Open Orphan subsidiary secures £8.1m contract for asthma study

24 Aug 2021

Cathal Friel. Image: Open Orphan

Hvivo will work with a ‘top five European pharmaceutical company’ under its asthma human challenge study.

A subsidiary of Dublin-based pharma services company Open Orphan has signed an £8.1m contract for a respiratory study.

The contract will see Open Orphan’s Hvivo subsidiary test an inhaled human rhinovirus (HRV) antiviral product from a global pharmaceutical company as part of Hvivo’s asthma human challenge study.

Around 5.4m people in the UK receive treatment for asthma and the HSE estimates that 470,000 people in Ireland have the long-term condition. Illnesses such as the common cold, which is often caused by HRV, can worsen symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

This study will look to test the new HRV antiviral product under the Hvivo asthma human challenge study model, which uses a HRV challenge agent.

Open Orphan, which is listed on Dublin’s Euronext Growth market and on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM sub-market, expects the antiviral study to commence in the first half of next year.

Cathal Friel, executive chair of Open Orphan, said the contract is with a “top five European pharmaceutical company”.

“This contract demonstrates how our broad range of challenge study models can support our clients’ varied infectious and respiratory disease product pipelines, and adds to our exciting pipeline of [respiratory syncytial virus], HRV, influenza, malaria and asthma challenge study contracts,” he added.

Friel also said that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for investment in the infectious disease and respiratory product space.

“Post-pandemic, most governments across the world, all of the big pharma companies and many of the smaller pharma companies are now investing hugely in new infectious and respiratory disease products and, as such, this market is expected to grow from $20bn in 2019 to $250bn by 2025,” he said.

“This restocking of the pharmaceutical industry’s medicine cabinet of infectious disease products around the world is now leading to an enormous expansion of investment into the infectious disease and respiratory product market and will be seen as one of the biggest growth opportunities in the history of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Open Orphan is a specialist contract research organisation that tests vaccines and antivirals through human challenge clinical trials. It recently announced that Hvivo had developed a controlled human malaria infection challenge model.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic