Safeway Foundation grant supports breast cancer drug study

Safeway Foundation grant supports breast cancer drug study

The Arizona Cancer Center has received $150,000 from the Safeway Foundation to participate in the national I-SPY 2 breast cancer drug trial, designed to get novel chemotherapy drugs to market faster.

University of Arizona College of Medicine assistant professor of surgery Julie E. Lang, MD, is the principal investigator for the project at the Arizona Cancer Center, where she is a research scientist and member. Dr. Lang also is the director of breast surgical oncology at the AZCC.

“This Foundation grant is part of our annual breast cancer fundraising effort,” said Dan Valenzuela, Safeway Phoenix Division president. “It is important to have money raised locally at Arizona’s 115 Safeway stores go to a local cancer center involved in cutting edge cancer research. The ultimate goal is to find a cure, and we are proud to partner with the Arizona Cancer Center.”

“Our participation in this important national breast cancer drug study could not happen without support from the Safeway Foundation,” said David S. Alberts, MD, Arizona Cancer Center director. “We are especially pleased to be able to invest Safeway’s generous grant to conduct research with our patients here in Arizona.”

The nationwide, five-year $26-million effort, called Investigation of Serial Studies to Predict your Therapeutic Response with Imaging and Molecular Analysis, will use molecular profiling to match the best of up to a dozen experimental drugs to each breast cancer patient’s tumor profile.

Patients selected for the study will be tested after a biopsy but before surgery and will be treated with one of 12 different drugs. Analysis throughout the study period will allow researchers to drop treatments that are not working or appear too toxic. The study’s goals are to move promising chemotherapy agents through the research process efficiently so that molecular medicine may help personalize therapies for breast cancer patients, Dr. Lang said.

The study is supported by The Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and major pharmaceutical companies. The Safeway Foundation is a major sponsor of the study, using funds from the grocery company’s annual chain-wide October Breast Cancer Awareness fundraising initiative.

Safeway and the Safeway Foundation has become a corporate leader in cancer research, providing nearly $70 million for breast cancer and prostate cancer causes during the past six years. Safeway dedicates the month of October to raising money for breast cancer research and prevention programs where customers are able to make donations at each checkstand and purchase specially marked “pink ribbon” products in stores.

About Safeway
Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 50 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America based on sales. The company operates 1,725 stores in the United States and Canada and had annual sales of $40.8 billion in 2009. The company’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY. Safeway supports a broad range of charitable and community programs and in 2009 donated more than $250 million to important causes, such as cancer research, education and hunger relief.