Option to Acquire CHIMagents Limited

Open Orphan plc
(“Open Orphan” or the “Company”)
Option to Acquire CHIMagents Limited
15 July 2020

Open Orphan plc (ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist CRO pharmaceutical services company which is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials is pleased to announce it has signed an option to acquire (the “Option”) CHIMagents Limited (“CHIMagents”) for a nominal sum.

CHIMagents was recently established to assist in the design, manufacture and testing of challenge agents for use in challenge studies. CHIMagents was established by an experienced team and have made great progress across a number of workstreams which will be highly valuable as part of the broader Open Orphan Group. CHIMagent’s Adrian Wildfire has over 20 years of industry experience and will join hVIVO as Director, Scientific and Business Strategy.

Under the terms of the Option, Open Orphan will have three months to exercise its option to acquire CHIMagents. Upon execution, CHIMagents will be a standalone company within Open Orphan.

CHIMagents will support hVIVO with the design, manufacture and testing of both new challenge agents and hVIVO’s industry leading portfolio of 8 existing challenge study agents. CHIMagents will also support hVIVO’s growing pipeline of challenge study clinical trials and help in accelerating the development of hVIVO’s Covid-19 challenge study clinical trials.

hVIVO’s pipeline of challenge studies is expected to grow further given the increasing importance and focus on developing vaccines and anti-virals globally. Therefore, the Option is an important strategic step for Open Orphan as it brings additional, experienced resources to the Group and will ensure that Open Orphan can meet the increased demand for its services as the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials.

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan, said:

“We look forward to working with Adrian Wildfire and the CHIMagents team going forward and this Option is an important strategic step for the business as we rapidly grow our pipeline of challenge studies. The work CHIMagents is undertaking in relation to COVID-19 challenge agents also complements our own work and we look forward to updating all shareholders on that workstream in due course. We have real momentum across the Group and this Option further cements our position as one of the leading service providers to the developers of vaccines and anti-virals globally.”

For further information please contact

Open Orphan plc : +353 (0)1 644 0007
Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman

Arden Partners plc (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker) : +44 (0)20 7614 5900
John Llewellyn‐Lloyd / Benjamin Cryer / Dan Gee-Summons

finnCap plc (Joint Broker) : +44 (0)20 7220 0500
Geoff Nash / James Thompson / Richard Chambers

Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker) : +353 (0)1 679 6363
Anthony Farrell

Camarco (Financial PR) : +44 (0)20 3757 4980
Tom Huddart / Hugo Liddy

Notes to Editors – Open Orphan:

Open Orphan is a rapidly growing niche CRO pharmaceutical services company which is a world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials. Conducted from Europe’s only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology providing individually isolated rooms and connected to our specialist laboratory facility. Which offers highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory services to support pre-clinical and clinical respiratory drug, antiviral, and vaccine discovery and development.  Reliable laboratory analysis underpinned by scientific expertise is essential when processing and analysing clinical samples. Robust quality processes support our team of scientists in the delivery of submission ready data.

The Company has a leading portfolio of 8 viral challenge study models which are: 2 FLU, 2 RSV, 1 HRV, 1 Asthma, 1 cough and 1 COPD viral challenge models. As announced in early March, Open Orphan is rapidly advancing a number of Coronavirus challenge study models and expects to be helping many COVID-19 vaccine development companies to test their vaccines. No other company in the world has such a portfolio, with only two competitors globally having 1 challenge study model each.  In June 2020 hVIVO COVID Clear Test was launched, the most accurate antibody test available to UK employers, helping them to get their people back to work.

Open Orphan comprises of two commercial specialist CRO services businesses (hVIVO and Venn) and is developing an early stage orphan drug genomics data platform business. This platform captures valuable genetic data from patient populations with specific diseases with designated orphan drug status and incorporating AI tools. In June 2019, Open Orphan acquired AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc in a reverse take-over and in January 2020 it completed the merger with hVIVO plc. Venn, as an integrated drug development consultancy, offers CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), preclinical, Phase I & II clinical trials design and execution. The merger with hVIVO created a European full pharma services company broadening the Company’s customer base and with complementary specialist CRO services, widened the range of the Company’s service offerings.

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