Anna Liachenko, BSc, MSc
Canadian postmenopausal women now have a new drug option for treatment of established osteoporosis and/or relief of pain associated with osteoporotic fractures--synthetic salmon calcitonin administered as a nasal spray (Miacalcin Nasal Spray or Miacalcin NS). Already available in over 70 countries, the drug was approved in Canada in September of 1999. The nasal spray is very safe and has been shown in various studies to increase bone mineral density (BMD) in vertebrae, the primary site of fractures in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Several months ago a large clinical trial confirmed that Miacalcin NS lowers the risk of vertebral fractures, making it an important agent for osteoporotic therapy.6
Calcitonin is a peptide hormone secreted by the thyroid gland and its secretion is under the direct control of blood calcium levels. In humans, no definite effects on calcium levels are seen in states of calcitonin deficiency or excess. Calcitonin was discovered over 35 years ago by Dr. Harold Copp at the University of British Columbia. Secretion calcitonin is estrogen-dependent and is decreased after menopause.7,8 Osteoporotics have lower levels of serum calcitonin than both premenopausal and healthy menopausal females. It is likely that the deficiency in the hormone plays some role in postmenopausal bone loss, and studies have found that calcitonin counteracts both early and established osteoporosis.
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