10-K 1 rckt-20231231.htm 10-K 10-K
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f

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

 

 

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

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

OR

 

 

 

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

 

 

For the transition period from to

 

Commission File Number: 001-36829

 

Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

04-3475813

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(IRS Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

 

9 Cedarbrook Drive, Cranbury, NJ

 

08512

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(609) 659-8001

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.01 par value

RCKT

NASDAQ Global Market

 

 

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

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

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes No

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

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

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

 

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

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

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

1


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

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

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

The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2023 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was approximately $1.2 billion, based upon the closing price on the NASDAQ Global Market reported for such date.

As of February 22, 2024, there were 90,504,248 shares of common stock, $0.01 par value per share, outstanding.

Documents Incorporated by Reference

Part III of this annual report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference information (to the extent specific sections are referred to herein) from the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the Proxy Statement). The Proxy Statement will be filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

2


Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I.

 

 

Item 1.

Business

7

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

36

Item 1B.

Unresolved SEC Comments

65

Item 1C.

Cybersecurity

65

Item 2.

Properties

66

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

67

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

67

 

 

 

PART II.

 

 

Item 5.

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

68

Item 6.

Reserved

69

Item 7.

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

69

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

79

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

79

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

79

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

79

Item 9B.

Other Information

80

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

80

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers, and Corporate Governance

81

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

81

Item 12.

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

81

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

81

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

81

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

82

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

84

Signatures

 

85

 

 

3


FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they do not materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. We make such forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “can,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “design,” “develop,” “estimate,” “expect,” “expand,” “future,” “hope,” “intend,” “likely,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “pursue,” “seek,” “should,” “strategy,” “target,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these words or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

our ability to meet our anticipated milestones for our various drug candidates with respect to the initiation and timing of clinical studies;
federal, state, and non-U.S. regulatory requirements, including regulation of our current or any other future product candidates by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”);
the timing of and our ability to submit regulatory filings, including filings with the FDA, and to obtain and maintain FDA or other regulatory authority approval of, or other action with respect to, our product candidates;
our competitors’ activities, including decisions as to the timing of competing product launches, pricing and discounting;
whether safety and efficacy results of our clinical trials and other required tests for approval of our product candidates provide data to warrant progression of clinical trials, potential regulatory approval or further development of any of our product candidates;
our ability to develop, acquire and advance product candidates into, enroll a sufficient number of patients into, and successfully complete, clinical studies, and our ability to apply for and obtain regulatory approval for such product candidates, within currently anticipated timeframes, or at all;
our ability to establish key collaborations and vendor relationships for our product candidates and any other future product candidates;
our ability to develop our sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market any of our product candidates;
our ability to acquire additional businesses, form strategic alliances or create joint ventures and our ability to realize the benefit of such acquisitions, alliances or joint ventures;
our ability to successfully develop and commercialize any technology that we may in-license or products we may acquire;
the development of our direct manufacturing capabilities for our AAV programs;
our ability to expand our pipeline to target additional indications that are compatible with our gene therapy technologies;
our ability to successfully operate in non-U.S. jurisdictions in which we currently or in the future do business, including compliance with applicable regulatory requirements and laws;
our ability to obtain and enforce patents to protect our product candidates, and our ability to successfully defend ourselves against unforeseen third-party infringement claims;
anticipated trends and challenges in our business and the markets in which we operate;
our estimates regarding our capital requirements; and
our ability to obtain additional financing and raise capital as necessary to fund operations or pursue business opportunities.

We caution you that the foregoing list may not contain all of the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report.

Any forward-looking statements in this Annual Report reflect our current views with respect to future events or to our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those listed under Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors and elsewhere in this Annual Report. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available in the future.

This Annual Report also contains estimates, projections and other information concerning our industry, our business, and the markets for certain diseases, including data regarding the estimated size of those markets, and the incidence and prevalence of certain medical conditions. Information that is based on estimates, forecasts, projections, market research or similar methodologies is inherently subject to uncertainties and actual events, or circumstances may differ materially from events and circumstances reflected in this information. Unless otherwise expressly stated, we obtained this industry, business, market and other data from reports, research surveys, studies and similar data prepared by market research firms and other third parties, industry, medical and general publications, government data and similar sources. Unless stated otherwise, references in this Annual Report to “us,” “we,” “our,” or our “Company” and similar terms refer to Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

4


 

SUMMARY OF THE MATERIAL RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH OUR BUSINESS

Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that you should be aware of in evaluating our business. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following:

If, in the future, we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market any of our product candidates, we may not be successful in commercializing those product candidates if and when they are approved.
If we fail to obtain necessary additional funding to conduct our planned research and development efforts, we could be forced to delay, reduce, or eliminate our product development programs or commercial development efforts.
We have never generated any revenue from product sales and may never be profitable.
We may encounter substantial delays in commencement, enrollment or completion of our clinical trials or may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities, which could prevent us from commercializing our current and future product candidates on a timely basis, if at all.
If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit, or terminate planned clinical trials, the occurrence of any of which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Preliminary, interim or topline results in our ongoing clinical studies may not be indicative of results obtained when these studies are completed and success in early clinical studies may not be indicative of results obtained in later studies.
Our product candidates may cause undesirable and unforeseen side effects or be perceived by the public as unsafe, which
could delay or prevent their advancement into clinical trials or regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences.
Our gene therapy product candidates are based on novel technology, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost
of product candidate development and subsequently obtaining regulatory approval.
Even if we successfully complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials, we cannot predict when, or if, we will obtain regulatory approval to commercialize a product candidate and the approval may be for a narrower indication than we seek.
We may never obtain approval for any of our product candidates in the United States (“U.S.”) or the European Union (“EU”), or other jurisdictions, which would limit our ability to realize our full market potential.
Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, we will remain subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory scrutiny.
If approved, our product candidates may face competition from biosimilars approved through an abbreviated regulatory
pathway.
Healthcare legislative reform measures may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
If we are successful in commercializing any product, our relationships with customers and third-party payors will be
subject to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations, which could expose us to
criminal sanctions, civil penalties, exclusion from government healthcare programs, contractual damages, reputational
harm and diminished profits and future earnings.
We are subject to stringent laws, rules, regulations, policies, industry standards and contractual obligations regarding data
privacy and security and may be subject to additional related laws and regulations in jurisdictions into which we expand.
We are subject to environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, and we may become exposed to liability and
substantial expenses in connection with environmental compliance or remediation activities.
We could experience production problems that result in delays in our development or commercialization programs, limit the supply of our products or otherwise harm our business.
We have limited experience in manufacturing, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully manufacture products.
Our manufacturing facilities are subject to significant government regulations and approvals, which are often costly and could result in adverse consequences to our business if we fail to comply with the regulations or maintain the approvals.
Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit the potential
commercialization of any products that we may develop.
Our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates will substantially depend upon the availability of reimbursement funds for the costs of the resulting drugs and related treatments.
The commercial success of any of our product candidates will depend upon the degree of market acceptance of gene
therapy by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community.
Ethical, legal, and social issues may reduce demand for any gene therapy products for which we obtain marketing
approval.
We may not be successful in our efforts to expand our pipeline of additional product candidates.
The success of our research and development activities, clinical testing, and commercialization, upon which we primarily focus, is uncertain.
We expect to rely on third parties to conduct some or all aspects of our drug product manufacturing, research, and

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preclinical and clinical testing, and these third parties may not perform satisfactorily.
Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could
hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified
products from being developed, approved, or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact
our business.
Our rights to intellectual property for the development and commercialization of our product candidates are subject to the
terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by others.
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our products and related technology or are unable to
otherwise protect our intellectual property rights and trade secrets related to our product candidates, we may not be able to
compete effectively in our markets.
Changes in U.S. patent law or the patent law of other countries or jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in
general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.
If we breach our license agreements, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our
product candidates.
We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.
Our business could suffer if it loses the services of, or fails to attract, key personnel.
We may need to expand our organization and may experience difficulties in managing this growth, which could disrupt our operations.
Our employees, principal investigators, consultants, and commercial partners may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading which could harm our business.
Given our commercial relationships outside of the U.S., in particular the EU, a variety of risks associated with international operations could harm our business.
We may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of potential acquisitions or business combinations.
Future formations of strategic alliances or joint ventures with third parties could disrupt our business and harm our
financial condition and operating results.
If conflicts arise between us and our collaborators or strategic partners, these parties may act in a manner adverse to us
and could limit our ability to implement our strategies.
RTW Investments, LP, our largest stockholder, may have the ability to significantly influence matters submitted to stockholders for approval.
Future sales of our common stock in the public market could cause the market price of our common stock to drop
significantly, even if our business is performing well.
If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, our ability to produce accurate and
timely financial statements could be impaired, which could harm our operating results, investors’ views of us and, as a
result, the value of our common stock.
Our internal computer systems, or those of our third-party collaborators or other contractors, may fail or suffer security
breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our development programs.
Unfavorable national or global economic conditions or political developments could adversely affect our business,
financial condition or results of operations.

The summary risk factors described above should be read together with the text of the full risk factors below and in the other information set forth in this Annual Report, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, as well as in other documents that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). If any such risks and uncertainties actually occur, our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The risks summarized above or described in full elsewhere in this Annual Report are not the only risks that we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us, or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.

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PART I

Item 1. Business

Overview

We are a fully integrated, late-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of first, only and best in class gene therapies, with direct on-target mechanism of action and clear clinical endpoints, for rare and devastating diseases. We have three clinical-stage ex vivo lentiviral vector (“LV”) programs, which include programs for:

Fanconi Anemia (“FA”), a genetic defect in the bone marrow that reduces production of blood cells or promotes the production of faulty blood cells;
Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I (“LAD-I”), a genetic disorder that causes the immune system to malfunction; and
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (“PKD”), a red blood cell autosomal recessive disorder that results in chronic non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia.

In September 2023, the FDA accepted the Biologics License Application (“BLA”) and granted priority review for RP-L201 for the treatment of severe LAD-I. Treatments in the FA Phase 2 studies were completed in 2023 with regulatory filings in the United States (“U.S.”) and Europe (“EU”) for FA anticipated in 2024. Additional work on a gene therapy program for the less common FA subtypes C and G is ongoing.

In the U.S., we also have two clinical stage and one pre-clinical stage in vivo adeno-associated virus (“AAV”) programs, which include programs for:

Danon disease (“DD”), a multi-organ lysosomal-associated disorder leading to early death due to heart failure. The DD program is currently in an ongoing Phase 2 trial.
Plakophilin-2 Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (“PKP2-ACM”), an inheritable cardiac disorder that is characterized by a progressive loss of cardiac muscle mass, severe right ventricular dilation, dysplasia, fibrofatty replacement of the myocardium and a high propensity to arrhythmias and sudden death. This program received FDA clearance of an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application and we have initiated a Phase 1 study.
BAG3 Dilated Cardiomyopathy (“DCM”), which is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and is characterized by progressive thinning of the walls of the heart resulting in enlarged heart chambers that are unable to pump blood. Our program utilizes recombinant AAV9-based gene therapy designed to slow or halt progression of BAG3-DCM.

We have global commercialization and development rights to all of these product candidates under royalty-bearing license agreements.

Gene Therapy Overview

Genes are composed of sequences of deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”), which provide the code for proteins that perform a broad range of physiologic functions in all living organisms. Although genes are passed on from generation to generation, genetic changes, also known as mutations, can occur in this process. These changes can result in the lack of production of proteins or the production of altered proteins with reduced or abnormal function, which can in turn result in disease.

Gene therapy is a therapeutic approach in which an isolated gene sequence or segment of DNA is administered to a patient, most commonly for the purpose of treating a genetic disease that is caused by genetic mutations. Currently available therapies for many genetic diseases focus on administration of large proteins or enzymes and typically address only the symptoms of the disease. Gene therapy aims to address the disease-causing effects of absent or dysfunctional genes by delivering functional copies of the gene sequence directly into the patient’s cells, offering the potential for curing the genetic disease, rather than simply addressing symptoms.

We are using modified non-pathogenic viruses for the development of our gene therapy treatments. Viruses are particularly well suited as delivery vehicles because they are adept at penetrating cells and delivering genetic material inside a cell. In creating our viral delivery vehicles, the viral (pathogenic) genes are removed and are replaced with a functional form of the missing or mutant gene that is the cause of the patient’s genetic disease. The functional form of a missing or mutant gene is called a therapeutic gene, or the “transgene.” The process of inserting the transgene is called “transduction.” Once a virus is modified by replacement of the viral genes with a transgene, the modified virus is called a “viral vector.” The viral vector delivers the transgene into the targeted tissue or organ (such as the cells inside a patient’s bone marrow). We have two types of viral vectors in development, LV and AAV. We believe that our LV and AAV-based programs have the potential to offer a significant and long-lasting therapeutic benefit to patients.

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The gene therapies can be delivered either (1) ex vivo (outside the body), in which case the patient’s cells are extracted and the vector is delivered to these cells in a controlled, safe laboratory setting, with the modified cells then being reinserted into the patient, or (2) in vivo (inside the body), in which case the vector is injected directly into the patient, either intravenously (“IV”) or directly into a specific tissue at a targeted site, with the aim of the vector delivering the transgene to the targeted cells.

We believe that scientific advances, clinical progress, and the greater regulatory acceptance of gene therapy have created a promising environment to advance gene therapy products as these products are being designed to restore cell function and improve clinical outcomes, which in many cases include prevention of death at an early age. The FDA approval of several gene therapies in recent years indicates that there is a regulatory pathway forward for gene therapy products.

Essential Terminology

Set forth below is an abbreviated index of certain key terms and optimal ranges of values used in the discussion of LV and AAV gene therapies.

 

Term

 

Definition

 

Optimal Ranges

 

 

LV Therapy (hematopoietic disorders)

 

 

CD34+ cell(s)

 

Hematopoietic Stem Cell (most CD34+

cells are not true stem cells, but this continues to be the most clinically useful measure)

 

Will depend on underlying disorder,

generally > 1 million CD34+ cells/kg.

 

 

 

 

 

Vector copy number (VCN) [product]

 

The average number of gene copies per infused stem cell (as determined by DNA analysis; this is an average ratio, not a precise value)

 

0.5 to 2 has been target in some LV clinical studies (5.0 generally considered maximum)

 

 

 

 

 

Vector copy number (VCN) [in vivo, post-treatment]

 

The average number of gene copies per peripheral blood or bone marrow cell (as determined by DNA analysis; this is an average ratio, not a precise value)

 

Will depend on underlying disorder, but many disorders may be correctable with in vivo VCNs << 1.0

 

 

AAV Therapy

 

 

Vector copy number (VCN) [in vivo, post-treatment]

 

The average number of gene copies per cell in the organ of interest (as determined by DNA analysis; this is an average ratio, not a precise value)

 

Will depend on underlying disorder, but vivo VCNs << 1.0

 

Pipeline Overview

The chart below shows the current phases of development of our programs and product candidates:

 

img172964561_0.jpg 

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Cardiovascular Programs

Danon Disease

DD is a multi-organ lysosomal-associated disorder leading to early death due to heart failure. DD is caused by mutations in the gene encoding lysosome-associated membrane protein 2 (“LAMP-2”), a mediator of autophagy. This mutation results in the accumulation of autophagic vacuoles, predominantly in cardiac and skeletal muscle. Male patients often require heart transplantation and typically die in their teens or twenties from progressive heart failure. Along with severe cardiomyopathy, other DD-related manifestations can include skeletal muscle weakness and intellectual impairment. There are no specific therapies available for the treatment of DD and medications typically utilized for the treatment of congestive heart failure (“CHF”) are not believed to modify progression to end-stage CHF. Patients with end-stage CHF may undergo heart transplant, which currently is available to a minority of patients, is associated with significant short- and long-term complications and is not curative of the disorder in the long-term. RP-A501 is in clinical trials as an in vivo therapy for DD, which is estimated to have a prevalence of 15,000 to 30,000 patients in the U.S. and the EU.

DD is an X-linked dominant, monogenic rare inherited disorder characterized by progressive cardiomyopathy which is almost universally fatal in males even in settings where cardiac transplantation is available. DD predominantly affects males early in life and is characterized by absence of LAMP2B expression in the heart and other tissues. Preclinical models of DD have demonstrated that AAV-mediated transduction of the heart results in reconstitution of LAMP2B expression and improvement in cardiac function.

We currently have one AAV program targeting DD, RP-A501. We have treated seven patients in the RP-A501 Phase 1 clinical trial, which enrolled adult/older adolescent and pediatric male DD patients. This includes a first cohort evaluating a low-dose (6.7e13 genome copies (gc)/kilogram (kg)) in adult/older adolescent patients aged 15 or greater (n=3), a second cohort evaluating a higher dose (1.1e14 gc/kg) in adult/older adolescent patients aged 15 or greater (n=2), and a pediatric cohort at a low dose level (6.7e13 gc/kg; n=2).

As previously disclosed, a patient receiving therapy on the high dose cohort (1.1e14 gc/kg dose) had progressive heart failure and underwent a heart transplant at month five following therapy. This patient had more advanced disease than the four other adult/older adolescent patients who received treatment in the low and high dose cohorts, as evidenced by diminished baseline left ventricle ejection fraction (35%) on echocardiogram and markedly elevated left ventricle filling pressure prior to treatment. The patient’s clinical course was characteristic of DD progression. The patient is doing well post-transplant.

Based on the initial efficacy observed in the low dose cohort and to mitigate complement-mediated safety concerns observed in the high dose cohort (thrombotic microangiopathy (“TMA”)) and in agreement with the FDA, we are focusing on the low dose (6.7e13 gc/kg) and we will no longer administer doses of 1.1e14 gc/kg or higher in this trial. Additional safety measures have been implemented and are reflected in the updated trial protocol. These measures include exclusion of patients with end-stage heart failure, and a refined immunomodulatory regimen involving transient B- and T-cell mediated inhibition, with emphasis on preventing complement activation, while also enabling lower steroid doses and earlier steroid taper, with all immunosuppressive therapy discontinued 2-3 months following administration of RP-A501.

We conducted a variety of efficacy assessments in the Phase I clinical study to measure the prospect of benefit for patients. These assessments included the following:

New York Heart Association (“NYHA”) Functional Classification is the most commonly used heart failure classification system. NYHA Class II is where a patient exhibits a slight limitation of physical activity, is comfortable at rest, and ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation and/or dyspnea. Class I is where a patient exhibits no limitation of physical activity and ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, palpitation and/or dyspnea. Class III and IV are considered more severe or advanced heart failure.
Brain natriuretic peptide (“BNP”) is a blood-based evaluation and a key marker of heart failure with prognostic significance in CHF and cardiomyopathies. Elevations in BNP are strongly associated with worsening heart failure and poor outcomes in cardiovascular disease.
High sensitivity troponin I (“hsTnI”) is a blood-based evaluation and a key marker of cardiac injury, one that is (like BNP) frequently elevated in DD patients and has been shown to be markedly elevated in patients with advanced stage disease.
Echocardiographic measurements of heart thickness, most notably, left ventricular mass and maximal left ventricular wall thickness, indicate the degree of hypertrophy present in the heart.
Kansas City Cardiovascular Questionnaire (“KCCQ”) is a validated, patient-reported outcomes assessment that measures a patients perception of their heart failure symptoms, impact of disease on physical and social function, and the impact of their heart failure on overall health status and quality of life. Assessment scores range from 0 (very poor health status) to 100 (excellent health status). Changes in KCCQ score of +/- 5 points are considered meaningful and have been shown to correlate with outcomes.

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Histologic examination of endomyocardial biopsies via hematoxylin and eosin (“H&E”) histology and electron microscopy is used to detect evidence of DD-associated tissue derangements, including the presence of autophagic vacuoles and disruption of myofibrillar architecture, each of which are characteristic of DD-related myocardial damage.
LAMP2B gene expression in endomyocardial biopsy samples is measured via both immunohistochemistry and Western blot and confirms the presence of LAMP2B protein in DD cardiac tissue following RP-A501 treatment.

On January 9, 2023, we presented positive efficacy updates from our Phase I study of RP-A501 during the 41st Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. The data presented included several additional months of follow-up, which showed further improvements in key biomarkers, echocardiographic and functional measures. A summary of these updates is provided in the table below. We also provided additional natural history comparator data, which showed the marked divergence of the course of Phase I patients from that of untreated patients in terms of key biomarkers (BNP) and functional measures (NYHA Class). Furthermore, RP-A501 continued to be well tolerated at 2-3 years post treatment in both adult/older adolescent high and low-dose cohorts and at 8 to 13 months in the pediatric cohort. In the pediatric cohort, no significant immediate or delayed toxicities, significant skeletal myopathy, or late transaminase elevation have been observed.

Improvement or Stabilization Observed Across Key Biomarker, Echo Findings and Functional Measures in Phase 1 RP-A501 study

 

img172964561_1.jpg 

 

Darker Green = improved; Lighter Green = minimal change (stabilization)

Does not include pt 1007 in Ph1 trial who had advanced HF with EF<40% at enrollment and received HTx

5M following tx due to pre-existing advanced HF. Patient is currently stable. Data cut-off September 27, 2022.

1 Patient 1008 echocardiographic parameters are M9 visit (M12 pending).

2 Patient 1002 NYHA class depicted for M30 visit (M36 pending).

3 Patient 1005 KCCQ score depicted for M24 visit (M30 pending).

In addition to these clinical updates, we also provided updates on our in-house manufacturing activities. As of January 2023, we had successfully produced 2 cGMP RP-A501 batches that have superior specifications to Phase I material in both titer and full versus empty particles. We believe the improved quality of our in-house manufactured product will allow for full dosing with lower total viral particles, potentially further optimizing the safety profile of RP-A501. Furthermore, we have agreement from the FDA on the continued utilization of HEK-293 cell-based process through commercialization as well as our comparability approach and potency assay.

In May 2023, we presented previously disclosed results from the Phase I study of RP-A501 at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (“ASGCT”) 26th Annual Meeting, As of the most recent data extraction, all six patients that remain in follow-up continued to show signs of improvement or stabilization.

Results from the ongoing Phase 1 DD trial represent one of the most comprehensive investigational gene therapy datasets for any cardiac condition. RP-A501 was generally well tolerated with evidence of durable treatment activity and improvement of DD for both pediatric patients with up to nine months of follow-up and four adult/older adolescent patients with up to 36 months of follow-up. All adult/older adolescent and pediatric patients who received a closely monitored immunomodulatory regimen showed improvements across tissue, laboratory, and imaging-based biomarkers, as well as in NYHA class (from II to I) and KCCQ scores with follow-up of six to 36 months.

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On September 12, 2023, we announced that alignment was reached with the FDA on the global Phase 2 pivotal trial of RP-A501 for DD. The global, single-arm, multi-center Phase 2 pivotal trial will evaluate the efficacy and safety of RP-A501 in 12 patients with DD, including a pediatric safety run-in (n=2), with a natural history comparator and a dose level of 6.7 x 1013 GC/kg.

To support accelerated approval, the study will assess the efficacy of RP-A501 as measured by the biomarker-based co-primary endpoint consisting of improvements in LAMP2 protein expression (≥ Grade 1, as measured by immunohistochemistry), and reductions in left ventricular mass.
Key secondary endpoint is change in troponin. Additional secondary endpoints will include natriuretic peptide, KCCQ, NYHA class event free survival to 24 months and treatment emergent safety events. These endpoints could support full approval with longer-term follow-up.
A global natural history study will serve as an external comparator and run concurrently to the Phase 2 pivotal trial.
In-house manufacturing has been completed with sufficient high-quality drug product produced to fully supply the Phase 2 pivotal study. Potency assays have been developed and qualified in accordance with FDA guidance.

We have filed Clinical Trial Application (“CTA”) and Investigational Medicinal Product Dossier (“IMPD”) for RP-A501 with the relevant Member States through the EU Clinical Trial Information System (“CTIS”) and the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”). We are working towards initiation of Phase 2 pivotal trial activities in Europe and the UK.

Recently Achieved Milestones

On February 7, 2023, we announced that RP-A501 received regenerative medicine advanced therapy (“RMAT”) designation from the FDA, and on May 31, 2023, we received priority medicines (“PRIME”) designation from the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”). On September 12, 2023, we announced our alignment with the FDA on our pivotal study design for RP-A501 in DD and we have initiated the global study.

Plakophilin-2 Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (PKP2-ACM)

Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (“ACM”) is an inheritable cardiac disorder that is characterized by a high propensity for arrhythmias and sudden death, a progressive loss of cardiac muscle mass, severe right ventricular dilation, dysplasia, and fibrofatty replacement of the myocardium. Most commonly, the cardiomyopathy initially manifests in the right ventricular free wall, so the disease was termed arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (ARVD/ARVC). However, since left dominant and biventricular forms have also been observed, this has led more recently to the use of the term ACM. Mutations in the PKP2 gene comprise the most frequent genetically identified etiology of familial ACM. PKP2 encodes for the protein Plakophilin-2, which is a component of the desmosome, an intercellular complex involved in cell-cell adhesion. PKP2 is also involved in transcriptional regulation of calcium signaling between cardiomyocytes. Patients with mutations in PKP2 are typically heterozygous and demonstrate reduced expression of PKP2 in the myocardium. Mean presentation is at the age of 35, and patients have a very high lifetime risk of ventricular arrhythmias, structural ventricular abnormalities, and sudden cardiac death (“SCD”).

There are no specific available medical therapies available that have been shown to be highly effective for ACM, and current treatment protocols follow standard ventricular arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy guidelines, which involve lifestyle modifications (i.e. exercise limitation) and include drug treatments such as beta blockers, anti-arrhythmics and diuretics. The use of these therapies is driven by the arrhythmia burden and severity of cardiomyopathy. These therapies do not modify the course of the disease, and generally provide only symptomatic and/or palliative support. Upon diagnosis, a substantial percentage of patients receive an implantable cardiac defibrillator (“ICD”) for primary or secondary prevention of ventricular arrhythmias and SCD. Of note, ICDs are not curative, and breakthrough life-threatening arrythmias may persist with ongoing risk of death. Furthermore, ICDs do not prevent the progression to end-stage heart failure. ICD firings, although lifesaving, are physically and emotionally traumatic events. Patients whose condition progresses to end-stage heart failure are considered for cardiac transplantation which, while curative of underlying disease, is itself associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Hence there exists a high unmet medical need in this population. PKP2-ACM is estimated to have a prevalence of 50,000 patients in the US and EU.

We currently have one AAV program targeting PKP2-ACM, RP-A601, which is a recombinant AAVrh.74 vector expressing PKP2a. PKP2-ACM is typically caused by heterozygous pathogenic mutations in the PKP2 gene resulting in reduced PKP2 expression in the myocardium. A once-administered gene therapy that addresses the root cause of the disease (PKP2 deficiency) early in the disease course, could mitigate the early electrical remodeling and diminish the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias and SCD associated with ACM, potentially impeding the development of irreversible cardiac structural changes. Prevention of syncopal episodes, life-threatening arrythmias, SCD, ICD shocks and the resulting anxiety, discomfort and hospitalizations is anticipated to result in a vastly improved quality of life and survival benefit. Furthermore, such an approach could spare patients the need for lifelong adherence to multiple arrhythmia and heart failure drugs that are nonspecific for PKP2-ACM and are associated with their own side effects, enabling patients an opportunity to live without exercise restrictions and with diminished concern for arrhythmias, palpitations, ICD shocks and progression to end-stage heart failure.

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In May 2023, we presented preclinical efficacy data for RP-A601 at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 26th Annual meeting. Nonclinical studies conducted by the Sponsor, RP-A601 have demonstrated efficacy in altering the natural history of PKP2-driven ACM. 100% of PKP2 cKO animals treated with the study drug exhibited extended survival to the longest timepoint measured (5 months), reduced cardiac dilation and fibrofatty replacement/fibrosis of the myocardium, preserved left ventricular function, and mitigation of the arrhythmic phenotype. Untreated PKP2 cKO mice had a median survival of approximately one month. These results were published in January 2024 in the journal Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine.

We have initiated a multi-center Phase 1 study for RP-A601. The multi-center Phase 1 dose escalation trial will evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of RP-A601 in at least six adult PKP2-ACM patients with ICDs and overall high risk for arrhythmias. The study will assess the impact of RP-A601 on PKP2 myocardial protein expression, cardiac biomarkers, and clinical predictors of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Patients in the dose-escalation trial will receive a single dose of RP-A601. The starting dose will be 8 x 1013 GC/kg.

Recently Achieved Milestones

We have achieved pre-clinical proof-of-concept for RP-A601 in an animal model representative of PKP2-ACM, completed pharmacology and GLP toxicology studies, produced GMP drug product, and developed an appropriate potency assay to support a Phase I study. On May 9, 2023, we announced FDA clearance of the IND, and on June 8, 2023, we announced receipt of FDA Fast Track and Orphan Drug Designations. We have since initiated the U.S. Phase 1 study.

BAG3 Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy (“DCM”) is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and is characterized by progressive thinning of the walls of the heart resulting in enlarged heart chambers that are unable to pump blood. A familial association of DCM can be identified in 20-50% of DCM patients, with up to 40% of familial patients having an identifiable genetic cause. Mutations in the BAG3 gene (BCL-2-associated athanogene 3) are among the more common pathogenic genetic variants observed in familial DCM and these variants are highly penetrant, with approximately 80% of individuals with disease-causing genetic variants in the BAG3 gene developing DCM at > 40 years of age. BAG3 protein is associated with a variety of cellular functions including cardiac contractility, protein quality control (as a co-chaperone), cardiomyocyte structural support and anti-apoptosis. BAG3 associated dilated cardiomyopathy (BAG3-DCM) leads to early onset, rapidly progressing heart failure and significant mortality and morbidity. We estimate that the prevalence of BAG3-associated DCM in the U.S. to be as many as 30,000 individuals.

Currently, DCM patients with a BAG3 mutation are treated with the standard of care for heart failure, which include angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, neprilysin inhibitors, beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists, or beta-blockers, aldosterone antagonists and/or diuretics, along with certain lifestyle changes, and do not address the underlying cause of disease. Patients who meet specific parameters may also undergo placement of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a cardiac resynchronization device or a combination of the two. There is no current therapy directly targeting the underlying mechanism of BAG3 associated DCM, and patients diagnosed with BAG3 associated DCM appear to progress to end-stage heart failure and death more rapidly than patients with DCM not associated with BAG3 variants. For example, approximately 19% of patients with BAG3-DCM require mechanical cardiac support, heart transplant, or have heart failure related death at 12 months after diagnosis, nearly twice the rate of similarly staged non-BAG3-DCM patients.

In December 2022, we completed our acquisition of Renovacor, Inc. (“Renovacor”) which provided Rocket with Renovacor’s recombinant AAV9-based gene therapy program designed to deliver a fully functional BAG3 gene to augment BAG3 protein levels in cardiomyocytes and slow or halt progression of BAG3-DCM. Initial proof of concept for AAV9-BAG3 has been demonstrated in studies of BAG3-knockout mouse models, which show treated mice have improved ejection fraction versus untreated knockout mice and comparable ejection fraction to walk test controls at timepoints 4- and 6-weeks post injection.

Recently Achieved Milestones

We are in the process of evaluating the optimal development pathway for this program and plan to submit an IND for BAG3-DCM in 2024.

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Hematology Programs

Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group A (FANCA)

FA, a rare and life-threatening DNA-repair disorder, generally arises from a mutation in a single FA gene. An estimated 60% to 70% of cases arise from mutations in the Fanconi-A (“FANCA”) gene, which is the focus of our program. FA results in bone marrow failure, developmental abnormalities, myeloid leukemia, and other malignancies, often during the early years and decades of life. Bone marrow aplasia, which is bone marrow that no longer produces any or very few red and white blood cells and platelets leading to infections and bleeding, is the most frequent cause of early morbidity and mortality in FA, with a median onset before 10 years of age. Leukemia is the next most common cause of mortality, ultimately occurring in about 20% of patients later in life. Solid organ malignancies, such as head and neck cancers, can also occur, although at lower rates during the first two to three decades of life.

Although improvements in allogeneic (donor-mediated) hematopoietic stem cell transplant (“HSCT”), currently the most frequently utilized therapy for FA, have resulted in frequent hematologic correction of the disorder, HSCT is associated with both acute and long-term risks, including transplant-related mortality, graft failure, and graft versus host disease, a sometimes fatal side effect of allogeneic transplant characterized by painful ulcers in the GI tract, liver toxicity and skin rashes, as well as increased risk of subsequent cancers. Our gene therapy program in FA is designed to enable a minimally toxic hematologic correction using a patient’s own stem cells early in the disease course and administered without conditioning. We believe that the development of a broadly applicable autologous gene therapy can be transformative for these patients.

Each of our hematology programs utilize third-generation, self-inactivating LV to correct defects in patients’ HSCs, which are the cells found in bone marrow that are capable of generating blood cells over a patient’s lifetime. Defects in the genetic coding of HSCs can result in severe, and potentially life-threatening anemia, which is when a patient’s blood lacks enough properly functioning red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Stem cell defects can also result in severe and potentially life-threatening decreases in white blood cells resulting in susceptibility to infections, and in platelets responsible for blood clotting, which may result in severe and potentially life-threatening bleeding episodes. Patients with FA have a genetic defect that prevents the normal repair of genes and chromosomes within blood cells in the bone marrow, which frequently results in the development of bone marrow failure, acute myeloid leukemia, and myeloid dysplastic syndrome types of blood cancers. FA patients also typically present with congenital defects. The average lifespan of an FA patient is estimated to be 30 to 40 years. The prevalence of FA in the U.S. and EU is estimated to be approximately 4,000 patients in total. In light of the efficacy seen in non-conditioned patients, the addressable annual market opportunity is now believed to be 400 to 500 patients collectively in the U.S. and EU.

We currently have one ex vivo LV-based program targeting FA, RP-L102. RP-L102 is our lead LV-based program that we in-licensed from Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (“CIEMAT”), which is a leading research institute in Madrid, Spain. Our Phase 2 registrational enabling clinical trials treating FA patients with RP-L102 at the Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine (“Stanford”), Great Ormond Street Hospital (“GOSH”) in London and Hospital Infantil de Nino Jesus (“HNJ”) in Spain completed treatment. The trial has treated a total of 12 patients from the U.S. and EU. Two additional patients were treated in the US Phase 1 study at Stanford such that a total of 14 patients have received RP-L102 on Rocket-sponsored clinical trials. Patients receive a single intravenous infusion of RP-L102 that utilizes fresh cells and “Process B” which incorporates a modified stem cell enrichment process, transduction enhancers, as well as commercial-grade vector and final drug product.

Resistance to mitomycin-C, a DNA damaging agent, in bone marrow stem cells at a minimum time point of one year post treatment is the primary endpoint for our ongoing Phase 2 study. Per agreement with the FDA and EMA, engraftment leading to bone marrow restoration exceeding a 10% mitomycin-C resistance threshold could support a marketing application for approval.

In December 2022, we presented positive clinical data for RP-L102 at the 64th Annual Meeting of ASH. RP-L102 conferred phenotypic correction in at least six of 10 evaluable patients with ≥12 months of follow-up as demonstrated by increased resistance to MMC in bone marrow derived colony forming cells, concomitant genetic correction and hematologic stabilization. A seventh patient has displayed evidence of progressively increasing genetic correction as demonstrated by peripheral blood and bone marrow VCN’s, with recent development of MMC resistance and possible indicators of hematologic stability after 36 months of follow-up. The primary endpoint has been achieved, based on a trial protocol in which statistical and clinical significance requires a minimum of five patients to attain increased MMC resistance at least 10% above baseline at two or more timepoints and concomitant evidence of genetic correction and clinical stabilization. The safety profile of RP-L102 has been highly favorable, and the treatment, administered without any cytotoxic conditioning, has been well tolerated. No signs of bone marrow dysplasia, clonal dominance or insertional mutagenesis related to RP-L102 have been observed.

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We had previously disclosed that one of the initial five patients in this trial who had evidence of engraftment developed a T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma approximately 22 months after RP-L102 administration. A surgical biopsy of the lymphoma indicated negligible gene markings (VCN of 0.003) at a juncture when concomitant VCN in blood and bone marrow were 0.26 and 0.42 respectively. These findings conclusively indicate that the lymphoma did not result from a LV-mediated insertion, as there were essentially no gene markings in the tumor (the very low but detectable VCN is likely the result of blood cells in the tumor specimen). FA is a cancer-predisposition syndrome and cancers may develop in patients under the age of 10. Importantly, the patient tolerated induction chemotherapy for the lymphoma without significant complications and is currently in a complete response. The presence of gene-corrected hematopoietic cells may have contributed to this patient’s overall tolerance of chemotherapy.

In May 2023, we presented updated clinical data for RP-L102 at the ASGCT 26th Annual Meeting. As of the data cut-off (April 17, 2023), RP-L102 conferred sustained genetic correction in eight of 12 evaluable patients and comprehensive phenotypic correction in seven of 12 evaluable patients with ≥12 months of follow up as demonstrated by increased resistance to mitomycin-C (MMC) in bone marrow-derived colony forming cells and hematologic stabilization. The safety profile of RP-L102 continues to be highly favorable with no signs of bone marrow dysplasia, clonal dominance or insertional mutagenesis related to RP-L102. Polyclonal integration patterns have been observed in each of the seven patients with phenotypic, genetic, and hematologic evidence of engraftment. Pivotal trial enrollment and treatment have been completed.

Anticipated Milestones

Product filings for RP-L102 are anticipated in the first half of 2024 in the U.S. and Europe, and we are finalizing the Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (“CMC”) package with the FDA.

Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I (LAD-I)

LAD-I is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of white blood cell adhesion and migration, resulting from mutations in the ITGB2 gene encoding for the Beta-2 Integrin component, CD18. Deficiencies in CD18 result in an impaired ability for neutrophils (a subset of infection-fighting white blood cells) to leave blood vessels and enter tissues where these cells are needed to combat infections. As is the case with many rare diseases, accurate estimates of incidence are difficult to confirm; however, several hundred cases have been reported to date. Most LAD-I patients are believed to have the severe form of the disease. Severe LAD-I is notable for recurrent, life-threatening infections and substantial infant mortality in patients who do not receive an allogeneic HSCT. Mortality for severe LAD-I has been reported as 60 to 75% by age two in the absence of allogeneic HCST.

We currently have one ex vivo program targeting LAD-I, RP-L201. RP-L201 is a clinical program that we in-licensed from CIEMAT. University of California, Los Angeles (“UCLA”) and its Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research is serving as the lead U.S. clinical research center for the registrational clinical trial for LAD-I, and HNJ and GOSH are serving as the lead clinical sites in Spain and London, respectively. This study has received a $6.6 million CLIN2 grant award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (“CIRM”) to support the clinical development of gene therapy for LAD-I.

The open-label, single-arm, Phase 1/2 registration-enabling clinical trial of RP-L201 has treated nine severe LAD-I patients to assess the safety and tolerability of RP-L201. The first patient was treated at UCLA with RP-L201 in the third quarter of 2019. Enrollment is now complete in both the Phase 1 and 2 portions of the study; nine patients have received RP-L201 at 3 investigative centers in the U.S. and Europe.

In December 2022, we presented positive clinical data at the 64th Annual Meeting of ASH. The presentation included previously disclosed top-line data at three to 24 months of follow-up after RP-L201 infusion for all patients and overall survival data for seven patients at 12 months or longer after infusion. We observed 100% overall survival at 12 months post-infusion via Kaplan Meier estimate and a statistically significant reduction in all hospitalizations, infection and inflammatory-related hospitalizations and prolonged hospitalizations for all nine LAD-I patients with three to 24 months of available follow-up. All patients, aged three months to nine years, demonstrated sustained CD18 restoration and expression on more than 10% of neutrophils (range: 20%-87%, median: 56%). Data also shows evidence of resolution of LAD-I-related skin rash and restoration of wound repair capabilities. The safety profile of RP-L201 has been highly favorable in all patients with no RP-L201-related serious adverse events to date. Adverse events related to other study procedures, including busulfan conditioning, have been previously disclosed and consistent with the tolerability profiles of those agents and procedures.

In May 2023, at the ASGCT 26th annual meeting, we presented updated top-line data at 12 to 24 months of follow-up for all nine patients in our Phase 1/2 clinical trial showing 100% overall survival at 12 months post-infusion. All patients continue to demonstrate evidence of resolution of LAD-I-related skin rash and restoration of wound repair capabilities, and the safety profile of RP-L201 remains highly favorable with follow-up of 12-36 months. No evidence of replication-competent lentivirus has been observed. Insertion site analyses indicate highly polyclonal integration patterns across the entire cohort.

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Recently Achieved and Anticipated Milestones

A BLA filing for RP-L201 was accepted by the FDA with priority review in October of 2023 with an initial Prescription Drug User Fee Act (“PDUFA”) date of March 31, 2024. On February 13, 2024, the review time was extended by three months, to June 30, 2024, to allow additional time to review clarifying CMC information submitted by Rocket in response to FDA information requests. The FDA has further confirmed that an advisory committee meeting is not needed.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)

Red blood cell PKD is a rare autosomal recessive disorder resulting from mutations in the pyruvate kinase L/R (“PKLR”) gene encoding for a component of the red blood cell (“RBC”) glycolytic pathway. PKD is characterized by chronic non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia, a disorder in which RBCs do not assume a normal spherical shape and are broken down, leading to decreased ability to carry oxygen to cells, with anemia severity that can range from mild (asymptomatic) to severe forms that may result in childhood mortality or a requirement for frequent, lifelong RBC transfusions. The pediatric population is the most commonly and severely affected subgroup of patients with PKD, and PKD often results in splenomegaly (abnormal enlargement of the spleen), jaundice and chronic iron overload which is likely the result of both chronic hemolysis and the RBC transfusions used to treat the disease. The variability in anemia severity is believed to arise in part from the large number of diverse mutations that may affect the PKLR gene. Estimates of disease incidence have ranged between 3.2 and 51 cases per million in the white U.S. and EU population. Industry estimates suggest at least 2,500 cases in the U.S. and EU have already been diagnosed. Market research indicates the application of gene therapy to broader populations could increase the market opportunity from approximately 250 to 500 patients per year.

We currently have one ex vivo LV-based program targeting PKD, RP-L301. RP-L301 is a clinical stage program that we in-licensed from CIEMAT.

We are conducting a global Phase 1 open-label, single-arm, clinical study has enrolled 2 adult patients and 2 pediatric patients (age 8-17) in the U.S. and Europe and is intended to assess the safety, tolerability, and preliminary activity of RP-L301. Stanford serves as the lead site in the U.S. for adult and pediatric patients, HNJ serves as the lead site in Europe for pediatrics, and Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz serves as the lead site in Europe for adult patients. Both adult and pediatric enrollment is completed in the Phase 1 study.

In May 2023, we presented positive updated clinical data at the ASGCT 26th Annual Meeting (data cut-off May 3, 2023), which included up to 30 months of follow-up from the two treated adult patients and early clinical data from the first pediatric patient treated with RP-L301. Robust and sustained efficacy was observed in both adult patients at up to 30 months post-infusion evidenced by normalized hemoglobin (from baseline pre-treatment levels in the 7.0-7.5 g/dL range), improved hemolysis parameters, and red blood cell transfusion independence. Furthermore, both adult patients reported improved quality of life with documented improvements via formal quality of life assessments. The safety profile continues to appear highly favorable, with no RP-L301-related serious adverse events in either of the adult patients. Insertion site analyses in peripheral blood and bone marrow in both adult patients through 24 months post-RP-L301 demonstrated highly polyclonal patterns and there has been no evidence of insertional mutagenesis. The first pediatric patient infusion of RP-L301 was well tolerated, with engraftment achieved at day +15, hospital discharge less than one month following infusion, no RP-L301 related serious adverse events and early signs of efficacy. There were no red blood cell transfusion requirements following engraftment. Both adult and pediatric enrollment is completed in the Phase 1 study.

In October 2023, we presented positive updated clinical data at the 30th Annual Congress at ESGCT (data cut-off October 9, 2023), including up to 36 months of follow-up in the adult cohort and more limited follow-up of 6 months in the pediatric cohort. Sustained efficacy has been demonstrated in adult cohort including hemoglobin normalization, transfusion independence, decreased hemolysis, and quality of life improvement; hemoglobin improvement relative to pre-treatment baseline has been observed in pediatric cohort. The safety profile remains favorable.

Recently Achieved Milestones

In early 2023, we announced receipt of FDA RMAT and EMA PRIME designation for RP-L301 based on the robust efficacy observed in the Phase 1 treated patients.

We have reached agreement with FDA on study design of Phase 2 pivotal trial of RP-L301. Based on positive safety and efficacy data from the Phase 1 study, we have aligned with the FDA on the pivotal study design to support accelerated approval and are initiating a 10-patient, single-arm Phase 2 pivotal trial with a primary endpoint of ≥1.5 point Hgb improvement at 12 months.

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cGMP Manufacturing

Our 103,720 square foot manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey has been scaled up to manufacture AAV drug product for our Phase 2 pivotal study in DD. The facility also houses lab space for research & development and quality. We reached an understanding with the FDA on chemistry, manufacturing, and controls requirements to start AAV cGMP manufacturing at our in-house facility as well as potency assay plans for a Phase 2 pivotal trial in DD.

Strategy

We seek to bring hope and relief to patients with devastating, undertreated, rare pediatric diseases through the development and commercialization of potentially curative first in class gene therapies. To achieve these objectives, we intend to develop into a fully-integrated biotechnology company. In the near and medium-term, we intend to develop our first in class product candidates, which are targeting devastating diseases with substantial unmet need, develop proprietary in-house analytics and manufacturing capabilities and continue to commence registration trials for our currently planned programs. In the medium and long-term, pending favorable data, we expect to submit BLAs for the rest of our suite of clinical programs, and establish our gene therapy platform and expand our pipeline to target additional indications that we believe to be potentially compatible with our gene therapy technologies. In addition, during that time, we believe that our currently planned programs will become eligible for priority review vouchers from the FDA that provide for expedited review. We have assembled a leadership and research team with expertise in cell and gene therapy, rare disease drug development and product approval.

We believe that our competitive advantage lies in our disease-based selection approach, a rigorous process with defined criteria to identify target diseases. We believe that this approach to asset development differentiates us as a gene therapy company and potentially provides us with a first-mover advantage.

Intellectual Property

We strive to protect and enhance the proprietary technology, inventions, and improvements that are commercially important to the development of our business, including seeking, maintaining, and defending patent rights, whether developed internally or licensed from third parties. We also rely on trade secrets relating to our proprietary technology platform and on know-how, continuing technological innovation and in-licensing opportunities to develop, strengthen and maintain our proprietary position in the field of gene therapy that may be important for the development of our business. We additionally intend to rely on regulatory protection afforded through orphan drug designations, data exclusivity, market exclusivity, and patent term extensions where available.

Our commercial success may depend in part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other proprietary protection for commercially important technology, inventions and know-how related to our business; defend and enforce our patents; preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets; and operate without infringing the valid enforceable patents and proprietary rights of third parties. Our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing its future products may depend on the extent to which we have rights under valid and enforceable patents or trade secrets that cover these activities. With respect to both licensed and company-owned intellectual property, we cannot be sure that patents will be granted with respect to any of our pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications filed by us in the future, nor can we be sure that any of our existing patents or any patents that may be granted to us in the future will be commercially useful in protecting our commercial products and methods of manufacturing the same.

We have developed and in-licensed numerous patents and patent applications and possess substantial know-how and trade secrets relating to the development and commercialization of gene therapy products. Our proprietary intellectual property, including patent and non-patent intellectual property, is generally directed to gene expression vectors and methods of using the same for gene therapy. As of February 22, 2024, our patent portfolio includes both owned and in-licensed patent families relating to our product candidates and related technologies, discussed more fully below.

Fanconi Anemia

Our FA patent portfolio includes granted patents in Australia, Japan, and Russia and pending applications in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and other countries with claims directed to polynucleotide cassettes and expression vector compositions containing FA complementation group genes and methods for using such vectors to provide gene therapy in mammalian cells for treating FA. These applications were exclusively in-licensed from CIEMAT, Centro de Investigacion Biomedica En Red, (“CIBER”), Fundacion Instituto de investigacion Sanitaria Fundacion Jimenez Diaz, (“FIISFJD”), and Fundacion Para la Investigacion Biomedica del Hospital Del Nino Jesus. We expect any patents in this family, if issued, and if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid, to expire in 2037, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions.

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Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency

Our PKD patent portfolio includes granted patents in Europe, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, India, Russia, Singapore, and the U.S. and a pending patent application in the U.S., EU, Japan, China and other countries with claims directed to polynucleotide cassettes and expression vector compositions containing pyruvate kinase genes and methods for using such vectors to provide gene therapy in mammalian cells for treating pyruvate kinase deficiency. These applications are exclusively in-licensed from CIEMAT, CIBER, and FIISFJD. We expect any patents in this portfolio, if issued, and if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid, to expire in 2037-2038, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions.

Danon Disease

Our DD patent portfolio includes both proprietary intellectual property and a patent family in-licensed from the University of California, San Diego, which includes granted patents in Europe, India, the U.S., and Hong Kong, allowed patent applications in Japan and Russia, and pending patent applications in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and other countries with claims directed to the treatment of DD. We expect any patents in this portfolio, if issued, and if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid, to expire in 2037 absent any patent term adjustments or extensions. We also own granted patents in the U.S. and Russia and pending patent applications in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and other countries with claims directed to gene therapy vectors for the treatment of DD; the U.S. patent issued in 2020. Any patents, if issued, arising from these patent applications, are expected to expire in 2039, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions, if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid. We have also filed additional patent applications directed to methods for treatment of DD. Any patents, if issued, arising from these patent applications, are expected to expire in 2040-2041, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions, if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid.

Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency

Our patent portfolio includes pending patent applications in the U.S., EU, Japan, China and other countries with claims directed to transduction of allogeneic HSCT, which may be relevant to our LAD-I program. We expect any patents arising from these patent applications, if issued, and if the appropriate maintenance, renewal, annuity, or other governmental fees are paid, to expire in 2039, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions.

Future Objectives

Our objective is to continue to expand our portfolio of patents and patent applications in order to protect our gene therapy product candidates and manufacturing processes. From time to time, we may also evaluate opportunities to sublicense our portfolio of patents and patent applications that we own or exclusively license, and we may enter into such licenses from time to time. The term of individual patents depends upon the legal term of the patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we file, the patent term is 20 years from the date of filing the non-provisional application. In the U.S., a patent’s term may be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in granting a patent or may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over an earlier-filed patent.

The term of a patent that covers an FDA-approved drug may also be eligible for patent term extension, which permits patent term restoration of a U.S. patent as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug was under regulatory review. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended. Moreover, a patent can only be extended once, and thus, if a single patent is applicable to multiple products, it can only be extended based on one product. Similar provisions are available in Europe and other foreign jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. When possible, depending upon the length of clinical trials and other factors involved in the filing of a BLA, we expect to apply for patent term extensions for patents covering our product candidates and their methods of use.

We may rely, in some circumstances, on trade secrets to protect our technology. However, trade secrets can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors and third parties. We also seek to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of our data and trade secrets by maintaining physical security of its premises and physical and electronic security of its information technology systems. While we have confidence in these individuals, organizations and systems, agreements or security measures may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach. In addition, our trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. To the extent that our consultants or collaborators use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions.

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Material Contracts

License Agreements with CIEMAT

In March 2016, we entered into a license agreement with CIEMAT, CIBER, and FIISFJD, (collectively, “CIEMAT”), granting us worldwide, exclusive rights to certain patents, know-how and other intellectual property relating to LVs containing the human PKLR gene solely within the field of treating PKD. Under the terms of the agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to (a) develop and obtain regulatory approval for one or more products or processes covered by the licensed intellectual property, introduce such products or processes into the commercial market and then make them reasonably available to the public (b) develop or commercialize at least one product or process covered by the licensed intellectual property in at least one country for at least two uninterrupted years following regulatory approval, and (c) use the licensed intellectual property in an adequate, ethical and legitimate manner. In exchange for the license, we are obligated to pay CIEMAT an up-front payment, royalty payments based on net sales of products or processes involving any of the licensed intellectual property, developmental and regulatory milestone payments, and sublicense revenue payments. We are responsible for prosecuting and maintaining the licensed patents at our expense, in cooperation with CIEMAT. We also have the first responsibility to enforce and defend the licensed patents against infringement and/or challenge, in cooperation with CIEMAT. For five years following the effective date of the license agreement, we had a right of first refusal to license any improvements to the licensed intellectual property obtained by CIEMAT at market value. We are obligated to license (without charge) to CIEMAT for non-commercial use any improvements to the licensed intellectual property that we create.

As consideration for the licensed rights, we paid CIEMAT an initial upfront license fee of €0.03 million (approximately $0.03 million) which was expensed as research and development (“R&D”) costs. We are obligated to make aggregate milestone payments of up to €1.4 million (approximately $1.5 million) to CIEMAT upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones. With respect to any commercialized products covered by the PKD license, we are obligated to pay a low to mid-single digit percentage royalty on net sales, subject to specified adjustments, by us or our sublicensees or affiliates. In the event that we enter into a sublicense agreement with a sublicensee, we will be obligated to pay a portion of any consideration received from such sublicensees in specified circumstances.

We may terminate this agreement at any time by providing CIEMAT with 90 days advance notice. The license is in effect for a duration for each of the countries defined in this agreement for as long as a license right exists that covers the licensed product or process in such country, or until the end of any additional legal protection that should be obtained for the license rights in each country.

In July 2016, we entered into a license agreement with CIEMAT granting us worldwide, exclusive rights to certain patents, know-how, data and other intellectual property relating to LVs containing the FANCA gene solely within the field of human therapeutic uses of VSV-G packaged integration component LVs for FA type-A gene therapy. This license is only sublicensable with the prior consent of CIEMAT, not to be unreasonably withheld. Under the terms of the agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to (a) develop and obtain regulatory approval for one or more products or processes covered by the licensed intellectual property, introduce such products or processes into the commercial market and then make them reasonably available to the public (b) develop or commercialize at least one product or process covered by the licensed intellectual property in at least one country for at least two uninterrupted years following regulatory approval, and (c) use the licensed intellectual property in an adequate, ethical and legitimate manner. In exchange for the license, we are obligated to pay CIEMAT an up-front payment, royalty payments based on net sales of products or processes involving any of the licensed intellectual property, regulatory and financing milestone payments, and sublicense revenue payments. We are responsible for prosecuting and maintaining the licensed patents at our expense, in cooperation with CIEMAT. We also have the first responsibility to enforce and defend the licensed patents against infringement and/or challenge, in cooperation with CIEMAT. For five years following the effective date of the license agreement, we have a right of first refusal to license any improvements to the licensed intellectual property obtained by CIEMAT at market value. We are obligated to license (without charge) any improvements to the licensed intellectual property that we create to CIEMAT for non-commercial use.

As consideration for the licensed rights, we paid CIEMAT an initial upfront license fee of €0.1 million (approximately $0.1 million), which was expensed as R&D costs. We are obligated to make aggregate milestone payments of up to €5.0 million (approximately $6.0 million) to CIEMAT upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones. With respect to any commercialized products covered by the license, we are obligated to pay a mid-single digit percentage royalty on net sales, subject to specified adjustments, by us or our sublicensees or affiliates. In the event that we enter into a sublicense agreement with a sublicensee, we will be obligated to pay a portion of any consideration received from such sublicensees in specified circumstances.

We may terminate this agreement at any time by providing CIEMAT with 90 days’ advance notice. The license is in effect for a duration for each of the countries defined in this agreement for as long as a license right exists that covers the licensed product or process in such country, or until the end of any additional legal protection that should be obtained for the license rights in each country.

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License Agreement for LAD-I with CIEMAT and UCLB

We entered into a license agreement in November 2017, effective September 2017, with CIEMAT and UCL Business PLC (“UCLB”, and collectively with CIEMAT, “Licensors”), granting us worldwide, exclusive rights to certain patents, know-how and other intellectual property relating to LVs containing the human LAD-I gene solely within the field of treating LAD-I. Under the terms of the agreement, we are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to (a) develop and obtain regulatory approval for one or more products or processes covered by the licensed intellectual property, introduce such products or processes into the commercial market and then make them reasonably available to the public, (b) develop or commercialize at least one product or process covered by the licensed intellectual property in at least one country for at least two uninterrupted years following regulatory approval, and (c) use the licensed intellectual property in an adequate, ethical and legitimate manner. In exchange for the license, we are obligated to pay Licensors an up-front payment, royalty payments in the mid-single digit percentages based on net sales of products or processes involving any of the licensed intellectual property, developmental and regulatory milestone payments, and sublicense revenue payments. We are responsible for prosecuting and maintaining the licensed patents at our expense, in cooperation with Licensors. We also have the first responsibility to enforce and defend the licensed patents against infringement and/or challenge, in cooperation with Licensors. For five years following the effective date of the license agreement, we have a right of first refusal to license any improvements to the licensed intellectual property obtained by Licensors at market value. We are obligated to license (without charge) any improvements to the licensed intellectual property that we create to Licensors for non-commercial use.

As consideration for the licensed rights, we paid Licensors an initial upfront license fee of €0.03 million (approximately $0.04 million), which was expensed as R&D costs. We are obligated to make aggregate payments of up to €1.4 million (approximately $1.5 million) to Licensors upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones. With respect to any commercialized products covered by the LAD-I license, we are obligated to pay a mid-single digit percentage royalty on net sales, subject to specified adjustments, by us or our sublicensees or affiliates. In the event that we enter into a sublicense agreement with a sublicensee, we will be obligated to pay a portion of any consideration received from such sublicensees in specified circumstances.

We may terminate this agreement at any time by providing Licensors with 90 days advance notice. The license is in effect for a duration for each of the countries defined in this agreement for as long as a license right exists that covers the licensed product or process in such country, or until the end of any additional legal protection that should be obtained for the license rights in each country.

License Agreement for DD with UCSD

In February 2017, we entered into a license agreement with The Regents of the University of California, represented by its San Diego campus (“UCSD”), under which UCSD granted us an exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to certain intellectual property rights for the treatment of lysosomal storage diseases, including DD. In exchange for the license, we became obligated to make an up-front payment, certain clinical and commercial milestone payments, royalty payments (on net sales of products covered by a valid claim within the licensed intellectual property), maintenance fees and sublicense revenue payments. We paid an upfront license fee of $0.05 million and are obligated to make aggregate milestone payments of up to $1.5 million to UCSD upon the achievement of specified development and regulatory milestones for the treatment of DD. A reduced schedule of milestone payments applies to achieving the same milestones for additional indications. With respect to any commercialized products covered by the agreement, we are obligated to pay a low single digit percentage royalty on net sales, subject to specified adjustments. If we enter into a sublicense agreement with a sublicensee, we will be obligated to pay a portion of any consideration received from such sublicensees in specified circumstances. We are also subject to certain diligence milestones for development of a product using the intellectual property licensed from UCSD under this agreement.

The term of the license agreement with UCSD is through the expiration of the licensed patents, some of which are still in the pending application phase.

REGENXBIO, Inc. License

On November 19, 2018, we entered into a license agreement with REGENXBIO Inc. (“RGNX”), pursuant to which we obtained an exclusive license for all U.S. patents and patent applications related to RGNX’s NAV AAV-9 vector for the treatment of DD in humans by in vivo gene therapy using AAV-9 to deliver any known LAMP2 transgene isoforms and all possible combinations of LAMP2 transgene isoforms (the “Field”), as well as an exclusive option to license (the “Option Right”) all U.S. patents and patent applications for two additional NAV AAV vectors in the Field (each, a “Licensed Patent” and collectively, the “Licensed Patents”).

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In consideration for the rights granted to us under the license agreement, we made an upfront payment to RGNX of $7.0 million which was expensed to R&D costs in the 2018 consolidated statement of operations. A fee of $2.0 million per additional vector would be due if we exercise our Option Right to purchase additional vectors. The license agreement provides for royalties payable to RGNX in the high-single digits to low-teens on net sales levels of products incorporating the Licensed Patents (the “Licensed Products”) during the royalty term. If successful, we will be required to make milestone payments to RGNX of up to $13.0 million for each Licensed Product upon the achievement of specified clinical development and regulatory milestones in the U.S. and EU. In addition, we shall pay RGNX 20% of the payment fees received from a priority review voucher issued in connection with or otherwise related to a Licensed Product. These royalty obligations are subject to specified reductions if additional licenses from third parties are required. We must also pay RGNX a portion of all non-royalty sublicense income (if any) received from sublicensees. We paid a $1.0 million license fee payment under the RGNX agreement upon the dosing of the first DD patient in 2019 and a $2.0 million license fee payment upon initiation of a Phase 2 pivotal trial in 2023. There were no additional milestones achieved or related payments made during the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022.

At-the-Market Offering Program

On February 28, 2022, the Company entered into a sales agreement (the “Sales Agreement”), with Cowen and Company, LLC (“Cowen”), with respect to an at-the-market offering program pursuant to which the Company may offer and sell, from time to time at its sole discretion, shares of its common stock, par value $0.01 per share, having an aggregate offering price of up to $200 million (the “Shares”) through Cowen as its sales agent.The shares to be offered and sold under the Sales Agreement, if any, will be offered and sold pursuant to our shelf registration statement on Form S-3. We filed a prospectus supplement with the SEC on February 28, 2022 in connection with the offer and sale of the shares pursuant to the Sales Agreement. We will pay Cowen a cash commission of 3.0% of gross proceeds from the sale of the shares pursuant to the Sales Agreement. We also agreed to provide Cowen with customary indemnification and contribution rights. We have reimbursed Cowen for certain expenses incurred in connection with the Sales Agreement. Through December 31, 2023, we sold 4.2 million shares under the at-the-market offering program for gross proceeds of $65.8 million, less commissions of $2.0 million for net proceeds of $63.8 million. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we sold 0.9 million shares under the at-the-market offering program for gross proceeds of $17.8 million, less commissions of approximately $0.6 million for net proceeds of $17.2 million. On September 12, 2023, the Company and Cowen entered into an amendment pursuant to which the aggregate offering amount available under the at-the-market offering program was reduced to $180.0 million.

Competition

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including in the field of gene therapy, are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary products and novel therapies. While we believe that our experience and scientific knowledge provides us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including larger and better-funded pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, new market entrants and new technologies, as well as from academic institutions, government agencies and private and public research institutions, which may in the future develop products to treat the indications targeted by our pipeline that have not yet been conceived. Any product candidates that we successfully develop and commercialize will compete with existing therapies such as bone marrow transplantation and new therapies that may become available in the future. We believe that the key competitive factors affecting the success of our product candidates, if approved, are likely to be efficacy, safety, convenience, price, pharmaco-economic value, tolerability and the availability of coverage and adequate reimbursement from governmental authorities and other third-party payors. In addition, we intend to develop single treatment curative therapies for clinical indications that address mortality or high morbidity, which could differentiate us from potential competitors developing alternative competitive therapies that may require chronic or repetitive treatment.

Other early-stage companies may also compete through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of companies developing gene therapies. These companies also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.

We anticipate that we will face intense and increasing competition as new drugs and therapeutic modalities enter the market and advanced technologies become available. Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our potential competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer adverse effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop. Our potential competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products more rapidly than we may obtain approval for our products.

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Manufacturing

Our gene therapy platform has two main components: the production of LV and AAV vectors and the target cell transduction process, which results in drug product. We commenced GMP manufacturing at our facility in Cranbury, New Jersey in 2022. We plan to supplement our own direct manufacturing capabilities with third-party manufacturers for our AAV programs. For our LV programs, we currently rely on third-party manufacturers to produce the plasmids, vectors, cell banks and final drug product for our clinical trials. We manage such production with our vendors on a purchase order basis in accordance with applicable master service and supply agreements. We have long-term agreements with these manufacturers. Whenever possible, we procure materials from redundant and multiple sources to mitigate risk. If any of our existing third-party suppliers should become unavailable to us for any reason, we believe that there are a number of potential replacements, although we might experience a delay in our ability to obtain alternative suppliers. We also do not have any current contractual relationships for the manufacture of commercial supplies of our product candidates if they become registered. With respect to commercial production of our product candidates in the future, we plan to pursue multiple options including direct manufacturing as well as outsourcing production of the active pharmaceutical (drug substance) ingredients and final drug product manufacturing (drug product) to contract manufacturing organizations if these products are approved and registered for marketing authorization by the applicable regulatory bodies.

We expect to continue to develop drug candidates that can be produced in a cost-effective manner through direct manufacturing or at contract manufacturing facilities. Should a supplier or manufacturer on which we have relied to produce a product candidate provide us with a faulty product or such product is later recalled, or should we experience such problems for our own products produced through direct manufacturing, we would likely experience delays and additional costs, each of which could be significant.

Government Regulation

FDA Regulation and Marketing Approval

In the U.S., the FDA regulates drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), and biologics under the Public Health Service Act, the regulations promulgated under both laws and other federal, state, and local statutes and regulations. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. regulatory requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions and non-approval of product candidates. These sanctions could include, among other things, the imposition by the FDA of a clinical hold on trials, the FDA’s refusal to approve pending applications or related supplements, withdrawal of an approval, untitled or warning letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, restitution, disgorgement, civil penalties, or criminal prosecution. Such actions by government agencies could also require us to expend a large amount of resources to respond to the actions. Any agency or judicial enforcement action could have a material adverse effect on us.

The FDA and comparable regulatory agencies in state and local jurisdictions and in foreign countries impose substantial requirements upon the clinical development, approval, manufacture, distribution and marketing of pharmaceutical products. These agencies and other federal, state and local entities regulate R&D activities and the testing, manufacture, quality control, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, post-approval monitoring, advertising, promotion, sampling and import and export of our products. Our drug candidates must be approved by the FDA as biologics through the BLA approval process applicable to gene therapy product candidates, before they may be legally marketed in the U.S.

Within the FDA, the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (“CBER”) regulates gene therapy products and has published guidance documents with respect to the development of these types of products. The FDA also has published guidance documents related to, among other things, gene therapy products in general, their preclinical assessment, observing subjects involved in gene therapy studies for delayed adverse events, potency testing, and chemistry, manufacturing and control information in gene therapy INDs.

The process required by the FDA before a biologic may be marketed in the U.S. generally involves the following:

completion of non-clinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies conducted according to Good Laboratory Practice (“GLP”), or other applicable regulations;
submission of an IND, which allows clinical trials to begin unless FDA objects within 30 days;
performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug or biologic for its intended use or uses conducted in accordance with FDA regulations and Good Clinical Practices (“GCP”), which are international ethical and scientific quality standards meant to ensure that the rights, safety and well-being of trial participants are protected, and that the integrity of the data is maintained;
preparation and submission to the FDA of a BLA;
submission of a user fee for FDA review of the BLA;
review of the product by an FDA advisory committee, where appropriate or if applicable;
satisfactory completion of pre-approval inspection of manufacturing facilities and clinical trial sites at which the product,

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or components thereof, are produced to assess compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practice (“cGMP”) requirements, and if applicable, the FDA’s current Good Tissue Practice (“cGTP”) requirements, and of selected clinical trial sites to assess compliance with GCP requirements; and
FDA approval of a BLA which must occur before a biologic can be marketed or sold.

Preclinical Studies

Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluation of the purity and stability of the manufactured drug substance or active pharmaceutical ingredient and the formulated drug or drug product, as well as in vitro and animal studies to assess the safety and activity of the drug for initial testing in humans and to establish a rationale for therapeutic use. The conduct of preclinical studies is subject to federal regulations and requirements, including GLP regulations. The results of the preclinical tests, together with manufacturing information, analytical data, any available clinical data, or literature and plans for clinical studies, among other things, are submitted to the FDA as part of an IND.

Companies usually must complete some long-term preclinical testing, such as animal tests of reproductive adverse events and carcinogenicity and must also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug and finalize a process for manufacturing the drug in commercial quantities in accordance with (“cGMP”) requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the drug candidate and, among other things, the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the identity, strength, quality, and purity of the final drug product. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the drug candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its shelf life.

IND and Clinical Trials

Clinical trials involve the administration of the investigational product to human subjects under the supervision of qualified investigators in accordance with GCP requirements. Clinical trials are conducted under written study protocols detailing, among other things, the objectives of the study, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Prior to commencing the first clinical trial, an initial IND, which contains the results of preclinical testing along with other information, such as information about product chemistry, manufacturing and controls and a proposed protocol, must be submitted to the FDA. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA unless the FDA within the 30-day time period raises concerns or questions about the drug product or the conduct of the clinical trial and imposes a clinical hold. A clinical hold may also be imposed at any time while the IND is in effect. In such a case, the IND sponsor must resolve any outstanding concerns with the FDA before the clinical trial may begin or re-commence. Accordingly, submission of an IND may or may not result in the FDA allowing clinical trials to commence or continue.

In addition to the submission of an IND to the FDA before initiation of a clinical trial in the U.S., certain human clinical trials involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules are subject to oversight of institutional biosafety committees (“IBCs”), as set forth in the National Institutes for Health (“NIH”) Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules, or NIH Guidelines. Under the NIH Guidelines, recombinant and synthetic nucleic acids are defined as: (i) molecules that are constructed by joining nucleic acid molecules and that can replicate in a living cell (i.e., recombinant nucleic acids); (ii) nucleic acid molecules that are chemically or by other means synthesized or amplified, including those that are chemically or otherwise modified but can base pair with naturally occurring nucleic acid molecules (i.e., synthetic nucleic acids); or (iii) molecules that result from the replication of those described in (i) or (ii). Specifically, under the NIH Guidelines, supervision of human gene transfer trials includes evaluation and assessment by an IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment, and such review may result in some delay before initiation of a clinical trial. While the NIH Guidelines are not mandatory unless the research in question is being conducted at or sponsored by institutions receiving NIH funding of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research, many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily follow them.

A sponsor who wishes to conduct a clinical trial outside the U.S. may, but need not, obtain FDA authorization to conduct the clinical trial under an IND. If a foreign clinical trial is not conducted under an IND, the sponsor may submit data from the clinical trial to the FDA in support of a BLA or IND so long as the clinical trial is conducted in compliance with GCP, and the FDA is able to validate the data from the study through an onsite inspection if the agency deems it necessary.

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A separate submission to the existing IND must be made for each successive clinical trial to be conducted during product development. Further, an independent Institutional Review Board (“IRB”) for each site at which the clinical trial will be conducted must review and approve the clinical trial before it commences at that site. Informed written consent must also be obtained from each trial subject. Regulatory authorities, including the FDA, or IRB, or the sponsor, may suspend or terminate a clinical trial at any time on various grounds, including a finding that the participants are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk or that the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with FDA requirements. Additionally, some clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the clinical trial sponsor, known as a data safety monitoring board or committee. This group provides authorization as to whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points based on access to certain data from the trial and may recommend halting the clinical trial if it determines that there is an unacceptable safety risk for subjects or other grounds, such as no demonstration of efficacy.

Human clinical trials for BLA approval typically involve a three-phase process, although some phases may overlap or be combined. Phase 1, the initial clinical evaluations, consists of administering the drug and testing for safety and tolerated dosages and in some indications such as rare disease, as preliminary evidence of efficacy in humans. Phase 2 involves a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug for a particular indication and to determine optimal dosage and dose interval and to identify possible adverse side effects and risks in a larger patient group. When a product is found safe, and initial efficacy is established in Phase 2, it is then evaluated in Phase 3 clinical trials. Phase 3 trials consist of expanded multi-location testing for efficacy and safety to evaluate the overall benefit-to-risk index of the investigational drug in relationship to the disease treated. The results of preclinical and human clinical testing are submitted to the FDA in the form of a BLA for approval to commence commercial sales.

All clinical trials must be conducted in accordance with FDA regulations, GCP requirements and their protocols in order for the data to be considered reliable for regulatory purposes. Progress reports detailing the results of the clinical trials must be submitted at least annually to the FDA and more frequently if serious adverse events occur. Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials may not be completed successfully within any specified period, or at all. Government regulation may delay or prevent marketing of product candidates or new drugs for a considerable period of time and impose costly procedures upon our activities.

Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information

Sponsors of clinical trials of FDA-regulated products, including drugs, are required to register and disclose certain clinical trial information. Information related to the product, patient population, phase of investigation, study sites and investigators, and other aspects of the clinical trial is then made public as part of the registration. Sponsors are also obligated to disclose the results of their clinical trials after completion. Disclosure of the results of these trials can be delayed until the new product or new indication being studied has been approved up to a maximum of two years. Competitors may use this publicly available information to gain knowledge regarding the progress of development programs.

The BLA Approval Process

In order to obtain approval to market a drug in the U.S., a marketing application must be submitted to the FDA that provides data establishing to the FDA’s satisfaction the safety and effectiveness of the investigational drug for the proposed indication. The application includes all relevant data available from pertinent non-clinical or preclinical studies and clinical trials, including negative or ambiguous results as well as positive findings, together with detailed information relating to the product’s chemistry, manufacturing, controls and proposed labeling, among other things. Data can come from company-sponsored clinical trials intended to test the safety and effectiveness of a use of a product, or from a number of alternative sources, including studies initiated by investigators that meet GCP requirements.

During the development of a new drug, sponsors are given opportunities to meet with the FDA at certain points. These points may be prior to submission of an IND, at the End-of-Phase 1 or 2, and before a BLA is submitted. Meetings at other times may be requested. These meetings can provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date, for the FDA to provide advice and for the sponsor and the FDA to reach agreement on the next phase of development.

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The results of product development, non-clinical studies and clinical trials, along with descriptions of the manufacturing process, analytical tests conducted on the chemistry of the drug, proposed labeling and other relevant information are submitted to the FDA as part of a BLA requesting approval to market the product for its intended indication. The FDA reviews all BLAs submitted to ensure that they are sufficiently complete for substantive review before it accepts them for filing. It may request additional information rather than accept a BLA for filing. In this event, the BLA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing. The FDA has 60 days from its receipt of a BLA to conduct an initial review to determine whether the application will be accepted for filing based on the Agency’s threshold determination that the application is sufficiently complete to permit substantive review. The FDA reviews a BLA to determine, among other things, whether the proposed product is safe and potent, or effective, for its intended use, and has an acceptable purity profile, and whether the product is being manufactured in accordance with cGMP to assure and preserve the product’s identity, safety, strength, quality, potency and purity. The FDA has agreed to specific performance goals on the review of BLAs. Specifically, FDA under the goals and policies agreed to by the FDA under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, as amended, the FDA has 10 months, from the filing date, in which to complete its initial review of an original BLA and respond to the applicant, and six months from the filing date of an original BLA designated for priority review. The review process may be extended by the FDA for three additional months to consider certain late-submitted information or information intended to clarify information already provided in the submission. After the FDA completes its substantive review of a BLA, it will communicate to the sponsor that the drug will either be approved, or it will issue a complete response letter to communicate that the BLA will not be approved in its current form and inform the sponsor of changes that must be made or additional clinical, non-clinical or manufacturing data that must be received before the application can be approved, with no implication regarding the ultimate approvability of the application or the timing of any such approval, if ever. If or when those deficiencies have been addressed to the FDA’s satisfaction in a resubmission of the BLA, the FDA may issue an approval letter. FDA has committed to reviewing such resubmissions in two to six months depending on the type of information included. The FDA may refer applications for novel drug products or drug products that present difficult questions of safety or efficacy to an advisory committee, typically a panel that includes clinicians and other experts, for review, evaluation, and a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and, if so, under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendations of an advisory committee, but it considers such recommendations carefully when making decisions.

Before approving a BLA, the FDA typically will inspect the facilities at which the product is manufactured. The FDA will not approve the product unless it determines that the manufacturing processes and facilities are in compliance with cGMP requirements and adequate to assure consistent production of the product within required specifications. Additionally, before approving a BLA, the FDA may inspect one or more clinical sites to assure compliance with GCP. For a gene therapy product, the FDA also will not approve the product if the manufacturer is not in compliance with the cGTPs. These are FDA regulations that govern the methods used in, and the facilities and controls used for, the manufacture of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products, or HCT/Ps, which are human cells or tissue intended for implantation, transplant, infusion, or transfer into a human recipient. The primary intent of the cGTP requirements is to ensure that cell and tissue-based products are manufactured in a manner designed to prevent the introduction, transmission and spread of communicable disease. FDA regulations also require tissue establishments to register and list their HCT/Ps with the FDA and, when applicable, to evaluate donors through appropriate screening and testing. If the FDA determines that the application, manufacturing process or manufacturing facilities are not acceptable, it typically will outline the deficiencies and often will request additional testing or information. This may significantly delay further review of the application. If the FDA finds that a clinical site did not conduct the clinical trial in accordance with GCP, the FDA may determine the data generated by the clinical site should be excluded from the primary efficacy analyses provided in the BLA. Additionally, notwithstanding the submission of any requested additional information, the FDA ultimately may decide that the application does not satisfy the regulatory criteria for approval.

The FDA may require, or companies may pursue, additional clinical trials after a product is approved. These so-called Phase 4 or post-approval trials may be made a condition to be satisfied for continuing drug approval. The results of Phase 4 trials can confirm the effectiveness of a product candidate and can provide important safety information. In addition, the FDA has authority to require sponsors to conduct post-marketing trials to specifically address safety issues identified by the agency. See “Post-Marketing Requirements” below.

The FDA also has authority to require a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”), from manufacturers to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh its risks. A sponsor may also voluntarily propose a REMS as part of the BLA submission. The need for a REMS is determined as part of the review of the BLA. Based on statutory standards, elements of a REMS may include “Dear Doctor letters,” a medication guide, more elaborate targeted educational programs, and in some cases distribution and use restrictions, referred to as elements to assure safe use (“ETASU”). ETASU can include, but are not limited to, special training or certification for prescribing or dispensing, dispensing only under certain circumstances, special monitoring and the use of patient registries. These elements are negotiated as part of the BLA approval, and in some cases the approval date may be delayed. Once adopted, REMS are subject to periodic assessment and modification.

Changes to some of the conditions established in an approved application, including changes in indications, labeling, manufacturing processes or facilities, require submission and FDA approval of a new BLA or BLA supplement before the change can be implemented. A BLA supplement for a new indication typically requires clinical data similar to that in the original application, and the FDA uses the same procedures and actions in reviewing BLA supplements as it does in reviewing BLAs.

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Even if a product candidate receives regulatory approval, the approval may be limited to specific disease states, patient populations and dosages, or might contain significant limitations on use in the form of warnings, precautions or contraindications, or in the form of onerous risk management plans, restrictions on distribution or use, or post-marketing trial requirements. Further, even after regulatory approval is obtained, later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product may result in restrictions on the product, including safety labeling or imposition of a REMS, the requirement to conduct post-market studies or clinical trials or even complete withdrawal of the product from the market. Delay in obtaining, or failure to obtain, regulatory approval for our products, or obtaining approval but for significantly limited use, would harm our business. In addition, we cannot predict what adverse governmental regulations may arise from future U.S. or foreign governmental action.

The Hatch-Waxman Amendments

Under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Amendments, a portion of a product’s U.S. patent term that was lost during clinical development and regulatory review by the FDA may be restored by returning up to five years of patent life for a patent that covers a new product or its use. This period is generally one-half the time between the effective date of an IND (falling after issuance of the patent) and the submission date of a BLA, plus the time between the submission date of a BLA and the approval of that application, provided that the sponsor acted with diligence. Patent term restorations, however, cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended and the extension must be applied for prior to expiration of the patent. The USPTO, in consultation with the FDA, reviews and approves the application for any patent term extension or restoration.

Market Exclusivity

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, signed into law on March 23, 2010, 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 shown to be similar to, or interchangeable with, an FDA-approved reference biological product. Biosimilarity, which requires that there be no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of safety, purity, and potency, can be shown through analytical studies, animal studies, and a clinical trial or trials. Interchangeability requires that a product is biosimilar to the reference product and the product must demonstrate that it can be expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference product and, for products administered multiple times, the biologic and the reference biologic may be switched after one has been previously administered without increasing safety risks or risks of diminished efficacy relative to exclusive use of the reference biologic.

A reference biological product is granted four (4) and twelve (12) year exclusivity periods from the time of first licensure of the product. FDA will not accept an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product based on the reference biological product until four (4) years after the date of first licensure of the reference product, and FDA will not approve an application for a biosimilar or interchangeable product based on the reference biological product until twelve (12) years after the date of first licensure of the reference product. “First licensure” typically means the initial date the particular product at issue was approved in the U.S. Date of first licensure does not include the date of licensure of (and a new period of exclusivity is not available for) a biological product if the licensure is for a supplement for the biological product or for a subsequent application by the same sponsor or manufacturer of the biological product (or licensor, predecessor in interest, or other related entity) for a change (not including a modification to the structure of the biological product) that results in a new indication, route of administration, dosing schedule, dosage form, delivery system, delivery device or strength, or for a modification to the structure of the biological product that does not result in a change in safety, purity, or potency. Therefore, one must determine whether a new product includes a modification to the structure of a previously approved product that results in a change in safety, purity, or potency to assess whether the licensure of the new product is a first licensure that triggers its own period of exclusivity. Whether a subsequent application, if approved, warrants exclusivity as the “first licensure” of a biological product is determined on a case-by-case basis with data submitted by the sponsor.

In addition, under the Orphan Drug Act, FDA may designate a biologic product as an “orphan drug” if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition (generally meaning that it affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or more in cases in which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making a biologic product available in the U.S. for treatment of the disease or condition will be recovered from sales of the product). Orphan product designation must be requested before submitting a BLA. After FDA grants orphan product designation, the identity of the therapeutic agent and its potential orphan use are disclosed publicly by FDA. Orphan product designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process. If a product with orphan status receives the first FDA approval for the disease or condition for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to orphan product exclusivity, meaning that FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug or biologic product for the same indication for seven years, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity or if the party holding the exclusivity fails to assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. Competitors, however, may receive approval of different products for the same indication than that for which the orphan product has exclusivity or obtain approval for the same product but for a different indication for which the orphan product has exclusivity. Orphan medicinal product status in the EU has similar, but not identical, benefits.

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Pediatric exclusivity is another type of non-patent marketing exclusivity in the U.S. and, if granted, provides for the attachment of an additional six months of marketing protection to the term of any existing regulatory exclusivity, including the non-patent exclusivity. This six-month exclusivity may be granted if a BLA sponsor submits pediatric data that fairly respond to a written request from the FDA for such data.

Rare Pediatric Disease Designation and Priority Review Vouchers

Under the FDCA, the FDA incentivizes the development of drugs and biological products that meet the definition of a “rare pediatric disease,” defined to mean a serious or life-threatening disease in which the serious or life-threatening manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years and the disease affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S. or affects more than 200,000 in the U.S. and for which there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing and making in the U.S. a drug or biological product for such disease or condition will be received from sales in the U.S. of such drug or biological product. The sponsor of a product candidate for a rare pediatric disease may be eligible for a voucher that can be used to obtain a priority review for a subsequent human drug or biological product application after the date of approval of the rare pediatric disease drug or biological product, referred to as a priority review voucher (“PRV”). A sponsor may request rare pediatric disease designation from the FDA prior to the submission of its BLA. A rare pediatric disease designation does not guarantee that a sponsor will receive a PRV upon approval of its BLA. Moreover, a sponsor who chooses not to submit a rare pediatric disease designation request may nonetheless receive a PRV upon approval of their marketing application if they request such a voucher in their original marketing application and meet all of the eligibility criteria. If a PRV is received, it may be sold or transferred an unlimited number of times. Congress has extended the PRV program through September 30, 2024, with the potential for PRVs to be granted through September 30, 2026.

Expedited Development and Review Programs

FDA is authorized to expedite the review of BLAs in several ways. Under the Fast Track program, the sponsor of a biologic product candidate may request FDA to designate the product for a specific indication as a Fast Track product concurrent with or after the filing of the IND. Biologic products are eligible for Fast Track designation if they are intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs for the condition. Fast Track designation applies to the combination of the product candidate and the specific indication for which it is being studied. In addition to other benefits, such as the ability to have greater interactions with FDA, FDA may initiate review of sections of a Fast Track BLA before the application is complete, a process known as rolling review.

Any product submitted to FDA for marketing, including under a Fast Track program, may be eligible for other types of FDA programs intended to expedite development and review, such as regenerative medicine advanced therapy (“RMAT”) designation, priority review and accelerated approval. To qualify for RMAT designation, the product candidate must be a regenerative medicine therapy, which is defined as a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, except for those regulated solely under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and part 1271 of Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations; is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the product has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition. A gene therapy product may meet the definition of a regenerative medicine therapy for purposes of RMAT designation. A BLA for a product candidate that has received RMAT designation may be eligible for priority review or accelerated approval through use of surrogate or intermediate endpoints reasonably likely to predict long-term clinical benefit, or reliance upon data obtained from a meaningful number of sites. Benefits of RMAT designation also include early interactions with FDA to discuss any potential surrogate or intermediate endpoint to be used to support accelerated approval. A product candidate with RMAT designation that is granted accelerated approval and is subject to post-approval requirements may fulfill such requirements through the submission of clinical evidence from clinical studies, patient registries, or other sources of real-world evidence, such as electronic health records; the collection of larger confirmatory data sets; or post-approval monitoring of all patients treated with such therapy prior to its approval.

A product candidate including one that received Fast Track or RMAT designation is eligible for priority review if it treats a serious condition and, if approved, it would be a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a serious condition compared to available therapies. FDA aims to complete its review of priority review applications within six months as opposed to 10 months for standard review.

Additionally, a biologic product may be eligible for accelerated approval if it is designed to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and demonstrates an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit, or on the basis of an effect on a clinical endpoint other than survival or irreversible morbidity or mortality or other clinical benefit, taking into account the severity, rarity and prevalence of the condition and the availability or lack of alternative treatments. As a condition of approval, FDA may require that a sponsor of a drug or biologic product candidate receiving accelerated approval perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. In addition, FDA currently requires, unless otherwise informed by the agency, pre-approval of promotional materials intended for dissemination or publication within 120 days of marketing approval.

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Even if a product qualifies for one or more of these programs, the FDA may later decide that the product no longer meets the conditions for qualification or the time period for FDA review or approval may not be shortened. Fast Track designation, priority review and accelerated approval do not change the standards for approval but may expedite the development or approval process.

Post-Marketing Requirements

Following approval of a new product, a pharmaceutical company and the approved product are subject to continuing regulation by the FDA, including, among other things, monitoring and recordkeeping activities, reporting to the applicable regulatory authorities of adverse experiences with the product, providing the regulatory authorities with updated safety and efficacy information, product sampling and distribution requirements, and complying with promotion and advertising requirements, which include, among others, standards for direct-to-consumer advertising, restrictions on promoting drugs for uses or in patient populations that are not described in the drug’s approved labeling, or off-label use, limitations on industry-sponsored scientific and educational activities and requirements for promotional activities involving the internet. Although physicians may, in their independent professional medical judgment, prescribe legally available drugs for off-label uses, manufacturers typically may not market or promote such off-label uses. Modifications or enhancements to the product or its labeling or changes of the site of manufacture are often subject to the approval of the FDA and other regulators, who may or may not grant approval or may include a lengthy review process.

Prescription drug advertising is subject to federal, state, and foreign regulations. In the U.S., the FDA regulates prescription drug promotion, including direct-to-consumer advertising. Prescription drug promotional materials must be submitted to the FDA in conjunction with their first use. Any distribution of prescription drug products and pharmaceutical samples must comply with the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act and the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, both of which are part of the FDCA.

In the U.S., once a product is approved, its manufacturing is subject to comprehensive and continuing regulation by the FDA. The FDA regulations require that products be manufactured in specific approved facilities and in accordance with cGMP. cGMP regulations require among other things, quality control and quality assurance as well as the corresponding maintenance of records and documentation and the obligation to investigate and correct any deviations from cGMP. Drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and certain state agencies for compliance with cGMP and other laws. Additionally, manufacturers and other parties involved in the supply chain for prescription drug products must also comply with product tracking and tracing requirements and notify the FDA of counterfeit, diverted, stolen and intentionally adulterated products or products that are otherwise unfit for distribution in the U.S. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance. These regulations also impose certain organizational, procedural and documentation requirements with respect to manufacturing and quality assurance activities. BLA holders using contract manufacturers, laboratories or packagers are responsible for the selection and monitoring of qualified firms, and, in certain circumstances, qualified suppliers to these firms. These firms and, where applicable, their suppliers are subject to inspections by the FDA at any time, and the discovery of violative conditions, including failure to conform to cGMP, could result in enforcement actions that interrupt the operation of any such product or may result in restrictions on a product, manufacturer, or holder of an approved BLA, including, among other things, recall, withdrawal of the product from the market, or refusal of importation. In addition, the manufacturer and/or holder of an approved BLA are subject to annual product and establishment fees. These fees are typically increased annually.

The FDA also may require post-marketing testing, also known as Phase 4 testing, to monitor the effects of an approved product or place conditions on an approval via a REMS that could restrict the distribution or use of the product. Discovery of previously unknown problems with a product or the failure to comply with applicable FDA requirements can have negative consequences, including adverse publicity, judicial or administrative enforcement, untitled or warning letters from the FDA, mandated corrective advertising or communications with doctors, withdrawal of approval, and civil or criminal penalties, among others. Newly discovered or developed safety or effectiveness data may require changes to a product’s approved labeling, including the addition of new warnings and contraindications, and may also require the implementation of other risk management measures. New government requirements, including those resulting from new legislation, may be established, or the FDA’s policies may change, which could delay or prevent regulatory approval of our products under development.

Coverage and Reimbursement

Sales of any products for which we receive regulatory approval for commercial sale will depend in part on the availability of reimbursement from third-party payors, including government healthcare program administrative authorities, managed care organizations, private health insurers, and other entities. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions, and their prescribing physicians, generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Patients are unlikely to use our products unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products. Therefore, our products, once approved, may not obtain market acceptance unless coverage is provided, and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost of our products.

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The process for determining whether a third-party payor will provide coverage for a drug product typically is separate from the process for setting the price of a drug product or for establishing the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the drug product once coverage is approved. Third-party payors may limit coverage to specific drug products on an approved list, also known as a formulary, or otherwise subject it to a health technology assessment. In either case, payer coverage rules might exclude certain FDA-approved drugs for a particular indication. A decision by a third-party payor not to cover our product candidates could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved. Moreover, a third-party payor’s decision to provide coverage for a drug product does not imply that an adequate reimbursement rate will be approved. Adequate third-party reimbursement may not be available to enable us to maintain price levels sufficient to realize an appropriate return on our investment in product development. Additionally, coverage and reimbursement for drug products can differ significantly from payor to payor. One third-party payor’s decision to cover a particular drug product or service does not ensure that other payors will also provide coverage for the medical product or service or will provide coverage at an adequate reimbursement rate. As a result, the coverage determination process will require us to provide scientific and clinical support for the use of our products to each payor separately and will be a time-consuming process.

The containment of healthcare costs has become a priority of federal, state, and foreign governments, and the prices of drugs have been a focus in this effort. Third-party payors are increasingly challenging the prices charged for drug products and medical services, examining the medical necessity, and reviewing the cost effectiveness of drug products and medical services, in addition to questioning safety and efficacy. If these third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products after FDA approval or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products at a profit.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided funding for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness. The plan for the research was published in 2012 by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health, and periodic reports on the status of the research and related expenditures will be made to Congress. Although the results of the comparative effectiveness studies are not intended to mandate coverage policies for public or private payors, it is not clear what effect, if any, the research will have on the sales of our product candidates, if any such product or the condition that it is intended to treat is the subject of a study. It is also possible that comparative effectiveness research demonstrating benefits in a competitor’s product could adversely affect the sales of our product candidates, once approved. If third-party payors do not consider our products to be cost-effective compared to other available therapies, they may not cover our products after approval as a benefit under their plans or, if they do, the level of payment may not be sufficient to allow us to sell our products on a profitable basis.

In addition, in some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, the EU provides options for its member states to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. A member state may approve a specific price for the medicinal product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our products. Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the U.S. and generally tend to be significantly lower.

Anti-Kickback and False Claims Laws and Other Regulatory Matters

In the U.S., among other things, the research, manufacturing, distribution, sale and promotion of drug products and medical devices are potentially subject to regulation and enforcement by various federal, state and local authorities in addition to the FDA, including the Department of Justice, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, other divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., the Office of Inspector General), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, state Attorneys General and other state and local government agencies. Our current and future business activities, including for example, sales, marketing, and scientific/educational grant programs must comply with healthcare regulatory laws, as applicable, which may include the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal False Claims Act, as amended, the privacy and security regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), as amended, physician payment transparency laws, and similar state laws. Pricing and rebate programs must comply with the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, as amended, and the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, as amended, which requires special pricing to both the Veterans Administration and other Federal agencies, as well as to certain safety net providers, referred to as 340B covered entities. If products are made available to authorized users of the Federal Supply Schedule of the General Services Administration, additional laws and requirements apply. All of these activities are also potentially subject to federal and state consumer protection and unfair competition laws.

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

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The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal for any person or entity, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf) to knowingly and willfully, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, solicit, receive, offer, or pay any remuneration that is intended to induce the referral of business, including the purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for or recommending the purchase, lease or order of, any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, under a federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. The term “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value. The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on the one hand and prescribers, purchasers, and formulary managers on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all of its facts and circumstances. Additionally, the intent standard under the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care Education and Reconciliation Act (collectively, the “ACA”), to a stricter standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the Federal False Claims Act. Violations of this law are punishable by up to five years in prison, criminal fines, administrative civil money penalties, and exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs. In addition, many states have adopted laws similar to the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Some of these state prohibitions apply to the referral of patients for healthcare services reimbursed by any insurer, not just federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Due to the breadth of these federal and state anti-kickback laws, and the potential for additional legal or regulatory change in this area, it is possible that our future business activities, including our sales and marketing practices and/or our future relationships with physicians and the medical community might be challenged under anti-kickback laws, which could harm us.

Federal false claims and false statement laws, including the civil False Claims Act, prohibits any person or entity from, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, for payment to federal programs (including Medicare and Medicaid) claims for items or services, including drugs, that are false or fraudulent. Although we would not submit claims directly to payors, manufacturers can be held liable under these laws if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims by, for example, knowingly providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers or promoting a product off-label. In addition, our future activities relating to the reporting of wholesaler or estimated retail prices for our products, the reporting of prices used to calculate Medicaid rebate information and other information affecting federal, state, and third-party reimbursement for our products, and the sale and marketing of our products, are subject to scrutiny under this law. For example, pharmaceutical companies have been found liable under the Federal Civil False Claims Act in connection with their off-label promotion of drugs. Penalties for a civil False Claims Act violation include three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus mandatory civil penalties for each separate false claim, the potential for exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs, and, although the Federal False Claims Act is a civil statute, conduct that results in a False Claims Act violation may also implicate various federal criminal statutes. If the government were to allege that we were, or convict us of, violating these false claims laws, we could be subject to a substantial fine and may suffer a decline in our stock price. In addition, private individuals have the ability to bring actions under the Federal Civil False Claims Act and certain states have enacted laws modeled after the Federal False Claims Act.

Additionally, HIPAA created additional federal criminal statutes that prohibit, among other things, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private third-party payors and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing, or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services.

There are also an increasing number of state laws that require manufacturers to make reports to states on pricing and marketing information. Many of these laws contain ambiguities as to what is required to comply with the laws. For example, there are federal government price reporting laws, which require us to calculate and report complex pricing metrics in an accurate and timely manner to government programs. In addition, as discussed below, a similar federal requirement under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, requires certain manufacturers to track and report to the federal government certain payments provided to physicians and teaching hospitals made in the previous calendar year, as well as certain ownership and investment interests held by physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and chiropractors) and their immediate family members. These laws may affect our sales, marketing, and other promotional activities by imposing administrative and compliance burdens on us. In addition, given the lack of clarity with respect to these laws and their implementation, our reporting actions could be subject to the penalty provisions of the pertinent state and federal authorities. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations extend to include transfers of value made to certain non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

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In addition, we may be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and their respective implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published on January 25, 2013, imposes specified requirements relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of individually identifiable health information on certain types of individuals and organizations. Although we will not likely be a “covered entity” under this law, our customers may require us to become a “business associate” to them for various purposes, which will require that we make ourselves amenable to lawsuits for any data breaches we may incur. In addition, certain state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other and from HIPAA in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts.

The failure to comply with regulatory requirements subjects us to possible legal or regulatory action. Depending on the circumstances, failure to meet applicable regulatory requirements can result in significant criminal, civil and/or administrative penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, injunctions, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of product approvals, refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, contractual damages, reputational harm, administrative burdens, diminished profits and future earnings, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations.

We plan to develop a comprehensive compliance program that establishes internal controls to facilitate adherence to the law and program requirements to which we will or may become subject because we intend to commercialize products that could be reimbursed under a federal healthcare program and other governmental healthcare programs. However, we cannot guarantee that this program will work effectively with respect to every federal and state law at each and every moment where such compliance is necessary.

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

Healthcare Legislative Reform

In both the U.S. and certain foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes to the health care system that could impact our ability to sell our products profitably. In particular, in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the ACA, was enacted, which, among other things, subjected biologic products to potential competition by lower-cost biosimilars; addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by most manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; extended the Medicaid Drug Rebate program to utilization of prescriptions of individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations; subjected manufacturers to new annual fees and taxes for certain branded prescription drugs; created a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% (increased to 70% pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, effective as of January 1, 2019) point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D (which has been repealed effective 2025); and provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the ACA was enacted including:

In August 2011, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, which, among other things, created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend to Congress proposals for deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for the years 2013 through 2021. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction did not achieve a targeted deficit reduction, which triggered the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of, up to 2% per fiscal year, and, due to subsequent legislative amendments, will remain in effect through 2030 unless Congress takes additional action. These reductions went into effect in April 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, will remain in effect through 2030 unless additional action is taken by Congress.
On April 13, 2017, CMS published a final rule that gives states greater flexibility in setting benchmarks for insurers in the individual and small group marketplaces, which may have the effect of relaxing the essential health benefits required under the ACA for plans sold through such marketplaces.
On May 30, 2018, the Right to Try Act, was signed into law. The law, among other things, provides a federal framework for certain patients to access certain investigational new drug products that have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and that are undergoing investigation for FDA approval. Under certain circumstances, eligible patients can seek treatment without enrolling in clinical trials and without obtaining FDA permission under the FDA expanded access program. There is no

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obligation for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make its drug products available to eligible patients as a result of the Right to Try Act.
On May 23, 2019, CMS published a final rule to allow Medicare Advantage Plans the option of using step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2020.

There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the U.S. with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At a federal level, President Biden signed an Executive Order on July 9, 2021 affirming the administration’s policy to (i) support legislative reforms that would lower the prices of prescription drug and biologics, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, by imposing inflation caps, and, by supporting the development and market entry of lower-cost generic drugs and biosimilars; and (ii) support the enactment of a public health insurance option. Among other things, the Executive Order also directs HHS to provide a report on actions to combat excessive pricing of prescription drugs, enhance the domestic drug supply chain, reduce the price that the Federal government pays for drugs, and address price gouging in the industry; and directs the FDA to work with states and Indian Tribes that propose to develop section 804 Importation Programs in accordance with the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, and the FDA’s implementing regulations. FDA released such implementing regulations on September 24, 2020, which went into effect on November 30, 2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. On September 25, 2020, CMS stated drugs imported by states under this rule will not be eligible for federal rebates under Section 1927 of the Social Security Act and manufacturers would not report these drugs for “best price” or Average Manufacturer Price purposes. Since these drugs are not considered covered outpatient drugs, CMS further stated it will not publish a National Average Drug Acquisition Cost for these drugs. If implemented, importation of drugs from Canada may materially and adversely affect the price we receive for any of our product candidates. Additionally, on November 30, 2020, HHS published a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers. Pursuant to court order, the removal and addition of the aforementioned safe harbors were delayed and recent legislation imposed a moratorium on implementation of the rule until January 1, 2032. Although a number of these and other proposed measures may require authorization through additional legislation to become effective, and the Biden administration may reverse or otherwise change these measures, both the Biden administration and Congress have indicated that they will continue to seek new legislative measures to control drug costs.

Most recently, on August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”) which provides for (i) the government to set or negotiate prices for select high-cost Medicare Part D (beginning in 2026) and Medicare Part B drugs (beginning in 2028) that are more than nine years (for small-molecule drugs) or 13 years (for biological products) from their FDA approval, (ii) manufacturers to pay a rebate for Medicare Part B and Part D drugs when prices increase faster than inflation beginning in 2022 for Medicare Part D and 2023 for Medicare Part B drugs, and (iii) Medicare Part D redesign which replaces the current coverage gap provisions and establishes a $2,000 cap for out-of-pocket limits costs for Medicare beneficiaries beginning in 2025, with manufacturers being responsible for 10% of costs up to the $2,000 cap and 20% after that cap is reached. Implementation of the IRA has occurred through informal guidance, but the results of that guidance on the market for drugs, including our products, remains uncertain.

At the state level, legislatures have increasingly passed legislation and implemented regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

We expect that the healthcare reform measures that have been adopted and may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that we receive for any approved product and could seriously harm our future revenues. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private third-party payors.

There have been, and likely will continue to be, legislative and regulatory proposals at the foreign, federal, and state levels directed at broadening the availability of healthcare and containing or lowering the cost of healthcare. The implementation of cost containment measures or other healthcare reforms may prevent us from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability, or commercialize our product. Such reforms could have an adverse effect on anticipated revenue from product candidates that we may successfully develop and for which we may obtain regulatory approval and may affect our overall financial condition and ability to develop product candidates.

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European Union Drug Review and Approval

Clinical Trial Approval

In the EU, an applicant for authorization of a clinical trial must obtain prior approval from the national competent authority of the EU Member States in which the clinical trial is to be conducted. Furthermore, the applicant may only start a clinical trial at a specific study site after the relevant independent ethics committee has issued a favorable opinion in accordance with the laws of the Member State(s) concerned. In April 2014, the EU adopted the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014, which replaced the Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC on January 31, 2022. It overhauls the system of approvals for clinical trials in the EU. Specifically, the new legislation, which is directly applicable in all EU Member States (meaning that no national implementing legislation in each EU Member State is required), aims at simplifying and streamlining the approval of clinical trials in the EU. For instance, the new Clinical Trials Regulation provides for a streamlined application procedure through the EU CTIS via a single-entry point (instead of submitting applications separately to each national competent authority and ethics committee in the Member States in which the trial will be conducted) and strictly defined deadlines for the assessment of clinical trial applications. The Clinical Trials Regulation also makes it more efficient for EU Member States to evaluate and authorize applications together, via the Clinical Trials.

The transitory provisions of the new Clinical Trials Regulation offer sponsors the possibility to choose between the requirements of the previous Clinical Trials Directive and the Clinical Trials Regulation if the request for authorization of a clinical trial is submitted in the year after the new Clinical Trials Regulation became applicable i.e. January 31, 2023. As of January 31, 2023, all applications need to be submitted under and in accordance with the Clinical Trial Regulation. If the sponsor chooses to submit under the Clinical Trials Directive, the clinical trial continues to be governed by the Directive and the relevant implementing legislation in each EU Member State, as required, until three years after the new Clinical Trials Regulation became applicable. If a clinical trial continues for more than three years after the Clinical Trials Regulation became applicable, the Clinical Trials Regulation will at that time begin to apply to the clinical trial. The implementation of the Clinical Trial Regulation may require us to take additional steps and procedures to ensure that our clinical trials comply with applicable laws.

Marketing Authorization

In the EU, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a marketing authorization. There are two types of marketing authorizations: (1) the centralized authorization, which is issued by the European Commission through the centralized procedure based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (“CHMP”), a body of the EMA, and which is valid throughout the entire territory of the European Economic Area, or EEA (comprising the EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein); and (2) national marketing authorizations, which is issued by the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU and only authorize marketing in that Member State’s national territory and not the EEA as a whole, including the harmonized issuance of marketing authorizations in several Member States upon the initial application (“Decentralized Procedure”) or subsequently after the issuance of the initial national marketing authorization (“Mutual Recognition Procedure”) in accordance with the procedures set forth in Regulation (EC) 1234/2008.

The centralized procedure is mandatory for certain types of products, such as biotechnology medicinal products, orphan medicinal products, advanced therapy medicinal products (i.e., gene-therapy, somatic cell-therapy, and tissue-engineered medicines) and medicinal products containing a new active substance indicated for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, auto-immune diseases and other immune dysfunctions and viral diseases. The centralized procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EU, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific, or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health. Gene therapy products are a type of advanced therapy medicinal product (“ATMP”) in the EU. The scientific evaluation of marketing authorization applications for ATMPs is primarily performed by a specialized scientific committee called the Committee for Advanced Therapies (“CAT”). The CAT prepares a draft opinion on the quality, safety, and efficacy of the ATMP which is the subject of the marketing authorization application, which is sent for final approval to the CHMP. The CHMP recommendation is then sent to the European Commission, which adopts a decision binding in all EEA Member States. The maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application for an ATMP is 210 days from receipt of a valid application, excluding clock stops when additional information or written or oral explanation is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions of the CAT and/or CHMP. Clock stops may extend the timeframe of evaluation of an application considerably beyond 210 days. Where the CHMP gives a positive opinion, the EMA provides the opinion together with supporting documentation to the European Commission, who make the final decision to grant a marketing authorization, which is issued within 67 days of receipt of the EMA’s recommendation. Accelerated assessment may be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and, in particular, from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. If the CHMP accepts such a request, the timeframe of 210 days for assessment will be reduced to 150 days (excluding clock stops), but it is possible that the CHMP may revert to the standard time limit for the centralized procedure if it determines that the application is no longer appropriate to conduct an accelerated assessment. The development and evaluation of a gene therapy medicinal product must be considered in the context of the relevant EU guidelines, and the EMA may issue new guidelines concerning the development and marketing authorization for gene therapy medicinal products and require that we comply with these new guidelines.

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National marketing authorizations are for products not falling within the mandatory scope of the centralized procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in a Member State of the EU, this marketing authorization can be recognized in another Member States through the mutual recognition procedure. If the product has not received a national marketing authorization in any Member State at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various Member States through the Decentralized Procedure. Under the Decentralized Procedure an identical dossier is submitted to the competent authorities of each of the Member States in which an authorization is sought, one of which is selected by the applicant as the Reference Member State (“RMS”). If the RMS proposes to authorize the product, and the other Member States do not raise objections, the product is granted a national marketing authorization in all the Member States where the authorization was sought. Harmonization throughout all concerned Member States is achieved through procedures set forth in Regulation (EC) 1234/2008, including in cases of differences on the assessment between the relevant authorities of Member States.

Under the above-described procedures, before granting the MAA, the EMA or the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU make an assessment of the risk-benefit balance of the product on the basis of scientific criteria concerning its quality, safety, and efficacy.

Now that the UK (which comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has left the EU, Great Britain will no longer be covered by centralized marketing authorizations (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, centralized marketing authorizations will continue to be recognized in Northern Ireland). All medicinal products with a current centralized marketing authorization were automatically converted to Great Britain marketing authorizations on January, 1 2021. For products for which a centralized marketing authorization was granted in the EU prior to the end of 2023 (positive opinion of CHMP sufficient) and an application was received by the MHRA, the UK medicines regulator, prior to January 1, 2024, the MHRA may rely on a decision taken by the European Commission on the approval of a new marketing authorization in the centralized procedure, in order to more quickly grant a new Great Britain marketing authorization. For products for which a marketing authorization has been granted after January 1, 2024 (including centralised/decentralized marketing authorizations obtained in the EU or its Member States), companies may apply for a UK marketing authorization either under purely national rules or under the new UK International Recognition procedure (“IRP”). Under the IRP, applicants may benefit from a positive ruling of other “Reference Regulators”, including EMA, Member States authorities, FDA and TGA and others. Under the IRP, applicants may also benefit from a fast track recognition, which allows for the granting of a UK marketing authorization within 60 days after validation of the submission by the MHRA if the applicable preconditions for this fast track (“Recognition A”) are met. However, IRPs which include Great Britain orphan drug designation applications will not be eligible for the Recognition A fast track route.

Regulatory exclusivity

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

Orphan designation and exclusivity

The criteria for designating an orphan medicinal product in the EU, are similar in principle to those in the U.S. Under Article 3 of Regulation (EC) 141/2000, a medicinal product may be designated as orphan if the following criteria are fulfilled: (i) it is intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition; (ii) either (a) such condition affects no more than five in 10,000 persons in the EU when the application is made, or (b) the product, without the benefits derived from orphan status, would not generate sufficient return in the EU to justify the necessary investment in its development; and (iii) there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment of such condition authorized for marketing in the EU, or if such a method exists, the product will be of significant benefit to those affected by the condition, as defined in Regulation (EC) 847/2000. Orphan medicinal products are eligible for financial incentives such as reduction of fees or fee waivers and are, upon grant of a marketing authorization, entitled to ten years of market exclusivity for the approved therapeutic indication. The application for orphan designation must be submitted before the application for marketing authorization. The applicant will receive a fee reduction for the marketing authorization application if the orphan designation has been granted, but not if the designation is still pending at the time the marketing authorization is submitted. Orphan designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process.

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The ten-year market exclusivity may be reduced to six years if, at the end of the fifth year, it is established that the product no longer meets the criteria for orphan designation, for example, if the product is sufficiently profitable not to justify maintenance of market exclusivity. Otherwise, orphan medicine marketing exclusivity may be revoked only in very select cases, such as if:

a second applicant can establish that its product, although similar to the authorized product, is safer, more effective, or otherwise clinically superior;
the marketing authorization holder for the authorized product consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or
the marketing authorization holder for the authorized product cannot supply enough orphan medicinal product.

The aforementioned EU rules are generally applicable in the EEA.

PRIME designation

In March 2016, the EMA launched an initiative to facilitate development of product candidates in indications, often rare, for which few or no therapies currently exist. The PRIority MEdicines (PRIME) scheme is intended to encourage drug development in areas of unmet medical need and provides accelerated assessment of products representing substantial innovation, where the marketing authorization application will be made through the centralized procedure. Eligible products must target conditions for which where is an unmet medical need, i.e., there is no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention or treatment in the EU or, if there is, the new medicine will bring a major therapeutic advantage, and they must show potential to benefit patients with unmet medical needs based on early clinical data. Products from small- and medium-sized enterprises may qualify for earlier entry into the PRIME scheme than larger companies. Many benefits accrue to sponsors of product candidates with PRIME designation, including but not limited to, early and proactive regulatory dialogue with the EMA, frequent discussions on clinical trial designs and other development program elements, and accelerated marketing authorization application assessment once a dossier has been submitted. Importantly, a dedicated contact and rapporteur from the EMA’s CHMP or Committee for Advanced Therapies are appointed early in PRIME scheme facilitating increased understanding of the product at the EMA’s committee level. A kick-off meeting initiates these relationships and includes a team of multidisciplinary experts at the EMA to provide guidance on the overall development and regulatory strategies. Where, during the course of development, a medicine no longer meets the eligibility criteria, support under the PRIME scheme may be withdrawn.

Brexit and the Regulatory Framework in the United Kingdom

In June 2016, the electorate in the UK voted in favor of leaving the EU (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), and the UK formally left the EU on January 31, 2020. There was a transition period during which EU pharmaceutical laws continued to apply to the UK, which expired on December 31, 2020. Initially, the EU and the UK concluded a trade and cooperation agreement, or TCA, which was provisionally applicable since January 1, 2021 and has been formally applicable since May 1, 2021. The TCA includes specific provisions concerning pharmaceuticals, which include the mutual recognition of GMP, inspections of manufacturing facilities for medicinal products and GMP documents issued but does not foresee wholesale mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical regulations. At present, Great Britain has moved to implement step-by-step legislation on the marketing, promotion and sale of medicinal products (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU regulatory framework will continue to apply in Northern Ireland), application for marketing authorizations and the application for clinical trials. Therefore, while the regulatory regime in Great Britain may in part still align with EU regulations, the UK has now implemented new regulations and administrative processes for pharmaceutical processes, including the process for obtaining marketing authorizations in the UK (through a national marketing authorization or an IRP as described above) and, for clinical trials through the application of the UK Clinical Trial Regulation and the implementation of the combined review process by MHRA and HRA.

Human Capital

As of December 31, 2023, we had 268 full-time employees, of whom 256 were located in the U.S., eight in Spain, one in Switzerland, two in the UK and one in Sweden. Of these employees, 211 were primarily engaged in research and development activities and 57 were primarily engaged in general and administrative activities. We also engage the services of independent contractors and consultants as needed for special or temporary projects or specific expertise. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

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Compensation and Benefits Programs

Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, attracting, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing, developing, and integrating our existing and new employees, advisors, and consultants. The principal purposes of our equity and cash incentive plans are to attract, retain and reward personnel through the granting of stock-based and cash-based compensation awards, in order to increase stockholder value and the success of our company by motivating such individuals to perform to the best of their abilities and achieve our objectives. We provide employee wages and benefits that are competitive within our industry, and we engage a nationally recognized outside compensation and benefits consulting firm to independently evaluate the effectiveness of our compensation and benefit programs and to provide benchmarking against our peers within the industry.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

We believe that developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture is critical to continuing to attract and retain the top talent necessary to deliver on our growth strategy. As such, we are investing in creating and maintaining a diverse, inclusive and safe work environment where our employees can feel inspired to deliver their workplace best every day. We regularly assess our benefit programs, employee engagement and turnover, recruitment initiatives, workforce diversity and other matters relevant to human capital management, and review those results with our board of directors on a periodic basis. All employees are responsible for upholding the Rocket Behaviors and the Rocket Code of Conduct, which form the foundation of our policies and practices.

Employee Development and Training

The development, recruitment and retention of our employees is a critical success factor for our company. To provide a meaningful experience for our employees, we offer training and development programs to increase our organizational learning and support the promotion and career development of our current employees.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated in Delaware in 1999 as Inotek Pharmaceuticals Corporation (“Inotek”). In January 2018, Inotek merged with Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. and changed its name to Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Our principal executive offices are located at 9 Cedarbrook Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512, and our telephone number is (609) 659-8001. Our internet address is www.rocketpharma.com. We use our website as means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. We make available on our website, free of charge, our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our SEC reports can be accessed through the Investors section of our website. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding our filings at www.sec.gov. The information found on our website is not incorporated by reference into this report or any other report we file with or furnish to the SEC. Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “RCKT.”

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

We operate in an industry that involves numerous risks and uncertainties. You should carefully consider the following information about these risks, together with the other information appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report, including our financial statements and related notes hereto. The occurrence of any of the following risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects. The risks and uncertainties described below may change over time and other risks and uncertainties, including those that we do not currently consider material, may impair our business. In these circumstances, the market price of our common stock could decline.

Risks Related to Our Financial Condition and Capital Needs

Risks Related to Our Financial Condition and Operating History

We have a history of operating losses, and we may not achieve or sustain profitability. We anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future. If we fail to obtain additional funding to conduct our planned research and development efforts, we could be forced to delay, reduce, or eliminate our product development programs or commercial development efforts.

We are a late-stage gene therapy company with a limited operating history on which to base your investment decision. Gene therapy product development is a highly speculative undertaking and involves a substantial degree of risk. Our operations to date have been limited primarily to organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, acquiring, and developing product and technology rights, building out our R&D and manufacturing capabilities, and conducting preclinical and clinical R&D activities for our product candidates. We have never generated any revenue from product sales. We have not obtained regulatory approvals for any of our product candidates and have funded our operations to date through proceeds from sales of our stock.

We have incurred net losses since our inception. We incurred net losses of $245.6 million, $221.9 million and $169.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of $959.4 million. Substantially all our operating losses have resulted from costs incurred in connection with our R&D programs, buildout of our manufacturing capabilities and from general and administrative (“G&A”) costs associated with our operations. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future as we intend to continue to conduct R&D, clinical trials, regulatory compliance activities, and internal and external manufacturing activities. If any of our product candidates are approved, sales and marketing activities, together with anticipated G&A expenses, would likely result in us continuing to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future.

If, in the future, we are unable to establish sales and marketing capabilities or enter into agreements with third parties to sell and market any of our product candidates, we may not be successful in commercializing those product candidates if and when they are approved.

We have limited sales or marketing infrastructure and have no Company experience in the sale, marketing, or distribution of pharmaceutical products. To achieve commercial success for any approved candidate for which we retain sales and marketing responsibilities, we must either continue to develop our sales and marketing organization or outsource these functions to third parties. In the future, we may choose to continue to build a focused sales, marketing, and commercial support infrastructure to sell, or participate in sales activities with our collaborators for, some of our product candidates if and when they are approved.

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

If we enter into arrangements with third parties to perform sales, marketing, commercial support, and distribution services, our product revenues or the profitability of these product revenues to us may be lower than if we were to market and sell any medicines we may develop ourselves. In addition, we may not be successful in entering into arrangements with third parties to commercialize our product candidates or may be unable to do so on terms that are favorable to us. We may have little control over such third parties, and any of them may fail to devote the necessary resources and attention to sell and market our medicines effectively.

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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.

Federal net operating losses generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 generally may not be carried back to prior taxable years, and while such federal net operating losses generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 will not be subject to expiration, the deduction for such net operating loss in any taxable year will be limited to 80% of our taxable income in such year, where taxable income is determined without regard to the net operating loss deduction itself. However, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) repeals the 80% limitation on the utilization of such federal net operating losses for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and beginning before January 1, 2021 and allows for federal net operating losses generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021 to be carried back to each of the five taxable years preceding the taxable year in which the loss arises. This change in law temporarily allowing for the carryback of federal net operating losses is not expected to produce any material benefit for the issuer. As described above, we have incurred significant net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future; and therefore, we do not know whether or when we will generate the U.S. federal or state taxable income necessary to utilize our net operating loss or tax credit carryforwards. Additionally, new tax laws could be enacted at any time, and existing tax laws or regulations could be interpreted, modified or applied in a manner that is adverse to us. For example, legislation enacted in 2017, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the Tax Act, enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws, including changes in corporate tax rates, which collectively may impact the utilization of our NOLs and other deferred tax assets, the deductibility of expenses, and the taxation of foreign earnings. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the Tax Act may affect us, and certain aspects of the Tax Act could be repealed or modified in future legislation. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the Tax Act, the CARES Act, or any newly enacted federal tax legislation. The impact of changes under the Tax Act, the CARES Act, or future reform legislation could limit our ability to utilize our NOLs or increase our future U.S. tax expense and could have a material adverse impact on our business and financial condition.

In general, under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change net operating losses, or net operating losses or tax credits, or credits, (including federal research and development tax credits) to offset future taxable income or taxes. For these purposes, an ownership change generally occurs where the aggregate stock ownership of one or more stockholders or groups of stockholders who owns at least 5% of a corporation’s stock increases its ownership by more than 50 percentage points over its lowest ownership percentage within a specified testing period. As described below, we have experienced numerous “ownership changes” within the meaning of Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code. Future changes in our stock ownership, many of which are outside of our control, could result in one or more additional ownership changes under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code and further limit our ability to utilize our net operating losses and credits. Our net operating losses or credits may also be impaired under state law. Accordingly, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of our net operating losses or credits if we undergo an ownership change prior to the utilization of all such net operating losses or credits.

Risks Related to Capital Needs

We may need to raise additional funding, which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed may force us to delay, limit or terminate certain of our licensing activities, product development efforts or other operations.

We expect to require substantial future capital in order to expand our gene therapy platforms, advance preclinical and clinical development for our current product candidates and other future product candidates, if any, and potentially commercialize these product candidates. We expect our spending levels to increase in connection with our preclinical and clinical activities. Also, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our current or future product candidates, we expect to incur significant expenses related to product sales, medical affairs, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on acceptable terms, we could be forced to delay, limit or terminate our product development efforts or other operations. Furthermore, to the extent we raise additional funds through further issuances of equity or convertible debt securities, our existing stockholders could suffer significant dilution, and any new equity securities we issue could have rights, preferences, and privileges superior to those of holders of our common stock. Any debt financing secured by us in the future could involve restrictive covenants relating to our capital-raising activities and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital and to pursue business opportunities, including potential acquisitions. Additionally, recent volatility in capital markets, rising interest rates and lower market prices for securities generally may affect our ability to access new capital on terms favorable to us, which may harm our liquidity, limit our ability to grow our business, pursue acquisitions or improve our operating infrastructure and restrict our ability to compete in our markets.

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Our operations have consumed significant amounts of cash since inception. As of December 31, 2023, our cash, cash equivalents and investments were $407.5 million. Our future capital requirements will depend on numerous factors, many of which are outside of our control. Identifying potential product candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to obtain regulatory and marketing approval and achieve product sales. In addition, our product candidates, if approved, may not achieve commercial success. Accordingly, we will need to continue to rely on additional financing to achieve our business objectives.

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

Our ability to generate revenue and achieve profitability depends on our ability, alone or with strategic collaboration partners, to successfully complete the development of, and obtain the regulatory, pricing and reimbursement approvals necessary to commercialize our product candidates. We do not anticipate generating revenues from product sales for the foreseeable future, if ever. Our ability to generate future revenues from product sales depends heavily on our success in:

completing research and preclinical and clinical development of our product candidates;
seeking and obtaining regulatory and marketing approvals for product candidates for which we successfully complete clinical studies;
developing a sustainable, commercial-scale, reproducible, and transferable manufacturing process for our vectors and product candidates;
establishing and maintaining supply and manufacturing relationships with third parties that can provide adequate (in amount and quality) products and services to support preclinical and clinical development and the market demand for our product candidates, if approved;
launching and commercializing product candidates for which we obtain regulatory and marketing approval, either by collaborating with a partner or, if launched independently, by establishing a sales force, marketing and distribution infrastructure;
obtaining and maintaining a favorable market protection for our products, e.g., obtaining (and maintaining) orphan designation with market exclusivity in the EU, which in turn may depend on activities of third parties and other factors on which we have no influence;
obtaining sufficient pricing and reimbursement for our product candidates from private and governmental payors;
obtaining market acceptance of our product candidates and gene therapy as a viable treatment option;
addressing any competing technological and market developments;
identifying and validating new gene therapy product candidates;
negotiating favorable terms in any collaboration, licensing or other arrangements into which we may enter; and
maintaining, protecting and expanding our portfolio of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets and know-how.

Even if one or more of the product candidates that we will develop is approved for commercial sale, we anticipate incurring significant costs associated with commercializing any approved product candidate. Our expenses could increase beyond expectations if we are required by the FDA, the EMA, or other regulatory agencies, domestic or foreign, to perform clinical and other studies in addition to those that we currently anticipate. Even if we generate revenues from the sale of any approved products, we may not become profitable and may need to obtain additional funding to continue operations.

Risks Related to Clinical Development and Product Regulatory Matters

Risks Related to Clinical Development of our Product Candidates

We may encounter substantial delays in commencement, enrollment or completion of our clinical trials or may fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of applicable regulatory authorities, which could prevent us from commercializing our current and future product candidates on a timely basis, if at all.

Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of our current and future product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates. Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming, and outcomes are uncertain.

Our experience with clinical trials has been limited. We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule, if at all. A clinical trial may be delayed or halted at any stage of testing for various reasons, including:

failure of patients to enroll in the studies at the rate we expect;
ineffectiveness of our product candidates;
patients experiencing unexpected side effects or other safety concerns being raised during treatment;

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changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions;
failure to conduct studies in accordance with required clinical practices;
inspection of clinical study operations or study sites by the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities, resulting in a clinical hold;
insufficient financial resources;
insufficient supplies of drug product to treat patients in our ongoing and planned clinical trials;
political unrest or natural disasters at domestic or foreign clinical sites;
a shutdown of the U.S. government, including the FDA;
public health crises such as pandemics and epidemics.

In addition, to the extent we seek to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates in foreign countries, our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete a clinical study in any foreign country is subject to numerous risks unique to conducting business in foreign countries, including:

difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with Contract Research Organizations (“CROs”) and physicians;
absence in some countries of established groups with sufficient regulatory expertise for review of LV and AAV gene therapy protocols;
our inability to locate qualified local partners or collaborators for such clinical trials; and
the potential burden of complying with a variety of foreign laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements, including the regulation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products and treatment.

If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate planned clinical trials, the occurrence of any of which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Identifying and qualifying patients to participate in clinical trials of our product candidates is critical to our success. We may not be able to identify, recruit and enroll enough patients, or those with required or desired characteristics, to complete clinical trials in a timely manner. Patient enrollment and trial completion is affected by numerous factors including:

severity of the disease under investigation and size of the patient population;
eligibility criteria for the study in question;
perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study, including as a result of adverse effects observed in similar or competing therapies;
proximity and availability of clinical study sites for prospective patients;
availability of competing therapies and clinical studies;
patient referral practices of physicians; and
ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment.

In particular, each of the conditions for which we plan to evaluate our current product candidates are rare genetic diseases with limited patient pools from which to draw for clinical studies. The process of identifying and diagnosing patients may prove costly. In some cases, potential patients may be located outside of the U.S., and immigration related issues, including government policy changes, may introduce additional delays into the enrollment process. Finally, the treatment process for our LV programs requires that the cells be obtained from patients and then shipped to a transduction facility within the required timelines, and this may introduce unacceptable shipping-related delays to the process.

Preliminary, interim or topline results in our ongoing clinical studies may not be indicative of results obtained when these studies are completed. Furthermore, success in early clinical studies may not be indicative of results obtained in later studies.

We cannot guarantee that any clinical trials will be conducted as planned or completed on schedule. Study designs and results from previous or ongoing studies and clinical trials are not necessarily predictive of future study or clinical trial results, and initial or interim results may not continue or be confirmed upon completion of the study or trial. Furthermore, our product candidates may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy in later stages of clinical development despite having successfully advanced through initial clinical studies. We cannot guarantee that any of these studies will ultimately be successful or that preclinical or early-stage clinical studies will support further clinical advancement or regulatory approval of our product candidates.

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From time to time, we may publicly disclose interim or topline data from our preclinical studies and clinical trials, which is based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a more comprehensive review of the data related to the particular study or trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. As a result, the topline or preliminary 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. Topline 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, topline data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. 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 or as patients from our clinical trials continue other treatments for their disease. 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 commercial viability 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 you or others may not agree with what we determine is material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure. Data obtained from preclinical and clinical activities are subject to varying interpretations, which may delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. In addition, regulatory delays or rejections may be encountered as a result of many factors, including changes in regulatory policy during the period of product development.

Our product candidates may cause undesirable and unforeseen side effects or be perceived by the public as unsafe, which could delay or prevent their advancement into clinical trials or regulatory approval, limit the commercial potential or result in significant negative consequences.

Gene therapy is still a relatively new approach to disease treatment and adverse side effects could develop with our product candidates.

Possible adverse side effects that could occur with treatment with gene therapy products include an immunologic reaction soon after administration which could substantially limit the effectiveness and durability of the treatment. If certain side effects are observed in testing of our potential product candidates, we may decide or be required to halt or delay further clinical development of our product candidates. The FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to halt or delay clinical development of our product candidates for reasons unrelated to new drug-related safety events being observed. For example, our Phase 1 clinical trial of RP-A501 for the treatment of DD was placed on clinical hold by the FDA in May of 2021 following a thrombotic microangiopathy event believed to be due to immune-mediated complement activation. We modified the study protocol and other supporting documents with revised guidelines for patient selection and safety management and the clinical hold was lifted in August 2021.

In addition to side effects caused by the product candidate, the administration process or related procedures associated with a given product candidate also can cause adverse side effects. If any such adverse events occur, our clinical trials could be suspended or terminated. Under certain circumstances, the FDA, the European Commission, the EMA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Moreover, if we elect or are required, to not initiate or to delay, suspend or terminate any ongoing or future clinical trial of any of our product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidates may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues from any of these product candidates may be delayed or eliminated.

Furthermore, if undesirable side effects caused by our product candidate are identified following regulatory approval of a product candidate, such as in long-term follow-up studies, several potentially significant negative consequences could result, including reputational harm and regulatory authorities suspending or withdrawing approvals of such product candidate, requiring additional warnings on the label or requiring that we change the way a product candidate is administered or that we conduct additional clinical trials.

Any of these occurrences may harm our ability to develop other product candidates, and may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.

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Risks Related to Government Regulation

Our gene therapy product candidates are based on novel technology, which makes it difficult to predict the time and cost of product candidate development and subsequently obtaining regulatory approval. Currently, relatively few gene and cell therapy products have been approved in the U.S. and the EU.

We have concentrated our R&D efforts to date on a gene therapy platform, and our future success depends on the successful development of viable gene therapy product candidates.

The clinical study requirements of the FDA, the EMA, and other regulatory agencies and the criteria these regulators use to determine the safety and efficacy of a product candidate vary substantially according to the type, complexity, novelty and intended use and market of the potential products. The regulatory approval process for novel product candidates such as ours can be more expensive and take longer than for other, better known or more extensively studied pharmaceutical or other product candidates. Currently, relatively few gene and cell therapy products have received marketing authorization in the U.S. or the EU, including Novartis Pharmaceuticals’ Kymriah and Zolgensma (developed by AveXis), Kite Pharma’s Yescarta, GlaxoSmithKline’s Strimvelis, Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna, Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ Casgevy and Bluebird Bio’s Lyfgenia. It is therefore difficult to determine how long it will take or how much it will cost to obtain regulatory approvals for our product candidates in the U.S., the EU or other jurisdictions. Approvals by the EMA may not be indicative of what the FDA may require for approval. Delay or failure to obtain, or unexpected costs in obtaining, the regulatory approvals necessary to bring a potential product to market could decrease our ability to generate sufficient product revenue and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially harmed.

Regulatory requirements governing gene therapy products have evolved and may continue to change in the future. For example, FDA’s CBER may require us to perform additional nonclinical studies or clinical trials that may increase our development costs, lead to changes in regulatory positions and interpretations, delay or prevent approval and commercialization of our gene therapy product candidates or lead to significant post-approval limitations or restrictions. Additionally, the FDA continues to develop its approach to assessing gene and cell therapy products. In January 2020, FDA released its final guidance with recommendations for long-term follow-up studies of patients following human gene therapy administration due to the increased risk of undesirable and unpredictable outcomes with gene therapies that may present as delayed adverse events. The final guidance advises that patients treated with gene therapies that incorporate integrating vectors, such as LVs, undergo long-term safety and efficacy follow up of fifteen years post therapy while patients treated with gene therapies that incorporate AAV vectors undergo long-term safety and efficacy follow-up as long as five years post therapy. We cannot be certain whether such guidance, or others that FDA may issue, will adversely impact our gene therapy candidates or the duration or expense of any applicable regulatory development and review processes.

In addition to the submission of an IND to the FDA before initiation of a clinical trial in the U.S., certain human clinical trials involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules are subject to oversight of institutional biosafety committees, or IBCs, as set forth in the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules, or NIH Guidelines. Under the NIH Guidelines, recombinant and synthetic nucleic acids are defined as: (i) molecules that are constructed by joining nucleic acid molecules and that can replicate in a living cell (i.e., recombinant nucleic acids); (ii) nucleic acid molecules that are chemically or by other means synthesized or amplified, including those that are chemically or otherwise modified but can base pair with naturally occurring nucleic acid molecules (i.e., synthetic nucleic acids); or (iii) molecules that result from the replication of those described in (i) or (ii). Specifically, under the NIH Guidelines, supervision of human gene transfer trials includes evaluation and assessment by an IBC, a local institutional committee that reviews and oversees research utilizing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules at that institution. The IBC assesses the safety of the research and identifies any potential risk to public health or the environment, and such review may result in some delay before initiation of a clinical trial. While the NIH Guidelines are not mandatory unless the research in question is being conducted at or sponsored by institutions receiving NIH funding of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule research, many companies and other institutions not otherwise subject to the NIH Guidelines voluntarily follow them.

In addition, the EMA’s Committee for Advanced Therapies (“CAT”) and other regulatory review committees and advisory groups and any new guidelines they promulgate 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 we advance our product candidates, we will be required to consult with these regulatory and advisory groups and comply with applicable guidelines. If we fail to do so, we may be required to delay or discontinue development of certain of our product candidates. These additional processes may result in a review and approval process that is longer than we otherwise would have expected. 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 product revenue, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects would be materially harmed.

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Even though we have obtained orphan designation for certain of our product candidates, we may not be able to realize the benefits of such designation, including potential marketing exclusivity of our product candidates, if approved.

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the U.S., EU and other major markets, may designate drugs intended to treat conditions or diseases affecting relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. The FDA may designate a product candidate as an orphan drug if it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as having a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., or a patient population greater than 200,000 in the U.S. where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the drug will be recovered from sales in the U.S. In the EU, the European Commission, based on the recommendation of the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products grants orphan drug designation to promote the development of products that are intended for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a life-threatening or chronically debilitating condition and either (i) such condition affects not more than 5 in 10,000 persons in the EU; or (ii) without incentives, it is unlikely that sales of the drug in the EU would be sufficient to justify the necessary investment in developing the drug or biologic product. In either case, the applicant for orphan designation must also demonstrate that there exists no satisfactory method of diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of the condition in question that has been authorized in the EU or, if such method exists, the product must be of significant benefit compared to products available for the condition.

We have received orphan designation from the FDA and the European Commission for RP-L102 for the treatment of FA, for RP-L201 for the treatment of LAD-I, for RP-L301 for the treatment of PKD, and FDA orphan drug designation for RP-A501 for treatment of DD and RP-A601 for the treatment of PKP2-ACM. To date, we have not requested orphan drug designation (or the foreign equivalent) for any other product candidates, and even if we do in the future there can be no assurances that the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities will grant any of our product candidates such designation. Additionally, the designation of any of our product candidates as an orphan product does not mean that any regulatory agency will accelerate regulatory review of, or ultimately approve, that product candidate, nor does it limit the ability of any regulatory agency to grant orphan drug designation to product candidates of other companies that treat the same indications as our product candidates prior to our product candidates receiving exclusive marketing approval.

Generally, if a product candidate with an orphan drug designation receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, the product is entitled to a period of marketing exclusivity, which precludes the FDA or foreign regulatory authorities from approving another marketing application for a product that constitutes the same drug (or “similar medicinal product” in the EEA, which is defined as a medicinal product containing a similar active substance or substances as contained in an authorized orphan medicinal product, and which is intended for the same therapeutic indication) treating the same indication for that marketing exclusivity period, except in limited circumstances. If another sponsor receives such approval before we do (regardless of our orphan drug designation), or if in the EU a “similar medicinal product” is approved before we obtain a market authorizations for our product, we will be precluded from receiving marketing approval for our product for the applicable exclusivity period. The applicable period is seven years in the U.S. and 10 years in the EU. The exclusivity period in the EU may be extended by an additional two years if the applicant enjoys the incentives and rewards granted for including the results of additional pediatric studies in its product information. On the other hand, the exclusivity period in the EU can be reduced to six years if a product no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation, such designation is revoked by the sponsor or expires, including if the product is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be revoked if any regulatory agency determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

Even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product candidate, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product candidate from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition in the U.S. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA may subsequently approve another drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the latter drug is not the same drug or is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. Additionally, the U.S. federal courts may interpret the orphan drug statutory or regulatory provisions in way that reduces or eliminates any exclusivity that may attach to our product candidates.The FDA may further reevaluate its regulations and policies related to orphan designation and orphan drug exclusivity. We do not know if, when, or how the FDA may change the orphan drug regulations and policies in the future, and it is uncertain how any changes might affect our business. Depending on what changes the FDA may make to its orphan drug regulations and policies, our business could be adversely impacted.

In the EU, marketing authorization may be granted to a similar medicinal product for the same orphan indication if:

the second applicant can establish in its application that its medicinal product, although similar to the orphan medicinal product already authorized, is safer, more effective or otherwise clinically superior;
the holder of the marketing authorization for the original orphan medicinal product consents to a second orphan medicinal product application; or
the holder of the marketing authorization for the original orphan medicinal product cannot supply sufficient quantities of orphan medicinal product.

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A Fast Track or regenerative medicine advanced therapy, or RMAT, designation by the FDA, or a PRIority MEdicines, or PRIME, designation by the EMA, even if granted for any of our current or future product candidates, may not lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process, and does not increase the likelihood that our current product candidate and any future product candidates will receive marketing approval.

If a product candidate is intended for the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition and the product demonstrates the potential to address unmet medical needs for this condition, the sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track designation for a particular indication. We have received Fast Track designation for RP-A501 for DD, RP-L102 for FA, RP-L201 for LAD-I and RP-L301 for PKD. We may seek Fast Track designation for future product candidates, but there is no assurance that the FDA will grant this status to any of our proposed product candidates.

A company may request RMAT designation of its product candidate, and FDA may grant such designation if the product meets the following criteria: (i) it is a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, with limited exceptions; (ii) it is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and (iii) preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such a disease or condition. We have received RMAT designation for RP-A501 for DD, RP-L102 for FA, RP-L201 for LAD-I and RP-L301 for PKD. RMAT designation provides potential benefits that include more frequent meetings with FDA to discuss the development plan for the product candidate, and potential eligibility for rolling review and priority review. Products granted RMAT designation may also be eligible for accelerated approval on the basis of a surrogate or intermediate endpoint reasonably likely to predict long-term clinical benefit, or reliance upon data obtained from a meaningful number of sites, including through expansion of trials to additional sites.

PRIME designation is a scheme provided by the EMA to enhance support for the development of medicines that target an unmet medical need. To qualify for PRIME designation, product candidates require early clinical evidence that the therapy has the potential to offer a therapeutic advantage over existing treatments or benefits patients without treatment options. We have received PRIME designation for RP-L102 for FA, RP-L201 for LAD-I, RP-L301 for PKD and RP-A501 for DD. Among the benefits of PRIME are the appointment of a rapporteur to provide continuous support and help build knowledge ahead of a marketing authorization application, early dialogue and scientific advice at key development milestones, and the potential to qualify products for accelerated review earlier in the application process.

The FDA has broad discretion whether or not to grant Fast Track or RMAT designation, and the EMA has broad discretion whether or not to grant PRIME designation, so even if we believe a particular product candidate is eligible for such designations, there can be no assurance that the FDA or EMA would decide to grant it. Even if we do receive Fast Track, RMAT or PRIME designation, we may not experience a faster development process, review or approval compared to conventional development, review, and approval timelines, and receiving a Fast Track, RMAT or PRIME designation does not change the standards for the product approval. In addition, the FDA may withdraw Fast Track or RMAT designation and the EMA may revoke PRIME designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program.

Accelerated approval by the FDA, and conditional approval by the EMA, may not lead to a faster development process or regulatory review and does not increase the likelihood that our product candidates will receive marketing approval. If we are not successful with this process, the development or commercialization of our product candidates for which we seek accelerated approval or conditional approval could be delayed, abandoned or become significantly more costly.

We may seek approval of our product candidates using the FDA’s accelerated approval and the EMA’s conditional approval pathways. While we may utilize trial designs to support accelerated approval, such product candidates may not be subject to faster development or regulatory review timelines.

A product may be eligible for accelerated approval by the FDA if it treats a serious or life-threatening condition, generally provides a meaningful advantage over available therapies, and demonstrates an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. As a condition of accelerated approval, the FDA may impose specific obligations with defined timelines, including to perform adequate and well-controlled post-marketing clinical trials. These confirmatory trials must be completed with due diligence. In addition, the FDA currently requires, unless otherwise informed by the agency, pre-approval of promotional materials for products receiving accelerated approval, which could adversely impact the timing of the commercial launch of a product. If the FDA or the EMA do not approve our product candidates for which we seek accelerated approval or conditional approval, but instead require the completion of a full Phase 3 clinical trial or trials prior to the filing of marketing applications, the development and commercialization timeline of such product candidates will be delayed. Even if we do receive accelerated approval or conditional approval, we may not ultimately receive full approval from the regulatory agencies. The additional data generated through post-marketing clinical trials may not confirm that the benefit-risk balance of any of our product candidates that receive accelerated approval is positive or the burden to further complete the obligations may become too high. Additionally, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, enacted on December 29, 2022, contained revisions to the accelerated approval process that provide FDA with additional authority to enforce the post-market study requirements and withdraw approvals more rapidly when holders of accelerated approvals fail to comply with post-approval clinical study requirements.

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In the EU, the conditional marketing authorization is subject to an annual renewal procedure that assesses the marketing authorization holder’s compliance with the specific obligations of the authorization. If conditions are not complied with, the EMA may decide to extend the timeline for the existing obligations, change the scope of such obligations or add new obligations, which may require additional financial resources and time. We may not be able to comply with such changes or additional obligations and may need to withdraw the marketing authorization. The EMA may also decide not to renew the conditional marketing authorization, although such measure is rarely applied in practice. An analysis of reimbursement decisions for conditionally authorized medicines in the EU has shown some delays in the timeline for reaching a positive health technology recommendation. If this happens for any product candidate for which we seek conditional approval, it may delay the timing and success of the commercialization of such product. Finally, if new data obtained from fulfilment of the conditions of the conditional authorization or otherwise show that our product’s benefits no longer outweigh its risks, the EMA can take regulatory action, such as suspending or revoking the conditional marketing authorization.

We have received rare pediatric disease designation for RP-A501 for DD, RP-L102 for FA, and RP-L201 for LAD-I. However, a marketing application for these product candidates, if approved, may not meet the eligibility criteria for a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher.

We have received rare pediatric disease designation for RP-A501 for DD, RP-L102 for FA, and RP-L201 for LAD-I. Designation of a biological product as a product for a rare pediatric disease does not guarantee that a BLA for such biological product will meet the eligibility criteria for a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher at the time the application is approved. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), we will need to request a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher in our original BLA for our product candidates for which we have received rare pediatric disease designation. The FDA may determine that a BLA for any such product candidates, if approved, does not meet the eligibility criteria for a priority review voucher.

The authority for the FDA to award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers for biological products after September 30, 2024 is currently limited to biological products that receive rare pediatric disease designation on or prior to September 30, 2024, and FDA may only award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers through September 30, 2026. However, it is possible the authority for FDA to award rare pediatric disease priority review vouchers will be further extended by Congress.

Even if we successfully complete the necessary preclinical studies and clinical trials, we cannot predict when, or if, we will obtain regulatory approval to commercialize a product candidate and the approval may be for a narrower indication than we seek.

We cannot commercialize a product candidate until the appropriate regulatory authorities have reviewed and approved the product candidate. We have not received approval from regulatory authorities in any jurisdiction to market any of our product candidates. Even if our product candidates meet their safety and efficacy endpoints in clinical trials, the regulatory authorities may not complete their review processes in a timely manner, issue a complete response letter, or ultimately, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval. In addition, we may experience delays or rejections if an FDA Advisory Committee recommends disapproval or restrictions on use. In addition, we may experience delays or rejections based upon additional government regulation from future legislation or administrative actions, or changes in regulatory authority policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and the review process. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data are insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. In addition, varying interpretations of data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing could delay, limit or prevent the receipt of marketing approval for a product candidate.

Regulatory authorities also may approve a product candidate for more limited indications than requested or they may impose significant limitations in the form of narrow indications, warnings or other labeling changes. These regulatory authorities may require precautions or contra-indications with respect to conditions of use or they may grant approval subject to the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials. Regulatory authorities may impose restrictions and conditions on product distribution, prescribing, or dispensing in the form of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, or equivalent requirement. In addition, regulatory authorities may not approve the labeling claims that are necessary or desirable for the successful commercialization of our product candidates. Any of the foregoing scenarios could materially harm the commercial prospects for our product candidates and materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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We may never obtain FDA or EMA approval for any of our product candidates in the U.S. or the EU, and even if we do, we may never obtain approval for or commercialize any of our product candidates in any other jurisdiction, which would limit our ability to realize our full market potential.

In order to eventually market any of our product candidates in any particular jurisdiction, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements regarding safety and efficacy on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis. Approval by the FDA in the U.S. or the EMA in the EU, if obtained, does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions. In addition, preclinical studies and clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory approval in one country does not guarantee regulatory approval in any other country. Seeking foreign regulatory approval could result in difficulties and costs for us and require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which could be costly and time-consuming. While the foreign regulatory approval process involves similar risks to those associated with FDA or EMA approval, regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. 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.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval for a product candidate, we will remain subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory scrutiny.

Even if we obtain regulatory approval in a jurisdiction, we will remain subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory scrutiny. The applicable regulatory authority may still impose significant restrictions on the indicated uses or marketing of our product candidates or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-approval studies, post-market surveillance or patient or drug restrictions once a product candidate is approved. Additionally, 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 and must also submit new or supplemental applications and obtain FDA approval for certain changes to the approved product, product labeling or manufacturing process. FDA guidance advises that patients treated with some types of gene therapy undergo follow-up observations for potential adverse events for as long as 15 years. 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.

In addition, product manufacturers and their facilities are subject to payment of user fees and continual review and periodic inspections by the FDA and other regulatory authorities for compliance with cGMP and cGTP, as well as adherence to commitments made in the BLA. For certain commercial prescription biological products, manufacturers and other parties involved in the supply chain must also meet chain of distribution requirements and build electronic, interoperable systems for product tracking and tracing and for notifying the FDA of counterfeit, diverted, stolen and intentionally adulterated products or other products that are otherwise unfit for distribution in the U.S. If we or a regulatory agency discover previously unknown problems with a product, or problems with the facility where the product is manufactured, a regulatory agency may impose restrictions on that product or the manufacturing facility. Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity.

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

issuing a warning letter asserting that we are in violation of the law;
seeking an injunction or impose civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines;
suspending any ongoing clinical studies;
refusing to approve a pending marketing application, such as a BLA or supplements to a BLA submitted by us;
seizing products; or
refusing to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts.

In addition, the FDA’s policies, and those of comparable foreign regulatory authorities, may change and additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. We cannot predict the likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative actions, either in the U.S. or abroad. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies, or if we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose any marketing approval which we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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If approved, our product candidates may face competition from biosimilars approved through an abbreviated regulatory pathway.

The ACA includes a subtitle called the BPCIA, which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biologic products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biologic 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 licensed 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 licensed. 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, as a result, its ultimate impact, implementation, and meaning are subject to uncertainty.

We believe that any of our product candidates approved as a biologic product under a BLA should qualify for the 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 investigational medicines to be reference products for competing products, potentially creating the opportunity for generic competition sooner than anticipated. Moreover, the extent to which a biosimilar, once licensed, will be substituted for any one of our reference products in a way that is similar to traditional generic substitution for non-biologic products is not yet clear, and will depend on a number of marketplace and regulatory factors that are still developing.

If competitors are able to obtain marketing approval for biosimilars referencing our products, our products may become subject to competition from such biosimilars, with the attendant competitive pressure and consequences.

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

The U.S. and many foreign jurisdictions have enacted or proposed legislative and regulatory changes affecting the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates or any future product candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our ability to profitably sell any product for which we obtain marketing approval. Changes in regulations, statutes or the interpretation of existing regulations could impact our business in the future by requiring, for example: (i) changes to our manufacturing arrangements; (ii) additions or modifications to product labeling; (iii) the recall or discontinuation of our products; or (iv) additional record-keeping requirements. If any such changes were to be imposed, they could adversely affect the operation of our business. See the section entitled, “Business — Government Regulation — Healthcare Legislative Reform”.

Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors in the U.S. and abroad to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and the level of reimbursement for newly approved products and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our product candidates. There has been increasing legislative and enforcement interest in the U.S. with respect to specialty drug pricing practices. Specifically, there have been several recent U.S. Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. We expect that additional U.S. federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that the U.S. Federal Government will pay for healthcare drugs and services, which could result in reduced demand for our drug candidates or additional pricing pressures.

Individual states in the U.S. have also become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain drug access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing. Legally mandated price controls on payment amounts by third-party payors or other restrictions could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In addition, regional healthcare authorities and individual hospitals are increasingly using bidding procedures to determine what pharmaceutical products and which suppliers will be included in their prescription drug and other healthcare programs. This could reduce the ultimate demand for our drugs or put pressure on our drug pricing, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, or Brexit, could result in increased regulatory and legal complexity, which may make it more difficult for us to do business in Europe and impose additional challenges in securing regulatory approval of our product candidates in Europe and/or the United Kingdom.

We currently have clinical trial sites in the United Kingdom, contract laboratories in the United Kingdom conducting testing for our global clinical trials, and other collaborators and potential collaborators in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. Pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on EU, the UK ceased being a Member State of the EU on January 31, 2020.

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There was a transition period during which EU pharmaceutical laws continued to apply to the UK, which expired on December 31, 2020. Initially, the EU and the UK concluded a trade and cooperation agreement, or TCA, which was provisionally applicable since January 1, 2021 and has been formally applicable since May 1, 2021. The TCA includes specific provisions concerning pharmaceuticals, which include the mutual recognition of GMP, inspections of manufacturing facilities for medicinal products and GMP documents issued but does not foresee wholesale mutual recognition of UK and EU pharmaceutical regulations. At present, Great Britain has moved to implement step-by-step legislation on the marketing, promotion and sale of medicinal products (under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU regulatory framework will continue to apply in Northern Ireland), application for marketing authorizations and the application for clinical trials. Therefore, while the regulatory regime in Great Britain may in part still align with EU regulations, the UK has now implemented new regulations and administrative processes for pharmaceutical processes, including the process for obtaining marketing authorizations in the UK (through a national marketing authorization or an IRP as described above) and, for clinical trials through the application of the UK Clinical Trial Regulation and the implementation of the combined review process by MHRA and HRA.

The cumulative effects of the disruption to the regulatory framework may add considerably to the development lead time to marketing authorization and commercialization of products in the EU and/or the United Kingdom. It is possible that there will be increased regulatory complexities which can disrupt the timing of our clinical trials and regulatory approvals. In addition, changes in, and legal uncertainty with regard to, national and international laws and regulations may present difficulties for our clinical and regulatory strategy.

Risks Related to Noncompliance with Applicable Laws or Regulations

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

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any products for which we obtain regulatory approval. Our arrangements with third-party payors, healthcare providers and physicians may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which we conduct our operations, including how we research, market, sell and distribute any products for which we obtain regulatory approval. See the section entitled, “Business — Government Regulation — Anti-Kickback and False Claims Laws and Other Regulatory Matters.”

The scope and enforcement of each of these laws is uncertain and subject to rapid change in the current environment of healthcare reform, especially in light of the lack of applicable precedent and regulations. Federal and state enforcement bodies have recently increased their scrutiny of interactions between healthcare companies and healthcare providers, which has led to a number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the healthcare industry. Efforts to ensure that our business arrangements with third parties, and our business generally, will comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations will involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations, agency guidance or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other healthcare laws and regulations. If our operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to significant administrative, civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, the exclusion from participation in federal and state healthcare programs, individual imprisonment, reputational harm, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, as well as additional reporting obligations and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our results of operations. Defending against any such actions can be costly, time-consuming and may require significant financial and personnel resources. Therefore, even if we are successful in defending against any such actions that may be brought against us, our business may be impaired. If any of the physicians or other healthcare providers or entities with whom we expect to do business are found to be not in compliance with applicable laws, they may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from government funded healthcare programs.

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We are subject to stringent laws, rules, regulations, policies, industry standards and contractual obligations regarding data privacy and security and may be subject to additional related laws and regulations in jurisdictions into which we expand. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and reinterpretation and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations or other harm to our business.

The regulatory framework for privacy and personal information security issues worldwide is evolving rapidly and likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. The U.S. federal and various state, local and foreign government bodies and agencies have adopted or are considering adopting laws, rules, regulations and standards regarding, the collection, distribution, use, disclosure, storage, security and other processing of personal information. For example, HIPAA imposes specific requirements relating to the privacy, security, and transmission of individually identifiable health information. We may obtain health information from third parties, including research institutions from which we obtain clinical trial data, that are subject to privacy and security requirements under HIPAA and its implementing rules and regulations. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to significant penalties if we obtain, use, or disclose individually identifiable health information maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity in a manner that is not authorized or permitted by HIPAA.

Outside of the U.S., relevant legal requirements continue to evolve. For example, the collection and use of health data and other personal data including data collected in clinical trials is governed in the EU by the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which imposes substantial obligations upon companies and new rights for individuals. The GDPR also forms part of the law of Great Britain (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) by virtue of section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and as amended by the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/419) (“UK GDPR”). Failure to comply with the GDPR may result in fines of the higher of (i) €20,000,000 or (ii) 4% of the preceding fiscal year’s total annual global revenues of the noncompliant company, among other administrative penalties. The GDPR has increased our responsibility and liability in relation to personal data that we may process, and we may be required to implement additional measures in an effort to comply with the GDPR and with other laws, rules, regulations and standards in the EU and United Kingdom relating to privacy and data protection. This may be onerous and if our efforts to comply with GDPR or other applicable laws, rules, regulations and standards are not successful, or are perceived to be unsuccessful, it could adversely affect our business. Further, following the July 2020 Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) decision invalidating the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, there remains uncertainty regarding the appropriate mechanism for transferring personal data to the U.S. The CJEU’s decision and other regulatory guidance or developments may impose additional obligations with respect to the transfer of personal data from the EU to the U.S., all of which could restrict our activities in those jurisdictions, limit our ability to provide our products and services in those jurisdictions, require us to modify our policies and practices, and to engage in additional contractual negotiations, or increase our costs and obligations and impose limitations upon our ability to efficiently transfer personal data from the EU to the U.S.

In the U.S., a variety of data privacy, protection and security laws, rules, regulations and standards potentially may apply to our activities, such as state data breach notification laws, state personal data privacy laws (for example, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act effective January 1, 2023 (“CCPA”)), state health information privacy laws, and federal and state consumer protection laws. The CCPA requires covered businesses that process personal information of California residents to disclose their data collection, use, sharing and retention practices, provides California residents with data privacy rights (including the ability to opt out of certain disclosures of personal information including for certain advertising purposes), imposes operational requirements for covered businesses, provides for significant civil penalties for violations as well as a private right of action for certain data breaches and statutory damages (that is expected to increase data breach class action litigation and result in significant exposure to costly legal judgements and settlements). Although there are limited exemptions for clinical trial data under the CCPA, the CCPA and other similar laws could impact our business activities, depending on their interpretation. Other state legislatures have enacted or are currently contemplating, and may pass, their own comprehensive data privacy and security laws, with potentially greater penalties and more rigorous compliance requirements, and laws in all 50 states require businesses to provide notice to customers whose personal data has been disclosed as a result of a data breach. Finally, federal, state and foreign laws, rules, regulations and standards may apply generally to the privacy and security of information we maintain, and may differ from each other significantly, thus complicating compliance efforts and potentially requiring us to undertake additional measures to comply with them.

With HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and other laws, regulations and other obligations relating to privacy and data protection imposing new and relatively burdensome obligations, and with substantial uncertainty over the interpretation and application of these and other obligations, we may face challenges in addressing their requirements and making necessary changes to our policies and practices and may incur significant costs and expenses in an effort to do so.

We may make public statements about our use, collection, disclosure and other processing of personal data through our privacy policies, information provided on our website and press statements. Although we endeavor to comply with our public statements and documentation, we may at times fail to do so or be alleged to have failed to do so. Any failure or perceived failure by us or our vendors or service providers to comply with our applicable policies or notices relating to privacy or data protection, our contractual or other obligations to third parties, or any of our other legal obligations, laws, rules, regulations and standards relating to privacy or data protection, may result in governmental investigations or enforcement actions, litigation, claims and other proceedings, harm our reputation, and could result in significant liability.

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We are subject to environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, and we may become exposed to liability and substantial expenses in connection with environmental compliance or remediation activities.

Our operations, including our development, testing and manufacturing activities, are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These laws and regulations govern, among other things, the controlled use, handling, release and disposal of and the maintenance of a registry for, hazardous materials and biological materials, such as chemical solvents, human cells, carcinogenic compounds, mutagenic compounds and compounds that have a toxic effect on reproduction, laboratory procedures and exposure to blood-borne pathogens. If we fail to comply with such laws and regulations, we could be subject to fines or other sanctions.

As with other companies engaged in similar activities, we face a risk of environmental liability inherent in our activities, including liability relating to releases of or exposure to hazardous or biological materials. Environmental, health and safety laws and regulations are becoming more stringent. We may be required to incur substantial expenses in connection with future environmental compliance or remediation activities, in which case, the production efforts of our third-party manufacturers or our development efforts may be interrupted or delayed.

Risks Related to Manufacturing, Commercialization and Development of Our Product Candidates

Risks Related to Manufacturing our Product Candidates

Products intended for use in gene therapies are novel, complex and difficult to manufacture. We could experience production problems that result in delays in our development or commercialization programs, limit the supply of our products or otherwise harm our business.

We currently have development, manufacturing, and testing agreements with third parties to manufacture supplies of certain of our product candidates. Several factors could cause production interruptions, including equipment malfunctions, facility contamination, raw material shortages or contamination, natural disasters, public health crises such as pandemics and epidemics, disruption in utility services, human error or disruptions in the operations of suppliers.

Our product candidates require processing steps that are more complex than those required for small molecule pharmaceuticals. The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our product candidates must be inspected by the FDA pursuant to pre-approval inspections that will be conducted after we submit our marketing applications to the FDA. We do not control the manufacturing process of, and will be completely dependent on, our contract manufacturers for compliance with cGMPs in connection with the manufacture of certain of our product candidates. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or others, they will not be able to pass regulatory inspections and/or maintain regulatory compliance for their manufacturing facilities and we may need to find alternatives, which would significantly impact our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for or market our product candidates, if approved.

Any problems in our manufacturing process or the facilities with which we contract could make us a less attractive collaborator for potential partners, including larger pharmaceutical companies and academic research institutions, which could limit our access to attractive development programs. Problems in third-party manufacturing processes or facilities also could restrict our ability to complete our clinical trials in a timely manner or meet market demand for our products. Additionally, should our manufacturing agreements with third parties be terminated for any reason, there may be a limited number of manufacturers who would be suitable replacements and it could take a significant amount of time to transition the manufacturing to a replacement. In some cases, the technical skills required to manufacture our products or product candidates may be unique or proprietary to the original manufacturer and we may have difficulty, or there may be contractual restrictions prohibiting us from, transferring such skills to a back-up or alternate supplier, or we may be unable to transfer such skills at all. Changes to the manufacturing process or the transfer or setup of new manufacturing facilities could require that we conduct bridging studies before being able to proceed with either clinical or commercial manufacturing activities. We may be unsuccessful in demonstrating the comparability of clinical supplies which could require the conduct of additional clinical trials. Further, the shift would likely be expensive and time-consuming, particularly since the new facility would need to comply with the necessary regulatory requirements or may require approval before selling any products manufactured at that facility.

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We have limited experience in manufacturing, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to manufacture products at the scale our business may require.

We have historically relied on third parties to manufacture supplies of our product candidates. We have completed a build-out of a new manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey, and have recently completed two DD AAV cGMP production batches.

Although some of our employees have experience in the manufacturing of biopharmaceutical products from prior employment at other companies, we as a company have very limited prior experience in manufacturing. As a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, we will be required to demonstrate and maintain compliance with cGMP requirements related to production processes, quality control and assurance and recordkeeping. Furthermore, establishing and maintaining manufacturing operations may require a reallocation of other resources, particularly the time and attention of certain of our senior management as well as potentially significant capital expenditures. Any failure or delay in the development of our manufacturing capabilities could adversely impact the development or commercialization of our product candidates.

Our manufacturing facilities are subject to significant government regulations and approvals, which are often costly and could result in adverse consequences to our business if we fail to comply with the regulations or maintain the approvals.

We must comply with cGMP requirements, as set out in statute, regulations and guidance. We may encounter difficulties in achieving quality control and quality assurance and may experience shortages in qualified personnel. We are subject to inspections by the FDA and comparable agencies in other jurisdictions to confirm compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. Any failure to follow cGMP or other regulatory requirements or delay, interruption or other issues that arise in the manufacture, fill-finish, packaging, or storage of our product candidates as a result of a failure of our facilities or the facilities or operations of third parties to comply with regulatory requirements or pass any regulatory authority inspection could significantly impair our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, including leading to significant delays in the availability of drug product for our clinical trials or the termination or hold on a clinical trial, or the delay or prevention of a filing or approval of marketing applications for our product candidates. Significant noncompliance could also result in the imposition of sanctions, including fines, injunctions, civil penalties, failure of regulatory authorities to grant marketing approvals for our product candidates, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could damage our reputation. If we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may not be permitted to market our product candidates and/or may be subject to product recalls, seizures, injunctions, or criminal prosecution.

Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and could limit the potential commercialization of any products that we may develop.

We face inherent risks of product liability exposure related to the testing of our product candidates in human clinical trials and will face even greater product liability risks if we commercially sell any approved products. Product liability claims may be brought against us by subjects enrolled in our clinical trials, patients, healthcare providers or others using, administering or selling our products. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our product candidates or products caused injuries, we could incur substantial liabilities.

We currently hold product liability insurance coverage at a level that we believe is customary for similarly situated companies and adequate to provide us with insurance coverage for foreseeable risks, but which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. We may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise. We intend to expand our insurance coverage for products to include the sale of commercial products if we obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates in development, but we may be unable to obtain commercially reasonable product liability insurance for any products that receive regulatory approval. A successful product liability claim or series of claims brought against us, particularly if judgments exceed our insurance coverage, could decrease our cash and adversely affect our business.

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Risks Related to Commercialization of our Product Candidates

Our ability to successfully develop and commercialize our product candidates will substantially depend upon the availability of reimbursement for the costs of the resulting drugs and related treatments.

Sales of our product candidates will depend substantially, both domestically and abroad, on the extent to which the costs of our product candidates will be covered and paid by government authorities and other third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, which we cannot guarantee. We have not commenced efforts to have our product candidates reimbursed by government or third-party payors. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or are available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our products. If coverage is provided, but only at limited levels, the reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment. The process for determining whether a payor will provide coverage for a product may be separate from the process for setting the reimbursement rate that the payor will pay for the product. Payors may limit coverage to specific products on an approved list, or formulary, which might not include all of the FDA-approved products for a particular indication. A decision by a payor not to cover our product candidates could reduce physician utilization of our products once approved and have a material adverse effect on our sales, results of operations and financial condition. See the section entitled, “Business — Government Regulation — Coverage and Reimbursement.”

In the U.S., the principal decisions about coverage and reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), as CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors tend to follow the CMS to a substantial degree. It is difficult to predict what the CMS will decide with respect to reimbursement for fundamentally novel products such as ours, as there is no body of established practices and precedents for these new products. Factors payors consider in determining reimbursement include whether the product is a covered benefit under its health plan, whether the product is safe, effective, and medically necessary, whether it is cost-effective and whether the product is experimental or investigational.

Third-party payors are increasingly limiting both coverage and the level of reimbursement of new drugs. They may also impose strict prior authorization requirements and/or refuse to provide any coverage of uses of approved products for medical indications other than those for which the FDA has granted market approvals. As a result, significant uncertainty exists as to whether and how much third-party payors will reimburse patients for their use of newly approved drugs. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future relaxation of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the U.S. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that drug companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. In addition, many pharmaceutical manufacturers must calculate and report certain price reporting metrics to the government, such as average sales price and best price. Further, these prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs. The manner and level at which reimbursement is provided for services related to our product candidates (e.g., for administration of our product to patients) is also important to successful commercialization of our product candidates.

In addition, in some foreign countries, the proposed pricing for a drug must be approved before it may be lawfully marketed. The requirements governing drug pricing vary widely from country to country. For example, the EU provides options for its Member States to restrict the range of medicinal products for which their national health insurance systems provide reimbursement and to control the prices of medicinal products for human use. To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval, some of these countries may require the completion of clinical trials that compare the cost effectiveness of a particular product candidate to currently available therapies. A Member State may approve a specific price for the medicinal product, or it may instead adopt a system of direct or indirect controls on the profitability of the company placing the medicinal product on the market. There can be no assurance that any country that has price controls or reimbursement limitations for pharmaceutical products will allow favorable reimbursement and pricing arrangements for any of our product candidates.

Historically, products launched in the EU do not follow price structures of the U.S. and generally prices tend to be significantly lower. In some cases, the reimbursement price of one Member State may have impact on the pricing level in other Member States, which may result in an incentive not to market products in some markets to prevent price reductions or erosions in other markets.

We face intense competition and rapid technological change and the possibility that our competitors may develop therapies that are more advanced or effective than ours, which may adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates.

We are engaged in gene therapy for severe genetic and rare diseases, which is a competitive and rapidly changing field. Although we are not currently aware of any gene therapy competitors addressing any of the same indications as those in our pipeline, we may have competitors both in the U.S. and internationally, including major multinational pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and universities and other research institutions.

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Our potential competitors may have substantially greater financial, technical and other resources, such as larger R&D staff, more robust manufacturing capabilities and more experienced marketing and manufacturing organizations. These competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring or licensing on an exclusive basis, products that are more effective or less costly than any product candidate that we may develop, or achieve earlier patent protection, regulatory approval, product commercialization and market penetration than us. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing our product candidates against those of our competitors.

In addition, if our patent rights were to expire or be successfully challenged, we could face increased litigation with respect to the validity and/or scope of patents relating to our competitors’ products. The availability of our competitors’ products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any products that we may develop and commercialize, thereby causing harm to our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The commercial success of any of our product candidates will depend upon the degree of market acceptance of gene therapy by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community.

Even with the requisite approvals from the FDA in the U.S., the EMA in the EU and other regulatory authorities internationally, the commercial success of our product candidates will depend, in part, on the acceptance of physicians, patients and health care payors of gene therapy products in general, and our product candidates in particular, as medically beneficial, cost-effective and safe. If any products that we commercialize do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance by physicians, patients, health care payors and others in the medical community, we may not generate significant product revenue and may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of gene therapy products and our product candidates, if approved for commercial sale, will depend on several factors, including:

the efficacy and safety of such product candidates as demonstrated in preclinical studies and clinical trials;
the potential and perceived advantages of product candidates over alternative treatments, including the prevalence and
severity of any side effects;
the cost of our treatment relative to alternative treatments;
the clinical indications for which the product candidate is approved by the FDA or the EMA;
patient and physician awareness of, and willingness to seek, gene therapy;
the willingness of physicians to undergo specialized training with respect to administration of our product candidates;
product labeling or product insert requirements of the FDA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities, including any limitations or warnings contained in a product’s approved labeling;
relative convenience and ease of administration;
the strength of marketing and distribution support;
the timing of market introduction of competitive products;
publicity concerning our products or competing products and treatments; and
sufficient third-party payor coverage and reimbursement.

Even if a potential product displays a favorable efficacy and safety profile in preclinical studies and clinical trials, market acceptance of the product will not be fully known until after it is approved and launched and is subject to change over time if adverse long-term follow-up data become available after approval. The failure of any of our product candidates to achieve market acceptance could materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Ethical, legal, and social issues may reduce demand for any gene therapy products for which we obtain marketing approval.

Prior to receiving certain gene therapies, patients may be required to undergo genetic testing. Genetic testing has raised concerns regarding the appropriate utilization and the confidentiality of information provided by genetic testing. Genetic tests for assessing a person’s likelihood of developing a chronic disease have focused public attention on the need to protect the privacy of genetic information. Concerns have been expressed that insurance carriers and employers may use these tests to discriminate on the basis of genetic information, resulting in barriers to the acceptance of genetic tests by consumers. This could lead to governmental authorities restricting genetic testing or calling for limits on or regulating the use of genetic testing, particularly for diseases for which there is no known cure. Any of these scenarios could decrease demand for any products for which we obtain marketing approval.

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Risks Related to Development of our Pipeline and Research and Development Activities

We may not be successful in our efforts to expand our pipeline of additional product candidates for development.

Our business model is centered on applying our expertise in rare genetic diseases by establishing focused selection criteria to develop and advance a portfolio of gene therapy product candidates through development into commercialization. We may not be able to continue to identify and develop new product candidates in addition to the pipeline of product candidates that our efforts to date have resulted in. Even if we are successful in continuing to expand our pipeline, any potential product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development. If we do not successfully identify, develop and commercialize product candidates, we will not be able to obtain product revenue in future periods, which would likely result in significant harm to our financial position and results of operations.

The success of our R&D activities, clinical testing and commercialization, upon which we primarily focus, is uncertain.

Our primary focus is on our R&D activities and the clinical testing and commercialization of our product candidates, and we anticipate that we will remain principally engaged in these activities for an indeterminate, but substantial, period. R&D was our most significant operating expense for the year ended December 31, 2023. R&D activities, including the conduct of clinical studies, by their nature, preclude definitive statements as to the time required and costs involved in reaching certain objectives. Actual R&D costs, therefore, could significantly exceed budgeted amounts and estimated timeframes may require significant extension. Cost overruns, unanticipated regulatory delays or demands, unexpected adverse side effects or insufficient therapeutic efficacy will prevent or substantially slow our R&D effort and our business could ultimately suffer.

Risks Related to Third Parties

We rely on third parties to conduct certain aspects of our preclinical studies and clinical trials and perform other tasks for us. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines, or comply with regulatory requirements, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be substantially harmed.

We have relied upon and plan to continue to rely upon third parties, including CROs, medical institutions, and contract laboratories for certain aspects of our ongoing preclinical and clinical programs. Nevertheless, we maintain responsibility for ensuring that each of our clinical trials and preclinical studies is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol, legal, regulatory, and scientific standards and our reliance on these third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. We and our vendors are required to comply with the current requirements of GMP, good clinical practice (“GCP”), and good laboratory practice (“GLP”), which are a collection of laws and regulations enforced by the FDA, the EMA or comparable foreign authorities for our drug candidates in clinical development.

Regulatory authorities enforce these regulations through periodic inspections of preclinical study and clinical trial sponsors, principal investigators, preclinical study and clinical trial sites, and other contractors. If we or any of our vendors fail to comply with applicable regulations, the data generated in our preclinical studies and clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, the EMA or comparable foreign authorities may require us to perform additional preclinical studies and clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials comply with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with products produced consistent with GMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the development and regulatory approval processes.

If any of our relationships with these third parties, medical institutions, clinical investigators or contract laboratories terminate, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative CROs on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. In addition, our CROs are not our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such CROs, we cannot control whether they devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing preclinical and clinical programs.

Switching or adding additional CROs, medical institutions, clinical investigators or contract laboratories involves additional cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work replacing a previous CRO. As a result, delays may occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, we cannot guarantee that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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We may not be successful in finding strategic collaborators for continuing development of certain of our product candidates or successfully commercializing our product candidates.

We may seek to establish strategic partnerships for developing and/or commercializing certain of our product candidates due to relatively high capital costs required to develop the product candidates, manufacturing constraints or other reasons. We may not be successful in our efforts to establish such strategic partnerships or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates for several reasons, including because our R&D pipeline may be insufficient, our product candidates may be deemed to be at too early of a stage of development for collaborative effort or third parties may not view our product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate efficacy or market opportunity. In addition, we may be restricted under existing agreements from entering into future agreements with potential collaborators.

If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable licensees or collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay our development program, delay our potential commercialization, reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to independently fund development or commercialization activities, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into collaboration arrangements and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be materially harmed.

Disruptions at the FDA and other government agencies caused by funding shortages or global health concerns could hinder their ability to hire, retain or deploy key leadership and other personnel, or otherwise prevent new or modified products from being developed, approved, or commercialized in a timely manner or at all, which could negatively impact our business.

The ability of the FDA to review and approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, statutory, regulatory, and policy changes, the FDA’s ability to hire and retain key personnel and accept the payment of user fees, and other events that may otherwise affect the FDA’s ability to perform routine functions. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government agencies that fund research and development activities is subject to the political process, which is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Disruptions at the FDA and other agencies may also slow the time necessary for biologics or modifications to approved biologics to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities.

Additionally as of May 26, 2021, the FDA noted it is continuing to ensure timely reviews of applications for medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic in line with its user fee performance goals; however, the FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and approval timelines could be extended, including where a pre-approval inspection or an inspection of clinical sites is required, due to new variants of the COVID-19 pandemic or any future pandemic. Should FDA determine that an inspection is necessary for approval and an inspection cannot be completed during the review cycle due to restrictions on travel, and the FDA does not determine a remote interactive evaluation to be adequate, the agency could issue a complete response letter or defer action on the application until an inspection can be completed. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a number of companies announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or any future pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities. If the FDA becomes unable to continue its current level of performance, we could experience delays and setbacks for our product candidates and for any approvals we may seek which could adversely affect our business.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

Our rights to intellectual property for the development and commercialization of our product candidates are subject to the terms and conditions of licenses granted to us by others.

We are heavily reliant upon licenses to certain patent rights and proprietary technology from third parties that are important or necessary to the development of our technology and products, including technology related to our manufacturing process and our gene therapy product candidates. These and other licenses may not provide exclusive rights to use such intellectual property and technology in all relevant fields of use and in all territories in which we may wish to license our platform or develop or commercialize our technology and products in the future. As a result, we may not be able to prevent competitors from developing and commercializing competitive products in territories not included in our licenses.

Licenses to additional third-party technology that may be required for our licensing or development programs may not be available in the future or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, which could materially harm our business and financial condition.

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In some circumstances, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain or enforce the patents, covering technology that we license from third parties. If our licensors fail to maintain such patents, or lose rights to those patents or patent applications, the rights we have licensed may be reduced or eliminated and our right to develop and commercialize any of our products that are the subject of such licensed rights could be impacted.

Furthermore, the research resulting in certain of our licensed patent rights and technology was funded by the U.S. government. As a result, the government may have march-in rights, or other rights, to such patent rights and technology. When new technologies are developed with government funding, the government generally obtains certain rights in any resulting patents, including a non-exclusive license authorizing the government to use the invention for non-commercial purposes. These rights may permit the government to disclose our confidential information to third parties and to exercise march-in rights to use or allow third parties to use our licensed technology. The government can exercise its march-in rights if it determines that action is necessary because we fail to achieve practical application of the government-funded technology, because action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs, to meet requirements of federal regulations or to give preference to U.S. industry. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture products embodying such inventions in the U.S.

If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for products and related technology, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully commercialize our products may be harmed.

Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection in the U.S. and other countries with respect to our product candidates and our manufacturing technology. We and our licensors have sought to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the U.S. and abroad related to many of our novel technologies and product candidates that are important to our business and may continue to do so.

The patent prosecution process is expensive, time-consuming and complex. Certain patents in the field of gene therapy that may have otherwise potentially provided patent protection for certain of our product candidates may expire prior to commercial launch of our products; though we can mitigate this risk by pursuing and receiving 10 years Biologics regulatory exclusivity from the FDA, which would grant protection in later years where patent expiration may not exist. It is possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our R&D output before it is too late to obtain patent protection, in part because the work of certain academic researchers in the gene therapy field has entered the public domain, which we believe precludes our ability to obtain patent protection for certain inventions relating to such work.

The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has, in recent years, been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology or product candidates or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and product candidates.

While we believe our intellectual property allows us to pursue our current development programs, several companies and academic institutions are pursuing alternate approaches to gene therapy and have built intellectual property around these approaches and methods. We may not be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights potentially relating to our technology and product candidates. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the U.S. and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing or, in some cases, not at all. Therefore, we cannot be certain that we were the first to make the inventions claimed in any owned or any licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions.

Even if the patent applications we license or may own in the future do issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors or other third parties from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. Our competitors or other third parties may avail themselves of safe harbor under the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (Hatch-Waxman Amendments) to conduct research and clinical trials and may be able to circumvent our patent rights by developing similar or alternative technologies or products in a non-infringing manner.

The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our patent rights may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the U.S. and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and products, or limit the duration of the patent protection of is technology and product candidates. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our intellectual property may not provide sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

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If we breach our license agreements, it could have a material adverse effect on our commercialization efforts for our product candidates.

We are party to intellectual property license agreements with several entities, each of which is important to our business, and we expect to enter into additional license agreements in the future. Our patent portfolio includes a number of patents and patent applications in-licensed pursuant to those license agreements, and those agreements impose, and we expect that future license agreements will impose various diligence, development and commercialization timelines, milestone obligations, payments and other obligations on us.

If we or our licensors breach any of the agreements under which we license intellectual property relating to the use, development and commercialization rights to our product candidates or technology from third parties, we could lose license rights that are important to our business. Licensing of intellectual property is of critical importance to our business and involves complex legal, business and scientific issues. Disputes may arise between us and our licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a license agreement, including:

the scope of rights granted under the license agreement;
whether and the extent to which our technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;
our right to sublicense patent and other intellectual property rights to third parties under collaborative development relationships;
our diligence obligations with respect to the use of the licensed technology in relation to our development and commercialization of is product candidates;
the ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our partners; and
whether and the extent to which inventors are able to contest the assignment of their rights to our licensors.

If disputes over intellectual property that we have in-licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates. In addition, if disputes arise as to ownership of licensed intellectual property, our ability to pursue or enforce the licensed patent rights may be jeopardized. If we or our licensors fail to adequately protect this intellectual property, our ability to commercialize our products could suffer.

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position may be harmed.

In addition to the protection afforded by patents, we rely upon unpatented trade secret protection, unpatented know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our proprietary technology and processes, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements with our contractors, collaborators, employees and consultants. Nonetheless, we may not be able to prevent the unauthorized disclosure or use of our technical know-how or other trade secrets by the parties to these agreements, however, despite the existence generally of confidentiality agreements and other contractual restrictions. Monitoring unauthorized uses and disclosures is difficult and we do not know whether the steps we have taken to protect our proprietary technologies will be effective. If any of the contractors, collaborators, employees and consultants who are parties to these agreements breaches or violates the terms of any of these agreements, we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach or violation. As a result, we could lose our trade secrets. Enforcing a claim that a third-party illegally obtained and is using our trade secrets, like patent litigation, is expensive and time consuming and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, courts outside the U.S. are sometimes less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets.

Our trade secrets could otherwise become known or be independently discovered by our competitors. Competitors could attempt to replicate some or all of the competitive advantages we derive from our development efforts, willfully infringe our intellectual property rights, design around our protected technology or develop their own competitive technologies that fall outside of our intellectual property rights. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate it, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If our trade secrets are not adequately protected or sufficient to provide an advantage over our competitors, our competitive position could be adversely affected, as could our business. Additionally, if the steps taken to maintain our trade secrets are deemed inadequate, we may have insufficient recourse against third parties for misappropriating our trade secrets.

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We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights to gene therapy product components and processes for our development pipeline through acquisitions and in-licenses.

We currently have intellectual property rights to develop our gene therapy product candidates, through third party licenses and our owned patents. Because our programs may involve additional product candidates that may require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business will likely depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these proprietary rights. In addition, our product candidates may require specific formulations to work effectively and efficiently, and these rights may be held by others. We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, processes or other third-party intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies with greater cash resources and clinical development and commercialization capabilities are also pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive.

For example, we sometimes collaborate with U.S. and foreign academic institutions to accelerate our preclinical research or development under written agreements with these institutions. Typically, these institutions provide us with an option to negotiate a license to any of the institution’s rights in technology resulting from the collaboration. Regardless of such right of first negotiation for intellectual property, we may be unable to negotiate a license within the specified timeframe or under terms that are acceptable to the institution. If we are unable to do so, the institution may offer the intellectual property rights to other parties, potentially blocking our ability to pursue our program.

In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights, our business, financial condition and prospects for growth could suffer.

Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.

Periodic maintenance fees, renewal fees, annuity fees and various other governmental fees on patents and/or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various governmental patent agencies outside of the U.S. in several stages over the lifetime of the patents and/or applications. We and, to our knowledge, our licensors have systems in place to remind us and them to pay these fees, and we and, to our knowledge, our licensors employ outside firms and rely on our and their respective outside counsel to pay these fees due to non-U.S. patent agencies. The USPTO and various non-U.S. governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We and, to our knowledge, our licensors employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us and them comply, and in many cases, an inadvertent lapse can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. However, there are situations in which non-compliance can result in abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. In such an event, our competitors might be able to enter the market and this circumstance would have a material adverse effect on our business.

Issued patents covering our product candidates could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court.

If we or one of our licensing partners initiated legal proceedings against a third-party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that the patent covering our product candidate is invalid and/or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the U.S., defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity and/or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including patent eligible subject matter, lack of novelty, obviousness, or non-enablement. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before administrative bodies in the U.S. or abroad, even outside the context of litigation. Such mechanisms include re-examination, post-grant review, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings). Such proceedings could result in revocation or amendment to our or our licensing partners’ patents in such a way that they no longer cover our product candidates. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art, of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. Such prior art and prior art we have disclosed to the USPTO could impact the scope or validity of certain of our patent claims. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our product candidates. Such a loss of patent protection would have a material adverse impact on our business.

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Changes in U.S. patent law or the patent law of other countries or jurisdictions could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our products.

As is the case with other biotechnology companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patents. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biotechnology industry involves both technological and legal complexity, and therefore obtaining and enforcing biotechnology patents is costly, time-consuming, and inherently uncertain. Congress may pass patent reform legislation that is unfavorable to us.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several patent cases in recent years, narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. courts, the USPTO and the relevant law-making bodies in other countries, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future. For example, recent court decisions raise questions regarding the award of patent term adjustment (“PTA”) for patents in families where related patents have issued without PTA. Thus, it cannot be said with certainty how PTA will/will not be viewed in the future and whether patent expiration dates may be impacted.

Similarly, changes in patent laws and regulations in other countries or jurisdictions or changes in the governmental bodies that enforce them or how they are enforced may weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce patents that we have licensed or own in the future. For example, the complexity and uncertainty of European patent laws have also increased in recent years. In Europe, a new unitary patent system took effect June 1, 2023, which significantly impacts European patents, including those granted before the introduction of the system. Under the unitary patent system, European applications have the option, upon grant of a patent, of becoming a Unitary Patent subject to the jurisdiction of the Unitary Patent Court (“UPC”). As the UPC is a new court system, there is no precedent for the court, increasing the uncertainty of any litigation. Patents granted before the implementation of the UPC have the option of opting out of the jurisdiction of the UPC and remaining as national patents in the UPC countries. Patents that remain under the jurisdiction of the UPC will be potentially vulnerable to a single UPC-based revocation challenge that, if successful, could invalidate the patent in all countries who are signatories to the UPC. We cannot predict with certainty the long-term effects of any potential changes.

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Filing, prosecuting, and defending patents on product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the U.S. can be less extensive than those in the U.S. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the U.S. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the U.S., or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the U.S. or other jurisdictions. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and further, may export otherwise infringing products to territories where we have patent protection, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the U.S. These products may compete with our products and our patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, do not favor the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology products, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents or marketing of competing products in violation of our proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

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

Patents have a limited lifespan. In the U.S., if all maintenance fees are timely paid, the natural expiration of a patent is generally 20 years from its earliest U.S. non-provisional filing date. Various extensions may be available, but the life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is limited. Even if patents covering our product candidates are obtained, once the patent life has expired, we may be open to competition from competitive products, including generics or biosimilars. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours.

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Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations and may not adequately protect our business or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. For example:

others may be able to make product candidates that are similar to ours but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own;
we, or our license partners or current or future collaborators, might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patent or pending patent applications that we license or may own in the future;
we, or our license partners or current or future collaborators, might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our or their inventions;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our owned or in-licensed intellectual property rights;
our competitors might conduct R&D activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;
we cannot ensure that any of our patents, or any of our pending patent applications, if issued, or those of our licensors, will include claims having a scope sufficient to protect our product candidates;
we cannot ensure that any patents issued to us, or our licensors will provide a basis for an exclusive market for our commercially viable product candidates or will provide us with any competitive advantages;
we cannot ensure that our commercial activities or product candidates will not infringe upon the patents of others;
we cannot ensure that we will be able to successfully commercialize our product candidates on a substantial scale, if approved, before the relevant patents that we own, or license expire;
we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
the patents or intellectual property rights of others may harm our business; and
we may choose not to file a patent in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent covering such intellectual property.

Should any of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We may be subject to claims challenging the inventorship or ownership of our patents and other intellectual property.

We may also be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an ownership interest in our patents or other intellectual property. We may have in the future, ownership disputes arising, for example, from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our product candidates. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or ownership. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, valuable intellectual property. Such an outcome could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

Risks Related to Personnel and Expansion of our Company

Risks Related to our Personnel

Our business could suffer if it loses the services of, or fails to attract, key personnel.

We are highly dependent upon the efforts of our senior management, including our Chief Executive Officer, Gaurav Shah, MD; our President and Chief Operating Officer, Kinnari Patel, PharmD, MBA; our Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President, Raj Prabhakar; our Chief Medical Officer, Mark White, MB.ChB; our Vice President of Finance, Treasurer, Principal Accounting Officer and Interim Principal Financial Officer, John Militello; and our General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President, Martin Wilson. The loss of the services of these individuals and other members of our senior management could delay or prevent the achievement of research, development, marketing, or product commercialization objectives. Our employment arrangements with the key personnel are “at-will.” We do not maintain any “key-man” insurance policies on any of the key employees nor do we intend to obtain such insurance. In addition, due to the specialized scientific nature of our business, we are highly dependent upon our ability to attract and retain qualified scientific and technical personnel and consultants. There is intense competition among major pharmaceutical and chemical companies, specialized biotechnology firms and universities and other research institutions for qualified personnel in the areas of our operations, and we may be unsuccessful in attracting and retaining these personnel.

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

We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, consultants, and commercial partners. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional failures to comply with the regulations of the FDA and non-U.S. regulators, provide accurate information to the FDA and non-U.S. regulators, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the U.S. and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained during clinical studies, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation or could cause regulatory agencies not to approve our product candidates. We have a code of business ethics and conduct applicable to all employees, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee or third-party misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.

We may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants, or independent contractors have wrongfully used or disclosed confidential information of third parties or that our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers.

We employ individuals who were previously employed at universities or other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Although we endeavor to ensure that our employees, consultants, and independent contractors do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any of our employees’ former employers or other third parties. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel, which could adversely impact our business. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management and other employees.

Risks Related to Our Expansion and Growth Plans

We may need to expand our organization and may experience difficulties in managing this growth, which could disrupt our operations.

As our business activities expand, we may expand our full-time employee base and hire more consultants and contractors. Our management may need to divert a disproportionate amount of its attention away from day-to-day activities and devote a substantial amount of time to managing these growth activities. We may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations, which may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, operational setbacks, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and reduced productivity among remaining employees. Our expected growth could require significant capital expenditures and may divert financial resources from other projects, such as the development of additional product candidates. If our management is unable to effectively manage our growth, our expenses may increase more than expected our ability to generate and/or grow revenues could be reduced and we may not be able to implement our business strategy.

We may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of potential acquisitions or business combinations.

The success of acquisitions or business combinations will depend on, among other things, our ability to combine our businesses in a manner that allows us to achieve developmental and operational synergies. It is possible that the integration process could result in the loss of key employees; the disruption of our ongoing business; or inconsistencies in standards, controls, procedures, or policies, in each case, that could adversely affect our ability to achieve the anticipated benefits of the acquisition. Integration efforts between the two businesses will also divert management’s attention from our core business and other opportunities that could have been beneficial to our shareholders. An inability to realize the full extent of, or any of, the anticipated benefits of the acquisition, as well as any delays encountered in the integration process, could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations, which may affect the value of the shares of our common stock after the completion of the acquisition. If we are unable to achieve these objectives, the anticipated benefits of the acquisition may not be realized fully or at all or may take longer or cost more to realize than expected. In particular, the acquisition or business combination may not be accretive to our stock value in the near or long term. In addition, any acquisition or business combination may impact the market price for shares of our common stock, which could result in substantial losses for our stockholders.

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In addition, in connection with any potential acquisition of businesses, technologies or products in the future, we could, among other things:

issue equity securities that would dilute our current stockholders’ percentage ownership;
incur substantial debt that may place strains on our operations;
assume substantial actual or contingent liabilities;
reprioritize our development programs and even cease development and commercialization of certain of our product candidates; or
merge with, or otherwise enter into a business combination with, another company in which our stockholders would receive cash or shares of the other company on terms that certain of our stockholders may not deem desirable.

Although we intend to evaluate and consider acquisitions, reorganizations and business combinations in the future, we have no agreements or understandings with respect to any acquisition, reorganization or business combination at this time.

Future formations of strategic alliances or joint ventures with third parties could disrupt our business and harm our financial condition and operating results.

We may form strategic alliances or create joint ventures with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business. We may encounter numerous difficulties in developing, manufacturing and marketing any new products resulting from a strategic alliance or acquisition that delay or prevent us from realizing their expected benefits or enhancing our business. We cannot assure you that, following any such strategic alliance or joint venture, we will achieve the expected synergies to justify the transaction. The risks we face in connection with any strategic alliance or joint venture, include:

diversion of management time and focus from operating our business to addressing integration challenges;
coordination of R&D efforts;
changes in relationships with strategic partners as a result of any product acquisitions or strategic positioning;
cultural challenges associated with integrating employees;
the need to implement or improve controls, procedures, and policies at any joint venture;
liability for activities of any partnered company prior to any strategic alliance or joint venture, including intellectual property infringement claims, violation of laws, commercial disputes, tax liabilities, and other known liabilities;
unanticipated write-offs or charges; and
litigation or other claims, including claims from employees, customers, former stockholders or other third parties

Our failure to address these risks or other problems encountered in connection with our past or future strategic alliances could cause us to fail to realize the anticipated benefits of these transactions, cause us to incur unanticipated liabilities and harm the business generally. There is also a risk that future strategic alliances or joint ventures could result in the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities, amortization expenses or incremental operating expenses, any of which could harm our financial condition or operating results.

Given our commercial relationships outside of the U.S., in particular in the EU, a variety of risks associated with international operations could harm our business.

We engage in various commercial relationships outside the U.S., and we may commercialize our product candidates outside of the U.S. In many foreign countries, it is common for others to engage in business practices that are prohibited by U.S. laws and regulations applicable to us, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Although we may implement policies and procedures specifically designed to comply with these laws and policies, there can be no assurance that our employees, contractors, and agents will comply with these laws and policies. If we are unable to successfully manage the challenges of international expansion and operations, our business and operating results could be harmed.

We may be, and to the extent we commercialize our product candidates outside the U.S., expect to be subject to various risks associated with operating internationally, including:

different regulatory requirements for approval of drugs and biologics in foreign countries;
reduced protection for intellectual property rights;
unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers and regulatory requirements;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration, and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenues, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the U.S.;

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shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad;
business interruptions resulting from geopolitical actions, including war and terrorism or natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires, public health crises such as pandemics and epidemics, or from economic or political instability;
compliance with foreign laws, regulations, standards, and regulatory guidance governing the collection, use, disclosure, retention, security and transfer of personal data, including the GDPR and UK GDPR; and
greater difficulty with enforcing our contracts in jurisdictions outside of the U.S.

These and related risks could materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

If conflicts arise between us and our collaborators or strategic partners, these parties may act in a manner adverse to us and could limit our ability to implement our strategies.

If conflicts arise between our corporate or academic collaborators or strategic partners and us, the other party may act in a manner adverse to us and could limit our ability to implement our strategies. Some of our academic collaborators and strategic partners are conducting multiple product development efforts within each area that is the subject of the collaboration with us. Our collaborators or strategic partners, however, may develop, either alone or with others, products in related fields that are competitive with the products or potential products that are the subject of these collaborations. Competing products, either developed by the collaborators or strategic partners or to which the collaborators or strategic partners have rights, may result in the withdrawal of our collaborator’s or partner’s support for our product candidates.

Some of our collaborators or strategic partners could also become our competitors in the future. Our collaborators or strategic partners could develop competing products, preclude us from entering into collaborations with their competitors, fail to obtain timely regulatory approvals, terminate their agreements with us prematurely, or fail to devote sufficient resources to the development and commercialization of our product candidates. Any of these developments could harm our product development efforts.

Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock

Future sales of our common stock in the public market could cause the market price of our common stock to drop significantly, even if our business is performing well.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. These sales, or the perception or the perception that such sales may occur, could reduce the market price of our common stock. Our outstanding shares of common stock may be freely sold in the public market at any time to the extent permitted by Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), or to the extent such shares have already been registered under the Securities Act and are held by non-affiliates of ours. In addition, certain of our employees, executive officers, directors, and affiliated stockholders may enter into Rule 10b5-1 plans providing for sales of shares of our common stock from time to time. Under a Rule 10b5-1 plan, a broker executes trades pursuant to parameters established by the employee, director or officer when entering into the plan, without further direction from the employee, officer, director or affiliated stockholder. A Rule 10b5-1 plan may be amended or terminated in some circumstances. Our employees, executive officers, directors and affiliated stockholders also may buy or sell additional shares outside of a Rule 10b5-1 plan when they are not in possession of material, nonpublic information. In addition, in the future, we may issue additional shares of common stock or other equity or debt securities convertible into common stock in connection with a financing, acquisition, litigation settlement, employee arrangements or otherwise. Any such issuance could result in substantial dilution to our existing stockholders and could cause our stock price to decline.

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

The trading market for our common stock relies, in part, on the research and reports that industry or financial analysts publish about us or our business. Although we have obtained analyst coverage, if one or more of the analysts covering our business downgrade their evaluations of our stock, the price of our stock could decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover our stock or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the market for our stock, which in turn could cause our stock price to decline.

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The price of our common stock may be volatile and fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for our stockholders.

Our stock price is likely to be volatile. The stock market in general, and the market for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, has experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, our stockholders may not be able to sell their shares of common stock at or above the price they paid for their shares. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by many factors, including:

results of clinical trials of our product candidates or those of our competitors;
the success of competitive products or technologies;
commencement or termination of collaborations;
regulatory or legal developments in the U.S. and other countries;
developments or disputes concerning patent applications, issued patents or other proprietary rights;
the recruitment or departure of key personnel;
the level of expenses related to any of our product candidates or clinical development programs;
the results of our efforts to discover, develop, acquire or in-license additional product candidates;
actual or anticipated changes in estimates as to financial results, development timelines or recommendations by securities analysts;
negative publicity around gene therapy in general, or our product candidates;
variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;
changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;
macroeconomic conditions, including inflation and rising interest rates, capital market volatility and global conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas war and the conflict between China and Taiwan;
market conditions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors; and
general economic, industry and market conditions.

If our quarterly operating results fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Furthermore, any quarterly fluctuations in our operating results may, in turn, cause the price of our stock to fluctuate substantially. We believe that quarterly comparisons of our financial results are not necessarily meaningful and should not be relied upon as an indication of our future performance.

RTW Investments, LP, our largest stockholder, may have the ability to significantly influence all matters submitted to stockholders for approval.

RTW Investments, LP (“RTW”), in the aggregate, beneficially owns approximately 20.21% of our outstanding shares of common stock. This concentration of voting power gives RTW the power to significantly influence all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, as well as our management and affairs. For example, RTW could significantly influence the election of directors and approval of any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. In addition, this may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our capital stock that you may believe are in your best interest as one of our stockholders.

Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be stockholders’ sole source of gain.

We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all future earnings, if any, to finance the growth and development of our business. In addition, the terms of any future debt agreements may preclude us from paying dividends. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, of our common stock will be stockholders’ sole source of gain for the foreseeable future.

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General Risk Factors

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

Our operations to date have predominantly focused on organizing and staffing our company, business planning, raising capital, acquiring our technology, administering, and expanding our gene therapy platforms, identifying potential product candidates, undertaking research, preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates, building out our R&D and manufacturing capabilities, and establishing licensing arrangements and collaborations. We have not yet obtained marketing approvals, manufactured a commercial-scale product, or conducted sales and marketing activities necessary for successful commercialization. Consequently, any predictions made about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history. We are currently a drug discovery and clinical stage company and at a later point we will need to transition to a commercial stage company. We cannot guarantee that we will be successful in this transition.

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, our ability to produce accurate and timely financial statements could be impaired, which could harm our operating results, investors’ views of us and, as a result, the value of our common stock.

As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in such internal control. Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“Section 404”), we are required to furnish a report by management on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and our independent registered public accounting firm is required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Preparing such attestation report and the cost of compliance with reporting requirements requires significant management time.

The rules governing the standards that must be met for management and our independent registered public accounting firm to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing, and possible remediation. In connection with our and our independent registered public accounting firm’s evaluations of our internal control over financial reporting, we may need to upgrade systems, including information technology, implement additional financial and management controls, reporting systems, and procedures, and hire additional accounting and finance staff.

Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation, could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing by us or our independent registered public accounting firm conducted in connection with Section 404 may reveal deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock. We could become subject to stockholder or other third-party litigation, as well as investigations by the SEC, NASDAQ or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources and could result in fines, trading suspensions, payment of damages or other remedies. Further, any delay in compliance with the auditor attestation provisions of Section 404 could subject us to a variety of administrative sanctions, including ineligibility for short-form resale registration, action by the SEC and the suspension or delisting of our common stock, which could reduce the trading price of our common stock and could harm our business.

Provisions in our corporate charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of us, which may be beneficial to our stockholders, more difficult and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Provisions in our certificate of incorporation and our bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or other change in control of our company that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which you might otherwise receive a premium for your shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, thereby depressing the market price of our common stock. In addition, because our Board of Directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our Board of Directors. Among other things, these provisions:

permit only the Board of Directors to establish the number of directors;
require super-majority voting to amend some provisions in our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws;
prohibit stockholder action by written consent, which requires all stockholder actions to be taken at a meeting of our stockholders; and
establish advance notice requirements for nominations for election to our board or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at annual stockholder meetings.

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Moreover, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which prohibits a person who owns in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock from merging or combining with us for a period of three years after the date of the transaction in which the person acquired in excess of 15% of our outstanding voting stock, unless the merger or combination is approved in a prescribed manner. Any of these provisions of our charter documents or Delaware law could, under certain circumstances, depress the market price of our common stock.

Our internal computer systems, or those of our third-party collaborators or other contractors, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our development programs.

Our internal computer systems and those of our current and any future collaborators and other consultants and contractors are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, unauthorized access, cyberattacks, data breaches, natural disasters, terrorism, war and telecommunication and electrical failures. While we have not experienced any such material system failure, accident, attack or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations, whether due to a loss of our trade secrets or other proprietary information or other similar disruptions. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability, our competitive position could be harmed, and the further development and commercialization of our product candidates could be delayed.

Unfavorable national or global economic conditions or political developments could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in the national or global economy and financial markets. For example, governmental statements, actions or policies, political unrest and global financial crises can cause extreme volatility and disruptions in the capital and credit markets. A severe or prolonged economic downturn, political unrest or additional global financial crises, including those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Israel-Hamas war and the conflict between China and Taiwan, could result in a variety of risks to our business, including weakened demand for our products, if approved, or our ability to raise additional capital when needed on acceptable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy could also strain our suppliers, possibly resulting in supply disruption. Any of the foregoing could harm our business and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the current economic climate, further political developments and financial market conditions could adversely impact our business.

The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, or other similar pandemics in the future could adversely impact our business, including our preclinical and clinical studies.

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, or similar pandemics, we have and may in the future experience disruptions that could severely impact our business, preclinical studies, and clinical trials, including:

delays or difficulties in enrolling patients in our clinical trials;
delays or difficulties in clinical site initiation, including difficulties in recruiting clinical site investigators and clinical site staff;
diversion of healthcare resources from the conduct of clinical trials such as patient follow up visits, the diversion of hospitals ability to serve as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;
delays or difficulties in securing manufacturing slots or materials;
delays or difficulties in advancing preclinical research requiring in-person laboratory work at our facility at academic partners or contract research facilities; and
interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA and/or comparable foreign regulatory agencies, which may impact approval timelines.

Item 1B. Unresolved SEC Comments

None.

Item 1C. Cybersecurity

The Company maintains a cybersecurity risk management program designed to identify, assess, manage, mitigate, and respond to cybersecurity threats. The program is integrated within the Company’s enterprise risk management framework and addresses both the corporate information technology environment and the external facing ecosystem.

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The underlying controls of the cybersecurity risk management program are based on recognized best practices and standards for cybersecurity and information technology, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF”) and the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”) 27001 Information Security Management System Requirements. The Company will have a third party perform an annual assessment of the Company’s cybersecurity risk management program against the NIST CSF. The Company has a Cyber Security Operations Center monitoring our global cybersecurity environment and coordinates investigations and remediation of alerts. We are enhancing our programs for staging incident response drills to prepare support teams in the event of a significant incident. The cybersecurity risk management program includes controls for organizational processes, personnel, physical facilities and equipment, and technological controls.

Our VP, Head of Information Technology is the Company’s designated Chief Information Security Officer (“CISO”) and is responsible for developing and implementing the cybersecurity risk management program and reporting on cybersecurity matters to the Board. The VP, Head of Information Technology has over twenty years of experience leading cybersecurity oversight. Additionally, members of the IT security team have cybersecurity experience and\or certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification and Certified Information Systems Audit certification. We view cybersecurity as a shared responsibility across our management team, and plan to periodically perform simulations and tabletop exercises at a management level and incorporate external resources and advisors as needed. All employees will be required to complete cybersecurity training at least once annually and have access to more frequent cybersecurity training through online and live events. We also require employees in certain roles to complete additional role-based, specialized cybersecurity training that is documented in our quality management system. Employees outside of our corporate information security organization also have a role in our cybersecurity defenses and they are immersed in a corporate culture supportive of security, which we believe improves our cybersecurity.

Our CISO is responsible for continuously monitoring and assessing the Company’s cybersecurity risk management program, informing senior management regarding the prevention, detection, mitigation, and remediation of cybersecurity incidents and supervising such efforts. The cybersecurity team collectively has decades of experience selecting, deploying, and operating cybersecurity technologies, initiatives, and processes around the world, and relies on threat intelligence as well as information obtained from governmental, public, and private sources, including external consultants engaged by the Company on a real time basis. The Company is enhancing its processes for oversight of third-party vendors, including appropriate due diligence for new providers and continuous monitoring following implementation, including ongoing direct contact with vendor personnel. Third-party vendors are re-evaluated at regular intervals as part of our supplier qualification process.

The Audit Committee, in addition to the Company’s General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, oversees the Company’s cybersecurity risk exposures and the steps taken by management to monitor and mitigate cybersecurity risks. The cybersecurity team briefs the Audit Committee and General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer on the effectiveness of the Company’s cyber risk management program, generally on a quarterly basis. In addition, cybersecurity risks will be reviewed by the Board of Directors, at least annually, as part of the Company’s corporate risk mapping exercise.

We have not experienced any material cybersecurity incidents in the past, and we believe no cybersecurity events have occurred that have materially affected the Company or its business strategy, results of operations or financial condition. We continue to invest in the cybersecurity and resiliency of our infrastructure and the enhancement of our internal controls and processes, which are designed to help protect our systems and data, and the information they contain. For more information regarding the risks we face from cybersecurity threats, please see “Risk Factors.”

Item 2. Properties

Corporate Headquarters, R&D and GMP Manufacturing Facility, Storage Facility

Rocket’s corporate headquarters is located in Cranbury, New Jersey, in a leased facility consisting of 103,720 square feet of space including areas for offices, process development, research and development laboratories and 50,000 square feet dedicated to AAV cGMP manufacturing to support our pipeline. The NJ Lease Agreement has an initial term ending in 2034, with an option to renew for an additional two consecutive five-year renewal terms. In addition, we lease space in New York, New York at the Empire State Building, which consists of approximately 6,600 square feet of office space under a lease that expires in July 2024. Rocket leases an additional 4,666 square feet storage facility in Dayton, New Jersey.

Facilities in Hopewell, New Jersey

As part of the acquisition of Renovacor, we assumed lease agreements for approximately 15,463 square feet of space in Hopewell, New Jersey that expires in March 2033. The Company intends to sublease these facilities and signed a sublease agreement for one of the Hopewell, NJ facilities in January 2024.

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Facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts

As part of the acquisition of Renovacor, we assumed a sublease agreement for approximately 5,945 square feet of office space in Cambridge, Massachusetts that expires in April 2024.

From time to time, we may be subject to other various legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of our business activities. Although the results of litigation and claims cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe we are party to any other claim or litigation the outcome of which, if determined adversely to us, would individually or in the aggregate be reasonably expected to have a material adverse effect on our business. Regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources and other factors.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not Applicable.

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities Market Information

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “RCKT”. On February 22, 2024, the last reported sale price for our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market was $29.00 per share.

Stock Performance Graph

The graph set forth below compares the cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2023 with the cumulative total return of (a) the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index and (b) the NASDAQ Composite Index, over the same period. This graph assumes the investment of $100 on January 1, 2019 of our common stock, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index and the NASDAQ Composite Index and assumes the reinvestment of dividends, if any.

The comparisons shown in the graph below are based upon historical data. We caution that the stock price performance shown in the graph below is not necessarily indicative of, nor is it intended to forecast, the potential future performance of our common stock.

 

img172964561_2.jpg 

 

Stockholders

As of February 22, 2024, there were 32 stockholders of record, which excludes stockholders whose shares were held in nominee or street name by brokers.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our Board of Directors. Investors should not purchase our common stock with the expectation of receiving cash dividends.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

The information required by Item 5 of Form 10-K regarding equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Item 12 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Use of Proceeds from Public Offering of Common Stock

On September 15, 2023, we completed a Public Offering of approximately 9.5 million shares of our common stock at a public offering price of $16.00 per share and pre-funded warrants to purchase 3.1 million shares of common stock at a price of $15.99 per warrant (“September 2023 Public Offering”). The gross proceeds from the September 2023 Public Offering were approximately $201.3 million, net of $12.4 million of offering costs, underwriting discounts and commissions, legal and other expenses for net proceeds from the offering of $188.9 million. The offer and sale of the shares and pre-funded warrants were registered under the Securities Act pursuant to a prospectus supplement, filed with the SEC on September 15, 2023, to the Company’s effective registration statement on Form S-3 (Registration No. 333-253756), which was previously filed with the SEC, and declared effective on September 10, 2021. There has been no material change in the planned use of proceeds from our September 2023 Public Offering as described in the prospectus supplement related to the offering.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

There were no repurchases of our common stock during the year ended December 31, 2023.

Item 6. Reserved

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements, related notes and other financial information included elsewhere in this Annual Report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties such as our plans, objectives, expectations, and intentions. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those identified below and those discussed in “Risk Factors” included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

Unless otherwise indicated, references to Rocket, the Company, we,” our and us refer to Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Introduction

We are a fully integrated, late-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of first, only and best in class gene therapies, with direct on-target mechanism of action and clear clinical endpoints, for rare and devastating diseases. We have three clinical-stage ex vivo lentiviral vector (“LV”) programs, which include programs for:

Fanconi Anemia (“FA”), a genetic defect in the bone marrow that reduces production of blood cells or promotes the production of faulty blood cells;
Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I (“LAD-I”), a genetic disorder that causes the immune system to malfunction; and
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (“PKD”), a red blood cell autosomal recessive disorder that results in chronic non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia.

In September 2023, the FDA accepted the Biologics License Application (“BLA”) and granted priority review for RP-L201 for the treatment of severe LAD-I. Treatments in the FA Phase 2 studies were completed in 2023 with regulatory filings in the United States (“U.S.”) and Europe (“EU”) for FA anticipated in 2024. Additional work on a gene therapy program for the less common FA subtypes C and G is ongoing.

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In the U.S., we also have two clinical stage and one pre-clinical stage in vivo adeno-associated virus (“AAV”) programs, which include programs for:

Danon disease (“DD”), a multi-organ lysosomal-associated disorder leading to early death due to heart failure. The DD program is currently in an ongoing Phase 2 trial.
Plakophilin-2 Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (“PKP2-ACM”), an inheritable cardiac disorder that is characterized by a progressive loss of cardiac muscle mass, severe right ventricular dilation, dysplasia, fibrofatty replacement of the myocardium and a high propensity to arrhythmias and sudden death. This program received FDA clearance of an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application and we have initiated a Phase 1 study.
BAG3 Dilated Cardiomyopathy (“DCM”), which is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and is characterized by progressive thinning of the walls of the heart resulting in enlarged heart chambers that are unable to pump blood. Our program utilizes recombinant AAV9-based gene therapy designed to slow or halt progression of BAG3-DCM.

We have global commercialization and development rights to all of these product candidates under royalty-bearing license agreements.

Recent Developments

At-the-Market Offering Program

On February 28, 2022, we entered into a Sales Agreement with Cowen with respect to an at-the-market offering program pursuant to which we may offer and sell, from time to time at our sole discretion, shares through Cowen as our sales agent. The shares to be offered and sold under the Sales Agreement, if any, will be offered and sold pursuant to our shelf registration statement on Form S-3. We filed a prospectus supplement with the SEC on February 28, 2022 in connection with the offer and sale of the shares pursuant to the Sales Agreement. We will pay Cowen a cash commission of 3.0% of gross proceeds from the sale of the shares pursuant to the Sales Agreement. We also agreed to provide Cowen with customary indemnification and contribution rights. We have reimbursed Cowen for certain expenses incurred in connection with the Sales Agreement. Through December 31, 2023, we sold 4.2 million shares under the at-the-market offering program for gross proceeds of $65.8 million, less commissions of $2.0 million for net proceeds of $63.8 million. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we sold 0.9 million shares under the at-the-market offering program for gross proceeds of $17.8 million, less commissions of approximately $0.6 million for net proceeds of $17.2 million. On September 12, 2023, the Company and Cowen entered into an amendment pursuant to which the aggregate offering amount available under the at-the-market offering program was reduced to $180.0 million.

Public Offering

On September 15, 2023, we completed a public offering of approximately 9.5 million shares of our common stock at a public offering price of $16.00 per share and pre-funded warrants to purchase 3.1 million shares of common stock at a price of $15.99 per warrant (the “September 2023 Public Offering”). The gross proceeds from the September 2023 Public Offering were approximately $201.3 million, net of $12.4 million of offering costs, underwriting discounts and commissions, legal and other expenses for net proceeds from the offering of $188.9 million.

Financial Overview

Since our inception, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to organizing and staffing the Company, business planning, raising capital, acquiring, or discovering product candidates and securing related intellectual property rights, conducting discovery, R&D activities for our product candidates and planning for potential commercialization. We do not have any products approved for sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. From inception through December 31, 2023, we raised net cash proceeds of approximately $1.0 billion from investors through both equity and convertible debt financing to fund operating activities.

Revenue

To date, we have not generated any revenue from any sources, including from product sales, and we do not expect to generate any revenue from the sale of products in the near future. If our development efforts for product candidates are successful and result in regulatory approval or license agreements with third parties, we may generate revenue in the future from product sales.

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Research and Development Expenses

Our R&D program expenses consist primarily of external costs incurred for the development of our product candidates. These expenses include:

expenses incurred under agreements with research institutions and consultants that conduct R&D activities, including process development and preclinical and clinical activities on our behalf;
costs related to process development and production of preclinical and clinical materials, including fees paid to contract manufacturers and manufacturing input costs for use in internal manufacturing processes;
consultants supporting process development and regulatory activities; and
costs related to in-licensing of rights to develop and commercialize our product candidate portfolio.

We recognize external development costs based on contractual payment schedules aligned with program activities, invoices for work incurred, and milestones that correspond with costs incurred by the third parties. Nonrefundable advance payments for goods or services to be received in the future for use in R&D activities are recorded as prepaid expenses.

Our direct R&D expenses are tracked on a program-by-program basis for product candidates and consist primarily of external costs, such as research collaborations and third-party manufacturing agreements associated with our preclinical research, process development, manufacturing, and clinical development activities. Our direct R&D expenses by program also include fees incurred under license agreements. Our personnel, non-program and unallocated program expenses include costs associated with activities performed by our internal R&D organization and generally benefit multiple programs. These costs are not separately allocated by product candidate and consist primarily of:

salaries and personnel-related costs, including benefits, travel, and stock-based compensation, for our scientific personnel performing R&D activities;
facilities and other expenses, which include expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities, and depreciation expense; and
laboratory supplies and equipment used for internal R&D activities.

We allocate salary and benefit costs directly related to specific programs. We do not allocate personnel-related discretionary bonus or stock-based compensation costs, costs associated with our general discovery platform improvements, depreciation or other indirect costs that are deployed across multiple projects under development and, as such, the costs are separately classified as other R&D expenses.

The following table presents R&D expenses, in thousands, tracked on a program-by-program basis as well as by type and nature of our expense for our product candidates for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, and 2021.

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

2021

 

Direct Expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danon Disease (AAV) RP-A501

 

$

28,992

 

 

$

28,524

 

 

$

15,804

 

Plakophilin-2 Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (AAV) RP-A601

 

 

7,171

 

 

 

11,724

 

 

 

1,071

 

Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (LVV) RP-L201

 

 

17,725

 

 

 

20,617

 

 

 

24,222

 

Fanconi Anemia (LVV) RP-L102

 

 

25,276

 

 

 

23,917

 

 

 

15,453

 

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (LVV) RP-L301

 

 

4,808

 

 

 

2,744

 

 

 

4,206

 

Infantile Malignant Osteopetrosis (LVV) RP-L401 (1)

 

 

-

 

 

 

271

 

 

 

2,236

 

Other product candidates

 

 

5,501

 

 

 

3,580

 

 

 

3,504

 

Total direct expenses

 

 

89,473

 

 

 

91,377

 

 

 

66,496

 

Unallocated Expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee compensation

 

$

46,867

 

 

$

32,274

 

 

$

20,780

 

Non-cash R&D expense related to the issuance of warrants

 

 

-

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

12,781

 

Stock based compensation expense

 

 

17,509

 

 

 

12,465

 

 

 

11,954

 

Depreciation and amortization expense

 

 

5,375

 

 

 

4,037

 

 

 

5,130

 

Laboratory and related expenses

 

 

17,618

 

 

 

17,405

 

 

 

3,359

 

Professional fees

 

 

3,927

 

 

 

3,601

 

 

 

1,797

 

Other expenses

 

 

5,573

 

 

 

4,411

 

 

 

3,179

 

Total other research and development expenses

 

 

96,869

 

 

 

74,193

 

 

 

58,980

 

Total research and development expense

 

$

186,342

 

 

$

165,570

 

 

$

125,476

 

 

(1)
Effective December 2021, a decision was made to no longer pursue Rocket-sponsored clinical evaluation of RP-L401; this program was returned to academic innovators. Costs to close out the study were incurred in 2022.

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We cannot determine with certainty the duration and costs to complete current or future clinical studies of product candidates or if, when, or to what extent we will generate revenues from the commercialization and sale of any of our product candidates that obtain regulatory approval. We may never succeed in achieving regulatory approval for any of our product candidates. The duration, costs, and timing of clinical studies and development of product candidates will depend on a variety of factors, including:

the scope, rate of progress, and expense of ongoing clinical studies as well as any clinical studies and other R&D activities that we undertake in the future;
future clinical study results;
uncertainties in clinical study enrollment rates;
changing standards for regulatory approval; and
the timing and receipt of any regulatory approvals.

We expect R&D expenses to increase for the foreseeable future as we continue to invest in R&D activities related to developing product candidates, including investments in manufacturing, as our programs advance into later stages of development and as we conduct additional clinical trials. The process of conducting the necessary clinical research to obtain regulatory approval is costly and time-consuming, and the successful development of product candidates is highly uncertain. As a result, we are unable to determine the duration and completion costs of R&D projects or when and to what extent we will generate revenue from the commercialization and sale of any of our product candidates.

Our future R&D expenses will depend on the clinical success of our product candidates, as well as ongoing assessments of the commercial potential of such product candidates. In addition, we cannot forecast with any degree of certainty which product candidates may be subject to future collaborations, when such arrangements will be secured, if at all, and to what degree such arrangements would affect our development plans and capital requirements. We expect our R&D expenses to increase for the foreseeable future as we seek further development of our product candidates.

The successful development and commercialization of our product candidates is highly uncertain. This is due to the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with product development and commercialization, including the uncertainty of:

the scope, progress, outcome and costs of our clinical trials and other R&D activities;
the efficacy and potential advantages of our product candidates compared to alternative treatments, including any standard of care;
the market acceptance of our product candidates;
obtaining, maintaining, defending, and enforcing patent claims and other intellectual property rights;
significant and changing government regulation; and
the timing, receipt, and terms of any marketing approvals.

A change in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of our product candidates that we may develop could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of our product candidates. For example, if the FDA or another regulatory authority were to require us to conduct clinical trials or other testing beyond those that we currently contemplate for the completion of clinical development of any of our product candidates that we may develop or if we experience significant delays in enrollment in any of our clinical trials, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of clinical development of that product candidate.

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related benefit costs for personnel, including stock-based compensation and travel expenses for our employees in commercial, executive, operational, finance, legal, business development, and human resource functions. In addition, other significant general and administrative expenses include professional fees for legal, consulting, investor and public relations, auditing, and tax services as well as other expenses for rent and maintenance of facilities, insurance and other supplies used in general and administrative activities. We expect general and administrative expenses to increase for the foreseeable future due to anticipated increases in headcount to support the continued advancement of our product candidates and our progression to commercial operations. We also anticipate that as we continue to operate as a public company with increasing complexity, we will continue to incur increased accounting, audit, legal, regulatory, compliance and director and officer insurance costs as well as investor and public relations expenses.

Interest Expense

Interest expense in 2023 and 2022 was related to our financing lease obligation for our Cranbury, NJ facility. Interest expense in 2021 was related to convertible notes due in 2021, which were converted into common stock in August 2021 and convertible notes due in 2022, which were converted into common stock in April 2021, and our financing lease obligation for the Cranbury, NJ facility.

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Interest and Other Income

Interest and other income related to interest earned from investments and cash equivalents, liability extinguishment and reduced fair value of warrant liability.

Results of Operations

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2023 and 2022

The following table summarizes our results of operations, in thousands, for each of the periods presented:

 

 

 

For the Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Change

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and development

 

$