(EDGAR Online via COMTEX) -- ITEM 2. 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-Q as well as our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 filed on March 1, 2021.
As used in this quarterly report the terms "we", "us", "our", "Oragenics" and the "Company" mean Oragenics, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary Noachis Terra Inc., unless the context otherwise requires.
This Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q includes "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about our industry, our beliefs and our assumptions. These forward-looking statements include statements about our strategies, objectives and our future achievement. To the extent statements in this Quarterly Report involve, without limitation, our expectations for growth, estimates of future revenue, our sources and uses of cash, our liquidity needs, our current or planned clinical trials or research and development activities, product development timelines, our future products, regulatory matters, expense, profits, cash flow balance sheet items or any other guidance on future periods, these statements are forward-looking statements. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of word or phrases such as "believe," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "plan," and "would. "These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and concern matters that could subsequently differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Actual events or results may differ materially from those discussed in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. Except as may be required by applicable law, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or to reflect events or circumstances arising after the date of this Report. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in these forward looking statements are in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the most recent Annual Report on Form 10- K, as updated by our recent Form 8-K Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the other risks and uncertainties described elsewhere in this report as well as other risks identified from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, press releases and other communications. In addition, the statements contained throughout this Quarterly Report concerning future events or developments or our future activities, including concerning, among other matters, current or planned clinical trials, anticipated research and development activities, anticipated dates for commencement of clinical trials, anticipated completion dates of clinical trials, anticipated meetings with the FDA or other regulatory authorities concerning our product candidates, anticipated dates for submissions to obtain required regulatory marketing approvals, anticipated dates for commercial introduction of products, and other statements concerning our future operations and activities, are forward-looking statements that in each instance assume that we are able to obtain sufficient funding in the near term and thereafter to support such activities and continue our operations and planned activities in a timely manner. There can be no assurance that this will be the case. Also, such statements assume that there are no significant unexpected developments or events that delay or prevent such activities from occurring. Failure to timely obtain sufficient funding, or unexpected developments or events, could delay the occurrence of such events or prevent the events described in any such statements from occurring.
We are a development stage company dedicated to fighting infectious diseases. We are focused on advancing our Terra CoV-2 vaccine candidate to combat the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its variants, leveraging coronavirus spike protein research licensed from the National Institutes of Health. We are also developing lantibiotics, a novel class of antibiotics, focused on combatting multidrug-resistant organisms.
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 May of 2021, the World Health Organization's estimates indicate the number of worldwide COVID-19 infections have exceeded 150,000,000 and the number of deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 have exceeded 3,000,000. 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.
We also announced we entered into a material transfer agreement with Biodextris Inc. for the use of three intranasal mucosal adjuvants in our Terra CoV-2 vaccine. BDX100, BDX300 and BDX301 are proteosome-based adjuvants comprised of proteins and lipopolysaccharides with improved attributes including enhanced immune response, manufacturing efficiency and the benefits of intranasal vaccine administration. The agreement allows for the future collaboration regarding the intranasal delivery of vaccine during clinical development with the opportunity to enter into a commercial agreement upon regulatory approval of the intranasal vaccine.
The Terra CoV-2 vaccine plus Biodextris' intranasal mucosal adjuvants will be studied in the preclinical animal studies, including hamster viral challenge studies, mouse immunogenicity studies and the rodent toxicology study required for regulatory approval prior to the initiation human testing.
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 expect to continue to advance our lantibiotics program to the IND filing based on the availability of both human and financial capital. Based upon the current funding we expect to continue to focus on identification of new potential product candidates, efficient and cost-effective improvements in the manufacturing processes and pre-clinical studies required to support a first in human 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 Broad, Pre-clinical (plasmid + adjuvant) community-based to provide long vaccine immunity lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2 against SARS-CoV-2 OG716 A homolog of MU1140: Clostridium Pre-clinical Member of lantibiotic difficile associated class of antibiotics 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 Program-Sales Agreement. On February 1, 2021, we entered into a Sales Agreement (the "Sales Agreement") with A.G.P./Alliance Global Partners, as sales agent (the "Sales Agent"), pursuant to which we may offer and sell through or to the Sales Agent shares of our Common Stock (the "ATM Program"). During the three months ended March 31, 2021, we issued an aggregate of 21,398,765 shares of Common Stock and received gross proceeds of an aggregate of approximately $27.8 million under our ATM Program. Any Shares offered and sold in the ATM Program were issued pursuant to our universal shelf registration statement on Form S-3
Series C Preferred Stock Dividend and Series C Preferred Stock Redemption. During the three months ended March 31, 2021, we provided a notice of redemption, to the holder of our Series C Preferred Stock to redeem all outstanding Series C Preferred Stock (which included the dividend of 26.697 shares paid on January 28, 2021 and any accrued dividends due through the redemption date of March 13, 2021). The Series C Preferred Stock redemption amount of approximately $5.6 million was paid on March 15, 2021 and all outstanding shares of Series C Preferred Stock were cancelled.
Warrant Exercises. During the three months ended March 31, 2021, we issued an additional 2,472,573 shares of Common Stock as a result of the exercise of certain outstanding warrants as follows: (i) 360,000 shares at an exercise price of $1.00 per share, and (ii) 2,112,573 shares at an exercise price of $0.90 per share. These warrant exercises provided aggregate gross proceeds to us of $2,261,336.
Additional Consideration Payment - Noachis Terra Acquisition. As a result of the warrant exercises, we paid $542,263 of additional consideration to the sole former shareholder of Noachis Terra. The additional consideration payment is included in operating expenses.
Impact of the Novel Coronavirus.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has presented a substantial public health and economic challenge around the world and is affecting our employees, development partners, communities and business operations, as the U.S. and global economies and financial markets. The full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will directly or indirectly impact our business, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be accurately predicted, including new information or trends that may emerge concerning COVID-19, the actions taken to contain it or treat its impact, and the impact on local, regional, national and international markets.
Our management has closely monitored the impact of COVID-19 on our business operations. Due to stay-at-home orders in the United States, we have instituted a work-from-home plan for our employees. We have no plans to furlough employees at this time. However, the Company is dependent on its workforce to deliver and advance its research. While expected to be temporary, prolonged workforce disruptions may negatively impact future operations in fiscal year 2021 and the Company's overall liquidity.
To date, we and our development partners, have been able to conduct ordinary operations at or near normal levels and do not currently anticipate any interruptions for the foreseeable future. However, there could be additional repercussions for our operations, particularly for the initial development of our TerraCov2 product candidate, including but not limited to, the sourcing of materials for product candidates, manufacture of supplies for preclinical and/or clinical studies, delays in clinical operations, which may include the availability or the continued availability of patients for trials due to such things as quarantines, conduct of patient monitoring and clinical trial data retrieval at investigational study sites. The continuation of the pandemic could adversely affect our planned clinical trial operations, including our ability to conduct the trials on the expected timelines and recruit and retain patients and principal investigators and site staff who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to COVID-19 if their geography is impacted by the pandemic. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic could result in delays in our clinical trials due to prioritization of hospital resources toward the pandemic, the broad emergency use authorization of vaccines, restrictions in travel, potential unwillingness of patients to enroll in trials at this time, or the inability of patients to comply with clinical trial protocols if quarantines or travel restrictions impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services. In addition, we rely on independent clinical investigators, contract research organizations and other third-party service providers to assist us in managing, monitoring and otherwise carrying out our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and the pandemic may affect their ability to devote sufficient time and resources to our programs or to travel to sites to perform work for us.
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 $3,260,904 and $3,712,679 for the three months ended March 31, 2021 and 2020, 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 pre-clinical studies, clinical trials; seeking regulatory approval for our product candidates; and expanding the potential claims we are able to make, requires expenditure of substantial . . .
May 03, 2021
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