Hill farmers get investment boost for health crop

Welsh hill farmers could soon be harvesting a crop that could benefit thousands of Alzheimer‘s sufferers.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Alzeim, Talgarth, Powys, has secured an £850,000 investment to grow daffodils on land in the Black Mountains.

Alzeim will use the money to scale up a successful pilot project extracting a compound called galantamine, which is claimed to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, from daffodil bulbs.

The drug, which is normally extracted from snowdrops grown in Bulgaria and China, is prescribed free on the health service in Scotland, but is considered too expensive to be used in the rest of the UK.

The company claims more galantamine can be extracted from daffodils grown in the uplands, and that trials started in 2006 have shown it is possible to farm the crop in the Black Mountains.

Kevin Stephens, Alzeim’s chief executive, said the money from Finance Wales, the Welsh Assembly government’s investment company, Gambit Corporate Finance and a number of individual investors would allow commercial production.

He hoped this would enable galantamine to be produced at a low enough cost to persuade the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to allow it to be prescribed.

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