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OPXA > SEC Filings for OPXA > Form 10-Q on 14-Aug-2013All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for OPEXA THERAPEUTICS, INC.



Quarterly Report

Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition is as of June 30, 2013. Our results of operations and cash flows should be read in conjunction with our unaudited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this report and the audited financial statements and the notes thereto included in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012.

Forward-Looking Statements

This Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements contained in this report, other than statements of historical fact, constitute "forward-looking statements." The words "expects," "believes," "anticipates," "estimates," "may," "could," "intends," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this report do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Investors are cautioned that statements in this report which are not strictly historical statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding the development of the Company's product candidate, Tcelna« (imilecleucel-T), constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks associated with: market conditions; our capital position; the rights and preferences provided to the Series A convertible preferred stock and investors in the convertible secured notes we issued in July 2012 (including a secured interest in all of our assets); our ability to compete with larger, better financed pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; new approaches to the treatment of our targeted diseases; our expectation of incurring continued losses; our uncertainty of developing a marketable product; our ability to raise additional capital to continue our development programs (including to undertake and complete any ongoing or further clinical studies for Tcelna), including in this regard our ability to satisfy various conditions required to access the financing potentially available under the purchase agreements with Lincoln Park Capital Fund, LLC ("Lincoln Park") (such as the minimum closing price for our common stock and the requirement for an ongoing trading market for our stock); our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of shares of our common stock under the purchase agreements with Lincoln Park or under our at-the-market (ATM) facility; our ability to maintain compliance with NASDAQ listing standards; the success of our clinical trials (including the Phase IIb trial for Tcelna in secondary progressive MS which, depending upon results, may determine whether Merck elects to exercise its Option); whether Merck exercises its Option and, if so, whether we receive any development or commercialization milestone payments or royalties from Merck pursuant to the Option; our dependence (if Merck exercises its Option) on the resources and abilities of Merck for the further development of Tcelna; the efficacy of Tcelna for any particular indication, such as for relapsing remitting MS or secondary progressive MS; our ability to develop and commercialize products; our ability to obtain required regulatory approvals; our compliance with all Food and Drug Administration regulations; our ability to obtain, maintain and protect intellectual property rights (including for Tcelna); the risk of litigation regarding our intellectual property rights or the rights of third parties; the success of third party development and commercialization efforts with respect to products covered by intellectual property rights that we may license or transfer; our limited manufacturing capabilities; our dependence on third-party manufacturers; our ability to hire and retain skilled personnel; our volatile stock price; and other risks detailed in our filings with the SEC. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We assume no obligation or undertaking to update any forward-looking statements to reflect any changes in expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. You should, however, review additional disclosures we make in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K filed with the SEC.

Business Overview

Unless otherwise indicated, we use "Opexa," "the Company," "we," "our" and "us" to refer to the businesses of Opexa Therapeutics, Inc.

Opexa is a biopharmaceutical company developing a personalized immunotherapy with the potential to treat major illnesses, including multiple sclerosis (MS). This therapy is based on our proprietary T-cell technology. Our mission is to lead the field of Precision ImmunotherapyTM by aligning the interests of patients, employees and shareholders. Information related to our product candidate, Tcelna«, is preliminary and investigative. Tcelna has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other global regulatory agencies for marketing.

MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. MS attacks the covering surrounding nerve cells, or myelin sheaths, leading to loss of myelin (demyelination) and nerve damage. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. We believe that our product candidate, Tcelna, has the potential to fundamentally address the root cause of MS by stopping the demyelination process and in supporting the generation of new myelin sheaths where demyelination has occurred (remyelination).

Tcelna is an autologous T-cell immunotherapy that is currently being developed for the treatment of Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) and is specifically tailored to each patient's immune response profile to myelin. Tcelna is designed to reduce the number and/or functional activity of specific subsets of myelin-reactive T-cells (MRTCs) known to attack myelin. This technology was originally licensed from Baylor College of Medicine in 2001.

Tcelna is manufactured using our proprietary method for the production of an autologous T-cell product, which comprises the collection of blood from the MS patient and the expansion of MRTCs from the blood. Upon completion of the manufacturing process, an annual course of therapy consisting of five doses is cryopreserved. At each dosing time point, a single dose of Tcelna is formulated and attenuated by irradiation before returning the final product to the clinical site for subcutaneous administration to the patient.

Tcelna has received Fast Track designation from the FDA in SPMS, and we believe it is positioned as a potential first-to-market personalized T-cell therapy for MS patients. The FDA's Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drug candidates intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs.

Opexa was incorporated in Texas in March 1991. Our principal executive offices are located at 2635 Technology Forest Blvd., The Woodlands, Texas 77381, and our telephone number is (281) 775-0600.

T-Cell Therapy and Tcelna

Tcelna is a novel T-cell immunotherapy in Phase IIb clinical development for the treatment of patients with SPMS. It is also positioned to enter Phase III clinical development for the treatment of patients with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), subject to the availability of sufficient resources. Tcelna is a personalized therapy that is specifically tailored to each patient's disease profile. Tcelna is manufactured using ImmPathTM, our proprietary method for the production of a patient-specific T-cell immunotherapy which encompasses the collection of blood from the MS patient, isolation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, generation of an autologous pool of MRTCs raised against selected peptides from myelin basic protein (MBP), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) and proteolipid protein (PLP), and the return of these expanded, irradiated T-cells back to the patient. These attenuated T-cells are reintroduced into the patient via subcutaneous injection to trigger a therapeutic immune system response.

Abili-T Trial: Phase IIb Clinical Study in Patients with SPMS

In September 2012, we announced the initiation of a Phase IIb clinical trial of Tcelna in patients with SPMS. The trial is entitled: A Phase II Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Multi-Center Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Tcelna in Subjects with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and has been named the "Abili-T" trial. The Abili-T trial is a double-blind, 1:1 randomized, placebo-controlled study in SPMS patients who demonstrate evidence of disease progression with or without associated relapses. The trial is expected to enroll 180 patients who have Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores between 3.0 and 6.0 at approximately 30 leading clinical sites in the U.S. and Canada. According to the study protocol, patients will receive two annual courses of Tcelna treatment consisting of five subcutaneous injections per year at weeks 0, 4, 8, 12 and 24.

The primary efficacy endpoint of the trial is the percentage of brain volume change (whole brain atrophy) at 24 months. Study investigators will also measure several important secondary outcomes commonly associated with MS including sustained disease progression as measured by EDSS, changes in EDSS, time to sustained progression, annualized relapse rate (ARR), change in Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC) assessment of disability and change in Symbol Digit Modality Test. Data on certain exploratory endpoints such as quality of life metrics as measured by the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life Inventory (MSQLI), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures and immune monitoring metrics are also being collected.

As part of the Abili-T trial, we are undertaking a comprehensive immune monitoring program for all patients enrolled in the study. The goals of this program are to further understand the biology behind the mechanism of action for Tcelna and to possibly identify novel biomarkers that are dominant in the pathophysiology of SPMS patients. The program encompasses an analysis of various pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory biomarkers. We believe that the blinded data, which will be analyzed during the course of the trial, may potentially signal responders and non-responders. Directional movement of certain biomarkers, when corroborated with final clinical trial data, may be indicative of responders and disease stabilization or progression.

As of August 8, 2013, the Abili-T clinical trial has randomized 68 patients. A scheduled Data Safety Monitoring Board meeting took place during the week of May 20, 2013, and a recommendation was made to continue the study. The Abili-T clinical study in North America of Tcelna is expected to complete enrollment of 180 patients by late 2013 or early 2014, with the resulting top-line data expected to be available in the first half of 2016.

During the first quarter of 2013, the pace of on-boarding clinical sites for the Abili-T clinical study was tempered pending the completion of our negotiations with Ares Trading SA ("Merck"), a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck Serono S.A., for the Option (see "-Option and License Agreement with Merck Serono") as well as financial considerations. Upon receipt of the upfront payment of $5 million for granting the Option, we were able to refocus on execution of the Abili-T clinical trial, including enrollment. The future costs of the study, which have been impacted by a slowed rate of enrollment prior to receipt of the upfront payment of $5 million for granting the Option, as well as the ongoing expenses of our operations through the expected completion date of the study and release of top-line data, are estimated as of June 30, 2013 to be between $30-$32 million.

Our existing resources are not adequate to permit us to complete such study. In August 2013, we raised gross proceeds of $18 million through an underwritten offering of 12 million shares of our common stock. The net proceeds from such offering were approximately $16.2 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. We granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.8 million shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any. We will need to secure significant additional resources to complete the trial and support our operations during the pendency of the trial. We believe that with the proceeds from our August 2013 offering, we have sufficient liquidity to support our clinical trial activities into the second half of 2014. Given our need for substantial amounts of capital to continue the Abili-T clinical study in North America of Tcelna in SPMS, we intend to continue to explore potential opportunities and alternatives to obtain the significant additional resources, including one or more additional financings, that will be necessary to complete the Abili-T study and to support our operations during the pendency of such study. There can be no assurance that any such financings or potential opportunities and alternatives can be consummated on acceptable terms, if at all.

Option and License Agreement with Merck Serono

On February 4, 2013, we entered into an Option and License Agreement with Merck. Pursuant to the agreement, Merck has an option (the "Option") to acquire an exclusive, worldwide (excluding Japan) license of our Tcelna program for the treatment of MS. The Option may be exercised by Merck prior to or upon completion of our ongoing Abili-T trial of Tcelna in patients with SPMS. Under the terms of the agreement, we received an upfront payment of $5 million for granting the Option. If the Option is exercised, Merck would pay us an upfront license fee of $25 million unless Merck is unable to advance directly into a Phase III clinical trial of Tcelna for SPMS without a further Phase II clinical trial (as determined by Merck), in which event the upfront license fee would be $15 million. After exercising the Option, Merck would be solely responsible for funding development, regulatory and commercialization activities for Tcelna in MS, although we would retain an option to co-fund certain development in exchange for increased royalty rates. We would also retain rights to Tcelna in Japan, certain rights with respect to the manufacture of Tcelna, and rights to use for other indications outside of MS.

Based upon the achievement of development milestones by Merck for Tcelna in SPMS, we would be eligible to receive one-time milestone payments totaling up to $70 million as follows: (i) milestone payments aggregating $35 million if Tcelna is submitted for regulatory approval and commercialized in the United States;
(ii) milestone payments aggregating $30 million if Tcelna is submitted for regulatory approval in Europe and commercialized in at least three major countries in Europe; and (iii) a milestone payment of $5 million if Tcelna is commercialized in certain markets outside of the United States and Europe. If Merck elects to develop and commercialize Tcelna in RRMS, we would be eligible to receive milestone payments aggregating up to $40 million based upon the achievement by Merck of various development, regulatory and first commercial sale milestones.

If Tcelna receives regulatory approval and is commercialized by Merck, we would be eligible to receive royalties pursuant to a tiered structure at rates ranging from 8% to 15% of annual net sales, with step-ups over such range occurring when annual net sales exceed $500 million, $1 billion and $2 billion. Any royalties would be subject to offset or reduction in various situations, including if third party rights are required or if patent protection is not available in an applicable jurisdiction. We would also be responsible for royalty obligations to certain third parties, such as Baylor College of Medicine from which we originally licensed related technology. If we were to exercise an option to co-fund certain of Merck's development, the royalty rates payable by Merck would be increased to rates ranging from 10% to 18%. In addition to royalty payments, we would be eligible to receive one-time commercial milestones totaling up to $85 million, with $55 million of such milestones achievable at annual net sales targets in excess of $1 billion.

SPMS Overview and Tcelna Mechanism of Action

SPMS is characterized by a steady accrual of irreversible disability, despite, in some cases, relapses followed by remissions or clinical plateaus. Older age at onset of MS diagnosis is the strongest predictor of conversion to SPMS. Males have a shorter time to conversion to SPMS compared with females. Available immunomodulating and immunosuppressive therapies used for RRMS have not been effective in SPMS. In clinical trials, these therapies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties as measured by the reduction in number and volume of contrast-enhancing or acutely inflammatory CNS lesions most commonly seen in patients with RRMS. The typical SPMS patient, however, has little or no radiographic evidence of acute inflammation. It is commonly observed that contrast-enhancing CNS lesions are uncommon among these patients, despite a clearly deteriorating neurologic course.

The lack of effect of conventional MS therapeutics in SPMS suggests that the cerebral deterioration characterizing progressive disease may be driven by factors other than acute inflammation. For instance, the immunopathology of SPMS is more consistent with a transition to a chronic T-cell dependent inflammatory type, which may encompass the innate immune response and persistent activation of microglia cells.

Radiographic features that stand out among patients with SPMS include significantly more atrophy of gray matter compared with RRMS patients. Of note, long-term disability in MS in general appears more closely correlated to gray matter atrophy than to white matter inflammation. Such atrophy may be suggestive of progressive clinical disability. Both clinically and radiographically, SPMS represents a disease process with certain features distinct from those of RRMS, and one with extremely limited treatment options.

Tcelna immunotherapy in SPMS may reduce the drivers of this chronic disease by down-regulating anti-myelin immunity through priming regulatory responses that may act in the periphery as well as within the CNS. We believe that our clinical results show therapeutic subcutaneous dosing of 30-45 million cells of Tcelna stimulates host reactivity to the over-represented MRTCs and, as a consequence, a dominant negative regulatory T-cell response is induced leading to down-regulation of similar endogenous disease-causing MRTCs.

We believe that Tcelna has the potential to induce an up-regulation of regulatory cells, such as Foxp3+ Treg cells and IL-10 secreting Tr1 cells, which may effect a reduction in inflammation and provide neuroprotection should they gain entry to the CNS. Data from our TERMS study showed statistically significant changes from baseline (p=0.02) in Foxp3+ Treg cells for the subset of Tcelna patients who had ARR >1. The placebo arm for this subset was not statistically different from its baseline levels. Three SPMS patients from prior clinical studies, whose blood samples were analyzed to measure Tr1 cells prior to treatment and post treatment, showed an increase in the levels of Tr1 cells from non-detectable levels to the range of healthy donor samples. These three patients who had relapses in the preceding 12-24 month period remained relapse free during the 52-week assessment period and also showed a 57% to 67% reduction in MRTCs.

Current Treatment Options for SPMS

Only one product, mitoxantrone, is currently approved for the indication of SPMS. However, as of 2005, this drug carries a black box warning, due to significant risks of decreased systolic function, heart failure, and leukemia. The American Academy of Neurology has issued a report indicating that these risks are even higher than suggested in the original report leading to the black box warning. Hence, a safe and effective treatment for SPMS remains a significant unmet medical need.

Tcelna Clinical Overview in SPMS

In multiple previously conducted clinical trials for the treatment of patients with MS (which have been weighted significantly toward patients with RRMS), Tcelna has demonstrated one of the safest side effect profiles for any marketed or development-stage MS therapy, as well as encouraging efficacy signals. A total of 144 MS patients have received Tcelna in previously conducted Opexa trials for RRMS and SPMS. The therapy has been well-tolerated in all subjects and has demonstrated an excellent overall safety profile. The most common side effect is mild to moderate irritation at the site of injection, which is typically resolved in 24 hours. Tcelna has been administered to a total of 36 subjects with SPMS across three previous clinical studies.

In a pooled assessment of data from 36 SPMS patients treated in Phase I open label studies at the Baylor College of Medicine completed in 1998 and in Opexa sponsored studies completed in 2006 and 2007, approximately 80% of the 35 SPMS patients who completed two years of treatment showed disease stabilization as measured by EDSS following two years of treatment with Tcelna, with the other 20% showing signs of progression. This compares to historical control data which showed a progression rate of 40% in SPMS patients (as reported in ESIMS Study published in Hommes Lancet 2004). The 10 SPMS patients in Opexa sponsored studies showed a substantial reduction in ARR at two years from 0.5 to an ARR less than 0.1. Only 1 out of the 10 patients experienced one episode of relapse during the two years of assessment. This same cohort showed no worsening of physical or psychological condition (key quality of life indicators as measured by the MS Impact Scale) after two years of treatment with Tcelna. Additionally, there were no reported serious adverse events (SAEs) in any of the patients. Based on preliminary data suggesting stabilized or improved disability among SPMS subjects receiving Tcelna, we believe that further development of this product candidate in SPMS is warranted.

Summary of Phase I Dose Escalation Study in MS

A Phase 1 dose escalation study completed in 2006 was conducted in patients with both RRMS and SPMS who were intolerant or unresponsive to current approved therapies for MS. The open-label, dose escalation study evaluated safety and clinical benefit by administering a primary series of four treatments at one of three dose levels administered at baseline and weeks four, eight, and twelve. Results of the efficacy analyses provide some evidence of the effectiveness of Tcelna in the treatment of MS. The follow-on TERMS Phase IIb clinical study provided further encouraging signs of efficacy in ARR and Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS-29). Data from the Phase I study evaluating the EDSS showed improvements in some subjects in comparison to baseline for weeks 20 and 28.

Subjects showed statistically significant improvement in overall reduction of MRTC counts over baseline at all visits through week 52 for subjects receiving 30-45 million cells per dose, as assessed by total MRTC count percentage changes. These data indicate that Tcelna treatment causes a depletion or immunomodulation of these cells, most obvious at time points closer to the injections.

Overall, results of the safety analyses indicate that treatment with Tcelna is well-tolerated. Reported adverse events were mostly mild or moderate in intensity. Mild injection site reactions were observed but all resolved rapidly without treatment. In conclusion, data from this study suggest that Tcelna is safe for the treatment of MS.

Summary of Phase I/IIA Clinical Trial Data in MS

The second clinical study performed by Opexa was an open-label extension study completed in 2007 to treat patients who were previously treated with T-cell immunotherapy but who saw a rebound in MRTC activity. The purpose of this extension study was to continue evaluating the efficacy, safety and tolerability of Tcelna in patients with RRMS and SPMS with repeated administration of Tcelna. Results of the study provide evidence of the effectiveness of Tcelna in the treatment of MS with repeated dosing. Improvements from baseline at both week 28 and week 52 of the extension study were observed for the frequency of MS exacerbations, or ARR. Evaluation of MSIS-29 component scores suggests a trend for Tcelna therapy in the improvement of physical and psychological parameters assessed by the MSIS-29. The EDSS score analysis revealed an upward trend for the percentage of subjects that reported improvement and sustained improvement over baseline as a result of Tcelna treatment.

Subjects showed statistically significant improvement over baseline in the MRTC counts for each time point through month nine of the extension study. These results indicate that Tcelna treatment results in a statistically significant impact on these cells. Overall, results of the safety analyses indicate that repeated treatment with Tcelna is well-tolerated. Reported adverse events (AEs) were mostly mild or moderate in intensity. Mild injection site reactions were observed but all resolved rapidly without treatment. Furthermore, results from this study suggest that repeated dosing of Tcelna has a substantive effect in reduction of ARR in subjects with MS and was well-tolerated.

Summary of TERMS Phase IIb Clinical Trial Data in RRMS

Tovaxin for Early Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (TERMS) was a Phase IIb clinical study of Tcelna in RRMS patients completed in 2008. Although the study did not show statistical significance in its primary endpoint (the cumulative number of gadolinium-enhanced brain lesions using MRI scans summed at various points in the study), the study showed compelling evidence of efficacy in various clinical and other MRI endpoints.

The TERMS study was a multi-center, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in 150 patients with RRMS or high risk Clinically Isolated Syndrome. Patients received a total of five subcutaneous injections at weeks 0, 4, 8, 12 and 24. Key results from the TERMS trial included:

? In the modified intent to treat patient population consisting of all patients who received at least one dose of study product and had at least one MRI scan at week 28 or later (n=142), the ARR for Tcelna-treated patients was 0.214 as compared to 0.339 for placebo-treated patients, which represented a 37% decrease in ARR for Tcelna as compared to placebo in the general population;

? In a prospective group of patients with more active disease (ARR>1, n=50), Tcelna demonstrated a 55% reduction in ARR as compared to placebo, an 88% reduction in whole brain atrophy and a statistically significant improvement in disability (EDSS) compared to placebo (p<0.045) during the 24-week period following the administration of the full course of treatment; and

? In a retrospective analysis in patients na´ve to previous disease modifying treatment, the results showed that patients, when treated with Tcelna, had a 56% to 73% reduction in ARR versus placebo for the various subsets and p values ranged from 0.009 to 0.06.

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