Open Orphan signs £5.7m human challenge study contract

Open Orphan

Open Orphan plc (LON:ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist clinical research organisation and world leader in vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge clinical trials, has announced that hVIVO, a subsidiary of Open Orphan plc, has signed a £5.7m contract with a specialist biotechnology company developing therapeutics for respiratory viral infections, to test its antiviral product using the hVIVO Influenza human challenge study model.

The human challenge study is expected to commence in Q1 2022 and will be conducted at hVIVO’s state-of-the-art facilities in London. The Company expects the revenue from the contract to be recognised across 2021 and 2022.

The client’s influenza antiviral product has demonstrated effectiveness in animal preclinical models of respiratory viruses and has several clinical and commercial advantages with respect to convenience, resistance, durability and compatibility when compared to similar products.

The Company expects to sign more contracts in this area as attention switches to potential future Influenza outbreaks. Influenza is expected to be a major global issue due to low level population immunity caused by reduced infection rates over the last 18 months, which is the result of COVID-19 mitigation measures such as social distancing and mask wearing. After a solidly EBITDA profitable H1, this contract will help ensure the Company enters a period of sustained growth and profitability across a whole range of challenge studies.

hVIVO has two decades of experience and expertise in safely conducting challenge studies across a range of respiratory viruses, including various strains of Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and human Rhinovirus HRV (common cold virus), malaria, asthma. In October 2020, this expanded to include the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan, said: “We are delighted to be working with this biotechnology company to test their exciting antiviral product against our Influenza human challenge study model. As a result of social distancing, hand washing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures, there has been extremely low levels of population immunity to Influenza. As such, there is an increasing concern that in the year ahead Influenza outbreaks could spike considerably and therefore this type of therapeutic could form part of an effective defence against future outbreaks of Influenza due to its compelling array of clinical and commercial advantages.

“This contract is also a further demonstration of our expertise and capabilities testing therapeutics across the infectious disease and respiratory market, which is due to grow exponentially to over $250 billion by 2025, as pharmaceutical companies around the world look to restock the medicine cabinets with novel vaccines and antivirals. With this in mind, we expect that moving into 2022, our work will continue to come from a broad range of infectious and respiratory diseases, as we see rapid growth in those spaces.”

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