The Quebec government recently approved a pilot project at Sainte-Justine Hospital for a promising new treatment for children suffering from food allergies.
The treatment involves giving children small doses of allergens under the supervision of doctors with the hope of re-educating and desensitizing their immune systems.
Quebec’s health minister announced a $782, 145 investment that will allow the hospital to run a three-year pilot project for an oral immunotherapy clinic.
The Aug. 31 announcement comes after two years of intense lobbying, fundraising and networking by volunteer parents with ByeByeAllergies.
The group raised over $780,000 to help make the immunotherapy clinic a reality.
WATCH: Oral Immunotherapy at CHU Sainte-Justine
ByeByeAllergies’ president Sophie Beugnot said building the infrastructure of the clinic and securing its opening was a group effort.
And while some could say “mission accomplished,” Beugnot and her team, are not ones to rest on their laurels.
“The one thing to remember is that it’s a pilot project, it has a limited capacity of treatment,” said Anne-Sophie Thétrault, a parent volunteer and mother of a teenager with food allergies.
According to Beugnot, there are around 60,000 children with food allergies in Quebec and the pilot project will treat 775 over a three-year period.
“So we have a ways to go,” Beugnot admitted.
But as she sees it, this is just the beginning.
“This is an amazing foundation for a future free of food allergies where access to treatment will be available across Quebec,” Beugnot said.
The hope is not only to make the program available to more kids but also make it more efficient.
Currently, about 50 per cent of children who do oral immunotherapy will develop sustained tolerance after taking their allergen daily for four to five years, according to Beugnot who explained that sustained tolerance is when you remain safe from an allergic reaction without taking the allergen on a daily basis.
“That’s the point of supporting research and innovation at Sainte-Justine hospital because there are ways to continue improving those odds,” Beugnot said.
“There’s new medication, there’s research on probiotics, there’s all kinds of ideas out there that merit some research and can make the treatment more efficient, in terms of how fast people can become safe from allergic reactions.”
While ByeByeAllergies was originally created with the goal of fundraising until the clinic became a reality, the group has decided there’s still too much work left to do.
“We have committed ourselves to continue our effort of fundraising, so we can support financially, research and innovation, as well as education and training,” Beugnot said.
The goal for 2017 to 2018 is to raise $500,000.
For more information on the clinic or how you can become involved, visit the ByeByeAllergies website.