Specialist pharmaceutical services clinical research company Open Orphan said its hVIVO subsidiary has signed a £5.1m contract with a biopharmaceutical company to use its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) human challenge study model.

The study is due to start in the second half of 2022, with the revenue from the contract being recognised across 2021 and 2022.

hVIVO will conduct this study on behalf of the biopharmaceutical client to demonstrate the efficacy of its IMP against RSV infection.

RSV is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract of children and at-risk older adults and in severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and other life-threatening breathing difficulties.

In the current climate, RSV may also lower immunity and increase the risk of developing Covid-19, and where these infections occur together, it can worsen the severity of Covid-19 illness.

Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said today's contract win is testament to the company's position as the world leading provider of Phase II human challenge study clinical trials that innovative biopharmaceutical companies, as well as Big Pharma, are actively and regularly engaging it to test their novel vaccine and antiviral candidates.

hVIVO has two decades of experience and expertise in safely conducting challenge studies across a range of respiratory viruses, including RSV, various strains of influenza, human Rhinovirus HRV (common cold virus), malaria, and asthma.

Its studies also expanded last year to include the SARS-CoV-2 virus.