It is not often that headlines on the ASX really stand out. Aside from the obvious mining hits, tech partnerships and biotech results, most of the announcements released via the ASX’s platform each day read “daily share buyback notice”, “appendix 3B” or “units on issue”.

Which is why gut health biotech Immuron (ASX:IMC) stood out on Wednesday morning with this beauty: “US Defense funds AU$5.5M for Immuron New Gastro Weapon”.

The reality — $5.5 million in funding from the US Department of Defense to develop a new oral drug targeting certain bacteria — is less evocative than the headline, but shareholders responded resoundingly nonetheless; IMC shares flew 124 per cent to as high as 23.5c, their highest point since mid-April.

Immuron is making oral drugs targeting a range of gut bacterial conditions, including travellers’ diarrhoea. The US DOD has been working with Immuron since 2016, as it seeks solutions for soldiers travelling to regions where bacterial diseases can cause gut issues. Last month the pair announced that Immuron’s drug Travelan had been shown to bind and react to a variety of infectious vibrio cholera strains from Southeast Asia, in a trial sponsored by the DOD.

The partnership is now ramping up, with the DOD providing $5.5 million in funding for the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) to manufacture and test a new oral drug to protect against acute infectious diarrhoea.

NMRC head of bacteria research Dr Frédéric Poly said Immuron was the ideal partner. “Deployed military personnel are a unique population of travellers that have a long history of being affected by acute infectious diarrhea. It represents a major burden for deployed US troops,” he said.

“Despite robust research efforts to develop vaccines against major enteric pathogens, there are currently no licensed vaccines available. To address this unmet need, we will be utilising our own vaccine expertise along with Immuron’s proprietary technology platform to develop an oral preventative product which directly targets pathogenic bacteria at the site of infection within the gastrointestinal tract.”

“This is wonderful news,” added Dr Gary Jacob, CEO of Immuron.  “Along with our current program with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research which is focused on Shigella, this project highlights the continued commitment Immuron is making to use our hyperimmune bovine polyclonal colostrum technology to benefit the U.S. Military as well as the civilian population.”

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In more ASX health news

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Hydrix (ASX:HYD) picks up heart attack technology. The engineering company has secured exclusive rights to distribute Angel Medical Systems’ Guardian®System in eight Asia Pacific countries. The tech is  the world’s first FDA-approved implantable heart attack alerting device, Hydrix says.