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03 Feb

Alzheimer’s could be alleviated by a chemical produced by daffodils.

A sheep farmer in Wales believes that his daffodils could be used to treat 200,000 Alzheimer’s patients.

Kevin Stephens’ flowers produce high quantities of galantamine, a compound that can slow the progress of the disease.

Scientists believe they produce more of the chemical than lowland species due to harsh winters at 1,200ft. The unfavorable conditions cause them to bloom much later than regular daffodils, which produce only very small quantities of the chemical.

Mr Stephens harvests daffodils on his farm at the Black Mountains. The 51-year-old has set up the research firm Agroceutical, which has a license to produce 40kg of galantamine in powder and crystal form across 20 acres. This is enough to give 9,000 patients their daily dosage of the Alzheimer’s drug, which works by correcting an enzyme imbalance in the brain, for a year.

‘This spring has been pretty stressful up here for both man and daffodil,’ Mr
Stephens said, ‘however more stress on the daffodils means more galantamine, so a harsh spring is quite good news.’

He claims that, with £2million of investment, he could produce enough galantamine for 225,000 patients.

He is working with the Government to see whether daffodils grown elsewhere at high altitude can produce similarly high levels of galantamine.

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