Daniel Herranz Benito, an associate professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Pediatrics, was recently given $500,000 in a grant to enable research toward lymphoma treatment in relation to the INO80 genetic factor, according to a press release.
The grant was created by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research and the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to fund blood-related cancer research conducted by investigators who have previously been or currently are funded by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation. The award is given over two years, with $250,000 granted per year.
Herranz Benito said he applied for the funding with David Dominguez-Sola, an assistant professor in the Departments of Oncological Sciences and Pathology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"We have informally discussed our interest in INO80 as it relates to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in his case and HSTL (hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma) in my case," Herranz Benito said. "So, we decided to join forces and apply to this collaborative project together."
The INO80 factor is an important part of a molecule that may play a role in HSTL, Herranz Benito said. He added that those diagnosed with HSTL and DLBCL display abnormalities in this factor and face low survival rates. Research into this correlation may help inform the treatments of these cancers, he said.
Herranz Benito said he created the Herranz Laboratory at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 2017. The lab works on making discoveries to combat disease, according to Herranz Benito. He said his research inspired him to continue studying metabolism and epigenetics.
"We realized how important both metabolic and epigenetic effects are in leukemia, and we have been further pursuing both research areas ever since," he said.
Before establishing his lab, Herranz Benito received his doctorate in pharmacy at the Complutense University of Madrid and his PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid, Spain.
In 2011, he became a postdoctoral research student at Columbia University studying T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), he said.
Expertscape, a medical research group, recognized Herranz Benito as a world expert in T-ALL, defined as the top 0.1 percent in the field in 2021, and the American Association for Cancer Research named him as a NextGen Star in 2022, he said.
He also received the Director's Research Excellence and Outstanding Achievement Award from the Rutgers Cancer Institute in 2023, he added.
Outside of his laboratory, Herranz Benito teaches in the University's graduate programs for Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology as well as Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
Herranz Benito said he seeks to discover the role of the INO80 genetic factor in his future research with funding from his recent grant, as well as the support of the Rutgers Cancer Institute.
"We anticipate that this (research) is only going to be the tip of the iceberg," he said. "We hope to uncover specific vulnerabilities in INO80-mutant cancers, as well as to model HSTL in vivo for the first in vivo."