Dublin listed pharmaceutical company Open Orphan has said it is developing the world's first challenge study model to test the effectiveness of a number of Covid-19 vaccines that are in development.
Pharmacological challenge studies measure the response of individuals to a disease or a virus and subsequently to a drug in development.
Open Orphan said it saw unprecedented growth opportunities as pharma focuses funding on Covid-19 and respiratory diseases.
It said this will result in the development of a strong pipeline of opportunities, for both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 challenge studies along with the wider services offered by the group.
The company today also reported revenues of €27m for the year to the end of December, while its loss for the year narrowed to €16.524m from losses of €25.481m in 2018.
It said it has a strong pipeline of work to build its up revenue in the second half of the year and said it is targeting operational profitability by the third quarter of 2020.
A further €2.5m of costs will be removed from the business in the second half of the year, while a strategic review is underway in order to seek to monetise the 49% stake in Imutex and the company's other non-core investments.
Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said that since the reverse takeover of Venn in June 2019, the company has been building the foundations of a soon to be profitable business in Q3 and a rapidly growing CRO pharmaceutical services group.
"The merger with hVIVO, post period end, has given us a full-service business, with world class facilities, motivated colleagues and a strong pipeline of work and transforms out business into the world leader in the testing of vaccines and anti-virals through human challenge model clinical trials," Cathal Friel added.
Mr Friel said that traditionally, the testing of vaccines and antivirals had been somewhat of a "Cinderella industry".
"However, following the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic it is clear that for the months and years ahead the development of new and novel vaccines and also the testing of such vaccines and antivirals will be one of the fastest growing areas of the pharmaceutical industry," he added.
"In recent decades, governments and pharma companies around the world completely underinvested in new vaccines and the onset of Covid-19 caught them significantly off-guard and as such there is a huge capital investment program underway around the world to roll out an extensive range of Covid-19 and importantly non-Covid-19 vaccines to ensure that the world is not caught unprepared in future pandemics," he added.