Immuron’s shares rise on the back of Travelan® results
Australian biopharmaceutical group, Immuron Ltd (ASX:IMC; NASDQ:IMRN), has provided an extremely promising update on the company’s cooperative research and development agreements with the US Department of Defence, no doubt contributing to its strong share price performance on the back of this news.
The company trade as high as 15.5 cents on Wednesday morning, up more than 20% on the previous day’s closing price.
Immuron is focused on developing and commercializing oral immunotherapeutics for the prevention and treatment of many gut mediated pathogens.
The global burden of diarrheal diseases outweighs any of the more complex diseases seen in gastroenterology clinics.
Every year, there are an estimated 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea worldwide.
These episodes result in the deaths of approximately 2.2 million people, mostly children in developing countries.
Travelan® delivers positive results in relation to Shigellosis
Today’s news related to the Shigella challenge model which was used to assess the therapeutic potential of Travelan® as a prevention treatment for shigellosis or dysentery.
The placebo-controlled study was carried out in 12 juvenile rhesus monkeys segregated into 2 groups, a Travelan® treatment cohort of 8 and a placebo cohort of 4, which were treated twice daily for a total of 12 doses over a 6-day period.
The animals received treatment for 3-days prior to oral challenge with approximately 3 x 109 viable Shigella organisms.
As reported in September last year, all (4 of 4 - 100%) placebo-treated animals displayed acute clinical signs of dysentery within 24 – 36 hours of Shigella challenge.
Only two of the eight Travelan-treated group displayed any signs of dysentery.
The remaining 6 of 8 (75%) of the Travelan-treated group remained healthy and without signs of dysentery post challenge.
Much improved gut inflammation outcomes
Recently completed histopathological analysis, which provides a comprehensive view of the clinical disease and its effect on tissues of gut, revealed that all animals in the placebo-treated group displayed severe inflammation in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
These animals also had very high levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, IL-6 and IL-8) in fecal samples collected throughout the study.
The inflammation seen in the gastrointestinal tract and the increase in inflammatory cytokines in the feces were closely associated with the observed clinical outcomes of dysentery.
Only three of the eight Travelan-treated animals had signs of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, and only two of those had high levels of inflammatory cytokines in fecal samples.
All other animals in the Travelan-treated group were clinically healthy and did not excrete any inflammatory cytokines.
Positive implications for US military personnel
Immuron management said that the latest results reported by the group’s colleagues at the US Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), an overseas laboratory of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), located in Bangkok, Thailand were very impressive indeed.
The study results clearly demonstrated that animals with severe inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and high inflammatory cytokines in fecal samples were associated with severe dysentery and that prophylactic administration of Travelan® significantly reduced the inflammatory response.
Consequently, WRAIR has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of Travelan® and the Immuron technology platform in neutralizing pathogenic gastrointestinal bacterial infections, and proven that it offers significant potential as a preventative treatment for US military personnel and civilians stationed or travelling in locations where such infections may be debilitating.
Manufacture of three new Shigella products
Immuron has also completed the manufacture of three new Shigella specific therapeutic products which have been manufactured with proprietary vaccines developed by the WRAIR.
Preliminary laboratory evaluation has indicated that all three products have generated a strong antibody response to the Shigella antigens used in the manufacturing campaign.
The three products will be evaluated in pre-clinical models of shigellosis developed by the WRAIR.
The WRAIR has been developing vaccines against Shigella for over a decade and the combination of its Shigella vaccine research and development efforts with Immuron’s oral immunotherapy platform makes perfect sense.
The WRAIR will fund the evaluation of the anti-Shigella specific activity of the new products, including assessing their protective capacity in established small animal models which will be completed and reported throughout the remainder of this year.