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AstraZeneca to leverage Silence Therapeutics' siRNA expertise in $480mn deal

Published on 25/03/20 at 10:16am

Silence Therapeutics has revealed it has struck a new collaboration with AstraZeneca which will trigger the “acceleration and re-prioritisation of its proprietary pipeline assets.”

As the first step on the partnership, Silence will receive an initial investment of $60 million in cash from AZ, while the latter will also subscribe to $20 million of the former’s shares. This is reported to be followed by up to $400 million in milestone payments and royalties.

With the investment, AstraZeneca hopes to leverage Silence’s small interfering RNA(siRNA) therapies to pursue innovation in  liver-based targets, as well as to find new delivery approaches in the cardiovascular, renal and metabolic spaces.  

With this new team-up, Silence said that it would be pushing forward the development of its candidate SLN360, an Lp(a)-targeting  siRNA, making it the company’s top R&D priority in a bid to tackle the “high and prevalent unmet need” in  cardiovascular disease. A New Drug Application with the FDA is planned for later this year, progressing to Phase 1 trials and the first set of interim data by mid-2021.

Additionally, patient recruitment for the company’s previous lead candidate, SLN124, a galnac-siRNA designed for the treatment of iron overload disorders, will be paused in light of the developing COVID-19 outbreak. This will resume “when appropriate”, the company said. Interim data for the candidate is now expected to drop in the first half of next year.   

“We are delighted to announce this collaboration with AstraZeneca as it is a further validation of our proprietary siRNA platform,” commented Iain Ross, Executive Chairman at Silence. “It not only provides us with an opportunity to collaborate on specific liver expressed gene targets but also to work with a leading company to achieve targeted delivery of siRNA molecules to other tissues including heart, kidney and lung.”

Upon revealing the partnership, Silence saw its share price shoot up by 30%.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of AZ’s BioPharmaceuticals R&D, aso remarked: “This collaboration with Silence adds an exciting new modality, siRNA, into our drug discovery toolbox. Importantly we can apply this drug modality across our key therapy areas in cardiovascular, renal and metabolism and respiratory to target novel pathways not amenable to more traditional drug discovery approaches.”

Matt Fellows

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