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Open Orphan courts more major pharma backing with £4m RSV contract

Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) has bagged its second major contract with a top-three global pharmaceutical company in as many months.

On Monday, the contract research organization services company revealed unveiled a £4 million deal that will see it become the sponsor and provider of a respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”) human challenge study trial.

The study will take place in a London-based quarantine unit owned by Open Orphan’s subsidiary hVIVO and is expected to complete by the end of the first quarter of next year with the bulk of the revenues coming in 2020.

hVIVO’s unit is Europe’s only commercial 24-bed quarantine clinic with an on-site virology laboratory, meaning the firm is the only one on the continent with the capability to conduct an RSV human challenge study.

The respiratory syncytial virus causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract and, although symptoms are typically mild for most, the virus can cause severe infection in certain individuals in at-risk groups.

From an operational perspective, Monday’s deal represents a continued conversion of Open Orphan’s pipeline of deals for ongoing cashflow as well as continued, impressive traction with the world’s largest pharma firms.

Just six weeks ago, the firm announced a deal with “a leading vaccine developer and one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world”. This allows it to obtain and support market access of newly developed vaccines into the EU and US markets until the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, the latest deal also represents Open Orphan’s third RSV contract following the announcement of a $3.5 million challenge study in May and a £3.2 million study in March.

With the company also making major movements forward in the Covid space – recently winning a vaccine for a coronavirus vaccine trial – shares have been on the rise in recent months. As of writing on Monday, they were up some 110% year-to-date – trading 4.8% on the day at 14.1p on the latest RSV news.

As Open Orphan’s executive chairman Cathal Friel put it: “This is another exciting new contract win with a new customer for Open Orphan’s subsidiary hVIVO as we convert the substantial pipeline that is building up within the Company.

“This contract, with a top 3 global pharmaceutical company, is evidence of the high regard hVIVO is held in within the industry and reinforces our position as the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials. As a group we are focused on winning and delivering high-quality, profitable contracts and this is another example of our delivery against that strategy.”

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