LONDON—Leveraging its proprietary siRNA technologies, Silence Therapeutics announced it has entered into an R&D collaboration with AstraZeneca for the development of RNAi therapies for respiratory disease. The three-year deal could see the small biotech earn up to $400 million in initial access fees and clinical development and commercial milestone payments. The deal also includes a $10-million equity investment by AstraZeneca that will see the pharma giant own almost 3% of total voting rights in Silence Therapeutics.
"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," says Ian Ross, Silence chair. "In addition, today's agreement highlights our ability to execute collaboration deals in line with our stated corporate strategy."
The companies will initially collaborate on the identification and optimization of siRNA molecules directed at five unspecified respiratory disease targets, with AstraZeneca bearing full responsibility for clinical development and commercialization. The deal is just the latest in an ever-frenzied RNAi market that has seen dramatic movement both in collaborations and outsourcing, as well as mergers and acquisitions.