Silence Therapeutics is a leading RNA therapeutics development company, with proprietary RNA interference (RNAi) technology (AtuRNAi) and delivery systems (LipoPLEXes). RNAi can be harnessed to silence the expression of any disease-causing protein. The basic rationale is simple: find any gene in the genome that is causing problems and synthesise an RNA molecule to shut down or upregulate the gene as necessary. Silence has an extensive genetic toolkit that addresses the technical challenges of delivery and therefore could offer ‘multiple shots at goal’, ie a broad range of potential indications. Silence is well funded following a fund-raising of £38.9m in 2015 to progress its early-stage technology.
Silence already has a licence deal with Quark for its AtuRNAi technology, which has recently progressed into a Phase III clinical trial in delayed graft function (DGF) and Phase II for acute kidney injury (AKI). Silence recently announced that it had entered into arbitration with Quark Pharmaceuticals regarding a milestone payment of $3m, which it believes it is due. The outcome is expected within the next 12 months. Silence has a broad IP portfolio, recently extended in the US, which could create a number of additional licensing opportunities, along with potential deals for the PKN3 gene as an oncology target and Atu027 for further development. Core IP starts to expire in 2023 and, while we fully expect this to be added to, it could affect the value of any deals that are made.
Silence has announced that it is expanding its research activities into conjugate delivery systems (GalNAc) to target the liver and continued optimisation of its liposomal delivery systems (LipoPLEX) to target various tissues and enable gene editing (CRISPR/Cas9). This is positive as it provides a broader range of potential indications on which to focus if preclinical data is promising.
We do not assign a fair value to Silence at this stage because its focus is currently on its preclinical pipeline and developing partnerships for its broader IP portfolio. We believe Silence offers one of the broadest ranges of RNA technologies in the sector, which could provide significant upside potential if the company executes its strategy. The company is well-funded following a £38.9m (net) fund-raising in 2015.