Hvivo scores £13.1m contract to test influenza B vaccine

25 Jul 2023

Image: © guerrieroale/Stock.adobe.com

The Irish company aims to find a dose of influenza B that will create a safe infection, before launching a human challenge trial next year.

London-headquartered pharma company Hvivo has signed a new contract to develop a human challenge model for a potential influenza B vaccine.

The £13.1m contract is with an unnamed, global pharma client and involves the manufacture of this influenza B challenge virus and a characterisation study. This study aims to identify a dose of influenza B that creates a “safe and reproducible infection” by deliberately exposing human volunteers.

Influenza B is a strain of flu that is usually less prevalent than the more common type A. It typically causes milder symptoms, though both strains have the potential to cause severe symptoms.

The Irish company said the prerequisite phase for manufacturing the virus is already complete, while the characterisation study is scheduled for the end of 2023. Hvivo expects to conduct a full human challenge trail in the first half of 2024.

Hvivo CEO Yamin ‘Mo’ Khan said this continues the trend of “large contract wins” for the company. In January, the Irish company secured a £5.2m contract with an Asia-Pacific biotech to test a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine candidate.

“This existing top five global pharmaceutical client will support the development of a new influenza B challenge model to potentially test its vaccine candidate, in turn furthering our industry leading position by broadening our library of human challenge models,” Khan said.

“Importantly, the contract also further diversifies our revenue pipeline across challenge agents and provides further visibility of revenue into 2024.”

Hvivo was previously known as Open Orphan, which had a subsidiary company named Hvivo that specialised in human challenge trials. The company announced plans to rebrand last September in order to reflect its core human challenge and early clinical services business.

Last August, Hvivo signed a £10.4m contract with a major global pharmaceutical company to test a potential flu treatment. Earlier that year, Hvivo claimed it was developing the world’s first human challenge model involving the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic