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30 Mar 2021 | 09:18

Silence losses widen as it increases research spend

(Sharecast News) - Silence Therapeutics reported cash and cash equivalents and term deposits of £37.4m at the end of 2020 in its full-year results on Tuesday, up from £33.5m year-on-year. The AIM-traded firm said it had £97.5m on a proforma basis, including the £37.4m at year-end, as well as the £29.3m receivable from AstraZeneca in the first half of 2021, and net proceeds of £30.8m from its February capital raise.

Cash flow from operating activities came in as a £10.8m outflow in the year ended 31 December, swinging from a £1.7m inflow in 2019, as its operating loss widened to £35.8m from £22.7m.

Silence noted that the 2020 figures included receipts of $20m from AstraZeneca, $2m in milestones from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, and $2m upfront from Takeda.

It said its loss was higher mainly due to increased research and development spend in relation to its SLN360 and SLN124 proprietary programmes, as well as general and administrative expenses relating to its Nasdaq listing.

"Silence ended 2020 in a strong financial position, driven by non-dilutive funding from our collaborations," said chief financial officer Craig Tooman.

"Our balance sheet has been further strengthened by the recent $45m financing, which demonstrated the growing appreciation for Silence and expanded our global shareholder base.

"We will look to build upon this in 2021 as we continue to enhance our capabilities and maximise the opportunity of our mRNAi GOLD platform."

On the operational front, Silence said it advanced both its wholly-owned product candidates during the year, being SLN360 for cardiovascular disease due to high lipoprotein(a) levels, and SLN124 for thalassaemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

It noted that SLN360 received approval for an initial drug application from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as it initiated the 'APOLLO' phase 1 study in people with high Lp(a) levels.

SLN124, meanwhile, was granted rare paediatric disease designation for thalassaemia as well as orphan drug designations for MDS and thalassaemia by the FDA, with the company starting the 'GEMINI' phase 1 study of SLN124 in healthy volunteers.

The company said it secured a "significant" collaboration deal with AstraZeneca to discover and develop siRNA therapeutics for up to 10 targets in cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases, with an upfront cash payment of $20m received, and another $40m due in the first half of 2021.

Its board said the deal economics included up to $400m in milestone payments and royalties for each programme.

Silence also expanded its RNAi collaboration with Mallinckrodt for complement-mediated diseases, with Mallinckrodt exercising options to license two additional targets from Silence, bringing the total to the maximum three programmes envisaged in the collaboration deal.

It also started a technology evaluation with Takeda, to explore the potential of using Silence's 'mRNAi GOLD' platform against a novel undisclosed target.

"2020 was a transformational year for Silence Therapeutics, driven by the remarkable resilience of our people in what was a challenging year for the world," said president and chief executive officer Mark Rothera.

"We have made significant progress with our mRNAi GOLD platform, with both lead programmes now in the clinic and three data readouts due this year.

"Alongside advancing our wholly owned pipeline, we continue to progress our high-value partnerships and through this two-pronged approach, our goal is to deliver 2-3 INDs per year from 2023."

At 1034 BST, shares in Silence Therapeutics were down 3.53% at 553.74p.
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