Open Orphan wins £5m RSV human challenge study contract with European biotechnology company

Open Orphan

Open Orphan plc (LON:ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist contract research organisation (CRO) and world leader in testing infectious and respiratory disease products using human challenge clinical trials, announces that hVIVO, a subsidiary of Open Orphan, has signed a £5m respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”) human challenge study contract with a European biotechnology company to test its intravenous antiviral candidate, using the hVIVO RSV Human Challenge Study Model.

The study is expected to commence this year and will test and assess the efficacy of the client’s antiviral candidate in a cohort of healthy young adult volunteers. This contract builds on Open Orphan’s existing relationship with this European biotech, following previous early clinical work completed by the Venn Breda team, highlighting the Company’s ability to maintain relationships with its clients over time and to cross sell services between brands. The Company expects the revenues from the contract to be recognised across 2022 and 2023.

The study will be conducted by hVIVO’s highly trained team of medics at its state-of-the-art quarantine facilities in London which was recently expanded in a cost-efficient manner from 43 to 62 beds, an increase of c. 45%. The Company’s specialised virology laboratories, hLAB, will provide qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction), infectivity and serology data for the study. 

Healthy volunteers for the study will be recruited through the Company’s volunteer recruitment arm, FluCamp. The FluCamp volunteer recruitment capacity was also recently expanded across its screening facilities in London and Manchester to enable larger cohorts to be recruited more quickly than before. The new screening facilities opened in Manchester expands the Company’s reach to facilitate the increasing demand for human challenge studies and allows the Company to recruit volunteers beyond the greater London area.

RSV is the main cause of childhood lower respiratory infections and is responsible for a significant burden of disease in the elderly and in adults with chronic medical problems, such as COPD. Globally it affects an estimated 50-million people annually, leading to 4 million hospitalisations and up to 75,000 in-hospital deaths in children under the age of 5 years. There is a lack of understanding and insight into RSV disease, especially in adult groups, despite its considerable impact on society and its high degree of infectivity.

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hVIVO has a long history of challenge studies with its roots dating back to 1947 with the establishment of the UK Common Cold Clinic in Salisbury, which conducted some of the first influenza human challenge studies. Since its establishment, the Company has been conducting human challenge studies for a range of industry, governmental and academic clients, and has the most frequently used commercial challenge models on the market. hVIVO has expertise in conducting challenge studies in its highly controlled clinical environment, across a range of infectious and respiratory diseases, including influenza, RSV, human rhinovirus (HRV – common cold virus), malaria, SARS-CoV-2, asthma, COPD, and cough, and is continuing to expand its offering.

Yamin ‘Mo’ Khan, Chief Executive Officer of Open Orphan, said: “I am pleased to announce this £5m contract to test our client’s antiviral candidate using the hVIVO RSV Human Challenge Study Model. RSV is a significant threat to public health, and we are delighted to support this European biotech in the development of its antiviral candidate.

“Following the recent expansion of our FluCamp facilities, which boosts our volunteer and patient recruitment capabilities as well as increasing our bed capacity by c.45%, we are now even better equipped to identify volunteers and to complete our growing pipeline of studies in a time efficient manner.

“Leveraging my extensive CRO experience, I look forward to continuing to drive further contract wins across our portfolio of infectious and respiratory disease challenge models.”

Dr Andrew Catchpole, Chief Scientific Officer of hVIVO, said: “This contract is a further demonstration of the significant value of human challenge studies. Efficacy data provided by the Company following the completion of the study can lead to entry into Phase II as well as optimisation of a Phase III programme. For Big Pharma as well as smaller biotechs, the substantial time and financial savings compared to typical field-based studies is increasingly making human challenge the trial design of choice for achieving early proof of concept data.”

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