Immuron culls COVID drug work as new variants, a competitive market renders asset DOA

Australian biotech Immuron is showing up the brutal nature of COVID research: We have seen so many big-name successes from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Merck, we forget that there are also many casualties.

Immuron now join the ranks of those who have lost the battle, and it’s a bitter disappointment for the company, which has been working on an antiviral in the form of IMM-124E since 2020.

While showing some early promise in data revealed last summer, namely that it had the capacity to neutralize the virus, the swiftly evolving nature of SARS-CoV-02 and its latest variant omicron has weakened IMM-124E’s capacity to work.

On top of this, new and effective treatments from the likes of Merck and Pfizer are also dominating the market, with space for a little, largely unknown biotech from the Southern Hemisphere getting ever smaller.  

Given this, Immuron said in a press release that it has “deprioritized SARS-CoV-2 research”, i.e., all work on IMM-124E in COVID, and will now switch back to its original, pre-pandemic focus, which is on the treatment of gut-mediated diseases.

This also comes less than a month after the company appointed a new CEO in Steven Lydeamore who, according to the release, is “completing an assessment of the entire product portfolio, target markets, competitive advantage, and key growth drivers.”

Immuron's remaining pipeline asset is IMM-529, which is in early trials for Clostridioides difficile. The company also markets two products: traveler’s diarrhea drug Travelan and supplement Protectyn.