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Silence Therapeutics unveils major partnership with AstraZeneca

Snapshot

  • AstraZeneca deal is worth up to US$1.4bn
  • Deals also with Mallinckrodt and Takeda
  • Heart drug to file for IND this year
science

Quick facts: Silence Therapeutics PLC

Price: 455 GBX

AIM:SLN
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £376.72 m
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What does Silence do?

The name provides a hint. It is a specialist in the field of gene silencing. Its technology uses RNA interference, a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression or translation, by neutralising targeted molecules.

 

How it's doing

In March, Silence signed a collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca to develop novel drugs for heart, kidney,liver and lung diseases.

The deal includes an upfront payment of US $60m, US$20m in equity investment and for each of the planned targets $400m in milestones alongside high single- to low double-digit royalties.

Additionally, Silence is accelerating its SLN360 heart disease drug to lead asset status and aims to file an IND later in 2020 with interim results in mid-2021.

Last year the company signed a collaborative deal with US firm Mallinckrodt PLC (NYSE:MNK) for SLN500, an RNA treatment for rare diseases.

Silence will be responsible for taking SLN500 through pre-clinical studies and a phase I trial.

After that, Mallinckrodt will take over clinical development and responsibility for global commercialisation.

At the time, Peel Hunt commented that including the provision of rights to Mallinckrodt for two further assets in the pipeline Silence could net another $703 miln in milestones for each asset.

What the boss says: Iain Ross, executive chairman

The Astra deal validates the company’s siRNA platform, he said.

:“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."

What the market says: Edison Research

"We have increased our valuation to £462m or 559p per basic share, from £345m or 440p per basic share.

"This is driven by the addition of the AstraZeneca deal metrics and its associated cash injections to our models (total £74m value uplift), an increase in the valuation of SLN360 to £167m from £112m and offset by the delay to SLN124 (£129m from £141m)."

Blue Sky 

Big pharma money is flowing into RNAi therapies with Roche agreeing in October to license Dicerna Pharmaceuticals hepatitis B therapy for $200mln upfront and $1.5bn in milestones while Johnson & Johnson has invested in a rival treatment for the same disease.

“These RNAi deals signal a marked appetite for Pharma to partner early on RNAi assets, with sizeable upfront milestones,” said Peel Hunt.

The broker added that Mallinckrodt's upfront payment of $20mln, plus research and development funding of $10mln could spill over into potential milestones of $666mln.

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