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Open Orphan signs key contract with Pennsylvania’s SFA Therapeutics (ORPH)

Rare and orphan drug services platform Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) rose to 5.8p on Wednesday after extending its strong run of deals with a new consulting contract. The business, which listed on AIM in June through a reverse takeover (RTO) of Venn Life Sciences, has signed a contract with Pennsylvania, US-based biopharmaceutical company SFA Therapeutics.

The deal will see Open Orphan provide SFA with assistance in the filing of a European Medicines Agency application for Orphan Drug Designation through Venn. This will include both consulting and regulatory writing services. Open Orphan said that it hopes the agreement will be the first step in a longer-term relationship between itself and SFA. It added that the deal also provides evidence of it executing upon its strategy of winning contracts in the orphan drug sector and its capability for supporting North American companies with their European activities.

Open Orphan’s chief executive Cathal Friel added: ‘This contract is a further demonstration of delivery against one of Open Orphan’s key objectives, transforming Venn. The contract is an exciting one as we are now building on our capability by actively winning work in the fast-growing orphan drug sector. We look forward to delivering the contract for SFA Therapeutics and building upon the relationship.’

Open Orphan has been pursuing its goals at a rapid pace over the last few months. Earlier in December, the business announced plans to combine with its AIM-listed pharma peer hVIVO through an RTO that values the latter at just under £13m.

Meanwhile, in November, the firm announced that it had signed five new clients to its Genomic Health DataBANK platform, which is expected to be completed and rolled out in Q1 2020. The platform is capturing highly valuable genetic data by providing a solution for both patients and drug organisations.

Patient Advocacy Groups of patients with rare/orphan conditions are encouraged to contribute their medical/clinical data to assist medical researchers in developing new treatments. Large pharma companies often look for specific and anonymised data to aid their drug discovery programs. As such, the profits generated from paid access will be split between Open Orphan and the relevant Patient Advocacy Groups – who are incentivised to increase and encourage data contributions to the platform.

Also in November, Open Orphan announced the signing of a contract with Cara Bioscience for a First In Human Clinical pharmacology trial. The deal is expected to deliver significant revenue for Open Orphan over the next 12 months and builds on the company’s strategy of securing long-term partnerships with high-quality businesses. Carna Bioscience is a small to mid-size Japanese biotech company that specialises in developing innovative treatments against cancer and immune disorders.

Finally, Open Orphan has signed a deal that will see Venn Life Sciences become the preferred partner for biopharma business Ipsen Group’s data management and biostatistics for three years. Open Orphan said that the deal – which has already delivered ‘substantial revenues’ – positions it as an integrated drug development partner for more firms like Ipsen.

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