CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI) today announced the beginning of a new era as a separate, independent organization dedicated to discovering the root causes of food allergies through rigorous scientific research and deploying new therapies to treat and, ultimately, cure them.
FASI launched in 2016 at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in partnership with a group of Boston-area parents whose families have been affected by food allergies. Together, they sought to advance knowledge of the biological basis of food allergy, which affects more than 30 million Americans. Despite the prevalence of food allergy, very limited progress in treatment has been made over the past 40 years.
“Millions of patients are waiting for food allergy diagnosis and treatment breakthroughs, as the speed of scientific learning about these conditions has been eclipsed by the growth of food allergies in the population,” said Christine Olsen, M.D., a radiation oncologist and a founder and the executive director of FASI, whose family has been affected by food allergy. “FASI seeks to accelerate the drug discovery needed to halt this epidemic and enable children and adults living with food allergies to realize improved quality of life, one free from the constant threat of reactions that can include anaphylaxis.”
Since its founding, FASI has made tremendous progress pioneering new research directions in food allergy, attracting talented young researchers, facilitating scientific and public outreach about allergy, and nurturing the food allergy community. The collaborative, multifaceted initiative now spans world class labs across the U.S.
As an independent nonprofit, FASI will build upon the research progress made at the Broad and partner institutions under the leadership of Ruslan Medzhitov, FASI’s chief scientific officer. Major discoveries include the interaction of the immune and nervous systems in relation to the tolerance to an allergen.
“These insights have opened new areas of research and may impact the study and treatment of many other conditions, including autism, gastrointestinal disorders, and Parkinson’s disease,” said Medzhitov. “Our research efforts will continue to uncover how the body senses and responds to allergens, what cells contribute to allergy response, and precisely what role the gut microbiome plays in food allergies.”
The new entity will also build on significant financial support that FASI has garnered to date from philanthropists and foundations, including a recent grant from Food Allergy Research and Education. Additional support will be directed to further foundational science that is shared openly with researchers around the globe, rather than developing one particular therapy or treatment to address one type of allergy.
In order to continue funding transformative food allergy research, FASI has set a goal of raising an additional $50 million over the next five years.
“FASI is a stellar example of what can happen when scientists and clinicians aren’t afraid to tackle big problems,” said Todd R. Golub, M.D., director of the Broad Institute. “To see this initiative grow from a small collaboration to this national endeavor inspires me. Food allergies are an urgent public health issue, and the therapies and breakthroughs that so many people are waiting for will only happen through these sorts of cross-disciplinary collaborations.”
The Food Allergy Science Initiative launched as an initiative within the Broad Institute in 2016, through the support of Boston area food allergy families. As an independent, nonprofit organization, FASI is committed to continue developing innovative food allergy therapies and diagnostics. Philanthropic donations support FASI’s long-term goal of eradicating food allergies. For more information, visit www.foodallergyscience.org.