AstraZeneca, Silence Therapeutics partner to develop siRNA therapeutics for cardiovascular, renal, metabolic, respiratory diseases

AstraZeneca entered into a collaboration with Silence Therapeutics to develop small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics for the treatment of cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases, the companies announced Wednesday. As part of the agreement, AstraZeneca will make an upfront cash payment of $60 million and an equity investment of $20 million in Silence Therapeutics.

The drugmakers noted that the partnership will utilise Silence Therapeutics' GalNAc-siRNA platform to inhibit liver-expressed gene targets, as well as develop new delivery approaches for targeting other tissues such as the heart, lung and kidney. Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said "this collaboration…adds an exciting new modality, siRNA, into our drug discovery toolbox."

The parties expect to initiate work on five targets within the first three years of the partnership, with AstraZeneca having the option to extend the collaboration to a further five targets. Silence Therapeutics indicated that for each disease target, the company is eligible to receive up to $400 million in milestones. Specifically, AstraZeneca will pay Silence Therapeutics an option fee of $10 million for each selected target, with the latter also eligible for up to $140 million in development milestones and up to $250 million in commercialisation milestones, as well as tiered royalties on net sales ranging from high-single to low-double digits.

Silence Therapeutics indicated that it will be responsible for designing siRNA molecules against gene targets selected by AstraZeneca, and for manufacturing material to support toxicology studies and Phase I trials. Meanwhile, the companies will collaborate during the discovery phase, with AstraZeneca leading clinical development and commercialisation. Silence Therapeutics added that it will have the option to negotiate for co-development of two programmes of their choice starting from Phase II.

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