Dublin-listed pharmaceutical services group Open Orphan has signed an option to buy a company called CHIMagents. The company designs and makes "challenge agents", which are used in pharmaceutical trials.

The company said it has three months to complete the acquisition. When the deal is completed, CHIMagents will be a standalone company within Open Orphan.

Open Orphan recently announced that it was developing the world's first challenge study model to test the effectiveness of a number of Covid-19 vaccines. 

Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said the proposed deal n is an important strategic step for the business as it rapidly grows its 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," Cathal Friel said. 

"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," he added.