TUCSON, Ariz., and PLEASANTON, Calif., Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Safeway Inc. kicked off its annual fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association August 1 to support health care services for those living with neuromuscular diseases and global MDA research initiatives.
The nationwide campaign runs through September 3, giving customers the opportunity to help fight muscle disease by contributing at the register to MDA's "Make a Muscle, Make a Difference®" program.
Along with Safeway, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Dominick's and Carrs stores also will participate.
Safeway has raised more than $68.7 million for MDA, contributing to the search for better treatments and cures for the more than 40 neuromuscular diseases in MDA's program.
"We're so grateful to the generous Safeway customers and employees who have truly made a difference in helping us fight muscle disease," said Valerie Cwik, M.D., MDA's interim president and medical director. "Important clinical trials are under way that we hope will lead to effective treatments of diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy — and this wouldn't be possible without Safeway."
MDA funds some 300 neuromuscular disease research projects around the world from basic science to clinical trials.
"We are honored to be partners with MDA and support its life-saving research," said Executive Vice President and Chair of the Safeway Foundation Larree Renda. "Our customers' contributions have helped many people with muscle disease who today, are living longer, stronger and healthier lives."
Donations made to MDA from Safeway customers and employees in the last year alone have contributed to the following significant research achievements:
- MDA funding enabled a recent phase 2 clinical trial for an exon-skipping drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder that causes muscle degeneration. The drug was well-tolerated and increased levels of dystrophin, the protein deficient in DMD. DMD primarily affects young boys, although it can affect girls in rare cases.
- MDA is currently funding the development of two different drugs designed to increase utrophin levels as a therapy for DMD, one of which is currently being tested in a phase 1 clinical trial.
- MDA funded the development of RG3039, which is an experimental treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), that was found to be safe and well-tolerated in a recent phase I clinical trial of healthy volunteers. Plans are under way for a second phase 1 study in people with SMA, pending FDA approval.
- RG2833, whose preclinical drug development was funded by MDA, belongs to a class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors. RG2833 recently entered a phase 1 clinical trial for Friedreich's ataxia (FA). This is the first clinical trial of a therapy specifically developed to treat the underlying molecular cause of FA.
- Research funded by MDA recently led to a major breakthrough in the understanding of the pathogenic mechanism underlying FSHD, facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). The finding provides researchers with a new target at which to aim experimental therapies for FSHD.
In addition to funding research, Safeway's annual MDA campaign raises public awareness for many of the muscle diseases covered in the Association's program.
Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, based on sales. The company operates 1,687 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $41.1 billion in 2010. The company's common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
In addition to funding some 300 research teams worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters fighting progressive muscle diseases. For more information, visit mda.org.
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SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association