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
Silence has 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.
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 $703mln in milestones for each asset.
Silence confirmed those deals in August since when it has agreed terms with Mallinckrodt for two additional assets that could ultimately be worth in excess of US$1.4bn of income.
Initially, however, the figures involved are more modest. The gene silencing specialist will fund all pre-clinical activity after which it will receive a US$2mln milestone payment.
In September, industry veteran Mark Rothera was appointed as chief executive.
Rothera has spent 30-years in the biopharmaceutical sector, latterly with Orchard Therapeutics where he secured US$600mln of financing and grew the business to a US$1.7bn market capitalisation at its peak.
Iain Ross will step back from an executive role to become non-exec chair.
What the boss says: Iain Ross, chairman
“Following a thorough search, Mark’s appointment reflects his proven leadership skills and strong track record in growing successful biotechnology companies and building shareholder value,
“I believe he will now provide the leadership necessary to grow Silence into a leading international biotechnology company built upon our innovative siRNA technology platform, proprietary product pipeline and validating industry partnerships.”
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).”
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.
Published at Fri, 02 Oct 2020 10:53:00 +0000-Silence Therapeutics completes management team with new chief executive