A Welsh sheep farmer is growing daffodils that contain unusually high levels of galantamine, a compound which is known to slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease.
In fact, Kevin Stephens’ flowers could be used to help more than 225,000 patients who suffer from the degenerative disease.
Experts believe Kevin’s bloom, grown in the Black Mountains in Wales, contain a higher amount of galantamine than normal due to their altitude at 1,200ft. Due to the harsh conditions in which they are grown, more of the compound is created than in regular species.
The farmer extracts and stores his supply of the compound from the daffodil’s leaves and is hoping a drug company will buy it for use in Alzheimer’s drugs. In 2012, he created Agroceutical, a bio-research firm with a licence to annually produce 40kg of the compound in powder and crystal form.
After six years of harvesting the flowers, Kevin produces enough galantamine to help 9,000 Alzheimer's patients receive their daily dose of the drug, which works by adjusting levels of an essential chemical in the brain.
But he is hoping for a £2 million investment to increase the scale of production, enough for 225,000 Alzheimer's patients, he claims.
“Within a few years we could have very significant quantities of galantamine and actually make a positive difference to the world,” Mr Stephens told Mail Online.
“Galantamine causes the opposite enzyme imbalance in the brain, therefore if you get the galantamine dosage right you can restore the equilibrium of the enzymes in the brain, stop the plaques forming and delay the neuron damage.”
Agroceutical has already worked with researchers at Bangor and Aberystwyth universities, the Government body Innovate UK, and is now aiding DEFRA research on the impact of high altitudes on the production of galantamine.
With around 850,000 people suffering from dementia in the UK, this news may be a positive step towards fighting dementia.
Dr Aoife Kiely, research communications officer at Alzheimer’s Society, told Mail Online that research has shown the effect of galantamine on the brain to be small but positive in treating Alzheimer’s by easing symptoms.
Article by: Katie Avis-Riordan, May 7 2018, taken from: https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wellbeing/a20099679/welsh-daffodils-combat-dementia/