Silence Therapeutics announced on 25 March 2020 that it has signed a collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca to develop novel drugs for cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases. The deal includes an upfront of $60m, $20m in equity investment, and for each of the planned targets $400m in milestones, and high single- to low double-digit royalties. Additionally, the company announced that it would elevate SLN360 to the status of lead asset and expects to file an IND later in 2020 and to have interim results in mid-2021.
The AstraZeneca deal marks the third such agreement in the last 12 months (the others were with Mallinckrodt and Takeda). The current deal is a preclinical discovery collaboration (similar to the Takeda deal) in which Silence will develop five lead compounds (with the option to expand to 10) for a range of targets selected by AstraZeneca. In addition to liver-targeted therapies using the Silence platform, the companies will collaborate on delivery mechanisms for other tissues, including heart, kidney and lung, presumably based on AstraZeneca technology.
In light of the improved cash position from the new deal, the company has made the strategic decision to elevate its program SLN360 for the treatment of cardiovascular disease to the status of lead asset and accelerate its clinical development. We currently expect it to initiate clinical studies before the end of 2020, pending further disruptions from COVID-19.
The company has opened several sites for the Phase Ib study of SLN124, but has not enrolled any patients yet, in part due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. The company has paused enrolment until it has a broader protocol in place to facilitate easier enrolment. The company now expects to provide interim results from the study in H121 (from H220).
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).