Immuron takes aim at the rapid growth of autoimmune diseases

Immuron ASX IMC colitis IBD irritable bowel syndrome

Biopharmaceutical company Immuron (ASX: IMC) has hailed its colitis preclinical program at the University of Zürich, Switzerland as a complete success.

Immuron is currently developing commercially viable “polyclonal antibodies” in oral form, for the treatment of inflammatory-mediated and infectious diseases such colitis i.e. inflammation of the colon as well as other diseases such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), severe alcoholic hepatitis (SAH) and pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Immuron has said that oral administration of IMM-124E was successfully able to treat mice with immunologically induced colitis with research from the University of Zürich revealing that Immuron’s drug candidate, IMM-124E, “offered a significant therapeutic benefit on clinically meaningful study parameters”.

One important detail that could potentially have commercial significance for Immuron is the fact that in its research program, chronic colitis was induced immunologically not chemically. IMM-124E was administered orally after the onset of colitis symptoms such as weight loss and macroscopically inflamed colon were confirmed by colonoscopy prior to the initiation of treatment.

According to Immuron, the results of the trial demonstrated that oral treatment with IMM-124E “resulted in significant alleviation of colitis symptoms”.

Looking ahead to future commercial potential

The results achieved by Immuron are now being analysed by several researchers and laboratories worldwide and will be presented at the annual United European Gastroenterology Week Conference, to be held in late October 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

“This study concludes our comprehensive preclinical program to evaluate the therapeutic potential of IMM-124E in our established colitis animal models,” said Dr Gerhard Rogler, Professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology from the University of Zürich and the study’s lead principal investigator.

Dr Rogler added: “Our results clearly demonstrate that treatment with IMM-124E significantly reduces intestinal inflammation via reducing the accumulation and differentiation of pathogenic T cells, while concomitantly enhancing the induction of regulatory cells”.

“This indicates that IMM-124E inhibits lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated effects on the mucosal immune system, resulting in reduced intestinal inflammation. Summarised, our findings indicate that IMM-124E administration represents a novel therapeutic strategy to induce or maintain remission in inflammatory bowel disease patients,” said Dr Rogler.

“The University of Zürich research program adds to our published preclinical and clinical data which has repeatedly shown that IMM-124E delivers a significant reduction in liver and mucosal inflammation,” said Dr Jerry Kanellos, current CEO of Immuron.

Immuron currently markets and sells Travelan for the prevention of “travellers’ diarrhoea” and its lead clinical candidate, IMM-124E, is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), severe alcoholic hepatitis (SAH) and pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Meanwhile, Immuron’s second clinical stage asset, IMM-529 is targeting clostridium difficile infections (CDI).

State of autoimmune disease

With the program completed, the results indicate an encouraging future for IMM-124E as a commercially viable treatment for various autoimmune diseases.

Over the past decade or more, the reported rates of autoimmune diseases ranging from minor allergic reactions all the way through to terminal cancers have increased significantly – most visibly in developed countries with a higher propensity for synthetic foods and medicines.

Autoimmune diseases such as Chron’s disease are growing exponentially in many countries around the world, primarily due to deteriorating diets, growth in the consumption of artificial foods and decreasing consumption of natural foods.

Immuron hopes that its series of preclinical immunotherapy pipeline products will successfully treat the symptoms for a variety of immune-related diseases and address a large gap in the global immunotherapy market that’s growing at a CAGR of 7% during the period 2016-2020, according to Research and Markets.

As an indicator of the market size, AbbVie’s drug Humira, used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, achieved a worldwide revenue of approximately US$14 billion in 2015, with a 12% year-on-year growth rate.

George is an award-winning market analyst who has authored articles and editorial opinion pieces for multiple publications around the world. He has written about a wide variety of topics including financial markets, stocks, trading, politics and economics.