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Silence Therapeutics Signs siRNA Research & Development Collaboration with AstraZeneca

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Silence Therapeutics plc has 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 £200m (~US$400m) plus royalties on product sales.

The three-year collaboration announced 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 AstraZeneca.

Silence Therapeutics will provide AstraZeneca with a license to its proprietary siRNA technology in return for an initial access fee of £7.5m (~US$15m), comprising a payment of £2.5m (US$5m), plus an equity investment of £5m (~US$10m).

The £5m (~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.