Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
Cairo University, Giza
The focus of my Lab is to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms of selected natural-based
biomolecules against cancer. Through utilizing various cellular & molecular, nanoparticles, bioinformatics and
metabolomics techniques we investigated a variety of biomolecules and introduced them as potential drug
targets. In an early study, we reported saffron’s potent anti-cancer effect against liver cancer and showed that
saffron’s anticancer effect was mediated by its anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory actions
(Amin et al., Hepatology, 2011, 54(3): 857-867). We then investigated the anticancer activities of saffron’s bioactive
molecules (crocin and saffron) against both liver and colorectal cancers where we showed that autophagy
facilitated the crocin-mediated effects against colorectal cancer. Recently, we developed nanoparticles to
enhance the pharmacological effects of crocin against liver cancer (Awarded PhD Thesis; El-Kharrag et al.,
International Journal of Oncology 50: 212-222). We have also just completed an in vivo experiment to investigate
the therapeutic potential of saffron’s biomolecules and are currently analyzing those very exciting new results
(Two ongoing MSc Theses).
Most recently, we provided in vitro evidence that safranal exerts its anticancer effect through interfering with
DNA replication and inhibiting DNA repair machinery resulting in an increased DNA damage. Inhibited protein
expression of main contributors of DNA double-stand-break repair mechanism such as TDP1, HDAC1 and
HDAC2 clearly supported that notion. Safranal also induced the phosphorylation of histone-H3 and the cleavage
of PARP resulting in cell cycle arrest. Apoptosis was triggered as safranal activated initiator caspases of both
intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. Extended safranal-induced ER stress may elucidate the activation of both
caspase-8 and -9, which are also indicators of ER stress-mediated apoptosis. Expectedly, caspase-3 and -7, the
downstream targets of the initiators, were activated upon safranal treatment. These findings were interestingly
consistent with systems analysis where unfolded protein response was shown to be among the top GO terms of
up-regulated genes in response to safranal treatment for 12 and 24 h. Our recently reported results suggest a
novel mechanism of safranal-mediated inhibition of liver cancer both in vitro and in vivo (both in murine and
zebrafish models) (in publication).
First and in collaboration with computational biologists and bioinformaticians, we are now utilizing
metabolomics to understand how safranal affects different pathways (namely, apoptosis and inflammation) in
hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Toward that goal, we are set to define gene expression profile of HepG2 along
with other liver cell lines treated with this bioactive molecule. This study will take advantage of RNASeq technique
to define gene expression profiles of HepG2 cells with or without safranal treatment and to identify metabolic
pathways affected by safranal through metabolic modeling integrated with RNASeq expression data and
metabolic phenotype array profiles. In addition, transcriptome analysis of safranal-treated HepG2 cells is
currently underway using Illumina HiSeq2000 and high performance computing clusters. Following transcriptome
sequencing, obtained reads will be mapped to a human reference sequence and expression of genes will be
determined by calculating RPKM values for each gene. The NOISeq software will group genes that are
upregulated, downregulated, or unaffected for further analyses. We will then use the manually curated
knowledge-based Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) designations to introduce functional relevance to up- and
down-regulated genes after safranal treatment for 12 and 24 h. Among the IPA preliminarily generated (Figure
4), top enriched networks were liver hyperplasia/hyper-proliferation, hepatocellular carcinoma, liver proliferation,
liver necrosis/cell death and liver regeneration. Those networks indicated the inhibition of HCC at both 12 and
24 h after safranal treatments (Ongoing MSc Thesis).
As current HCC therapies have made little impact on survival, alternative strategies are desperately needed.
Two major problems with current cancer therapies have been identified. Firstly, chemotherapeutic agents do not
eradicate the cancer stem cells, which are the only cells able to recapitulate the tumor and are responsible for
forming distant metastases. Secondly, cancer cells recruit peritumoral stromal cells that induce interactions that
benefit the cancer and reduce penetration of therapeutic drugs. Thus, in other major project, we are targeting
the cancer stem cells (CSC) and the stroma by chitosan nanoparticles carrying a payload of metformin and the
smoothened inhibitor vismodegic, both of which have been shown to eradicate CSC. These nanoparticles will
target CSCs by incorporating monoclonal antibodies to CSCs’ marker EpCAM and will carry rhodamine 123 dye
for tracking the nanoparticles after injection. In addition, pegylated hyaluronidase will be employed to target and
disrupt the peritumoral storma and prevent its reformation. The nanoparticles will be optimized and their
effectiveness of eradicating CSCs will be evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. Their effectiveness in vivo will be
assessed both alone and in combination with HCC conventional therapies; mainly sorafenib. The overall goal is
to provide a more effective treatment for patients with HCC.
Despite the need to establish reliable and physiologically relevant in vitro assays that relates better to the in
vivo environment, the vast majority of studies using cancer cell lines remain to be performed in traditional
monolayer cultures. The development of culture system that fully mirrors cancer and its diverse cellular
microenvironment is lagging and needs to be further developed. Recent studies have shown that the tumor
microenvironment plays a critical role in modulating the process of liver hepatocarcinogenesis, fibrosis, epithelialmesenchyme
transition, tumor invasion and metastasis. In another ongoing project in my lab, we have set up a
tumor environment of HCC using three-dimensional culture to evaluate the effects of microenvironment
interactions through analyzing the transcriptome and proteome of both liver cancer cells and their stromal
counterparts (Defended MSc Thesis).
B. Positions and Honors
Positions and Employment
1995-1996 Adjunct Faculty, Columbia College, Chicago, USA
2000-2004 Assistant Professor, Biology Department, College of Science, UAE University, UAE
2004-2010 Associate Professor, Biology Department, College of Science, UAE University, UAE
2010-2018 Full Professor, Biology Department, College of Science, UAE University, UAE
Other Experience and Professional Memberships
1998- Member, Genetics Society of America
2003- Member, American Association of Cell Biology
2003- Member, American Association for Cancer Research
2007 Shoman Award for Young Arab Researchers in Biological and Environmental Sciences, Jordan
2008 College Award for Excellence in Scholarship
2009 College Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
2016 Khalifa Award for Education for University Professor Distinguished in Scientific Research, UAE
2018 College Award for Excellence in Scholarship
C. Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications
1. Greish, Y.E., Sulafa,…., Amin, A., El-kharrag, R. (2018). Synthesis and Characterization of Chitosan-coated
Magnetite Nanoparticles Using a Modified Wet Method for Drug Delivery Applications. International Journal
of Polymeric Materials and Polymeric Biomaterials, In revision.
2. Hamza, A.A., Fikry, E.M., Abdallah, W., Amin, A. (2018). Mechanistic insights into the augmented effect of
bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells and thiazolidinediones in streptozotocin-nicotinamide induced
diabetic rats. Scientific Reports, Accepted.
3. Kamal, H., Jafar, S., Mudgil, P., Kumari, C., Amin, A., Maqsood, S. (2018). Camel whey protein hydrolysates
with potential anticancer, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. Journal of Dairy Science, Accepted.
4. Mathew, B.T., Raji, S., Dagher, S., Hilal-Alnaqbi, A., Mourad, A.I., Al-Zuhair, S., Al Ahmad, M., El-Tarabily,
K.A., Amin, A. (2018).Bilirubin Detoxification Using Different Phyto-materials: Characterization and in Vitro
Studies. International Journal of Nanomedicine, In press.
5. Hamza, A. A., Heeba, G. H., Elwy, H. M., Murali, C., El-Awady, R., Amin, A. (2018). Molecular
characterization of the grape seeds extract’s effect against chemically induced liver cancer: In vivo and in
vitro analyses. Scientific Reports, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-19492-x
6. Fu, W., Chaiboonchoe, A., Khraiwesh, B., Sultana, M., Jaiswal, A., Jijakli, K., Nelson, D.R., Al-Hrout, A.,
Baig, B., Amin, A., Salehi-Ashtiani, K. (2017). Intracellular Spectral Recompositioning of Light Enhances
Algal Photosynthetic Efficiency. Science Advances 3 (9), e1603096, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603096
7. Al Hrout, A., Baig, B., Hilal-Alnaqbi, A., Amin, A. (2017). Cancer and Biotechnology: A Matchup that Should
Never Slowdown. In: Malik S. (eds) Biotechnology and Production of Anti-Cancer Compounds. Springer-
Nature, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-53880-8_3
8. El-Kharrag, R., Amin, A., Hisaindee, S., Greish, Y., Karam, SM. (2017). Development of a therapeutic model
of precancerous liver using crocin-coated magnetite nanoparticles. International Journal of Oncology 50:
9. Amin, A., Hamza, A. A., Daoud, S., Khazanehdari, K., Al Hrout, A., Baig, B., Chaiboonchoe, A., Adrian, T.
E., Zaki, N., Salehi-Ashtiani, K. (2016). Saffron-Based Crocin Prevents Early Lesions of Liver Cancer: In
Vivo, In Vitro & Network Analyses. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery 11: 121-133.
10. Hamza, A. A., Ahmed, M. M., Elwey, H. M., Amin, A. (2016). Melissa officinalis protects against doxorubicininduced
cardiotoxicity in rats and potentiates its anticancer activity on MCF-7 cells. PLoS ONE,
11. Hana, E., Amin, A., Zaki, N. (2015). Detecting Protein Complexes in Protein Interaction Networks Modeled
as Gene Expression Biclusters. PLoS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144163
12. Amin, A., Bashir, A., Zaki, N., McCarthy, D., Ahmed, S., Lotfy, M. (2015). Insights into glycan biosynthesis
of chemically-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats: A glycomic analysis. World Journal of
Gastroenterology 21(20): 6167-6179.
13. Amin, A., Bajbouj, K. Koch, A., Gandesiri, M., Schneider-Stock, R. (2015). Defective Autophagosome
Formation in p53-Null Colorectal Cancer Reinforces Crocin-Induced Apoptosis. International Journal of
Molecular Sciences 16, 1544-1561.
14. Block, K. I., Gyllenhaal, C., Lowe, L., Amedei, A., Amin, A. R. M. R., Amin, A. et al. (2015). Designing a
broad-spectrum integrative approach for cancer prevention and treatment. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35:
15. Hirschey, M. D., DeBerardinis, R. J., Diehl, A. M. E., Drew, J. E., Amin, A., < >, et al. (2015). Dysregulated
metabolism contributes to oncogenesis. Seminars in Cancer Biology (Impact Factor = 9.1) 35: S129-S150.
16. Ferguson, L. R., Chen, H., Collins, A. R., Connell, M. < >, Amin, A. et al. (2015). Genomic instability in
human cancer: Molecular insights and opportunities for therapeutic attack and prevention through diet and
nutrition. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S5-S24.
17. Feitelson, M., Arzumanyan, A., Kulathinal, R., Blain, S. W., Holcombe, R., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015).
Sustained proliferation in cancer: Mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. Seminars in Cancer Biology
18. Amin, A.R.M. R., Karpowicz, P., Carey, T., Arbiser, J., Nahta, R., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015). Evasion of
anti-growth signaling: a key step in tumorigenesis and potential target for treatment and prophylaxis by
natural compounds. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S55-S77.
19. Wang, Z., Dabrosin, C., Yin, X., Fuster, M. M., Arreola, A., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015). Broad targeting of
angiogenesis for cancer prevention and therapy. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S224-S243.
20. Vinay, D. S., Ryan, E. P., Pawelec, G., Talib, W. H., Stagg, J., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015). Immune evasion
in cancer: Mechanistic basis and therapeutic strategies. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S185-S198.
21. Mohammad, R. M., Muqbil, I., Lowe, L., Yedjou, C., Hsu, H-Y., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015). Broad targeting
of resistance to apoptosis in cancer. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S78-S103.
22. Abbas K. Samadi, Alan Bilsland, Alexandros G. Georgakilas, Asfar S. Azmi, < >, Amr Amin, et al. (2015). A
multi-targeted approach to suppress tumor-promoting inflammation. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S151-
23. Yaswen, P., MacKenzie, K. L., Keith, W. N., Hentosh, P., Rodier, F., < >, Amin, A., et al. (2015). Therapeutic
targeting of replicative immortality. Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S104-S128.
24. Jiang, W. G., Sanders, A. J., Katoh, M., Ungefroren, H., Gieseler, F., Prince, M., Thompson, S. K., Zollo, M.,
< >, Amin, A. et al. (2015). Tissue invasion and metastasis: Molecular, biological and clinical perspectives.
Seminars in Cancer Biology 35: S244-S275.
25. Bajbouj, B., Schulze-Luehrmann, J., Diermeier, S., Amin A., Schneider-Stock, R. (2012). The anticancer
effect of saffron in two p53 isogenic colorectal cancer cell lines. BMC Complementary and Alternative
Medicine 12: 69, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-69.
26. Amin, A., Mahmoud-Ghoneim, D., Syam, M.I., Daoud, S. (2012). Neural Network Assessment of Herbal
Protection against Chemotherapeutic-Induced Reproductive Toxicity. Theoretical Biology and Medical
Modelling 9: 1; http://www.tbiomed.com/content/9/1/1
27. Amin, A., Hamza, A., Bajbouj, K., Ashraf, S.A., Daoud, S. (2011). Saffron: A potential candidate for a novel
anti-cancer drug against hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 54(3): 857-867.
PhD Thesis Supervision:
C. Murali: STAT-mediated effects of safranal. Start Fall 2018
B. Mathew: Biological activities of Date Pit Activated carbon, Graduate College, Started 2017
R. Al-Kharrag: Assessment of delivery and therapeutic effects of targeted imaging probes for bioactive
molecules in cancer model, Graduate College, Awarded 2015.
M.H. Shatnawi: College of Information Technology, Awarded 2015.
E.M.S. Hanna: College of Information Technology, Awarded 2015.
Master Theses Supervision:
S. Saeed Abdel Halim: Preparation and characterization of crocetin-coated biodegradable polymer
nanoparticles as potential anticancer drug carriers, Graduate College, Started 2017
B. Awad: Therapeutic effects of safranal against liver cancer. Graduate College, Started 2016
A. AlMansoori: Therapeutic effects of crocin against liver cancer Graduate College, Started 2016
A. Al-Hrout: Modelling the Microenvironment of Liver Cancer using 3D culture system, Graduate College,
B. Baig: Transcriptomic analysis on hepatocellular carcinoma model in response to safranal treatment,
Graduate College, Awarded 2018
S. Abbaszadegan: Introducing safranal-based nanoparticles as a novel biodegradable anti-cancer drug
using supercritical fluid technology, College of Engineering, Awarded 2013
T. Al-Shamsi: The effect of Visfatin and Adiponeckin on metabolic parameters of an animal model of type
2-Diabetes, Graduate College, Awarded 2010
M. Al-Shamsi: Preventive Effects of Vitamin C and Vitamin E on Diabetes, Graduate College, Awarded
I. Al-Haousani: Establishing a PCR-based database for populations in different areas of the United Arab
Emirates, Graduate College, Awarded 2005
D. Research Support and/or Scholastic Performance
Ongoing Research Support
In vitro mechanistic analysis of the effect of safranal on angiogenesis
AlJalila Foundation 21S098 Role: Principal Investigator 2017 – 2019
Modelling Microenvironment of Liver Cancer Using 3D Culture System: Transcriptomic Analysis
Zayed Center for Health Sciences 31R050 Role: Principal Investigator 2015 – 2018
Fibre in Fibre Bioartificial liver device: Evaluation using Adult Stem Cells
Zayed Center for Health Sciences Role: Co-Principal Investigator 2015 – 2018
In vitro and in vivo identification of mechanism of action of safranal in apoptosis and inflammation
UAEU Grant 31S319 Role: Principal Investigator 2018 – 2022
Targeting Pancreatic and Hepatocellular Carcinoma Stem Cells Utilizing Novel Nanotechnology
Zayed Center for Health Sciences Role: Co-Principal Investigator 2015 – 2018
Completed Research Support last five years
Effects of Crocin “Saffron” on Human Hetaocellular Carcinoma: An in Vitro-based Metabolomic Approach
Terry Fox Role: Principal Investigator 2014 – 2016
Mechanism of safranal’s chemo/therapeutic effect against liver cancer: A metabolomics analysis
NRF Role: Principal Investigator 2014 – 2016
Emirates Liver Assist Device (EmLAD) for liver failure treatment using activated carbon (Charcoal) produced
from local plants and date pits
NRF Role: Co-Principal Investigator 2013 – 2015
Introducing safranal-based nanoparticles as a novel biodegradable anti-cancer drug using supercritical fluid
NRF Role: Co-Principal Investigator 2012 – 2015
Glycomic Screen for Novel Molecular Therapeutic Targets: Insights into Saffron’s Protection against Liver
NRF Role: Principal Investigator 2012 – 2014
Human Cancer Protein-Protein Interaction Network: Domain Linkers Perspective
NRF Role: Co-Principal Investigator 2011 – 2013
Evaluation of the saffron-based chemoprevention against liver cancer: A novel approach utilizing computed
tomography as assessment tool