AstraZeneca Links with Silence Therapeutics
Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has announced plans to collaborate with UK biotech Silence Therapeutics to discover, develop and commercialize small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics for treating cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases.
The multi-target collaboration will harness Silence’s siRNA platform to identify and progress liver-based targets as well as developing new delivery approaches for targeting other tissues, such as the heart, lungs and kidneys.
SiRNA are double-stranded RNA molecules that offer new opportunities for therapeutic intervention because they act inside the cell to influence protein production; they target RNA to prevent the production of disease-causing proteins.
Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will make an upfront cash payment of $60 million and an equity investment of $20 million in Silence. The companies anticipate initiating 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.
The drugs giant will also pay Silence an option fee of $10 million for each selected target. Thereafter, for each target selected, Silence will be eligible for up to $140 million in development milestones and up to $250 million in commercialization milestones as well as tiered royalties on net sales.
“This collaboration with Silence adds an exciting new modality, siRNA, into our drug discovery toolbox,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca. “Importantly we can apply this drug modality across our key therapy areas in cardiovascular, renal and metabolism and respiratory to target novel pathways not amenable to more traditional drug discovery approaches.”
Separately, AstraZeneca is donating nine million face masks to support healthcare workers around the world battling the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which will manufacture and distribute the masks from China, is working with the World Economic Forum’s Covid Action Platform to identify the countries in greatest need. Italy will receive the first shipments this week with other countries to follow.