If you’ve ever sampled local fare in South-East Asia you know Bali Belly doesn’t discriminate… even for the US Defence Department.

But after what has been a 20-year search for a treatment, Aussie junior pharma Immuron (ASX:IMC) believes its over-the-counter tablets could be the answer.

Immuron has just released a study of its Travelan tablets by the US Department of Defense, which shows its effectiveness in preventing traveller’s diarrhoea — in each of 180 strains tested.

Immuron shares soared 28 per cent on the news, closing Tuesday at 30c — heights not seen since last July.

Chief Dr Jerry Kanellos told Stockhead the latest study was a strong verification of the product — which has been listed on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration since 2004.

“The US army data dwarfs the studies that we have done in the past,” Dr Kanellos said.

“They have been looking for a vaccine for traveller’s diarrhoea for 20 years and they have seen a lot of products fail. Ours is a cheap alternative and a tablet for a vaccine that doesn’t exist.”

Immuron (IMC) share price movements over the past six months.
Immuron (IMC) share price movements over the past six months.

To get to the bottom of it — Travelen targets the pathogen diarrhoea in the gut.

When a traveller, or solider, drinks contaminated water, the gut is seeded with bad bacteria that takes hold and proliferates. But if taken as a preventative, the product binds to bacteria in the gut and flushes it out of the system while neutralising the toxins.

Dr Kanellos describes it appropriately as a “shock and awe” approach, targeting bacteria the likes of salmonella, food poisoning and Shigella – a disease estimated to cause 80 million to 165 million cases of disease worldwide according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Travelan’s reactivity to various forms of these infectious diseases makes it a valuable asset to foreign government officials looking to protect employees stationed in these regions, as well as consumers who want to preserve their health while travelling abroad,” Dr Kanellos said.

“In addition to consumer purchases, government and organizational adoption of Travelan represents a significant revenue opportunity for Immuron, and one that we seek to capitalize upon as we market the product more broadly.”

Some 60 samples from patients dating back to 1993 were involved in the study, all of which were reactive — evidence of the broad-scale of its bacteria recognition.

This work is the first of three research projects with the US Department of Defense. The company hopeful to release further results of work with the US Naval Medical Research Centre and Department of Enteric Infections in the next few months.

The company reported customer receipts of $473,000 in the US and Australian markets for the first quarter of 2018.