RNA therapeutics specialist Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has told investors it is well funded as it looks to press ahead in 2018.
At the beginning of this month, Silence had £43mln of cash in the bank compared to £29.8mln at the end of June.
Arrowhead stake sold off
One of the primary reasons for the jump in the net cash balance was the company’s investment in Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARWR).
At the end of 2016, Silence spent £8.3mln (US$11.3mln) to take a 10% stake in Arrowhead with the view to some form of strategic transaction.
By March 2017, Silence said it had become clear that such a transaction would not be possible so it started to close its position in Arrowhead.
The AIM-quoted group has now completed the sale of its entire stake, generating net sale proceeds of US$24.7mln, a net profit of US$13.4mln.
Some of that cash will be used to further develop the company’s pipeline and it plans to file its first GalNAc-siRNA clinical trial application for treatment of iron overload disorder by end 2018.
On top of that, significant focus is being given to new target selection to enable the company to have a “deep pre-clinical pipeline”.
UK patent trial to begin in December
Silence believes that a number of companies, including Alnylam, have been using technology covered by its patents in drugs that silence genes and may be fundamental in the war against cancer.
The firm has, over the past year, sought to shore up the patent protection around what it calls a “foundational innovation” that is core to the emerging RNAi industry.
“Silence believes that these newly granted claims are relevant to third-party RNAi medicines and that its foundational IP is essential for the clinical and commercial viability of the RNAi field,” read Monday’s statement.
It added that litigation with Alnylam is “progressing” and it expects a trial to start in the UK at the beginning of December.
“Well-positioned” for 2018
“Silence [has] demonstrated that it is now has a powerful, reproducible and modular GalNAc-siRNA platform that can rapidly and safely be used to specifically and effectively silence any disease-associated target gene in hepatocytes,” said chief executive Ali Mortazavi.
“With £43mln of cash at the start of 2018, Silence is well positioned to further develop its existing pipeline, as well as adding significant new targets, some incorporating next generation technology.
“At the same time, we are actively looking to partner our platform and programs, and to enter into both commercial and academic collaborations, strengthening our balance sheet and widening our portfolio.”
Silence shares opened 4.1% higher at 198p on Monday morning.