The hunt for new drugs from daffodils

Organic chemist and BEACON scientist, Dr Patrick Murphy, has been talking to the BBC about his work with daffodils in the hunt for potential cures for diseases. Daffodils produce a compound known as galantamine, which is already used in drugs to treat Alzheimer's, a degenerative disease affecting the brain. However other compounds called alkaloids are also found in daffodils, and Dr Murphy and his team are working on isolating and extracting the alkaloids from daffodils for medical research. Waste valorisation is an important aspect of the work conducted by BEACON, and the daffodil biomass being utilised by Dr Murphy constitutes the waste product derived from the galantamine extraction operation of a commercial partner that would otherwise have been discarded. It is hoped that the alkaloids may have future applications in antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and, possibly, anti-cancer treatments.

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