Antoine has an autoimmune disorder. His white blood cells don’t produce enough antibodies. Every month, he goes to Sainte-Justine for immunoglobulin treatments, which are essential in helping his body stave off viruses, infections and bacteria.

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© Véronique Lavoie

Antoine seemed to get sick all the time when he was younger. To an abnormal degree. Something that would start off as a common cold would inevitably turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. A blood test at Sainte-Justine when he was five years old showed that the antibodies produced by his white blood cells were very low. Either because there weren’t enough of them or because they weren’t functioning properly. His faulty immune system meant he was at greater risk of infection. 

There are lots of different types of antibodies. With Antoine, the little soldiers that are usually there to protect the respiratory and digestive systems are missing. So he gets a shot of extra antibodies to make up for what he doesn’t have.

Benoit, Antoine’s dad

Today, thanks to regular intravenous treatments, Antoine is doing much better. So much so that, two years into the protocol, the doctors at Sainte-Justine suggested he take a break while they monitored his condition with regular blood tests. In February, however, his immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels dipped slightly below normal. And with the coronavirus outbreak in full swing, it was simply too risky to continue. He resumed his treatments at Sainte-Justine. 

At eight, it is now unlikely that Antoine’s system will heal itself. A year ago, there was still hope that his bone marrow would kick in and produce the few more white blood cells that would keep him in the normal range. But his system has probably reached maturity at this point. 

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© Véronique Lavoie
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Research and Personalized Treatment 

Nobody has figured out just yet what is wrong with Antoine. Sainte-Justine is searching for the cause of his autoimmune disorder at the molecular level. With the backing of leading-edge research teams and your generous support, his immunology specialists hope to solve the mystery with molecular testing.

Antoine gets immunoglobulin every month. He’s doing well, but we can’t stop there. Is this the right treatment? Is it the only treatment he needs? How will his condition progress? What are the risks involved? We really need to have a better understanding of the exact mechanisms of his disorder to answer these questions and adapt the way we approach his case so we can avoid complications and improve his quality of life. That’s what true personalized treatment is!

Dr. Élie Haddad

PHYSICIAN AND RESEARCHER SPECIALIZING IN IMMUNOLOGY
CHU SAINTE-JUSTINE

Antoine’s condition is now stable. And it needs to stay that way. Thanks to you and your support for research at Sainte-Justine, precision medicine is helping us gain a better grasp of his condition, as quickly as possible, so we can gauge the severity and identify potential risks.

Finding the molecular cause of Antoine’s autoimmune disorder and the underlying anomalies could very well change his outlook and the outlook of countless other young patients. 

For children who won’t be able to take a break from their illness this summer, thank you for the ray of hope your support gives. ☀️

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© Véronique Lavoie