AtuRNAi is stable against nuclease degradation, giving it a longer half-life that allows for lower doses to be administered, less frequently. Furthermore, the delivery vehicle is constructed using naturally occurring RNA.
These are cheap building blocks, which lower manufacturing costs, and because they are natural toxic metabolites are eliminated. In addition Silence claims that the process development results in increased yield and faster synthesis.
The collaboration will use this technology to develop treatments for specific targets, details of which have not been disclosed. AtuPLEX, Silence’s technology for improving intracellular uptake, will also be used by the collaborators.
Silence’s AtuPLEX is a liposomal delivery system that contains proprietary lipid components called AtuFECT. In addition to increasing intracellular uptake compared to naked delivery the technology also boosts bioavailability and circulation time, according to Silence.
The company also claims AtuPLEX increases systemic delivery to the endothelium, liver and tumours. Silence believes these traits make the technology ideal for developing anti-angiogenic therapies for solid cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Boost for business
Despite having collaborations with companies including Pfizer and AstraZeneca Silence had a challenging 2008, which was detailed in its financial results that were filed at the end of June.
The company’s revenues fell by 45 per cent compared to 2007 and this decline was accompanied by rising R&D costs, which totalled £6.7m ($10.9m), up from £4.8m the previous year.
Iain Ross, Silence’s chairman, said that consolidation in the pharma industry had forced the company to adjust its approach to ensure it is competitive in terms of technology and funding discussions.