA grants Orphan Drug Designation, the generic identity of the drug and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by the FDA. Orphan Drug Designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

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If a therapeutic candidate that has obtained Orphan Drug Designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval for a particular active ingredient for the disease for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to Orphan Drug Exclusivity, which means that the FDA may not approve any other applications, including an NDA, to market the same biologic for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with Orphan Drug Exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the Orphan Drug Exclusivity has not shown it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. As a result, even if one of our therapeutic candidates receives Orphan Drug Exclusivity, the FDA can still approve other drugs that have a different active ingredient for use in treating the same indication or disease. Furthermore, the FDA can waive Orphan Drug Exclusivity if we are unable to manufacture sufficient supply of the approved product.

We have received two Orphan Drug Designations in the U.S. and may pursue additional Designations for other current or future therapeutic candidates in additional orphan indications in which there is a medically plausible basis for the use of these products. Even when we obtain Orphan Drug Designation, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan designated indication and may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. In addition, although we intend to seek Orphan Drug Designation for other therapeutic candidates, we may never receive such designations. For example, the FDA has expressed concerns regarding the regulatory considerations for Orphan Drug Designation as applied to tissue agnostic therapies, and the FDA may interpret the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FD&C Act, and regulations promulgated thereunder in a way that limits or blocks our ability to obtain Orphan Drug Designation or Orphan Drug Exclusivity, if our therapeutic candidates are approved, for our targeted indications.

On August 3, 2017, Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA. FDARA, among other things, codified FDA’s pre-existing regulatory interpretation to require that a drug sponsor demonstrate the clinical superiority of an orphan drug that is otherwise the same as a previously approved drug for the same rare disease in order to receive Orphan Drug Exclusivity. The legislation reverses prior precedent holding that the Orphan Drug Act unambiguously requires that FDA recognize the orphan exclusivity period regardless of a showing of clinical superiority. Moreover, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress did not further change this interpretation when it clarified that the interpretation codified in FDARA would apply in cases where FDA issued an orphan designation before the enactment of FDARA, but where product approval came after the enactment of FDARA. FDA may further reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. We do not know if, when, or how FDA may change orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business.

Depending on what changes FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.

A Breakthrough Therapy designation by FDA, even if granted for any of our product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.

We may seek Breakthrough Therapy designation for some or all of our current and future product candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug or biologic that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs or biologics, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug or biologic may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development. For product candidates that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between FDA and the sponsor of the trial can help to identify the most efficient path for clinical development while minimizing the number of patients placed in ineffective control regimens. Drugs designated as breakthrough therapies by FDA may also be eligible for other expedited approval programs, including Accelerated Approval.

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Designation as a breakthrough therapy is within the discretion of FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a Breakthrough Therapy designation for a product candidate may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to candidate products considered for approval under non-expedited FDA review procedures and does not assure ultimate approval by FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification. Thus, even though we intend to seek Breakthrough Therapy designation for some or all of our current and future product candidates, there can be no assurance that we will receive Breakthrough Therapy designation.

A Fast Track designation by the FDA, even if granted for any of our product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval.

If a drug is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the drug demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the drug sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track designation for a particular indication. We may seek Fast Track designation for some or all of our current and future product candidates, but there is no assurance that the FDA will grant this status to any of our current or future product candidates. Marketing applications filed by sponsors of products in Fast Track development may qualify for Priority Review under the policies and procedures offered by the FDA, but the Fast Track designation does not assure any such qualification or ultimate marketing approval by the FDA. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant Fast Track designation, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, there can be no assurance that the FDA would decide to grant it. Even if we do receive Fast Track designation, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures, and receiving a Fast Track designation does not provide assurance of ultimate FDA approval. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. In addition, the FDA may withdraw any Fast Track designation at any time.

Accelerated approval by FDA, even if granted for TTX-MC138 or any other future therapeutic candidate, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process and it does not increase the likelihood that our therapeutic candidates will receive marketing approval.

We may seek approval of TTX-MC138 and may seek approval of future therapeutic candidates using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. A therapeutic candidate may be eligible for accelerated approval if it treats a serious or life-threatening condition and generally provides a meaningful advantage over available therapies. In addition, it must demonstrate an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. As a condition of approval, FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence. In addition, unless it determines otherwise, FDA currently requires pre-approval of promotional materials for products receiving accelerated approval, which could adversely affect the timing of the commercial launch of the product. Thus, even if we seek to utilize the accelerated approval pathway, we may not be able to obtain accelerated approval and, even if we do, we may not experience a faster development, regulatory review or approval process for that therapeutic candidate. In addition, receiving accelerated approval does not assure that the product’s accelerated approval will eventually be converted to a traditional approval.

A variety of factors, including inadequate funding for the FDA, the SEC and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.

The ability of FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel, accept payments of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result of these and other factors. In particular, it has been reported that FDA’s planned expansion of its oncology division is delayed. In addition, government funding of the SEC and other government agencies on which our operations may rely, including those that fund research and development activities, is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable.

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Disruptions at FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for new therapeutic candidates to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times, and certain regulatory agencies, such as FDA and the SEC, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. Separately, since March 2020 when foreign and domestic inspections of facilities were largely placed on hold in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, FDA has been working to resume pre-pandemic levels of inspections, including routine surveillance, bioresearch monitoring and pre-approval inspections on a prioritized basis. Should FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel or for other reasons, and FDA does not determine that a remote interactive evaluation will be adequate, the agency has stated that it generally intends to issue, depending on the circumstances, a complete response letter or defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a number of companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to a pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.

If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, or if global health concerns prevent FDA or other regulatory authorities from conducting their regular inspections, reviews, or other regulatory activities, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of TTX-MC138 or any of our other therapeutic candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory requirements and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. We may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our therapeutic candidates.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for TTX-MC138 or another product-candidate may require post-marketing surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the product and may require us to conduct post-approval clinical studies. The FDA may also require a REMS in order to approve our therapeutic candidates, which could entail requirements for a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our therapeutic candidates, the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, import, export and recordkeeping for our therapeutic candidates will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements can include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMP and GCP, for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval and applicable product tracking and tracing requirements. Compliance with ongoing and changing requirements takes substantial resources and, should we be unable to remain in compliance, our business could be materially and adversely affected.

In addition, if we pursue, and ultimately obtain, accelerated approval of TTX-MC138 based on a surrogate endpoint, the FDA would require us to conduct a confirmatory trial to verify the predicted clinical benefit as well as additional safety studies. The results from the confirmatory trial may not support the clinical benefit, which would result in the approval being withdrawn.

Manufacturers and their facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authority requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP regulations. As such, we and our contract manufacturers will be subject to continual review and inspections to assess compliance with cGMP and adherence to commitments made in any marketing application, and previous responses to inspection observations. Accordingly, we and others with whom we work must continue to expend time, money, and effort in all areas of regulatory compliance, including manufacturing, production and quality control.

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Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our therapeutic candidates may be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the product may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, including Phase 4 clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of the therapeutic candidate. The FDA may also require a REMS as a condition of approval of our therapeutic candidates, which could entail requirements for long-term patient follow-up, a medication guide, physician communication plans or additional elements to ensure safe use, such as restricted distribution methods, patient registries and other risk minimization tools. In addition, if the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority approves our therapeutic candidates, we will have to comply with requirements including submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports and registration.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with our therapeutic candidates, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, or the making of unsupported claims, may result in revisions to the approved labeling to add new safety information; imposition of post-market studies or clinical trials to assess new safety risks; or imposition of distribution restrictions or other restrictions under a REMS program. Other potential consequences include, among other things:

Ørestrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of our products, withdrawal of the product from the market or product recalls;
Øfines, warning letters or holds on clinical trials;
Ørefusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or suspension or withdrawal of approvals;
Øproduct seizure or detention or refusal to permit the import or export of our therapeutic candidates; and
Øconsent decrees or injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

Products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is not inconsistent with the labeling. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. The policies of the FDA and of other regulatory authorities may change, and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our therapeutic candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability.

We may develop, or enter into a collaboration or partnership to develop, in vitro diagnostics, including potentially complementary diagnostics and/or companion diagnostics, for our current or future therapeutic candidates. If we, or our future collaborators, are unable to successfully develop such diagnostics, or experience significant delays in doing so, we may not realize the full commercial potential of our future therapeutic candidates.

We have little experience in the development of in vitro diagnostics and, as such, we may rely on future collaborators in developing appropriate in vitro diagnostics to pair with our current or future therapeutic candidates. We have not yet begun discussions with any potential partners with respect to the development of complementary diagnostics and/or companion diagnostics and may be unsuccessful in entering into collaborations for the development of any complementary and/or companion diagnostics for our programs and our current or future therapeutic candidates.

In vitro diagnostics are subject to regulation by the FDA and similar regulatory authorities outside the United States as medical devices and require separate regulatory approval or clearance prior to commercialization. If we, our collaborators, or any third-parties that we engage to assist us, are unable to successfully develop complementary diagnostics and/or companion diagnostics for our therapeutic candidates and any future therapeutic candidates, or experience delays in doing so:

Øthe development of our therapeutic candidates and any other future therapeutic candidates may be adversely affected if we are unable to appropriately select patients for enrollment in our clinical trials; and

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Øwe may not realize the full commercial potential of our therapeutic candidates and any other future therapeutic candidates that receive marketing approval if, among other reasons, we are unable to appropriately identify, or it takes us longer to identify, patients who are likely to benefit from therapy with our products, if approved.

If any of these events were to occur, our business would be harmed, possibly materially.

Our relationships with customers and third-party payors will be subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, exclusion from government healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm and diminished profits and future earnings.

Although we do not currently have any drugs on the market, if we begin commercializing our current or future therapeutic candidates, we will be subject to additional healthcare statutory and regulatory requirements and enforcement by the federal government and the states and foreign governments in which we conduct our business. Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any current or future therapeutic candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our future arrangements with 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 market, sell and distribute our current or future therapeutic candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations, include the following:

Øthe federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, persons from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under federal and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other hand. The term remuneration has been interpreted broadly to include anything of value. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;
Øthe federal False Claims Act imposes criminal and civil penalties, including through civil whistle-blower or qui tam actions, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. In addition, manufacturers can be held liable under the False Claims Act even when they do not submit claims directly to government payors if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims. False Claims Act liability is potentially significant in the healthcare industry because the statute provides for treble damages and mandatory penalties. Government enforcement agencies and private whistle-blowers have investigated pharmaceutical companies for or asserted liability under the False Claims Act for a variety of alleged promotional and marketing activities, such as providing free products to customers with the expectation that the customers would bill federal programs for the products; providing consulting fees and other benefits to physicians to induce them to prescribe products; engaging in promotion for “off-label” uses; and submitting inflated best price information to the Medicaid Rebate Program. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false of fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;
Øthe federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services; similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

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Øthe federal physician payment transparency requirements, sometimes referred to as the “Sunshine Act” under the ACA require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report to the Department of Health and Human Services information related to physician payments and other transfers of value and the ownership and investment interests of such physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations will extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners;
ØHIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH, and its implementing regulations, which also imposes obligations on certain covered entity healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their business associates that perform certain services involving the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions; and
Øanalogous state laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving healthcare items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; and some state laws require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government in addition to requiring drug manufacturers to report information related to payments to physicians and other health care providers or marketing expenditures, and state laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Ensuring that our future business arrangements with third-parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices do not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations, including anticipated activities to be conducted by our sales team, were to be found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from government funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. If any of the physicians or other providers or entities with whom we expect to do business is found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval for that or of any of our other therapeutic candidates in other jurisdictions.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval for our therapeutic candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, while a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA grants marketing approval for TTX-MC138, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product-candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from, and greater than, those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials, as preclinical studies and clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product-candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we charge for our product is also subject to regulatory approval.

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We may also submit marketing applications in other countries. Regulatory authorities in jurisdictions outside of the United States have requirements for approval of therapeutic candidates with which we must comply prior to marketing in those jurisdictions. Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets and/or receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our therapeutic candidates will be harmed.

Ongoing healthcare legislative and regulatory reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example, changes to our manufacturing arrangements; additions or modifications to product labeling; the recall or discontinuation of our products; or additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business.

In the United States, there have been and likely will continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the ACA was passed, which substantially changed the way health care is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. The ACA, among other things, addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs, and created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% point-of-sale discounts from the 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.

Since its enactment, there have been numerous judicial, administrative, executive, and legislative challenges to certain aspects of the ACA, and we expect there will be additional challenges and amendments to the ACA in the future. On December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas 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. On March 2, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the petitions for writs of certiorari to review this case. On June 17, 2021, the Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. It is unclear how such litigation and other efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will impact the ACA and our business. In addition, the former Trump administration issued various Executive Orders which eliminated cost sharing subsidies and included provisions that would impose a fiscal burden on states or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, healthcare providers, health insurers, or manufacturers of pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Additionally, Congress has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at significantly revising or repealing the ACA. On December 20, 2019, former President Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1865), which repealed the so called “Cadillac” tax, the health insurance provider tax, and the medical device excise tax. It is unclear whether the ACA will be overturned, repealed, replaced, or further amended. We cannot predict what affect further changes to the ACA would have on our business.

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Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted. 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, including aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013, and subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or BBA, will remain in effect through 2030, unless additional congressional action is taken. However, these Medicare sequester reductions were suspended from May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BBA also amended the ACA, effective January 1, 2019, by increasing the point-of-sale discount that is owed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who participate in Medicare Part D and closing the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole.” On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law, which, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several types of providers, including hospitals, imaging centers and cancer treatment centers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the United States and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our therapeutic candidates. There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the United States with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs.

At the federal level, the former Trump administration’s budget for fiscal year 2021 included a $135 billion allowance to support legislative proposals seeking to reduce drug prices, increase competition, lower out-of-pocket drug costs for patients, and increase patient access to lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs.

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On March 10, 2020, the former Trump administration sent “principles” for drug pricing to Congress, calling for legislation that would, among other things, cap Medicare Part D beneficiary out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses, provide an option to cap Medicare Part D beneficiary monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and place limits on pharmaceutical price increases. The former Trump administration previously released a “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce out of pocket costs of drugs that contained proposals to increase 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has solicited feedback on some of these measures and has implemented others under its existing authority. For example, in May 2019, CMS issued a final rule that would allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy, a type of prior authorization, for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020. This final rule codified CMS’s policy change that was effective January 1, 2019. On July 24, 2020, former President Trump signed four Executive Orders aimed at lowering drug prices. The Executive Orders direct the Secretary of HHS to: (1) eliminate protection under an AKS safe harbor for certain retrospective price reductions provided by drug manufacturers to sponsors of Medicare Part D plans or pharmacy benefit managers that are not applied at the point-of-sale; (2) allow the importation of certain drugs from other countries through individual waivers, permit the re-importation of insulin products, and prioritize finalization of the proposed rule to permit the importation of drugs from Canada; (3) ensure that payment by the Medicare program for certain Medicare Part B drugs is not higher than the payment by other comparable countries (depending on whether pharmaceutical manufacturers agree to other measures); and (4) require Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, participating in the 340B drug program to provide insulin and injectable epinephrine to certain low-income individuals at the discounted price paid by the FQHC, plus a minimal administrative fee. On October 1, 2020, the FDA issued the final rule allowing importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada. On August 6, 2020, former President Trump signed an additional Executive Order directing U.S. government agencies to encourage the domestic procurement of Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs, which include among other things, active pharmaceutical ingredients and drugs intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of COVID-19. The FDA has been directed to release a full list of Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs affected by this Order by November 5, 2020. On September 13, 2020, former President Trump signed an Executive Order directing HHS to implement a rulemaking plan to test a payment model, pursuant to which Medicare would pay, for certain high-cost prescription drugs and biological products covered by Medicare Part B, no more than the most-favored-nation price (i.e., the lowest price) after adjustments, for a pharmaceutical product that the drug manufacturer sells in a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that has a comparable per-capita gross domestic product. Although a number of these and other measures may require additional authorization to become effective, Congress and the Trump administration have each indicated that it will continue to seek new legislative and/or administrative measures to control drug costs. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare and other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors.

Additionally, on July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the FDA to, among other things, continue to clarify and improve the approval framework for generic drugs and identify and address any efforts to impede generic drug competition.

At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biologic 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.

These laws, and future state and federal healthcare reform measures may be adopted in the future, any of which may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any of our therapeutic candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such therapeutic candidate is prescribed or used. Additionally, we expect to experience pricing pressures in connection with the sale of any future approved therapeutic candidates due to the trend toward managed healthcare, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations, cost containment initiatives and additional legislative changes.

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We are subject to certain U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations. We can face serious consequences for violations.

Among other matters, U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions, and other trade laws and regulations, which are collectively referred to as Trade Laws, prohibit companies and their employees, agents, clinical research organizations, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors, and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting, or receiving directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. Violations of Trade Laws can result in substantial criminal fines and civil penalties, imprisonment, the loss of trade privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm, and other consequences. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations. We plan to engage third-parties for clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations, and other regulatory approvals, and we could be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents, or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities.

Healthcare reform in the U.S. and other countries may materially and adversely affect us.

In the U.S. and in many foreign jurisdictions, the legislative landscape continues to evolve. Our revenue prospects could be affected by changes in healthcare spending and policies in our target markets. We operate in a highly regulated industry and new laws or judicial decisions, or new interpretations of existing laws or decisions, related to healthcare availability, the method of delivery or payment for healthcare products and services could materially and adversely affect us.

There is significant interest in promoting healthcare reform, as evidenced by the enactment in the U.S. of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act in 2010, or together, the ACA. It is likely that many governments will continue to consider new healthcare legislation or changes to existing legislation. We cannot predict the initiatives that may be adopted in the future or whether initiatives that have been adopted will be repealed or modified, or how they may affect us. The continuing efforts of governments, insurance companies, managed care organizations and other third-party payors to contain or reduce healthcare costs may adversely affect:

Øthe demand for any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval;
Øour ability to set a price that we believe is fair for our products;
Øour ability to generate revenues and achieve or maintain profitability; and
Øthe level of taxes that we are required to pay.

Under the ACA, there are many programs and requirements for which details or consequences are still not fully understood. We are unable to predict what healthcare programs and regulations will ultimately be implemented at any level of government in or outside the U.S., but any changes that decrease reimbursement for our approved products, reduce volumes of medical procedures or impose new cost-containment measures could adversely affect us.

Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act

On August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was passed, which among other things, allows for CMS to negotiate prices for certain single-source drugs and biologics reimbursed under Medicare Part B and Part D, beginning with ten high-cost drugs paid for by Medicare Part D starting in 2026, followed by 15 Part D drugs in 2027, 15 Part B or Part D drugs in 2028, and 20 Part B or Part D drugs in 2029 and beyond.

The legislation subjects drug manufacturers to civil monetary penalties and a potential excise tax for failing to comply with the legislation by offering a price that is not equal to or less than the negotiated “maximum fair price” under the law or for taking price increases that exceed inflation. The legislation also caps Medicare beneficiaries’ annual out-of-pocket drug expenses at $2,000. The effect of Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on our business and the healthcare industry in general is not yet known.

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We are subject to geopolitical risks, economic volatility, anti-corruption laws, export and import restrictions, local regulatory authorities and the laws and medical practices in foreign jurisdictions.

The costs of healthcare internationally have risen significantly over the past decade. Numerous initiatives and reform by legislators, regulators and third-party payers to curb these costs have reduced reimbursement rates. One outcome of these dynamics is that hospitals and others are consolidating into larger integrated delivery networks and group purchasing organizations in an effort to reduce administrative costs and increase purchasing power. This consolidation has resulted in greater pricing pressure on suppliers, decreased average selling prices and changes in medical practices. If we secure marketing approval for our therapeutic candidates, our commercial success will be determined by, among other things, our ability to obtain acceptable pricing for approved products which will be subject to, among other things, the factors described above.

The expansion of group purchasing organizations, integrated delivery networks and large single accounts among hospitals could also put price pressure on our approved products. We expect that market demand, government regulation, third-party reimbursement policies, government contracting requirements and societal pressures will continue to change the worldwide healthcare industry, resulting in further business consolidations and alliances among our customers and competitors. The result may be further downward pressure on the prices we are able to obtain, thus adversely affecting us.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval of our therapeutic candidates, the products may not gain market acceptance among physicians, patients, hospitals, cancer treatment centers and others in the medical community.

Risks related to commercialization

We currently have no marketing and sales organization and have no experience as a company in commercializing products, and we may have to invest significant resources to develop these capabilities. If we are unable to establish marketing and sales capabilities or enter into agreements with third-parties to market and sell any products for which we obtain regulatory approval, we may not be able to generate product revenue.

We have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities, nor have we commercialized a product. If any of our therapeutic candidates ultimately receives regulatory approval, we expect to establish a marketing and sales organization with technical expertise and supporting distribution capabilities to commercialize each such product in major markets, which will be expensive and time consuming. We have no prior experience as a company in the marketing, sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products, and there are significant risks involved in building and managing a sales organization, including our ability to hire, retain and incentivize qualified individuals, generate sufficient sales leads, provide adequate training to sales and marketing personnel and effectively manage a geographically dispersed sales and marketing team. Any failure or delay in the development of our internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities would adversely impact the commercialization of these products. We may also choose to collaborate with third-parties that have direct sales forces and established distribution systems, either to augment our own sales force and distribution systems or in lieu of building our own sales force and distribution systems. We may not be able to enter into collaborations or hire consultants or external service providers to assist us in sales, marketing and distribution functions on acceptable financial terms, or at all. In addition, our product revenues and our profitability, if any, may be lower if we rely on third-parties for these functions than if we were to market, sell and distribute any products that we develop and for which we receive regulatory approval ourselves. We likely will have little control over such third-parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our products effectively. If we are not successful in commercializing our products, either on our own or through arrangements with one or more third-parties, we may not be able to generate any future product revenue and we would incur significant additional losses.

Coverage and reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our therapeutic candidates, if approved, which could make it difficult for us to sell any therapeutic candidates profitably.

In the United States and in other countries, patients who are prescribed treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment.

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Significant uncertainty exists as to the coverage and reimbursement status of any products for which we may obtain regulatory approval. In the United States, sales of any products for which we may receive regulatory marketing approval will depend, in part, on the availability of coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors. Third-party payors include government authorities such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and the Veterans Administration, managed care providers, private health insurers, and other organizations. Patients who are provided medical treatment for their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use our therapeutic candidates unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost. We cannot be sure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for, or accurately estimate the potential revenue from, our therapeutic candidates or assure that coverage and reimbursement will be available for any product that we may develop.

Government authorities and other third-party payors decide which drugs and treatments they will cover and the amount of reimbursement. Coverage and reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including the third-party payor’s determination that use of a product is:

Øa covered benefit under its health plan;
Øsafe, effective and medically necessary;
Øappropriate for the specific patient;
Øcost-effective; and
Øneither experimental nor investigational.

Our ability to commercialize any products successfully will depend in part on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, including government health care programs and private health insurers. Moreover, a payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. If coverage and adequate reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our therapeutic candidates. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment.

In the United States, no uniform policy of coverage and reimbursement for products exists among third-party payors. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for our products can differ significantly from payor to payor. As a result, obtaining coverage and reimbursement approval of a product from a government or other third-party payor is a time-consuming and costly process that could require us to provide to each payor supporting scientific, clinical and cost-effectiveness data for the use of our products on a payor-by-payor basis, with no assurance that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be obtained. Even if we obtain coverage for a given product, the resulting reimbursement payment rates might not be adequate for us to achieve or sustain profitability or may require co-payments that patients find unacceptably high. Additionally, third-party payors may not cover, or provide adequate reimbursement for, long-term follow-up evaluations required following the use of therapeutic candidates, once approved. It is difficult to predict at this time what third-party payors will decide with respect to the coverage and reimbursement for our therapeutic candidates, if approved.

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The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, also called the Medicare Modernization Act, or the MMA, established the Medicare Part D program to provide a voluntary prescription drug and biologic benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. Under Part D, Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in prescription drug plans offered by private entities that provide coverage of outpatient prescription drugs and biologics. Unlike Medicare Parts A and B, Part D coverage is not standardized. Part D prescription drug plan sponsors are not required to pay for all covered Part D drugs and biologics, and each drug plan can develop its own formulary that identifies which drugs and biologics it will cover, and at what tier or level. However, Part D prescription drug formularies must include products within each therapeutic category and class of covered Part D drugs, though not necessarily all the drugs and biologics in each category or class. Any formulary used by a Part D prescription drug plan must be developed and reviewed by a pharmacy and therapeutic committee. Government payment for some of the costs of prescription drugs and biologics may increase demand for products for which we obtain marketing approval. Any negotiated prices for any of our products covered by a Part D prescription drug plan will likely be lower than the prices we might otherwise obtain. Moreover, while the MMA applies only to drug benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, private payors often follow Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their own payment rates.

Any reduction in payment that results from the MMA may result in a similar reduction in payments from non-governmental payors.

For a drug or biologic product to receive federal reimbursement under the Medicaid or Medicare Part B programs or to be sold directly to U.S. government agencies, the manufacturer must extend discounts to entities eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program. The required 340B discount on a given product is calculated based on the average manufacturer price, or AMP, and Medicaid rebate amounts reported by the manufacturer. As of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the ACA, expanded the types of entities eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing, although under the current state of the law these newly eligible entities (with the exception of children’s hospitals) will not be eligible to receive discounted 340B pricing on orphan drugs. As the required 340B discount is determined based on AMP and Medicaid rebate data, the revisions to the Medicaid rebate formula and AMP definition described above could cause the required 340B discount to increase. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has previously and may in the future implement reductions in Medicare Part B reimbursement for 340B drugs through notice and comment rulemaking. It is unclear how such reimbursement reductions could affect covered hospitals who might purchase our products in the future, and affect the rates we may charge such facilities for our approved products.

Changes to these current laws and state and federal healthcare reform measures that may be adopted in the future may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other healthcare funding and otherwise affect the prices we may obtain for any therapeutic candidates for which we may obtain regulatory approval or the frequency with which any such therapeutic candidate is prescribed or used.

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

The development and commercialization of new oncology drug products is highly competitive. We may face competition with respect to any therapeutic candidates that we seek to develop or commercialize in the future from major biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, specialty biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, and other biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Potential competitors also include academic institutions, government agencies, and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection, and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization.

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Not only must we compete with other companies that are focused on therapeutics that treat cancer, but also any therapeutic candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing and new therapies that may become available in the future. Our competitors may develop more successful products similar to ours sooner than we can commercialize ours, which may negatively impact our results. Companies that we are aware of with targeted therapeutics in the treatment of various cancers include Ionis, Moderna, Alnylam, BioNTech, Dicerna, Siranomics, among others which have therapeutic candidates in various stages of preclinical and clinical developments. Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage company with a pipeline of investigational RNAi therapeutics. However, we know of no other companies currently in clinical development with miRNA therapeutics targeting metastatic disease. For additional information regarding our competition, see “Business - Competition.”

Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their strategic partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, preclinical testing, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, and marketing approved products than we do.

Mergers and acquisitions in the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, more convenient, or less expensive than any products that we may develop. Furthermore, products currently approved for other indications could be discovered to be effective treatments of the biological processes that drive cancers as well, which could give such products significant regulatory and market timing advantages over TTX-MC138 or other therapeutic candidates that we may identify. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we do, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market. Additionally, products or technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential therapeutic candidates uneconomical or obsolete and we may not be successful in marketing any therapeutic candidates we may develop against competitors. The availability of competitive products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any products that we may develop and commercialize.

If, in the future, we are unable to establish sales and marketing and patient support capabilities or enter into agreements with third-parties to sell and market our current or future therapeutic candidates, we may not be successful in commercializing our current or future therapeutic candidates if and when they are approved, and we may not be able to generate any revenue.

We do not currently have a sales or marketing infrastructure and have no experience in the sales, marketing, patient support or distribution of drugs. We currently intend to partner with a larger commercial organization to market any of our therapeutic candidates, if approved, though our intentions may change in the future. To achieve commercial success for any approved therapeutic candidate for which we retain sales and marketing responsibilities, we must build our sales, marketing, patient support, managerial and other non-technical capabilities or make arrangements with third-parties to perform these services. In the future, we may choose to build a focused sales and marketing infrastructure to sell, or participate in sales activities with our collaborators for, some of our current or future therapeutic candidates if and when they are approved.

There are risks involved with both establishing our own sales and marketing and patient support capabilities and entering into arrangements with third-parties to perform these services. For example, recruiting and training a sales force is expensive and time consuming and could delay any drug launch. If the commercial launch of a therapeutic candidate for which we recruit a sales force and establish marketing capabilities is delayed or does not occur for any reason, we would have prematurely or unnecessarily incurred these commercialization expenses. This may be costly, and our investment would be lost if we cannot retain or reposition our sales and marketing personnel.

Factors that may inhibit our efforts to commercialize our current or future therapeutic candidates on our own include:

Øour inability to recruit and retain adequate numbers of effective sales and marketing personnel;
Øthe inability of sales personnel to obtain access to physicians or persuade adequate numbers of physicians to prescribe any future drugs, if approved;

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Øthe lack of complementary drugs to be offered by sales personnel, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to companies with more extensive product lines; and
Øunforeseen costs and expenses associated with creating an independent sales and marketing organization.

If we enter into arrangements with third-parties to perform sales, marketing, patient support and distribution services, our drug revenues or the profitability of these drug revenues to us are likely to be lower than if we were to market and sell any current or future therapeutic candidates that we develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third-parties to sell and market our current or future therapeutic candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We likely will have little control over such third-parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our current or future therapeutic candidates effectively. If we do not establish sales and marketing capabilities successfully, either on our own or in collaboration with third- parties, we will not be successful in commercializing our current or future therapeutic candidates. Further, our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects will be materially adversely affected.

Sales of our products may involve a lengthy sales cycle.

Many factors are expected to influence the sales cycle for our approved products. These factors include the future state of the market, the perceived value of our therapeutic candidates, the evolution of competing technologies, insurance coverage or prior authorization requirements and changes in medical practices. Any of these may adversely affect our sales cycles and the rate of market acceptance of our approved products.

Risks related to third-parties and suppliers

We expect to rely on third-party manufacturing and supply vendors, and our supply of research and development, preclinical and clinical development materials may become limited or interrupted or may not be of satisfactory quantity or quality.

We have very limited manufacturing facilities and personnel. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, primarily on third-parties for the manufacture of TTX-MC138 and any future potential therapeutic candidates that we may develop. There can be no assurance that our preclinical and clinical development product supplies will not be limited or interrupted, or that they will be of satisfactory quality or continue to be available at acceptable prices. For example, the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our ability to procure sufficient supplies for the development of our therapeutic candidates will depend on the severity and duration of the spread of the virus and the actions undertaken to contain COVID-19 or treat its effects. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several vaccines for COVID-19 have received Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, some of which later received marketing approval. Additional vaccines may be authorized or approved in the future. The resultant demand for vaccines and potential for manufacturing facilities and materials to be commandeered under the Defense Production Act of 1950, or equivalent foreign legislation, may make it more difficult to obtain materials or manufacturing slots for the products needed for our clinical trials, which could lead to delays in these trials. Any replacement of our manufacturer could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number of qualified replacements.

We may be unable to establish additional agreements, or extend existing agreements, with third-party manufacturers or to do so on terms acceptable to us. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

Øreliance on the third-party for sufficient quantity and quality at acceptable costs which could delay, prevent or impair our development or commercialization efforts;
Øthe possible breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third-party;
Øfailure to meet our manufacturing specifications;
Øfailure to meet our manufacturing schedule;
Ømisappropriation of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how;

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Øthe possible termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third-party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us;
Ødisruptions to the operations of our manufacturers or suppliers caused by conditions unrelated to our business or operations, including the bankruptcy of a manufacturer or supplier; and
Øreliance on the third-party for regulatory compliance, quality assurance and safety reporting.

Our reliance on others for our manufacturing will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations regarding manufacturing. Our therapeutic candidates and any products that we may develop may compete for access to manufacturing facilities with other therapeutic candidates and products. There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate in accordance with cGMP regulations that might be capable of manufacturing for us which could restrict our ability to supply products and, as a result, have a material adverse effect on us.

Any of these events could lead to clinical trial delays or failure to obtain regulatory approval or could otherwise adversely affect our ability to commercialize our approved products. Some of these events could be the basis for costly FDA action, including injunction, recall, seizure or total or partial suspension of production.

We will have limited control over the day-to-day manufacturing and quality operations of our contract manufacturers. While we intend to ensure vendor management oversight and exercise commercially reasonable efforts to oversee operations and embed our quality system standards and controls in our manufacturing agreements, we will remain subject to the performance of our contract manufacturers. We will be dependent on our suppliers for proper oversight and control of their operations while we will be deemed the responsible party. Our outside manufacturers may themselves rely on other parties that they do not control. Our suppliers might fail to obtain, or experience delays in obtaining, regulatory approvals applicable to the aspects of their business that pertains to us. As a result, the development and commercialization of our products may be delayed. If this occurs, we may need to identify alternative sources of supply which may not be feasible, or which may adversely affect our timelines and financial results.

Our dependence upon others for the manufacture of our therapeutic candidates or products may adversely affect our ability to commercialize any products that receive marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis. Thus, our current and anticipated future dependence upon others for manufacturing may adversely affect our timelines, our future profit margins or our ability to commercialize any therapeutic candidates that receive marketing approval on a timely and competitive basis.

We rely on third-parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials. If these third-parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of or commercialize any potential therapeutic candidates.

We depend, or may depend in the future, upon third-parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, under agreements with universities, medical institutions, CROs, strategic collaborators and others. We expect to have to negotiate budgets and contracts with such third-parties, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs.

We will rely especially heavily on universities, medical institutions, CROs and other third-parties for the conduct of our clinical trials. While we are obligated to ensure compliance by third-parties with clinical trial protocols and other aspects of our clinical trials, and to have mechanisms in place to monitor our clinical trials, the sites at which they are conducted, and the investigators and other personnel involved in our clinical trials, we have limited control over these entities and individuals and limited visibility into their day-to-day activities, including with respect to their compliance with the approved clinical protocol. Our reliance on third- parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities for ensuring that each of our trials is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards. We and these third-parties are required to comply with GCP requirements for therapeutic candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, clinical investigators and trial sites. If we or any of these third-parties fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to suspend or terminate these trials or perform additional preclinical studies or clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot be certain that, upon inspection, such regulatory authorities will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with GCP requirements.

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Our failure or any failure by these third-parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients meeting requirements for enrollment in the trial may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third-parties violates federal or state fraud and abuse or false claims laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.

Any third-parties conducting aspects of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will not be our employees and, except for remedies that may be available to us under our agreements with such third-parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our preclinical studies and clinical programs. These third-parties may also have relationships with other commercial entities, including our competitors, for whom they may also be conducting clinical trials or other therapeutic development activities, which could affect their performance on our behalf. If these third-parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced, or if the quality or accuracy of the preclinical or clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our protocols or regulatory requirements or for other reasons or if, due to federal or state orders or absenteeism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unable to meet their contractual and regulatory obligations, our development timelines, including clinical development timelines, may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to complete development of, obtain regulatory approval of or successfully commercialize our therapeutic candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our therapeutic candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.

If any of our relationships with these third-party CROs or others terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or other third-parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms.

Switching or adding additional CROs involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO begins work. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

Parties conducting some or all of our product manufacturing may not perform satisfactorily.

Outside manufacturers may not be able to or may not comply with cGMP regulations or similar regulatory requirements outside the U.S. Our failure, or the failure of our manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could delay clinical development or marketing approval or result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of therapeutic candidates or products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our products.

We may not have arrangements for redundant supply or a second source for key materials, components or our products and therapeutic candidates. If our contract manufacturers cannot perform as expected, we may be required to replace such manufacturers. There may be only a small number of potential alternative manufacturers who could manufacture our therapeutic candidates. We may incur added costs and delays in identifying, gaining access to and qualifying any such replacement.

We are highly dependent on others to provide services for certain core aspects of our business.

To conserve financial resources, we utilize consultants, advisors and other parties for certain functions including regulatory affairs, clinical trials, medical practice issues, product management and human resources. If other parties are not available to provide services through completion of our programs at the time we require their services, or if the expertise we require is not readily available, the development and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates may be delayed.

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If our third-party manufacturers use hazardous and biological materials in a manner that causes injury or violates applicable law, we may be liable for damages.

Our research and development activities involve the controlled use of potentially hazardous substances, including chemical materials, by our third-party manufacturers. Our manufacturers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the U.S. governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of medical and hazardous materials. Although we believe that our manufacturers’ procedures for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials comply with legally prescribed standards, we cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination or injury resulting from medical or hazardous materials. As a result of any such contamination or injury, we may incur liability or local, city, state or federal authorities may curtail the use of these materials and interrupt our business operations. In the event of an accident, we could be held liable for damages or penalized with fines, and the liability could exceed our resources. We do not have any insurance for liabilities arising from medical or hazardous materials. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental regulations may impair our research, development and production efforts, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations.

We may not be successful in establishing and maintaining strategic partnerships, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize products.

A part of our strategy is to seek, evaluate and, when strategically attractive, enter into development and commercial partnerships. Potential partners may include larger medical products companies. These potential partners often have their own internal development programs and priorities which may be a potential source of competition for our therapeutic candidates. We must develop technologies of value and then demonstrate the value of our technologies and therapeutic candidates if we are to be successful in arranging strategic partnerships on terms that will be attractive. There are no assurances that we will succeed in arranging any partnerships.

Identifying appropriate partners for our therapeutic candidates and the negotiation process is lengthy, time-consuming and complex and we have limited resources to do this. In order for us to successfully partner our therapeutic candidates, potential partners must view these therapeutic candidates as economically and technologically valuable with features or benefits that are superior to existing products or therapeutic candidates in development. We may not be able to maintain such strategic partnerships if, for example, development or approval of a product is delayed or sales of an approved product are disappointing. Any delay in entering into strategic partnership agreements related to our therapeutic candidates could delay their development and commercialization and reduce their competitiveness even if they reach the market.

In addition, strategic partners may not perform as we expect or may breach their agreements with us. We may not be able to adequately protect our rights under these agreements and attempting to do so is likely to be time-consuming and expensive. Furthermore, our strategic partners will likely seek to control certain decisions regarding the development and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates and may not conduct those activities in the manner or time we would like.

If we fail to establish and maintain strategic partnerships related to our therapeutic candidates, we will bear all of the risk and costs related to the development and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates.

This may require us to seek additional financing, hire additional employees and otherwise develop expertise which we do not have. These factors could materially and adversely affect the development or commercial success of any product-candidate for which we do not arrange a strategic partnership.

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Risks related to managing our business and operations

We face risks related to health epidemics, pandemics and other widespread outbreaks of contagious disease, including a pandemic, which could significantly disrupt our operations, impact our financial results or otherwise adversely affect our business.

Significant outbreaks of contagious diseases and other adverse public health developments could have a material adverse effect on our business operations and operating results. For example, the spread of COVID has had, and identification of new variants of COVID-19 could have, an adverse effect on segments of the global economy and our operations. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or similar public health crises that may arise, we may experience disruptions that could adversely affect our operations, research and development, preclinical studies, clinical trials and manufacturing activities we may conduct, some of which may include:

Ødelays or difficulties in commencing enrollment of patients in our planned clinical trials;
Øthe impact from potential delays, including potential difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
Ødiversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;
Øinterruption of key clinical trial activities, such as clinical trial site data monitoring, due to limitations on travel imposed or recommended by federal or state governments, employers and others or interruption of clinical trial subject visits and study procedures that are deemed non-essential, which may impact the integrity of subject data and clinical trial endpoints;
Øinterruption or delays in the operations of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may impact review and approval timelines;
Øinterruption of, or delays in receiving, supplies of our product candidates from our contract manufacturing organizations due to staffing shortages, production slowdowns or stoppages and disruptions in delivery systems;
Øinterruptions in preclinical studies due to restricted or limited operations at our laboratory facility;
Ølimitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people; and
Øinterruption or delays to our sourced discovery and clinical activities.

In March 2021, we moved our laboratory operations to facilities leased from the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Inc., or MBI, in Worcester, Massachusetts. In December 2022, we signed a two-year sublease for office and lab space in Newton, Massachusetts, which commenced February 1, 2023. This new space allows both lab personnel and the rest of our Massachusetts team to be housed in one location.

While we believe we will have sufficient access to the Newton facility, there is no assurance that this will be the case. Should access to the Newton facility be limited, or should other pandemic-related restrictions be imposed, our development work would be further adversely affected. The extent of such adverse effects will depend on future developments which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. In addition, the Newton facilities may not meet all our requirements.

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic or other health problems ultimately affect our business, preclinical studies and clinical trials will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, such as the ultimate geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the pandemic, travel restrictions and social distancing in the United States and other countries, business closures or business disruptions and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease.

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We will need to grow the size of our organization, and we may experience difficulties in managing this growth.

As of March 20, 2024, we had 10 employees including three with Ph.D.’s. We also utilize various outside companies and individuals under consulting or other arrangements to support our operations. As our clinical development and commercialization plans and strategies develop, and as we continue to operate as a public company, we expect to need additional human resources in areas including management, clinical and regulatory, manufacturing, research, medical, sales, marketing, financial, and other. Future growth would impose significant added responsibilities on members of management, including:

Ørecruiting, integrating, retaining and motivating additional employees;
Ømanaging our development efforts effectively, including the clinical, manufacturing and quality review process for our therapeutic candidates, while complying with our contractual obligations to contractors, collaboration partners and other third-parties; and
Øimproving our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our therapeutic candidates, if approved, will depend, in part, on our ability to effectively manage any future growth, and our management may also have to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities in order to devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities.

We currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on third- parties, including independent organizations, advisors and consultants, to provide certain services to support and perform our operations. There can be no assurance that the services of these third-parties will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed, or that we can find qualified replacements. In addition, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality, accuracy or quantity of the services provided is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain, or may be substantially delayed in obtaining, regulatory approval of our therapeutic candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other suitable outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, or at all.

If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully execute the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our therapeutic candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our development and commercialization goals.

Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.

Our ability to compete in the highly competitive oncology industry depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified managerial, scientific and operations personnel. We are dependent on our management, scientific and medical personnel and advisors, including our Executive Chairman, Philippe Calais, PhD; our interim CEO, CFO, Principal Financial Officer and director, Thomas A. Fitzgerald; our co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Zdravka Medarova; our co-founder and advisor, Dr. Anna Moore; our board of directors and members of our scientific and business advisory boards as well as our many consultants. The loss of the services of any of these individuals or entities, and our inability to find suitable replacements, could result in delays in product development and materially harm our business.

Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize drugs. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. Failure to succeed in clinical trials may make it more challenging to recruit and retain qualified scientific personnel.

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The estimates of market opportunity and forecasts of market growth included in this annual report or that we may otherwise provide may prove to be inaccurate, and even if the markets in which we compete achieve the forecasted growth, our business may not grow at similar rates, or at all.

Market opportunity estimates and growth forecasts included in this annual report or that we may otherwise provide are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates which may not prove to be accurate. These estimates and forecasts relating to size and expected growth of our target market may prove to be inaccurate. Even if the markets in which we compete meet the size estimates and growth forecasts included herein, our business may not grow at similar rates, or at all. Our growth is subject to many factors, including our success in implementing our business strategy, which is subject to many risks and uncertainties.

We may be exposed to significant foreign exchange risk.

We incur expenses, and may in the future derive revenues, in a variety of currencies. As a result, we are exposed to foreign currency exchange risk as our results of operations and cash flows are subject to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. To date, we have not had significant proportions of our spending tied to foreign currencies but this may change in the future. Thus, fluctuations in currency exchange rates could affect our results as expressed in U.S. dollars. We currently do not engage in hedging transactions to protect against uncertainty in future exchange rates between particular foreign currencies. We cannot predict the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, and foreign currency fluctuations in the future may adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Compliance with governmental regulations regarding the treatment of animals used in research could increase our operating costs, which would adversely affect the commercialization of our products.

The Animal Welfare Act, or AWA, is the federal law that covers the treatment of certain animals used in research. Currently, the AWA imposes a wide variety of specific regulations that govern the humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of certain animals by producers and users of research animals, most notably relating to personnel, facilities, sanitation, cage size, and feeding, watering and shipping conditions. Third-parties with whom we contract are subject to registration, inspections and reporting requirements under the AWA and comparable rules, regulations, and or obligations that may exist in many foreign jurisdictions. Furthermore, some states have their own regulations, including general anti-cruelty legislation, which establish certain standards in handling animals. Comparable rules, regulations, and/or obligations exist in many foreign jurisdictions. If we or our contractors fail to comply with regulations concerning the treatment of animals used in research, we may be subject to fines and penalties and adverse publicity, and our operations could be adversely affected.

Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain tax credit carryforwards may be subject to limitation.

We have net operating loss carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards for U.S. federal and state income tax purposes which begin to expire in future years. Additionally, under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, changes in our ownership may limit the amount of our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards that could be utilized annually to offset our future taxable income, if any. This limitation would generally apply in the event of a cumulative change in ownership of our company of more than 50 percentage points within a three-year period. Any such limitation may significantly reduce our ability to utilize our net operating loss carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards before they expire. Private placements and other transactions that have occurred since our inception, as well as our initial public offering, may trigger such an ownership change pursuant to Section 382. Any such limitation, whether as the result of future securities offerings, our initial public offering, prior private placements, sales of our common stock by our existing stockholders or additional sales of our common stock by us, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in future years.

The reduction of the corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, may cause a reduction in the economic benefit of our net operating loss carryforwards and other deferred tax assets available to us. Our ability to utilize those net operating loss carryforwards could be limited by an “ownership change” as described above, which could result in increased tax liability to us.

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Risks related to intellectual property

Our success depends in part on our ability to protect our intellectual property. It is difficult and costly to protect our proprietary rights and technology, and we may not be able to ensure their protection.

Our business will depend in large part on obtaining and maintaining patent, trademark and trade secret protection of our proprietary technologies and our therapeutic candidates, their respective components, synthetic intermediates, formulations, combination therapies, methods used to manufacture them and methods of treatment, as well as successfully defending these patents against third-party challenges. Our ability to stop unauthorized third-parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing our therapeutic candidates is dependent upon the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents that cover these activities and whether a court would issue an injunctive remedy. If we are unable to secure and maintain patent protection for any product or technology we develop, or if the scope of the patent protection secured is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to commercialize any therapeutic candidates we may develop may be adversely affected.

The patenting process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. The patenting process is subject to numerous risks and there can be no assurance that we will be successful in obtaining patents for which we have applied. In addition, we may not pursue, obtain, or maintain patent protection in all relevant markets. 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. Moreover, in some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the patents, covering technology that we license from or license to third-parties and are reliant on our licensors or licensees.

The strength of patents in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical fields involves complex legal and scientific questions and can be uncertain. The patent applications that we own or license may fail to result in issued patents with claims that cover our therapeutic candidates or uses thereof in the United States or in other foreign countries. Even if the patents do successfully issue, third-parties may challenge the validity, enforceability or scope thereof, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable. Furthermore, even if they are unchallenged, our patents and patent applications may not adequately protect our technology, including our therapeutic candidates, or prevent others from designing around the claims in our patents. If the breadth or strength of protection provided by the patent applications we hold with respect to our therapeutic candidates is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to develop, and threaten our ability to commercialize, our therapeutic candidates.

Further, if we encounter delays in our clinical trials, the period of time during which we could market our therapeutic candidates under patent protection would be reduced.

We cannot be certain that we were the first to file any patent application related to our technology, including our therapeutic candidates, and, if we were not, we may be precluded from obtaining patent protection for our technology, including our therapeutic candidates.

Some of the patents that we control were filed prior to March 16, 2013, and are thus based on the “first- inventor-to-invent” criterion. We cannot be certain that we are the first to invent the inventions covered by pending patent applications and, if we are not, we may be subject to priority disputes. Furthermore, for United States applications in which all claims are entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, an interference proceeding can be provoked by a third-party or instituted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, to determine who was the first to invent any of the subject matter covered by the patent claims of our applications. Similarly, for United States applications in which at least one claim is not entitled to a priority date before March 16, 2013, derivation proceedings can be instituted to determine whether the subject matter of a patent claim was derived from a prior inventor’s disclosure.

We may be required to disclaim part or all of the term of certain patents. There may be prior art of which we are not aware that may affect the validity or enforceability of a patent or patent application claim. There also may be prior art of which we are aware, but which we do not believe affects the validity or enforceability of a claim, which may, nonetheless, ultimately be found to affect the validity or enforceability of a claim.

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No assurance can be given that if challenged, our patents would be declared by a court to be valid or enforceable or that even if found valid and enforceable, would adequately protect our therapeutic candidates, or would be found by a court to be infringed by a competitor’s technology or product. We may analyze patents or patent applications of our competitors that we believe are relevant to our activities and consider that we are free to operate in relation to our therapeutic candidates, but our competitors may achieve issued claims, including in patents we consider to be unrelated, which block our efforts or may potentially result in our therapeutic candidates or our activities infringing such claims. The possibility exists that others will develop products that have the same effect as our products on an independent basis and that do not infringe our patents or other intellectual property rights or will design around the claims of patents that may issue that cover our products.

Recent or future patent reform legislation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents. Under the enacted Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or the America Invents Act, after March 2013, the United States moved from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-inventor-to-file” system. Under a “first-inventor-to-file” system, assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to a patent on the invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. The America Invents Act includes a number of other significant changes to U.S. patent law, including provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and establish a new post-grant review system. The effects of these changes are currently unclear, as the USPTO only recently developed new regulations and procedures in connection with the America Invents Act and many of the substantive changes to patent law, including the “first-inventor-to-file” provisions. In addition, the courts have yet to address many of these provisions and the applicability of the America Invents Act and new regulations on specific patents discussed herein, for which issues have not been determined and would need to be reviewed. However, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

The degree of future protection for our proprietary rights is uncertain because legal means afford only limited protection and may not adequately protect our rights or permit us to gain or keep our competitive advantage. For example:

Øothers may be able to make or use compounds that are similar to the compositions of our therapeutic candidates but that are not covered by the claims of our patents or those of our licensors;
Øwe or our licensors, as the case may be, may fail to meet our obligations to the U.S. government in regards to any licensed patents and patent applications invented or developed using U.S. government funding, leading to the loss of patent rights;
Øwe or our licensors, as the case may be, might not have been the first to file patent applications for these inventions;
Øothers may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies;
Øit is possible that our pending patent applications will not result in issued patents;
Øit is possible that there are prior public disclosures that could invalidate our or our licensors’ patents, as the case may be, or parts of our or their patents;
Øit is possible that others may circumvent our owned or licensed patents;
Øit is possible that there are unpublished applications or patent applications maintained in secrecy that may later issue with claims covering our products or technology similar to ours;
Øthe laws of foreign countries may not protect our or our licensors’, as the case may be, proprietary rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States;
Øthe claims of our owned or licensed issued patents or patent applications, if and when issued, may not cover our therapeutic candidates;
Øour owned or in-licensed issued patents may not provide us with any competitive advantages, may be narrowed in scope, or be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges by third-parties;

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Øthe inventors of our owned or licensed patents or patent applications may become involved with competitors, develop products or processes which design around our patents, or become hostile to us or the patents or patent applications on which they are named as inventors;
Øit is possible that our owned or licensed patents or patent applications omit individual(s) that should be listed as inventor(s) or include individual(s) that should not be listed as inventor(s), which may cause these patents or patents issuing from these patent applications to be held invalid or unenforceable;
Øwe have engaged in scientific collaborations in the past and expect to continue to do so in the future. Such collaborators may develop adjacent or competing products to ours that are outside the scope of our patents;
Øwe may not develop additional proprietary technologies for which we can obtain patent protection;
Øit is possible that therapeutic candidates or diagnostic tests we develop may be covered by third- parties’ patents or other exclusive rights; or
Øthe patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

The patents covering the therapeutic use of our lead candidate, TTX-MC138, are currently issued only in the U.S. and there are no foreign applications pending for this invention at this time. We have limited foreign intellectual property rights and may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

We have limited intellectual property rights outside the United States. Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on therapeutic 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 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 oncology 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.

Third-party claims of intellectual property infringement may be costly and time consuming to defend, and could prevent or delay our product discovery, development and commercialization efforts.

Our commercial success depends in part on our ability to develop, manufacture, market and sell our therapeutic candidates and use our proprietary technologies without infringing the proprietary rights of third- parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation involving patents and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, as well as administrative proceedings for challenging patents, including interference, derivation, inter partes review, post grant review, and reexamination proceedings before the USPTO or oppositions and other comparable proceedings in foreign jurisdictions.

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We may be exposed to, or threatened with, future litigation by third-parties having patent or other intellectual property rights alleging that our therapeutic candidates and/or proprietary technologies infringe their intellectual property rights. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third-parties, exist in the fields in which we are developing our therapeutic candidates. As the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that our therapeutic candidates may give rise to claims of infringement of the patent rights of others.

Moreover, it is not always clear to industry participants, including us, which patents cover various types of drugs, products or their methods of use or manufacture. Thus, because of the large number of patents issued and patent applications filed in our fields, there may be a risk that third-parties may allege they have patent rights encompassing our therapeutic candidates, technologies or methods.

If a third-party claims that we infringe its intellectual property rights, we may face a number of issues, including, but not limited to:

Øinfringement and other intellectual property claims which, regardless of merit, may be expensive and time-consuming to litigate and may divert our management’s attention from our core business;
Øsubstantial damages for infringement, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the therapeutic candidate or technology at issue infringes on or violates the third-party’s rights, and, if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the patent owner’s attorneys’ fees;
Øa court prohibiting us from developing, manufacturing, marketing or selling our therapeutic candidates, or from using our proprietary technologies, unless the third-party licenses its product rights to us, which it is not required to do;
Øif a license is available from a third-party, we may have to pay substantial royalties, upfront fees and other amounts, and/or grant cross-licenses to intellectual property rights for our therapeutic candidates and any license that is available may be non-exclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property; and
Øthe need to redesign our therapeutic candidates or processes so they do not infringe, which may not be possible or may require substantial monetary expenditures and time.

In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and, if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our operations or could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. 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.

If we are not able to obtain and enforce patent and other intellectual property protection for our technologies, development and commercialization of our therapeutic candidates may be adversely affected and our business materially harmed.

Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patents and other forms of intellectual property rights, including in-licensing intellectual property rights of others, for our therapeutic candidates, methods used to manufacture our therapeutic candidates and methods for treating patients using our therapeutic candidates, as well as our ability to preserve our trade secrets, to prevent third-parties from infringing our proprietary rights and to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of others.

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We and our current or future licensors and licensees may not be able to apply for or prosecute patents on certain aspects of our technologies at reasonable cost, in a timely fashion, or at all. The patent position of oncology companies can be highly uncertain because it involves complex legal and factual questions. There is no guarantee that any of our pending patent applications will result in issued or granted patents, that any of our issued or granted patents will not later be found to be invalid or unenforceable, or that any issued or granted patents will include claims that are sufficiently broad to cover our therapeutic candidates or delivery technologies or provide meaningful protection from our competitors. If third-parties disclose or misappropriate our proprietary rights, it may materially and adversely affect us.

While we will endeavor to try to protect our technologies with intellectual property rights such as patents, the process of obtaining patents is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes unpredictable. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other provisions during the process of pursuing patent coverage. There are situations in which noncompliance can result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, competitors might be able to enter the market earlier than otherwise would have been the case. The standards applied by the USPTO and foreign patent offices in granting patents are not always applied uniformly or predictably. For example, there is no uniform worldwide policy regarding patentable subject matter or the scope of claims allowable in oncology patents. Moreover, changes in either the patent laws or in the interpretations of patent laws may diminish the value of our intellectual property. As such, we do not know the degree of future protection that we might have with respect to our proprietary technologies. Further, patents have a limited lifespan.

In the United States and in industrialized countries generally, a patent expires 20 years after the first claim of priority (or first provisional U.S. patent application). Various limited extensions may be available; however, the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Without patent protection for our technologies, we may be more susceptible to competition, including from generic versions of our therapeutic candidates. Further, the extensive period of time between patent filing and regulatory approval for a product- candidate limits the time during which we can market a product-candidate under patent protection, which may particularly and adversely affect our profitability.

Intellectual property litigation and administrative patent office patent validity challenges in one or more countries could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.

Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our technical and management personnel from their regular responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, patient support or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. As noted above, some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could compromise our ability to compete in the marketplace, including compromising our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our research programs, license necessary technology from third-parties, or enter into development collaborations that would help us commercialize our current or future therapeutic candidates, if approved. Any of the foregoing events would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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Confidentiality agreements with employees and others may not prevent unauthorized disclosure of proprietary information.

Among the ways we attempt to protect our intellectual property is by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, and outside scientific advisors, contractors and collaborators. These agreements are intended to protect (i) proprietary know-how that may not be patentable or that we may elect not to patent, (ii) processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and (iii) other elements of our technology not covered by patents. Although we use reasonable efforts to protect our intellectual property, our employees, consultants, contractors, or outside scientific advisors might intentionally or inadvertently disclose our intellectual property to competitors or others. In addition, competitors may otherwise gain access to our intellectual property or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Enforcing a claim that another party illegally obtained and is using any of our intellectual property is expensive and time consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, courts outside the U.S. sometimes are less willing than U.S. courts to protect intellectual property. Misappropriation or unauthorized disclosure of our intellectual property could materially and adversely affect our competitive position and may have a material adverse effect on us.

Third-parties may assert that our employees or consultants have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information or misappropriated trade secrets.

As is common in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries, we employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although no claims against us are currently pending, and although we try to ensure that our employees and consultants 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 a 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. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and, if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. This type of litigation or proceeding could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce our resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to adequately conduct such litigation or proceedings. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their substantially greater financial resources.

Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other intellectual property related proceedings could adversely affect our ability to compete in the marketplace.

Patent terms may be inadequate to protect our competitive position on our therapeutic candidates for an adequate amount of time.

Patents have a limited lifespan. In the United States, if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest claimed U.S. provisional filing date. Various extensions such as patent term adjustments and/or extensions, may be available, but the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our therapeutic candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive products. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new therapeutic 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.

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Changes in patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our current or future therapeutic candidates.

As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involve both technological and legal complexity and is therefore costly, time consuming and inherently uncertain. Recent patent reform legislation in the U.S. and other countries, including the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or Leahy-Smith Act, signed into law on September 16, 2011, could increase those uncertainties and costs. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art and provide more efficient and cost-effective avenues for competitors to challenge the validity of patents. In addition, the Leahy-Smith Act has transformed the U.S. patent system into a “first inventor to file” system. The first-inventor-to-file provisions, however, only became effective on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, it is not yet clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. However, the Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could make it more difficult to obtain patent protection for our inventions and increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued patents, all of which could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, either narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Additionally, there have been recent proposals for additional changes to the patent laws of the U.S. and other countries that, if adopted, could impact our ability to obtain patent protection for our proprietary technology or our ability to enforce our proprietary technology. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

If we are unable to adequately protect and enforce our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.

In addition to the protection afforded by patents we may own or license, we seek to rely on trade secret protection, confidentiality agreements, and license agreements to protect proprietary know-how that may not be patentable, processes for which patents are difficult to enforce and any other elements of our product discovery and development processes that involve proprietary know-how, information, or technology that may not be covered by patents. Although we require all of our employees, consultants, advisors and any third- parties who have access to our proprietary know-how, information, or technology to enter into confidentiality agreements, trade secrets can be difficult to protect, and we have limited control over the protection of trade secrets used by our collaborators and suppliers. We cannot be certain that we have or will obtain these agreements in all circumstances, and we cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that may have or have had access to our trade secrets or proprietary information.

Moreover, any of these parties might breach the agreements and intentionally or inadvertently disclose our trade secret information and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. In addition, competitors may otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Furthermore, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect proprietary rights and trade secrets to the same extent or in the same manner as the laws of the U.S. As a result, we may encounter significant problems in protecting and defending our intellectual property both in the U.S. and abroad. If we are unable to prevent unauthorized material disclosure of our intellectual property to third-parties, we will not be able to establish or maintain a competitive advantage in our market, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects.

Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. If we choose to go to court to stop a third-party from using any of our trade secrets, we may incur substantial costs. These lawsuits may consume our time and other resources even if we are successful. Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third-parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third-party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us.

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Thus, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. It is our policy to require our employees, consultants, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers and other advisors to execute confidentiality agreements upon the commencement of employment or consulting relationships with us.

These agreements provide that all confidential information concerning our business or financial affairs developed or made known to the individual or entity during the course of the party’s relationship with us is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third-parties except in specific circumstances. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary technology by third-parties. In the case of employees, the agreements provide that all inventions conceived by the individual, and which are related to our current or planned business or research and development or made during normal working hours, on our premises or using our equipment or proprietary information, are our exclusive property. Although we require all of our employees to assign their inventions to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third-parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects.

We may initiate, become a defendant in, or otherwise become party to lawsuits to protect or enforce our intellectual property rights, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful.

Competitors may infringe any patents we may own or license. In addition, any patents we may own or license also may become involved in inventorship, priority, validity or unenforceability disputes. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. In addition, in an infringement proceeding, a court may decide that one or more of any patents we may own or license is not valid or is unenforceable or that the other party’s use of our technology that may be patented falls under the safe harbor to patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1). There is also the risk that, even if the validity of these patents is upheld, the court may refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that any patents we may own or license do not cover the technology in question or that such third-party’s activities do not infringe our patent applications or any patents we may own or license. An adverse result in any litigation or defense proceedings could put one or more of any patents we may own or in-license at risk of being invalidated, held unenforceable, or interpreted narrowly and could put our patent applications at risk of not issuing. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing, patient support or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA marketing approval of our current or future therapeutic candidates, one or more of the U.S. patents we own or license may be eligible for limited patent term restoration under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments. The Hatch-Waxman Amendments permit a patent restoration term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during product development and the FDA regulatory review process. Different laws govern the extension of patents on approved pharmaceutical products in Europe and other jurisdictions. However, we may not be granted a patent extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. For example, we may not be granted an extension in the U.S. if all of our patents covering an approved product expire more than fourteen years from the date of NDA approval for a product covered by those patents. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or restoration or the term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our ability to generate revenues could be materially adversely affected.

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Post-grant proceedings provoked by third-parties or brought by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the validity or priority of inventions with respect to our patent applications or any patents we may own or license. These proceedings are expensive, and an unfavorable outcome could result in a loss of our current patent rights and could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. In addition to potential USPTO post-grant proceedings, we may become a party to patent opposition proceedings in the EPO, or similar proceedings in other foreign patent offices or courts where our patents may be challenged. The costs of these proceedings could be substantial and may result in a loss of scope of some claims or a loss of the entire patent. An unfavorable result in a post-grant challenge proceeding may result in the loss of our right to exclude others from practicing one or more of our inventions in the relevant country or jurisdiction, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Litigation or post-grant proceedings within patent offices may result in a decision adverse to our interests and, even if we are successful, may result in substantial costs and distract our management and other employees. We may not be able to prevent, misappropriation of our trade secrets or confidential information, particularly in countries where the laws may not protect those rights as fully as in the U.S.

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

We may not be able to detect infringement against any patents we may own or license. Even if we detect infringement by a third-party of any patents we may own or license, we may choose not to pursue litigation against or settlement with the third-party. If we later sue such third-party for patent infringement, the third-party may have certain legal defenses available to it, which otherwise would not be available except for the delay between when the infringement was first detected and when the suit was brought. Such legal defenses may make it impossible for us to enforce any patents we may own or license against such third-party.

General Risk Factors

Our internal computer systems, or those of our third-party CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our current or future therapeutic candidates’ development programs.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems and those of our third-party CROs and other contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such material system failure, accident, or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data for our current or future therapeutic candidates could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach results in a loss of or damage to our data or applications or other data or applications relating to our technology or current or future therapeutic candidates, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liabilities and the further development of our current or future therapeutic candidates could be delayed.

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We may be unable to adequately protect our information systems from cyberattacks, which could result in the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, including personal data, damage our reputation, and subject us to significant financial and legal exposure.

We rely on information technology systems that we or our third-party providers operate to process, transmit and store electronic information in our day-to-day operations. In connection with our product discovery efforts, we may collect and use a variety of personal data, such as name, mailing address, email addresses, phone number and clinical trial information. A successful cyberattack could result in the theft or destruction of intellectual property, data or other misappropriation of assets, or otherwise compromise our confidential or proprietary information and disrupt our operations. Cyberattacks are increasing in their frequency, sophistication and intensity, and have become increasingly difficult to detect. Cyberattacks could include wrongful conduct by hostile foreign governments, industrial espionage, wire fraud and other forms of cyber fraud, the deployment of harmful malware, denial-of-service, social engineering fraud or other means to threaten data security, confidentiality, integrity and availability. A successful cyberattack could cause serious negative consequences for us, including, without limitation, the disruption of operations, the misappropriation of confidential business information, including financial information, trade secrets, financial loss and the disclosure of corporate strategic plans. Although we devote resources to protect our information systems, we realize that cyberattacks are a threat, and there can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent information security breaches that would result in business, legal, financial or reputational harm to us, or would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Any failure to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of our clinical data or patients’ personal data could result in significant liability under state (e.g., state breach notification laws), federal (e.g., HIPAA, as amended by HITECH), and international law (e.g., the European Union, or EU, General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR) and may cause a material adverse impact to our reputation, affect our ability to use collected data, conduct new studies and potentially disrupt our business.

We rely on our third-party providers to implement effective security measures and identify and correct for any such failures, deficiencies or breaches. We also rely on our employees and consultants to safeguard their security credentials and follow our policies and procedures regarding use and access of computers and other devices that may contain our sensitive information. If we or our third-party providers fail to maintain or protect our information technology systems and data integrity effectively or fail to anticipate, plan for or manage significant disruptions to our information technology systems, we or our third-party providers could have difficulty preventing, detecting and controlling such cyber-attacks and any such attacks could result in losses described above as well as disputes with physicians, patients and our partners, regulatory sanctions or penalties, increases in operating expenses, expenses or lost revenues or other adverse consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and cash flows. Any failure by such third-parties to prevent or mitigate security breaches or improper access to or disclosure of such information could have similarly adverse consequences for us. If we are unable to prevent or mitigate the impact of such security or data privacy breaches, we could be exposed to litigation and governmental investigations, which could lead to a potential disruption to our business.

Like many other companies, we have on occasion experienced, and will continue to experience, threats to our data and systems and attempts to damage or steal our property, information or financial resources, including through malicious codes and viruses, phishing, business email compromise attacks, and attempted ransomware or other cyber-attacks. Whereas none of these instances has had a material impact on us so far, the number and complexity of these threats continue to increase over time. For example, in July 2021, we were subject to what we believe was a phishing attack. We do not believe this incident had a material impact on our business or financial condition. However, the number and complexity of these threats continue to increase. If a material breach of our information technology systems or those of our third-party service providers occurs, the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and our reputation and credibility could be damaged. Such a material breach could also have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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We or the third-parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by earthquakes, other natural disasters, or political and military events, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from any such serious disaster.

Any unplanned or unexpected event, such as flood, fire, explosion, earthquake, extreme weather condition, medical epidemics, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or man-made accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or our third-party contract manufacturers being unable to operate their manufacturing facilities normally, may have a material and adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis, and have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. Loss of or reduced access to these facilities or interruptions in the flow of supplies may result in increased costs, delays in the development of our therapeutic candidates or interruption of our business operations. Earthquakes or other natural disasters could further disrupt our operations and have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event were to occur that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our facilities, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. Also, Russia’s military attack on Ukraine could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate 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 a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure you that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, are unable to operate because of an accident or incident or for any other reason, even for a short period of time, any or all of our research and development programs may be harmed.

Our employees, principal investigators, clinical trial sites, CROs and consultants may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.

We are exposed to the risk that our employees, principal investigators, CROs and consultants may engage in fraudulent conduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or disclosure of unauthorized activities to us that violate the regulations of the FDA and other regulatory authorities, including those laws requiring the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to such authorities; healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the U.S. and abroad; or laws that require the reporting of financial information or data accurately. In particular, sales, marketing, patient support and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Activities subject to these laws also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials or creating fraudulent data in our preclinical studies or clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. We have adopted a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees, but it is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct by employees and other third- parties, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. Additionally, we are subject to the risk that a person could allege such fraud or other misconduct, even if none occurred. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of civil, criminal and administrative penalties, damages, monetary fines, possible exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, and curtailment of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.

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Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third-parties will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. Because of the breadth of these laws and the narrowness of the statutory exceptions and safe harbors available, it is possible that some of our business activities could be subject to challenge under one or more of such laws. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant criminal, civil and administrative sanctions including monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, individual imprisonment, and exclusion from participation in 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, reputational harm, and we may be required to curtail or restructure our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.

The risk of our being found in violation of these laws is increased by the fact that many of them have not been fully interpreted by the regulatory authorities or the courts, and their provisions are open to a variety of interpretations. Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against it, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business. The shifting compliance environment and the need to build and maintain robust and expandable systems to comply with multiple jurisdictions with different compliance and/or reporting requirements increases the possibility that a healthcare company may run afoul of one or more of the requirements.

The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians to induce or encourage the prescription, recommendation, endorsement, purchase, supply, order or use of medicinal products is also prohibited in the EU. The provision of benefits or advantages to physicians is governed by the national anti-bribery laws of EU Member States, such as the U.K. Bribery Act 2010. Infringement of these laws could result in substantial fines and imprisonment. Payments made to physicians in certain EU Member States must be publicly disclosed. Moreover, agreements with physicians often must be the subject of prior notification and approval by the physician’s employer, his or her competent professional organization and/or the regulatory authorities of the individual EU Member States. These requirements are provided in the national laws, industry codes or professional codes of conduct, applicable in the EU Member States. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in reputational risk, public reprimands, administrative penalties, fines or imprisonment.

The collection, use, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data regarding individuals in the EU, including personal health data, is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is wide-ranging in scope and imposes numerous requirements on companies that process personal data, including requirements relating to processing health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, providing information to individuals regarding data processing activities, implementing safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of personal data, providing notification of data breaches, and taking certain measures when engaging third-party processors. The GDPR also imposes strict rules on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EU, including the U.S., and permits data protection authorities to impose large penalties for violations of the GDPR, including potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues, whichever is greater. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. Compliance with the GDPR is a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities.

Unstable market and economic conditions may have serious adverse consequences on our business, financial condition and stock price.

As widely reported, global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility and disruptions in the past several years, including periods of severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability, including most recently in connection with the novel coronavirus pandemic and inflation and potential recession concerns. There can be no assurance that further deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any such economic downturn, volatile business environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, or do not improve, it may make any debt or equity financing we seek to obtain more difficult, more costly, and more dilutive.

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Failure to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, financial performance and stock price and could require us to delay, scale back or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our therapeutic candidates or delay our pursuit of potential licenses or acquisitions. In addition, there is a risk that one or more of our current service providers, manufacturers and other partners may not survive these difficult economic times, which could directly affect our ability to attain our operating goals on schedule and on budget.

Furthermore, our stock price may further decline due in part to the volatility of the stock market and general economic conditions.

Current economic circumstances may harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our overall performance depends, in part, on worldwide economic conditions. In recent months, we have observed increased economic uncertainty in the United States and abroad. Impacts of such economic circumstances include:

Øreduced credit availability;
Øhigher borrowing costs;
Øreduced liquidity;
Øvolatility in credit, equity and foreign exchange markets;
Ødeclines in equity valuations, especially in the biopharmaceutical sector; and
Øbankruptcies.

These developments could lead to supply chain disruption, inflation, higher interest rates, and uncertainty about business continuity, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and our results of operations. They are likely to make obtaining equity capital more difficult and more expensive.

Rising inflation rates have increased our operating costs and could negatively impact our operations.

In addition, inflation rates, particularly in the United States, have increased recently to levels not seen in decades. Increased inflation has resulted in increased operating costs (including our labor costs), and may result in reduced liquidity, and limitations on our ability to access capital, including by raising debt and equity capital. In addition, the United States Federal Reserve has raised interest rates in response to concerns about inflation. Increases in interest rates, especially if coupled with reduced government spending and volatility in financial markets, may further increase economic uncertainty and heighten these risks.

We may incur substantial costs in our efforts to comply with evolving global data protection laws and regulations, and any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with such laws and regulations may harm our business and operations.

The global data protection landscape is rapidly evolving, and we may be or become subject to or affected by numerous federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, as well as regulatory guidance, governing the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, security and processing of personal data, such as information that we collect about participants and healthcare providers in connection with clinical trials.

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Implementation standards and enforcement practices are likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, which may (i) create uncertainty in our business, (ii) affect our or our service providers’ ability to operate in certain jurisdictions or to collect, store, transfer use and share personal data, (iii) result in liability or (iv) impose additional compliance or other costs on us. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with federal, state, or foreign laws or self-regulatory standards could result in negative publicity, diversion of management time and effort, or proceedings against us by governmental entities or others. California passed the California Data Privacy Protection Act of 2018, or the CCPA, which went into effect in January 2020. The CCPA provides new data privacy rights for consumers and new operational requirements for companies, which may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. The CCPA gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing, and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as for private rights of action for certain data breaches that result in the loss of personal information. While there is currently an exception for protected health information that is subject to HIPAA and clinical trial regulations, as currently written, the CCPA may impact certain of our business activities. The CCPA may lead to similar laws in other U.S. states or at a national level, which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business.

In addition to our operations in the United States, which may be subject to healthcare and other laws relating to the privacy and security of health information and other personal information, if we establish operations or conduct clinical trials in Europe, we will be subject to European data privacy laws, regulations and guidelines. The General Data Protection Regulation, (EU) 2016/679, or GDPR, became effective on May 25, 2018, and deals with the collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer, or other processing of personal data, including personal health data, regarding individuals in the European Economic Area, or EEA. The GDPR imposes a broad range of strict requirements on companies subject to the GDPR, including requirements relating to having legal bases for processing personal information relating to identifiable individuals and transferring such information outside the EEA, including to the United States, providing details to those individuals regarding the processing of their personal health and other sensitive data, obtaining consent of the individuals to whom the personal data relates, keeping personal information secure, having data processing agreements with third-parties who process personal information, responding to individuals’ requests to exercise their rights in respect of their personal information, reporting security breaches involving personal data to the competent national data protection authority and affected individuals, appointing data protection officers, conducting data protection impact assessments, and record-keeping.

The GDPR increases substantially the penalties to which we could be subject in the event of any non-compliance, including fines of up to €10 million or up to 2% of our total worldwide annual turnover for certain comparatively minor offenses, or up to €20 million or up to 4% of our total worldwide annual turnover (i.e., revenues), whichever is greater, for more serious offenses. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies, and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. In addition, the GDPR includes restrictions on cross-border data transfers.

Further, national laws of member states of the EU are in the process of being adapted to the requirements under the GDPR, possibly implementing national laws which may partially deviate from the GDPR and impose different obligations from country to country. As a result, we do not expect to operate in a uniform legal landscape in the EEA. Also, as it relates to processing and transfer of genetic data, the GDPR specifically allows national laws to impose additional and more specific requirements or restrictions. European laws have historically differed quite substantially in this field, leading to additional uncertainty. The U.K.’s decision to leave the EU, often referred to as Brexit, has created uncertainty with regard to data protection regulation in the U.K. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the U.K. will be regulated now that the U.K. has left the EU.

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We may conduct clinical trials in the EEA where the GDPR would increase our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we process when such processing is subject to the GDPR, and when we are required to have in place additional mechanisms and safeguards to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Compliance with the GDPR is a rigorous and time-intensive process that would increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices. Despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation, and reputational harm in connection with our European activities. We expect that we will face uncertainty as to whether our efforts to comply with any obligations under European privacy laws will be sufficient. If we are investigated by a European data protection authority, we may face fines and other penalties. Any such investigation or charges by European data protection authorities could have a negative effect on our business and on our ability to attract and retain new clients or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners. We may also experience hesitancy, reluctance, or refusal by European or multi-national vendors or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners to use our products due to the potential risk exposure as a result of data protection obligations imposed on them by law, including the GDPR. Such vendors or biotechnology and biopharmaceutical partners may also view any alternative approaches to compliance as being too costly, too burdensome, too legally uncertain, or otherwise objectionable and therefore decide not to do business with us. Any of the forgoing could materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

We or any future strategic partners may become subject to third-party claims or litigation alleging infringement of patents or other proprietary rights or seeking to invalidate patents or other proprietary rights.

We or any future strategic partners may be subject to third-party claims for infringement or misappropriation of patent or other proprietary rights. If we, our licensors or any future strategic partners are found to infringe a third-party patent or other intellectual property rights, we could be required to pay substantial damages, potentially including treble damages and attorneys’ fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed. In addition, we, our licensors or any future strategic partners may choose to seek, or be required to seek, a license to technology owned by a third-party, which license may not be available on acceptable terms, if at all. Even if a license can be obtained on acceptable terms, the rights may be limited which could give our competitors access to the same technology or intellectual property rights as is licensed to us. If we fail to obtain a required license, we may be unable to effectively market certain approved products which could materially harm us. Alternatively, we may need to redesign our infringing products, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. In addition, we may find it necessary to pursue claims or initiate lawsuits to protect or enforce our patent or other intellectual property rights. The cost to us in litigation or other proceedings relating to patent or other proprietary rights, even if resolved in our favor, could be substantial, and would divert our management’s attention from operating the business. Most of our competitors would be better able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation than us because they have substantially greater resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could materially delay our research and development efforts and significantly limit our ability to continue our operations.

We incur significant costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management devotes substantial time to compliance activities and investor relations.

As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act which requires, among other things, that we file with the SEC annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, or Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as well as rules subsequently adopted by the SEC and Nasdaq to implement provisions of the Sarbanes- Oxley Act, impose significant requirements on public companies, including requiring establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and changes in corporate governance practices.

Further, in July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, was enacted. There are significant corporate governance and executive compensation related provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act that require the SEC to adopt additional rules and regulations in these areas, such as “say on pay” and proxy access. Recent legislation permits emerging growth companies to implement many of these requirements over a longer period and up to five years from the pricing of an initial public offering. We intend to continue to take advantage of this legislation but cannot guarantee that we will not be required to implement these requirements sooner than budgeted or planned and thereby incur unexpected expenses. Stockholder activism, the current political environment and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which may lead to additional compliance costs and impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate.

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In addition to substantially increasing our legal and financial compliance costs, we expect the rules and regulations applicable to public companies to continue to make some of our activities more time-consuming and costly. If these requirements divert the attention of our management and personnel from other business concerns, or increase our costs, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and may require us to reduce costs in other areas of our business or increase the prices of any products or services we may offer in the future. For example, we expect these rules and regulations to make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to incur substantial costs to maintain the same or similar coverage. We cannot predict or estimate the amount or timing of additional costs we may incur to comply with these requirements. The impact of these requirements could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers.

The increasing use of social media platforms presents new risks and challenges.

Social media is increasingly being used to communicate about our clinical development programs and the diseases our therapeutics are being developed to treat, and we intend to utilize appropriate social media in connection with our commercialization efforts following approval of our therapeutic candidates, if any. Social media practices in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries continue to evolve and regulations and regulatory guidance relating to such use are evolving and not always clear. This evolution creates uncertainty and risk of noncompliance with regulations applicable to our business, resulting in potential regulatory actions against us, along with the potential for litigation related to off-label marketing or other prohibited activities and heightened scrutiny by the FDA, the SEC and other regulators. For example, patients may use social media channels to comment on their experience in an ongoing blinded clinical trial or to report an alleged adverse event. If such disclosures occur, there is a risk that trial enrollment may be adversely impacted, that we may fail to monitor and comply with applicable adverse event reporting obligations or that we may not be able to defend our business or the public’s legitimate interests in the face of the political and market pressures generated by social media due to restrictions on what we may say about our therapeutic candidates. There is also a risk of inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information or negative or inaccurate posts or comments about us on any social networking website. In addition, we may encounter attacks on social media regarding our company, management, therapeutic candidates or products. If any of these events were to occur or we otherwise fail to comply with applicable regulations, we could incur liability, face regulatory actions or incur other harm to our business.

Risks related to our Common Stock

If you purchase our securities, you may be subject to substantial dilution in the book value of your shares of common stock.

You may suffer substantial dilution in the net tangible book value of the common stock you purchase as a result of future offerings of equity or equity-related securities.

There is no public market for any of our pre-funded warrants or our common stock purchase warrants

There is no established public trading market for the pre-funded warrants or common stock purchase warrants we have issued. We will not list the pre-funded warrants or common stock purchase warrants on any securities exchange or nationally recognized trading system, including the Nasdaq Capital Market. Therefore, we do not expect a market to ever develop for the pre-funded warrants or common stock purchase warrants. Without an active market, the liquidity of the pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants will be limited.

The pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants are speculative in nature.

The pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants do not confer any rights of common stock ownership on their holders, such as voting rights or the right to receive dividends, but merely represent the right to acquire shares of common stock at a fixed price. Commencing on the date of issuance, holders of pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants may exercise their right to acquire the underlying common stock and pay the respective stated warrant exercise price per share.

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Until holders of pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants acquire shares of our common stock upon exercise thereof, such holders will have no rights with respect to shares of our common stock, except as provided in the pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants, respectively. Upon exercise of the pre-funded warrants and common stock purchase warrants, such holders will be entitled to the rights of a common stockholder only as to matters for which the record date occurs after the exercise date.

The price of our common stock may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance, shareholders may not be able to resell their shares at or above the price at which they purchase those shares.

Trading volume in shares of our common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market has been limited. You may not be able to sell your shares quickly or at the market price if trading in shares of our common stock is not active. An active or liquid market in our common stock may not develop or, if it does develop, it may not sustain. As a result of these and other factors, shareholders may not be able to resell their shares of our common stock at or above the price at which they purchase those shares in this offering.

Further, an inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to enter into strategic collaborations or acquire companies or products by using our shares of common stock as consideration.

The price of our common stock may fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for purchasers of our common stock.

Our stock price has been volatile since our initial public offering. The stock market in general, and the market for the stocks of many smaller biopharmaceutical companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations often unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of particular companies. We believe that this has occurred for numerous reasons including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic events and expectations, the war in the Ukraine and the current armed conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, with Israel having declared of war on Hamas, a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, due to recent attacks. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. As a result of the foregoing, shareholders may not be able to sell their common stock at or above the price at which they purchase those shares in this offering or otherwise. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by many factors, including:

Øthe success of competitive drugs or technologies;
Øresults of clinical trials of our current or future therapeutic candidates or those of our competitors;
Øregulatory or legal developments in the U.S. and other countries;
Ødevelopments or disputes concerning patent applications, issued patents or other proprietary rights;
Øthe recruitment or departure of key personnel;
Øthe level of expenses related to any of our current or future therapeutic candidates or clinical development programs;
Øthe results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire or license additional current or future therapeutic candidates or drugs;
Øactual or anticipated changes in estimates as to financial results, development timelines or recommendations by securities analysts;
Øvariations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;
Øchanges in the structure of healthcare payment systems;
Ømarket conditions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors;
Øgeneral economic, industry and market conditions;

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Øpotential delisting from Nasdaq; and
Øthe other factors described in this “Risk Factors” section.

If the market price of our common stock declines, you may not realize any return on your investment in us and further you may lose some or all of your investment. Additionally, in the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities. This type of litigation, if instituted, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources.

Securities sales practice requirements may limit a stockholder’s ability to buy and sell our securities.

Effective June 30, 2020, the SEC implemented Regulation Best Interest requiring that “A broker, dealer, or a natural person who is an associated person of a broker or dealer, when making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities (including account recommendations) to a retail customer, shall act in the best interest of the retail customer at the time the recommendation is made, without placing the financial or other interest of the broker, dealer, or natural person who is an associated person of a broker or dealer making the recommendation ahead of the interest of the retail customer.” This is a significantly higher standard for broker-dealers to recommend securities to retail customers than under prior FINRA suitability rules. FINRA suitability rules still apply to institutional investors and require that in recommending an investment to a customer, a broker-dealer must have reasonable grounds for believing that the investment is suitable for that customer. Prior to recommending securities to their customers, broker-dealers must make reasonable efforts to obtain information about the customer’s financial status, tax status, investment objectives and other information, and, for retail customers, determine that the investment is in the customer’s “best interest,” and meets other SEC requirements. Both SEC Regulation Best Interest and FINRA’s suitability requirements may make it more difficult for broker-dealers to recommend that their customers buy speculative, low-priced securities. They may affect investing in our common stock, which may have the effect of reducing the level of trading activity in our securities. As a result, fewer broker-dealers may be willing to make a market in our common stock, reducing a stockholder’s ability to resell shares of our common stock.

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

Until such time, if ever, as we can generate the cash we need from operations, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of private and public equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances and marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements. We do not currently have any committed external source of funds. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of common stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable for common stock, the ownership interest of our shareholders will be diluted, and the terms of these new securities may include liquidation or other preferences that materially adversely affect the rights of our shareholders. Debt financing, if available, would increase our fixed payment obligations and may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.

If we raise funds through collaborations, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with third-parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our intellectual property, future revenue streams, research programs or current or future therapeutic candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds when needed, we may be required to delay, scale back or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our therapeutic candidates, delay our pursuit of potential licenses or acquisitions, grant rights to develop and market current or future therapeutic candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop and market ourselves, or restrict or curtail our operations.

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We will need to raise substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be forced to delay, scale back or discontinue some of our therapeutic candidate development programs or commercialization efforts.

The development of pharmaceutical drugs is capital intensive. We are currently advancing clinical development of TTX-MC138. Our current cash resources are insufficient to fund our planned operations or development plans beyond sometime in the late third or early fourth quarter of 2024. We may not be able to complete our planned clinical trial, we may only be able to complete the trial in a small subset of patients and in only one tumor type. Even if completed, we will require additional funds to advance further. If we are capital constrained, we may not be able to meet our obligations. If we are unable to meet our obligations, or we experience a disruption in our cash flows, it could limit or halt our ability to continue to develop our therapeutic candidates or even to continue operations, either of which occurrence would have a material adverse effect on us and our shareholders.

We expect our expenses to continue to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we continue the research and development of, advance the preclinical and clinical activities of, and seek marketing approval for, our current or future therapeutic candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our current or future therapeutic candidates, we expect to incur significant commercialization expenses related to sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution to the extent that such sales, marketing, product manufacturing and distribution are not the responsibility of our collaborators. We may also need to raise additional funds sooner if we choose to pursue additional indications and/or geographies for our current or future therapeutic candidates or otherwise expand more rapidly than we presently anticipate. Furthermore, we expect to continue to incur significant costs associated with operating as a public company. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we would be forced to delay, scale back or discontinue the development and commercialization of one or more of our therapeutic candidates, delay our pursuit of potential licenses or acquisitions, or significantly reduce our operations.

Our future capital requirements will depend on and could increase significantly as a result of many factors, including:

Øthe scope, progress, results and costs of drug discovery, preclinical development, laboratory testing and clinical trials for our current or future therapeutic candidates;
Øthe potential additional expenses attributable to adjusting our development plans (including any supply-related matters) to the COVID-19 pandemic;
Øthe scope, prioritization and number of our research and development programs;
Øthe costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our current or future therapeutic candidates;
Øour ability to establish and maintain collaborations on favorable terms, if at all;
Øthe achievement of milestones or occurrence of other developments that trigger payments under any additional collaboration agreements we obtain;
Øthe extent to which we are obligated to reimburse, or are entitled to reimbursement of, clinical trial costs under future collaboration agreements, if any;
Øthe costs of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending intellectual property-related claims;
Øthe extent to which we acquire or license other current or future therapeutic candidates and technologies;
Øthe costs of securing manufacturing arrangements for clinical and commercial production; and
Øthe costs of establishing or contracting for sales and marketing capabilities if we obtain regulatory approvals to market our current or future therapeutic candidates.

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Identifying potential current or future therapeutic candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain marketing approval and achieve drug sales.

In addition, our current or future therapeutic candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Our commercial revenues, if any, will be derived from sales of drugs that we do not expect to be commercially available for many years, if ever. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional funding to achieve our business objectives.

Any additional fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our current or future therapeutic candidates.

Disruptions in the financial markets in general, and those due to the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical events in particular, have made equity and debt financing more difficult to obtain and may have a material adverse effect on our ability to meet our fundraising needs. We cannot guarantee that future financing will be available in sufficient amounts or on terms favorable to us, if at all. Moreover, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our stockholders and the issuance of additional securities, whether equity or debt, by us, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our shares to decline. The sale of additional equity or convertible securities would dilute all of our stockholders. The incurrence of indebtedness could result in fixed payment obligations, and we may be required to agree to certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt, limitations on our ability to acquire, sell or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. We could also be required to seek funds through arrangements with collaborators or otherwise at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable and we may be required to relinquish rights to some of our technologies or current or future therapeutic candidates or otherwise agree to terms unfavorable to us, any of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and prospects.

If we are unable to obtain funding on a timely basis, we may be required to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue one or more of our research or development programs, the commercialization of any therapeutic candidates, be unable to expand our operations or otherwise capitalize on our business opportunities, as desired, or restrict or curtail operations, any of which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We could lose our listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market, including if we do not meet the Nasdaq rule regarding the level of stockholders’ equity. The loss of our Nasdaq listing would in all likelihood make our common stock significantly less liquid and adversely affect its value.

As initially disclosed on our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on May 18, 2023, we received a letter from the Listing Qualifications Department, or the Staff, of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, on May 16, 2023, that we are not in compliance with the stockholders’ equity requirement for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(b)(1) requires that companies listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market maintain stockholders’ equity of at least $2,500,000, or the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement, or that they meet one of the alternative listing standards, market value of listed securities of at least $35 million or net income of $500,000 from continuing operations in the most recently completed fiscal year, or in two of the three most recently completed fiscal years. We were given 45 calendar days, or until June 30, 2023, to submit a plan to Nasdaq describing how we intend to seek to regain compliance with the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement, or the Compliance Plan.

If the Compliance Plan was determined to be acceptable to the Staff, the Staff would have the discretion to grant the Company an extension of 180 calendar days from the date of the Staff notification to regain compliance with the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement. The Company submitted the Compliance Plan to Nasdaq on June 30, 2023, and supplemented it with additional materials on July 24, 2023.

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On July 26, 2023, the Company received a Delisting Determination Letter from the Staff advising the Company that the Staff had determined not to accept the Company’s Compliance Plan, that the Company’s request for an extension had been denied, and that the Company’s common stock was subject to delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market, or the Delisting Determination. In accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5815(a)(2), the Company was provided with seven calendar days, or until August 2, 2023, to request a hearing before the Nasdaq Hearings Panel, or the Panel, to appeal the Delisting Determination. The Company submitted a request for a hearing to Nasdaq, and on August 2, 2023, was notified by Nasdaq that an oral hearing, or the Hearing, by the Panel to discuss the Delisting Determination had been scheduled. The Hearing was held on October 5, 2023. On October 26, 2023, the Company received a letter from the Panel granting an extension to continue its listing on Nasdaq until January 22, 2024, subject to (1) on or before November 14, 2023, following the filing of its Form 10-Q for the period ended September 30, 2023, the Company providing a detailed update to the Panel regarding its meeting the stockholders’ equity requirement (we provided this update to the Panel) and (2) on or before January 22, 2024, the Company providing an update to the Panel on how it demonstrates long-term compliance with the stockholder’s equity requirement and other listing standards. The letter stated that the Panel does not have discretion to grant continued listing on Nasdaq beyond January 22, 2024, if the Company has not regained compliance with the stockholder’s equity requirement. The letter also stated that the Panel reserves the right to reconsider the terms of this exception granting continued listing based on any event, condition or circumstance that exists or develops that would, in the opinion of the Panel, make continued listing of the Company’s securities on Nasdaq inadvisable or unwarranted. The Panel advised the Company that it is a requirement during this exception period that the Company provide prompt notification of any significant events that occur during this time that may affect the Company’s compliance with Nasdaq requirements, including prompt advance notice of any event that may call into question the Company’s ability to meet the terms of the exception granted. There can be no assurance that the Company will be able to regain compliance with the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement, or that the Company’s plan to demonstrate long-term compliance with the stockholder’s equity requirement will be accepted by the Panel.

In the event of a delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market, our stock would likely be traded in the over-the- counter inter-dealer quotation system, more commonly known as the OTC. OTC transactions involve risks in addition to those associated with transactions in securities traded on the securities exchanges, such as the Nasdaq Capital Market, or Exchange-listed stocks. Many OTC stocks trade less frequently and in smaller volumes than Exchange-listed stocks. Accordingly, our stock would be less liquid than it would be otherwise. Also, the prices of OTC stocks are often more volatile than Exchange-listed stocks. Additionally, many institutional investors are prohibited from investing in OTC stocks, and it might be more challenging to raise capital when needed.

We could lose our listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market if the closing bid price of our common stock does not return to above $1.00 for at least ten consecutive days during the 180 days ending May 6, 2024. The loss of the Nasdaq listing would make our common stock significantly less liquid and would adversely affect its value.

On November 7, 2023, we received a letter from the Listing Qualifications Department (the “Staff”) of Nasdaq notifying us that, for the 30 consecutive business day period between September 26, 2023, through November 6, 2023, our common stock had not maintained a minimum closing bid price of $1.00 per share (the “Minimum Bid Price Requirement”) required for continued listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5550(a)(2). The Nasdaq letter does not result in the immediate delisting of the Company’s common stock from the Nasdaq Capital Market.

In accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A) (the “Compliance Period Rule”), we have been provided an initial period of 180 calendar days, or until May 6, 2024, (the “Compliance Date”) to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement. If, at any time during this 180-day period, the bid price for the Company’s common stock closes at $1.00 or more per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days, or such longer period up to 20 consecutive business days as may be determined by the Staff in its discretion, as required under the Compliance Period Rule, the Staff will provide written notification to the Company that it complies with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement and the common stock will continue to be eligible for listing on The Nasdaq Capital Market unless other eligibility deficiencies exist.

If the Company does not regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement by the Compliance Date, the Company may be eligible for an additional 180 calendar day compliance period. To qualify, the Company would be required to meet the continued listing requirement for the market value of publicly held shares and all other initial listing standards for the Nasdaq Capital Market, with the exception of the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, and would need to provide written notice to Nasdaq of its intention to cure the deficiency during the additional compliance period.

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If it appears to the Staff that the Company will not be able to cure the deficiency, the Staff will provide written notice to the Company that its common stock will be subject to delisting. At that time, the Company may appeal the Staff’s delisting determination to a Nasdaq Hearing Panel (the “Panel”). The Company expects that its stock would remain listed pending the Panel’s decision, subject to the Company’s ability to regain compliance with the Stockholders’ Equity Requirement (as defined below). There can be no assurance that, if the Company does appeal the Staff’s delisting determination to the Panel, such appeal would be successful.

We will continue to monitor the closing bid price of our common stock and seek to regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement within the allotted compliance period; however, there can be no assurance that we will regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Requirement or that, if we do appeal a subsequent delisting determination, such appeal would be successful.

On January 10, 2024, we filed a Certificate of Amendment to our Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware to effect a 1-for-40 reverse stock split of our outstanding common stock. On January 16, 2024, we effected the reverse stock split of our common stock, shares either issued and outstanding or held by the Company as treasury stock. On January 16, 2024, our common stock had a minimum closing bid price in excess of $1.00 per share, however, there can be no assurance that the bid price for our common stock will close at $1.00 or more per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days, or such longer period up to 20 consecutive business days as may be determined by the Staff in its discretion, as required under the Compliance Period Rule.

Further, while Nasdaq rules do not impose a specific limit on the number of times a listed company may effect a reverse stock split to maintain or regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement, Nasdaq has stated that a series of reverse stock splits may undermine investor confidence in securities listed on Nasdaq. Accordingly, Nasdaq may determine that it is not in the public interest to maintain our listing, even if we regain compliance with the Minimum Bid Price Requirement.

In addition, Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A)(iv) states that if a listed company that fails to meet the Minimum Bid Price Requirement after effecting one or more reverse stock splits over the prior two-year period with a cumulative ratio of 250 shares or more to one, then the company is not eligible for a Compliance Period. Since we effected a 1-for-20 reverse stock split of our Common Stock on May 23, 2023 and a 1-for-40 reverse stock split of our Common Stock on January 16, 2024, we have effected reverse stock splits with a cumulative ratio of one share for every 800 shares previously owned. Any subsequent reverse stock split would result in us exceeding the 1-for-250 cumulative ratio.

We are an emerging growth company, and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an emerging growth company, or EGC, as defined in the JOBS Act, enacted in April 2012. For as long as we continue to be an EGC, we may take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not EGCs, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We could be an EGC for up to five years following the year in which we completed our initial public offering, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier. We will remain an EGC until the earlier of (i) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering (i.e., December 31, 2026), (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.235 billion or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which requires the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates to exceed $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th, and (ii) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.

We may choose to take advantage of some, but not all, of the available exemptions. We cannot predict whether investors will find our common stock less attractive if we rely on certain or all of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, EGCs can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies, which may make our financial statements less comparable to companies that comply with new or revised accounting pronouncements as of public company effective dates.

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If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they publish negative evaluations of our stock, the price of our stock could decline.

The trading market for our common stock may be influenced, in part, by the research and reports that industry or financial analysts publish about us or our business. If begun, we may lose research coverage by industry or financial analysts. If no or few analysts maintain coverage of us, the trading price of our stock would likely decrease. If one or more of the analysts covering our business downgrade their evaluations of our stock, the price of our stock would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover our stock, we could lose visibility in the market for our stock, which in turn could cause our stock price to decline.

We do not intend to pay cash dividends on our common stock, so any returns will be limited to the value of our stock.

We currently anticipate that we will retain any future earnings for the development, operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate declaring or paying cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, future debt or other financing arrangements may contain terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Any return to stockholders will therefore be limited to the appreciation in the value of their stock, if any, and which could decrease in value resulting in losses to our stockholders.

We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we are unable to remediate these material weaknesses, or if we identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately or timely report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect our business.

As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in such internal control. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2022, or Section 404, requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency or combination of deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

To date, we have had limited financial and accounting personnel to fully execute our accounting processes and address our internal control over financial reporting. In preparation of our financial statements to meet the requirements of our IPO, we determined that material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting existed during the year ended December 31, 2021. Prior to our IPO in 2021, we did not design and therefore did not have an effective control environment commensurate with our current financial reporting requirements. Specifically, we lacked a sufficient number of professionals with segregated duties with an appropriate level of accounting knowledge, training and experience to appropriately analyze, record and disclose accounting matters timely and accurately.

In connection with the preparation of our financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, we identified material weaknesses in our control over financial reporting, and determined that many of these material weaknesses remained unremediated from when they were first identified during the year ended December 31, 2021, in connection with the preparation of our financial statements for our IPO.

While these material weaknesses did not result in a misstatement for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, each of the above material weaknesses could have resulted in a misstatement of the aforementioned account balances or disclosures that could have resulted in a material misstatement to the annual or interim financial statements that would not have been prevented or detected.

In order to remediate the material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and address the material weaknesses in our accounting processes, we plan to establish more robust accounting policies and procedures, and review the adoption of new accounting positions and the need for financial statement disclosures. Also, in September 2022, we engaged an independent consultant to assist us in determining what personnel are needed, in evaluating new accounting policies, and in enhancing the robustness of our reporting systems and procedures. This work is ongoing.

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We began implementing and plan to continue to implement steps to address the internal control deficiencies that contributed to the material weaknesses, including the following:

Øwhen funding allows, hiring of additional finance and accounting personnel with requisite experience and technical accounting expertise, supplemented by third-party resources;
Ødocumenting and formally assessing our accounting and financial reporting policies and procedures; and
Øassessing significant accounting transactions and other technical accounting and financial reporting issues, preparing accounting memoranda addressing these issues and maintaining these memoranda in our corporate records.

While we believe that these efforts will improve our internal control over financial reporting, implementation of these and other measures will be ongoing and will require validation and testing of the design and operating effectiveness of our internal controls over a sustained period of financial reporting cycles. We cannot reasonably estimate when these remediation measures will be completed nor can we assure you that the measures we have taken to date, and are continuing to take, will be sufficient to remediate the material weaknesses we have identified or avoid potential future material weaknesses. If the steps we take do not correct the material weaknesses in a timely manner, we will be unable to conclude that we maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting. Furthermore, we may not have identified all material weaknesses, and our current controls and any new controls that we develop may become inadequate because of changes in conditions in our business. Accordingly, there continues to be a reasonable possibility that these deficiencies or others could result in a misstatement of our accounts or disclosures that would result in a material misstatement of our financial statements that would not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

If we continue to fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.

Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation, could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing by us conducted in connection with Section 404, or any subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our stock.

We will be required to disclose changes made in our internal controls and procedures on a quarterly basis, and our management will be required to assess the effectiveness of these controls annually. However, for as long as we are an EGC, our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404. We could be an EGC for up to five years. An independent assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting could detect problems that our management’s assessment might not. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls over financial reporting could lead to restatements of our financial statements and require us to incur the expense of remediation.

Anti-takeover provisions under our charter documents and Delaware law could delay or prevent a change of control, which could limit the market price of our common stock and may prevent or frustrate attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our board of directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. Some of these provisions include:

Øa prohibition on stockholder action through written consent, which requires that all stockholder actions be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;

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Øa requirement that special meetings of stockholders be called only by the board of directors acting pursuant to a resolution approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office;
Øadvance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and nominations for election to our board of directors;
Øa requirement that no member of our board of directors may be removed from office by our stockholders except for cause and, in addition to any other vote required by law, upon the approval of not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock then entitled to vote in the election of directors;
Øa requirement for approval by not less than two-thirds of all outstanding shares of our voting stock to amend any bylaws by stockholder action or to amend specific provisions of our certificate of incorporation; and
Øthe authority of the board of directors to issue preferred stock on terms determined by the board of directors without stockholder approval and which preferred stock may include rights superior to the rights of the holders of common stock.

In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporate Law, or DGCL, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These antitakeover provisions and other provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by the then-current board of directors and could also delay or impede a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing or cause us to take other corporate actions you desire. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our board of directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

Our amended and restated bylaws designate a certain court as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.

Pursuant to our amended and restated bylaws, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole an