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Open Orphan subsidiary signs €9.5m contract for asthma study

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Cathal Friel

Cathal Friel

Cathal Friel

Hvivo, a subsidiary of Dublin-listed Open Orphan, has signed an £8.1m (€9.45m) contract with a global pharmaceutical company to help carry out an asthma human challenge study.

Around 5.4 million people in the UK currently receive treatment for asthma. One in 13 people in Ireland currently have asthma, according to the Asthma Society of Ireland.

This research will test the pharma company’s inhaled human rhinovirus (hRV) antiviral product using the Hvivo asthma human challenge study model, which uses a hRV challenge agent (common cold virus).

Illnesses such as the cold, which is most commonly caused by HRV, can worsen asthma symptoms, Open Orphan said.

The antiviral study will be conducted by Hvivo and is expected to start in the first half of next year.

Open Orphan expects the bulk of the revenue from the contract to be recognised across this year and in 2022.

Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said: "We are pleased to sign this contract with this top five European pharmaceutical company to test its inhaled hRV antiviral product using our Asthma Human Challenge Study Model.”

“Open Orphan is well placed to work with Big Pharma and biotechs alike to move their products through the clinic as human challenge becomes a part of mainstream clinical trial design."

Hvivo has two decades of experience in conducting challenge studies across a range of respiratory and infectious disease viruses, including various strains of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV), asthma and malaria, Open Orphan said.

Europe-focused Open Orphan specialises in rare disease and so-called orphan drugs - treatments developed for medical conditions which, because they are so rare, few pharmaceutical companies pursue research into.

Open Orphan listed two years ago, it is one of three companies to come out of Raglan Capital, the former corporate finance house led by Cathal Friel that is now exclusively focused on rapidly bringing companies to public markets.

The first was Amryt Pharma just over five years ago, while Poolbeg Pharma is the third company.

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