Open Orphan plc (LON:ORPH) Chairman Cathal Friel joins DirectorsTalk to discuss the signing of a new contract with a US biotechnology Company for the provision of a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) human challenge study. Cathal talks us through the contract, the pipeline, how the Venn business will support this, the capacity and ability to deliver these contracts. Cathal also explains why Trevor Philips the CEO is leaving, profitability for H2, more COVID-19 contracts and progress on the universal flu vaccine Imutex.
Open Orphan is a rapidly growing specialist CRO pharmaceutical services company which has a focus on orphan drugs and is a world leader in the provision of virology and vaccine challenge study services and viral laboratory services. It has Europe’s only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology lab in Queen Mary’s Hospital London. hVIVO supports product development for customers developing antivirals, vaccines and respiratory therapeutics, all particularly relevant and topical in the environment of heightened awareness of Covid-19 in 2020. The Company also has a leading portfolio of 8 viral challenge study models which are: 2 FLU, 2 RSV, 1 HRV, 1 Asthma, 1 cough and 1 COPD viral challenge models. As announced in early March, the company is rapidly advancing a Coronavirus challenge study model and expects to be very active with many companies in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine. No other company in the world has such a portfolio, with only two competitors globally having 1 challenge study model each.
The company comprises of two commercial specialist CRO services businesses (Venn and hVIVO) and is developing an early stage orphan drug genomics data platform business. This platform captures valuable genetic data from patient populations with specific diseases with designated orphan drug status and incorporating AI tools. In June 2019, ORPH acquired AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc in a reverse take-over and in January 2020 it completed the merger with hVIVO plc. Venn, as an integrated drug development consultancy, offers CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), preclinical, Phase I & II clinical trials design and execution. The merger with hVIVO created a European full pharma services company broadening the Company’s customer base and with complementary specialist CRO services, widened the range of the Company’s service offerings.