- RNA-based therapy developer Silence Therapeutics posted a deeper annual loss as it ramped up R&D spending and incurred higher legal fees.

Net losses for the year through December amounted to £18.4m, compared to losses of £1.6m in 2017, when the company also booked a £9.1m gain on asset sale.

Silence's lead candidate SLN124 has been granted orphan drug designation by European regulators.

The first patients were expected to enter a Phase Ib study in in the second half of 2019.

'2018 was a defining year for Silence Therapeutics, with transformational change throughout the business,' chief executive David Horn Solomon said.

'With the first RNAi therapeutics now approved by the FDA, effectively creating a new class of medicines, we are working hard to consolidate our position as a leading developer in this exciting new field.'

'During the year we have made great progress in advancing our lead product SLN124 towards the clinic and we are due to commence in-human clinical trials later in 2019 to demonstrate safety and tolerability.'

'We look forward to unlocking more of Silence Therapeutics' potential in 2019 and beyond for the benefit our shareholders and, importantly, for the patients of these devastating conditions.'

At 8:12am: [LON:SLN] Silence Therapeutics PLC share price was -0.2p at 52.6p

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