Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) saw its share surged 30% higher on Wednesday following news it has signed a deal with drugs major AstraZeneca worth US$80mln in cash and investment upfront, plus a further US$400mln in milestone payments and royalties for each disease area targeted.
Using Silence’s small interfering RNA, or siRNA technology, AstraZeneca is looking to initially develop treatments for liver, heart and lung diseases.
siRNA has been investigated as an effective treatment for viral diseases as well as cancer, the idea being it can block, or silence disease-causing genes.
AstraZeneca will make a US$60mln cash payment and is subscribing for US$20mln of Silence shares initially. The Anglo-Swedish giant will then fork out US$10mln for each selected target, followed by US$140mln of development 'milestones' and up to US$250mln in commercialisation payments.
Tiered royalties on any sales would range from “high single-digit to low double-digit”, Silence said in a statement. Conservatively, based on just three drug development areas, the deal is worth a notional US$1.3bn.
Silence chairman Iain Ross said the deal validated of the company’s siRNA platform: “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."
In a separate release, Silence also provided a research and development update in which it confirmed it would accelerate the development of SLN360, a potential treatment for cardiovascular disease.
At the same time, it will pause patient recruitment to the trial of its drug candidate SLN124 in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and to “ensure the integrity of safety monitoring procedures for patients”.
At 8.25am, Silence shares were changing hands for 534.7p, up 128.7p,
-- Adds R&D statement, share price --