UCI assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences Claudia Benavente researches pediatric cancer. Steve Zylius / UCI

Claudia Benavente, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and developmental & cell biology, was awarded a $100,000 grant through the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The AACR-Aflac Incorporated Career Development Award for Pediatric Cancer Research is given every year to a project believed to have significant impact in the field of pediatric cancer research. Benavente’s research aims to explain the role of the chromatin remodeling protein UHRF1 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of osteosarcoma, a childhood cancer of the bone. “Our data shows that targeting UHRF1 overexpression dramatically increases survival in mice bearing osteosarcoma tumors and reduces the rate and number of metastases, which is the main cause of death in patients with this disease,” Benavente said. “This project aims to further understand this process in order to help design novel therapeutic interventions for osteosarcoma treatment.” Osteosarcoma is the eight most common form of childhood cancer, and has a survival rate of just over 50 percent.