bntx-20f_20191231.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 20-F

 

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

OR

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

 

OR

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

Commission file number: 001-39081

BioNTech SE

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Federal Republic of Germany

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

An der Goldgrube 12

D-55131 Mainz

Germany

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D.,

c/o BioNTech SE

An der Goldgrube 12

D-55131 Mainz

Germany

+49 6131-9084-0 (Tel), +49 6131 9084-390 (Fax), info@biontech.de (E-mail)

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

Securities registered or to be registered, pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each Representing one ordinary share

 

BNTX

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

Ordinary shares, no par value, with a notional amount attributable to each ordinary share of €1*

 

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC*

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

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital stock or common stock as of the close of business covered by the annual report.

Ordinary shares, no par value, with a notional amount attributable to each share of €1 outstanding as of March 31, 2020, no par value: 226,779,744

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    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, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Emerging growth company


 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, 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 which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP  

 

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued

by the International Accounting Standards Board  

 

Other  

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    Item 17      Item 18  

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).     Yes      No  

* Listed not for trading or quotation purposes, but only in connection with the registration of American Depositary Shares representing such ordinary shares pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The American Depositary Shares are registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, pursuant to a separate registration statement on Form F-6 (File No. 333-233898).

 

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

Page

 

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

3

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

4

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

6

 

 

 

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

6

 

 

 

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

6

 

A. Selected Consolidated Financial Data

6

 

B. Capitalization and Indebtedness

8

 

C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

8

 

D. Risk Factors

8

 

 

 

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

81

 

A. History and Development of the Company

81

 

B. Business Overview

81

 

C. Organizational Structure

191

 

D. Property, Plant and Equipment

191

 

 

 

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

192

 

 

 

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

193

 

A. Operating Results

193

 

B. Research and Development, Patents and Licenses, etc.

207

 

C. Trend Information

207

 

D. Liquidity and Capital Resources

207

 

E. Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

210

 

F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations

211

 

G. Safe Harbor

211

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 6.

DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

212

 

A. Directors and Senior Management

212

 

B. Compensation

214

 

C. Board Practices

217

 

D. Employees

222

 

E. Share Ownership

222

 

 

 

ITEM 7.

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

223

 

A. Major Shareholders

223

 

B. Related Party Transactions

224

 

C. Interests of Experts and Counsel

226

 

 

 

ITEM 8.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

226

 

A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information

226

 

B. Significant Changes

226

 

 

 

ITEM 9.

THE OFFER AND LISTING

226

 

A. Offer and Listing Details

226

 

B. Plan Of Distribution

226

 

C. Markets

226

 

D. Selling Shareholders

226

 

E. Dilution

226

 

F. Expenses of the Issue

226

 

 

 

1


ITEM 10.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

226

 

A. Share capital

226

 

B. Memorandum and Articles of Association

226

 

C. Material Contracts

232

 

D. Exchange Controls

232

 

E. Taxation

232

 

F. Dividends and Paying Agents

241

 

G. Statement by Experts

242

 

H. Documents on Display

242

 

I. Subsidiary Information

242

 

 

 

ITEM 11.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

242

 

 

 

ITEM 12.

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

242

 

A. Debt Securities

242

 

B. Warrants and Rights

242

 

C. Other Securities

243

 

D. American Depositary Shares

243

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 13.

DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

245

 

 

 

ITEM 14.

MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

245

 

 

 

ITEM 15.

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

245

 

 

 

ITEM 16

A. Audit Committee Financial Expert

245

 

B. Code of Ethics

246

 

C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services

246

 

D. Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

246

 

E. Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

246

 

F. Changes in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

247

 

G. Corporate Governance

247

 

H. Mine Safety Disclosure

255

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 17.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

256

 

 

 

ITEM 18.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

256

 

 

 

ITEM 19.

EXHIBITS

257

 

 

2


GENERAL INFORMATION

In this annual report on Form 20-F (“Annual Report”), “BioNTech,” the “Group,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to BioNTech SE and its consolidated subsidiaries, except where the context otherwise requires.

In response to the fact that our consolidated financial statements are published in Euro, the selected consolidated financial data is presented in Euro as well. Amounts in U.S. dollar are translated into Euro using the exchange rates as per period end or average exchange rates for the periods indicated as published by the German Central Bank (Deutsche Bundesbank).

All references in this Annual Report to “$” mean U.S. dollars and all references to “€” mean Euros and all references in this Annual Report to “k$” and “k€” refer to thousands of U.S. dollars and thousands of Euros, respectively.

 

 

3


CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements concerning our business, operations and financial performance and condition as well as our plans, objectives and expectations for our business operations and financial performance and condition. Any statements that are not of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Many of the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as “believes”, “estimates”, “anticipates”, “expects”, “plans”, “intends”, “may”, “could”, “might”, “will”, “should”, “aims” or other similar expressions that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes.

These forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that could cause our actual results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, performance, prospects, opportunities, achievements or industry results, as well as those of the markets we serve or intend to serve, to differ materially from those expressed in, or suggested by, these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions regarding our present and future business strategies and the environment in which we expect to operate in the future. Important factors that could cause those differences include, but are not limited to:

 

 

the initiation, timing, progress, results, and cost of our research and development programs and our current and future preclinical studies and clinical trials, including statements regarding the timing of initiation and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available and our research and development programs;

 

 

the timing of and our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for our product candidates;

 

 

our ability to identify research opportunities and discover and develop investigational medicines;

 

 

the ability and willingness of our third-party collaborators to continue research and development activities relating to our development candidates and investigational medicines;

 

 

our expectations regarding the size of the patient populations for our product candidates, if approved for commercial use;

 

 

the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our development programs, supply chain, collaborators and financial performance;

 

 

claims for personal injury or death arising from the use of products and product candidates produced by us;

 

 

our estimates of our expenses, ongoing losses, future revenue and capital requirements and our needs for or ability to obtain additional financing;

 

 

our ability to identify, recruit and retain key personnel;

 

 

our and our collaborators’ ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property protection for our proprietary and collaborative product candidates, and the scope of such protection;

 

 

the development of and projections relating to our competitors or our industry;

 

 

our ability to commercialize our product candidates, if approved;

 

 

the pricing and reimbursement of our investigational medicines, if approved;

 

 

the rate and degree of market acceptance of our investigational medicines;

 

 

the amount of and our ability to use net operating losses and research and development credits to offset future taxable income;

 

 

our ability to manage our development and expansion;

 

 

regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;

 

 

our ability to manufacture our product candidates with advantages in turnaround times or manufacturing cost;

 

 

our ability to implement, maintain and improve effective internal controls;

 

 

the ability to satisfy the conditions to the merger of Endor Lights, Inc., our wholly owned subsidiary, with Neon Therapeutics, Inc., in an all-stock transaction, or the Merger, including the ability to obtain the shareholder approval, on the proposed terms and timeframe;

 

4


 

the ability to realize the anticipated benefits of transactions related to the Merger and other acquisitions, restructuring activities, including in connection with the Merger, or other initiatives in a timely manner or at all;

 

 

the risk of unanticipated costs, liabilities or delays relating to the Merger, including the outcome of any legal proceedings relating to the Merger;

 

 

risks relating to expectations regarding the capitalization, resources and ownership of the consolidated company;

 

 

our expectations regarding the time during which we will be an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act and a foreign private issuer; and

 

 

other factors not known to us at this time.

The preceding list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of our forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report speak only as of the date of this report, and unless otherwise required by law, we do not undertake any obligation to update them in light of new information or future developments or to release publicly any revisions to these statements in order to reflect later events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

 

 

5


PART I

Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

Not applicable.

Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

Not applicable.

Item 3. Key Information

 

A.

Selected Consolidated Financial Data

The tables below present the selected consolidated financial data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The selected consolidated financial data as of December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018 as well as for the years ended December 31, 2019, December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements presented elsewhere in this Annual Report. Our audited consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB, and have been audited by our independent registered public accounting firm. The selected consolidated financial data as of December 31, 2017 is derived from audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report. As an emerging growth company, the presentation of selected historic financial data is limited to periods for which audited financial statements have been presented in connection with our first registration statement that became effective under the Securities Act of 1933, or the Securities Act.

Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results that may be expected in the future. The information should be read in conjunction with the information provided in the consolidated financial statements and the related notes to these statements as well as the information described within the section “Operating and Financial Review and Prospects”.

 

6


Consolidated Statements of Operations Data

 

 

Years ended

December 31,

 

 

 

2019

2018

2017

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues from contracts with customers

 

 

€108,589

€127,575

€61,598

Cost of sales

 

 

(17,361)

(13,690)

(9,318)

Gross profit

 

 

€91,228

€113,885

€52,280

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development expenses

 

 

(226,466)

(143,040)

(85,496)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating loss

 

 

€(181,518)

€(53,854)

€(61,277)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss before tax

 

 

€(179,440)

€(47,662)

€(85,905)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income taxes

 

 

268

(600)

(45)

Loss for the period

 

 

€(179,172)

€(48,262)

€(85,950)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attributable to:

 

 

 

 

 

Equity holders of the parent

 

 

(179,056)

(48,019)

(85,653)

Non-controlling interests

 

 

(116)

(243)

(297)

 

 

 

€(179,172)

€(48,262)

€(85,950)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earnings per share

 

 

 

 

 

in EUR

 

 

 

 

 

Basic & diluted, loss per share for the year attributable to ordinary equity holders of the parent

 

 

€(0.85)

€(0.25)

€(0.51)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted average number of ordinary shares

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

211,499

190,710

166,764

Diluted

 

 

211,499

190,710

166,764

 

 

7


Consolidated Statements of Financial Position Data

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2019

2018

2017

(in thousands, except number of shares)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

 

€519,149

€411,495

€172,106

Total assets

 

 

797,647

652,986

374,713

Total current liabilities

 

 

138,142

126,121

158,544

Total non-current liabilities

 

 

166,013

259,865

264,375

Total equity

 

 

493,492

267,000

(48,206)

Ordinary shares, par value

 

 

232,304

193,296

166,764

Ordinary shares issued

 

 

232,304

193,296

166,764

Ordinary shares outstanding

 

 

226,779

193,296

166,764

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows Data

 

 

Years ended

December 31,

 

 

 

2019

2018

2017

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash flows used in operating activities

 

 

€(198,537)

€(58,877)

€(52,562)

Net cash flows used in investing activities

 

 

(77,115)

(66,452)

(52,549)

Net cash flows from/(used in) financing activities

 

 

383,290

365,177

(1,643)

 

 

B.

Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

 

C.

Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

 

D.

Risk Factors

Risks Related to our Financial Condition and Capital Requirements

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with no pharmaceutical products approved for commercial sale. We have incurred significant losses since our inception and we anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future, which makes it difficult to assess our future viability.

We have incurred net losses in each year since our inception in 2008, including net losses of €179.2 million and €48.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively. As of December 31, 2019, we had accumulated losses of €424.8 million (€245.8 million as of December 31, 2018).

We have devoted most of our financial resources to research and development, including our clinical and preclinical development activities and the development of our platforms. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through the sale of equity securities and proceeds from collaborations and, to a lesser extent, through revenue from manufacturing operations and grants from governmental and private organizations. The amount of our future net losses will depend, in part, on the rate of our future expenditures and our ability to obtain funding through equity or debt financings, sales of assets, collaborations or grants. We have not commenced or completed pivotal clinical trials for our programs and it will be several years, if ever, before we or our collaborators have a product candidate ready for commercialization. Even if we obtain regulatory approval to market a product candidate, our future revenues will depend upon the size of any markets in which our product candidates have received approval, and our ability to achieve sufficient market acceptance, reimbursement from third-party payors, and adequate market share in those markets. We may never achieve profitability.

8


We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and increasing operating losses for the foreseeable future. We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if and as we and our collaborators:

 

 

continue or expand our research or development of our programs in preclinical development;

 

 

continue or expand the scope of our clinical trials for our product candidates;

 

 

initiate additional preclinical, clinical, or other trials for our product candidates, including under our collaboration agreements;

 

 

continue to invest in our immunotherapy platforms to conduct research to identify novel technologies;

 

 

change or add to internal manufacturing capacity or capability;

 

 

change or add additional suppliers;

 

 

add additional infrastructure to our quality control, quality assurance, legal, compliance and other groups to support our operations as we progress our product candidates toward commercialization;

 

 

attract and retain skilled personnel;

 

 

create additional infrastructure to support our operations as a public company and our product development and planned future commercialization efforts, including expansion of sites in Germany and new sites in the United States;

 

 

seek marketing approvals and reimbursement for our product candidates;

 

 

establish a sales, marketing, and distribution infrastructure to commercialize any products for which we may obtain marketing approval;

 

 

seek to identify and validate additional product candidates;

 

 

acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;

 

 

make milestone or other payments under any in-license agreements;

 

 

maintain, protect, defend, enforce and expand our intellectual property portfolio; and

 

 

experience any delays or encounter issues with any of the above.

 

Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict. If our operating results fall below expectations, the price of the ADSs could decline.

Our financial condition and operating results have varied in the past and will continue to fluctuate from one financial period to the next due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Factors relating to our business that may contribute to these fluctuations include the following, as well as other factors described elsewhere in this report:

 

 

delays or failures in advancement of existing or future product candidates into the clinic or in clinical trials;

 

 

our ability to develop, manufacture and commercialize our programs;

 

 

our ability to manage our growth;

 

 

the outcomes of research programs, clinical trials, or other product development or approval processes conducted by us and our collaborators;

 

 

the ability of our collaborators to develop and successfully commercialize products developed from our suite of therapeutic classes;

 

 

our relationships, and any associated exclusivity terms, with collaborators;

 

 

our contractual or other obligations to provide resources to fund our product candidates, and to provide resources to our collaborators or to the collaborations themselves;

 

 

our operation in a net loss position for the foreseeable future;

 

 

risks associated with the international aspects of our business outside Germany, including the conduct of clinical trials in multiple locations and potential commercialization in such locations;

 

9


 

our ability to consistently manufacture our product candidates;

 

 

our ability to accurately report our financial results in a timely manner;

 

 

our dependence on, and the need to attract and retain, key management and other personnel;

 

 

our ability to obtain, protect, maintain, defend and enforce our intellectual property rights;

 

 

our ability to prevent the theft or infringement, misappropriation or other violation of our intellectual property, trade secrets, know-how or technologies;

 

 

potential advantages that our competitors and potential competitors may have in securing funding, obtaining the rights to critical intellectual property or developing competing technologies or products;

 

 

our ability to obtain additional capital that may be necessary to expand our business;

 

 

our collaborators’ ability to obtain additional capital that may be necessary to develop and commercialize products under our collaboration agreements;

 

 

business interruptions such as power outages, strikes, acts of terrorism or natural disasters; and

 

 

our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards to offset future taxable income.

Each of the factors listed above may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the global community and the global economy.

Due to the various factors mentioned above, and others, the results of any of our periods should not be relied upon as indications of our future operating performance.

The net losses we incur may fluctuate significantly from one reporting period to the next, such that a period-to-period comparison of our results of operations may not be a good indication of our future performance.

In any particular period, our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts or investors, which could cause the price of the ADSs to decline. While as a general matter we intend to periodically report on the status of our product candidate pipeline, including articulating anticipated next steps in the form of development plans or potential data readouts, we may not always be able to provide forward-looking guidance on the timing of those next steps. In addition, we do not control the timing of disclosures of any milestones related to any of our programs that are managed by our collaborators. Any disclosure by a collaborator of data that are perceived as negative, whether or not such data are related to other data that we or others release, may have a material adverse impact on the price of the ADSs or overall valuation. The price of the ADSs may decline as a result of unexpected clinical trial results in one or more of our programs, including adverse safety events reported for any of our programs.

We have only generated limited revenue and may never be profitable.

Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends on our ability, alone or with collaborators, to successfully complete the development of, and obtain the regulatory approvals necessary to commercialize, our product candidates. Although we generate limited revenue from sales of products by our external services business unit, we do not anticipate generating revenues from pharmaceutical product sales in the near term. Our ability to generate future revenues from pharmaceutical product sales depends heavily on our success in:

 

 

completing research and preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates;

 

 

seeking and obtaining U.S. and non-U.S. marketing approvals for product candidates for which we complete clinical trials;

 

 

furthering the development of our own manufacturing capabilities and manufacturing relationships with third parties in order to provide adequate (in amount and quality) products and services to support clinical development and the market demand for our product candidates, if approved;

 

 

obtaining market acceptance of our product candidates as a treatment option;

 

 

launching and commercializing product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval and reimbursement, either through collaborations or, if launched independently, by establishing a sales force, marketing and distribution infrastructure;

 

10


 

addressing any competing technological and market developments;

 

 

implementing additional internal systems and infrastructure;

 

 

negotiating favorable terms in any collaboration, licensing or other arrangements into which we may enter;

 

 

maintaining, defending, protecting, enforcing and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets and know-how; and

 

 

attracting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel.

 

If one or more of the product candidates that we develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing any approved product candidate. Our expenses could increase beyond our expectations if we are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, or the EMA, or other regulatory agencies to perform clinical and other trials or make changes to our manufacturing or quality systems in addition to those that we currently anticipate. Even if we are able to generate revenues from the sale of any approved products, we may not become profitable and may need to obtain additional funding to continue operations.

The amount of and our ability to use net operating losses and research and development credits to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations and uncertainty.

In Germany, we have unused tax loss carryforwards for corporate taxes, though we have not recognized deferred tax assets related to such loss carryforwards for International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, reporting purposes. In general, net operating loss, or NOL, carryforwards in Germany do not expire. They are, however, subject to review and possible adjustment by the German tax authorities. Furthermore, under current German tax laws, certain substantial changes in the Company’s ownership and business may further limit the amount of NOL carryforwards that can be used annually to offset future taxable income. In addition, we may in the future have U.S. federal and state NOL carryforwards due to our subsidiary in the United States.

We may not be able to utilize a material portion of our NOLs or credits in either Germany or the United States. In addition, the rules regarding the timing of revenue and expense recognition for tax purposes in connection with various transactions are complex and uncertain in many respects, and our recognition could be subject to challenge by taxing authorities. In the event any such challenge is sustained, our NOLs could be materially reduced or we could be determined to be a material cash taxpayer for one or more years. Furthermore, our ability to use our NOLs or credits is conditioned upon our attaining profitability and generating taxable income. As described above, we have incurred significant net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future. We do not know whether or when we will generate the taxable income necessary to utilize our NOL or credit carryforwards.

Under German tax laws, we are obligated to withhold a percentage of royalty payments we make to third party licensors of intellectual property rights and remit those withholdings to German tax authorities, and late withholding tax payments may subject us to penalties and fees.

Under German tax laws, we are obligated to withhold a percentage of royalty payments we make to third parties in consideration of the grant of rights under their intellectual property, and remit those withholdings to German tax authorities. As a result of an internal review, we have discovered that in the 11-year period before April 2019 we and certain of our subsidiaries did not withhold, report and remit certain withholding taxes in connection with the in-licensing of intellectual property as required to be withheld under German tax laws, and have not made the requisite recordings in our and their financial books and records in relation thereto. We have notified the tax authorities of the late payments and made the respective payments still in 2019. No administrative offence or criminal proceeding were opened or are expected in the future.

It is possible to seek the refund of these withholding taxes from the German Federal Central Tax office after filing exemption and refund applications. We started to process of filing such refund and exemption applications and part of the taxes paid have already been refunded and we expect further refunds to be paid out in the future. However, there is a possibility that the relevant claims against the licensors and/or the authority, may in some instances, not be enforceable as a result of a licensor no longer existing, the lapse of time or any other facts preventing the enforcement of such claims.

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We will require substantial additional financing to achieve our goals, and a failure to obtain this capital on acceptable terms, or at all, could force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product development programs, commercialization efforts or other operations.

As of December 31, 2019, we had €519.1 million in cash and cash equivalents. We expect that our existing cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the third quarter of 2021. However, our operating plan may change as a result of many factors currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through public or private equity or debt financings, government or other third-party funding, sales of assets, marketing and distribution arrangements, other collaborations and licensing arrangements, or a combination of these approaches. In any event, we will require additional capital to obtain regulatory approval for, and to commercialize, our product candidates. Even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans, we may seek additional capital if market conditions are favorable or if we have specific strategic considerations. Our spending will vary based on new and ongoing development and corporate activities. Due to high uncertainty of the length of time and activities associated with discovery and development of our product candidates, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development, marketing and commercialization activities.

Our future funding requirements, both near and long term, will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to:

 

 

the initiation, progress, timing, costs, and results of preclinical or nonclinical studies and clinical trials for our product candidates;

 

 

the results of research and our other platform activities;

 

 

the clinical development plans we establish for our product candidates;

 

 

the terms of any agreements with our current or future collaborators;

 

 

the number and characteristics of product candidates that we develop or may in-license;

 

 

the outcome, timing and cost of meeting regulatory requirements established by the FDA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities;

 

 

the cost of filing, prosecuting, obtaining, maintaining, protecting, defending and enforcing our patent claims and other intellectual property rights, including actions for patent and other intellectual property infringement, misappropriation and other violations brought by third parties against us regarding our product candidates or actions by us challenging the patent or intellectual property rights of others;

 

 

the effect of competing technological and market developments, including other products that may compete with one or more of our product candidates;

 

 

the cost and timing of completion and further expansion of clinical and commercial scale manufacturing activities sufficient to support all of our current and future programs; and

 

 

the cost of establishing sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities for any product candidates for which we may receive marketing approval and reimbursement in regions where we choose to commercialize our products on our own.

To date, we have financed our operations primarily through the sale of equity securities and revenue from collaborations and we cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on favorable terms, or at all. Until we can generate sufficient product sales or royalty revenue to finance our operations, which we may never do, we expect to finance our future cash needs through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, sales of assets, licensing arrangements, and other marketing or distribution arrangements. Any fundraising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates. In addition, we cannot guarantee that future financing will be available in sufficient amounts, at the right time, on favorable terms, or at all, including as a result of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on the capital markets.

Negative clinical trial data or setbacks, or perceived setbacks, in our programs or with respect to our technology could impair our ability to raise additional financing on favorable terms, or at all. Moreover, the terms of any financing may adversely affect the holdings or the rights of our shareholders, 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. If we raise additional

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funds through public or private equity offerings, the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that may adversely affect our shareholders’ rights.

Further, to the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of ADSs, ordinary shares or securities convertible or exchangeable into ordinary shares, share ownership interest will be diluted. We have entered into three secured credit facilities with an aggregate drawing capacity of €70 million. In addition, we may enter into additional credit facilities from time to time, which may be secured, to fund certain of our operations. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we would be subject to fixed payment obligations and may be subject to security interests in our assets and covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. If we raise additional capital through marketing and distribution arrangements, sales of assets or other collaborations, or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish certain valuable rights to our product candidates, technologies, future revenue streams or research programs. We also could be required to seek collaborators for one or more of our current or future product candidates at an earlier stage than otherwise would be desirable or relinquish our rights to product candidates or intellectual property that we otherwise would seek to develop or commercialize ourselves. If we are unable to raise additional capital in sufficient amounts, at the right time, on favorable terms, or at all, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development or commercialization of one or more of our products or product candidates, or one or more of our other research and development initiatives. Any of the above events could significantly harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations, cause the price of the ADSs to decline, and negatively impact our ability to fund operations.

We will need to develop and expand our company, and we may encounter difficulties in managing this development and expansion, which could disrupt our operations.

As of December 31, 2019, we had more than 1,300 full-time employees and, in connection with the growth and advancement of our pipeline and becoming a public company, we expect to increase the number of employees and the scope of our operations. To manage our anticipated development and expansion, we must continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational, legal, compliance and financial systems, expand our facilities, and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Also, our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from its day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these development activities.

As a growing biotechnology company, we are actively pursuing drug classes, platforms and product candidates in many therapeutic areas and across a wide range of diseases. Successfully developing products for and fully understanding the regulatory and manufacturing pathways to all of these therapeutic areas and disease states requires a significant depth of talent, resources and corporate processes in order to allow simultaneous execution across multiple areas. Due to our limited resources, we may not be able to effectively manage this simultaneous execution and the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. This may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, give rise to operational mistakes, legal or regulatory compliance failures, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. The physical expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of our product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our expected development and expansion, our expenses may increase more than expected, our ability to generate or increase our revenue could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy. Our future financial performance and our ability to compete effectively and commercialize our product candidates, if approved, will depend in part on our ability to effectively manage the future development and expansion of our company.

We face risks related to health epidemics, such as the current coronavirus outbreak, that could adversely affectour operations.

Our business could be adversely impacted by the effects of COVID-19 (more commonly referred to as coronavirus) or other epidemics. The recent COVID-19 outbreak may negatively impact our revenue or operations in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic could also affect our ability to enroll patients in clinical studies and complete clinical trials on the timelines we currently anticipate.

Our suppliers, licensors or collaborators could also be disrupted by conditions related to COVID-19, or other epidemics, possibly resulting in disruption to our supply chain, clinical trials, partnerships or operations. If our suppliers, licensors, CROs or collaborators are unable or fail to fulfill their obligations to us for any reason, our business could be adversely affected. Our customers could also be disrupted by conditions related to COVID-19 or other epidemics, possibly through deferring purchasing decisions or delaying research programs. Our operations, including research and

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manufacturing, could also be disrupted due to the potential of the impact of staff absences as a result of self-isolation procedures or extended illness.

At this point in time, there is uncertainty relating to the potential effect of COVID-19 on our business. Infections may become more widespread and a significant health epidemic could adversely affect the economies and financial markets of many countries, resulting in an economic downturn that could affect demand for our products and services or our ability to raise capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our insurance policies are expensive and protect us only from some business risks, which leaves us exposed to significant uninsured liabilities.

We do not carry insurance for all categories of risk that our business may encounter and insurance coverage is becoming increasingly expensive. We do not know if we will be able to maintain existing insurance with adequate levels of coverage, and any liability insurance coverage we acquire in the future may not be sufficient to reimburse us for any expenses or losses we may suffer. If we obtain marketing approval for any product candidates that we or our collaborators may develop, we intend to acquire insurance coverage to include the sale of commercial products, but we may be unable to obtain such insurance on commercially reasonable terms or in adequate amounts. We currently maintain insurance coverage for losses relating to an interruption of our development, manufacturing or commercialization efforts caused by contamination in an amount of €50,000,000 per claim up to an aggregate cap of €160,000,000 in any two-year period, and the coverage or coverage limits of our insurance policies may not be adequate. If our losses exceed our insurance coverage, our financial condition would be adversely affected. In the event of contamination or injury, we could be held liable for damages or be penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources. Clinical trials or regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates could be suspended, which could adversely affect our results of operations and business, including by preventing or limiting the development and commercialization of any product candidates that we or our collaborators may develop. Additionally, operating as a public company has made it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our Supervisory Board, our board committees or our Management Board.

Risks Related to our Business

Our business is dependent on the successful development, regulatory approval and commercialization of product candidates based on our technology platforms. If we and our collaborators are unable to obtain approval for and effectively commercialize our product candidates for the treatment of patients in their intended indications, our business would be significantly harmed.

Even if we complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials, the marketing approval process is expensive, time-consuming and uncertain, and we may not be able to obtain approvals for the commercialization of any product candidates we may develop. Any immunotherapy we may develop and the activities associated with its development and commercialization, including design, testing, manufacture, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution, are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA and by comparable global health authorities. To obtain the requisite regulatory approvals to commercialize any of our product candidates, we and our collaborators must demonstrate through extensive preclinical studies and clinical trials that our products are safe and effective, including in the target populations. Successful completion of clinical trials is a prerequisite to submitting a biologics license application, or BLA, or a new drug application, or NDA, to the FDA, a Marketing Authorization Application, or MAA, to the EMA, and similar marketing applications to comparable global regulatory authorities, for each product candidate and, consequently, the ultimate approval and commercial marketing of any product candidates.

Failure to obtain marketing approval for a product candidate will prevent us from commercializing the product candidate in a given jurisdiction. We have not received approval to market any biopharmaceutical product candidates from regulatory authorities in any jurisdiction, and it is possible that none of our product candidates, or any product candidates we may seek to develop in the future, will ever obtain regulatory approval. We have limited experience in filing and supporting the applications necessary to gain marketing approvals and may need to rely on third-party contract research organizations, or CROs, regulatory consultants or collaborators to assist us in this process. To our knowledge, there is no current precedent for an mRNA-based immunotherapy such as the type we are developing being approved for sale by the FDA, European Commission or any other regulatory agency elsewhere in the world. Although we expect to submit BLAs for our mRNA-based product candidates in the United States, and in the European Union, mRNA therapies have been classified as gene therapy medicinal products, other jurisdictions may consider our mRNA-based product candidates to be new drugs, not biologics or gene therapy medicinal products, and require different marketing applications. Securing regulatory approval requires the submission of extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to the

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various regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the product candidate’s safety and efficacy. Securing regulatory approval also requires the submission of information about the product manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the relevant regulatory authority. Any product candidates we develop may not be effective, may be only moderately effective, or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use.

The process of obtaining marketing approvals in the United States, the European Union and elsewhere, is expensive, may take many years if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted product application may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. The FDA, EMA and comparable authorities in other countries have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that the data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other trials. In addition, varying interpretations of the data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing could delay, limit or prevent marketing approval of a product candidate. Any marketing approval we ultimately obtain may be limited or subject to restrictions or post-approval commitments that render the approved product not commercially viable. Additional delays or non-approval if an FDA panel of experts, referred to as an Advisory Committee, or other regulatory authority recommends non-approval or restrictions on approval. In addition, we may experience delays or rejections based upon additional government regulation from future legislation or administrative action, or changes in regulatory agency policy during the period of product development, clinical trials, and the review process.

Regulatory agencies also may approve an immunotherapy for fewer or more limited indications than requested or may grant approval subject to the performance of post-marketing studies. In addition, regulatory agencies may not approve the labeling claims that are necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates.

The FDA, EMA and other regulatory agencies review the Quality or Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls, or CMC, section of regulatory filings. Any aspects found unsatisfactory by regulatory agencies may result in delays in clinical trials and commercialization. In addition, the regulatory agencies typically conduct pre-approval inspections at the time of a BLA, MAA or comparable filing. Any findings by regulatory agencies and failure to comply with requirements may lead to delay in approval and failure to commercialize the potential mRNA product candidate.

If we experience delays in obtaining, or if we fail to obtain, approval of any product candidates we may develop, the commercial prospects for those product candidates will be harmed, and our ability to generate revenues will be materially impaired. Additionally, even if we are successful in obtaining marketing approval for product candidates, because our preclinical studies and clinical trials have not been designed with specific commercialization considerations, the commercial prospects for those product candidates could be harmed, and our ability to generate revenues could be materially impaired.

No mRNA immunotherapy has been approved, and none may ever be approved. mRNA drug development has substantial clinical development and regulatory risks due to the novel and unprecedented nature of this new category of therapeutics.

As a potential new category of therapeutics, to our knowledge, no mRNA immunotherapies have been approved to date by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory agency. Successful discovery and development of mRNA-based (and other) immunotherapies by either us or our collaborators is highly uncertain and depends on numerous factors, many of which are beyond our or their control. To date, there has never been a Phase 3 trial for an mRNA-based product or a commercialized mRNA-based product. Our product candidates that appear promising in the early phases of development may fail to advance, experience delays in the clinic or clinical holds, or fail to reach the market for many reasons, including:

 

 

discovery efforts aimed at identifying potential immunotherapies may not be successful;

 

 

nonclinical or preclinical study results may show product candidates to be less effective than desired or have harmful or problematic side effects;

 

 

clinical trial results may show the product candidates to be less effective than expected, including a failure to meet one or more endpoints or have unacceptable side effects or toxicities;

 

 

manufacturing failures or insufficient supply of GMP materials for clinical trials, or higher than expected cost could delay or set back clinical trials, or make our product candidates commercially unattractive;

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our improvements in the manufacturing processes may not be sufficient to satisfy the clinical or commercial demand of our product candidates or regulatory requirements for clinical trials;

 

 

changes that we make to optimize our manufacturing, testing or formulating of GMP materials could impact the safety, tolerability and efficacy of our product candidates;

 

 

pricing or reimbursement issues or other factors could delay clinical trials or make any immunotherapy uneconomical or noncompetitive with other therapies;

 

 

the failure to timely advance our programs or receive the necessary regulatory approvals, or a delay in receiving such approvals, due to, among other reasons, slow or failure to complete enrollment in clinical trials, withdrawal by trial participants from trials, failure to achieve trial endpoints, additional time requirements for data analysis, data integrity issues, BLA, MAA or the equivalent application, discussions with the FDA or the EMA, a regulatory request for additional nonclinical or clinical data,

or safety formulation or manufacturing issues may lead to our inability to obtain sufficient funding; and

 

 

the proprietary rights, products and technologies of our competitors may prevent our immunotherapies from being commercialized.

Currently, mRNA is considered a gene therapy product by the FDA. Unlike certain gene therapies that irreversibly alter cell DNA and may cause certain side effects, mRNA-based medicines are designed not to irreversibly change cell DNA. Side effects observed in other gene therapies, however, could negatively impact the perception of immunotherapies despite the differences in mechanism. In addition, because no mRNA-based product has been approved, the regulatory pathway in the United States and may other jurisdictions for approval is uncertain. The pathway for an individualized therapy, such as our iNeST mRNA-based immunotherapy where each patient receives a different combination of mRNAs, remains particularly unsettled. The number and design of the clinical and preclinical studies required for the approval of these types of medicines have not been established, may be different from those required for gene therapy products or therapies that are not individualized or may require safety testing like gene therapy products. Moreover, the length of time necessary to complete clinical trials and submit an application for marketing approval by a regulatory authority varies significantly from one pharmaceutical product to the next and may be difficult to predict.

Our product candidates may not work as intended, may cause undesirable side effects or may have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, or result in significant negative consequences following marketing approval, if any.

As with most biological products, use of our product candidates could be associated with side effects or adverse events which can vary in severity from minor reactions to death and in frequency from infrequent to prevalent. The potential for adverse events is especially acute in the oncology setting, where patients may have advanced disease, have compromised immune and other systems and be receiving numerous other therapies. Undesirable side effects or unacceptable toxicities caused by our product candidates could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities. Results of our trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of side effects.

If unacceptable side effects arise in the development of our product candidates, we, the FDA, competent authorities of European Union member states, ethics committees, the institutional review boards, or IRBs, at the institutions in which our studies are conducted, or the Data Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, could suspend or terminate our clinical trials. The FDA or comparable regulatory authorities could also order us to cease clinical trials or deny approval of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Treatment-related side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete any of our clinical trials or result in potential product liability claims. In addition, these side effects may not be appropriately recognized or managed by the treating medical staff. We expect to have to train medical personnel using our product candidates to understand the side effect profiles for our clinical trials and upon any commercialization of any of our product candidates. Inadequate training in recognizing or managing the potential side effects of our product candidates could result in patient injury or death. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

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Monitoring the safety of patients receiving our product candidates is challenging, which could adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates.

In our ongoing and planned clinical trials, we have contracted with and are expected to continue to contract with academic medical centers and hospitals experienced in the assessment and management of toxicities arising during clinical trials. Nonetheless, these centers and hospitals may have difficulty observing patients and treating toxicities, which may be more challenging due to personnel changes, inexperience, shift changes, house staff coverage or related issues. This could lead to more severe or prolonged toxicities or even patient deaths, which could result in us or the FDA, EMA or other comparable regulatory authority delaying, suspending or terminating one or more of our clinical trials, and which could jeopardize regulatory approval. We also expect the centers using our product candidates, if approved, on a commercial basis could have similar difficulty in managing adverse events. Medicines used at centers to help manage adverse side effects of our product candidates may not adequately control the side effects and may have a detrimental impact on the efficacy of the treatment. Use of these medicines may increase with new physicians and centers administering our product candidates.

In addition, even if we successfully advance one of our product candidates into and through clinical trials, such trials will likely only include a limited number of subjects and limited duration of exposure to our product candidates. As a result, we cannot be assured that adverse effects of our product candidates will not be uncovered when a significantly larger number of patients are exposed to the product candidate. Further, any clinical trials may not be sufficient to determine the effect and safety consequences of taking our product candidates over a multi-year period.

If any of our product candidates receives marketing approval and we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by such products, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

 

regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product;

 

 

we may be required to recall a product or change the way such product is administered to patients;

 

 

additional restrictions may be imposed on the marketing of the particular product or the manufacturing processes for the product or any component thereof;

 

 

regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “black box” warning or a contraindication;

 

 

we may be required to implement a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, or create a Medication Guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;

 

 

we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients;

 

 

the product may become less competitive; and

 

 

our reputation may suffer.

Any of the foregoing events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and result in the loss of significant revenues to us, which would materially and adversely affect our results of operations and business. In addition, if one or more of our product candidates or our immunotherapy approach generally prove to be unsafe, our technology platforms and pipeline could be affected, which would have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Preclinical development is uncertain. Our preclinical programs may experience delays or may never advance to clinical trials, which would adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approvals or commercialize these programs on a timely basis or at all and would have an adverse effect on our business.

Much of our pipeline is in preclinical development and these programs could be delayed or not advance into the clinic. Before we can initiate clinical trials for product candidates, we must complete extensive preclinical studies, including IND-enabling Good Laboratory Practice toxicology testing, that support our planned Investigational New Drug applications, or INDs, in the United States or similar applications in other jurisdictions. We must also complete extensive work on CMC activities (including collecting yield, purity and stability data) to be included in the IND filing. CMC activities for a new category of medicines such as mRNA therapies require extensive manufacturing processes and analytical development, which are uncertain and lengthy. For instance, batch failures have occurred as we scale up our manufacturing and may occur in the future. In addition, we have in the past and may in the future have difficulty identifying appropriate buffers and storage conditions to enable sufficient shelf life of batches of our preclinical or clinical

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product candidates. If we are required to produce new batches of our product candidates due to insufficient shelf life, it may delay the commencement or completion of preclinical or clinical trials of such product candidates. For example, we cannot be certain of the timely completion or outcome of our preclinical testing and studies and cannot predict if the FDA or other regulatory authorities will accept the results of our preclinical testing or our proposed clinical programs or if the outcome of our preclinical testing, studies and CMC activities will ultimately support the further development of our programs. As a result, we cannot be sure that we will be able to submit INDs or similar applications for our preclinical programs on the timelines we expect, if at all, and we cannot be sure that submission of INDs or similar applications will result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities allowing clinical trials to begin.

Clinical development involves a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and delays can occur for a variety of reasons outside of our control. Clinical trials of our product candidates may be delayed, and certain programs may never advance in the clinic or may be more costly to conduct than we anticipate, any of which can affect our ability to fund our company and would have a material adverse impact on our business.

Clinical testing is expensive and complex and can take many years to complete. Its outcome is inherently uncertain. We may not be able to initiate, may experience delays in, or may have to discontinue clinical trials for our product candidates. We and our collaborators also may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, any clinical trials that we or our collaborators conduct that could delay or prevent us or our collaborators from successfully developing our product candidates, including:

 

 

the FDA, other regulators, 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 for any number of reasons, including concerns regarding safety and aspects of the clinical trial design;

 

 

we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on favorable terms with prospective trial sites and prospective CROs, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;

 

 

we have optimized in the past and may in the future optimize our manufacturing processes, including through changes to the scale and site of manufacturing, which may lead to additional studies (including bridging and bioequivalence studies) or potentially significant changes in our clinical trial designs, requiring additional cost and time, and, as a consequence, lead to a delay in plans for progressing one or more product candidates;

 

 

the outcome of our preclinical studies and our early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not necessarily predict final results;

 

 

we may be unable to establish clinical endpoints that applicable regulatory authorities would consider clinically meaningful;

 

 

in an effort to optimize product features, we have made in the past and may continue to make changes to our product candidates after we commence clinical trials of a medicine which may require us to repeat earlier stages of clinical testing or delay later-stage testing of the medicine;

 

 

clinical trials of any product candidates may fail to show safety or efficacy, or may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials, or we may decide to abandon product development programs;

 

 

differences in trial design between early-stage clinical trials and later-stage clinical trials may make it difficult to extrapolate the results of earlier clinical trials to later clinical trials;

 

 

preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many product candidates believed to have performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval;

 

 

our product candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics. One or more of such effects or events could cause regulators to impose a clinical hold on the applicable trial, or cause us or our investigators, IRBs or ethics committees to suspend or terminate the trial of that product candidate or any other of our product candidates for which a clinical trial may be ongoing;

 

 

the number of trial participants required for clinical trials of any product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, identification of trial participants for such trials may be limited, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate due to perceived adverse effects, limited patient populations, competitive

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trials or other reasons, or participants may withdraw from clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;

 

 

our 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 withdraw from the trial, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites;

 

 

regulators may elect to impose a clinical hold, or we, our investigators, IRBs or ethics committees may elect to 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 an unacceptable benefit-risk ratio;

 

 

the cost of preclinical or nonclinical testing and studies and clinical trials of any product candidates may be greater than we anticipate;

 

 

the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials may be insufficient or inadequate;

 

 

safety or efficacy concerns regarding our product candidates may result from any concerns arising from nonclinical or clinical testing of other therapies targeting a similar disease state or other therapies, such as gene therapy, that are perceived as similar to ours; and

 

 

the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data, such as long-term toxicology studies, or impose other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, the FDA or other regulatory authorities, ethics committees, or the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, or if such trial is recommended for suspension or termination by the DSMB. We may in the future be delayed in gaining clearance from the FDA or other regulators to initiate clinical trials through, among other things, the imposition of a clinical hold in order to address comments from such regulators on our clinical trial design or other elements of our clinical trials. A suspension or termination may be imposed due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols; inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold; unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects; failure to demonstrate a benefit, or adequate benefit-risk ratio, from using a product candidate; failure to establish or achieve clinically meaningful trial endpoints; changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions; or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial. Many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates. We could also experience delays if physicians encounter unresolved ethical issues associated with enrolling patients in clinical trials of our product candidates in lieu of prescribing existing treatments that have established safety and efficacy profiles. We must also complete extensive work on CMC activities that require extensive manufacturing processes and analytical development, which are uncertain and lengthy.

We expect the novel nature of our product candidates to create further challenges in obtaining regulatory approval. For example, the FDA and regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions have limited experience with commercial development of several of our technologies. The FDA may require an Advisory Committee to deliberate on the adequacy of the safety and efficacy data to support licensure. The opinion of the Advisory Committee, although not binding, may have a significant impact on our ability to obtain licensure of the product candidates based on the completed clinical trials, as the FDA often adheres to the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Accordingly, the regulatory approval pathway for our product candidates may be uncertain, complex, expensive and lengthy, and approval may not be certain.

Moreover, the FDA and other regulatory authorities have indicated that prior to commencing later stage clinical trials for our mRNA-based product candidates we will need to scale up and further refine assays to measure and predict the potency of a given dose of these product candidates. Any delay in the scaling and refining of assays that are acceptable to the FDA or other regulatory authorities could delay the start of future clinical trials. Further, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design and our interpretation of data for our clinical trials or may change the requirements for approval even after they have reviewed and commented on the design for our clinical trials.

Significant preclinical or nonclinical testing and studies or clinical trial delays for our product candidates also could allow our competitors to bring products to market before we do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates and harming our business and results of operations. Any delays in the development of our product candidates may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

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

We depend on enrollment of participants in our clinical trials for our product candidates. In the past, our collaborators have found, and we or our collaborators may in the future find, it difficult to enroll trial participants in our clinical studies, which could delay or prevent clinical studies of our product candidates. Identifying and qualifying trial participants to participate in clinical studies of our product candidates is critical to our success. The timing of our clinical studies depends on the speed at which we can recruit trial participants to participate in testing our product candidates. Delays in enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of the planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates. If trial participants are unwilling to participate in our studies because of negative publicity from adverse events in our trials or other trials of similar products, or those related to specific a therapeutic area, or for other reasons, including competitive clinical studies for similar patient populations, the timeline for recruiting trial participants, conducting studies, and obtaining regulatory approval of potential products may be delayed. These delays could result in increased costs, delays in advancing our product development, delays in testing the effectiveness of our product, or termination of the clinical studies altogether.

We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll a sufficient number of trial participants, or those with required or desired characteristics to achieve diversity in a study, to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient and subject enrollment is affected by factors including:

 

 

severity of the disease under investigation;

 

 

complexity and design of the study protocol;

 

 

size of the patient population;

 

 

eligibility criteria for the study in question;

 

 

proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective trial participants;

 

 

availability of competing therapies and clinical trials, including between our own clinical trials;

 

 

efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;

 

 

patient referral practices of physicians;

 

 

ability to monitor trial participants adequately during and after treatment;

 

 

ability to recruit clinical trial investigators with the appropriate competencies and experience;

 

 

clinicians’ and trial participants’ perceptions of the potential advantages and side effects of the product candidate being studied in relation to other available therapies, including any new drugs or treatments that may be approved for the indications we are investigating;

 

 

our ability to obtain and maintain participant informed consent; and

 

 

the risk that trial participants enrolled in clinical trials will not complete a clinical trial.

In addition, our clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of trial participants available to us because some trial participants who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by a third party. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of trial participants who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. Moreover, because in some cases our product candidates represent a departure from more traditional methods for disease treatment and prevention, potential trial participants and their doctors may be inclined to use conventional therapies or other new therapies rather than enroll trial participants in any future clinical trial involving individualized product candidates. Additionally, if new product candidates, such as gene editing therapies, show encouraging results, potential trial participants and their doctors may be inclined to enroll trial participants in clinical trials using those product candidates. If such new product candidates show discouraging results or other adverse safety indications, potential trial participants and their doctors may be less inclined to enroll trial participants in our clinical trials.

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In particular, certain conditions for which we plan to evaluate our current product candidates are rare diseases with limited patient pools from which to draw for clinical trials. The eligibility criteria of our clinical trials will further limit the pool of available trial participants. Additionally, the process of finding and diagnosing patients may prove costly. Each of the risks set forth above may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the global community and the global economy.

A variety of risks associated with conducting research and clinical trials abroad and marketing our product candidates internationally could materially adversely affect our business.

Clinical trials of our product candidates are currently being conducted in numerous countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, Canada and the United States, and we plan to commercialize our product candidates, if approved, globally. Accordingly, we are subject to additional risks related to operating in multiple countries, including:

 

 

differing regulatory requirements in such countries;

 

 

unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;

 

 

increased difficulties in managing the logistics and transportation of storing and shipping product candidates produced in Germany and shipping the product candidate to the patient abroad;

 

 

import and export requirements and restrictions;

 

 

economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular economies and markets;

 

 

compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;

 

 

taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;

 

 

currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;

 

 

difficulties staffing and managing operations outside of Germany;

 

 

workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common;

 

 

differing payor reimbursement regimes, governmental payors or patient self-pay systems, and price controls;

 

 

potential liability under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 or comparable regulations in other jurisdictions;

 

 

challenges enforcing our contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as do Germany and the United States;

 

 

production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad; and

 

 

business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism, or public health epidemics.

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the duration of the outbreak, new information which may emerge concerning the severity of the coronavirus and the actions to contain the coronavirus or treat its impact, among others. In particular, the spread of the coronavirus globally could adversely impact our clinical trial operations, including the availability of specialist raw materials required to manufacture our clinical candidates and our ability to deliver clinical candidates to clinical trial sites, In the future, similar events could affect our ability to manufacture and commercialize our product candidates.

These and other risks associated with our international operations and our collaborations with our collaborators may materially adversely affect our ability to attain or maintain profitable operations.

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Interim top-line and preliminary data from studies or trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publish interim top-line or preliminary data from preclinical studies or clinical trials. Interim data are subject to the risk that one or more of the outcomes may materially change as more data become available. 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 evaluate all data. As a result, the top-line 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. Preliminary or top-line data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Additionally, interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Adverse differences between preliminary or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects.

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 based on what is typically extensive information, and our securityholders may not agree with what we determine is the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure. Any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant by our securityholders or others with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product candidate or our business. If the top-line data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, product candidates may be harmed, which could significantly harm our business prospects.

Results of earlier studies and trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of future trial results.

Success in preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not ensure that later clinical trials will be successful. A number of companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries have suffered significant setbacks in clinical trials, even after positive results in earlier preclinical studies or clinical trials. These setbacks have been caused by, among other things, preclinical findings made while clinical trials were underway and safety or efficacy observations made in clinical trials, including previously unreported adverse events. Notwithstanding any potential promising results in earlier studies and trials, we cannot be certain that we will not face similar setbacks. Even if our clinical trials are completed, the results may not be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates. In addition, the results of our preclinical studies may not be predictive of the results of outcomes in human clinical trials. For example, our tumor-specific cancer immunotherapy candidates and any future product candidates may demonstrate different chemical, biological and pharmacological properties in patients than they do in laboratory studies or may interact with human biological systems in unforeseen or harmful ways. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired pharmacological properties or safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. Even if we are able to initiate and complete clinical trials, the results may not be sufficient to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates.

Our planned clinical trials or those of our collaborators may reveal significant adverse events not seen in our preclinical or nonclinical studies and may result in a safety profile that could delay or terminate clinical trials, or delay or prevent regulatory approval or market acceptance of any of our product candidates.

There is typically an extremely high rate of attrition for product candidates across categories of medicines proceeding through clinical trials. These product candidates may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile in later stages of clinical trials despite having progressed through nonclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in later-stage clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unacceptable safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials. Most product candidates that commence clinical trials are never approved as products and there can be no assurance that any of our current or future clinical trials will ultimately be successful or support further clinical development of any of our product candidates.

Some of our product candidates are being developed or are intended to be co-administered with other developmental therapies or approved medicines. For example, RO198457 (BNT122) is being developed to be co-administered with

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checkpoint inhibitors. Such combinations may have additional side effects which may be difficult to predict in future clinical trials.

If significant adverse events or other side effects are observed in any of our current or future clinical trials, we may have difficulty recruiting trial participants to any of our clinical trials, trial participants may withdraw from trials, or we may be required to abandon the trials or our development efforts of one or more product candidates altogether. We, the FDA or other applicable regulatory authorities, ethics committees or an IRB may impose a clinical hold on, or suspend or terminate, clinical trials of a product candidate at any time for various reasons, including a belief that participants in such trials are being exposed to unacceptable health risks or adverse side effects. Some potential therapeutics developed in the biotechnology industry that initially showed therapeutic promise in early-stage trials have later been found to cause side effects that prevented their further development. Even if the side effects do not preclude the drug from obtaining or maintaining marketing approval, an unfavorable benefit-risk ratio may inhibit market acceptance of the approved product due to its tolerability versus other therapies. Any of these developments could materially harm our business, financial condition and prospects.

We may not be able to develop or obtain approval for companion diagnostics required for commercialization of some of our product candidates.

Administration of some of our product candidates may require the use of immuno-assays and bioinformatic tools in which patients are screened for optimal target antigens of our product candidates. If safe and effective use of a biologic product depends on an in vitro diagnostic, then the FDA generally requires approval or clearance of the diagnostic, known as a companion diagnostic, concurrently with approval of the therapeutic product. To date, the FDA has generally required in vitro companion diagnostics intended to select the patients who will respond to cancer treatment to obtain a pre-market approval, or PMA, for that diagnostic, which can take up to several years, simultaneously with approval of the biologic product. Similarly, in the European Union, an in vitro companion diagnostic may be placed on the market only if it conforms to certain “essential requirements” and bears the Conformité Européene Mark, or CE Mark, and the conformity assessment process to obtain the CE Mark can be lengthy.

For our individualized immunotherapy candidates, the FDA and similar regulatory authorities outside of the United States may require the development and regulatory approval of a companion diagnostic assay as a condition to approval. The FDA may require PMA supplemental approvals for use of that same companion diagnostic as a condition of approval of additional individualized therapeutic candidates. We do not have experience or capabilities in developing or commercializing companion diagnostics and plan to rely in large part on third parties to perform these functions. Companion diagnostic assays are subject to regulation by the FDA and other comparable regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions as medical devices and require separate regulatory approval prior to the use of such diagnostic assays with our individualized therapeutic candidates. If we, or any third parties that we engage to assist us, are unable to successfully develop companion diagnostic assays for use with our individualized therapeutic candidates, or are unable to obtain regulatory approval or experience delays in either development or obtaining regulatory approval, we may be unable to identify patients with the specific profile targeted by our product candidates for enrollment in our clinical trials. Accordingly, further investment may be required to further develop or obtain the required regulatory approval for the relevant companion diagnostic assay, which would delay or substantially impact our ability to conduct additional clinical trials or obtain regulatory approval.

Because we are developing some of our product candidates for the treatment of diseases in which there is little clinical experience and, in some cases, using new endpoints or methodologies, the FDA, EMA or other regulatory authorities may not consider the endpoints of our clinical trials to provide clinically meaningful results.

There may not be pharmacologic therapies approved to treat the underlying causes of many diseases that we may address in the future. For instance, we and our collaborators are applying our technology to develop therapeutics in indications such as certain rare diseases, including some for which no or few clinical trials have been attempted. As a result, any future design and conduct of clinical trials of product candidates for the treatment of certain rare diseases may take longer, be more costly, or be less effective as part of the novelty of development in these diseases. Even if we decide to conduct clinical trials and the FDA does find our success criteria to be sufficiently validated and clinically meaningful, we may not achieve the pre-specified endpoint to a degree of statistical significance in any pivotal or other clinical trials we or our collaborators may conduct for our programs. Further, even if we do achieve the pre-specified criteria, our trials may produce results that are unpredictable or inconsistent with the results of the more traditional efficacy endpoints in the trial. The FDA also could give overriding weight to other efficacy endpoints over a primary endpoint, even if we achieve statistically significant results on that endpoint, if we do not do so on our secondary efficacy endpoints. The FDA also weighs the benefits of a product against its risks and the FDA may view the efficacy results in the context of safety as not

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being supportive of licensure. Other regulatory authorities in Europe and other countries may make similar findings with respect to these endpoints.

The FDA, EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with our regulatory plan and we may fail to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates.

If the results of our clinical trials are sufficiently compelling, we or our collaborators intend to discuss with the FDA submission of a BLA for our product candidates. However, we do not have any agreement or guidance from the FDA that our regulatory development plans will be sufficient for submission of a BLA for any of our product candidates. The FDA, EMA or other regulatory agencies may grant accelerated approval for our product candidates and, as a condition for accelerated approval, the FDA, EMA or other regulatory agencies may require a sponsor of a drug or biologic receiving accelerated approval to perform post-marketing studies to verify and describe the predicted effect on irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical endpoint, and the drug or biologic may be subject to withdrawal procedures by the FDA, EMA or other regulatory agencies that are more accelerated than those available for regular approvals. In addition, the standard of care may change with the approval of new products in the same indications that we are studying. This may result in the FDA, EMA or other regulatory agencies requesting additional studies to show that our product candidate is superior to the new products.

Our clinical trial results may also not support approval. In addition, our product candidates could fail to receive regulatory approval for many reasons, including the following:

 

 

the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with the design or implementation of our clinical trials;

 

 

we may be unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities that our product candidates are safe and effective for any of their proposed indications;

 

 

the results of clinical trials may not meet the level of statistical significance required by the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities for approval, including due to the heterogeneity of patient populations;

 

 

we may be unable to demonstrate that our product candidates’ clinical and other benefits outweigh their safety risks;

 

 

the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities may disagree with our interpretation of data from preclinical studies or clinical trials;

 

 

the data collected from clinical trials of our product candidates may not be sufficient to the satisfaction of the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities to support the submission of a BLA or other comparable submissions or to obtain regulatory approval in the United States or elsewhere;

 

 

the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities will inspect our manufacturing facilities and may not approve our facilities; and

 

 

the approval policies or regulations of the FDA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities may significantly change in a manner rendering our clinical data insufficient for approval.

We may not be able to file INDs with the FDA, clinical trial applications with the competent authorities of European Union member states or similar applications with other comparable regulatory authorities to commence additional clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, one or more of these regulatory authorities may not permit us to proceed.

The timing of filing on our product candidates is dependent on further preclinical, clinical and manufacturing success. We cannot be sure that submission of an IND or IND amendment with the FDA, a clinical trial application with the competent authorities of European Union member states or similar application with other comparable regulatory authorities will result in the FDA, the competent authorities of European Union member states or any comparable regulatory authority allowing testing and clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that result in the suspension or termination of such clinical trials. Additionally, even if such regulatory authorities agree with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND, clinical trial application or similar applications, we cannot guarantee that such regulatory authorities will not change their requirements in the future.

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We may seek orphan drug designation for some or all of our product candidates across various indications, but we may be unable to obtain such designations or to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug designation, including market exclusivity, which may cause our revenue, if any, to be reduced.

Our strategy includes filing for orphan drug designation where available for our product candidates. Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to a drug or biologic intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is defined as one occurring in a patient population of fewer than 200,000 in the United States, or a patient population of 200,000 or greater in the United States where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug or biologic will be recovered from sales in the United States. In the United States, orphan drug designation entitles a party to financial incentives, such as opportunities for grant funding toward clinical trial costs, tax advantages, and user-fee waivers. In addition, if a product that has orphan drug designation subsequently receives the first FDA approval 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 a full new drug application or a BLA, to market the same drug or 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 where the original manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient product quantity. Similar rules apply in the European Union with respect to drugs or biologics designated as orphan medicinal products.

In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan-designated indication or may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective. Further, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties may receive and be approved for the same condition, and only the first applicant to receive approval will receive the benefits of marketing exclusivity. Even after an orphan-designated product is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve a later drug with the same active moiety for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior if it is shown to be safer, more effective, or makes a major contribution to patient care. Similar considerations apply in the European Union with respect to drugs or biologics designated as orphan medicinal products. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug, nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process. In addition, while we may seek orphan drug designation for our product candidates, we may never receive such designations.

We may seek breakthrough therapy or fast-track designation for one or more of our product candidates, but we may not receive such designations. Even if we do, it may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and it may not increase the likelihood that such product candidates will receive marketing approval.

We may seek a breakthrough therapy designation in the United States for one or more of our product candidates. A breakthrough therapy is defined as a drug that is intended, alone or in combination with one or more other drugs, 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. For drugs that have been designated as breakthrough therapies, interaction and communication between the 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 the FDA are also eligible for priority review if supported by clinical data at the time of the submission of the BLA.

Designation as a breakthrough therapy is at the discretion of the FDA. Accordingly, even if we believe that one of our product candidates meets the criteria for designation as a breakthrough therapy, the FDA may disagree and instead determine not to make such designation. In any event, the receipt of a breakthrough therapy designation for a drug may not result in a faster development process, review or approval compared to drugs considered for approval under conventional FDA procedures and it would not assure ultimate approval by the FDA. In addition, even if one or more of our product candidates qualify as breakthrough therapies, the FDA may later decide that the product candidate no longer meets the conditions for qualification or it may decide that the time period for FDA review or approval will not be shortened.

We may also seek Fast Track Designation in the United States for some of our product candidates. If a therapy is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the therapy demonstrates the potential to address significant unmet medical needs for this condition, the drug sponsor may apply for Fast Track Designation. The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant this designation, and even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for this designation, we cannot be sure 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. The FDA may withdraw Fast Track Designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by

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data from our clinical development program. Fast Track Designation alone does not guarantee qualification for the FDA’s priority review procedures.

We expect some of the product candidates we develop will be regulated as biologics in the United States and therefore they may be subject to competition from biosimilars approved through an abbreviated regulatory pathway.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or the ACA, includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, or the BPCIA, which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-approved reference biological product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first approved by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until 12 years from the date on which the reference product was first approved.

During this 12-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a BLA for the competing product containing the sponsor’s own preclinical data and data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency of the other company’s product. The law is complex and is still being interpreted and implemented by the FDA. As a result, its ultimate impact, implementation and meaning are subject to uncertainty.

We believe that any of our product candidates approved as a biological product under a BLA should qualify for a 12-year period of exclusivity. However, there is a risk that this exclusivity could be shortened due to congressional action or otherwise, or that the FDA will not consider our product candidates to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Other aspects of the BPCIA, some of which may impact the BPCIA exclusivity provisions, have also been the subject of recent litigation. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once approved, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biological products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.

Some of our product candidates are classified as gene therapies by the FDA and the EMA, and the FDA has indicated that our product candidates will be reviewed within its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, or CBER. Even though our mRNA product candidates are designed to have a different mechanism of action from gene therapies, the association of our product candidates with gene therapies could result in increased regulatory burdens, impair the reputation of our product candidates, or negatively impact our platform or our business.

There have been few approvals of gene therapy products in the United States and other jurisdictions, and there have been well-reported significant adverse events associated with their testing and use. Gene therapy products have the effect of introducing new DNA and potentially irreversibly changing the DNA in a cell. In contrast, mRNA is highly unlikely to localize to the nucleus, integrate into cell DNA, or otherwise make any permanent changes to cell DNA. Consequently, we expect that our product candidates will have a different potential side effect profile from gene therapies because they lack risks associated with altering cell DNA irreversibly. Further, we may avail ourselves of ways of mitigating side effects in developing our product candidates to address safety concerns that are not available to all gene therapies, such as lowering the dose of our product candidates during repeat dosing or stopping treatment to potentially ameliorate undesirable side effects.

Regulatory requirements governing gene and cell therapy products have evolved and may continue to change in the future, and the implications for mRNA-based therapies is unknown. For example, the FDA has established the Office of Tissues and Advanced Therapies within CBER to consolidate the review of gene therapy and related products, and convenes the Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee to advise CBER on its review. In the European Union, mRNA has been characterized as a Gene Therapy Medicinal Product. In certain countries, mRNA therapies have not yet been classified or any such classification is not known to us. Specifically, in Japan, the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency has not taken a position on the regulatory classification. Notwithstanding the differences between our mRNA product candidates and gene therapies, the classification of some of our mRNA product candidates as gene therapies in the United States, the European Union and potentially other counties could adversely impact our ability to develop our product candidates, and could negatively impact our platform and our business. For instance, a clinical hold on gene therapy products across the field due to risks associated with altering cell DNA irreversibly may apply to our mRNA product candidates irrespective of the mechanistic differences between gene therapies and mRNA.

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Adverse events reported with respect to gene therapies or genome editing therapies could adversely impact one or more of our programs. Although our mRNA product candidates are designed not to make any permanent changes to cell DNA, regulatory agencies or others could believe that adverse effects of gene therapy products caused by introducing new DNA and irreversibly changing the DNA in a cell could also be a risk for our mRNA investigational therapies, and as a result may delay one or more of our trials or impose additional testing for long- term side effects. Any new requirements and guidelines promulgated by regulatory review agencies may have a negative effect on our business by lengthening the regulatory review process, requiring us to perform additional or larger studies, or increasing our development costs, any of which could lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent advancement or approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval studies, limitations or restrictions. As we advance our product candidates, we will be required to consult with these regulatory agencies and advisory committees and comply with applicable requirements and guidelines. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of some or all of our product candidates.

The regulatory landscape that will govern our product candidates is uncertain. Regulations relating to more established gene therapy and cell therapy products are still developing, and changes in regulatory requirements could result in delays or discontinuation of development of our product candidates or unexpected costs in obtaining regulatory approval.

The regulatory requirements to which our product candidates will be subject are not entirely clear. Even with respect to more established products that fit into the categories of gene therapies or cell therapies, the regulatory landscape is still developing. For example, regulatory requirements governing gene therapy products and cell therapy products have changed frequently and may continue to change in the future. Moreover, there is substantial, and sometimes uncoordinated, overlap in those responsible for regulation of existing gene therapy products and cell therapy products. Although the FDA decides whether individual gene therapy protocols may proceed, the review process and determinations of other reviewing bodies can impede or delay the initiation of a clinical study, even if the FDA has reviewed the study and approved its initiation. Conversely, the FDA can place an IND application on clinical hold even if such other entities have provided a favorable review. Furthermore, gene therapy clinical trials are also subject to review and oversight by an institutional biosafety committee, or IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees basic and clinical research conducted at the institution participating in the clinical trial. In addition, adverse developments in clinical trials of gene therapy products conducted by others may cause the FDA or other regulatory bodies to change the requirements for approval of any of our product candidates.

Complex regulatory environments exist in other jurisdictions in which we might consider seeking regulatory approvals for our product candidates, further complicating the regulatory landscape. For example, in the European Union a special committee called the Committee for Advanced Therapies, or CAT, was established within the EMA in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1394/2007 on advanced-therapy medicinal products, or ATMPs, to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of ATMPs, and to follow scientific developments in the field. ATMPs include gene therapy products as well as somatic cell therapy products and tissue engineered products.

These various regulatory review committees and advisory groups and new or revised guidelines that they promulgate from time to time may lengthen the regulatory review process, require us to perform additional studies, increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. As the regulatory landscape for our CAR-T cell immunotherapy product candidates is new, we may face even more cumbersome and complex regulations than those emerging for gene therapy products and cell therapy products. Furthermore, even if our product candidates obtain required regulatory approvals, such approvals may later be withdrawn as a result of changes in regulations or the interpretation of regulations by applicable regulatory agencies.

Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approval necessary to bring a potential product to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product sales revenue to maintain our business.

We may be unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates under applicable international regulatory requirements. The denial or delay of such approval would delay commercialization of our product candidates and adversely impact our potential to generate revenue, our business and our results of operations.

Approval by the FDA in the United States, if obtained, does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions. In order to eventually market any of our product candidates in any other jurisdiction, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis regarding safety and efficacy. In addition, clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in

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other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not guarantee regulatory approval in any other country. Approval processes vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods.

Seeking regulatory approval in other jurisdictions could result in difficulties and costs for us and require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which could be costly and time-consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. The European Union and other jurisdictions’ regulatory approval processes involve all of the risks associated with FDA approval. We do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, including international markets, and we do not have experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, or if regulatory approvals in international markets are delayed, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products will be unrealized.

A third-party investigational drug used in combination with our product candidates may be unable to obtain regulatory approval, which may delay commercialization of our product candidates.

We are developing several of our product candidates to be used in combination with our and third-party drugs. Even if any product candidate we develop were to receive marketing approval or be commercialized for use in combination with other existing therapies, we would continue to be subject to the risks that the FDA, the EMA or similar regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions could revoke approval of the therapy used in combination with our product or that safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues could arise with any of those existing therapies. If the therapies we use in combination with our product candidates are replaced as the standard of care for the indications we choose for any of our product candidates, the FDA, the EMA or similar regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions may require us to conduct additional clinical trials. The occurrence of any of these risks could result in our own products, if approved, being removed from the market or being less successful commercially. We also plan to evaluate current and future product candidates in combination with one or more therapies that have not yet been approved for marketing by the FDA, the EMA or similar regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. We will not be able to market any product candidate we develop in combination with an unapproved therapy if that unapproved therapy does not ultimately obtain marketing approval. In addition, unapproved therapies face the same risks described with respect to our product candidates currently in development and clinical trials, including the potential for serious adverse effects, delay in their clinical trials and lack of FDA, EMA or similar regulatory authority approval.

If the FDA, the EMA or similar regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions do not approve these other drugs or revoke their approval of, or if safety, efficacy, manufacturing or supply issues arise with, the drugs we choose to evaluate in combination with any product candidate we develop, we may be unable to obtain approval of or market any product candidate we develop.

Even if we receive regulatory approval of our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations 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 product candidates.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval in a jurisdiction, the applicable regulatory authority may still impose significant restrictions on the indicated uses or marketing of our product, or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-approval studies or post-market surveillance. For example, the holder of an approved BLA is obligated to monitor and report adverse events and any failure of a product to meet the specifications in the BLA. The holder of an approved BLA must also submit new or supplemental applications and obtain FDA approval for certain changes to the approved product, product labeling or manufacturing process. Advertising and promotional materials must comply with FDA rules and are subject to FDA review, in addition to other potentially applicable federal and state laws.

If we fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements following approval of any of our product candidates, a regulatory agency may:

 

 

issue a warning letter asserting that we are in violation of the law;

 

 

seek an injunction or impose civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;

 

 

suspend or withdraw regulatory approval or revoke a license;

 

 

suspend any ongoing clinical studies;

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refuse to approve a pending BLA or supplements to a BLA submitted by us;

 

 

seize product; or

 

 

refuse to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts.

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity. The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize any approved products and generate revenues.

If any of our product candidates cause undesirable side effects, it could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential, or result in significant negative consequences following any potential marketing approval. Product candidates we may develop may be associated with an adverse immune response or other serious adverse events, undesirable side effects or unexpected characteristics. In addition to serious adverse events or side effects caused by any of our product candidates, the administration process or related procedures also can cause undesirable side effects. If any such events occur, the clinical trials of any of our product candidates could be suspended or terminated.

If in the future we are unable to demonstrate that such adverse events were caused by factors other than our product candidate, the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, any of our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Even if we are able to demonstrate that all future serious adverse events are not product-related, such occurrences could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled trial participants to complete the trial. Moreover, if we elect, or are required, to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate product sale revenues from any of these product candidates may be delayed or eliminated. Any of these occurrences may harm our ability to identify and develop product candidates, and may harm our business, financial condition, result of operations and prospects significantly.

Additionally, if we successfully obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, the FDA or other regulatory authority could require us to adopt a REMS or a risk management plan, or RMP, to ensure that the benefits of treatment with such product candidate outweigh the risks for each potential patient, which may include, among other things, a medication guide outlining the risks of the product for distribution to patients, a communication plan to health care practitioners, extensive patient monitoring, or distribution systems and processes that are highly controlled, restrictive, and more costly than what is typical for the industry.

Furthermore, if we or others later identify undesirable side effects caused by any product that we develop, several potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

 

 

regulatory authorities may suspend or withdraw approvals or revoke licenses of such product;

 

 

regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the label;

 

 

we may be required to change the way a product is administered or conduct additional clinical trials;

 

 

we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients and their