RESEARCH: An Allergy Game-Changer
WHAT IF THERE WAS A PREVENTIVE TREATMENT THAT COULD IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR COUNTLESS CHILDREN WHO SUFFER FROM SEASONAL RESPIRATORY ALLERGIES? How about a vaccine that could prevent an allergic reaction to tree pollen? Dr. Christine McCusker, Pediatric Allergy Division Head at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, is working to develop the treatment. DR. MCCUSKER SAYS THE VACCINE SHE’S WORKING ON COULD HELP 30 % OF THE POPULATION. Some patients suffer from seasonal allergies which, while they can now be generally controlled, have seriously affected them at times, with severe bouts of coughing that can leave the sufferer weakened. In some patients, a respiratory allergy, uncomfortable at the best of times, can trigger asthma attacks which, if uncontrolled, can be life-threatening. All that could change... Thanks in large part to your support and with additional research grants, Dr. McCusker and her team at the MUHC Research Institute have developed a peptide – a short chain of amino acids – that teaches the immune system to tolerate an allergen when it tries to set off an allergic reaction. “You reprogram the immune response at that moment,” says Dr. McCusker, whose peptide has been patented and is in line for clinical trials that could begin in another five years. With proper funding, the peptide could eventually be tested for use against even the most dangerous food allergies. “I can tell you, it would be a game-changer”.