Silence Therapeutics Scrounges Up $58 Million to Expand RNA Research
2015-04-09 / Silence Therapeutics raised $58.2 million to develop its genetic RNA therapeutics technologies, Reuters reported Thursday morning.
The company raised the funds through two separate stock sales. The most recent sale this week raised $18.67 million in funds, while a stock sale April 2 generated $40.14 million.
Ali Mortazavi, Silence’s chief executive officer, told Reuters the capital raised was an endorsement of the group's RNA technology, putting it in a unique position to capitalize on the tidal wave of genetic medicine. The discovery that DNA itself can be edited by proteins delivered by guide mRNA offers an exciting opportunity, the company said in a press release.
Shares in Silence Therapeutics were trading up nearly 4 percent this morning at $4.21 per share. Mortazavi said Silence Therapeutics showed “significant technological progress” in 2014. He said the company is highly encouraged by the results from a Phase IIa pancreatic cancer trial, which in part spurred the effort to raise capital.
“As well as the ability to switch genes off using our modified siRNA and delivery systems, we added the ability to switch genes on by using the same delivery systems with a messenger RNA. The successes of the company have since led to this material capital raise and we are now in a unique position to capitalize on the tidal wave of genetic medicine.”
In July 2014, Silence completed recruitment for its Phase IIa pancreatic cancer study for Atu027 in combination with the chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine. Atu027 is Silence’s leading siRNA-based drug candidate. It uses the proprietary AtuPLEX and AtuRNAi technologies to broadly deliver siRNA to the endothelial cells of the vascular system, targeting the expression of the protein PKN3. A full study of the trial that treated 400 patients is expected to be published later this year.
The proceeds from the share issue will be used to support and expand the company's pre-clinical capabilities and capacities, while the stronger balance sheet should enable the company to seek scientific talent from around the world. As of March 31 the company had cash of $28.23 million, according to a company filing.
A core Silence technology is RNA interference. RNA, ribonucleic acid, one of the two types of nucleic acids found in all cells, is a method used to selectively turn down the genes which cause some diseases. The technology prevents the “over-expression” of a disease-causing protein in a gene.
In addition to RNA interference, Silence Therapeutics uses RNA technology to restore missing gene expression or artificially encourage geneexpression. The RNA restoration is currently being tested in animal models, but company researchers say the technology “opens up a wide range of potential treatments for genetic deficiencies, protein deficiencies, vaccines, infectious diseases and even cellular reprogramming,” according to information on the company website.
Earlier this month Silence reported a breakthrough in messenger RNA, “achieving therapeutic levels of protein production in pre-clinical in vivo models.”