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Alzheimer's drugs

Study: Alzheimer's drugs appear to cause severe brain swelling

Sunday, July 31, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Alzheimer's drugs, brain swelling, health news

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(NaturalNews) A trial involving a new Alzheimer's drug currently being developed by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb has revealed that the drug may be the cause of a severe form of brain swelling known as vasogenic edema.

And the industry-funded study is not the first to identify a link between the condition and Alzheimer's drugs -- Eli Lilly and Co.'s "solanezumab" and Pfizer / Johnson & Johnson's "bapineuzumab," two other types of Alzheimer's drug, are also linked to the condition.

Edema is a condition where fluids in the body become improperly balanced, with either too little or too much fluid moving between blood vessels and bodily tissue. It is said to be a symptom other diseases or conditions rather than a disease in and of itself. And based on observation, Alzheimer's drugs appear to at least be connected to, if not one of the causes of, vasogenic edema in the brain.

Announced at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris, France, the findings were partially presented as supposed evidence that the drugs are successfully removing beta amyloid proteins -- which are thought to be responsible for causing Alzheimer's symptoms -- from the brain. But what the findings also suggest is that perhaps the drugs are doing nothing beneficial at all, and are instead causing more brain problems on top of Alzheimer's.

None of the patients involved in the Bristol-Myers Squibb trial that evaluated the effects of the gamma-secretase inhibitor drug in question, BMS-708163, had symptoms of vasogenic edema prior to participating in it. They did, however, have mutated APOE4 genes, which is indicative of an elevated risk of Alzheimer's. These factors point to the drug as the culprit responsible for causing vasogenic edema.

"No one had thought this was likely in a trial of gamma-secretase inhibitor," said Dr. Reisa Sperling of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Vasogenic edema had, after all, been seen previously in connection with Alzheimer's drugs that operate differently than gamma-secretase inhibitors. But it now appears that various types of Alzheimer's drugs are all linked to the condition.

Worse, trials involving Eli Lilly's gamma-secretase drug "semagacestat" actually caused patients to experience worse dementia symptoms than when they were taking no drugs at all.

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