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Open Orphan launches Covid-19 antibody test (ORPH)

04 Jun 2020 | by: Patricia Miller

Human challenge study specialist Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) is making a major move to launch its “best-in-class” Covid-19 antibody test today.

Shares spiked 6% from 14.5p to 15.3p at market opening on Thursday 4 June before resettling at 15p.

ORPH has been breaking out of previous ranges on extremely heavy volume in recent weeks.

A 22 May placing at 11p — a 26.4% discount to the day’s closing price — raised £12 million to expand its testing capacity and open up its existing lab testing facilities to third-party biotechs.

The hVIVO Covid Clear Test will be offered to large employer groups, GP networks, nursing services, health clinics and private hospitals. Samples will be tested in the company’s London laboratory with results returned within 48 hours.

Open Orphan has previously said that, unlike home and online testing kits, the antibody test offers 100% accuracy.

At 11am on Thursday, press will gather at the Anglo-Irish pharma firm’s East London location to see the Quotient MosaiQ system and MosaiQ COVID-19 antibody microarray in action. Open Orphan signed a partnership deal with US-listed Swiss biotech Quotient (NASDAQ:QTNT) to use its equipment, a specialist tool designed to detect thousands of DNA expressions simultaneously.

Quotient CEO Franz Walt noted he was “incredibly proud to be collaborating with hVIVO and Open Orphan”, adding that “antibody testing is crucial for guidance on immunity, development of vaccinations and potential revaccinations, as well as helping to answer outstanding epidemiological questions about the spread of the virus.”

Open Orphan noted it could manufacture 3,000 tests per day from a single machine.

Executive chairman Cathal Friel said:

“hVIVO is a world class company with best in class scientists and facilities. We are very excited to be offering this service and I am confident our work will help large companies and clinics in the UK test their staff and patients to ensure the safety of all employees.”

Friel has won shareholder praise for being ruthless in bringing down costs and signing contracts worth up to £10 million this year, while also taking a large stake in the company.

Open Orphan raised £4.5 million in its IPO on 28 July 2019 as a reverse takeover of AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences.

Its market cap has grown from £53.4 million to £88 million since February.

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