Prof. Jamal Mahajna

Dr. Jamal Mahajna
Head of Nutrition and Natural Products Department
Head of Department
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
Plant-based Cancer Drug Discovery
Research interests:

Our research interste revolved around natural products who exihibit anti-cancer activity. Our main focus is in overcoming chemoresistance in cancer and in particular, ovarian cancer and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). We are interested in overcoming chemoresistance as results of alteration within the cancer cells or that mediated by the tumor microenvironments.

Our main interest in the cancer drug discovery program revolves around cancer drug resistance, and in particular, in Ph+ leukemia. In general, Ph+ leukemia drug resistance to therapy might be due to mutations within BCR/ABL or associated with disease progression that is independent of BCR/ABL mutations. To overcome drug resistance caused by point mutations, specially the "gatekeeper" T315I mutation, we explored modulators of the Myristoyl Binding Pocket (MBP) within the BCR/ABL {Khamaisie et al., 2011; Najajreh et al., 2013} and combinations approaches utilizing AKIs with allosteric inhibitors {Khateb et al., 2012; Mian et al., 2012}. Currently, we are addressing residual disease, cell-adhesion mediated resistance, and disease progression of Ph+ leukemia which is independent of BCR/ABL mutations. Specifically, we are exploring the interaction between the Ph+ leukemic cells to the bone marrow microenvironment and studding the role of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) activators in mediating homing and adhesion to the bone marrow, mediated by affecting the expression of CD44, CD184, and N-cadherin that contribute to residual disease, stimulate drug resistance, and accelerate disease progression in most hematopoietic malignancies. Our long term goal is to get a better understanding of the role of EMT activators in the biology of Ph+ leukemia, especially in the regulation of bone marrow homing and adhesion of Ph positive leukemia cells which play a significant role in disease progression and drug resistance. Achieving our goals will be utilized to develop better diagnostic and therapeutic tools for Ph+ leukemia and potentially to other hematological malignancies.



1997 -1998 Technion- Israeli Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel Sabbatical Biology Department,. Hosted by Prof. Gera Nufeild, Technion, Haifa , Israel.
1987-1991 Oncogene Science Inc. Uniondale, New York, USA PostDoc 2 Development of cell-based transcription screens
1986-1987 Biolume Ltd., Haifa, Israel Postdoc 1 Genetic analysis of the bioluminescence system of Vibrio fischeri.
1982-1986 Hebrew University in Jerusalem Ph.D. Dept. Molecular Genetics, Amos Oppenheim's Laboratory. Regulation of Lambda Gene Expression

Academic and research positions


2011-present Tel Hai College Head Nutritional Sciences Department
2010-present Tel-Hai College Senior Lecturer Department of Biotechnology
2005-2008 MyCure, Meytav Technological Incubator, P.O.B 408, Kiryat Shmona 11013, Israel Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
2005-2009 Tel-Hai College Lecturer Department of Biotechnology
2001-2003 PlasaMed, Misgav Technological Incubator. Israel Chief Scientific Officer
2002-present MIGAL, Kiryat Shmona, Israel Research Investigator and Department Head Cancer Drug Discovery program
2001-2002 The Galilee Society, Shefa-Amr, Israel Scientific Director Regional R&D Center
1998-2000 The Galilee Society, Shefa-Amr, Israel Research Investigator Regional R&D Center
1995-1997 Oncogene Science Inc. Uniondale, New York, USA Research Investigator Cancer Department, group leader of apoptosis and tyrosine kinases drug discovery programs
1991-1995 Oncogene Science Inc. Uniondale, New York, USA. Senior Research Scientist Cancer Department, group leader of retinoids and angiogenesis drug discovery programs.

Scientific Publications

The potential use of natural products to negate hepatic, renal and neuronal toxicity induced by cancer therapeutics.

Prša P, Karademir B, Biçim G, Mahmoud H, Dahan I, Yalçın AS, Mahajna J, Milisav I.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2020 Mar;173:113551. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2019.06.007. Epub 2019 Jun 8. Review

Ectopic Expression of Snail and Twist in Ph+ Leukemia Cells Upregulates CD44 Expression and Alters Their Differentiation Potential

Kidan N, Khamaisie H, Ruimi N, Roitman S, Eshel E, Dally N, Ruthardt M, Mahajna J.
In J Cancer ,2017, Ed. , , Pages 3952-3968

Safety of herbal medicine use during chemotherapy in patients with ovarian cancer: a "bedside-to-bench" approach

Ben-Arye E, Lavie O, Samuels N, Khamaisie H, Schiff E, Gressel Raz O, Mahajna J.
Medical Oncology 2017 Volume 34 Issue 4 Pages 54

Exploring an herbal "wonder cure" for cancer: a multidisciplinary approach.

Ben-Arye E, Mahajna J, Aly R, Ali-Shtayeh MS, Bentur Y, Lev E, Deng G, Samuels N.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2016 Volume 142 Issue 7 Pages 1499-508

Platinum (IV)-fatty acid conjugates overcome inherently and acquired Cisplatin resistant cancer cell lines: an in-vitro study

Ratzon E, Najajreh Y, Salem R, Khamaisie H, Ruthardt M, Mahajna J.
BMC Cancer 2016 Volume 16 Issue 1 Pages 140