Open Orphan $13.4m Influenza human challenge study contract win

Open Orphan plc (LON:ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist contract research organisation (CRO) 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 $13.4m contract with a US-based biotechnology company to test its novel antiviral candidate using the hVIVO Influenza Human Challenge Study Model.

The study is expected to commence in H2 2022 and will be conducted at hVIVO’s state-of-the-art quarantine facilities in London. The Company expect the majority of revenues to be recognised in 2022.

The Company expects to sign an increasing number of contracts in this area as the global pandemic has highlighted the increased investment needed from governments and Big Pharma to develop effective, novel treatments for a range of infectious diseases that have potential to cause the next pandemic. Influenza is one such disease, with emergences of flu pandemics impossible to predict. Symptoms of influenza may be mild or cause severe disease, or in certain cases, death. Influenza is a serious global health threat with an estimated 1 billion cases per year, 3-5 million severe cases and 290,000 – 650,000 deaths per year.

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), human rhinovirus (HRV – common cold virus), malaria, and 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 announce this significant challenge study contract valued at over £10m, with a US-based biotechnology client testing its highly promising influenza antiviral candidate. This contract demonstrates the Company’s continued ability to convert its leading portfolio of challenge study models into substantial contracts, with signed contracts across a number of our challenge study models including RSV, asthma, hRV, and flu in the clinic next year. This underlines our market position as the world leader in the testing of vaccines, antivirals and respiratory products using human challenge trials.

“The recent emergence of the Omicron variant has illustrated the threat of pandemic infectious diseases, and as a result, pharma companies globally are looking to address the next cohort of infectious diseases which have potential to reach pandemic level, and are developing new therapeutics to help tackle them. Influenza is high on this list, and we expect to sign more contracts of this type as the infectious disease market grows exponentially in the coming years to be worth $250 billion by 2025.”

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