New Drug Shown to Preserve Bone
"This certainly goes a long way toward fulfilling the criteria the FDA uses," says Sundeep Khosla of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Denosumab prevents old bone from being dissolved faster than it can be replaced. While bone mineral removal and replacement is a natural balancing act, the loss of hormones -- as in postmenopausal women lacking estrogen and men with prostate cancer who are being treated with androgen-deprivation therapy -- can put it out of sync.
In one of the new studies, researchers enrolled 1,468 prostate cancer patients, average age 75, who were undergoing androgen- deprivation treatment. Half the volunteers received a denosumab injection every six months for three years, while the others got placebo shots. Those getting the drug showed on average a 5.6 percent increase in vertebrae density in the lower spine after two years, compared with a 1 percent loss in the placebo group. Only 1.5 percent of the men receiving denosumab experienced a vertebra fracture by the end of the third year compared with 3.9 percent of the placebo recipients.