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Safeway supports groundbreaking breast cancer research

I-SPY 2 trial aims to speed new therapies to clinic

Promise - Spring 2013

By Miriam Smith

The I-SPY 2 clinical trial is a national study with a revolutionary goal: to personalize breast cancer therapies and move promising new drugs to market more quickly than ever before.

Safeway, parent company of Randalls Food Markets, has supported this groundbreaking research from day one. The study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, began at the University of California, San Francisco in 2008. Two years later, UCSF selected MD Anderson to join the I-SPY team. Connie Yates, Randalls’ director of public affairs, says when the study partnered with the nation’s No. 1 cancer center, her team knew it would make a real difference in the fight against breast cancer.

Randalls and Safeway have given MD Anderson nearly $2 million, $300,000 of which was allocated to the I-SPY 2 trial at MD Anderson in 2012. The Safeway-Randalls team hopes its funding of MD Anderson’s I-SPY research will bring new drugs and treatments to patients more quickly while ultimately saving lives.

“Funding research is a key initiative for Randalls and Safeway,” Yates says. “When there was an opportunity to be a part of I-SPY 2 at MD Anderson, we thought that would be a significant program for our contributions.”

I-SPY 2 participants — women with newly diagnosed, locally advanced breast cancer — are assigned therapies based on tumor characteristics, or “biomarkers.” The trial uses an adaptive randomization approach designed to match patients with the most effective drugs.

Mia Hamilton, of Houston, believes the trial saved her life. 

“It’s been a totally positive experience,” Hamilton says. “They were very respectful and made me feel comfortable throughout the whole process.”

Hamilton says the direct contribution she’s making to the fight against breast cancer has been gratifying.

“Initially, it was all about me,” she recalls. “But the more I got into it, my primary focus became making things better for people that come along behind me.”

Hamilton spoke of her experience with I-SPY at a Randalls check presentation in November. Meeting Hamilton, a tangible example of a life saved through The Safeway Foundation’s funding, was a touching experience for the Randalls representatives.

“It was incredible,” Yates says. “Hearing Mia talk about the impact the I-SPY program has had on her life and seeing how she can move forward was a life-changing experience.”

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