Form S-1
Table of Contents
false0001854270
As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 12, 2022
Registration No. 333-            
 
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
FORM S-1
REGISTRATION STATEMENT
UNDER
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
 
 
SENTI BIOSCIENCES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
 
Delaware
 
2836
 
86-2437900
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
 
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
2 Corporate Drive, First Floor
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(650) 382-3281
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)
 
 
Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer
Senti Biosciences, Inc.
2 Corporate Drive, First Floor
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Telephone: (650) 382-3281
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)
 
 
Copies to:
Jocelyn M. Arel
Maggie Wong
Alicia M. Tschirhart
Goodwin Procter LLP
3 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 733-6000
 
 
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public
: From time to time after this Registration Statement becomes effective.
If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933 check the following box:  ☒
If this form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ☐
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ☐
If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, 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 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act.  
 
 
The registrant (the
“Registrant
”) hereby amends this registration statement (this “
Registration Statement
”) on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 or until this Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.
 
 
 


Table of Contents

The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. These securities may not be issued until the registration statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and does not constitute the solicitation of an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.

 

SUBJECT TO COMPLETION, DATED September 12, 2022

PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS

LOGO

SENTI BIOSCIENCES, INC.

Up to 8,727,049 Shares of Common Stock

 

 

This prospectus relates to the potential offer and sale from time to time by Chardan Capital Markets LLC (“Chardan” or the “Selling Securityholder”) of up to 8,727,049 shares of our common stock, par value $0.0001 per share (“Senti Common Shares”) that have been or may be issued by us to Chardan pursuant to a ChEF Purchase Agreement, dated as of August 31, 2022, by and between us and Chardan (the “Purchase Agreement”) establishing a committed equity facility (the “Facility”). Such Senti Common Shares consist of (i) up to 8,627,049 Senti Common Shares that we may elect, in our sole discretion, to issue and sell to Chardan, from time to time under the Purchase Agreement and (ii) the 100,000 Senti Common Shares (such shares, the “Commitment Shares”) issued to Chardan as consideration for its execution and delivery of the Purchase Agreement on the Signing Date (as defined herein). The actual number of Senti Common Shares issuable will vary depending on the then current market price of Senti Common Shares sold to Chardan under the Facility. See “The Committed Equity Financing” for a description of the Purchase Agreement and the Facility and “Selling Securityholder” for additional information regarding Chardan and “Plan of Distribution (Conflicts of Interest)” for a description of compensation payable to Chardan.

We are not selling any securities under this prospectus and will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the Senti Common Shares by the Selling Securityholder. We may receive up to $50.0 million in aggregate gross proceeds from the Selling Securityholder under the Purchase Agreement in connection with sales of the Senti Common Shares to the Selling Securityholder pursuant to the Purchase Agreement after the date of this prospectus. However, the actual proceeds from the Selling Securityholder may be less than this amount depending on the number of Senti Common Shares sold and the price at which the Senti Common Shares are sold.

This prospectus provides you with a general description of such securities and the general manner in which Chardan may offer or sell the securities. More specific terms of any securities that Chardan may offer or sell may be provided in a prospectus supplement that describes, among other things, the specific amounts and prices of the securities being offered and the terms of the offering. The prospectus supplement may also add, update or change information contained in this prospectus.

Chardan may offer, sell or distribute all or a portion of the Senti Common Shares acquired under the Purchase Agreement and hereby registered publicly or through private transactions at prevailing market prices or at negotiated prices. We will bear all costs, expenses and fees in connection with the registration of the Senti Common Shares, including with regard to compliance with state securities or “blue sky” laws. The timing and amount of any sale are within the sole discretion of Chardan. Chardan is an underwriter under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and any profit on sale of Senti Common Shares by them and any discounts, commissions or concessions received by them may be deemed to be underwriting discounts and commissions under the Securities Act. Although Chardan is obligated to purchase Senti Common Shares under the terms and subject to the conditions and limitations of the Purchase Agreement to the extent we choose to sell such Senti Common Shares to them (subject to certain conditions), there can be no assurances that we will choose to sell any Senti Common Shares to Chardan or that Chardan will sell any or all of the Senti Common Shares, if any, purchased under the Purchase Agreement pursuant to this prospectus. Chardan will bear all commissions and discounts, if any, attributable to its sale of Senti Common Shares. See “Plan of Distribution (Conflicts of Interest).”

You should read this prospectus and any prospectus supplement or amendment carefully before you invest in our securities.

Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “SNTI”. On September 7, 2022, the last quoted sale price for the Senti Common Shares as reported on Nasdaq was $1.96 per share.

We are an “emerging growth company” under applicable federal securities laws and will be subject to reduced public company reporting requirements.

 

 

Investing in our securities involves a high degree of risk. Before buying any securities, you should carefully read the discussion of the risks of investing in our securities in “Risk Factors” beginning on page 8 of this prospectus.

Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of the securities to be issued under this prospectus or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

 

The date of this prospectus is                     .


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

     Page  

TRADEMARKS

     ii  

SELECTED DEFINITIONS

     iii  

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

     v  

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

     1  

RISK FACTORS

     8  

THE COMMITTED EQUITY FINANCING

     80  

USE OF PROCEEDS

     85  

DETERMINATION OF OFFERING PRICE

     85  

MARKET PRICE AND DIVIDEND INFORMATION

     85  

BUSINESS

     86  

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

     166  

MANAGEMENT OF SENTI

     178  

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

     184  

DIRECTOR COMPENSATION

     201  

PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDERS

     202  

SELLING SECURITYHOLDER

     205  

CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

     207  

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES

     214  

SECURITIES ACT RESTRICTIONS ON RESALE OF OUR SECURITIES

     217  

UNITED STATES FEDERAL INCOME TAX CONSIDERATIONS

     219  

PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION (CONFLICTS OF INTEREST)

     224  

LEGAL MATTERS

     228  

EXPERTS

     228  

CHANGES IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

     229  

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

     230  

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

     F-1  

 

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TRADEMARKS

This document contains references to trademarks, trade names and service marks belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks, trade names and service marks referred to in this prospectus may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that the applicable licensor will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, its rights to these trademarks and trade names. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names, trademarks or service marks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.

 

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SELECTED DEFINITIONS

As used in this prospectus, unless otherwise noted or the context otherwise requires, references to the following capitalized terms have the meanings set forth below:

Business Combination” means the transactions contemplated by the Business Combination Agreement, including the merger between Merger Sub and Senti.

Business Combination Agreement” means the Business Combination Agreement, dated as of December 19, 2021, as amended or modified from time to time, including as amended by Amendment No. 1 to Business Combination Agreement, dated as of February 12, 2022 and Amendment No. 2, dated as of May 19, 2022, in each case, by and among DYNS, Merger Sub and Senti.

Board” means the board of directors of Senti.

Bylaws” means the Amended and Restated Bylaws of Senti.

Chardan” means Chardan Capital Markets LLC, a New York limited liability company.

Chardan Registration Rights Agreement” means the registration rights agreement dated as of August 31, 2022, by and between Senti and Chardan.

Closing” or “Closing Date” means June 8, 2022.

Code” means the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

Continental” means Continental Stock Transfer & Trust Company, as Senti’s transfer agent.

Convertible Note” means the unsecured convertible promissory note in the principal amount of $5,175,000 issued by Senti Sub I, Inc. (formerly Senti Biosciences, Inc.), to Bayer Healthcare LLC on May 19, 2022.

Certificate of Incorporation” or “Charter” means the Second Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation of Senti.

DGCL” means the Delaware General Corporation Law, as may be amended from time to time.

DYNS” means Dynamics Special Purpose Corp., a Delaware corporation.

Exchange Act” means the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

Founder Shares” means the DYNS Class B Common Shares and Senti Common Shares issued upon the automatic conversion thereof upon the closing of the Business Combination.

GAAP” means the generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, as applied on a consistent basis.

Initial Public Offering” means the initial public offering of DYNS, which closed on May 28, 2021.

Investment Company Act” means the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended.

JOBS Act” means the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012.

Merger Sub” means Explore Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of DYNS.

Public Shares” means the shares of DYNS Class A Common Stock issued in the Initial Public Offering.

 

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Public Stockholders” means holders of Public Shares.

Purchase Agreement” means the ChEF Purchase Agreement dated as of August 31, 2022, by and between Senti and Chardan.

SEC” means the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Securities Act” means the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

Senti” means Senti Biosciences, Inc., a Delaware corporation (which, prior to the consummation of the Business Combination, was known as DYNS).

Senti Common Shares” means the common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, of Senti.

Signing Date” means August 31, 2022, the date the Purchase Agreement and Chardan Registration Rights Agreement were entered into.

Special Meeting” means the special meeting of stockholders of DYNS, held on June 7, 2022.

Sponsor” means Dynamics Sponsor LLC, a Delaware limited liability company.

Trust Account” means the trust account maintained by Continental, acting as trustee, established for the benefit of Public Stockholders in connection with the Initial Public Offering.

 

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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus and some of the information incorporated by reference, includes forward-looking statements regarding, among other things, the plans, strategies, and prospects, both business and financial, of Senti. These statements are based on the beliefs and assumptions of the management of Senti. Although Senti believes that their respective plans, intentions, and expectations reflected in or suggested by these forward-looking statements are reasonable, it cannot assure you that it will achieve or realize these plans, intentions, or expectations. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. Generally, statements that are not historical facts, including statements concerning possible or assumed future actions, business strategies, events or results of operations, and any statements that refer to projections, forecasts, or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking statements. These statements may be preceded by, followed by or include the words “believes”, “estimates”, “expects”, “projects”, “forecasts”, “may”, “might”, “will”, “should”, “seeks”, “plans”, “scheduled”, “possible”, “anticipates”, “intends”, “aims”, “works”, “focuses”, “aspires”, “strives” or “sets out” or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. You should not put undue reliance on these statements which speak only as of the date hereof. Forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus include, for example, statements about:

 

   

our ability to realize the benefits expected from the Business Combination;

 

   

the projected financial information, anticipated growth rate, and market opportunities of Senti;

 

   

our ability to maintain the listing of Senti Common Shares on Nasdaq, and the potential liquidity and trading of such securities;

 

   

our ability to grow and manage growth profitably;

 

   

our ability to raise financing in the future, if and when needed;

 

   

our success in retaining or recruiting, or adapting to changes in, our officers, key employees, or directors;

 

   

the initiation, cost, timing, progress and results of research and development activities, preclinical studies or clinical trials with respect to our current and potential future product candidates;

 

   

our ability to develop and advance our gene circuit platform technologies;

 

   

our ability to identify product candidates using our gene circuit platform technologies;

 

   

our ability to identify, develop and commercialize product candidates;

 

   

our ability to advance our current and potential future product candidates into, and successfully complete, preclinical studies and clinical trials;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval of our current and potential future product candidates, and any related restrictions, limitations and/or warnings in the label of an approved product candidate;

 

   

our ability to obtain funding for our operations;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our technologies and any of our product candidates;

 

   

our ability to successfully commercialize our current and any potential future product candidates;

 

   

the rate and degree of market acceptance of our current and any potential future product candidates;

 

   

regulatory developments in the United States and international jurisdictions;

 

   

potential liability lawsuits and penalties related to our technologies, product candidates and current and future relationships with third parties;

 

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our ability to attract and retain key scientific and management personnel;

 

   

our ability to effectively manage the growth of our operations;

 

   

our ability to contract with third-party suppliers and manufacturers and their ability to perform adequately under those arrangements;

 

   

our ability to compete effectively with existing competitors and new market entrants;

 

   

potential effects of extensive government regulation;

 

   

our future financial performance and capital requirements;

 

   

our ability to implement and maintain effective internal controls;

 

   

the impact of supply chain disruptions;

 

   

the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, including our preclinical studies and potential future clinical trials;

 

   

unfavorable global economic conditions, including inflationary pressures, market volatility, acts of war and civil and political unrest; and

 

   

other factors detailed under the section entitled “Risk Factors.”

These and other factors that could cause actual results to differ from those implied by the forward-looking statements in this prospectus described under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this prospectus. The risks described under the heading “Risk Factors” are not exhaustive. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible to predict all such risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all such risk factors on the business of Senti or the extent to which any factor or combination of factors may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements attributable to Senti or to persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. We undertake no obligations to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise, except as required by law.

 

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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

The following summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus. It does not contain all the information you should consider before investing in the Senti Common Shares. You should read this entire prospectus carefully, including the sections titled “Risk Factors,” “Business,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Where You Can Find More Information,” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus, before making an investment decision. In this prospectus, unless the context requires otherwise, all references to “we,” “our,” “us,” “Senti,” the “Registrant,” and the “Company” refer to Senti Biosciences, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries following the Business Combination.

Overview

Senti is a preclinical biotechnology company developing next-generation cell and gene therapies engineered with its gene circuit platform technologies to fight challenging diseases. Our mission is to create a new generation of smarter therapies that can outmaneuver complex diseases in ways previously not implemented by conventional medicines. To accomplish this mission, we have built a synthetic biology platform that we believe may enable us to program next-generation cell and gene therapies with what we refer to as “gene circuits.” These gene circuits, which we created from novel and proprietary combinations of genetic parts, are designed to reprogram cells with biological logic to sense inputs, compute decisions and respond to their respective cellular environments. We aim to design and optimize gene circuits through our Design-Build-Test-Learn Engine, or DBTL Engine, to improve the “intelligence” of cell and gene therapies in order to enhance their therapeutic effectiveness against a broad range of diseases that conventional medicines are unable to address. We are designing our gene circuit platform technologies to be applied in a modality-agnostic manner, with applicability to natural killer (NK) cells, T cells, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), stem cells including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), in vivo gene therapy and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). All of our current product candidates are in preclinical development. Our lead product candidates currently utilize allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK cells outfitted with its gene circuit technologies in several oncology indications with currently high unmet need. Subject to the successful completion of IND-enabling studies, we expect to file INDs for multiple product candidates starting in 2023. See “Business” elsewhere in this prospectus for more information.

Company Information

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. The SEC maintains an Internet website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information about issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. We also maintain a website at https://sentibio.com. We make available, free of charge, on our investor relations website at https://investors.sentibio.com, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing or furnishing those reports to the SEC. Information contained on or accessible through our website is not a part of or incorporated by reference into this prospectus and the inclusion of our website and investor relations website addresses in this prospectus is an inactive textual reference only.

Background

On June 8, 2022, DYNS consummated the previously announced business combination pursuant to the terms of the Business Combination Agreement with Senti Sub I, Inc. (formerly Senti Biosciences, Inc.) and Explore Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of DYNS (“Merger Sub”). Pursuant to the terms of the Business Combination Agreement, Merger Sub merged with and into Senti Sub I, Inc., with Senti Sub I, Inc. surviving the merger as a wholly-owned subsidiary of DYNS. The Merger was approved by DYNS’s stockholders at a meeting held on June 7, 2022. In connection with the consummation of the Merger on the Closing Date, DYNS changed its name from DYNS to Senti Biosciences, Inc.

 

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On June 9, 2022, our common stock, formerly of DYNS, began trading on The Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol “SNTI”.

As a result of the Merger, we raised gross proceeds of approximately $140.7 million of an expected $156.5 million, which included funds held in DYNS’s trust account (after giving effect to redemptions) and proceeds from the PIPE investment of $50.6 million of an expected $66.8 million, and a $5.2 million investment by Bayer Healthcare LLC through the exchange of the Convertible Note. See our financial statements elsewhere in this prospectus for more information.

After taking into account the aggregate amount of redemptions of approximately $145.5 million in connection with the Business Combination and LifeForce Capital’s failure to fund its commitment of $16.2 million upon the closing of the PIPE financing, the $140.7 million in gross proceeds from the Merger and related transactions was less than our anticipated minimum cash condition of $151.7 million. We determined that the shortfall in cash did not require us to implement any material changes to our current business plan, although this may change in the future.

Even with proceeds from the Business Combination, under our current business plan, we will need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations and pursue our growth strategy until such time as we can generate significant revenue from product sales, if ever. In the future, we expect to finance our operations through the issuance of additional equity or debt securities or other capital sources, which may include collaborations with other companies or other strategic transactions.

Going Concern

Prior to the Closing of the Business Combination, we concluded that our recurring losses from operations and need for additional financing to fund future operations raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Similarly, our independent registered public accounting firm included an explanatory paragraph in its report on our consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2021 with respect to this uncertainty.

Summary Risk Factors

Investing in our securities involves risks. If any of these risks actually occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations would likely be materially adversely affected. You should carefully consider all the information contained in this prospectus before making a decision to invest in Senti Common Shares. In particular, you should consider the risk factors described under “Risk Factors” beginning on page 8. Some of these risks related to the Facility and our business, operations, financial performance and industry are summarized below.

 

   

It is not possible to predict the actual number of Senti Common Shares, if any, we will sell under the Purchase Agreement to Chardan, the actual gross proceeds resulting from those sales or the dilution to you from those sales.

 

   

Investors who buy Senti Common Shares from Chardan at different times will likely pay different prices.

 

   

The sale or issuance of Senti Common Shares to Chardan will result in additional outstanding shares and the resale of Senti Common Shares by Chardan that it acquires pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, or the perception that such sales may occur, could cause the price of Senti Common Shares to decrease.

 

   

We may use proceeds from sales of the Senti Common Shares made pursuant to the Purchase Agreement in ways with which you may not agree or in ways which may not yield a significant return.

 

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We are a preclinical stage biotechnology company with a history of losses. We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

 

   

We will need substantial additional funds to advance development of product candidates and our gene circuit platform, and we cannot guarantee that we will have sufficient funds available in the future to develop and commercialize our current or potential future product candidates and technologies.

 

   

Sales of the Senti Common Shares registered for sale by Chardan pursuant to this Prospectus, which could represent a significant portion of our total outstanding shares, or the perception that such sales will occur, may have a negative impact on our stock price and may impair our ability to raise additional capital on terms and conditions acceptable to us, or at all.

 

   

We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If our remediation of the material weakness is not effective, or if we experience additional material weaknesses or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our common stock.

 

   

Our history of recurring losses and anticipated expenditures raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern in connection with the audit of our financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021. Our ability to continue as a going concern requires that we obtain sufficient funding to finance our operations.

 

   

If any of our current or potential future product candidates is ever tested in humans, it may not demonstrate the safety, purity and potency, or efficacy, necessary to become approvable or commercially viable.

 

   

Our gene circuit platform technologies are based on novel technologies that are unproven and may not result in approvable or marketable products, which exposes us to unforeseen risks and makes it difficult for us to predict the time and cost of product development and potential for regulatory approval.

 

   

Although we intend to explore other therapeutic opportunities in addition to the product candidates we are currently pursuing, we may fail to identify viable new product candidates for clinical development, which could materially harm our business.

 

   

Clinical development includes a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results.

 

   

We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies, and plan to rely on third parties to conduct clinical trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily. If third parties on which we intend to rely to conduct certain preclinical and clinical studies do not perform as contractually required, fail to satisfy regulatory or legal requirements or miss expected deadlines, our development program could be delayed or unsuccessful, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates when expected, or at all.

 

   

We may not be able to maintain our existing strategic partnerships and collaboration arrangements or enter into new strategic partnerships and collaborations for the development, manufacture and commercialization of product candidates based on our platform technology on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all.

 

   

The manufacturing of our product candidates is complex. We may encounter difficulties in production. If we encounter any such difficulties, our ability to supply our product candidates for clinical trials or, if approved, for commercial sale, could be delayed or halted entirely.

 

   

We face competition from companies that have developed or may develop product candidates for the treatment of the diseases that we may target, including companies developing novel therapies and platform technologies. If these companies develop platform technologies or product candidates more

 

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rapidly than we do, or if their platform technologies or product candidates are more effective or have fewer side effects, our ability to develop and successfully commercialize product candidates may be adversely affected.

 

   

Our future success depends on our ability to retain key employees, directors, consultants and advisors and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.

 

   

We may experience difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations. We have limited experience in therapeutic development. As our current and potential future product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and any clinical trials, we will need to expand our development, regulatory and manufacturing capabilities or contract with other organizations to provide these capabilities for us.

 

   

Our business, operations and clinical development plans and timelines could be adversely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including business interruptions, staffing shortages and supply chain issues arising from the pandemic on the manufacturing, clinical trial and other business activities performed by us or by third parties with whom we may conduct business, including our anticipated contract manufacturers, contract research organizations (“CROs”), suppliers, shippers and others.

 

   

If we are unable to obtain or protect intellectual property rights related to our technology and current or future product candidates, or if our intellectual property rights are inadequate, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and we may not be able to compete effectively in our market or successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop.

 

   

We may be unable to obtain U.S. or foreign regulatory approval and, as a result, be unable to commercialize our current or potential future product candidates.

 

   

Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidate, such product candidate may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations or third-party coverage and reimbursement policies, which would harm our business.

 

   

We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters, including earthquake, flood, fire, explosion, extreme weather conditions, or medical epidemics.

Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act. As such, we may take advantage of reduced disclosure and other requirements otherwise generally applicable to public companies, including:

 

   

exemption from the requirement to have our registered independent public accounting firm attest to management’s assessment of our internal control over financial reporting;

 

   

exemption from compliance with the requirement of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, regarding the communication of critical audit matters in the auditor’s report on the financial statements;

 

   

reduced disclosure about our executive compensation arrangements; and

 

   

exemption from the requirement to hold non-binding advisory votes on executive compensation or golden parachute arrangements.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest to occur of: (1) the last day of the fiscal year in which we have at least $1.07 billion in annual revenue; (2) the date we qualify as a “large accelerated filer,” with at least $700.0 million of equity securities held by non-affiliates; (3) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the prior three-year period; and (4) December 31, 2026, the last day of the fiscal year ending after the fifth anniversary of the DYNS IPO.

 

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As a result of this status, we have taken advantage of reduced reporting requirements in this prospectus and may elect to take advantage of other reduced reporting requirements in our future filings with the SEC. In particular, in this prospectus, we have not included all of the executive compensation-related information that would be required if we were not an emerging growth company.

Additional Information

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on June 9, 2016. The mailing address of our principal executive office is 2 Corporate Drive, First Floor, South San Francisco, California 94080, and our telephone number is (650) 382-3281.

Our website address is https://sentibio.com/. The information on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of this prospectus, and you should not consider information contained on our website in deciding whether to purchase Senti Common Shares.

 

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THE OFFERING

 

Issuer

Senti Biosciences, Inc.

 

Senti Common Shares offered by the Selling Securityholder

Up to 8,727,049 Senti Common Shares, consisting of:

 

   

8,627,049 Senti Common Shares that we may elect, in our sole discretion, to issue and sell to the Selling Securityholder, from time to time from and after the Commencement Date under the Purchase Agreement; and

 

   

the Commitment Shares, which are the 100,000 Senti Common Shares that were issued to Chardan as Commitment Shares as consideration for its execution and delivery of the Purchase Agreement on the Signing Date.

 

  The actual number of Senti Common Shares issued and outstanding will vary depending on the then current market price of Senti Common Shares sold to Chardan in this offering.

 

Terms of the Offering

Chardan will determine when and how it will dispose of any Senti Common Shares acquired under the Purchase Agreement that are registered under this prospectus for resale.

 

Use of Proceeds

We will not receive any proceeds from the resale of Senti Common Shares by Chardan. However, we may receive up to $50.0 million in aggregate gross proceeds from the Selling Securityholder under the Purchase Agreement in connection with sales of Senti Common Shares to the Selling Securityholder pursuant to the Purchase Agreement after the date of this prospectus. However, the actual proceeds may be less than this amount depending on the number of Senti Common Shares sold and the price at which the Senti Common Shares are sold. We intend to use any proceeds from any sales of Senti Common Shares to Chardan under the Facility for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Pending other uses, we intend to invest the net proceeds to us in investment-grade, interest-bearing securities such as money market funds, certificates of deposit, or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government, or hold as cash. We cannot predict whether the net proceeds invested will yield a favorable return. See “Use of Proceeds.”

 

Conflicts of Interest

Chardan is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and is expected to act as an executing broker for the resale of Senti Common Shares in this offering. The receipt by Chardan of all the proceeds from resales of Senti Common Shares results in a “conflict of interest” under FINRA Rule 5121. Accordingly, such resales will be conducted in compliance with FINRA Rule 5121. To the extent that the Senti Common Shares do not have a “bona fide public market”, as defined in FINRA Rule 5121, a qualified independent underwriter will participate in the preparation of, and exercise the usual standards of “due diligence”

 

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with respect to, the registration statement. LifeSci Capital, LLC has agreed to act as qualified independent underwriter for this offering and will receive an upfront fee of $100,000 and, beginning one year after the date of the Purchase Agreement, a quarterly fee of $25,000 for doing so. Pursuant to FINRA Rule 5121, Chardan will not confirm resales of Senti Common Shares to any account over which it exercises discretionary authority without the prior written approval of the customer. See “Plan of Distribution (Conflicts of Interest).”

 

Ticker symbol

“SNTI”.

 

Risk factors

Any investment in the securities offered hereby is speculative and involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the information set forth under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

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RISK FACTORS

Investing in the Senti Common Shares involves a high degree of risk. Before you decide to invest in the Senti Common Shares, you should consider carefully the risks described below, together with the other information contained in this prospectus, including our financial statements and the related notes appearing at the end of this prospectus. We believe the risks described below are the risks that are material to us as of the date of this prospectus. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, results of operations and financial condition would likely be materially and adversely affected. In these circumstances, the market price of the Senti Common Shares could decline, and you may lose part or all of your investment.

Risks Related to the Facility

It is not possible to predict the actual number of Senti Common Shares, if any, we will sell under the Purchase Agreement to Chardan, or the actual gross proceeds resulting from those sales or the dilution to you from those sales.

On August 31, 2022, we entered into the Purchase Agreement with Chardan, pursuant to which Chardan shall purchase from us up to $50.0 million of Senti Common Shares (the “Total Commitment”), upon the terms and subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in the Purchase Agreement. The Senti Common Shares that may be issued under the Purchase Agreement may be sold by us to Chardan at our discretion from time to time until the earliest to occur of (i) the first day of the month next following the 36-month anniversary of the effectiveness of this registration statement, (ii) the date on which Chardan has purchased the Total Commitment pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, (iii) the date on which our common stock fails to be listed or quoted on Nasdaq or any successor market, and (iv) the date on which, pursuant to or within the meaning of any bankruptcy law, we commence a voluntary case or any Person commences a proceeding against us, a custodian is appointed for us or for all or substantially all of our property, or we make a general assignment for the benefit of our creditors.

We generally have the right to control the timing and amount of any sales of our common stock to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement. Sales of our common stock, if any, to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement will depend upon market conditions and other factors to be determined by us. We may ultimately decide to sell to Chardan all, some or none of the common stock that may be available for us to sell to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement. Accordingly, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to sell all of the Total Commitment or how much in proceeds we may obtain under the Purchase Agreement. If we cannot sell securities under the Facility, we may be required to utilize more costly and time-consuming means of accessing the capital markets, which could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and cash position.

Because the purchase price per share of common stock to be paid by Chardan for the common stock that we may elect to sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, if any, will fluctuate based on the market prices of our common stock at the time we elect to sell shares to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, if any, it is not possible for us to predict, as of the date of this prospectus and prior to any such sales, the number of shares of common stock that we will sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, the purchase price per share that Chardan will pay for shares of common stock purchased from us under the Purchase Agreement, or the aggregate gross proceeds that we will receive from those purchases by Chardan under the Purchase Agreement.

We are registering 8,727,049 Senti Common Shares under this prospectus, including the 100,000 Commitment Shares issued to Chardan as consideration for its execution and delivery of the Purchase Agreement on the Signing Date. The actual number of Senti Common Shares issuable will vary depending on the then current market price of Senti Common Shares sold to Chardan in this offering and the number of Senti Common Shares we ultimately elect to sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement. If it becomes necessary for us to issue and sell to the Selling Securityholder under the Purchase Agreement more than the 8,727,049 shares of Senti Common Shares being registered for resale under this prospectus in order to receive aggregate gross proceeds

 

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equal to $50.0 million under the Purchase Agreement, we must file with the SEC one or more additional registration statements to register under the Securities Act the resale by the Selling Securityholder of any such additional Senti Common Shares we wish to sell from time to time under the Purchase Agreement, which the SEC must declare effective, in each case before we may elect to sell any additional Senti Common Shares under the Purchase Agreement. Under applicable Nasdaq rules, in no event may we issue to Chardan more than 19.99% of the total number of Senti Common Shares that were outstanding immediately prior to the execution of the Purchase Agreement, unless we obtain prior stockholder approval or if such approval is not required in accordance with the applicable Nasdaq rules. In addition, Chardan is not obligated to buy any common stock under the Purchase Agreement if such shares, when aggregated with all other common stock then beneficially owned by Chardan and its affiliates (as calculated pursuant to Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-3 promulgated thereunder), would result in Chardan beneficially owning common stock in excess of 4.99% of our outstanding shares of common stock. Our inability to access a portion or the full amount available under the Purchase Agreement, in the absence of any other financing sources, could have a material adverse effect on our business or results of operation.

Investors who buy common stock from Chardan at different times will likely pay different prices.

Pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, the timing, price and number of shares sold to Chardan will vary depending on when we choose to sell shares, if any, to Chardan. If and when we elect to sell common stock to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, after Chardan has acquired such common stock, Chardan may resell all, some or none of such shares at any time or from time to time in its sole discretion and at different prices. As a result, investors who purchase shares from Chardan in this offering at different times will likely pay different prices for those shares, and so may experience different levels of dilution and in some cases substantial dilution and different outcomes in their investment results. Investors may experience a decline in the value of the shares they purchase from Chardan in this offering as a result of future sales made by us to Chardan at prices lower than the prices such investors paid for their shares in this offering.

The sale or issuance of Senti Common Shares to Chardan will result in additional outstanding shares and the resale of Senti Common Shares by Chardan that it acquires pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, or the perception that such sales may occur, could cause the price of Senti Common Shares to decrease.

On August 31, 2022, we entered into the Purchase Agreement with Chardan, pursuant to which Chardan shall purchase from us up to $50.0 million of Senti Common Shares, upon the terms and subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in the Purchase Agreement. We have issued 100,000 Commitment Shares to Chardan as consideration for its execution and delivery of the Purchase Agreement on the Signing Date. The Senti Common Shares issued under the Purchase Agreement may be sold by us to Chardan at our sole discretion, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions in the Purchase Agreement, from time to time, until the earliest to occur of (i) the first day of the month next following the 36-month anniversary of the effectiveness of this registration statement, (ii) the date on which Chardan has purchased the Total Commitment pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, (iii) the date on which our common stock fails to be listed or quoted on Nasdaq or any successor market, and (iv) the date on which, pursuant to or within the meaning of any bankruptcy law, we commence a voluntary case or any Person commences a proceeding against us, a custodian is appointed for us or for all or substantially all of our property, or we make a general assignment for the benefit of our creditors. The purchase price for Senti Common Shares that we may sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement will fluctuate based on the trading price of Senti Common Shares. Depending on market liquidity at the time, sales of Senti Common Shares may cause the trading price of Senti Common Shares to decrease. We generally have the right to control the timing and amount of any future sales of Senti Common Shares to Chardan. Additional sales of Senti Common Shares, if any, to Chardan will depend upon market conditions and other factors to be determined by us. We may ultimately decide to sell to Chardan all, some or none of the additional Senti Common Shares that may be available for us to sell pursuant to the Purchase Agreement. If and when we do sell Senti Common Shares to Chardan, after Chardan has acquired Senti Common Shares, Chardan may resell all, some or none of such Senti Common Shares at any time or from time to time in its discretion. Therefore, sales to Chardan by us could

 

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result in substantial dilution to the interests of other holders of Senti Common Shares. In addition, if we sell a substantial number of Senti Common Shares to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, or if investors expect that we will do so, the actual sales of Senti Common Shares or the mere existence of our arrangement with Chardan may make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and at a price that we might otherwise wish to effect such sales.

We may use proceeds from sales of our common stock made pursuant to the Purchase Agreement in ways with which you may not agree or in ways which may not yield a significant return.

We will have broad discretion over the use of proceeds from sales of our common stock made pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, including for any of the purposes described in the section entitled “Use of Proceeds,” and you will not have the opportunity, as part of your investment decision, to assess whether the proceeds are being used appropriately. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of the net proceeds, their ultimate use may vary substantially from their currently intended use. While we expect to use the net proceeds from this offering as set forth in “Use of Proceeds”, we are not obligated to do so. The failure by us to apply these funds effectively could harm our business, and the net proceeds may be used for corporate purposes that do not increase our operating results or enhance the value of our common stock.

Risks Related to Our Limited Operating History and Financial Condition

We are a preclinical stage biotechnology company with a history of losses. We expect to continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

We are a preclinical stage biotechnology company with a history of losses. Since our inception, we have devoted substantially all of our resources to research and development, preclinical studies, building our management team and building our intellectual property portfolio, and we have incurred significant operating losses. Our net losses were $23.4 million and $33.0 million for the six months ended June 30, 2022 and 2021, respectively. As of June 30, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $138.4 million. Substantially all of our losses have resulted from expenses incurred in connection with our research and development programs and from general and administrative costs associated with our operations. To date, we have not generated any revenue from product sales, and we have not sought or obtained regulatory approval for any product candidate. Furthermore, we do not expect to generate any revenue from product sales for the foreseeable future, and we expect to continue to incur significant operating losses for the foreseeable future due to the cost of research and development, preclinical studies, clinical trials, manufacturing and the regulatory approval process for our current and potential future product candidates.

We expect our net losses to increase substantially as we:

 

   

continue to advance our gene circuit platform technologies;

 

   

continue preclinical development of our current and future product candidates and initiate additional preclinical studies;

 

   

commence clinical trials of our current and future product candidates;

 

   

establish our manufacturing capability, including developing our contract development and manufacturing organization relationships and building our internal manufacturing facilities;

 

   

acquire and license technologies aligned with our gene circuit platform technologies;

 

   

seek regulatory approval of our current and future product candidates;

 

   

expand our operational, financial, and management systems and increase personnel, including personnel to support our preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization efforts;

 

   

continue to develop, perfect, and defend our intellectual property portfolio; and

 

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incur additional legal, accounting, or other expenses in operating our business, including the additional costs associated with operating as a public company.

However, the amount of our future losses is uncertain. Our ability to achieve or sustain profitability, if ever, will depend on, among other things, successfully developing product candidates, obtaining regulatory approvals to market and commercialize product candidates, manufacturing any approved products on commercially reasonable terms, entering into potential future alliances, establishing a sales and marketing organization or suitable third-party alternatives for any approved product and raising sufficient funds to finance business activities. If we, or our potential future collaborators, are unable to commercialize one or more of our product candidates, or if sales revenue from any product candidate that receives approval is insufficient, we will not achieve or sustain profitability, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We will need substantial additional funding. If we are unable to raise capital when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, we may be forced to delay, reduce, or terminate our research and product development programs, future commercialization efforts or other operations.

We will need substantial additional funds to advance development of product candidates and our gene circuit platform, and we cannot guarantee that we will have sufficient funds available in the future to develop and commercialize our current or potential future product candidates and technologies.

The development of biotechnology product candidates is capital-intensive. If any of our current or potential future product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and clinical trials, we will need substantial additional funds to expand our development, regulatory, manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities. We have used substantial funds to develop our gene circuit platform, SENTI-202, SENTI-301, SENTI-401 and other product candidates, and we will require significant funds to continue to develop our platform and conduct further research and development, including preclinical studies and clinical trials. In addition, we expect to incur significant additional costs associated with operating as a public company.

As of June 30, 2022, we had $139.8 million in cash and cash equivalents. Our future capital requirements and the period for which our existing resources will support our operations may vary significantly from what we expect. Our monthly spending levels vary based on new and ongoing research and development and other corporate activities. Because the length of time and activities associated with successful research and development of platform technologies and product candidates is highly uncertain, we are unable to estimate the actual funds we will require for development and any approved marketing and commercialization activities. Our future capital requirements and the timing and amount of our operating expenditures will depend largely on:

 

   

the timing, progress, results and costs of preclinical and clinical development of our current and potential future product candidates;

 

   

the scope, timing and progress of our development of our gene circuit platforms;

 

   

the number and scope of preclinical and clinical programs, the number and development requirements of product candidates, and the number and types of indications for our product candidates that we decide to pursue;

 

   

the costs of building and operating our own dedicated Current Good Manufacturing Practice (“cGMP”) and Current Good Tissue Practice (“cGTP”) facility to support clinical and commercial-scale production of multiple allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell product candidates, and the terms of any third-party manufacturing contract or biomanufacturing partnership we may enter into;

 

   

our ability to maintain our current licenses and collaborations, conduct our research and development programs and establish new strategic partnerships and collaborations;

 

   

the progress of the development efforts of our existing strategic partners and third parties with whom we may in the future enter into collaboration and research and development agreements;

 

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the costs involved in obtaining, maintaining, enforcing, protecting and defending patents and other intellectual property rights;

 

   

the timing and amount of any milestone, royalty and other payments we are required to make under our present or future license agreements;

 

   

the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;

 

   

the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review and any approvals for our product candidates;

 

   

the cost associated with commercializing any approved product candidates;

 

   

the cost and timing of developing our ability to establish sales and marketing capabilities, if any; and

 

   

our efforts to enhance and maintain operational systems and hire and retain personnel, including personnel to support development of our platform technology and product candidates and to satisfy our obligations as a public company.

To date, we have primarily financed our operations through the sale of equity securities. We may seek to raise any necessary additional capital through a combination of public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, strategic alliances, licensing arrangements, grants and other marketing and distribution arrangements. Any additional capital raising efforts may divert our management from their day-to-day activities, which may adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize our current and future product candidates, if approved.

We cannot assure you that we will be successful in acquiring additional funding at levels sufficient to fund our operations or on terms acceptable to us, if at all. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing when needed, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be harmed, and we may need to significantly modify our operational plans to continue as a going concern. For example, we may have to delay, reduce the scope of or suspend one or more of our preclinical studies, clinical trials, research and development programs or commercialization efforts. Further, if we are unable to continue as a going concern, we might have to liquidate our assets, and the values we receive for our assets in liquidation or dissolution could be significantly lower than the values reflected in our consolidated financial statements. Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with the development and commercialization of our current and potential future product candidates and the extent to which we may enter into collaborations with third parties to participate in their development and commercialization, we are unable to estimate the amounts of increased capital outlays and operating expenditures associated with our current and anticipated preclinical studies and clinical trials, including related manufacturing costs.

To the extent that we raise additional capital through collaborations, strategic alliances or licensing arrangements with third parties, we may have to relinquish valuable rights to our current and potential future product candidates, future revenue streams or research programs or grant licenses on terms that may not be favorable to us. If we do raise additional capital through public or private equity or convertible debt offerings, the ownership interest of our existing stockholders will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect our stockholders’ rights. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, we may be subject to covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends. Moreover, the issuance of additional securities by us, whether equity or debt, or the market perception that such issuances are likely to occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

We do not expect to realize revenue from product sales or royalties from licensed products for the foreseeable future, if at all, and unless and until our current and potential future product candidates are clinically tested, approved for commercialization and successfully marketed.

 

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We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If our remediation of the material weakness is not effective, or if we experience additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of Senti Common Shares.

Prior to the closing of the Business Combination, we were a private company with limited accounting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal control over financial reporting. In connection with our preparation and the audit of our consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2021, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness, as defined under the Exchange Act and by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), in our internal control over financial reporting. The material weakness related to a lack of sufficient and adequate resources in the finance and accounting function that resulted in a lack of formalized risk assessment process, lack of segregation of duties, and ineffective process level control activities over the management review of journal entries, account reconciliations and non-routine transactions. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our consolidated financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

We are in the process of implementing a risk assessment process and measures designed to improve our internal control over financial reporting and remediate the control deficiencies that led to the material weakness, including hiring additional accounting personnel. The process of designing and implementing effective internal controls is a continuous effort that requires us to anticipate and react to changes in our business and the economic and regulatory environments and to expend significant resources to maintain a system of internal controls that is adequate to satisfy our reporting obligations as a public company. For example, to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our financial reporting, we will need to commit significant resources, implement and strengthen existing disclosure processes, train personnel and provide additional management oversight.

We cannot be certain that the measures we have taken to date, and actions we may take in the future, will be sufficient to remediate the control deficiencies that led to our material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting or that they will prevent or avoid potential future material weaknesses. In addition, neither our management nor an independent registered public accounting firm has performed an evaluation of our internal control over financial reporting because no such evaluation has been previously required. The rules governing the standards that must be met for our management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and remediation. Testing internal controls may divert our management’s attention from other matters that are important to our business.

Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“Section 404”), our management will be required to report upon the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting beginning with the annual report for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2022. Even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm when required may issue a report that is qualified if it is not satisfied with our controls or the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed. The rules governing the standards that must be met for management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing, and possible remediation. To comply with the requirements of being a reporting company under the Exchange Act, we will need to implement additional financial and management controls, reporting systems, procedures, and hire additional accounting and finance staff.

When we lose our status as an “emerging growth company” and become an “accelerated filer” or a “large accelerated filer,” our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404. Accordingly, you may not be able to depend on any attestation concerning our internal control over financial reporting from our independent registered public accountants for the foreseeable future.

 

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Our testing, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses. A material weakness in internal controls could result in our failure to detect a material misstatement of our annual or quarterly consolidated financial statements or disclosures. We may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404. If we are unable to conclude that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting, investors could lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of Senti Common Shares.

We cannot be certain as to the timing of completion of our evaluation, testing and any remediation actions or the impact of the same on our operations. If we are unable to successfully remediate our existing or any future material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, or identify any additional material weaknesses, the accuracy and timing of our financial reporting may be negatively impacted, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and our stock price may decline as a result. If we are not able to implement the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner or with adequate compliance, our independent registered public accounting firm when required may issue an adverse opinion due to ineffective internal controls over financial reporting, and we may be subject to sanctions or investigation by regulatory authorities, such as the SEC. As a result, there could be a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our consolidated financial statements. In addition, we may be required to incur costs in improving our internal control system and the hiring of additional personnel. Any such action could negatively affect our results of operations and cash flows.

Members of our management team have limited experience in managing the day-to-day operations of a public company and, as a result, we may incur additional expenses associated with the management of our company.

Members of our management team have limited experience in managing the day-to-day operations of a public company. As a result, we may need to obtain outside assistance from legal, accounting, investor relations, or other professionals that could be more costly than planned. We also plan to hire additional personnel to comply with additional SEC reporting requirements. These compliance costs will make some activities significantly more time-consuming and costly. If we lack cash resources to cover these costs in the future, our failure to comply with reporting requirements and other provisions of securities laws could negatively affect our stock price and adversely affect our potential results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.

Our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards (“ NOLs”) and credits to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

Our NOLs could expire unused and be unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities because of their limited duration or because of restrictions under U.S. tax law. NOLs generated in taxable years beginning before January 1, 2018 are permitted to be carried forward for 20 taxable years under applicable U.S. federal income tax law. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Tax Act”), as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), NOLs arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2020 may not be carried back. Moreover, under the Tax Act as modified by the CARES Act, NOLs generated in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such NOLs generally will be limited in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020 to 80% of current year taxable income. As of December 31, 2021, we had NOLs for U.S. federal and state income tax purposes of approximately $145.1 million, a portion of which expire beginning in 2031 if not utilized. NOLs generated in 2021 for U.S. federal tax reporting purposes of approximately $35.5 million have an indefinite life.

In general, under Section 382 of the Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” (defined under Section 382 of the Code and applicable Treasury Regulations as a greater than 50 percentage point change (by value) in a corporation’s equity ownership by certain stockholders over a rolling three-year period) is subject to

 

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limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change NOLs to offset future taxable income. We have not determined whether our NOLs are limited under Section 382 of the Code. We may have experienced ownership changes in the past and may experience ownership changes in the future, including as a result of the Business Combination or subsequent shifts in our stock ownership (some of which are outside our control). Furthermore, our ability to utilize NOLs of companies that we may acquire in the future may be subject to limitations. There is also a risk that due to regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of NOLs or other unforeseen reasons, our existing NOLs could expire or otherwise be unavailable to reduce future income tax liabilities, including for state tax purposes. For these reasons, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of the NOLs reflected on our balance sheet, even if we attain profitability, which could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us and could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.

Risks Related to the Development and Clinical Testing of Our Product Candidates

Our current product candidates are in preclinical development and have never been tested in humans. One or all of our current product candidates may fail in clinical development or suffer delays that materially and adversely affect their commercial viability.

We have no products on the market or that have gained regulatory approval or that have entered clinical trials. None of our product candidates has ever been tested in humans. Our ability to achieve and sustain profitability depends on obtaining regulatory approvals for and successfully commercializing product candidates, either alone or with collaborators.

Before obtaining regulatory approval for the commercial distribution of our product candidates, we or a collaborator must conduct extensive preclinical studies, followed by clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency, or efficacy of our product candidates in humans. There is no guarantee that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) will permit us to conduct clinical trials. Further, we cannot be certain of the timely completion or outcome of our preclinical studies and cannot predict if the FDA or other regulatory authorities will accept our proposed clinical programs, our clinical protocols or if the outcome of our preclinical studies will ultimately support the further development of our preclinical programs or testing in humans. As a result, we cannot be sure that we will be able to submit IND or similar applications for our proposed clinical programs on the timelines we expect, if at all, and we cannot be sure that submission of INDs or similar applications will result in the FDA or other regulatory authorities allowing clinical trials for any of our product candidates to begin.

Our current product candidates are in preclinical development and we are subject to the risks of failure inherent in the development of product candidates based on novel approaches, targets and mechanisms of action. Although we anticipate initiating clinical trials for our lead product candidates, there is no guarantee that we will be able to proceed with clinical development of any of these product candidates or that any product candidate will demonstrate a clinical benefit once we advance these candidates to testing in patients. Accordingly, you should consider our prospects in light of the costs, uncertainties, delays and difficulties frequently encountered by preclinical stage biotechnology companies such as ours.

We may not be able to access the financial resources to continue development of, or to enter into any collaborations for, any of our current or potential future product candidates. This may be exacerbated if we experience any issues that delay or prevent regulatory approval of, or our ability to commercialize, a product candidate, such as:

 

   

negative or inconclusive results from our preclinical studies or clinical trials or the clinical trials of others for product candidates similar to ours, leading to a decision or requirement to conduct additional preclinical studies or clinical trials or abandon any or all of our programs;

 

   

product-related side effects experienced by participants in our clinical trials or by individuals using therapeutics similar to our product candidates;

 

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delays in submitting INDs or comparable foreign applications, or delays or failures to obtain the necessary approvals from regulatory authorities to commence a clinical trial, or a suspension or termination of a clinical trial once commenced;

 

   

conditions imposed by the FDA or other regulatory authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials;

 

   

delays in enrolling research subjects in clinical trials;

 

   

high drop-out rates of research subjects;

 

   

inadequate supply or quality of product candidate components or materials or other supplies necessary for the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

   

chemistry, manufacturing and control (“CMC”) challenges associated with manufacturing and scaling up biologic product candidates to ensure consistent quality, stability, purity and potency among different batches used in clinical trials;

 

   

greater-than-anticipated clinical trial costs;

 

   

poor potency or effectiveness of our product candidates during clinical trials;

 

   

unfavorable FDA or other regulatory authority inspection and review of a clinical trial or manufacturing site;

 

   

delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or events associated with the pandemic;

 

   

failure of our third-party contractors or investigators to comply with regulatory requirements or otherwise meet their contractual obligations in a timely manner, or at all;

 

   

delays and changes in regulatory requirements, policies and guidelines; or

 

   

the FDA or other regulatory authorities interpreting our data differently than we do.

Further, we and any existing or potential future collaborator may never receive approval to market and commercialize any product candidate. Even if we or any existing or potential future collaborator obtains regulatory approval, the approval may be for targets, disease indications or patient populations that are not as broad as we intended or desired or may require labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings. We or an existing or potential future collaborator may also be subject to post-marketing testing requirements to maintain regulatory approval.

If any of our current or potential future product candidates is ever tested in humans, it may not demonstrate the safety, purity and potency, or efficacy, necessary to become approvable or commercially viable.

None of our current product candidates have ever been tested in humans. We may ultimately discover that our current product candidates do not possess certain properties that we believe are helpful for therapeutic effectiveness and safety or would otherwise support the submission of an IND on the timelines we expect, or at all. We do not know if the observations we have made regarding our gene circuits generally and our product candidates in particular will translate into any clinical response when tested in humans. As an example, while the Tumor-Associated Antigen (“TAA”) CD33 has been clinically validated as a target for an approved antibody-drug conjugate therapy, it has not been clinically validated as a target for CAR-NK or CAR-T therapies, and may not prove to be a clinically sufficient target for the CAR-NK therapies we are developing. As a result of these uncertainties related to our gene circuit platform technologies and our product candidates, we may never succeed in developing a marketable product based on our current product candidates. If any of our current or potential future product candidates prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, our entire pipeline could have little, if any, value, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

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Our gene circuit platform technologies are based on novel technologies that are unproven and may not result in approvable or marketable products, which exposes us to unforeseen risks and makes it difficult for us to predict the time and cost of product development and potential for regulatory approval.

We are seeking to identify and develop a broad pipeline of product candidates using our gene circuit platform technologies. The scientific research that forms the basis of our efforts to develop product candidates with our platforms is still ongoing. We are not aware of any FDA approved therapeutics utilizing similar technologies as ours. Further, the scientific evidence to support the feasibility of developing therapeutic treatments based on our platform technologies is preliminary. As a result, we are exposed to a number of unforeseen risks and it is difficult to predict the types of challenges and risks that we may encounter during development of our product candidates. For example, we have not tested any of our current product candidates in humans, and our current data is limited to animal models and preclinical cell lines, the results of which may not translate into humans. Further, relevant animal models and assays may not accurately predict the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans, and we may encounter significant challenges creating appropriate models and assays for demonstrating the safety and efficacy of our product candidates. In addition, our gene circuit technologies have potential safety risks. For example, if the NOT GATE gene circuit, as described below, engineered into one of our product candidates, such as SENTI-202, does not provide a clinically sufficient level of inhibition, it may kill healthy cells that it has been designed to preserve or may cause systemic immune cytotoxicity. As another example, if the small-molecular regulator dial does not achieve a clinically sufficient level of control over IL-12 secretion, either leaky IL-12 production in the uninduced state or overproduction of IL-12 in the induced state may result in systemic immune toxicity. It is possible that safety events or concerns such as these or others could negatively affect the development of our product candidates, including adversely affecting patient enrollment among the patient populations that we intend to treat.

Given the novelty of our technologies, we intend to work closely with the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities to evaluate our proposed approaches to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates; however, due to a lack of comparable experiences, the regulatory pathway with the FDA and comparable regulatory authorities may be more complex and time-consuming relative to other more well-known therapeutics. Even if we obtain human data to support our product candidates, the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory agencies may lack experience in evaluating the safety and efficacy of our product candidates developed using our platforms, which could result in a longer than expected regulatory review process, increase our expected development costs, and delay or prevent commercialization of our product candidates. The validation process takes time and resources, may require independent third-party analyses, and may not be accepted or approved by the FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authorities. We cannot be certain that our approach will lead to the development of approvable or marketable products, alone or in combination with other therapies.

We may not be successful in our efforts to use and expand our gene circuit platform to expand our pipeline of product candidates.

A key element of our strategy is to use and advance our gene circuit platform to design, test and build our portfolio of product candidates focused on allogeneic gene circuit-equipped CAR-NK cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. Although our research and development efforts to date have resulted in our discovery and preclinical development of SENTI-202, SENTI-301, SENTI-401 and other potential product candidates, none of these product candidates has advanced to clinical development. We cannot assure you that any of our existing product candidates will advance to clinical trials or, if they do, that such trials will demonstrate these product candidates to be safe or effective therapeutics, and we may not be able to successfully develop any product candidates. Even if we are successful in expanding our pipeline of product candidates, any additional product candidates that we identify may not be suitable for clinical development or generate acceptable clinical data, including as a result of being shown to have unacceptable effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be products that will receive marketing approval from the FDA or other regulatory authorities or achieve market acceptance. If we do not successfully develop and commercialize product candidates, we will not be able to generate product revenue in the future.

 

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Although we intend to explore other therapeutic opportunities in addition to the product candidates that we are currently developing, we may fail to identify viable new product candidates for clinical development for a number of reasons. If we fail to identify additional potential product candidates, our business could be materially harmed.

Although a substantial amount of our efforts will focus on the planned clinical trials and potential approval of the current and potential future product candidates we are evaluating, a key element of our strategy is to discover, develop, manufacture and globally commercialize additional targeted therapies beyond our current product candidates to treat various conditions and in a variety of therapeutic areas. Even if we identify investigational therapies that initially show promise, we may fail to successfully develop and commercialize such products for many reasons, including the following:

 

   

the research methodology used may not be successful in identifying potential investigational therapies;

 

   

competitors may develop alternatives that render our investigational therapies obsolete;

 

   

investigational therapies we develop may nevertheless be covered by third parties’ patents or other exclusive rights;

 

   

an investigational therapy may, on further study, be shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate it is unlikely to be effective or otherwise does not meet applicable regulatory criteria;

 

   

it may take greater human and financial resources than we will possess to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, thereby limiting our ability to develop, diversify and expand our product portfolio;

 

   

an investigational therapy may not be capable of being produced in clinical or commercial quantities at an acceptable cost, or at all; and

 

   

an approved product may not be accepted as safe and effective by trial participants, the medical community or third-party payors.

Identifying new investigational therapies requires substantial technical, financial and human resources, whether or not any investigational therapies are ultimately identified. Because we have limited financial and human resources, we may initially focus on research programs and product candidates for a limited set of indications. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. For example, if we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate or technology, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate or technology through collaborations, licensing or other royalty arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate or technology.

Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will ever be able to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop suitable potential product candidates through internal research programs, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects. We may focus our efforts and resources on potential product candidates or other potential programs that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful.

The market, physicians, patients, regulators and potential investors, may not be receptive to our current or potential future product candidates and may be skeptical of the viability and benefits of our gene circuit pipeline technology because it is based on a relatively novel and complex technology.

The market, physicians, patients, regulators and potential investors, may be skeptical of the viability and benefits of our gene circuit pipeline technology or our product candidates because they are based on a relatively novel and

 

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complex technology and there can be no assurance that our product candidates or platform technologies will be understood, approved, or accepted. If potential investors are skeptical of the success of our pipeline products, our ability to raise capital and the value of our stock may be adversely affected. If physicians, patients, or regulators do not understand or accept our gene circuit platform technologies or our product candidates, we may be delayed in or unable to develop our product candidates.

Even if regulatory approval is obtained for a product candidate, including SENTI-202, SENTI-301 and SENTI-401, we may not generate or sustain revenue from sales of approved products. Market acceptance of our gene circuit platform technologies and our current and potential future product candidates, if approved, will depend on, among other factors:

 

   

the timing of our receipt of any marketing and commercialization approvals;

 

   

the terms of any approvals and the countries in which approvals are obtained;

 

   

the safety and efficacy of our product candidates and gene circuit technologies in general;

 

   

the prevalence and severity of any adverse side effects associated with our product candidates;

 

   

limitations or warnings contained in any labeling approved by the FDA or other regulatory authority;

 

   

relative convenience and ease of administration of our product candidates;

 

   

the success of our physician education programs;

 

   

the availability of coverage and adequate government and third-party payor reimbursement;

 

   

the pricing of our products, particularly as compared to alternative treatments; and

 

   

availability of alternative effective treatments for the disease indications our product candidates are intended to treat and the relative risks, benefits and costs of those treatments.

If any product candidate we commercialize fails to achieve market acceptance, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The occurrence of serious complications or side effects in connection with use of our product candidates, either in clinical trials or post-approval, could lead to discontinuation of our clinical development programs, refusal of regulatory authorities to approve our product candidates or, post-approval, revocation of marketing authorizations or refusal to approve applications for new indications, which could severely harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.

Undesirable side effects caused by any of our current or potential future product candidates could cause regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and could result in a more restrictive label or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. While we have not yet initiated clinical trials for SENTI-202, SENTI-301, SENTI-401 or any other product candidate, it is likely that there will be side effects associated with their use. Results of our clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity and prevalence of these side effects. For example, if the NOT GATE gene circuit engineered into one of our product candidates, such as SENTI-202, does not provide a clinically sufficient level of inhibition, it may kill healthy cells that it has been designed to preserve or may cause systemic immune cytotoxicity. As another example, if the small- molecular regulator dial does not achieve a clinically sufficient level of control over IL-12 secretion, either leaky IL-12 production in the uninduced state or overproduction of IL-12 in the induced state may result in systemic immune toxicity. It is possible that safety events or concerns such as these or others could negatively affect the development of our product candidates, including adversely affecting patient enrollment among the patient populations that we intend to treat. In such an event, our trials could be suspended or terminated, and the FDA or other regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of or deny approval of a product candidate for any or all targeted indications. Such side effects could also affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled patients to complete the trial or result in potential product liability claims. To date, we have not observed any such effects in our preclinical studies, but there can be no guarantee that our

 

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current or future product candidates will not cause such effects in clinical trials. Any of these occurrences may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition and impair our ability to generate revenues.

Further, clinical trials by their nature utilize a sample of the potential patient population. With a limited number of patients and limited duration of exposure, rare and severe side effects of a product candidate may only be uncovered when a significantly larger number of patients are exposed to the product candidate or when patients are exposed for a longer period of time.

In the event that any of our current or potential future product candidates receives regulatory approval and we or others identify undesirable side effects caused by one of these products, any of the following events could occur, which could result in the loss of significant revenue to us and materially and adversely affect our results of operations and business:

 

   

regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product or seize the product;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

we may be subject to fines, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties;

 

   

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

 

   

we may be required to create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;

 

   

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

 

   

the product may become less competitive; and

 

   

our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could prevent us from achieving or maintaining market acceptance of the particular product candidate, if approved, and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.

While we believe our pipeline will yield multiple INDs, we may not be able to file INDs to commence clinical trials on the timelines we expect, and even if we are able to, the FDA may not permit us to proceed.

We expect our pipeline to yield multiple INDs beginning as early as 2023, including INDs for SENTI-202 and SENTI-301. We cannot be sure that submission of an IND will result in the FDA allowing testing and clinical trials to begin, or that, once begun, issues will not arise that suspend or terminate such clinical trials. The manufacturing of our product candidates, including SENTI-202, SENTI-301 and SENTI-401, remains an emerging and evolving field. Accordingly, we expect chemistry, manufacturing and control related topics, including product specifications, will be a focus of IND reviews, which may delay the clearance of INDs. Additionally, even if such regulatory authorities agree with the design and implementation of the clinical trials set forth in an IND or clinical trial application, we cannot guarantee that such regulatory authorities will not change their requirements in the future.

In addition to the submission of an IND to the FDA before initiation of a clinical trial in the United States, 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 of Health (“NIH”) Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (“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

 

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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.

Interim, topline and preliminary data that we announce or publish from time to time for any clinical trials that we initiate may change as more patient data become available or as additional analyses are conducted, and as the data are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publicly disclose interim, preliminary 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 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 interim, preliminary or topline results that we report may differ from future results of the same trials, 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. From time to time, we may also disclose interim, preliminary or topline data from our clinical studies. Interim, topline or preliminary data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Adverse differences between preliminary, topline or interim data and final data could significantly harm our business prospects.

Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the value of the particular program, the approvability or commercialization of the particular product candidate or product and the value of 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 the material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular product, product candidate or our business. If the topline data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to obtain approval for, and commercialize, our product candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.

We and our collaborators may not achieve projected discovery and development milestones and other anticipated key events in the time frames that we or they announce, which could have an adverse impact on our business and could cause our stock price to decline.

From time to time, we expect that we will make public statements regarding the expected timing of certain milestones and key events, such as the commencement and completion of preclinical and IND-enabling studies in our product candidate discovery programs with collaborators as well as the commencement and completion of planned clinical trials in those programs. The actual timing of these events can vary dramatically due to a number of factors such as delays or failures in our or any future collaborators’ product candidate discovery and

 

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development programs, the amount of time, effort and resources committed by us and any future collaborators, and the numerous uncertainties inherent in the development of therapies. As a result, there can be no assurance that our or any future collaborators’ programs will advance or be completed in the time frames we or they announce or expect. If we or any collaborators fail to achieve one or more of these milestones or other key events as planned, our business could be materially adversely affected, and the price of our common stock could decline.

Clinical trials are expensive, time-consuming and difficult to design and implement.

Human clinical trials are expensive and difficult to design and implement, in part because they are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements. Because our current and potential future product candidates are based on new technologies and discovery approaches, we expect that they will require extensive research and development and have substantial manufacturing and processing costs. In addition, the FDA or other regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional testing before commencing clinical trials and be hesitant to allow us to enroll patients impacted with our targeted disease indications in our future clinical trials. If we are unable to enroll patients impacted by our targeted disease indications in our future clinical trials, we would be delayed in obtaining potential proof-of-concept data in humans, which could extend our development timelines. In addition, costs to treat patients and to treat potential side effects that may result from our product candidates may be significant. Accordingly, our clinical trial costs are likely to be high and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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

We may not be able to initiate or continue any clinical trials for our current or potential future product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. We cannot predict how difficult it will be to enroll patients for trials in the indications we are studying. We may experience difficulties in patient enrollment in our clinical trials for a variety of reasons. The enrollment of patients depends on many factors, including:

 

   

the severity of the disease under investigation;

 

   

the patient eligibility criteria defined in the clinical trial protocol;

 

   

the size of the patient population required for analysis of the trial’s primary endpoints;

 

   

the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients;

 

   

willingness of physicians to refer their patients to our clinical trials;

 

   

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

 

   

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

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain patient consents;

 

   

the risk that patients enrolled in clinical trials will drop out of the trials before completion; and

 

   

factors we may not be able to control, such as current or potential pandemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that may limit the availability of patients, principal investigators or staff or clinical sites to participate in our clinical trials.

In addition, our future clinical trials will compete with other clinical trials for product candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our product candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to

 

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enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Since the number of qualified clinical investigators is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. Additionally, because some of our clinical trials will be in patients with advanced disease who may experience disease progression or adverse events independent from our product candidates, such patients may be unevaluable for purposes of the trial and, as a result, we may require additional enrollment. Delays in patient enrollment may result in increased costs or may affect the timing or outcome of the planned clinical trials, which could prevent completion of these trials and adversely affect our ability to advance the development of our product candidates.

If clinical trials for our product candidates are prolonged, delayed or stopped, we may be unable to seek or obtain regulatory approval and commercialize our product candidates on a timely basis, or at all, which would require us to incur additional costs and delay our receipt of any product revenue.

We may experience delays in our ongoing or future preclinical studies or clinical trials, and we do not know whether future preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll an adequate number of patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. The commencement or completion of these clinical trials could be substantially delayed or prevented by many factors, including:

 

   

further discussions with the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities regarding the scope or design of our clinical trials, including the endpoint measures required for regulatory approval and our statistical plan;

 

   

the limited number of, and competition for, suitable study sites and investigators to conduct our clinical trials, many of which may already be engaged in other clinical trial programs with similar patients, including some that may be for the same indications as our product candidates;

 

   

any delay or failure to obtain timely approval or agreement to commence a clinical trial in any of the countries where enrollment is planned;

 

   

inability to obtain sufficient funds required for a clinical trial;

 

   

clinical holds on, or other regulatory objections to, a new or ongoing clinical trial;

 

   

delay or failure to manufacture sufficient quantities or inability to produce quantities of consistent quality, purity and potency of the product candidate for our clinical trials;

 

   

delay or failure to reach agreement on acceptable clinical trial agreement terms or clinical trial protocols with prospective sites or CROs, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different sites or CROs;

 

   

delay or failure to obtain institutional review board (“IRB”) or ethics committee approval to conduct a clinical trial at a prospective site;

 

   

the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to submit additional data or impose other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial;

 

   

slower than expected rates of patient recruitment and enrollment;

 

   

failure of patients to complete the clinical trial;

 

   

the inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients in studies to ensure adequate statistical power to detect statistically significant treatment effects;

 

   

unforeseen safety issues, including severe or unexpected drug-related adverse effects experienced by patients, including possible deaths;

 

   

lack of efficacy or failure to measure a statistically significant clinical benefit within the dose range with an acceptable safety margin during clinical trials;

 

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termination of our clinical trials by one or more clinical trial sites;

 

   

inability or unwillingness of patients or clinical investigators to follow our clinical trial protocols;

 

   

inability to monitor patients adequately during or after treatment by us or our CROs;

 

   

our CROs or clinical study sites failing to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, deviating from the protocol or dropping out of a study;

 

   

inability to address any noncompliance with regulatory requirements or safety concerns that arise during the course of a clinical trial;

 

   

the impact of, and delays related to, health epidemics such as the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

   

the need to suspend, repeat or terminate clinical trials as a result of non-compliance with regulatory requirements, inconclusive or negative results or unforeseen complications in testing; and

 

   

the suspension or termination of our clinical trials upon a breach or pursuant to the terms of any agreement with, or for any other reason by, any future strategic collaborator that has responsibility for the clinical development of any of our product candidates.

Changes in regulatory requirements, policies and guidelines may also occur and we may need to significantly modify our clinical development plans to reflect these changes with appropriate regulatory authorities. These changes may require us to renegotiate terms with CROs or resubmit clinical trial protocols to IRBs for re-examination, which may impact the costs, timing or successful completion of a clinical trial. Our clinical trials may be suspended or terminated at any time by us, the FDA, other regulatory authorities, the IRB overseeing the clinical trial at issue, any of our clinical trial sites with respect to that site, or us.

Any failure or significant delay in commencing or completing clinical trials for our product candidates, any failure to obtain positive results from clinical trials, any safety concerns related to our product candidates, or any requirement to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate would adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval and our commercial prospects and ability to generate product revenue will be diminished.

If we decide to seek orphan drug designation for one or more of our product candidates, we may be unsuccessful or may be unable to maintain the benefits associated with orphan drug designation for our current or future product candidates that we may develop.

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may designate a product candidate as an orphan drug if it is a drug or biologic product intended to treat a rare disease or condition, which is generally defined as a patient population of fewer than 200,000 individuals annually in the United States, or where there is no reasonable expectation that the cost of developing the product will be recovered from sales in the United States. We may seek orphan drug designation for certain indications for our product candidates in the future. Orphan drug designation neither shortens the development time or regulatory review time of a drug nor gives the drug any advantage in the regulatory review or approval process. Orphan drug designation can entitle a party to financial incentives such as opportunities for grant funding towards clinical trial costs, tax advantages and user-fee waivers.

In addition, 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 from approving another marketing application for the same drug for the same indication for seven years. The FDA may reduce the seven-year exclusivity if the same drug from a competitor demonstrates clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan product to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. Even if one of our product candidates receives orphan exclusivity, the FDA can still approve other drugs that have a different active ingredient for use in treating the same indication or disease.

 

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In addition, exclusive marketing rights in the United States may be limited if we seek approval for an indication broader than the orphan-designated indication or may be lost if the FDA later determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantities of the product to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition. Further, even if we obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs with different active moieties can be approved for the same condition, and while we may seek orphan drug designation for our product candidates, we may never receive such designations. In addition, the FDA may reevaluate the Orphan Drug Act and its regulations and policies. 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.

We may not be able to conduct, or contract with others to conduct, animal testing in the future, which could harm our research and development activities.

Certain laws and regulations relating to drug development require us to test our product candidates on animals before initiating clinical trials involving humans. Animal testing activities have been the subject of controversy and adverse publicity. Animal rights groups and other organizations and individuals have attempted to stop animal testing activities by pressing for legislation and regulation in these areas and by disrupting these activities through protests and other means. To the extent the activities of these groups are successful, our research and development activities may be interrupted or delayed.

Risks Related to Third Parties

We rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies, and plan to rely on third parties to conduct clinical trials, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily.

We expect to rely on third-party clinical investigators, CROs, clinical data management organizations and consultants to design, conduct, supervise and monitor certain preclinical studies and any clinical trials. Because we intend to rely on these third parties and will not have the ability to conduct certain preclinical studies or clinical trials independently, we will have less control over the timing, quality and other aspects of such preclinical studies and clinical trials than we would have had we conducted them on our own. These investigators, CROs and consultants will not be our employees and we will have limited control over the amount of time and resources that they dedicate to our programs. Some of these third parties may terminate their engagements with us at any time. We also expect to have to negotiate budgets and contracts with CROs, clinical trial sites and contract manufacturing organizations and we may not be able to do so on favorable terms, which may result in delays to our development timelines and increased costs. If we need to enter into alternative arrangements with, or replace or add any third parties, it would involve substantial cost and require extensive management time and focus, or involve a transition period, and may delay our drug development activities, as well as materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. These third parties may have contractual relationships with other entities, some of which may be our competitors, which may draw time and resources from our programs. The third parties with which we may contract might not be diligent, careful or timely in conducting our preclinical studies or clinical trials, resulting in the preclinical studies or clinical trials being delayed or unsuccessful.

Our reliance on these third parties for such drug development activities will reduce our control over these activities. As a result, we will have less direct control over the conduct, timing and completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials and the management of data developed through preclinical studies and clinical trials than would be the case if we were relying entirely upon our own staff. Nevertheless, we will be responsible for ensuring that each of our studies and trials is conducted in accordance with applicable protocol, legal and regulatory requirements and scientific standards, including good laboratory practice (“GLP”), good clinical practice (“ GCP”), cGMP, and cGTP and our reliance on third parties does not relieve us of our regulatory

 

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responsibilities. For example, we will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. Moreover, the FDA and other regulatory authorities require us to comply with GCP standards, regulations for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are reliable and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. Regulatory authorities enforce these GCP requirements through periodic inspections of trial sponsors, principal investigators and trial sites. If we or any of our CROs, clinical sites and investigators fail to comply with applicable GCP requirements, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, European Medicines Agency (“EMA”), or other regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. There can be no assurance that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials substantially comply with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product candidates produced under cGMP regulations and will require a large number of test patients. Our failure or any failure by these third parties to comply with these regulations or to recruit a sufficient number of patients, may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process. Moreover, our business may be implicated if any of these third parties violates FDA regulatory requirements as well as federal or state healthcare laws and regulations or healthcare privacy and security laws.

If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, meet expected deadlines or conduct our clinical trials in accordance with regulatory requirements or our stated protocols, or if these third parties need to be replaced, we will not be able to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approvals for our product candidates and will not be able to, or may be delayed in our efforts to, successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our financial results and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase and our ability to generate revenue could be delayed.

We depend on strategic partnerships and collaboration arrangements, such as our collaboration arrangements with Spark Therapeutics, Inc. (“Spark”), and Bluerock Therapeutics, Inc. (“Bluerock”), for the application of our gene circuit platform technology to the development and commercialization of potential product candidates in certain indications, and if these arrangements are unsuccessful, this could impair our ability to generate revenues and materially harm our results of operations.

Our business strategy for exploiting the potential of our gene circuit platform technology is dependent upon maintaining our current arrangements and establishing new arrangements with strategic partners, research collaborators and other third parties. We currently have collaboration agreements with Spark and Bluerock. These collaboration agreements provide for, among other things, research funding and significant future payments should certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones be achieved. Under these arrangements, our collaborators are typically responsible for:

 

   

electing to advance product candidates through preclinical and into clinical development;

 

   

conducting clinical development and obtaining required regulatory approvals for product candidates; and

 

   

commercializing any resulting products.

As a result, we may not be able to conduct these collaborations in the manner or on the time schedule we currently contemplate, which may negatively impact our business operations.

Additionally, the development and commercialization of potential product candidates under our collaboration agreements could be substantially delayed, and our ability to receive future funding could be substantially impaired if one or more of our collaborators:

 

   

shifts its priorities and resources away from our collaborations due to a change in business strategies, or a merger, acquisition, sale or downsizing of its company or business unit;

 

   

ceases development in therapeutic areas which are the subject of our collaboration;

 

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fails to select a product candidate for advancement into preclinical development, clinical development, or subsequent clinical development into a marketed product;

 

   

changes the success criteria for a particular product candidate, thereby delaying or ceasing development of such product candidate;

 

   

significantly delays the initiation or conduct of certain activities which could delay our receipt of milestone payments tied to such activities, thereby impacting our ability to fund our own activities;

 

   

develops a product candidate that competes, either directly or indirectly, with our product candidates;

 

   

does not obtain the requisite regulatory approval of a product candidate;

 

   

does not successfully commercialize a product candidate;

 

   

encounters regulatory, resource or quality issues and is unable to meet demand requirements;

 

   

exercises its rights under the agreement to terminate the collaboration, or otherwise withdraws support for, or otherwise impairs development under the collaboration;

 

   

disagrees on the research, development or commercialization of a product candidate resulting in a delay in milestones, royalty payments or termination of research and development activities for such product candidate; and

 

   

uses our proprietary information or intellectual property in such a way as to jeopardize our rights in such property.

In addition, the termination of our existing collaborations or any future strategic partnership or collaboration arrangement that we enter into may prevent us from receiving any milestone, royalty payment, sharing of profits, and other benefits under such agreement. Furthermore, disagreements with these parties could require or result in litigation or arbitration, which would be time-consuming and expensive. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to develop and commercialize any of our product candidates and may adversely impact our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.

We may not be able to enter into additional strategic transactions on acceptable terms, if at all, which could adversely affect our ability to develop and commercialize current and potential future product candidates and technologies, impact our cash position, increase our expenses and present significant distractions to our management.

From time to time, we consider strategic transactions, such as collaborations, regional partnerships for the co-development and/or co-commercialization of our product candidates in selected territories, acquisitions of companies, asset purchases, joint ventures, out- or in-licensing of product candidates or technologies and biomanufacturing partnerships involving our manufacturing facilities and gene circuit platform technology. For example, we will evaluate and, if strategically attractive, seek to enter into collaborations, including with biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, contract development manufacturing organizations or hospitals. The competition for collaborators is intense, and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. If we are not able to enter into strategic transactions, we may not have access to required liquidity or expertise to further develop our potential future product candidates or our gene circuit platform. Any such collaboration, or other strategic transaction, may require us to incur non-recurring or other charges, increase our near- and long-term expenditures and pose significant integration or implementation challenges or disrupt our management or business.

We also may acquire additional technologies and assets, form strategic alliances or create joint ventures with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our existing business, but we may not be able to realize the benefit of acquiring such assets. Conversely, any new collaboration that we do enter into may be on terms that are not optimal for us, our product candidates or our technologies. These transactions would entail numerous operational and financial risks, including:

 

   

exposure to unknown liabilities;

 

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disruption of our business and diversion of our management’s time and attention in order to negotiate and manage a collaboration or develop acquired products, product candidates or technologies;

 

   

incurrence of substantial debt or dilutive issuances of equity securities to pay transaction consideration or costs;

 

   

higher-than-expected collaboration, acquisition or integration costs, write-downs of assets or goodwill or impairment charges, increased amortization expenses;

 

   

difficulty and cost in facilitating the collaboration or combining the operations and personnel of any acquired business;

 

   

impairment of relationships with key suppliers, manufacturers or customers of any acquired business due to changes in management and ownership; and

 

   

the inability to retain key employees of any acquired business.

Accordingly, although there can be no assurance that we will undertake or successfully complete any transactions of the nature described above, any transactions that we do complete may be subject to the foregoing or other risks and our business could be materially harmed by such transactions. Conversely, any failure to enter any collaboration or other strategic transaction that would be beneficial to us could delay the development and potential commercialization of our product candidates and technologies and have a negative impact on the competitiveness of any product candidate or technology that reaches market.

In addition, to the extent that any future collaborators terminate a collaboration agreement, we may be forced to independently develop our current and future product candidates and technologies, including funding preclinical studies or clinical trials, assuming marketing and distribution costs and maintaining, enforcing and defending intellectual property rights, or, in certain instances, abandon product candidates and technologies altogether, any of which could result in a change to our business plan and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Risks Related to Manufacturing

The manufacturing of our product candidates is complex. We may encounter difficulties in production. If we encounter any such difficulties, our ability to supply our product candidates for clinical trials or, if approved, for commercial sale, could be delayed or halted entirely.

The manufacture of biopharmaceutical products is complex and requires significant expertise, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls. The process of manufacturing our product candidates is also extremely susceptible to product loss due to contamination, equipment failure or improper installation or operation of equipment, operator error, contamination and inconsistency in yields, variability in product characteristics and difficulties in scaling the production process. Even minor deviations from normal manufacturing processes could result in reduced production yields, product defects and other supply disruptions. If microbial, viral or other contaminations are discovered in our product candidates or the manufacturing facilities in which they are made, the facilities may need to be closed for an extended period of time to investigate and remedy the contamination. As a result of the complexities, the cost to manufacture biologics in general, and our cell-based product candidates in particular, is generally higher than traditional small molecule chemical compounds, and the manufacturing process is less reliable and is more difficult to reproduce.

Any adverse developments affecting manufacturing operations for our product candidates, if any are approved, may result in shipment delays, inventory shortages, lot failures, product withdrawals or recalls, or other interruptions in the supply of our products. We may also have to take inventory write-offs and incur other charges and expenses for products that fail to meet specifications, undertake costly remediation efforts or seek more costly manufacturing alternatives. Furthermore, it is too early to estimate our cost of goods sold. The actual cost to manufacture our product candidates could be greater than we expect because we are early in our development efforts.

 

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Construction of our planned in-house manufacturing may be delayed or, even if completed, supply of our product candidates for preclinical and clinical development may become limited or interrupted or may not be of satisfactory quantity or quality, and we will experience delays if we are unable to operate our own manufacturing facility and are required to relay on third party back-up manufacturers.

A key to our strategy is operating our own manufacturing facility. We initiated construction in June 2021 of a dedicated in-house facility to support clinical and commercial-scale production of allogeneic NK cell product candidates in accordance with cGMP and cGTP requirements. We anticipate that this facility will become operational in time to support initial clinical trials for our lead product candidates. Initial manufacturing efforts at our planned facility will focus on product candidates from our two lead programs, SENTI-202 and SENTI-301.

The construction and commissioning of our planned facility may be delayed or may not be completed. As such, we cannot assure that our preclinical or future clinical development product supplies and commercial supplies will not be limited or interrupted. In particular, any change in our plans to construct and operate our own facility, including any decision to rely on third party back-up manufacturers, could require significant effort and expertise because there may be a limited number, if any, of qualified third-party replacements. We do not currently have arrangements in place for a redundant or second-source supply in the event our planned facility does not become operational. Any delays in manufacturing our product candidates could impede, delay, limit or prevent our drug development efforts, which could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. Additionally, we may pursue a biomanufacturing partnership in which we grant a third party certain rights to use our manufacturing facility for the manufacture of third parties’ products or product candidates, which could divert our manufacturing capacity and management resources from the manufacture of our product candidates.

We do not currently produce our product candidates in quantities sufficient for preclinical and clinical development, and we do not currently have arrangements with any third parties to produce them for us. We cannot be sure that the manufacturing processes employed by us or the technologies that we incorporate for manufacturing will result in viable or scalable yields of our product candidates that will be safe, effective, and meet market demand.

The manufacturing process for a product candidate is subject to FDA and other regulatory authority review. We and any third-party manufacturers we may contract with must meet applicable manufacturing requirements and undergo rigorous facility and process validation tests required by regulatory authorities in order to comply with regulatory standards, such as cGMP and cGTP. In the event that we or any third-party manufacturer fails to comply with such requirements or to perform obligations in relation to quality, timing or otherwise, or if our supply of components or other materials becomes limited or interrupted for other reasons, we may be forced to or enter into an agreement with another third party, which we may not be able to do on reasonable terms, or at all. In some cases, the technical skills or technology required to manufacture our current and future product candidates may be difficult or impossible to transfer to a third party and a feasible alternative may not exist. If we are required to change manufacturing facilities or manufacturers for any reason, we will be required to verify that the new facilities and procedures comply with quality standards and with all applicable regulations and guidelines. We will also need to verify, such as through a manufacturing comparability study, that any new manufacturing process will produce our product candidate according to the specifications previously submitted to the FDA or another regulatory authority. The delays associated with the verification of a new manufacturing could negatively affect our ability to develop product candidates in a timely manner or within budget. In addition, changes in manufacturers often involve changes in manufacturing procedures and processes, which could require that we conduct bridging studies between our prior clinical supply used in our clinical trials and that of any new manufacturer. We may be unsuccessful in demonstrating the comparability of clinical supplies which could require the conduct of additional clinical trials.

 

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If we receive regulatory approval for any product candidate and we are unable to for any reason to produce sufficient quantities of the product in our own facility, and we are unable to obtain or maintain third-party manufacturing on commercially reasonable terms, we may not be able to commercialize the product candidate successfully. Our or a third party’s failure to execute on our manufacturing requirements and comply with cGMP and cGTP could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:

 

   

an inability to initiate or continue clinical trials of product candidates under development;

 

   

delay in submitting regulatory applications, or receiving regulatory approvals, for product candidates;

 

   

loss of the cooperation of potential future collaborators;

 

   

subjecting third-party manufacturing facilities or our potential future manufacturing facilities to additional inspections by regulatory authorities;

 

   

requirements to cease distribution or to recall batches of product candidates; and

 

   

in the event of approval to market and commercialize a product candidate, an inability to meet commercial demands for our products.

Our future in-house manufacturing facility and any third-party manufacturers that we use may be unable to successfully scale the manufacturing of our current or potential future product candidates in sufficient quality and quantity, which would delay or prevent us from developing our current and potential future product candidates and commercializing approved products candidates, if any. We have never operated a cGMP facility before.

In order to conduct clinical trials for our current and potential future product candidates or to commercialize any approved product candidates, we will need to manufacture large quantities of these product candidates. We expect to use our in-house manufacturing facility to produce required quantities of our product candidates upon its planned completion in 2022. We, or any manufacturing partners, may be unable to successfully increase the manufacturing capacity for any current or potential future product candidate in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. In addition, quality issues may arise during scale-up activities and may result in lower yields than initially expected. While we believe our planned cGMP facility will be sufficiently scalable to produce commercial quantities, any significant revisions to the manufacturing process may create delays, which could negatively impact our overall development timelines. In addition, we have never operated a cGMP facility before. We may encounter difficulties in operating the facility or meeting the requirements of the FDA or other regulatory authorities that we have not anticipated. If we cannot successfully scale the manufacture of any current or potential future product candidate in sufficient quality and quantity, the development, testing, clinical trials and commercialization of that product candidate may be delayed or infeasible and regulatory approval or commercial launch of any potential resulting product may be delayed or not obtained, which could significantly harm our business.

We are exposed to a number of risks related to our supply chain for the materials required to manufacture our product candidates.

Manufacturing our product candidates is highly complex and requires sourcing specialty materials. Many of the risks associated with the complexity of manufacturing our final products are applicable to the manufacture and supply of the raw materials. In particular, these starting materials are subject to inconsistency in yields, variability in characteristics, contamination, difficulties in scaling the production process and defects. Similar minor deviations in the manufacturing process for these starting materials could result in supply disruption and reduced production yields for our final product. In addition, we rely on third parties for the supply of these materials exposing us to similar risks of reliance on third parties as described above with respect to the manufacturing and supply of our drug products.

Our manufacturing processes requires many reagents, some of which are drug substance intermediates used in our manufacturing processes to bring about chemical or biological reactions, and other specialty materials and

 

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equipment, some of which are manufactured or supplied by small companies with limited resources and experience to support commercial production. We currently depend on a limited number of vendors for certain materials and equipment used in the manufacture of our product candidates. Some of these suppliers may not have the capacity to support commercial products manufactured under cGMP by biopharmaceutical firms or may otherwise be ill-equipped to support our needs. Reagents and other key materials from these suppliers may have inconsistent attributes and introduce variability into our manufactured product candidates, which may contribute to variable patient outcomes and possible adverse events. We also do not have supply contracts with many of these suppliers and may not be able to obtain supply contracts with them on acceptable terms or at all. Accordingly, we may experience delays in receiving key materials and equipment to support clinical or commercial manufacturing.

For some of these reagents, equipment, and materials, we rely and may in the future rely on sole source vendors or a limited number of vendors. An inability to continue to source product from any of these suppliers, which could be due to regulatory actions or requirements affecting the supplier, adverse financial or other strategic developments experienced by a supplier, labor disputes or shortages, unexpected demands, or quality issues, could adversely affect our ability to satisfy demand for our product candidates, which could adversely and materially affect our product sales and operating results or our ability to conduct clinical trials, either of which could significantly harm our business. Additionally, in response to governmental shelter-in-place orders resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, third-party suppliers and manufacturers on whom we rely may from time to time be required to limit their on-site staff’s availability to conduct activities at their respective facilities, and may encounter problems with shortages of qualified personnel and key contractors, and delays or pauses in the production and delivery of laboratory equipment, materials and supplies necessary for the manufacture of our product candidates. These problems may include workforce reductions, employee absenteeism and attrition, and supply chain failures or delays relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or other events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities.

As we continue to develop and scale our manufacturing process, we expect that we will need to obtain rights to and supplies of certain materials and equipment to be used as part of that process. We may not be able to obtain rights to such materials on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, and if we are unable to alter our process in a commercially viable manner to avoid the use of such materials or find a suitable substitute, it would have a material adverse effect on our business. Even if we are able to alter our process so as to use other materials or equipment, such a change may lead to a delay in our clinical development and/or commercialization plans. If such a change occurs for a product candidate that is already in clinical testing, the change may require us to perform both comparability studies and to collect additional data from patients prior to undertaking more advanced clinical trials.

Changes in methods of product candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in the need to perform new clinical trials, which would require additional costs and cause delay.

As product candidates are developed through preclinical to late-stage clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize yield and manufacturing batch size, minimize costs and achieve consistent quality and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives. Any of these changes could cause our product candidates to perform differently and affect the results of ongoing, planned or future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials. This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our product candidates and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue.

 

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Risks Related to Our Business and Operations

If the market opportunities for our current and potential future product candidates, including SENTI-202, SENTI-301 and SENTI-401, are smaller than we believe they are, our future product revenues may be adversely affected, and our business may suffer.

Our understanding of the number of people who suffer from diseases that our current product candidates may be able to treat are based on estimates. These estimates may prove to be incorrect, and new studies may reduce the estimated incidence or prevalence of these diseases. The number of patients in the United States or elsewhere may turn out to be lower than expected, may not be otherwise amenable to treatment with our current or potential future product candidates or patients may become increasingly difficult to identify and access, all of which would adversely affect our business prospects and financial condition. In particular, the treatable population for our candidates may further be reduced if our estimates of addressable populations are erroneous or sub-populations of patients do not derive benefit from our product candidates.

Further, there are several factors that could contribute to making the actual number of patients who receive our current or potential future product candidates less than the potentially addressable market. These include the lack of widespread availability of, and limited reimbursement for, new therapies in many underdeveloped markets.

We face competition from companies that have developed or may develop product candidates for the treatment of the diseases that we may target, including companies developing novel therapies and platform technologies. If these companies develop platform technologies or product candidates more rapidly than we do, or if their platform technologies or product candidates are more effective or have fewer side effects, our ability to develop and successfully commercialize product candidates may be adversely affected.

The development and commercialization of cell and gene therapies is highly competitive. We compete with a variety of large pharmaceutical companies, multinational biopharmaceutical companies, other biopharmaceutical companies and specialized biotechnology companies, as well as technology and/or therapeutics being developed at universities and other research institutions. Our competitors are often larger and better funded than we are. Our competitors have developed, are developing or will develop product candidates and processes competitive with ours. Competitive therapeutic treatments include those that have already been approved and accepted by the medical community and any new treatments that are currently in development or that enter the market. We believe that a significant number of product candidates are currently under development, and may become commercially available in the future, for the treatment of conditions for which we may try to develop product candidates. There is intense and rapidly evolving competition in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical fields. We believe that while our gene circuit platform, its associated intellectual property, the characteristics of our current and potential future product candidates and our scientific and technical know-how together give us a competitive advantage in this space, competition from many sources remains.

Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, manufacturing, marketing, sales and supply resources or experience than we do. If we successfully obtain approval for any product candidate, we will face competition based on many different factors, including the safety and effectiveness of our product candidates, the ease with which our product candidates can be administered, the timing and scope of regulatory approvals for these product candidates, the availability and cost of manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities, price, reimbursement coverage and patent position. Competing products and product candidates could present superior treatment alternatives, including by being more effective, safer, less expensive or marketed and sold more effectively than any products we may develop. Competitive products and product candidates may make any product we develop obsolete or noncompetitive before we recover the expense of developing and commercializing such product. Such competitors could also recruit our employees, which could negatively impact our level of expertise and our ability to execute our business plan.

 

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Any inability to attract and retain qualified key management, technical personnel and employees would impair our ability to implement our business plan.

Our success largely depends on the continued service of key executive management, advisors and other specialized personnel, including Timothy Lu, our Chief Executive Officer, Philip Lee, our Chief Technology Officer, Kanya Rajangam, our Chief Medical and Development Officer, and Deborah Knobelman, our Chief Financial Officer. Our senior management may terminate their employment with us at any time. We do not maintain “key person” insurance for any of our employees. The loss of one or more members of our executive team, management team or other key employees or advisors could delay our research and development programs and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and clinical personnel and, if we progress the development of any of our product candidates, commercialization, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel, will be critical to our success. The loss of the services of members of our senior management or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing members of our senior management and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize our product candidates. Our success also depends on our ability to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly skilled junior, mid-level and senior managers, as well as junior, mid-level and senior scientific and medical personnel. Competition to hire from this limited candidate pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high-quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited.

We may experience difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations.

We have limited experience in therapeutic development. As our current and potential future product candidates enter and advance through preclinical studies and any clinical trials, we will need to expand our development, regulatory and manufacturing capabilities or contract with other organizations to provide these capabilities for us.

To manage our anticipated future growth, we will continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational, and financial systems, expand our facilities, and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Due to our limited financial resources and the complexity in managing a company with such anticipated growth, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. In addition, we have limited experience in managing the manufacturing processes necessary for making cell and gene therapies. The expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert our management and business development resources. Any inability to manage growth could delay the execution of our business plans or disrupt our operations.

In addition, future growth imposes significant added responsibilities on members of management, including: identifying, recruiting, integrating, maintaining, and motivating additional employees; managing our internal development efforts effectively, including the clinical and FDA review process for our product candidates, while complying with our contractual obligations to contractors and other third parties; and improving our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures.

We may also experience difficulties in the discovery and development of potential future product candidates using our gene circuit platform if we are unable to meet demand as we grow our operations. In the future, we also

 

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expect to have to manage additional relationships with collaborators, suppliers and other organizations. Our ability to manage our operations and future growth will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures and secure adequate facilities for our operational needs. We may not be able to implement improvements to our management information and control systems in an efficient or timely manner and may discover deficiencies in existing systems and controls.

If any of our product candidates is approved for marketing and commercialization in the future and we are unable to develop sales, marketing and distribution capabilities on our own or enter into agreements with third parties to perform these functions on acceptable terms, we will be unable to successfully commercialize any such future products.

We currently have no sales, marketing or distribution capabilities or experience. We will need to develop internal sales, marketing and distribution capabilities to commercialize each current and potential future product candidate that gains, if ever, FDA or other regulatory authority approval, which would be expensive and time-consuming, or enter into collaborations with third parties to perform these services. If we decide to market any approved products directly, we will need to commit significant financial and managerial resources to develop a marketing and sales force with technical expertise and supporting distribution, administration and compliance capabilities. If we rely on third parties with such capabilities to market any approved products or decide to co-promote products with third parties, we will need to establish and maintain marketing and distribution arrangements with third parties, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to enter into such arrangements on acceptable terms or at all. In entering into third-party marketing or distribution arrangements, any revenue we receive will depend upon the efforts of the third parties and we cannot assure you that such third parties will establish adequate sales and distribution capabilities or be successful in gaining market acceptance for any approved product. If we are not successful in commercializing any product approved in the future, either on our own or through third parties, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

Our potential future international operations may expose us to business, political, operational and financial risks associated with doing business outside of the United States.

Our business is subject to risks associated with conducting business internationally. Some of our future clinical trials may be conducted outside of the United States and we may enter into key supply arrangements or do other business with persons outside of the United States. Furthermore, if we or any future collaborator succeeds in developing any products, we anticipate marketing them in the European Union and other jurisdictions in addition to the United States. If approved, we or any future collaborator may hire sales representatives and conduct physician and patient association outreach activities outside of the United States. Doing business internationally involves a number of risks, including but not limited to:

 

   

multiple, conflicting and changing laws and regulations such as those relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity, tax laws, export and import restrictions, employment laws, regulatory requirements and other governmental approvals, permits and licenses;

 

   

failure by us to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for the commercialization of our product candidates in various countries;

 

   

rejection or qualification of foreign clinical trial data by the competent authorities of other countries;

 

   

additional potentially relevant third-party patent rights;

 

   

complexities and difficulties in obtaining, maintaining, protecting and enforcing our intellectual property rights;

 

   

difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;

 

   

complexities associated with managing multiple payor reimbursement regimes, government payors or patient self-pay systems;

 

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limits in our ability to penetrate international markets;

 

   

financial risks, such as longer payment cycles, difficulty collecting accounts receivable, the impact of local and regional financial crises on demand and payment for our products and exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

   

natural disasters, political and economic instability, including wars, terrorism and political unrest, outbreak of disease (including the COVID-19 pandemic), boycotts, curtailment of trade and other business restrictions;

 

   

certain expenses including, among others, expenses for travel, translation and insurance; and

 

   

regulatory and compliance risks that relate to anti-corruption compliance and record-keeping that may fall within the purview of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, its accounting provisions or its anti-bribery provisions or provisions of anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws in other countries.

Any of these factors could harm our ongoing international operations and supply chain, as well as any future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our business, financial condition, prospects and results of operations.

Our business entails a significant risk of product liability, and our inability to obtain sufficient insurance coverage could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

As we conduct preclinical studies and future clinical trials of our current and potential future product candidates, we will be exposed to significant product liability risks inherent in the development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of these product candidates. Product liability claims could delay or prevent completion of our development programs. If we succeed in marketing products, such claims could result in an FDA investigation of the safety and effectiveness of our products, our manufacturing processes and facilities or our marketing programs and potentially a recall of our products or more serious enforcement action, limitations on the approved indications for which they may be used or suspension or withdrawal of approvals. Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may also result in decreased demand for our products, injury to our reputation, costs to defend the related litigation, a diversion of management’s time and our resources, substantial monetary awards to trial participants or patients and a decline in our stock price. Any insurance we have or may obtain may not provide sufficient coverage against potential liabilities. Furthermore, clinical trial and product liability insurance is becoming increasingly expensive. As a result, we or any future collaborators may be unable to obtain sufficient insurance at a reasonable cost to protect us against losses caused by product liability claims that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial collaborators may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including noncompliance with regulatory standards and requirements.

We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, principal investigators, consultants and commercial collaborators. Misconduct by employees could include intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations, provide accurate information to the FDA, comply with manufacturing standards we may establish, comply with federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations, 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, 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 in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter 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

 

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investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such 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 material adverse effect on our business and financial condition, including the imposition of significant criminal, civil and administrative fines or other sanctions, such as monetary penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government-funded healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, integrity obligations, reputational harm and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.

We depend on sophisticated information technology systems and data processing to operate our business. If we experience security or data privacy breaches or other unauthorized or improper access to, use of, or destruction of our proprietary or confidential data, employee data or personal data, we may face costs, significant liabilities, harm to our brand and business disruption.

We rely on information technology systems and data processing that we or our service providers, collaborators, consultants, contractors or partners operate to collect, process, transmit and store electronic information in our day-to-day operations, including a variety of personal data, such as name, mailing address, email addresses, phone number and potentially clinical trial information. Additionally, we, and our service providers, collaborators, consultants, contractors or partners, do or will collect, receive, store, process, generate, use, transfer, disclose, make accessible, protect and share personal information, health information and other information to host or otherwise process some of our anticipated future clinical data and that of users, develop our products, to operate our business, for clinical trial purposes, for legal and marketing purposes, and for other business-related purposes. Our internal computer systems and data processing and those of our third-party vendors, consultants, collaborators, contractors or partners, including future CROs may be vulnerable to a cyber-attack (including supply chain cyber-attacks), malicious intrusion, breakdown, destruction, loss of data privacy, actions or inactions by our employees or contractors that expose security vulnerabilities, theft or destruction of intellectual property or other confidential or proprietary information, business interruption or other significant security incidents. As the cyber-threat landscape evolves, these attacks are growing in frequency, level of persistence, sophistication and intensity, and are becoming increasingly difficult to detect. In addition to traditional computer “hackers,” threat actors, software bugs, malicious code (such as viruses and worms), employee theft or misuse, denial-of-service attacks (such as credential stuffing), phishing and ransomware attacks, sophisticated nation-state and nation-state supported actors now engage in attacks (including advanced persistent threat intrusions). These risks may be increased as a result of COVID-19, owing to an increase in personnel working remotely and higher reliance on internet technology. Furthermore, because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to, or to sabotage, systems change frequently and often are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventative measures. We may also experience security breaches that may remain undetected for an extended period.

There can be no assurance that we, our service providers, collaborators, consultants, contractors or partners will be successful in efforts to detect, prevent or fully recover systems or data from all breakdowns, service interruptions, attacks or breaches of systems that could adversely affect our business and operations and/or result in the loss of critical or sensitive data. Any failure by us or our service providers, collaborators, consultants, contractors or partners to detect, prevent, respond to or mitigate security breaches or improper access to, use of, or inappropriate disclosure of any of this information or other confidential or sensitive information, including patients’ personal data, or the perception that any such failure has occurred, could result in claims, litigation, regulatory investigations and other proceedings, significant liability under state, federal and international law, and other financial, legal or reputational harm to us. Further, such failures or perceived failures could result in liability and a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations, which could lead to significant delays or setbacks in our research, delays to commercialization of our product candidates, lost revenues or other adverse consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, prospects and cashflow. For example, the loss or alteration of clinical trial data from future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data.

 

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Additionally, applicable laws and regulations relating to privacy, data protection or cybersecurity, external contractual commitments and internal privacy and security policies may require us to notify relevant stakeholders if there has been a security breach, including affected individuals, business partners and regulators. Such disclosures are costly, and the disclosures or any actual or alleged failure to comply with such requirements could lead to a materially adverse impact on the business, including negative publicity, a loss of confidence in our services or security measures by our business partners or breach of contract claims. There can be no assurance that the limitations of liability in our contracts would be enforceable or adequate or would otherwise protect us from liabilities or damages if we fail to comply with applicable data protection laws, privacy policies or other data protection obligations related to information security or security breaches.

If we do not comply with laws regulating the protection of the environment and health and human safety, our business could be adversely affected.

Our research, development and manufacturing involve the use of hazardous materials and various chemicals. We maintain quantities of various flammable and toxic chemicals in our facilities that are required for our research, development and manufacturing activities. We are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the use, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these hazardous materials. We believe our procedures for storing, handling and disposing of these materials in our facilities comply with the relevant guidelines of the state of California and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. Although we believe that our safety procedures for handling and disposing of these materials comply with the standards mandated by applicable regulations, the risk of accidental contamination or injury from these materials cannot be eliminated. If an accident occurs, we could be held liable for resulting damages, which could be substantial. We are also subject to numerous environmental, health and workplace safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures, exposure to blood-borne pathogens and the handling of animals and biohazardous materials. Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of these materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. Although we have some environmental liability insurance covering certain of our facilities, we may not maintain adequate insurance for all environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological or hazardous materials. Additional federal, state and local laws and regulations affecting our operations may be adopted in the future. We may incur substantial costs to comply with, and substantial fines or penalties if we violate, any of these laws or regulations.

Our business, operations and clinical development plans and timelines could be adversely affected by the effects of health epidemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on the manufacturing, clinical trial and other business activities performed by us or by third parties with whom we may conduct business, including our anticipated contract manufacturers, CROs, shippers and others.

Health epidemics could cause significant disruption in our operations and the operations of third-party manufacturers, CROs and other third parties upon whom we rely. For example, in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Since then, COVID-19 has spread to most countries and all 50 states within the United States, and the U.S. government has, at various times, ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, imposed social distancing measures, “shelter-in-place” orders and restrictions on travel between the United States, Europe and certain other countries. The global pandemic and government measures taken in response have also had a significant impact on businesses and commerce worldwide, as worker shortages have occurred, supply chains have been disrupted, facilities and production have been suspended across a variety of industries, and demand for certain goods and services, such as medical services and supplies, has spiked, while demand for other goods and services, such as travel, has fallen. In connection with COVID-19, we implemented work-from-home policies for most employees. The effects of government orders and our work-from-home policies may negatively impact productivity, disrupt our business and delay our clinical programs and timelines, the magnitude of which will depend, in part, on the length and severity of the restrictions and other limitations on our ability to conduct our business in the ordinary course.

 

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If our relationships with our suppliers or other vendors are terminated or scaled back as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or other health epidemics, we may not be able to enter into arrangements with alternative suppliers or vendors or do so on commercially reasonable terms or in a timely manner. Switching or adding additional suppliers or vendors involves substantial cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new supplier or vendor commences work. As a result, delays may occur, which could adversely impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development and any future commercialization timelines. Although we carefully manage our relationships with our suppliers and vendors, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not harm our business.

In addition, our preclinical studies and future clinical trials may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical site initiation, patient enrollment and activities that require visits to clinical sites, including data monitoring, may be delayed due to prioritization of hospital resources toward the COVID-19 pandemic or concerns among patients about participating in clinical trials during a pandemic. Some patients may have difficulty following certain aspects of clinical trial protocols if quarantines impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services. These challenges may also increase the costs of completing our clinical trials. Similarly, if we are unable to successfully recruit and retain patients and principal investigators and site staff who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to COVID-19 or experience additional restrictions by their institutions, city or state, our preclinical studies and future clinical trial operations could be adversely impacted.

The spread of COVID-19, which has caused a broad impact globally, may materially affect us economically. While the potential economic impact brought by, and the duration of, COVID-19 may be difficult to assess or predict, a widespread pandemic has resulted in significant volatility for global financial markets, resulting in economic uncertainty that could continue to significantly impact our business and operations and may reduce our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity. In addition, a recession or market correction resulting from the spread of COVID-19 could materially affect our business and the value of our common stock. In addition, any recurrence or new increases in the rates and severity of COVID-19 infection could cause other widespread or more severe impacts depending on where infection rates are highest.

Further, we may experience additional disruptions that could severely impact our business and future clinical trials, including:

 

   

diversion of healthcare resources away from the conduct of clinical trials, including the diversion of hospitals serving as our clinical trial sites and hospital staff supporting the conduct of our clinical trials;

 

   

interruption or delays in the operations of the FDA or other regulatory authorities, which may impact review and approval timelines;

 

   

limitations on employee resources that would otherwise be focused on the conduct of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, including because of sickness of employees or their families or the desire of employees to avoid contact with large groups of people;

 

   

risk that participants enrolled in our clinical trials will acquire COVID-19 while the clinical trial is ongoing, which could impact the results of the clinical trial, including by increasing the number of observed adverse events; and

 

   

refusal of the FDA or other regulatory authorities to accept data from clinical trials in these affected geographies.

In particular, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization to several vaccines for COVID-19, and some of those later received marketing approval. Additional vaccines may be authorized or approved in the future. The resultant demand for vaccines and potential for manufacturing facilities and materials to be commandeered under the Defense Production Act of 1950, or equivalent foreign legislation, may make it more difficult to obtain materials or manufacturing slots for the

 

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product candidates needed for our clinical trials, which could lead to delays in these trials. These and similar, and perhaps more severe, disruptions in our operations could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and/or prospects.

As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we may be required to develop and implement additional clinical trial policies and procedures designed to help protect subjects from the COVID-19 virus. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business operations is highly uncertain and subject to change and will depend on future developments, including new regulatory requirements and changes to existing regulations.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly. We do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, our future clinical trials, healthcare systems or the global economy as a whole that may result from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, these effects could have a material impact on our operations, and we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and/or prospects, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section.

Our business, operations, financial position and clinical development plans and timelines could be materially adversely affected by the continuing military action in Ukraine.

As a result of the military action commenced in February 2022 by the Russian Federation and Belarus in Ukraine, and related economic sanctions imposed by certain governments and our financial position and operations may be materially and adversely affected. As our ability to continue to operate will be dependent on raising debt and equity finance, any adverse impact to those markets as a result of this military action, including due to increased market volatility, decreased availability in third-party financing and/or a deterioration in the terms on which it is available (if at all), could negatively impact our business, operations or financial position. The extent of any potential impact is not yet determinable, however.

The current economic downturn may harm our business and results of operations and negatively affect our stock price.

Our overall performance depends, in part, on worldwide economic conditions. In recent months, we have observed increased economic uncertainty in the United States and abroad. Impacts of such economic weakness include:

 

   

declining overall demand for goods and services, leading to reduced profitability;

 

   

reduced credit availability;

 

   

higher borrowing costs;

 

   

reduced liquidity;

 

   

volatility in credit, equity and foreign exchange markets; and

 

   

bankruptcies.

These developments could lead to supply chain disruption, inflation, higher interest rates, and uncertainty about business continuity, which may adversely affect our business and our results of operations and negatively affect our stock price.

 

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Recent volatility in capital markets and lower market prices for our securities may affect our ability to access new capital through sales of shares of our common stock or issuance of indebtedness, 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.

Our operations consume substantial amounts of cash, and we intend to continue to make significant investments to support our business growth, respond to business challenges or opportunities, develop new solutions, retain or expand our current levels of personnel, improve our existing solutions, enhance our operating infrastructure, and potentially acquire complementary businesses and technologies. Our future capital requirements may be significantly different from our current estimates and will depend on many factors, including the need to:

 

   

finance unanticipated working capital requirements;

 

   

develop or enhance our technological infrastructure and our existing solutions;

 

   

pursue acquisitions or other strategic relationships; and

 

   

respond to competitive pressures.

Accordingly, we may need to pursue equity or debt financings to meet our capital needs. With uncertainty in the capital markets and other factors, such financing may not be available on terms favorable to us or at all. If 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 additional 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. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing or financing on terms satisfactory to us, we could face significant limitations on our ability to invest in our operations and otherwise suffer harm to our business.

Rising inflation rates could negatively impact our revenues and profitability if increases in the prices of our products or a decrease in consumer spending results in lower sales. In addition, if our costs increase and we are not able to pass along these price increases to our customers, our net income would be adversely affected, and the adverse impact may be material.

Inflation rates, particularly in the United States, have increased recently to levels not seen in years. Increased inflation may result in decreased demand for our products and services, increased operating costs (including our labor costs), reduced liquidity, and limitations on our ability to access credit or otherwise raise debt and equity capital. In addition, the United States Federal Reserve has raised, and may again raise, interest rates in response to concerns about inflation. Increases in interest rates, especially if coupled with reduced government spending and volatility in financial markets, may have the effect of further increasing economic uncertainty and heightening these risks.

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If we are unable to obtain or protect intellectual property rights related to our technology and current or future product candidates, or if our intellectual property rights are inadequate, our competitors could develop and commercialize products and technology similar or identical to ours, and we may not be able to compete effectively in our market or successfully commercialize any product candidates we may develop.

Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain and maintain protection for our owned and in-licensed intellectual property rights and proprietary technology. We rely on a combination of patents, trademarks, trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements, including in-licenses of intellectual property rights and biologic materials of others, to protect our current or future platform technologies, product candidates, methods used to manufacture our current or future product candidates and methods for treating patients using our current or future product candidates.

 

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We own or in-license patents and patent applications relating to our platform technologies and product candidates. There is no guarantee that any patents covering our platform technologies or product candidates will issue from the patent applications we own, in-license or may file in the future, or, if they do, that the issued claims will provide adequate protection for our platform technologies or product candidates, or any meaningful competitive advantage. Further, there cannot be any assurance that such patents issued will not be infringed, designed around, invalidated by third parties or effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies, products or product candidates.

The patent prosecution process is expensive, complex and time-consuming. Patent license negotiations also can be complex and protracted, with uncertain results. We may not be able to file, prosecute, maintain, enforce or license all necessary or desirable patents and patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. The patent applications that we own or in-license may fail to result in issued patents, and, even if they do issue as patents, such patents may not cover our current or future technologies or product candidates in the United States or in other countries or provide sufficient protection from competitors. In addition, the coverage claimed in a patent application can be significantly reduced before the patent is issued, and its scope can be reinterpreted after issuance. We do not have exclusive control over the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications under certain of our in-license agreements, and we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the rights to patents, that we out-license to third parties. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business. Even if our owned or in-licensed patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage. Our competitors may be able to circumvent our patents by developing similar or alternative product candidates in a non-infringing manner.

Further, although we make reasonable efforts to ensure patentability of our inventions, we cannot guarantee that all of the potentially relevant prior art relating to our owned or in-licensed patents and patent applications has been found. For example, publications of discoveries in scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, and in some cases not at all. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our platform technologies, our product candidates, or the use of our technologies. We thus cannot know with certainty whether we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. In addition, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) might require that the term of a patent issuing from a pending patent application be disclaimed and limited to the term of another patent that is commonly owned or names a common inventor. There is no assurance that all potentially relevant prior art relating to our owned or in-licensed patent applications has been found. For this reason, and because there is no guarantee that any prior art search is absolutely correct and comprehensive, we may be unaware of prior art that could be used to invalidate an issued patent or to prevent our owned or in-licensed patent applications from issuing as patents. Invalidation of any of our patent rights, including in-licensed patent rights, could materially harm our business.

Moreover, the patent positions of biotechnology companies like ours are generally uncertain because they may involve complex legal and factual considerations that have, in recent years, been the subject of legal development and change. The relevant patent laws and their interpretation, both inside and outside of the United States, is also uncertain. Changes in either the patent laws or their interpretation in the United States and other jurisdictions may diminish our ability to protect our platform technology or product candidates and could affect the value of such intellectual property. In particular, our ability to stop third parties from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing products that infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate our intellectual property will depend in part on our success in obtaining and enforcing patent claims that cover our platform technology, product candidates, inventions and improvements. We cannot guarantee that patents will be granted with respect to any of our owned or licensed pending patent applications or with respect to any patent applications we may file or license in the future, nor can we be sure that any patents that may be granted to us or our licensors in the future

 

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will be commercially useful in protecting our products, the methods of use or manufacture of those products. Additionally, third parties, including our former employees and collaborators, may challenge the ownership or inventorship of our patent rights to claim that they are entitled to ownership and inventorship interest, and we may not be successful in defending against such claims. However, we are not currently facing any such challenges. Moreover, issued patents do not guarantee the right to practice our technology in relation to the commercialization of our products. Issued patents only allow us to block—in some cases—potential competitors from practicing the claimed inventions of the issued patents.

The issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our pending patent rights are uncertain. The standards applied by the USPTO and foreign patent offices in granting patents are not always certain and moreover, are not always applied uniformly or predictably. For example, there is no uniform worldwide policy regarding patentable subject matter or the scope of claims allowable in patents. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued in the United States or in other jurisdictions which protect our technology or products or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and products. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our owned or in-licensed patent applications or narrow the scope of any patent protection we may obtain from our owned or in-licensed patent applications. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States.

Further, patents and other intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology space are evolving and involve many risks and uncertainties. For example, third parties may have blocking patents that could be used to prevent us from commercializing our product candidates and any future product candidates and practicing our proprietary technology, and any issued patents may be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, which could limit our ability to stop competitors from marketing related products or could limit the term of patent protection that otherwise may exist for our product candidate and any future product candidates. In addition, the scope of the rights granted under any issued patents may not provide us with protection or competitive advantages against competitors or other parties with similar technology. Additionally, our competitors may initiate legal proceedings, such as declaratory judgment actions in federal court or reexaminations or an inter partes review at the USPTO in an attempt to invalidate or narrow the scope of our patents. However, we are not currently facing any such proceedings. Furthermore, our competitors or other parties may independently develop similar technologies that are outside the scope of the rights granted under any issued patents. For these reasons, we may face competition with respect to our product candidates and any future product candidates. Moreover, because of the extensive time required for development, testing and regulatory review of a potential product, it is possible that, before any particular product candidate can be commercialized, any patent protection for such product candidate may expire or remain in force for only a short period following commercialization, thereby reducing the commercial advantage the patent provides.

Even if patents do successfully issue from our owned or in-licensed patent application, and even if such patents cover our current or any future technologies or product candidates, third parties may challenge their validity, enforceability or scope, which may result in such patents being narrowed, invalidated, or held unenforceable. Any successful challenge to these patents or any other patents owned by or licensed to us could deprive us of rights necessary for the successful commercialization of any current or future technologies or product candidates that we may develop. Likewise, if patent applications we own or have in-licensed with respect to our development programs and current or future technologies or product candidates fail to issue, if their breadth or strength is threatened, or if they fail to provide meaningful exclusivity, other companies could be dissuaded from collaborating with us to develop current or future technologies or product candidates. Lack of valid and enforceable patent protection could threaten our ability to commercialize current or future products and could prevent us from maintaining exclusivity with respect to the invention or feature claimed in the patent applications. Any failure to obtain or any loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on our business and ability to achieve profitability. We may be unable to prevent competitors from entering the market with a product that is similar or identical to any of our current or potential future product candidates or from utilizing technologies similar to those in our gene circuit platform technologies.

 

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The filing of a patent application or the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its ownership, inventorship, scope, patentability, validity or enforceability. Issued patents and patent applications may be challenged in the courts and in the patent office in the United States and abroad. For example, our patent applications or patent applications filed by our licensors, or any patents that grant therefrom, may be challenged through third-party submissions, opposition or derivation proceedings. By further example, any issued patents that may result from our owned or in-licensed patent applications may be challenged through reexamination, inter partes review or post-grant review proceedings before the USPTO, or in declaratory judgment actions or counterclaims. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could prevent the issuance of, reduce the scope of, invalidate or render unenforceable our owned or in-licensed patent rights, result in the loss of exclusivity, limit our ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical platforms and product candidates, or allow third parties to compete directly with us without payment to us. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by any patents that might result from our owned or in-licensed patent applications is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop or commercialize current or future platforms or product candidates. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Moreover, we currently co-own certain patent applications with third parties and may in the future co-own additional patents and patent applications with third parties. If we are unable to obtain an exclusive license to any such third-party co-owners’ interest in such patents or patent application, such co-owners may be able to license their rights to other third parties, including our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. We may need the cooperation of any such co-owners to enforce such patents against third parties, and such cooperation may not be provided to us. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business prospects and financial conditions.

Our in-licensed patent rights may be subject to a reservation of rights by one or more third parties, such as the U.S. government. In addition, our rights in such inventions may be subject to certain requirements to manufacture product candidates embodying such inventions in the United States. Any exercise by the U.S. government of such rights could harm our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The patent protection and patent prosecution for some of our product candidates and technologies may be dependent on third parties.

While we normally seek to obtain the right to control prosecution, maintenance and enforcement of the patents relating to our product candidates and technologies, there may be times when the filing and prosecution activities for patents and patent applications relating to our product candidates and technologies are controlled by our licensors or collaborators. Our licensors may not successfully prosecute the patent applications to which we are licensed. Even if patents are issued in respect of these patent applications, our licensors may fail to maintain these patents, may determine not to pursue litigation against other companies that are infringing these patents, or may pursue such litigation less aggressively than we would.

If any of our licensors or collaborators fail to prosecute, maintain and enforce such patents and patent applications in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business, including by payment of all applicable fees for patents covering our product candidates and technologies, we could lose our rights to the intellectual property or our exclusivity with respect to those rights, our ability to develop and commercialize those product candidates and technologies may be adversely affected and we may not be able to prevent competitors from making, using and selling competing product candidates. In addition, even where we have the right to control patent prosecution of patents and patent applications we have licensed to and from third parties, we may still be adversely affected or prejudiced by actions or inactions of our licensees, our current and future licensors and their counsel that took place prior to the date upon which we assumed control over patent prosecution.

Further, we may have limited control over the manner in which our licensors initiate an infringement proceeding against a third-party infringer of the intellectual property rights, or defend certain of the intellectual property that

 

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is licensed to us. It is possible that the licensors’ infringement proceeding(s) or defense activities may be less vigorous than had we conducted them ourselves.

We may be unable to acquire or in-license any relevant third-party intellectual property rights that we identify as necessary or important to our business operations.

Because our development programs may in the future require the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire, in-license or use these third-party proprietary rights. 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 as necessary for our product candidates. The licensing of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and more established companies may pursue strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. More established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, capital resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. 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 or at all. Even if we are able to obtain a license, it may be non-exclusive, thereby giving our competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us. If we are unable to license such technology, or if we are forced to license such technology on unfavorable terms, our business could be materially harmed. If we are unable to obtain a necessary license, we may be unable to develop or commercialize the affected current or future product candidates, which could materially harm our business, and the third parties owning such intellectual property rights could seek either an injunction prohibiting our sales, or, with respect to our sales, an obligation on our part to pay royalties or other forms of compensation. Any of the foregoing could harm our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Further, our licensors may retain certain rights under their agreements with us, including the right to use the underlying technology for noncommercial academic and research use, to publish general scientific findings from research related to the technology, and to make customary scientific and scholarly disclosures of information relating to the technology. It is difficult to monitor whether our licensors limit their use of the technology to these uses, and we could incur substantial expenses to enforce our rights to our licensed technology in the event of misuse.

Additionally, some intellectual property that we have in-licensed or that we own may have been discovered through government funded programs and thus may be subject to federal regulations such as “march-in” rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies. Compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights, and limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers. As a result, the U.S. government may have certain rights to intellectual property embodied in our current or future product candidates pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (“Bayh-Dole Act”) and implementing regulations. These U.S. government rights in certain inventions developed under a government-funded program include a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable worldwide license to use inventions for any governmental purpose. In addition, the U.S. government may have the right to require us or our licensors to grant exclusive, partially exclusive, or non-exclusive licenses to any of these inventions to a third party if it determines that: (i) adequate steps have not been taken to commercialize the invention; (ii) government action is necessary to meet public health or safety needs; or (iii) government action is necessary to meet requirements for public use under federal regulations (also referred to as “march-in rights”). More specifically, certain currently in-licensed patents that cover certain split, universal and programmable chimeric antigen receptor technology may be subject to march-in-rights. This technology is not embodied in any of our current product candidates. In addition, certain currently in-licensed patents that cover certain components and process for regulating the expression of a fusion protein with the use of a protease inhibitor are subject to march-in-rights, which technology can be embodied in certain regulator dial gene circuits. We also own a patent family claiming an invention made under research partially funded by the federal government. Such invention covers mesenchymal stem cells that express combinations of immune effectors for autoimmunity. While the foregoing invention is not embodied in any current product candidates, it

 

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is subject to march-in-rights. The U.S. government also has the right to take title to these inventions made through government funded programs if we, or the applicable licensor, fail to disclose the invention to the government and fail to file an application to register the intellectual property within specified time limits. These time limits have recently been changed by regulation, and may change in the future. Intellectual property generated under a government-funded program is also subject to certain reporting requirements, compliance with which may require us or the applicable licensor to expend substantial resources. In addition, the U.S. government requires that any products embodying the subject invention or produced through the use of the subject invention be manufactured substantially in the United States. The manufacturing preference requirement can be waived if the owner of the intellectual property can show that reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to grant licenses on similar terms to potential licensees that would be likely to manufacture substantially in the United States or that under the circumstances domestic manufacture is not commercially feasible. This preference for U.S. manufacturers may limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. product manufacturers for products covered by such intellectual property. To the extent any of our current or future intellectual property is generated through the use of U.S. government funding, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act may similarly apply.

We currently, and in the future may continue to, enter into agreements involving licenses or collaborations that provide for access or sharing of intellectual property. These intellectual property-related agreements may impose certain obligations and restrictions on our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates and technologies that are the subject of such licenses.

We license rights from third parties to use certain intellectual property relevant to one or more of our current and future product candidates. In the future, we may need to obtain additional licenses from others to advance our research and development activities or allow the commercialization of our current and future product candidates we may identify and pursue. These existing license agreements impose, and any future license agreements we enter into are likely to impose, various development, commercialization, funding, milestone, royalty, diligence, sublicensing, insurance, patent prosecution and enforcement or other obligations on us. For example, we are a party to three license agreements with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as represented by the National Cancer Institute (“NCI”), for intellectual property relevant to our product candidates. For a more detailed description of the license agreements with NCI, see the section titled “Business—Material License and Collaboration Agreements.”

In addition, certain of our future agreements with third parties may limit or delay our ability to consummate certain transactions, may impact the value of those transactions, or may limit our ability to pursue certain activities. For example, we may in the future enter into license agreements that are not assignable or transferable, or that require the licensor’s express consent in order for an assignment or transfer to take place.

Further, we or our licensors, if any, may fail to identify patentable aspects of inventions made in the course of development and commercialization activities before it is too late to obtain patent protection on them. Therefore, we may miss potential opportunities to strengthen our patent position. It is possible that defects of form in the preparation or filing of our patents or patent applications may exist, or may arise in the future, for example with respect to proper priority claims, inventorship, claim scope, or requests for patent term adjustments. If we or our licensors fail to establish, maintain or protect such patents and other intellectual property rights, such rights may be reduced or eliminated. If our licensors are not fully cooperative or disagree with us as to the prosecution, maintenance or enforcement of any patent rights, such patent rights could be compromised. If there are material defects in the form, preparation, prosecution, or enforcement of our patents or patent applications, such patents may be invalid and/or unenforceable, and such applications may never result in valid, enforceable patents. Any of these outcomes could impair our ability to prevent competition from third parties, which may have an adverse impact on our business, financial conditions, results of operations and prospects.

Furthermore, we may not have the right to control the preparation, filing, prosecution, maintenance, enforcement and defense of patents and patent applications that we license from third parties. In certain circumstances, our licensed patent rights are subject to our reimbursing our licensors for their patent prosecution and maintenance costs. If our licensors and future licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce and defend patents we may license,

 

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or lose rights to licensed patents or patent applications, our licensed rights may be reduced or eliminated. In such circumstances, our right to develop and commercialize any of our products or product candidates that is the subject of such licensed rights could be materially adversely affected. Even where we have the right to control prosecution of patents and patent applications under license from third parties, we may still be adversely affected or prejudiced by actions or inactions of our predecessors or licensors and their counsel that took place prior to us assuming control over patent prosecution.

Our technology acquired or licensed currently or in the future from various third parties is or may be subject to retained rights. Our predecessors or licensors do and may retain certain rights under their agreements with us, including the right to use the underlying technology for non-commercial academic and research use, to publish general scientific findings from research related to the technology, and to make customary scientific and scholarly disclosures of information relating to the technology. It is difficult to monitor whether our predecessors or licensors limit their use of the technology to these uses, and we could incur substantial expenses to enforce our rights to our licensed technology in the event of misuse.

If we are limited in our ability to utilize acquired or licensed technologies, or if we lose our rights to critical in-licensed technology, we may be unable to successfully develop, out-license, market and sell our product candidates, which could prevent or delay new product introductions. Our business strategy depends on the successful development of acquired technologies and licensed technology into commercial product candidates. Therefore, any limitations on our ability to utilize these technologies may impair our ability to develop, out-license or market and sell our product candidates.

If we fail to comply with our obligations under any existing or future license, collaboration or other intellectual property-related agreements, we may be required to pay damages and could lose intellectual property rights that may be necessary for developing, commercializing and protecting our current or future technologies or product candidates or we could lose certain rights to grant sublicenses.

We have certain obligations to third-party licensors from whom we license certain patent rights that are relevant to one or more current and future product candidates. In the future, we may need to obtain additional licenses from other third parties to advance our research and development activities or allow the commercialization of our current and future product candidates. Our existing license agreements impose, and any future license agreements we enter into are likely to impose, various development, commercialization, funding, milestone, royalty, diligence, sublicensing, insurance, patent prosecution and enforcement or other obligations on us. For a more detailed description of our existing license agreements, see the section titled “Business—Material License and Collaboration Agreements.” If we breach any of these obligations, including diligence obligations with respect to development and commercialization of product candidates covered by the intellectual property licensed to us, or use the intellectual property licensed to us in an unauthorized manner or we are subject to bankruptcy-related proceedings, we may be required to pay damages and the licensor may have the right to terminate the respective agreement or materially modify the terms of the license, such as by rendering currently exclusive licenses non-exclusive. License termination or modification could result in our inability to develop, manufacture and sell products that are covered by the licensed intellectual property or could enable a competitor to gain access to the licensed intellectual property.

In certain circumstances, our licensed patent rights are subject to our reimbursing our licensors for their patent prosecution and maintenance costs. If our licensors and future licensors fail to prosecute, maintain, enforce and defend patents we may license, or lose rights to licensed patents or patent applications, our licensed rights may be reduced or eliminated. In such circumstances, our right to develop and commercialize any of our products or product candidates that are the subject of such licensed rights could be materially adversely affected.

Our current or future licensors may own or control intellectual property that has not been licensed to us and, as a result, we may be subject to claims, regardless of their merit, that we are infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the licensor’s intellectual property rights. In addition, while we cannot currently determine

 

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the amount of the royalty obligations we would be required to pay on sales of future products if infringement or misappropriation were found, those amounts could be significant. The amount of our future royalty obligations will depend on the technology and intellectual property we use in products that we successfully develop and commercialize, if any. Therefore, even if we successfully develop and commercialize products, we may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.

Disputes may arise between us and our present and future licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a licensing agreement, including:

 

   

the scope of rights granted under the license agreement and other interpretation-related issues, including but not limited to our right to transfer or assign the license;

 

   

whether and the extent to which our product candidates, technology and processes infringe on intellectual property of the licensor that is not subject to the licensing agreement;

 

   

our right to sublicense patents and other rights to third parties, including the terms and conditions thereof;

 

   

our diligence obligations with respect to the development and commercialization of our product candidates that are covered by the license agreement, and what activities satisfy those diligence obligations;

 

   

our right to transfer or assign the license;

 

   

the inventorship and ownership of inventions and know-how resulting from the joint creation or use of intellectual property by our licensors and us and our collaborators; and

 

   

the priority of invention of patented technology.

If disputes over intellectual property that we license in the future prevent or impair our ability to maintain our licensing arrangements on acceptable terms, we may not be able to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, the agreements under which we currently license intellectual property or technology from the National Cancer Institute (“NCI”) and other third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant intellectual property or technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Moreover, if disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on commercially acceptable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected product candidates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

In addition, while we currently do not have any liens, security interests, or other encumbrances on the intellectual property that we own, we may, in the future, need to obtain a loan or a line of credit that will require that we put up our intellectual property as collateral to our lenders or creditors. If we do so, and we violate the terms of any such loan or credit agreement, our lenders or creditors may take possession of such intellectual property, including the rights to receive proceeds derived from such intellectual property.

Patent terms may not be able to protect our competitive position for an adequate period of time with respect to our current or future technologies or product candidates.

Patents have a limited lifespan. The term of individual patents and applications in our portfolio depends upon the legal term of patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we file, including the

 

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United States, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest date of filing a non-provisional patent application. Extensions of patent term may be available, but there is no guarantee that we would have patents eligible for extension, or that we would succeed in obtaining any particular extension, and no guarantee any such extension would confer a patent term for a sufficient period of time to exclude others from commercializing product candidates similar or identical to ours. In the United States, the term of a patent may be eligible for patent term adjustment, which permits patent term restoration as compensation for delays incurred at the USPTO during the patent prosecution process. In addition, for patents that cover an FDA-approved drug, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (the “Hatch-Waxman Act”) permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. While the length of the patent term extension is related to the length of time the drug is under regulatory review, 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 per approved drug—and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it or a method for manufacturing it—may be extended under the Hatch-Waxman Act. Similar provisions are available in Europe and other foreign jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. In the future, if and when our products receive FDA approval or applicable approval in other jurisdictions, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on issued patents covering those products in the United States and other jurisdiction where such extensions are available; however, there is no guarantee that the applicable authorities, including the FDA in the United States, will agree with our assessment of whether such extensions should be granted, and if granted, the length of such extensions. We also may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we can enforce our patent rights for the applicable product candidate will be shortened and our competitors may obtain approval to market competing products sooner. As a result, our revenue from applicable products could be reduced. Further, if this occurs, our competitors may be able to launch their products earlier by taking advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials along with our clinical and preclinical data. This could have a material adverse effect on our business and ability to achieve profitability.

The life of a patent and the protection it affords are limited. As a result, our owned and in-licensed patent portfolio provides us with limited rights that may not last for a sufficient period of time to exclude others from commercializing product candidates similar or identical to ours. 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. For example, given the large amount of time required for the research, 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.

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 current or any future technologies or product candidates.

Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States or elsewhere could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of patent applications and the enforcement or defense of issued patents. The United States has enacted and implemented wide-ranging patent reform legislation. On September 16, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (the “Leahy-Smith Act”) was signed into law, which could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned or in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of any future owned or in-licensed issued patents. The Leahy-Smith Act includes a number of significant changes to U.S. patent law. These include provisions that affect the way patent applications are prosecuted, redefine prior art, may affect patent litigation and switch the U.S. patent system from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system. Under a first-to-file system, assuming the other requirements for

 

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patentability are met, the first inventor to file a patent application generally will be entitled to the patent on an invention regardless of whether another inventor had made the invention earlier. A third party that files a patent application in the USPTO after March 16, 2013, but before us, could therefore be awarded a patent covering an invention of ours even if we had made the invention before it was made by such third party. This will require us to be cognizant of the time from invention to filing of a patent application. Since patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time after filing or until issuance, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to either (i) file any patent application related to our product candidates or (ii) invent any of the inventions claimed in our or our licensor’s patents or patent applications. The Leahy-Smith Act also allows third-party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and sets forth additional procedures to challenge the validity of a patent by USPTO-administered post-grant proceedings, including derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review and interference proceedings. The USPTO developed additional regulations and procedures to govern administration of the Leahy-Smith Act, and many of the substantive changes to patent law associated with the Leahy-Smith Act, and, in particular, the first-to-file provisions, became effective on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, it is not clear what, if any, impact the Leahy-Smith Act will have on the operation of our business. The Leahy-Smith Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned or in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our issued owned or in-licensed patents, all of which could have a material adverse impact on our business prospects and financial condition.

As referenced above, for example, courts in the U.S. continue to refine the heavily fact-and-circumstance-dependent jurisprudence defining the scope of patent protection available for therapeutics, narrowing the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances or weakening the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This creates uncertainty about our ability to obtain patents in the future and the value of such patents. In addition, the patent positions of companies in the development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals are particularly uncertain. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. This combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the validity and enforceability of patents, once obtained. Depending on future actions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could have a material adverse effect on our existing patent portfolio and our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property in the future. We cannot provide assurance that future developments in U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO will not adversely impact our owned or in-licensed patents or patent applications. The laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that could weaken our and our licensors’ ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing owned or in-licensed patents and patents that we might obtain or in-license in the future. Similarly, changes in patent law and regulations in other countries or jurisdictions or changes in the governmental bodies that enforce them or changes in how the relevant governmental authority enforces patent laws or regulations may have a material adverse effect on our and our licensors’ ability to obtain new patents or to protect and enforce our owned or in-licensed patents or patents that we may obtain or in-license in the future.

We may be subject to lawsuits or litigation to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could result in substantial costs and liability and prevent us from commercializing our potential products.

Third parties may attempt to invalidate our or our licensors’ intellectual property rights via procedures including but not limited to patent infringement lawsuits, declaratory judgment actions, interferences, oppositions and inter partes reexamination proceedings before the USPTO, U.S. courts and foreign patent offices or foreign courts. An adverse determination in any such submission or proceeding could reduce the scope or enforceability of, or invalidate, our patent rights, which could adversely affect our competitive position. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in United States federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the

 

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USPTO procedures to invalidate our patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party in a district court action. Even if such rights are not directly challenged, disputes could lead to the weakening of our or our licensors’ intellectual property rights. Our defense against any attempt by third parties to circumvent or invalidate our intellectual property rights could be costly to us, could require significant time and attention of our management, and could have a material and adverse impact on our profitability, financial condition and prospects or ability to successfully compete.

We or our licensors may find it necessary to pursue claims or to initiate lawsuits to protect or enforce our owned or in-licensed patent or other intellectual property rights. The cost to us in defending or initiating any litigation or other proceeding relating to our owned or in-licensed patent or other intellectual property rights, even if resolved in our favor, could be substantial, particularly in a foreign jurisdiction, and any litigation or other proceeding would divert our management’s attention. Such litigation or proceedings could materially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. Some of our competitors may be able to more effectively sustain the costs of complex patent litigation because they have substantially greater resources. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could delay our research and development efforts and materially limit our ability to continue our operations.

If we or our licensors were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates or our technology, the defendant could counterclaim that such patent is invalid or unenforceable. In patent litigation in the United States, defendant counterclaims alleging invalidity or unenforceability are commonplace. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, for example, claiming patent-ineligible subject matter, lack of novelty, indefiniteness, lack of written description, non-enablement, anticipation or obviousness. 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. The outcome of such invalidity and unenforceability claims is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art of which we or our licensors and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection for one or more of our product candidates or certain aspects of our platform technologies. Such a loss of patent protection could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Patents and other intellectual property rights also will not protect our product candidates and technologies if competitors or third parties design around such product candidates and technologies without legally infringing, misappropriating or violating our owned or in-licensed patents or other intellectual property rights.

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world, which could negatively impact our business.

Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on current or future technologies or product candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. In addition, the laws of some countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as laws in the United States. Consequently, we may not be able to prevent third parties from practicing our inventions in all countries outside the United States, or from selling or importing products made using our inventions in and into the United States or other countries. Competitors or other third parties may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own products and, further, may export infringing product candidates to territories where we have patent protection or licenses, but enforcement is not as strong as that in the United States. These product candidates 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 difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in such jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, including certain developing countries, do not favor the

 

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enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, particularly those relating to biotechnology, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of any owned and in-licensed patents we may obtain in other countries, or the marketing of competing products in violation of our intellectual property and proprietary rights generally. Proceedings to enforce our owned or in-licensed intellectual property and proprietary rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and could divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business. Such proceedings could also put any owned or in-licensed patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly, could put our owned or in-licensed patent applications at risk of not issuing, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us or our licensors. We or our licensors may not prevail in any lawsuits or other adversarial proceedings that we or our licensors initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our and our licensors’ efforts to enforce such intellectual property and proprietary rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or in-license.

Further, many countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of its patents. If we or any of our licensors are forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position in the relevant jurisdiction may be impaired and our business prospects may be materially adversely affected.

Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing, misappropriating or violating their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse impact on the success of our business.

Our commercial success depends, in part, upon our ability or the ability of our potential future collaborators to develop, manufacture, market and sell our current or any future product candidates and to use our proprietary technologies without infringing, misappropriating or violating the proprietary and intellectual property rights of third parties. There is a substantial amount of litigation, both within and outside the United States, involving patent and other intellectual property rights in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including patent infringement lawsuits, interferences, oppositions and inter partes review proceedings before the USPTO, U.S. courts, foreign patent offices or foreign courts. As the field of gene and cell therapies advances, patent applications are being processed by national patent offices around the world. There is uncertainty about which patents will issue, and, if they do, there is uncertainty as to when, to whom, and with what claims. Any claims of patent infringement asserted by third parties would be time consuming and could:

 

   

result in costly litigation that may cause negative publicity;

 

   

divert the time and attention of our technical personnel and management;

 

   

cause development delays;

 

   

prevent us from commercializing any of our product candidates until the asserted patent expires or is held finally invalid or not infringed in a court of law;

 

   

require us to develop non-infringing technology, which may not be possible on a cost-effective basis;

 

   

subject us to substantial damages for infringement, which we may have to pay if a court decides that the product candidate or technology at issue infringes on or violates the third party’s rights, and, if the court finds that the infringement was willful, we could be ordered to pay treble damages and the patent owner’s attorneys’ fees; or

 

   

require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, or which might be non-exclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same technology.

Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation more effectively than we can because they have substantially greater resources. In addition, any uncertainties resulting from the initiation

 

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and continuation of any litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our operations or could otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications, which are owned by third parties, exist in the fields in which we are pursuing development candidates. As the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries expand and more patents are issued, the risk increases that we may be subject to claims of infringement of the patent rights of third parties. Because patent applications can take many years to issue, there may also be currently pending patent applications that may later result in issued patents that our technology or product candidates may infringe. Further, we cannot guarantee that we are aware of all patents and patent applications potentially relevant to our technology or products. We may not be aware of potentially relevant third-party patents or applications for several reasons. For example, U.S. applications filed before November 29, 2000, and certain U.S. applications filed after that date that will not be filed outside the U.S. remain confidential until a patent issues. Patent applications filed in the United States (after November 29, 2000) and elsewhere are published approximately 18 months after the earliest filing for which priority is claimed, with such earliest filing date being commonly referred to as the priority date. Therefore, patent applications covering our product candidates or platform technologies could have been filed by others without our knowledge. Any such patent application may have priority over our patent applications or patents, which could require us to obtain rights to issued patents covering such technologies. Additionally, claims pending in patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our platform, our product candidates or the use of our technologies.

Although no third party has asserted a claim of patent infringement against us as of the date of this prospectus, others may hold proprietary rights that could prevent our product candidates from being marketed. We or our licensors, or any future strategic collaborator, may be party to, or be threatened with, adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our current or any potential future product candidates and technologies, including derivation, reexamination, inter partes review or post-grant review before the USPTO and similar proceedings in jurisdictions outside of the United States such as opposition proceedings. In some instances, we may be required to indemnify our licensors for the costs associated with any such adversarial proceedings or litigation. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us, our licensors or our strategic collaborators based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future, regardless of their merit. There is a risk that third parties may choose to engage in litigation or other adversarial proceedings with us, our licensors or our strategic collaborators to enforce or otherwise assert their patent rights. Even if we believe such claims are without merit, a court of competent jurisdiction could hold that these third-party patents are not invalid, enforceable and infringed, which could have a material adverse impact on our ability to utilize our platform technologies or to commercialize our current or any future product candidates. In order to successfully challenge the validity of any such U.S. patent in federal court, we would need to overcome a presumption of validity by presenting clear and convincing evidence of invalidity. There is no assurance that a court of competent jurisdiction, even if presented with evidence we believe to be clear and convincing, would invalidate the claims of any such U.S. patent.

Further, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such adversarial proceedings or litigation. If we are unable to successfully settle future claims on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to engage in or to continue costly, unpredictable and time-consuming litigation and may be prevented from or experience substantial delays in marketing our product candidates. If we, or our licensors, or any future strategic collaborators are found to infringe, misappropriate or violate a third-party patent or other intellectual property rights, we could be required to pay damages, including treble damages and attorney’s fees, if we are found to have willfully infringed. In addition, we, or our licensors, or any future strategic collaborators may choose to seek, or be required to seek, a license from a third party, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. Even if a license can be obtained on commercially reasonable terms, the rights may be non-exclusive, which could give our competitors access to the same technology or intellectual property rights licensed to us, and we could be required to make substantial licensing and royalty payments. Parties making

 

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claims against us may obtain injunctive or other equitable relief, which could effectively block our ability to further develop and commercialize our current or future product candidates. We could be forced, including by court order, to cease utilizing, developing, manufacturing and commercializing our platform technologies or product candidates deemed to be infringing. We may be forced to redesign current or future technologies or products. Defense of these claims, regardless of their merit, would involve substantial litigation expense and would be a substantial diversion of employee resources from our business. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue or achieve profitability and possibly prevent us from generating revenue sufficient to sustain our operations.

Thus, it is possible that one or more third parties will hold patent rights to which we will need a license, which may not be available on reasonable terms or at all. If such third parties refuse to grant us a license to such patent rights on reasonable terms or at all, we may be required to expend significant time and resources to redesign our technology, product candidates or the methods for manufacturing our product candidates, or to develop or license replacement technology, all of which may not be commercially or technically feasible. In such case, we may not be able to market such technology or product candidates and may not be able to perform research and development or other activities covered by these patents. This could have a material adverse effect on our ability to commercialize our product candidates and our business and financial condition.

Lastly, if our technology or products are found to infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, these third parties may assert infringement claims against our licensees and other parties with whom we have business relationships, and we may be required to indemnify those parties for any damages they suffer as a result of these claims. The claims may require us to initiate or defend protracted and costly litigation on behalf of licensees and other parties regardless of the merits of these claims. If any of these claims succeed, we may be forced to pay damages on behalf of those parties or may be required to obtain licenses for the products they use.

Intellectual property litigation may lead to unfavorable publicity that harms our reputation and causes the market price of Senti Common Shares to decline.

During the course of any intellectual property litigation, there could be public announcements of the initiation of the litigation as well as results of hearings, rulings on motions and other interim proceedings or developments in the litigation. If securities analysts or investors regard these announcements as negative, the perceived value of our existing product candidates, approved products, programs or intellectual property could be diminished. Accordingly, the market price of Senti Common Shares may decline. Such announcements could also harm our reputation or the market for our future products, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Intellectual property rights of third parties could adversely affect our ability to commercialize our current or future technologies or product candidates, and we might be required to litigate or obtain licenses from third parties to develop or market our current or future technologies or product candidates, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

Because the gene and cell therapy landscape is still evolving, it is difficult to conclusively assess our freedom to operate without infringing, misappropriating or violating third-party rights. The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending application may be incorrect. For example, we may incorrectly determine that our products are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third-party’s pending application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Also, our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect.

There are numerous companies that have pending patent applications and issued patents broadly covering gene and cell therapy generally or covering related inventions that may be relevant for product candidates that we wish to develop. We are aware of third-party patents and patent applications that claim aspects of our current or

 

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potential future product candidates and modifications that we may need to apply to our current or potential future product candidates. There are also many issued patents that claim inventions that may be relevant to products we wish to develop. The holders of such patents may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product candidate unless we obtain a license or until such patent expires. In either case, such a license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, or it may be non-exclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property.

Our competitive position may materially suffer if patents issued to third parties or other third-party intellectual property rights cover our current or future technologies, product candidates or elements thereof or our manufacture or uses relevant to our development plans. In such cases, we may not be in a position to develop or commercialize current or future technologies or product candidates unless we successfully pursue litigation to narrow or invalidate the third-party intellectual property right concerned, or enter into a license agreement with the intellectual property right holder, if available on commercially reasonable terms. There may be issued patents of which we are not aware, held by third parties that, if found to be valid and enforceable, could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or product candidates. There also may be pending patent applications of which we are not aware that may result in issued patents, which could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or product candidates. If such an infringement claim should successfully be brought, we may be required to pay substantial damages or be forced to abandon our current or future technologies or product candidates or to seek a license from any patent holders. No assurances can be given that a license will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.

Third-party intellectual property right holders may also actively bring infringement, misappropriation, or other claims alleging violations of intellectual property rights against us. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to successfully settle or otherwise resolve such claims. If we are unable to successfully settle future claims on terms acceptable to us, we may be required to engage in or to continue costly, unpredictable and time-consuming litigation and may be prevented from or experience substantial delays in marketing our product candidates. If we fail in any such dispute, in addition to being forced to pay damages, we may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from commercializing any of our current or future technologies or product candidates that are held to be infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating third-party intellectual property rights. We might, if possible, also be forced to redesign current or future technologies or product candidates so that we no longer infringe, misappropriate or violate the third-party intellectual property rights. Any of these events, even if we were ultimately to prevail, could require us to divert substantial financial and management resources that we would otherwise be able to devote to our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

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

In addition to seeking patent protection for certain aspects of our current or future technologies and product candidates, we rely on trade secrets, including confidential and unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position and to protect aspects of our business that are not amenable to, or that we do not consider appropriate for, patent protection. Elements of our product candidates, including processes for their preparation and manufacture, may involve proprietary know-how, information, or technology that is not covered by patents, and thus for these aspects we may consider trade secrets and know-how to be our primary intellectual property. Our trade secrets include, for example, certain program specific synthesis, formulations, patient selection strategies and certain aspects of our research.

Trade secrets and know-how can be difficult to protect. We seek to protect trade secrets and confidential and unpatented know-how, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to such knowledge, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract research organizations, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants

 

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under which they are obligated to maintain confidentiality and to assign their inventions to us. However, we cannot be certain that such agreements have been entered into with all relevant parties, and we cannot be certain that our trade secrets and other confidential proprietary information will not be disclosed or that competitors will not otherwise gain access (such as through a cybersecurity breach) to our trade secrets or independently develop substantially equivalent information and techniques. Moreover, individuals with whom we have such agreements may not comply with their terms. Any of these parties may breach such agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for any such breaches. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary technology by third parties.

We may also become involved in inventorship disputes relating to inventions and patents developed by our employees or consultants under such agreements. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret, or securing title to an employee- or consultant-developed invention if a dispute arises, is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts in the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions disfavor or are unwilling to protect trade secrets. We may need to share our proprietary information, including trade secrets, with future business partners, collaborators, contractors and others located in countries at heightened risk of theft of trade secrets, including through direct intrusion by private parties or foreign actors, and those affiliated with or controlled by state actors. Further, if any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent that competitor from using the technology or information to compete with us. If, in the future, any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position would be materially and adversely harmed.

We may be subject to claims that we or our employees or consultants have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets or other proprietary information of third parties, including our employees’ or consultants’ former employers or their clients.

We are party to various contracts under which we are obligated to maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets or other confidential and proprietary information of third parties, including our licensors and strategic partners. In addition, many of our employees or consultants and our licensors’ employees or consultants were previously employed at universities or biotechnology or biopharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. We may be subject to claims that one or more of these employees or consultants or we have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed trade secrets or other proprietary information of third parties, including former employers of our employees and consultants. Litigation or arbitration may be necessary to defend against these claims. If we fail in defending such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel or may be enjoined from using such intellectual property. Any such proceedings and possible aftermath would likely divert significant resources from our core business, including distracting our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. A loss of key research personnel or their work product could limit our ability to commercialize, or prevent us from commercializing, our current or future technologies or product candidates, which could materially harm our business. Even if we are successful in defending against any such claims, litigation or arbitration could result in substantial costs and could be a distraction to management.

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

We or our licensors may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our owned or in-licensed patents as an inventor or co-inventor, or in our trade secrets or other intellectual property as a contributor to its development. The failure to name the proper inventors on a patent application can result in the patents issuing thereon being unenforceable. Inventorship disputes may arise from conflicting views regarding the contributions of different individuals named as inventors, the effects of foreign laws where foreign nationals are involved in the development of the subject matter of the patent, conflicting obligations of third parties involved in developing our product candidates or as a result of questions regarding

 

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co-ownership of potential joint inventions. For example, we or our licensors may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of employees, 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 our or our licensors’ ownership of our owned or in-licensed patents, trade secrets or other intellectual property. Alternatively, or additionally, we may enter into agreements to clarify the scope of our rights in such intellectual property. If we or our licensors 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, intellectual property that is important to our product candidates. 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.

Also, our licensors may have relied on third-party consultants or collaborators or on funds from third parties, such as the U.S. government, such that our licensors are not the sole and exclusive owners of the patents we in-licensed. If other third parties have ownership rights or other rights to our in-licensed patents, they may be able to license such patents to our competitors, and our competitors could market competing products and technology. This could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Further, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the conception or development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who, in fact, conceives or develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. The assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims that they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property. Such claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, document submission, fee payment and other requirements imposed by government 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 government fees on patents or applications will be due to be paid to the USPTO and various government patent agencies outside of the United States over the lifetime of our owned and in-licensed patents or applications and any patent rights we may own or in-license in the future. The USPTO and various non-U.S. patent offices require compliance with several procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. We employ reputable law firms and other professionals to help us comply with these requirements, and we are also dependent on our licensors to take the necessary action to comply with these requirements with respect to our in-licensed intellectual property. In many cases, an inadvertent lapse, including due to the effect of the COVID-19 on us, our patent counsel or other applicable patent maintenance vendors, can be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules. There are situations, however, 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. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. In such an event, potential competitors might be able to enter the market with similar or identical product candidates or platforms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business prospects and financial condition.

If our trademarks and trade names are not adequately protected, then we may not be able to build name recognition in our markets of interest and our business may be adversely affected.

We use and will continue to use registered and/or unregistered trademarks or trade names to brand and market ourselves and our products. Our trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented, declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks. We may not be able to protect our rights to these

 

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trademarks and trade names or may be forced to stop using these names, which we use for name recognition by potential collaborators or customers in our markets of interest. At times, competitors may adopt trade names or trademarks similar to ours, thereby impeding our ability to build brand identity and possibly leading to market confusion. In addition, there could be potential trade name or trademark infringement claims brought by owners of other trademarks or trademarks that incorporate variations of our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names. Over the long term, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively, and our business may be materially adversely affected.

We may also license our trademarks and trade names to third parties, such as distributors. Though these license agreements may provide guidelines for how our trademarks and trade names may be used, a breach of these agreements or misuse of our trademarks and trade names by our licensees may jeopardize our rights in or diminish the goodwill associated with our trademarks and trade names.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our business.

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. The following examples are illustrative:

 

   

others may be able to create gene circuit technologies that are similar to our technologies or our product candidates, but that are not covered by the claims of any patents that we own, license or control;

 

   

we or any strategic collaborators might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own, license or control;

 

   

we or our licensors might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our owned and in-licensed inventions;

 

   

others may independently develop the same, similar, or alternative technologies without infringing, misappropriating or violating our owned or in-licensed intellectual property rights;

 

   

it is possible that our owned or in-licensed pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;

 

   

issued patents that we own, in-license, or control may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be narrowed or held invalid or unenforceable, including as a result of legal challenges;

 

   

our competitors might conduct research and development activities in the United States and other countries that provide a safe harbor from patent infringement claims for certain research and development activities, as well as in countries where we do not have patent rights, and may then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in our major commercial markets;

 

   

we may choose not to file a patent application in order to maintain certain trade secrets or know-how, and a third party may subsequently file a patent application covering such trade secrets or know-how; and

 

   

the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business.

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

Risks Related to Government Regulation

Clinical development includes a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, and results of earlier studies and trials may not be predictive of future trial results.

All of our current product candidates are in preclinical development and their risk of failure is high. It is impossible to predict when or if our candidates or any potential future product candidates will prove effective in

 

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humans or will receive regulatory approval. Before obtaining marketing approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, we must complete preclinical studies for our current product candidates and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety, purity and potency, or efficacy of that product candidate in humans. Clinical testing is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time during the development process. The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials of any of our current or potential future product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates in later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy traits despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial clinical trials. A number of companies in the pharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier trials.

We are currently conducting IND-enabling studies for our current product candidates. We may experience delays in completing our preclinical studies and initiating or completing our clinical studies. We do not know whether planned preclinical studies and clinical trials will be completed on schedule or at all, or whether planned clinical trials will begin on time, need to be redesigned, enroll patients on time or be completed on schedule, if at all. Our development programs may be delayed for a variety of reasons, including delays related to:

 

   

the FDA or other regulatory authorities requiring us to submit additional data or imposing other requirements before permitting us to initiate a clinical trial;

 

   

obtaining regulatory approval to commence a clinical trial;

 

   

reaching agreement on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and clinical trial sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and clinical trial sites;

 

   

obtaining IRB or ethics committee approval at each clinical trial site;

 

   

recruiting suitable patients to participate in a clinical trial;

 

   

having patients complete a clinical trial or return for post-treatment follow-up;

 

   

clinical trial sites deviating from trial protocol or dropping out of a trial;

 

   

the FDA placing the clinical trial on hold;

 

   

subjects failing to enroll or remain in our trial at the rate we expect;

 

   

subjects choosing an alternative treatment for the indication for which we are developing or other product candidates, or participating in competing clinical trials;

 

   

lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial;

 

   

subjects experiencing severe or unexpected drug-related adverse events;

 

   

any changes to our manufacturing process that may be necessary or desired;

 

   

adding new clinical trial sites; and

 

   

manufacturing sufficient quantities of our product candidates for use in clinical trials.

Furthermore, we expect to rely on our CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials and, while we expect to enter into agreements governing their committed activities, we have limited influence over their actual performance.

We could encounter delays if prescribing physicians encounter unresolved ethical issues associated with enrolling patients in clinical trials of our current or potential future product candidates in lieu of prescribing existing treatments that have established safety and efficacy profiles. Further, a clinical trial may be suspended or terminated by us, our collaborators, the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, the Data Safety Monitoring Board for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities due to a number of factors,

 

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including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug or therapeutic biologic, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.

Moreover, principal investigators for our clinical trials may serve as scientific advisors or consultants to us from time to time and receive cash or equity compensation in connection with such services. If these relationships and any related compensation result in perceived or actual conflicts of interest, or a regulatory authority concludes that the financial relationship may have affected the interpretation of the trial, the integrity of the data generated at the applicable clinical trial site may be questioned and the utility of the clinical trial itself may be jeopardized, which could result in the delay or rejection of the marketing application we submit. Any such delay or rejection could prevent or delay us from commercializing our current or future product candidates.

If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of any of our current or potential future product candidates, the commercial prospects of such product candidate will be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenue from such product candidates will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow our product development and approval process and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenue. Any of these occurrences may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our current or potential future product candidates.

We may be unable to obtain U.S. or foreign regulatory approval and, as a result, be unable to commercialize our current or potential future product candidates.

Our current and any potential future product candidates are subject to extensive governmental regulations relating to, among other things, research, testing, development, manufacturing, safety, efficacy, approval, recordkeeping, reporting, labeling, storage, packaging, advertising and promotion, pricing, marketing and distribution of therapeutic biologics. Rigorous preclinical testing and clinical trials and an extensive regulatory approval process are required to be successfully completed in the U.S. and in many foreign jurisdictions before a new drug or therapeutic biologic can be marketed. Satisfaction of these and other regulatory requirements is costly, time-consuming, uncertain and subject to unanticipated delays. It is possible that none of the product candidates we may develop will obtain the regulatory approvals necessary for us or our potential future collaborators to begin selling them.

We have very limited experience in conducting and managing the clinical trials necessary to obtain regulatory approvals, including approval by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. The time required to obtain FDA and other approvals is unpredictable but typically takes many years following the commencement of clinical trials, depending upon the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate. The standards that the FDA and its foreign counterparts use when regulating us require judgment and can change, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty how they will be applied. Any analysis we perform of data from preclinical and clinical activities is subject to confirmation and interpretation by regulatory authorities, which could delay, limit or prevent regulatory approval. We may also encounter unexpected delays or increased costs due to new government regulations, for example, from future legislation or administrative action, or from changes in regulatory policy during the period of product development, clinical trials and FDA regulatory review in the United States and other jurisdictions. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA or foreign regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.

Any delay or failure in obtaining required approvals could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue from the particular product candidate for which we are seeking approval. Further, we and our potential future collaborators may never receive approval to market and commercialize any product candidate.

 

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Even if we or a potential future collaborator obtains regulatory approval, the approval may be for targets, disease indications or patient populations that are not as broad as we intended or desired or may require labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings.

Once a product obtains regulatory approval, numerous post approval requirements apply, including periodic monitoring and reporting obligations, review of promotional material, reports on ongoing clinical trials and adverse events and inspections of manufacturing facilities. In addition, material changes to approved products, including any changes to the manufacturing process or labeling, require further review by the appropriate authorities before marketing. Approvals may also be withdrawn or revoked due to safety, effectiveness or potency concerns, including as a result of adverse events reported in patients or ongoing clinical trials, or failure to comply with cGMP. In addition to revocation or withdrawal of approvals, we and our partners may be subject to warnings, fines, recalls, criminal prosecution or other sanctions if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements. If we or our partners are unable to obtain or maintain regulatory approvals for our products and product candidates, our business, financial position, results of operations and future growth prospects will be negatively impacted and we or our partners may be subject to sanctions. If any of our product candidates prove to be ineffective, unsafe or commercially unviable, we may have to re-engineer our current or potential future product candidates, and our entire pipeline could have little, if any, value, which could require us to change our focus and approach to product candidate discovery and therapeutic development, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We will also be subject to numerous foreign regulatory requirements governing, among other things, the conduct of clinical trials, manufacturing and marketing authorization, pricing and third-party reimbursement. The foreign regulatory approval process varies among countries and may include all of the risks associated with FDA approval described above as well as risks attributable to the satisfaction of local regulations in foreign jurisdictions. Moreover, the time required to obtain approval may differ from that required to obtain FDA approval.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not mean that we will be successful in obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in other jurisdictions.

If we succeed in developing any products, we intend to market them in the United States as well as the European Union and other foreign jurisdictions. In order to market and sell our products in other jurisdictions, we must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements.

Obtaining and maintaining regulatory approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction does not guarantee that we will be able to obtain or maintain regulatory approval in any other jurisdiction, but a failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval in one jurisdiction may have a negative effect on the regulatory approval process in others. For example, even if the FDA or EMA grants marketing approval of a product candidate, comparable regulatory authorities in foreign jurisdictions must also approve the manufacturing, marketing and promotion of the product candidate in those countries. Approval procedures vary among jurisdictions and can involve requirements and administrative review periods different from those in the United States, including additional preclinical studies or clinical trials as clinical trials conducted in one jurisdiction may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions outside the United States, a product candidate must be approved for reimbursement before it can be approved for sale in that jurisdiction. In some cases, the price that we intend to charge for our products is also subject to approval.

Obtaining foreign regulatory approvals and compliance with foreign regulatory requirements could result in significant delays, difficulties and costs for us and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in certain countries. If we or any partner we work with fail to comply with the regulatory requirements in international markets or fail to receive applicable marketing approvals, our target market will be reduced, and our ability to realize the full market potential of our product candidates will be harmed.

 

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We may in the future conduct certain of our clinical trials for our product candidates outside of the United States. However, the FDA and other foreign equivalents may not accept data from such trials, in which case our development plans will be delayed, which could materially harm our business.

We may in the future choose to conduct one or more of our clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States. Although the FDA may accept data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States, acceptance of this data is subject to certain conditions imposed by the FDA. In cases where data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) those data are applicable to the U.S. population and U.S. medical practice; (ii) the studies were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence; and (iii) the data are considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection by the FDA or, if the FDA considers such an inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means. For studies that are conducted only at sites outside of the United States and not subject to an IND, the FDA requires the clinical trial to have been conducted in accordance with GCPs, and the FDA must be able to validate the data from the clinical trial through an on-site inspection if it deems such inspection necessary. For such studies not subject to an IND, the FDA generally does not provide advance comment on the clinical protocols for the studies, and therefore there is an additional potential risk that the FDA could determine that the study design or protocol for a non-U.S. clinical trial was inadequate, which could require us to conduct additional clinical trials. There can be no assurance the FDA will accept data from clinical trials conducted outside of the United States. If the FDA does not accept data from our clinical trials of our product candidates, it would likely result in the need for additional clinical trials, which would be costly and time consuming and delay or permanently halt our development of our product candidates.

Many foreign regulatory bodies have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA or any similar foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA or any similar foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which would be costly and time-consuming and delay aspects of our business plan, and which may result in our product candidates not receiving approval or clearance for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.

Conducting clinical trials outside the United States also exposes us to additional risks, including risks associated with:

 

   

additional foreign regulatory requirements;

 

   

foreign exchange fluctuations;

 

   

compliance with foreign manufacturing, customs, shipment and storage requirements;

 

   

cultural differences in medical practice and clinical research; and

 

   

diminished protection of intellectual property in some countries.

Even if we receive regulatory approval for any of our current or potential future product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expense. Additionally, our current or potential future product candidates, if approved, could be subject to labeling and other restrictions and market withdrawal and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our products.

Any regulatory approvals that we or potential future collaborators obtain for any of our current or potential future product candidates will be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which a product may be marketed or may be subject to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing testing, and surveillance to monitor the safety and efficacy of such product candidate. In addition, if the FDA or any other regulatory authority approves any of our current or potential future product candidates, the

 

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manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, import, export, advertising, promotion and recordkeeping for such product will be subject to extensive and ongoing regulatory requirements. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, as well as continued compliance with cGMP and good clinical practices for any clinical trials that we conduct post-approval. In addition, manufacturers and manufacturers’ facilities are required to comply with extensive FDA and comparable foreign regulatory authority requirements, including ensuring that quality control and manufacturing procedures conform to cGMP and cGTP regulations and applicable product tracking and tracing requirements.

Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product candidate, including adverse events of unanticipated severity or frequency, or with our third-party manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may result in, among other things:

 

   

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product candidate, withdrawal of the product candidate from the market or voluntary or mandatory product recalls;

 

   

fines, warning letters, untitled letters or holds on clinical trials;

 

   

refusal by the FDA to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us or our strategic collaborators;

 

   

suspension or revocation of product approvals;

 

   

suspension of any ongoing clinical trials;

 

   

product seizure or detention or refusal to permit the import or export of products; and

 

   

injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties or monetary fines.

The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our ability to commercialize our product candidates and generate revenue.

The FDA has the authority to require a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (“REMS”) as part of a biologics license application (“BLA”) or after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved product, such as limiting prescribing to certain physicians or medical centers that have undergone specialized training, limiting treatment to patients who meet certain safe-use criteria and requiring treated patients to enroll in a registry.

Furthermore, the FDA strictly regulates marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of products that are placed on the market. Products may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label. While physicians may prescribe, in their independent professional medical judgment, products for off-label uses as the FDA does not regulate the behavior of physicians in their choice of drug treatments, the FDA does restrict a manufacturer’s communications on the subject of off-label use of their products. Companies may only share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with a product’s FDA approved labeling. The FDA and other authorities actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability including, among other things, adverse publicity, warning letters, corrective advertising and potential civil and criminal penalties. The federal government has levied large civil and criminal fines against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use and has enjoined companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The FDA and other regulatory authorities have also required that companies enter into consent decrees or permanent injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed.

Occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. The FDA’s and other regulatory authorities’ policies 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

 

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likelihood, nature or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation or administrative action, either in the United States 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 that we may have obtained and we may not achieve or sustain profitability, which would adversely affect our business.

Any product candidates for which we intend to seek approval as biologic products may face competition sooner than anticipated.

The Affordable Care Act includes a subtitle called the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”) which created an abbreviated approval pathway for biological products that are biosimilar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed reference biological product. Under the BPCIA, an application for a biosimilar product may not be submitted to the FDA until four years following the date that the reference product was first licensed by the FDA. In addition, the approval of a biosimilar product may not be made effective by the FDA until twelve years from the date on which the reference product was first licensed. During this twelve-year period of exclusivity, another company may still market a competing version of the reference product if the FDA approves a full 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 its product. The law is complex. The BPCIA could have a material adverse effect on the future commercial prospects for our biological products.

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

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

In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of legislative initiatives to contain healthcare costs. For example, in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) was enacted, which substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacted the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Among the provisions of the ACA, of greatest importance to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry are the following:

 

   

an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports certain specified branded prescription drugs and biologic agents apportioned among these entities according to their market share in some government healthcare programs;

 

   

an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to 23.1% and 13% of the average manufacturer price for most branded and generic drugs, respectively, and a cap on the total rebate amount for innovator drugs at 100% of the Average Manufacturer Price;

 

   

a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for certain drugs and biologics that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected;

 

   

extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability to covered drugs dispensed to individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations;

 

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expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals and by adding new mandatory eligibility categories for individuals with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability;

 

   

a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% (and 70% 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;

 

   

expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health program;

 

   

a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research;

 

   

establishment of a Center for Medicare Innovation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to test innovative payment and service delivery models to lower Medicare and Medicaid spending; and

 

   

implementation of the federal physician payment transparency requirements, sometimes referred to as the “Physician Payments Sunshine Act.”

Since its enactment, there have been judicial, Congressional and executive challenges to certain aspects of the ACA. On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the most recent judicial challenge to the ACA brought by several states without specifically ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through August 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace. The executive order also instructed certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the ACA. It is unclear how other healthcare reform measures of the Biden administration or other efforts, if any, to challenge, repeal or replace the ACA will impact our business. In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted in the United States since the ACA was enacted.

 

   

On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 among other things, included aggregate reductions of Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year. These reductions went into effect on April 1, 2013 and will remain in effect through 2030.

 

   

On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years.

 

   

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 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.

 

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On December 20, 2019, former President Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1865), which repealed the Cadillac tax, the health insurance provider tax, and the medical device excise tax. It is impossible to determine whether similar taxes could be instated in the future.

Additionally, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny recently over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products. For example, there have been several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drug products.

At the state level, individual states are increasingly aggressive in passing legislation and implementing 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. In addition, regional health care 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 health care programs. These measures could reduce the ultimate demand for our products, once approved, or put pressure on our product pricing, which could negatively affect our business, financial conditions, results of operation and prospects.

We expect that additional state and federal healthcare reform measures will be adopted in the future, any of which could limit the amounts that federal and state governments will pay for healthcare products and services, which could result in reduced demand for our current or future product candidates or additional pricing pressures. Further, it is possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any denial in coverage or reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government-funded programs may result in a similar denial or reduction in payments from private payors, which may prevent us from being able to generate sufficient revenue, attain profitability or commercialize our products. It is not clear how other future potential changes to the ACA will change the reimbursement model and market outlook for our current and future product candidates.

Failure to comply with health and data protection laws and regulations could lead to government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business.

We may collect, receive, store, process, generate, use, transfer, disclose, make accessible, protect and share personal information, health information and other sensitive information to develop our products, to operate our business, for clinical trial purposes, for legal and marketing purposes, and for other business-related purposes.

We and any potential future collaborators, partners or service providers may be subject to federal, state and foreign data protection laws, regulations and regulatory guidance, the number and scope of which is changing, subject to differing applications and interpretations, and which may be inconsistent among jurisdictions, or in conflict with other rules, laws or contractual obligations. In the United States, numerous federal and state laws and regulations, including federal health information privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), state data breach notification laws, state health information privacy laws and federal and state consumer protection laws, that govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information could apply to our operations or the operations of any future potential collaborators or service providers.

In addition, 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, or other privacy and

 

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data security laws. Depending on the facts and circumstances, we could be subject to civil or criminal 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, or if we otherwise violate applicable privacy and data security laws.

International data protection laws, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), may also apply to health-related and other personal information obtained outside of the United States. The GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018, and imposes stringent data protection requirements for processing of personal data of individuals within the European Economic Area (“EEA”) as well as potential fines for noncompliant companies of up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue. The GDPR imposes numerous requirements for the collection, use and disclosure of personal data, including stringent requirements relating to consent and the information that must be shared with data subjects about how their personal information is used, the obligation to notify regulators and affected individuals of personal data breaches, extensive internal privacy governance obligations and obligations to honor expanded rights of individuals in relation to their personal information.

In addition, the GDPR places restrictions on cross-border data transfers. A decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in 2020 invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, which was one of the primary mechanisms used by U.S. companies to import personal information from Europe in compliance with the GDPR’s cross-border data transfer restrictions, and raised questions about whether the European Commission’s Standard Contractual Clauses, one of the primary alternatives to the Privacy Shield, can lawfully be used for personal information transfers from Europe to the United States or most other countries. Similarly, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner has opined that the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield is inadequate for transfers of data from Switzerland to the U.S. Furthermore, on June 4, 2021, the European Commission issued new forms of standard contractual clauses for data transfers from controllers or processors in the EEA (or otherwise subject to the GDPR) to controllers or processors established outside the EEA (and not subject to the GDPR). The new forms of standard contractual clauses have replaced the standard contractual clauses that were adopted previously under the Data Protection Directive. We will be required to transition to the new forms of standard contractual clauses and doing so will require significant effort and cost. The new standard contractual clauses may also impact our business as companies based in Europe may be reluctant to utilize the new clauses to legitimize transfers of personal information to third countries given the burdensome requirements of transfer impact assessments and the substantial obligations that the new standard contractual clauses impose upon exporters. If we are investigated by a European data protection authority, we may face fines and other penalties. Any such investigation or charges by European data protection authorities could have a negative effect on our existing business and on our ability to attract and retain new clients or pharmaceutical partners. We may also experience hesitancy, reluctance, or refusal by European or multi-national clients or pharmaceutical partners to continue to use our products due to the potential risk exposure as a result of the current (and, in particular, future) data protection obligations imposed on them by certain data protection authorities in interpretation of current law, including the GDPR. Such clients or pharmaceutical partners may also view any alternative approaches to compliance as being too costly, too burdensome, too legally uncertain, or otherwise objectionable and therefore decide not to do business with us. Any of the foregoing could materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations.

The GDPR has increased our responsibilities and potential liability in relation to personal data processed subject to the GDPR, and we may be required to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure compliance with the GDPR, including as implemented by individual countries. Companies now have to comply with the GDPR and also the United Kingdom GDPR (“UK GDPR”), which, together with the amended UK Data Protection Act 2018, retains the GDPR in UK national law. The UK GDPR mirrors the fines under the GDPR, i.e., fines up to the greater of €20 million (£17.5 million) or 4% of global turnover. In addition, on June 28, 2021, the European Commission adopted an adequacy decision in respect of transfers of personal data to the UK for a four-year period (until June 27, 2025). Similarly, the UK has determined that it considers all of the EEA to be adequate for the purposes of data protection. This ensures that data flows between the UK and the EEA remain unaffected. Compliance with the GDPR and applicable laws and regulations relating to privacy and data protection of EEA

 

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Member States and the UK is a rigorous and time-intensive process that may increase our cost of doing business or require us to change our business practices, and despite those efforts, there is a risk that we may be subject to fines and penalties, litigation and reputational harm in connection with our European activities. In addition, any failure by us (or our business partners who handle personal data) to comply with GDPR and applicable laws and regulations relating to privacy and data protection of EEA member states and the UK may result in regulators prohibiting our processing of the personal data of EEA data subjects, which could impact our operations and ability to develop our products and provide our services, including interrupting or ending EEA clinical trials.

In addition, states are constantly adopting new laws or amending existing laws, requiring attention to frequently changing regulatory requirements. For example, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”) on June 28, 2018, which took effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA gives California residents expanded rights to access and delete their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing and receive detailed information about how their personal information is used by requiring covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers (as that term is broadly defined and can include any of our current or future employees who may be California residents) and provide such residents new ways to opt-out of certain sales of personal information. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches and statutory damages, which is expected to increase data breach class action litigation and result in significant exposure to costly legal judgments and settlements. Although the law includes limited exceptions for health-related information, including clinical trial data, such exceptions may not apply to all of our operations and processing activities. As we expand our operations and trials (both preclinical and clinical), the CCPA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Some observers have noted that the CCPA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent privacy legislation in the United States. In November 2020, California passed the California Privacy Rights Act (the “CPRA”) which amends and expands the CCPA. The CPRA will impose additional data protection obligations on covered businesses, including additional consumer rights processes, limitations on data uses, new audit requirements for higher risk data, and opt outs for certain uses of sensitive data. It will also create a new California data protection agency authorized to issue substantive regulations and could result in increased privacy and information security enforcement. The majority of the provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023, and additional compliance investment and potential business process changes may be required. The CPRA has created additional uncertainty and may increase our cost of compliance. Other states are beginning to pass similar laws. In the event that we are subject to or affected by HIPAA, the GDPR, the CCPA, the CPRA or other domestic privacy and data protection laws, any liability from failure to comply with the requirements of these laws could adversely affect our financial condition.

Compliance with U.S. and international data protection laws and regulations could require us to take on more onerous obligations in our contracts, restrict our ability to collect, use and disclose data, or in some cases, impact our ability to operate in certain jurisdictions. Laws and regulations worldwide relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity are, and are likely to remain, uncertain for the foreseeable future. While we strive to comply with applicable laws and regulations relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity, external and internal privacy and security policies and contractual obligations relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity to the extent possible, we may at times fail to do so, or may be perceived to have failed to do so. Moreover, despite our efforts, we may not be successful in achieving compliance if our personnel, collaborators, partners or vendors do not comply with applicable laws and regulations relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity, external and internal privacy and security policies and contractual obligations relating to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity. Actual or perceived failure to comply with any laws and regulations relating to privacy, data protection or cybersecurity in the U.S. or foreign jurisdictions could result in government enforcement actions (which could include civil or criminal penalties), private litigation or adverse publicity and could negatively affect our operating results and business. Moreover, clinical trial subjects about whom we or our potential collaborators or service providers obtain information, as well as the providers who share this information with us, may contractually limit our ability to use and disclose the information. Claims that we have violated individuals’ privacy rights, failed to comply with applicable laws or regulations, or breached our contractual obligations, even if we are not found liable, could be expensive and time consuming to defend, result in regulatory actions and proceedings, in addition to private claims and litigation, and could result in adverse publicity that could harm our business.

 

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We also are, or may be asserted to be, subject to the terms of our external and internal privacy and security policies, representations, certifications, publications and frameworks and contractual obligations to third parties related to privacy, data protection, information security and processing. Failure to comply or the perceived failure to comply with any of these, or if any of these policies or any of our representations, certifications, publications or frameworks are, in whole or part, found or perceived to be inaccurate, incomplete, deceptive, unfair or misrepresentative of our actual practices, could result in reputational harm, result in litigation, cause a material adverse impact to business operations or financial results and otherwise result in other material harm to our business.

If we or our existing or potential future collaborators, manufacturers or service providers fail to comply with healthcare laws and regulations, we or they could be subject to enforcement actions, which could affect our ability to develop, market and sell our product candidates and may harm our reputation.

Healthcare providers, physicians and third-party payors, among others, will play a primary role in the prescription and recommendation of any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Our current and future arrangements with third-party payors, providers and customers, among others, 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 market, sell and distribute our product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval. Restrictions under applicable federal and state healthcare laws and regulations in the United States and other countries, include the following:

 

   

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, a person or entity from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, paying, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, lease order, arranging for or recommendation of, any good, facility, item or service, for which payment may be made, in whole or in part, by a federal healthcare program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. A person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

   

federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including the federal False Claims Act, which provides for civil whistleblower or qui tam actions, and civil monetary penalties laws, that impose penalties against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government. In addition, the government may assert that a claim including items and services resulting from a referral made in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;

 

   

HIPAA, which imposes criminal and civil liability for executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, or knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation;

 

   

HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”) and its implementing regulations, including the Final Omnibus Rule published in January 2013, which impose obligations on certain covered entity healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses as well as their business associates and their subcontractors that perform certain services involving the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information, including mandatory contractual terms, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information, and require notification to affected individuals and regulatory authorities of certain breaches of security of individually identifiable health information. HITECH also created new tiers of civil monetary penalties, amended HIPAA to make civil and criminal penalties directly applicable to business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In

 

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addition, there may be additional federal, state, and non-U.S. laws which govern the privacy and security of health and other personal information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts;

 

   

the federal false statements statute, which prohibits knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, items or services;

 

   

the federal physician payment transparency requirements, sometimes referred to as the “Sunshine Act” under the Affordable Care Act, require certain manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies that are reimbursable under Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report to the CMS information related to transfers of value made to physicians (currently defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests of such physicians and their immediate family members. Effective January 1, 2022, these reporting obligations extend to include payments and transfers of value, made during the previous year to certain non-physician providers, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants and certified nurse midwives; and

 

   

analogous local, state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to healthcare items or services reimbursed by third party payors, including private insurers, local, state and foreign transparency laws that require manufacturers to report information related to payments and transfers of value to other healthcare providers and healthcare entities, marketing expenditures, or drug pricing, state laws that require pharmaceutical companies to register certain employees engaged in marketing activities in the location and comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government, and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Ensuring that our future business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations could involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our business practices, including our relationships with physicians and other healthcare providers, some of whom are compensated in the form of stock options for consulting services provided, 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 such requirements, we may be subject to penalties, including criminal and significant civil monetary penalties, damages, fines, imprisonment, disgorgement, contractual damages, reputational harm, exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, integrity obligations, injunctions, recall or seizure of products, total or partial suspension of production, denial or withdrawal of pre-marketing product approvals, private qui tam actions brought by individual whistleblowers in the name of the government, refusal to allow us to enter into supply contracts, including government contracts, additional reporting requirements and oversight if subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, 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. Although effective compliance programs can mitigate the risk of investigation and prosecution for violations of these laws, these risks cannot be entirely eliminated. Any action against us for an alleged or suspected violation could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and could divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business, even if our defense is successful. 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 above occur, our ability to operate our business and our results of operations could be adversely affected. In addition, achieving and sustaining compliance with applicable laws and regulations may be costly to us in terms of money, time and resources.

 

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If we fail to comply with U.S. and foreign regulatory requirements, regulatory authorities could limit or withdraw any marketing or commercialization approvals we may receive and subject us to other penalties that could materially harm our business.

Even if we receive marketing and commercialization approval of a product candidate, we will be subject to continuing regulatory requirements, including in relation to adverse patient experiences with the product and

clinical results that are reported after a product is made commercially available, both in the United States and any foreign jurisdiction in which we seek regulatory approval. The FDA and other regulatory authorities have significant post- market authority, including the authority to require labeling changes based on new safety information and to require post-market studies or clinical trials to evaluate safety risks related to the use of a product or to require withdrawal of the product candidate from the market. The FDA and other regulatory authorities also have the authority to require a REMS after approval, which may impose further requirements or restrictions on the distribution or use of an approved drug or therapeutic biologic. The manufacturer and manufacturing facilities we use to make a future product, if any, will also be subject to periodic review and inspection by the FDA and other regulatory authorities, including for continued compliance with cGMP and cGTP requirements. The discovery of any new or previously unknown problems with our third-party manufacturers, manufacturing processes or facilities may result in restrictions on the product candidate, manufacturer or facility, including withdrawal of the product candidate from the market. We intend to rely on third-party manufacturers and we will not have control over compliance with applicable rules and regulations by such manufacturers. Any product promotion and advertising will also be subject to regulatory requirements and continuing regulatory review. If we or our existing or future collaborators, manufacturers or service providers fail to comply with applicable continuing regulatory requirements in the U.S. or foreign jurisdictions in which we seek to market our products, we or they may be subject to, among other things, fines, warning letters, holds on clinical trials, delay of approval or refusal by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications, suspension or withdrawal of regulatory approval, product recalls and seizures, administrative detention of products, refusal to permit the import or export of products, operating restrictions, injunction, civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

Even if we are able to commercialize any product candidate, such product candidate may become subject to unfavorable pricing regulations or third-party coverage and reimbursement policies, which would harm our business.

In the United States and markets in other countries, patients generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their treatment. Adequate coverage and reimbursement from governmental healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and commercial payors is critical to new product acceptance. Further, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of individuals have lost/will be losing employer-based insurance coverage, which may adversely affect our ability to commercialize our products. It is unclear what effect, if any, the American Rescue Plan will have on the number of covered individuals.

There is also significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly approved products and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the medicine is approved by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. In the United States, the principal decisions about reimbursement for new medicines are typically made by the CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CMS decides whether and to what extent a new medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare and private payors tend to follow CMS to a substantial degree.

Our ability to commercialize any products successfully will depend, in part, on the extent to which coverage and adequate reimbursement for these products and related treatments will be available from third-party payors, such as government authorities, private health insurers and health maintenance organizations. Patients who are prescribed medications for the treatment of their conditions generally rely on third-party payors to reimburse all or part of the costs associated with their prescription drugs. Coverage and adequate reimbursement from government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and private health insurers are critical to new product acceptance. Patients are unlikely to use our future products, if any, unless coverage is provided and reimbursement is adequate to cover a significant portion of the cost. Obtaining coverage and adequate

 

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reimbursement for our product candidates may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with drugs administered under the supervision of a physician. Similarly, because our product candidates are physician-administered, separate reimbursement for the product itself may or may not be available. Instead, the administering physician may or may not be reimbursed for providing the treatment or procedure in which our product is used.

Cost-containment is a priority in the U.S. healthcare industry and elsewhere. As a result, government authorities and other third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. 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. Third-party payors also may request additional clinical evidence beyond the data required to obtain marketing approval, requiring a company to conduct expensive pharmacoeconomic studies in order to demonstrate the medical necessity and cost-effectiveness of its product. Commercial third-party payors often rely upon Medicare coverage policy and payment limitations in setting their reimbursement rates, but also have their own methods and approval process apart from Medicare determinations. Therefore, coverage and reimbursement for pharmaceutical products in the U.S. can differ significantly from payor to payor. We cannot be sure that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be available for any product that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, that the level of reimbursement will be adequate. Coverage and reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval. If coverage and reimbursement are not available or are available only at limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate for which we obtain marketing approval.

Additionally, the regulations that govern regulatory approvals, pricing and reimbursement for new drugs and therapeutic biologics vary widely from country to country. Some countries require approval of the sale price of a drug or therapeutic biologic before it can be marketed. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing approval is granted. In some foreign markets, prescription pharmaceutical pricing remains subject to continuing governmental control even after initial approval is granted. As a result, we might obtain regulatory approval for a product in a particular country, but then be subject to price regulations that delay our commercial launch of the product, possibly for lengthy time periods, and negatively impact the revenues we are able to generate from the sale of the product in that country. Adverse pricing limitations may hinder our ability to recoup our investment in one or more product candidates, even if our product candidates obtain regulatory approval.

We are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws with respect to our operations and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal or civil liability and harm our business.

We are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended (the “FCPA”), the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, and possibly other state and national anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees, agents, third-party intermediaries, joint venture partners and collaborators from authorizing, promising, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or benefits to recipients in the public or private sector. We interact with officials and employees of government agencies and government-affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations. In addition, we may engage third-party intermediaries to promote our clinical research activities abroad or to obtain necessary permits, licenses and other regulatory approvals. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third-party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, collaborators and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities.

We adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and we expect to prepare and implement policies and procedures to ensure compliance with such code. The Code of Business Conduct and Ethics mandates compliance with the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws applicable to our business throughout the world. However, we cannot assure you that our employees and third-party intermediaries will comply with this code or such anti-corruption laws. Noncompliance with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws could subject us

 

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to whistleblower complaints, investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, other enforcement actions, disgorgement of profits, significant fines, damages, other civil and criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension or debarment from contracting with certain persons, the loss of export privileges, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas, investigations or other enforcement actions are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal litigation, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially harmed. In addition, responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management’s attention and resources and significant defense and compliance costs and other professional fees. In certain cases, enforcement authorities may even cause us to appoint an independent compliance monitor which can result in added costs and administrative burdens.

Risks Related to Senti and the Senti Common Shares

The Senti stock price may be volatile.

The Senti stock price is likely to be volatile. The market price for Senti Common Shares may be influenced by many factors, including the other risks described in this section of the prospectus entitled “Risk Factors” and the following:

 

   

our ability to advance our current or potential future product candidates into the clinic;

 

   

results of preclinical studies for our current or potential future product candidates, or those of our competitors or potential future collaborators;

 

   

the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on our business;

 

   

regulatory or legal developments in the United States and other countries, especially changes in laws or regulations applicable to our future products;

 

   

our ability to successfully construct and operate our planned cGMP and cGTP facility;

 

   

the success of competitive products or technologies;

 

   

introductions and announcements of new products by us, our future commercialization collaborators, or our competitors, and the timing of these introductions or announcements;

 

   

actions taken by regulatory authorities with respect to our future products, clinical trials, manufacturing process or sales and marketing terms;

 

   

actual or anticipated variations in our financial results or those of companies that are perceived to be similar to us;

 

   

the success of our efforts to acquire or in-license additional technologies, products or product candidates;

 

   

developments concerning any future collaborations, including, but not limited to, those with any sources of manufacturing supply and future commercialization collaborators;

 

   

market conditions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors;

 

   

market conditions and sentiment involving companies that have recently completed a business combination with a special purpose acquisition company (“SPAC”);

 

   

announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic alliances, joint ventures or capital commitments;

 

   

developments or disputes concerning patents or other proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters and our ability to obtain patent protection for our products;

 

   

our ability or inability to raise additional capital and the terms on which it is raised;

 

   

the recruitment or departure of key personnel;

 

   

changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems;

 

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actual or anticipated changes in earnings estimates or changes in stock market analyst recommendations regarding Senti Common Shares, other comparable companies or the industry generally;

 

   

our failure or the failure of our competitors to meet analysts’ projections or guidance that we or our competitors may give to the market;

 

   

fluctuations in the valuation of companies perceived by investors to be comparable to us;

 

   

announcement and expectation of additional financing efforts;

 

   

speculation in the press or investment community;

 

   

trading volume of Senti Common Shares;

 

   

sales of Senti Common Shares by us or our stockholders;

 

   

the concentrated ownership of Senti Common Shares;

 

   

changes in accounting principles;

 

   

terrorist acts, acts of war or periods of widespread civil unrest;

 

   

natural disasters, public health crises and other calamities; and

 

   

general economic, industry and market conditions.

In addition, the stock markets in general, and the markets for SPAC post-business combination businesses, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks in particular, have experienced extreme volatility, including since the public announcement of the Business Combination Agreement in December 2021. This volatility can often be unrelated to the operating performance of the underlying business. These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of Senti Common Shares, regardless of our operating performance.

We may incur significant costs from class action litigation due to the expected stock volatility.

Our stock price may fluctuate for many reasons, including as a result of public announcements regarding the progress of development efforts for our platform and product candidates, the development efforts of future collaborators or competitors, the addition or departure of key personnel, variations in quarterly operating results and changes in market valuations of biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This risk is especially relevant to us because biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have experienced significant stock price volatility in recent years, including since the public announcement of the Business Combination Agreement in December 2021. In addition, recently there has been significant stock price volatility involving the shares of companies that have recently completed a business combination with a SPAC. When the market price of a stock has been volatile as our stock price may be, holders of that stock have occasionally brought securities class action litigation against the company that issued the stock. Additionally, there has recently been a general increase in litigation against companies that have recently completed a business combination with a SPAC alleging fraud and other claims based on inaccurate or misleading disclosures. If any of our stockholders were to bring a lawsuit of this type against us, even if the lawsuit is without merit, we could incur substantial costs defending the lawsuit. The lawsuit could also divert the time and attention of management.

We are an “emerging growth company” and it cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make the Senti Common Shares less attractive to investors and may make it more difficult to compare performance with other public companies.

We are an emerging growth company as defined in the JOBS Act, and we intend to continue to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in

 

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periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. Investors may find the Senti Common Shares less attractive because we will continue to rely on these exemptions. If some investors find the Senti Common Shares less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for their common stock, and the stock price may be more volatile.

An emerging growth company may elect to delay the adoption of new or revised accounting standards. With DYNS making this election, Section 102(b)(2) of the JOBS Act allows us to delay adoption of new or revised accounting standards until those standards apply to non-public business entities. As a result, the financial statements contained in this prospectus and those that we will file in the future may not be comparable to companies that comply with public business entities revised accounting standards effective dates. 

If certain holders of our common stock sell a significant portion of their securities, it may negatively impact the market price of the shares of our common stock and such holders still may receive significant proceeds.

As of the date of this prospectus, the market price of our common stock is below $10.00 per share, which was the price per share of Class A Common Stock sold in the initial public offering of our predecessor, DYNS, the per share price of the 5,060,000 Senti Common Shares sold to certain investors in connection with our PIPE financing and also the per share value of the consideration issued to former stockholders of Senti Sub I, Inc. (formerly Senti Biosciences, Inc.) upon consummation of our Business Combination. However, certain of our stockholders who hold shares of our common stock that were (i) originally purchased by our predecessor’s sponsor, Dynamics Sponsor LLC, in a private placement prior to our predecessor’s initial public offering (the “Founder Shares”) or (ii) issued to the Anchor Investors in consideration for their agreement not to redeem their shares of Class A Common Stock of DYNS in connection with the Business Combination. In particular, 4,878,972 of the Founder Shares registered for resale in our prospectus dated August 8, 2022 filed pursuant to Rule 424(b)(3) (Registration No. 333-265873), as supplemented from time to time (the “Prior Resale Prospectus”), were purchased at an effective price of $0.004 per share, and 871,028 of the Senti Common Shares held by the Anchor Investors and registered for resale in the Prior Resale Prospectus were issued solely in consideration for the Anchor Investors’ agreement not to redeem their shares of Class A Common Stock as described above. Accordingly, holders of these 5,750,000 Senti Common Shares could sell their securities at a per share price that is less than $10.00 and still realize a significant return from the sale of those securities that could not be realized by our other stockholders. On September 7, 2022, the closing price of our common stock as reported on the Nasdaq Global Market was $1.96 per share. Based on this closing price, the aggregate sales price of the Founder Shares would be approximately $9.56 million and the aggregate sales price of the Senti Common Shares held by the Anchor Investors would be approximately $1.71 million.

Future sales and issuances of our common stock or rights to purchase common stock could result in additional dilution of the percentage ownership of our stockholders and could cause our stock price to fall.

Significant additional capital will be needed in the future to continue our planned operations, including further development of our gene circuit platform, preparing IND or equivalent filings, conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, commercialization efforts, expanded research and development activities and costs associated with operating a public company. To raise capital, we may sell common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities in one or more transactions at prices and in a manner as determined from time to time. If we sell common stock, convertible securities or other equity securities, investors may be materially diluted by subsequent sales. Such sales may also result in material dilution to existing stockholders, and new investors could gain rights, preferences and privileges senior to the holders of Senti Common Shares.

Pursuant to the Incentive Plan, our board of directors or compensation committee is authorized to grant stock options to our employees, directors and consultants. Initially, the maximum aggregate number of Senti Common Shares that may be issued pursuant to stock awards under the Incentive Plan is 2,492,735 Senti Common Shares. Additionally, the number of Senti Common Shares reserved for issuance under the Incentive Plan will

 

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automatically increase on January 1 of each year, beginning on January 1, 2023 and continuing through and including January 1, 2032, by 5% of the total number of Senti Common Shares outstanding on December 31 of the preceding calendar year, or a lesser number of shares determined by our board of directors. Unless our board of directors elects not to increase the number of shares available for future grant each year, our stockholders may experience additional dilution, which could cause our stock price to fall. In addition, on August 5, 2022, our board of directors adopted the 2022 Inducement Plan, pursuant to which an aggregate of 2,000,000 Senti Common Shares have been reserved for issuance. Our issuance of additional shares of common stock or other equity securities of equal or senior rank would, all else being equal, have the following effects:

 

   

the amount of cash available per share, including for payment of dividends in the future, may decrease;

 

   

the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding share of common stock would be diminished; and

 

   

the market price of shares of Senti Common Shares may decline.

Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or acts of fraud.

We must design our disclosure controls and procedures to reasonably assure that information we must disclose in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, and recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well-conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. For example, our directors or executive officers could inadvertently fail to disclose a new relationship or arrangement causing us to fail to make a required related party transaction disclosure. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.

Reports published by analysts, including projections in those reports that differ from our actual results, could adversely affect the price and trading volume of Senti Common Shares.

We currently expect that securities research analysts will establish and publish their own periodic financial projections for our business. These projections may vary widely and may not accurately predict the results we actually achieve. Our stock price may decline if our actual results do not match the projections of these securities research analysts. Similarly, if one or more of the analysts who write reports on us downgrades our stock or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price could decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of us or fails to publish reports on us regularly, our stock price or trading volume could decline. While we expect research analyst coverage, if no analysts commence coverage of us, the trading price and volume for Senti Common Shares could be adversely affected.

The obligations associated with being a public company will involve significant expenses and will require significant resources and management attention, which may divert from our business operations.

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Exchange Act requires the filing of annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to a public company’s business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that a public company establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. As a result, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not previously incur. Our entire management team and many of our other employees will need to devote substantial time to compliance, and may not effectively or efficiently manage our transition into a public company.

 

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These rules and regulations will result in us incurring substantial legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, these rules and regulations will likely make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be difficult for us to attract and retain qualified people to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers.

Provisions in our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation (“Charter”), our amended and restated bylaws (“Bylaws”) and Delaware law may have anti-takeover effects that could discourage an acquisition of us by others, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management, which could depress the trading price of Senti Common Shares.

Our Charter, Bylaws and Delaware law contain provisions that may have the effect of discouraging, delaying or preventing a change in control of us or changes in our management that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which you might otherwise receive a premium for your shares. Our Charter and Bylaws include provisions that:

 

   

authorize “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend and other rights superior to our common stock;

 

   

create a classified board of directors whose members serve staggered three-year terms;

 

   

specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only by our board of directors;

 

   

prohibit stockholder action by written consent;

 

   

establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder approvals to be brought before an annual meeting of our stockholders, including proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;

 

   

specify that no stockholder is permitted to cumulate votes at any election of directors;

 

   

expressly authorize our board of directors to make, alter, amend or repeal our Bylaws; and

 

   

require supermajority votes of the holders of our common stock to amend specified provisions of our Charter and Bylaws.

These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management. 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 Senti Common Shares.

In addition, because we are incorporated in the State of Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, 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 provision of our Charter, Bylaws or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their Senti Common Shares, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for Senti Common Shares.

 

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Our Bylaws designate the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for certain state law litigation that may be initiated by our stockholders and the U.S. federal district courts as the exclusive forum for certain securities law actions, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to litigate disputes with us in a different judicial forum and increase the costs for our stockholders to pursue certain claims against us.

Pursuant to our Bylaws, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers or employees to us or our stockholders; (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, our Charter or our Bylaws (including their interpretation, validity or enforceability); or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This exclusive forum provision will not apply to any causes of action arising under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Stockholders cannot waive compliance with the Securities Act, the Exchange Act or any other federal securities laws or the rules and regulations thereunder. Unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternate forum, the United States federal district courts shall be the sole and exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. In addition, our Bylaws provide that any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to these exclusive forum provisions. The forum selection provisions in our Bylaws may limit our stockholders’ ability to litigate disputes with us in a judicial forum that they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, which may discourage the filing of lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees, even though an action, if successful, might benefit our stockholders. In addition, these forum selection provisions may impose additional litigation costs for stockholders who determine to pursue any such lawsuits against us.

Our failure to meet the continued listing requirements of Nasdaq could result in a delisting of our securities.

If we fail to satisfy the continued listing requirements of Nasdaq such as the corporate governance requirements or the minimum closing bid price requirement, Nasdaq may take steps to delist our securities. Such a delisting would likely have a negative effect on the price of the securities and would impair your ability to sell or purchase the securities when you wish to do so. In the event of a delisting, we can provide no assurance that any action taken by us to restore compliance with listing requirements would allow our securities to become listed again, stabilize the market price or improve the liquidity of our securities, prevent our securities from dropping below the Nasdaq minimum bid price requirement or prevent future non-compliance with Nasdaq’s listing requirements. Additionally, if our securities are not listed on, or become delisted from, Nasdaq for any reason, and are quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board, an inter-dealer automated quotation system for equity securities that is not a national securities exchange, the liquidity and price of our securities may be more limited than if we were quoted or listed on Nasdaq or another national securities exchange. You may be unable to sell your securities unless a market can be established or sustained.

General Risk Factors

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 FDA 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 new drugs and biologics or modifications to approved drugs and

 

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biologics to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, including for 35 days beginning on December 22, 2018, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical FDA employees and stop critical activities.

Since March 2020 when foreign and domestic inspections of facilities were largely placed on hold, the FDA has been working to resume routine surveillance, bioresearch monitoring and pre-approval inspections on a prioritized basis. Since April 2021, the FDA has conducted limited inspections and has employed remote interactive evaluations, using risk management methods, to meet user fee commitments and goal dates. Ongoing travel restrictions and other uncertainties continue to impact oversight operations both domestic and abroad and it is unclear when standard operational levels will resume. The FDA is continuing to complete mission-critical work, prioritize other higher-tiered inspectional needs (e.g., for-cause inspections), and carry out surveillance inspections using risk-based approaches for evaluating public health. 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 has stated that it generally intends to issue, depending on the circumstances, 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 ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.

We or the third parties upon whom we depend may be adversely affected by natural disasters and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.

Our current operations are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Any unplanned event, such as earthquake, flood, fire, explosion, extreme weather condition, medical epidemics, including any potential effects from the current global spread of COVID-19, power shortage, telecommunication failure or other natural or man-made accidents or incidents that result in us being unable to fully utilize our facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, may have a material adverse effect on our ability to operate our business, particularly on a daily basis and have significant negative consequences on our financial and operating conditions. Loss of access to these facilities may result in increased costs, delays in the development of our product candidates or interruption of our business operations. Natural disasters or pandemics such as the COVID-19 outbreak could further disrupt our operations and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, that damaged critical infrastructure, such as our research facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers, or that otherwise disrupted operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible, for us to continue our business for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we have in place may prove inadequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. As part of our risk management policy, we maintain insurance coverage at levels that we believe are appropriate for our business. However, in the event of an accident or incident at these facilities, we cannot assure our investors that the amounts of insurance will be sufficient to satisfy any damages and losses. If our facilities or the manufacturing facilities of our third-party contract manufacturers are unable to operate because of an accident or incident or for any other reason, even for a short period of time, any or all of our research and development programs may be harmed. Any business interruption may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

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Our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly or may fall below the expectations of investors or securities analysts, each of which may cause our stock price to fluctuate or decline.

We expect our operating results to be subject to quarterly fluctuations. Our net loss and other operating results will be affected by numerous factors, including:

 

   

variations in the level of expense related to the ongoing development of our product candidates or future development programs;

 

   

results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, or the addition or termination of preclinical studies and clinical trials or funding support by us or potential future collaborators;

 

   

our execution of any collaboration, licensing or similar arrangements, and the timing of payments we may make or receive under potential future arrangements or the termination or modification of any of our existing or potential future collaboration, licensing or similar arrangements;

 

   

any intellectual property infringement, misappropriation or violation lawsuit or opposition, interference or cancellation proceeding in which we may become involved;

 

   

additions and departures of key personnel;

 

   

strategic decisions by us or our competitors, such as acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, joint ventures, strategic investments or changes in business strategy;

 

   

if any of our product candidates receives regulatory approval, the terms of such approval and market acceptance and demand for such product candidates;

 

   

regulatory developments affecting our product candidates or those of our competitors; and

 

   

changes in general market and economic 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.

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

We have received confidential and proprietary information from third parties. In addition, we employ individuals who were previously employed at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. We may be subject to claims that we or our employees, consultants, or independent contractors have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed confidential information of these third parties or our employees’ former employers, or that we caused an employee to breach the terms of his or her non-competition or non-solicitation agreement. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. Even if we are successful in defending against these claims, litigation could result in substantial cost and be a distraction to our management and employees. If our defenses to these claims fail, in addition to requiring us to pay monetary damages, a court could prohibit us from using technologies or features that are essential to our product candidates, if such technologies or features are found to incorporate or be derived from the trade secrets or other proprietary information of the former employers. Moreover, any such litigation or the threat thereof may adversely affect our reputation, our ability to form strategic alliances or sublicense our rights to collaborators, engage with scientific advisors or hire employees or consultants, each of which would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.

 

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THE COMMITTED EQUITY FINANCING

On August 31, 2022, we entered into the Purchase Agreement with Chardan establishing the Facility. Pursuant to and upon the terms and subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in the Purchase Agreement, beginning on the date of this prospectus (the “Commencement Date”), we have the right from time to time at our option to direct Chardan to purchase up to $50.0 million of shares of our common stock. Sales of our common stock to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, and the timing of any sales, will be determined by us from time to time in our sole discretion and will depend on a variety of factors, including, among other things, market conditions, the trading price of our common stock and determinations by us regarding the use of proceeds from any sale of such common stock. The net proceeds from any sales under the Facility will depend on the frequency with, and prices at, which the common stock are sold to Chardan. To the extent we sell shares under the Purchase Agreement, we currently plan to use any proceeds therefrom for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Pending other uses, we intend to invest the net proceeds to us in investment-grade, interest-bearing securities such as money market funds, certificates of deposit, or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government, or hold as cash. We cannot predict whether the net proceeds invested will yield a favorable return.

In accordance with our obligations under the Purchase Agreement, we have filed the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part in order to register: (i) the 100,000 Commitment Shares that we issued to Chardan as consideration for its execution and delivery of the Purchase Agreement on the Signing Date and (ii) the resale by Chardan of up to 8,627,049 shares of common stock, consisting of shares of common stock that we may elect, in our sole discretion, to issue and sell to Chardan, from time to time from and after the Commencement Date upon the terms and subject to the conditions and limitations of the Purchase Agreement. Unless earlier terminated, the Purchase Agreement will remain in effect until the earliest to occur of (i) the first (1st) day of the month next following the 36-month anniversary of the effectiveness of the registration statement, (ii) the date on which Chardan has purchased the Total Commitment pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, (iii) the date on which our common stock fails to be listed or quoted on Nasdaq or any successor market, and (iv) the date on which, pursuant to or within the meaning of any bankruptcy law, we commence a voluntary case or any Person commences a proceeding against us, a custodian is appointed for us or for all or substantially all of our property, or we make a general assignment for the benefit of our creditors (the “Termination Provisions”).

Although the Purchase Agreement provides that we may sell up to an aggregate of $50.0 million of our Senti Common Shares to the Selling Securityholder, only 8,727,049 Senti Common Shares are being registered for resale under the registration statement that includes this prospectus. If it becomes necessary for us to issue and sell to the Selling Shareholder under the Purchase Agreement more shares than are being registered for resale under this prospectus in order to receive aggregate gross proceeds equal to $50.0 million under the Purchase Agreement, we must first file with the SEC one or more additional registration statements to register under the Securities Act the resale by the Selling Shareholder of any such additional Senti Common Shares we wish to sell from time to time under the Purchase Agreement, which the SEC must declare effective, in each case, before we may elect to sell any additional Senti Common Shares to the Selling Shareholder under the Purchase Agreement. Under applicable Nasdaq rules, in no event may we issue to Chardan more than 19.99% of the total number of our common stock that were outstanding immediately prior to the execution of the Purchase Agreement, unless we obtain prior stockholder approval (the “Exchange Cap”) or if such approval is not required in accordance with the applicable Nasdaq rules. In addition, Chardan is not obligated to buy any common stock under the Purchase Agreement if such shares, when aggregated with all other common stock then beneficially owned by Chardan and its affiliates (as calculated pursuant to Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-3 promulgated thereunder), would result in Chardan beneficially owning common stock in excess of 4.99% of our outstanding shares of common stock (the “Beneficial Ownership Limitation”).

The Purchase Agreement and Chardan Registration Rights Agreement contain customary registration rights, representations, warranties, conditions and indemnification obligations by each party. The representations, warranties and covenants contained in such agreements were made only for purposes of such agreements and as of specific dates, were solely for the benefit of the parties to such agreements and are subject to certain important limitations.

 

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VWAP Purchase of Shares of Common Stock Under the Purchase Agreement

From and after the Commencement Date, we will have the right, at any time we do not have material non-public information, but not the obligation, from time to time at our sole discretion, until the earliest to occur of the Termination Provisions, to direct Chardan to purchase a number of Shares equal to the applicable VWAP Purchase Share Amount, at the applicable VWAP Purchase Price therefor on such VWAP Purchase Date in accordance with the Purchase Agreement (each such purchase, a “VWAP Purchase”) by delivering written notice to Chardan (such notice, a “VWAP Purchase Notice”) on any trading day, so long as all shares of common stock subject to all prior VWAP Purchases by Chardan have been delivered to Chardan as required by the Purchase Agreement.

The maximum number of shares of common stock that Chardan is required to purchase in any single VWAP Purchase under the Purchase Agreement is equal to the lessor of:

 

   

a number of shares of common stock which, when aggregated with all other shares of common stock then beneficially owned by Chardan and its affiliates (as calculated pursuant to Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-3 promulgated thereunder), would result in the beneficial ownership by Chardan of more than the Beneficial Ownership Limitation; and

 

   

a number of shares of common stock which would result in the total aggregate VWAP Purchase Price to be paid by Chardan for the total VWAP Purchase Share Amount purchased by Chardan in such VWAP Purchase made on one VWAP Purchase Date exceed $3,000,000; and

 

   

a number of shares of common stock equal to (a) the VWAP Purchase Share Percentage multiplied by (b) the total number (or volume) of shares of common stock traded on the Principal Market (or successor Principal Market) during the applicable VWAP Purchase Period on the applicable VWAP Purchase Date for such VWAP Purchase; and

 

   

the VWAP Purchase Share Amount.

The per share purchase price for the common stock that we elect to sell to Chardan in a VWAP Purchase pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, if any, will be equal to ninety-seven percent (97.0%) of the VWAP over the applicable period on such VWAP Purchase Date for such VWAP Purchase (such price, the “VWAP Purchase Price”), subject to certain adjustments.

We define “VWAP” as, for the common stock for a specified period, the dollar volume-weighted average price for the common stock on the Principal Market, for such period, as reported by Bloomberg through its “VWAP” function. All such determinations shall be appropriately adjusted for any sales of shares of common stock through Block transactions, any reorganization, non-cash dividend, stock split, reverse stock split, stock combination, recapitalization or other similar transaction during such period. There is no upper limit on the price per share that Chardan could be obligated to pay for common stock we elect to sell to Chardan in any VWAP Purchase under the Purchase Agreement.

At or prior to 5:30 p.m., New York City time, on the VWAP Purchase Date for each VWAP Purchase, Chardan will provide us with a written confirmation for such VWAP Purchase setting forth, among other items, the applicable VWAP Purchase Price per share to be paid by Chardan, the total number of Shares being purchased by the Investor in such VWAP Purchase and the total aggregate VWAP Purchase Price to be paid by Chardan for the total number of shares of common stock purchased by Chardan in such VWAP Purchase.

The payment for, against delivery of, common stock purchased by Chardan in a VWAP Purchase under the Purchase Agreement is required to be fully settled by 1:00 p.m., New York City time, on the trading day immediately following the applicable date of such VWAP Purchase Date, as set forth in the Purchase Agreement.

 

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Conditions Precedent to Commencement and Each VWAP Purchase

Our right to commence delivering VWAP Purchase Notices under the Purchase Agreement and Chardan’s obligation to accept VWAP Purchase Notices that are timely delivered by us under the Purchase Agreement and to purchase shares of our common stock in VWAP Purchases under the Purchase Agreement, are subject to the initial satisfaction, at the Commencement Date, of the conditions precedent thereto set forth in the Purchase Agreement, which conditions include, among others, the following:

 

   

the accuracy in all material respects of the representations and warranties of the Company included in the Purchase Agreement;

 

   

us having performed, satisfied and complied in all material respects with all covenants, agreements and conditions required by the Purchase Agreement and the Chardan Registration Rights Agreement to be performed, satisfied or complied with by us;

 

   

the registration statement that includes this prospectus having been declared effective under the Securities Act, and Chardan being able to utilize this prospectus to resell all of the Commitment Shares and the common stock included in this prospectus;

 

   

the absence of any material misstatement or omission in the registration statement that includes this prospectus;

 

   

this prospectus, the Current Report, and all reports, schedules, registrations, forms, statements, information and other documents required to have been filed by the Company with the SEC pursuant to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act having been filed with the SEC;

 

   

the common stock not having been suspended by the SEC, the Principal Market or FINRA and there not having been imposed any suspension of, or restriction on, accepting additional deposits of common stock by the depository;

 

   

no condition, occurrence, state of facts or event constituting a Material Adverse Effect (as such term is defined in the Purchase Agreement) shall have occurred and be continuing;

 

   

customary compliance with laws and bankruptcy-related conditions; and

 

   

the receipt by Chardan of customary legal opinions, auditor comfort letters and bring-down legal opinions, and auditor comfort letters as required under the Purchase Agreement.

Termination of the Purchase Agreement

Unless earlier terminated as provided in the Purchase Agreement, the Purchase Agreement will terminate automatically on the earliest to occur of:

 

   

the first (1st) day of the month next following the 36-month anniversary of the Effective Date of the Initial Registration Statement;

 

   

the date on which Chardan has purchased the Total Commitment pursuant to the Purchase Agreement;

 

   

the date on which our common stock fails to be listed or quoted on Nasdaq or any successor market; and

 

   

the date on which, pursuant to or within the meaning of any bankruptcy law, we commence a voluntary case or any Person commences a proceeding against us, a custodian is appointed for us or for all or substantially all of our property, or we make a general assignment for the benefit of our creditors.

We have the right to terminate the Purchase Agreement at any time after Commencement, at no cost or penalty, upon ten (10) trading days’ prior written notice to Chardan. We and Chardan may also terminate the Purchase Agreement at any time by mutual written consent. Chardan also has the right to terminate the Purchase Agreement upon ten (10) trading days’ prior written notice to us, but only upon the occurrence of certain

 

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customary events as listed in the Purchase Agreement. No termination of the Purchase Agreement by us or by Chardan will become effective prior to the second trading day immediately following the date on which any pending (or not fully settled) VWAP Purchase has been fully settled in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Purchase Agreement, and will not affect any of our respective rights and obligations under the Purchase Agreement with respect to any pending (or not fully settled) VWAP Purchase, and both we and Chardan have agreed to complete our respective obligations with respect to any such pending (or not fully settled) VWAP Purchase under the Purchase Agreement. Furthermore, no termination of the Purchase Agreement will affect the payment of the Commitment Shares or our or Chardan’s respective rights or obligations under the Chardan Registration Rights Agreement, which will survive any termination of the Purchase Agreement.

No Short-Selling or Hedging by Chardan

Chardan has agreed that neither it nor any entity managed or controlled by it, will engage in, directly or indirectly, any (i) “short sale” (as such term is defined in Rule 200 of Regulation SHO of the Exchange Act) of the common stock or (ii) hedging transaction, which, with respect to items (i) and (ii), establishes a net short position with respect to the common stock, during the term of the Purchase Agreement.

Effect of Sales of our Common Stock under the Purchase Agreement on our Stockholders

The common stock being registered for resale in this offering may be issued and sold by us to Chardan from time to time at our discretion over a period until the earliest to occur of the Termination Provisions. The resale by Chardan of a significant quantity of shares registered for resale in this offering at any given time, or the perception that these sales may occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline and to be highly volatile. Sales of our common stock, if any, to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement will be determined by us in our sole discretion, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions in the Purchase Agreement, and will depend upon market conditions and other factors. We may ultimately decide to sell to Chardan all, some or none of the common stock that may be available for us to sell to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement. If we elect to sell common stock to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, after Chardan has acquired such shares, Chardan may resell all, some or none of such common stock at any time or from time to time in its discretion and at different prices. As a result, investors who purchase common stock from Chardan in this offering at different times will likely pay different prices for those shares of common stock, and so may experience different levels of dilution and in some cases substantial dilution and different outcomes in their investment results. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the Facility—Investors who buy common stock from Chardan at different times will likely pay different prices.”

Investors may experience a decline in the value of the common stock they purchase from Chardan in this offering as a result of future sales made by us to Chardan at prices lower than the prices such investors paid for their shares in this offering. In addition, if we sell a substantial number of shares of common stock to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, or if investors expect that we will do so, the actual sales of common stock or the mere existence of our arrangement with Chardan may make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and at a price that we might otherwise wish to effect such sales.

Because the purchase price per share to be paid by Chardan for the common stock that we may elect to sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, if any, will fluctuate based on the market prices of our common stock during the applicable period for each VWAP Purchase made pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, if any, as of the date of this prospectus it is not possible for us to predict the number of common stock that we will sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement, the actual purchase price per share to be paid by Chardan for those shares of common stock, or the actual gross proceeds to be raised by us from those sales, if any. As of September 1, 2022, there were 43,757,077 shares of common stock outstanding. If all of the 8,727,049 Senti Common Shares offered for resale by the Selling Securityholder under this prospectus were issued and outstanding as of September 1, 2022, such shares would represent approximately 19.94% of total number of shares of our common stock outstanding. The actual number of Senti Common Shares issuable will vary depending on the then current market price of Senti Common Shares sold to Chardan in this offering.

 

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The number of shares of common stock ultimately offered for sale by Chardan for resale under this prospectus is dependent upon the number of shares of common stock, if any, we ultimately sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement. Further, if and when we elect to sell shares of common stock to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, after Chardan has acquired such shares, Chardan may resell all, some or none of such shares of common stock at any time or from time to time in its discretion and at different prices.

The issuance of our shares of common stock to Chardan pursuant to the Purchase Agreement will not affect the rights or privileges of our existing stockholders, except that the economic and voting interests of each of our existing stockholders will be diluted. Although the number of shares of common stock that our existing stockholders own will not decrease, the shares of common stock owned by our existing stockholders will represent a smaller percentage of our total outstanding shares of common stock after any such issuance.

The following table sets forth information at varying purchase prices assuming we sell all 8,627,049 shares of common stock being registered for resale under this prospectus to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement:

 

Assumed Trading

Price of common stock

   Purchase Price
for common stock Sold
Under the
Facility(1)(3)
 

$1.96(2)

   $ 16.4  million 

$5.00

   $ 41.8  million 

$7.50

   $ 50.0 (4) million 

$10.00

   $ 50.0 (4) million 

 

(1)

Purchase prices represent the illustrative aggregate purchase price to be received from the sale of all of the shares of common stock issued and sold to Chardan under the Facility, multiplied by the VWAP Purchase Price, assuming for illustrative purposes that the VWAP Purchase Price is equal to 97% of the assumed trading price of common stock listed in the first column.

(2)

Represents the closing price of our common stock on Nasdaq on September 7, 2022.

(3)

The number of Senti Common Shares offered by this prospectus may not cover all the Senti Common Shares we ultimately may sell to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement. We have included in this column only those Senti Common Shares being offered for resale by Chardan under this prospectus, without regard to the Beneficial Ownership Limitation.

(4)

Represents the maximum amount available to be sold to Chardan under the Purchase Agreement. At this price, fewer than the entire 8,627,049 shares registered hereby would be sold.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

All of the Senti Common Shares offered by the Selling Securityholder will be solely for the Selling Securityholder’s account. We will not receive any of the proceeds from these sales. We may receive up to $50.0 million in aggregate gross proceeds from the Selling Securityholder under the Purchase Agreement in connection with sales of our Senti Common Shares to the Selling Securityholder pursuant to the Purchase Agreement after the date of this prospectus. However, the actual proceeds may be less than this amount depending on the number of share of our Senti Common Shares sold and the price at which the Senti Common Shares are sold.

We intend to use any proceeds from any sales of Senti Common Shares to Chardan under the Facility for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Pending other uses, we intend to invest the net proceeds to us in investment-grade, interest-bearing securities such as money market funds, certificates of deposit, or direct or guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government, or hold as cash. We cannot predict whether the net proceeds invested will yield a favorable return. We will have broad discretion in the way we use these proceeds. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the Facility—We may use proceeds from sales of our common stock made pursuant to the Purchase Agreement in ways with which you may not agree or in ways which may not yield a significant return.”

Chardan will pay any underwriting fees, discounts, selling commissions, stock transfer taxes and certain legal expenses incurred by Chardan in disposing of its shares of common stock, and we will bear all other costs, fees and expenses incurred in effecting the registration of such securities covered by this prospectus, including, without limitation, all registration and filing fees, Nasdaq listing fees and fees and expenses of our counsel and our independent registered public accountants.

DETERMINATION OF OFFERING PRICE

We cannot currently determine the price or prices at which the Senti Common Shares may be sold by Chardan under this prospectus. Our Common Shares are listed on Nasdaq under the symbol “SNTI.”

MARKET PRICE AND DIVIDEND INFORMATION

Market Price

Senti Common Shares are listed on Nasdaq under the symbol “SNTI”. Prior to the consummation of the Business Combination our common shares were traded on Nasdaq under the symbol “DYNS”.

The closing price of the Senti Common Shares on September 7, 2022 was $1.96 per share.

Holders

As of September 1, 2022, there were 156 holders of record of the Senti Common Shares. The number of holders of record does not include for example a substantially greater number of “street name” holders or beneficial holders whose Senti Common Shares are held of record by banks, brokers and other financial institutions.

Dividend Policy

We have not paid any cash dividends to date. The payment of cash dividends in the future will be dependent upon our revenues and earnings, if any, capital requirements and general financial condition. The payment of any cash dividends will be within the discretion of our Board at such time. Our ability to declare dividends may also be limited by restrictive covenants pursuant to any future debt financing agreements.

 

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BUSINESS

Unless the context otherwise requires, for purposes of this section, the terms “we,” “us,” “the Company” or “Senti” refer to Senti and its subsidiaries.

Overview

We are a preclinical biotechnology company developing next-generation cell and gene therapies engineered with our gene circuit platform technologies to fight challenging diseases. Our mission is to create a new generation of smarter medicines that outmaneuver complex diseases using novel and unprecedented approaches. To accomplish this mission, we have built a synthetic biology platform that we believe may enable us to program next-generation cell and gene therapies with what we refer to as “gene circuits.” These gene circuits, which we created from novel and proprietary combinations of genetic parts, are designed to reprogram cells with biological logic to sense inputs, compute decisions and respond to their respective cellular environments. We aim to design and optimize gene circuits through our Design-Build-Test-Learn Engine, or DBTL Engine, to improve the “intelligence” of cell and gene therapies in order to enhance their therapeutic effectiveness against a broad range of diseases that conventional medicines are unable to address. Our gene circuit platform technologies are designed to be applied in a modality-agnostic manner, with applicability to natural killer (NK) cells, T cells, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), stem cells including Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), in vivo gene therapy and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). All of our current product candidates are in preclinical development. Our lead product candidates utilize off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK cells outfitted with our gene circuit technologies in several oncology indications with currently high unmet need. Subject to the successful completion of IND- enabling studies, we expect to file investigational new drug applications, or INDs, for multiple product candidates starting in 2023.

The field of synthetic biology has evolved rapidly over the past few decades, and we believe that we are uniquely positioned to harness its potential to drive significant advances in medicine. Our scientific team is comprised of leaders in the space, and we have leveraged their expertise to create our scalable DBTL Engine and develop a proprietary knowledge database for therapeutic gene circuits. Our founders, Dr. Tim Lu, Dr. Philip Lee, Prof. James Collins, and Prof. Wilson Wong are pioneers in synthetic biology, gene circuits and cell and gene therapy, each having spent over twenty years advancing next-generation technologies in these areas. Our scientific founders and advisors are among the foremost leaders in their respective fields, having collectively published many of the seminal scientific papers in synthetic biology in top journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. Integrating disciplines from biology, chemistry and computer science, we have leveraged recent advances in DNA sequencing and synthesis, high-throughput experimentation and computational design, together with our intellectual property, to design, build and test gene circuits. We believe these are novel technologies, and we are not aware of U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved therapeutics utilizing similar technologies. As a result, these technologies may require significant resources in order to achieve regulatory approval. In preclinical studies, we have shown that our gene circuits are capable of carrying out sophisticated biological functions in a variety of disease models and we are preparing to advance our product candidates to clinical studies. We believe in the potential of gene circuits to enhance efficacy, precision and control of numerous cell and gene therapy products. Ultimately, we envision that cells running computations using our gene circuits in the human body will be able to outsmart a myriad of complex diseases.

 

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The following figure illustrates how our gene circuit platform technologies may enable the creation of smarter medicines that can “sense inputs,” “compute decisions” and “respond with outputs” to impact diseases:

 

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Key Challenges to Existing Disease Treatments and Our Gene Circuit Solutions

Key Challenges to Existing Disease Treatments

Diseases often involve complex biological interactions, which limit the effectiveness of existing therapeutics that only have single mechanisms of action and are unable to adapt to dynamic disease states. We characterize these key challenges in the following four categories:

 

 

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  Target Heterogeneity: Many diseases are heterogeneous and express antigens that are also present on healthy cells. The overlap of antigen expression on diseased and healthy cells limits the ability of existing therapies to target diseased cells at therapeutically relevant doses due to undesirable effects against healthy cells. For example, most cancers do not have a single antigen target that is uniformly expressed on all cancer cells with limited to no expression on non-cancerous cells. Thus, the ability to precisely distinguish between diseased cells and healthy cells has been a central challenge to date with current therapeutic approaches that do not encode logic, such as monoclonal antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates and single-target CAR therapies. Modalities that can respond to multiple biomarkers, rather than just a single one, have the potential to open up the opportunity for more precise and efficacious medicines.

 

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  Disease Evasion: Disease pathologies are multifaceted. For example, diseases can evade the immune system or acquire resistance to single-target treatments by activating other biological pathways. The tumor microenvironment (TME) of many solid tumors suppresses cancer-fighting immune cells via multiple pathways. To overcome these complex barriers, combination therapies that utilize multiple individual drugs are being explored clinically. However, manufacturing issues, regulatory aspects, pharmacology complexities and clinical challenges of using multiple individual drugs together can be difficult. A gene or cell therapy with the ability to activate multiple anti-tumor pathways within a single product could help limit disease evasion and may improve the durability of responses to treatment, while simplifying the translational path.

 

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  Narrow Therapeutic Window: Once administered to a patient, conventional medicines, including cell and gene therapies, cannot be tuned up or down, which makes it difficult to find the optimal dose, especially for diseases that have a narrow therapeutic window. The ability to create therapeutics that can be titrated or regulated in vivo in the patient may lead to enhanced efficacy and safety.

 

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  Dynamic Disease Conditions: Disease conditions are dynamic and vary in space and time. For example, diseases may manifest only in certain tissues, or have a waxing and waning progression over time. Conventional therapies are (i) static, (ii) have a predefined activity around a single mechanism of action that cannot be modified post-administration and (iii) do not adapt to these dynamic conditions, thus limiting their efficacy, specificity and safety. For example, current cell and gene therapies are not dynamic or highly specific, thus limiting the indications that they can address. Developing dynamic therapeutics that are able to sense, and respond to, these spatially or temporally varying conditions would address this challenge.

Our Gene Circuit Solutions

We believe that our core gene circuit platform technologies may enable us to engineer smarter medicines. These technologies can be categorized as follows.

 

 

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  Logic Gating: Logic Gating gene circuits are designed to enable cell and gene therapies to control their therapeutic activity in response to the presence or absence of multiple disease biomarkers. Below are examples of Logic Gates applied to cancer, although Logic Gating may also be applied to various other disease indications.
 

 

 

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  NOT GATE: NOT GATE gene circuits are designed to widen the therapeutic window by enabling effective killing of cancer cells while preserving healthy cells. The NOT GATE functions by recognizing Safety Antigens (SAs), or antigens that are selectively expressed on healthy cells and not on cancer cells, thus limiting on-target, off-tumor killing. By protecting healthy cells, the NOT GATE has the potential to enable more effective on-target, on-tumor killing of tumor cells that express Tumor-Associated Antigens (TAAs). Generally, existing cancer drugs target only a single antigen, which means they can only be effectively and safely used in situations where that antigen is uniquely expressed on tumors and not in healthy cells, or where the on-target, off-tumor effects are tolerable.
 

 

 

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  OR GATE: OR GATE gene circuits are designed to address tumor heterogeneity and limit antigen escape. The OR GATE functions by killing tumor cells that express any one of multiple antigens. Generally, current medicines are unable to address more than one target at a time and are thus susceptible to tumor evasion.
 

 

 

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  AND GATE: AND GATE gene circuits require that multiple targets be present at the same time to trigger killing of cancer cells, which may enhance the specificity of on-target, on-tumor activity. Generally, conventional therapies only recognize a single antigen for their activity, which can result in a lack of specificity.

 

 

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  Multi-Arming: Multi-Arming gene circuits are designed to incorporate multiple payloads into a single cell or gene therapy product. These gene circuits are intended to activate various biological pathways in complementary ways to prevent diseases from evading single-target treatments, and thereby potentially improve treatment efficacy. Existing combination therapies that target complex diseases require the application of multiple individual drugs, which is difficult due to research, clinical development, regulatory and pharmacology barriers.

 

 

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  Regulator Dial: Regulator Dial gene circuits are designed to enable the precise tuning of therapeutic activity from a cell or gene therapy product. For example, this can be implemented by regulating therapeutic payload expression in response to varying concentrations of FDA-approved drugs. Regulator Dials are expected to enable the exogenous regulation of next-generation cell and gene therapies even after they have been delivered in vivo. Existing cell and gene therapies cannot be modulated once they have been delivered into patients.

 

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  Smart Sensor: A Smart Sensor is a gene circuit, or combination of gene circuits, designed to precisely detect distinct cell types or disease environments, and thus distinguish between the “disease state” and “healthy state.” For example, Smart Sensors can be engineered to detect whether certain conditions, or disease biomarkers, are present before responding with a specific therapeutic response. Conventional medicines are generally unable to dynamically change their behavior in response to cell or disease specific conditions.

We believe we can rationally combine any of these four gene circuit platform technologies to strategically customize therapeutics to outmaneuver complex diseases. The following figure maps how our gene circuit platform technologies are designed to address specific challenges facing existing medicines:

 

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We Believe Our Gene Circuits May Have Broad Applicability in Multiple Treatment Modalities and Disease Areas

Treatment Modalities: Our gene circuit biological “software” can be used to program numerous cell and gene therapy products, or “hardware.” Specifically, these modalities include NK cells, T cells, TILs, stem cells including HSCs, in vivo gene therapy and mRNA.

We have conducted research in multiple cell types and vector types, and the initial focus of our internal pipeline is implementing gene circuits within off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells in oncology.

Disease Areas: We believe our gene circuits can be customized to address many aspects of disease biology. We have demonstrated and published on applications of gene circuits across many different in vivo disease models. Thus, we believe that our gene circuit platform technologies have the potential to be used for a broad range of diseases that span therapeutic areas such as oncology, immunology, genetic diseases, neurology, cardiology, metabolic diseases, ophthalmology and regenerative medicine.

 

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The following figure presents our perspective on how our gene circuit technologies can be utilized across modalities and corresponding therapeutic areas:

 

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We Utilize Our Design-Build-Test-Learn Engine to Optimize Our Gene Circuits

We have established, and continue to scale, our powerful DBTL Engine to generate our therapeutic gene circuits. We believe the speed, quantity and quality by which we can design multiple types of gene circuits, resulting in thousands of functional gene circuits engineered to date, is unique to our platform. Our gene circuits are engineered by an expert team of synthetic biologists informed by proprietary bioinformatics and our internal gene circuits knowledge database. This proprietary knowledge database contains quantitative characterization data on gene circuits we have previously built, including those that are functional and those that are not. Thus, this database helps inform the design of future gene circuits guided by our past experiences. Furthermore, we leverage machine learning approaches to continually enhance the design of such gene circuits based on data generated through testing in our in vitro and in vivo disease models. The breadth and scale of our DBTL Engine allows us to learn from each cycle of design to improve the speed and quality of future designs—even across projects and modalities. This approach leverages and reinforces our position as leaders and innovators in the field of synthetic biology for the development of human therapeutics. Based on decades of experience among our founders as well as the accumulated data from our DBTL Engine, we believe that our approach to programming gene circuits is broadly applicable toward engineering optimal efficacy, precision and control into many cell or gene-based medicines.

The following figure provides an overview of the key steps in our DBTL Engine process:

 

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Our Pipeline and Product Candidates

We believe that our gene circuits will enable us to better address indications that conventional small molecule, protein and cell and gene therapies cannot. We intend to seek feedback from the FDA and comparable regulatory authorities given the novelty of our technologies, which could make the regulatory pathway more complex and potentially time-consuming than for more well-known therapeutics. Our most advanced gene-circuit product candidates are directed at off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells for oncology. In addition to these product candidates, we have discovery stage product candidates focused on gene therapies for tissue-directed targets and cell therapies for regenerative medicines. The following pipeline chart depicts our preclinical stage product candidates.

 

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SENTI-202

We are developing our SENTI-202 product candidate as a Logic Gated (OR + NOT) off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy designed to target and eliminate acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, cells while sparing the healthy hematopoietic stem cells. We are engineering SENTI-202 to express a bivalent CAR as an OR GATE directed against the Tumor-Associated Antigens, Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) and/or Cluster of Differentiation 33 (CD33), where one or both are expressed in 95% of AML patients. FLT3 is robustly expressed on leukemic stem cells, or LSCs, while CD33 is highly expressed on AML blasts. AML is a heterogeneous disease composed of both AML LSCs and blasts. Thus, we believe that targeting FLT3 OR CD33 will enhance the overall killing activity against diseased cells in AML. However, FLT3 is also expressed on healthy hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs, in the bone marrow. In order to spare FLT3-expressing healthy HSCs, we have further engineered SENTI-202 with a NOT GATE gene circuit comprised of an inhibitory CAR, or iCAR, targeted against endomucin, or EMCN. EMCN is a Safety Antigen with robust expression on HSCs and no or low expression on AML LSCs and blasts. We believe this NOT GATE gene circuit could allow SENTI-202 to eliminate LSCs that cause relapse while preserving the patient’s own healthy HSCs. This proprietary product profile has the potential to drive towards deeper and longer remissions for AML by enabling killing of diverse AML cells while sparing HSCs that regenerate the blood and the immune systems. We are also engineering SENTI-202 with an aim to express our proprietary calibrated release interleukin 15, or crIL-15. Our crIL-15 construct is being designed to simultaneously produce both membrane-associated and fully-secreted IL-15 proteins in order to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing.

In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-202.

SENTI-301

Our SENTI-301 product candidate is a Multi-Armed off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy that we are developing for the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC. We are engineering NK cells to target glypican 3, or GPC3, which is highly expressed in 70% to 90% of HCCs and has low or no expression on normal adult tissues. SENTI-301 is armed with a combination of immuno-stimulatory payloads intended to promote expansion and persistence of our CAR NK cells, as well as activation and recruitment of endogenous immune cells into the solid tumor microenvironment for enhanced anti-tumor activity. One of the immuno-stimulatory payloads is our proprietary crIL-15 protein. crIL-15 is designed to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing.Expression of our proprietary calibrated release interleukin 12, or crIL-12, is modulated via a small-molecule Regulator Dial gene circuit, and has the potential to stimulate the immune system and overcome the challenges of the immunosuppressive TME in HCC.

 

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In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-301.

SENTI-401

Our SENTI-401 product candidate is a Logic Gated off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy that we are developing to more precisely target and eliminate colorectal cancer, or CRC, cells while sparing healthy cells elsewhere in the body. We are engineering NK cells to express a CAR directed against carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA, which is highly overexpressed in 85% to 90% of colorectal cancer but is also expressed in epithelial cells in healthy tissues. CEA is also expressed in other solid tumors, including lung, breast and gastric cancers. The expression profile of CEA in both tumor and healthy cells has resulted in on-target, off-tumor toxicities with conventional CEA-targeted therapies, thus limiting their clinical success. To address this challenge, we are engineering SENTI-401 with a NOT GATE implemented via an iCAR targeted against an epithelial cell Safety Antigen called V-set and Immunoglobulin Domain Containing 2, or VSIG2. Thus, the SENTI-401 product candidate’s Logic Gating is intended to more effectively treat CRC patients by targeting a well-known Tumor-Associated Antigen, CEA, and widen the therapeutic window by preventing killing when CEA appears on healthy cells that also express the VSIG2 Safety Antigen. We are also engineering SENTI-401 to express a combination of potent immune effectors, including our proprietary crIL-15 protein to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing, and an additional undisclosed potent immune effector to potentially enhance therapeutic function in solid tumors.

In 2023, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2024, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-401.

Our Discovery Stage Programs

Our current discovery stage programs are as follows:

 

 

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We believe our gene circuits can be readily adapted to new disease contexts to enable a variety of additional CAR-NK product candidates that address important cancers. Our SENTI-411, SENTI-421, and SENTI-311 product candidates are additional off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies for solid and liquid tumors. These product candidates may leverage the gene circuits being developed for our SENTI-202, SENTI-301, and SENTI-401 CAR-NK cells, along with the learnings from our DBTL Engine, to tackle key challenges in oncology, such as Target Heterogeneity and Disease Evasion.

Furthermore, we are actively pursuing the nomination and development of multiple product candidates that harness the full breadth of our gene circuit platform beyond Logic Gating and Multi-Arming of off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells within oncology. In particular, we have entered into collaborations with Spark Therapeutics, Inc.

 

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(acquired by Roche Holding AG) for the design of Smart Sensors for disease- and tissue-specific gene therapy, and with Bluerock Therapeutics LP (acquired by Bayer AG) for the use of Smart Sensors and Regulator Dials for regenerative medicines.

Our Gene Circuit Application to Off-the-Shelf NK Cells for Oncology

Our initial pipeline focus is on the application of our gene circuit platform technologies towards improving the treatment of specific oncology indications. Our most advanced product candidates are off-the-shelf, gene circuit-engineered CAR-NK cells. We have chosen to engineer NK cells with our gene circuits based on our belief that NK cells confer the following advantages in relation to other potential immune cell types in oncology:

 

   

Innate Killing: NK cells naturally carry multiple activating and inhibitory receptors that enable them to innately kill tumor cells while sparing healthy tissues. Furthermore, NK cells have been engineered with CARs to enhance their targeted killing activity. We leverage these features to create Logic Gated CAR-NKs, such as OR GATE CAR-NKs that enhance the killing of heterogeneous tumors and NOT GATE CAR-NKs that spare healthy cells from undesired toxicity and thereby potentially improve on-target, on-tumor killing.

 

   

Immune Activation: NK cells have been shown to support robust activation of anti-tumor immune pathways via proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion. We leverage this feature with our Multi-Arming gene circuits to further improve their ability to trigger endogenous, complementary anti-tumor activity by engaging the rest of the tumor immunity cycle.

 

   

Validated Clinical Activity and Tolerability: Off-the-shelf, as in healthy donor-derived, CAR-NK cells have been recently shown in the clinical setting to have the potential to promote effective anti-tumor activity along with low risks of graft versus host disease, or GvHD, severe cytokine release syndrome, or CRS, and neurotoxicity.

 

   

Off-the-Shelf Manufacturing for Broad Patient Access: We have established proprietary protocols to derive NK cells from healthy donors, manufacture them at scale with a projected low cost, and cryopreserve them with high retained viability post-thaw. As a result, we believe that CAR-NK cells have the potential to be broadly accessible to patients as they may be delivered rapidly to patients in an off-the-shelf manner and in an outpatient setting.

Our Calibrated Release (cr) Technology

Current technologies for arming immune cells with cytokines are limited to either expressing the fully secreted natural form of the protein to support trans- or paracrine signaling, or expressing a membrane-tethered version to promote cis- or autocrine signaling. As a result, we believe these first-generation constructs are unable to efficiently stimulate the engineered cell product and surrounding immune cells, such as those cells from the endogenous immune system, at the same time.

We have created a novel engineered protein technology called calibrated release (cr). We are using this approach to improve IL-15 and IL-12 signaling in our CAR-NK platform. Our crIL-15 engineered cytokine is tethered to the NK cell surface via a cleavable linker that can be cut off by a ubiquitously expressed protease on the cell surface of NK cells. The rate of linker cleavage can be calibrated by engineering the sensitivity of the cleavable linker sequence to the cell surface protease, enabling us to tune the ratio of membrane-tethered versus fully secreted protein. Our current CAR -NK products utilize crIL-15 to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing. crIL-12 is utilized in the SENTI-301 product candidate to potentially stimulate the immune system and overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME in HCC.

 

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We Are Building Manufacturing Capabilities That May Enable Production of Off-The-Shelf Cell Therapies

Capitalize manufacturing capabilities are central to our business strategy, since they can enable us to control the quality and supply of our off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies for clinical studies and ultimately commercialization. A key advantage of off-the-shelf cell therapies, versus autologous products that use each patient’s own cells, is the ability to manufacture large batches of drug product from healthy donor cells that can be produced in advance of clinical use, and then stored in frozen vials. Upon commercialization, we expect to be able to make our cell therapies, if approved, broadly accessible in an off-the-shelf manner to cancer patients.

Our corporate headquarters is located in South San Francisco, CA, where we lease approximately 40,000 square feet of research and development and corporate office space. In this location, we have approximately 10,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing development labs. We have established research and development teams with extensive experience in cell and gene therapy manufacturing operations, including vector process development, cell process development, analytical development, quality control and quality assurance. In June 2021, we signed a lease agreement for approximately 92,000 square feet in Alameda, California and have commenced construction of a Current Good Manufacturing Practices, or cGMP, facility to support clinical and commercial-scale manufacturing of multiple off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell product candidates.

This manufacturing facility is being designed as a customized end-to-end manufacturing solution to give us the ability to isolate NK cells, engineer these cells with proprietary gene circuits, perform cell culture expansion in large batches, and cryopreserve and store the final cGMP products. We anticipate that this facility will become operational in time to support initial clinical trials for our lead product candidates. We plan to leverage the latest cell therapy manufacturing technologies as we strive to optimize quality, maximize scalability and minimize cost. Our initial manufacturing efforts will focus on our two lead product candidates, SENTI-202 and SENTI-301.

We expect cGMP manufacturing facility startup by the end of 2022 and to present an overview of our clinical-scale GMP manufacturing process for gene-circuit-engineered NK cells at key technical conferences in 2022.

We may also leverage our manufacturing facility to expand the application of our gene circuit technology to biomanufacturing in partnership with one or more third parties.

Our experienced manufacturing and technical operations team has established an innovative process with the potential for efficient and scalable production of our off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell product candidates. Critical aspects of the cell manufacturing process include the ability to perform the four key steps in the CAR-NK cell manufacturing process as outlined below:

 

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Step 1: Source, Isolate and Bank Purified NK Cells as Starting Cells: Starting Cells are obtained from enriching and isolating NK cells from qualified healthy donors.

Step 2: Genetically Engineer Starting Cells with Gene Circuits: We genetically modify our NK cells through a viral vector transduction process focused on enhancing gene circuit expression while minimizing impacts on compromising cell viability or cell expansion.

Step 3: Expand and Scale CAR-NK Cells: Our expansion process is designed to generate large numbers of final product doses per manufacturing batch.

Step 4: Formulate and Cryopreserve CAR-NK Cells: For storage and distribution, we will formulate and cryopreserve our final product to retain viability, persistence and cytotoxic function post-thaw for off-the-shelf use.

Our Team and Investors

Since our founding in 2016, we have built a team of industry-leading experts, including scientists, engineers, advisors and company-builders—all with a deep knowledge of synthetic biology, gene circuits and cell and gene therapy.

Technology Experts and Company Builders. Our founders, Dr. Tim Lu and Dr. Philip Lee are seasoned experts at identifying and building transformative technologies and companies. Dr. Lu is a pioneer in synthetic biology with strong ties to Harvard University, where he received his M.D., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering and started his academic lab in 2010. Dr. Lu is a co-founder of multiple therapeutics platform companies including Synlogic, Tango Therapeutics, Eligo Bioscience, BiomX, and Engine Biosciences. Dr. Philip Lee is an entrepreneur and technology platform builder specializing in cellular systems. He received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco, and Bachelor of Science, or BS, degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology from MIT. Dr. Philip Lee was a co-founder of CellASIC, which was acquired by MilliporeSigma, division of Merck KGaA, where he subsequently served as the Head of Cell Culture Systems.

Groundbreaking Scientists, Clinicians and Drug Developers. Throughout our company are passionate individuals with deep R&D, translational, regulatory and manufacturing knowledge in the fields of synthetic biology, gene circuits and cell and gene therapy. We have numerous scientists and scientific advisors who have made critical discoveries and contributions to the fields of cell and gene therapy. As of June 23, 2022, 33 of our employees hold Ph.D. or M.D. degrees. Our scientific co-founders include Dr. Jim Collins of MIT, one of the founders of the field of synthetic biology, who has the rare distinction of being elected to all three national academies—the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine—and has received a number of major awards recognizing his work, including the Dickson Prize in Medicine. Additionally, we are also advised by our scientific co-founder, Dr. Wilson Wong of Boston University, who is considered an expert in immune cell engineering and synthetic biology for therapeutic applications, and Dr. Ahmad Khalil of Boston University, who is considered an expert in transcription factor engineering for mammalian synthetic biology applications. We are also advised by Dr. Martin Fussenegger of ETH Zurich, who is considered a pioneer in therapeutic synthetic biology and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and who is the recipient of numerous honors including the AIChE Bailey Award and the Merck Cell Culture Engineering Award. Our Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Jose Iglesias, has over 30 years of experience in cancer drug clinical development. We are advised by experienced oncology clinicians, including Dr. Lawrence Fong of UCSF, who has been focused on cancer immunotherapy for two decades and has been involved in both preclinical and clinical studies of FDA-approved immunotherapies including sipuleucel-T and immune checkpoint inhibitors, and Dr. Michael Andreeff of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who has worked extensively on drug resistance in hematopoietic malignancies, such as AML, and developed or co-developed

 

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several new therapeutic agents. Additionally, in 2021, we added three more advisors who are leaders in the fields of immunotherapy drug discovery and development, and commercial oncology therapeutics. Dr. Michael Kalos, an independent consultant, is an internationally recognized expert in T cell therapy, oncology vaccines and immuno-oncology with experience in both industry and academia. Dr. Robin Taylor, an independent consultant, has two decades of biopharma experience in global development and commercialization of oncology drugs. Dr. Michael Varney, an independent consultant, is a pioneer drug discoverer and biotech leader who has led research and early drug development efforts at Genentech, Pfizer and Agouron.

Our Strategy

Our goal is to become an industry leader in the cell and gene therapy landscape. We are pursuing this goal by advancing our gene circuit platform to discover, develop, manufacture and globally commercialize new classes of cell and gene therapies across therapeutic areas and modalities. To achieve this, we have strategically focused on designing therapeutics to address specific challenges that confound existing disease treatments. We aim to provide smarter medicines to patients, and to execute on this strategy we will continue to build on our extensive capabilities by:

 

   

Advancing our portfolio of off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell product candidates into clinical development.

 

   

Expanding our discovery stage pipeline and advancing select product candidates into the clinic.

 

   

Driving innovation in our leading gene circuit platform and expanding the breadth of our technology and capabilities.

 

   

Building clinical and commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities for our CAR-NK cell product candidates.

 

   

Maximizing the commercial potential of our gene circuit platform technologies via strategic collaborations.

The Need for Synthetic Biology-Based Gene Circuits

For the human body to maintain proper function, cells constantly sense and interpret a variety of inputs, or biological signals, to produce outputs, or biological responses. Diseases emerge when the balance between these biological inputs and outputs become inadequate or inappropriate to maintain a healthy state. Furthermore, diseases can evolve or mutate to evade the human body’s natural defense mechanisms that normally serve as a check against these imbalances. Thus, many diseases progress when the intrinsic ability of cells in the human body to rebalance healthy physiology is insufficient or becomes overactive. We believe that programming cells to better sense and react to disease environments has the potential to enhance our ability to treat diseases and restore healthy phenotypes.

Traditional medicines, such as small molecules and biologics, typically target proteins and block their function. We consider these medicines to be static because they have a predefined activity around a single mechanism of action that cannot be modulated once administered. With some exceptions, most traditional medicines primarily treat disease symptoms or sub-optimally address the underlying disease biology, thus failing to achieve durable cures. In addition, some traditional medicines have on-target, off-tissue effects that limit therapeutic windows and cause safety concerns.

There have been remarkable advances in technologies for reading (sequencing) and writing (synthesizing) DNA over the past few decades. These technologies have aided the biopharmaceutical industry in identifying disease mechanisms and have enabled the programming of cell and gene therapies.

As transformative as the early generations of cell and gene therapies have been, they are currently confined to narrow applications and have been proven effective against only a few monogenic diseases and hematological malignancies. These current approaches are limited to sensing and correcting single disease signatures while

 

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providing little control over their dosage, timing or localization. Thus, diseases that are dynamic or multifactorial cannot be readily addressed by existing cell and gene therapy products.

Using our gene circuits, we believe we can design more intelligent cell and gene therapies that (i) can precisely target heterogeneous diseases using Logic Gating, (ii) can be Multi-Armed with complementary payloads to overcome disease evasion, (iii) can be controlled in vivo using Regulator Dials to overcome narrow therapeutic windows and (iv) are equipped with Smart Sensors that dynamically detect disease environments.

We believe that by leveraging synthetic biology to engineer gene circuit-enabled cell and gene therapies, we will be able to overcome the shortcomings of the early generations of these genetic medicines.

Our Platform: The Opportunity for Gene Circuits

We believe that our gene circuit platform technologies are modality-agnostic and can be deployed in any cell and gene therapy product candidate to improve efficacy, safety and control. Fundamentally, gene circuits reprogram cells to sense key biological signals, compute based on this information and dynamically respond with multiple therapeutic outputs. In contrast to existing single-target or static medicines, this sense-compute-respond paradigm has the potential to enable precise and highly active medicines that can address the complex and dynamic mechanisms underlying important diseases.

Our Gene Circuit Platform Technologies

In our pursuit to create a new generation of smarter medicines, we have built a toolbox of proprietary gene circuit platform technologies that we believe may enhance the risk benefit paradigm of cell and gene therapy products. We are initially focused on four core categories of gene circuits to develop our current and future programs: (i) Logic Gating, (ii) Multi-Arming, (iii) Regulator Dials and (iv) Smart Sensors. Each of our gene circuit platform technologies is designed to confer greater clinical and therapeutic activity, precision and control to cell and gene therapies.

We believe that our core gene circuit platform technologies may enable us to engineer smarter medicines and can be categorized as follows:

 

 

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  Logic Gating: Logic Gating gene circuits are designed to enable cell and gene therapies to control their therapeutic activity in response to the presence or absence of multiple disease biomarkers. Below are examples of Logic Gates applied to cancer, although Logic Gating may be applied to various other disease indications as well.
 

 

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  NOT GATE: NOT GATE gene circuits are designed to widen the therapeutic window by enabling effective killing of cancer cells while preserving healthy cells. The NOT GATE functions by recognizing Safety Antigens, or antigens that are selectively expressed on healthy cells and not on cancer cells, thus limiting on-target, off-tumor killing. By protecting healthy cells, the NOT GATE has the potential to enable more effective on-target, on-tumor killing of tumor cells that express Tumor-Associated Antigens. Generally, existing cancer drugs target only a single antigen, which means they can only be effectively and safely used in situations where that antigen is uniquely expressed on tumors and not in healthy cells, or where the on-target, off-tumor effects are tolerable.
 

 

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  OR GATE: OR GATE gene circuits are designed to address tumor heterogeneity and limit antigen escape. The OR GATE functions by killing tumor cells that express any one of multiple antigens. Generally, current medicines are unable to address more than one target at a time and are thus susceptible to tumor evasion.
 

 

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  AND GATE: AND GATE gene circuits require that multiple targets be present at the same time to trigger killing of cancer cells, which may enhance the specificity of on-target, on-tumor activity. Generally, conventional therapies only recognize a single antigen for their activity, which can result in a lack of specificity.

 

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  Multi-Arming: Multi-Arming gene circuits are designed to incorporate multiple potent immune effectors into a single cell or gene therapy product. These gene circuits are intended to activate various biological pathways in complementary ways to prevent diseases from evading single-target treatments, and thereby potentially improve treatment efficacy. Existing combination therapies that target complex diseases require the application of multiple individual drugs, which is difficult due to research, clinical development, regulatory and pharmacology barriers.

 

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  Regulator Dial: Regulator Dial gene circuits are designed to enable the precise tuning of therapeutic activity from a cell or gene therapy product. For example, this can be implemented by regulating therapeutic immune effector expression in response to varying concentrations of FDA-approved drugs. Regulator Dials are expected to enable the exogenous regulation of next- generation cell and gene therapies even after they have been delivered in vivo. Existing cell and gene therapies cannot be modulated once they have been delivered into patients.

 

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  Smart Sensor: A Smart Sensor is a gene circuit, or combination of gene circuits, designed to precisely detect cell type or disease environments, and thus distinguish between the “disease state” and “healthy state.” For example, Smart Sensors can be engineered to detect whether certain conditions, or disease biomarkers, are present before responding with a specific therapeutic response. Conventional medicines are generally unable to dynamically change their behavior in response to cell or disease specific conditions.

We believe we can rationally combine any one of these four gene circuit platform technologies to strategically customize therapeutics to outmaneuver complex diseases.

 

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   Logic Gating

Logic Gating gene circuits are designed to enable cell and gene therapies to control their therapeutic activity in response to the presence or absence of multiple disease biomarkers. This capability has the potential to enable more accurate and efficient targeting of heterogeneous diseased cells while sparing healthy ones. Our initial product candidates for oncology will utilize our NOT GATE and OR GATE gene circuit technology. Furthermore, we believe this technology can be utilized across a broad range of oncology indications. To this end, we have established a proprietary Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform that enables the expansion of our Logic Gating approach against novel Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen pairs across multiple cancer indications.

The figure below illustrates the behavior of our Logic Gating gene circuit technologies in CAR-NK cells:

 

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   NOT GATE

Background: The Need for Precision Targeting

The expression of a single CAR in T cells or NK cells can redirect them to kill cancer cells that express a specific surface antigen. This technology has led to breakthrough therapies for B cell malignancies and multiple myeloma, where targeting of tissue-lineage antigens – CD19 or B Cell Maturation Antigen, or BCMA – rather than Tumor-Associated Antigens, is tolerated. Beyond these initial applications, the lack of uniquely specific tumor antigens presents a great challenge since on-target, off-tumor toxicity to vital tissues significantly limits the cancer indications addressable by single-target CAR-NK or CAR-T therapies. Similar limitations are faced by monoclonal antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates that rely on a single target to discriminate cancer cells from healthy ones.

Our Logic Gating Solution: NOT GATE

The application of CAR-immune cells may be broadened to many cancer types if recognition of a Safety Antigen that is selectively expressed on healthy cells, but not on cancer cells, could selectively block killing against the healthy cells. We believe this feature enables a widened therapeutic window and aggressive treatment of cancers with the potential for enhanced efficacy and reduced risk of undesirable side effects, as well as the expansion of cell therapies into cancer indications where there are no ideal Tumor-Associated Antigens.

As shown in the figure below, we have engineered NK cells with a synthetic NOT GATE gene circuit, where an activating CAR, or aCAR, can drive the killing of cancer cells presenting an activating, Tumor-Associated Antigen, shown in green, while an inhibitory CAR, or iCAR, can suppress cytotoxicity against normal healthy cells that express both the activating Tumor-Associated Antigen and a Safety Antigen, shown in purple.

 

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Selected NOT GATE Proof-of-Concept Data

Our NOT GATE is implemented with iCARs, which consist of a Safety Antigen-binding domain and a functional intracellular domain derived from the cytoplasmic tails of inhibitory co-receptors containing immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs, or ITIMs, which are selected from a library of ITIMs upon testing and evaluation. When a Logic Gated CAR-NK cell encounters a target cell and associates with its cell surface antigens, the aCAR and iCAR “sense” these inputs and provide activating or inhibitory signals into the Logic Gated CAR-NK cell, respectively. Specifically, engagement of the aCAR alone with an activating, Tumor-Associated Antigen triggers an

 

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activating signal cascade in the CAR-NK cells that release cytotoxic mediators to kill the cancer cells. When the iCAR recognizes a certain Safety Antigen that is preferentially expressed on healthy cells, an inhibitory signal cascade is triggered in the CAR-NK cells to block the cytotoxic response, thus sparing the healthy cells.

In vivo functional demonstration of our NOT GATE gene circuit is illustrated in the figure below. A group of mice that received xenotransplantation of model Healthy Cells and model Cancer Cells at a ratio of 50:50 were treated with NOT GATE CAR-NK cells that contained an aCAR that recognizes the tumor-associated antigen on the model Healthy Cells and the model Cancer Cells, and that also contain an iCAR that recognizes the Safety Antigen on the model Healthy Cells. These mice were also treated with Control CAR-NK cells, which contain an aCAR that recognizes the tumor-associated antigen but do not contain an iCAR that recognizes the Safety Antigen on the model Healthy Cells. The Control CAR-NK cells indiscriminately killed both the model Healthy Cells and model Cancer Cells in mice. Conversely, the NOT GATE CAR-NK cells selectively killed the model Cancer Cells, while sparing the model Healthy Cells. Further analysis showed that treatment with NOT GATE CAR-NK cells resulted in significant enrichment of model Healthy Cells in these mice, up from 50% at baseline to approximately 95% after treatment. This data demonstrates that NOT GATE CAR-NK cells can spare model Healthy Cells while maintaining killing of model Cancer Cells in vivo.

 

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Future Areas of Applications and Alternate Gene Circuits

We believe the enhanced precision enabled by our NOT GATE gene circuit may improve the therapeutic window, and thus the potential efficacy and safety, of our product candidates against the cancer types in our pipeline. Furthermore, the NOT GATE has the potential to significantly increase the applicability of CAR-NK cells against a wide range of liquid and solid tumors that currently do not have ideal Tumor-Associated Antigen targets and are thus currently unaddressed.

 

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Background: The Need for Targeting Multiple Antigens

Many cancers are heterogeneous, making it difficult to treat them by only targeting a single antigen. For example, the development of targeted AML treatments is difficult due to more than 200 types of chromosome translocations and mutations having been identified in patients. Thus, therapies targeting a single AML-associated antigen are

 

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often insufficient to kill all of the tumor subsets, including both AML LSCs and blasts. Consequently, most AML patients treated with these therapies die from disease relapse and progression due to incomplete therapeutic activity. Additionally, due to the highly mutagenic nature of cancer cells, targeting single antigens allows for cancers to more easily escape or acquire resistance to treatment. For example, while recent triumphs of CD19-directed autologous CAR-T therapies have brought renewed hope to patients with relapsed/refractory B cell malignancies, up to 50% of patients with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, suffer disease relapse within twelve months after treatment. Many of those patients who relapse toward the latter end of the twelve-month period have cancers that have been associated with loss of the CD19 epitope.

These clinical observations demonstrate the potential benefit of developing therapeutics that are capable of simultaneously targeting multiple Tumor-Associated Antigens across heterogeneous cancers using OR GATE gene circuit technology.

Our Solution and Selected Proof-of-Concept Data: OR GATE

OR GATE gene circuits are designed to simultaneously target multiple Tumor-Associated Antigens. As an example of our OR GATE gene circuits, we have evaluated two forms of OR GATE gene circuits to support our SENTI-202 product candidate, a bicistronic dual CAR architecture and a bivalent CAR architecture.

Bicistronic dual CAR: The bicistronic dual CAR is designed to express two CAR molecules directed against FLT3 and CD33, respectively, two Tumor-Associated Antigens where one or both are expressed in 95% of AML patients. Because CD33 is highly expressed on AML blasts, and FLT3 is highly expressed on LSCs, SENTI-202 offers the potential for elimination of both AML tumor subsets. Using our DBTL Engine, we systematically optimized our OR GATE gene circuit to achieve highly efficient expression of both CAR constructs, as shown in the figures below from top to bottom. Functional proof-of-concept of the OR GATED CAR-NK cells targeting AML is shown in the SENTI-202 pipeline discussion.

 

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Bivalent CAR: Bivalent CARs are directed against FLT3 and CD33. The bivalent CAR is a single-chain molecule containing two extracellular binding domains, thus allowing for increased OR GATE expression and targeting with a single construct. In preclinical mouse models, our FLT3/CD33 bivalent CAR constructs demonstrated significant tumor killing across multiple leukemic cell lines, such as MV4-11, SEM, and HL-60, possessing differential expression levels of FLT3 and CD33 on their cell surfaces.

 

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LOGO   AND GATE

Our third Logic Gate gene circuit technology is the AND GATE. AND GATE gene circuits require that multiple targets be present at the same time to trigger killing of cancer cells, which may enhance the specificity of on-target, on-tumor activity. Generally, conventional therapies only recognize a single antigen for their activity. We can implement AND GATE gene circuits in multiple formats, including multiple CARs that activate cancer cell killing when two Tumor-Associated Antigen targets are present simultaneously or multiple Smart Sensors that activate gene therapies when two disease-specific promoters are active simultaneously. For example, we have designed cancer gene therapy product candidates that integrate two cancer-specific promoters with an AND GATE to express cytokines, T cell engagers, chemokines and anti-PD1 antibodies in order to trigger powerful and specific anti-cancer responses in mouse models of cancer.

 

LOGO    Multi-Arming

Multi-Arming gene circuits incorporate multiple payloads into a single cell or gene therapy product. These gene circuits are intended to activate various biological pathways in complementary ways to prevent diseases from evading single-target treatments, and thereby improve treatment efficacy. Existing combination therapies that target complex diseases require the application of multiple individual drugs, which is difficult due to research, clinical development, regulatory and pharmacology barriers.

Background: The Need for Targeting Multiple Biological Pathways

Many diseases are difficult to treat since they result from the dysfunction of numerous biological pathways, or they evolve strategies to evade single-target therapies. Combination therapies involving multiple distinct drugs are being used to tackle this problem, but manufacturing, developing and delivering multiple individual drugs into the body is challenging.

 

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Our Gene Circuit Solution: Multi-Arming

We believe our Multi-Arming gene circuits can be used to create a single cell or gene therapy product candidate that includes multiple payloads capable of combating multiple disease pathways more effectively. These Multi-Arming gene circuits have the potential to simplify the manufacturing, regulatory and delivery challenges associated with conventional combination therapies. Multi-Arming gene circuits can be controlled by any of our other gene circuit technologies, including Regulator Dials and Logic Gates, to achieve conditional therapeutic activity.

Selected Multi-Arming Proof-of-Concept Data

We have assembled a library of immune-stimulatory payloads—such as cytokines, chemokines and enzymes—that have the potential to trigger anti-tumor responses. As illustrated by the figure below, we leveraged our DBTL Engine to improve the expression of various immune stimulatory payloads in CAR-NK cells, and test the effects of single-armed versus multi-armed CAR-NK cells for their anti-cancer activity.

 

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The figure below illustrates an example of the benefits of multi-arming. CAR-NK cells were engineered to express either a single cytokine, IL-15 or IL-21, or multi-armed with both IL-15 and IL-21. These engineered CAR-NK cells were co-cultured with fluorescently labeled tumor cells, and in vitro tumor cell killing was measured over 5 days. While unarmed CAR-NK cells, and single-armed CAR-NK cells, shown by the purple and red lines in the figure, were able to control and reduce tumor cell growth, the multi-armed CAR-N ells, shown by the teal line in the figure, had greater anti-tumor activity. These results can also be observed by representative fluorescent tumor cell images, shown on the right hand side of the figure, where enhanced tumor killing by the multi-armed CAR-NK cells led to reduced number of tumor cells.

 

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LOGO    Regulator Dial

Regulator Dial gene circuits are designed to enable the precise tuning of therapeutic activity from a cell or gene therapy product. For example, this can be implemented by regulating therapeutic payload expression in response to varying concentrations of FDA-approved drugs. Regulator Dials are expected to enable the exogenous regulation of next-generation cell and gene therapies in vivo even after they have been delivered. We have generated numerous Regulator Dial gene circuits that can be controlled by a variety of FDA-approved small molecule oral drugs, and that can implement various control behaviors, such as ON switches, OFF switches and rheostats.

Background: The Need for Dynamic Regulation

Existing cell and gene therapies cannot be regulated once they are delivered into the patient. This lack of in vivo control makes it difficult to control dosing within the ideal therapeutic window. This problem makes it challenging to expand cell and gene therapies to many disease indications and to engineer these products to have increased potency and safety. As a result, gene therapies have focused on indications where constitutive expression is acceptable, rather than diseases where expression of the therapeutic payload must be regulated within a specific range or be toggled on and off over a period of time. As another example, CAR-T cell therapies for oncology have exhibited clinical toxicity due to lack of control post-infusion.

The efficacy of adoptive cell therapies in solid tumors is hampered by the poor persistence and dysfunction of these cell therapies in the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-12, have been shown in preclinical studies to enhance CAR-mediated effector functions and stimulate the innate

 

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immune response to further support tumor killing. However, clinical trials involving systemic use of IL-12 have shown severe unexpected toxicity, limiting its clinical application. Overexpressing IL-12 from adoptive T cell therapies using a poorly regulated promoter has also resulted in significant clinical toxicities. Beyond toxicity issues, persistent stimulation by inflammatory cytokines has been associated with cell exhaustion and may limit anti-tumor efficacy. Thus, a mechanism to dynamically regulate cytokine production by armored CAR-immune cells could enable enhanced anti-tumor activity without triggering unacceptable levels of toxicity in patients.

Our Gene Circuit Solution: Regulator Dial

One example of our Regulator Dial gene circuit technology is a system designed to regulate gene expression via FDA-approved orally dosed nonstructural protein 3, or NS3, inhibitors. As shown in the figure below, this Regulator Dial consists of a synthetic drug-regulated transcription factor and a synthetic promoter responsive to this regulated transcription factor. In the absence of the drug, the transcription factor is inactive, and no therapeutic protein is produced from the engineered cells. In the presence of the drug, the small molecule triggers expression of the therapeutic protein in a dose-dependent manner—effectively, the Regulator Dial “computes” the level of induction based on the concentration of the drug. Key features of the Regulator Dial, such as (i) basal and maximal expression levels, (ii) thresholds for activation and (iii) input-output gain, can be tuned by our DBTL Engine.

 

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Selected Regulator Dial Proof-of-Concept Data

Leveraging our DBTL Engine, our NS3-based Regulator Dial was systematically engineered to improve its sensitivity to drug concentration. Optimization of various elements in the Regulator Dial improved the drug sensitivity by more than 100-fold. As illustrated by the figure below, we evaluated the drug sensitivity of our Regulator Dial gene circuit to control the expression of the calibrated release version of the potent immune effector IL-12. Specifically, this enhanced Regulator Dial gene circuit was triggered at concentrations as low as 0.01 µM of the NS3 inhibitor, grazoprevir, and achieved at least 100-fold induction around the known drug Cmax in humans of 0.23 µM. Thus, we believe that this system could enable precise and tunable control of timing and duration of crIL12 expression at clinically achievable drug concentrations in a dose-dependent fashion.

 

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We have also examined the potential of our Regulator Dial gene circuits in vivo. Using a mouse model to evaluate the ON/OFF/ON induction kinetics of crIL-12 production. Regulator Dial gene circuit-engineered NK cells were injected intravenously into immunodeficient mice on Day 0. Induction of crIL-12 expression in mice was evaluated by treatment with either vehicle control or grazoprevir (GRZ in the figure below). Significant crIL-12 induction was observed in mice treated with grazoprevir on Day 2 post GRZ-treatment in a GRZ-dose dependent manner. crIL-12 returned to basal level eight days upon withdrawal of grazoprevir, and was significantly induced again two days after GRZ-treatment.

 

 

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Future Areas of Applications and Alternate Gene Circuits

Beyond the NS3-based Regulator Dial, we have developed and continue to optimize other Regulator Dials. These include Regulator Dials that are controlled by other orally dosed compounds that are FDA-approved or chemicals that are otherwise known as safe, which have differing pharmacology profiles and tissue biodistribution, such as into the central nervous system. These different Regulator Dials can be customized for a variety of cell and gene therapy applications. Conversely, we have created Regulator Dials that are dialed down in response to increasing concentrations of the drug. For example, we have conceptualized and designed various versions of Regulator Dials that have the potential to be regulated by different small molecule drugs, such as Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) protease inhibitors, Immunomodulatory imide drugs, or IMiDs, such as thalidomide and its analogs, and tamoxifen.

 

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   Smart Sensor

A Smart Sensor is a gene circuit, or combination of gene circuits, designed to precisely detect cell type or disease environments, and thus distinguish between the “disease state” and “healthy state.” For example, Smart Sensors can be engineered to detect whether certain conditions, or disease biomarkers, are present before responding with a specific therapeutic response. Conventional medicines are generally unable to dynamically change their behavior in response to cell or disease specific conditions.

Diseases change over time and location in the body. Existing therapies are often unable to dynamically change their behavior in response to disease conditions or concentrate their activity only to specific places. Smart Sensors can be designed to sense diverse biomarkers that are specific to disease or cell states, including cell-surface antigens, soluble disease markers, metabolites, transcription factors, microRNAs and others. For example, we have created artificial receptors that are displayed on the surface of engineered cells and activate gene expression within these cells when they encounter specific cytokines or small molecule chemicals. We have also designed gene regulatory elements such as promoters and RNA elements that respond to specific intracellular signals, such as transcription factors and microRNAs.

 

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The figure below illustrates how our Smart Sensor gene circuit technology can be used to design synthetic promoters to enable gene therapies that are selectively activated in diseased cells by detecting disease-specific transcription factors:

 

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Background: The Need for Novel Sensors in Smart Medicine

Cell and gene therapies have long held out the promise of curing a myriad of diseases, including cancer and genetic disorders. These therapies are generally comprised of three components: (i) the vector, which is used to deliver the transgene into cells; (ii) the promoter, which is a regulatory DNA sequence that drives expression of the transgene; and (iii) a transgene, which is the therapeutic payload.

While early successes in the field have led to recently approved gene therapies, it remains challenging to precisely target gene expression only in diseased cells. This is an important limitation since many genetic disorders require controlled or targeted activity in certain cell types in order to correct diseases while preventing undesirable side effects. Similarly, in cancer gene therapy, it is important to achieve selective killing in cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues. Engineering viral vectors that are biased toward specific cell types is limited by the availability of a unique feature on the outside of the target cell that a viral vector can harness. Additionally, many of the promoters used in current gene therapies are not disease, cell or tissue specific and thus lack the ability to dynamically regulate therapeutic protein production in response to the disease state or location.

 

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Our Smart Sensors Solution: Cell Type or Cell State Specific Conditional Synthetic Promoters

Our solution to address these limitations is to construct Smart Sensors that are selectively activated by cell type or cell state. For example, these Smart Sensors are synthetic promoters that sense internal control mechanisms that cells already possess, such as transcription factors. Transcription factors modulate regulatory elements encoded in the DNA sequence of promoters to direct gene transcription to occur in a specific cell type, or even a specific cell state.

 

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We have established, and continue to scale, our powerful DBTL Engine to discover highly potent and selective synthetic promoters. As shown in the figure below, our iterative high-throughput process utilizes advanced computational approaches, such as machine learning, to discover these promoters. In the first stage, we perform computational analyses of public and proprietary gene expression datasets to identify transcriptional regulatory elements that are active in a desired, or on-target, cell type and inactive in one or more undesired, or off-target, cell types. Based on these analyses, we computationally design diverse libraries of synthetic, compact promoters that can be synthesized in parallel. For example, we can design libraries containing more than 10,000 promoters that are 200 to 400 base pairs in size, which is significantly smaller than currently used promoters in gene therapies. In the second stage, we perform high-throughput assays to quantify the activities of these promoters in the on-target cell types versus the off-target cell types using next-generation sequencing. This enables us to identify synthetic promoters that are both highly active and specific for the on-target cells. If further optimization is needed, the output of these screens provides a rich source of proprietary data for the machine-learning-enhanced design of additional synthetic promoter libraries, representing the third stage of the process.

 

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Selected Smart Sensor Proof-of-Concept Data

We have used this high-throughput design platform to generate synthetic promoters for diverse gene and cell therapies. For example, we designed and evaluated, in a high-throughput manner, thousands of synthetic promoters to identify candidates that achieve strong differential expression in breast cancer cells versus healthy breast cells. As shown in the figure below, we were able to validate promoters with very strong selectivity for human breast cancer cells, labeled as Cancer Cell Synthetic Promoter in the figure, versus the healthy breast cells, by up to ~1,000-fold. This level of selectivity is much greater than what we have observed from other cancer-specific promoters of which we are aware. In addition, we also identified healthy-cell-specific promoters, labeled as Healthy Cell Synthetic Promoter in the figure, that are highly selective for healthy breast cells compared to breast cancer cells.

 

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Future Areas of Applications and Alternate Gene Circuits

The concept of Smart Sensors that sense disease-specific or tissue-specific transcriptional states is broadly applicable across various therapeutic areas outside of oncology. For example, we believe we can apply our Smart Sensor design platform to create promoters that are selectively activated in certain cells and tissues, such as neurons and muscle. We have also designed microRNA-responsive Smart Sensor elements into mRNA sequences that achieve selective gene expression in desired cells. These Smart Sensors have the potential to enable gene therapies with maximal on-target activity and minimal off-target side effects, thus increasing the therapeutic window of our product candidates.

We have also created artificial receptor architectures that can detect extracellular or cell-surface proteins beyond traditional CARs. These artificial receptor Smart Sensors can be programmed to bind to soluble disease markers, such as cytokines, metabolites, hormones and others, and then modulate gene transcription within cells to drive the appropriate therapeutic response.

We Believe Our Gene Circuits May Have Broad Applicability in Multiple Treatment Modalities and Disease Areas

We believe that our gene circuit platform may have broad applicability across treatment modalities and disease areas.

Treatment Modalities: Our gene circuit biological “software” can be used to program numerous cell and gene therapy products, or “hardware.” Specifically, these modalities include NK cells, T cells, TILs, stem cells including

 

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HSCs, in vivo gene therapy and mRNA. We have conducted research in multiple cell types and vector types, and the initial focus of our internal pipeline is implementing gene circuits within off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells.

Disease Areas: Our gene circuits can be customized to address many aspects of disease biology. We have demonstrated and published on applications of gene circuits across many different in vivo disease models. Thus, we believe that our gene circuit platform technologies can be used against a broad range of diseases that span therapeutic areas such as oncology, immunology, genetic diseases, neurology, cardiology, metabolic diseases, ophthalmology and regenerative medicine.

The following figure presents our perspective on how our gene circuit technologies can be utilized across modalities and corresponding therapeutic areas:

 

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We Utilize Our Design-Build-Test-Learn Engine to Optimize Our Gene Circuits

We have established, and continue to scale, our DBTL Engine to generate our therapeutic gene circuits. We believe the speed, quantity and quality by which we can design multiple types of gene circuits, resulting in thousands of functional gene circuits engineered to date, is unique to our platform. Our gene circuits are engineered by an expert team of synthetic biologists informed by proprietary bioinformatics and our internal gene circuits knowledge database. We also leverage machine learning approaches to continually enhance the design of such gene circuits based on data generated through testing in our in vitro and in vivo disease models. The breadth and scale of our DBTL Engine allows us to learn from each cycle of design to improve the speed and quality of future designs—even across projects and modalities. This approach leverages and reinforces our position as leaders and innovators in the field of synthetic biology for the development of human therapeutics. Based on decades of experience among our founders as well as the accumulated data from our DBTL Engine, we believe that our approach to programming gene circuits is broadly applicable toward engineering optimal efficacy, precision and control into many cell or gene based medicines.

 

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The following figure provides an overview of the key steps in our DBTL Engine process:

 

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Our Calibrated Release (cr) Technology

Cytokines and other immune stimulatory proteins may be useful in overcoming the immunosuppressive TME in solid tumors by activating endogenous anti-tumor immune cells and to provide support for adoptive cell therapies. For example, in clinical trials run by other parties unaffiliated with Senti Bio, IL-15 has been shown to improve persistence and maintain a cytotoxic phenotype in NK cells. A clinical trial of CAR-NK cells with IL-15 reported clinical efficacy without significant toxicity at assessed doses and time points. Previously published studies of tumor resident NK cells collected from HCC patients have also shown that IL-15 can restore NK cell dysfunction.

However, traditional approaches to use cytokines in combination with adoptive cell therapies have relied on systemic injection of cytokines or engineering the cell therapies themselves to secrete the cytokines or to display them on the cell surface. Systemic injection of cytokines has been challenging due to poor tumor penetration and the risk of systemic immune toxicity. Engineering cell therapies to secrete cytokines can activate endogenous immune cells in a paracrine manner but these secreted cytokines may not provide optimal stimulation of the cell therapies themselves. Engineering cell therapies to display cytokines on the cell surface can stimulate the cell therapies themselves in an autocrine fashion but may not provide optimal activation of endogenous immune cells.

To overcome these limitations, we have created a novel engineered protein technology called calibrated release (cr). Our calibrated release engineered cytokines are expressed by our engineered cells and are tethered to the NK cell surface via a cleavable linker that can be cut off by a ubiquitously expressed protease on the cell surface of NK cells. The rate of linker cleavage can be calibrated by engineering the sensitivity of the cleavable linker sequence to the cell surface protease, enabling us to tune the ratio of membrane-tethered versus fully secreted protein. We believe this platform is generalizable to various proteins, including IL-15 and IL-12.

 

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We are using this approach to optimize IL-15 and IL-12 signaling in our CAR-NK platform. All of our current CAR–NK product candidates utilize crIL-15 to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells (paracrine) and promote CAR-NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing (autocrine). We have also developed crIL-12 for our SENTI301 product candidate for advanced HCC to potentially stimulate the immune system and overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME. This concept is illustrated in the figure below.

 

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As shown in the figure below, crIL-15 is functional when cleaved and released into the supernatant, resulting in activation of pSTAT5 signaling in T cells from resting PBMCs. In this experiment, engineered CAR-NK cells that expressed crIL-15 were cultured in the absence of any additional cytokines in the media for 72 hours. That media was then collected and used to stimulate resting PBMCs that were thawed. The levels of pSTAT5 were quantified using flow cytometry on the CD3+ T cell fraction and mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) was measured (Y axis). As shown in the left panel, media from SENTI CAR-NK cells that expressed crIL-15 (teal bar) resulted in pSTAT5 induction that was comparable to CAR-NK expressing wtIL-15 (wild-type IL-15, fully secreted, pink bar), demonstrating the paracrine benefits of crIL-15 in activating other immune cells.

 

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Furthermore, crIL-15 was shown to improve CAR-NK persistence and cancer cell killing with a 3-round serial killing assay. Engineered SENTI CAR-NK cells armed with our crIL-15 or CAR-NK cells secreting wtIL-15 were co-cultured with tumor cells, which were added at hour 0, hour 96, and hour 168, to repeatedly challenge the CARNK cells with new cancer target cells. Tumor cell samples without NK cells, shown as the yellow lines, continued to grow. In the first round of tumor killing, CAR-NK cells containing crIL-15, shown in teal, as well as CAR-NK cells containing wtIL-15, shown in pink, effectively killed tumor cells. At 96 and 168 hours, CAR-NK cells were rechallenged with fresh tumor cells. In the second and third rounds of cancer cell killing, which commenced with fresh cancer cells being added at hour 96 and hour 168, only SENTI CAR-NK cells armed with crIL-15, shown in teal, maintained their ability to effectively kill tumor cells. This data shows the potential of our calibrated release technology platform to functionally enhance the killing activity of CAR-NK cells in challenging conditions.

 

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We are also leveraging the calibrated release technology for IL-12 in SENTI-301, where crIL-12 expression is modulated via a small molecule Regulator Dial gene circuit to control crIL-12 expression levels, in order to stimulate the immune system and overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME while potentially avoiding safety issues. We will discuss crIL-12 data in detail in the SENTI-301 product section.

Our Pipeline and Product Candidates

We are advancing a broad pipeline of gene circuit-enabled product candidates focused on three distinct categories: (i) off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells for oncology, (ii) gene therapies for tissue-directed targets and (iii) cell therapies for regenerative medicines. Our most advanced programs are off-the-shelf CAR-NK product candidates designed to improve the therapeutic outcome of certain oncology indications: SENTI-202, SENTI-301 and SENTI-401.

Our pipeline chart is as follows:

 

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SENTI-202 for the Potential Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Overview

We are developing our SENTI-202 product candidate as a Logic Gated (OR + NOT) off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy designed to target and eliminate AML cells while sparing the healthy bone marrow. We are engineering SENTI-202 to express a bivalent CAR as an OR GATE directed against the Tumor-Associated Antigens, FLT3 and CD33, where one or both are expressed in 95% of AML patients. FLT3 is highly expressed on LSCs, while CD33 is highly expressed on AML blasts. AML is a heterogeneous disease composed of both AML LSCs and blasts. Thus, we believe that targeting FLT3 OR CD33 will enhance the overall killing activity against diseased cells in AML. However, FLT3 is also expressed on HSCs in the bone marrow. In order to spare FLT3-expressing healthy HSCs, we have further engineered SENTI-202 with a NOT GATE gene circuit comprised of an iCAR targeted against EMCN. EMCN is a Safety Antigen with high expression on HSCs and no or low expression on AML LSCs and blasts. We believe this NOT GATE gene circuit could allow SENTI-202 to eliminate LSCs that cause relapse while preserving the patient’s healthy HSCs. Further, SENTI-202 is engineered to express our proprietary crIL-15 to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing. This proprietary product profile has the potential to drive towards deeper and longer remissions for AML by enabling killing of diverse AML cells while sparing HSCs that regenerate the blood and the immune systems.

 

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In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-202.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia: an Unmet Medical Need

Almost 10% of new cancer cases in the United States each year are hematologic malignancies, including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. AML is a type of acute leukemia characterized by an accumulation of malignant immature white blood cells. It is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults, constituting 80% to 85% of cases, and is the second most common—as well as the deadliest—in children. Due to the absence of highly efficacious therapies, AML has the lowest five-year survival rate among all leukemias at just 29.5%. Since the incidence is highest among the elderly, we expect cases and economic burden will continue to rise as the general population ages. According to Dieguez et al., costs for the three years following AML diagnosis can reach $800,000 per patient.

Conventional therapy for AML generally involves remission induction therapy, followed by consolidation (post-remission) therapy, in which chemotherapy is used with stem cell transplantation to prevent disease recurrence. For remission induction, treatment options include cytotoxic chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors of disease pathways, with the

 

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aim of achieving fewer than 5% blast cells in the bone marrow, blood cell counts within normal limits and no signs or symptoms of disease. Unfortunately, 10% to 40% of patients are unable to achieve these complete remission targets despite intensive induction therapy, and conventional therapies have failed to significantly improve the long-term survival of patients for decades. Moreover, relapse of disease in patients with AML is a major issue and remains a difficult clinical challenge, with approximately 70% of patients relapsing within three years.

Development of targeted AML treatments is difficult due to the fact that the disease is highly heterogeneous, with more than 200 types of chromosome translocations and mutations having been identified in AML patients. Therapies targeting a single Tumor-Associated Antigen are therefore often insufficient to kill all of the cancer cell subsets in AML, leading to eventual disease relapse. To drive patients into deeper remissions and prevent relapses, therapies designed to target multiple AML antigens are needed. Additionally, recent studies suggest relapse is associated with the less targeted AML subpopulation of LSCs. Thus, the development of therapies targeting AML LSCs is sorely needed, but this has been challenging since LSC targets are often expressed on healthy cells, such as HSCs, leading to on-target, off-tumor treatment-induced toxicities.

CAR Cell Therapy for AML

The therapeutic administration of CAR cell therapies has considerably advanced the treatment of certain cancers, such as ALL. However, the successes of CAR cell therapies have not yet translated to successful treatment of AML, in part due to the absence of AML-specific target antigens. Due to their nonrestrictive expression, most AML antigens are also expressed on healthy HSCs or myeloid cells. Thus, on-target, off-tumor killing effects of the therapy may lead to the ablation of hematopoietic stem, progenitor or myeloid cells. While the B cell depletion that results from off-tumor killing of normal healthy cells in CAR-T therapy of ALL can be clinically managed, off-tumor killing of HSCs is unlikely to be tolerated in the case of AML treatment. Thus, the identification of antigens that enable more robust targeting of AML cells, including LSCs, along with new strategies to reduce off-target killing of HSCs, are critically needed to realize the promise of CAR cell therapies for AML treatment. These described challenges also extend to other potential AML therapeutic modalities, such as antibodies and bispecific T cell engagers.

 

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SENTI-202 Approach to AML

SENTI-202 off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells are engineered with gene circuits that enable identification of cancerous versus healthy cells using NOT GATE + OR GATE logic decisions, and potentially improved persistence and more durable antitumor functions. SENTI-202 combines two different Logic Gates, and crIL-15 expression, as follows:

 

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An iCAR NOT GATE gene circuit to prevent CAR-mediated killing of cells expressing either FLT3 or CD33 and a Safety Antigen, EMCN. The EMCN iCAR is intended to suppress CAR-NK cell cytotoxicity against healthy HSCs, reducing the risk of potential life-threatening bone marrow toxicity and potentially increasing the therapeutic window and on-target, on-tumor activity.

 

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An aCAR OR GATE gene circuit to activate CAR-mediated killing of AML cells expressing either or both of the Tumor-Associated Antigens FLT3 and CD33, thus increasing the targeting of both AML LSCs and blasts.

 

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A crIL-15 gene circuit to simultaneously provide both autocrine and paracrine IL-15 signaling in order to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing.

 

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The following figure illustrates the design of SENTI-202 Logic Gating gene circuits to kill AML LSCs and blasts, while sparing healthy HSCs via (FLT3 OR CD33) NOT EMCN logic. Based on the medical community’s substantial clinical experience from autologous and allogeneic-bone marrow transplantations, we believe that protecting 10% to 20% of HSCs would be sufficient to enable hematopoietic recovery and provide clinical benefits to patients.

 

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We have established a proprietary Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform to identify complementary Tumor-Associated Antigens for the OR GATE and selective Safety Antigens for the NOT GATE. For SENTI-202, we applied this platform to discover the combination of the Tumor-Associated Antigens, FLT3 and CD33, and the corresponding Safety Antigen, EMCN, for application in AML.

 

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In order to select the AML target antigens for the OR GATE gene circuit, we first established criteria for success, including: (i) expression on cell surface targetable by CAR, (ii) high expression across different AML subtypes, (iii) little to no expression in non-hematopoietic tissues and (iv) target combinations that yield broad coverage of AML LSCs and blast cells both among different patients and within individual patients. We utilized our Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform, which leverages an internal bioinformatics database comprising greater than 10 published studies and greater than 1,300 AML patient sample datasets. Using our proprietary transcriptomics- and proteomics-based bioinformatics pipeline, we identified FLT3 and CD33 as desirable Tumor-Associated Antigens for an OR GATE gene circuit to have the potential for comprehensive CAR-mediated killing of AML, including AML LSCs and blasts.

 

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As shown in the left panels of the two transcriptomic analysis figures below, our bioinformatics analyses concluded that FLT3 and CD33 are Tumor-Associated Antigens that are more highly expressed among AML LSCs and blast cells, respectively, relative to most healthy hematopoietic lineages.

 

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As shown in the right panels of the two transcriptomic analysis figures below, these antigens are generally not expressed in normal healthy solid organ tissues. An important exception is that high-level expression of FLT3 is observed in healthy HSCs, as shown in the green box in the figure below, which is an observation consistent with published literature. In support of this observation, FLT3-directed bispecific antibodies and CAR-T have demonstrated bone marrow suppression and toxicity against hematopoietic stem and pregenitor in preclinical models previously described in literature. Accordingly, we believe preserving these HSCs through a NOT GATE is important to prevent bone marrow suppression during LSC-directed AML treatment.

 

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Further, our internal evaluations of primary AML samples also indicated that FLT3 and CD33 were highly expressed at the protein level, in both the AML blast and LSC subsets. A representative flow cytometric analysis

 

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is shown in the figure below. The green-shaded quadrants in the figure below represent AML cells that were either FLT3 positive, CD33 positive, or both, demonstrating that the OR GATE approach could limit the number of AML cells that are not targeted by our product candidate.

 

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SENTI-202 Preclinical Proof-of-Concept Data

Leveraging our DBTL Engine, we optimized the expression of the OR GATE FLT3 and CD33 CAR constructs, as shown above in the section titled “Our Platform: The Opportunity for Gene Circuits—Logic Gating—OR GATE”. We then evaluated the ability of these OR GATE CAR-NK cells to kill different leukemia cell lines, including ones that have differential expression levels of the FLT3 and CD33 antigens. As shown in the figure below, our FLT3 OR CD33 CAR-NK cells exhibited increased killing over that of the single-target CAR-NK cells, such as FLT3 only CAR-NK and CD33 only CAR-NK cells. Specifically, they demonstrated significantly improved killing across FLT3++ (p < 0.05) and CD33++ (p < 0.01) expressing leukemia cell lines in vitro, shown as FLT3++ and CD33++ bars in the figure below.

 

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We further confirmed in vitro that our OR GATE CAR-NK cells were capable of killing primary AML cells. As shown in the right panel in the figure below, we identified primary AML samples, labeled AML#770, #857, #847, #837 and #846, with expanded blast populations by flow cytometry, then performed co-culture in vitro cytotoxicity assays. Both of our versions of OR GATE CAR-NK cells, bivalent and bicistronic, showed significant cytotoxicity against the primary AML cells (p < 0.01) in comparison to unengineered NK controls.

 

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Furthermore, we evaluated the OR GATE CAR-NK cells in vivo in two AML xenotransplantation tumor models using MV4-11 and MOLM-13 AML cell lines. As shown in the figures below, in each of the mouse models, our FLT3 OR CD33 CAR-NK cells achieved statistically significantly greater anti-tumor activity compared to untreated control mice and mice treated with unengineered NK cells. Treatment with the OR GATE CAR-NK cells also improved survival compared to the control groups.

 

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As shown in the figure below, using the same proprietary transcriptomics and proteomics-based bioinformatics methodology discussed earlier, we identified EMCN as a target antigen that is highly expressed on healthy HSCs but not on AML LSCs or blasts. This validates EMCN’s potential as a Safety Antigen to protect HSCs from potential on-target, off-tumor CAR-NK mediated toxicity. The rationale for utilizing EMCN as the Safety Antigen is further bolstered by a previous finding in the literature that identified EMCN as a marker of the key cell type for repopulating the blood and immune systems.

 

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Upon selection of EMCN as our primary Safety Antigen target, we next incorporated binders for the FLT3 activating CAR (aCAR) and the EMCN safety antigen into our internal NOT GATE (iCAR) discovery and development platform in order to best identify the optimal iCAR architecture for the SENTI-202 program. Using different FLT3 NOT EMCN CAR-NK cells (primary NK cells engineered to co-express the same FLT3 aCAR with one of dozens or different proprietary EMCN iCARs), we performed an in vitro cytotoxicity protection assay screen using target cells that expressed only the FLT3 Tumor-Associated Antigen and not the EMCN SA (gray bars—model cancer cells) or target cells that expressed both the FLT3 Tumor-Associated Antigen and the EMCN SA (teal bars—model healthy cells). This latter target cell population should be protected from aCAR—mediated killing if the particular iCAR is functional. Using this approach, we identified multiple functional

 

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EMCN iCAR architectures that enabled robust target cell killing in the absence of the SA (model cancer cells) and provided significant antigen-dependent target cell protection in the presence of the EMCN SA (model healthy cells).

 

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Upon identifying several different EMCN iCARs possessing potent antigen-dependent protection activity, we further tested two of our top EMCN iCAR candidates (v1, v2) within another in vitro cytotoxicity protection assay in which we co-cultured FLT3 NOT EMCN CAR-NK cells (NK cells engineered to express the same FLT3 aCAR with v1 or v2 EMCN iCAR) with target cells that only expressed the FLT3 Tumor-Associated Antigen but did not express the EMCN SA (gray bars—model cancer cells) or target cells that expressed both the FLT3 Tumor-Associated Antigen and the EMCN SA (teal bars—model healthy cells). This latter target cell population should be protected from aCAR-mediated killing if the iCAR (v1 or v2) is functional. As shown in the figure below, we confirmed that the NOT GATE (with multiple EMCN iCAR designs) enables significant antigen-dependent protection of EMCN-expressing cells from CAR-mediated toxicity. Within this experiment, the v1 EMCN iCAR provided 67% protection and the v2 EMCN iCAR provided 50% safety antigen-dependent protection from aCAR-mediated toxicity.

 

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We further evaluated the full FLT3 OR CD33 NOT EMCN gene circuit-equipped NK cells in a cytotoxicity protection assay using the more clinically-relevant donor-derived primary healthy HSCs. Unlike the model Healthy Cell line shown above, bone marrow-derived CD34 enriched primary HSCs have natural levels of both the Tumor-Associated Antigens, FLT3 and CD33, as well as EMCN, expressed on the cell surface and represent a more realistic model to evaluate our proprietary AML NOT GATE gene circuit. As shown below, while FLT3 OR CD33 NOT EMCN CAR-NK cells demonstrated killing of leukemia cell lines comparable to that of the control that does not express the EMCN iCAR, labeled as FLT3 OR CD33 CAR-NK cells (see left data), our NOT GATE enabled significant protection of primary HSCs (see right data), exceeding the 10% to 20% protection target we anticipate would provide clinical benefits to patients.

 

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Development Plan and Key Next Steps for SENTI-202

We have demonstrated, preclinically, the functionality of the key gene circuit components of SENTI-202, namely our FLT3 aCAR, CD33 aCAR and EMCN iCAR constructs. In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling data at key scientific conferences. In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-202.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Contract to Support Development of SENTI-202

In September 2021, we were awarded funding from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the form of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to support further development of SENTI-202 for AML towards clinical development. The Direct to Phase II SBIR contract will provide us with approximately $1.9 million in federal funding for the SENTI-202 program over two years.

SENTI-301 for the Potential Treatment of HCC

Overview

Our SENTI-301 product candidate is a Multi-Armed off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy that we are developing for the treatment of advanced HCC. We are engineering NK cells to target GPC3, which is highly expressed in 70% to 90% of HCCs and has low or no expression on normal adult tissues. SENTI-301 is armed with a combination of potent immune effectors, including our proprietary crIL-15 gene circuit, intended to simultaneously stimulate surrounding

 

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immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence, and tumor killing, as well as our proprietary crIL-12, where expression is modulated via a small molecule Regulator Dial gene circuit, to stimulate the immune system and potentially overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME in advanced HCC.

 

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In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the evaluation of SENTI-301.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma: an Unmet Medical Need

HCC accounts for approximately 90% of primary liver cancers and represents a large unmet medical need due to the lack of effective treatment options. Globally, it is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths. In the United States, the rate of death from liver cancer increased by 43% from 7.2 to 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people between 2000 and 2016. Frequently, HCC develops in patients with liver disease such as hepatitis C virus, alcoholic liver disease or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Available therapies are only modestly efficacious and mortality rate in advanced HCC remains high despite recent improvements in treatment options. The most effective therapy currently available for advanced HCC is atezolizumab plus bevacizumab combination therapy for first line treatment with a 28% objective response rate and a 7% complete response rate.

SENTI-301 Approach to Advanced HCC

As shown in the figure below, SENTI-301 off-the-shelf NK cells are engineered with multiple anti-tumor activities to achieve a Multi-Armed attack on solid tumors.

Specifically, SENTI-301 includes:

 

  1.

An aCAR that targets GPC3, a highly expressed antigen in HCC and that has low or no expression on normal adult tissues.

 

  2.

crIL-15 for simultaneous paracrine and autocrine signaling in order to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, and persistence, and tumor killing.

 

  3.

crIL-12, where expression is modulated via a small molecule Regulator Dial gene circuit, to stimulate the immune system and potentially overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME in advanced HCC.

 

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GPC3 is a Tumor-Associated Antigen expressed in approximately 70% to 90% of human HCCs, but not expressed in healthy liver tissue or other human organs after birth. GPC3 has previously been clinically evaluated as a therapeutic target for immunotherapy in HCC. GPC3 is also a histologic and serum clinical marker for HCC and its expression has been associated with poor prognosis. Functionally, GPC3 is associated with the control of cell division and growth regulation. We built GPC3 CAR constructs to redirect NK-mediated cytotoxicity against advanced HCC using a GPC3 binder that associates to the membrane proximal region of the GPC3 protein.

As recombinant proteins, the IL-15 and IL-12 pleiotropic cytokines have previously demonstrated anti-tumor activity in several preclinical studies. IL-15 has been shown to improve NK cell persistence in vivo and maintain cytotoxicity. Functionally, IL-12 promotes the secretion of Th1 cytokines from other immune cells, potentiating the recruitment and activation of the endogenous innate and adaptive immune systems, which leads to subsequent induction of an anti-tumor immune response.

Our proprietary crIL-15 gene circuit is designed to simultaneously produce both membrane-associated and fully secreted IL-15 to support both autocrine- and paracrine-like signaling. We believe that the ability of crIL-15 to also secrete active IL-15 into the tumor microenvironment should enable stimulation of endogenous immune cells within the tumor microenvironment in solid tumor settings. Our proprietary crIL-12 is designed to potentially induce a potent immune response and overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME in advanced HCC.

Previous clinical experiences with adoptive cell transfer of engineered immune cells expressing IL-12 have demonstrated the feasibility of IL-12-secreting cell therapies. However, systemic immunotoxicity has been observed in patients when IL-12 is expressed without tight regulation from adoptive cell therapies. Thus, the narrow therapeutic window associated with IL-12 has limited its success to date.

We believe our gene circuit technologies may address these previously observed therapeutic window limitations from clinical studies by modulating the expression of crIL-12 using our Regulator Dial gene circuit. For example, a NS3-based Regulator Dial can be utilized to modulate crIL-12 expression in vivo after infusion of the SENTI-301 product candidate via FDA-approved, orally dosed NS3 inhibitors. The NS3 Regulator Dial consists of a synthetic drug-regulated transcription factor and a synthetic promoter responsive to this regulated transcription factor. In the absence of the drug, the transcription factor is inactive, and no therapeutic protein (such as IL-12) is produced from the engineered cells. In the presence of the drug, the transcription factor is activated, leading to production of the IL-12 payload.

A potential clinical application of the NS3-based Regulator Dial is illustrated in the figure below. Upon infusion of SENTI-301, the crIL-12 regulated gene circuit remains in the off state, thus limiting the potential of systemic

 

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immunotoxicity in patients. As infused CAR-NK cells survey the body, we expect local enrichment, activation and expansion of SENTI-301 in GPC3-positive tumors. The antigen-driven anti-tumor response is further supported by the expression of crIL-15. Once local infiltration and engraftment of SENTI-301 is established, NS3 inhibitors may be given to patients in order to induce crIL-12 expression and promote recruitment of endogenous immune cells to help further mount an anti-tumor response. By incorporating multiple therapeutic mechanisms, such as GPC3 CAR, crIL-15 and regulated crIL-12, into the off-the-shelf NK cells, we believe our SENTI-301 product candidate would be armed with the necessary tools to activate multiple pathways in the tumor-immunity cycle in complementary ways in order to combat advanced HCC and its hostile tumor microenvironment.

 

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SENTI-301 Supporting Data

GPC3 CAR Expression and Function

We have designed and built hundreds of crIL-15 GPC3 CAR constructs, with the aim to identify and select our lead GPC3 CAR construct based on its expression profile and cytotoxic functions. These GPC3 CAR constructs were delivered into NK cells and evaluated. Anti-tumor cytotoxic functions were evaluated in co-culture assays against the HCC cell lines, HepG2 and HuH7. The figure below shows a representative experiment demonstrating that NK cells engineered to express several GPC3 CAR and crIL-15, constructs, have enhanced levels of killing activity against HCC target cells (GPC3-positive) compared to unengineered NK cells in an Incucyte assay.

 

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NK cells engineered to GPC3 CAR-crIL15 showed statically significant in vivo anti-tumor activity compared to unengineered NK cells in an IP HCC (HepG2+luciferase)xenotransplantation model. As shown in the figure below, groups treated with SENTI CAR NK #1 +crIL15 and CAR NK #2 +crIL15 (purple and light blue) engineered NK cells exhibited significantly increased survival (p< 0.01 and p<0.001 respectively) over untreated (PBS) and unengineered NK cell-treated groups.

 

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Regulated crIL-12 Expression

SENTI-301 is engineered with our proprietary crIL-12, where expression is modulated via a small molecule Regulator Dial gene circuit, to stimulate the immune system and potentially overcome the challenges of immunosuppressive TME in advanced HCC. We optimized the Regulator Dial gene circuit in immune cells to minimize basal expression, resulting in minimal production of crIL-12 in the absence of NS3 inhibitors, while maintaining high induced expression in a drug-dose dependent manner. As shown in the figure below, NK cells engineered with the crIL-12 regulated gene circuit were evaluated for induction of crIL-12 expression in the presence of the small molecule NS3 inhibitor, grazoprevir (GRZ). We achieved a basal crIL-12 of <100 pg/ml/1e6 cells while induction with a clinically relevant dose of GRZ (10nM) led to an increased crIL-12 expression by ~390- fold (30,000 pg/1e6 cells<0.0001) in 24 hours.

 

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Repeated crIL-12 induction using this Regulator Dial gene circuit was evaluated in vivo. As shown in the figure below, immune-deficient NSG mice received 20×106 engineered NK cells on day 0 and were dosed twice with 50 or 100 mg/kg of GRZ on day 0 and day 1. Blood samples were drawn 1 day (day 2) and 8 days (day 9) posttreatment to assess secreted crIL-12 levels during the small molecule-induced state (ON) and post-small

 

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molecule withdrawal (OFF), respectively. We found that on day 2, crIL-12 was detected at ~1,000 and ~10,700 pg/mL in the plasma of mice that received 50 mg/kg or 10 0mg/kg of GRZ respectively, whereas in vehicle-treated mice, crIL-12 remained <40 pg/ml, demonstrating a significant upregulation of crIL-12 production. On day 9, both the GRZ- and vehicle-treated mice exhibited only background levels (<50 pg/mL) of crIL-12, demonstrating that crIL-12 production was switched off in the absence of GRZ. A second round of crIL-12 induction was assessed by treating mice again at day 9 and day 10 with GRZ. Blood samples were drawn 1 day after the second dose (day 11). We observed that crIL-12 was induced again (~700 and 3000 pg/ml) in response to 50 mg/kg or 100 mg/kg of GRZ. This data validates that crIL-12 expression from engineered NK cells can be regulated in a repeated ON/OFF/ON fashion via the GRZ small molecule.

 

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This Regulator Dial gene circuit for IL-12 was evaluated in vivo. As shown in the figure below, immune-deficient NSG mice were dosed with 37.5 mg/kg of GRZ on day 0 and subsequently 75 mg/kg GRZ from day 1 through day 4. These mice received 20×106 engineered cells on day 2. Blood samples were drawn on day 4 and day 8 to assess IL-12 levels during the small molecule-induced state and post-small molecule withdrawal, respectively. We found that on day 4, IL-12 was detected at 1,642 pg/mL in the plasma of mice that received GRZ versus 19 pg/mL in vehicle-treated mice (p < 0.01), a greater than 80-fold upregulation of IL-12 production. On day 8, 4 days after the final GRZ dose, both the GRZ- and vehicle-treated mice exhibited only background levels (20 – 30 pg/mL) of IL-12, demonstrating that IL-12 production was switched off in the absence of GRZ.

Development Plan and Key Next Steps for SENTI-301

We have demonstrated, preclinically, the key gene circuit components of SENTI-301, namely our GPC3 aCAR, our engineered crIL-15 and crIL-12 constructs, and our NS3-based Regulator Dial constructs. In 2022, we plan to present IND-enabling data at key scientific conference . In 2023, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of our SENTI-301 product candidate.

SENTI-401 for the Potential Treatment of CRC

Overview

Our SENTI-401 product candidate is a Logic Gated off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapy that we are developing to more precisely target and eliminate CRC cells while sparing healthy cells elsewhere in the body. We are engineering NK cells to express a CAR directed against CEA, which is highly overexpressed in 85% to 90% of colorectal cancer samples but is also expressed in epithelial cells in healthy tissues. CEA is also expressed in

 

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other solid tumors, including lung, breast and gastric cancers. The expression profile of CEA in both tumor and healthy cells has resulted in on-target, off-tumor toxicities by conventional CEA-targeted therapies, thus limiting their clinical success. To address this challenge, we are engineering NK cells with a NOT GATE implemented via an iCAR targeted against an epithelial cell Safety Antigen called VSIG2. Thus, the SENTI-401 product candidate’s logic gating is intended to more effectively treat CRC patients by targeting a well-known Tumor-Associated Antigen, CEA, and widen the therapeutic window by preventing killing when CEA appears on healthy cells that also express the VSIG2 Safety Antigen. We are also engineering SENTI-401 to express a combination of potent immune effectors, including our proprietary crIL-15 protein to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing, and an additional undisclosed potent immune effector to potentially enhance therapeutic function in solid tumors.

 

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In 2023, we plan to present IND-enabling pharmacological data at key scientific conferences. In 2024, we plan to submit an IND application to support the clinical evaluation of SENTI-401.

Colorectal Cancer: an Unmet Medical Need

CRC accounts for approximately 10% of all annually diagnosed cancers and cancer-related deaths worldwide and is the second and third most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and men, respectively. The incidence of CRC worldwide is predicted to increase to 2.5 million new cases in 2035. Of new colorectal cancer diagnoses, 20% of patients present with metastatic disease and another 25% who present with localized disease will later develop metastases. Among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, approximately 70% to 75% of patients survive after one year of their initial diagnosis; however, the five-year survival rate is less than 20% despite multiple lines of treatment, including combinations of chemotherapy and targeted therapies.

 

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SENTI-401 Approach to CRC

CEA is a tumor-associated protein overexpressed in many epithelial cancers, most notably in colorectal cancer. However, it is also expressed in a variety of normal epithelial cells throughout the gastrointestinal tract. As shown in the figure below, bioinformatics analyses of RNA sequencing data collected from over 9,500 tumor and 8,500 healthy tissue samples showed that CEACAM5, one of the main isoforms of CEA, is overexpressed across many cancer types, especially colorectal cancer. CEACAM5 expression is also found in healthy organs, including tissues in the GI tract and lungs. Cancer immunotherapies using vaccines and antibodies targeting CEA are actively being investigated in the clinical setting. However, recent clinical studies have shown dose-limiting on-target, off-tumor toxicities in these healthy tissues that also express CEA.

 

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We are developing our SENTI-401 product candidate to overcome the challenges associated with targeting the CEA Tumor-Associated Antigen that is present on both tumor and healthy cells. To mitigate the potential risk of on-target, off-tumor toxicity, we are designing SENTI-401 with a NOT GATE gene circuit to differentiate between cancerous and healthy cells. Specifically, SENTI-401 incorporates the following gene circuit:

 

  1.

An iCAR with a NOT GATE gene circuit that restricts CAR-mediated cell killing to CRC cells that express CEA but not healthy cells that express an epithelial cell Safety Antigen, VSIG2. This NOT gate is designed to potentially reduce on-target, off-tumor toxicity, thus potentially enabling more effective treatment of CEA-expressing cancers.

 

  2.

An aCAR that targets CEA, a well-characterized antigen that is overexpressed in many cancers, including CRC.

 

  3.

A crIL-15 gene circuit to simultaneously provide both autocrine and paracrine-like IL-15 signaling in order to simultaneously stimulate surrounding immune cells and promote NK cell expansion, persistence and tumor killing.

 

  4.

An undisclosed potent immune effector to potentially enhance therapeutic function in solid tumors.

SENTI-401 Supporting Data

Our CEA aCAR-NK cells kill CRC cells in an antigen-dependent manner

We have designed, built and evaluated hundreds of CEA aCAR constructs by varying the antigen binders, co-stimulatory domains, and other parameters. We screened these CEA aCAR constructs for robust and durable expression on NK cells, and cytotoxicity against CEA-positive tumor cell lines. As shown in the figure below, we evaluated our CEA aCAR-transduced NK cells, labeled as CEA aCAR #1 and CEA aCAR #2, for anti-tumor

 

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cytotoxic functions against a CEA-positive CRC tumor cell line, Ls174t. Both of these CEA aCAR constructs, in comparison to unengineered NK cells or NK cells engineered with a non-specific aCAR construct, mediated statistically significant cytotoxicity against Ls174t and released cytokines in an antigen-specific manner.

 

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Our CEA aCAR-NK cells significantly reduced tumor burden in a human CRC xenograft tumor model in vivo

To assess the in vivo activity of our CAR-NK cells, we developed human xenograft mouse models of CEA-positive CRC tumors. We implanted Ls174t CRC cells in the peritoneal cavity of NSG mice and measured tumor burden and disease progression using a bioluminescent reporter. Mice were treated with PBS, or with one single dose of unengineered NK cells or CEA aCAR-NK cells. CEA aCAR-NK cells resulted in significant reduction (p < 0.05) in tumor burden in mice compared to control mice treated with unengineered NK cells, as shown in the figure below.

 

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Utilization of the VISG2 protein as our NOT GATE gene circuit Safety Antigen

We have developed a robust Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform for the development of NOT GATE CAR-NK therapies. Using this approach, we have identified genes that are differentially expressed in healthy versus tumor tissues and selected antigen candidates based on-target expression in tissues, subcellular localization, antigen topology or presence of extracellular domains and antibody availability. To protect healthy epithelial cells that also express CEA, we discovered VSIG2 as a Safety Antigen candidate. VSIG2 exhibits a favorable pattern of expression in the membrane of epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract and lungs, which are CEA-positive tissues that are most at risk of on-target, off-tumor toxicity. We further validated the expression of VSIG2 using immunohistochemistry, or IHC, in healthy tissues and confirmed the lack of expression in primary CRC tumor tissue samples. Specifically, IHC analyses of colorectal tumor tissues and healthy colon epithelium demonstrated that CEA is expressed in both healthy samples, as shown in the upper left of the figure below, and tumor samples, as shown in the lower left of the figure below. In addition, the Safety Antigen VSIG2 is only expressed in healthy colon epithelium, as shown in the upper right of the figure below, and not in tumor samples, as shown in the lower right of the figure below.

 

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Leveraging these findings, we have constructed VISG2-iCARs that showed selective NOT gate functions in vitro. As shown in the figure below, we engineered NK cells to express both our CEA-aCAR and two different VSIG2-iCARs, each with a different intracellular inhibitory domain, at greater than 70% efficiency. These NOT gated CAR NK cells showed equivalent tumor killing relative to CEA aCAR only control NK cells, but were observed to significantly reduce cytotoxicity against a Model Healthy cell line, labelled CEACAM5+VSIG2+ below, by up to 43%.

 

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To study the benefits of crIL-15 armed CAR-NK cells over unarmed CAR-NK cells, NSG mice with established Ls174t CEA+ tumor cells were treated with engineered NK cells. Mice received a supplement of recombinant human IL-2 (10,000 IU, 2x week) but no additional IL-15. Tumor burden was measured using bioluminescence of the tumor cells expressing fLuciferase reporter. Representative images taken at day 15 post tumor implantation (11 days after NK treatment) show that tumor burden was reduced in mice that were treated with CAR-NK cells armed with crIL-15 compared toCAR-NK cells with the CAR alone and no IL-15 (without any IL-15) and unengineered NK cells. This experiment demonstrates the advantage of crIL-15 in CEA-CAR-NK cells.

 

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Development Plan and Key Next Steps for SENTI-401

In 2022, we intend to further evaluate different variants of the CEA aCAR and VSIG2 iCAR constructs, for example different aCAR co-stimulatory domains and iCAR inhibitory domains etc., in vitro and in vivo to determine the exact final coding sequences of these individual components. These finalized key gene circuit components would then be incorporated into an optimized vector backbone for cGMP manufacturing. Concurrent with anticipated cGMP manufacturing activities in 2022 and 2023, we anticipate that IND-enabling pharmacology and toxicology studies will be executed to support future submission of an IND application.

Portfolio Expansion Opportunities

Our Discovery Stage Programs

We believe our gene circuits can be readily adapted to new disease contexts to enable a variety of additional CAR-NK product candidates that address important cancers. For example, there are additional opportunities for the application of the NOT GATE gene circuit toward other solid and/or liquid tumor indications beyond SENTI-401. Toward that end, we have developed a Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform to identify future opportunities.

Starting in 2024, we anticipate submitting approximately one IND application per year. Furthermore, we are actively pursuing the nomination and development of multiple product candidates that harness the full breadth of our gene circuit platform beyond Logic Gating and Multi-Arming of off-the-shelf CAR-NK cells within oncology. Our additional discovery efforts are focused on a diverse set of cell and gene therapy applications outside of oncology. In particular, we have entered into collaborations with Spark Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Roche Holding AG) for the design of Smart Sensors for disease- and tissue-specific gene therapy, and with Bluerock Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Bayer AG) for the use of Smart Sensors and Regulator Dials for regenerative medicines.

 

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Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform

We have developed a proprietary Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen Paired Discovery Platform to select and validate NOT GATE antigen candidates, as shown in the figure below. We have built a generalizable bioinformatics pipeline that uses RNA transcriptomics data to discover and prioritize tumor and healthy tissue Safety Antigens. We identify Tumor-Associated Antigens that are highly expressed in cancer cells with as little healthy tissue expression as possible, for example Tumor-Associated Antigen A in the figure below. We then discover healthy tissue selective Safety Antigens, for example Safety Antigen E in the figure below, that can protect those healthy tissues that express the Tumor-Associated Antigens, for example Tissues 2 and 5 in the figure below. This process looks at differences in Safety Antigen gene expression in healthy versus tumor tissue. Leads are selected based on the co-expression of Tumor-Associated Antigens and Safety Antigens in healthy tissues, the localization of the Safety Antigens to the cell surface, Safety Antigen topology (presence of extracellular domain) and Safety Antigen-specific antibody availability. Prioritized Tumor-Associated Antigen and Safety Antigen pairs are further validated in primary cancer and primary healthy tissue samples. We leveraged this platform to identify the Safety Antigen targets for the SENTI-202 and SENTI-401 programs, thus demonstrating our ability to target both liquid and solid tumors. This approach allows us to potentially expand our NOT GATE approach to additional cancer indications in which existing single-target approaches, such as monoclonal antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates and single-target CAR cells, are inadequate due to a lack of specificity for cancer cells.

 

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Portfolio Expansion Opportunities Outside of Oncology

Our additional discovery efforts are focused on cell and gene therapy applications that utilize other facets of our synthetic biology platform, including Smart Sensors and Regulator Dials in therapeutic areas beyond oncology.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing capabilities are central to our business strategy, since they can enable us to control the quality and supply of our off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies for clinical studies and ultimately commercialization. A key advantage of off-the-shelf cell therapies, versus autologous products that use each patient’s own cells, is the

 

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ability to manufacture large batches of drug product from healthy donor cells that can be produced in advance of clinical use, and then stored in frozen vials. Upon commercialization, we expect to be able to make our cell therapies, if approved, broadly accessible in an off-the-shelf manner to cancer patients.

Our experienced manufacturing and technical operations team has established an innovative process for efficient production of our off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell product candidates. Critical aspects of the cell manufacturing process include the ability to perform four key steps in the CAR-NK cell manufacturing process:

 

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Step 1: Source, Isolate and Bank Purified NK Cells as Starting Cells.

Starting Cells are obtained from enriching and isolating NK cells from qualified healthy donors. Purified NK cells are subsequently cryopreserved and characterized for consistent performance, including assays for cell phenotype, transduction efficiency, cell expansion capability and anti-tumor cytotoxicity. For our initial SENTI-202 and SENTI-301 product candidates, we plan to derive Starting Cells from leukapheresis products collected from qualified healthy donors. From each leukapheresis collection, we will isolate and cryopreserve hundreds of millions of Starting Cells to support multiple product production batches. We believe that peripheral blood derived leukapheresis products are an attractive starting material source due to (i) a mature and validated commercial supply chain, (ii) the large number of purified NK cells per collection and (iii) our ability to characterize the NK cells prior to initiation of manufacturing. An analysis of over a dozen recent isolations performed from different healthy donors demonstrated that our process achieved greater than 95% NK cell purity, greater than 90% viability and up to 500 million NK cells per collection, as shown in the figure below:

 

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Step 2: Genetically Engineer Starting Cells with Gene Circuits.

We genetically modify our NK cells through a viral vector transduction process focused on enhancing gene circuit expression while minimizing impacts on compromising cell viability or cell expansion. To generate

our CAR-NK products, the Starting Cells are first thawed and activated. On a specific day post activation, the activated cells undergo our vector transduction process to genetically incorporate our gene circuits. The figure below shows transduction of our activated Starting Cells successfully reached approximately 50% transduction efficiency using a potentially clinically appropriate manufacturing process. Gene circuit-enabled CAR-NK cells were expanded over a total of 21 days. As shown in the center panel of the figure below, our transduction process was shown to have minimal impact on the cell expansion capability when comparing transduced CAR-NK cells versus unengineered NK cells. The transduced cells retained >90% viability with similar growth rate to unengineered NK cells through the 21st day.

 

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Step 3: Expand and Scale CAR-NK Cells.

Our expansion process is designed to generate large numbers of final product doses per manufacturing batch. This production process has resulted in high purity of NK cells (>98%) with minimal (<1%) detectable residual T cells. As shown in the figure below, our current process has produced greater than 6,000-fold expansion of CAR-NK cells in a 21 day process, achieving a planned clinical manufacturing scale of hundreds of patient doses per a single manufacturing batch. We are developing additional technologies and processes to further enhance NK cell expansion for commercial manufacturing, including alternative methods for cell activation and expansion and utilization of large-scale cell culture systems.

 

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Step 4: Formulate and Cryopreserve CAR-NK Cells.

For freezing and distribution, we intend to formulate and cryopreserve our final product to retain viability, persistence and cytotoxic function post-thaw for off-the-shelf use. Each batch of CAR-NK cells will be filled into vials and cryopreserved for long term storage. The CAR-NK cell product candidates will be shipped in vials to clinical sites, where they will be thawed and infused on demand. We have demonstrated that cryopreserved CAR-NK cells can retain key functional properties required for cancer treatment, including stable transgene expression >44 days. As shown below, our cryopreserved CAR-NK cells retained viability and anti-tumor functions in both in vitro and in vivo models of AML:

 

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Technical Expertise and Facilities for Clinical and Commercial Manufacturing

Our corporate headquarters is located in South San Francisco, CA, where we lease approximately 40,000 square feet of research and development and corporate office space. In this location, we have approximately 10,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing development labs. We have established research and development teams with extensive experience in cell and gene therapy manufacturing operations, including vector process development, cell process development, analytical development, quality control and quality assurance. In June 2021, we signed a lease agreement for a property in Alameda, California with approximately 92,000 square feet and have begun construction on a state-of-the-art cGMP facility to support clinical and commercial-scale manufacturing of multiple off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell product candidates. This manufacturing facility is being designed as a customized end-to-end manufacturing solution to give us the ability to isolate NK cells, engineer these cells with proprietary gene circuits, perform cell culture expansion in large batches, and cryopreserve and store the final cGMP products.

We expect cGMP manufacturing facility startup by end of 2022 and present an overview of our clinical-scale GMP manufacturing process for gene-circuit-engineered NK cells at key technical conferences in 2022.

Our off-the-shelf production process and proprietary manufacturing capabilities are central to our business strategy of maintaining control over the quality and supply of our present and future candidates for off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies. In addition, we believe that our proprietary manufacturing process enables an anticipated cost in line with competitive off-the-shelf production process estimates. Continued advancements in cell culture scale and process efficiencies may further reduce this cost over time.

In addition, we may also leverage our manufacturing facility to expand the application of our gene circuit technology to biomanufacturing in partnership with one or more third parties. See the section titled “Potential Collaboration Around Gene Circuits and GMP Manufacturing.”

Material License and Collaboration Agreements

Exclusive/Co-Exclusive Patent License Agreement with the National Cancer Institute for FLT3 Technology

In July 2020, we entered into an Exclusive/Co-Exclusive Patent License Agreement, as amended, or the NCI FLT3 Agreement, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as represented by the National

 

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Cancer Institute, or the NCI, under which the NCI granted us a worldwide, royalty-bearing, sublicensable license under the NCI’s patent rights related to FLT3-targeting chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR, technology (i) exclusively for the development of a universal or split CAR-based immunotherapy using T-cells or NK cells transduced with lentiviral vectors or other retroviral vectors, depending on the cell type, for the prophylaxis or treatment of cancers expressing FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3, or FLT3, where the CAR construct binds to specific domains and (ii) co-exclusively, with a third party, for the development of a multi-specific FLT3 CAR-based immunotherapy or FLT3-specific regulated or switch or Logic Gated CAR-based immunotherapy using T-cells or NK cells transduced with lentiviral vectors or other retroviral vectors, depending on the cell type, for the prophylaxis or treatment of FLT3-expressing cancers, where the CAR construct contains specific domains, in each case of (i) and (ii), to make and have made, use and have used, sell and have sold, offer to sell and import products covered by the licensed patent rights and to practice and have practiced processes covered by the licensed patent rights. In addition to the co-exclusive rights held by a third party, the foregoing license is subject to (a) certain rights of the United States government, including an irrevocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license for the government to practice all licensed patent rights throughout the world and (b) the NCI’s reserved rights to grant a non-exclusive license to practice the licensed patent rights for purposes of internal research (and not for purposes of commercial manufacture or distribution) at an academic or corporate facility.

Pursuant to the NCI FLT3 Agreement, we must use commercially reasonable efforts to adhere to a commercial development plan, including by achieving certain specified development and regulatory milestones by certain dates, provided that we may request to extend the timelines of such milestones, which the NCI shall not unreasonably deny if the request is supported by a reasonable showing of our diligent performance under the commercial development plan. Upon the first commercial sale of a licensed product or process, we must also use commercially reasonable efforts to make the licensed product or process reasonably accessible to the United States public.

In consideration for the rights granted to us under the NCI FLT3 Agreement, we paid the NCI a one-time, non-refundable license issue fee of $75,000, and are required to pay the NCI a minimum flat annual royalty fee of a dollar amount in the low five digits. We are also obligated to pay the NCI certain development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to an aggregate of $4.6 million for the first licensed product to achieve the applicable event. We will also be required to pay the NCI a tiered royalty in the low-single digit percentages on net sales of each licensed product by us and our sublicensees, subject to specified reductions and offsets, including against the minimum annual royalty payments. Further, the NCI is entitled to receive a portion of the amounts – excluding royalties and certain payments – we receive as a result of the grant of a sublicense under the rights granted under the NCI FLT3 Agreement at a percentage ranging from the low-single digits to low-double digits, depending on the stage of development at which the sublicense is granted. Additionally, we are obligated to pay for a portion of patent expenses that NCI incurred with respect to the licensed patent rights.

The NCI FLT3 Agreement will expire, on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis, on the expiration of all licensed patent rights that claim the applicable licensed product in the applicable country. Licensed patent rights are currently expected to expire in 2037, absent patent term extension or adjustment. We may terminate the NCI FLT3 Agreement in its entirety or with respect to a country for any reason by providing 60 days’ prior written notice to the NCI. The NCI may terminate the NCI FLT3 Agreement if (i) we breach any material obligations under the NCI FLT3 Agreement and fail to cure such breach within 90 days after receiving written notice thereof, or (ii) if the NCI reasonably determines that (a) we are not using commercially reasonable efforts to execute the commercial development plan, including the milestones specified therein, (b) we have willfully made a false statement or omitted a material fact in our license application or any report to the NCI, (c) we have committed a material breach of a covenant or agreement to the NCI, (d) we are not keeping the licensed products or licensed services reasonably available to the public after commercial use commences, or (e) we cannot reasonably justify a failure to comply with the domestic production requirement, in each case of (a) through (e), where we fail to alleviate the NCI’s concerns in 90 days. Additionally, the NCI reserves the right to terminate or modify the NCI FLT3 Agreement if the NCI determines that such action is necessary to meet the requirements for public use specified by federal regulations issued after the date of the license and these requirements are not reasonably satisfied by us.

 

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Exclusive Patent License Agreement with the National Cancer Institute for GPC3 Technology

In February 2021, we entered into an Exclusive Patent License Agreement, or the NCI GPC3 Agreement, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as represented by the NCI, under which the NCI granted us an exclusive, royalty-bearing, sublicensable, worldwide license under the NCI’s patent rights related to glypican-3, or GPC3, targeting CAR technology to make and have made, use and have used, sell and have sold, offer to sell and import products covered by the licensed patent rights and to practice and have practiced processes covered by the licensed patent rights, for the development, production and commercialization of a monospecific CAR-based immunotherapy for the prophylaxis and treatment of GPC3 expressing human cancers using unmodified, off-the-shelf natural killer cells transduced with a viral vector that expresses a CAR, and a gene circuit regulating the expression of one or more armoring payloads, specifically excluding the use of autologous T cells or T cells that have been genetically modified to become off-the-shelf. The foregoing license is subject to (i) certain rights of the United States government, including an irrevocable, non-exclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license for the government to practice all licensed patent rights throughout the world and (ii) the NCI’s reserved rights to grant a non-exclusive license to practice the licensed patent rights for purposes of internal research (and not for purposes of commercial manufacture or distribution) at an academic or corporate facility.

Pursuant to the NCI GPC3 Agreement, we must use commercially reasonable efforts to adhere to a commercial development plan, including by achieving certain specified development and regulatory milestones by certain dates, provided that we may request to extend the timelines of such milestones, which the NCI shall not unreasonably deny if the request is supported by a reasonable showing of our diligent performance under the commercial development plan. Upon the first commercial sale of a licensed product or process, we must also use commercially reasonable efforts to make the licensed product or process reasonably accessible to the United States public.

In consideration for the rights granted to us under the NCI GPC3 Agreement, we paid the NCI a one-time, non-refundable license issue fee of $250,000, and are required to pay the NCI a minimum flat annual royalty fee of a dollar amount in the low five digits. We are obligated to pay the NCI certain development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of an aggregate of $2,575,000 for the first licensed product to achieve the applicable events. We will also be required to pay the NCI a flat royalty in the low-single digit percentages on net sales of each licensed product by us and our sublicensees, subject to specified reductions and offsets, including against the minimum annual royalty payments. Further, the NCI is entitled to receive a portion of the amounts—excluding royalties and certain payments—we receive as a result of the grant of a sublicense under the rights granted under the NCI GPC3 Agreement at a percentage ranging from the low-single digits to low-double digits, depending on the stage of development at which the sublicense is granted. Additionally, we are obligated to pay for patent expenses that NCI incurred with respect to the licensed patent rights.

The NCI GPC3 Agreement will expire, on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis, on the expiration of all licensed patent rights that claim the applicable licensed product in the applicable country. Licensed patent rights are currently expected to expire in 2033, absent any patent term extension or adjustment. We may terminate the NCI GPC3 Agreement in its entirety or with respect to a country for any reason by providing 60 days’ prior written notice to the NCI. The NCI may terminate the NCI GPC3 Agreement if (i) we breach any material obligations under the NCI GPC3 Agreement and fail to cure such breach within 90 days after receiving written notice thereof, or (ii) if the NCI reasonably determines that (a) we are not executing the commercial development plan, including the milestones specified therein, (b) we have willfully made a false statement or omitted a material fact in our license application or any report to the NCI, (c) we have committed a material breach of a covenant or agreement to the NCI, (d) we are not keeping the licensed products or licensed services reasonably available to the public after commercial use commences, (e) we cannot reasonably satisfy unmet health and safety needs, (f) we cannot reasonably justify a failure to comply with the domestic production requirement or (g) we have been found by a court to have violated antitrust laws in connection with our performance under the NCI GPC3 Agreement, in each case of (a) through (f), where we fail to alleviate the

 

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NCI’s concerns in 90 days. Additionally, the NCI reserves the right to terminate or modify the NCI GPC3 Agreement if the NCI determines that such action is necessary to meet the requirements for public use specified by federal regulations issued after the date of the license and these requirements are not reasonably satisfied by us.

Exclusive Patent License Agreement with the National Cancer Institute for CD33 Technology

In May 2021, we entered into an Exclusive Patent License Agreement, or the NCI CD33 Agreement, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as represented by the NCI, under which the NCI granted us an exclusive, royalty-bearing, sublicensable, worldwide license under the NCI’s patent rights related to CD33 targeting CAR technology to make and have made, use and have used, sell and have sold, offer to sell and import products covered by the licensed patent rights and to practice and have practiced processes covered by the licensed patent rights, for the development of a CD33-specific logic-gated CAR-based immunotherapy using autologous human T cells transduced with lentiviral vectors or off-the-shelf human NK cells transduced with retroviral vectors for the prophylaxis or treatment of CD33-expressing cancers. The foregoing license is subject to (i) certain rights of the United States government, including an irrevocable, non-exclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license for the government to practice all licensed patent rights throughout the world and (ii) the NCI’s reserved rights to grant a non-exclusive license to practice the licensed patent rights for purposes of internal research (and not for purposes of commercial manufacture or distribution) at an academic or corporate facility.

Pursuant to the NCI CD33 Agreement, we must use commercially reasonable efforts to adhere to a commercial development plan, including by achieving certain specified development and regulatory milestones by certain dates, provided that we may request to extend the timelines of such milestones, which the NCI shall not unreasonably deny if the request is supported by a reasonable showing of our diligent performance under the commercial development plan. Upon the first commercial sale of a licensed product or process, we must also use commercially reasonable efforts to make the licensed product or process reasonably accessible to the United States public.

In consideration for the rights granted to us under the NCI CD33 Agreement, we paid the NCI a one-time, non-refundable license issue fee of $150,000, and are required to pay the NCI a minimum flat annual royalty fee of a dollar amount in the low five digits. We are obligated to pay the NCI certain development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of an aggregate of $3.5 million for the first licensed product to achieve the applicable events. We will also be required to pay the NCI a flat royalty in the low single-digit percentages on net sales of each licensed product by us and our sublicensees, subject to specified reductions and offsets, including against the minimum annual royalty payments. Further, the NCI is entitled to receive a portion of the amounts—excluding royalties and certain payments—we receive as a result of the grant of a sublicense under the rights granted under the NCI CD33 Agreement at a percentage ranging from the low-single digits to low-double digits, depending on the stage of development at which the sublicense is granted. Additionally, we are obligated to pay for patent expenses that NCI incurred with respect to the licensed patent rights.

The NCI CD33 Agreement will expire, on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis, on the expiration of all licensed patent rights that claim the applicable licensed product in the applicable country. Licensed patent rights are currently expected to expire in 2039, absent any patent term extension or adjustment. We may terminate the NCI CD33 Agreement in its entirety or with respect to a country for any reason by providing 60 days’ prior written notice to the NCI. The NCI may terminate the NCI CD33 Agreement if (i) we breach any material obligations under the NCI CD33 Agreement and fail to cure such breach within 90 days after receiving written notice thereof, or (ii) if the NCI reasonably determines that (a) we are not executing the commercial development plan, including the milestones specified therein, (b) we have willfully made a false statement or omitted a material fact in our license application or any report to the NCI, (c) we have committed a material breach of a covenant or agreement to the NCI, (d) we are not keeping the licensed products or licensed services reasonably available to the public after commercial use commences, (e) we cannot reasonably satisfy

 

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unmet health and safety needs, (f) we cannot reasonably justify a failure to comply with the domestic production requirement or (g) we have been found by a court to have violated antitrust laws in connection with our performance under the NCI CD33 Agreement, in each case of (a) through (f), where we fail to alleviate the NCI’s concerns in 90 days. Additionally, the NCI reserves the right to terminate or modify the NCI CD33 Agreement if the NCI determines that such action is necessary to meet the requirements for public use specified by federal regulations issued after the date of the license and these requirements are not reasonably satisfied by us.

Research Collaboration and License Agreement with Spark Therapeutics, Inc.

In April 2021, we entered into a Research Collaboration and License Agreement, or the Spark Agreement, with Spark Therapeutics, Inc., or Spark. Under the Spark Agreement, we engaged in a collaborative research program with Spark to design, build and test synthetic promoters that are intended to have each one of five sets of desired characteristics, or promoter profiles. Spark is obligated to reimburse us for our costs and expenses incurred in connection with the conduct of the research program. Upon completion of work under the research program for a particular promoter profile, Spark may select up to a specified number of synthetic promoters for such promoter profile on which it can conduct in vitro and in vivo evaluation activities.

We granted option rights to Spark, on a promoter profile-by-promoter profile basis, to obtain an exclusive, royalty-bearing, sublicensable, worldwide license under our intellectual property rights to develop, manufacture, commercialize and otherwise exploit, for the cure, treatment, palliation, prevention or diagnosis of specified indications, or a licensed field, in vivo gene therapy products incorporating an applicable synthetic promoter that is developed under the Spark Agreement with respect to such promoter profile and is directed towards specified cell types in the central nervous system, eye, or liver. Spark may exercise its option for a single synthetic promoter per promoter profile together with certain related synthetic promoters, or licensed promoters, prior to the expiration of the applicable evaluation period. During the research program and until the expiration of the evaluation period for each promoter profile, we are obligated to work exclusively with Spark on the development, manufacture and commercialization of in vivo gene therapy products incorporating synthetic promoters intended to have the same cell type specificity as such promoter profile.

After exercise of an option, Spark will be responsible for all development, manufacture, commercialization and exploitation in the licensed field, at its own cost and expense, of all in vivo gene therapy products containing an applicable licensed promoter, and we will retain the right to develop, manufacture, commercialize and exploit other products that incorporate the licensed promoters as well as in vivo gene therapy products that incorporate the licensed promoters for uses outside the licensed field. If Spark does not exercise an option for a particular promoter profile prior to the expiration of the evaluation period for such promoter profile, we will retain all rights to the synthetic promoters developed under the Spark Agreement without any further obligations to Spark for such promoter profile.

Pursuant to the Spark Agreement, we received an upfront payment from Spark of $3 million. If Spark exercises an option for a particular promoter profile, it will be required to pay us an option exercise fee in the low to mid-single digit millions. For each licensed promoter-containing in vivo gene therapy product, or licensed product, developed and commercialized by Spark or its affiliates or sublicensees, we are eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments from Spark up to an aggregate dollar amount in the mid teens millions, and sales milestone payments from Spark up to an aggregate dollar amount in the low hundred millions. In total, we are potentially eligible to receive upfront, opt-in and milestone payments exceeding $645 million if Spark exercises its options for all five promoter profiles and Spark, its affiliates and its sublicensees successfully develop and commercialize five licensed products; we will be eligible to receive additional milestone payments if additional licensed products are developed and commercialized by Spark, its affiliates and its sublicensees. Further, Spark will be obligated to pay us royalties in the low-single digits percentage on net sales of each licensed product sold by Spark, its affiliates and its sublicensees, subject to specified reductions and offsets. Spark’s obligation to pay royalties to us will expire for each licensed product when certain licensed patents and regulatory exclusivities have expired in the country of sale and a minimum number of years has elapsed since the first commercial sale of such licensed product in such country.

 

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The Spark Agreement will expire at the end of the last evaluation period if Spark does not exercise any of its options. If Spark exercises at least one option, then the Spark Agreement will expire, on a licensed product-by-licensed product and country-by-country basis, upon the expiration of Spark’s royalty obligation for such licensed product in such country. Spark may terminate the Spark Agreement in its entirety, or on a promoter profile-by-promoter profile or licensed promoter-by-licensed promoter basis, following a specified notice period. Either party may terminate the Spark Agreement in its entirety or in part if the other party fails to cure its material breach of the Spark Agreement within a specified cure period, or immediately if the other party becomes bankrupt or insolvent. We may terminate the Spark Agreement if Spark or any of its affiliates commences any action challenging the validity or enforceability of the licensed patents, other than in certain specified circumstances, or if Spark’s sublicensee challenges our licensed patents, under certain specified circumstances.

Collaboration and Option Agreement with BlueRock Therapeutics LP

In May 2021, we entered into a Collaboration and Option Agreement, or the BlueRock Agreement, with BlueRock Therapeutics LP, or BlueRock. BlueRock is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayer Healthcare LLC. Bayer Healthcare LLC’s parent company is Bayer AG, which served as the lead investor in our Series B financing through its Leaps by Bayer unit. Under the BlueRock Agreement, we have engaged in three collaboration programs with BlueRock to research and develop gene circuits that have specified functions. We are responsible for up to $10 million in costs and expenses incurred in connection with our conduct of research activities under an agreed-upon research plan. If the parties mutually agree to add new research activities to the research plan, then BlueRock will be obligated to reimburse us for the costs and expenses that we incur in connection with the agreed-upon additional research activities that, together with costs and expenses incurred under the initial research plan, exceed $10 million. We have not yet received any payment from BlueRock under the BlueRock Agreement and we do not have any obligations to make any payments to BlueRock under the BlueRock Agreement. We are obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to conduct the research activities assigned to us under the research plan. If we materially breach that obligation and do not cure it within a specified period, BlueRock will have the right to receive a transfer of technology and perform the remainder of the research plan at its own expense.

Upon completion of work under a research plan for a collaboration program, the joint steering committee established by the parties will identify, subject to a specified maximum, a number of gene circuits per collaboration program, or option gene circuits, that have been successfully developed under such collaboration program. We have granted to BlueRock an option, on a collaboration program-by-collaboration program basis, to obtain an exclusive or non-exclusive license under our intellectual property rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize, for the prevention, treatment or palliation of specified indications, or a licensed field, cell therapy products that contain cells of specified types that incorporate an option gene circuit from such collaboration program or a closely related derivative gene circuit. For each collaboration program, BlueRock may conduct evaluation activities on the option gene circuits from such collaboration program to determine whether to exercise its option, and BlueRock may exercise its option to such option gene circuits together with certain closely related derivative gene circuits, or licensed gene circuits, prior to the expiration of a certain time period, or the option exercise period, which includes a minimum amount of time after the expiration of the three-year research term, delivery of a data package to BlueRock, and completion of a transfer of technology to enable BlueRock’s evaluation activities, whichever happens last. If BlueRock exercises its option for a collaboration program, the parties shall negotiate the financial terms, which will be within certain pre-agreed parameters and may be determined by baseball arbitration if the parties do not reach agreement within the specified negotiation period, and enter into an otherwise agreed-upon written license agreement, or a commercial license. If the parties enter into a commercial license, BlueRock will be responsible, at its sole expense, for the development, manufacture and commercialization, in the applicable licensed field, of cell therapy products containing cells of an applicable type that incorporate an applicable licensed gene circuit, and we will be eligible to receive from BlueRock development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments, in amounts to be agreed-upon before entry into the commercial license, and royalties, subject to negotiation, equal to low single digit percentages of net sales of applicable cell therapy products sold by BlueRock, its affiliates and its sublicensees,

 

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subject to specified reductions and offsets. If BlueRock does not exercise its option for a collaboration program prior to the expiration of the applicable option exercise period, then we will retain all rights to the gene circuits developed under such collaboration program without any further obligations to BlueRock.

For each collaboration program, we are obligated to work exclusively with BlueRock on the development, manufacture and commercialization, in the applicable licensed field, of cell therapy products that contain cells of specified types that incorporate the specific type of gene circuit for such collaboration program. The end date for this exclusivity obligation for each collaboration program will depend upon whether BlueRock exercises its option for such collaboration program and, if it does, whether the parties enter into a commercial license for such collaboration program. If BlueRock does not exercise its option, then it will end on the expiration of the applicable option exercise period. If BlueRock exercises its option but the parties do not enter into a commercial license, then it will end after a specified time following expiration of the applicable negotiation or baseball arbitration period for the commercial license. If BlueRock exercises its option and the parties enter into a commercial license, then it will end a certain amount of time after the later of completion of research activities or execution of the commercial license.

In addition to the option described above, we granted a right of first negotiation to BlueRock, on a collaboration program-by-collaboration program basis, to obtain a license under our intellectual property rights to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize, for the prevention, treatment or palliation of a specified disease area, or the negotiation field, cell therapy products containing cells of a specified type, or the negotiation cells, that incorporate an applicable efficacy gene circuit developed under such collaboration program. This right of first negotiation does not overlap with the option described above because it pertains to different combinations of indications, cell types and gene circuits. Starting from the effective date of the BlueRock Agreement and, on a collaboration program-by-collaboration program basis, continuing for twelve months or, if later, until the completion of a certain portion of the research plan for such collaboration program, we are obligated to work exclusively with BlueRock on the development, manufacture and commercialization, in the negotiation field, of cell therapy products containing negotiation cells that incorporate the specific type of gene circuit for such collaboration program.

The BlueRock Agreement will expire, on a collaboration program-by-collaboration program basis, upon the earliest of the expiration of the option exercise period for such collaboration program, the effective date of the commercial license, the expiration of the applicable negotiation or baseball arbitration period for the commercial license, or the date the parties mutually agree to cease negotiations for the commercial license. Such expiration shall occur no later than January 2026 unless the parties mutually agree to extend the research term. BlueRock may terminate the BlueRock Agreement in its entirety, or on a collaboration program-by-collaboration program basis, following a specified notice period. Either party may terminate the BlueRock Agreement if the other party fails to cure its material breach of the BlueRock Agreement within a specified cure period, or immediately if the other party becomes bankrupt or insolvent. We may terminate the BlueRock Agreement if BlueRock or any of its affiliates commences any action challenging the validity or enforceability of our patents, other than in certain specified circumstances, or if BlueRock’s sublicensee challenges our patents under certain specified circumstances.

Other Agreements

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Contract to Support Development of SENTI-202 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

In September 2021, we were awarded funding from the National Cancer Institute in the form of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to support further development of SENTI-202 for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) towards clinical development. The Direct to Phase II SBIR contract will provide funding over two years from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is titled: “Logic-Gated Chimeric Antigen Receptor-Natural Killer Cell Therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.” With the award of this contract, the SENTI-202 program will be funded in part with Federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N91021C00026.

 

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Potential Collaboration Around Gene Circuits and GMP Manufacturing

We may seek to leverage our manufacturing capabilities and proposed cGMP facility to enable us to expand the application of our gene circuit technology through a partnership in the biomanufacturing space. While we intend to use our proprietary gene circuit technology and manufacturing facility primarily for therapeutic product development and commercialization, our technology and facility can also be applied to noncompetitive biomanufacturing applications, which we believe is an approach well-suited for partnering. A potential biomanufacturing partnership could involve retaining operational control and manufacturing supply of our therapeutic candidates, while our partner could control part of the facility for its own use. The following is an illustrative depiction of the framework for a potential biomanufacturing partnership:

 

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We currently have no agreements or commitments for a manufacturing partnership, and we could determine to advance our manufacturing plans without a partner.

Competition

We are aware of other companies that are developing technologies that may compete with elements of our gene circuit platform technologies, including A2 Biotherapeutics, Inc., Arsenal Biosciences, Inc., Beam Therapeutics Inc., CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Encoded Therapeutics, Inc., ImmPACT Bio USA, Inc., Intellia Therapeutics, Inc., MeiraGTx Holdings plc, Obsidian Therapeutics, Inc. and Strand Therapeutics Inc. We are also aware of other companies that are focused on the application of engineered CAR-based immune cell therapies, including NK cells, to oncology, and such competitors include Allogene Therapeutics, Inc., Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Century Therapeutics, Inc., Caribou Biosciences, Inc., Catamaran Bio, Inc., Cytovia Therapeutics, Inc., Editas Medicine, Inc., Fate Therapeutics, Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Lyell Immunopharma, Inc., Nkarta, Inc., Sana Biotechnology, Inc., Shoreline Biosciences, Inc., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and Vor Biopharma Inc. Some of these companies may have substantially greater financial and other resources than we have, such as larger research and development staff and well-established marketing and salesforces. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology industry may result in even greater resource concentration among a smaller number of competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, either alone or through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies.

These companies compete with us in recruiting scientific and managerial talent. Our success will partially depend on our ability to obtain, maintain, enforce and defend patents and other intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates. Our competitors may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their product candidates more rapidly than we may obtain approval for ours, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before we are able to enter the market.

 

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Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize products that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any products that we may develop.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is the foundation of our company and not only defines who we are, but is the lens through which we implement our business strategy and research and development. Our overall strategy is to own and control all intellectual property related to our gene circuits. We protect our proprietary technology and intellectual property rights through a combination of wholly-owned patent rights, licensed patent rights in particular fields of use, trademark rights, trade secrets and know-how, contractual provisions and confidentiality procedures. Our general strategy includes protecting our proprietary technology and intellectual property rights domestically and in certain key foreign markets. We continually grow and supplement our intellectual property portfolio with new filings and applications not only to strengthen the protection of proprietary technology and intellectual property rights, but also to protect and support the development and commercialization of current and future product candidates. In addition, we always seek to protect our technological innovations and branding efforts by filing new patent and trademark applications at the appropriate time and strategically relevant jurisdictions.

Our patent portfolio relates to our ongoing research and development activities and includes a combination of patents and pending patent applications licensed from third parties, pending patent applications jointly owned with third parties, and patent applications solely owned by us. The patents and pending patent applications in our portfolio can be categorized as relating to our gene circuit platform technologies, including Logic Gating gene circuits, Multi-Arming gene circuits, Regulator Dial gene circuits and Smart Sensor gene circuits; our product candidates, including SENTI-202, SENTI-301 and SENTI-401, as well as other pipeline product candidates; and alternative technologies. Certain of our issued patents and pending patent applications are exclusively or co-exclusively licensed to us in certain therapeutic fields of use from third-party licensors. As of September 8, 2022, our patent portfolio includes five issued U.S. patents, four issued foreign patents, 27 pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, 99 pending foreign utility patent applications, and 12 Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, applications, that have not entered national stage.

With respect to our issued patents, we own two issued U.S. patents and we license from the NCI two issued U.S. patents and four issued foreign patents. Further, we license from a third-party licensor one additional U.S. issued patent. With respect to our pending provisional and utility patent applications, we own or co-own 24 pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, 75 pending foreign utility patent applications and 12 PCT applications, that have not entered national stage, and we license from third parties (including the NCI) three pending U.S. utility patent applications and 24 pending foreign utility patent applications. The estimated expiration dates of the issued patents are between 2030 and 2039, and the estimated expiration dates of the pending provisional and utility patent applications, to the extent they issue, will be between 2036 and 2043, without accounting for any patent term adjustments or extensions.

We have two issued U.S. patents, two pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, and 19 pending foreign utility applications licensed from the NCI. In addition, we have seven solely owned pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, 19 solely owned or co-owned pending foreign utility applications, and three solely owned PCT applications that have not entered national stage related to our SENTI-202 product candidate. These patent applications relate to composition of matter, method of preparing and method of treatment. The estimated expiration date of the issued patent is 2038, and the estimated expiration dates of the pending provisional and utility patent applications, to the extent they issue, will be between 2037 and 2043, without accounting for any patent term adjustments or extensions.

We have one issued U.S. patent and four issued foreign patents licensed from the NCI, eight solely owned pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, 28 solely owned pending foreign utility applications, and seven PCT applications that have not entered national stage related to our SENTI-301 product candidate. These

 

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patent applications relate to composition of matter, method of preparing and method of treatment. The issued patents are expected to expire in 2033, without accounting for any patent term adjustments or extensions. The estimated expiration dates of the pending provisional and utility patent applications, to the extent they issue, will be between 2039 and 2043, without accounting for any patent term adjustments or extensions.

We solely own or co-own six pending U.S. provisional and utility patent applications, 22 pending foreign utility applications and four PCT applications that have not entered national stage related to our SENTI-401 product candidate. These patent applications relate to composition of matter, method of preparing and method of treatment. The estimated expiration dates of the pending provisional and utility patent applications, to the extent they issue, will be between 2039 and 2043, without accounting for any patent term adjustments or extensions.

We also utilize trademark rights to protect our brand and have filed trademark applications for the marks “SENTI,” “SENTI BIOSCIENCES,” “SENTI BIO,” Senti’s “S” logo, and “PRO-DIAL” in the United States and in certain marks in foreign countries. As of September 8, 2022, we own two United States trademark registrations, five pending and/or allowed United States trademark applications, and 14 foreign trademark registrations. We have also registered multiple internet domain names to further supplement the protection of our brand.

Government Regulation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and other regulatory authorities at federal, state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries, extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, quality control, import, export, safety, effectiveness, labeling, packaging, storage, distribution, record keeping, approval, advertising, promotion, marketing, sampling post-approval monitoring and post-approval reporting of biologics such as those we are developing. Any product candidates that we develop must be approved by the FDA before they may be legally marketed in the United States and by the appropriate foreign regulatory agency before they may be legally marketed in those foreign countries. Generally, our activities in other countries will be subject to regulation that is similar in nature and scope as that imposed in the United States, although there can be important differences.

U.S. Biologics Regulation

In the United States, biological products are subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Public Health Service Act, and other federal, state, local and foreign statutes and their implementing regulations. The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with appropriate federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. The process required by the FDA before biologics may be marketed in the United States generally involves the following:

 

   

completion of preclinical laboratory tests and animal studies performed in accordance with the FDA’s Good Laboratory Practice requirements, or GLP;

 

   

submission to the FDA of an investigational new drug application, or IND, which must become effective before clinical trials may begin;

 

   

approval by an institutional review board, or IRB, or ethics committee at each clinical site before the trial is commenced;

 

   

performance of adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials according to the FDA’s regulations commonly referred to as good clinical practice, or GCP, regulations and any additional requirements for the protection of human research subjects and their health information to establish the safety, purity and potency of the proposed biologic product candidate for its intended purpose;

 

   

preparation of and submission to the FDA of a Biologics License Application, or BLA, after completion of all pivotal clinical trials;

 

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satisfactory completion of an FDA Advisory Committee review, if applicable;

 

   

a determination by the FDA within 60 days of its receipt of a BLA to file the application for review;