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DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
The information required by Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, to the extent not set forth herein, is incorporated herein by reference from the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held in 2023.
Table of Contents
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that are based on management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information available to management. Some of the statements in the “Business,” “Risk Factors,” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K contain forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “may,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “project,” “potential,” “continue,” “ongoing” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words.
These statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Although we believe we have a reasonable basis for each forward-looking statement contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we caution you that these statements are based on a combination of facts and factors currently known by us and our projections of the future, about which we cannot be certain. Forward-looking statements expressed or implied in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, statements about:
In addition, you should refer to the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of other important factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if the forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. The forward-looking statements herein represent our views as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We anticipate that subsequent events and developments will cause our views to change. However, while we may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we have no current intention of doing so except to the extent required by applicable law. You should, therefore, not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless the context requires otherwise, all references to “we,” “our,” “us,” “Adaptive” and the “Company” refer to Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation.
Item 1. Business
We are advancing the field of immune medicine by harnessing the inherent biology of the adaptive immune system to transform the diagnosis and treatment of disease. We believe the adaptive immune system is nature’s most finely tuned diagnostic and therapeutic for most diseases, but the inability to decode it has prevented the medical community from fully leveraging its capabilities. Our immune medicine platform applies our proprietary technologies to read the diverse genetic code of a patient’s immune system and aims to understand precisely how the immune system detects and treats disease in that patient. We capture these insights in our dynamic clinical immunomics database, which is underpinned by computational biology and machine learning, and use these insights to develop and commercialize clinical products and services that we are tailoring to each individual patient. We have launched multiple commercial products and services and a robust pipeline of clinical products and services that we are designing to diagnose, monitor and enable the treatment of diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders. Since our inception in 2009, we have characterized over 58 billion immune receptors, established partnerships and commercial relationships with 175 biopharmaceutical companies and launched multiple product lines. Our goal is to understand the adaptive immune system and translate it into new products with unprecedented scale, precision and speed.
Our immune medicine platform is the foundation for our expanding suite of products and services. The cornerstone of our platform and core immunosequencing product, immunoSEQ, serves as our underlying research and development engine and generates revenue from academic and biopharmaceutical customers. Our first clinical diagnostic product, clonoSEQ, is the first test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for the detection and monitoring of minimal residual disease (“MRD”) in patients with multiple myeloma (“MM”), B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (“ALL”) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (“CLL”) and is also available as a CLIA-validated laboratory developed test (“LDT”) for patients with other lymphoid cancers, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (“DLBCL”). Leveraging our collaboration with Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”), we are creating a map of the interaction between the immune system and disease (our “TCR-Antigen Map”). We are using this map to identify and validate disease signatures to improve the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.
In 2022, we made key strategic and operational changes, including a reorganization into two main business areas – MRD and IM. The MRD business area focuses on the use of our highly sensitive, next-generation sequencing (“NGS”) assay to measure MRD in patients with hematologic malignancies. It is comprised of our clonoSEQ clinical diagnostic test, offered to clinicians, and our clonoSEQ assay, offered to biopharmaceutical partners to advance drug development efforts (“MRD Pharma”). We believe clonoSEQ is the test of choice in MRD testing for hematologic malignancies with industry leading sensitivity. With the use of clonoSEQ, we are transforming how lymphoid cancers are treated by working with providers, pharmaceutical partners, and payors.
The IM business area leverages our platform’s proprietary ability to sequence, map, pair and characterize T cell receptors (“TCRs”) and B cell receptors (“BCRs”) at scale to drive research and clinical opportunities in our therapeutic areas of focus: cancer, autoimmune, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. It is comprised primarily of two main growth areas: IM Pharma Services and drug discovery (“Drug Discovery”). Within IM Pharma Services, we use our core immunosequencing capabilities to deliver rich immune receptor data back to our biopharmaceutical and academic customers. These data are used to aid in understanding biomarkers of drug response which may accelerate our customers’ clinical development programs in our therapeutic areas of focus. Our portfolio is comprised of more than 140 active studies with more than 85 biopharmaceutical companies. We continue to scale the research use of our immune receptor data and to increase penetration in later stage, larger clinical trials, including more phase 3 trials. In Drug Discovery, we use our proprietary capabilities to discover new drug targets and leverage our validated TCR and BCR discovery approaches to develop TCR and/or antibody therapeutic candidates against these novel targets. Within Drug Discovery, our programs are focused on cancer and autoimmunity. These programs may be developed on our own or we may choose to work with partners. Our initial partnered pipeline includes the programs in development with Genentech, Inc. (“Genentech”) to advance TCR cellular therapies in oncology.
In addition, part of our strategy within the IM business area is to develop a diagnostic test for many diseases from a single blood test, known as T-Detect. In 2020 and 2022, we launched two diagnostic tests, T-Detect COVID and T-Detect Lyme; however, in 2022, we decided to defer further commercialization of T-Detect until we have multiple signals with strong enough data to impact physician behavior with a clear path to reimbursement.
Immune medicine is one of the largest global addressable markets in healthcare. We estimate the potential global market opportunity for our portfolio to be approximately $49 billion, including approximately $5 billion for product and services related to our MRD business area and approximately $44 billion for products and services related to our IM business area. We use multiple sources and assumptions to estimate the total addressable market for immune medicine. While we believe them to be reasonable, these sources and assumptions may be incorrect or subject to change due to any number of factors. Despite the novelty of this area, we believe we are uniquely positioned to develop and commercialize a pipeline of immune-driven diagnostic and therapeutic products across multiple disease states by leveraging the cumulative learning from our immune medicine platform.
Selected 2022 Results
In 2022, our revenue increased by 20% to $185.3 million, including double-digit percentage increases in both our MRD and IM business areas while operating expenses were significantly leveraged as a result of streamlined operations from the reorganization into two business areas during the year. Operating expenses increased from $363.3 million during the year ended December 31, 2021 to $385.5 million during the year ended December 31, 2022, representing a moderate increase of $22.2 million compared to an increase of $112.1 million from the year ended December 31, 2020 to the year ended December 31, 2021. In addition, we strengthened our capital position through a non-dilutive financing in September 2022, from which we added $124.4 million to our balance sheet, net of expenses. As of December 31, 2022, cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities was $498.2 million.
In early 2022, we restructured around two business areas, MRD and IM, and streamlined our workforce. As part of the strategic decisions made in the restructuring, we paused sales of our first two T-Detect tests, T-Detect COVID and T-Detect Lyme. The commercialization process for individual indications required more time and higher costs than anticipated, and we therefore decided to defer commercialization for T-Detect until we have strong enough data in multiple disease states to impact physician behavior with a clear path to reimbursement. In late 2022, we announced our expected path to profitability. We estimate positive adjusted EBITDA by the end of 2025, and cash flow breakeven by the end of 2026. We estimate revenue to grow at a 20% to 30% compound annual growth rate through 2027, while our operating expenses are expected to grow at a lower rate over the same period.
Our Immune Medicine Platform
The adaptive immune system is comprised of specialized cells, called T cells and B cells, which hold the instructions for diagnosing and treating most diseases. These instructions enable these cells to identify, bind and destroy pathogens or human cells presenting foreign signals of disease (“antigens”) using receptors on their cell surface. Unlike all other genes in the human genome, the genetic sequences of TCRs and BCRs rearrange over time creating massive genetic diversity. The resulting diversity of the adaptive immune repertoire, which consists of over 100 million different genes in a healthy adult compared to approximately 30,000 genes in the static human genome, gives the immune system the ability to detect and respond to millions of different antigens associated with human disease.
Our immune medicine platform combines a suite of proprietary chemistry, computational biology and machine learning to generate clinical immunomics data to decode the adaptive immune system. It extracts and interprets insights from the adaptive immune system with the scale, precision and speed required to enable the design of clinical products tailored to the specific genetics of each patient’s immune system.
Our immune medicine platform performs the following key functions related to immune receptors:
The massive amount of data generated by our immune medicine platform is stored in our dynamic clinical immunomics database. We believe the application of machine learning, supported by our collaboration with Microsoft, has the potential to exponentially accelerate our ability to derive novel insights from this database and use them to inform our robust product development efforts. Further, our platform supports a robust portfolio of products and services, including commercial products and services in clinical diagnostics, and we have developed products and services in both the clinical diagnostics and drug discovery areas.
Our Products and Pipeline (MRD)
The MRD business area focuses on the use of our highly sensitive, FDA-authorized NGS assay to measure MRD in patients with hematologic malignancies. It is comprised of our clonoSEQ clinical diagnostic test, offered to clinicians, and our clonoSEQ assay offered to biopharmaceutical partners to advance drug development efforts. We believe clonoSEQ is the test of choice in MRD testing for hematological malignancies with industry leading sensitivity of 1 out of 1,000,000 cells, given sufficient sample input. By taking a baseline measurement prior to starting therapy and then tracking the number of cells at several time points following therapy initiation, hematologists can improve their ability to assess treatment response, predict long-term patient outcomes, monitor disease burden over time and detect potential relapse. With the use of clonoSEQ, we are transforming how lymphoid cancers are treated by working with biopharmaceutical partners, providers and payors. For instance, with the use of clonoSEQ we have the potential to accelerate the development of drugs in lymphoid cancers, assist physicians with critical clinical decisions, and enable treatment decisions which may lower payor cost through the discontinuation of costly drugs that are no longer needed.
Our clonoSEQ diagnostic test detects and monitors the remaining number of cancer cells that are present in a patient’s body during and after treatment, known as MRD. In September 2018, clonoSEQ was granted marketing authorization from the FDA, under the de novo process, for patients with MM and ALL to monitor their MRD from bone marrow samples. In August 2020, the clonoSEQ label was expanded to include patients with CLL from bone marrow and blood samples. clonoSEQ is also available for use in other lymphoid cancers as an LDT. In 2022, the assay was launched as a CLIA-validated test to detect MRD in blood for patients with DLBCL by measuring circulating tumor DNA (“ctDNA”), which provides patients and clinicians with a powerful blood-based prognostic tool. Our strategy is to generate additional clinical data in DLBCL and file with the FDA to support clinical adoption and increase usage by our biopharmaceutical partners. We believe clonoSEQ has broad applicability across all lymphoid malignancies, as set forth in the figure below:
1"CLIA-Validated" means tests available to order as a CLIA-validated LDT service: that use has not been cleared or approved by the FDA
In January 2019, clonoSEQ received Medicare coverage aligned with the FDA label and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (“NCCN”) guidelines for longitudinal monitoring in MM and ALL. Over the years, we secured additional payor coverage for clonoSEQ aligned with our FDA label with Medicare, national private payors and large regional plans for a total of over 245 million covered lives for ALL and MM, over 190 million covered lives for CLL and over 70 million covered lives for DLBCL. In November 2021, MolDX published its LCD for MRD testing. This LCD not only affirmed the importance of MRD and clonoSEQ coverage in ALL, MM and CLL in bone marrow and blood, but also provided a clear and efficient pathway for seeking expanded clonoSEQ coverage through technical assessments in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (“NHL”). In July 2022, coverage expansion continued as we secured Medicare coverage for DLBCL, the most common form of NHL. We secured clonoSEQ coverage with Medicare for DLBCL patients regardless of line of therapy, treatment regimen, or testing timepoint. clonoSEQ is the first and only MRD test to receive Medicare coverage in DLBCL.
clonoSEQ testing has been ordered by clinicians for over 33,000 unique patients and used by more than 60 biopharmaceutical companies in 187 active clinical trials, representing approximately 21% penetration of active industry sponsored clinical trials in lymphoid cancers as of December 31, 2022. We continue to deepen our commercial investments to expand clinical adoption of clonoSEQ and have increased the strength of our specialized sales and customer support organization and supporting infrastructure in the United States. We have also successfully transferred the technology to seven labs in other parts of the world.
In addition, we continue to develop product improvements for clonoSEQ. In 2021, we launched an enhanced version of our clonoSEQ B-cell Clonality (ID) reports, which now includes IGHV mutation status for patients with CLL. The presence of IGHV mutations have been proven prognostic of better outcomes in CLL patients. We believe that this improvement strengthens the clonoSEQ product by aiding clinicians in evaluating prognosis, simplifying diagnosis, and improving overall patient management by providing additional clinically valuable CLL information. In October 2022, we entered into a partnership with Epic to integrate clonoSEQ into Epic’s electronic medical record system, which we believe will enable easier test ordering and results access for the clonoSEQ test.
We have a multi-pronged strategy to deepen penetration of clonoSEQ and improve our commercial and operational infrastructure. We are focused on utilization of blood-based testing to increase the number of tests per patient; expansion into new patient populations within NHL, starting with DLBCL; and demonstration of clinical utility at multiple points along the patient continuum of care. In parallel, we continue to enhance customer experience with EMR integration and optimize payor coverage to increase ASP and improve margins.
The MRD Pharma business area focuses on offering our clonoSEQ assay to biopharmaceutical partners to advance drug development efforts. Given the broad penetration of clonoSEQ, we believe there is a significant growth opportunity for our MRD Pharma business, as we aim to replicate clonoSEQ's success in other indications, especially in DLBCL where there is significant ongoing drug development activity.
Evolving Clinical Utility Data
We believe that the value of clonoSEQ as a decision-making tool may enable clinicians to select the best patient treatment options based on MRD status. Two examples of recent expanded clinical use cases and drug development advances include:
Additional prospective studies are underway, and many have shared interim data at industry conferences. As more studies read out, we expect there may be greater adoption of MRD in clinical decision making, which could result in more patients benefiting from clonoSEQ and greater frequency of testing for each patient helped.
Our Products and Pipeline (IM)
The IM business is comprised primarily of two main growth areas: IM Pharma Services and Drug Discovery. The core of our immune medicine platform is our immunoSEQ technology. immunoSEQ utilizes multiplex, bias-controlled PCR to accurately and quantitatively sequence millions of immune receptors at high-throughput directly from DNA. Since inception, immunoSEQ has been used for research purposes by academic researchers and biopharmaceutical companies to answer translational research questions relating to the adaptive immune system, monitor response to therapies and discover new prognostic and diagnostic signals. We offer computational services to assist our customers in realizing the power of their data and to compare their data to other publicly available datasets in our clinical immunomics database. The expanding database has led to over 650 peer-reviewed publications referencing immunoSEQ and potential clinical signals to explore.
IM Pharma Services
In IM Pharma Services we use our core immunosequencing capabilities to deliver rich immune receptor data back to our biopharmaceutical customers in order to potentially accelerate their clinical development programs in our therapeutic areas of focus, which are cancer, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. A key application of our immune receptor data is the ability to annotate T-cell signatures of disease from patient samples to understand the cellular immune response to most past and present diseases. TCRs in blood may be used to determine the genes or peptides that are being targeted by the immune system and the strength of this disease-specific immune response. Potential clinical applications of this include:
Other key applications of immune receptor data are graphically represented below.
We believe we can achieve sustainable growth from this business as we continue to expand our portfolio in various disease states and by study phase: our data is used in preclinical, phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 trials. We plan to continue to scale research use of TCR and BCR data and to increase penetration in later stage, larger clinical trials, including more phase 3 trials.
In Drug Discovery, we use our proprietary capabilities to discover new drug targets and develop TCR or antibody therapeutic assets to those targets in commercially attractive indications. We are focusing our drug discovery programs mainly in cancer and autoimmunity, areas where we can pursue partnerships with others or pursue development on our own.
Our proprietary TCR therapeutics discovery process characterizes TCRs against antigens for use in the development of therapeutics. In December 2018, we entered into an exclusive collaboration with Genentech to leverage this capability for the development of cellular therapies in oncology. We are pursuing two product development pathways for novel T cell immunotherapies in which Genentech intends to use TCRs screened by our immune medicine platform to engineer and manufacture cellular medicines:
In addition to our partnership in oncology cell therapy with Genentech, we are expanding our efforts in autoimmunity where we believe we are uniquely positioned to make important contributions. In autoimmune disorders, disease specific antigens are not well-known and treatment protocols are largely limited to general anti-inflammatory drugs, indicating a significant opportunity to develop therapeutics in this area to restore patient immune balance. Therefore, we are leveraging our unique capabilities to identify specific targets that are causative of the disease, particularly in multiple sclerosis (“MS”) and inflammatory bowel disease (“IBD”). Our expertise is based on our ability to find HLA presented, disease specific epitopes that T cells hit naturally. We are also developing novel mechanisms against those targets by leveraging the TCR discovery capabilities we developed for Genentech and the antibody discovery capabilities we built and confirmed for COVID-19. Our next step is to generate data that enable us to continue to develop these programs, either on our own or with partners.
Our Competitive Strengths
We aim to harness the inherent biology of the adaptive immune system to develop clinical products and services that improve human health by leveraging our core competitive strengths.
Our focus is to leverage our immune medicine platform and competitive strengths to develop transformative clinical solutions that are accessible to patients with a range of diseases.
A Primer: The Adaptive Immune System
Over millions of years, the adaptive immune system has evolved an elegant solution to keeping people healthy. It recognizes and responds to most antigens, whether they come from outside the body, such as a virus, or inside the body, such as mutations that drive cancer.
The innate and adaptive immune systems both play a role in human immunity, but only the adaptive immune system provides a specific response to signals of disease, or antigens. These disease specific antigens are primarily fragments of proteins that are recognized as foreign, such as proteins from a virus. However, antigens can be recognized as foreign even if they are not from a pathogen. In cancer cells, antigens are generated from neoantigens, which are derived from mutations specific only to the cancer, or tumor associated antigens (“TAAs”), which are from aberrantly expressed normal proteins. For autoimmune disorders, the immune system mistakenly recognizes normal protein fragments as foreign antigens and attacks otherwise healthy tissue.
The Adaptive Immune Response
The key cells of the adaptive immune system that enable our bodies to mount responses against antigens are called T cells and B cells. T cells can destroy target cells directly, and B cells secrete antibodies, activating other parts of the immune system to destroy targets.
Each T and B cell has a unique Y-shaped receptor, which can recognize one or a small number of the millions of antigens to which our bodies are continuously exposed. When an adaptive immune response is initiated against a particular disease, the T cells and B cells encoding the disease-specific targeting receptors rapidly multiply through clonal expansion, allowing for a powerful immune response. Some of these expanded cells directly attack the disease, and others form long-term memory to allow rapid recognition of the same antigens in the future and protect against reinfection. Unlike all other genes in the human genome, the genetic sequences of TCRs and BCRs rearrange over time through a complex biological process resulting in massive diversity. The diversity of these receptors is made possible by a unique reshuffling of their genetic code known as V(D)J recombination (V=Variable, D=Diversity, J=Joining). This recombination process only occurs in T cells and B cells, and it results in each cell clone having a unique receptor-associated deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”) sequence. This unique DNA sequence acts like a barcode that can be used to identify and track an individual receptor over time, as shown in the figure below:
The adaptive immune response requires millions of these unique receptors to be widely distributed and present in the blood at all times in order to have the ability to rapidly respond to many different diseases simultaneously. Even after a specific TCR binds to an antigen and clonally expands, the frequency of these expanded T-cell clones containing the TCR remains relatively low in relation to the estimated trillions of other T cells that are circulating. We have demonstrated this by sequencing thousands of healthy individuals for control cohorts for our research and development efforts. We now know that disease-specific TCRs that are clonally expanded in a patient’s blood are present, on average, at less than 1 cell out of 100,000 cells. Despite their relatively low abundance, disease-specific TCRs can mount a systemic, persistent response to most perturbations because of the highly specialized properties of the immune response summarized in the table below:
In order to fully leverage these inherent properties of the immune system to develop clinical products, this enormous diversity and scale must be taken into consideration to be able to reliably and repeatedly measure the relative frequency of each disease-specific T cell in the blood. For example, cancer-specific TCRs circulating in the blood of a cancer patient are only present at 1 out of 100,000 cells. Auto-reactive T cells specific to any given autoimmune disorder circulating in the blood are only present at 1 out of 1,000,000 cells. Accordingly, the ability to detect disease-specific T cells requires a technology that can quantitatively probe a minimum of hundreds of thousands to millions of blood cells from each sample.
Our Immune Medicine Platform
We built a platform that can reveal and translate these properties of the adaptive immune system with the scale, precision and speed required to enable the development of personalized products, including disease monitoring, clinical diagnostic tests for early detection and immune-based therapeutics. Our immune medicine platform combines a suite of proprietary chemistry, computational biology and machine learning to generate clinical immunomics data to decode the adaptive immune system and transform the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
The massive amount of data generated by our immune medicine platform is stored in our dynamic clinical immunomics database. We believe the application of machine learning with Microsoft has the potential to exponentially accelerate the growth of novel insights from this database, which we expect will further inform our product development efforts, as demonstrated by the growing number of clinical signals we are generating, including signals for SARS-CoV-2, Lyme disease, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, MS and IBD.
Sequence with immunoSEQ
immunoSEQ sequences single chains of Y-shaped TCRs and BCRs using NGS. NGS generally describes several modern sequencing technologies that enable more efficient DNA and ribonucleic acid (“RNA”) sequencing than prior technologies. The key innovation in the development of immunoSEQ, pioneered by Dr. Harlan Robins and a team of leading immunologists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“Fred Hutch”), was a novel approach utilizing PCR, hybridization and sequencing of rearranged TCRs to determine the sequences in millions of rearranged TCR genes, as shown in the figure below. We apply a similar approach for BCR sequencing. All of the data generated by immunoSEQ is uploaded to our clinical immunomics database and accessed through our proprietary cloud-based visualization and analytic tool called the immunoSEQ Analyzer.
One of the biggest challenges of any multiplex PCR technique is controlling for PCR amplification bias, which is critical for accuracy. We solved for this problem by creating a synthetic immune repertoire that mimics rearranged immune receptor loci for all V and J genes. By identifying specific primers that are either under or over amplified, titrating the primer concentrations and computationally adjusting residual bias, we optimize quantitation. The accuracy and reproducibility of our bias control methodology was demonstrated in our lab and independently in a multi-center, lab-to-lab concordance study using our immunoSEQ RUO kit. The ability to generate an unbiased TCR or BCR sequencing read-out is paramount for any clinical product and will be required for the utility and reliability of clinical kits.
immunoSEQ enables us to observe the majority of receptors involved in a real human immune response, providing deep insights into a complex biological system that was previously challenging to understand.
Map with MIRA
Our proprietary MIRA technology enables the identification of TCRs specific to thousands of antigens simultaneously. The MIRA technology leverages a multiplexed, combinatorial approach to mapping TCRs to antigens in four steps:
Combined with immunoSEQ, MIRA elucidates what diseases a patient’s immune system has been exposed to or is actively fighting at a scale that is one thousand times more sensitive than standard immunological techniques such as ELISPOT, or enzyme-linked immunospot.
Pair with pairSEQ
Our proprietary pairSEQ technology builds on immunosequencing by using a combinatorial strategy to accurately pair the two chains of Y-shaped immune cell receptors at higher throughput than can be achieved with single cell sequencing. Pairing is difficult because the two chains of the Y-shaped receptor are located on different chromosomes, which get separated when DNA is extracted from a cell for sequencing. By pairing TCRs or BCRs, we rapidly detect thousands of complete chain sequences to develop new TCR-mediated cellular therapies or to develop differentiated antibodies.
Our proprietary TCR therapeutics process characterizes binding, cytotoxicity and safety properties of antigen-specific, paired TCRs to identify a select subset that are therapeutic-grade, enabling the development of optimal clinical candidates to be engineered into TCR-mediated cellular therapies. Our comprehensive TCR characterization process utilizes advanced cellular immunology to measure TCRs against a variety of metrics to determine the optimal clinical candidates. Antigen-specific, paired TCRs undergo evaluation for avidity, cytokine release, cytotoxicity and safety. Those TCRs that pass the first safety filter are then evaluated for TCR reactivity against T cell lines and primary cells. To date, we have identified and characterized to different stages more than 5,000 unique antigen-specific TCRs against 600 different clinically relevant targets, constituting our pipeline of possible clinical candidates. TCR characterization is summarized in the figure below:
In collaboration with Genentech, we plan to apply a similar process to screen, identify and characterize in real-time what we believe are the most promising patient-specific TCRs targeting the patient’s specific cancer antigens, advancing the next generation of cellular therapy in oncology.
Our platform enables the discovery and characterization of BCRs for use as therapeutic antibodies. Our key differentiator is the ability to tap into the massive diversity of the B-cell repertoire to identify naturally-occurring, fully human antibodies at unprecedented scale. In April 2020, we deployed our platform to identify neutralizing antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. We processed blood from more than 300 recovered and symptomatic COVID-19 patients. We then applied our high-throughput BCR pairing technology and paired more than 490,000 antibody heavy and light chains. We evaluated these BCR sequences in silico and selected more than 3,300 likely attractive antibody candidates for downstream functional characterization, including affinity binding and live virus neutralization. We believe these efforts represented a differentiated platform extension that will position us to pursue additional potential antibody discovery opportunities in a variety of disease states, including in autoimmunity where there is an unmet need.
Clinical Immunomics Database
We are developing a large, dynamic clinical immunomics database. We use our proprietary software and core competency in computational biology to structure and store immune receptor data and to create tools for rapid analysis and easy visualization. All immunosequencing data is processed and uploaded to a secure cloud-based database.
The diseases a person has encountered, both past and present, is recorded in their TCR repertoire. This comprehensive disease information is contained in the immunosequencing data that we generate from each sample, which we believe will be revealed over time by our TCR-Antigen Map. We plan to map, both directly and through machine learning, an estimated 1015 TCRs to thousands of clinically relevant antigens, which we believe will allow us to annotate this immunosequencing data with information about disease states, increasing the value of the data over time.
We leverage our database to fuel our pipeline of immune medicine products. With over 58 billion immune receptors, our platform enables us to work with retrospective samples which serve as training sets to which our Microsoft collaborators apply machine learning and computational statistics to improve the accuracy of certain of our clinical products and services.
Our Products and Services
clonoSEQ: Detection and Monitoring of MRD
Our first diagnostic product, clonoSEQ, is an FDA-authorized NGS test for the detection and monitoring of MRD in bone marrow or blood samples in patients with select lymphoid malignancies in which the malignant cell is derived from a T cell or a B cell. MRD refers to the presence and number of these malignant T or B cells that may remain in a patient’s body during and following treatment. Because our technology quantifies the frequency of every T cell or B cell in a sample, we can monitor MRD accurately at a sensitivity of 1 out of 1,000,000 cells, given sufficient sample input. By taking a baseline measurement prior to starting therapy and then tracking the number of cells at several time points following therapy initiation, hematologists can improve their ability to assess treatment response, predict long-term patient outcomes, monitor disease burden over time and detect potential relapse. clonoSEQ is FDA-authorized for patients with MM and ALL from bone marrow samples and for patients with CLL from bone marrow and blood samples. clonoSEQ is also available as an LDT for use across lymphoid malignancies and sample types, including those which have not been authorized by the FDA. Most notably, in 2022, the assay launched as a CLIA-validated test to detect MRD in blood for patients with DLBCL by measuring ctDNA, which provides patients and clinicians with a powerful blood-based prognostic tool.
NCCN Guidelines recommend using a validated test to measure MRD to define the burden of disease and assess response to therapy in MM and ALL after each treatment stage. NGS MRD testing has been added to these guidelines and we plan to seek expansion of the recommendations to include additional time points in each disease state and to incorporate clonoSEQ specific data. In 2021, NCCN updated the adult ALL guidelines to emphasize the importance of achieving MRD negativity and incorporate recommendations on MRD actionability post-induction.
MRD monitoring is becoming increasingly important in the hematologic oncology field because highly effective new therapies are extending survival. This has created a need for more sensitive tools to monitor the disease status of patients over longer periods of time and has introduced the potential for MRD to be included as a surrogate or primary endpoint in registrational clinical trials. We believe we are uniquely positioned to benefit from these industry dynamics with both our clinical and biopharmaceutical customers.
In the clinic, clonoSEQ testing has been ordered by clinicians at centers all around the country, including all 32 NCCN centers. We believe increased adoption of clonoSEQ will now be possible due to the extensive coverage policies granted by Medicare to assess MRD at multiple time points throughout therapy in MM, ALL and CLL. We believe clonoSEQ has broad applicability across all lymphoid malignancies. In 2022, we launched clonoSEQ in DLBCL, and secured clonoSEQ coverage in Medicare for DLBCL, with DLBCL patients covered regardless of line of therapy, treatment regimen, or testing timepoint. We are in active discussions with other large private national and regional payors. To further demonstrate the actionability of MRD monitoring, we launched a clinical registry in 2020 called The Watch Registry. This prospective, multicenter, observational study will include approximately 500 adult patients with lymphoid malignancies in the United States. To date, we have enrolled over 400 patients across 18 sites and expect to complete enrollment in 2023.
Among biopharmaceutical companies, we believe clonoSEQ remains the preferred commercial test for MRD monitoring in their registrational trials. clonoSEQ is now being used by more than 60 biopharmaceutical companies in 187 active clinical trials. To continue demonstrating clinical utility across disease settings and lines of therapy, clonoSEQ is also being used in 95 ongoing prospective investigator-led clinical trials, and our MRD data have been included in over 110 peer-reviewed publications.
We continue to deepen our commercial investments to expand clinical adoption of clonoSEQ and have significantly expanded the size of our fully-trained specialized sales and customer support organization and supporting infrastructure. We have continued to expand our team of demand generation representatives who are hematology specialists and are focusing their efforts on expanding access to clonoSEQ in community oncology settings, which we believe will be facilitated by the recent launch of DLBCL blood testing via Streck tubes. In October 2022, we entered into a partnership with Epic to integrate clonoSEQ into Epic’s EMR system, which we believe will enable easier test ordering and results access for the clonoSEQ test.
Outside of the United States, we have successfully transferred the technology to seven labs across France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Australia and Japan which provide local testing options, primarily in support of collaborative group and investigator-sponsored studies, and secured reimbursement for ALL in Australia in 2022.
clonoSEQ is our FDA-authorized, NGS MRD technology that is designed to sequence all rearranged receptor sequences in a tumor in parallel to ensure accurate, sensitive and robust MRD monitoring.
A summary of the steps for FDA-authorized usage is as follows:
Adaptive Assist: Patient support program
Adaptive Assist is our patient support program to facilitate access to clonoSEQ testing services for patients who could benefit from the clinical insights provided by NGS MRD testing. Patients can call to discuss their individual circumstances with one of our dedicated patient support representatives in order to better understand their coverage prior to clonoSEQ testing and to navigate the insurance process, including appeals for denied claims. We also offer financial assistance for qualified uninsured and under-insured patients who cannot afford their patient financial responsibility for clonoSEQ.
Clinical Validation in FDA Filing for MM, ALL and CLL
Our clonoSEQ test has been shown to help better predict patient outcomes and add insight to the evaluation of disease response to therapy because we have clinically validated clonoSEQ’s ability to detect MRD at a sensitivity greater than the clinical standard for all lymphoid malignancies. clonoSEQ has demonstrated sensitivity of 1 out of 1,000,000 cells (10-6), given sufficient sample input, which is a deeper resolution than the current accepted standard of 1 out of 100,000 cells (10-5), 1 out of 10,000 cells (10-4) or 1 out of 10,000 cells (10-4) for MM, ALL and CLL, respectively. Based on these results, as further illustrated below, we believe clinical standards for MRD sensitivity may be increased to 10-6 to better predict patient outcomes.
Clinical validation in MM was demonstrated in two studies. The first study, a 720 patient, randomized phase III trial conducted at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI 10-106), evaluated the ability to predict PFS and disease-free survival in patients who achieved complete response (“CR”) and the ability to predict PFS in all evaluable patients. This study demonstrates that MRD negativity for patients in CR significantly predicts PFS.
The second study, a 706 patient, randomized phase III trial sponsored by Janssen Biotech, Inc. (“ALCYONE”), evaluated Darzalex in patients with newly diagnosed MM who were transplant ineligible and served as the basis of the approval of Darzalex in combination with Bortezomib, Melphalan and Prednisone (“VMP”) in this patient population. This study provides evidence that our clonoSEQ diagnostic test is predictive of PFS, regardless of treatment received. Patients who were MRD negative at less than or equal to 10-5 had longer PFS and the group with persistent MRD negativity had the longest PFS overall.
Clinical validation in ALL was demonstrated in two Children’s Oncology Group studies, AALL0232 (high risk) and AALL0331 (standard risk) by evaluating the ability of clonoSEQ to predict event-free survival (“EFS”) at a primary cutoff of 10-4 and across a continuous MRD measure. Results demonstrate that patients with the lowest levels of MRD have better outcomes than patients with higher disease burden regardless of risk stratification.
Clinical validation in CLL was demonstrated in two studies. The first, a 337 patient randomized phase III registrational study in previously untreated CLL patients sponsored by Roche (CLL14), evaluated the ability of clonoSEQ to predict PFS at a primary cutoff of 10-5 and across continuous MRD measures from blood. The study demonstrates that MRD negative patients had significantly better PFS, independent of treatment regimen.
The second was a prospective, phase 2 clinical trial in previously untreated CLL patients in which MRD was assessed from both blood and bone marrow. MRD negativity at multiple cutoffs (10-4, 10-5, and 10-6) was significantly associated with better PFS. MRD was also prognostic of PFS when disease burden was assessed as a continuous measure (no MRD threshold). This study demonstrates that MRD is predictive of better PFS and can be assessed from either bone marrow or blood.
Evolution of MRD into Clinical Decision Making Tool
While clinical utility has been a barrier to adoption in the past, this is changing quickly as we see multiple studies reading out that clearly demonstrate the value of MRD testing for patients.
Strategy to Achieve Market Leadership
We aim to drive adoption and achieve market leadership for MRD monitoring with clonoSEQ for all lymphoid malignancies. To do so, we are executing upon the following strategic initiatives:
The IM business area leverages our platform’s proprietary ability to sequence, map, pair and characterize TCRs and BCRs at scale to drive research and clinical opportunities in cancer, autoimmune, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. The core of our immune medicine platform is our immunoSEQ technology. immunoSEQ utilizes multiplex, bias-controlled PCR to accurately and quantitatively sequence millions of immune receptors at high-throughput directly from DNA. Since inception, immunoSEQ has been used for research purposes by academic researchers and biopharmaceutical companies to answer translational research questions relating to the adaptive immune system, monitor response to therapies and discover new prognostic and diagnostic signals. We offer computational services to assist our customers in realizing the power of their data and to compare their data to other publicly available datasets in our clinical immunomics database.
IM Pharma Services
In IM Pharma Services, we use our core immunosequencing capabilities to deliver rich immune receptor data back to our biopharmaceutical and academic customers. A key application of our immune receptor data is the ability to annotate T-cell signatures of disease from patient samples to understand the cellular immune response to most past and present diseases. TCRs in blood may be used to determine which gene or peptides are being targeted by the immune system and the strength of this disease-specific immune response. Potential clinical applications of this include:
Other key applications of immune receptor data are clone tracking, tracking TCRs and BCRs over time or between sample types, detection of clonal overlap between different samples or at different times, monitoring of changes in T-cells fraction over time or between samples, and identifying highly expanded clones and diversity of the repertoire.
Our current portfolio is comprised of more than 140 active studies with more than 85 biopharmaceutical companies. IM Pharma Services revenue grew 67% in 2022. We expect sustainable growth from this business as we continue to expand our portfolio in various disease states and by study phase: our data is used in preclinical, phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 trials. We continue to scale research use of rich TCR and BCR data and to increase penetration in later stage, larger clinical trials, including more phase 3 trials.
In Drug Discovery, we use our proprietary capabilities to discover new drug targets and develop TCR or antibody therapeutic assets to those targets in commercially attractive indications. We are focusing our drug discovery efforts mainly on cancer and autoimmunity, and we are advancing programs to either partner or develop drug candidates on our own.
Our proprietary TCR therapeutics discovery process characterizes TCRs against antigens for use in the development of therapeutics. In December 2018, we entered into an exclusive collaboration with Genentech to leverage this capability for the development of cellular therapies in oncology. We are pursuing two product development pathways for novel T cell immunotherapies in which Genentech intends to use TCRs screened by our immune medicine platform to engineer and manufacture cellular medicines.
In addition to our partnership in oncology cell therapy with Genentech, we are expanding our drug discovery efforts in autoimmunity where we believe we are uniquely positioned to make important contributions. In autoimmune disorders, disease specific antigens are not well-known and treatment protocols are largely limited to general anti-inflammatory drugs, indicating a significant opportunity to develop therapeutics in this area to restore patient immune balance. Therefore, we are leveraging our unique capabilities to identify specific targets that are causative of the disease, particularly in MS and IBD. Our expertise is based on our ability to find HLA presented, disease specific epitopes that T cells hit naturally. We are also developing novel mechanisms against those targets by leveraging the TCR discovery capabilities we developed for GNE and the antibody discovery capabilities we built and confirmed for COVID-19. Our next step is to generate data that enable us to continue with these drug discovery programs either in partnership or on our own.
TCR Discovery for Cellular Therapy
We have developed a high-throughput TCR screening process that allows for the discovery of antigen-specific TCRs that occur in low frequencies in healthy individuals. We believe this provides a set of naturally-occurring TCRs with a more favorable safety profile in comparison to engineered TCRs. We then further characterize these naturally-occurring TCRs for binding avidity and cytotoxic potency. To date, we have identified and characterized to different stages more than 5,000 unique antigen-specific, paired TCRs against 600 different clinically relevant targets, constituting our pipeline of possible clinical candidates. We complete a data package for each characterized TCR that we believe meets the thresholds for therapeutic evaluation. These thresholds are divided into a series of seven key steps covering antigen specificity, functional avidity, cytolysis and safety assessment. A package is considered complete when the TCR meets the rigorous criteria for all seven steps and the data are compiled to support an IND package. For the shared product, we delivered three TCR fully characterized data packages against validated neoantigen targets, and Genentech selected the first neoantigen TCR to advance as a potential cell therapy product. Our high-throughput screening technologies enable us to discover TCRs against any type of antigen which opens up the potential to develop novel TCR-mediated cellular therapies for any type of cancer. As compared to cellular therapies that target T cell surface antigens that are not specific to cancer, we believe our approach to TCR cellular therapies may mitigate the risk of off-target side effects. Therefore, we believe our approach may be applicable to the vast majority of solid tumors, even those where the tissue of origin is vital to survival such as lung or renal.
In December 2018, Genentech selected our platform to develop, manufacture and commercialize novel neoantigen directed T cell therapies for the treatment of a broad range of cancers. Our ultimate goal is to harness the vast majority of therapeutically relevant, patient-specific TCRs against neoantigens and advance the next generation of cellular therapies in oncology. We believe our TCR discovery capabilities may also facilitate the development of cellular therapies in disease areas beyond cancer, which we can commercialize outside of the Genentech collaboration.
Strategic Collaboration with Genentech
Through our worldwide collaboration and license agreement with Genentech, we plan to develop, manufacture and commercialize novel neoantigen directed T cell therapies for the treatment of a broad range of cancers to advance the next generation of cellular therapies in oncology. We are pursuing two product development pathways for novel T cell immunotherapies in which Genentech intends to use TCRs screened by our immune medicine platform to engineer and manufacture cellular medicines:
Under the terms of the agreement, we received a $300.0 million initial upfront payment in February 2019, and we may be eligible to receive approximately $1.8 billion in aggregate milestone payments upon achievement of specified development, regulatory and commercial milestones. Additionally, we may receive royalties on sales of products commercialized under that agreement. Genentech will be responsible for clinical, regulatory and commercialization efforts. We will be responsible for the screening and identification of TCRs that can most effectively recognize and directly target specific cancer antigens, including neoantigens.
In parallel, we plan to evaluate an investment in additional facilities that would allow us to scale our end-to-end screening of patient-specific TCRs for potential future late-stage clinical trials and commercialization of the Personalized Product. We believe this investment would position us to potentially pursue additional opportunities outside of this collaboration, including developing and commercializing vaccines and cellular therapies in other disease states.
We believe we have the capacity to continuously discover new targets and develop TCR and antibody-based therapeutics against those targets. Our approach is to discover and develop TCR or antibody therapeutics to validated targets that T cells hit naturally. These targets are known as HLA-presented disease specific epitopes, which we are discovering and validating using our immune medicine platform. In autoimmune disorders, disease specific antigens are not well-known and treatment protocols are largely limited to general anti-inflammatory drugs, indicating there is a significant opportunity to develop therapeutics in this area to restore patient immune balance.
Antibody Discovery: Neutralizing Antibodies
Our antibody discovery process, similar to our TCR therapeutics process, leverages our high-throughput capabilities to screen millions of BCRs to identify unique antibodies from human blood. Our first proof of concept is for patients who are actively fighting or have recently recovered from COVID-19. In just several months, we collected blood from over 300 patients and hundreds of thousands of antibodies, of which we synthesized and characterized over 3,300 antibodies to various parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To date, we identified several candidates that neutralize live virus at very low concentrations, which means that a very small amount of each of these antibodies is able to block the virus from infecting cells. Using our antibody discovery method, we identified several lead antibody candidates that strongly bind to different parts of the virus. Our growing portfolio of novel antibodies includes candidates that bind to many parts of the virus, including the classic RBD region, S1, Trimer and S2.
Importantly, our antibody discovery approach is differentiated from other groups because of its scale and throughput, which allows us to identify a much broader set of naturally-occurring, fully human antibody candidates to select the best ones for clinical development. We are leveraging and optimizing our antibody discovery capabilities against a variety of disease states, including in autoimmunity, where there is an unmet need.
We believe the adaptive immune system presents an ideal model for diagnostic tools for early or accurate detection of disease. In many cases, treatment is typically most effective early in the course of a disease, when there is a minimal amount of disease-specific antigen present. TCRs recognize this very small amount of antigen before it is detectable by conventional methods and then they expand exponentially. Given this large response in proportion to the small amount of antigen present, we believe we will be able to see this signal of disease much sooner than is possible with other available methods of early disease detection. Additionally, the ability to rapidly and accurately identify the cause of non-descript symptoms may increase efficiency and compress the timeline between symptom and diagnosis, thus reducing the diagnostic odyssey that patients often endure in the current diagnostic paradigm. Through iterative data generation efforts, we continue to improve the accuracy of the TCR signatures of each disease by running blood samples from healthy donors, collaborating on retrospective studies with control groups in select disease states, and leveraging our database for additional sequences to include in the TCR signatures.
To date, we have launched T-Detect for two indications, COVID and Lyme. We launched T-Detect COVID in December 2020. The T-Detect COVID test is a novel T-cell based assay that has demonstrated high percent positive and percent negative agreement (PPA and NPA) to identify or exclude prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases and lack of cross-reactivity to several viral and respiratory pathogens. In March 2021, the FDA issued an EUA for T-Detect COVID to confirm recent or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. We believe the EUA was key to educating the FDA about the value of this new class of T-cell testing. We launched T-Detect Lyme in June 2022, primarily targeting symptomatic adult patients for early diagnosis. By making T-Detect Lyme available in our CLIA lab, we were also able to implement end-to-end and CLIA workflows. In 2022, we paused sales of both T-Detect indications. Our first two T-Detect tests represented validation of T-Detect's clinical testing capability in infectious diseases, but the cost is high to commercialize and improve signals one indication at a time through self-pay customers. Therefore, we decided to defer further commercialization until we have multiple signals with strong enough data to impact physician behavior and a clear path to reimbursement. Importantly, the underlying immune receptor data we have generated in many disease states is being leveraged to support our focused efforts on IM Pharma Services and in Drug Discovery. We continue to enhance these data as we advance our target and drug discovery efforts in cancer and autoimmune disease.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we collaborated with Microsoft to create the ImmuneCODE program to map the T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 across the global population. We leveraged the existing capabilities of our high throughput platform to generate T cell data from over 9,000 samples to understand the adaptive immune response to COVID-19. Another successful proof of concept for our platform is our licensing agreement with Nykode Therapeutics ASA (“Nykode”), in which virus-specific T cell epitopes identified by our platform were used to inform the design and development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates. In September 2022, Nykode announced positive clinical results from the Phase 1/2 open label, dose escalation trial of its vaccine candidate, which induced broad and strong T cell responses against both spike antigens and non-spike antigens, and it was safe and well-tolerated at all three dose levels. We believe this study demonstrates an important proof of concept for our platform to identify T cells against selected antigens to induce a powerful immune response.
Our People and Culture
Our employees, internally referred to as “Adapters,” are passionate about immune medicine, empowered by scientific discipline and fueled by our foresight and curiosity about the adaptive immune system.
As of December 31, 2022, we had 790 full-time employees of which 147 hold medical or doctoral degrees. None of our employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement and we have not experienced any work stoppages. We believe relations with our employees are good.
Our talented employees drive our mission and share core values that both stem from and define our culture. This plays an invaluable role in our ability to execute at all levels in our organization. Our core values are used in candidate screening, rewards and recognition criteria, and in employee evaluations to help reinforce their importance in our organization:
We believe our employees are highly engaged, and we were recognized consecutively from 2018 to 2022 by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of Washington State’s Best Places to Work. We were also nationally certified as a Great Place to Work in 2021 and 2022.
Diversity and Inclusion
We pride ourselves on inclusive team building, product design and gender diversity at all levels of management. We are committed to creating and maintaining a culture of belonging. In 2022, we expanded and implemented several diversity and inclusion initiatives. We continued to provide quality DEI programming through Employee Resource Groups (“ERGs”) including Women@Adaptive, Adaptive PRIDE, Black Adapter Network and Asian Pacific @ Adaptive and Sustainability @ Adaptive, and in 2022, we launched the Veteran and Military Families ERG. We also brought in Neurodivergent training for Adapters. We continued to explore diversity sourcing programs and partnerships, and we expanded our diversity training to a growing population of hiring managers. We also integrated hidden bias training into our Leader of People Program. Our Equity Advisory Council of senior leaders maintained a strategic focus on clinical studies, commercial engagement, recruiting, and retention through a diversity and inclusion lens. In November 2021, we received a Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score of 95/100 from the Human Rights Commission. Our score of 95 is an increase of 20 points from 2020s CEI score. We successfully executed a second year of our STEM minority mentoring partnership with University of Washington. We also announced an internship program for SPIN Girls, a transformative local program that builds leadership and provides immersive STEM experiences for high school girls.
Compensation and Benefits
We strive to provide compensation and benefits that are competitive to market and create incentives to attract and retain employees. Our compensation package includes market-competitive base pay, performance-based short-term incentives, health care, retirement benefits, paid time off and family leave. In addition, we offer employees the benefit of equity ownership in the Company through restricted stock unit awards. We also provide access to a variety of health and wellness resources, with special attention paid to post-pandemic mental health in 2022. This year also saw the winners of our annual Adaptive Leadership Awards announced, recognizing and celebrating those who best embody our Adaptive Leadership Principles.
Employee Development & Training
We prioritize employee development and training and have established programs to support a culture of employee development. Specifically, in 2022, we offered multiple learning solutions, including DayOne our new Adapter onboarding program, our Leader Orientation Program, our Leader of People Program, our Leader of Leaders program and our L-re:combinator Fellowship Program. All of our leadership development programs are multi-week, blended learning courses that feature self-paced online learning and live virtual training. DayOne focuses not just on HR and compliance orientation, but cultural onboarding with small group interactions with our Chief Executive Officer, cultural ambassadors and fellow new Adapters.
In 2022, 172 Adapters attended leadership development programs. 71% of Adaptive’s people leaders have attended at least one leadership training course. 253 Adapters completed DayOne. In our annual employee survey, Adaptive Listens, Adapters generally judged our managerial corps as one of Adaptive’s strengths for the second year in a row, a sign that investing in their development is translating into real-world results.
Strategic Collaborations and Other Agreements
In December 2018, we entered into an agreement with Genentech (“Genentech Agreement”) to develop, manufacture and commercialize novel neoantigen directed T cell therapies for the treatment of a broad range of cancers. Pursuant to the Genentech Agreement, we are responsible for the screening and identification of TCRs that can most effectively recognize and directly target specific neoantigens, while Genentech is responsible for clinical, regulatory and commercialization efforts. During the term of the Genentech Agreement, we have agreed to certain defined exclusivity obligations or restrictions with respect to the development and commercialization of certain cell therapies.
In February 2019, we received a $300.0 million upfront payment from Genentech. We also may be eligible to receive approximately $1.8 billion over time, including payments of up to $75.0 million upon the achievement of specified regulatory milestones, up to $300.0 million upon the achievement of specified development milestones, and up to $1.4 billion upon the achievement of specified commercial milestones. Genentech will also pay us tiered royalties at a rate ranging from the mid-single digits to the mid-teens on aggregate worldwide net sales of the Shared Products and the Personalized Product arising from the strategic collaboration, subject to certain reductions, with aggregate minimum floors. For the year ended December 31, 2022, 2021 and 2020, the Genentech Agreement accounted for 33.9%, 40.2% and 53.7% of our revenue, respectively.
The Genentech Agreement will continue until the expiration of all royalty payments, but may be terminated by mutual agreement, upon an uncured material breach by either party, upon insolvency of either party, or by Genentech for convenience upon prior written notice.
In December 2017, we entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Microsoft (“Microsoft Agreement”) to map TCR sequences to the antigens they bind with the goal of developing diagnostic tests for early detection of many diseases from a single blood test.
Pursuant to the Microsoft Agreement, Microsoft applies machine learning and computational statistics to our clinical immunomics data in order to produce predictive models that allow us to map TCR sequences to the antigens they bind. Under the Microsoft Agreement, we retain all rights to these predictive models and the data underlying our TCR-Antigen Map, including the right to commercialize clinical products using our TCR-Antigen Map. We and Microsoft have granted each other certain licenses to one another’s intellectual property rights and have agreed to certain defined exclusivity obligations with respect to collaborations and projects that are substantially similar to the Microsoft Agreement.
During the term of the Microsoft Agreement, we have agreed to exclusively use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services at standard volume pricing with a minimum Azure consumption requirement. We have also agreed to host each diagnostic product developed as a direct result of the Microsoft Agreement on Azure throughout the term of the Microsoft Agreement and for a period of five years thereafter. In addition, we have agreed to exclusively use Microsoft’s immunomics artificial intelligence services for TCR-antigen mapping in connection with all of our technology, products and services developed as a direct result of our collaboration with Microsoft throughout the term of the Microsoft Agreement.
The Microsoft Agreement has a seven-year term and may be terminated by mutual agreement or by either party upon an uncured material breach. Concurrently with entry into the Microsoft Agreement, Microsoft purchased shares of our Series F-1 convertible preferred stock which were converted into common stock upon the closing of our initial public offering in July 2019.
Revenue Interest Purchase Agreement
In September 2022, we entered into a Revenue Interest Purchase Agreement (the "Purchase Agreement") with OrbiMed Royalty & Credit Opportunities IV, LP ("OrbiMed"), an affiliate of OrbiMed Advisors LLC, as collateral agent and administrative agent for the purchasers party thereto (the “Purchasers”). Pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, we received $124.4 million from the Purchasers (the "First Payment"), net of expenses. We will also be entitled to receive up to $125 million in subsequent installments as follows: (i) $75 million upon our request occurring no later than September 12, 2025 (the “Second Payment”) and (ii) $50 million upon our request in connection with certain permitted acquisitions occurring no later than September 12, 2025 (the “Third Payment”), in each case subject to certain funding conditions. To secure our obligations under the Purchase Agreement, we and our subsidiaries have granted OrbiMed a security interest in our core platform technology assets, subject to certain customary exclusions, as defined in the Purchase Agreement.
As consideration for such payments, the Purchasers will have a right to receive certain revenue interests (the “Revenue Interests”) from us based on a percentage (the “Applicable Payment Percentage”) of all GAAP revenue (the “Revenue Base”). If only the First Payment has been made, the Applicable Payment Percentage shall be five percent of the quarterly Revenue Base. If both the First Payment and Second Payment have been made, the Applicable Payment Percentage shall be eight percent of the quarterly Revenue Base. If each of the First, Second and Third Payments have been made, the applicable payment percentage applied to the Revenue Interest shall be ten percent of the quarterly Revenue Base. Payments in respect of the Revenue Interests shall be made quarterly within 45 days following the end of each fiscal quarter (each, a “Revenue Interest Payment”). If OrbiMed has not received Revenue Interest Payments in the aggregate equal to or greater than the sum of its invested capital (the “Cumulative Purchaser Payments”) on or prior to September 12, 2028, the revenue interest rate shall be increased to a rate which, if applied retroactively to our cumulative Revenue Base, would have resulted in Revenue Interest Payments equal to the sum of all Cumulative Purchaser Payments.
OrbiMed will be entitled to 100% of the Revenue Interest Payments until it has received a total cumulative value of 165% of the Cumulative Purchaser Payments (the “Return Cap”), unless full repayment of the amount of the Return Cap has not been made by September 12, 2032, in which case the Return Cap shall be increased to 175% of the Cumulative Purchaser Payments.
For the year ended December 31, 2022, we incurred debt issuance costs of $0.6 million and interest expense of $4.2 million under the Purchase Agreement.
Processing and Manufacturing
We process both clinical and research use samples in our laboratory in Seattle, Washington. Our Seattle laboratory is CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited and ISO 13485-certified. After we intake samples sent to us from healthcare providers or research and biopharmaceutical customers, we extract DNA from the sample if required, amplify it and otherwise prepare it for our sequencing and data analysis. Throughout our processes, we apply a rigorous quality management system, which is designed to comply with the Quality System Regulation (“QSR”) and the requirements of CLIA, CAP and other applicable state licensing and accreditation requirements.
In order to process samples submitted to us using immunoSEQ or clonoSEQ, we utilize a combination of proprietary primer mixes and commercial materials, including a multiplex PCR master mix, enzymes, high throughput multi-cycle sequencing reagents and other materials, which we obtain and assemble as needed from various third-party vendors on customary terms. A number of our processing steps utilize automated equipment to help ensure consistency and efficiency. Sequencing is performed using the Illumina NextSeq System, which we have appropriately qualified for the intended uses of our products and services. We also work with a third-party vendor to manufacture our immunoSEQ RUO kit using our proprietary primer mix and other materials. We also use Illumina to develop IVD kits and provide related support for clonoSEQ, pursuant to a September 2019 development and supply agreement with a six-year term and payments to Illumina based on Illumina achieving milestones and revenue share payments ranging from a low to mid-single digit percentage of future net sales, subject to customary reductions.
For our TCR-Antigen Map and drug discovery initiatives, we conduct our operations at our laboratories in Seattle, Washington and South San Francisco, California. These laboratories have cell sorting, tissue culture and other processing equipment.
We use a limited number of suppliers, or in some cases single suppliers, for our laboratory equipment and materials. We manage this concentration risk by targeting or building to levels of surplus stock that, we believe, would allow us to locate alternative suppliers if needed. However, if one of our suppliers fails to perform adequately or fulfill our needs, we may be required to incur significant costs and devote significant efforts to find new suppliers and may face delays in processing samples or developing and commercializing our products and services. We have occasionally faced delays in the form of longer lead times for equipment that is subject to increased demand due to public health measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we have purchased the Illumina NextSeq System, and Illumina also supplies us with reagents that have been designed for use solely with this sequencer. While we acquire these reagents from Illumina on customary terms, if we had to replace the reagents we use we may also need to acquire and qualify a replacement sequencer, validate the reagents and potentially revalidate aspects of our existing assays.
We processed our first immunoSEQ samples in 2011 and issued our first clonoSEQ report in 2013. Since then, we have focused on expanding our customer base. We sell our products and services primarily through our own internal sales force. Our sales and marketing efforts are targeted at department heads, laboratory directors, principal investigators, core facility directors, clinicians, payors and research scientists and pathologists at leading academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, research institutions and contract research organizations. We seek to increase awareness of our products and services among our target customers through direct sales calls, trade shows, seminars, academic conferences, web presence and other forms of internet marketing. Our drug discovery efforts are focused on large biopharmaceutical companies.
We have an extensive global portfolio of intellectual property rights to protect our immune medicine platform, the products and services that draw on it and our reputation in the industry.
As of December 31, 2022, we owned or controlled 470 active patents and patent applications whose claims are intended to cover what we do, what we plan to do and what others might do to compete with us. From our earliest patent filings in 2009, our portfolio has been tailored to reflect our efforts to harness the adaptive immune system for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Our patent claims extend to not only adaptive immune receptor molecules, but also to uniquely powerful techniques for sequencing immune cell receptors, determining clonality and immune competency, diagnosing disease, predicting responses to immunotherapy and identifying new drug candidates. Our granted patent protection generally expires in years ranging from 2029 to 2040.
Critical know-how we develop is protected by a trade secrecy program to ensure against inappropriate disclosure or use. Encompassed in our know-how is our proprietary database of coding sequences, antigen reactivities and safety profiles for immune receptors, which is vast and growing. Even with collaborators, access to our immune medicine platform technology is limited and tightly controlled through contracts and careful communication. We own our immune medicine platform, including improvements we or collaborators make to it, and retain rights in data resulting from its use.
We also pursue trademark registration for our product and service names and promotional slogans in our existing and projected markets.
Intellectual Property Portfolio by the Numbers
As of December 31, 2022, our intellectual property portfolio consisted of the following:
We have developed an expansive patent portfolio in commercially important markets with claims to critical aspects of our technology, beginning with our first patent applications exclusively licensed from Fred Hutch in 2009. Our ongoing patent strategy is to generate a return on our patenting investments, which values substantive quality over volume to build a defensible moat around technology we use as well as what others might develop to design around our position.
We prioritize pursuing patent claims with a reasonable likelihood of being granted. Where patentability for a particular invention is questionable, we often choose to protect it as a trade secret instead. In some instances, however, we may seek to push the patentability envelope when the state of the applicable patent laws are in flux, such as patent eligibility for naturally occurring molecules, including TCRs, in the United States.
Methods of Measuring Adaptive Immunity
In 2009, a U.S. provisional patent application was filed to pursue protection for immunosequencing by our co-founder, Dr. Harlan Robins. The invention broadly relates to methods for assessing the adaptive immune system status of individuals. Rearranged V and J segment genes of TCRs or BCRs are targeted as biomarkers for assessing the status of the immune system at one or more points in time. Granted claims extend to the use of particular sets of amplification primers, while pending claims are being pursued to capture additional assessment techniques. Licensed exclusively to us by Fred Hutch, the application has since spawned more than 31 additional patent applications, many of which have been granted as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent No. 9,809,813.
Optimizing Nucleic Acid Amplification Reactions
Amplification of nucleic acids can result in over- or under-representation of the amplified molecules, misrepresenting the number present in the source material, such as a blood sample. Dr. Robins invented a method to correct for such bias, thereby improving the precision of PCR-based quantification of TCR and BCR coding sequences in a sample. The claimed approach utilizes synthetic templates, reflecting nucleic acid sequences for rearranged V and J receptor segments in the sampled cells. More than 28 related patent applications have since been filed, many of which have been granted as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent Nos. 9,371,558 and 10,214,770.
Diagnosing and Monitoring Disease
In connection with our acquisition (“Sequenta Acquisition”) of Sequenta, Inc (“Sequenta”) in 2015, we purchased Sequenta’s extensive patent portfolio. The portfolio includes 124 patent applications which disclose and claim methods to identify and quantify T cell-based immune responses to antigen exposure using NGS. TCR and BCR DNA, RNA or cell-free DNA from samples, including blood and bone marrow, are used to detect, prognose and monitor disease, including autoimmune disease, infection and cancer. More than 112 patents have been granted in the portfolio as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent Nos. 8,628,927 and 8,236,503.
Our diagnostic methods also apply to the detection of MRD (the target of our B cell-based clonoSEQ diagnostic test for assessing how disease burden changes in response to treatment or during remission) and T-Detect (our T cell-based diagnostic tests). Multiple patents have been granted from additional applications relating to MRD assessment, diagnostic methods and diagnostically significant TCRs filed by us, including U.S. Patent Nos. 9,824,179 and 11,047,008. Additional patent applications are pending to TCR-based diagnostic signals in specific indications, including COVID-19.
In connection with our Microsoft collaboration, we are developing a diagnostic product to detect cancer and other diseases at their earliest stage by learning the signals and responses of the activated immune receptors in a patient’s blood. Pre-collaboration, we filed 10 related patent applications for methods to produce antigen-exposed enriched T cell populations and identify their antigen specificities by comparison to a pre-exposure population of cells or by use of an algorithm. We have filed additional patent applications relating to algorithmic-based methods to characterize antigen specificities and will continue to do so as our work proceeds with Microsoft.
We developed and are pursuing patent protection for bioinformatic-based methods to determine the antigen specificity of TCRs by exposing T cells to a panel of multiple antigens. Antigen exposure can be performed by incubation or presentation; for example, it can be performed via recombinant expression in another cell. These methods may also be used to pair the two TCR chains as well as to identify high avidity TCRs. Several patents have been granted as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent No. 10,066,265.
In nature, TCRs and BCRs exist as a heterodimer of paired chains, each of which is encoded on a different chromosome. Immunosequencing reveals the nucleotide structure of each individual chain, but not which chains match as cognate pairs. We developed and are pursuing patent protection for multiple bioinformatic-based approaches to pairing the two chains of TCRs and BCRs, including one deployed in our pairSEQ technique. Our methods also allow for identification of receptor chain pairs which are specific to particular antigen targets. Over fifty related patent applications have been filed, nearly half of which have matured into granted patents as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent No. 10,077,478.
Assessing Responsiveness to Immunotherapy
Leveraging our immunosequencing technologies, we developed methods for predicting responses to immunotherapy, vaccines and infection. To those ends, rearranged TCR or BCR sequences are quantified and their levels or frequencies compared at different points in time. More than 20 related patent applications have been filed, most of which have been granted as of December 31, 2022, including U.S. Patent No. 10,221,461.
We developed a therapeutic antibody discovery process called TruAB from which neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 have been produced. A patent application to these antibodies was filed in 2020 and is pending.
Together with our partner Nykode, we filed a patent application which is pending and directed to COVID-19 vaccines, the development of which was informed by our immunosequencing-based drug discovery efforts.
We have a granted patent application to TCRs responsive to WT-1 antigens with potential utility in cell therapy against WT-1 related cancers. We are also pursuing a patent application to TCRs responsive to other cancer antigens which are of interest in our collaboration with Genentech.
In-Licensed and Acquired Intellectual Property Rights
While we have developed the majority of our immune medicine platform, products and services, we occasionally license or acquire third-party owned inventions to bolster the strength of our patent estate and ensure freedom to operate.
Early work by Dr. Robins with Fred Hutch led to discoveries around immunosequencing methods and tools covered by 128 patents and patent applications in the United States and abroad which we exclusively licensed. Our rights are for all fields of use worldwide and are sublicensable. To the extent any licensed granted patent rights extend to products or services sold by us, we pay Fred Hutch a royalty rate of 0.75% of net sales on licensed products.
Through our Sequenta Acquisition, we also obtained an exclusive paid-up license, with rights to sublicense, to patents filed in the United States, Europe, Australia and China owned by iRepertoire, Inc. The license is for worldwide use in diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and monitoring of any proliferative disorder for which rearranged nucleic acids capable of encoding an immune receptor, whether productive or unproductive, or functional or nonfunctional, of a cell, excluding tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, of the proliferative disorder can be used as markers for the disorder, including, but not limited to, lymphoid and myeloid proliferative disorders, such as ALL, CLL, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, Hodgkin’s and NHL, plasma cell neoplasms, such as MM, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis and myelodysplastic syndromes.
In addition to the patent estate acquired from Sequenta, we also acquired ownership of immunosequencing-related patent portfolios from Imdaptive, Inc. and ImmunID S.A.S.
We own various trademarks, applications and unregistered trademarks in the United States and other commercially important markets, including our company name, product and service names and other trade or service marks. Our trademark portfolio is designed to protect the brands for our products and services, both current and in the pipeline.
Trade Secrecy Program
We have a trade secrecy program to prevent disclosure of our trade secrets to others, except under stringent conditions of confidentiality when disclosure is critical to our business. Our trade secrets include the composition of certain reagents, assay protocols and immunosequencing-related data, such as immune receptor sequences. We protect trade secrets and know-how by establishing confidentiality agreements and invention assignment agreements with our employees, consultants, scientific advisors, contractors and collaborators. These agreements provide that all confidential information developed or made known during the course of an individual or entities’ relationship with us must be kept confidential during and after the relationship. These agreements also provide that all inventions resulting from work performed for us or relating to our business and conceived or completed during the period of employment or assignment, as applicable, shall be our exclusive property. In addition, we take other appropriate precautions, such as physical and technological security measures, to guard against misappropriation of our proprietary information by third parties.
Although we take steps to protect our proprietary information and trade secrets, including through contractual means with our employees and consultants, third parties may independently develop substantially equivalent proprietary information and techniques or otherwise gain access to our trade secrets or disclose our technology. Accordingly, we may not be able to meaningfully protect our trade secrets. For more information regarding the risks related to our intellectual property, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property.”
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including the fields of life sciences research, clinical diagnostics and drug discovery, are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. Given the breadth and promise of immune medicine, we face substantial competition from many different sources, including life sciences tools, diagnostics, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions across various components of our platform and product and service offerings. Due to the significant interest and growth in immune medicine more broadly, we expect the intensity of the competition to increase. However, we believe our scale, precision and speed, and the resulting clinical applicability, distinguish us from our competitors. In life sciences research, immunoSEQ faces competition from a number of companies.
In clinical diagnostics, clonoSEQ faces competition primarily from institutions performing flow cytometry in-house, particularly outside of the United States. We may also face competition from companies developing early cancer detection testing products for indications that do not currently compete with clonoSEQ.
In drug discovery, clinical trials in the field of immune medicine are being pursued by a number of industry and academic players.
Immune medicine is being pursued by several biotechnology companies as well as by large-cap biopharmaceutical companies. Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, regulatory approval and compliance, and sales and distribution than we do. Mergers and acquisitions involving life sciences research, clinical diagnostics or drug discovery companies in the immune medicine space may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our programs.
Our commercial opportunity could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize research or diagnostic products or services that are more accurate, more convenient to use or more cost-effective than our products or services. Competitor therapeutic products could also prove safer, more effective, more convenient to administer or more cost-effective than any therapeutic products we may develop with our collaborators. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their products 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 relevant market.
Life Sciences Research Use Only Technologies
Our core research product, immunoSEQ, is a RUO tool in the United States that provides data to third parties such as biopharmaceutical companies that are themselves engaged in the research and development of potential diagnostic and therapeutic products and services for which they may later pursue investigation and clearance, authorization or approval from regulatory authorities, such as the FDA.
RUO products belong to a separate regulatory classification under a long-standing FDA regulation. From an FDA perspective, products that are intended for research use only and are labeled as RUO are exempt from most regulatory controls, and are therefore not subject to the regulatory requirements discussed below for clinical diagnostic products. Thus, RUO products may be used or distributed for research use without first obtaining FDA clearance, authorization or approval. The products must bear the statement: “For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.” RUO products cannot make any claims related to safety, effectiveness or diagnostic utility, and they cannot be intended for human clinical diagnostic use. Accordingly, a product labeled RUO but intended or promoted for clinical diagnostic use may be viewed by the FDA as adulterated and misbranded under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) and subject to FDA enforcement action. The FDA will consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding distribution and use of an RUO product, including how the product is marketed and to whom, when determining its intended use. If the FDA disagrees with a company’s RUO status for its product, the company may be subject to FDA enforcement activities, including, without limitation, requiring the company to seek clearance, authorization or approval for the products. If the FDA determines an RUO product is adulterated and misbranded, enforcement may also include a warning letter, seizure, an injunction and/or criminal fines for FDCA violations.
Clinical Diagnostics in the United States
Our first diagnostic product, clonoSEQ, was granted marketing authorization by the FDA for the detection and monitoring of MRD in bone marrow samples in patients with MM and ALL under the de novo process in September 2018, which classified clonoSEQ and future DNA-based tests to measure MRD in hematological malignancies as Class II devices, as explained further below. In August 2020, we received FDA clearance for clonoSEQ, following a 510(k) submission, for CLL in bone marrow as well as blood samples. We submitted a 510(k) premarket notification for ALL from blood samples in February 2021 and are actively advancing validation studies in certain NHL sub-types.
In the United States, medical devices are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA under the FDCA and its implementing regulations, and other federal and state statutes and regulations. The FDA regulates the design, development, preclinical, analytical and clinical testing, manufacture, safety, effectiveness, clearance, authorization or approval, record-keeping, packaging, labeling, storage, adverse event reporting, advertising, promotion, marketing, sales, distribution and import and export of medical devices. IVDs are a type of medical device and include reagents and instruments used in the diagnosis or detection of diseases, conditions or infections, including, without limitation, the presence of certain chemicals, genetic information or other biomarkers. Predictive, prognostic and screening tests can also be IVDs.
After a medical device is placed on the market, numerous regulatory requirements apply. These include:
Failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements can result in enforcement action by the FDA, which may include sanctions, including but not limited to, warning letters; fines, injunctions, and civil penalties; recall or seizure of the device; operating restrictions, partial suspension or total shutdown of production; refusal to grant 510(k) clearance or premarket approvals (“PMAs”) of new devices; withdrawal of clearance or approval; and civil or criminal prosecution.
Position in the European Union
In the EU, IVDs can be placed on the market by obtaining a “CE mark,” which demonstrates conformity via a self-certification with the In vitro Diagnostic Medical Device Directive (“IVDD”). clonoSEQ obtained a CE mark in May 2019 for all B-cell malignancies with blood and bone marrow. The requirements under the Directive include:
On May 26, 2017, the EU released a new regulatory framework, the In vitro Diagnostic Medical Device Regulation (“IVDR”), which will replace the IVDD. Our products in the EU will have to comply with the IVDR requirements by May 2026, subject to the applicable transitional provisions before full compliance is required. The IVDR is considerably stricter in regulatory oversight than the IVDD and will require more IVD devices to be reviewed by a notified body before being placed on the market. Until that time, our products must continue to meet the requirements of IVDD for commercialization in the EU.
U.S. Federal and State Regulation of Laboratories
Given that aspects of our business at certain facilities involve acting as a clinical laboratory, we are required to hold certain federal and state licenses, certifications and permits to conduct our business.
As to federal certifications, CLIA establishes rigorous quality standards for all laboratories that perform testing on specimens derived from humans for the purpose of providing information for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease, or the impairment of, or assessment of health. As a clinical laboratory, we must obtain a CLIA certificate based on the complexity of testing performed at the laboratory, such as a Certificate of Compliance for high-complexity testing. CLIA also mandates compliance with various operational, personnel, facilities administration, quality and proficiency requirements, intended to ensure that their clinical laboratory testing services are accurate, reliable and timely. CLIA compliance and certification is also a prerequisite to be eligible to bill for services provided to government payors and for many private payors. Furthermore, we are subject to survey and inspection every two years to assess compliance with program standards, and may be subject to additional unannounced inspections. Laboratories performing high-complexity testing are required to meet more stringent requirements than laboratories performing less complex tests.
In addition to CLIA requirements, we elect to participate in the accreditation program of the CAP. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), the agency that oversees CLIA, has deemed CAP standards to be equally or more stringent than CLIA regulations and has approved CAP as a recognized accrediting organization. Inspection by CAP is performed in lieu of CMS inspections for accredited laboratories. Therefore, because we are accredited by the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program, we are deemed to also comply with CLIA.
CLIA provides that a state may adopt laboratory regulations that are more stringent than those under federal law, and a number of states have implemented their own more stringent laboratory regulatory requirements. Select states, including Washington, have laboratory regulations that have been deemed by the federal government to be at least as stringent as CLIA, and thus laboratories licensed under those state regimes are exempt from CLIA and the state Department of Health is permitted to issue a CLIA number, along with a state Medical Test Site license, rather than a certificate being issued by CMS. Our laboratory holds the required Washington license. State laws may require that laboratory personnel meet certain qualifications, specify certain quality control procedures, facility requirements or prescribe record maintenance requirements.
Several states additionally require the licensure of out-of-state laboratories that accept specimens from those states. For example, New York requires a laboratory to hold a permit which is issued after an on-site inspection and approval of each LDT offered by a laboratory, and has various, more stringent requirements than CLIA and CAP, including those for personnel qualifications, proficiency testing, physical facility and equipment and quality control standards. Our laboratory holds the required licenses for Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York and California.
From time to time, other states may require out-of-state laboratories to obtain licensure in order to accept specimens from the state. If we identify any other state with such requirements, or if we are contacted by any other state advising us of such requirements, we intend to follow instructions from the state regulators as to how we should comply with such requirements.
If a clinical laboratory is found to be out of compliance with CLIA certification, CAP accreditation or a state license or permit, the applicable regulatory agency may, among other things, suspend, restrict or revoke the certification, accreditation, license or permit to operate the clinical laboratory, assess civil monetary penalties and impose specific corrective action plans, among other sanctions.
Laboratory Developed Tests in the United States
The FDA has historically exercised enforcement discretion to not regulate most LDTs. As such, LDTs have not been subject to FDA’s marketing clearance and approval processes, or post-marketing controls, for medical devices. LDTs are generally considered to be tests that are designed, developed, validated and used within a single laboratory. Laboratories certified as “high complexity” under CLIA may develop, manufacture, validate and run LDTs. clonoSEQ is available as an LDT for use in assessing MRD for other lymphoid malignancies, including NHL and use in other specimen types, at our Seattle, Washington laboratory.
In that respect, Congress introduced legislation to establish a framework for FDA to oversee marketing of in vitro clinical tests (“IVCTs”), such as test kits and LDTs (the Verifying Accurate Leading-edge IVCT Development Act, or “VALID Act”). Under the VALID Act, FDA would oversee IVCTs, requiring pre-market review for high-risk IVCTs which expose patients to serious or irreversible harm and novel IVCTs. As currently drafted, existing LDTs at the time of VALID Act passage would be grandfathered as approved. For new low risk IVCTs, developers would submit a representative IVCT to FDA for review and issuance of a technology certification for the specific IVCT reviewed and later developed test within the scope of the certification. It is not certain whether or in what form the VALID Act bill will pass Congress, but passage could increase the stringency of regulatory review required for our LDT products. If the VALID Act does not pass, the FDA may decide to exercise enforcement discretion for LDTs, especially if it perceives a LDT as posing a risk to patients. Therefore, the regulatory path for marketing of LDTs is subject to uncertainty given the FDA’s latitude in interpreting and applying its laws and policies.
Federal and State Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Laws
Many state and federal laws govern the processing of personal information or individually identifiable health information. At the federal level, under the administrative simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (“HITECH”), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued regulations that establish standards for protecting the privacy and security of “protected health information” used or disclosed by certain healthcare providers and other “covered entities” and their “business associates.” Three principal data protection-related regulations with which we are required to comply have been issued in final form under HIPAA and HITECH: privacy regulations, security regulations and security breach notification regulations.
The privacy regulations govern the use and disclosure of “protected” health information by covered healthcare providers, as well as health insurance plans. They also set forth certain rights that an individual has with respect to his or her protected health information maintained by a covered health care provider, including the right to access or amend certain records containing protected health information or to request restrictions on the use or disclosure of protected health information. The security regulations establish requirements for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information that is electronically transmitted or electronically stored. HITECH, among other things, established certain health information security breach notification requirements. A covered entity must notify HHS and each affected individual of a breach of unsecured protected health information as well as the media if the breach involves more than 500 individuals.
HIPAA violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties. Additionally, to the extent that we submit electronic healthcare claims and payment transactions that do not comply with the electronic data transmission standards established under HIPAA and HITECH, payments to us may be delayed or denied.
Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTCA”) has also been used to regulate data privacy and security at the federal level. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), failing to take appropriate steps to keep consumers’ personal information secure or using or disclosing personal information in violation of a company’s privacy notice may constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of the FTCA. The FTC expects a company’s data security measures to be reasonable and appropriate in light of the sensitivity and volume of consumer information it holds, the size and complexity of its business and the cost of available tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities. Although we have and maintain a system for compliance with privacy laws and regulations, failure to comply with them could expose us to potential FTC enforcement action and fines.
In addition, certain state laws govern the privacy and security of health information and personal information. Some of the state laws governing health information privacy and security are more stringent than HIPAA (including providing for patient enforcement of these state laws) and often differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. There has also recently been an influx of state privacy and security laws that introduce similar compliance complexities, including the California Consumer Privacy Act in combination with the California Confidential Medical Information Act and the California Privacy Rights Act, the Colorado Privacy Act and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act. In addition, there are state breach notification laws in every state, as well as in D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. Failure to comply with these laws, where applicable, can result in the imposition of significant civil or criminal penalties and private litigation as further detailed in our Risk Factors.
General Data Protection Regulation in the EU and Internationally
The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is a legal framework that sets requirements for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Economic Area (“EEA”). The GDPR sets out the principles for data management and the rights of the individual, while also imposing very significant fines that can be revenue-based. It applies to U.S. companies that process personal information of persons in the EEA in connection with the offer of products or services to those persons, or the monitoring of such persons’ behavior. It may also apply when a U.S. company processes personal information in the context of the activities of an entity established in the EEA. The GDPR became enforceable on May 25, 2018. The regulation is a comprehensive privacy law, meaning that it applies to all types of personal information, including the human resources record of employees and even the Internet Protocol addresses of people using online services.
Many other countries and regions also have privacy and data protection laws, some of which are modeled after the European framework. This includes countries within Europe that are not part of the EEA, such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and therefore operate under different privacy and data protection frameworks.
In addition to laws that directly impose privacy and data protection obligations on companies, there is also a growing interest in laws and regulations that govern data areas that are related to, but not completely related to data privacy. One area of these laws relates to use and testing of genetic and genomic data. In addition to the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, there are a number of state laws that have recently passed (e.g., the California Genetic Information Privacy Act) and that continue to make appearances on states’ legislative schedules. There have been similar draft bills at the state level that would regulate machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and human specimen use. There have been similar trends internationally, such as ongoing public consultations in the European Union on the Digital Governance Act and an Artificial Intelligence Regulation.
Federal, State and Foreign Fraud and Abuse Laws
In the United States, there are various fraud and abuse laws with which we must comply and we are subject to regulation by various federal, state and local authorities, including CMS, other divisions of HHS, such as the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and individual U.S. Attorney offices within the DOJ, and state and local governments. We also may be subject to foreign fraud and abuse laws.
In the United States, the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) prohibits, among other things, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce or in return for patient referrals for, or purchasing, leasing, ordering or arranging for the purchase, lease or order of, any healthcare item or service reimbursable under a governmental payor program. Courts have stated that a financial arrangement may violate the AKS if any one purpose of the arrangement is to encourage patient referrals or other federal healthcare program business, regardless of whether there are other legitimate purposes for the arrangement. The definition of “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value, including gifts, discounts, meals, travel, credit arrangements, payments of cash, consulting fees, waivers of co-payments, ownership interests and providing anything at less than its fair market value. Recognizing that the AKS is broad and may technically prohibit many innocuous or beneficial arrangements within the healthcare industry, the OIG issued a series of regulatory “safe harbors.” These safe harbor regulations set forth certain provisions, which, if met, will assure healthcare providers and other parties that they will not be prosecuted under the AKS. The failure of a transaction or arrangement to fit within a specific safe harbor does not necessarily mean that the transaction or arrangement is illegal or that prosecution under the AKS will be pursued. In those instances, arrangements will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether enforcement will be pursued. Penalties for AKS violations are severe and can include imprisonment, criminal fines, civil monetary penalties and exclusion from participation in federal healthcare programs. The regulations establishing safe harbor protection are subject to change and could affect future operations. Many states also have anti-kickback statutes, some of which may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third-party payor, including commercial insurers as well as patient self-pay. A violation of the AKS may be grounds for the government or a whistleblower to assert that a claim for payment of items or services resulting from such violation constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act.
The civil monetary penalties statute is another potential statute under which a clinical laboratory may be subject to enforcement. Among other things, the civil monetary penalties statute imposes fines against any person who is determined to have presented, or caused to be presented, claims to a federal healthcare program that the person knows, or should know, is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent. The civil monetary penalties statute also prohibits a person from offering or providing remuneration to any Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary that is likely to influence the individual to order or receive its items or services from a particular provider or supplier.
The exclusion statute requires the exclusion of entities and individuals who have been convicted of federal-program related crimes or healthcare felony fraud or controlled substance charges. The statute also permits the exclusion of those that have been convicted of any form of fraud, the AKS, for obstructing an investigation or audit, certain controlled substance offenses, those whose healthcare license has been revoked or suspended and those who have filed claims for excessive charges or unnecessary services. If we were to be excluded, our products and services would be ineligible for reimbursement from any federal programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and no other entity participating in those programs would be permitted to enter into contracts with us. In order to preserve access to beneficial healthcare items and services, the government may elect to exclude officers and key employees of manufacturers, rather than excluding the organization. Such enforcement actions would prohibit us from engaging those individuals, which could adversely affect operations and result in significant reputational harm.
Congress has also enacted statutes that impose criminal liability for healthcare fraud and abuse. The Health Care Fraud Statute prohibits knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program, including private payors. A violation of this statute is a felony and may result in fines, imprisonment or exclusion from governmental payor programs such as the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The false statements statute prohibits knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefit programs, items or services-public or private. A violation of this statute is a felony and may result in fines, imprisonment or exclusion from governmental payor programs.
The False Claims Act imposes liability on any person or entity that, among other things, knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment by a federal governmental payor program. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow a private individual to bring actions on behalf of the federal government alleging that the defendant has defrauded the federal government by submitting a false claim to the federal government and permit such individuals to share in any amounts paid by the entity to the government in fines or settlement. Qui tam complaints are filed under seal, and the cases may progress for a number of years before a complaint is unsealed and a healthcare provider or supplier becomes aware of its existence. When an entity is determined to have violated the False Claims Act, it may be required to pay up to three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus civil penalties for each false claim. The False Claims Act is the federal government’s primary civil tool in healthcare fraud cases. False Claims Act liability is not limited to direct providers of health items or services. The government has asserted liability under the False Claims Act against manufacturers and other third parties who caused another party to file a false claim.
In addition, various states have enacted false claim laws analogous to the federal False Claims Act, although many of these state laws apply where a claim is submitted to any third-party payor and not merely a governmental payor program.
On October 25, 2018, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promoted Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 (“SUPPORT Act”) was enacted. The SUPPORT Act included the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (“EKRA”), which establishes an all-payor anti-kickback prohibition that extends to arrangements with recovery homes, clinical laboratories and clinical treatment facilities. EKRA includes a number of statutory exceptions, and directs agencies to develop further exceptions. Current exceptions in some cases reference and in others differ from the AKS safe harbors. Significantly, the prohibitions apply with respect to the soliciting or receipt of remuneration for any referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, or clinical laboratories, whether or not related to treating substance use disorders. Further, the prohibitions cover the payment or offer of remuneration to induce a referral to, or in exchange for, an individual using the services of, such providers. This law creates additional risk that relationships with referral sources could be problematic.
For anti-corruption legislation, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) is the most widely enforced law. It is the first to introduce corporate liability, responsibility for third parties and extraterritoriality for corruption offences, meaning companies and persons can be held criminally and civilly responsible for corruption offences committed abroad. It was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. With the enactment of certain amendments in 1998, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA now also apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or through agents, an act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment to take place within the territory of the United States. The FCPA also requires companies whose securities are listed in the United States to meet its accounting provisions, which were designed to operate in tandem with the anti-bribery provisions, require corporations covered by the provisions to (a) make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and (b) devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls.
In Europe, various countries have adopted anti-bribery laws providing for severe consequences, in the form of criminal penalties or significant fines, for individuals or companies committing a bribery offence. Violations of these anti-bribery laws, or allegations of such violations, could have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and reputation. For instance, in the United Kingdom, under the Bribery Act 2010, which came into effect in July 2011, a bribery offense occurs when a person offers, gives or promises to give a financial or other advantage to induce or reward another individual to improperly perform certain functions or activities, including any function of a public nature. Bribery of foreign public officials also falls within the scope of the Bribery Act 2010. Under this regime, an individual found in breach of the Bribery Act 2010 faces imprisonment of up to 10 years. In addition, the individual can be subject to an unlimited fine, if found to have committed an offense, as can commercial organizations that are found to have failed to prevent bribery. In 2016, France passed an anti-bribery and compliance law (“Sapin II”), and the French anti-corruption agency (“AFA”) was established. The Sapin II law makes it compulsory for companies within the scope of the law to implement internal procedures to fight corruption. One of the items that must be prepared is a corruption risk map, as well as an anti-corruption code of conduct. These documents are subject to investigation by the AFA and failure to comply with the requirements can lead significant fines for companies and executives.
In 2021, Adaptive expanded its European presence and hired employees within the UK and as such, has a potential for the UK Bribery Act to apply as it can be triggered by any act committed within the UK. Currently, we are not subject to the jurisdictional requirements of Sapin II as we do not have offices in France. If we were to have future growth in the European market, this law could potentially become applicable to us.
U.S. Physician Referral Prohibitions
The Physician Self-Referral Law (“Stark Law”) prohibits physicians from referring patients to entities with which the physician or an immediate family member has a financial relationship, such as ownership, investment or compensation, for designed health services (“DHS”) payable by Medicare and Medicaid, unless the financial arrangement meets an applicable exception. DHS includes clinical laboratory tests. Penalties for violating the Stark Law include the return of funds received for all prohibited referrals, fines, civil monetary penalties and possible exclusion from federal health care programs. In addition to the Stark Law, many states have their own self-referral bans, which may extend to all self-referrals, regardless of the payor. See “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Government Regulation—We are subject to various laws and regulations, such as healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claim laws and health information privacy and security laws, among others, and failure to comply with these laws and regulations may have an adverse effect on our business.”
Corporate Practice of Medicine in the United States
Numerous states have enacted laws prohibiting business corporations, such as us, from practicing medicine and employing or engaging physicians to practice medicine, generally referred to as the prohibition against the corporate practice of medicine. These laws are designed to prevent interference in the medical decision-making process by anyone who is not a licensed physician. For example, California’s Medical Board has indicated that determining what diagnostic tests are appropriate for a particular condition and taking responsibility for the ultimate overall care of the patient, including providing treatment options available to the patient, would constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine if performed by an unlicensed person. Violation of these corporate practice of medicine laws may result in civil or criminal fines, as well as sanctions imposed against us or the professional through licensure proceedings. Typically such laws are only applicable to entities that have a physical presence in the state.
Other Regulatory Requirements
Our laboratory is subject to federal, state and local regulations relating to the handling and disposal of regulated medical waste, hazardous waste and biohazardous waste, including chemical, biological agents and compounds, blood and bone marrow samples and other human tissue. Typically, we use outside vendors who are contractually obligated to comply with applicable laws and regulations to dispose of such waste. These vendors are licensed or otherwise qualified to handle and dispose of such waste.
Our partners in the development of therapeutic agents are responsible for developing and manufacturing those products. In so doing, they are subject to FDA and Medicare regulatory requirements related to, among other things, manufacture, promotion, price reporting and fraud and abuse laws.
Our laboratories are subject to extensive requirements related to workplace safety established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These include requirements to develop and implement programs to protect workers from exposure to blood-borne pathogens by preventing or minimizing any exposure through needle stick or similar penetrating injuries.
U.S. Healthcare Reform
In the United States, a number of recent legislative and regulatory changes at the federal and state levels have sought to reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of healthcare. For example, in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) became law. This law substantially changed the way healthcare is financed by both commercial and government payors, and it has significantly impacted our industry.
We anticipate there will continue to be proposals by legislators at both the federal and state levels, regulators and commercial payors to reduce costs while trying to expand individual healthcare benefits. If enacted, some such proposals could expand or contract the insured population, increasing or decreasing demand for our products and services. On the other hand, some proposals could impose additional limitations on the prices we will be able to charge for our tests or on the coverage of or the amounts of reimbursement available for our tests from payors, including commercial payors and government payors.
The federal physician payment transparency requirements (“Physician Payments Sunshine Act”) and its implementing regulations, which requires applicable manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biologics and medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, with certain exceptions, to annually report to HHS information related to certain payments or other transfers of value made or distributed to covered recipients, defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, chiropractors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants, certified nurse-midwives, and teaching hospitals, or to entities or individuals at the request of, or designated on behalf of, the physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.
There are also state transparency and gift ban laws that require manufacturers to provide reports to state governments on pricing and marketing information. Several states have enacted legislation requiring medical device manufacturers to, among other things, establish marketing compliance programs, file periodic reports with the state, make periodic public disclosures on sales and marketing activities, and such laws may also prohibit or limit certain other sales and marketing practices. These laws may adversely affect our sales, marketing, and other activities by imposing administrative and compliance burdens on us. Although we have a system for tracking and reporting “sunshine” law required information, if we fail to do so as required, we could be subject to government enforcement action and potential penalties.
Coverage and Reimbursement Generally
Reimbursement and billing requirements of applicable laws and payors for diagnostic services are highly complex. Laboratories must bill various payors, such as private third-party payors, including managed care organizations (“MCO”), and state and federal health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and each may have different billing requirements. Depending on the reimbursement arrangement and applicable law, the party that reimburses us for our services may be a third party who provides coverage to the patient, such as an insurance company or MCO; a state or federal healthcare program; or the patient. Additionally, the audit requirements we must meet to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, as well as our internal compliance policies and procedures, add further complexity to the billing process. As such, we are at risk of being paid less or no part of our price for our products for reasons including:
In addition, we may not be free to determine the price charged for our products. For instance, the No Surprises Act (“NSA”) was enacted on December 27, 2020 and took effect on January 1, 2022. One of the goals of the NSA is to protect patients from “surprise” medical bills resulting from gaps in coverage for services provided by out-of-network providers, such as laboratories, related to patient visits at in-network facilities. The NSA limits the amount out-of-network laboratories may charge a patient for laboratory services ordered during an in-network facility visit. In addition, the NSA establishes an independent dispute resolution process for determining the amount of reimbursement for the laboratory service in the event that the laboratory and insurer cannot agree on a rate.
Certain countries, including a number of member states of the EU, set prices and make reimbursement decisions for diagnostics and pharmaceutical products. Additionally, some countries require approval of the maximum sale price of a product before it can be marketed, and this price may be reviewed during the product lifecycle, or mandatory discounts or profit caps may be applied. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted or the CE mark is obtained. We may therefore be constrained in our pricing strategies in markets outside of the United States.
For additional information on coverage and reimbursement in the United States, see “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Government Regulation—Future Medicare payment rates are uncertain.”
Our Compliance Program
Our compliance program is intended to prevent and detect violations of law or our policies. It was developed in view of both adopting the principles of the AdvaMed Code of Ethics and addressing the HHS OIG’s elements of a compliance program. We have designed our compliance program to fit the size, resources, market position and other unique aspects of our company. Our code of conduct is our statement of ethical and compliance principles that guide our daily operations. In addition, we have developed policies and procedures, and corresponding education and training, to effectively communicate our standards to employees as it relates to job functions and legal obligations under applicable state and federal healthcare program requirements, as well as those outside the United States. We regularly perform live and process monitoring activities on a risk-based approach, and audit capabilities are built into our transparency procedures. We maintain a hotline available via multiple channels to report any known or suspected compliance violations, and we have a strict non-retaliation policy for all claims brought forward in good faith.
We were incorporated in the State of Washington on September 8, 2009 under the name Adaptive TCR Corporation. On December 21, 2011, we changed our name to Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation. In January 2015, we acquired Sequenta, Inc. (“Sequenta”), a San Francisco, California-based company that was also developing an NGS test for MRD (“Sequenta Acquisition”). Our principal executive offices are located at 1165 Eastlake Avenue East, Seattle, Washington 98109, and our telephone number is (206) 659-0067.
We maintain a website at www.adaptivebiotech.com. The contents of our website are not incorporated in, or otherwise to be regarded as part of, this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We make available, free of charge on our website, access to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as soon as reasonably practicable after we file or furnish them electronically with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Investors and others should note that we announce material financial information to our investors using our investor relations website (http://investors.adaptivebiotech.com), SEC filings, press releases, public conference calls and webcasts. We use these channels as well as social media to communicate with our members and the public about our company, our services and other issues. It is possible that the information we post on social media could be deemed to be material information. Therefore, we encourage investors, the media, and others interested in our company to review the information we post on social media channels.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our Company involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risks and uncertainties, together with all other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes and the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” section, before investing in our Company. Any of the risk factors we describe below could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, prospects or the trading price of our securities. The risks described below are not the only ones we face and additional risks that we currently do not know about or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also impair our business, financial condition, operating results, prospects and the trading price of our securities.
Summary of Risk Factors
Generally, the risks described below relate to the following:
Risks Relating to Our Business
We have incurred significant losses since inception, we expect to incur losses in the future and we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to achieve and maintain profitability.
We have incurred significant losses since our inception. For the year ended December 31, 2022, 2021 and 2020, we incurred a net loss of $200.4 million, $207.3 million and $146.2 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $919.1 million. We have funded our operations to date principally from the sale of convertible preferred stock and common stock, including the sale of common stock in our initial public offering, and, to a lesser extent, revenue as well as entry into the Purchase Agreement. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses as we continue to invest in the development of products and services utilizing our immune medicine platform to support the validation of additional clinical diagnostic and therapeutic products and services. We will need to generate significant additional revenue to achieve and sustain profitability.
If we are not successful in leveraging our immune medicine platform to discover, develop and commercialize additional products and services, our ability to expand our business and achieve our strategic objectives would be impaired.
A key element of our strategy is to leverage our immune medicine platform to discover, develop and potentially commercialize additional products and services beyond our current portfolio to diagnose and treat various disease states. In particular, for clonoSEQ we are attempting to generate sufficient clinical evidence to support the utility of MRD in additional lymphoid cancers beyond ALL, MM, CLL, and DLBCL while also demonstrating the clinical utility of blood as a sample type for all lymphoid cancers. If we are unable to generate compelling evidence supporting clonoSEQ use in other indications or sample types, our platform may face a broader obstacle to using our immunosequencing data for commercially viable products and services.
Identifying new products and services requires substantial technical, financial and human resources, whether or not any products or services are ultimately developed or commercialized. We may pursue what we believe is a promising opportunity to leverage our platform only to discover that certain of our risk or resource allocation decisions were incorrect or insufficient, or that individual products, services or our science in general has technology or biology risks that were previously unknown or underappreciated. Our strategy of pursuing the value of our immune medicine platform over a long time horizon and across a broad array of human diseases may not be effective. In the event material decisions in any of these areas turn out to be incorrect or sub-optimal, we may experience a material adverse impact on our business and ability to fund our operations and we may never realize what we believe is the potential of our immune medicine platform.
We expect to make significant investments in our continued research and development of new products and services, which may not be successful.
We are seeking to leverage our immune medicine platform to develop a pipeline of future disease-specific research, diagnostic and therapeutic products and services. For example, we are developing our TCR-Antigen Map with a view toward continually generating signals and advancing target discovery. In addition, we are developing certain therapeutic product candidates under our collaboration agreement with Genentech by leveraging our platform to identify TCRs that can be engineered into personalized cellular immunotherapies. In 2022, we paused T-Detect commercialization efforts in individual indications after launching T-Detect COVID and T-Detect Lyme. Each indication of T-Detect required significant commercial and regulatory investments to bring to market. Other developments may also incur significant expenses to advance, and may not be successful, which may have a material adverse effect on our expenses or revenue.
Developing new products and services is a speculative and risky endeavor. Products or services that initially show promise may fail to achieve the desired results or may not achieve acceptable levels of analytical accuracy or clinical utility. We may need to alter our products in development and repeat clinical studies before we identify a potentially successful product or service. Product development is expensive, may take years to complete and can have uncertain outcomes. Failure can occur at any stage of the development. If, after development, a product or service appears successful, we or our collaborators may, depending on the nature of the product or service, still need to obtain FDA and other regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals before we can market it. The clearance, authorization or approval pathways at the FDA and other regulatory authorities are likely to involve significant time, as well as additional research, development and clinical study expenditures. The FDA or other regulatory authorities may not clear, authorize or approve any future product or service we develop. Even if we develop a product or service that receives regulatory clearance, authorization or approval, we or our collaborators would need to commit substantial resources to commercialize, sell and market it before it could be profitable, and the product or service may never be commercially successful. Additionally, development of any product or service may be disrupted or made less viable by the development of competing products or services.
Finally, we are attempting to leverage our immune medicine platform to discover and develop potential antibody therapies, which have been informed by our prior investments in producing, collecting and analyzing data related to COVID-19. Our efforts in this area are early and continue to evolve and mature continuously as we augment our databases and pool of knowledge. As we continue to collect and analyze additional data, we may find that our initial hypotheses regarding any disease state which is a target for antibody discovery is not supported by a larger data set or further analysis. If our beliefs regarding the effectiveness of our antibody discovery capabilities are incorrect, that could have a material adverse effect on the market for our products and services.
New potential products and services may fail at any stage of development or commercialization and if we determine that any of our current or future products or services are unlikely to succeed, we may abandon them without any return on our investment. If we are unsuccessful in developing additional products or services, our potential for growth may be impaired.
Our efforts to develop products leveraging our TCR-Antigen Map may not be successful, and it may not yield the insights we expect at all or on a timetable that allows development or commercialization of new diagnostic and therapeutic products.
We are leveraging our collaboration with Microsoft to develop our TCR-Antigen Map. Together we are using immunosequencing, proprietary computational modeling and machine learning to map TCR sequences to the antigens they bind. However, we may not be successful in developing a comprehensive TCR-Antigen Map for any number of reasons including difficulty accessing required sample sets to validate signals and complications in advancing algorithmic-based methods that accurately define TCR signatures to be validated. As a result, it may require significantly more time and resources for us to determine how to use machine learning to accelerate our mapping process, which could adversely impact our ability to develop or commercialize new diagnostic products or services. In addition, even with the aid of machine learning, we expect the TCR-Antigen Map to take us several years to fully develop.
The TCR-Antigen Map we are developing may not yield clinically actionable insights on a timetable that is commercially viable, or at all. Our goal is to leverage the TCR-Antigen Map in connection with drug discovery and development as well as to enable early or accurate detection across a broad range of diseases.
In pursuit of developing new diagnostic tests, we established proof of concept for use of TCRs in diagnosis by confirming signals for SARS-CoV-2, acute Lyme disease, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis. We have also identified early signals in ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis and we will seek to confirm those signals in ongoing validation work. We will also seek to identify new signals in other select autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, or other diseases.
In pursuit of discovering and developing new drugs, we will leverage our immunomics database and further develop our TCR-Antigen Map through the discovery of potential new drug targets (antigens). Our focus is on identifying and validating targets in indications with high unmet medical need, including autoimmune disorders, cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. Once we have a validated target, we will use our immune medicine platform and our growing TCR-Antigen Map to support development of TCR-based, antigen-based, and antibody-based therapeutic modalities.
We have agreed to exclusively use Microsoft's immunomics artificial intelligence services for TCR-antigen mapping in connection with all of our technology, products and services developed as a direct result of our collaboration with Microsoft throughout the term of the Microsoft Agreement. As with many innovations, the use of artificial intelligence presents risks and challenges, including flawed algorithms or insufficient or biased datasets. Challenges inherent to the use of artificial intelligence or specific to Microsoft's artificial intelligence systems could adversely impact the reliability of our data and subject us to delays and competitive harm, regulatory action, or legal liability, as well as brand or reputational harm.
If our computational modeling and machine learning efforts do not accelerate the pace at which we can validate association of TCR sequences to the antigens they bind, the timetable for our business model may not be commercially viable. Even if we can accelerate this timeline, our products and services derived from our novel technologies may have product or service level errors. If we are unable to make meaningful progress in our TCR-Antigen Map and successfully use it to develop and commercialize new diagnostic and therapeutic products or services, our business and results of operations will suffer.
We are exposed to risks associated with our agreement with Genentech, and we may not realize the advantages we expect from it.
In December 2018, we entered into the Genentech Agreement with the goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of novel cancer-specific antigen and neoantigen directed T cell therapies for the treatment of a broad range of tumor types. Under the terms of the Genentech Agreement, we received $300.0 million in an initial upfront payment in February 2019 and may be eligible to receive approximately $1.8 billion in additional payments over time upon achievement of specified development, regulatory and commercial milestones. In addition, Genentech will pay us royalties on sales of products commercialized under the agreement. We may not be successful in achieving these milestones, and products developed under the Genentech Agreement may not be commercialized in the timeframe we expect, achieve significant sales, or be commercialized at all.
We are exposed to numerous risks associated with the Genentech Agreement, including sharing a measure of control over the operations of our research and development portions of the collaboration with Genentech and Genentech having sole control over the commercialization of any products developed via the collaboration. For instance, in 2021, Genentech suspended development of a drug against our first shared antigen target candidate in response to published data. The Genentech Agreement also prevents us from, among other things, developing or commercializing TCR-based cellular therapies outside the scope of the collaboration in the field of oncology on our own or with any third party. Our collaboration involves risks that are different from the risks involved in independently conducting operations, including that Genentech may:
Genentech’s degree of control over collaboration development and commercialization efforts may impact the amounts we receive under the Genentech Agreement. For example, Genentech may suspend development of product candidates or decide not to pursue commercialization of product candidates at all, or it may agree to pay royalties to third parties or adopt a pricing model that reduces the amount of royalties we might otherwise expect. It is also possible that effective cell therapies will not be developed under the Genentech Agreement or, if developed, approved by the FDA or comparable regulatory authorities outside of the United States. Genentech may also terminate the Genentech Agreement at its convenience, at any time and without cause.
We may not be able to perform our product research, development and commercialization related obligations under the Genentech Agreement, including performing TCR screening activities for product candidates being developed and commercialized under that agreement. For example, in the event a product is commercialized under the Genentech Agreement, as the volume of product sales grows, we will likely need to continue to increase our workflow capacity for sample intake, customer service and general process improvements, and expand our internal quality assurance program to support TCR screening on a larger scale within expected turnaround times. We will likely need additional certified laboratory scientists and other scientific and technical personnel for the Personalized Product to identify and target therapeutically relevant, patient-specific neoantigens. We will likely also need to acquire additional laboratory space and equipment, which can take several months or more to procure, set up and validate. These process enhancements and increases in scale, expansion of personnel, laboratory space and equipment may not be successfully implemented, and we may not have adequate laboratory facilities or resources to accommodate all the requirements that we currently anticipate needing to be successful. If we cannot satisfy our obligations, Genentech is entitled to trigger a technology transfer of our TCR screening process (specific to the Personalized Product) or terminate the Genentech Agreement. In addition, due to our significant obligations under the Genentech Agreement, we may face challenges in meeting the needs of existing customers, collaborators and suppliers and securing new customers, including any biopharmaceutical customers that are actual or potential competitors with Genentech.
If we support the commercialization of one or more products under the Genentech Agreement, we may need to incorporate new equipment, implement new technology systems and laboratory processes and hire new personnel with different qualifications. Failure to manage this growth or transition could result in turnaround time delays, higher product costs, declining product quality, deteriorating customer service and slower responses to competitive challenges. A failure in any one of these areas could make it difficult for us to meet market expectations for our products and could damage our reputation and the prospects for our business, both under the Genentech Agreement and otherwise. As a result, our relationship with Genentech may not result in the realization of its anticipated benefits.
We have limited experience with the development and commercialization of cellular therapeutics, and future TCR-based cellular therapies may never be successfully developed and commercialized as part of our Genentech collaboration.
We have limited experience with the development of cellular therapeutics, and no experience with the commercialization, marketing and distribution of cellular therapeutics. Our therapeutic product candidates are at an early stage of discovery and development under our Genentech collaboration, and we are continuing to develop our process being used under that collaboration to develop TCR-based cellular therapies for the treatment of cancer. Under our Genentech collaboration, Genentech has invested significant financial resources to develop future TCR-based cellular therapies, including conducting preclinical studies and other early research and development activities, and providing general and administrative support for these operations. Our future success is dependent on our and Genentech’s ability to successfully develop therapeutic product candidates and advance those product candidates into the clinic, and Genentech’s ability, where applicable, to obtain regulatory and marketing approval for, and then successfully commercialize, cellular therapeutics. We and Genentech have not yet developed and commercialized any cellular therapeutics, and we may not be able to do so.
We currently use, and in the future expect to increase our use of, collaborators for several aspects of our operations as well as to commercially leverage our drug discovery platform, and if we cannot maintain current and enter new relationships with collaborators, our business will suffer.
We have limited resources to conduct our operations in both the MRD and IM business areas, and have not yet fully established infrastructure for sales, marketing or distribution in connection with all of our products and services. We have entered into collaboration agreements under which our collaborators have provided, and may in the future provide, funding and other resources for developing and potentially commercializing our products and services. For example, we have entered into the Genentech Agreement, with the goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of T cell therapies for the treatment of a broad range of tumor types, and the Microsoft Agreement, which provides us with access to Microsoft’s research and machine learning technologies that we are using to develop our TCR-Antigen Map.
We are pursuing several additional industry and academic collaborations to access patient cohorts that could accelerate our TCR-Antigen Map signal generation and validation for our immune-based diagnostics or drug discovery product or services pipeline. These collaborations may result in our incurring significant expenses in pursuit of potential products and services, and we may not be successful in identifying, developing or commercializing any potential products or services.
We are also pursuing additional drug discovery and development opportunities with our pharmaceutical services collaborators to develop and commercialize TCR-based, antigen-based, and antibody-based therapeutic modalities. Many of these collaborations provide us with upfront and milestone payments. We may not succeed in identifying therapeutic assets in these collaborations and our collaborators may not succeed in developing and commercializing such assets, which may cause us not to realize the expected monetary benefits of the collaborations.
Our future success depends in part on our ability to maintain these relationships and to establish new relationships. Many factors may impact the success of such collaborations, including our ability to perform our obligations, our collaborators’ satisfaction with our products and services, our collaborators’ performance of their obligations to us, our collaborators’ internal priorities, resource allocation decisions and competitive opportunities, the ability to obtain regulatory approvals, disagreements with collaborators, the costs required of either party to the collaboration and related financing needs, and operating, legal and other risks in any relevant jurisdiction. In addition to reducing our revenue or delaying the development of our future products and services, the loss of one or more of these relationships may reduce our exposure to research, data, clinical trials or computing technologies that facilitate the collection and incorporation of new information into our clinical immunomics database and TCR-Antigen Map. All of the risks relating to product and service development, regulatory clearance, authorization or approval and commercialization described herein apply to us derivatively through the activities of our collaborators.
We engage in conversations with companies regarding potential collaborations on an ongoing basis. These conversations may not result in a commercial agreement. Even if an agreement is reached, the resulting relationship may not be successful, and any products and services developed as part of the collaboration may not produce successful outcomes. Speculation in the industry about our existing or potential collaborations can be a catalyst for adverse speculation about us, or our products or services, which can adversely affect our reputation and our business.
Significant additional research and development and, in certain instances, clinical trials or validation will be required before we or our collaborators can potentially seek regulatory clearance, authorization or approval for, or commercialize any of our products or services in development.
We are developing a pipeline of immune-driven diagnostics and therapeutics, including cellular therapies in oncology, but significant additional research and development activities and clinical trials or validations could be required before we and our collaborators will have a chance to achieve additional commercially viable products. Our research and development efforts remain subject to all of the risks associated with the development of new products and services based on immune-driven diagnostics and immune-mediated therapies. Development of the underlying technology may be affected by unanticipated technical or other problems, among other research and development issues, and the possible insufficiency of funds needed to complete development of these products and services. Safety, regulatory and efficacy issues, clinical hurdles or other challenges may result in delays and cause us to incur additional expenses that would increase our losses. If we and our collaborators cannot complete, or if we experience significant delays in developing, our clinical diagnostics or therapeutics, including cellular therapies, T-cell based vaccines or antibody discoveries, particularly after incurring significant expenditures, our business may fail and investors may lose the entirety of their investment.
Prior to obtaining regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals for the commercial sale of any new therapeutic products or services, we must demonstrate that our products and services are both safe and effective for use in each target disease indication. Clinical studies may be necessary to demonstrate that a product or service is safe and effective. Clinical testing or validation is expensive and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. Failure can occur at any time. For therapeutics, the results of preclinical studies and early clinical trials of products and services in development may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials, and initial success in clinical trials may not be indicative of results obtained when clinical trials are completed. There is typically an extremely high rate of failure as therapeutic products in development proceed through clinical trials. Products in later stages of clinical trials or validation also may fail to show the desired safety and efficacy profile despite having progressed through non-clinical studies and initial clinical trials or validations. Any delays in the development of our products and services may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly.
Errors or defects in our products or services could harm our reputation, decrease market acceptance of our products or services or expose us to product liability claims.
We are creating new products and services, many of which are initially based on largely untested technologies. As all of our products and services progress, we or others may determine that we made product or service level scientific or technological mistakes or omissions. The testing processes utilize a number of complex and sophisticated biochemical, informatics, optical and mechanical processes, many of which are highly sensitive to external factors and variation between testing runs. Refinements to our processes may initially result in unanticipated issues that reduce the efficiency or increase variability. In particular, sequencing, which is a key component of these processes, could be inefficient with higher than expected variability thereby increasing total sequencing costs and reducing the number of samples we can process in a given time period, which may negatively impact customer turnaround time. Therefore, inefficient or variable processes can cause variability in our operating results and damage our reputation.
In addition, our laboratory operations could result in any number of errors or defects. Our quality assurance system or product development processes may fail to prevent us from inadvertent problems with samples, sample quality, lab processes including sequencing, software, data upload or analysis, raw materials, reagent manufacturing, assay quality or design, or other components or processes. In addition, our assays may have quality or design errors, and we may have inadequate procedures or instrumentation to process samples, assemble our proprietary primer mixes and commercial materials, upload and analyze data, or otherwise conduct our laboratory operations. If we provide products or services with undiscovered errors to our customers, our clinical diagnostics may falsely indicate a patient has a disease or fail to detect disease in a patient who requires treatment. We believe our customers are likely to be particularly sensitive to product and service defects, errors and delays, including if our products and services fail to indicate the presence of residual disease with high accuracy from clinical specimens or if we fail to list or inaccurately indicate the presence or absence of disease in our test report. In drug discovery, such errors may interfere with our collaborators’ clinical studies or result in adverse safety or efficacy profiles for their products in development. This may harm our customers’ businesses and may cause us to incur significant costs, divert the attention of key personnel, encourage regulatory enforcement action against us, create a significant customer relations problem for us and cause our reputation to suffer. We may also be subject to warranty and liability claims for damages related to errors or defects in our products or services. Any of these developments could harm our business and operating results.
Our current and future products and services may never achieve significant commercial market acceptance.
Our success depends on the market’s confidence that we can provide immune-driven research, diagnostic and therapeutic products and services that improve clinical outcomes, lower healthcare costs and enable better biopharmaceutical development. Failure of our products and services, or those jointly developed with our collaborators, to perform as expected could significantly impair our operating results and our reputation. We believe patients, clinicians, academic institutions and biopharmaceutical companies are likely to be particularly sensitive to defects, errors, inaccuracies, delays and toxicities in or associated with our products and services. Furthermore, inadequate performance of these products or services may result in lower confidence in our immune medicine platform in general.
We and our collaborators may not succeed in achieving significant commercial market acceptance for our current or future products and services due to a number of factors, including:
Additionally, our customers and collaborators may decide to decrease or discontinue their use of our products and services due to changes in their research and development plans, failures in their clinical trials, financial constraints, the regulatory environment, negative publicity about our products and services, competing products or the reimbursement landscape, all of which are circumstances outside of our control. We may not be successful in addressing these or other factors that might affect the market acceptance of our products, services and technologies. Failure to achieve widespread market acceptance of our immune medicine platform and related products and services would materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on a limited number of suppliers or, in many cases, single suppliers, for laboratory equipment and materials and may not be able to find replacements or immediately transition to alternative suppliers.
We rely on a limited number of suppliers, or in many cases single suppliers, to provide certain sequencers and equipment that we use in our laboratory operations, as well as reagents and other laboratory materials for our products and services. An interruption in our laboratory operations, kit distribution or technology transfer could occur if we encounter delays, quality issues or other difficulties in securing these sequencers, equipment, reagents or other materials, and if we cannot then obtain an acceptable substitute. In addition, we would likely be required to incur significant costs and devote significant efforts to find new suppliers, acquire and qualify new equipment, validate new reagents and revalidate aspects of our existing assays, which may cause delays in our processing of samples or development and commercialization of products and services. Any such interruption could significantly affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation. Internal changes in processes or compositions of our reagents or other materials may also require validation efforts by us and supply of new materials from our suppliers which could impact timing of production and levels of inventory while such changes are being implemented.
In particular, we have purchased and rely on the Illumina NextSeq System. Illumina supplies us with reagents that have been designed for use solely with this sequencer and Illumina is the sole provider of maintenance and repair services for the Illumina NextSeq System. We also license our laboratory information management software from Illumina and receive services from Illumina related to that software. We believe there are only a few other equipment manufacturers that are currently capable of supplying the equipment necessary for our laboratory operations, including sequencers and various associated reagents. The use of sequencers manufactured by a company other than Illumina would require us to alter our laboratory operations. Transitioning to and qualifying a new sequencer would be time-consuming and expensive, may result in interruptions in our laboratory operations, could affect the performance specifications of our laboratory operations or could require that we revalidate the reagents of our immunoSEQ kits, immunoSEQ services or clonoSEQ diagnostic testing services, and could require us to obtain additional clearance, authorization, approval, accreditation, or licensure for the changes. We may not be able to secure and implement alternative sequencers, associated reagents and other materials without experiencing interruptions in our workflow. In the case of an alternative supplier to Illumina, any replacement sequencers and various associated reagents may not be available or may not meet our quality control and performance requirements for our laboratory operations. If we should encounter delays or difficulties in securing, reconfiguring or revalidating the equipment and reagents we require for our products and services, our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation could be adversely affected. In addition, Illumina is not obligated to meet all of our requirements for reagent supply. In the event Illumina ceases or slows its production of, or is otherwise unwilling or unable to continue to supply the sequencer reagents necessary for and currently used in our business at or near current pricing, we may be required to purchase different reagents from Illumina or to purchase from a different reagent vendor under terms and conditions which could be less favorable to us. Any disruption in Illumina’s operations or the suppliers of our reagents, materials or other equipment could impact our supply chain and laboratory operations of our immune medicine platform and our ability to conduct our business and generate revenue.
We have limited experience in marketing and selling certain products and services, and if we are unable to expand our direct sales and marketing force or partner with collaborators in certain product areas and markets to adequately address our customers’ needs, our business may be adversely affected.
We have no experience marketing and selling therapeutic products and services. Accordingly, we or our drug discovery and development collaborators may not be able to market and sell our current or future products and services effectively enough to support our planned growth.
Our sales and marketing efforts are targeted at a large and diverse market with highly specialized segments, including department heads, laboratory directors, principal investigators, core facility directors, clinicians, payors and research scientists and pathologists at leading academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, research institutions and contract research organizations. As a result, we believe it is necessary for our sales representatives to have relevant, specialized market experience. Competition for experienced sales and marketing personnel is intense, and new members of our sales organization may require intense training to apply their experience and expertise to our products and services. We may not be able to attract and retain personnel or be able to build or adequately train an efficient and effective sales organization, which could negatively impact sales and market acceptance of our clinical diagnostics and limit our revenue growth and potential profitability.
We established a collaboration with Genentech for the research, development, marketing, promotion, distribution and sale of TCR-based cellular therapies for the treatment of cancer. Under the Genentech Agreement, Genentech has the sole right and authority to commercialize products developed under that agreement. It will be Genentech’s responsibility to locate, qualify and engage distribution partners, clinicians and local hospitals with industry experience and knowledge to effectively market and sell products developed under that agreement. Genentech may not be able to engage distribution partners, clinicians or hospitals on favorable terms, or at all. If Genentech’s sales and marketing efforts with respect to products developed under the Genentech Agreement are not successful, we may not achieve significant market acceptance for our drug discovery services and platform, which would materially and adversely impact our business operations. We face similar risks in our pharmaceutical services collaborations where milestone payments to us are dependent on successful commercialization of drugs by our collaborators.
If we or our collaborators experience any of a number of possible unforeseen events in connection with clinical trials, our or their ability to conduct further clinical trials of, obtain regulatory clearance, authorization or approval of or commercialize future products and services or improvements to current products and services, could be delayed or prevented.
We or our collaborators may experience numerous unforeseen events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our or their ability to conduct further clinical trials or obtain regulatory clearance, authorization or approval of or commercialize future products and services or improvements to current products and services, including:
Evolving Regulatory Requirements and Policies
Delays of this nature could also allow competitors to bring products to market before we or our collaborators do, potentially impairing our ability to successfully commercialize our products and services in development and harming our business and results of operations. Any delays in the development of our products and services or those jointly developed with our collaborators may significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects. 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 clearance, authorization or approval of products and services in development.
We will need to develop our workforce, commercial infrastructure and laboratory operations to support anticipated growth in demand for our products and services. We may encounter difficulties in managing this and in meeting fluctuations in this demand.
We will need to develop our workforce, commercial infrastructure and laboratory operations to support anticipated growth in demand for our products and services. If we are unable to support fluctuations in the demand for our products and services, including ensuring that we have adequate capacity to meet increased demand as well as other customer requirements (such as turnaround time and service level), our business could suffer. As of December 31, 2022, we had 790 full-time employees and we may be required to increase the number of employees, including potential contingent employees as needed to address demand fluctuations. As we and our collaborators commercialize additional products and services, we will need to incorporate new equipment, implement new technology systems and laboratory processes and hire new personnel with different qualifications. Failure to manage this growth or transition could result in turnaround time delays, higher service costs, declining service quality, deteriorating customer service and slower responses to competitive challenges. A failure in any one of these areas could make it difficult for us to meet market expectations for our products and services and could damage our reputation and the prospects for our business.
Due to our limited resources and the technical proficiency required from much of our workforce, we may not be able to effectively recruit, train, and retain additional qualified personnel. This may result in weaknesses in our infrastructure, operational mistakes, slower development of our products and services, missed or delayed milestone achievement, significant cost overruns, loss of business opportunities, loss of employees and contingent workers, inability to execute on hiring plans and reduced productivity among remaining employees and contingent workers.
Our business could be adversely affected by the effects of health epidemics, such as the recent COVID‑19 pandemic, in regions where we or third parties on which we rely have significant laboratory operations, manufacturing facilities, concentrations of clinical trial sites or other business operations. Such epidemics could materially affect our operations as well as the business or operations of our manufacturers, contract research organizations or other third parties with whom we conduct business.
Our business could be adversely affected by global pandemics or health epidemics in regions where we have concentrations of clinical trial sites or other business operations, and such pandemics or epidemics could cause significant disruption in the operations of third-party manufacturers, suppliers, general contractors and sub-contractors related to capital projects and CROs upon whom we rely. The global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to evolve. We do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, clinical trials, sales force expansion plans and other initiatives, or the impacts to healthcare systems or the global economy as a whole.
Resumption of quarantines, stay at home orders and similar government orders, or the perception that such orders, shutdowns or other restrictions on business operations could occur, whether related to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, could impact personnel at third-party manufacturing or supplier facilities in the United States and other countries, or the availability or cost of materials, which would disrupt our supply chain.
The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or a similar health epidemic is highly uncertain and subject to change. However, these effects could have a material impact on our operations, and we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or any guidance we may provide.
Our financial condition and operating results have varied in the past and will continue to fluctuate from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year in the future due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Factors relating to our business that may contribute to these fluctuations include the following, as well as other factors described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K:
The cumulative effects of factors discussed above could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful. Investors should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance. In any particular period, our operating results could be below the expectations of securities analysts or investors, which could cause our stock price to decline.
While as a general matter we intend to periodically report on the status of our development initiatives, including anticipated next steps, we may not provide forward-looking guidance on the timing of those next steps. In addition, we do not control the timing of disclosure of any such milestones related to any of our products and services that are managed by our collaborators. Any disclosure by us or our collaborators of data that is perceived as negative may have a material adverse impact on our stock price or overall valuation. Our stock price may decline as a result of unexpected clinical trial results in one or more of our products and services, including adverse safety events reported for any of our products or services.
We have estimated the sizes of the markets for our current and future products and services, and these markets may be smaller than we estimate.
Our estimates of the annual addressable markets for our current products and services and those under development are based on a number of internal and third-party estimates, including, without limitation, the number of patients who have developed one or more of a broad range of cancers, the number of individuals who are at a higher risk for developing one or more of a broad range of cancers, the number of individuals who have developed or are at a higher risk of developing certain autoimmune or neurodegenerative disorders, the number of individuals with certain infectious diseases we or our collaborators are able to treat through our products and services, the proportion of patients in each market whose needs can be addressed by our or our collaborators’ products and services, the number of potential tests utilized per treatment course per patient and the assumed prices at which we can sell our current and future products and services for markets that have not been established. While we believe our assumptions and the data underlying our estimates are reasonable, these assumptions and estimates may not be correct and the conditions supporting our assumptions or estimates may change at any time, thereby reducing the predictive accuracy of these underlying factors. As a result, our estimates of the annual addressable market for our current or future products and services may prove to be incorrect. If the actual number of patients who would benefit from our products or services, the price at which we can sell future products and services or the annual addressable market for our products or services is smaller than we have estimated, it may impair our sales growth and have an adverse impact on our business.
If we do not compete effectively with scientific and commercial competitors, we may not be able to successfully commercialize our products and services.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including the fields of life sciences research, clinical diagnostics and drug discovery are intense and highly competitive. These fields are characterized by rapidly advancing technologies and a strong emphasis on intellectual property. Given the breadth and promise of immune medicine, we face substantial competition from many different sources, including life sciences tools, diagnostics, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academic research institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions across various components of our platform and product and service offerings. Due to the significant interest and growth in immune medicine more broadly, we expect the intensity of the competition to increase.
For instance, in life sciences research, immunoSEQ faces competition from a number of companies, including 10X Genomics, Inc., among others. In clinical diagnostics, our clonoSEQ MRD test faces competition from both conventional and next-generation flow cytometry performed either in-house by our target customers or by reference labs, as well as from labs and institutions advancing research-use-only MRD technologies for clinical applications and commercial-stage oncology diagnostics companies extending the application of their solid tumor (ctDNA) MRD products into the hematology MRD space. In drug discovery, clinical trials of immune medicines are being undertaken by a number of industry and academic players.
Our competitors may have or obtain the knowledge necessary to generate and characterize similar data to our known data for the purpose of identifying and developing products or services that could compete with any of our products or services. Further, immune medicine is being pursued by several biotechnology companies as well as by large-cap biopharmaceutical companies. Many of our current or potential competitors, either alone or with their collaboration partners, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, regulatory approval and compliance, and sales and distribution than we do.
We could be adversely affected if we do not develop our life sciences research, clinical diagnostic and drug discovery products and services, obtain required regulatory and other clearances, authorizations or approvals, obtain or enforce patents covering our discoveries and launch our products and services before our competitors. Moreover, our competitors may succeed in developing immunosequencing-based life sciences research, clinical diagnostics and drug discoveries that circumvent our technologies, products or services. Our competitors may succeed in developing and commercializing research or diagnostic products or services that are more accurate, more convenient to use or more cost-effective than our products or services or therapeutic products that prove to be safer, more effective, more convenient to administer or more cost-effective than any therapeutic products we may develop with our collaborators or that would render our technologies, products and services less competitive or obsolete. We expect competition to intensify in the fields in which we are involved as technical advances in these fields occur and become more widely known. For additional information regarding our competition, see the “Business—Competition” section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The life sciences industry is subject to rapid change, which could make our immune medicine platform and related products and services that we develop obsolete.
Our industry is characterized by rapid changes, including technological and scientific breakthroughs, frequent new product and service introductions and enhancements and evolving industry standards, all of which could make our current and future products and services obsolete. Our future success will depend on our ability to keep pace with the evolving needs of our customers on a timely and cost-effective basis and to pursue new market opportunities that develop as a result of scientific and technological advances. In recent years, there have been numerous advances in technologies relating to life sciences research and the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and neurodegenerative disorders. There have also been advances in technologies used to computationally analyze very large amounts of biologic information. If we do not update our products and services to reflect new scientific knowledge about immunosequencing, immunology, computational biology, software development, new disease diagnostics and therapies or the diseases we seek to treat, our products and services could become obsolete and sales of our current products and services and any future products and services we develop based on our immune medicine platform could decline or fail to grow as expected.
The loss of any member of our senior management team or our inability to attract and retain highly skilled scientists, clinicians and salespeople could adversely affect our business.
Our success depends on the skills, experience and performance of key members of our senior management team, including our co-founders and executive officers. The individual and collective efforts of these employees will be important as we continue to develop products and services based on our immune medicine platform. The loss or incapacity of existing members of our executive management team could adversely affect our operations if we experience difficulties in hiring qualified successors. Our executive officers have signed employment agreements with us, but their service is at-will and may end at any point in time.
Our research and development initiatives and laboratory operations depend on our ability to attract and retain highly skilled scientists, technicians and software engineers. We may not be able to attract or retain qualified scientists, technicians or software engineers in the future due to the competition for qualified personnel among life sciences and technology businesses, particularly near our headquarters located in Seattle, Washington and our laboratory facilities located in South San Francisco, California. We also face competition from universities and public and private research institutions in recruiting and retaining highly qualified scientific personnel. We may have difficulties locating, recruiting or retaining qualified salespeople. Recruiting, training and retention difficulties can limit our ability to support our research and development and commercialization efforts. We also employ a number of workers on work authorization visas. We may have difficulty recruiting and retaining these workers as immigration regulations continue to change and as a result of the backlog of processing of immigration applications at the federal level. All of our employees are at-will, which means that either we or the employee may terminate their employment at any time.
In addition, we rely on consultants, contractors and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development, regulatory and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may provide services to other organizations and may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. The loss of the services of one or more of our current consultants or advisors might impede the achievement of our research, development, regulatory and commercialization objectives.
If we lose the support of key thought leaders, it may be difficult to establish products and services enabled by our immune medicine platform as industry standards, which may limit our revenue growth and ability to achieve profitability.
We have established relationships with leading oncology, hematology, immunology, autoimmunity or inflammatory disease, transplantation and solid tumor thought leaders at premier academic and research institutions. If these key thought leaders determine that our immune medicine platform or our current or future products or services are not clinically effective, determine that alternative technologies are more effective or elect to use internally developed services, we could encounter significant difficulty validating our products or services, driving adoption or establishing our immune medicine platform as an industry standard, which would limit our revenue growth and our ability to achieve profitability. In addition, negative publications or reviews by clinicians, industry groups or other important stakeholders may negatively impact our revenue growth and ability to achieve profitability.
We depend on our information technology systems and any failure of these systems could harm our business.
We depend on information technology and telecommunications systems, including third-party cloud computing infrastructure, operating systems and artificial intelligence platforms, for significant elements of our operations, including our laboratory information management system, clinical immunomics database, immunoSEQ Analyzer, TCR-Antigen Map, laboratory workflow tools, customer and collaborator reporting and related functions. We also depend on our proprietary workflow software to support new product and service launches and regulatory compliance.
We use complex software processes and pipelines to manage samples and evaluate sequencing result data. These are subject to initial design or ongoing modifications which may result in unanticipated issues that could cause variability in patient results, leading to service disruptions or errors, resulting in liability.
We have installed, and expect to expand, a number of enterprise software systems that affect a broad range of business processes and functional areas, including systems handling human resources, financial controls and reporting, contract management, regulatory compliance and other infrastructure operations. In addition to these business systems, we have installed, and intend to extend, the capabilities of both our preventative and detective security controls by augmenting the monitoring and alerting functions, the network design and the automatic countermeasure operations of our technical systems. These information technology and telecommunications systems support a variety of functions, including laboratory operations, test validation, sample tracking, quality control, customer service support, billing and reimbursement, research and development activities, scientific and medical curation and general administrative activities. In addition, our third-party billing and collections provider depends upon technology and telecommunications systems provided by outside vendors.
In addition to the risks directly relevant to our vendors, systems, and information technology, there are risks associated with the outside vendors and third parties with whom they subcontract. For example, our third-party billing and collections provider depends upon technology and telecommunications systems provided by outside vendors. Subcontractors can be a vector of vulnerability, as any weaknesses in their organization’s technical and organizational controls could affect vendor operations as well as data management, in turn impacting our own operations and ability to safeguard critical data.
Information technology and telecommunications systems are vulnerable to attack in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources, including telecommunications or network failures, malicious human acts (such as ransomware) and natural disasters. Moreover, despite network security and back-up measures, some of our servers are potentially vulnerable to physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses and similar disruptive problems. Despite the precautionary measures we have taken to prevent unanticipated problems that could affect our information technology and telecommunications systems, failures or significant downtime of these systems or those used by our collaborators or subcontractors could prevent us from conducting our comprehensive immunosequencing analysis, clinical diagnostics and drug discovery, preparing and providing reports to researchers, clinicians and our collaborators, billing payors, handling physician inquiries, conducting research and development activities and managing the administrative aspects of our business. Any disruption or loss of information technology or telecommunications systems on which critical aspects of our operations depend could have an adverse effect on our business and our reputation, and we may be unable to regain or repair our reputation in the future.
If our laboratory facilities become damaged or inoperable or we are required to vacate our existing facilities, our ability to conduct our laboratory processes and analysis and pursue our research and development efforts may be jeopardized.
We operate laboratory facilities located in Seattle, Washington and South San Francisco, California. Our facilities and equipment could be harmed or rendered inoperable by natural or man-made disasters, including war, fire, earthquake, power loss, communications failure or terrorism, which may render it difficult or impossible for us to operate our immune medicine platform for some period of time. The inability to perform our laboratory processes or to reduce the backlog of sequences that could develop if our facilities are inoperable, for even a short period of time, or to replace or repair inventory such as reagents or customer samples may result in the loss of customers or harm to our reputation, and we may be unable to regain those customers or repair our reputation in the future. In addition, the expansion of our corporate headquarters, laboratory space and warehousing facilities in the Seattle, Washington area has increased the volume of material and sample transfers between and among local facilities, increasing risk to materials and customer samples.
Furthermore, our facilities and the equipment we use to perform our research and development work could be unavailable or costly and time-consuming to repair or replace. It would be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to rebuild our facilities, to locate and qualify new facilities or license or transfer our proprietary technologies to a third party, particularly in light of licensure and accreditation requirements. Even in the unlikely event we are able to find a third party with such qualifications to enable us to conduct our laboratory processes, we may be unable to negotiate commercially reasonable terms.
We carry insurance for damage to our property and the disruption of our business, but this insurance may not cover all of the risks associated with damage or disruption to our business, may not provide coverage in amounts sufficient to cover our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all.
We may need to raise additional capital to fund our existing operations, develop additional products and services, commercialize new products and services or expand our operations.
Based on our current business plan, we believe our current cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash requirements over at least the next 12 months. If our available cash and investment balances and anticipated cash flow from operations are insufficient to satisfy our liquidity requirements, including because of lower demand for our products and services as a result of risks described herein, we may seek to sell common or preferred equity or convertible debt securities, enter into a credit facility or another form of third-party funding or seek other debt financing.
We may consider raising additional capital in the future to expand our business, to pursue strategic investments, to take advantage of financing opportunities or for other reasons, including to:
Our present and future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including:
The various ways we could raise additional capital carry potential risks. If we raise funds by issuing equity securities, dilution to our shareholders could result. Any preferred equity securities issued also could provide for rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of holders of our common stock. If we raise funds by issuing debt securities, those debt securities would have rights, preferences and privileges senior to those of holders of our common stock. The terms of debt securities issued or borrowings pursuant to a credit agreement could impose significant restrictions on our operations. If we raise funds through collaborations and licensing arrangements, we might be required to relinquish significant rights to our platform technologies or products and services or grant licenses on terms that are not favorable to us.
Our ability to use our NOL carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
We have incurred net losses since our inception and we may never achieve or sustain profitability. Generally, losses incurred will carry forward until such losses expire (for losses generated prior to January 1, 2018) or are used to offset future taxable income, if any. Utilization of our NOL carryforwards and credits may be subject to a substantial annual limitation due to the ownership change limitations provided by Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (“Section 382”) and similar state provisions. The annual limitation may result in the expiration of NOL carryforwards and credits before utilization. If there should be an ownership change, our ability to utilize our NOL carryforwards and credits could be limited. We have completed a Section 382 analysis for changes in ownership through December 31, 2020 and continue to monitor for changes that could trigger a limitation. Based on this analysis, we do not expect to have any permanent limitations on the utilization of our federal NOLs. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, federal NOLs incurred in 2018 and future years may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such federal NOLs is subject to an annual limitation. NOLs generated prior to 2018 are eligible to be carried forward up to 20 years. Based on the available objective evidence, management determined that it was more likely than not that the net deferred tax assets would not be realizable as of December 31, 2022. Accordingly, management applied a full valuation allowance against net deferred tax assets as of December 31, 2022.
We may experience ownership changes in the future as a result of shifts in our stock ownership, which may be outside of our control. As a result, if we earn net taxable income, our ability to use our pre-ownership change NOL carryforwards to offset such taxable income will be subject to limitations. Similar provisions of state tax law may also apply to limit our use of accumulated state tax attributes. As a result, even if we attain profitability, we may be unable to use a material portion of our NOL carryforwards and other tax attributes, which could adversely affect our future cash flows.
We could be adversely affected by violations of the FCPA and other worldwide anti-bribery laws.
As we expand geographically, commercialize our products and services, and attempt to obtain required clearances, authorizations or approvals required to offer products and services for sale, we or our collaborators may be deemed to do business outside the United States, including because international customers may be able to order our products and services. As a result, we or our collaborators would be subject to the FCPA, which prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making payments in violation of law to non-U.S. government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or securing any other improper advantage. In addition, our collaborators or any third-party distributors could be deemed to be our agents and we could be held responsible for their actions, including violations of the FCPA. Other U.S. companies in the life sciences industry have faced criminal penalties under the FCPA for allowing their agents to deviate from appropriate practices in doing business with non-U.S. government officials. We may also become subject to similar anti-bribery laws in the jurisdictions in which we may operate, including the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act of 2010, which also prohibits commercial bribery and makes it a crime for companies to fail to prevent bribery. These laws are complex and far-reaching in nature, and we may be required in the future to alter one or more of our practices to be in compliance with these laws. Accordingly, our expansion internationally will demand a high degree of vigilance, and any violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could disrupt our operations, involve significant management distraction, involve significant costs and expenses, including legal fees, and could result in a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations. We could also suffer severe penalties, including criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other remedial measures.
We may acquire other businesses or form joint ventures or make investments in other companies or technologies that could negatively affect our operating results, dilute our shareholders’ ownership, increase our debt or cause us to incur significant expense.
We may pursue acquisitions of businesses and assets. We also may pursue joint ventures or investments that leverage our immune medicine platform and industry experience to expand our offerings or distribution. We have no experience forming joint ventures and limited experience investing in or acquiring other companies. We may not be able to find suitable joint ventures, investment or acquisition candidates, and we may not be able to complete such transactions on favorable terms, if at all. If we make any acquisitions, we may not be able to integrate the acquired company successfully into our existing business, and we could assume unknown or contingent liabilities, including regulatory violations such as the FCPA or similar laws. Any future acquisitions also could result in the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or future write-offs of intangible assets or goodwill, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Integration of an acquired company also may disrupt ongoing operations and require management resources that we would otherwise focus on developing our existing business. We may experience losses related to investments in other companies, which could have a material negative effect on our results of operations and financial condition. We may not realize the anticipated benefits of any acquisition, technology license, collaboration or joint venture.
To finance any acquisitions or joint ventures, we may choose to issue shares of our common stock as consideration, which would dilute the ownership of our shareholders. Additional funds may not be available on terms that are favorable to us, or at all. If the price of our common stock is low or volatile, we may not be able to acquire other companies or fund a joint venture project using our stock as consideration.
Unfavorable U.S. or global economic conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our results of operations could be adversely affected by general conditions in the global economy and financial markets. Changes in these economic conditions can arise suddenly, such as in the case of the recent rise in inflation. A severe or prolonged economic downturn, as result of a global pandemic or otherwise, could result in a variety of risks to our business, including weakened demand for our products and services and our ability to raise additional capital when needed on favorable terms, if at all. A weak or declining economy could strain our collaborators, possibly resulting in supply disruption, or cause delays in their payments to us. Any of the foregoing could harm our business and we cannot anticipate all of the ways in which the current economic climate and financial market conditions could adversely impact our business.
We use biological and hazardous materials that require considerable expertise and expense for handling, storage and disposal and may result in claims against us.
We work with materials, including chemicals, biological agents and compounds and samples that could be hazardous to human health and safety or the environment. Our operations also produce hazardous and biological waste products. Federal, state and local laws and regulations govern the use, generation, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these materials and wastes. Compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations is expensive, and current or future environmental laws and regulations may restrict our operations. If we do not comply with applicable regulations, we may be subject to fines and penalties.
In addition, we cannot eliminate the risk of accidental injury or contamination from these materials or wastes, which increase with the volume of material and sample transfers and could cause an interruption of our commercialization efforts, research and development programs, and business operations, as well as environmental damage resulting in costly cleanup and liabilities under applicable laws and regulations. Furthermore, environmental laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and have tended to become more stringent. We cannot predict the impact of such changes and cannot be certain of our future compliance. While our property insurance policy provides limited coverage in the event of contamination from hazardous and biological products and the resulting cleanup costs, we do not currently have any additional insurance coverage for legal liability for claims arising from the handling, storage or disposal of hazardous materials. Accordingly, in the event of contamination or injury, we could be liable for damages or penalized with fines in an amount exceeding our resources and our operations could be suspended or otherwise adversely affected.
If we were to be sued for product liability or professional liability, we could face substantial liabilities that exceed our resources.
The marketing, sale and use of our products and services could lead to the filing of product or professional liability claims were someone to allege that our products or services identified inaccurate, incomplete or untimely information regarding the sequence or antigen specificities of TCRs, BCRs or antigens analyzed or the clonality characterized, or MRD or malignancy detected, or that our products or services otherwise failed to perform as designed or intended. We could also be potentially exposed to claims relating to therapeutic failures of products commercialized under our collaborations, such as a cellular therapy marketed by Genentech that is manufactured based on TCR-related sequences and data we provide. We may also be subject to liability for errors in, a misunderstanding of or inappropriate reliance upon, the information we provide in the ordinary course of our business activities. A product liability or professional liability claim could result in substantial damages and be costly and time-consuming for us to defend. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability and professional liability claims may result in:
We maintain product and professional liability insurance, but this insurance may not fully protect us from the financial impact of defending against product liability or professional liability claims. Any product liability or professional liability claim brought against us, with or without merit, could increase our insurance rates or prevent us from securing insurance coverage in the future. Additionally, any product liability lawsuit could cause current collaborators to terminate existing agreements or potential collaborators to seek other companies, any of which could impact our results of operations.
International expansion of our business exposes us to business, regulatory, political, operational, financial and economic risks associated with doing business outside of the United States.
Our business is subject to risks associated with doing business outside of the United States, including an increase in our expenses and diversion of our management’s attention from the development of future products and services. Accordingly, our business and financial results in the future could be adversely affected due to a variety of factors, including:
Any of these factors could significantly harm our future international expansion and operations and, consequently, our revenue and results of operations.
We could be adversely affected by violations of the FCPA and other worldwide anti-bribery laws.
As we expand geographically, commercialize our products and services, and attempt to obtain required clearances, authorizations or approvals required to offer products and services for sale, we or our collaborators may be deemed to do business outside the United States, including because international customers may be able to order our products and services. As a result, we or our collaborators would be subject to the FCPA, which prohibits companies and their intermediaries from making payments in violation of law to non-U.S. government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or securing any other improper advantage. In addition, our collaborators or any third-party distributors could be deemed to be our agents and we could be held responsible for their actions, including violations of the FCPA. Other U.S. companies in the life sciences industry have faced criminal penalties under the FCPA for allowing their agents to deviate from appropriate practices in doing business with non-U.S. government officials. We may also become subject to similar anti-bribery laws in the jurisdictions in which we may operate, including the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act of 2010, which also prohibits commercial bribery and makes it a crime for companies to fail to prevent bribery. These laws are complex and far-reaching in nature, and we may be required in the future to alter one or more of our practices to be in compliance with these laws. Accordingly, our expansion internationally will demand a high degree of vigilance, and any violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could disrupt our operations, involve significant management distraction, involve significant costs and expenses, including legal fees, and could result in a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations. We could also suffer severe penalties, including criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other remedial measures.
We may never obtain approval in the EU or in any other foreign country for any of our products or services and, even if we do, we or our collaborators may never be able to commercialize them in any other jurisdiction, which would limit our ability to realize their full market potential.
In order to eventually market any of our current or future products and services in any particular foreign jurisdiction, we must establish and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis regarding quality, safety, performance and efficacy. In addition, clinical trials or clinical investigations conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries, and regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in one country does not guarantee regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in any other country. Approval processes vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods.
Seeking foreign regulatory clearance, authorization or approval could result in difficulties and costs for us and our collaborators and require additional preclinical studies, clinical trials or clinical investigations which could be costly and time-consuming. Regulatory requirements and ethical approval obligations can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products and services in those countries. The foreign regulatory clearance, authorization or approval process involves all of the risks and uncertainties associated with FDA clearance, authorization or approval. We currently sell our RUO kits outside of the United States and have completed a technology transfer process for research use to international sites including France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Australia, but have no experience in obtaining regulatory clearance, authorization or approval in international markets. If we or our collaborators fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals in international markets, or if those approvals are delayed, our target market will be reduced and our ability to realize the full market potential of our products and services will be unrealized.
We or our collaborators may be adversely affected by natural or man-made disasters or other business interruptions, such as cybersecurity attacks, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans, or those of our collaborators, may not adequately protect us from the effects of a serious disaster.
Natural and man-made disasters and other events beyond our control could severely disrupt our operations, or those of our collaborators, and have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. If a natural disaster, power outage, cybersecurity attack or other event occurred that prevented us from using all or a significant portion of our headquarters, damaged critical infrastructure, such as our laboratory facilities or those of our collaborators, limited our or our collaborators’ ability to access or use our respective digital information systems or that otherwise disrupted our respective operations, it may be difficult or, in certain cases, impossible for us or our collaborators to continue our respective businesses for a substantial period of time. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans we and our collaborators currently have in place are limited and are unlikely to prove adequate in the event of a serious disaster or similar event. Our cybersecurity liability insurance may not cover any or all damages, depending on the severity and extent, we or our collaborators could sustain based on any breach of our respective computer security protocols or other cybersecurity attack, including potential liability arising out of third parties’ negatively impacted data privacy rights. We may incur substantial expenses as a result of the limited nature of our respective disaster recovery and business continuity plans, which could have a material adverse impact on our business.
Risks Relating to Government Regulation
We conduct our business in a heavily regulated industry, and changes in regulations or violations of regulations may, directly or indirectly, reduce our revenue, adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition and harm our business.
The life sciences industry is highly regulated, and the regulatory environment in which we and our collaborators operate may change significantly and adversely to us in the future. Areas of the regulatory environment that may affect our ability to conduct business include, without limitation, federal and state laws relating to:
In particular, the laws, regulations and policies governing the marketing of RUO products, LDTs and clinical diagnostic tests and services are extremely complex and are subject to interpretation by the courts and governmental agencies. Our failure to comply could lead to civil or criminal penalties, exclusion from participation in state and federal health care programs, or prohibitions or restrictions on our laboratories’ ability to provide or receive payment for our services. We believe that we are in material compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements, but there is a risk that one or more government agencies could take a contrary position, or that a private party could file suit under the qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act or a similar state law. Such occurrences, regardless of their outcome, could damage our reputation and adversely affect important business relationships with third parties, including managed care organizations, and other private third-party payors.
The insurance coverage and reimbursement status of newly approved products and services, in a new category of diagnostics and therapeutics, is uncertain. Failure to obtain or maintain adequate coverage and reimbursement for current or future products and services could limit our ability, and that of our collaborators, to fully commercialize our products and services and decrease our ability to generate revenue.
The availability and extent of reimbursement by governmental and private payors is essential for most patients to be able to afford the clinical diagnostic tests and cellular therapeutics that we and our collaborators currently or plan to develop and sell. In addition, because our clinical diagnostics and therapeutic products and services represent new approaches to the research, diagnosis, detection and treatment of diseases, we cannot accurately estimate how our products and services, and those jointly created with our collaborators, would be priced, whether reimbursement could be obtained or any potential revenue generated. Sales of our products and services will depend substantially, both domestically and internationally, on the extent to which the costs of our products and services are paid by health maintenance, managed care, pharmacy benefit and similar healthcare management organizations, or reimbursed by government health administration authorities, private health coverage insurers and other third-party payors. If reimbursement is not available, or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize some of our products or services. Even if coverage is provided, the approved reimbursement amount may not be high enough to allow us to establish or maintain pricing sufficient to realize a sufficient return on our investment in any of our products or services. If we adopt a self-pay strategy with respect to any products or services, we may experience similar difficulties in the establishment or maintenance of sufficiently high pricing. Changes in the reimbursement landscape may occur, which are outside of our control, and may impact the commercial viability of our products and services.
There is significant uncertainty related to the insurance coverage and reimbursement of newly cleared, authorized or approved products and services. In the United States, many significant decisions about reimbursement for new diagnostics and medicines are typically made by CMS, an agency within the HHS, and its contractors. CMS and its contractors decide whether and to what extent a new diagnostic or medicine will be covered and reimbursed under Medicare. Private payors tend to follow CMS policies to a substantial degree. It is difficult to predict what CMS and its contractors will decide with respect to reimbursement for novel products and services such as ours. Additionally, reimbursement agencies in Europe may be more conservative than CMS. For example, a number of cancer drugs have been approved for reimbursement in the United States and have not been approved for reimbursement, or have been approved under restricted conditions, in certain European countries.
Outside the United States, the reimbursement process and timelines vary significantly. Certain countries, including a number of member states of the EU, set prices and make reimbursement decisions for diagnostics and pharmaceutical products, or medicinal products, as they are commonly referred to in the EU, with limited participation from the marketing authorization or Conformité Européene (“CE”) mark holders, or may take decisions that are unfavorable to the authorization or CE mark holder where they have participated in the process. We cannot be sure that such prices and reimbursement decisions will be acceptable to us or our collaborators. If the regulatory authorities in these foreign jurisdictions set prices or make reimbursement criteria that are not commercially attractive for us or our collaborators, our revenues and the potential profitability of our products and services in those countries would be negatively affected. An increasing number of countries are taking initiatives to attempt to control the healthcare budget by focusing cost-cutting efforts on medicinal products, and to a lesser extent, medical devices, provided under their state-run healthcare systems. These international price control efforts have impacted all regions of the world, but have been most prominent in the EU. Additionally, some countries require approval of the sale price of a product before it can be marketed or mandatory discounts or profit caps may be applied. Further, after the sale price is approved, it remains subject to review during the product lifecycle. In many countries, the pricing review period begins after marketing or product licensing approval is granted or the CE mark is obtained. As a result, we or our collaborators might obtain marketing approval for a product or service in a particular country, but then may experience delays in the reimbursement approval or be subject to price regulations that would delay the commercial launch of our product or service, possibly for lengthy time periods, which could negatively impact the revenues we are able to generate from the sale of that product or service in that particular country.
Moreover, increasing efforts by governmental and third-party payors, in the United States and abroad, to cap or reduce healthcare costs may cause such organizations to limit both coverage and level of reimbursement for newly cleared, authorized or approved devices and medicines and, as a result, they may not cover or provide adequate payment for our clinical diagnostics or the cellular therapies to be sold by us or our collaborators. For example, the U.S. government introduced the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 to reduce the cost of drugs. This blueprint contains certain measures that HHS is already working to implement. In addition, the No Surprises Act (“NSA”) took effect in January 2022. One of the goals of the NSA is to protect patients from “surprise” medical bills resulting from gaps in coverage for services provided by out-of-network providers, such as laboratories, related to patient visits at in-network facilities. The NSA limits the amount out-of-network laboratories may charge a patient for laboratory services ordered during an in-network facility visit and establishes an independent dispute resolution process for determining the amount of reimbursement for the laboratory service in the event that the laboratory and insurer cannot agree on a rate. To the extent the NSA limits the price charged for our diagnostic products or cellular therapeutics, the commercial viability of those products may be adversely affected.
At the state level, legislatures are increasingly passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological program pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, which are, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.
We expect to experience pricing pressures on our clinical diagnostics and cellular therapies sold by us and our collaborators due to the trend toward value-based pricing and coverage, the increasing influence of health maintenance organizations and additional legislative changes. The downward pressure on healthcare costs in general, particularly prescription drugs and surgical procedures and other treatments, has become very intense. As a result, increasingly high barriers are being erected to the entry of new products.
Our business could be harmed by the loss, suspension or other restriction on a license, certification or accreditation, or by the imposition of a fine or penalties, under CLIA, its implementing regulations or other state, federal and foreign laws and regulations affecting licensure or certification, or by future changes in these laws or regulations.
Federal law requires virtually all clinical laboratories to comply with CLIA, which generally involves becoming certified by the federal and state government for the testing that will be performed and complying with various operational, personnel, facilities administration, quality and proficiency testing requirements intended to ensure that testing services are accurate and reliable. CLIA certification is also a prerequisite to be eligible to bill state and federal healthcare programs, as well as many private third-party payors, for laboratory research and clinical diagnostic testing services. As a condition of our CLIA certification, our Seattle, Washington laboratory is subject to survey and inspection every other year, additional random inspections and surprise inspections based on complaints received by state or federal regulators. The biennial survey and inspection is conducted by CMS, a CMS agent or, if the laboratory holds a CLIA certificate of accreditation, a CMS-approved accreditation organization, such as CAP. Sanctions for failure to comply with CLIA requirements, including proficiency testing violations, may include suspension, revocation or limitation of a laboratory’s CLIA certificate, which is necessary to conduct business, as well as the imposition of significant civil, administrative or criminal sanctions against the lab, its owners and other individuals. In addition, we are subject to regulation under certain state laws and regulations governing laboratory licensure. Some states, including Washington, have enacted laboratory licensure and compliance laws that are more stringent than CLIA. Changes in state licensure laws that affect our ability to offer and provide research and diagnostic products and services across state or foreign country lines could materially and adversely affect our business. In addition, state and foreign requirements for laboratory certification may be costly or difficult to meet and could affect our ability to receive specimens from certain states or foreign countries.
Any sanction imposed under CLIA, its implementing regulations or state or foreign laws or regulations governing licensure, or our failure to renew a CLIA certificate, a state or foreign license or accreditation, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Changes in law relating to health insurance coverage and payment may adversely affect our business.
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 ACA was passed, which substantially changes the way healthcare is financed by both governmental and private insurers, and significantly impacts the U.S. clinical diagnostic and biopharmaceutical industries. The ACA, among other things, increased the minimum Medicaid rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations, established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs and medical devices, including laboratory kits, and promoted a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program.
Some of the provisions of the ACA have been subject to judicial and Congressional challenges. It is also unclear how regulatory provisions and sub-regulatory guidance, both of which fluctuate continually, may affect interpretation and implementation of the ACA and its practical effects on our business. In addition, changes in the number of patients that can look to third-party payment to help afford our products and services may affect the demand for these products and services.
We cannot predict what healthcare reform initiatives may be adopted in the future. Further federal, state and foreign legislative and regulatory developments are likely, and we expect ongoing initiatives to increase downward pressure on drug and device pricing. Such reforms could have an adverse effect on anticipated revenues from our products and services, including those that we jointly develop with our collaborators, and may affect our overall financial condition and ability to develop or obtain regulatory clearance, authorization or approval for our products and services.
Inadequate funding for the FDA and other government agencies could hinder their ability to hire and retain key leadership and other personnel, prevent new products and services from being developed or commercialized in a timely manner or otherwise prevent those agencies from performing normal business functions on which the operation of our business may rely, which could negatively impact our business.
The ability of the FDA to review and clear, authorize or approve new products can be affected by a variety of factors, including government budget and funding levels, ability to hire and retain key personnel, and statutory, regulatory and policy changes. In addition, government funding of agencies on which our operations may rely, including those 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 devices to be reviewed and cleared, authorized or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, over the last several years, the U.S. government has shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, have had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. If a prolonged government shutdown occurs, it could significantly impact the ability of the FDA to timely review and process our regulatory submissions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We must maintain compliance with marketing authorization requirements of the FDA and equivalent foreign and state regulatory authorities for our products and services whose sale is subject to their authority and failure to maintain compliance with FDA requirements may prevent or delay the marketing of our products and services.
Even after we have obtained marketing authorization, as we did for clonoSEQ and T-Detect COVID under an EUA, we must comply with the scope of that clearance, authorization or approval. Failure to comply with those limitations or the additional, extensive and ongoing post-marketing obligations imposed by the FDA or other regulatory requirements of other regulatory agencies, such as the Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program for New York State, could result in unanticipated compliance expenditures, a range of administrative enforcement actions, injunctions and criminal prosecution. FDA post-market obligations include, among other things, compliance with the FDA QSR, establishing registration and device listings, labeling requirements, reporting of certain adverse events and malfunctions, and reporting of certain recalls. In addition, circumstances may arise that cause us to recall equipment used in connection with our products and services. Such recalls could have an adverse effect on our ability to provide those products and services, which in turn would adversely affect our financial condition. Our collaborators will also be required to maintain FDA clearance and possibly also other authorizations or approvals for the products and services that we jointly develop. Any failure by us or our collaborators to maintain such clearance, authorization or approval could impair or cause a delay in our ability to profit from these collaborations.
Products and services offered RUO may be subject to regulatory scrutiny.
Certain of our products are currently labeled and sold for RUO and not for the diagnosis or treatment of disease. Because such products are not intended for diagnostic use, and the products do not include clinical or diagnostic claims or provide directions for use as diagnostic products, they are not subject to the same level of regulation by the FDA as medical devices. In particular, while the FDA regulations require that RUO products be appropriately labeled, “For Research Use Only,” the regulations do not subject such products to the FDA’s pre- and post-market controls for medical devices. Pursuant to FDA guidance on RUO products, a company may not make clinical or diagnostic claims about an RUO product or provide clinical directions or clinical support services to customers of RUO products. A product labeled RUO but deemed by the FDA to be intended for clinical diagnostic use may be viewed by the FDA as adulterated and misbranded under the FDCA and subject to FDA enforcement action. The FDA considers the totality of the circumstances surrounding distribution and use of a product labeled as RUO, including how the product is marketed and to whom, when determining its intended use. If the FDA were to disagree with our RUO classification or modify its approach to regulating products labeled for RUO, we could experience reduced revenue or increased compliance and other costs, which could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition. In the event that the FDA requires marketing authorization of our RUO products in the future, the FDA may not ultimately grant any clearance, authorization or approval requested by us in a timely manner, or at all.
Future changes in FDA enforcement discretion for LDTs could subject our operations to much more significant regulatory requirements.
In addition to offering the cleared version of clonoSEQ as a test for MRD in certain blood cancers, we also currently offer LDT versions of this test for other indications. The FDA has a policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs whereby the FDA does not actively enforce its medical device regulatory requirements for such tests. However, in October 2014, the FDA issued two draft guidance documents stating that the FDA intended to modify its policy of enforcement discretion with respect to LDTs in a risk-based manner consistent with the existing classification of medical devices. Although the FDA halted finalization of the guidance in November 2016 to allow for further public discussion on an appropriate oversight approach to LDTs and to give Congressional authorizing committees the opportunity to develop a legislative solution, it is unclear if Congress or the FDA will modify the current approach to the regulation of LDTs in a way that would subject our current or future services marketed as LDTs to the enforcement of FDA regulatory requirements. The FDA Commissioner and the Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (“CDRH”) have expressed significant concerns regarding disparities between some LDTs and in vitro diagnostics that have been reviewed, cleared, authorized or approved by the FDA. If the FDA were to determine that NGS MRD tests offered as LDTs are not within the policy for LDTs for any reason, including new rules, policies or guidance, or due to changes in statute, our tests may become subject to extensive FDA requirements or our business may otherwise be adversely affected. If the FDA were to disagree with our LDT status or modify its approach to regulating LDTs, we could experience reduced revenue or increased costs, which could adversely affect our business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition. If required, the regulatory marketing authorization process required to bring our current or future LDTs into compliance may involve, among other things, successfully completing additional clinical validations and submitting to and obtaining clearance from the FDA for a premarket clearance (510(k)) submission or authorization for a de novo or approval of a PMA. Furthermore, recently introduced legislation, if passed, such as the VALID Act, could create new or different regulatory and compliance burdens on us and could have a negative effect on our ability to develop new products, which could have a material effect on our business. In the event that the FDA requires marketing authorization of our LDTs in the future, the FDA may not ultimately grant any clearance, authorization or approval requested by us in a timely manner, or at all. In addition, if the FDA inspects our laboratory in relation to the marketing of our FDA-cleared clonoSEQ test, any enforcement action the FDA takes might not be limited to the FDA-cleared clonoSEQ test and could encompass our LDT testing service.
For each product and service we are developing that requires FDA premarket review or equivalent regulatory approval, the FDA or other regulatory authority may not grant clearance, authorization or premarket approval and failure to obtain necessary approvals for our future products and services would adversely affect our ability to grow our business.
Before we begin to manufacture, label and market additional clinical diagnostic products for commercial diagnostic use in the United States, we may be required to obtain either clearance, marketing authorization or approval from the FDA and state regulatory authorities with jurisdiction over such products, unless an exemption applies or, in the case of the FDA, it exercises its enforcement discretion and refrains from enforcing its requirements. For example, the FDA currently has a policy of refraining from enforcing its medical device requirements with respect to LDTs, which the FDA considers to be a type of in vitro diagnostic test that is designed, manufactured and used within a single properly licensed laboratory.
The process of obtaining PMA from the FDA is much more rigorous, costly, lengthy and uncertain than the 510(k) clearance process. In the PMA approval process, the FDA must determine that a proposed device is safe and effective for its intended use based, in part, on extensive data, including, but not limited to, technical, preclinical, clinical trial, manufacturing and labeling data. Conversely, in the 510(k) clearance process, the FDA must determine that a proposed device is “substantially equivalent” to a legally marketed “predicate” device in order for the product to be cleared for marketing. To be “substantially equivalent,” the proposed device must have the same intended use as the predicate device, and either have the same technological characteristics or if it has different technological characteristics as the predicate device, the proposed device must be as safe and effective as, and not raise different questions of safety or effectiveness than, the predicate device. Clinical data is sometimes required to support substantial equivalence. For lower-risk devices that would otherwise automatically be placed into Class III, which require a PMA because no predicate device is available and the devices do not fall within an existing 510(k)-exempt classification, an applicant may submit a de novo request to down classify the device into Class II or Class I, which would not require a PMA. In the de novo process, the FDA must determine that general and special controls are sufficient to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of a device, which is low to moderate risk and has no predicate. In other words, the applicant must justify the “down-classification” to Class I or II for a new product type that would otherwise automatically be placed into Class III, but is lower risk. Clinical data may be required. For laboratory tests for which FDA clearance, authorization or approval is required, the FDA may also require data to support analytical and clinical validity.
The 510(k), de novo and PMA processes can be expensive and lengthy and require the payment of significant fees, unless an exemption applies. The FDA’s 510(k) clearance pathway usually takes from three to nine months from submission, but it can take longer for a novel type of product. The FDA’s de novo classification pathway usually takes from six to 12 months, but for many applicants can take up to 18 months or more.
The process of obtaining a PMA generally takes from one to three years, or even longer, from the time the PMA is submitted to the FDA until an approval is obtained. Any delay or failure to obtain necessary regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and prospects.
The FDA can delay, limit or deny clearance, authorization or approval of a device for many reasons, including:
There are numerous FDA personnel assigned to review different aspects of marketing submissions, which can present uncertainties based on their ability to exercise judgment and discretion during the review process. During the course of review, the FDA may request or require additional data and information, and the development and provision of these data and information may be time-consuming and expensive. The process of obtaining regulatory clearances, authorizations or approvals to market a medical device can be costly and time-consuming, and we may not be able to obtain these clearances, authorizations or approvals on a timely basis, or at all for our products in development. If we are unable to obtain clearance, authorization or approval for any products for which we plan to seek clearance, authorization or approval, our business may be harmed.
Modifications to our products with FDA clearance may require new FDA clearances, authorizations or approvals, or may require us to cease marketing or recall the modified clinical diagnostic products or future clinical products until clearances are obtained.
Any modification to a 510(k)-cleared device that significantly affects its safety or effectiveness, or that constitutes a major change in its intended use, could require a new 510(k) clearance, a new de novo authorization or approval of a PMA. The FDA requires every manufacturer to make this determination in the first instance, but the FDA may review any manufacturer’s decision. The FDA may not agree with our decisions regarding whether new clearances, authorizations or approvals are necessary.
For any product approved pursuant to a PMA, we would be required to seek supplemental approval for many types of modifications to the approved product. The FDA requires manufacturers in the first instance to determine whether a PMA supplement or other regulatory filing is needed or whether the change may be reported via the PMA Annual Report, but may disagree with a company’s assessment.
If the FDA disagrees with our determination, which it may not review until we submit an annual report or the FDA conducts an inspection or other inquiry, and requires us to seek new clearances, authorizations or approvals for modifications to our previously cleared, authorized or approved clinical diagnostic products for which we have concluded new clearances, authorizations or approvals are unnecessary, we may be required to cease marketing or distribution of these clinical diagnostic products or to recall the modified products until we obtain clearance, authorization or approval. We may also be subject to enforcement action, including, among other things, significant regulatory fines or penalties.
Our employees, principal investigators, consultants and collaborators may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements and insider trading.
We are exposed to the risk of fraud or other misconduct by our employees, consultants and those of our collaborators. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional failures to comply with the regulations of the FDA and non-U.S. regulators, comply with healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations in the United States and abroad, report financial information or data accurately or disclose unauthorized activities to us. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements in the healthcare industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent improper marketing, fraud, misconduct, kickbacks, bribery, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a 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 studies, which could result in regulatory sanctions and cause serious harm to our reputation. We currently have a code of conduct applicable to all of our employees, but it is not always possible to identify and deter employee misconduct. In addition, our code of conduct and the other precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses, or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to comply with these laws or regulations. If any such investigations or actions are instituted against us and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could result in the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions, which could have a significant impact on our business. We currently have a compliance program in accordance with the elements of an effective program outlined by the HHS OIG, which could help mitigate damages, but cannot prevent all misconduct. Whether or not we are successful in defending against such actions or investigations, we could incur substantial costs, including legal fees, suffer adverse publicity and reputational harm, and have the attention of management diverted in defending ourselves against any of these claims or investigations.
If third-party payors, including private payors and government healthcare programs, do not provide coverage of, or adequate reimbursement for, our clinical diagnostic products, our commercial success will be negatively affected.
Our revenue depends in part on achieving broad coverage and reimbursement for our diagnostic tests from payors, including both private and government payors. Certain large private payors have issued policies that decline to cover testing methods that they regard as experimental or investigational. Other payors may issue similar non-coverage policies. If payors do not provide coverage of, or do not provide adequate reimbursement for, a substantial portion of the price of our diagnostic tests, we may need to seek payment from the patient where this is not precluded by law or contract, which may adversely affect demand for our tests. Coverage determinations by a payor may depend on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, a payor’s determination that a certain diagnostic test is appropriate, medically necessary or cost-effective. If we are unable to provide payors with sufficient evidence of the clinical utility and validity of our diagnostic tests, they may not provide coverage, or may provide limited coverage, which will adversely affect our revenues and our ability to succeed. To the extent that more competitors enter our markets, the availability of coverage and the reimbursement rate for our tests and new diagnostic products may decrease as we encounter pricing pressure from our competitors.
Each payor makes its own decision regarding coverage of our tests and the applicable payment rates, and payors may not provide adequate coverage or reimbursement for our current or future products. Although we may contract with certain payors, working with payors through contract or otherwise to assure reimbursement is time-consuming and costly and outcomes are uncertain. In addition, the determinations by a payor whether to cover our clinical diagnostic product and the amount it will reimburse for them are often made on an indication-by-indication basis. In cases where there is no coverage policy or we do not have a contracted rate for reimbursement as a participating provider, the patient is typically responsible for a greater share of the cost of the test, which may result in further delay of our revenue, increase our collection costs or decrease the likelihood of collection. Through our Adaptive Assist patient support program, we provide clonoSEQ diagnostic tests for reduced rates or without charge to eligible low-income patients that may result in payors requiring us to provide evidence of eligibility of such patients to pay reduced out-of-pocket amounts.
Our claims for reimbursement from payors may be denied upon submission, and we may need to take additional steps to receive payment, such as appealing the denials. Such appeals and other processes are time-consuming, expensive and may not result in payment. Payors may perform audits of historically paid claims and attempt to recoup funds years after the funds were initially distributed if the payors believe the funds were paid in error or determine that our clonoSEQ diagnostic tests or other clinical diagnostic products were medically unnecessary. In addition, similar to federal payors, state and federal laws permit commercial payors to seek civil and criminal penalties against a manufacturer if they feel they have been defrauded. If a payor audits our claims and issues a negative audit finding, and we are not able to overturn the audit findings through appeal, the recoupment may result in a material adverse effect on our revenue. Additionally, in some cases commercial payors for whom we are not a participating provider may elect at any time to review claims previously paid and determine the amount they paid was too much. In these situations, the payor will typically notify us of their decision and then offset whatever amount they determine they overpaid against amounts they owe us on current claims. We do not have a mechanism to dispute these retroactive adjustments and we cannot predict when, or how often, a payor might engage in these reviews.
Future Medicare payment rates are uncertain.
In January 2020, CMS revised the National Coverage Determination (“NCD”) for molecular diagnostic laboratory testing services utilizing a NGS methodology, which includes our clinical diagnostic products, for Medicare beneficiaries with advanced cancer. CMS revised the NCD to extend specific coverage for germline (inherited) testing. CMS stated that it is continuing to make other technical, clarifying and conforming changes in the NCD manual and they are also clarifying the existing policy related to diagnostic tests for Somatic (Acquired) Cancer. If CMS were to make material revisions to policy, this could potentially impact the scope of clonoSEQ coverage.
Under Medicare Part B, payment for most diagnostic laboratory tests is made under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (“CLFS”), which assigns payment amounts to tests based on billing codes. Under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (“PAMA”), certain laboratories that receive the majority of their Medicare revenue from payments made under the CLFS or Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule are required to report to CMS every three years, or annually for “advanced diagnostic laboratory tests,” commercial payor payment rates and volumes for tests they perform and that are assigned specific billing codes. PAMA has special provisions relating to “advanced diagnostic laboratory tests,” as defined by the statute, and these provisions affect the rate-setting at the time of launch and the periodicity of rate reporting and revision. Laboratories that fail to report the required payment information may be subject to substantial civil monetary penalties. If, in the future, clonoSEQ or any of our tests are assigned a specific code we would be required to report commercial payor payment data on those tests. Payments for tests billed under miscellaneous codes are determined by the MACs, which also have discretion to change those payment rates.
CMS uses the data reported by laboratories to calculate a payment rate for each CLFS test, other than those coded with miscellaneous codes and certain others, based on the volume-weighted median of the private payor rates. These rates apply for three years, except that payment rates for advanced diagnostic laboratory tests apply for one year. If we offer tests with specific codes, this apparatus would apply. Under these circumstances, Medicare’s payment rates would be determined by the rates we and other laboratories, if any, with tests that share the specific codes we use, obtain from commercial payors. In that case, if we are unable to obtain and maintain adequate reimbursement rates from commercial payors, this may adversely affect our Medicare rates.
In some circumstances, our tests may be furnished to hospital inpatients and paid by Medicare under different rules. For example, when a specimen is obtained from a patient who is at the time classified by Medicare as a hospital inpatient, Medicare would not make a separate payment for the test and we would have to look to the hospital for payment. We do not know how often this will occur or whether hospitals will resist paying us for our tests. In this situation, Medicare coverage would be determined by the MAC for the jurisdiction where the hospital is located, which may not cover our tests.
Our RUO, clinical diagnostic and therapeutic products or services, and those jointly developed with our collaborators, may in the future be subject to product or service recalls. A recall of products or services, either voluntarily or at the direction of the FDA or another governmental authority, or the discovery of serious safety issues with our or our collaborators’ products or services, could have a significant adverse impact on us.
The FDA has the authority to require the recall of commercialized products or services that are subject to FDA regulation. Manufacturers may, under their own initiative, recall a product or service if any deficiency is found. The FDA requires that certain corrections and removals, including recalls intended to reduce a health risk, be reported to the FDA within ten working days of initiating such correction or removal. For reportable corrections and removals, companies are required to make additional periodic submissions to the FDA after initiating the recall, and often engage with the FDA on their recall strategy prior to initiating the recall. A government-mandated or voluntary recall by us, one of our distributors or our collaborators could occur as a result of an unacceptable health risk, component failures, failures in laboratory processes, malfunctions, manufacturing errors, design or labeling defects, or other deficiencies and issues. Recalls of any of our commercialized products or services or those jointly developed with our collaborators would divert managerial and financial resources and adversely affect our reputation, results of operations and financial condition. We may also be subject to liability claims, be required to bear other costs or take other actions that may negatively impact our future sales and our ability to generate profits. Companies are also required to maintain certain records of corrections and removals, even if these do not require reporting to the FDA. We or our collaborators may initiate voluntary recalls involving our commercialized products or services in the future that we determine do not require FDA notification. If the FDA disagrees with our determinations, they may require us to report those actions as recalls. A future recall announcement by us or our collaborators could harm our reputation with customers and negatively affect our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, the FDA or other agency could take enforcement action for failing to report the recalls when they were conducted.
If we or our collaborators initiate a recall, including a correction or removal, for one of our commercialized products or services, issue a safety alert, or undertake a field action or recall to reduce a health risk, this could lead to increased scrutiny by the FDA, other governmental and regulatory enforcement bodies, and our or our collaborators’ customers regarding the quality and safety of our products and services, and to negative publicity, including FDA alerts, press releases, or administrative or judicial actions. Furthermore, the submission of these reports could be used against us by competitors and cause customers to delay purchase decisions or cancel orders, which would harm our reputation.
Any additional commercialized products and services or any future products and services that obtain regulatory clearance, authorization, approval, accreditation or licensure will remain subject to regulatory scrutiny and our failure to maintain our regulatory clearances, authorizations, approvals, accreditations or licensures could adversely affect our reputation, business and results of operations.
Even if we or our collaborators obtain regulatory clearance, authorization, approval, accreditation or licensure in a jurisdiction for our products and services, the applicable regulatory authority may still impose significant restrictions on the indicated uses or marketing of our products and services, or impose ongoing requirements for potentially costly post-approval studies or post-market surveillance of our or our collaborators’ manufacturing and distribution. Advertising for certain devices and labeling, including promotional labeling, for all devices must comply with FDA requirements. In addition, device advertising and promotion may also be subject to other federal and state laws. For example, the FDA shares jurisdiction over the regulation of device advertising with the FTC. Advertising for devices characterized as restricted by the FDA is subject to specified FDA requirements, while advertising for non-restricted devices is regulated by the FTC.
If we or our collaborators fail to comply with applicable regulatory requirements following clearance, authorization, approval, accreditation or licensure of any of our products and services, a regulatory agency may:
Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources in response and could generate negative publicity. The occurrence of any event or penalty described above may inhibit our and our collaborators’ ability to commercialize any cleared, authorized or approved products and services and generate revenues.
If any of our diagnostic products or services cause or contribute to a death or serious injury, or malfunction in certain ways, we will be required to report such death, serious injury or malfunction under applicable medical device reporting regulations, and such events can result in voluntary corrective actions or agency enforcement actions.
Under FDA medical device reporting regulations, medical device manufacturers are required to report to the FDA information that a device has or may have caused or contributed to a death or serious injury or has malfunctioned in a way that would likely cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction of the device or one of our similar devices were to recur. If such a death, serious injury or malfunction were to occur, and we or our collaborators are unable to demonstrate that the adverse events were caused by factors other than our or our collaborator’s products and services, regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny clearance, authorization or approval of, any of our or our collaborators’ products and services for any or all targeted indications. Even if we and our collaborators are able to demonstrate that any serious adverse events are not related to our products and services, such occurrences could affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled trial participants to complete the trial. Moreover, if we or our collaborators elect, or are required, to delay, suspend or terminate any clinical trial of any product in development, the commercial prospects of such product in development may be harmed and our ability to generate product revenues may be delayed or eliminated. Any of these occurrences may harm our and our collaborators’ ability to identify and develop future products and services, and may significantly harm our business, financial condition, result of operations and prospects.
We are subject to various laws and regulations, such as healthcare fraud and abuse laws, false claim laws and health information privacy and security laws, among others, and failure to comply with these laws and regulations may have an adverse effect on our business.
Healthcare providers, physicians, hospitals and third-party payors often play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any currently marketed products and services for which we may obtain clearance, authorization or approval. Our current and future arrangements with healthcare providers, physicians, hospitals and third-party payors, and our sales, marketing and educational activities related to our products and services, may expose us to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other healthcare laws and regulations at the federal and state level that may constrain our business or financial arrangements, and the relationships through which we market, sell and distribute our products and services. In addition, our operations are also subject to various federal and state fraud and abuse, physician payment transparency, and privacy and security laws, including, without limitation: