Silence Therapeutics To Develop Novel Respiratory Therapeutics

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Novel Respiratory Therapeutics

Silence Therapeutics has entered a Research & Development collaboration with AstraZeneca primarily in the respiratory therapeutics field.

Silence Therapeutics will receive initial access fees, clinical development and commercial milestone payments of up to GBP200m ( US$400m) plus royalties on product sales.

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The three-year collaboration announced today is 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 GBP7.5m ( US$15m), comprising a payment of GBP2.5m (US$5m), plus an equity investment of GBP5m ( US$10m). The GBP5m ( 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.

Iain Ross, Chairman of Silence Therapeutics plc, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce this collaboration with AstraZeneca, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, which has a significant franchise in the respiratory area. 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. In addition today's agreement highlights our ability to execute collaboration deals in line with our stated corporate strategy.

"We look forward to working with AstraZeneca to develop new RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of respiratory diseases, whilst concurrently continuing to create further significant shareholder value via the development of our proprietary oncology pipeline."

Jan M. Lundberg, Executive Vice-President, Discovery Research, AstraZeneca, said: "AstraZeneca strive to access new technologies that hold future promise for bringing novel medicines to patients. We are delighted to partner with Silence Therapeutics in developing their siRNA technology and build on our investments made in biopharmaceutical and vaccine areas. siRNA technology will enable AstraZeneca to target disease mechanisms intractable to small molecules and other approaches."

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