Open Orphan starts testing drug to help treat coronavirus

A subsidiary of Open Orphan has started testing a drug that could potentially treat Covid-19.

Battle: Open Orphan chairman Cathal Friel says the firm is keen to help fight Covid-19

A subsidiary of Open Orphan has started testing a drug that could potentially treat Covid-19.

Open Orphan is a Europe- focused pharma services company specialising in rare disease and so-called orphan drugs. The tests are being carried out by its London-based subsidiary, Hvivo, on behalf of its client Nearmedic International.

The drug being tested has both potential anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity, and therefore could reduce both virus infectivity and disease severity respectively, a statement from Open Orphan said.

Hvivo will be testing its utility against a panel of viruses that include influenza virus, ‘normal’, circulating betacoronavirus and ultimately SARS-CoV2 (Covid-19).

Cathal Friel, chairman of Open Orphan, said: “We are very happy to be assisting in the battle against Covid-19 and are delighted to be working with Nearmedic International.”

He added: “Hvivo is a world-leading provider of services to global vaccine and anti-viral development companies, and our scientists have considerable knowledge from previous anti-viral trials which gives us confidence in our testing.”

Open Orphan, which in January raised €6.3m in funds through a share placing, bought Hvivo in a reverse takeover last year.

Shares in the company were up 4.5pc in London trading yesterday.

Meanwhile, Amryt Pharma, a drug firm which is focused on finding treatments for rare conditions, has closed enrolment in its AP101 Phase III trial for epidermolysis bullosa (EB). EB is a condition that weakens the skin and makes it prone to blistering.

The decision to close enrolment was taken on the back of the study being close to full capacity, as well as new restrictions on patient recruitment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The data results from the study are expected in the latter half of this year.

Shares in the company, which is headed by Joe Wiley, were up just under 2pc in afternoon trading in London yesterday.