Osteoporosis Drug Tymlos Mimics Body's Own Bone Building Hormone

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Both men and women can have a significant amount of bone loss due to aging, with older postmenopausal women experiencing a five times greater chance of developing osteoporosis. When you have enough bone loss and poor quality bone to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, your overall health and wellness are at risk as well.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, know that it still isn't too late to help improve your bones and prevent the fractures that can lead to chronic pain and inability to walk on your own.

Multiple treatment options are available, and research is paving the way for newer options such as Tymlos (abaloparatide).

Before understanding how the medication works, an overview of treatments may be helpful.

Osteoporosis Treatments Are Based on Your Bone Function

The medications used to treat osteoporosis take advantage of your bones' normal function. You most likely know that your bones function to give your body support. What is amazing is that they can provide this structural support to your body while they are constantly changing—a process called remodeling.

There are two special cell types in your bones: one builds up your bone (osteoblasts) and the other breaks down your bone (osteoclasts). Healthy bone has an even balance between the work of these two cell types. Most of the osteoporosis medications work by regulating the activity of these cells on your bone.

Your bones are also where your body stores its supply of calcium, a mineral that is essential for your brain and muscles, including a properly functioning heart.

If your calcium levels are not in balance you are at risk of serious medical complications.

Like many important processes in your body, there is a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH) that works to regulate your body's calcium levels. Understanding the big role parathyroid hormone plays in the flow of calcium into and out of your bones has led researchers to develop another type of osteoporosis medication.

Tymlos: An Effective Option to Treat Severe Osteoporosis

This class of medications, based on the function of PTH, are called PTH1 ligands. Abaloparartide (Tymlos) is the newest drug in this class to get FDA approval for the treatment of osteoporosis.

How Does It Work?

Tymlos acts like PTH, binding to one of the PTH receptors in your bone. The type of receptor it binds to and the way in which it binds promotes bone formation and minimizes the other function of PTH, namely bone resorption and calcium release.

What Does It Do?

Tylmos has been shown to significantly increase your bone density and bone mineral content and improve the overall strength of your bones after treatment.

Who Can Take It?

It is an effective medication, but it has potentially significant side effects. The benefit of Tylmos needs to be balanced against its risks.

Right now, the medication is reserved for a select group of patients who will potentially have substantial benefit, enough to outweigh the risks of the medication. Tylmos has FDA approval for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women with:

  • a history of an osteoporotic fracture
  • multiple risk factors for a fracture
  • a history of taking other osteoporosis medications that haven't worked or that couldn't be tolerated

    You can not take Tymlos if you have another underlying bone condition or problems with your parathyroid gland.

    How Do You Take It?

    Tymlos should be taken daily. It is available as an injection taken just under your skin. The recommended daily dose is 80mcg. You need to be sure that you are getting adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet. If you are not, you should take supplements.

    What Are the Side Effects?

    As with all drugs, Tymlos has side effects. Some of these side effects are mild while others are very serious. The side effects of Tymlos are related to calcium imbalances and include:

    • extra calcium in your urine that can cause kidney stones
    • dizziness
    • nausea
    • headache
    • rapid heart beat
    • fatigue
    • upper abdominal pain

    The initial animal studies of Tymlos showed an increase in a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma in lab rats. Thus, Tymlos comes with a black box warning. This increase was found to be dependent on the amount of drug exposure the rats received. Although it is unclear if this risk exists in humans, Tymlos be used to treat osteoporosis for no longer than a total of two years. 

    A Word From Verywell

    Usually, osteoporosis is a condition that develops over your lifetime. This gives you many opportunities to make lifestyle changes or try medications to help prevent it. But if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is not a medical condition you should ignore. Speak with your doctor to determine what you can do and what medications are available to help you live well with the condition.

    Source:

    Gonnelli, S., & Caffarelli, C. (2016). Abaloparatide. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism13(2), 106–109. http://doi.org/10.11138/ccmbm/2016.13.2.106

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