BUSINESS AND FUNDING
|3 Months Ended|
Jan. 31, 2023
|Accounting Policies [Abstract]|
|BUSINESS AND FUNDING||
1. BUSINESS AND FUNDING
Description of Business
As used herein, “we,” “us,” “our,” the “Company” or “Anixa” means Anixa Biosciences, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. Our primary operations involve developing therapies and vaccines that are focused on critical unmet needs in oncology and infectious disease. Our vaccine programs include (i) the development of a preventative vaccine against triple negative breast cancer (“TNBC”), the most lethal form of breast cancer, as well other forms of breast cancer and (ii) the development of a preventative vaccine against ovarian cancer. Our therapeutics programs include (i) the development of a chimeric endocrine receptor T-cell therapy, a novel form of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (“CAR-T”) technology, initially focused on treating ovarian cancer, which is being developed at our subsidiary, Certainty Therapeutics, Inc. (“Certainty”), and (ii) the development of anti-viral drug candidates for the treatment of COVID-19 focused on inhibiting certain protein functions of the virus.
We hold an exclusive worldwide, royalty-bearing license to use certain intellectual property owned or controlled by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (“Cleveland Clinic”) relating to certain breast cancer vaccine technology developed at Cleveland Clinic. Utilizing this technology, we are working in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic to develop a method to vaccinate women against contracting breast cancer, focused specifically on TNBC. The focus of this vaccine is a specific protein, α-lactalbumin, that is only expressed during lactation in a healthy mother’s mammary tissue. This protein disappears when the mother is no longer lactating, but reappears in many forms of breast cancer, especially TNBC. Studies have shown that vaccinating against this protein prevents breast cancer in mice.
Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) authorization to proceed with clinical trials in December 2020, in October 2021, we commenced dosing patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial of our breast cancer vaccine. This study, which is being funded by a U.S. Department of Defense grant, is a multiple-ascending dose Phase 1 trial to determine the maximum tolerated dose (“MTD”) of the vaccine in patients with early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer as well as monitor immune response. The study is being conducted at Cleveland Clinic and will consist of 18 to 24 patients who have completed treatment for early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer within the past three years and are currently tumor-free but at high risk for recurrence. During the course of the study, participants will receive three vaccinations, each two weeks apart, and will be closely monitored for side effects and immune response. Initial indications from preliminary analyses suggest that an immune response is being observed. In December 2022, we announced that we had reached the MTD. We are currently compiling and analyzing the data collected to-date and anticipate presenting the immunological data at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research to be held in April 2023. Upon reaching MTD, we are now expanding the dose cohorts and are vaccinating additional participants. Further, we have commenced recruitment for participants in the second stage of our Phase 1 trial, that will include participants who have never had cancer, but carry certain genetic mutations that indicate a greater risk of developing TNBC in the future.
In November 2020, we executed a license agreement with Cleveland Clinic pursuant to which the Company was granted an exclusive worldwide, royalty-bearing license to use certain intellectual property owned or controlled by Cleveland Clinic relating to certain ovarian cancer vaccine technology. This technology pertains to among other things, the use of vaccines for the treatment or prevention of ovarian cancers which express the anti-Mullerian hormone receptor 2 protein containing an extracellular domain (“AMHR2-ED”). In healthy tissue, this protein regulates growth and development of egg-containing follicles in the ovary. While expression of AMHR2-ED naturally and markedly declines during menopause, this protein is expressed at high levels in the ovaries of postmenopausal women with ovarian cancer. Researchers at Cleveland Clinic believe that a vaccine targeting AMHR2-ED could prevent the occurrence of ovarian cancer. We entered into a joint development agreement with Cleveland Clinic to advance this vaccine toward human clinical testing.
In May 2021, Cleveland Clinic was granted an award for our ovarian cancer vaccine technology by the National Cancer Institute’s (“NCI”) PREVENT program. The NCI is a part of the National Institutes of Health. The PREVENT program is a peer-reviewed agent development program designed to support pre-clinical development of innovative interventions and biomarkers for cancer prevention and interception towards clinical trials. The scientific and financial resources of the PREVENT program will be used for our ovarian cancer vaccine technology to perform virtually all pre-clinical research and development, manufacturing and IND-enabling studies. This work is being performed at NCI facilities, by NCI scientific staff and with NCI financial resources and will require no material financial expenditures by the Company, nor the transfer of any rights of the Company’s assets.
Our subsidiary, Certainty, is developing immuno-therapy drugs against cancer. Certainty holds an exclusive worldwide, royalty-bearing license to use certain intellectual property owned or controlled by The Wistar Institute (“Wistar”), the nation’s first independent biomedical research institute and a leading National Cancer Institute designated cancer research center, relating to Wistar’s chimeric endocrine receptor targeted therapy technology. We have initially focused on the development of a treatment for ovarian cancer, but we also may pursue applications of the technology for the development of treatments for additional solid tumors. The license agreement requires Certainty to make certain cash and equity payments to Wistar upon achievement of specific development milestones. With respect to Certainty’s equity obligations to Wistar, Certainty issued to Wistar shares of its common stock equal to five percent (5%) of the common stock of Certainty.
Certainty, in collaboration with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Inc. (“Moffitt”), has begun human clinical testing of the CAR-T technology licensed by Certainty from Wistar aimed initially at treating ovarian cancer. We received authorization from the FDA in August 2021, to commence enrollment and treatment of patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial. We began patient recruitment for the trial in March 2022, and in August 2022, we treated the first patient in the trial. The treatment appears to have been well-tolerated by the patient, and we continue to monitor her condition. The process of recruiting additional patients is ongoing. This study is a dose-escalation trial with two arms based on injection method—intraperitoneal or intravenous—to determine the maximum tolerated dose in patients with recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer and to assess persistence, expansion and efficacy of the modified T-cells. The study is being conducted at Moffitt and will consist of 24 to 48 patients who have received at least two prior lines of chemotherapy. The study is estimated to be completed in two to four years depending on multiple factors including when maximum tolerated dose is reached, the rate of patient recruitment, and how long we maintain the two different injection methods.
In April 2020, we entered into a collaboration with OntoChem GmbH (“OntoChem”) to discover and ultimately develop anti-viral drug candidates against COVID-19. Through this collaboration, we utilized advanced computational methods, machine learning, and molecular modeling techniques to perform in silico screening of over 1.2 billion compounds in chemical libraries (including publicly available compounds and OntoChem’s proprietary libraries) to evaluate if any of these compounds could disrupt one of two key enzymes of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. In May 2021, OntoChem assigned its rights and obligations related to this collaboration to MolGenie GmbH (“MolGenie”), a company spun-out from OntoChem focused on drug discovery and development. As a result of the MolGenie spin-out, there was no change in the personnel working on our project, and the assignment caused no interruptions to the program’s development.
The screening process resulted in the identification of multiple compounds that could potentially disrupt critical enzymes of the virus, including the virus’ main protease, Mpro. Several of these compounds were synthesized and tested in in vitro biological assays. Upon completion of these biological assays, we identified two of the most promising compounds and tested them in animal models. In these animal studies, the two compounds were compared to Remdesivir, which at the time the assays were performed was the only anti-viral drug authorized by the FDA for COVID-19. The data showed that administration of the drugs to infected hamsters did not cause any noticeable adverse effects, and monitoring of weight and general animal behavior demonstrated comparable efficacy between each of our compounds and Remdesivir. Further, with the authorization of Pfizer’s anti-viral treatment Paxlovid, which is a combination therapy consisting of the protease-inhibitor nirmatrelvir—which targets the same protein as our compounds—and the antiretroviral ritonavir, we conducted a head-to-head analysis via a Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) assay that tested the ability of the compounds to inhibit the function of Mpro. The results of this head-to-head in vitro analysis suggested that our compounds may be five times more effective at inhibiting Mpro than Pfizer’s nirmatrelvir. Based on these promising results, we selected one of the compounds around which our team has been performing combinatorial synthetic medicinal chemistry to evaluate whether potency can be increased and pharmacokinetics optimized. While our compounds show promise as an effective treatment, results of additional animal studies indicate that there is not sufficient oral bioavailability, and it is unclear whether an orally delivered treatment may be developed. We do not currently believe that there is a viable market for an injectable treatment given the current oral treatments available. Furthermore, we believe the needed additional investment in research for alternative delivery methods would divert resources from more promising projects. Therefore, on March 9, 2023, we decided to pause further development of our COVID-19 therapeutic. We continue to prosecute our U.S. patent applications of this technology and may decide to restart development at some time in the future.
Over the next several quarters, we expect the development of our vaccines and therapeutics to be the primary focus of the Company. As part of our legacy operations, the Company remains engaged in limited patent licensing activities regarding its liquid biopsy platform, as well as in the area of encrypted audio/video conference calling. We do not expect these activities to be a significant part of the Company’s ongoing operations nor do we expect these activities to require material financial resources or attention of senior management.
Over the past several years, our revenue was derived from technology licensing and the sale of patented technologies, including revenue from the settlement of litigation. We have not generated any revenue to date from our vaccine or therapeutics programs. In addition, while we pursue our vaccine and therapeutics programs, we may also make investments in and form new companies to develop additional emerging technologies. We do not expect to begin generating revenue with respect to any of our current vaccine or therapy programs in the near term. We hope to achieve a profitable outcome by eventually licensing our technologies to large pharmaceutical companies that have the resources and infrastructure in place to manufacture, market and sell our technologies as vaccines or therapeutics. The eventual licensing of any of our technologies may take several years, if it is to occur at all, and may depend on positive results from human clinical trials.
Funding and Management’s Plans
Based on currently available information as of March 16, 2023, we believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and expected cash flows will be sufficient to fund our activities for at least the next twelve months. We have implemented a business model that conserves funds by collaborating with third parties to develop our technologies. However, our projections of future cash needs and cash flows may differ from actual results. If current cash on hand, cash equivalents, short-term investments and cash that may be generated from our business operations are insufficient to continue to operate our business, or if we elect to invest in or acquire a company or companies or new technology or technologies that are synergistic with or complementary to our technologies, we may be required to obtain more working capital. Under our at-the-market equity program, as of January 31, 2023, we may sell up to $million of common stock. We did not sell any shares under our at-the-market equity program during the three months ended January 31, 2023. We may seek to obtain working capital during our fiscal year 2023 or thereafter through sales of our equity securities or through bank credit facilities or public or private debt from various financial institutions where possible. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. If we do identify sources for additional funding, the sale of additional equity securities or convertible debt will result in dilution to our stockholders. We can give no assurance that we will generate sufficient cash flows in the future to satisfy our liquidity requirements or sustain future operations, or that other sources of funding, such as sales of equity or debt, would be available or would be approved by our security holders, if needed, on favorable terms or at all. If we fail to obtain additional working capital as and when needed, such failure could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Furthermore, such lack of funds may inhibit our ability to respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated capital needs, or may force us to reduce operating expenses, which would significantly harm the business and development of operations.
The entire disclosure for the general note to the financial statements for the reporting entity which may include, descriptions of the basis of presentation, business description, significant accounting policies, consolidations, reclassifications, new pronouncements not yet adopted and changes in accounting principles.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef