Welsh daffodils provide Alzheimer's medication

25/09/2018

Welsh daffodils provide Alzheimer's medication

A sustainable Alzheimer’s medication has been developed from daffodils grown in the Welsh Black Mountains.

Agroceutical Products, co-founded by Welsh businessman Kevin Stephens, produces sustainable quantities of naturally derived Galanthamine – an alkaloid (a member of a large group of chemicals that are made by plants and have nitrogen in them) that was first discovered in the 1950s in the bulbs and flowers of snowdrops found in Bulgaria, and later, in certain varieties of daffodils.

When isolated, it has been found to effectively treat vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. It works by inhibiting an enzyme that leads to the cognitive impairment found in Alzheimer’s patients.

However, natural galanthamine is hard to source due to the difficulties in cultivating flowers that produce enough of the alkaloid. This has led to a worldwide supply that’s almost exclusively synthetic - which has associated side effects caused by impurities from the manufacturing process.

Agroceutical Products could have the answer, processing galanthamine from daffodils grown on Kevin’s family farm in Glasbury-on-Wye in Wales.

Alzeim, a research and development company set up in 2004 by now-retired Professor Trevor Walker, discovered the so-called ‘Black Mountains’ effect. This is where daffodils ability to produce galanthamine increases when grown under stress at 1,200 feet.

His finding was reported in Advances Wales – a science journal produced by the Welsh government – and was eventually found by Kevin, the son of a Welsh farmer with a background in business and software development.

Agroceutical has received funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Innovate UK and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Further information

Read more on Innovate UK’s website

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