Pharmaceutical company Silence Therapeutics (SLN) saw its shares gain 22% to 496p on Wednesday on news of a collaboration with pharma giant AstraZeneca (AZN). Silence has been one of the best performing mid-caps of the last year, gaining over 800%.
The company has developed a novel technology for treating serious diseases which harnesses the body's natural mechanisms to create therapeutic effects within its own cells.
UPFRONT CASH PLUS EQUITY
Under the collaboration, Silence will deliver specific molecules against gene targets selected by AstraZeneca. The focus is on the treatment of cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases.
The companies will work together on the discovery phase while AstraZeneca will take the lead in clinical development and commercialisation of the molecules.
AstraZeneca will pay Silence $60m cash up-front comprised of $20m on signing then $40m in tranches over the next 12 months, as well as making a $20m equity investment. The companies will initially work on five targets within the first three years with AstraZeneca having an option to extend the collaboration to a further five targets.
Silence will have an option to co-develop two programmes of their choice from the beginning of phase II trials. Each target selected by AstraZeneca will result in Silence receiving a $10m option fee and development milestone payments of up to $140m and commercial milestone payments of up to $250m. The company will also receive tiered royalty payments in the high single digits to low double digit percentages of net sales achieved.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT RAMP-UP
In a separate announcement the company said the board had taken the decision to prioritise the development of its SLN360 technology, aimed at treating cardiovascular disease, as a result of the ‘high and prevalent unmet medical need and the excellent pre-clinical profile.’
The company will submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year and thereafter commence a first in-man study with a view to generating interim data around the middle of 2021.
Executive chairman Iain Ross commented, ‘We are now well capitalised to further accelerate our pipeline towards clinical development with a focus on assets which we believe will transform the lives of patients.’