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Silence Looks to Raise $8.8M in Share Issuance, Return Zamore IP Rights to UMass

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Silence Therapeutics said this week that it plans to raise as much as £5.7 million ($8.8 million) through the issuance of up to around 940 million new ordinary shares.

The issuance will come as a subscription of 840 million shares at £0.05 each to certain investors and directors, Silence said, and up to around 100 million shares through an open offer, also at £0.05 a share. The company also plans to issue a £1 million convertible loan note.

The proposed share price represents a roughly 44 percent discount to Silence's current share price as of July 11.

If approved by its shareholders, the financing is expected to give Silence enough funds to support its RNAi drug-development efforts until 2014, the firm said. If not approved, the company said it won't be able to operate past the second half of 2012 and would be forced to consider selling itself off.

Silence also noted that it is in discussions with the University of Massachusetts to end its license to the institution's so-called Zamore Design Rules intellectual property.

The IP, named for UMass researcher Phillip Zamore, generally relates to “methods of producing double-stranded … agents having decreased off-target silencing activity through certain structural modifications,” according to Silence.

The Zamore patents and patent applications have long been a cornerstone of Silence's IP portfolio, and the company's previous CEO had stated a number of times that Silence viewed it as key to its efforts to secure licensing and partnership deals.

However, Silence said this week that the cost of maintaining its licenses to the IP “is not warranted,” and that it has “entered into discussion with the University of Massachusetts with a view to returning these rights.”

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