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Open Orphan hits record highs after winning £4.3m vaccine contract

Open Orphan

Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) shot up to record highs on Monday morning after unveiling a £4.3 million contract with a global top ten vaccine company.

Shares in the pharmaceutical services player have been steadily moving up this year on the repeated release of a wide variety of revenue-generating deals. And at the beginning of this week, it sat 8% higher at a record 18.8p after revealing it had secured a blockbuster deal to conduct a human viral challenge study.

The work will use one of Open Orphan’s eight traditional challenge study models and will be completed in its dedicated human viral challenge quarantine unit in London. Owned by subsidiary hVIVO, which was acquired in January, the facility is Europe’s only commercial 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with an on-site virology laboratory.

Open Orphan said work on its new contract has already started, with results slated for Q1 2021. The firm will realise the majority of the resultant revenues throughout H1 2021.

Executive chairman Cathal Friel described the contract as another example of Open Orphan delivering on its stated aim of converting its pipeline into sizeable contracts.

“Our stated objectives when we acquired hVIVO in January of this year was to increase its 24-bedroom quarantine clinic annual utilisation from its traditional 20-25% utilisation up to maximum capacity and to build out a clear pipeline of signed contracts going forward,” he added.

“With this contract, we are close to having the hVIVO quarantine clinic block booked with our conventional challenge studies until December 2021. Within a month or two we are likely to have our quarantine clinic block booked out for the next 18 months to two years with conventional challenge study contracts.”

Monday’s update comes just days after Open Orphan confirmed it is in advanced negotiations with the UK government for a coronavirus challenge study. In a market response to a spike in its share price, the pharmaceutical services firm said any contract signed is expected to generate more than £7 million in revenue.

Open Orphan has previously announced that it is developing a coronavirus challenge study model and is in ongoing talks with vaccine developers.

The firm also recently revealed that its subsidiary Venn Life Sciences had won an “important” new contract to support an oncology study with a major European pharmaceutical firm.  The niche contract research specialist said Venn’s Paris team would handle all data management, statistics and medical writing for the 750-subject study.

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