Predicting Disability and Frailty in Older Persons: The Western Osteosarcopenia and Frailty (WOSF) Study

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Western Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Lakshman Singh Personal web page

Project Details

The anticipated rise in the number of older people this century will inevitably be accompanied by an increase in the number of people with disabilities. Frailty, which comprises changes associated with ageing and chronic disease, usually precedes disability. Several potential operational definitions of frailty have been proposed, but none has become the gold standard for identifying frailty in the clinical or research setting. Therefore, the research agenda on frailty is focusing on the development of robust biomarkers and diagnostic tests for frailty.

Sarcopenia is a geriatric syndrome encompassing the loss of muscle mass and strength or physical performance with age. Sarcopenia is a major determinant of frailty. The term osteosarcopenia has been used to describe those frailer subjects suffering from both osteopenia/osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Between 2009-15, we comprehensively assessed 960 older fallers from Western Sydney (mean age=82, 62% female). We found that ∼40% of this population fulfilled clinical criteria for osteosarcopenia. In addition, this sub-population was frailer and showed a higher prevalence of falls and fractures. We locally tested and validated quantification of the percentage of circulating osteoprogenitors (COP) cells (%COP) as a surrogate of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Our results demonstrated an age-related decline in %COP, while also allowing us to identify a reference range of %COP in an age and gender-matched population, which was previously unknown. We also found that this method is non-invasive, reliable and easy to perform, with strong potential to translate into clinical practice in the near future. We hypothesise that %COP is highly likely to become a robust biomarker for frailty and a predictor of osteosarcopenia, frailty and disability in older persons. The Western Osteosarcopenia and Frailty (WOSF) Study will comprehensively assess and closely follow a larger sample of older persons (65 and older) in Western Melbourne once a year for a period of 3 years. Expected outcomes will include the validation of a new biomarker for the diagnosis of frailty, and the identification of its predictive value for osteosarcopenia, frailty and disability.

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Western Health

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