Syncona net asset value drops in first half

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Investor in the health sector Synchronous reported net assets of £1.15bn at the end of its first half on Thursday, or 171.7p per share, from £1.3bn or 193.8p per share at the end of March.

The FTSE 250 company said it delivered a total net asset value return of -11.4% for the six months ended September 30, mainly due to lower share prices of two of its listed holdings. , Freeline Therapeutics and Achilles Therapeutics.

He said Freeline had encountered operational challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with those now resolved and the company resetting its clinical studies.

Achilles, meanwhile, has seen its share price impacted by market sentiment toward cell and gene therapies.

Syncona said its view was that the business was performing well and performing on schedule.

Continued operational progress was reported across the portfolio, with ‘decisive actions’ taken by a number of Syncona’s portfolio companies during the period.

Chris Hollowood, CIO of Syncona and Chairman of Freeline, was “closely engaged” with the Freeline Board as it updated its management team, while Syncona CEO Martin Murphy took on the role. as President of Autolus Therapeutics, working with his Board of Directors to ensure the company was focused on delivering the pivotal “AUTO1” study.

Positive clinical progress has been made at five clinical-stage companies, with additional encouraging durability data on Autolus’ lead therapeutic candidate AUTO1 for adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

At Gyroscope Therapeutics, additional positive interim data in its “FOCUS” Phase 1 and 2 trial for the treatment of advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been reported, while at Freeline, the second patient has received a dose in its second clinical program for Fabry Disease.

After the end of the period, Freeline announced encouraging patient data, while enrollment began in its preliminary study for the Phase 1 and 2 dose confirmation study in hemophilia B.

At Achilles, continued progress has been made in ongoing Phase 1 and 2a studies in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and melanoma, with patients being recruited into a higher dose process, while at Anaveon, the first patient was dosed in a phase 1 and 2 study of ANV419, a selective interleukin-2 (IL-2) agonist with the potential to target cancer; several patients have now been dosed in the study.

Syncona said the “next generation” of companies are poised to enter the clinic, with Quell Therapeutics still on track to enter the clinic with its lead liver transplant program in Q1 2022, while SwanBio Therapeutics has begun a natural history study evaluating patients to assess the course of adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN).

Since the end of the period, SwanBio has released encouraging preclinical data for its lead program as it remained on track to enter the clinic in calendar year 2022.

Syncona said it continued to deploy its strategic capital base in line with deployment guidelines, with £50.8m deployed during the period, its capital base standing at £534.9m at the end of the period on September 30.

$30m (£21.7m) had been committed to Clade Therapeutics, a ‘next generation’ stem cell therapeutics business.

Since the end of the period, the firm’s portfolio companies continued to attract “substantial” capital from long-term investors and businesses, accessing $397 million year-to-date, of which $30 million dollars committed by Syncona.

“Syncona has always taken a hands-on partnership approach to supporting our businesses as they progress through key clinical, financial and operational milestones,” said Managing Director Martin Murphy.

“This has been particularly important in recent months, when our portfolio companies have had to take decisive action to solve problems and adapt to specific challenges, some of which are inherent in clinical development.

“While we are disappointed with the decline in net asset value over the period, we continue to build a diversified portfolio across the development cycle and therapeutic areas and remain confident in the potential of our companies.

Murphy said the “substantial capital” a number of companies had accessed so far this year validated the “significant opportunity” before them.

“With clinical data being the primary driver of value and risk for Syncona, we believe our businesses are well positioned and on track to further validate our model and strategy over the next 12 months with the potential for a rich data source.

“In addition to supporting our existing businesses, our team of experts and strategic capital means we will be able to continue to build exciting businesses around highly innovative science, with the potential to make a transformational difference in lives. patients and deliver significant value to our shareholders.”

At 09:12 GMT, Syncona shares were down 1.46% at 202.5p.

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