Irish company to begin Coronavirus vaccine trials

An Irish pharma research company is to begin trials where humans will be infected with coronavirus to try and develop a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19.

Dublin company Open Orphan has announced that its London-based subsidiary hVIVO has commenced the development of the world’s first commercial human coronavirus challenge study model, also known as a Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM).

They are amongst dozens of research groups across the globe that are working to create a vaccine.

Open Orphan has a 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology lab where the challenge model will be developed and used.

Test subjects will be infected with common coronavirus strains such as OC43 and 229E which are from the same family of viruses as the newly emerging Covid-19 virus.

However, unlike Covid-19 these common coronaviruses have been widespread in the community for many years and cause only a mild cold-like respiratory illness. 

The study will allow the effective selection of the best candidates and the effective products to be fast-tracked for subsequent field testing against Covid-19. 

Two years ago, the hVIVO scientific team started a project to potentially develop a Coronavirus challenge study model but after a certain amount of work and effort they suspended this project because they didn’t see sufficient market demand for a Coronavirus challenge study model. 

However, in recent weeks, the hVIVO scientific team led by their Chief Scientist Andrew Catchpole have reopened their Coronavirus challenge study project and work files.

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of Open Orphan’s Scientific Advisory Board, said: "Given the unfortunate circumstances of Covid-19 now spreading around the world they and I felt that there was an obligation on us to reactivate the project and to do our best to now swiftly and effectively make a Coronavirus challenge study model available to the market as soon as possible."