Last post on the Medical Technology blog before i shoot off on my hols, so no posts till i get back. Today’s article comes from Drug Delivery Insight, please read on…
Leading RNA interference (RNAi) company Silence Therapeutics has been busy lately. The UK-based firm tapped investors for nearly £6 million in funds last month, and has wasted no time in putting it to use. The company believes the funds, which were raised by both new and existing shareholders, will place it on a much improved financial footing.
The first slice of the funding was allocated to plan the closure of Silence’s US operations, which are located in Redwood City, CA. The US closure is expected to take place in the third quarter of this year, but the company’s German operations will remain open. As a result of the closure of the US base, Silence’s CEO, Phil Haworth, will step down once a replacement is found.
The second chunk of funding will be put towards Silence’s ongoing R&D efforts. The first portion will be used to complete the company’s ongoing Phase I trial of Atu027 for the treatment of advanced solid cancer, and is earmarked for completion during the second half of this year. Also, a Phase Ib trial of Atu027 in particular tumour types will be started in mid-2012. IND applications for Atu027 in solid will also be paid for by the funding in the second half of next year, and preclinical development will be stepped up for Silence’s Atu111 programme. The latter provides systematic delivery to the lung for treatment of pulmonary diseases.
Representing Silence’s most advanced drug candidate, Atu027 is a liposomal siRNA formulation targeting PKN3 for the treatment of advanced solid cancer that incorporats the company’s very own AtuPlex delivery technology. The company says it has proven its value by inhibiting the growth of blood vessels, thereby inhibiting blood supply to the tumour. Half-time results from the Phase I solid tumour trial of Atu027 are “encouraging”, as the drug has so far shown to be safe and well-tolerated. Silence hopes to finish the Phase I trial in the second half of this year, and release data before year-end. The release of updated data from the trial was made at the recently-convened ASCO meeting in Chicago, IL.
Atu111, for the treatment of acute lung injury, is Silence’s most advanced candidate outside of the oncology field. It combines the company’s DACC drug-delivery system with AtuRNAi. The product’s target is being kept under wraps by Silence at the moment, but preclinical models using the DACC delivery system have shown sustained knockdown of up to three weeks in the lung endothelium.
As far as collaborative partners go, Silence is getting ready to start a Phase IIb trial for PF-‘655 in the second half of 2011, which is licensed to Quark Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer for the treatment of diabetic macular oedema. Silence hopes Quark and Pfizer will report data from the trial later this year. Quark is also developing QPI-1002 for the treatment of delayed graft function and acute kidney injury in partnership with Novartis. In September 2010, quark kicked off a Phase II trial of QPI-1002 for the treatment of delayed graft function and plans to begin a second Phase II trial of the product in acute kidney injury during the course of this year.
Thanks to Sophie Bracken for this article, Sophie is editor of Drug Delivery Insight at Espicom Business Intelligence.