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Research Thesis Topic

Capsaicin in the Prevention of High Animal fat Diet-induced Development of Prostate Cancer.

Topic ID

Thesis Topic/Title
Capsaicin in the Prevention of High Animal fat Diet-induced Development of Prostate Cancer.


One in five Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85 and in 2012 this equated to 20,065 cases. Fifteen percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will lose their life to the disease and those that survive due to treatment will often be left with life-long side effects that diminish both quality of life and overall survival. Epidemiological and molecular studies strongly suggest that a diet high in animal fat, particularly red meat, can drive the development of prostate cancer. As diet is a modifiable risk factor for many cancers, reversal or prevention of the effect of diet is an attractive cancer prevention strategy.

Recent research has suggested that capsaicin, an alkaloid compound derived from the chilli has potent anti-cancer activity against human prostate cancer cells grown in culture. Further studies have demonstrated that capsaicin is a ligand of the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) and interaction with this receptor in prostate cancer cells induces cell death via apoptosis.

The USQ Functional Foods Research Group has established a rat model to investigate the effects of a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet on the pathophysiology and cell biology associated with metabolic syndrome. The model consists of male Wistar rats fed a diet high in animal fats (from beef tallow and condensed milk) and high in sucrose and fructose along with control rats who are fed a corn starch diet. A current project in this laboratory is investigating whether capsaicin reverses the pathophysiology of metabolic syndrome in the high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet rats.

This cancer biology project will investigate the tumourigenic gene expression changes in the prostate glands of these rats that occurs in response to a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet and determine whether a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that is supplemented with capsaicin can prevent these gene expression changes. Tissue samples will be collected from the prostate glands and analysed for prostate cancer gene and protein expression changes.

The techniques that will be used in this project include RNA and protein extraction from rat tissues; quantitative/real time RT-PCR using prostate cancer gene-specific primers; polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and Western immunoblot. It may also require human cell culture of normal prostate and prostate cancer cell lines and siRNA knock-out experiments (time and results dependent).

Principal Supervisor

Associate Supervisors

Research Affiliations
  • Centre for Health Sciences Research
  • School of Health and Wellbeing

Field of Research
  • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Oncology and Carcinogenesis
  • Other Medical and Health Sciences

Application Open Date

Application Close Date

USQ Scholarship Applications

Pre-approved for Ethics
Not Applicable

Admission Requirements

Please review the admission requirements for the academic program associated with this Thesis Topic

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