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Silence Therapeutics unveils Takeda deal and unveils plans to create US subsidiary

The US move and the Takeda agreement were contained in a larger update on the Silence’s progress, one in which chairman Iain Ross said the company was in “robust health” both financially and operationally

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Shares in drug developer Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) advanced 11% after it unveiled a deal with a Japanese pharma giant worth “single digit million dollars” in research funding.

Takeda will use the UK group’s platform to generate siRNA molecules targeting “undisclosed” illnesses. siRNA, which stands for small interfering ribonucleic acid, is a class of molecule that helps silence production of certain proteins, including but not limited to those associated with cancer.

Should the initial research foray prove successful, Silence and Takeda will negotiate a licence agreement.

At the same time, the company announced plans to create a US subsidiary, which chairman Iain Ross said will “increase the visibility and capture value for shareholders by more actively participating in the rapidly expanding field and the world's most significant healthcare market”.

The US move and the Takeda agreement were contained in a larger update on the Silence’s progress, one in which Ross said the company was in “robust health” both financially and operationally. It exited 2019 with US$44mln (£33.5mln) in the bank.

The Silence boss, who took day-to-day control of the business after the exit of chief executive David Horn Solomon last month, has inherited a research and development specialist firing on all cylinders.

Chief among its recent achievements was a tie-up with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, worth an upfront US$20mln and a further US$100mln in milestones.

Ross said Silence would continue “leveraging its expertise” to advance its pipeline of new medicines through the clinic to show safety, tolerability and efficacy for patients.

Headed for the clinic is SLN124 for a form of blood-borne cancer, while SLN360, a drug candidate that could potentially treat cardiovascular disease, will “progress towards” first in human studies this year.

“In addition, we will continue to explore multiple opportunities to create shareholder value through significant partnerships that leverage the company's proprietary GalNAc-siRNA platform,” said Ross.

Shares in drug developer Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) advanced 11% after it unveiled a deal with a Japanese pharma giant worth “single digit million dollars” in research funding.

Takeda will use the UK group’s platform to generate siRNA molecules targeting “undisclosed” illnesses. siRNA, which stands for small interfering ribonucleic acid, is a class of molecule that helps silence production of certain proteins, including but not limited to those associated with cancer.

The shares, which were trading just over 50p a year ago, are now changing hands for 360.76p, up 36.76p. This values the business at £280mln.

“With the Takeda development, we believe Silence has made an incremental step forward in piquing/making real the interest of big pharma (Silence continues to explore multiple opportunities with other large pharma) in its wider platform capabilities in RNAi candidate development,” said broker Peel Hunt.

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Quick facts: Silence Therapeutics PLC

Price: 430 GBX

AIM:SLN
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £3.37 m
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