Silence Therapeutics plots reverse takeover with mystery suitor

London-based Silence Therapeutics confirmed this morning that it is in merger talks with an unidentified company. And Silence, a prominent RNAi developer, says it expects the deal to be handled as a reverse takeover, which would have to be approved by shareholders. Trading in company shares was halted on the brief release.

The announcement followed a report that the gene silencing outfit (SLN) was in talks to merge with a private U.S. company. Reverse takeovers allow a private company to go public without the risk of mounting an IPO. The IPO market for biotech companies has been virtually nailed shut for more than 18 months, but recently that has begun to change as a handful of developers once again began to look to the public markets for fresh funds.

Silence has had a successful track record inking new partnership deals. Just three weeks ago the company forged a collaboration with Dainippon Sumitomo and at the end of 2007 AstraZeneca signed a $400 million deal. Turning off genes that cause disease has become a hot field in biotechnology. Silence Therapeutics has developed AtuRNAi, a short interfering RNA (siRNA) molecule which is chemically modified to improve stability, reduce manufacturing costs and increase yield.

- check out the press release

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