Dub doctor's new hope on Alzheimer's
HEALTH: Expert leads US research
DUBLINER Dr Pearse Lyons, who heads up of one of the largest animal health companies in North America, is poised to develop a new product to help Alzheimer's patients.
The man who began his career selling butter across the border said if the new venture succeeds they will invest and expand in Ireland and the US.
Dr Lyons is founder and president of Alltech which is based in Kentucky and employs almost 2,000 people in 113 countries.
"The late, world-renowned Alzheimer's expert, Dr William Markesbery, said he'd never seen anything like our product that is so beneficial to people with the disease in all his 40 years in medicine," said the Alltech founder.
He hopes the new product "will be a big part of a new Alltech Life Sciences business".
Dr Lyons has written more than 20 books and numerous papers in scientific journals. He has been awarded honorary degrees from UCD, The University of Plymouth and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.
He is also acknowledged as leader of one of the 100 fastest growing companies in America.
Alltech's current work is in the area of nutrigenomics. This is based on how foods and their minerals affect genes and the knock-on effects on various diseases.
Alltech has sales of about €400m a year and hopes to double that within the next three years.
Dr Lyons has hired professional advisers to approach major pharmaceutical companies and other potential investors in his new product.
"This is the first time we've done something like this within Alltech," he explains.
Dr Lyons regularly returns to Ireland.
He spent his youth in Dundalk and honed his entrepreneurial skills buying large amounts of butter north of the border, transporting is south, selling it and keeping the profits.
Dr Lyons never really wanted to attend university, but his mother was insistent.
She regarded education as absolutely crucial so he studied science at UCD in the 1960s because "medicine took too long", he said.
He worked for a time with Irish Distillers and then in the UK before staring Alltech in the US with initial seed capital of only $10,000.
The company makes products aimed at dealing with animal illness and performance.
One product helps horses suffering from colic, another helps cats who suffer with hairballs.