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UW Promotes Capsaicin as Marketing Opportunity to Manage Obesity

November 4, 2015
red chili peppers
Chili peppers could be developed into a therapeutic strategy to manage obesity. (Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at the University of Wyoming have found that capsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers spicy -- could be developed into a therapeutic strategy to manage obesity.

A study, led by Baskaran Thyagarajan, assistant professor in the UW School of Pharmacy, demonstrates this type of compound found in peppers makes the body burn fat without having to restrict calories. The research shows that capsaicin might help prevent or manage obesity by stimulating thermogenesis and energy burning.

The findings have created a new marketing opportunity to take advantage of the obesity drug market that was estimated at $420 million in 2010 and is expected to increase to $2.6 billion by 2020, says Davona Douglass, director of the Research Products Center (RPC) at UW. The RPC is UW’s technology transfer office that helps inventors patent and license intellectual property. It also helps entrepreneurs and inventors throughout the state to identify, protect and commercialize their intellectual property.

“Using therapeutic agents, such as dietary capsaicin, offers new business potential for developing pharmacotherapies and treatments to manage obesity,” she says. “Dietary capsaicin may be used by individuals looking for a non-invasive therapeutic treatment for abnormal body-weight gain. This product may have high revenue potential in the health care industry.”

UW researchers are investigating a new therapeutic drug delivery system for dietary capsaicin using magnetic nanoparticles. Douglass says an external magnetic field or magnetic band could trap the nanoparticles at specific sites throughout the body. A nanoparticle-based drug delivery system may offer the advantage of increased bioavailability of poor water-soluble compounds. The nanometer size of the particle provides a larger surface area for drug absorption across biological membranes.

“Coated nanoparticles may provide a robust and sustained delivery of dietary capsaicin,” Douglass says, adding that UW is seeking a patent on the delivery system.

To learn more about licensing and marketing opportunities, visit the RPC website at, call Douglass at (307) 766-2509, or email her at

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