Chinese biopharma powerhouse continues charge into siRNA with Silence R&D pact

Hansoh Pharmaceutical is making a multifront push into siRNA. Days after disclosing a siRNA pact with OliX Pharmaceuticals, the Chinese biopharma powerhouse has unveiled a separate alliance with Silence Therapeutics.

With a $15 billion market cap and more than 10,000 employees, Hansoh is a major force in China’s burgeoning biopharma scene. Having built its business upon drugs including a Velcade copy, Hansoh is now expanding the breadth of its R&D activities with back-to-back deals for gene silencing assets.

The latest deal sees Hansoh pay $16 million upfront and commit up to $1.3 billion in milestones for the chance to work with Silence. In return for the outlay, Hansoh has secured the option to license rights to two targets in greater China and pick up global rights to a third target.

Silence will use its platform to develop siRNAs against the undisclosed targets and be responsible for all work up until Hansoh options the programs. Hansoh has the option to license the Chinese rights to the first two programs at the end of phase 1 and needs to make a decision on the global rights to the third target at the point of IND filing.

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News of the deal comes days after Hansoh disclosed a siRNA collaboration with OliX. In the earlier deal, Hansoh is paying $6.5 million upfront and committing up to $450 million in milestones to work with OliX on targets in cardiovascular, metabolic and other diseases associated with the liver. OliX and Silence both have platforms for hitting targets in the liver. 

Silence released news of its collaboration with Hansoh alongside details of its plans to end its 26-year spell on London’s AIM stock exchange. Having listed on Nasdaq last year, Silence is now set to delist its stock from AIM. In a statement, Craig Tooman, chief financial officer at Silence, framed the move to Nasdaq as a way to “create a more attractive and efficient trading mechanism.”