Silence Therapeutics Signs siRNA Research & Development Collaboration With AstraZeneca to Develop Novel Respiratory Therapeutics

Collaboration to Generate up to GBP200m (~US$400m) in Access Fees and

Milestones Plus Royalties on Product Sales

Jul 06, 2007, 01:00 ET from Silence Therapeutics Plc

    LONDON, July 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Silence Therapeutics plc
 (London LSE: SLN) announces that the Group has entered a Research &
 Development collaboration with AstraZeneca primarily in the respiratory
 field. Silence Therapeutics will receive initial access fees, clinical
 development and commercial milestone payments of up to GBP200m (~US$400m)
 plus royalties on product sales.
     The three-year collaboration announced today is designed to discover
 and develop proprietary siRNA molecules against up to five specific targets
 provided by AstraZeneca. Silence Therapeutics and AstraZeneca will jointly
 collaborate in the early phase of identification and optimisation of novel
 siRNA molecules. AstraZeneca will retain full responsibility for the
 clinical development and commercialisation. The agreement is primarily in
 the respiratory field but includes an option to allow for targets that
 extend the collaboration into other disease areas of interest to
     Silence Therapeutics will provide AstraZeneca with a license to its
 proprietary siRNA technology in return for an initial access fee of GBP7.5m
 (~US$15m), comprising a payment of GBP2.5m (US$5m), plus an equity
 investment of GBP5m (~US$10m). The GBP5m (~US$10m) equity investment in
 Silence Therapeutics plc will be at 146p per share, which equates to a 10%
 premium over the volume weighted average price (VWAP) for the 10 trading
 days prior to the close of the market on 5 July 2007. As a result of this
 agreement, AstraZeneca will hold 2.94% of the total voting rights of
 Silence Therapeutics plc.
     Iain Ross, Chairman of Silence Therapeutics plc, said:
     "We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce this collaboration
 with AstraZeneca, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies,
 which has a significant franchise in the respiratory area. This transaction
 provides further validation of the potential application of Silence
 Therapeutics' proprietary AtuRNAi molecules and our leading position in the
 fast developing field of RNAi therapeutics. In addition today's agreement
 highlights our ability to execute collaboration deals in line with our
 stated corporate strategy.
     "We look forward to working with AstraZeneca to develop new RNAi
 therapeutics for the treatment of respiratory diseases, whilst concurrently
 continuing to create further significant shareholder value via the
 development of our proprietary oncology pipeline."
     Jan M. Lundberg, Executive Vice-President, Discovery Research,
 AstraZeneca, said:
     "AstraZeneca strive to access new technologies that hold future promise
 for bringing novel medicines to patients. We are delighted to partner with
 Silence Therapeutics in developing their siRNA technology and build on our
 investments made in biopharmaceutical and vaccine areas. siRNA technology
 will enable AstraZeneca to target disease mechanisms intractable to small
 molecules and other approaches."
     Notes to Editors
     Silence Therapeutics plc (
     Silence Therapeutics plc (LSE:SLN) is a leading RNAi company. RNA
 interference (RNAi) can selectively 'silence' genes linked to the onset of
     Silence Therapeutics has developed novel, proprietary short interfering
 RNA ('siRNA') molecules, AtuRNAi, which provide a number of advantages over
 conventional siRNA molecules as they show increased stability against
 nuclease degradation. In addition, the Company has developed a proprietary
 systemic delivery system, AtuPLEX. This enables the delivery of siRNA
 molecules to targeted diseased tissues and cells, whilst increasing their
 bioavailability and intracellular uptake.
     Silence Therapeutics has sublicensed the AtuRNAi compound RTP-801i to
 Pfizer through its collaboration partner Quark Biotech Inc. for the
 treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and a number of other
 indications. This compound entered the clinic in early 2007. Silence
 Therapeutics has also licensed a further AtuRNAi compound, AKIi-5, to Quark
 Biotech Inc. This compound has been granted an IND for acute kidney injury
 and is expected to enter the clinic in 2007. In addition, Silence
 Therapeutics expects to begin the clinical development of its proprietary
 AtuRNAi therapeutic molecules for systemic cancer indications, such as
 gastrointestinal and non-small lung cancer, in 2008.
     Silence Therapeutics is based in London, UK, and Berlin, Germany, and
 is listed on AIM.
     About RNAi
     RNA interference (RNAi), a Nobel Prize winning technology, is one of
 the most exciting areas of drug discovery today. This is because it
 represents a completely new approach to selectively 'silence' or inactivate
 disease relevant genes and as such it has the potential to create a new
 class of therapeutic products. RNAi could therefore offer a therapeutic
 approach to a broad range of diseases (cancer, infectious diseases,
 inherited diseases), many of which have been regarded as incurable and are
 not addressed by current therapeutics, therefore providing a large market
     About AstraZeneca
     AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the
 research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription
 pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the
 world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $26.5
 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular,
 neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is
 listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the
 FTSE4Good Index. More information about AstraZeneca can be found at
     Forward-Looking Statements
     This press release includes forward-looking statements that are subject
 to risks, uncertainties and other factors. These risks and uncertainties
 could cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in
 the forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are based on
 information currently available to Silence Therapeutics and Silence
 Therapeutics assumes no obligation to update any such forward-looking

SOURCE Silence Therapeutics Plc