Silence Therapeutics and Hansoh Pharmaceutical have entered a partnership to develop small-interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNAs) drugs for three undisclosed targets using the former’s mRNAi GOLD platform.

Following the conclusion of the Phase I clinical trial, Hansoh will hold an exclusive option to licence rights to the first two targets in Hong Kong, Macau, Greater China and Taiwan.

For all the other territories, Silence will maintain exclusive rights for the two targets.

Furthermore, Silence will oversee all works until option exercise and will be responsible for developing the targets outside of China after Phase I trials.

Hansoh will hold an exclusive option to licence the international global rights to a third target during the filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application.

The company will also handle all the development works on the third target after the option exercise.

Hansoh Pharma executive director Eliza Sun said: “We see substantial opportunity in Silence’s mRNAi GOLD platform to develop and bring better precision-based medicines to patients across China and worldwide.”

As per the agreement, Silence is eligible to get an upfront payment of $16m from Hansoh, which will also make additional payments of up to $1.3bn on meeting development, regulatory and commercial milestones.

Hansoh will also make tiered royalty payments to Silence on net sales of the products.

Silence Therapeutics president and CEO Mark Rothera said: “This collaboration is a good example of our hybrid model in action, balancing proprietary and partnered programmes to maximise the substantial opportunity of our mRNAi GOLD platform for targeting disease-associated genes in the liver.

“The Hansoh partnership enables us to move two new proprietary programmes forward subsidised by non-dilutive capital while also gaining access to the second largest pharmaceutical market globally.”

In March last year, Silence Therapeutics partnered with AstraZeneca for the discovery, development and commercialisation of small interfering RNA (siRNA) drugs for cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory diseases.