(EDGAR Online via COMTEX) -- ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS.
The following information should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements, including the notes thereto, included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. This discussion contains certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of certain events could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors, including, but not limited to, those set forth herein and elsewhere in this Form 10-K.
We are focused on the creation of the Terra CoV-2 immunization product candidate to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic and the further development of novel antibiotics against infectious disease.
Our SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Product Candidate- Terra CoV-2
As a result of our acquisition of one hundred percent (100%) of the total issued and outstanding common stock of Noachis Terra, Inc. ("Noachis Terra") we are now focused on the development and commercialization of a vaccine product candidate to provide long lasting immunity from the novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus ("SARS-CoV-2"), which causes the coronavirus disease 2019 ("COVID-19"). Noachis Terra is a party to a worldwide, nonexclusive intellectual property and biological materials license agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ("NIAID"), an institute within the National Institutes of Health ("NIH"), relating to certain research, patent applications and biological materials involving pre-fusion stabilized coronavirus spike proteins and their use in the development and commercialization of a vaccine to provide specific, long lasting immunity from SARS-CoV-2.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can lead to upper-respiratory infections in humans. Recent clinical reports also suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can affect other body-systems, including the nervous, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and renal systems. Among the recent iterations of coronaviruses to move from animal to human carriers is SARS-CoV-2 (often referred to as COVID-19), which, beginning in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, caused a global pandemic due to its rapid spread and the relatively high mortality rate (as compared to the seasonal influenza). In late January of 2021, the World Health Organization's estimates indicate the number of worldwide COVID-19 infections have exceeded 100,000,000 and the number of deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 have exceeded 2,000,000. Both Pfizer and Moderna have announced preliminary safety and efficacy data from their Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine studies and recent Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. We believe given the size of the worldwide pandemic that even with multiple vaccines projected to be available in the coming months, there will be demand for the Terra CoV-2 vaccine, once development is successfully completed. We intend to combine the research, patent applications and biological materials covered by our NIAID license with our existing clinical research and manufacturing capabilities to respond rapidly to this ongoing, global, public health crisis. We believe our Terra CoV-2 vaccine holds the possibility of playing an important role in addressing this crisis.
Coronaviruses, such as SARS -CoV-2, possess signature protein spikes on their outer capsule. The NIAID license covers patents and data on a vaccine candidate that were created based on a stabilized pre-fusion spike trimeric protein. By stabilizing the spike protein in the pre-fusion state, the number of immunogenic centers is increased thereby allowing for a greater likelihood of successful antibody binding, resulting in an improved immunogenic response. The genetic code, acquired from the NIH, for the stabilized pre-fusion spike protein was provided to Aragen Bioscience, Inc. ("Aragen") for the purpose of insertion of the spike protein gene sequence into a Chinese Hamster Ovary ("CHO") cell line. Aragen is a leading contract research organization focused on accelerating preclinical biologics product development, has extensive experience building CHO cell lines for recombinant proteins, such as monoclonal antibodies. Aragen has successfully inserted the NIH pre-fusion spike protein gene sequence into a CHO cell line and is currently developing both the analytical tests and identifying preliminary cell line growth conditions to optimize the spike protein titers. Currently, "mini-pool" production and analytical development is underway. The process to transfer to full-scale manufacture has begun.
The NIH's preclinical study shows that this spike protein, adjuvanted with the mouse specific TLR-4-agonist Sigma Adjuvant System ("SAS", a TLR-4 agonists) that induces T cell activation), generates neutralizing antibody titers in both a pseudovirus neutralization assay and a plaque reduction neutralization titer (PRNT) assay. Recently released information indicated that pretreatment of mice with the NIH-created COVID-19 spike protein in combination with an adjuvant (TLR-4 agonist Sigma Adjuvant System) completely inhibited viral growth in the nasal cavities and lungs of infected animals compared to unvaccinated control animals. In October 2020, we received feedback to our Type B Pre-IND Meeting Request from the FDA. The response indicated that the FDA broadly supported our planned approach to the pre-clinical program that will support the clinical development of the Terra CoV-2, vaccine. As a result, we anticipate filing the Investigational New Drug ("IND") application in the fourth quarter of 2021 and immediately upon the receipt of approval from the FDA, commencing the Phase 1 clinical study, the protocol for which is currently under development.
We recently announced we had entered into an agreement with Adjuvance Technologies Inc. for the use of TQL1055, a novel, rationally designed semi-synthetic analogue of the saponin adjuvant QS-21 with potential improved attributes, including stability and manufacturing efficiency. We also anticipate that our Terra CoV-2 vaccine will provide long lasting protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus with only one or two doses, with a more rapid immune response compared to vaccines developed without the inclusion of an adjuvant.
As presently designed, we believe the Terra CoV-2 vaccine is expected to permit cost effective storage and distribution at refrigerated temperatures, which should facilitate the distribution and thereby avoid challenges facing the two mRNA vaccines currently available under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S.
We expect to use our currently available cash resources to continue to advance the development of Terra CoV-2 through IND-enabling studies, including immunogenicity, viral challenge studies, toxicology studies, and the Phase 1 trial with further clinical development being contingent upon the receipt of additional funding, including non-dilutive government grant funding which we continue to pursue or partnering or out-licensing opportunities.
Our Antibiotic Product Candidate-OG716
Members of our scientific team discovered that a certain bacterial strain. Streptococcus mutans, produces MU1140, a molecule belonging to the novel class of antibiotics known as lantibiotics. Lantibiotics, such as MU1140, are highly modified peptide antibiotics made by a small group of Gram-positive bacterial species. Approximately 60 lantibiotics have been discovered, to date. We believe lantibiotics are generally recognized by the scientific community to be potent antibiotic agents.
In nonclinical testing, MU1140 has shown activity against all Gram-positive bacteria against which it has been tested, including those responsible for a number of healthcare associated infections, or HAIs. A high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. We believe the need for novel antibiotics is increasing as a result of the growing resistance of target pathogens to existing FDA approved antibiotics on the market along with the increased use of currently available antibiotics due to secondary infections in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.
Lantibiotics have been difficult to investigate for their clinical usefulness as therapeutic agents in the treatment of infectious diseases due to a general inability to produce or synthesize sufficient quantities of pure amounts of these molecules. Traditional fermentation methods can only produce minute amounts of the lantibiotic.
In June 2012, we entered into a worldwide exclusive channel collaboration agreement with Precigen (formerly known as Intrexon Corporation) for the development and commercialization of the native strain of MU1140 and related homologs to use its advanced transgene and cell engineering platforms. At that time we also entered into a stock issuance agreement with Precigen. Through our work pursuant to the collaboration agreement, we have been able to produce a significant increase in the fermentation titer of MU1140 compared to standard fermentation methods and have discovered a new purification process for MU1140. Our work generated a substantial number of homologs of MU1140 and the exclusive channel collaboration was thereafter amended to clarify the applicable field and to adjust the milestone payments and provide that they will be paid in cash. In January 2020 Precigen consummated a reorganization of its ongoing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) fermentation operations and assets which included transfer of the exclusive collaboration agreement and related stock issuance agreement. Following such reorganization, Precigen divested certain of its assets to TS Biotechnology Holdings, LLC which included shares of Oragenics securities and the subsidiary Eleszto Genetika, Inc. ("EGI" formerly known as ILH Holdings, Inc.) that held the collaboration agreement and stock issuance agreements with us, and. On March 1, 2021, due to such prior amendments, assignments and transfers we entered into an amended and restated exclusive channel collaboration agreement with EGI which (i) included the prior amendments, (ii) updated the names of the parties, and (iii) incorporated any remaining applicable terms from the stock issuance agreement and thereafter terminated the stock issuance agreement (the "Lantibiotic ECC"). We expect to continue our research and development and collaboration efforts with EGI to develop potential derivatives of the MU1140 molecule using genetically modified bacteria.
In our pre-clinical studies to support a potential IND filing with the FDA, we tested a total of six homologs of MU1140 for certain compound characteristics, including but not limited to: drug activity (based on minimum inhibitory concentration or "MIC") equal or better than "standard of care" drugs against certain drug-resistant bacteria, safety, toxicity, stability, and manufacturability. An animal study specifically evaluated homolog efficacy in relation to survival, measurable amounts of Clostridium difficile ("C. diff") colony forming units, and toxin levels. Three homologs demonstrated promising results with one homolog, OG253 achieving a 100% survival rate throughout the entire study in contrast to an approximately 30% survival rate for the vancomycin positive control.
Based on these early results, we selected a lead candidate, OG253, for which we had a pre-IND meeting with the FDA in November of 2015 regarding the pursuit of an IND for OG253. Following additional research and development on second generation lantibiotics, in August of 2016, we opted to select a second generation lantibiotic, OG716, for treatment of C. diff as our new lead candidate. OG716 is a new, orally-active homolog, that has exhibited positive results in an animal model for potential treatment of C. diff. Generated from our MU1140 platform, this new lantibiotic showed promising efficacy in reducing clinically relevant C. diff infections as measured by increased animal survival and decreased relapse as well as reduced production of toxins A & B and C. diff spores.
The timing of the filing of an IND regarding OG716 is subject to our having sufficient available human, material and financing capital, which includes research subjects, both animal and human, given all of our anticipated needs and expected requirements in connection with our ongoing research and development initiatives. We will continue to advance the OG716 program to the IND filing based on the availability of both human and financial capital. Based upon the current funding available we will continue to conduct some of the requisite studies. While we commenced certain of these studies at the end of 2019, we expect to focus on efficient and cost-effective improvements in the manufacturing process of the product as we move to complete the pre-clinical studies required to support our first in man Phase 1 clinical study.
Through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Noachis Terra, we began the research and development stage for our new Terra CoV-2 vaccine product candidate. We hold a nonexclusive, worldwide intellectual property license agreement for certain research, patent applications and biological materials relating to the use of pre-fusion coronavirus spike proteins for the development and commercialization of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.
Additionally, we are developing our lead lantibiotic candidate, OG716, to treat Clostridium difficile while also creating semi-synthetic lantibiotic analogs that may be effective against systemic gram (+) multidrug infections, and analogs that may be effective in treating gram (-) infections. We seek to protect our product candidates through patents and patent applications pursuant to the terms of our license agreements.
Product/Candidate Description Application Status Terra CoV-2 Vaccine candidate (plasmid + Broad, Pre-clinical adjuvant) to provide long community-based lasting immunity against vaccine immunity SARS-CoV-2 against SARS-CoV-2 OG716 A homolog of MU1140: Member of Clostridium Pre-clinical lantibiotic class of difficile antibiotics associated diarrhea
Our Business Development Strategy
Success in the biopharmaceutical and product development industry relies on the continuous development of novel product candidates. The large majority of product candidates do not make it past all clinical trials which forces companies to look externally for innovation. Accordingly, we expect from, time to time, to seek strategic opportunities through various forms of business development, which can include strategic alliances, licensing deals, joint ventures, collaborations, equity-or debt-based investments, dispositions, mergers and acquisitions. We view these business development activities as a necessary component of our strategies, and we seek to enhance shareholder value by evaluating business development opportunities both within and complementary to our current business as well as opportunities that may be new and separate from the development of our existing product candidates.
ATM Offering-Sales Agreement. On February 1, 2021, the Company entered into a Sales Agreement (the "Sales Agreement") with A.G.P./Alliance Global Partners, as sales agent (the "Sales Agent"), pursuant to which the Company may offer and sell through or to the Sales Agent (the "Offering") up to $20.0 million in shares of its common stock (the "Shares") at-the-market. Through February 12, 2021, the Company sold an aggregate of 15,406,618 shares of its common stock at-the-market pursuant to the Sales Agreement for aggregate net proceeds to the Company of approximately $19.3 million. Shares offered and sold in the Offering were issued pursuant to the Company's universal shelf registration statement on Form S-3 (the "Shelf Registration Statement") and the prospectus supplement relating to the Offering filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on February 1, 2021. The Offering will terminate upon (a) the election of the Agent upon the occurrence of certain adverse events, (b) 10 days' advance notice from one party to the other, or (c) the sale of the Shares equating to $20 million. Under the terms of the Sales Agreement, the Sales Agent is entitled to a commission at a fixed rate of 3.0% of the gross proceeds from each sale of shares under the Sales Agreement.
Series C Preferred Stock Redemption. On February 11, 2021, we provided a notice of redemption, for approximately $5.6 million, to the holder of our Series C Preferred Stock, with a redemption date of March 13, 2021 (which included the dividend of 26.697 shares paid on January 28, 2021 and any accrued dividends due through the redemption date), after which time the Series C Preferred Stock will be cancelled and no further dividends will accrue. The applicable portion of the net proceeds received from the above referenced ATM Offering are being utilized for the redemption.
Warrant Exercises. Between February 9, 2021 and February 25, 2021 the Company issued an additional 2,472,573 shares of common stock as a result of the exercise of certain outstanding warrants as follows: (i) warrants to acquire 360,000 shares of Common Stock at an exercise price of $1.00 per share issued in connection with its July 2018 public offering were exercised and (ii) warrants to acquire 2,112,573 shares of Common Stock at an exercise price of $0.90 per share issued in connection with its March 2019 public offering were exercised (the "Warrant Exercises"). The Warrant Exercises provided aggregate gross proceeds to the Company of $2,261,315.
Additional Consideration Payment - Noachis Terra Acquisition. As a result of the Warrant Exercises, the Company paid $542,263 of additional consideration to the sole former shareholder of Noachis Terra. The additional consideration payment will be included in operating expenses.
We did not generate any revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively from the sales or licensing of our product candidates.
Research and Development Expenses
Research and development consist of expenses incurred in connection with the discovery and development of our product candidates. These expenses consist primarily of employee-related expenses, which include salaries and benefits and attending science conferences; expenses incurred under our license agreements with third parties and under other agreements with contract research organizations, investigative sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials and a substantial portion of our nonclinical studies; the cost of acquiring and manufacturing clinical trial materials; facilities, depreciation and other allocated expenses, which include direct and allocated expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities and equipment, and depreciation of fixed assets; license fees, for and milestone payments related to, in-licensed products and technology; stock-based compensation expense; and costs associated with nonclinical activities and regulatory approvals. We expense research and development costs as incurred.
Our research and development expenses can be divided into (i) clinical research, and (ii) nonclinical research and development activities and (iii) manufacturing process development and analytical testing procedure development. Clinical research costs consist of clinical trials, manufacturing services, regulatory activities and related personnel costs, and other costs such as rent, utilities, depreciation and stock-based compensation. Nonclinical research and development costs consist of our research activities, nonclinical studies, related personnel costs and laboratory supplies, and other costs such as rent, utilities, depreciation and stock-based compensation and research expenses we incur associated with the development of our product candidates. While we are currently focused on advancing our product development programs, our future research and development expenses will depend on the clinical success of our product candidates, as well as ongoing assessments of each product candidate's commercial potential. In addition, we cannot forecast with any degree of certainty which product candidates may be subject to future collaborations, when such arrangements will be secured, if at all, and to what degree such arrangements would affect our development plans, research expenses and capital requirements.
Our research and development expenses were $22,107,563 and $12,120,318 for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Our current product development strategy contemplates an expected increase in our research and development expenses in the future as we continue the advancement of our product development programs for our vaccine and lantibiotic product candidates, with greater near-term emphasis on our vaccine product candidate. The lengthy process of completing clinical trials; seeking regulatory approval for our product candidates; and expanding the potential claims we are able to make, requires expenditure of substantial resources. Any failure or delay in completing clinical trials, or in obtaining regulatory approvals, could cause a delay in generating product revenues and cause our research and development expenses to increase and, in turn, have a material adverse effect on our operations. Our current product candidates are not expected to be commercially available until we are able to obtain regulatory approval from the FDA.
Our plan is to budget and manage expenditures in research and development such that they are undertaken in a cost-effective manner yet still advance the research and development efforts. While we have some control under our Lantibiotic ECC and NIH license as to the planning and timing of our research and development and therefore the timing of when expenditures may be incurred for various phases of agreed upon projects, actual expenditures can vary from period to period. Subject to available capital, we expect overall research and development expenses to increase as a result of our vaccine product candidate and as our financial resources permit. Our research and development projects are currently expected to be taken to the point where they can be licensed or partnered with larger pharmaceutical companies.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses consist principally of salaries and related costs for personnel in executive, finance, business development, marketing, information technology, legal and human resources functions. Other general and administrative expenses include facility costs not otherwise included in research and development expenses, patent filing, and professional fees for legal, consulting, auditing and tax services.
We anticipate that our general and administrative expenses may remain flat, but be subject to variability for, among others, the following reasons:
? to support our research and development activities, which, subject to available capital, we expect to expand as we continue the development of our product candidates;
? the efforts we undertake from, time to time, to raise additional capital; and
? the increased payroll, and stock-based compensation, expanded infrastructure and consulting, legal, accounting and investor relations costs associated with being a public company.
Other Income (Expense)
Other income (expense) includes local business taxes, as well as interest income and expense. Interest income consists of interest earned on our cash and cash equivalents. The primary objective of our investment policy is capital preservation. Interest expense consists primarily of interest and costs associated with our indebtedness.
As of December 31, 2020, and 2019, we have federal and state net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $142,893,000 and $117,963,000, respectively, to offset future federal and state income taxes. Federal and state of Florida tax net operating loss carryforwards generated prior to December 31, 2017 will expire through 2037. Federal and state of Florida tax net operating loss carryforwards generated subsequent to December 31, 2017, do not expire and are no longer subject to taxable income limitation pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed on March 27, 2020. State of Pennsylvania tax net operating loss carryforwards will expire through 2036. We also have research and development tax credit carryforwards of approximately $4,043,000 and $2,805,000 as of December 31, 2020, and 2019, respectively, to offset future federal and state income taxes. The federal tax credit carryforward will expire beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2040, unless previously utilized.
Utilization of net operating loss carryforwards and research and development credit carryforwards may be subject to a substantial annual limitation due to ownership change limitations that may have occurred or, could occur in the future in accordance with Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 ("IRC
Critical Accounting Estimates and Policies
Our discussion and analysis of our consolidated financial condition and results of operations are based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("US GAAP"). The preparation of consolidated financial statements in accordance with US GAAP requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect reported amounts and related disclosures. There are certain critical estimates that we believe require significant judgment in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. We consider an accounting estimate to be critical if:
? It requires us to make an assumption because information was not available at the time or it included matters that were highly uncertain at the time, we were making the estimate; and
? Changes in the estimate or different estimates that we could have selected may have had a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations.
The principal areas of estimation reflected in the consolidated financial statements are stock-based compensation and valuation of warrants.
Stock-Based Payment Arrangements
Generally, all forms of stock-based payments, including stock option grants, and warrants are measured at their fair value on the awards' grant date using a Black-Scholes pricing model. Restricted stock grants are measured at their fair value at the date of the grant. Stock-based compensation awards issued to non-employees for services rendered are recorded at the fair value of the stock-based payment. The expense resulting from stock-based payments are recorded in research and development expense or general and administrative expense in the consolidated statement of operations, depending on the nature of . . .
Mar 01, 2021
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