Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

New Alzheimer's Drug May Be Safer Than Thought

Drug-Related Brain Swelling May Resolve Over Time, Research Suggests
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 21, 2011 (Paris) -- An experimental drug that targets one of the underlying processes that may cause Alzheimer's disease may be safer over the long run than previously thought, researchers say.

Early studies of the drug, bapineuzumab, raised a red flag when some patients developed troublesome brain swelling that can lead to headache, loss of coordination, weakness, disorientation, memory loss, and hallucinations.

New longer-term safety data on bapineuzumab suggest that although the brain swelling may be more common than first reported, the risk appears to decline the longer a person is taking the drug.

Also, the brain swelling is often mild, causing no symptoms, according to the research presented here at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Disease-Modifying Drugs

Bapineuzumab is a monoclonal antibody designed to bind to and clear beta-amyloid plaque from the brain. Current belief holds that the plaque starts to build up in the brain seven to 10 years prior to the decline in cognitive skills that is often the first symptom of Alzheimer's.

The hope is that disease-modifying drugs like bapineuzumab will work early in the disease process, delaying mental decline and slowing the progressive degeneration of brain tissue. A number of the drugs, including bapineuzumab, are in late-stage phase III trials, but so far none has been approved by the FDA.

In animal research and early human studies, bapineuzumab appeared to work just as it was supposed to. But as the side effect of brain swelling surfaced -- formerly called vascular edema and now known as amyloid-related imaging abnormalities, or ARIA -- so did safety concerns.

The new findings "give us encouragement going forward," says Stephen Salloway, MD, professor of neurology at Brown Medical School.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression