(EDGAR Online via COMTEX) -- ITEM 2. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The interim unaudited condensed financial statements and this Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and notes thereto for the year ended December 31, 2021 and the related Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, both of which are contained in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, or Annual Report, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 10, 2022. Past operating results are not necessarily indicative of results that may occur in future periods.
This quarterly report on Form 10-Q contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the federal securities laws made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Our actual results
could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth below under Part II, Item 1A, "Risk Factors" in this quarterly report on Form 10-Q. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. These statements, which represent our current expectations or beliefs concerning various future events, may contain words such as "may," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "believe," "estimate" or other words indicating future results, though not all forward-looking statements necessarily contain these identifying words. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following:
the initiation, cost, timing, progress and results of, and our expected ability to undertake certain activities and accomplish certain goals with respect to our research and development activities, preclinical studies and clinical trials;
our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of our product candidates, and any related restrictions, limitations, and/or warnings in the label of an approved product candidate;
our ability to obtain funding for our operations;
our plans to research, develop and commercialize our product candidates;
the potential election of any strategic collaboration partner to pursue development and commercialization of any programs or product candidates that are subject to a collaboration with such partner;
our ability to attract collaborators with relevant development, regulatory and commercialization expertise;
future activities to be undertaken by our strategic collaboration partners, collaborators and other third parties;
our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our product candidates;
the size and growth potential of the markets for our product candidates, and our ability to serve those markets;
our ability to successfully commercialize, and our expectations regarding future therapeutic and commercial potential with respect to our product candidates;
the rate and degree of market acceptance of our product candidates;
our ability to develop sales and marketing capabilities, whether alone or with potential future collaborators;
regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;
the performance of our third-party suppliers and manufacturers;
the success of competing therapies that are or may become available;
the loss of key scientific or management personnel;
our ability to successfully secure and deploy capital;
our ability to satisfy our debt obligations;
the accuracy of our estimates regarding future expenses, future revenues, capital requirements and need for additional financing;
the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business; and
the risks and other forward-looking statements described under the caption "Risk Factors" under Part II, Item 1A of this quarterly report on Form 10-Q.
In addition, statements that "we believe" and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this report, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.
We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing first-in-class drugs targeting microRNAs to treat diseases with significant unmet medical need. We were formed in 2007 when Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Alnylam") and Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Ionis") contributed significant intellectual property, know-how and financial and human capital to pursue the development of drugs targeting microRNAs pursuant to a license and collaboration agreement. Our lead product candidates are RG-012 and RGLS8429. RG-012 is an anti-miR targeting miR-21 for
the treatment of Alport syndrome, a life-threatening kidney disease with no approved therapy available. In November 2018, we and Sanofi agreed to transition further development activities of our miR-21 programs, including our RG-012 program, to Sanofi. As a result, Sanofi became responsible for all costs incurred in the development of RG-012 and any other miR-21 programs. The transition activities were completed in the second quarter of 2019. RGLS8429, an anti-miR targeting miR-17, is our next-generation compound for the treatment of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease ("ADPKD"). In May 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") accepted our Investigational New Drug application ("IND") for RGLS8429. We plan to initiate a Phase 1 study for RGLS8429 in the second quarter of 2022. In addition to these programs, we continue to develop a pipeline of other preclinical drug product candidates.
microRNAs are naturally occurring ribonucleic acid ("RNA") molecules that play a critical role in regulating key biological pathways. Scientific research has shown that an imbalance, or dysregulation, of microRNAs is directly linked to many diseases. Furthermore, many different infectious pathogens interact and bind to host microRNA to survive. To date, over 500 microRNAs have been identified in humans, each of which can bind to multiple messenger RNAs that control key aspects of cell biology. Since many diseases are multi-factorial, involving multiple targets and pathways, the ability to modulate multiple pathways by targeting a single microRNA provides a new therapeutic approach for treating complex diseases.
RNA plays an essential role in the process used by cells to encode and translate genetic information from deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") to proteins. RNA is comprised of subunits called nucleotides and is synthesized from a DNA template by a process known as transcription. Transcription generates different types of RNA, including messenger RNAs that carry the information for proteins in the sequence of their nucleotides. In contrast, microRNAs are RNAs that do not code for proteins but rather are responsible for regulating gene expression by modulating the translation and decay of target messenger RNAs. By interacting with many messenger RNAs, a single microRNA can regulate the expression of multiple genes involved in the normal function of a biological pathway. Many pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, also use host microRNAs to regulate the cellular environment for survival. In some instances, the host microRNAs are essential for the replication and/or survival of the pathogen. For example, miR-122 is a microRNA expressed in human hepatocytes and is a key factor for the replication of the hepatitis C virus ("HCV").
We believe that microRNA therapeutics have the potential to become a new and major class of drugs with broad therapeutic application for the following reasons:
microRNAs play a critical role in regulating biological pathways by controlling the translation of many target genes;
microRNA therapeutics regulate disease pathways which may result in more effective treatment of complex multi-factorial diseases;
many human pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, use microRNAs (host and pathogen encoded) to enable their replication and suppression of host immune responses; and
microRNA therapeutics may be synergistic with other therapies because of their different mechanism of action.
We have assembled significant expertise in the microRNA field, including expertise in microRNA biology and oligonucleotide chemistry, a broad intellectual property estate, relationships with key opinion leaders and a disciplined drug discovery and development process. We are using our microRNA expertise to develop chemically modified, single-stranded oligonucleotides that we call anti-miRs to modulate microRNAs and address underlying disease. We believe microRNAs may play a critical role in complex disease and that targeting them with anti-miRs may become a source of a new and major class of drugs with broad therapeutic application, much like small molecules, biologics and monoclonal antibodies.
We believe that microRNA biomarkers may be used to select optimal patient segments in clinical trials and to monitor disease progression or relapse. We believe these microRNA biomarkers can be applied toward drugs that we develop and drugs developed by other companies with which we partner or collaborate.
Since our inception through March 31, 2022, we have received $416.4 million from the sale of our equity and convertible debt securities, $101.8 million from our strategic collaborations, principally from upfront payments, research funding and preclinical and clinical milestones, and $19.8 million in net proceeds from our Term Loan. As of March 31, 2022, we had cash and cash equivalents of $53.9 million.
Lead Product Candidates
We currently have two lead product candidates.
RG-012: In May 2017, we completed a Phase 1 multiple-ascending dose ("MAD") clinical trial in 24 healthy volunteers (six-week repeat dosing) to determine safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics ("PK") of RG-012 prior to chronic dosing in patients. In Phase 1 clinical trials, RG-012 was well-tolerated, and there were no serious adverse events ("SAEs") reported. In the third quarter of 2017, we initiated HERA, a Phase 2 randomized (1:1), double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of RG-012 in 40 Alport syndrome patients. In parallel, a renal biopsy study was also initiated in the third quarter of 2017 to evaluate RG-012 renal tissue PK, target engagement and downstream effects on genomic disease biomarkers. Kidney tissue concentrations were achieved in biopsy patients that would be predictive of therapeutic benefit based on animal disease models. In addition, modulation of the target, miR-21, was observed. In December 2017, we concluded our global ATHENA natural history of disease study. RG-012 has received orphan designation in both the United States and Europe. In November 2018, we and Sanofi agreed to transition further development activities of our miR-21 programs, including our RG-012 program, to Sanofi. As a result, Sanofi became responsible for all costs incurred in the development of these miR-21 programs. The transition activities, including the transfer of the IND, were completed in the second quarter of 2019. Sanofi has completed enrollment of patients into a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating Lademirsen (RG-012) for the treatment of adult patients with Alport Syndrome, with final data expected in the first half of 2023.
RGLS8429: RGLS8429, an anti-miR oligonuceotide targeting miR-17, is our next-generation compound for the treatment of ADPKD. In October 2021, we announced that we would discontinue further development of RGLS4326, our first generation compound for the treatment of ADPKD, based on discussions with the FDA and data from the second cohort of patients in the Phase 1b trial of RGLS4326. We believe RGLS8429 has a superior pharmacologic profile compared with RGLS4326. In both in vitro and in vivo efficacy studies, RGLS8429 exhibits equal potency for its molecular target (miR-17) as RGLS4326. Further, in recently-completed IND-enabling 13-week toxicity studies, RGLS8429 was well tolerated at dose levels higher than those that resulted in off-target central nervous system effects in the chronic toxicity studies of RGLS4326.
In May 2022, the FDA accepted our IND for RGLS8429 for the treatment of ADPKD. We plan to initiate a Phase 1 single-ascending dose ("SAD") study in healthy volunteers to assess safety, tolerability and PK of RGLS8429. Following the SAD study, we plan to initiate a Phase 1b MAD study in adult patients with ADPKD to assess safety, tolerability and PK of RGLS8429, and to evaluate the dose response of RGLS8429 treatment on ADPKD biomarkers including polycystins, cystic kidney volume (htTKV), and overall kidney function. Top-line data from the healthy volunteer portion of the study are expected in the second half of 2022, and top-line biomarker data for the first cohort of RGLS8429-treated patients with ADPKD are expected in the first half of 2023.
A major focus of our preclinical research has historically targeted dysregulated microRNAs implicated in diseases of high unmet medical need where we know we can effectively deliver to the target tissue or organ, such as the liver, kidney and central nervous system ("CNS"). Furthermore, we are investigating the potential for target organ-selective delivery strategies.
FINANCIAL OPERATIONS OVERVIEW
Our revenues generally consist of upfront payments for licenses or options to obtain licenses in the future, milestone payments and payments for other research services under collaboration agreements.
In the future, we may generate revenue from a combination of license fees and other upfront payments, payments for research and development services, milestone payments, product sales and royalties in connection with strategic collaborations. We expect that any revenue we generate will fluctuate from quarter-to-quarter as a result of the timing of our achievement of preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercialization milestones, if at all, the timing and amount of payments relating to such milestones and the extent to which any of our products are approved and successfully commercialized by us or our strategic collaboration partners. If our current or future collaboration partners do not elect or otherwise agree to fund our development costs pursuant to our current or future strategic collaboration agreements, or we or our strategic collaboration partner fails to develop product candidates in a timely manner or obtain regulatory approval for them, our ability to generate future revenues, and our results of operations and financial position would be adversely affected.
Research and development expenses
Research and development expenses consist of costs associated with our research activities, including our drug discovery efforts and the development of our therapeutic programs. Our research and development expenses include:
employee-related expenses, including salaries, benefits, travel and stock-based compensation expense;
external research and development expenses incurred under arrangements with third parties, such as contract research organizations, or CROs, contract manufacturing organizations, or CMOs, other clinical trial related vendors, consultants and our scientific advisors;
license fees; and
facilities, depreciation and other allocated expenses, which include direct and allocated expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities, amortization of leasehold improvements and equipment, and laboratory and other supplies.
We expense research and development costs as incurred. We account for nonrefundable advance payments for goods and services that will be used in future research and development activities as expenses when the service has been performed or when the goods have been received. Certain of the raw materials used in the process of manufacturing drug product are capitalized upon their acquisition and expensed upon usage, as we have determined these materials have alternative future use.
To date, we have conducted research on many different microRNAs with the goal of understanding how they function and identifying those that might be targets for therapeutic modulation. At any given time we are working on multiple targets, primarily within our therapeutic areas of focus. Our organization is structured to allow the rapid deployment and shifting of resources to focus on the most promising targets based on our ongoing research. As a result, in the early phase of our development programs, our research and development costs are not tied to any specific target. However, we are currently spending the vast majority of our research and development resources on our ADPKD program.
Since our inception, we have incurred a total of approximately $394.9 million in research and development expenses through March 31, 2022.
The process of conducting clinical trials and preclinical studies necessary to obtain regulatory approval is costly and time consuming. We, or our strategic collaboration partners, may never succeed in achieving marketing approval for any of our product candidates. The probability of success for each product candidate may be affected by numerous factors, including preclinical data, clinical data, competition, manufacturing capability and commercial viability.
Successful development of future product candidates is highly uncertain and may not result in approved products. Completion dates and completion costs can vary significantly for each future product candidate and are difficult to predict. We anticipate we will make determinations as to which programs to pursue and how much funding to direct to each program on an ongoing basis in response to our ability to maintain or enter into new collaborations with respect to each program or potential product candidate, the scientific and clinical success of each future product candidate, as well as ongoing assessments as to each future product candidate's commercial potential. We will need to raise additional capital and may seek additional collaborations in the future in order to advance our various programs.
General and administrative expenses
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related benefits, including stock-based compensation, related to our executive, finance, legal, business development and support functions. Other general and administrative expenses include allocated facility-related costs not otherwise included in research and development expenses and professional fees for auditing, tax and legal services, some of which are incurred as a result of being a publicly-traded company.
Other income (expense), net
Other income (expense) consists primarily of interest income and expense and various income or expense items of a non-recurring nature. We earn interest income from interest-bearing accounts and money market funds. Interest expense is primarily attributable to interest charges associated with borrowings under our secured Term Loan.
CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND ESTIMATES
There have been no significant changes to our critical accounting policies since December 31, 2021. For a description of critical accounting policies that affect our significant judgments and estimates used in the preparation of our financial statements, refer to Item 7 in Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Note 1 to our financial statements contained in our Annual Report and Note 1 to our condensed financial statements contained in this quarterly report on Form 10-Q.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Comparison of the three months ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 The following table summarizes our results of operations for the three months ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 (in thousands): Three months ended March 31, 2022 2021 Revenue under collaborations $ - $ - Research and development expenses 3,679 3,320 General and administrative expenses 2,890 2,478
Revenue under collaborations
Our revenues are generated from ongoing collaborations, and generally consist of upfront payments for licenses or options to obtain licenses in the future, milestone payments and payments for other research services. Revenue was zero for the three months ended March 31, 2022 and 2021.
Research and development expenses
The following tables summarize the components of our research and development expenses for the periods indicated, together with year-over-year changes (dollars in thousands):
Increase (decrease) Three months Three months ended March 31, ended March 31, 2022 % of total 2021 % of total $ % Research and development Personnel and internal expenses $ 1,715 47 % $ 1,520 46 % $ 195 13 % Third-party and outsourced expenses 1,674 45 % 1,288 39 % 386 30 % Non-cash stock-based compensation 270 7 % 181 5 % 89 49 % Depreciation 20 1 % 331 10 % (311) (94) % Total research and development expenses $ 3,679 100 % $ 3,320 100 % $ 359 11 %
Research and development expenses were $3.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2022, compared to $3.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021. These amounts reflect the internal and external costs associated with advancing our clinical and preclinical pipeline. The aggregate increase for the three months ended March 31, 2022, as compared to the three months ended March 31, 2021, was primarily attributable to an increase in external research and development expenses, which were primarily driven by an increase in spend on IND-related activities (most notably, third-party drug manufacturing) for our RGLS8429 product candidate.
General and administrative expenses
General and administrative expenses were $2.9 million for the three months ended March 31, 2022, compared to $2.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021. The increase for the three months ended March 31, 2022, as compared to the three months ended March 31, 2021, was attributable to a general increase in personnel-related and ongoing general business operating costs.
Interest and other expenses, net
Net interest and other expenses were $0.1 million for the three months ended March 31, 2022, compared to net interest and other expenses of $0.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021. These amounts were primarily related to interest charges associated with our outstanding Term Loan.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
As of March 31, 2022, we had cash and cash equivalents of $53.9 million. We believe that our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our anticipated and operating capital expenditure requirements into the fourth quarter of 2023. If we are unable to maintain sufficient financial resources, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially and adversely affected. We will need to raise additional capital to develop our product candidates and implement our operating plans. There can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain this needed financing on acceptable terms or at all. Additionally, equity or debt financings may have a dilutive effect on the holdings of our existing stockholders.
Our future capital requirements are difficult to forecast and will depend on many factors, including:
the terms and timing of any strategic collaboration, licensing and other arrangements that we may establish;
the initiation, progress, timing and completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials for our development programs and product candidates, and associated costs;
the number and characteristics of product candidates that we pursue;
the outcome, timing and cost of regulatory approvals;
delays that may be caused by changing regulatory requirements;
the cost and timing of hiring new employees to support our continued growth;
the costs involved in filing and prosecuting patent applications and enforcing and defending patent claims;
the costs and timing of procuring clinical and commercial supplies of our product candidates;
the costs and timing of establishing sales, marketing and distribution capabilities, and the pricing and reimbursement for any products for which we may receive regulatory approval;
the extent to which we acquire or invest in businesses, products or technologies;
To date, we have funded our operations primarily through the sale of equity, and to a lesser extent, through convertible debt, up-front payments, research funding and milestone payments under collaborative arrangements. Since inception, we have primarily devoted our resources to funding research and development, including discovery research, and preclinical and clinical development activities. To fund future operations, we will likely need to raise additional capital. We anticipate that we will seek to fund our operations through public or private equity or debt financings or other sources, such as potential collaboration agreements. We cannot make assurances that anticipated additional financing will be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. Although we have previously been successful in obtaining financing through our equity securities offerings, there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so in the future. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken to slow its spread, as well as the recent military action initiated by Russia against Ukraine (and responses taken by the global community, including sanctions and trade restrictions), the global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility, including in liquidity and credit availability, . . .
May 13, 2022
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