Open Orphan plc (AIM: ORPH) Launch of STRiVE project

Respiratory viral strains suitable for challenge agents being collected from consenting volunteers

Open Orphan plc (AIM: ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist contract research organisation (CRO) and world leader in testing infectious and respiratory disease products using human challenge clinical trials, announces that hVIVO, a subsidiary of Open Orphan plc, has recently launched the STRiVE project (Seasonal Transmissible Respiratory Virus SurvEy) to collect respiratory viral strains suitable for challenge agents from consenting hVIVO employees. Collection of new respiratory viral strains circulating in the community will allow hVIVO to continually update and broaden its world leading portfolio of human challenge study models.

As part of STRiVE, volunteers with cold or flu like symptoms can send nasal swabs to hVIVO for analysis. Since starting the project, hVIVO has identified over 180 promising virus candidates that could be used in the manufacture of novel challenge agents for its human challenge trials. Viruses isolated include several strains of coronavirus, adenovirus, human metapneumovirus (HMPV), human rhinovirus (HRV), parainfluenza virus (PIV), influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

STRiVE ensures hVIVO can regularly update its challenge agent portfolio with relevant strains as viruses mutate over time. Manufacturing antigenically relevant strains on demand broadens hVIVO’s repository of viral pathogens and could help extend the range of human challenge models it currently offers.

The average UK adult has an estimated 2-4 respiratory infections each year, resulting in billions of pounds of lost output due to illness. Despite familiarity with the negative impacts of cold and flu viruses, remarkably little is understood about the hundreds of viruses responsible that cause illness, including transmission and markers of protective immunity. Using human challenge modelling to better understand such issues could enable future public health benefits and savings.

hVIVO has two decades of experience and expertise in safely conducting challenge studies across a range of respiratory and infectious diseases, including various strains of influenza, RSV, human rhinovirus (HRV – common cold virus), malaria, and asthma. This portfolio has also expanded to include the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan, said: “Despite only commencing recently, STRIVE has already been a remarkable success, with over 180 viruses identified and 12 different strains, with potential to be used as challenge agents in hVIVO human challenge trials. I would like to thank all hVIVO employees who have thus far participated and encourage more to do so in order to continue to build up this important repository for cold and flu research.

“Importantly, the STRIVE clinical research project will play a significant role in the Company’s efforts to broaden its world leading portfolio of human challenge models.”

Adrian Wildfire, Director of Scientific and Business Strategy at hVIVO, commented: “Access to viable strains of circulating respiratory pathogens is extremely limited and this often presents a significant obstacle to anyone seeking to grow a new viral challenge agent. To grow a new viral strain a virus must be collected from a human host, processed and stored in an adequate manner to keep the virus alive.

“STRIVE will allow the Company to use its expertise to monitor the viral strains of cold and flu that are circulating in the community, and potentially lead to the discovery of new, wild type challenge agents and the development of new human challenge models with unparalleled translation into the field.”

Interested in becoming a volunteer?

hVIVO recruits many of its volunteers for its challenge study clinical trials through its dedicated volunteer recruitment website, www.flucamp.com. By volunteering to take part in one of our studies in a safe, controlled, clinical environment under expertly supervised conditions you are playing your part to further medical research and help increase the understanding of respiratory illnesses.

Individuals interested in taking part in COVID-19 human challenge study research can learn more at www.UKCovidChallenge.com.

For further information please contact:

Open Orphan plc

+353 (0) 1 644 0007

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman


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