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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 20-F

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

OR

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

OR

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

Date of event requiring this shell company report:

For the transition period from to

Commission file number: 001-41359

Belite Bio, Inc

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation)

12750 High Bluff Drive Suite 475,

San Diego, CA 92130

(Address of principal executive offices)

Yu-Hsin Lin

Tel: +1-858-246-6240

Email: tomlin@belitebio.com

At the address of the Company set forth above

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

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

Title of Each Class

    

Trading Symbol

   

Name of each exchange on which registered

American depositary shares, each representing one ordinary share

BLTE

Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(Nasdaq Capital Market)

Ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share*

N/A

Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(Nasdaq Capital Market)

*Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of the American depositary shares on Nasdaq Capital Market.

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital stock or common stock as of the close of business covered by the annual report.

29,149,444 ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share, as of December 31, 2023.

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes No

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).

Yes No

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

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Emerging growth company

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

†The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

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

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

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

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

US GAAP

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued

Other

by the International Accounting Standards Board

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

Item 17 Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

Yes No

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I

ITEM 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

6

ITEM 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

6

ITEM 3.

Key Information

6

ITEM 4.

Information On the Company

75

ITEM 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

132

ITEM 5.

Operating And Financial Review and Prospects

132

ITEM 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

147

ITEM 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

159

ITEM 8.

Financial Information

161

ITEM 9.

The Offer and Listing

162

ITEM 10.

Additional Information

162

ITEM 11.

Quantitative And Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

177

ITEM 12.

Description Of Securities Other Than Equity Securities

177

PART II

ITEM 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

179

ITEM 14.

Material Modifications to The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

179

ITEM 15.

Controls And Procedures

180

ITEM 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

180

ITEM 16B.

Code of Ethics

181

ITEM 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

181

ITEM 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

181

ITEM 16E.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

181

ITEM 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

181

ITEM 16G.

Corporate Governance

182

ITEM 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

182

ITEM 16I.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

182

ITEM 16J.

Insider Trading Policy

182

ITEM 16K.

Cybersecurity

183

Part III

ITEM 17.

Financial Statements

184

ITEM 18.

Financial Statements

184

ITEM 19.

Exhibits

184

2

Table of Contents

ABOUT THIS ANNUAL REPORT

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report on Form 20-F (the “Annual Report”) to:

ADRs” are to the American depositary receipts that may evidence the ADSs;
“ADSs” are to our American depositary shares, each of which represents one of our ordinary share;
AUD” are to the legal currency of Australia;
Belite,” “we,” “us,” “our company,” “Company,” and “our” are to Belite Bio, Inc, a Cayman Islands exempted company with limited liability and its subsidiaries;
“China” or the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this Annual Report only, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;
“Exchange Act” are to the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended;
“EMA” are to European Medicines Agency;
“FDA” are to U.S. Food and Drug Administration;
“IND” are to Investigational New Drug Application;
“Latest Practicable Date” are to March 11, 2024;
“SEC” are to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission;
“NMPA” are to National Medical Products Administration;
“Securities Act” are to the Securities Act of 1933, as amended;
shares” or “ordinary shares” are to our ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;
“TGA” are to Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia;
“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” “$,” and “dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States; and
U.S. GAAP” are to the generally accepted accounting principles of the United States.

Unless otherwise stated, all of our financial information presented in this Annual Report has been prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Any discrepancies in any table between totals and sums of the amounts listed are due to rounding. Unless otherwise indicated, or the context otherwise requires, references in this Annual Report to financial and operational data for a particular year refer to the fiscal year of our company ended December 31 of that year.

Our reporting currency is the U.S. dollar. The functional currency of the Company’s subsidiaries located in the United States and Hong Kong is U.S. dollars. The functional currency of the Company’s subsidiary located in Australia is AUD, and the functional currency of the Company’s subsidiary located in China is RMB. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from AUD to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to AUD in this Annual Report are made at a rate of AUD0.6833 to US$1.00, and all translations from RMB to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to RMB in this Annual Report are at the rate of RMB7.082 to US$1.00. We make no representation that any AUD or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or AUD, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all.

TRADEMARKS, SERVICE MARKS AND TRADE NAMES

The “Belite Bio” and “倍亮生物” names and logos are our trademarks, trade names and service marks. The other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this Annual Report are the property of their respective owners. We do not intend the use or display of other companies’ trademarks and trade names to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.

Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights and trade names referred to in this Annual Report are without the ® and ™ symbols. Such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensors to these trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights and trade names or that the applicable owner will not assert its rights to these trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights and trade names. This Annual Report contains additional trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights and trade names of others, which are the property of their respective owners. All trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights and trade names appearing in this Annual Report are, to our knowledge, the property of their respective owners. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trademarks, service marks, logos, copyrights or trade names to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.

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CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that can involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy, prospective products, product approvals, research and development costs, future revenue, timing and likelihood of success, plans and objectives of management for future operations, future results of anticipated products and prospects, plans and objectives of management are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “will,” or “would” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words.

The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include, among other things, statements about:

the timing of the initiation, progress and potential results of our preclinical studies, clinical trials and our discovery programs;
the timing and likelihood of regulatory filings and approvals, including with respect to additional indications beyond the initial indication for which we are seeking approval for our product candidates;
our ability to advance our product candidates into drugs, and the successful completion of clinical trials;
the approval, commercialization, pricing and reimbursement of our product candidates;
the competitive landscape and size of the market opportunity for our product candidates, including our estimates of the number of patients who suffer from the diseases we are targeting;
estimates of our costs, expenses, future revenues, capital expenditures and our needs for additional financing;
our ability to attract and retain senior management and key employees;
our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;
future developments, trends, conditions and competitive landscape in the industry and markets in which we operate;
our strategies, plans, objectives and goals and our ability to successfully implement these strategies, plans, objectives and goals;
costs associated with enforcing or defending against intellectual property infringement, misappropriation or violation, product liability and other claims;
our ability to establish and maintain collaborations or licensing agreements;
our ability to identify and integrate new product candidates, technologies and/or suitable acquisition targets;
our ability to effectively manage our growth;
changes to regulatory and operating conditions in our industry and markets; and
the potential impact of COVID-19 and other epidemic diseases on our current and future business development, financial condition and results of operations.

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We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about our business, the industry in which we operate and financial trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or development. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the Latest Practicable Date and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions described in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” of Part I of this Annual Report and other risks outlined in our other filings with the SEC. Because forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The events and circumstances reflected in our forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements. Except as required by applicable law, we do not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein until after we distribute this Annual Report, whether as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise.

In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the Latest Practicable Date, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and you are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.

MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA

We obtained the industry, market and competitive position data used throughout this Annual Report from our own internal estimates and research, as well as from independent market research, industry and general publications and surveys, governmental agencies and publicly available information in addition to research, surveys and studies conducted by third parties. Internal estimates are derived from publicly available information released by industry analysts and third-party sources, our internal research and our industry experience, and are based on assumptions made by us based on such data and our knowledge of our industry and market, which we believe to be reasonable. In some cases, we do not expressly refer to the sources from which this data is derived. In that regard, when we refer to one or more sources of this type of data in any paragraph, you should assume that other data of this type appearing in the same paragraph is derived from the same sources, unless otherwise expressly stated or the context otherwise requires. In addition, while we believe the industry, market and competitive position data included in this Annual Report is reliable and based on reasonable assumptions, such data involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those described in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors”. These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by the independent parties and by us.

SUMMARY OF RISK FACTORS

Our business is subject to a number of risks that if realized could materially affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and access to liquidity. These risks are discussed more fully in the section titled “Item 3. Key InformationD. Risk Factors” of this Annual Report. Our principal risks include the following:

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008). If we are unable to develop, obtain marketing approval for or successfully commercialize Tinlarebant, either alone or through a collaboration, or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business could be harmed;
All of our product candidates (i.e. Tinlarebant and LBS-009) are in clinical or preclinical development. If we are unable to complete clinical development and obtain regulatory approval to ultimately commercialize our product candidates, or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be materially harmed;
We have recorded net cash outflow from operating activities since our inception. Despite we have consummated our initial public offering, we will need to obtain additional financing to fund our operations. If we are unable to obtain such financing, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates;
We have a limited operating history and no history of commercializing pharmaceutical products, which may make it difficult to evaluate the prospects for our future viability;

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The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities are time-consuming and may evolve over time, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed;
All material aspects of the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of pharmaceutical products are heavily regulated;
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection for our product candidates, or if the scope of such intellectual property rights obtained is not sufficiently broad, third parties could develop and commercialize products and technologies similar or identical to ours and compete directly against us, and our ability to successfully commercialize any product or technology may be adversely affected;
We depend on intellectual property licensed from third parties, and our current and future licensors may not always act in our best interest. If we fail to comply with our obligations under our intellectual property licenses, if the licenses are terminated or if disputes regarding these licenses arise, we could lose significant rights that are important to our business;
If we fail to implement and maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud, and investor confidence and the market price of our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected;
Our future success depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate senior management and qualified scientific employees;
As we rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies, clinical trials, contract manufacture drug substances and drug products, and provide other important services related to product development, regulatory submissions, and commercialization, if we lose our relationships with these third parties or if they do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with applicable laws, or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed;
We expect to seek to establish collaborations and, if we are not able to establish them on commercially reasonable terms, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans; and
As a result of our principal shareholder, Lin Bioscience International Ltd.’s significant share ownership position in us, it is able to influence corporate matters and a conflict of interest may arise between our principal shareholder and us.

PART I

ITEM 1.IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

Not applicable.

ITEM 2.OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

Not applicable.

ITEM 3.KEY INFORMATION

A.[Reserved]

B.Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

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C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

D.Risk Factors

Careful consideration should be given to the following risk factors, in addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report and in other documents that we file with the SEC, in evaluating our company and our business. Investing in our ADSs involves a high degree of risk. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

Risks Related to the Discovery, Development and Commercialization of Our Product Candidates

Our business is highly dependent on the success of our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008). If we are unable to develop, obtain marketing approval for or successfully commercialize Tinlarebant, either alone or through a collaboration, or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business could be harmed.

We currently have no products that are approved for commercial sale and may never be able to develop marketable products. Our business and future success depends in large part on our ability to develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and then successfully commercialize our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant. This may make an investment in our company riskier than similar companies that have multiple product candidates in active late-stage development that may be able to better sustain the failure of a lead product candidate.

Further, if Tinlarebant does not obtain approval for the treatment of autosomal recessive Stargardt disease (STGD1), which is the initial indication that we are currently exploring, we will have spent substantial time and financial resources without receiving a return on investment. As a result, if Tinlarebant does not receive approval or fails to become profitable and receive market acceptance, our business, results of operations and financial condition will be adversely affected.

The success of Tinlarebant will depend on several factors, including the following:

successful completion of our ongoing clinical trials;
initiation and successful enrollment and completion of additional clinical trials;
safety, tolerability and efficacy profiles that are satisfactory to the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority for marketing approval;
timely receipt of marketing approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
the performance of our future collaborators, if any;
the extent of any required post-marketing approval commitments to applicable regulatory authorities;
establishment of supply arrangements with third-party raw materials suppliers and manufacturers;
establishment of arrangements with third-party manufacturers to obtain finished products that are appropriately packaged for sale;
obtaining and maintaining patent, trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity, both in the United States and internationally;
protection of our rights in our intellectual property portfolio;
successful launch of commercial sales following any marketing approval;

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a continued acceptable safety profile following any marketing approval, and meeting all applicable post-market commitments, obligations, and requirements;
commercial acceptance of our products, if approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors; and
our ability to compete with other therapies.

If we do not achieve one or more of these factors, many of which are beyond our control, in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to obtain regulatory approvals or commercialize Tinlarebant. Even if regulatory approvals are obtained, we may never be able to successfully commercialize Tinlarebant. Accordingly, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue through the sale of Tinlarebant to continue our business.

We may allocate our limited resources to pursue a particular product candidate, indication, including any additional indications for Tinlarebant, or technology and fail to capitalize on existing or future product candidates, indications or technologies that may later prove to be more profitable, or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

Because we have limited financial and managerial resources, we intend to focus on developing product candidates for specific indications that we identify as most likely to succeed, in terms of both their potential for marketing approval and commercialization. As a result, we may forgo or delay pursuit of opportunities with other product candidates or for other indications or technologies that later may prove to have greater commercial potential or a greater likelihood of success. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial products or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future research and development programs and product candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable product candidates. In addition, if we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular product candidate or technology, we may relinquish valuable rights to that product candidate or technology through collaboration, licensing or other royalty arrangements when it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such product candidate or technology. For example, we are developing our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant, to initially treat STGD1 and atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD), commonly known as Geographic Atrophy, or GA. We are also considering a number of additional indications for Tinlarebant, including the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. We cannot guarantee that the treatment of STGD1 or GA will be the most profitable indication for Tinlarebant as opposed to other contemplated indications. This could result in us failing to capitalize on the true market potential of our lead product candidate in a timely manner or at all.

Although a substantial amount of our efforts will focus on the continued clinical testing, potential approval, manufacturing and commercialization of our existing product candidates, the success of our business depends in part upon our ability to identify, license, discover, develop, or commercialize additional product candidates or new technologies. Research efforts to identify new product candidates and technologies require substantial technical, financial, and human resources. Although we do not currently engage in such activities, we may in the future seek to expand our drug pipeline through in-licensing arrangements. We may end up focusing our efforts and resources on potential product candidates and technologies that ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. Our research and any future licensing efforts may fail to identify, discover or in-license new product candidates and technologies suitable for clinical development and commercialization for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

our research or business development methodology or search criteria and process may be unsuccessful in identifying potential product candidates and technologies, or potential product candidates and technologies that are within our resources to license or acquire and develop;
our potential product candidates and technologies may be shown to have adverse effects or may have other characteristics that may make the products unmarketable or unlikely to receive marketing approval; and
it may take greater human, financial and/or research resources to identify additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates or to develop more suitable potential product candidates and technologies than what we possess, thereby limiting our ability to diversify and expand our drug portfolio.

Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will successfully identify and develop new product candidates or technologies, or additional therapeutic opportunities for our product candidates, whether through internal research or future licensing efforts, which could materially adversely affect our future growth and prospects.

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

There is a risk of failure for every product candidate. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement and can take many years to complete, and its outcome is inherently uncertain. It is difficult to predict when or if any of our product candidates will prove effective and safe in humans or will receive regulatory approval, and failure can occur at any time during the preclinical and clinical development process. Before obtaining regulatory approval from regulatory authorities for the sale of any product candidate, our product candidates must complete preclinical studies and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans.

The results of preclinical studies and clinical trials of our product candidates may not be predictive of the results of later-stage clinical trials. Product candidates during later stages of clinical trials may fail to show the desired results in safety and efficacy despite having progressed through preclinical studies and initial to advanced clinical trials and despite the level of scientific rigor in the study, design and adequacy of execution. In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety and/or efficacy results among different studies of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including, but not limited to, differences in individual patient conditions, including genetic differences, and other compounding factors, such as other medications or pre-existing medical conditions. Many product candidates in the biopharmaceutical industry have suffered significant setbacks in advanced clinical trials due to a lack of efficacy or adverse safety profiles, notwithstanding promising results in earlier studies. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain regulatory approval of their product candidates.

In the case of any studies we conduct, results may differ from earlier studies due to the larger number of clinical trial sites and additional countries and languages involved in such studies. Clinical practices vary globally, and there is a lack of harmonization among the guidance provided by various regulatory bodies of different regions and countries with respect to the data that is required to receive marketing approval, which makes designing global studies increasingly complex. Differing regulatory approval requirements in different countries could make it more difficult for us to conduct unified global studies, which can lead to increased development costs and marketing delays or non-viability of our clinical trials. In addition, the FDA may determine that clinical trial results obtained in foreign subjects do not adequately represent the results that would be obtained in U.S. patients and are thus not supportive of an NDA approval in the United States.

In particular, if we experience delays in the start or completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of Tinlarebant, the commercial prospects of Tinlarebant may be harmed, and our ability to generate product revenues from Tinlarebant will be delayed. In addition, any delays in completing our clinical trials will increase our costs, slow down the development and approval process for Tinlarebant, and jeopardize our ability to commence product sales and generate revenues. Any of these occurrences may significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of Tinlarebant.

All of our product candidates are in preclinical or clinical development. If we are unable to complete clinical development and obtain regulatory approval to ultimately commercialize our product candidates, or if we experience significant delays in doing so, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be materially harmed.

All of our product candidates are still in development. Our ability to generate revenue from our product candidates is dependent on receipt of regulatory approval and successful commercialization of such products. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain regulatory approvals for our existing product candidates in a timely manner, or at all, and we may be unable to obtain successful commercialization of our product candidates even if we receive regulatory approval. Each of our product candidates will require additional preclinical and/or clinical development, regulatory approvals in multiple jurisdictions, development of commercial manufacturing supply and capacity, substantial investment and significant marketing efforts before we generate any revenue from product sales.

The success of our product candidates will depend on several factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

hiring sufficient technical experts to oversee all development and regulatory activities and meeting of safety requirements;
successful completion of preclinical studies and clinical trials, including the successful enrollment in such clinical trials;

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receipt of regulatory approvals from applicable regulatory authorities for planned and future clinical trials, drug registration, manufacturing and commercialization;
successful completion of all safety studies required to obtain regulatory approval in United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, China, the Europe and other applicable jurisdictions for our product candidates;
our ability to establish manufacturing capabilities and capacities, whether internally or through CMOs, to the specifications of our product candidates for clinical supply;
obtaining and maintaining patent, trade secret and other intellectual property protection and/or regulatory exclusivity for our product candidates;
launching commercial sales of our product candidates, if and when approved, whether alone or in collaboration with others;
acceptance of the product candidates, if and when approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors;
obtaining and maintaining healthcare coverage and adequate reimbursement;
effectively competing with other therapies and alternative drugs;
successfully enforcing and defending intellectual property rights and claims; and
maintaining a continued acceptable safety profile of the product candidates following regulatory approval, and meeting all applicable post-market commitments, obligations, and requirements.

Any significant delays in, or an inability to, obtain regulatory approval and ultimately achieve commercial success for our existing and future product candidates in one or more jurisdictions would materially harm our business and we may not be able to generate enough revenues and cash flows to continue our operations, including delays due to COVID-19 or other pandemic could further materially harm our business. As a result, our financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be materially and adversely harmed.

If we encounter delays or difficulties enrolling and retaining patients in our clinical trials, our clinical development progress and our receipt of necessary regulatory approvals could be delayed or otherwise adversely affected.

The timely completion of clinical trials in accordance with their protocols depends, among other things, on our ability to enroll a sufficient number of patients that will remain in the study until its conclusion. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our product candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these studies as required by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and any other applicable similar regulatory authorities, or if there are delays in the enrollment of eligible patients as a result of the competitive clinical enrollment environment. Even once enrolled, we may be unable to retain a sufficient number of patients to complete any of our trials. The inability to enroll a sufficient number of patients who meet the applicable criteria for our clinical trials would result in significant delays and could require us to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. If patients are unwilling to enroll in our clinical trials because of the COVID-19 or other pandemic and restrictions on travel or healthcare institution policies, negative publicity from adverse events related to the biopharmaceutical industry or for other reasons, the timeline for recruiting patients, conducting studies and obtaining regulatory approval of our product candidates may be delayed. Even if we are able to enroll a sufficient number of patients in our clinical trials, delays in patient enrollment could result in increased development costs, delays in advancing our product candidates, delays in testing the effectiveness of our product candidates or termination of clinical trials altogether.

Patient enrollment for our clinical trials may be affected by other factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

severity of the disease under investigation;
total size and nature of the relevant patient population;

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design and eligibility criteria for the clinical trial in question, including age-based eligibility criteria limiting subject enrollment to adolescent populations;
perceived risks and benefits of the product candidate under study;
our resources to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
patient referral practices of physicians;
availability of competing therapies also undergoing clinical trials;
our investigators’ or clinical trial sites’ efforts to screen and recruit eligible patients;
our ability to maintain patient consents;
ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment;
proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients; and
the occurrence of any pandemic, epidemic or any other public health crises, including from the COVID-19 pandemic, natural catastrophe or other disasters that may cause a delay in enrollment of patients in clinical trials.

Additionally, our ability to successfully initiate, enroll and complete clinical trials in any foreign country is subject to numerous risks unique to conducting business in foreign countries, including:

difficulty in establishing or managing relationships with contract research organizations, or CROs, and physicians;
different standards for the conduct of clinical trials;
absence in some countries of established groups with sufficient regulatory expertise for review of protocols;
inability to locate qualified local consultants, physicians and partners; and
the potential burden of complying with a variety of foreign laws, medical standards and regulatory requirements.

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In addition, our clinical trials may compete with other clinical trials for drug candidates that are in the same therapeutic areas as our drug candidates, and this competition will reduce the number and types of patients available to us, because some patients who might have opted to enroll in our trials may instead opt to enroll in a trial being conducted by one of our competitors. Because the number of qualified clinical investigators and clinical trial sites is limited, we expect to conduct some of our clinical trials at the same clinical trial sites that some of our competitors use, which will reduce the number of patients who are available for our clinical trials at such clinical trial sites. In addition, it is possible that the COVID-19 or other pandemic may have an impact on our enrollment. For example, government orders and site policies on account of the COVID-19 or other pandemic may result some patients unwilling or unable to travel to study sites, enroll in our studies or comply with clinical trial protocols if quarantines impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services, or impact on the workforce of the third parties and CROs on which we rely could adversely impact our ability to conduct preclinical studies, enroll and retain patients in our clinical trials and conduct the clinical trials of our product candidates on expected timeframes or to complete such studies, and our ability to ultimately obtain regulatory approval. If we have difficulty enrolling a sufficient number of patients or finding additional clinical trial sites to conduct our clinical trials as planned, we may need to delay, limit or terminate ongoing or planned clinical trials, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. As a result, the value of our Company could decline and our ability to obtain additional financing may be impaired.

If clinical trials of our product candidates fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy to the satisfaction of regulatory authorities or do not otherwise produce positive results, we may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

Before obtaining regulatory approval for the sale of our product candidates, we must conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our product candidates in humans. We may experience numerous unexpected events during, or as a result of, clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to receive regulatory approval or commercialize our product candidates, including, but not limited to, the following:

regulators, institutional review boards, or IRBs, or ethics committees may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective study site;
delay in reaching, or failure to reach, agreements on acceptable terms with prospective CROs and study sites, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and study sites;
manufacturing issues, including problems with manufacturing, supply quality, compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, or obtaining sufficient quantities of a product candidate from third parties for use in a clinical trial;
clinical trials of our product candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, and we may decide to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon the development of such product candidates, or regulators may require us to do so;
the number of patients required for clinical trials of our product candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment may be insufficient or slower than we anticipate, or patients may drop out or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;
our third-party contractors used in our clinical trials, including any clinical investigators, may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all, or may deviate from clinical trial protocol or dropout of clinical trials, which may require that we add new clinical trial sites or clinical investigators;
we might have to suspend or terminate clinical trials of our product candidates for various reasons, including a finding of a lack of clinical response, serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects or other unexpected characteristics or a finding that participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
we may elect to, or regulators, IRBs or ethics committees may require that we or our investigators, suspend or terminate clinical research or not rely on the results of clinical research for various reasons, including non-compliance with regulatory requirements;
the cost of clinical trials of our product candidates may be greater than we anticipate; and

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the supply or quality of our product candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our product candidates may be insufficient or inadequate.

If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our product candidates beyond those that we currently plan, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our product candidates or other testing, if the results of these studies or tests are not positive or are only modestly positive or if they raise safety concerns, we may (i) be delayed in obtaining regulatory approval for our product candidates; (ii) obtain approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired; (iii) not obtain regulatory approval at all; (iv) have the drug removed from the market after obtaining regulatory approval; (v) be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements; (vi) be subject to restrictions on how the drug is distributed or used; or (vii) be unable to obtain reimbursement for use of the drug. Many of the factors that cause a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of regulatory approval of our product candidates. Further, the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial design or our interpretation of data from clinical trials, or may change the requirements for approval even after it has reviewed and commented on the design for our clinical trials.

Our clinical trials are conducted in multiple jurisdictions, which may subject us to delays and expenses.

We are currently conducting clinical trials, through third-party CROs, in multiple jurisdictions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, among others, and expect to further expand into other jurisdictions (see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview” beginning on page 76 for our current plans for future clinical trials). There are risks inherent in conducting clinical trials in multiple jurisdictions, which may subject us to delays and expenses, such as:

regulatory and administrative requirements of the jurisdiction where the study is conducted that could burden or limit our ability to conduct clinical trials;
differing and conflicting regulatory requirements;
foreign exchange fluctuations;
manufacturing, customs, shipment and storage requirements;
cultural differences in medical practice and clinical research; and
the risk that the patient populations in such trials are not considered representative as compared to the patient population in the target markets where approval is being sought.

Our product candidates may cause serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects or have other properties that could delay or prevent their regulatory approval, limit the commercial profile of an approved label, and/or result in significant negative consequences following regulatory approval, if any.

As is the case with pharmaceuticals generally, it is likely that there may be serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects caused by our product candidates that could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and may result in a more restrictive label, a delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities, or a significant change in our clinical protocol or even our development plan. Results of our future preclinical studies and clinical trials could reveal a high and unacceptable severity or prevalence of serious adverse events. In such an event, our studies could be suspended or terminated and the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities could order us to cease further development of, or deny approval of, our product candidates for any or all targeted indications. Adverse events related to our product candidates may affect patient recruitment or the ability of enrolled subjects to complete the study and could result in potential liability claims. Any of these occurrences may significantly harm our reputation, business, financial condition and prospects.

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Additionally, the identification of serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects caused by any of our future approved product candidates may lead to potentially significant negative consequences, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

suspension of our marketing of the product candidate;
withdrawal or revocation by regulatory authorities of their approvals of or the licenses for the product candidate;
the requirement by regulatory authorities to conduct additional clinical trials, add additional warnings to, or otherwise change, the label of the product candidate, such as a “black box” warning or contraindication, or create a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients;
restriction on the distribution of the product candidate or imposition of burdensome implementation requirements on us through the establishment of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, or similar strategy as may be required by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or a comparable regulatory authority;
the requirement by regulatory authorities to conduct specific post-marketing studies of the product candidate;
the requirement to change the way the product candidate is distributed or administered;
becoming subjected to regulatory investigations, government enforcement actions or litigation proceedings, and being held liable for harm caused to subjects or patients;
the product becoming less competitive;
removal of product candidates from the marketplace; and
harm to our reputation.

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

Further, the use of our product candidates in conjunction with other therapies, may result in unique adverse events that could be exacerbated compared with adverse events from the use of our product candidates alone. Results of our studies could reveal a high and unacceptable severity or prevalence of adverse events. These types of adverse events could be caused by our product candidates and could cause us or regulatory authorities to interrupt, delay or halt clinical trials and may result in a more restrictive indication or the delay or denial of regulatory approval by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authority.

Results of preclinical studies and earlier clinical trials may not be predictive of results of future clinical trials.

The outcome of preclinical studies and earlier clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of clinical trials do not necessarily predict success in future clinical trials. Many companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have suffered significant setbacks in late-stage clinical trials after achieving positive results in earlier development, and we could face similar setbacks. The design of a clinical trial can determine whether its results will support approval of a product and flaws in the design of a clinical trial may not become apparent until the clinical trial is well advanced. We have limited experience in designing clinical trials and may be unable to design and execute a clinical trial to support marketing approval. In addition, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses. Many companies that believed their product candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval for the product candidates. Even if we, or any future collaborators, believe that the results of clinical trials for our product candidates warrant marketing approval, the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authority may disagree and may not grant marketing approval of our product candidates.

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In some instances, there can be significant variability in safety or efficacy results between different clinical trials of the same product candidate due to numerous factors, including changes in trial procedures set forth in protocols, differences in the size and type of the patient populations, changes in and adherence to the dosing regimen and other clinical trial protocols and the rate of dropout among clinical trial participants. If we fail to receive positive results in clinical trials of our product candidates, the development timeline and regulatory approval and commercialization prospects for our most advanced product candidates, and, correspondingly, our business and financial prospects would be negatively impacted.

The manufacture of biopharmaceutical products is a complex process which requires significant expertise and capital investment, and if we encounter problems in establishing our manufacturing capabilities for clinical or commercial scale or in the manufacture of our future products, our business could suffer.

We currently do not have cGMP manufacturing capabilities and we are entirely dependent on third-party contractors to manufacture our product candidates for our clinical trials. The manufacture of biopharmaceutical products is a complex process, in part due to strict regulatory requirements. If we are unable to identify an appropriate production site or a suitable collaborator to develop our manufacturing infrastructure, or fail to do so in a timely manner, this may lead to significant delays in the clinical supply of our product candidates as well as the commercial manufacturing of our product candidates once regulatory and marketing approvals have been obtained. In turn, this could delay our clinical trials, negatively impact our ability to ultimately obtain regulatory approval and materially harm any future commercialization plans.

In addition, problems may arise during the manufacturing process for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, equipment malfunction, failure to follow specific protocols and procedures, problems with (including shortage of) raw materials, global supply chain issues, delays related to the construction of new facilities or expansion of any future manufacturing facilities, including changes in manufacturing production sites and limits to manufacturing capacity due to regulatory requirements, changes in the types of products produced, increases in the prices of raw materials, physical limitations that could inhibit continuous supply, man-made or natural disasters and environmental factors. For example, although we have not experienced material supply disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot guarantee that we will not experience supply disruptions in the future due to any other pandemic, epidemic or other public health crises, natural catastrophe or other disasters. If problems arise during the production of a batch of future products, that batch of future products may have to be discarded and we may experience product shortages or incur added expenses. This, as well as problems that may arise during the manufacturing process, could, among other things, lead to significant additional costs and/or delays, lost revenue, damage to customer relationships, time and expense spent investigating the cause and, depending on the cause, similar losses with respect to other batches or products. If problems are not discovered before such product is released to the market, recall and product liability costs may also be incurred.

We have never obtained marketing approval for a product candidate and we may be unable to obtain, or may be delayed in obtaining, marketing approval for any of our product candidates.

We have never obtained marketing approval for a product candidate. It is possible that the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authority may refuse to accept for substantive review any NDAs that we submit for our product candidates or may conclude after review of our data that our application is insufficient to obtain marketing approval of our product candidates. If the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authority does not accept or approve our NDAs for any of our product candidates, it may require that we conduct additional clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing validation studies and submit that data before it will reconsider our applications. Depending on the extent of these or any other required trials or studies, approval of any NDA or application that we submit may be delayed by several years, or may require us to expend more resources than we have available. It is also possible that additional trials or studies, if performed and completed, may not be considered sufficient by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authority to approve our NDAs.

Any delay in obtaining, or an inability to obtain, marketing approvals would prevent us from commercializing our product candidates, generating revenues and achieving and sustaining profitability. If any of these outcomes occur, we may be forced to abandon our development efforts for our product candidates, which could significantly harm our business.

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Even if any of our product candidates receives marketing approval, we or others may later discover that the product is less effective than previously believed or causes undesirable side effects that were not previously identified, which could compromise our ability, or that of any future collaborators, to market the product.

Clinical trials of our product candidates are conducted in carefully defined sets of patients who have agreed to enter into clinical trials. Consequently, it is possible that our clinical trials, or those of any future collaborator, may indicate an apparent positive effect of a product candidate that is greater than the actual positive effect, if any, or alternatively fail to identify undesirable side effects. If, following approval of a product candidate, we, or others, discover that the product is less effective than previously believed or causes undesirable side effects that were not previously identified, any of the following adverse events could occur:

regulatory authorities may withdraw their approval of the product or seize the product;
we, or any future collaborators, may be required to recall the product, change the way the product is administered or conduct additional clinical trials;
additional restrictions may be imposed on the marketing of, or the manufacturing processes for, the particular product;
we may be subject to fines, injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties;
regulatory authorities may require the addition of labeling statements, such as a “black box” warning or a contraindication;
we, or any future collaborators, may be required to create a Medication Guide outlining the risks of the previously unidentified side effects for distribution to patients;
we, or any future collaborators, could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients;
the product may become less competitive; and
our reputation may suffer.

Any of these events could harm our business and operations, and could negatively impact our price of our ADS.

Our product candidates may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, patient advocacy groups, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

Even if our product candidates receive regulatory approval, they may nonetheless fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, patient advocacy groups and others in the medical community. Efforts to educate physicians, patients, patient advocacy groups and third-party payors on the benefits of our product candidates may require significant resources and may not be successful, and physicians and patients may prefer other drugs or product candidates to ours. If our product candidates do not achieve an adequate level of acceptance, we may not generate significant revenue from sales of our drugs or product candidates and may not become profitable.

The degree of market acceptance of our product candidates, if and only when they are approved for commercial sale, will depend on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

the clinical indications for which our product candidates are approved;
the degree to which physicians, hospitals, patient advocacy groups and patients consider our product candidates as safe and effective treatments;
whether our product candidates have achieved the perceived advantages of our product candidates over alternative treatments;
the prevalence and severity of any adverse effects;

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product labeling or package insert requirements of the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities;
limitations or warnings contained in the labeling approved by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities;
timing of market introduction of our product candidates as well as competitive drugs;
cost of treatment in relation to alternative treatments;
availability of adequate coverage and reimbursement from third-party payors and government authorities in the United States, Australia, China or any other jurisdictions;
willingness of patients to pay any out-of-pocket expenses in the absence of coverage and reimbursement by third-party payors and government authorities;
relative convenience and ease of administration, including as compared with alternative treatments and competitive therapies; and
the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts.

We face substantial competition, rapid technological change and the possibility that our competitors may discover, develop or commercialize drugs before we do or more successfully than we do, or develop therapies that are similar, more advanced or more effective than ours, each of which may adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to successfully market or commercialize our product candidate.

The development and commercialization of new drugs is highly competitive and the biopharmaceutical industry is subject to rapid and significant technological change. We face competition with respect to our product candidates and will face competition with respect to any product candidates that we may seek to develop or commercialize in the future, from companies of all sizes around the world, including major and specialty pharmaceutical companies and generic drug companies. Specifically, some of our competitors have ongoing clinical trials for product candidates that treat the same indications as Tinlarebant. Potential competitors further include academic institutions, government agencies and other public and private research organizations that conduct research, seek patent protection and establish collaborative arrangements for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization.

Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, human and other resources, such as larger research and development staff and experienced marketing and manufacturing departments, and more experience in the development and regulatory approval process than we have. Mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries may result in even more resources being concentrated in our competitors. As a result, these companies may obtain regulatory approval from the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities more rapidly than we are able to and may be more effective in selling and marketing their products as well. For example, the NMPA has recently accelerated market approval of drugs for diseases with high unmet medical need. In particular, the NMPA may review and approve drugs that have gained regulatory market approval in the United States, the European Union or Japan in the recent ten years without requiring further clinical trials in China. This may lead to potential increased competition from drugs that have already obtained approval in other jurisdictions. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large, established companies. Our competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or necessary for, our drug development programs.

Our competitors may succeed in developing, acquiring, or licensing on an exclusive basis, products that are more effective, safer or less costly than any product candidate that we may develop, or may achieve earlier patent protection, regulatory approval, product commercialization, and market penetration than we do. Additionally, technologies developed by our competitors may render our potential product candidates uneconomical or obsolete, and we may not be successful in marketing our product candidates against competitors. The availability of our competitors’ products could limit the demand, and the price we are able to charge, for any product candidates that we may develop and commercialize.

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While certain of our employees have limited experience in launching and marketing product candidates, we may not be able to effectively build and manage a sales network or benefit from the sales network of third-party collaborators.

We currently have no sales, marketing or commercial product distribution capabilities. Over time, we may develop an in-house marketing organization and sales force, which will require significant capital expenditures, management resources and time. We will have to compete with other biopharmaceutical companies to recruit, hire, train and retain marketing and sales personnel.

If we are unable or decide not to establish internal sales, marketing and commercial distribution capabilities for any or all of the drugs we develop or in particular regions or markets, we may pursue collaborative arrangements regarding the sales and marketing of such drugs into such regions or markets. However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to establish or maintain such collaborative arrangements, or, if we are able to do so, that they will have effective sales forces. Any revenue we receive will depend on the efforts of such third parties, which may not be successful. We may have little or no control over the marketing and sales efforts of such third parties, and our revenue from product sales may be lower than if we had commercialized our product candidates ourselves. We will also face competition in our search for third parties to assist us with the sales and marketing efforts of our product candidates, which may result in collaborative arrangements with less than optimal terms.

There can be no assurance that we will be able to develop in-house sales and commercial distribution capabilities or establish or maintain relationships with third-party collaborators to successfully commercialize any product, and as a result, we may not be able to generate product sales revenue.

Even if we are able to commercialize any approved product candidates, reimbursement may be limited or unavailable in certain market segments for our product candidates, and we may be subject to unfavorable pricing regulations, which could harm our business.

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

Our ability to commercialize any drugs successfully also will depend in part on the extent to which reimbursement for these drugs and related treatments will be available from government health administration authorities, private health insurers and other organizations. Government authorities and third-party payors, such as private health insurers and health maintenance organizations, decide which medications they will pay for and establish reimbursement levels. A primary trend in the global healthcare industry is cost containment. Government authorities and these third-party payors have attempted to control costs by limiting coverage and the amount of reimbursement for particular medications. Increasingly, third-party payors are requiring that companies provide them with predetermined discounts from list prices and are challenging the prices charged for medical products. We cannot be sure that reimbursement will be available for any drug that we commercialize and, if reimbursement is available, what the level of reimbursement will be. Reimbursement may impact the demand for, or the price of, any drug for which we obtain regulatory approval. Obtaining reimbursement for certain of our drugs may be particularly difficult because of the higher prices often associated with drugs administered under the supervision of a physician. If reimbursement is not available or is available only to limited levels, we may not be able to successfully commercialize any product candidate that we successfully develop.

There may be significant delays in obtaining reimbursement for approved product candidates, and coverage may be more limited than the purposes for which the product candidates are approved by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities. Moreover, eligibility for reimbursement does not imply that any drug will be paid for in all cases or at a rate that covers our costs, including research, development, manufacture, sale and distribution. Interim payments for new drugs, if applicable, may also not be sufficient to cover our costs and may not be made permanent. Payment rates may vary according to the use of the drug and the clinical setting in which it is used, may be based on payments allowed for lower cost drugs that are already reimbursed, and may be incorporated into existing payments for other services. Net prices for drugs may be reduced by mandatory discounts or rebates required by government healthcare programs or private payors and by any future weakening of laws that presently restrict imports of drugs from countries where they may be sold at lower prices than in the United States. Our inability to promptly obtain coverage and profitable payment rates from both government-funded and private payors for any future approved product candidates could have a material adverse effect on our business, our operating results, and our overall financial condition.

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Preliminary interim or “top-line” data that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publish preliminary interim or “top-line” data from clinical trials. Positive preliminary data from such interim analyses may not be predictive of such trial’s subsequent or overall results. Preliminary data are subject to the risk that one or more of the outcomes may materially change as more data become available. Additionally, preliminary data are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as patient enrollment continues and more patient data become available. Therefore, positive preliminary results in any ongoing clinical trial may not be predictive of such results in the completed trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully evaluate all data. As a result, preliminary data that we report may differ from future results from the same clinical trials, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Preliminary data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. Material adverse changes in the final data compared to preliminary data could significantly harm our business prospects.

The data and information that we gather in our research and development process could be inaccurate or incomplete, which could harm our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations.

We collect, aggregate, process, and analyze data and information from our preclinical studies and clinical trials. We also engage in substantial information gathering following the identification of a promising product candidate. Because data in the healthcare industry is fragmented in origin, inconsistent in format, often incomplete and rapidly evolving, the overall quality of data collected or accessed in the healthcare industry is often subject to challenge, the degree or amount of data which is knowingly or unknowingly absent or omitted can be material, and we often discover data issues and errors when monitoring and auditing the quality of our data. If we make mistakes in the capture, input, or analysis of these data, our ability to advance the development of our product candidates may be materially harmed and our business, prospects and reputation may suffer.

We also engage in the procurement of regulatory approvals necessary for the development and commercialization of our product candidates, for which we manage and submit data to governmental entities. These processes and submissions are governed by complex data processing and validation policies and regulations. Notwithstanding such policies and regulations, interim, top-line or preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more patient data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data, in which case we may be exposed to liability to a customer, court or government agency that concludes that our storage, handling, submission, delivery or display of health information or other data was wrongful or erroneous. Although we maintain insurance coverage for clinical trials this coverage may prove to be inadequate or could cease to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all. Even unsuccessful claims could result in substantial costs and diversion of management time, attention, and resources. A claim brought against us that is uninsured or under-insured could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, we rely on CROs and other third parties to monitor and manage data for some of our ongoing preclinical studies and clinical trials and control only certain aspects of their activities. If any of our CROs or other third parties do not perform to our standards in terms of data accuracy or completeness, data from those preclinical studies and clinical trials may be compromised as a result, and our reliance on these parties does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities. For a detailed discussion, see “— Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties — As we rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies, clinical trials, contract manufacture drug substances and drug products, and provide other important services related to product development, regulatory submissions, and commercialization, if we lose our relationships with these third parties or if they do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with applicable laws, or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed” below.

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The incidence and prevalence for target patient populations of our product candidates are based on estimates and third-party sources. The market opportunities for our product candidates, if approved, may be smaller than we anticipate.

We expect to initially seek approval of Tinlarebant for the treatment of STGD1. Our projections of the number of patients with STGD1 and the portion of those patients that would benefit from treatment with Tinlarebant are based on our beliefs and estimates, including data published by third parties, including scientific literature, patient foundations and publicly available databases, and on internally generated data and assumptions. While we believe our market size information is generally reliable, such information is inherently imprecise, and relies on our and third parties’ projections, assumptions and estimates within our target market, which are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in this Annual Report. If such third-party or internally generated data prove to be inaccurate or we make errors in our projections, assumptions or estimates based on that data, our addressable target market opportunity and/or our future growth rate may be less than we currently estimate. Further, new sources may reveal a change in the estimated number of patients, and the number of patients may turn out to be lower than expected. Additionally, the potential addressable patient population for our current programs or future product candidates may be limited. Accordingly, the information regarding the size of our addressable market opportunity included in this Annual Report should not be taken as indicative of our future growth.

The ultimate market opportunity for our product candidates will depend on, among other things, the final labeling for such product candidates as agreed with the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and any other applicable comparable foreign regulatory authorities, acceptance by the medical community and patient access, potential competition and drug pricing and reimbursement. Even if we obtain significant market share for any product candidate, if approved, if the potential target populations are small, we may never achieve profitability without obtaining marketing approval for additional indications, which may significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Product liability lawsuits against us could divert our resources, cause us to incur substantial liabilities and limit commercialization of any products that we may develop.

We face an inherent risk of product liability claims as a result of the clinical testing of our product candidates despite obtaining appropriate informed consents from our clinical trial participants. We will face an even greater risk if we or any future collaborators commercially sell any product that we or they may develop. For example, we may be sued if any product we develop allegedly causes injury or is found to be otherwise unsuitable during clinical testing, manufacturing, marketing or sale. Any such product liability claims may include allegations of defects in manufacturing, defects in design, a failure to warn of dangers inherent in the product, negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranties. Claims could also be asserted under state consumer protection acts. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against product liability claims, we may incur substantial liabilities or be required to limit commercialization of our product candidates.

Regardless of the merits or eventual outcome, liability claims may result in significant negative consequences to our business and prospects, including, but not limited to:

decreased demand for our product candidates or any resulting products;
injury to our reputation;
withdrawal of other clinical trial participants;
costs to defend the related litigation;
a diversion of our management’s time and resources;
substantial monetary awards to study participants or patients; and
a decline in the market price of our ADSs.

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We currently carry liability insurance covering our clinical trials. Although we maintain such insurance, any claim that may be brought against us could result in a court judgment or settlement in an amount that is not covered, in whole or in part, by our insurance or which is in excess of the limits of our insurance coverage. Our insurance policies also contain various exclusions, and we may be subject to particular liability claims for which we have no coverage. We will have to pay any amount awarded by a court or negotiated in a settlement that exceed our coverage limitations or that are not covered by our insurance, and we may not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient capital to pay such amounts. In addition, if we cannot successfully defend ourselves against such claims, we may incur substantial liabilities and be required to suspend or delay our ongoing clinical trials. Even a successful defense would require significant financial and management resources.

Illegal and/or parallel imports and counterfeit pharmaceutical products may reduce demand for our future approved product candidates and could have a negative impact on our reputation and business.

The illegal importation of competing products from countries where government price controls or other market dynamics result in lower prices may adversely affect the demand for our future approved product candidates and, in turn, may adversely affect our sales and profitability in the United States, China, Australia and other countries where we plan to commercialize our products. Unapproved foreign imports of prescription drugs are illegal under the current laws of the United States, Australia and China. However, illegal imports may continue to occur or even increase as the ability of patients and other customers to obtain these lower priced imports continues to grow. Furthermore, cross-border imports from lower-priced markets (which are known as parallel imports) into higher-priced markets could harm sales of our future drug products and exert commercial pressure on pricing within one or more markets. In addition, government authorities may expand consumers’ ability to import lower priced versions of our future approved products or competing products from outside the United States, Australia, China or other countries where we operate or expect to operate. Any future legislation or regulations that increase consumer access to lower priced medicines from outside the United States, China, Australia or other countries where we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Certain products distributed or sold in the pharmaceutical market may be manufactured without proper licenses or approvals, or be fraudulently mislabeled with respect to their content or manufacturers. These products are generally referred to as counterfeit pharmaceutical products. The counterfeit pharmaceutical product control and enforcement system, particularly in developing markets may be inadequate to discourage or eliminate the manufacturing and sale of counterfeit pharmaceutical products imitating our products. Since counterfeit pharmaceutical products in many cases have very similar appearances compared with the authentic pharmaceutical products but are generally sold at lower prices, counterfeits of our products could quickly erode the demand for our future approved product candidates.

In addition, counterfeit pharmaceutical products are not expected to meet our rigorous manufacturing and testing standards. A patient who receives a counterfeit pharmaceutical product may be at risk for a number of dangerous health consequences. Our reputation and business could suffer harm as a result of counterfeit pharmaceutical products sold under our brand name(s). In addition, thefts of inventory at warehouses, plants or while in-transit, which are not properly stored and which are sold through unauthorized channels, could adversely impact patient safety, our reputation and our business.

Risks Related to Our Financial Position and Need for Additional Capital

We have recorded net cash outflow from operating activities since our inception. Although we have consummated our initial public offering, we will need to obtain additional financing to fund our operations. If we are unable to obtain such financing, we may be unable to complete the development and commercialization of our product candidates.

Since our inception, our operations have consumed substantial amounts of cash. To date, we have financed our operations primarily through proceeds through our initial public offering, follow-on offering, warrants, an ATM offering program, the private placement of our convertible preferred stock, and the issuance of our convertible promissory notes. For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2022 and 2023, the net cash used in our operating activities was approximately US$7.5 million, US$11.5 million and US$29.8 million, respectively.

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We expect our expenses to increase in connection with our ongoing activities, particularly as we initiate new clinical trials of, initiate new research and preclinical development efforts for and seek marketing approval for, our product candidates. In addition, if we obtain marketing approval for any of our product candidates, we may incur significant commercialization expenses related to product sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution to the extent that such sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution are not the responsibility of a future collaborator. Furthermore, we have incurred and expect to continue to incur additional costs associated with operating as a public company. Accordingly, we will need to obtain substantial additional funding in connection with our continuing operations. Our financing to fund our operations may be adversely affected, delayed or fail to raise because of capital market environment, valuation of our company or the progress of our competitors. If we are unable to raise capital when needed or on attractive terms, we may be forced to delay, reduce or eliminate our research and development programs or any future commercialization efforts.

Our existing cash on hand will not be sufficient to fund all of the efforts that we plan to undertake or to fund the completion of development of any of our product candidates. Accordingly, we will be required to obtain further funding through public or private equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations and licensing arrangements or other sources. We do not have any committed external source of funds. Adequate additional financing may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.

Our failure to raise capital as and when needed would have a negative impact on our financial condition and our ability to pursue our business strategy.

Our existing cash on hand will not be sufficient to enable us to meet our short-term obligations or long-term plans, including commercialization of clinical pipeline products, if approved, or initiation or completion of future clinical trials. Our future funding requirements, both short-term and long-term, will depend on many factors, including:

the number of future product candidates that we pursue and their development requirements;
the scope, progress, timing, results and costs of discovering, researching and developing product candidates, and conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials;
the scope, prioritization and number of our research and development programs;
the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our product candidates;
the cost of manufacturing our product candidates and any products we commercialize, including costs associated with expanding our supply chain;
the cost and timing of future commercialization activities, including product manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, for any of our product candidates for which we receive regulatory approval;
the cash received, if any, from commercial sales of any product candidates for which we receive regulatory approval;
our ability to establish and maintain strategic collaborations, licensing or other arrangements and the financial terms of such collaborations and arrangements;
the extent to which we acquire or in-license other product candidates and technologies;
our headcount growth and associated costs;
the costs, timing and outcome of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;
resources required to develop and implement policies and processes to promote ongoing compliance with applicable healthcare laws and regulations;

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the impact of COVID-19 or other pandemic on the initiation or completion of preclinical studies or clinical trials and the supply of our product candidates;
costs required to ensure that our and any of our partners’ business arrangements with third parties comply with applicable healthcare laws and regulations; and
the costs of operating as a public company in the United States.

We have a limited operating history and no history of commercializing pharmaceutical products, which may make it difficult to evaluate the prospects for our future viability.

We are a global clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a limited operating history and no history of commercializing pharmaceutical products. Our operations to date have been limited to financing and staffing our company, developing our technology and conducting preclinical research and clinical trials for our product candidates. We have not yet demonstrated an ability to successfully obtain marketing approvals for or commercialize our product candidates or manufacture our product candidates on a scale sufficient to supply the commercial markets. We have no products approved for commercial sale and have not generated any revenue from product sales. Consequently, any predictions about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer operating history and/or approved products on the market.

Our limited operating history and the fact that we have yet to commercialize a pharmaceutical product, particularly in light of the rapidly evolving drug research and development industry in which we operate and the changing regulatory and market environments we encounter, may make it difficult to evaluate our prospects for future performance. As a result, any assessment of our future performance or viability is subject to significant uncertainty. We will encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by early-stage companies in rapidly evolving fields as we seek to transition to a company capable of supporting commercial activities.

As we continue to build our business, we expect our financial condition and operating results may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the results of any particular semi-annual or annual period as indications of future operating performance.

We have incurred net losses since our inception and anticipate that we will continue to incur net losses for the foreseeable future and may never achieve or maintain profitability. If we are unable to achieve or sustain profitability, the market value of our ADSs will likely decline.

We have incurred significant annual net operating losses in every year since our inception. We expect to continue to incur significant and increasing net operating losses for at least the next several years. Our net losses were approximately US$9.7 million, US$12.6 million and US$31.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of approximately US$71.5 million. We have not generated any revenues from product sales, have not completed the development of any product candidate and may never have a product candidate approved for commercialization. We have financed our operations to date primarily through private placements and the sale of our ADSs in our initial public offering. We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to research and development, including preclinical studies and our clinical trials. Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. Net losses and negative cash flows have had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our stockholders’ equity and working capital.

We anticipate that our expenses will increase substantially if and as we:

continue to develop and conduct clinical trials with respect to our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant;
initiate and continue research, preclinical and clinical development efforts for any future product candidates;
seek regulatory approvals for our product candidates;
commercialize our product candidates once we have obtained marketing approval;
establish sales, marketing, distribution and other commercial infrastructure in the future to commercialize various products for which we may obtain marketing approval, if any;

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hire additional clinical, operational, financial and administrative, quality control and scientific personnel;
add operational, financial and management information systems and personnel, including personnel to support our product development and help us comply with our obligations as a public company;
require the manufacture of larger quantities of product candidates for clinical development and, potentially, commercialization;
seek to identify additional product candidates and technologies;
obtain, maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio;
enforce and defend any intellectual property-related claims;
acquire or in-license other product candidates, intellectual property and technologies;
enter into out-licensing and co-development collaborations consistent with our global strategy;
add equipment and physical infrastructure to support our research and development;
incur setbacks or delays to the initiation or completion of preclinical studies, drug development and/or clinical trials; and
incur any disruption or delays to the supply of our product candidates.

To become and remain profitable, we must develop and eventually commercialize product candidates with significant market potential. This will require us to be successful in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical testing and clinical trials of, and obtaining marketing approval for, our product candidates, manufacturing, marketing and selling, either directly or through collaborations, those product candidates for which we may obtain marketing approval and satisfying any post-marketing requirements. We may not succeed in any or all of these activities and, even if we do, we may never generate revenues that are significant or large enough to achieve profitability. In the process of attempting to become and remain profitable, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown factors that may adversely affect our business. The size of our future net losses will depend partially on the rate of the future growth of our expenses, our ability to generate revenues and the timing and amount of payments that we receive from or pay to third parties. If any of our product candidates fails during preclinical studies or clinical trials or does not gain regulatory approval, or, even if approved, fails to achieve market acceptance, our business may not become profitable. Even if we achieve profitability in the future, we may not be able to sustain profitability in subsequent periods thereafter. Our prior losses and expected future losses have had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our working capital and the value of our Company. This could impair our ability to raise future capital, maintain our research and development efforts, proceed with commercialization efforts, expand our business or otherwise continue our operations, and could harm our competitive position in the marketplace. A decline in the value of our Company also could cause you to lose all or part of your investment.

Our ability to use our net operating loss carry forwards may be subject to limitation.

As of December 31, 2021, 2022 and 2023, our subsidiaries had U.S. net operating loss carryforwards for federal and state tax purposes of approximately US$4.0 million, US$6.7 million, and US$5.0 million respectively. The federal net operating loss carryforwards of US$603 thousand incurred before January 1, 2018 will begin to expire in the years 2036 through 2037. The remaining US$3.0 million of federal net operating loss carryforwards, which are limited to 80% of taxable income, do not expire. The Company had state net operating loss carryforwards of approximately US$1.4 million that will begin to expire in the years 2036 through 2038. The timing and manner in which we may utilize net operating losses may be limited by tax rules regarding changes in ownership and a lack of future taxable income could adversely affect our ability to utilize our net operating losses before they expire. In general, net operating losses in one country cannot be used to offset income in any other country and net operating losses in one state cannot be used to offset income in any other state. Accordingly, we may be subject to tax in certain jurisdictions even if we have unused net operating losses in other jurisdictions. Furthermore, each jurisdiction in which we operate may have its own limitations on our ability to utilize net operating losses or tax credit carryovers generated in that jurisdiction. These limitations may increase our U.S. federal, state or foreign income tax liability.

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Raising additional capital may cause dilution to holders of our ADSs and our shareholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or product candidates.

We may seek additional funding through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings, collaborations, licensing arrangements, strategic alliances, government grants or subsidies. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a holder of our ADSs. The incurrence of additional indebtedness or the issuance of certain equity securities could give rise to increased fixed payment obligations and also result in certain restrictive covenants, such as limitations on our ability to incur additional debt or issue additional equity, limitations on our ability to acquire or license intellectual property rights and other operating restrictions that could adversely impact our ability to conduct our business. In addition, the issuance of additional equity securities, or the possibility of such issuance, may cause the market price of our ADSs to decline.

If we were to enter into collaborations or licensing arrangements in order to raise capital, we may be required to accept unfavorable terms, including relinquishing or licensing to a third party certain of our rights to technologies, future revenue streams, research programs or product candidates on unfavorable terms, which we would have otherwise sought to develop or commercialize on our own or reserve for future potential arrangements when we might be more likely to achieve more favorable terms.

Risks Related to Regulatory Approval and Marketing of Our Product Candidates and Other Legal Compliance Matters

The regulatory approval processes of the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities are time-consuming and may evolve over time, and if we are ultimately unable to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our business will be substantially harmed.

The time required to obtain the approval of the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and other comparable regulatory authorities is inherently uncertain and depends on numerous factors, including the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. Generally, such approvals take many years to obtain following the commencement of preclinical studies and clinical trials and timing can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the product candidate involved. In addition, approval policies, regulations or the type and amount of clinical data necessary to gain approval may change during the course of a product candidate’s clinical development and may vary among jurisdictions, each of which may cause delays in regulatory review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain regulatory approvals in a timely manner, or at all, for our existing product candidates or any product candidates that we may discover, in-license or acquire and seek to develop in the future. Our product candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude regulatory approval or prevent or limit commercial use.

Our product candidates could be delayed in receiving or fail to receive regulatory approval of the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or a comparable regulatory authority for many reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

disagreement with the number, design, size, conduct or implementation of our clinical trials; For example, the regulatory authorities may disagree with our clinical trial endpoints, the subjects of our clinical trials, the number of patients enrolled, or the disease we choose to treat with our product candidates;
delays in obtaining regulatory approval or ethics committee approval to commence a clinical trial;
failure to demonstrate that a product candidate is safe and effective and potent for its proposed indication;
failure of our clinical trial results to meet the level of statistical significance required for approval;
failure of our CROs, clinical trial sites or investigators to comply with relevant current good clinical practice, or cGCP, requirements or failure of our clinical trial process to pass GCP inspections;
failure to demonstrate that a product candidate’s clinical and other benefits outweigh its safety risks;
disagreement with our interpretation of data from animal testing or preclinical studies or clinical trials;

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insufficient data collected from the clinical trials of our product candidates to support the submission and filing of an NDA, or other submissions or to obtain regulatory approval;
failure of our product candidates to pass current good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, inspections during the regulatory review process or across the production cycle of our drug;
failure of our clinical sites to pass audits carried out by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities, resulting in a potential invalidation of our research data;
findings by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities of deficiencies related to our manufacturing processes or the facilities of third-party CMOs with whom we contract for preclinical, clinical and commercial supplies;
changes in approval policies or regulations that render our preclinical and clinical data insufficient for approval;
our CROs taking actions that materially and adversely impact our clinical trials; and
failure of our clinical trial process to keep up with any scientific or technological advancements required by approval policies or regulations.

The FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or a comparable regulatory authority may require more information, including additional preclinical or clinical data, to support approval, which may delay or prevent approval and our commercialization plans. Even if we were to obtain approval, regulatory authorities may approve any of our product candidates for fewer or more limited indications than we request, grant approval contingent on the performance of costly post-marketing clinical trials or approve a product candidate with an indication that is not desirable for the successful commercialization of that product candidate. Any of the foregoing scenarios could materially harm the commercial prospects of our product candidates.

All material aspects of the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of pharmaceutical products are heavily regulated.

All jurisdictions in which we intend to conduct our pharmaceutical-industry activities regulate these activities in great depth and detail. We initially intend to focus our activities on our primary markets of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, Europe and China. These jurisdictions strictly regulate the pharmaceutical industry, and in doing so they employ broadly similar regulatory strategies, including regulation of product development and approval, manufacturing, and marketing, sales and distribution of products. However, there are differences in the regulatory regimes that make for a more complex and costly regulatory compliance burden for a company like us that plans to operate in these regions.

The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations requires the expenditure of substantial time and financial resources. Failure to comply with the applicable requirements at any time during the product development process and approval process, or after approval, may subject an applicant to administrative or judicial sanctions. These sanctions could include: refusal to approve pending applications; withdrawal of an approval; license revocation; clinical hold; voluntary or mandatory product recalls; product seizures; total or partial suspension of production or distribution; injunctions; fines; refusals of government contracts; providing restitution; undergoing disgorgement; or other civil or criminal penalties. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business.

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The FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and any other regulatory agencies may actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of drugs for off-label uses.

If any of our product candidates is approved and we are found to have improperly promoted off-label uses of those products, we may become subject to significant liability. The FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and other regulatory agencies strictly regulate the promotional claims that may be made about prescription products, such as our product candidates, if approved. In particular, a product may not be promoted for uses that are not approved by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or such other regulatory agencies as reflected in the product’s approved labeling in applicable jurisdiction(s). If we receive marketing approval for a product candidate, physicians may nevertheless prescribe it to their patients in a manner that is inconsistent with the approved label. If we are found to have promoted such off-label uses, we may become subject to significant liability. For example, the U.S. federal government has successfully pursued judgments for large civil and criminal fines and penalties against companies for alleged improper promotion of off-label use and has enjoined several companies from engaging in off-label promotion. The U.S. federal government has also successfully pursued consent decrees, deferred prosecution agreements, and injunctions under which specified promotional conduct is changed or curtailed, and compliance is closely monitored. If we cannot successfully manage the promotion of our product candidates, if approved, we could become subject to significant liability, which would materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

Even if we obtain approval of our product candidates in one jurisdiction, we may never obtain approval for or commercialize them in any other jurisdiction, which would limit our ability to realize the maximum market potential of our product candidates.

We cannot commercialize product candidates in the United States, Australia, China, Europe or another jurisdiction outside of the United States without first obtaining regulatory approval from the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities. The process to develop, obtain regulatory approval for and commercialize product candidates is long, complex and costly both inside and outside of the United States and approval may not be granted. Clinical trials conducted in one country may not be accepted by regulatory authorities in other countries and obtaining regulatory approval in one country does not mean that regulatory approval will be obtained in any other country. Approval processes vary among countries and can involve additional product testing and validation and additional administrative review periods. Even if our product candidates were to successfully obtain regulatory approval in one jurisdiction, we would still need to seek approval in any other jurisdictions where we plan to market the product. Any safety issues, product recalls or other incidents related to products approved and marketed in one jurisdiction may impact approval of those products in other jurisdictions. Further, the failure to obtain approval in one jurisdiction may negatively impact our ability to obtain approval elsewhere.

Seeking foreign regulatory approval could result in difficulties and increased costs for us and require additional preclinical studies or clinical trials which could be costly and time consuming. Regulatory requirements can vary widely from country to country and could delay or prevent the introduction of our products in those countries. We do not have any product candidates approved for sale in any jurisdiction, including in international markets, and the majority of our employees have limited experience in obtaining regulatory approval in international markets. If we fail to comply with regulatory requirements in international markets or to obtain and maintain required approvals, or if regulatory approvals in international markets are delayed, the target market for our product candidates will be reduced and our ability to realize the maximum market potential of any product candidate that we develop will be adversely affected.

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The applicability of clinical data generated outside the United States is subject to FDA concurrence for its suitability in supporting approval in the United States. If the FDA or comparable regulatory agencies do not accept data from such trials, our development plans may be delayed, which could materially harm our business.

Certain of our clinical trials supporting our lead product candidate were, and continue to be, conducted outside the United States in foreign countries or regions such as Australia, China and Taiwan, and we, or any future collaborators, may choose to conduct one or more clinical trials or a portion of such clinical trials for our product candidates outside the United States. The acceptance of study data from clinical trials conducted outside the United States or another jurisdiction by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authority may be subject to certain conditions or may not be accepted at all. In cases where data from foreign clinical trials are intended to serve as the sole basis for marketing approval in the United States, the FDA will generally not approve the application on the basis of foreign data alone unless (i) the data are applicable to the United States population and United States medical practice; (ii) the trials were performed by clinical investigators of recognized competence and pursuant to cGCP regulations; and (iii) the data may be considered valid without the need for an on-site inspection by the FDA, or if the FDA considers such inspection to be necessary, the FDA is able to validate the data through an on-site inspection or other appropriate means. In addition, even where the foreign study data are not intended to serve as the sole basis for approval, the FDA will not accept the data as support for an application for marketing approval unless the study is well-designed and well-conducted in accordance with cGCP requirements and the FDA is able to validate the data from the study through an onsite inspection if deemed necessary. Many foreign regulatory authorities have similar approval requirements. In addition, such foreign trials would be subject to the applicable local laws of the foreign jurisdictions where the trials are conducted. There can be no assurance that the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority will accept data from trials conducted outside of the United States or the applicable jurisdiction. If the FDA or any comparable foreign regulatory authority does not accept such data, it would result in the need for additional trials, which could be costly and time-consuming, and which may result in current or future product candidates that we may develop not receiving approval for commercialization in the applicable jurisdiction.

We, or any future collaborators, may not be able to obtain orphan drug designation or orphan drug exclusivity for our product candidates and, even if we do, that exclusivity may not prevent the FDA or the EMA from approving other competing products.

Regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions, including the United States and Europe, may designate drugs for relatively small patient populations as orphan drugs. Tinlarebant has received Orphan Drug Designation in the United States and Europe, which provides for 7 years and 10 years, respectively, of market exclusivity from approval for STGD1. Tinlarebant has also received Rare Pediatric Disease Designation in the United States. We, or any future collaborators, may seek orphan drug designations for other product candidates and may be unable to obtain such designations.

Even if we, or any future collaborators, obtain orphan drug designation for a product candidate, we, or they, may not be able to obtain orphan drug exclusivity for that product candidate. Generally, a product with orphan drug designation only becomes entitled to orphan drug exclusivity if it receives the first marketing approval for the indication for which it has such designation, in which case the FDA will be precluded from approving another marketing application for the same product for that indication and the EMA will be precluded from accepting an application for, or granting a marketing authorization for, a “similar medicinal product” for the applicable exclusivity period. The applicable exclusivity period is seven years in the United States and ten years in Europe. The European exclusivity period can be reduced to six years if a drug no longer meets the criteria for orphan drug designation or if the drug is sufficiently profitable so that market exclusivity is no longer justified. Orphan drug exclusivity may be lost if the FDA or the EMA determines that the request for designation was materially defective or if the manufacturer is unable to assure sufficient quantity of the drug to meet the needs of patients with the rare disease or condition.

Even if we, or any future collaborators, obtain orphan drug exclusivity for a product, that exclusivity may not effectively protect the product from competition because different drugs can be approved for the same condition, and only the first applicant to receive approval will receive the benefits of marketing exclusivity. In addition, if a competitor’s drug receives marketing approval earlier than us in Europe which is deemed by the EMA as a “similar medicinal product” of any of our product candidates, then we may not be able to obtain orphan drug exclusivity for that product candidate. Even after an orphan drug is approved, the FDA can subsequently approve the same drug for the same condition if the FDA concludes that the later drug is clinically superior in that it is shown to be safer, more effective or makes a major contribution to patient care. In addition, in both the U.S. and Europe, if a different drug is subsequently approved for marketing for the same or a similar indication as any of our product candidates that receive marketing approval, we may face increased competition and lose market share regardless of orphan drug exclusivity, which only protects against approval of the “same” drug for the same indication.

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We have received Fast Track designation from FDA for Tinlarebant for the treatment of STGD1. However, Fast Track designation for Tinlarebant may not actually lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.

In May 2022, we received Fast Track designation for Tinlarebant for the treatment of STGD1. If a product is intended for the treatment of a serious condition and nonclinical or clinical data demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical need for this condition, a product sponsor may apply for FDA Fast Track designation. Even though we have received Fast Track designation for Tinlarebant for the treatment of STGD1, Fast Track designation does not ensure that we will receive marketing approval or that approval will be granted within any particular timeframe. We may not experience a faster development or regulatory review or approval process with fast rack designation compared to conventional FDA procedures. In addition, the FDA may withdraw fast track designation if it believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development program. Furthermore, Fast Track designation alone does not guarantee qualification for the FDA’s priority review procedures.

Although we have pursued and may further pursue expedited regulatory approval pathways in the United States for certain of our product candidates, they may not qualify for expedited development or, if they do qualify for expedited development, it may not actually lead to a faster development or regulatory review or approval process.

In addition to the Fast Track designation for Tinlarebant for the treatment of STGD1, although we believe there may be an opportunity to accelerate the development of certain of our product candidates through one or more of the FDA’s expedited programs and we may pursue one or more of these expedited programs, we cannot be certain that any of such product candidates will qualify for such programs or that we will be able to maintain such qualifications.

If we apply for any expedited program for any of our product candidates, the FDA may determine such product candidate, its proposed indication or other aspects of our clinical development plans do not qualify for such an expedited program. Even if we are successful in obtaining a designation or access to any expedited program, we may not experience faster development timelines or achieve faster review or approval compared to conventional FDA procedures. Access to an expedited program may also be withdrawn by the FDA if the FDA believes that the designation is no longer supported by data from our clinical development programs or if the FDA otherwise finds that relevant criteria are no longer being met. Additionally, qualification for any expedited review procedure does not ensure that we will ultimately obtain regulatory approval for any of our product candidates.

Even if we receive regulatory approval for our product candidates, we will be subject to ongoing regulatory obligations and continued regulatory review, which may result in significant additional expenses, and we may be subject to penalties if we fail to comply with regulatory requirements or experience unanticipated problems with our product candidates.

Even after obtaining regulatory approval from the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or a comparable regulatory authority, our product candidates will be subject to, among other things, ongoing regulatory requirements governing the manufacturing processes, labeling, packaging, distribution, adverse event reporting, storage, advertising, promotion, recordkeeping data management and submission of safety, efficacy and other post-market information. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration, random quality control testing, adherence to any CMC, variations, continued compliance with cGMPs, and cGCPs and potential post-approval studies for the purposes of license renewal. Violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or the FDCA, relating to the promotion of prescription drugs may lead to FDA enforcement actions and investigations alleging violations of federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws, as well as state consumer protection laws.

Any regulatory approvals that we receive for our product candidates may also be subject to limitations on the approved indicated uses for which the drug may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, or contain requirements for potentially costly post-marketing studies, including Phase 4 studies for the surveillance and monitoring of the safety and efficacy of the drug.

In addition, once a drug is approved by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or a comparable regulatory authority for marketing, it is possible that there could be a subsequent discovery of previously unknown problems with the drug, including problems with third-party CMOs or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements. If any of the foregoing occurs with respect to our drug products, it may result in, among other things:

restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the drug, withdrawal of the drug from the market, or voluntary or mandatory drug recalls;
fines, warning letters or holds on our clinical trials;

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refusal by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications filed by us, or suspension or revocation of drug license approvals;
refusal by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or comparable regulatory authorities to accept any of our IND approvals or NDAs;
drug seizure or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of drugs; and
injunctions or the imposition of civil, administrative or criminal penalties.

Any government investigation of alleged violations of law could require us to expend significant time and resources and could generate negative publicity. Moreover, regulatory policies may change or additional government regulations may be enacted that could prevent, limit or delay regulatory approval of our product candidates. If we are slow or unable to adapt to changes in existing requirements or the adoption of new requirements or policies or we are not able to maintain regulatory compliance, we may lose the regulatory approvals that we have already obtained and may not achieve or sustain profitability, which in turn could significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects.

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 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 and comparable regulatory authorities (in some jurisdictions, the hospitals) to accept application, review and 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 accept the payment of user fees, and statutory, regulatory, and policy changes. Average review times at the agency have fluctuated in recent years as a result. In addition, government funding of other government 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 comparable regulatory authorities may also slow the time necessary for new drugs to be reviewed and/or approved by necessary government agencies, which would adversely affect our business. For example, in recent years, including in 2018 and 2019, the U.S. government shut down several times and certain regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, had to furlough critical employees and stop critical activities. Separately, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA postponed most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities and products, postponed routine surveillance inspections of domestic manufacturing facilities and is conducting only teleconference meetings. Regulatory authorities outside the United States may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Further, as a public company, future government shutdowns could impact our ability to access the public markets and obtain necessary capital in order to properly capitalize and continue our operations.

In addition, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of companies in 2020 and 2021 announced receipt of complete response letters due to the FDA’s inability to complete required inspections for their applications. As of May 2021, the FDA noted it was continuing to ensure timely reviews of applications for medical products during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in line with its user fee performance goals and conducting mission-critical domestic and foreign inspections to ensure compliance of manufacturing facilities with FDA quality standards. However, the FDA may not be able to continue its current pace and review timelines could be extended, thus the FDA may be unable to complete such required inspections during the review period. Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. may adopt similar restrictions or other policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and may experience delays in their regulatory activities.

On January 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced that it will end the public health emergency declarations related to COVID-19 on May 11, 2023. On January 31, 2023, the FDA indicated that it would soon issue a Federal Register notice describing how the termination of the public health emergency will impact the agency’s COVID-19 related guidances, including the clinical trial guidance and updates thereto. At this point, it is unclear how, if at all, these developments will impact our efforts to develop and commercialize our product candidates.

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If a prolonged government shutdown or other disruption 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. Future shutdowns or other disruptions could also affect other government agencies such as the SEC, which may also impact our business by delaying review of our public filings, to the extent such review is necessary, and our ability to access the public markets.

Current and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for us and any future collaborators to obtain marketing approval of and commercialize our product candidates and affect the prices we, or they, may obtain.

In the United States and certain other jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the healthcare system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our product candidates, restrict post-approval activities and affect our ability to sell profitably any product candidates for which we obtain marketing approval.

For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, collectively, the ACA, is a sweeping law intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of healthcare spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the healthcare and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms. Among the provisions of the ACA of importance to our product candidates are the following:

an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports specified branded prescription drugs;
an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program;
expansion of healthcare fraud and abuse laws, including the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute, new government investigative powers, and enhanced penalties for non-compliance;
a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 50% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices;
extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability to utilization covered by Medicaid managed care plans;
expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs;
expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service Act’s pharmaceutical pricing program;
new requirements to report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or the CMS, financial arrangements with physicians and teaching hospitals;
a new requirement to annually report to the FDA drug samples that manufacturers and distributors provide to physicians; and
a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.

Legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements, to restrict sales and promotional activities for pharmaceutical products and to control rising market prices for pharmaceutical products. We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted, or whether the FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, what the impact of such changes on the marketing approvals, if any, of our product candidates may be, or whether pricing strategies may be constrained. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent marketing approval, as well as subject us to more stringent product labeling and post-marketing conditions and other requirements.

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Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property protection for our product candidates, or if the scope of such intellectual property rights obtained is not sufficiently broad, third parties could develop and commercialize products and technologies similar or identical to ours and compete directly against us, and our ability to successfully commercialize any product or technology may be adversely affected.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to protect our proprietary technology and product candidates from competition by obtaining, maintaining, defending and enforcing our intellectual property rights, including patent rights. As of the Latest Practicable Date, our portfolio of owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents consisted of 23 issued U.S. patents (inclusive of allowed applications), 6 pending U.S. patent applications, 21 issued foreign patents (inclusive of allowed applications) and 33 pending foreign patent applications, providing protection in the United States and China, among other regions. We seek to protect and intend to seek to protect the product candidates and technology that we consider commercially important by filing patent applications and requiring our licensor to file licensed patent applications in the United States, European Union, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, India and other countries or regions, relying on trade secrets or pharmaceutical regulatory protection or employing a combination of these methods. This process is expensive and time-consuming, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications in all jurisdictions at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our research and development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection.

The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued which protect our technology or product candidates or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and product candidates. The patent examination process may require us to narrow the scope of the claims of our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed pending and future patent applications, which may limit the scope of patent protection that may be obtained. We cannot assure that all of the potentially relevant prior art relating to our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents and patent applications has been found. If such prior art exists, it can invalidate a patent or prevent a patent application from being issued as a patent.

Even if patents do issue on any of these applications, there can be no assurance that a third party will not challenge their validity, enforceability, or scope, which may result in the patent claims being narrowed or invalidated, or that we will obtain sufficient claim scope in those patents to prevent a third party from competing successfully with our product candidates. We may become involved in interference, inter partes review, post grant review, ex parte reexamination, derivation, opposition or similar other proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such proceeding could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or product candidates and compete directly with us, or result in our inability to manufacture or commercialize product candidates without infringing third-party patent rights. Thus, even if our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patent applications issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or otherwise provide us with any competitive advantage.

Our competitors may be able to circumvent our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or product candidates in a non-infringing manner. The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its scope, validity or enforceability, and our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and other countries. Such challenges may result in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, which could limit our ability to stop or prevent us from stopping others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and product candidates, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and product candidates. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new product candidates, patents protecting such assets might expire before or shortly after such assets are commercialized. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing product candidates similar or identical to ours.

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Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection. Under the America Invents Act enacted in 2011, the United States moved to this first-to-file system in early 2013 from the previous system under which the first to make the claimed invention was entitled to the patent. Assuming the other requirements for patentability are met, the first to file a patent application is entitled to the patent. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents or pending patent applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions.

We depend on intellectual property licensed from third parties, and our current and future licensors may not always act in our best interest. If we fail to comply with our obligations under our intellectual property licenses, if the licenses are terminated or if disputes regarding these licenses arise, we could lose significant rights that are important to our business.

We are dependent on patents, know-how and proprietary technology licensed from others. We are party to an exclusive license agreement with Columbia University under which we are granted rights to intellectual property that are necessary to our business and we may enter into additional license agreements in the future. Our existing license agreement with Columbia University imposes on us, and we expect that any future license agreements where we in-license intellectual property will impose on us, various development, regulatory and/or commercial diligence obligations, requiring timely achievement of development milestones for which we are obligated to report periodically on our progress and timely payment of milestone payments and/or royalties and other obligations. If we fail to comply with our obligations under these agreements, and our licensor does not agree to adjust the deadlines by which milestones must be achieved or we are subject to bankruptcy-related proceedings, the licensor may have the right to convert our exclusive license to a nonexclusive license with no right to sublicense or terminate the license, in which event we would not be able to develop or market products covered by the license.

If we or our licensors fail to adequately protect our licensed intellectual property, our ability to commercialize product candidates could suffer. We do not have complete control over the maintenance, prosecution and litigation of our in-licensed patents and patent applications and may have limited control over future intellectual property that may be in-licensed. For example, we cannot be certain that activities such as the maintenance and prosecution by our licensors have been or will be conducted in accordance with our views or in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights. Our licensor is required to consult with us and keep us informed on the status of all licensed patents and applications, so long as we do not challenge the validity, scope, or enforceability of any licensed patent or application. It is also possible that our licensors’ infringement proceedings or defense activities may be less vigorous than had we conducted them ourselves, or may not be conducted in accordance with our best interests.

In addition, the agreements under which we license intellectual property or technology from third parties are complex, and certain provisions in such agreements may be susceptible to multiple interpretations. The resolution of any contract interpretation disagreement that may arise could narrow what we believe to be the scope of our rights to the relevant patents, know-how and proprietary technology, or increase what we believe to be our financial or other obligations under the relevant agreement. Disputes that may arise between us and our licensors regarding intellectual property subject to a license agreement could include disputes regarding:

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

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If disputes over intellectual property that we have licensed prevent or impair our ability to maintain our current licensing arrangements on reasonable terms, we may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize the affected technology or product candidates. As a result, any termination of or disputes over our intellectual property licenses could result in the loss of our ability to develop and commercialize our product candidates, or we could lose other significant rights, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

If we fail to comply with our obligations under our patent license with a third party, we could lose license rights that are important to our business.

We are party to an exclusive license agreement with Columbia University pursuant to which we in-license key patent and patent applications necessary to pursue marketing and selling of our product candidates. Our existing license agreement with Columbia University imposes various diligence, milestone payment, royalty, insurance and other obligations on us. If we fail to comply with these obligations, our licensor may elect to convert the license from an exclusive license to a nonexclusive license without the right to sublicense or initiate legal proceedings against third party patent infringers or terminate the license, in which event we would not be able to develop or market the products covered by such licensed intellectual property. Termination of these agreements or reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements, or restrictions on our ability to freely assign or sublicense our rights under such agreements when it is in the interest of our business to do so, may impede, delay or prohibit the further development or commercialization of one or more product candidates that rely on such agreements.

We may have limited control over the maintenance and prosecution of these in-licensed patents and patent applications, activities or any other intellectual property that may be related to our in-licensed intellectual property. For example, we cannot be certain that such activities by our licensor have been or will be conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations or will result in valid and enforceable patents and other intellectual property rights.

Intellectual property discovered through U.S. government funded programs may be subject to federal regulations such as “march-in” rights, certain reporting requirements and a preference for U.S.-based companies. Compliance with such regulations may limit our exclusive rights and limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. manufacturers.

Our licensed and co-owned patents and pending patent applications have been generated through the use of U.S. government funding, and we may acquire or license in the future intellectual property rights that have been generated through the use of U.S. government funding or grants. Pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, the U.S. government has certain rights in inventions developed with government funding. These U.S. government rights include a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable worldwide license to use inventions for any governmental purpose. In addition, the U.S. government has the right, under certain limited circumstances, to require us to grant exclusive, partially exclusive, or non-exclusive licenses to any of these inventions to a third party if it determines that: (1) adequate steps have not been taken to commercialize the invention; (2) government action is necessary to meet public health or safety needs; or (3) government action is necessary to meet requirements for public use under federal regulations (also referred to as “march-in rights”). If the U.S. government exercised its march-in rights in our future intellectual property rights that are generated through the use of U.S. government funding or grants, we could be forced to license or sublicense intellectual property developed by us or that we license on terms unfavorable to us, and there can be no assurance that we would receive compensation from the U.S. government for the exercise of such rights. The U.S. government also has the right to take title to these inventions if the grant recipient fails to disclose the invention to the government or fails to file an application to register the intellectual property within specified time limits. Recently, the government released a draft framework that may be used by an agency when deciding to exercise its march-in rights for public comments, and as such, the framework for deciding when march-in rights are exercised may change. Intellectual property generated under a government funded program is also subject to certain reporting requirements, compliance with which may require us to expend substantial resources. In addition, the U.S. government requires that any products embodying any of these inventions or produced through the use of any of these inventions be manufactured substantially in the United States. This preference for U.S. industry may be waived by the federal agency that provided the funding if the owner or assignee of the intellectual property can show that reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to grant licenses on similar terms to potential licensees that would be likely to manufacture substantially in the United States or that under the circumstances domestic manufacture is not commercially feasible. This preference for U.S. industry may limit our ability to contract with non-U.S. product manufacturers for products covered by such intellectual property.

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We enjoy only limited geographical protection with respect to certain patents and may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Filing and prosecuting patent applications and defending patents covering our product candidates in all countries throughout the world could be prohibitively expensive. Competitors may use our technologies in jurisdictions where we have not obtained patent protection to develop their own product candidates and, further, may export otherwise infringing product candidates to territories, where we have patent protection, but enforcement rights are not as strong as those in the United States. These product candidates may compete with our product candidates, and our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents or other intellectual property rights may not be effective or sufficient to prevent them from competing.

The laws of some jurisdictions do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws or rules and regulations in the United States, and many companies have encountered significant difficulties in protecting and defending such rights in such jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries, particularly certain developing countries, are not as favorable as other jurisdictions with regard to the enforcement of patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property protection, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patents or marketing of competing product candidates in violation of our proprietary rights generally and specifically in certain jurisdictions. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in other jurisdictions, whether or not successful, could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patent applications at risk of not issuing as patents, and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop. Furthermore, while we intend to protect our intellectual property rights in our expected significant markets, we cannot ensure that we will be able to initiate or maintain similar efforts in all jurisdictions in which we may wish to market our product candidates. Accordingly, our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights in such countries may be inadequate, which may have an adverse effect on our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates in all of our expected significant foreign markets. If we encounter difficulties in protecting, or are otherwise precluded from effectively protecting, the intellectual property rights important for our business in such jurisdictions, the value of these rights may be diminished, and we may face additional competition from others in those jurisdictions.

Some countries also have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled to grant licenses to third parties. In addition, some countries limit the enforceability of patents against government agencies or government contractors. In those countries, the patent owner may have limited remedies, which could materially diminish the value of such patents. If we are forced to grant a license to third parties with respect to any patents relevant to our business, our competitive position may be impaired.

Enforcing our intellectual property rights against third parties may also cause such third parties to file other counterclaims against us, which could be costly to defend and could require us to pay substantial damages, cease the sale of certain drugs or enter into a license agreement and pay royalties (which may not be possible on commercially reasonable terms or at all).

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

Periodic maintenance and annuity fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to the USPTO and foreign patent agencies over the lifetime of a patent. In addition, the USPTO and other foreign patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment, and other similar provisions during the patent application process. In some circumstances, we are dependent on our licensors to take the necessary action to comply with these requirements with respect to our licensed intellectual property. While an inadvertent failure to make payment of such fees or to comply with such provisions can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which such non-compliance will result in the abandonment or lapse of the patent or patent application, and the partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Non-compliance events that could result in abandonment or lapse of a patent or patent application include failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, and non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents within prescribed time limits. If we or our licensors fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our product candidates or if we or our licensors otherwise allow our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patents or patent applications to be abandoned or lapse, our competitors might be able to enter the market, which would hurt our competitive position and could impair our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates in any indication for which they are approved.

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The COVID-19 or other pandemic may impair our and our licensors’ ability to comply with these procedural, document submission, fee payment, and other requirements imposed by government patent agencies, which may materially and adversely affect our ability to obtain or maintain patent protection for our products and product candidates.

Terms of our future owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patents may not be sufficient to effectively protect our product candidates and business in certain jurisdictions.

In many countries where we file applications for patents, the term of an issued patent is generally 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date of a non-provisional patent application in the applicable country. Although various extensions may be available, the life of a patent and the protection it affords are limited. Even if we obtain patents covering our product candidates, we may still be open to competition from other companies, as well as generic medications once the patent life has expired for a drug. For example, while there are patent regulations in the PRC in respect of regulatory data protection of new drugs containing new chemical components, there are currently no other clear mechanisms providing patent term extension or patent linkages for other drugs in the PRC. Therefore, it is possible that a lower-cost generic drug can emerge onto the market much more quickly. For additional information regarding generic competition for our products in China, see “— Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property — The uncertainty of patent linkage, patent term extension and data and market exclusivity for NMPA-approved pharmaceutical products could increase the risk of early generic competition with our products in China” below. These factors may result in weaker protection for us against generic competition in jurisdictions similar to the PRC than could be available to us in other jurisdictions, such as the United States. In addition, patents which we expect to obtain in the PRC or similar jurisdictions may not be eligible to be extended for patent terms lost during clinical trials and the regulatory review process.

If we are unable to obtain patent term extensions or if such extensions are less than requested for, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expirations and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially harmed as a result.

If the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities approve generic versions of any of our products that receive marketing approval, or such authorities do not grant our products appropriate periods of data exclusivity before approving generic versions of our products, the sales of our products could be adversely affected.

Once an NDA is approved, the product covered thereby becomes a “reference-listed drug” in the FDA’s publication, “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” or the Orange Book. Manufacturers may seek approval of generic versions of reference-listed drugs through submission of abbreviated new drug applications, or ANDAs, in the United States. In support of an ANDA, a generic manufacturer need not conduct clinical trials. Rather, the applicant generally must show that its product has the same active ingredient(s), dosage form, strength, route of administration and conditions of use or labeling as the reference-listed drug and that the generic version is bioequivalent to the reference-listed drug, meaning it is absorbed in the body at the same rate and to the same extent. Generic products may be significantly less costly to bring to market than the reference-listed drug and companies that produce generic products are generally able to offer them at lower prices. Thus, following the introduction of a generic drug, a significant percentage of the sales of any branded product or reference-listed drug may be typically lost to the generic product.

The FDA may not approve an ANDA for a generic product until any applicable period of non-patent exclusivity for the reference-listed drug has expired. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, provides a period of five years of non-patent exclusivity for a new drug containing a new chemical entity, or NCE. Specifically, in cases where such exclusivity has been granted, an ANDA may not be filed with the FDA until the expiration of five years unless the submission is accompanied by a Paragraph IV certification that a patent covering the reference-listed drug is either invalid or will not be infringed by the generic product, in which case the applicant may submit its application four years following approval of the reference-listed drug. It is unclear whether the FDA will treat the active ingredients in our product candidates as NCEs and, therefore, afford them five years of NCE data exclusivity if they are approved. If any product we develop does not receive five years of NCE exclusivity, the FDA may approve generic versions of such product three years after its date of approval, subject to the requirement that the ANDA applicant certifies to any patents listed for our products in the Orange Book. Manufacturers may seek to launch these generic products following the expiration of the applicable marketing exclusivity period, even if we still have patent protection for our product.

Competition that our products may face from generic versions of our products could negatively impact our future revenue, profitability and cash flows and substantially limit our ability to obtain a return on our investments in those product candidates.

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The uncertainty of patent linkage, patent term extension and data and market exclusivity for NMPA-approved pharmaceutical products could increase the risk of early generic competition with our products in China.

In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, provides the opportunity for patent-term restoration, meaning a patent term extension of up to five years to reflect patent term lost during certain portions of product development and the FDA regulatory review process. The Hatch-Waxman Act also has a process for patent linkage, pursuant to which the FDA will stay approval of certain follow-on applications during the pendency of litigation between the follow-on applicant and the patent holder or licensee, generally for a period of 30 months. Finally, the Hatch-Waxman Act provides for statutory exclusivities that can prevent submission or approval of certain follow-on marketing applications. For example, federal law provides a five-year period of exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to obtain approval of a new chemical entity and three years of exclusivity protecting certain innovations to previously approved active ingredients where the applicant was required to conduct new clinical investigations to obtain approval for the modification. Similarly, the U.S. Orphan Drug Act provides seven years of market exclusivity for certain drugs to treat rare diseases, where the FDA designates the product candidate as an orphan drug and the drug is approved for the designated orphan indication. These provisions, designed to promote innovation, can prevent competing products from entering the market for a certain period of time after the FDA grants marketing approval for the innovative product.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of any FDA marketing approval process for any product candidates we may develop, one or more of our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed U.S. patents, if issued, may be eligible for limited patent term extension under the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent extension term of up to five years as compensation for patent term lost during clinical trials and the FDA regulatory review process. A patent term extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of drug approval, only one patent may be extended and only those claims covering the approved drug, a method for using it, or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. The application for patent term extension is subject to approval by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in conjunction with the FDA. However, we may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, failing to apply within applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents, or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Furthermore, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request. If we are unable to obtain a patent term extension for a given patent or the term of any such extension is less than we request, the period during which we will have the right to exclusively market our drug will be shortened and our competitors may obtain earlier approval of competing drugs, and our ability to generate revenues could be materially adversely affected.

In China, however, laws on patent term extension, patent linkage, and data exclusivity (referred to as regulatory data protection) are still developing. Therefore, a lower-cost generic drug can emerge onto the market much more quickly. Chinese regulators have set forth a framework for integrating patent linkage and data exclusivity into the Chinese regulatory regime, as well as for establishing a pilot program for patent term extension. According to the Economic and Trade Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the People’s Republic of China, dated January 15, 2020, the PRC government undertook to provide patent term extensions to compensate for unreasonable delays that occur in granting the patent or during pharmaceutical product marketing approvals. In October 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or the NPC, promulgated the newly amended PRC Patent Law, which became effective in June 2021. The newly amended PRC Patent Law includes provisions for patent linkage and patent term extension. However, considering that the newly amended PRC Patent Law is relatively new, it is unclear how it will be implemented, and there exist great uncertainties with respect to its interpretation and implementation by the authorities. These factors result in weaker protection for us against generic competition in China than could be available to us in the United States. If we are unable to obtain patent term extension or the term of any such extension is less than we request, our competitors may obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration, and our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially harmed.

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Changes in patent law could diminish the value of patents in general, thereby impairing our ability to protect our product candidates.

As is the case with other biopharmaceutical companies, our success is heavily dependent on intellectual property, particularly patent rights. Obtaining and enforcing patents in the biopharmaceutical industry involves both technological and legal complexity, and is therefore costly, time-consuming, and inherently uncertain. In addition, the United States has recently enacted and is currently implementing wide-ranging patent reform legislation. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the scope of patent protection available in certain circumstances and weakened the rights of patent owners in certain situations. In addition to increasing uncertainty with regard to our ability to obtain patents in the future, this combination of events has created uncertainty with respect to the value of patents once obtained, if any. Depending on decisions by the U.S. Congress, the federal courts and the USPTO, the laws and regulations governing patents could change in unpredictable ways that would weaken our ability to obtain new patents or to enforce our existing patents and patents that we might obtain in the future.

For example, the America Invents Act includes a number of significant changes that affect the way patent applications will be prosecuted and also may affect patent litigation. These include allowing third party submission of prior art to the USPTO during patent prosecution and additional procedures to attack the validity of a patent by USPTO administered post-grant proceedings, including post-grant review, inter partes review and derivation proceedings. Because of a lower evidentiary standard in USPTO proceedings compared to the evidentiary standard in United States federal courts necessary to invalidate a patent claim, a third party could potentially provide evidence in a USPTO proceeding sufficient for the USPTO to hold a claim invalid even though the same evidence would be insufficient to invalidate the claim if first presented in a district court action. Accordingly, a third party may attempt to use the USPTO procedures to invalidate our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed patent claims that would not have been invalidated if first challenged by the third party as a defendant in a district court action. Therefore, the America Invents Act and its implementation could increase the uncertainties and costs surrounding the prosecution of our owned, co-owned and in-licensed patent applications and the enforcement or defense of patents issuing from those patent applications, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Although we do not believe that our currently owned, co-owned, and in-licensed issued patents and any patents that may issue from our owned, co-owned, and in-licensed pending patent applications directed to our product candidates, if issued in their currently pending forms, will be found invalid based on any recent decisions by the U.S. Congress, federal courts and the USPTO, we cannot predict how their future decisions may impact the value of our patent rights. There could be similar changes in the laws of foreign jurisdictions that may impact the value of our patent rights or our other intellectual property rights.

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

In addition to patents, we rely upon unpatented trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation to develop and maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect this trade secret and confidential information, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties that have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, sponsored researchers, CMOs, consultants, advisers and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. However, any of these parties may breach such agreements and disclose our proprietary information, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor or other third party, we would have no right to prevent them from using that technology or information to compete with us and our competitive position would be harmed. In addition, we face the risk of cybercrime. For instance, someone could hack our information networks and gain illicit access to our proprietary information, including our trade secrets. Even if we are successful in prosecuting such claims, any remedy awarded may be insufficient to fully compensate us for the improper disclosure or misappropriation. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets.

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We also may be subject to claims that our employees, consultants, or advisers have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of their former employers or claims asserting ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees, consultants, and advisers, including our senior management, were previously employed at or contracted by other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Some of these employees, consultants, and advisers, including members of our senior management, executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements in connection with such previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these employees have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such individual’s former employer. We are not aware of any threatened or pending claims related to these matters or concerning the agreements with our senior management, but in the future litigation may be necessary to defend against such claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management. In addition, while we typically require our employees, consultants and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own, and furthermore, the assignment of intellectual property rights may not be self-executing, or the assignment agreements may be breached, each of which may result in claims by or against us related to the ownership of such intellectual property. If we fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights. Even if we are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs, be a distraction to our management and scientific personnel and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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

We may be subject to claims that former employees, collaborators or other third parties have an interest in our patent rights, trade secrets, or other intellectual property as an inventor or co-inventor. For example, we may have inventorship disputes arise from conflicting obligations of consultants or others who are involved in developing our therapeutic programs and other proprietary technologies we may develop. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these and other claims challenging inventorship or our patent rights, trade secrets or other intellectual property. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights, such as exclusive ownership of, or right to use, intellectual property that is important to our therapeutic programs and other proprietary technologies we may develop. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to our management and other employees. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Intellectual property litigation may lead to unfavorable publicity which may harm our reputation and cause the market price of our ADSs to decline, and any unfavorable outcome from such litigation could limit our research and development activities and/or our ability to commercialize our product candidates.

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

In the event of intellectual property litigation, there can be no assurance that we would prevail, even if the case against us is weak or flawed. If third parties successfully assert their intellectual property rights against us, prohibitions against using certain technologies, or prohibitions against commercializing our product candidates, could be imposed by a court or by a settlement agreement between us and a plaintiff. In addition, if we are unsuccessful in defending against allegations that we have infringed, misappropriated or otherwise violated the patent or other intellectual property rights of others, we may be forced to pay substantial damage awards to the plaintiff. Additionally, we may be required to obtain a license from the intellectual property owner in order to continue our research and development activities or to commercialize any resulting product. It is possible that the necessary license will not be available to us on commercially acceptable terms, or at all. This may not be technically or commercially feasible, may render our products less competitive, or may delay or prevent the launch of our products to the market. Any of the foregoing could limit our research and development activities, our ability to commercialize one or more product candidates, or both.

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Most of our competitors are larger than we are and have substantially greater resources. They are, therefore, likely to be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation longer than we could. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could have a material adverse effect on our ability to raise the funds necessary to conduct our clinical trials, continue our internal research activities, in-license needed technology in the future, or enter into strategic collaborations that would help us bring our product candidates to market.

In addition, any future intellectual property litigation, interference or other administrative proceedings will result in additional expense and distraction of our personnel. An adverse outcome in such litigation or proceedings may expose us or any future strategic partners to loss of our proprietary position, expose us to significant liabilities, or require us to seek licenses that may not be available on commercially acceptable terms, if at all, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We may not identify relevant third-party patents or may incorrectly interpret the relevance, scope or expiration of a third-party patent, which might adversely affect our ability to develop and market our products and product candidates.

We cannot guarantee that any of our patent searches or analyses, including the identification of relevant patents, the scope of patent claims or the expiration of relevant patents, are complete or thorough, nor can we be certain that we have identified each and every third-party patent and pending patent application in the United States and abroad that is relevant to or necessary for the commercialization of our current and future products and product candidates in any jurisdiction. The scope of a patent claim is determined by an interpretation of the law, the written disclosure in a patent and the patent’s prosecution history. Our interpretation of the relevance or the scope of a patent or a pending patent application may be incorrect, which may negatively impact our ability to market our products. We may incorrectly determine that our products or product candidates are not covered by a third-party patent or may incorrectly predict whether a third party’s pending patent application will issue with claims of relevant scope. Our determination of the expiration date of any patent in the United States or abroad that we consider relevant may be incorrect, and our failure to identify and correctly interpret relevant patents may negatively impact our ability to develop and market our products. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Claims that our product candidates or the sale or use of our future products infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate the patents or other intellectual property rights of third parties could result in costly litigation or could require substantial time and money to resolve, even if litigation is avoided.

We cannot guarantee that our product candidates or the sale or use of our future products do not and will not in the future infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate third-party patents or other intellectual property rights. Third parties might allege that we are infringing their patent rights or that we have misappropriated their trade secrets, or that we are otherwise violating their intellectual property rights, whether with respect to the manner in which we have conducted our research, or with respect to the use or manufacture of the compounds we have developed or are developing. The various markets in which we plan to operate are subject to frequent and extensive litigation regarding patents and other intellectual property rights. Some claimants may have substantially greater resources than we have and may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation to a greater degree and for longer periods of time than we could. Third parties might resort to litigation against us or other parties we have agreed to indemnify, which litigation could be based on either existing intellectual property or intellectual property that arises in the future.

It is also possible that we failed to identify, or may in the future fail to identify, relevant patents or patent applications held by third parties that cover our product candidates. Publication of discoveries in the scientific or patent literature often lags behind actual discoveries. Therefore, we cannot be certain that we or our licensors were the first to invent, or the first to file patent applications on, our product candidates or for their uses, or that our product candidates will not infringe patents that are currently issued or that are issued in the future. In the event that a third party has also filed a patent application covering one of our product candidates or a similar invention, our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patent application may be regarded as a competing application and may not be issued in the end. Additionally, pending patent applications that have been published can, subject to certain limitations, be later amended in a manner that could cover our products or their use.

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If a third party were to assert claims of patent infringement against us, even if we believe such third-party claims are without merit, a court of competent jurisdiction could hold that these third-party patents are valid, enforceable and infringed, and the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to commercialize the applicable product unless we obtained a license under the applicable patents, or until such patents expire or are finally determined to be invalid or unenforceable. Similarly, if any third-party patents were held by a court of competent jurisdiction to cover aspects of our compositions, formulations, or methods of treatment, prevention, or use, the holders of any such patents may be able to block our ability to develop and commercialize the applicable product unless we obtained a license or until such patent expires or is finally determined to be invalid or unenforceable. In addition, defending such claims would cause us to incur substantial expenses and could cause us to pay substantial damages, if we are found to be infringing a third party’s patent rights. These damages potentially include increased damages and attorneys’ fees if we are found to have infringed such rights willfully. In order to avoid or settle potential claims with respect to any patent or other intellectual property rights of third parties, we may choose or be required to seek a license from a third party and be required to pay license fees or royalties or both, which could be substantial. These licenses may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Even if we were able to obtain a license, the rights may be nonexclusive, which could result in our competitors gaining access to the same intellectual property. Ultimately, we could be prevented from commercializing a product candidate, or be forced, by court order or otherwise, to modify or cease some or all aspects of our business operations, if, as a result of actual or threatened patent or other intellectual property claims, we are unable to enter into licenses on acceptable terms. Further, we could be found liable for significant monetary damages as a result of claims of intellectual property infringement.

Defending against claims of patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets or other violations of intellectual property rights is likely to be costly and time-consuming, regardless of the outcome. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation. Thus, even if we were to ultimately prevail, or to settle at an early stage, such litigation could burden us with substantial unanticipated losses. Any claims of infringement, misappropriation or other violation of intellectual property made against us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

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

Despite measures we take to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property rights with respect to our product candidates, our intellectual property rights could be challenged or invalidated. For example, if we were to initiate legal proceedings against a third party to enforce a patent covering one of our product candidates, the defendant could counterclaim that our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patent is invalid and/or unenforceable. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, for example, lack of novelty, obviousness, non-enablement, lack of sufficient written description or obviousness-type double patenting. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO, the State Intellectual Property Office, or the SIPO, or the applicable foreign counterpart, or made a misleading statement, during prosecution. Although we believe that we and our licensor have conducted our patent prosecution in accordance with a duty of candor and in good faith, the outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability during patent litigation is unpredictable. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, we could lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on a product candidate. Even if a defendant does not prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity and/or unenforceability, our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patent claims may be construed in a manner that would limit our ability to enforce such claims against the defendant and others. Even if we establish infringement, the court may decide not to grant an injunction against further infringing activity and instead award only monetary damages, which may not be an adequate remedy. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patents is threatened, it could dissuade companies from collaborating with us to license, develop, or commercialize our current or future product candidates. Any loss of patent protection could have a material adverse impact on one or more of our product candidates and our business.

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Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses and could distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities or any future sales, marketing or distribution activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources and more mature and developed intellectual property portfolios. Uncertainties resulting from the initiation and continuation of patent litigation or other proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete in the marketplace. Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation.

We may not be successful in obtaining or maintaining necessary rights for our development pipeline through acquisitions and in-licenses.

Because the development of certain of our product candidates may in the future involve the use of proprietary rights held by third parties, the growth of our business may depend in part on our ability to acquire and maintain licenses or other rights to use these proprietary rights.

We may be unable to acquire or in-license any compositions, methods of use, or other intellectual property rights from third parties that we identify. The licensing and acquisition of third-party intellectual property rights is a competitive area, and a number of more established companies are also pursuing strategies to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights that we may consider attractive or necessary. These established companies may have a competitive advantage over us due to their size, cash resources and greater clinical development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, companies that perceive us to be a competitor may be unwilling to assign or license rights to us. We also may be unable to license or acquire third-party intellectual property rights on terms that would allow us to make an appropriate return on our investment or at all. If we are unable to successfully obtain rights to required third-party intellectual property rights or maintain the existing intellectual property rights we have, we may have to abandon development of the relevant product candidate, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects for growth.

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

As of the Latest Practicable Date, we had one registered trademark in the United States, one registered trademark in EU, one registered trademark in the United Kingdom, three registered trademarks in China, one registered trademark in Hong Kong, one registered trademark in Japan, and one registered trademark in Canada. We may not be able to obtain trademark protection in territories that we consider of significant importance to us. In addition, any of our trademarks or trade names, whether registered or unregistered, may be challenged, opposed, infringed, cancelled, circumvented or declared generic, or determined to be infringing on other marks, as applicable. We may not be able to protect our rights to these trademarks and trade names, which we will need to build name recognition by potential collaborators or customers in our markets of interest. Over the long term, if we are unable to establish name recognition based on our trademarks and trade names, we may not be able to compete effectively, and our business may be adversely affected.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily protect us from all potential threats to our competitive advantage.

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

others may be able to make compounds that are similar to our product candidates but that are not covered by the claims of the patents that we own, co-own or exclusively license;

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we or our licensors or collaborators might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own, co-own or exclusively license, which could result in the patents applied for not being issued or being invalidated after issuing;
we or our licensors or collaborators might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions, which could result in the patents applied for not being issued or being invalidated after issuing;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;
it is possible that the pending and future patent applications that we own, co-own, or in-license will not lead to issued patents;
issued patents that we own, co-own or in-license may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be held invalid or unenforceable, as a result of legal challenges by our competitors or other third parties;
we or our licensors may obtain patents for certain compounds many years before we receive regulatory approval for drugs containing such compounds, and because patents have a limited life, which may begin to run out prior to the commercial sale of the related drugs, the commercial value of our patents may be limited;
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in countries where we do not have patent rights and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive drugs for commercialization in our major markets;
we may fail to develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable;
we may fail to apply for or obtain adequate intellectual property protection in all the jurisdictions in which we operate;
third parties may gain unauthorized access to our intellectual property due to potential lapses in our information systems; and
the patents of others may have an adverse effect on our business, for example by preventing us from commercializing one or more of our product candidates for one or more indications.

Any of the aforementioned threats to our competitive advantage could have a material adverse effect on our business and future prospects.

Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations

If we fail to implement and maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud, and investor confidence and the market price of our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we are required to file a report by our management on our internal control over financial reporting starting with our second Annual Report. Further, when we lose our status as an “emerging growth company” and reach an accelerated filer threshold, our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. The rules governing the standards that must be met for management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation. To comply with the requirements of being a reporting company under the Exchange Act, we will need to upgrade our information technology systems, implement additional financial and management controls, reporting systems and procedures and hire additional accounting and finance staff. If we or, if required, our auditor is unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and the trading price of our ADSs may decline.

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For the year ended December 31, 2023, no material weaknesses and significant deficiencies were identified in our internal control over financial reporting by us and our independent registered public accounting firm. A “material weakness” is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the company’s annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. The material weakness identified relates to our lack of formal policies and procedures to establish risk assessment process and internal control framework.

If we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404. Due to its inherent limitations, there is no assurance that an internal control system can detect all errors or instances of fraud, if any, within our company. If we fail to maintain an effective internal control environment, it could result in material misstatements in our financial statements and could also impair our ability to comply with applicable financial reporting requirements and related regulatory filings on a timely basis. As a result, our businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, as well as the trading price of the ADSs, may be adversely affected. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions. We may also be required to restate our financial statements from prior periods.

Our future success depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate senior management and qualified scientific employees.

We are highly dependent on the expertise of the members of our research and development team, as well as the principal members of our management. We have entered into employment agreements with our executive officers, but each of them may terminate their employment with us at any time with or without prior written notice. In addition, we currently do not have “key-man” insurance for any of our executive officers or other key personnel.

Recruiting, retaining and motivating qualified management, scientific, clinical, manufacturing and sales and marketing personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our research, development and commercialization objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Further, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop, gain regulatory approval of and commercialize drugs. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous biopharmaceutical companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, our management will be required to devote significant time to new compliance initiatives from our status as a public company, which may require us to recruit more management personnel.

Competition for skilled personnel is intense, particularly in the biotechnology industry. We face competition for personnel from other companies, universities, public and private research institutions and other organizations. This competition may limit our ability to hire and retain highly qualified personnel on acceptable terms, or at all. We may not be able to attract and retain these personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous biotechnology companies for similar personnel. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our research and development and commercialization strategy. Our consultants and advisors may be employed or may have commitments under consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us.

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If we do not achieve our projected development and commercialization goals in the timeframes we announce and expect, the commercialization of any of our product candidates may be delayed, and our business will be harmed.

For planning purposes, we sometimes estimate the timing of the accomplishment of various scientific, clinical, regulatory and other product development objectives. These milestones may include our expectations regarding the commencement or completion of scientific studies and clinical trials, the regulatory submissions or commercialization objectives. From time to time, we may publicly announce the expected timing of some of these milestones, such as the completion of an ongoing clinical trial, the initiation of other clinical trials, receipt of regulatory approval or the commercial launch of a product. The achievement of many of these milestones may be outside of our control. All of these milestones are based on a variety of assumptions which may cause the timing of achievement of the milestones to vary considerably from our estimates, including:

our available capital resources or capital constraints we experience;
the rate of progress, costs and results of our clinical trials and research and development activities, including the extent of scheduling conflicts with participating clinicians and collaborators;
our ability to identify and enroll patients who meet clinical trial eligibility criteria;
our receipt of approvals by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA and comparable regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions, and the timing thereof;
other actions, decisions or rules issued by regulators;
our ability to access sufficient, reliable and affordable supplies of materials used in the manufacture of our product candidates;
our ability to manufacture and supply clinical trial materials to our clinical sites on a timely basis;
the efforts of our collaborators with respect to the commercialization of our products; and
the securing of, costs related to, and timing issues associated with, commercial product manufacturing as well as sales and marketing activities.

If we fail to achieve announced milestones in the timeframes we expect, the commercialization of any of our product candidates may be delayed, and our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects may be adversely affected.

Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, collaborators and contract research organizations may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements, which could cause significant liability for us and harm our reputation.

We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, consultants, collaborators and contract research organizations may engage in fraud or other misconduct, including intentional failures to comply with FDA regulations or similar regulations of comparable non-U.S. regulatory authorities, to provide accurate information to the FDA or comparable non-U.S. regulatory authorities, to comply with manufacturing standards we have established, to comply with federal and state healthcare fraud and abuse laws and regulations and similar laws and regulations established and enforced by comparable non-U.S. regulatory authorities, to report financial information or data accurately or to disclose unauthorized activities to us. Such misconduct could also involve the improper use of information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. It is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws, standards or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business and results of operations, including the imposition of significant fines or other sanctions.

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We will likely need to increase the size and capabilities of our organization, and we may experience difficulties in managing our growth.

As of December 31, 2023 our research and development team has expanded to thirteen employees, among which eight employees are responsible for our clinical operations. We now only occasionally consult with a few employees of our ultimate controlling shareholder to advise on some of the clinical operations of our Company. In order to execute our business plans, we expect that we will need to significantly increase the number of our employees and consultants and the scope of our operations, particularly in the areas of research and development, regulatory affairs and business development. Our future financial performance and our ability to commercialize our product candidates and to compete effectively will depend, in part, on our ability to manage any future growth effectively. To manage our anticipated future growth, we will need to continue to implement and improve our managerial, operational and financial systems, expand our facilities and continue to recruit and train additional qualified personnel. Due to our limited financial resources, we may not be able to effectively manage the expansion of our operations or recruit and train additional qualified personnel. The expansion of our operations may lead to significant costs and may divert our management and business development resources. Any inability to manage growth could delay the execution of our business plans or disrupt our operations and have a material adverse effect on our business.

In addition, we currently rely, and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely, in substantial part on certain independent organizations, advisors and consultants to provide certain services. There can be no assurance that the services of these independent organizations, advisors and consultants will continue to be available to us on a timely basis when needed or that we can find qualified replacements. Furthermore, if we are unable to effectively manage our outsourced activities or if the quality or accuracy of the services provided by consultants is compromised for any reason, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated, and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval of our product candidates or otherwise advance our business. There can be no assurance that we will be able to manage our existing consultants or find other competent outside contractors and consultants on economically reasonable terms, if at all.

If we are not able to effectively expand our organization by hiring new employees and expanding our groups of consultants and contractors, we may not be able to successfully implement the tasks necessary to further develop and commercialize our product candidates and, accordingly, may not achieve our research, development and commercialization goals.

We have limited insurance coverage, and any claims beyond our insurance coverage may result in our incurring substantial costs and a diversion of resources.

We maintain insurance policies that are required under applicable laws and regulations as well as insurance based on our assessment of our operational needs and industry practice. We also maintain liability insurance covering our clinical trials as well as certain other types of insurance. Our insurance coverage may be insufficient to cover any claim for product liability, damage to our fixed assets or employee injuries. Any liability or damage to, or caused by, our facilities or our personnel beyond our insurance coverage may result in our incurring substantial costs and a diversion of resources.

Disruptions in the financial markets and economic conditions could affect our ability to raise capital.

Global economies could suffer dramatic downturns as the result of a deterioration in the credit markets and related financial crisis as well as a variety of other factors including, extreme volatility in security prices, severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, ratings downgrades of certain investments and declining valuations of others. In the past, governments have taken unprecedented actions in an attempt to address and rectify these extreme market and economic conditions by providing liquidity and stability to the financial markets. If these actions are not successful, the return of adverse economic conditions may cause a significant impact on our ability to raise capital, if needed, on a timely basis and on acceptable terms or at all.

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In addition, there is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China. There have been concerns over unrest and terrorist threats in the Middle East, Europe and Africa and over the conflicts involving Ukraine, Syria and North Korea. There have also been concerns relating to trade disputes between the United States and China and regarding the relationship among China and other Asian countries, which may result in or intensify potential conflicts in relation to territorial disputes among such countries. In addition, the United Kingdom held a referendum on June 23, 2016 on its membership in the European Union, in which a majority of voters in the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union (commonly referred to as “Brexit”). Brexit could adversely affect European and worldwide economic and market conditions and could contribute to instability in global financial and foreign exchange markets.

More recently, the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused volatility in the global financial markets and threatened a slowdown in the global economy. For a detailed discussion regarding the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, see “— Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations — Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses” below. It is unclear whether these challenges and uncertainties and the issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be contained or resolved, and what effects they may ultimately have on the global political and economic conditions in the long term.

Failure to renew our current leases or locate desirable alternatives for our leased properties could materially and adversely affect our business.

We lease properties for our offices and laboratories. See “Item 4. Information on the CompanyD. Property, Plant and Equipment” beginning on page 131 for more details of our leased properties. We may not be able to successfully extend or renew such leases upon expiration of the current term on commercially reasonable terms or at all, and may therefore be forced to relocate our affected operations. This could disrupt our operations and result in significant relocation expenses, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we compete with other businesses for premises at certain locations or of desirable sizes. As a result, even though we could extend or renew our leases, rental payments may significantly increase as a result of the high demand for the leased properties. In addition, we may not be able to locate desirable alternative sites for our current leased properties as our business continues to grow and failure in relocating our affected operations could adversely affect our business and operations.

If we engage in future acquisitions or strategic collaborations, this may increase our capital requirements, dilute the value of your investment in our ADSs, cause us to incur debt or assume contingent liabilities, and subject us to other risks.

We may evaluate various acquisitions and strategic collaborations, including licensing or acquiring complementary products, intellectual property rights, technologies or businesses. Any potential acquisition or strategic collaboration may entail numerous risks, including, but not limited to:

increased operating expenses and working capital and cash requirements;
the assumption of additional indebtedness or contingent liabilities;
challenges with assimilation of operations, intellectual property and products of an acquired company, including difficulties associated with integrating new personnel;
the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing product candidates and initiatives in pursuing such a strategic merger or acquisition;
the loss of key personnel, and uncertainties in our ability to maintain key business relationships;
our inability to generate revenue from acquired technology and/or products sufficient to meet our objectives in undertaking the acquisition or even to offset the associated acquisition and maintenance costs;
material weakness arising in our internal control over financial reporting because of a weaknesses in the acquired company’s financial systems and controls; and

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changes in accounting principles relating to recognition and measurement of our investments that may have a significant impact on our financial results.

In addition, if we undertake acquisitions, we may issue dilutive securities, assume or incur debt obligations, incur large one-time expenses and acquire intangible assets that could result in significant future amortization expense. Moreover, we may not be able to locate suitable acquisition opportunities and this inability could impair our ability to grow or obtain access to technology or products that may be important to the development of our business.

The tax laws of the jurisdictions in which we operate may adversely affect our business and our tax results.

The tax laws applicable to our business activities are subject to change and uncertain interpretation. Our tax position could be adversely impacted by changes in tax rates, laws, practices, treaties or regulations or changes in the interpretation thereof by the authorities in jurisdictions in which we do business.

Moreover, we conduct operations through our subsidiaries in various tax jurisdictions. While we believe that we operate in compliance with applicable transfer pricing laws and intend to continue to do so, our transfer pricing procedures are not binding on applicable tax authorities. If tax authorities in any jurisdiction in which we operate were to successfully challenge our transfer prices as not reflecting arms’ length transactions, they could require us to adjust our transfer prices and thereby reallocate our income to reflect these revised transfer prices, which could result in a higher tax liability to us. Furthermore, a tax authority could assert that we are subject to tax in a jurisdiction where we believe we have not established a taxable connection, and such an assertion, if successful, could increase our expected tax liability in one or more jurisdictions. Such circumstances could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

If we, our CROs or our other contractors or consultants fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

We and third parties, such as our CROs or other contractors or consultants, are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations may involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and radioactive and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties.

In addition, we may be required to incur substantial costs to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our research, development or production efforts. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.

Our internal computer systems, or those used by our CROs or other contractors or consultants, may fail or suffer security breaches, which could result in a material disruption of our development of our product candidates.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal information technology systems and those of our collaborators, contractors and consultants are vulnerable to damage from internal or external events, such as computer viruses, unauthorized access, natural disasters, terrorism, war, and telecommunication and electrical failures, which compromise the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the systems. Although to our knowledge we have not experienced any material system failure or security breach to date, if such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our development programs and our business operations. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or future clinical trials could result in delays in our regulatory approval efforts and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. Likewise, we partially rely on our third-party research institution collaborators for research and development of our product candidates and other third parties for the manufacture of our product candidates and to conduct clinical trials, and similar events relating to their computer systems could also have a material adverse effect on our business.

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In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store sensitive data, including, among other things, personally identifiable information about our employees, intellectual property, and proprietary business information. Additionally, our CROs will collect and store sensitive data, such as legally protected patient health information, when conducting our clinical trials. We manage and maintain our applications and data utilizing on-site systems and outsourced vendors. These applications and data encompass a wide variety of business-critical information including research and development information, commercial information and business and financial information. Because information systems, networks and other technologies are critical to many of our operating activities, shutdowns or service disruptions at our Company or vendors that provide information systems, networks, or other services to us pose increasing risks. Such disruptions may be caused by events such as computer hacking, phishing attacks, ransomware, dissemination of computer viruses, worms and other destructive or disruptive software, denial of service attacks and other malicious activity, as well as power outages, natural disasters (including extreme weather), terrorist attacks or other similar events. Such events could cause loss of data, damage to system and data and leave us unable to utilize key business systems or access important data needed to operate our business, including conducting research and development, gaining regulatory approval for our product candidates or manufacturing and selling our products. Our collaborators, contractors or consultants may face similar risks, and service disruptions or security breaches of their systems could adversely affect our security, leave us without access to important systems, products, raw materials, components, services or information or expose our confidential data. In addition, system redundancy may be ineffective or inadequate, and our disaster recovery planning may not be sufficient to cover all eventualities. Significant events could result in a disruption of our operations, damage to our reputation or a loss of revenues. In addition, we may not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate for any losses associated with such events.

We could be subject to risks caused by misappropriation, misuse, leakage, falsification or intentional or accidental release or loss of information maintained in the information systems and networks of our Company and our vendors, including personal information of our employees and patients, and company and vendor confidential data. In addition, outside parties may attempt to penetrate our systems or those of our vendors or fraudulently induce our personnel or the personnel of our vendors to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to our data and/or systems. Like other companies, we may experience, threats to our data and systems, including malicious codes and viruses, phishing, business email compromise attacks, or other cyber-attacks. The number and complexity of these threats may increase over time. If a material breach of our information technology systems or those of our vendors occurs, the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and our reputation and credibility could be damaged. We could be required to expend significant amounts of money and other resources to respond to these threats or breaches and to repair or replace information systems or networks and could suffer financial loss or the loss of valuable confidential information. In addition, we could be subject to regulatory actions and/or claims made by individuals and groups in private litigation involving privacy issues related to data collection and use practices and other data privacy laws and regulations, including claims for misuse or inappropriate disclosure of data, as well as unfair or deceptive practices. We are taking measures and plan to continue to take measures to develop and maintain systems and controls designed to prevent, identify and mitigate these events from occurring. The development and maintenance of these systems, controls and processes is costly and requires ongoing monitoring and updating as technologies change and efforts to overcome security measures become increasingly sophisticated. Moreover, despite our efforts, the possibility of these events occurring cannot be eliminated entirely. As we outsource more of our information systems to vendors, engage in more electronic transactions with payors and patients, and rely more on cloud-based information systems, the related security risks will increase and we will need to expend additional resources to protect our technology and information systems. In addition, there can be no assurance that our internal information technology systems or those of our collaborators, contractors, or our consultants’ efforts to implement adequate security and control measures, will be sufficient to protect us against breakdowns, service disruption, data deterioration or loss in the event of a system malfunction, or prevent data from being stolen or corrupted in the event of a cyberattack, security breach, industrial espionage attacks or insider threat attacks that could adversely affect our business and operations and/or result in the loss or exposure of critical, proprietary, private, confidential or otherwise sensitive data, which could result in financial, legal, business or reputational harm to us.

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Failure to comply with existing or future laws and regulations related to privacy or data security could lead to government enforcement actions, which could include civil or criminal fines or penalties, private litigation, other liabilities, and/or adverse publicity. Compliance or the failure to comply with such laws could increase the costs of our products, could limit their use or adoption, and could otherwise negatively affect our operating results and business.

The regulatory framework for the collection, use, safeguarding, sharing, transfer and other processing of personal information worldwide is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Regulatory authorities in virtually every jurisdiction in which we operate have implemented and are considering a number of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning personal data protection. Additionally, the interpretation and application of data protection laws in jurisdictions applicable to us are often uncertain and in flux. We therefore face uncertainty as to the exact interpretation of any such requirements, and we may be unsuccessful in implementing all measures required by data protection authorities or courts in interpretation of new laws.

In the United States, there are a broad variety of data protection laws that are applicable to our activities, and a wide range of enforcement agencies at both the state and federal levels that can review companies for privacy and data security concerns based on general consumer protection laws. The Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General all are aggressive in reviewing privacy and data security protections for consumers. At state levels, for example, California enacted the Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which went into effect January 1, 2020. The CCPA, among other things, creates new data privacy obligations for covered companies and provides new privacy rights to California residents, including the right to opt out of certain disclosures of their information. The CCPA also creates a private right of action with statutory damages for certain data breaches, thereby potentially increasing risks associated with a data breach. Many other states are considering similar legislation. At federal level, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act, and its implementing regulations, imposes certain requirements relating to the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information. Numerous laws and regulations, including security breach notification laws, health information privacy laws, and consumer protection laws, govern the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health-related and other personal information. Given the variability and evolving state of these laws, we face uncertainty as to the exact interpretation of the new requirements, and we may be unsuccessful in implementing all measures required by regulators or courts in their interpretation.

Regulatory authorities in Europe have implemented and are considering a number of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning data protection. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679, or the GDPR, which became effective in May 2018, imposes a broad range of strict requirements on companies subject to the GDPR, such as us, including, but not limited to, requirements relating to having legal bases for processing personal information relating to identifiable individuals and transferring such information outside the European Economic Area (including to the United States), providing details to those individuals regarding the processing of their personal information, keeping personal information secure, having data processing agreements with third parties who process personal information, responding to individuals’ requests to exercise their rights in respect of their personal information, reporting security breaches involving personal data to the competent national data protection authority and affected individuals and recordkeeping. The GDPR substantially increases the penalties to which we could be subject in the event of any non-compliance, including fines of up to €10.0 million or up to 2% of our total worldwide annual turnover for certain comparatively minor offenses, or up to €20.0 million or up to 4% of our total worldwide annual turnover for more serious offenses. Given the new law, we face uncertainty as to the exact interpretation of the new requirements, and we may be unsuccessful in implementing all measures required by data protection authorities or courts in interpretation of the new law. National laws of member states of the European Union are in the process of being adapted to the requirements under the GDPR. Because the GDPR specifically gives member states flexibility with respect to certain matters, national laws may partially deviate from the GDPR and impose different obligations from country to country, leading to additional complexity and uncertainty.

We are also subject to the UK data protection regime, which imposes separate but similar obligations to those under the GDPR and comparable penalties, including fines of up to £17.5 million or 4% of a noncompliant company’s global annual revenue for the preceding financial year, whichever is greater. As we continue to expand into other foreign countries and jurisdictions, we may be subject to additional laws and regulations that may affect how we conduct business.

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In China, we are subject to laws and regulations governing both the use and disclosure of confidential patient medical information that may become more restrictive in the future, including restrictions on transfer of healthcare data (e.g. Personal Information Protection Law and the Measures on Security Assessment of Cross-border Transfer of Data). In China, we are also subject to the Cyber Security Law of China and accompanying regulations. The PRC laws and regulations concerning these subject matters are continually evolving and not always clear, and the measures we take to comply with these laws, regulations and industry standards may not always be effective. Should the privacy or cybersecurity regime in China become more stringent, we could be required to implement additional safeguards and systems, which could be costly and cause disruption to our business in China.

In addition, privacy laws and regulations in other countries and regions of the world, such as Australia and Taiwan, are becoming stricter and may potentially impose additional requirements on our business, and certain jurisdictions have implemented data localization laws which can be costly and operationally difficult to satisfy. We cannot be sure how these laws and regulations will be interpreted, enforced, or applied to our operations. In addition to the risks associated with enforcement activities and potential contractual liabilities, our ongoing efforts to comply with evolving laws and regulations may be costly and require ongoing modifications to our policies, procedures, and systems.

We expect that we will continue to face uncertainty as to whether our efforts to comply with evolving obligations under global data protection, privacy and security laws will be sufficient. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with applicable laws and regulations could result in reputational damage or proceedings or actions against us by governmental entities, individuals or others. These proceedings or actions could subject us to significant civil or criminal penalties, damages, injunctive relief and negative publicity, result in the delayed or halted transfer or confiscation of certain personal information, require us to change our business practices, increase our costs and otherwise materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our current and future relationships with customers, vendors, pharmaceutical collaborators and other third parties could be negatively affected by any proceedings or actions against us or current or future data protection obligations imposed on them under applicable law. In addition, to the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur significant legal and financial exposure and reputational damage that could potentially have an adverse effect on the development of our product candidates and our business.

Business disruptions could seriously harm our future revenue and financial condition and increase our costs and expenses.

Natural disasters, acts of war or terrorism or other factors beyond our control may adversely affect the economy, infrastructure and livelihood of the people in the regions where we conduct our business or whether our studies are conducted. Our operations may be under the threat of floods, earthquakes, sandstorms, snowstorms, fire or drought, power, water or fuel shortages, failures, malfunction and breakdown of information management systems, unexpected maintenance or technical problems, or may be susceptible to potential wars or terrorist attacks, or public health threats and epidemics, including the global health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Serious natural disasters may result in loss of lives, injury, destruction of assets and disruption of our business and operations. Acts of war or terrorism, or public health threats, may also injure our employees, cause loss of lives, disrupt our business network and destroy our markets. Any of these factors and other factors beyond our control could have an adverse effect on the overall business sentiment and environment, cause uncertainties in the regions where we conduct business, cause our business to suffer in ways that we cannot predict and materially and adversely impact our business, financial conditions and results of operations.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many governments to implement measures to slow the spread of the outbreak through quarantines, strict travel restrictions, heightened border scrutiny, and other measures. The outbreak and government measures taken in response had a significant impact, both direct and indirect, on businesses and commerce, as worker shortages occurred; supply chains disrupted; facilities and production suspended; and demand for certain goods and services, such as medical services and supplies, spiked, while demand for other goods and services, such as travel, fallen.

We also may face disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 or other pandemic that affect our ability to procure items that are essential for our research and development activities, including, for example, raw materials used in the manufacturing of our product candidates and laboratory and clinical supplies for our clinical trials. If we experience supply issues, our clinical trial plans and business operations could be adversely affected.

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The response to the COVID-19 or other pandemic may redirect resources with respect to regulatory and intellectual property matters in a way that would adversely impact our ability to progress regulatory approvals and protect our intellectual property. In addition, we may face impediments to regulatory meetings and in obtaining regulatory approvals due to measures intended to limit in-person interactions which could adversely impact the ability of regulatory authorities to take all steps needed to grant regulatory approval and could cause regulatory authorities to defer action on our regulatory submissions, including limitations or delays of inspections of facilities by regulatory authorities, which may impact approval timelines.

Any negative impact that the COVID-19 or other pandemic has on recruiting or retaining patients in our clinical trials or on the ability of our suppliers to provide materials for our product candidates could cause additional delays to clinical trial activities, which could materially and adversely affect our ability to obtain regulatory approval for and to commercialize our product candidates, increase our operating expenses, affect our ability to raise additional capital, and have a material adverse effect on our financial results.

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic or other epidemics or pandemics may impact our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, such as the duration of the pandemic, the severity of the COVID-19 or other pandemic or the effectiveness of actions to contain and treat the COVID-19 or other pandemic, particularly in the United States and other geographies where we or our third party suppliers, clinical trial sites, CROs and CMOs operate. We cannot presently predict the scope and severity of any potential business shutdowns or disruptions. If we or any of the third parties with whom we engage, however, were to experience shutdowns or other business disruptions, our ability to conduct our business in the manner and on the timelines presently planned could be materially and negatively affected, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, our results of operations and financial condition.

We are subject to changing law and regulations regarding regulatory matters, corporate governance and public disclosure that have increased both our costs and the risk of non-compliance.

We are or will be subject to rules and regulations by various governing bodies, including, for example, since we are a public company, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, which is charged with the protection of investors and the oversight of companies whose securities are publicly traded, and the various regulatory authorities in the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, the PRC and Australia, and to new and evolving regulatory measures under applicable law. Our efforts to comply with new and changing laws and regulations have resulted in and are likely to continue to result in, increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities. Further, there could be unanticipated changes in existing regulatory requirements. Any failure to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements may significantly and adversely affect our ability to commercialize and generate revenues from our product candidates. If regulatory sanctions are applied or if regulatory approval is withdrawn, the value of our Company and our operating results will be adversely affected.

Moreover, because these laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance becomes available. This evolution may result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and additional costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to our disclosure and governance practices. If we fail to address and comply with these regulations and any subsequent changes, we may be subject to penalty and our business may be harmed.

We have granted, and will continue to grant, options and other types of awards under our equity incentive plans, which may result in increased share-based compensation expenses and dilution to our existing shareholders and holders of our ADSs.

We have adopted the Belite Bio, Inc Amended and Restated Share Incentive Plan, or the 2020 Share Incentive Plan, and the 2022 Performance Incentive Plan for the purpose of granting share-based compensation awards to employees, directors and consultants to incentivize their performance and align their interests with ours. We have terminated the authority to grant additional awards under the 2020 Share Incentive Plan and all future awards will be granted under the 2022 Performance Incentive Plan. As of the Latest Practicable Date, options to purchase a total of 1,593,389 and 2,691,032 ordinary shares have been granted and are outstanding under the 2020 Share Incentive Plan and the 2022 Performance Incentive Plan. As of the Latest Practicable Date, no award has been granted or is outstanding under the 2022 Performance Incentive Plan. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—Compensation—Share Incentive Plans”.

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We believe the granting of share-based compensation is of significant importance to our ability to attract and retain key personnel and employees, and we will continue to grant share-based compensation to employees in the future. As a result, our expenses associated with share-based compensation may increase, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations. Furthermore, the granting of share-based compensation will lead to dilution of our existing shareholders, including any holders of our ADSs. We may re-evaluate the vesting schedules, lock-up period, exercise price or other key terms applicable to the grants under our currently effective equity incentive plans from time to time. If we choose to do so, we may experience substantial change in our share-based compensation charges.

If we fail to comply with certain U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions and other trade laws and regulations, we could be subject to serious consequences and significant expenses that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, and our reputation may be harmed.

Among other matters, U.S. and foreign anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, export control, sanctions and other trade laws and regulations, collectively, Trade Laws, prohibit companies and their employees, agents, clinical research organizations, legal counsel, accountants, consultants, contractors and other partners from authorizing, promising, offering, providing, soliciting or receiving, directly or indirectly, corrupt or improper payments or anything else of value to or from recipients in the public or private sector. In particular, the FCPA generally prohibits us from making payments to non-U.S. officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. We are also subject to the anti-bribery and corruption laws of other jurisdictions. We have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or government-affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations. We also have significant non-U.S. activities that we expect to increase in time. We plan to engage third parties for clinical trials and/or to obtain necessary permits, licenses, patent registrations and other regulatory approvals and we can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our personnel, agents or partners, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have prior knowledge of such activities. Additionally, in many other countries, the healthcare providers who prescribe pharmaceuticals are employed by their government, and the purchasers of pharmaceuticals are government entities; therefore, our dealings with these prescribers and purchasers are subject to regulation under the Trade Laws.

Although we have policies and procedures designed to ensure that we, our employees and our agents comply with the Trade Laws, there is no assurance that such policies or procedures will prevent our agents, employees and intermediaries from engaging in bribery activities. Failure to comply with the Trade Laws could disrupt our business and lead to severe criminal and civil penalties, including imprisonment, criminal and civil fines, loss of our export licenses, suspension of our ability to do business with the government, denial of government reimbursement for our products and/or exclusion from participation in government healthcare programs, as well as reputational harm. Other remedial measures could include further changes or enhancements to our procedures, policies, and controls and potential personnel changes and/or disciplinary actions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. We could also be adversely affected by any allegation that we violated such laws.

Our business may be exposed to foreign exchange risks.

We operate internationally and conduct clinical trials in multiple jurisdictions and thus we have expenses denominated in local currencies in multiple jurisdictions in connection with, among other things, our sponsored clinical trials, purchase of drug product for our clinical trials, process development and the prosecution and maintenance of our intellectual property portfolio. As a result, we are exposed to foreign currency exchange risk, as our results of operations and cash flows are subject to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. In accordance with our business decisions, our exposure to this type of risk could change depending on:

the currencies chosen when agreements are signed, such as licensing agreements, or co-marketing or co-development agreements;
the location of clinical trials on product candidates; and
our policy for insurance coverage.

Should any of these risks materialize, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

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Our liquidity, operations and financial position could be adversely affected by recent turmoil in the banking industry, conditions in the financial markets or the negative performance of financial institutions.

On March 10, 2023, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed Silicon Valley Bank (“SVB”) and appointed Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “FDIC”) as receiver. On March 12, 2023, the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the FDIC jointly released a statement that depositors at SVB would have access to their funds, even those in excess of the standard FDIC insurance limits, under a systemic risk exception. As of March 10, 2023, we had a substantial majority of our cash and cash equivalents balance held at SVB. We regained access to our deposits at SVB on March 13, 2023, and under the instruction of our Board, we have transferred substantially all of such balance out of SVB to our bank accounts with other larger national banks in the U.S. and other banks outside of the U.S..

Our available cash and cash equivalents are held in our operating accounts with or managed by reputable financial institutions. The amount of cash in our operating accounts exceeds the FDIC insurance limits. While we monitor our accounts regularly and adjust our balances as appropriate, our access to these accounts could be negatively impacted if the underlying financial institutions fail, become insolvent, or subject to other adverse conditions in the financial markets. The operations of U.S. and global financial services institutions are interconnected and the performance and financial strength of specific institutions are subject to rapid change, the timing and extent of which cannot be known. To date, we have not experienced any losses on cash or deposits held in our operating accounts; however, we can provide no assurances that access to our cash held in operating accounts or our invested cash and cash equivalents will not be impacted by adverse conditions in the financial markets or the negative performance of financial institutions.

Further, if any banks and financial institutions with whom we have banking relationships enter receivership or become insolvent in the future in response to volatile financial conditions affecting the banking system, we may be unable to access, and we may lose, some or all of our existing cash and cash equivalents to the extent those funds are not insured or otherwise protected by the FDIC. Any delay in our ability to access our cash and cash equivalents (or the loss of some or all of such funds) could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial position and cause us to need to seek additional capital sooner than planned. The occurrence of any such events may also make equity or debt financing more difficult to obtain, and additional equity or debt financing might not be available on reasonable terms, if at all; difficulties obtaining equity or debt financing could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, as well as our ability to continue to grow our operations.

Changes in the political and economic policies of the Chinese government or in relations between China and the United States may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and the market price of our ADSs.

In September 2022, we received approval from NMPA to initiate the Phase 3 clinical trial of Tinlarebant in adolescent STGD1 patients in China. As we have engaged a CRO to conduct clinical trials for Tinlarebant in China, our financial condition and results of operations may be affected by economic, political and legal developments in China. The PRC economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the extent of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the PRC government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets, and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China is still owned by the government. In addition, the PRC government continues to play a significant role in regulating industrial development by imposing industrial policies, and change of enforcement practice of such rules and policies can occur quickly with little advance notice. The PRC government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth by allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, regulating financial services and institutions and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.

While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth in the past four decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall PRC economy, but may also have a negative effect on us. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations that are applicable to us.

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In addition, the PRC government had, in the past, implemented certain measures to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity in China, which may adversely affect our business and results of operations. More generally, if the business environment in China deteriorates from the perspective of domestic or international investment, our business in China may also be adversely affected. As we have initiated clinical trials for Tinlarebant in China, any future Chinese, U.S. or other rules and regulations that place restrictions on capital raising or other activities by companies with extensive operations in China could adversely affect our business and results of operations. If the business environment in China deteriorates from the perspective of domestic or international investment, or if relations between China and the United States or other governments deteriorate, the Chinese government may intervene with our operations and our business in China and United States, as well as the market price of our ADSs, may also be adversely affected.

Changes in U.S. and Chinese regulations may adversely impact our business, our operating results, our ability to raise capital and the market price of our ADSs.

The U.S. government has made statements and taken certain actions that led to changes to United States and international relations, and will impact companies with connections to the United States or China, including imposing several rounds of tariffs affecting certain products manufactured in China, imposing certain sanctions and restrictions in relation to China and issuing statements indicating enhanced review of companies with significant China-based operations. It is unknown whether and to what extent new legislation, executive orders, tariffs, laws or regulations will be adopted, or the effect that any such actions would have on companies with significant connections to the United States or to China, our industry or on us. We conduct clinical activities and have business operations both in the United States and China. Any unfavorable government policies on cross-border relations and/or international trade, including increased scrutiny on companies with significant China-based operations, capital controls or tariffs, may affect the competitive position of our drug products, the hiring of scientists and other research and development personnel, the demand for our drug products, the import or export of raw materials in relation to drug development, our ability to raise capital, the market price of our ADSs or prevent us from selling our drug products in certain countries. Furthermore, the SEC has issued statements primarily focused on companies with significant China-based operations. For example, on July 30, 2021, Gary Gensler, Chairman of the SEC, issued a Statement on Investor Protection Related to Recent Developments in China, pursuant to which Chairman Gensler stated that he has asked the SEC staff to engage in targeted additional reviews of filings for companies with significant China-based operations. The statement also addressed risks inherent in companies with variable interest entities (“VIEs”) structures. We do not have a VIE structure and are not in a restricted foreign investment industry. However, it is possible that the Company’s periodic reports and other filings with the SEC may be subject to enhanced review by the SEC and this additional scrutiny could affect our ability to effectively raise capital in the United States.

In response to the SEC’s July 30, 2021 statement, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (the “CSRC”) announced on August 1, 2021, that “it is our belief that Chinese and U.S. regulators shall continue to enhance communication with the principle of mutual respect and cooperation, and properly address the issues related to the supervision of China-based companies listed in the U.S.so as to form stable policy expectations and create benign rules framework for the market.” While the CSRC will continue to collaborate “closely with different stakeholders including investors, companies, and relevant authorities to further promote transparency and certainty of policies and implementing measures,” it emphasized that it “has always been open to companies’ choices to list their securities on international or domestic markets in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.”

If any new legislation, executive orders, tariffs, laws and/or regulations are implemented, if existing trade agreements are renegotiated, if the U.S. or Chinese governments take retaliatory actions due to the recent U.S.-China tension or if the Chinese government exerts more oversight and control over securities offerings that are conducted in the United States, such changes could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, our ability to raise capital and the market price of our ADSs.

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The Chinese government may intervene in or influence our operations at any time, which could result in a material change in our operations and significantly and adversely impact the value of our ADSs.

The Chinese government has significant oversight and discretion over the conduct of our business and may intervene or influence our operations as the government deems appropriate to further regulatory, political and societal goals. The Chinese government published new policies in 2021 that significantly affected certain industries such as the education and internet industries, and we cannot rule out the possibility that it will in the future release regulations or policies regarding our industry that could require us to seek permission from Chinese authorities to continue to operate our business adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, statements made by the Chinese government in recent years have indicated an intent to increase the government’s oversight and control over offerings of companies with significant operations in China that are to be conducted in foreign markets, as well as foreign investment in China-based issuers. Although as of the Latest Practicable Date, we do not expect to be materially affected by the foregoing statements, any such action, once taken by the Chinese government, could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer ADSs to our investors, and could cause the value of our ADSs to significantly decline or become worthless.

We are subject to changing legal and regulatory requirements in the PRC pharmaceutical industry, and new laws, rules and regulations promulgated by the PRC government may adversely affect our profitability or impose additional compliance burdens on us.

As required under the NMPA regulations, we established a subsidiary in China with an aim to serve as the applicant for the planned clinical trials relating to our drug candidates in China. After we obtained approval from the NMPA to initiate the Phase 3 clinical trial of Tinlarebant in adolescent STGD1 patients in September 2022, we engaged a CRO to conduct clinical trials for Tinlarebant in China. As we have elected to carry out clinical trials in China, we are required to comply with relevant PRC laws and regulations in relation to our clinical trials and relevant operations.

The PRC pharmaceutical industry is subject to extensive government regulation and supervision as well as monitoring by various government authorities. In particular, the current regulatory framework addresses substantially all aspects of a pharmaceutical company’s operations, including approval, production, licensing, certification requirements and procedures, periodic renewal and reassessment processes, registration of new drugs, quality control, pricing of pharmaceutical products and environmental protection. There can be no assurance that the legal framework, licensing and certification requirements or enforcement trends in our industry will not change in a manner that may result in increased costs of compliance, or that we will be successful in responding to such changes. We may also be subject to the risk of adverse changes to favorable governmental policies, and the introduction of unfavorable governmental policies on the pharmaceutical industry. The costs we incur to comply with these laws and regulations may materially increase our total costs and decrease any potential profits. Any violation of these laws, rules or regulations or our failure to obtain any required approvals or permits may result in substantial fines, criminal sanctions, revocations of operating permits, shutdown of our facilities and obligations to take rectification measures.

Other than the industry specific laws and regulations that are applicable to the biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, we may also be subject to laws and regulations promulgated or implemented by other regulatory authorities in China concerning cyber security and data protection. Regulatory authorities in China have implemented and may consider to implement additional legislation concerning data protection. For example, China’s Cyber Security Law, which became effective in June 2017, created China’s first national-level data protection for “network operators,” which may include all organizations in China that provide services over the Internet or another information network. Various regulations, guidelines and other measures are expected to be adopted under the umbrella of the Cyber Security Law. Drafts of some of these measures have now been published, including the draft rules on cross-border transfers published by the China Cyberspace Administration in 2017 and 2019, which may, upon enactment, require security review before transferring human health-related data out of China. In addition, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, or SCNPC, promulgated the Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, or the Data Security Law, on June 10, 2021, which became effective on September 1, 2021. The Data Security Law imposes data security and privacy obligations on entities and individuals carrying out data processing activities, and introduces a data classification and hierarchical protection system. A similar security assessment mechanism was also included in the Personal Information Protection Law, or the Personal Information Protection Law, which was promulgated in August 2021 and became effective on November 1, 2021, for the Chinese government to supervise certain cross-border transfers of personal information.

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Under the Cyber Security Law and Data Security Law, as we have elected to carry out clinical trials in China, (i) we may be required to establish and maintain a comprehensive data and network security management system that will enable us to monitor and respond appropriately to data security and network security risks; (ii) we may need to classify and take appropriate measures to address risks created by our data processing activities and use of networks; and (iii) we may be obligated to notify affected individuals and appropriate Chinese regulators of and respond to any data security and network security incidents. Establishing and maintaining such systems takes substantial time, effort and cost, and we may not be able to establish and maintain such systems fully as needed to ensure compliance with our legal obligations. Despite our investment, such systems may not fully guard us or enable us to appropriately respond to or mitigate all data security and network security risks or incidents we face. We may also be required to disclose to regulators business-sensitive or network security-sensitive details regarding our processing of important data, and may need to pass the government security review or obtain government approval in order to share important data with offshore recipients, which can include foreign licensors, or share data stored in China with judicial and law enforcement authorities outside of China. If judicial and law enforcement authorities outside China require us to provide data stored in China, and disclosing such data may be subject to security review or prior approval by relevant PRC government authorities, we may not be able to meet the foreign authorities’ requirements. The potential conflicts in legal obligations could have adverse impact on our operations in and outside of China.

Furthermore, on December 28, 2021, the Cybersecurity Administration of China, China’s highest cyberspace regulator, and other twelve authorities of the PRC jointly issued the amended Cybersecurity Review Measures, or the Amended Cybersecurity Review Measures, which became effective on February 15, 2022. Under the Amended Cybersecurity Review Measures, the scope of entities required to undergo cybersecurity review to assess national security risks that arise from data processing activities would be expanded to include all critical information infrastructure operators who purchase network products and services and all data processors carrying out data processing activities that affect or may affect national security. In addition, the Amended Cybersecurity Review Measures requires that all such entities that maintain or store the personal information of more than 1 million users and undertake a public listing of securities in a foreign country would be required to pass cybersecurity review.

Moreover, on July 7, 2022, the Cybersecurity Administration of China published the Measures on Security Assessment of Cross-border Transfer of Data, which became effective on September 1, 2022 and provides that a data processor is required to apply for security assessment for cross-border data transfer in any of the following circumstances: (i) where a data processor provides important data abroad; (ii) where a data processor which processes personal information of more than 1,000,000 individuals or a critical information infrastructure operator provides personal information abroad; (iii) where a data processor has provided personal information in the aggregate of 100,000 individuals or sensitive personal information of 10,000 individuals abroad since January 1 of the previous year; or (iv) other circumstances prescribed by the Cybersecurity Administration of China for which declaration for security assessment for cross-board transfer of data is required.

To comply with these requirements, maintaining local data centers in China, conducting security assessments or obtaining the requisite approvals from the Chinese government for the transmission outside of China of such controlled information and data could significantly increase our operating costs or cause delays or disruptions in our business operations in and outside China. We expect that the evolving regulatory interpretation and enforcement of the national security legal regime will lead to increased operational and compliance costs and will require us to continually monitor and, where necessary, make changes to our operations, policies, and procedures.

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There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations.

As we have elected to conduct clinical trials for Tinlarebant in adolescent STGD1 patients in China, certain of our clinical research and development activities are supervised by relevant regulatory authorities in China. The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes and, unlike the common law system, prior court decisions can only be cited as reference and have limited precedential value. Additionally, written statutes in the PRC are often principle-oriented and require detailed interpretations by the enforcement bodies to further apply and enforce such laws. Since 1979, the PRC government has developed a comprehensive system of laws, rules and regulations in relation to economic matters, such as foreign investment, corporate organization and governance, commerce, taxation and trade. However, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws, rules and regulations involve uncertainties and may not be as consistent or predictable as in other more developed jurisdictions. As these laws and regulations are continually evolving in response to changing economic and other conditions, and because of the limited volume of published cases and their non-binding nature, any particular interpretation of PRC laws and regulations may not be definitive. Moreover, we cannot predict the effect of future developments in the PRC legal system and regulatory structure. Such unpredictability towards our contractual, property and procedural rights as well as our rights licensed, approved or granted by the competent regulatory authority could adversely affect our business and impede our ability to continue our operations. In addition, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis, if at all, and which may have a retroactive effect. Hence, we may not be aware of violation of these policies and rules until after such violation has occurred. Further, the legal protections available to us and our investors under these laws, rules and regulations may be limited.

In addition, any administrative or court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede our ability to enforce various contracts we have entered into and could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Recently, PRC regulators have announced regulatory actions aimed at providing the PRC government with greater oversight over sectors of the economy in the PRC, including the for-profit education sector and technology platforms that have a quantitatively significant number of users located in the PRC. Although the biotechnology industry is already highly regulated in the PRC and while there has been no indication to date that such actions or oversight would apply to companies like us, the PRC government may in the future take regulatory actions that materially adversely affect the business environment and financial markets in the PRC as they relate to us, our ability to operate our business, our liquidity and our access to capital.

We may be restricted from transferring our scientific data abroad.

On March 17, 2018, the General Office of the PRC State Council promulgated the Measures for the Management of Scientific Data, or the Scientific Data Measures, which provide a broad definition of scientific data and relevant rules for the management of scientific data. Enterprises in China must seek governmental approval before any scientific data involving a state secret may be transferred abroad or to foreign parties. Further, any researcher conducting research funded, at least in part, by the PRC government is required to submit relevant scientific data for management by the entity to which such researcher is affiliated before such data may be published in any foreign academic journal. Currently, as the term “state secret” is not clearly defined, there is no assurance that we can always obtain relevant approvals for sending scientific data (such as the results of our preclinical studies or clinical trials conducted within China in the future) abroad, or to our foreign collaborators in China.

If we are unable to obtain the necessary approvals in a timely manner, or at all, our research and development of product candidates in the future may be hindered, which may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial conditions and prospects. If relevant government authorities consider the transmission of our scientific data to be in violation of the requirements under the Scientific Data Measures, we may be subject to specific administrative penalties imposed by those government authorities.

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Risks Related to Our Reliance on Third Parties

As we rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies, clinical trials, contract manufacture drug substances and drug products, and provide other important services related to product development, regulatory submissions, and commercialization, if we lose our relationships with these third parties or if they do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with applicable laws, or meet expected deadlines, we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or commercialize our product candidates and our business could be substantially harmed.

We have relied on and plan to continue to rely on third-party CROs to monitor and manage data for some of our ongoing preclinical studies and clinical trials. We rely on these parties for the execution of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and control only certain aspects of their activities. Nevertheless, we are responsible for ensuring that each of our studies is conducted in accordance with the applicable protocol and legal, regulatory and scientific standards, and our reliance on the CROs does not relieve us of our regulatory responsibilities.

Our CROs have the right to terminate their agreements with us in the event of an unrectified material breach. If any of our relationships with our third-party CROs is terminated, we may not be able to (i) enter into arrangements with alternative CROs or do so on commercially reasonable terms or (ii) meet our desired clinical development timelines. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work, and the new CRO may not provide the same type or level of services as the original provider and data from our clinical trials may be compromised as a result. There is also a need for relevant technology to be transferred to the new CRO, which may take time and further delay our development timelines.

Except for remedies available to us under our agreements with our CROs, we cannot control whether or not our CROs devote sufficient time and resources to our ongoing clinical, nonclinical and preclinical studies. If our CROs do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to their failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, the impacts of COVID-19 or other pandemic on their operations, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to obtain regulatory approval for or successfully commercialize our product candidates. As a result, our results of operations and the commercial prospects for our product candidates would be harmed and our costs could increase. In turn, our ability to generate revenues could be delayed or compromised.

Because we rely on third parties, our internal capacity to perform these functions is limited. Outsourcing these functions involves certain risks that third parties may not perform to our standards, may not produce results in a timely manner or may fail to perform at all. In addition, the use of third-party service providers requires us to disclose our proprietary information to these third parties, which could increase the risk that such information will be misappropriated. We currently have a limited number of employees, which limits the internal resources we have available to identify and monitor our third-party service providers. To the extent we are unable to identify and successfully manage the performance of third-party service providers in the future, our business may be adversely affected. Though we carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter similar challenges or delays in the future, and such challenges or delays could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

As we rely on third parties to conduct our preclinical studies and clinical trials, our business could be harmed if those third parties fail to comply with the applicable regulatory requirements.

We and our CROs are required to comply with cGCP, current good laboratory practices, or cGLP, and other regulatory regulations and guidelines enforced by the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA, the International Conference on Harmonization, or ICH, and comparable foreign regulatory authorities for all of our product candidates in clinical development. Regulatory authorities enforce these cGCP, cGLP or other regulatory requirements through periodic inspections of study sponsors, investigators and study sites. If we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable cGCP, cGLP or other regulatory requirements, the relevant data generated in our preclinical studies and clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA, the TGA, the NMPA, the EMA or other comparable regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving our marketing applications. There can be no assurance that upon inspection by a given regulatory authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with cGCP requirements. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with product candidates or products produced under cGMP requirements. Failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat preclinical studies and clinical trials, which would delay the regulatory approval process.

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We rely on third parties to supply the drug raw materials for our manufacturing activities. Lack of availability or significant increases in cost of such drug raw materials could harm our business.

The manufacture of biopharmaceutical products is complex and requires significant expertise and capital investment, including the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and process controls. Currently, our drug raw materials for our manufacturing activities are supplied by multi-source suppliers and we entered into long-term capacity arrangements with one of our suppliers. We believe our suppliers have sufficient capacity to meet our demands for drug materials. In addition, we believe that adequate alternative sources for such supplies exist. However, there is a risk that, if supplies are interrupted or if the costs of such drug materials were to significantly increase, our business would be materially harmed. For example, the COVID-19 or other pandemic could have a broad impact on the production and supplies of active ingredients or other raw materials and result in a potential shortage of supply. If we or our third-party manufacturers experience a shortage in supply of active ingredients or other raw materials, whether due to COVID-19 or otherwise, we may not be able to continue to supply adequate levels of our drugs to our customers, which would have a negative impact on our business and results of operations.

We expect to seek to establish collaborations and, if we are not able to establish them on commercially reasonable terms, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

We may form or seek strategic alliances, create joint ventures or collaborations, or enter into licensing arrangements with third parties that we believe will complement or augment our development and commercialization efforts with respect to our product candidates and any future product candidates that we may develop. Any of these relationships may require us to incur recurring or non-recurring expenses and other charges, increase our near and long-term expenditures, issue securities that dilute the value of our ADSs, or disrupt our management and business. In addition, we face significant competition in seeking appropriate strategic partners and the negotiation process is time-consuming and complex. Moreover, we may not be successful in our efforts to establish a strategic collaboration or other alternative arrangements for our product candidates because they may be deemed to be at too early a stage of development for collaborative effort and third parties may not view our product candidates as having the requisite potential to demonstrate safety and efficacy. If and when we collaborate with a third party for the development and commercialization of a product candidate, we can expect to relinquish some or all of the control over the future success of that product candidate to the third party.

Further, collaborations involving our product candidates are subject to additional risks, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

collaborators may have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to a collaboration;
collaborators may not pursue the development and commercialization of our product candidates or may elect not to continue or renew the development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, change in their strategic focus due to the acquisition of competitive drugs, increased competition, availability of funding, or other external factors, such as a business combination that diverts resources or creates competing priorities;
collaborators may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial, discontinue a clinical trial, repeat or conduct new clinical trials, or require a new formulation of a product candidate for clinical testing;
collaborators could independently develop, or develop with third parties, drugs that compete directly or indirectly with our product candidates or future drugs;
collaborators with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our product candidates or future drugs may not commit sufficient resources to their marketing and distribution;
collaborators may not properly maintain or defend our intellectual property rights or may use our intellectual property or proprietary information in a way that gives rise to actual or threatened litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate our intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential liability;
collaborators may not always be cooperative or responsive in providing their services in a clinical trial;

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disputes may arise between us and a collaborator that cause a delay or termination of the research, development or commercialization of our product candidates, or that result in costly litigation or arbitration that diverts management attention and resources;
collaborations may be terminated and, if terminated, may result in a need for additional capital to pursue further development or commercialization of the applicable product candidates;
collaborators may own or co-own intellectual property covering our product candidates or future drugs that results from our collaborating with them, and in such cases, we would not have the exclusive right to commercialize such intellectual property; and
we may not be able to receive agreed development fees, royalties or milestone payments we expected when seeking collaborations.

As a result, if we enter into collaboration agreements or license our drugs, we may not be able to realize the benefit of such transactions if we are unable to successfully integrate these collaborations or licenses with our existing operations and company culture, which could delay our timelines or otherwise adversely affect our business.

If we are unable to reach agreements with suitable collaborators on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all, we may have to curtail the development of a product candidate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to fund and undertake development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional expertise and additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we fail to enter into collaborations and do not have sufficient funds or expertise to undertake the necessary development and commercialization activities, we may not be able to further develop our product candidates or bring them to market and generate product sales revenue, which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Collaborations are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. Further, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future collaborators.

Any collaboration agreements that we enter into in the future may contain restrictions on our ability to enter into potential collaborations or to otherwise develop specified product candidates. We may not be able to negotiate collaborations on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so, we may have to curtail the development of the product candidate for which we are seeking to collaborate, reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, delay its potential commercialization or reduce the scope of any sales or marketing activities, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense.

Risks Related to Our ADSs

The newly enacted Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act and the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act passed by the U.S. Senate, all call for additional and more stringent criteria to be applied to emerging market companies upon assessing the qualification of their auditors, especially the non-U.S. auditors who are not inspected by the PCAOB. These developments could add uncertainties to our listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market, and Nasdaq may determine to delist our securities if the PCAOB determines that it cannot inspect or fully investigate our auditor.

As part of a continued regulatory focus in the United States on access to audit and other information currently protected by national law, in particular the law in China, in June 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced bills in both houses of the U.S. Congress which, if passed, would require the SEC to maintain a list of issuers for which PCAOB is not able to inspect or investigate the audit work performed by a foreign public accounting firm completely. The proposed Ensuring Quality Information and Transparency for Abroad-Based Listings on our Exchanges (EQUITABLE) Act prescribes increased disclosure requirements for these issuers and, beginning in 2025, the delisting from U.S. national securities exchanges such as the Nasdaq of issuers included on the SEC’s list for three consecutive years. It is unclear if this proposed legislation will be enacted. Furthermore, there have been recent deliberations within the U.S. government regarding potentially limiting or restricting China-based companies from accessing U.S. capital markets.

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On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCAA, which includes requirements for the SEC to identify issuers whose audit work is performed by auditors that the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely because of a restriction imposed by a non-U.S. authority in the auditor’s local jurisdiction. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HFCAA on December 2, 2020, and the HFCAA was signed into law on December 18, 2020. Additionally, in July 2020, the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets issued recommendations for actions that can be taken by the executive branch, the SEC, the PCAOB or other federal agencies and department with respect to Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges and their audit firms, in an effort to protect investors in the United States. In response, on November 23, 2020, the SEC issued guidance highlighting certain risks (and their implications to U.S. investors) associated with investments in China-based issuers and summarizing enhanced disclosures the SEC recommends China-based issuers make regarding such risks. On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final rules relating to the implementation of certain disclosure and documentation requirements of the HFCAA. A company will be required to comply with these rules if the SEC identifies it as having a “non-inspection” year (as defined in the interim final rules) under a process to be subsequently established by the SEC. The SEC is assessing how to implement other requirements of the HFCAA, including the listing and trading prohibition requirements described above.

Under the HFCAA, our securities may be prohibited from trading on the Nasdaq or other U.S. stock exchanges if our auditor is not inspected by the PCAOB for three consecutive years, and this ultimately could result in our ADSs being delisted. Furthermore, on June 22, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which, if enacted, would amend the HFCAA and require the SEC to prohibit an issuer’s securities from trading on any U.S. stock exchanges if its auditor is not subject to PCAOB inspections for two consecutive years instead of three.

On September 22, 2021, the PCAOB adopted a final rule implementing the HFCAA, which provides a framework for the PCAOB to use when determining, as contemplated under the HFCAA, whether the Board is unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms located in a foreign jurisdiction because of a position taken by one or more authorities in that jurisdiction.

On December 16, 2021, the PCAOB issued a report on its determinations that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely PCAOB-registered public accounting firms headquartered in China and in Hong Kong because of positions taken by the authorities in those jurisdictions.

On December 15, 2022, the PCAOB Board determined that the PCAOB was able to secure complete access to inspect and investigate registered public accounting firms headquartered in China and Hong Kong and vacated its previous determinations to the contrary.

Our former auditor, Friedman LLP (“Friedman”), the independent registered public accounting firm that issued the audit report included in our registration statement on Form F-1 filed with and subsequently declared effective by the SEC on April 28, 2021, and our current auditor, Marcum Asia CPAs LLP (“Marcum Asia”), both as independent registered public accounting firms with the PCAOB and are headquartered in New York, New York, are required under the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess their compliance with the laws of the United States and professional standards. Both Friedman and Marcum have been inspected by PCAOB on a regular basis, and neither Friedman nor Marcum Asia is subject to the determinations announced by the PCAOB on December 16, 2021. However, whether the PCAOB will continue to conduct inspections and investigations completely to its satisfaction of PCAOB-registered public accounting firms headquartered in China and Hong Kong is subject to uncertainty and depends on a number of factors out of our, and our auditor’s, control, including positions taken by authorities of the PRC. The PCAOB is expected to continue to demand complete access to inspections and investigations against accounting firms headquartered in China and Hong Kong in the future and states that it has already resumed regular inspections in early 2023 and beyond. The PCAOB is required under the HFCAA to make its determination on an annual basis with regards to its ability to inspect and investigate completely accounting firms based in the China and Hong Kong. Should the PCAOB again encounter impediments to inspections and investigations in China or Hong Kong as a result of positions taken by any authority in either jurisdiction, the PCAOB will make determinations under the HFCAA as and when appropriate.

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In addition, we cannot assure you whether Nasdaq or regulatory authorities would apply additional and more stringent criteria to us after considering the effectiveness of our auditor’s audit procedures and quality control procedures, adequacy of personnel and training, or sufficiency of resources, geographic reach or experience as it relates to the audit of our financial statements. Inspections of an independent registered public accounting firm conducted by the PCAOB outside China have at times identified deficiencies in those auditors’ audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. The lack of PCAOB inspections of audit work undertaken in China prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating auditors’ audits and their quality control procedures. As a result, to the extent that any component of our auditor’s work papers are or become located in China, such work papers will not be subject to inspection by the PCAOB. As a result, investors would be deprived of such PCAOB inspections, which could result in limitations or restrictions to our access of the U.S. capital markets.

Furthermore, should PCAOB determine that it cannot inspect or fully investigate our auditor in the future, Nasdaq may determine to delist our securities. Delisting of our ADSs would force holders of our ADSs to sell their ADSs or convert them into our Ordinary Shares. The market price of our ADSs could be adversely affected as a result of anticipated negative impacts of these executive or legislative actions upon, as well as negative investor sentiment towards, companies with significant operations in China that are listed in the United States, regardless of whether these executive or legislative actions are implemented and regardless of our actual operating performance.

If we fail to establish and maintain proper internal controls over financial reporting, our ability to produce accurate financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.

Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reporting companies are generally required to file a report by their management on such company’s internal control over financial reporting, including an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by the company’s independent registered public accounting firm. However, while we remain an emerging growth company, we will not be required to include an attestation report on internal control over financial reporting issued by our independent registered public accounting firm. The presence of material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting could result in financial statement errors which, in turn, could lead to errors in our financial reports and/or delays in our financial reporting, which could require us to restate our operating results. We might not identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal controls in connection with evaluating our compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting, we will need to expend significant resources and provide significant management oversight. Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal controls may require specific compliance training of our directors and employees, entail substantial costs in order to modify our existing accounting systems, take a significant period of time to complete and divert management’s attention from other business concerns. These changes may not, however, be effective in maintaining the adequacy of our internal control.

If we are unable to conclude that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in our operating results, the price of the ADSs could decline and we may be subject to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions. In addition, if we are unable to meet the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the ADSs may not be able to remain listed on Nasdaq Capital Market.

As a result of our principal shareholder, Lin Bioscience International Ltd.’s significant share ownership position in the Company, Lin Bioscience International Ltd. is able to influence corporate matters and a conflict of interest may arise between our principal shareholder and us.

As of the Latest Practicable Date, our principal shareholder, Lin Bioscience International Ltd., beneficially owned approximately 57.46% of our outstanding ordinary shares. As a result of significant share ownership position in our Company, our principal shareholder could exert substantial influence over matters such as electing directors and approving material mergers, acquisitions, strategic collaborations or other business combination transactions. This concentration of ownership may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our Company, which could have the dual effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their ordinary shares as part of a sale of our Company and reducing the price of the ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders, including the holders of the ADSs. In addition, these persons could divert business opportunities away from us to themselves or others.

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Conflicts of interest may arise between our principal shareholder and us in a number of areas relating to our ongoing relationships. Our financial contribution to our principal shareholder was not material during the periods presented in this Annual Report, and our principal shareholder may from time to time make strategic decisions that it believes are in the best interests of its business as a whole, which may be different from the decisions that we would have made on our own. Our principal shareholder’s decisions with respect to us or our business may favor our principal shareholder, which may not necessarily be aligned with our interests and the interests of our other shareholders. Our principal shareholder may make decisions, or suffer adverse trends, that may disrupt or discontinue our collaborations with our principal shareholder. Although we are a stand-alone public company and have an audit committee, consisting of independent non-executive directors, to review and approve all proposed related party transactions including those between our principal shareholder and us, we may not be able to resolve all potential conflicts of interest, and even if we do so, the resolution may be less favorable to us than if we were dealing with a non-controlling shareholder.

The market price of our ADSs may be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to you.

The trading price of our ADSs ranged from US$8.87 to US$48.01 per ADS since the listing of ADS on Nasdaq. The trading price of our ADSs can be volatile and fluctuate widely in response to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. The stock market in general and the market for smaller pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies, including as a result of short selling by institutional and retail investors. As a result of this volatility, you may not be able to sell your ADSs at or above the price at which you purchased your ADSs and you may lose some or all of your investment.

In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for our ADSs may be highly volatile due to specific business reasons, including, but not limited to:

announcements of regulatory approval or a complete response letter, or specific label indications or patient populations for a drug’s use, or changes or delays in the regulatory review process;
announcements of therapeutic innovations, new products, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures or capital commitments by us or our competitors;
regulatory developments affecting us, our patients, our customers, our suppliers or our competitors, including adverse actions taken by regulatory agencies with respect to our clinical trials, manufacturing supply chain or sales and marketing activities;
any adverse changes to our relationship with manufacturers or suppliers;
the results of our testing and clinical trials;
the results of our efforts to research and develop additional product candidates or otherwise acquire or license additional product candidates;
entering into out-licensing or collaborations and any subsequent changes in the terms or structure of these licenses or collaborations;
appointments of key vendors, including CMOs;
variations in the level of expenses related to our existing drugs and product candidates or preclinical, clinical development and commercialization programs;
any litigation or administrative proceedings in which we may become involved, including any intellectual property infringement actions;
announcements concerning our competitors or the pharmaceutical industry in general;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our revenue, operating expenses and profitability, and any other variations in our results of operations;

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manufacture, supply or distribution shortages;
announcements about our results of operations that are not in line with analyst expectations;
publication of operating or industry metrics by third parties, including government statistical agencies, that differ from expectations of industry or financial analysts;
changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts;
media reports, whether or not true, about our business, our competitors or our industry;
additions to or departures of our management;
foreign exchange fluctuations;
release or expiration of lock-up (as applicable) or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding ordinary shares or ADSs;
sales or perceived potential sales of additional ordinary shares or ADSs by us, our executive officers and directors or our shareholders;
general economic and market conditions and overall fluctuations in the U.S. equity markets;
changes in accounting principles; and
changes or developments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, PRC or global regulatory environment.

We expect that, until we are able to commercialize our drug pipeline, the primary drivers of the market price of our ADSs will likely be the results of our research and development efforts, the outcome of our various testing, studies and our overall clinical performance. Nevertheless, the stock market, in general, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have from time to time experienced extreme price and trading volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the clinical and/or operating performance of these companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. Further, the current volatility in the financial markets and related factors beyond our control may cause the market price of our ADSs to decline rapidly and unexpectedly.

We may face an increased risk of securities class action litigation, which is expensive and could divert management’s attention.

In the past, shareholders of a public company often brought securities class action suits against the company following periods of instability in the market price of that company’s securities. This risk is especially relevant to us because biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies have experienced significant share price volatilities in recent years. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations, which could harm our results of operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for the ADSs is influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.

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Techniques employed by short sellers may drive down the market price of our ADSs.

Short selling is the practice of selling securities that the seller does not own but rather has borrowed from a third party with the intention of buying identical securities back at a later date to return to the lender. The short seller hopes to profit from a decline in the value of the securities between the sale of the borrowed securities and the purchase of the replacement shares, as the short seller expects to pay less in that purchase than it received in the sale. As it is in the short seller’s best interests for the price of the stock to decline, many short sellers publish, or arrange for the publication of, negative opinions regarding the relevant issuer and its business prospects in order to create negative market momentum and generate profits for themselves after selling a stock short. These short attacks have, in the past, led to selling of shares in the market.

Much of the scrutiny and negative publicity has centered on allegations of a lack of effective internal control over financial reporting resulting in financial and accounting irregularities and mistakes, inadequate corporate governance policies or a lack of adherence thereto and, in many cases, allegations of fraud. As a result, many of these companies are now conducting internal and external investigations into the allegations and, in the interim, are subject to shareholder lawsuits and/or SEC enforcement actions.

It is not clear what effect such negative publicity, if it would occur, could have on us. If we were to become the subject of any unfavorable allegations, whether such allegations are proven to be true or untrue, we could have to expend a significant amount of resources to investigate such allegations and/or defend ourselves. While we would strongly defend against any such short seller attacks, we may be constrained in the manner in which it can proceed against the relevant short seller by principles of freedom of speech, applicable state law or issues of commercial confidentiality. Such a situation could be costly and time-consuming, and could distract our management from growing our business. Even if such allegations are ultimately proven to be groundless, allegations against us could severely impact its business operations and stockholders equity, and any investment in our ADSs could be greatly reduced or rendered worthless.

The sale or availability for sale, or perceived sale or availability for sale, of substantial amounts of our ADSs could adversely affect their market price.

Sales of substantial amounts of our ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs and could materially impair our ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. There were 13,887,404 ADSs (equivalent to 13,887,404 ordinary shares) outstanding as of the Latest Practicable Date. We cannot predict what effect, if any, market sales of securities held by our significant shareholders or any other shareholder or the availability of these securities for future sale will have on the market price of our ADSs.

The ADSs are equity and are subordinate to our existing and future indebtedness and any preferred stock we may issue in the future.

The ADSs are our equity interests and do not constitute indebtedness. As such, the ADSs rank junior to all indebtedness and other non-equity claims on us with respect to assets available to satisfy claims on us, including in a liquidation of us. Additionally, holders of our ADSs may be subject to prior dividend and liquidation rights of any holders of our preferred stock or depositary shares representing such preferred stock then outstanding.

Our Board of Directors is authorized to issue additional classes or series of preferred stock without any action on the part of the shareholders. The Board of Directors also has the power, without shareholder approval, to set the terms of any such classes or series of preferred stock that may be issued, including voting rights, dividend rights, and preferences over our ADSs with respect to dividends or upon our dissolution, winding-up and liquidation and other terms. If we issue preferred stock in the future that has a preference over our ADSs with respect to the payment of dividends or upon our liquidation, dissolution, or winding up, or if we issue preferred stock with voting rights that dilute the voting power of our ADSs, the rights of holders of our ADSs or the market price of our ADSs could be adversely affected.

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Holders of ADSs have fewer rights than shareholders and the voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement.

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights as our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. As a holder of our ADSs, you do not have any direct right to attend general meetings of our shareholders or to cast any votes at such meetings. As an ADS holder, you are only able to exercise the voting rights carried by the underlying ordinary shares indirectly by giving voting instructions to the depositary in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you may vote only by giving voting instructions to the depositary in the manner set forth in the deposit agreement. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will try, as far as is practicable, to vote the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs in accordance with your instructions. If we ask for your instructions, then upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will try to vote the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. If we do not instruct the depositary to ask for your instructions, the depositary may still vote in accordance with instructions you give, but it is not required to do so. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying ordinary shares unless you withdraw the shares, and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting. Under our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is seven (7) calendar days; provided that a general meeting may be called on short notice under specified circumstances. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice of the meeting to withdraw the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs and become the registered holder of such shares to allow you to attend the general meeting and to vote directly with respect to any specific matter or resolution to be considered and voted upon at the general meeting. In addition, under our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, for the purposes of determining those shareholders who are entitled to attend and vote at any general meeting, our directors may fix the date notice is given of a general meeting as the record date, and the setting of such a record date may prevent you from withdrawing the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs and becoming the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date, so that you would not be able to attend the general meeting or to vote directly. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We have agreed to give the depositary notice of shareholder meetings sufficiently in advance of such meetings. Nevertheless, we cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying shares represented by your ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to direct how the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs are voted and you may have no legal remedy if the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting. Except in limited circumstances, the depositary for our ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not give voting instructions to the depositary, which could adversely affect your interests.

Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not give voting instructions to the depositary, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings unless:

we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;
we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;
a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have an adverse impact on shareholders; or
the voting at the meeting is to be made on a show of hands.

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that you cannot prevent our ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted, except under the circumstances described above. This may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

Furthermore, in the event of voting by a show of hands, pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, the depositary will vote (or cause the custodian to vote) all ordinary shares held on deposit at that time in accordance with the voting instructions received from a majority of holders of ADSs who provide timely voting instructions, which may result in the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs held by certain ADS holders being voted in a manner contrary to such ADS holders’ voting instructions.

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The depositary for the ADSs is entitled to charge holders of ADSs fees for various services, including annual service fees.

The depositary for the ADSs is entitled to charge holders of ADSs fees for various services, including for the issuance of ADSs upon deposit of ordinary shares, cancellation of ADSs, distributions of cash dividends or other cash distributions, distributions of ADSs pursuant to share dividends or other free share distributions, distributions of securities other than ADSs and annual service fees. In the case of ADSs issued by the depositary into The Depository Trust Company, or DTC, the fees will be charged by the DTC participant to the account of the applicable beneficial owner in accordance with the procedures and practices of the DTC participant as in effect at the time.

We have considerable discretion to determine how to use the net proceeds from our initial public offering and may use them in ways with which you may not agree or that may not ultimately yield a favorable return or increase the price of the ADSs.

Although we currently intend to use the net proceeds from our initial public offering in the manner described in “Item 14. Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds—E. Use of Proceeds” in this Annual Report, our management will have considerable discretion in deciding how to apply the net proceeds from our initial public offering, and we could spend the net proceeds from our initial public offering in ways the holders of the ADSs may not agree with or that do not ultimately yield a favorable return. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of the net proceeds from our initial public offering, our use of these proceeds may differ substantially from our current plans. Additionally, in utilizing the proceeds of our initial public offering, under the PRC laws and regulations, we are only allowed to provide funding to our PRC subsidiary through loans or capital contributions. Subject to satisfaction of the applicable government registration and approval requirements, we may extend inter-company loans to our PRC subsidiary or make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiary to fund its research and development, capital expenditures or working capital. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals in a timely manner, if at all. Further, if we choose to allocate funds to our PRC subsidiary, or if we desire to re-allocate those funds, our PRC subsidiary will have to comply with various PRC laws and regulations.

The failure by our management to apply these funds effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation. You will not have the opportunity to assess whether the net proceeds from our initial public offering are being used appropriately before making your investment decision. You must rely on the judgment of our management regarding the application of the net proceeds of our initial public offering. We cannot assure you that the net proceeds will be used in a manner that will ultimately yield a favorable return or increase our ADS price, nor that these net proceeds will be placed only in investments that generate income or appreciate in value.

Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act or exempt from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective and we may not be able to establish a necessary exemption from registration under the Securities Act. If the depositary does not distribute the rights, if any, it may, under the deposit agreement, either sell them, if possible, or allow them to lapse. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in your holdings.

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You may not receive cash dividends if the depositary decides it is impractical to make them available to you.

The depositary will pay cash dividends on the ADSs only to the extent that we decide to distribute dividends on our ordinary shares, and we do not have any present plan to pay any dividends on our ordinary shares. To the extent that there is a distribution, the depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or any other distributions it or the custodian receives on our ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses pursuant to the deposit agreement. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For instance, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities whose offering would require registration under the Securities Act but are not so properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also, at its discretion, decide that it is inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, the depositary may determine that it is not practicable to distribute certain property through the mail, or that the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may decide not to distribute such property to you. We have no obligation to register under the U.S. securities laws any offering of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities that may be received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if such distributions to you are illegal or impractical. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of our ADSs.

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems it expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of the ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

We are an exempted company with limited liability incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Most of our directors and executive officers, and some of the experts named in this Annual Report, are nationals and/or residents of countries other than the United States, and a significant portion of the assets of these persons may be located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. As of the Latest Practicable Date, none of our officers, directors or other members of our senior management are located in China. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

We are an exempted company with limited liability incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by, among other things, our memorandum and articles of association, as amended from time to time, the Companies Act (As Revised) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against our directors, actions by our minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors to us under the Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, the Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

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Shareholders of Cayman Islands companies like us have no general rights under the Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records, or to obtain copies of the register of members of these companies, other than the memorandum and articles of association and any special resolutions passed by these companies, and the registers of mortgages and charges of these companies. The Registrar of Companies of the Cayman Islands shall make available the list of the names of the current directors of the Company (and where applicable the current alternate directors of the Company) for inspection by any person upon payment of a fee by such person. Our directors have discretion under our memorandum and articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by our management, members of our Board of Directors or our controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.

Your rights to pursue claims against the depositary as a holder of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement.

Under the deposit agreement, any action or proceeding against or involving the depositary, arising out of or based upon the deposit agreement or the transactions contemplated thereby or by virtue of owning the ADSs may only be instituted in a state or federal court in New York, New York, and you, as a holder of our ADSs, will have irrevocably waived any objection which you may have to the laying of venue of any such proceeding, and irrevocably submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts in any such action or proceeding.

The depositary may, in its sole discretion, require that any dispute or difference arising from the relationship created by the deposit agreement be referred to and finally settled by an arbitration conducted under the terms described in the deposit agreement, although the arbitration provisions do not preclude you from pursuing claims under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act in state or federal courts. See “Description of American Depositary Shares” for more information.

ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our ordinary shares provides that, subject to the depositary’s right to require a claim to be submitted to arbitration, the federal or state courts in the City of New York have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine claims arising under the deposit agreement and in that regard, to the fullest extent permitted by law, ADS holders waive the right to a jury trial of any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to our ordinary shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, including any claim under the U.S. federal securities laws.

If we or the depositary opposed a jury trial demand based on the waiver, the court would determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of that case in accordance with the applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before investing in the ADSs.

If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and / or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and/or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

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Nevertheless, if this jury trial waiver provision is not enforced, to the extent a court action proceeds, it would proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs shall relieve us or the depositary from our respective obligations to comply with the Securities Act and the Exchange Act.

Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

Our memorandum and articles of association contain certain provisions that could limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company, including a provision that grants authority to our Board of Directors to establish from time to time one or more series of preferred shares without action by our shareholders and to determine, with respect to any series of preferred shares, the terms and rights of that series. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of the opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over the prevailing market price by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transactions.

We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to U.S. domestic public companies.

Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;
the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;
the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and
the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

We will be required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a semi-annual basis as press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq Stock Market. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.

As discussed above, we are a foreign private issuer, and therefore, we are not required to comply with all of the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. The determination of foreign private issuer status is made annually on the last business day of an issuer’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, and, accordingly, the next determination will be made with respect to us on June 30, 2024. We would lose our foreign private issuer status if, for example, as of the applicable determination date, more than 50% of our ordinary shares are directly or indirectly held by residents of the United States and we fail to meet additional requirements necessary to maintain our foreign private issuer status. If we lose our foreign private issuer status on June 30, 2024, we will be required to file with the SEC periodic reports and registration statements on U.S. domestic issuer forms beginning on January 1, 2025, which are more detailed and extensive than the forms available to a foreign private issuer. We will also have to mandatorily comply with U.S. federal proxy requirements, and our officers, directors and principal shareholders will become subject to the short-swing profit disclosure and recovery provisions of the Exchange Act. In addition, we will lose our ability to rely upon exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements under the Nasdaq Stock Market listing rules. As a U.S. listed public company that is not a foreign private issuer, we would incur significant additional legal, accounting and other expenses that we would not otherwise incur as a foreign private issuer.

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As an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards. These practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards.

As a Cayman Islands exempted company listed on the Nasdaq, we are subject to the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards. However, the Nasdaq permits a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards. For instance, we are not required to:

have a majority of the board be independent (although all of the members of the audit committee must be independent under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act);
have a compensation committee or a nominations or corporate governance committee consisting entirely of independent directors;
have regularly scheduled executive sessions with only independent directors each year; or
have annual general meetings (although we will hold annual general meetings should there be any matter which requires shareholders’ approval pursuant to our memorandum and articles of association and home country practices).

To the extent we choose to follow home country practice with respect to corporate governance requirements such as the foregoing matters, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

As a “controlled company”, we are exempt from certain Nasdaq corporate governance requirements, which may result in our independent directors not having as much influence as they would if we were not a controlled company.

We are a “controlled company” as defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules, because one of our shareholders holds more than 50% of our voting power. As a result, for so long as we remain a controlled company as defined under that rule, we are exempt from, and our shareholders generally are not provided with the benefits of, some of the Nasdaq Stock Market corporate governance requirements, including that:

a majority of our Board of Directors must be independent directors;
our compensation committee must be composed entirely of independent directors; and
our corporate governance and nomination committee must be composed entirely of independent directors.

We intend to take advantage of corporate governance exemptions available to controlled companies. As a result, you may not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to these corporate governance requirements.

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in the ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

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Our Board of Directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends, subject to certain requirements of Cayman Islands law. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our directors. Under Cayman Islands law, a Cayman Islands company may pay a dividend out of either profit or share premium account, provided that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in the company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if our Board of Directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in the ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of the ADSs. There is no guarantee that the ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in the ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in the ADSs.

We expect to be classified as a passive foreign investment company, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. investors of our ADSs or ordinary shares.

Based on current estimates of our gross income and the value of our gross assets (including goodwill) and the manner in which we conduct our business, while we do not believe we were a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes for the taxable year ended December 31, 2023, we expect that we may be a PFIC for the current taxable year.

A non-U.S. corporation is a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes for any taxable year in which (after taking into account the income and assets of subsidiaries in which it owns at least a 25% interest by value), (i) at least 75% of its gross income is “passive” income, such as interest and income from financial investments (the “income test”) or (ii) at least 50% of the average value of its assets (generally determined on a quarterly basis) consists of assets that produce or are held to produce passive income (the “asset test”). For purposes of the asset test, any cash and cash equivalents (such as bank deposits) will count as passive assets, and goodwill should be treated as an active asset to the extent associated with activities that produce or intended to produce active income. In determining the average percentage value of our gross assets, the aggregate value of our assets will generally be deemed to be equal to our market capitalization (determined by the sum of the aggregate value of our outstanding equity) plus our liabilities. For instance, we could be a PFIC for any taxable year if our market capitalization were to decrease significantly while we hold substantial cash and cash equivalents, or if the gross income that we and our subsidiaries earn from investing the portion of cash raised in our initial public offering is substantial in comparison with the gross income from our business operation.

If we are treated as a PFIC for any taxable year, then U.S. investors could be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences (regardless of whether we continue to be a PFIC), including increased tax liability on disposition gains and certain “excess distributions” and additional reporting requirements.

Because we believe we may be a PFIC for the current taxable year, we expect to provide information necessary for our shareholders to make a qualified electing fund election (“QEF Election”) with respect to us for the current taxable year on our website (https://belitebio.com/). A U.S. holder that makes a QEF Election with respect to our shares is required to include a pro rata share of our income on a current basis, whether or not we make distributions. We will endeavor to provide to you, for each taxable year that we are or may be a PFIC, a PFIC Annual Information Statement containing information necessary for you to make a QEF Election with respect to us. Alternatively, a U.S. holder may be able to make a mark-to-market election, assuming that our shares constitute “marketable” securities under the Code, which generally avoids the adverse consequences of PFIC status discussed above, but would require a U.S. holder to annually report as ordinary income any increase in value of our shares during the year (as well as generally allowing deductions for any decrease in the value of our shares).

Further, if we are determined to be a PFIC, U.S. holders will generally be treated as owning a proportionate amount (by value) of shares owned by us in any of our direct or indirect subsidiaries that are also PFICs, each a lower-tier PFIC, and will be subject to similar adverse rules with respect to distributions from, or dispositions of, such lower-tier PFICs, in each case as if such U.S. holder held such shares directly (even if such U.S. holder does not receive the proceeds of such distributions or dispositions directly). We will endeavor to cause any lower-tier PFIC to provide to a U.S. Holder the information that may be required to make or maintain a QEF Election with respect to the lower-tier PFIC. However, there can be no assurance we will have timely knowledge of the status of any such lower-tier PFIC.

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U.S. investors should consult their tax advisors regarding our PFIC status for any taxable year and the potential application of the PFIC rules to an investment in our ADSs or ordinary shares, including the availability and the advisability of making a QEF Election or a mark to market election with respect to us, and the application of the PFIC rules to any of our subsidiaries. See “Item 10. Additional Information—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations — Passive Foreign Investment Company” for further information.

We are an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act and may take advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from requirements applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including, most significantly, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 for so long as we remain an emerging growth company. As a result, if we elect not to comply with such auditor attestation requirements, our investors may not have access to certain information they may deem important.

The JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company does not need to comply with any new or revised financial accounting standards until such date that a private company is otherwise required to comply with such new or revised accounting standards. Pursuant to the JOBS Act, we have elected to take advantage of the benefits of this extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. As a result, our operating results and financial statements may not be comparable to the operating results and financial statements of other companies who have adopted the new or revised accounting standards.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (a) the last day of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of at least US$1.235 billion; (b) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the completion of our initial public offering; (c) the date on which we have, during the preceding three-year period, issued more than US$1.0 billion in non-convertible debt; and (d) the last day of the fiscal year in which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of the ADSs that are held by non-affiliates exceeds US$700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter. Once we cease to be an emerging growth company, we will not be entitled to the exemptions provided in the JOBS Act discussed above.

We cannot predict if investors will find our ADSs less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our ADSs and the price of our ADSs may be more volatile.

We incur increased costs as a public company, and will incur further increased costs after we cease to qualify as an “emerging growth company.”

As a public company in the United States, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we would not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and the Nasdaq Stock Market, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. As a company with less than US$1.235 billion in revenues for our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the JOBS Act. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include exemption from the auditor attestation requirement under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the assessment of the emerging growth company’s internal control over financial reporting and permission to delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies.

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We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. After we are no longer an “emerging growth company,” we expect to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the other rules and regulations of the SEC. For example, as a public company, we have increased the number of independent directors and adopted additional policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. We also expect that operating as a public company will make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. In addition, we have incurred additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. It may also be more difficult for us to find qualified persons to serve on our Board of Directors or as executive officers. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these rules and regulations, and we cannot predict or estimate with any degree of certainty the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs.

ITEM 4.INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

A.History and Development of the Company

Belite Bio, Inc was incorporated in the Cayman Islands on March 27, 2018 as an exempted company with limited liability. Our legal name is Belite Bio, Inc and our commercial name is Belite Bio. We are engaged in research and development of novel therapeutics targeting significant unmet needs. The address of our registered office in Cayman Islands is located at the Office of Maples Corporate Services Limited, PO Box 309, Ugland House, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands. Our principal executive offices are located at 12750 High Bluff Drive Suite 475, San Diego, CA 92130. Our telephone number at that address is +1-858-246-6240. Puglisi & Associates, or Puglisi, serves as our agent for service of process in the United States. Puglisi’s address is 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711.

In June 2016, Lin BioScience, Inc., a public company in Taiwan (stock code: 6696.TW), which is our ultimate controlling shareholder (i.e., the sole shareholder of our principal shareholder, Lin Bioscience International Ltd.), established Belite Bio Holdings Corp. (formerly known as Lin BioScience Holdings Corporation) and Belite Bio, LLC (formerly known as Lin BioScience, LLC), in Delaware. Belite Bio Holdings Corp. is an intermediate holding company and owns 100% equity interests in Belite Bio, LLC, which is mainly engaged in research and development of Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008) and LBS-009.

In March 2018, as a part of a reorganization, Lin BioScience, Inc. established the Company (formerly known as Lin BioScience Co., Ltd.) in the Cayman Islands, as a subsidiary to its wholly-owned subsidiary Lin Bioscience International Ltd.

In June 2018, as a part of the reorganization, Lin Bioscience International Ltd., acquired the entire equity interest in Belite Bio Holdings Corp. from Lin BioScience, Inc. and then contributed the entire equity interest in Belite Bio Holdings Corp. to us in July 2018. After this contribution, Belite Bio Holdings Corp. became our wholly-owned subsidiary, which in turn owns 100% equity interests in Belite Bio, LLC.

Before and after the reorganization, we were, together with our subsidiaries, effectively controlled by the same shareholders, and therefore the reorganization is considered a recapitalization of entities under common control in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 805-50-25. The consolidation of us and our subsidiaries have been accounted for at historical cost in the accompanying consolidated financial statements in accordance with ASC 805-50-45-5.

In August 2018, Belite Bio Holdings Corp. established RBP4 Pty Ltd in Australia as its wholly-owned subsidiary for carrying out clinical trials in Australia and tax refund purposes.

In June 2021, we established Belite Bio (HK) Limited in Hong Kong as a wholly-owned subsidiary which established Belite Bio (Shanghai) Limited in Shanghai, China in August 2021 with the purpose of conducting clinical trials of our product candidates in China.

In April 2022, we listed our ADSs on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “BLTE”.

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Upon the closing of IPO offering in April 2022, the Company issued to Benchmark Company, LLC (“Benchmark”) the representative of the underwriters warrants to purchase a number of ADSs equal to 150,000 ADSs (the “Representative’s Warrants”). The Representative’s Warrants have an exercise price equal to US$7.50 per ADS and are exercisable until the date on April 28, 2027, after the date of commencement on November 3, 2022. The Representative’s Warrants are also exercisable on a cashless basis.

In June 2023, we completed a follow-on offering of (i) 2,000,000 ADSs, each representing one ordinary share of our Company, par value $0.0001 per share, for an aggregate proceeds of US$30 million and (ii) warrants to purchase 2,000,000 ordinary shares of our Company, with an exercise period of five year at an exercise price of US$18.00 per share. As of the date of this Annual Report, warrants to purchase 894,022 ADSs remain outstanding and exercisable as of the date of this Annual Report.

On June 16, 2023, we entered into a Sales Agreement with SVB Securities LLC and Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. (collectively, the “Sales Agents”) in connection with the offer and sale from time to time through an “at-the-market offering” (ATM) program, with SVB Securities LLC and Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. as sales agents, ordinary shares of our Company represented by ADSs of an aggregate offering price up to US$100 million. The Sales Agreement provided for the Company to pay SVB Securities LLC and Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. a commission of 3.0% of the aggregate gross proceeds from each sale of ADSs occurring pursuant to the Sales Agreement. The offer and sale of ADSs in the ATM offering were made pursuant to the Company’s shelf registration statement on Form F-3 that was declared effective by the SEC on May 30, 2023, the base prospectus contained therein dated May 30, 2023, and a prospectus supplement related to the ATM offering dated June 16, 2023. We sold 731,843 ADSs through the ATM program and received net proceeds from such sales of US$27.4 million as of December 31, 2023.

The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. You can also find information on our website address belitebio.com. Our website and the information contained on, or accessible through, our website does not constitute a part of this Annual Report. We have included our website address in this Annual Report solely as an inactive textual reference.

B.Business Overview

Overview

We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical drug development company focused on advancing novel therapeutics targeting retinal degenerative eye diseases which have significant unmet medical needs such as (i) atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD), commonly known as Geographic Atrophy (GA) in advanced dry AMD, and (ii) autosomal recessive Stargardt disease type 1, or STGD1, both of which cause progressive loss of vision leading to permanent blindness. Our drug development pipeline also includes a small molecule, orally administered compound which is intended for the treatment of metabolic diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, type 2 diabetes, or T2D, and gout.

Tinlarebant (LBS-008)

Our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008), is an orally administered, once-a-day tablet intended as an early intervention for maintaining the health and integrity of retinal tissues in STGD1 and GA patients. Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for STGD1 and no approved orally administered treatments for GA. Therefore, if approved, Tinlarebant would be a novel oral therapeutic addressing an unmet medical need in both STGD1 and GA.

In both STGD1 and GA, the accumulation of bisretinoid toxins has been implicated in progression of retinal disease. Bisretinoids are derived from circulating retinol. As a result, it is hypothesized that reduction of retinol delivery to the eye may reduce bisretinoid accumulation and slow disease progression in STGD1 and GA patients.

The sole carrier protein for delivery of retinol to the eye is serum retinol binding protein 4, or RBP4. Developed from our RBP4 intellectual property portfolio, or RBP4 IP Portfolio, Tinlarebant was designed to be a potent and reversible RBP4 antagonist. As an RBP4 antagonist, Tinlarebant reduces the amount of retinol entering the visual cycle thereby reducing the formation of bisretinoid toxins which will ultimately preserve the health of the retina. We hold a worldwide exclusive license of the RBP4 IP Portfolio from Columbia University, which contains disclosure directed to over 400 structurally distinct RBP4 antagonists under patent protection in major pharmaceutical markets worldwide, including the United States, the European Union, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea and India.

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Tinlarebant was designed to target RBP4 as a means to sustain reduced retinol delivery to the eye and reduce the accumulation of bisretinoids in ocular tissue. Our available data suggest that this therapeutic approach could potentially slow disease progression and vision loss in patients affected with STGD1, which shares strong pathophysiologic similarities with GA. In clinical trials, Tinlarebant has demonstrated a target specificity and potency that we believe could be clinically meaningful for STGD1 and GA patients.

To support the clinical development of Tinlarebant, as of mid-2020, we had completed one Phase 1 single ascending dose, or SAD, study in 40 healthy adult subjects in the U.S., one Phase 1 SAD study in 39 healthy adult subjects and one Phase 1 multiple ascending dose, or MAD, study in 32 healthy adult subjects in Australia. These studies involved 111 healthy adult subjects in total and evaluated the safety, toxicity, pharmacokinetics, or PK, and pharmacodynamics, or PD, of Tinlarebant.

To support the clinical development of Tinlarebant in STGD1, following completion of the foregoing studies, an open-label, dose-finding Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in adolescent STGD1 subjects was initiated in Australia and Taiwan. The study design includes two portions: the Phase 1b portion was a 1-month dose finding study which enrolled 11 adolescent STGD1 subjects; and the Phase 2 portion is a 2-year extension of the Phase 1b portion in which the 11 STGD1 subjects participating in Phase 1b rolled over into the Phase 2 portion. Two additional adolescent STGD1 subjects were enrolled, giving a total of 13 adolescent STGD1 subjects, in the Phase 2 study. The PD data from the Phase 1b portion has shown that during the repeat dosing, Tinlarebant can achieve a sustained mean RBP4 reduction of over 70%, relative to baseline values. For the Phase 2 portion of this study, we have obtained 24-month treatment data which we believe show sustained lower definitely decreased autofluorescence, or DDAF, lesion growth. See “—Phase 1b/2 Clinical Trial in STGD1” below for more information.

Based on data from the Phase 1b/2 study, we have initiated a Phase 3 clinical trial named “DRAGON” in adolescent STGD1 patients. This study, which is a multi-center, randomized, double masked, placebo controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in the treatment of adolescent STGD1 patients, has commenced in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia and has completed enrollment of 104 subjects. See “—Phase 3 Clinical Trial in STGD1” below for more information. We may also consider to initiate additional clinical studies in adolescent STGD1 patients with an aim to facilitate our future NDA applications in Japan or other jurisdictions where local regulatory authorities require subjects under specific demographic/category be covered, or as our management team considers necessary and appropriate.

To support the clinical development of Tinlarebant in GA, in addition to the foregoing Phase 1studies completed as of mid-2020, we have also recently completed a Phase 1b dose-finding study in aged healthy adults to determine the appropriate dose for subjects with similar age and body mass index as GA patients. This study was an open-label, parallel, single-dose, clinical trial designed to evaluate the PK and PD of Tinlarebant in healthy subjects aged between 50 to 85. We identified a dose that we believe produces the desired PD effect against RBP4.

We confirmed the clinical trial design of our Phase 3 study in GA patients with the FDA in November 2022. This study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in patients with GA associated with dry AMD. Following the IND amendment submitted to FDA in January 2023, we have randomized the first subject in this Phase 3 study, named “PHOENIX”, in July 2023. PHOENIX was a multicenter, randomized, double‑masked, placebo-controlled study. See “—Phase 3 Clinical Trial in Geographic Atrophy” below for more information.

STGD1 is a rare monogenetic juvenile-onset macular dystrophy that is characterized by the aberrant and excessive accumulation of toxic vitamin A byproducts or by-products known as bisretinoids and cellular debris, or lipofuscin, which precedes the death of retinal tissue and loss of vision. Although an orphan disease, STGD1 is the most common juvenile macular degeneration. Dry AMD is a heterogenous condition that arises from a complex interplay between age, genetics and environmental factors, such as diet and smoking, but has a pathology and course of disease that strongly resembles that of STGD1, particularly in intermediate and advanced stages. Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for STGD1 and no FDA approved orally administered treatments for GA. Therefore, if approved, Tinlarebant would be a novel oral therapeutic addressing an unmet medical need in both STGD1 and GA.

In May 2022, Tinlarebant received Fast Track designation for the treatment of STGD1 in the United States.

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In September 2017, Tinlarebant received orphan drug designation for the treatment of STGD1 in the United States, which entitles it to market exclusivity such that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, may not approve any other applications for the same product for the same indication for 7 years, except in very limited circumstances. See “—Regulations — U.S. Regulation — NDA Submission and Review — Orphan Drug Designation and Exclusivity” for more information. Tinlarebant has also received orphan designation for the treatment of STGD1 in Europe, which entitles it to a 10-year period of market exclusivity, which may be reduced in certain circumstances. During this market exclusivity period, neither the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, nor the European Commission or member states can accept an application for, or grant a marketing authorization for, a “similar medicinal product.” See “—Regulations — European Regulation —  Orphan Designation and Exclusivity” for more information. Additionally, Tinlarebant received orphan drug designation for the treatment of STGD1 in Japan in February 2024. This entitles it for up to a 10-year re-examination period, which works similarly as to a market exclusivity period for an existing drug. See “—Regulations — Japan Regulation —  Orphan Drug Designation” for more information.

In addition, Tinlarebant has received rare pediatric disease designation in the United States and may be eligible for a priority review voucher. A priority review voucher may be awarded to a sponsor if it develops a drug for a rare pediatric disease and the drug is approved. The priority review voucher allows the sponsor of a subsequent NDA or Biologic License Application for any product candidate to expedite the FDA’s review goal from 10 months to 6 months. The priority review voucher may be sold to other companies that seek to expedite drug reviews. See “—Regulations — U.S. Regulation — NDA Submission and Review — Rare Pediatric Disease Designation and Priority Review Vouchers” for more information. In the last three years, priority review vouchers have sold in a medium price of approximately US$103 million. In the event that we or a sublicensee chooses to sell a priority review voucher, we or such sublicensee would be obligated to pay Columbia University a percentage of revenue in the low double-digits that we or such sublicensee receives from any such sale pursuant to the Columbia License Agreement. In the event that we or a sublicensee does not sell a priority review voucher within one year of receipt, the earned royalties that we would be obligated to pay to Columbia University based on net sales of licensed products would increase by 1%. See “ —  Intellectual Property — Patents — Patent License Agreement with The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York” for more information.

Tinlarebant was selected by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN) in 2011 as a promising drug candidate for treating dry AMD. The BPN was launched in 2004 to foster small-molecule neurotherapeutic development, bringing together a unique blend of grant dollars, industry-standard scientific expertise, and contract resources under a milestone-driven cooperative agreement program. The BPN criteria for selection of clinical drug candidates are based on multiple features of an applicant’s drug development program including the following: 1) strong biological rationale, 2) novel target for the disease, 3) strong data linking target to disease, 4) demonstration of preclinical pharmacodynamic effect and efficacy, 5) feasible path to clinic, and 6) IP free of roadblocks. Tinlarebant was funded by BPN from early discovery through Phase 1 SAD clinical trial in the United States.

The mechanism of action utilized by Tinlarebant has been recognized and recommended as a priority for clinical development in both STGD1 and dry AMD in a systematic review published by the U.K. National Institute for Health Research, or the NIHR, in 2018. The NIHR is funded by the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care and focuses on early translational research, clinical research and applied health and social care research for the purpose of enabling and delivering world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth. The NIHR screened 7,948 articles in 2018 for its systematic review on treatments for dry AMD and STGD1. Its principal findings included that research focus should be at earlier stages in both diseases (before vision is impaired) and that the most promising treatments for both diseases appear to be prevention of lipofuscin and bisretinoid accumulation. Therefore, the NIHR recommended the mechanism of RBP4 inhibition, which is utilized by Tinlarebant, as a promising treatment in dry AMD and STGD1.

Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for STGD1 and no FDA approved orally administered treatments for GA. The competitive landscape of treatments in STGD1 and GA includes several companies going through clinical development for their product candidates. Based on information available on clinicaltrials.gov, as of the Latest Practicable Date, we understand that the Tinlarebant Phase 3 STGD1 clinical study is the only ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial for STGD1. In GA, there are three other U.S.-based companies advancing treatments, with one company currently in Phase 3 development, and two companies which have completed Phase 3 development and received drug approval from the FDA for intravitreally injected therapeutic agents.

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Clinical Trials in Healthy Adult Subjects

To support the clinical development of Tinlarebant, we have completed one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, Phase 1 SAD study in 40 healthy adult subjects in the United States, one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, Phase 1 SAD study in 39 healthy adult subjects and one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, Phase 1 MAD study in 32 healthy adult subjects in Australia. These studies were conducted to confirm the safety, toxicity, PK and PD of Tinlarebant on a range of single ascending dose (10-50 mg in the US; 25-400 mg in Australia) / multiple ascending dose (5-25 mg in Australia) levels in heathy adult subjects in fasted / fed conditions.

In the US SAD study, we found that single doses of 10–50 mg Tinlarebant were well tolerated and reduced mean serum RBP4 level by around 70% from baseline. The degree of lowering of RBP4 plasma concentrations increased with increasing Tinlarebant dose. This study also compared doses of Tinlarebant taken with and without food, which did not show a food effect with dosing.

In the Australian SAD study, we found that single doses of 25-400 mg Tinlarebant were well tolerated and reduced mean RBP4 level by > 70% from baseline. One subject in the 100 mg cohort experienced a drug-related adverse event of mild transient xanthopsia. That event was resolved within 48 hours. A direct correlation between the Tinlarebant plasma concentration and RBP4 suppression was observed.

In the Australian MAD study, we found that all dose levels were well tolerated and have identified an optimal daily dose to reduce serum RBP4 by >70% from baseline. Most drug-related adverse events reported were mild in severity, and the most frequently reported drug-related adverse event was asymptomatic Delayed Dark Adaptation, or DDA, which did not show dose proportionality and reflects a reduction in vitamin A levels in the eye, which is the intended effect of Tinlarebant. No deaths, serious or severe adverse events were reported. The Safety Review Committee, or SRC, approved dose escalations after reviewing the safety data profile at each dose level.

Additionally, to further support the clinical development of Tinlarebant in GA, we have also completed an open-label, parallel, single-dose, Phase 1b dose-finding study to evaluate the PK and PD of Tinlarebant in 16 healthy adult subjects aged between 50 and 85 in Australia. Through this study, we determined the optimal dose for subjects with similar age and body mass index as GA patients.

Stargardt Disease

In STGD1, we are developing Tinlarebant as an orally administered, once-a-day tablet treatment to target RBP4 by disrupting vitamin A (retinol) binding to RBP4 which leads to reduced delivery of retinol to the eye and reduced accumulation of toxic vitamin A by-products.

STGD1 is an inherited juvenile form of macular degeneration and currently, there is no approved treatment available. The disease is caused by a mutation in the ABCA4 gene, which leads to the accelerated formation and accumulation of toxic vitamin A by-products known as bisretinoids. The most prominent bisretinoid identified in human tissues is known as A2E (N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine). The accumulation of A2E in ocular tissues causes progressive retinal cell death and permanent loss of vision. More than 500 mutations in the ABCA4 gene have been identified in STGD1 patients. Some STGD1 patients suffer severe visual impairment by the age of 20. The prevalence rate of STGD1 is estimated to be 1 in 10,000 people. Based on this estimate, approximately 30,000 US citizens are affected by STGD1. This estimate includes both adults and children. Although comprehensive epidemiological data on the prevalence of STGD1 in other countries is not available, the epidemiological literature from other countries, such as Europe and Asian countries, cite the 1 in 10,000 estimate for the prevalence of STGD1.

Phase 1b/2 Clinical Trial in STGD1

We have completed the Phase 1b portion of a Phase 1b/2 open-label, dose-finding study in 11 adolescent STGD1 subjects which has extended into a two-year, Phase 2 study with 13 adolescent STGD1 subjects in Taiwan and Australia.

The Phase 1b portion was a dose-finding study designed to determine the optimal dose of Tinlarebant and to evaluate safety, tolerability, PK and PD in adolescent STGD1 subjects for a treatment period of 2 cycles of 14-day daily dosing of Tinlarebant (28 days of daily treatment) and a 14-day follow-up period. A daily dose which is effective to produce a mean RBP4 reduction of over 70%, relative to baseline values, was identified.

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For the Phase 2 portion of this study, we have obtained 24-month treatment data for a total of 12 subjects as of the Latest Practicable Date. The final 24-month data continues to demonstrate Tinlarebant’s safety profile and show a sustained lower DDAF lesion growth compared to ProgStar participants over the two-year treatment period. Retinal imaging showed that 5 of 12 subjects remained free of atrophic retinal lesions (referred to as definitely decreased autofluorescence or DDAF) after 24 months of Tinlarebant treatment. Visual acuity was stabilized in majority of subjects during the study with a mean loss of five letters following 24 months of treatment (a loss of <10 letters is not considered clinically significant). It is notable that a comparison of the 24-month DDAF lesion growth between Tinlarebant-treated subjects and ProgStar participants possessing similar baseline characteristics (aged ≤18 years) showed a sustained lower DDAF lesion growth in Tinlarebant-treated subjects over the 24-month treatment period (p<0.001).

Graphic

Graphic

Note:

* Only 50 patients from ProgStar Cohort (aged ≤18 ) were included in the analysis due to one subject having ungradable screening FAF data

1. Strauss RW, Ho A, Muñoz B, et al. ProgStar Report No. 1. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(4):817-28.

2. Strauss RW, Muñoz B, Ho A, et al. ProgStar Report No. 9. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017; 135(11):1232-1241.

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Phase 3 Clinical Trial in STGD1

Based on data from the Phase 1b/2 study, we have initiated a Phase 3 clinical trial named “DRAGON” in adolescent STGD1 patients. This study, which is a multi-center, randomized, double masked, placebo controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in the treatment of adolescent STGD1 patients, has commenced in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia. This study consists of a screening period, a treatment period of 2 years, and a follow-up period. During our Type C meeting with FDA on March 27, 2023, we have confirmed with FDA that at least 90 subjects aged between 12 to 20 will be targeted for enrollment in this study with a 2:1 randomization (active:placebo). The primary end point in the DRAGON trial will be based upon the slowing of DDAF lesion growth rate from baseline to month 24, compared to placebo. Safety and tolerability will also be assessed during the clinical study period. An interim analysis of efficacy and safety is expected to be conducted at the mid-point of the study. As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have completed enrollment and enrolled 104 subjects for this trial. See “Item 3 — Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations” for a further discussion of the risks we face in successfully developing and commercializing our product candidate.

We intend to focus on adolescent patients in our ongoing clinical trials due to several benefits afforded by utilizing this patient population — namely, establishing proof-of-concept in the context of a more severe and rapidly progressing disease (i.e., STGD1 disease progression is faster in adolescent patients compared to adults or later-onset patients), and the ability to readily expand into the larger adult STGD1 population upon approval (i.e., drug approvals for pediatrics and/or adolescents are accepted for adults but drug approvals for adults are not accepted for pediatrics and/or adolescent populations due to safety concerns).

Geographic Atrophy

Because pathophysiology in STGD1 and GA are quite similar, we expect the treatment effect of Tinlarebant in GA patients to be comparable to that observed in STGD1 patients.

AMD is an age-related form of macular degeneration. The most commonly used classification system for AMD is the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS, classification system, which designates the following categories:

Category 1 is designated as “No AMD” although there may be a few small (<63µm in diameter) yellowish subretinal deposits (i.e., drusen beneath the retina).
Category 2 is designated as “Early AMD” and is characterized by multiple small drusen (<20µm in diameter), a few intermediate drusen (63-124µm in diameter), and abnormalities of the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE, a monolayer of epithelial cells that lies beneath the retina and provides trophic and metabolic support to photoreceptor cells of the retina.
Category 3 is designated as “Intermediate AMD” where there is extensive intermediate drusen, large drusen (>125µm in diameter), and/or non-center involving GA (i.e., localized atrophy of the retina), and increased lipofuscin in the RPE.
Category 4 is designated as “Advanced AMD” and is characterized by GA or neovascular maculopathy (i.e., ‘wet’ AMD).

“Wet” AMD represents approximately 10% of all AMD cases. Other stages of AMD, including GA, which are collectively referred to as dry AMD, represent approximately 90% of all AMD cases. Currently, there are no FDA approved orally administered treatments for GA and no FDA approved therapies for the other stages of dry AMD other than GA. Importantly, dry AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Thus, there is a significant unmet medical need in treating dry AMD patients. There are an estimated 20 million AMD patients in the United States and over 196 million patients worldwide with an estimated global direct healthcare cost of US$255 billion.

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Disease progression in early dry AMD is very slow. The American Optometric Association reports that most people move through the process from diagnosis to legal blindness in about 10 years. Therefore, investigational therapies have been directed at the treatment of intermediate and advanced stages of dry AMD, which progress more rapidly than earlier stages. Unlike STGD1, dry AMD is believed to have a very heterogenous etiology, and various therapeutic approaches have been explored to slow disease progression in dry AMD. An important feature of intermediate AMD is the aberrant and excessive accumulation of lipofuscin and bisretinoid toxins, similar to STGD1. In these stages of dry AMD, retinal lesions (i.e., GA) are bordered on all sides by an annulus of autofluorescence which expands in a centrifugal manner followed by lesion expansion into the autofluorescent area. In vivo analyses of the autofluorescent area in intermediate AMD eyes revealed an excitation maxima and fluorescence emission that is consistent with the spectral properties of bisretinoid toxins. Thus, the clinical presentation and biochemical features of intermediate and advanced dry AMD suggest that a therapy directed at reducing the level of bisretinoid toxins may be effective to slow disease progression.

Phase 3 Clinical Trial in Geographic Atrophy

We confirmed the clinical trial design of our Phase 3 study in GA patients with the FDA in November 2022. Following the IND amendment submitted to FDA in January 2023, we have initiated this Phase 3 study named “PHOENIX” as of the Latest Practicable Date. PHOENIX is a multicenter, randomized, double‑masked, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in GA subjects.

The PHOENIX trial consists of a screening period, a treatment period of 2 years, and a follow-up period. Approximately 430 subjects are targeted for enrollment with a 2:1 randomization (active:placebo). The primary end point in the PHOENIX trial will be based upon the slowing of atrophic lesion growth rate from baseline to month 24, compared to placebo. Safety and tolerability will also be assessed during the clinical study period. An interim analysis of efficacy and safety is expected to be conducted at the mid-point of the study. The first subject of this study was enrolled in July 2023. As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have enrolled 56 subjects for this trial. See “Item 3 — Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations” for a further discussion of the risks we face in successfully developing and commercializing our product candidate.

Phase 1b Clinical Trials in Healthy Adult Subjects (Single Ascending Dose Study in Australia)

In November 2022, we received approval to commence an open-label, parallel, single-dose, Phase 1b dose-finding study in healthy adult subjects in Australia. As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have completed this Phase 1b study designed to evaluate the PK and PD of Tinlarebant in 16 healthy adult subjects aged between 50 and 85. Through this study, the optimal dose for subjects with similar age and body mass index as GA patients has been determined.

LBS-009

LBS-009 is an anti-RBP4 oral therapy targeting liver disease, including NAFLD, NASH, and T2D.

NAFLD occurs when an excess accumulation of fat damages the liver. Based on the data published by the Population Division of United Nations, we believe it is estimated that approximately 1.8 billion adult patients suffer from NAFLD worldwide. Over time, the liver damage and the associated inflammation can lead to the development of NASH, which impacts an estimate of more than 9 million adult patients in the United States alone. As the disease progresses, it can lead to cirrhosis and eventually, complete liver failure. NAFLD and NASH are a growing unmet need for which no FDA-approved treatments are currently available.

T2D is a chronic disease that occurs when the body cannot effectively use insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. The health impact of T2D is profound, potentially causing damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and nerves. According to International Diabetes Federation, T2D is on the rise, with approximately 536 million adult patients globally in 2021.

LBS-009 is a small molecule designed to compete with retinol for RBP4 binding. When bound to LBS-009, RBP4 can no longer form a large molecular weight complex with transthyretin, or TTR.

Consequently, the RBP4/LBS-009 complex will be removed from circulation by renal filtration. We believe that modulating RBP4 concentrations systemically with LBS-009 has a significant therapeutic potential for treating patients suffering from metabolically associated diseases, including NAFLD, NASH and T2D.

LBS-009 is currently in preclinical development.

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Our Management and Clinical Advisory Board

Our management team and ophthalmology clinical advisory board have deep experience and capabilities in multiple therapeutic areas and novel drug development. Our ophthalmology clinical advisory board includes key opinion leaders in the macular degeneration space, including Quan Nguyen, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford University, Hendrik P.N. Scholl, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Basel and Co-Director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Michel Michaelides, M.D., Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Professor of Ophthalmology, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Robyn Guymer, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne and Deputy Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia and Frank Holz, M.D., Chairman of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn. Together, our management team and ophthalmology clinical advisory board, in connection with our exclusive technology platform, will allow our drugs to be tailored to target at-risk patients across the United States and worldwide, who lack access to necessary treatment in the macular degeneration space.

Our Program

Our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008), is an RBP4 antagonist. We are developing Tinlarebant as an oral daily treatment for STGD1 and GA.

The following table summarizes key information about our clinical program for Tinlarebant:

Indication

   

Clinical Trials

   

Trial Participants

    

Estimated Timeline

STGD1

Phase 1 single and multiple ascending dose trial

Healthy adult subjects

Completed

Phase 1b trial

Adolescent patients with STGD1

Completed

Phase 2 trial

Adolescent patients with STGD1

Obtained 24-month data

Phase 3 trial

Adolescent patients with STGD1

Ongoing

GA

Phase 1 single and multiple ascending dose trial

Healthy adult subjects

Completed

Phase 1b trial

Healthy adult subjects

Completed

Phase 3 trial

Patients with GA associated with dry AMD

Ongoing

Research and Development and Technology

The retina is a thin sheet of nerve tissue which lies along the back inside wall of the eye. Within the retina are two types of light-sensitive cells called photoreceptors. The light-sensing chemical molecule which rods and cones depend upon for proper functioning is delivered by an underlying tissue called the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE. The RPE maintains the health and viability of photoreceptors by providing other nutrients from the blood and by ingesting the spent distal tips of rods and cones in a process called phagocytosis. The phagocytosis process is particularly important as it facilitates removal of toxic metabolites of vitamin A and other cellular material which has become heavily oxidized due to chronic light exposure. Under normal physiologic conditions, these metabolites are removed from the photoreceptors and transferred to the RPE for detoxification and recycling. It is theorized that, within a subset group of individuals predisposed to develop AMD, the removal and/or recycling process may be compromised. In this condition, the vitamin A metabolites linger within photoreceptors and spontaneously react with other cellular material resulting in chemically stable, toxic entities. These toxins then enter the RPE through the normal physiologic process of phagocytosis and inevitably poison the RPE. The toxins which accumulate within the RPE are derived primarily from vitamin A. Therefore, reducing the level of vitamin A circulating within the eye would be expected to reduce the toxic burden placed upon the RPE. An animal model which demonstrates excess accumulation of lipofuscin and vitamin A based toxin, known as A2E was utilized to determine whether the modulation of vitamin A entering RPE would be an effective therapeutic approach.

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Mechanism of Action

Both STGD1 and dry AMD are characterized by the early aberrant accumulation of lipofuscin and cytotoxic bisretinoids. The most abundant autofluorescent bisretinoid that has been identified in human lipofuscin is known as A2E (N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine), a spontaneously formed complex comprised of two molecules of retinal and one molecule of ethanolamine. Investigations of the potential toxicity of A2E in cell-based assays and animal models have shown that this compound is highly toxic and can kill RPE cells in a concentration-dependent manner through myriad mechanisms. Because A2E and related bisretinoids are derived from vitamin A (i.e., they are by-products of normal visual cycle function), therapeutic approaches have focused on reducing levels of vitamin A (retinol) in the eye. One approach that has been effective to reduce A2E and lipofuscin in a mouse model of STGD1 (i.e., Abca4−/− / Rdh8−/− mice) is based on reducing delivery of dietary retinol to the eye. In that mouse model, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008) significantly reduced the accumulation of bisretinoid toxins that are known to cause STGD1 and have been implicated in progression of dry AMD. Importantly, treatment of Abca4−/− / Rdh8−/− mice with Tinlarebant also prevented photoreceptor loss, which is believed to be caused by excessive levels of bisretinoid toxins.

Tinlarebant is a potent, orally administered small molecule RBP4 antagonist that has been specifically designed to reduce the delivery of retinol to the eye as a therapeutic approach towards reducing the accumulation of cytotoxic bisretinoids, preserving the integrity of retinal tissues, and ultimately slowing or preventing loss of vision. The delivery of retinol to the RPE requires RBP4 and the RPE expresses a specific RBP4 receptor (STRA6) to regulate vitamin A uptake. Other extrahepatic tissues do not require delivery of retinol bound to RBP4 and do not express the RBP4 receptor. These tissues are able to take up vitamin A bound to non-specific carriers such as lipoproteins, triglycerides, and albumin.

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Pathophysiologic Similarities in STGD1 and Intermediate to Advanced Dry AMD

Early in vivo measurements of lipofuscin in STGD1 patients revealed an intrinsic autofluorescence which is localized to the RPE. A comprehensive biochemical analysis of post-mortem retinal tissue from STGD1 patients has shown a high concentration of bisretinoid compounds (vitamin A-based dimers) which would likely confer autofluorescence to lipofuscin due to the light absorbing and light emitting properties of these compounds. Thus, the intrinsic autofluorescent properties of lipofuscin in STGD1 can be attributed to the high concentrations of fluorescent vitamin A byproducts within lipofuscin particles. Importantly, this unique feature allows clinicians to diagnose and monitor the extent of retinal disease in STGD1 patients using fundus autofluorescence, or FAF, photography. In a recent prospective cohort study of childhood- onset STGD1 (n = 71 subjects; mean age of onset 9.6 ± 3.4 years), FAF photography was found to be a robust structural outcome measure. In that same study, a high rate of progression was observed in childhood-onset disease, making this subtype of STGD1 ideally suited to be considered for prioritization in clinical trials.

Graphic

An additional indication under consideration for Tinlarebant is GA in dry AMD. This additional indication was selected based upon the strong pathophysiologic similarities between STGD1 and GA, which includes the aberrant and excessive accumulation of vitamin A-based toxins and cellular debris within ocular tissue.

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The figure below shows a series of FAF images from a patient with late-onset STGD1 (top panels) and a patient with GA (lower panels). The images were taken at Baseline and at 4 subsequent time points out to 57 months and 55 months, for STGD1 and GA, respectively. In each of the images for the STGD1 patient and the GA patient, the central lesion is surrounded on all sides by autofluorescence which is consistent with the excitation/emission properties of A2E and related bisretinoids. In each patient, the pattern of disease progression from Baseline shows that as the autofluorescence grows in intensity and area, the lesioned tissue follows. Additionally, in the GA patient, the ‘evolution’ of areas of autofluorescence into lesioned tissue can be clearly seen. It is also important to note that in each disease the loss of visual acuity does not track with the expansion of lesioned tissue. This is due to a phenomenon of foveal sparing in both diseases which preserves the small area of tissue in the center of the retina that is responsible for conferring high visual acuity. In addition, as lesions encroach into the fovea, STGD1 and GA patients tend to utilize ‘eccentric fixation’ in which areas just peripheral to the fovea (non-lesioned retina) are used for reading and high visual acuity.

Graphic

Proof of Concept from Fenretinide

Our confidence that reduction of serum RBP4 will be a viable treatment approach in STGD1 and GA comes from prospective clinical analyses of the natural history of disease progression in these diseases, and the findings from a 2-year Phase 2 proof-of-concept study that was conducted in dry AMD patients with GA. Fenretinide was selected for the study because of a prominent side effect that had been observed in subjects treated with fenretinide in various clinical oncology studies, a dose-dependent reduction in serum RBP4-retinol, due to its structural and chemical similarity to retinol.

Fenretinide (N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide; also known as 4-HPR) is an analog of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) first synthesized in the late 1960s as an antineoplastic drug. The Phase 2 GA fenretinide study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 246 subjects randomized into one of three treatment arms: placebo, 100 mg, or 300 mg. In this study, subjects in the 300 mg group who achieved RBP4 levels of ≤ 1 µM, which is equivalent to approximately 70% reduction of RBP4, showed a mean reduction of 0.33 mm2 in the yearly lesion growth rate compared with subjects in the placebo group (1.70 mm2/year vs. 2.03 mm2/year, respectively). However, due to its poor bioavailability and significantly lower affinity towards RBP4 as compared to Tinlarebant, and therefore weaker potency, only a small subset of GA subjects achieved the criterion. Based on this data, we believe a sustained >70% reduction of RBP4 from baseline would provide the greatest potential for a treatment benefit and, therefore, represents the ‘therapeutic threshold’ to achieve in future clinical studies directed at reducing the accumulation of A2E and related bisretinoids as a means of preserving retinal tissue and functional vision.

Safety of Long-Term RBP4 Inhibition

In March 1987, a Phase 3 trial was initiated to assess the efficacy of a 5-year treatment regimen with fenretinide in reducing contralateral or second ipsilateral breast cancer in patients aged 30-70 years with early breast cancer, who had received no systemic treatment after primary treatment. A total of 2,867 assessable subjects completed the intervention period by July 1998.

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Women were randomly assigned to receive no treatment (1,435 subjects) or 5-year fenretinide treatment (1,432 subjects). Fenretinide was administered in a gelatin capsule (200 mg) and was taken daily at dinner with a two-day drug holiday on weekends. Compared to baseline, plasma retinol levels decreased by a mean of approximately 71% (range: 61% – 88%) during fenretinide administration (P<0.0001). Mean plasma retinol concentrations during fenretinide treatment were ≤1 µM. Following the 5-year treatment regimen, a 28-day treatment cessation period was effective to restore retinol to baseline values.

In terms of disease recurrence in the breast, the trial showed a possible beneficial effect of the compound in premenopausal women, and an opposite trend in postmenopausal women. End points considered for safety assessment were the occurrence of delayed dark adaptation, or DDA, dermatologic disorders, gastrointestinal symptoms, disorders of the ocular surface, and abnormal laboratory values.

A comprehensive analysis of the safety data showed that the most common adverse events were DDA (cumulative incidence, 19.0%) and dermatologic disorders (18.6%). Less common events were gastrointestinal symptoms (13.0%) and disorders of the ocular surface (10.9%). In comparison, incidence figures in the control arm were 2.9% for DDA, 2.9% for dermatologic disorders, 5.4% for gastrointestinal symptoms, and 3.2% for disorders of the ocular surface. Symptoms occurring during fenretinide treatment tended to recover with time. No between-group difference was observed for the occurrence of laboratory data abnormalities. Overall, only 63 (4.4%) treatment discontinuations were caused by adverse events.

The investigators of the study noted that given the large number of subjects involved in the study and the prolonged (i.e., over 5 years) intake of the drug, the experience on fenretinide tolerability can be considered reasonably reassuring. The observed clinical symptoms were often of minor importance, tended to recover spontaneously, and required permanent treatment discontinuation in a minority of cases.

Stargardt Disease

Background

Autosomal recessive STGD1 is a rare monogenetic juvenile-onset macular dystrophy that is characterized by the aberrant and excessive accumulation of toxic vitamin A by-products and cellular debris which precedes the death of retinal tissue and loss of vision. STGD1 is the most common inherited retinal dystrophy, affecting roughly 1 in 10,000 people. This prevalence rate computes to approximately 30,000 STGD1 patients in the United States. The disease is typically diagnosed at a young age, often starting during childhood or adolescence, and is characterized by lesions within retinal tissue which cause severe and irreversible loss of visual acuity gradually leading to legally defined blindness at a very young age. Older age at onset (>20 years of age) is associated with slower disease progression. There are no FDA-approved treatments for STGD1.

Individuals affected with STGD1 harbor mutations in a retina-specific ATP-binding cassette, or ABC, transporter gene, known as ABCA4. The ABCA4 gene encodes an ATP-dependent transporter, known as ABCA4, or Rim Protein. This protein resides at the rim of rod and cone photoreceptor disc membranes where it removes light-activated or ‘bleached’ visual chromophore (all-trans retinal) from the retina permitting detoxification by a retinal dehydrogenase (RDH8) which, in turn, allows recycling within the underlying RPE. The primary function of the RPE is to provide metabolic and trophic support to sustain health and integrity of the retina. The intimate association of the RPE with outer segments of rod and cone photoreceptors facilitates this function.

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The RPE converts dietary vitamin A delivered from the blood circulation, and recycled retinol liberated from the retina following exposure to light, into visual chromophore (11-cis retinal). The visual chromophore is then transferred to the retina to maintain light sensitivity and function of the retina. The enzymatic conversion of dietary vitamin A to a light-sensitive visual chromophore is a unique process which only occurs within RPE cells and the ABCA4 protein plays a key role in this process — see figure below.

Graphic

The processing of vitamin A (aka, retinol, or all-trans retinol) in the visual cycle begins with the delivery of circulating retinol to the RPE. The ternary complex of RBP4-retinol-TTR is presented to RBP4 receptors which are located on the basal surface of RPE. The RBP4-TTR vehicle serves to solubilize retinol and produce a large molecular size complex which resists elimination in the kidney. Upon entry into the RPE, retinol undergoes a series of enzymatic reactions resulting in generation of the visual chromophore, 11-cis retinal. The visual chromophore is delivered to the retina where it combines with opsin to form the light-sensitive visual pigment, rhodopsin. Photoactivation of rhodopsin liberates all-trans retinal which is transported out of the retina by the ABCA4 protein.

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In the absence of a functional ABCA4 protein, retinal accumulates within photoreceptor outer segments where it generates membrane-damaging reactive oxygen species, and also spontaneously reacts with cellular lipids and other retinaldehyde molecules. These retinal-retinal species, known as bisretinoids, and oxidized membranes are taken into the RPE through normal diurnal phagocytic processing where they gradually accumulate. It is theorized that these compounds reach a critical mass within RPE phagolysosomes and cause dysfunction of the metabolic activities of the RPE leading to early accelerated accumulation of lipofuscin which severely compromises the ability of the RPE to nourish the retina.

Symptoms of STGD1

Graphic

Source: https://makariwellness.com/stargardt-disease/

Preclinical Proof of Concept

Abca4−/− / Rdh8−/− STGD1 mouse model

In the Abca4−/− / Rdh8−/− double knockout STGD1 mouse model, daily dosing at approximately 25 mg/kg of Tinlarebant was given for 12 weeks. A mean RBP4 reduction of approximately 90% in Tinlarebant treated double knockout mice was achieved and led to an approximately 80% reduction of A2E, that are known to cause STGD1 and have been implicated in progression of dry AMD, compared to the untreated double knockout mice.

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Importantly, Outer Nuclear Layer, or ONL, thickness was significantly decreased in untreated ABCA4-/-/RDH8-/- mice, compared to the double knockout mice treated with Tinlarebant. Macular degeneration in dry AMD and STGD1 is associated with thinning of the ONL which indicates loss of photoreceptor cells, which is believed to be caused by excessive levels of bisretinoid toxins.

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Clinical Development

As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have completed enrollment for our Phase 3 clinical trial in adolescent STGD1 subjects from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia. We have obtained 24-month data of our Phase 2 clinical trial of Tinlarebant in adolescent STGD1 subjects. Previously, we completed a Phase 1b clinical trial of Tinlarebant in adolescent STGD1 subjects in late 2021 and two Phase 1 clinical trials of Tinlarebant in healthy adult subjects in mid 2020.

Phase 3 Clinical Trial in STGD1

Based on data from the Phase 1b/2 study, we have initiated a Phase 3 clinical trial named “DRAGON” in adolescent STGD1 patients. This study, which is a multi-center, randomized, double masked, placebo controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in the treatment of adolescent STGD1 patients, has commenced in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia. This study consists of a screening period, a treatment period of 2 years, and a follow-up period. During our Type C meeting with FDA on March 27, 2023, we have confirmed with FDA that at least 90 subjects aged between 12 to 20 will be targeted for enrollment in this study with a 2:1 randomization (active:placebo). The primary end point in the DRAGON trial will be based upon the slowing of DDAF lesion growth rate from baseline to month 24, compared to placebo. Safety and tolerability will also be assessed during the clinical study period. An interim analysis of efficacy and safety is expected to be conducted at the mid-point of the study. As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have enrolled 104 subjects for this trial. See “Item 3 — Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations” for a further discussion of the risks we face in successfully developing and commercializing our product candidate.

Phase 1b/2 Clinical Trial in STGD1

We initiated an open-label, dose-finding Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in adolescent STGD1 patients in mid-2020 in Australia and Taiwan. The study design includes two portions: Phase 1b and Phase 2. We have completed the Phase 1b portion of this study in 11 adolescent STGD1 subjects which has extended into a two-year, Phase 2 study with 13 adolescent STGD1 subjects in Australia and Taiwan. The expected enrollment of this study was 10 subjects. As of the Latest Practicable Date, data is available for the 11 subjects who have completed the Phase 1b portion and for the 12 subjects who have completed the 24-month of treatment.

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The Phase 1b portion is a dose-finding study designed to determine the optimal dose of Tinlarebant and to evaluate safety, tolerability, PK and PD in adolescent STGD1 patients for a treatment period of 2 cycles of 14-day daily dosing of Tinlarebant (28 days of daily treatment) and a 14-day follow-up period. The Phase 2 portion consists of a 2-year treatment period with a follow-up period of one month. In the Phase 2 portion of the study, in addition to monitoring the safety and tolerability, we aimed to monitor PK and PD biomarkers (RBP4 and retinol) and the effects of treatment using various retinal imaging modalities (including DDAF, QDAF, SD-OCT, and microperimetry), change in BCVA, and the relationship between the change in RBP4 levels and rate of lesion growth. Furthermore, a Safety Review Committee, or SRC, and an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, were formed to monitor the Phase 1b portion of this study to evaluate all the safety, toxicity, and dose response data and provide recommendations for the appropriate dose to be used for Phase 2. The DSMB monitored the safety and efficacy trends throughout the Phase 2 study.

Efficacy Results

The PD profile from adolescent STGD1 subjects during the Phase 1b portion showed a mean RBP4 reduction of ~80%, relative to baseline values. This PD effect was maintained throughout the 28-day daily dosing period. Mean RBP4 levels returned toward baseline values following 14 days of drug cessation. In this study, the concentration of tinlarebant in plasma and reduction of RBP4 showed a correlation. Pharmacodynamic profiles obtained from heathy adults and in adolescent STGD1 subjects under an identical dosing regimen showed similar dose-dependent reductions of RBP4 and a return of RBP4 toward baseline following drug cessation.

Mean Reduction of Plasma RBP4 in Adolescent STGD1 Subjects (Phase 1b)

Graphic

Note: These data represent a mean profile obtained from 6 subjects in Australian site. Data from the remaining 5 subjects in Taiwan could not be collected due to COVID-19 restrictions at the clinical site in Taiwan.

Upon completion of the Phase 1b portion, an optimal daily dose was identified and which was able to achieve a mean RBP4 reduction of > 70%, relative to baseline values.

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For the Phase 2 portion of this study, we have obtained 24-month treatment data for a total of 12 subjects as of the Latest Practicable Date. The final 24-month data continues to demonstrate Tinlarebant’s safety profile and show a sustained lower DDAF lesion growth compared to ProgStar participants over the two-year treatment period. Retinal imaging showed that 5 of 12 subjects remained free of atrophic retinal lesions (referred to as definitely decreased autofluorescence or DDAF) after 24 months of Tinlarebant treatment. Visual acuity was stabilized in majority of subjects during the study with a mean loss of five letters following 24 months of treatment (a loss of <10 letters is not considered clinically significant). It is notable that a comparison of the 24-month DDAF lesion growth between Tinlarebant-treated subjects and ProgStar participants possessing similar baseline characteristics (aged ≤18 years) showed a sustained lower DDAF lesion growth in Tinlarebant-treated subjects over the 24-month treatment period (p<0.001).

Graphic

Graphic

Note:

* Only 50 patients from ProgStar Cohort (aged ≤18 ) were included in the analysis due to one subject having ungradable screening FAF data

1. Strauss RW, Ho A, Muñoz B, et al. ProgStar Report No. 1. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(4):817-28.

2. Strauss RW, Muñoz B, Ho A, et al. ProgStar Report No. 9. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017; 135(11):1232-1241.

Phase 1b Safety Results

The preliminary safety results of the Phase 1b study shows that the only drug-related adverse events reported were DDA (i.e., a delay in the time required to adjust to a dimly lit environment), and xanthopsia/chromatopsia (i.e., a transient color tint in the field of vision), both reported by 7 of the 11 subjects (or 63.6%), and night vision impairment, reported by 1 of 11 patient (or 9.1%), and were all graded as mild. All of these adverse events were resolved with the cessation of treatment at the end of the Phase 1b study.

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Reports of transient DDA, night vision impairment, and xanthopsia/chromatopsia were anticipated and are consistent with the mechanism of Tinlarebant action. It is notable that the majority of DDA cases required confirmation by laboratory measure (dark adaptometry) as many subjects were asymptomatic. No deaths nor serious or severe adverse events were reported. In addition, there were no clinically significant findings related to vital signs, physical exams, or ECGs.

Frequency

Adverse Events

    

Severity

    

(#Subjects)

Xanthopsia/Chromatopsia

Mild

7/11

Delayed Dark Adaptation (DDA)

 

Mild

 

7/11

Night Vision Impairment

 

Mild

 

1/11

Phase 2 Safety Results

Frequency

Adverse Events

    

Severity

    

(#Subjects)

Xanthopsia/Chromatopsia

Mild

10/13

Delayed Dark Adaptation (DDA)

 

Mild

 

9/13

Night Vision Impairment

 

Mild

 

1/13

Increasing error score on FM100

Mild

1/13

Intermittent headaches

 

Mild

 

2/13

The 24 - month safety results of the Phase 2 study shows that the only definitely and probably drug-related adverse events reported were DDA, reported by 9 of 13 subjects (or 69.2%), xanthopsia/chromatopsia, reported by 10 of 13 subjects (or 76.9%), night vision impairment, reported by 1 of 13 subjects (or 7.7%), increasing error score on FM100 test (a test of color vision and color perception), reported by 1 of 13 subjects (or 7.7%), and intermittent headaches, reported by 2 out of 13subjects (or 15.4%), and were all graded as mild. No deaths nor serious or severe adverse events were reported. In addition, there were no clinically significant findings related to vital signs, physical exams, or ECGs.

Geographic Atrophy

Background

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common eye disorder among people over 50. It causes blurred or reduced central vision, due to thinning of the macula. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for clear vision in your direct line of sight.

Symptoms of Dry AMD

Graphic

Source: https://www.ncbi.ie/supporting-you/everyday-living/eye-conditions/age-related-macular- degeneration-amd/

Based on the classification system established in the AREDS, AMD has four stages, all of which may occur in one or both eyes:

Category 1 is designated as “No AMD” although there may be a few small (<63µm in diameter) yellowish subretinal deposits (i.e., drusen beneath the retina).
Category 2 is designated as “Early AMD” and is characterized by multiple small drusen (<20µm in diameter), a few intermediate drusen (63-124µm in diameter), and abnormalities of the retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE, a monolayer of epithelial cells that lies beneath the retina and provides trophic and metabolic support to photoreceptor cells of the retina.

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Category 3 is designated as “Intermediate AMD” where there is extensive intermediate drusen, large drusen (>125µm in diameter), and/or non-center involving GA (i.e., localized atrophy of the retina), and increased lipofuscin in the RPE.
Category 4 is designated as “Advanced AMD” and is characterized by GA or neovascular maculopathy (i.e., ‘wet’ AMD).

“Wet” AMD represents approximately 10% of all AMD cases. Other stages of AMD, including GA, which are collectively referred to as dry AMD, represent approximately 90% of all AMD cases. Currently, there are no FDA approved orally administered treatments for GA and no FDA approved therapies for the other stages of dry AMD other than GA.

Clinical Development

In January 2023, we have completed a Phase 1b dose-finding study in healthy adult subjects in Australia, which was an open-label, parallel, single-dose clinical trial designed to evaluate the PK and PD of Tinlarebant in 15 healthy adult subjects aged between 50 to 85.

Phase 3 Clinical Trial in Geographic Atrophy

We confirmed the clinical trial design of our Phase 3 study in GA patients with the FDA in November 2022. Following the IND amendment submitted to FDA in January 2023, we have initiated this Phase 3 study named “PHOENIX” as of the Latest Practicable Date. PHOENIX is a multicenter, randomized, double‑masked, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Tinlarebant in GA subjects.

The PHOENIX trial consists of a screening period, a treatment period of 2 years, and a follow-up period. Approximately 430 subjects are targeted for enrollment in this study with a 2:1 randomization (active:placebo). The primary end point in the PHOENIX trial will be based upon the slowing of atrophic lesion growth rate from baseline to month 24, compared to placebo. Safety and tolerability will also be assessed during the clinical study period. An interim analysis of efficacy and safety is expected to be conducted at the mid-point of the study. The first subject of this study was enrolled in July 2023. See “Item 3 — Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Industry, Business and Operations” for a further discussion of the risks we face in successfully developing and commercializing our product candidate.

Clinical Trials in Healthy Adult Subjects

Phase 1 Clinical Trials in Healthy Adult Subjects (Single and Multiple Ascending Dose Studies in Australia)

We have completed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending dose Phase 1 trials of Tinlarebant in 71 healthy adult subjects in July 2020 in Australia. 39 (including 10 placebo) and 32 (including 8 placebo) healthy adult subjects were enrolled in single ascending dose and multiple ascending dose, respectively. Sample sizes were selected based on clinical and practical considerations.

Our primary outcome was to evaluate the safety and toxicity (drug-related adverse events and their severity/frequency), PK, and PD biomarkers (RBP4 and retinol) on a range of single ascending dose levels (from 25-400 mg) and multiple ascending dose levels (from 5-25 mg) of Tinlarebant in heathy adult subjects in fasted conditions.

Furthermore, a SRC was formed to monitor and evaluate the safety data for the Phase 1 SAD and MAD studies.

Efficacy Results

In the SAD study, we found that single doses of 25 – 400 mg Tinlarebant were well tolerated and reduced mean RBP4 level by > 70% from baseline. A direct correlation between the Tinlarebant plasma concentration and RBP4 suppression was observed.

Similar results were observed in the MAD portion of the study. All dose levels were well tolerated and a daily dose which produced a mean RBP4 reduction of ~80%, relative to baseline values, was identified.

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Mean Reduction of Plasma RBP4 in Healthy Adult Subjects (Phase 1 MAD, excludes placebo)

Graphic

Safety Results

All single ascending dose levels were well tolerated, including single ascending dose levels up to 400mg. One subject in the 100 mg cohort experienced a drug-related adverse event of mild transient xanthopsia. That event was resolved within 48 hours.

Drug-related adverse events in the SAD portion of the study

Adverse Events

    

Severity

    

Frequency (#Subjects)

Xanthopsia – yellow being more prominent in their color vision

Mild

1/29

All multiple ascending dose levels were also well tolerated. Most drug-related adverse events reported were mild in severity, and the most frequently reported drug-related adverse event was asymptomatic DDA, which did not show dose proportionality and reflects a reduction in vitamin A levels in the eye, which is the intended effect of Tinlarebant. No deaths, serious or severe adverse events were reported. The SRC approved dose escalations after reviewing the safety data profile at each dose level.

Drug-related adverse events in the MAD portion of the study

Adverse Events

     

Severity

    

Frequency (#Subjects)

Delayed Dark Adaptation (DDA)

Mild

16/24

Xanthopsia – yellow being more prominent in their colour vision

Mild

1/24

Photophobia – sensitivity to light

Mild

1/24

Ocular migraine

Mild

1/24

Intermittent dyspepsia (indigestion)

Mild

1/24

Migraine

Moderate

1/24

Phase 1 Clinical Trial in Healthy Adult Subjects (Single Ascending Dose Study in the United States)

We completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single ascending dose Phase 1 trial of Tinlarebant in 40 (including 10 placebo) healthy adult subjects in May 2020 in the United States. Our primary outcome was to evaluate the safety and toxicity (drug-related adverse events and their severity/frequency), PK, and PD biomarkers (RBP4 and retinol) on a range of single ascending dose levels, ranging from 10-50 mg, of Tinlarebant in heathy adult subjects in fasted and fed conditions.

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Efficacy Results

We found that single doses of 10–50 mg Tinlarebant were well tolerated and reduced mean serum RBP4 level by around 70% from baseline. Following administration of a single oral dose of Tinlarebant, RBP4 level reached a minimum within 24-48 hours post-dose. Thereafter, RBP4 levels increased, returning to baseline levels generally by Day 12 post-dose compared with placebo subjects. The degree of lowering of RBP4 plasma concentrations increased with increasing Tinlarebant dose. This study also compared doses of Tinlarebant taken with and without food, which did not show a food effect with dosing.

Safety Results

All dose levels in this single ascending study were well tolerated. There were no reported drug-related adverse events in this Phase 1 study.

Phase 1b Clinical Trials in Healthy Adult Subjects (Single Ascending Dose Study in Australia)

In November 2022, we received approval to commence an open-label, parallel, single-dose, Phase 1b dose-finding study in healthy adult subjects in Australia. As of the Latest Practicable Date, we have completed this Phase 1b study designed to evaluate the PK and PD of Tinlarebant in 16 healthy adult subjects aged between 50 and 85. Through this study, the optimal dose for subjects with similar age and body mass index as GA patients has been determined.

LBS-009 for NAFLD / NASH and T2D

LBS-009 is an anti-RBP4 oral therapy targeting liver disease, including NAFLD, NASH and T2D.

Currently, many compounds under investigation are focused on pathways associated with metabolism, inflammation, and fibrosis but they have demonstrated varied levels of efficacy often with conflicting results. NAFLD and NASH are a growing unmet need for which no FDA-approved treatments are currently available.

RBP4 is secreted by the liver and adipose tissue and has recently been identified as a pro-inflammatory cytokine in preclinical models of insulin resistance and liver disease. Therefore, RBP4 is currently being investigated as a clinical biomarker for human metabolic diseases. Clinical studies have found a significant association between elevated RBP4 levels in the circulation, impaired glucose tolerance, and NAFLD. Transgenic mice overexpressing RBP4 had a higher incidence of insulin resistance, a comorbid condition for NAFLD and NASH, and preclinical reports demonstrate that modulating RBP4 levels in the circulation will improve insulin resistance and reduce liver fat accumulation. LBS-009 is a small molecule designed to compete with retinol for binding to RBP4. When bound to LBS-009, RBP4 can no longer form a large molecular weight complex with transthyretin. Consequently, the RBP4/LBS-009 complex will be removed from circulation by renal filtration.

Preliminary PD studies with LBS-009 demonstrated the ability to reduce RBP4 levels in healthy rats by 85% following a single dose. Efficacy studies have been conducted in the ob/ob high-fat diet induced mouse model of metabolic disease. Treatment with LBS-009 significantly reduced RBP4 concentrations both in circulation and in adipose tissue, or fat tissue, resulting in improved insulin activity and glucose tolerance. Mice in these studies were dosed daily with LBS-009 for up to 16 weeks without any observed adverse effects. We believe that by therapeutically antagonizing RBP4 and reducing its concentration in the blood, we can mitigate local concentration of RBP4 in adipose tissue and reduce inflammation, thereby improving the metabolic phenotype. In preclinical studies, LBS-009 has shown the ability to ameliorate steatosis in transgenic mice, suggesting that antagonism of RBP4 with LBS-009 may serve as a potential pharmacotherapy for NASH.

Research and Development Governance

The research and development of drug products is a lengthy and expensive process. We have established research and development policies for all stages of our research and development activities, through our internal research project initiation processes and our preclinical and clinical development programs. Our research and development policies have enabled our senior management to continuously oversee and monitor our Company’s research and development activities for compliance with applicable laws, regulations, rules, guidelines and internal policies.

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Our in-house discovery, research and development team focuses on identifying small-molecule compounds in our core therapeutic areas of macular degeneration and age-related metabolic diseases. The initiation of our research and development process begins with the identification and establishment of a research project. Upon conclusion of this initial process, an internal project report is produced by the research project team, which includes topics such as project background, significance, development history and research status, mechanism of action, PK, PD, clinical application, safety, drug interaction and market analysis, among other things.

We have relied on and plan to continue to rely on third-party CROs to monitor and manage data for some of our ongoing preclinical studies and clinical trials. We follow the highest industry standards to select the CROs that are going to conduct the services in order to meet FDA and other regulatory requirements.

Manufacturing and Supply

We currently rely on high-quality contract manufacturers to help produce preclinical and clinical supplies of our product candidate. We have assembled a seasoned internal team with deep experience in the field of chemistry to drive and help monitor our CMO processes and any external scale-up manufacturing. Our internal team monitors the manufacturing activities of research and development study material at our contract manufacturers to ensure compliance with local and international cGMP and applicable regulations. The current manufacturing processes have been scaled up to support manufacturing of NDA submission batches.

Intellectual Property

Our commercial success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property and other proprietary protection for our product candidates, technologies, inventions, trade secrets and other know-how, as well as on our ability to defend and enforce our intellectual property or proprietary rights including any patent that we have or may issue from our owned, co-owned, or in-licensed patent applications, preserve the confidentiality of our trade secrets and operate without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the valid and enforceable intellectual property and proprietary rights of other parties. We protect our proprietary and intellectual property position by, among other methods, licensing or filing in the United States and foreign jurisdictions, patent applications related to our proprietary technology, inventions and improvements that are important to the development and implementation of our business. We also seek to protect our trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological innovation through contractual obligations with third parties.

Patents

We have developed our lead product candidate, Tinlarebant (a/k/a LBS-008), based on technology that we have exclusively licensed from the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, or Columbia University, pursuant to a license agreement with Columbia University that was assigned to us from Lin Bioscience International Ltd., our principal shareholder. The license agreement has been amended five times, most recently as of February 4, 2022. As of the Latest Practicable Date, the intellectual property in-licensed under our license agreement with Columbia University, including co-owned patents and patent applications, includes 14 active patent families, which encompasses 23 issued U.S. patents (inclusive of allowed applications) and 5 pending U.S. patent applications, including original filings, continuations and divisional applications. The families also include numerous foreign counterparts, with claims granted or pending in Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and elsewhere. These licensed patent rights relate to methods of use, manufacture and compositions of matter and include issued patents with claims that recite a class of compounds directed to covering our lead compound, Tinlarebant, and specifically recite Tinlarebant. In terms of our key family of composition of matter patents, these include compounds of Tinlarebant and LBS-009, and structurally similar derivatives, along with their methods of use in ophthalmic and metabolic indications. These issued patents covering Tinlarebant and LBS-009 are expected to expire between 2034 and 2035, absent any patent term extensions.

In addition to the intellectual property licensed from Columbia University, as of the Latest Practicable Date, we own and co-own six active patent families, which encompasses five issued U.S. patents (inclusive of allowed applications) and three pending U.S. patent applications, including provisional filings. These patent families also contain numerous foreign counterparts, with claims granted or pending in Europe, China, South Korea, Australia, Japan, India, Taiwan and elsewhere. These patent rights relate to methods of use, formulations, companion diagnostics, and methods for assessing visual function. Any patents issued from these patent applications are expected to expire between 2038 and 2043, absent any patent term adjustments or extensions.

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In-licensed Patents and Patent Applications

Patent
Family No.

   

Type of Patent

   

Issued Countries/ Regions
and/or Application Type

    

Pending
Countries/ Regions
and/or
Application Type

    

Expected Termination
Date
(mm/dd/yyyy)

    

Subject to
“March-in
Rights”
(Yes/ No)

1

Utility – Methods of Use

U.S.
Europe
Japan

N.A.

11/22/2031

Yes

2

Utility – Methods of Use

U.S.

N.A.

04/30/2033

Yes

3

Utility – Manufacture and Composition of Matter

U.S.

U.S. Divisional #1

U.S. Divisional #2 (allowed)

Europe

Europe Divisional

Hong Kong

U.S. Continuation

03/13/2034

Yes

4

Utility – Manufacture and Composition of Matter

U.S.
U.S. Continuation #1
U.S. Continuation #2
Europe

N.A.

03/13/2034

Yes

5

Utility – Manufacture and Composition of Matter

U.S.
U.S. Divisional

N.A.

03/13/2034

Yes

6

Utility – Manufacture and Composition of Matter

U.S.
U.S. Continuation

N.A.

03/13/2034

Yes

7

Utility – Manufacture and Composition of Matter

U.S.
U.S. Continuation #1
U.S. Continuation #2
U.S. Continuation #3
U.S. Continuation #4
U.S. Continuation #5
Europe

Australia

India

Mexico

Japan

Philippines

China

China Divisional Singapore

Indonesia

South Korea

Hong Kong

Canada

Brazil

New Zealand (allowed)

U.S. Continuation #6

Malaysia

Thailand

Europe Divisional

04/29/2035

Yes

8

Utility – Methods of Use

N.A.

U.S.
Europe
Hong Kong
China

08/01/2039

Yes

Co-owned Patents and Patent Applications

Patent
Family No.

   

Type of Patent

   

Issued Countries/ Regions
and/or Application Type

    

Pending
Countries/ Regions
and/or
Application Type

    

Expected Termination
Date
(mm/dd/yyyy)

    

Subject to
“March-in
Rights”
(Yes/ No)

9

Utility – Methods of Use

U.S.

U.S Divisional #1

U.S. Divisional #2 (allowed)

Europe

Taiwan

Hong Kong

06/14/2038

Yes

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Belite-owned Patents or Patent Applications

Patent
Family No.

    

Type of Patent

   

Issued Countries/ Regions
and/or Application Type

    

Pending
Countries/ Regions
and/or
Application Type

    

Expected
Termination
Date
(mm/dd/yyyy)

    

Subject to
“March-in
Rights”
(Yes/ No)

10

Utility – Methods of Use

U.S.

U.S.
Continuation
Europe
Taiwan
Hong Kong

06/14/2038

No

11

Utility – Formulations

U.S. Track One (allowed)

U.S.
Europe
Australia
Canada
China
India
Israel
Japan
South Korea
Singapore
Taiwan
Hong Kong

07/06/2040

No

12

Utility – Companion Diagnostics

N.A.

U.S.
Europe
Taiwan
China
Australia
Japan
Korea

05/20/2042

No

13

Utility – Formulation

N.A.

PCT
Taiwan

11/22/2042

No

14

Utility – Assessing Visual Function

N.A.

PCT

04/11/2043

No

The term of individual issued patents depends upon the legal term for patents in the countries in which they are obtained. In most countries in which we have filed, including the United States, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest filing date of a non-provisional patent application. The life of a patent, and the protection it affords, is therefore limited and once the patent life of our issued patents have expired, we may face competition, including from other competing technologies. The term of a patent that covers a drug or biological product may also be eligible for patent term extension when FDA approval is granted for a portion of the term effectively lost as a result of the FDA regulatory review period, subject to certain limitations and provided statutory and regulatory requirements are met. Any such patent term extension can be for no more than five years, only one patent per approved product can be extended, the extension cannot extend the total patent term beyond 14 years from approval, and only those claims covering the approved drug or biological product, a method for using it or a method for manufacturing it may be extended. We may not receive an extension if we fail to exercise due diligence during the testing phase or regulatory review process, fail to apply within applicable deadlines, fail to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise fail to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the length of the extension could be less than we request. In the future, we expect to apply for patent term extensions on certain issued patents covering our product candidates, depending upon the length of the clinical trials for each product candidate and other factors. There can be no assurance that we will benefit from any patent term extension or favorable adjustment to the term of any of our patents. As a result, our owned, co-owned and licensed patent portfolio may not provide us with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing products similar or identical to ours. For more information, see the section entitled “Item 3 — Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property”.

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Patent License Agreement with The Trustees of