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A collaborative, evidence-based approach to treating bone loss

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Dr. Shirin Kalyan (left) and Dr. Sabrina Gill (right) at the Metabolic Bone Clinic

Two CHÉOS Scientists have collaborated to develop a new clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, the Metabolic Bone Clinic.

“Melding a research program with a clinical setting to treat and prevent bone loss is a unique setup and important for delivering evidence-based care,” said Dr. Shirin Kalyan, CHÉOS Scientist and Research Director of the clinic.

“This allows us to approach complicated bone loss problems in people with underlying conditions that affect the way we choose and optimize treatment.”

“Most often we see cases related to osteoporosis but we also see patients with complex diseases and genetic abnormalities” said Dr. Sabrina Gill, CHÉOS Scientist and Medical Director of the clinic.

Osteoporosis is a common bone diseases that affects 2 million Canadians and can result in a significant risk of osteoporotic fracture and related mortality. Bone loss can also occur as a result of other diseases or due to side effects from some medications.

“Our vision is to create a database of people being treated for bone loss here, allowing us to see how best to treat individual patients” explained Dr. Gill.

Located on the 5th floor of the Burrard building, the clinic currently operates one day a week and includes two endocrinologists.

“Being located at St. Paul’s, we are able to consult with a variety of experts and reach unique high-risk groups such as people with eating disorders, cystic fibrosis, HIV, inflammatory bowel disease and malabsorption, rheumatoid arthritis, or transplant recipients” added Dr. Gill.

“We are also working towards participating in disease-specific clinical trials to test the effectiveness of available treatment and to develop new ones.”

At this time, there is a lack of clear guidelines on how to treat bone loss in people with these complex conditions and current therapies may not be appropriate. With the development of a comprehensive database and consultation with experts in a variety of fields, Drs. Gill and Kalyan look to change the way clinicians approach metabolic bone loss.

“This is really an unmet need in B.C.” said Dr. Kalyan.

Going forward, the clinic hopes to expand to twice a week and add professionals from other specialties, like geriatrics, rheumatology, physiotherapy, and dietetics.