Open Orphan secures new contract with Oxford BioTherapeutics
(ORPH ) subsidiary Venn Life Sciences ("Venn") has been awarded a contract to advance a breast cancer trial study with Oxford BioTherapeutics, a clinical stage oncology firm with a pipeline of immune-oncology and antibody-drug conjugate-based therapies.
The pharmaceutical firm said this phase I, open-label, dose finding study will assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and preliminary efficacy of OBT076. OBT076 is a CD205-directed antibody-drug conjugate, in recurrent and/or metastatic CD205-positive solid tumours and in women with CD205-positive HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, Breast cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 7% of all cancer deaths (2018). In females in the UK, breast cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death, with around 11,500 deaths in 2018.
Under the contract, the Venn Life Sciences’ team located in Paris will deliver high-quality data management and statistics services, with the study to start immediately.
Open Orphan said Venn’s team in Paris are highly regarded in the field as ‘one of the leading providers in this area which is a perfect complement to the Company’s London offering.’
“We are delighted to be in a position to announce another contract win for the Paris team. This deal further demonstrates Open Orphan's ability to execute on its significant pipeline of contracts with important pharmaceutical businesses,” said Executive Chairman, Cathal Friel.
“Oxford BioTherapeutics is a clinical stage oncology company with a pipeline of first-in-class therapies aiming to fulfil major unmet patient needs by targeting difficult-to-treat cancers. The Venn team are looking forward to assisting with the study and providing the preliminary data required to advance this breast cancer trial,” he added.
Dr Rahim Fandi, MD, PhD Oxford BioTherapeutics CMO commented, “We are delighted to work with Venn and are sure that Oxford BioTherapeutics will benefit from their expertise.”
Investors will be delighted to see the Venn team in Paris signing regular contracts following two contract renewals since the start of 2021 with a major top-3 global pharmaceutical client and Carna Biosciences. Investors will recall that when Venn was acquired back in June 2019, ORPH had to substantially reduce its headcount in Paris to get the business on a positive footing to achieve profitability. Clearly this strategy was right and the business is now profitable on a stand-alone basis whilst helping to improve the Groups overall gross margin by delivering data management and biostatistics services to the London offices’ challenge study team that were historically contracted out to third parties. Shares in Open Orphan have increased by nearly 20% since the start of the year.
Reasons to Follow ORPH
Open Orphan is a rapidly growing Contract Research Organisation and world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials.
The Group comprises two commercial specialist CRO services businesses, hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences and is also building out a valuable data platform business. All businesses are now working closely together to offer upselling and cross selling opportunities.
World Class Facilities
Open has Europe's only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology providing individually isolated rooms and specialist laboratory facilities. The hVIVO facility offers highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory services to support pre-clinical and clinical respiratory drug, antiviral, and vaccine discovery and development.
Largest Test Portfolio
Open Orphan 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 2020, it is rapidly advancing several COVID-19 challenge study models and expects to be helping many COVID-19 vaccine development companies to test their vaccines.
hVIVO works with UK and Irish companies to provide COVID-19 testing to staff to protect staff and customers from a workplace COVID-19 outbreak through its COVID Clear offering.
The company announced that its first volunteer had been dosed with the Codagenix needle free, intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, COVI-VAC as part of a Phase I clinical trial of COVI-VAC currently being carried out by hVIVO, at its facility in the UK.
Rapidly Expanding Market
The market for vaccine development and testing has grown rapidly over the past six months, largely due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
However, ORPH believes Governments and International pharmaceutical companies around the world will be making enormous ‘catch-up investments’ in all types of vaccine development to ensure the effects of any pandemic can be mitigated in the future, which it said should result in the hIVO facility being booked out for months, if not years, in advance going forward.
When Open Orphan acquired hVIVO in January 2020, hVIVO also came with a number of non-core assets including a 62.6% stake in PrEP Biopharm. However, the new Open Orphan Board and management team are primarily focussed upon cementing its position as a unique CRO and ‘world leader vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge study models, and therefore earmarked all non-core assets for disposal.
The options for disposal of this unique asset are exciting, numerous and particularly timely given its mode of action. These options could include a trade sale to a Big-Pharma for cash, reverse the asset into the resurgence of listed SPACs and Cash Shells, or even Spin the asset out into a newly listed entity delivering investors dividends in specie of newly formed companies.
In any event, OPRH shareholders would do well to remain on the Shareholder register when this transaction takes place as, whilst the valuation of PrEP Biopharm is currently unknown, with little carrying value on the Open Orphan balance sheet, it should advance the share price accordingly.
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