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Open Orphan kickstarts Covid-19 test (ORPH)

Rare and orphan drug manufacturer Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) has begun testing an antiviral remedy for Covid-19.

Its subsidiary hVIVO began work on the new contract with Moscow biotech firm Nearmedic International. The test is designed to assess the new drug’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and its utility in treating SARS-CoV-2 infections. 

If successful the drug could reduce both virus infectivity and disease severity.

Worldwide, more than 2.5 million people have been infected by the contagious pandemic, and over 180,000 people have died. 

This is the latest move by executive chairman Cathal Friel to use Open Orphan’s extensive facilities and laboratory testing infrastructure in the fight against coronavirus. 

His company began a human coronavirus challenge study earlier in April, and is making progress on a potential candidate for the universal flu vaccine. Open Orphan has access to Europe’s only commercial 24-bed quarantine clinic and on-site virology laboratory. 

The Irish pharma group completed a reverse takeover of hVIVO in record time earlier in 2020. In early March it announced a £3.2 million deal with a then-unnamed European biotechnology group to study a respiratory syncytial virus. This is one of many contracts it has under consideration. 

Friel said: 

“We are very happy to be assisting in the battle against Covid-19 and are delighted to be working with Nearmedic International Ltd. hVIVO is a world leading provider of services to global vaccine and antiviral development companies.

“Our scientists have considerable knowledge from previous anti-viral trials which gives us confidence in our testing. We look forward to updating the market on a regular basis in the weeks and months ahead.”

hVIVO virology specialists will test the drug’s potential utility against a panel of viruses including influenza, circulating betacoronavirus and ultimately SARS-CoV2.

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