Irish pharmaceutical firm Open Orphan has raised £12m, which it will put towards the hunt to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

The company sold just over 109.5m ordinary shares for 11p each. The shares will likely list on London's AIM and Euronext Growth from Friday next.

Open Orphan said it would use the funds to accelerate the development of coronavirus and Covid-19 challenge studies, which will help meet demand from pharmaceuticals trying to develop a vaccine.

Challenge studies involve exposing human volunteers to a virus in order to test potential vaccines. Open Orphan says such testing could help to speed up the development of a vaccine by two to three years.

Alongside this the company also aims to increase its Covid-19 antiviral testing to 3,000 per day, while it also wants to expand its laboratory testing services.

Some of the funding will also go towards improving the company's balance sheet so it is better positioned to take advantage of opportunities that may arise.

Open Orphan generally focuses on so-called "orphan drugs", but also tests vaccines and antivirals for other pharmaceutical firms.

Last year it merged with British firm hVIVO.