A month of giving adds up as Safeway battles cancer with Providence

January 14, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. — An annual event for Safeway and its customers has bolstered the fight against cancer at Providence. The Safeway Foundation presented Providence Cancer Center with a check for $478,272, which will be dedicated to breast cancer research.

This contribution is the result of Safeway’s yearly “round up for cancer research” each October. The money is raised by Safeway customers and employees in Southwest Washington and Oregon stores, who have made a strong commitment to fighting breast cancer.

“Providence Cancer Center researchers and staff are honored to stand with Safeway customers and employees in the battle against this disease,” said Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., director, Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center. “Safeway’s ongoing support fuels our commitment to do the best we can, every day, to ensure a better tomorrow for our patients with breast cancer.”

This year’s donation will be divided among four areas of breast cancer research at Providence:

• Alison Conlin, M.D., will receive $100,000 for the continuation of  her study on a comparison between breast specific gamma imaging and breast MRI in women with abnormal mammograms who will get breast biopsies. This study looks to compare the two technologies and which might be a better diagnostic test. This grant fully funds the clinical trial for this study of 100 women.

• Keith Bahjat, Ph.D., will receive $100,272 to support his laboratory’s efforts to combine cancer vaccines with therapeutic antibodies currently used to treat breast cancer, such as Herceptin. Preliminary work in the laboratory suggests that the inflammatory response elicited by the cancer vaccine can help antibodies to kill tumor cells. A combination of vaccine and antibody could be used alone or in combination with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
• Emmanuel Akporiaye, Ph.D., will receive $128,000 for his project that involves testing a new synthetic derivative of vitamin E, called alpha-TEA. It is intended to help the immune system target and destroy cancer cells and potentially stop recurrence. Initial lab work focused on breast cancer, and now, with FDA approval to move forward, his team is preparing to treat 24 patients who have a variety of cancers in a clinical trial in late 2013.

William Redmond, Ph.D., will receive $150,000 for his research to study how combination immunotherapy in the presence of a HER2-specific vaccine will boost the immune system to destroy cancer. By pairing immunotherapy with a tumor-specific vaccination, the therapy can potentially target any type of breast cancer and would be a step forward in eradicating this deadly disease. The grant funds the pre-clinical lab study in preparation for patient trials.

Safeway Foundation has supported Providence Cancer Center research though this annual fundraising effort since 2008. To date, Providence has received more than $4 million from the Safeway Foundation.