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Key human challenge expert Adrian Wildfire rejoins hVIVO for Open Orphan boost (ORPH)

Open Orphan

Anglo-Irish contract research pharma group Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) has received another boost as key human challenge study expert Adrian Wildfire rejoins the team.

Mr Wildfire left Open Orphan portfolio company hVIVO five years prior to join Belgian firm SGS. Together the two companies were the only commercial suppliers of challenge studies in the world.

Mr Wildfire has now returned to take the position of hVIVO’s Director of Scientific and Business Strategy.

Open Orphan executive chairman Cathal Friel said: “This is perfect timing because the return of Adrian and his team means hVIVO and Open Orphan are now the absolute key supplier of challenge studies in the world, particularly for Covid-19.”

As reported in BBC Health on 16 July, scientific experts are now urging world governments to undertake human challenge trials to help aid the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

An open letter backed by 100 prominent figures, including 15 Nobel Laureates and the head of Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine programme, has been sent to the head of the US National Institutes of Health.

It calls for human challenge studies to be pushed forward to accelerate the race to find a virus vaccine.

If challenge trials can safely and effectively speed the vaccine development process, then there is a formidable presumption in favour of their use, which would require a very compelling ethical justification to overcome,” the letter says.

More than 13.7 million people have been infected with Covid-19. 587,000 people have died. 

As part of the deal that sees Mr Wildfire resume a leadership position at hVIVO, human challenge agent manufacturer CHIMagents has been brought into the Open Orphan fold.

CHIMagents was established by Adrian Wildfire and colleague Martin Schutten.

“We have agreed an option to acquire CHIMagents for a nominal consideration,” Cathal Friel said. “It will be a very useful and complementary company to have on board.”

CHIMagents is likely to remain as a standalone entity, Mr Friel added.

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