ProQR Announces Second Quarter 2023 Operating and Financial Results

  • Divestment of sepofarsen and ultevursen ophthalmic programs supports ProQR’s strategic focus on Axiomer® RNA editing platform technology and continued advancement of pipeline
  • €129 M cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, 2023 providing runway into mid-2026

LEIDEN, Netherlands & CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ProQR Therapeutics NV. (Nasdaq: PRQR) (ProQR), a company dedicated to changing lives through transformative RNA therapies based on its proprietary Axiomer® RNA editing technology platform, today reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2023, and provided a business update.

“As we continue to advance our Axiomer RNA editing platform technology and pipeline with an initial focus on liver-originated diseases, we were very pleased to announce the divestment of our sepofarsen and ultevursen programs to Théa, where they will continue the development of those programs for patients with rare genetic eye disease,” said Daniel A. de Boer, Chief Executive Officer of ProQR. “Over the next several quarters, we anticipate presenting and publishing additional preclinical data including for our first two pipeline programs, AX-0810 for patients suffering from cholestatic diseases and AX-1412 for patients with cardiovascular risk. Along with our preclinical proof of concept data for the platform, a partnership with Eli Lilly, a leading IP position, and cash runway into mid-2026, ProQR is well positioned to execute on our strategy.”

Recent Progress

  • In August, ProQR announced it will divest its late-stage ophthalmic assets, sepofarsen and ultevursen, to Théa. Under the terms of the agreement, ProQR will receive an initial payment of €12.5M and will also be eligible for up to €135M in further development, regulatory and commercial payments, as well as additional earn outs up to high teen percentage based on commercial sales in the US and EU. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
  • In July, ProQR presented an overview of its Axiomer RNA editing platform at the RNA Editing Summit in Boston. The presentation described ongoing efforts led by ProQR to put in place effective strategies to increase RNA editing yields of ADARs using chemical modifications and oligonucleotide design. Additionally highlighted was the potential of the Axiomer platform in multiple organs, as well as its applicability for the treatment of liver-originated disorders, including data from preclinical models.

Anticipated Upcoming Events

  • Present various platform updates over the next several quarters, including liver NHP data, at scientific conferences, as well as research related to ongoing discovery efforts and pipeline programs.
  • Continue to execute on existing partnership with Eli Lilly.
  • ProQR may selectively form new partnerships, which could include multi-target discovery alliances, similar to the Company's partnership with Lilly, or product alliances on specific programs.
  • ProQR is on track to advance AX-0810 targeting NTCP and AX-1412 targeting B4GALT1 into clinical development in late 2024/early 2025.

Financial Highlights

On June 30, 2023, ProQR held cash and cash equivalents of €128.6 million, compared to €94.8 million on December 31, 2022. Net cash used in operating activities during the three-month period ended June 30, 2023 was €10.3 million, compared to €14.8 million for the same period last year.

Research and development costs were €5.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2023 compared to €11.4 million for the same period last year.

General and administrative costs were €4.1 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2023 compared to €5.4 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2022.

Net loss for the three-month period ended June 30, 2023 was €8.0 million, or €0.10 per diluted share, compared to €13.5 million, or €0.19 per diluted share, for the same period last year. For further financial information for the period ending June 30, 2023, please refer to the financial statements appearing at the end of this release.

About Axiomer®

ProQR is pioneering a next-generation RNA base editing technology called Axiomer®, which could potentially yield a new class of medicines for diverse types of diseases. Axiomer® “Editing Oligonucleotides”, or EONs, mediate single nucleotide changes to RNA in a highly specific and targeted way using molecular machinery that is present in human cells called ADAR (Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA). Axiomer® EONs are designed to recruit and direct endogenously expressed ADARs to change an Adenosine (A) to an Inosine (I) in the RNA – an Inosine is translated as a Guanosine (G) – correcting an RNA with a disease-causing mutation back to a normal (wild type) RNA, modulating protein expression, or altering a protein so that it will have a new function that helps prevent or treat disease.

About Biliary Atresia (BA) and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

Cholestatic disorders refer to a group of diseases presenting excessive and toxic buildup of bile acids in the liver due to bile ducts dysfunction. This leads to liver damage and a range of debilitating symptoms. Without treatment, liver damage can progress through various stages, ultimately leading to liver failure and elevated risk of liver malignancy, affecting life expectancy. Cholestatic diseases remain leading causes of liver transplantation. There are no approved therapies for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) for adults and biliary atresia (BA) for pediatrics It is estimated that 80,000 and 20,000 individuals have PSC and BA, respectively, in North America and in Europe.

About AX-0810 targeting NTCP

The majority of the bile acids present in the liver cells originate from the enterohepatic reuptake cycle. The key transporter responsible for hepatic uptake of bile acids from portal circulation is the sodium (Na+)-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP, SLC10A1 gene) expressed in the liver. AX-0810 is designed to introduce a loss of function variant in SLC10A1 RNA that has been found in human genetics to prevent re-uptake of bile acids in liver via NTCP. Based on its mechanism of action, AX-0810 has the potential to become a disease modifying treatment for PSC and BA primarily among other cholestatic diseases.

About Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of health conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis which can lead to severe problems like heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. CVDs represent the leading cause of disability and death in the world. Approximately 18 million people die every year from CVDs representing one third of all the global deaths. Despite available lipid lowering therapies and hypertension medications, the risk of CVDs is still projected to increase rapidly over the coming years.

About AX-1412 targeting B4GALT1

Gene–based analysis of rare beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase 1 (B4GALT1) missense variant (p.Asn352Ser) is known to lead to B4GALT1 protein loss of function and showed an association with decreased coronary artery disease. These beneficial effects are mediated by hypo-galactosylation of the apolipoprotein B100 and fibrinogen, known – independent – drivers of increased risk of CVDs. AX-1412 introduces a protective variant into B4GALT1 RNA to address the remaining residual risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. ProQR intends to advance AX-1412 targeting B4GALT1 to early clinical proof of concept stage, then would seek to partner this program.

About ProQR

ProQR Therapeutics is dedicated to changing lives through the creation of transformative RNA therapies. ProQR is pioneering a next-generation RNA technology called Axiomer®, which uses a cell’s own editing machinery called ADAR to make specific single nucleotide edits in RNA to reverse a mutation or modulate protein expression and could potentially yield a new class of medicines for both rare and prevalent diseases with unmet need. Based on our unique proprietary RNA repair platform technologies we are growing our pipeline with patients and loved ones in mind.

Learn more about ProQR at

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, which are often indicated by terms such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "goal," "intend," "look forward to", "may," "plan," "potential," "predict," "project," "should," "will," "would" and similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our business, preclinical model data, our initial pipeline targets, our Axiomer platform , the divestment and further development of sepofarsen and ultevursen and the potential payments and earnouts arising out of the divestment, the expected timing for the closing of the divestment, as well as the potential of our technologies and product candidates, the collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company (“Lilly”) and the intended benefits thereof, and our financial position and cash-runway. Forward-looking statements are based on management's beliefs and assumptions and on information available to management only as of the date of this press release. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements for many reasons, including, without limitation, the risks, uncertainties and other factors in our filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including certain sections of our annual report filed on Form 20-F. These risks and uncertainties include, among others, the clinical development activities to be performed by Théa and the condition of successful market access for sepofarsen and ultevursen, the cost, timing and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials and other development activities by us and our collaborative partners whose operations and activities may be slowed or halted shortage and pressure on supply and logistics on the global market; the likelihood of our preclinical and clinical programs being initiated and executed on timelines provided and reliance on our contract research organizations and predictability of timely enrollment of subjects and patients to advance our clinical trials and maintain their own operations; our reliance on contract manufacturers to supply materials for research and development and the risk of supply interruption from a contract manufacturer; the potential for future data to alter initial and preliminary results of early-stage clinical trials; the unpredictability of the duration and results of the regulatory review of applications or clearances that are necessary to initiate and continue to advance and progress our clinical programs; the ability to secure, maintain and realize the intended benefits of collaborations with partners, including the collaboration with Lilly; the possible impairment of, inability to obtain, and costs to obtain intellectual property rights; possible safety or efficacy concerns that could emerge as new data are generated in research and development; and general business, operational, financial and accounting risks, and risks related to litigation and disputes with third parties. Given these risks, uncertainties and other factors, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, and we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future, except as required by law.

ProQR Therapeutics N.V.

Investor contact:
Sarah Kiely
ProQR Therapeutics N.V.
T: +1 617 599 6228
Hans Vitzthum
LifeSci Advisors
T: +1 617 430 7578

Media contact:
Robert Stanislaro
FTI Consulting
T: +1 212 850 5657

Financial Tables

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Financial Position

    June 30,    December 31, 
    2023   2022
    €1,000   €1,000
Current assets          
Cash and cash equivalents   128,562   94,775
Prepayments and other receivables   2,187   59,078
Other taxes   400   607
Total current assets   131,149   154,460
Property, plant and equipment   16,220   16,240
Investments in financial assets   621   621
Total assets   147,990   171,321
Equity and liabilities          
Equity attributable to owners of the Company   51,790   67,064
Non-controlling interests   (290)   (384)
Total equity   51,500   66,680
Current liabilities          
Borrowings   2,920   2,500
Lease liabilities   1,334   1,387
Derivative financial instruments   372   1,263
Trade payables   119   392
Social securities and other taxes   1,064   1,118
Deferred income   13,137   5,641
Other current liabilities   4,030   8,687
Total current liabilities   22,976   20,988
Borrowings   3,575   4,271
Lease liabilities   13,700   13,813
Deferred income   56,239   65,569
Total liabilities   96,490   104,641
Total equity and liabilities   147,990   171,321

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Profit or Loss and OCI
(€ in thousands, except share and per share data)

    Three month period   Six month period
    ended June 30,    ended June 30, 
       2023   2022   2023   2022
    €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000
Revenue   1,205   930   1,860   2,060
Other income   38   99   80   200
Research and development costs   (5,909)   (11,449)   (11,969)   (24,816)
General and administrative costs   (4,145)   (5,412)   (8,171)   (10,320)
Total operating costs   (10,054)   (16,861)   (20,140)   (35,136)
Operating result   (8,811)   (15,832)   (18,200)   (32,876)
Finance income and expense   470   1,163   (74)   342
Results related to associates         (8)
Results related to financial liabilities measured at fair value through profit or loss   221   62   891   3,826
Results on derecognition of financial liabilities   101   1,144   509   1,144
Result before corporate income taxes   (8,019)   (13,463)   (16,874)   (27,572)
Income taxes   42   (20)   42   (27)
Result for the period   (7,977)   (13,483)   (16,832)   (27,599)
Other comprehensive income (foreign exchange differences on foreign operation)   7   689   (212)   911
Total comprehensive income   (7,970)   (12,794)   (17,044)   (26,688)
Result attributable to                    
Owners of the Company   (7,993)   (13,700)   (16,926)   (27,808)
Non-controlling interests   16   217   94   209
    (7,977)   (13,483)   (16,832)   (27,599)
Total comprehensive income attributable to                
Owners of the Company   (7,986)   (13,011)   (17,138)   (26,897)
Non-controlling interests   16   217   94   209
    (7,970)   (12,794)   (17,044)   (26,688)
Share information                    
Weighted average number of shares outstanding1   80,939,392   71,362,088   80,913,751   71,359,642
Earnings per share attributable to owners of the Company (Euro per share)                
Basic loss per share1   (0.10)   (0.19)   (0.21)   (0.39)
Diluted loss per share1   (0.10)   (0.19)   (0.21)   (0.39)

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity

    Attributable to owners of the Company        
of shares
   Equity settled
premium on
   Total    Non-
         €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000
Balance at January 1, 2022   74,865,381   2,995   398,309   28,443   1,426   430   (316,890)   114,713   (604)   114,109
Result for the period               (27,808)   (27,808)   209   (27,599)
Other comprehensive income             911     911     911
Recognition of share-based payments         1,921         1,921     1,921
Treasury shares transferred   (71,283)                  
Share options lapsed         (380)       380      
Share options exercised   71,283     33   (256)       256   33     33
Balance at June 30, 2022   74,865,381   2,995   398,342   29,728   1,426   1,341   (344,062)   89,770   (395)   89,375
Balance at January 1, 2023   84,246,967   3,370   412,540   29,052     1,212   (379,110)   67,064   (384)   66,680
Result for the period               (16,926)   (16,926)   94   (16,832)
Other comprehensive income             (212)     (212)     (212)
Recognition of share-based payments         1,860         1,860     1,860
Treasury shares transferred   (122,584)                  
Share options lapsed         (3,873)       3,873      
Share options exercised / RSUs vested   122,584     4.00   (231)       231   4     4
Balance at June 30, 2023   84,246,967   3,370   412,544   26,808     1,000   (391,932)   51,790   (290)   51,500

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows

    Three month period    Six month period 
    ended June 30,    ended June 30, 
       2023   2022   2023   2022
    €1,000   €1,000   €1,000   €1,000
Cash flows from operating activities                    
Net result   (7,977)   (13,483)   (16,832)   (27,599)
Adjustments for:                
— Depreciation   594   591   1,143   1,161
— Share-based compensation   765   738   1,860   1,921
— Financial income and expenses   (470)   (1,163)   74   (342)
— Results related to associates         8
— Results related to financial liabilities measured at fair value through profit or loss   (221)   (62)   (891)   (3,826)
— Results on derecognition of financial liabilities   (101)   (1,144)   (509)   (1,144)
— Income tax expenses     20     27
Changes in working capital   (3,622)   916   48,668   (3,035)
Cash (used in)/generated from operations   (11,032)   (13,587)   33,513   (32,829)
Corporate income tax paid     (20)     (27)
Interest received   685     865  
Interest paid     (1,237)     (2,455)
Net cash (used in)/generated from operating activities   (10,347)   (14,844)   34,378   (35,311)
Cash flow from investing activities                
Purchases of property, plant and equipment   (294)   (231)   (430)   (475)
Sales of property, plant and equipment       47  
Net cash used in investing activities   (294)   (231)   (383)   (475)
Cash flow from financing activities                    
Proceeds from exercise of share options   4     4   33
Repayment of lease liability   (647)   (357)   (906)   (933)
Net cash used in financing activities   (643)   (357)   (902)   (900)
Net (decrease)/increase in cash and cash equivalents   (11,284)   (15,432)   33,093   (36,686)
Currency effect cash and cash equivalents   860   4,222   694   5,564
Cash and cash equivalents, at beginning of the period   138,986   167,612   94,775   187,524
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period   128,562   156,402   128,562   156,402


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