Groundbreaking CFN collaboration to discover frailty biomarkers launched

July 12, 2019

Canadian Frailty Network has partnered with the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging (CLSA), the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) and Metabolon, Inc. to discover the frailty biomarkers that may shed light on why some people become frail, determine the severity of frailty and what can be done to help avoid the condition.

We’ve officially started investigating two inflammatory biomarkers linked to frailty, TNF and IL-6, in 10,000 blood samples generously provided by CLSA participants from across the country.

The collaborative partnership will develop a $4-million research program to perform large-scale metabolomic profiling and biomarker identification on samples from the CLSA, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive study on aging. Metabolomics is the process of measuring small molecules in blood and tissues, which can help scientists and clinicians identify biomarkers for diseases or health conditions, such as frailty. In total, 10,000 blood samples collected from participants in the CLSA will be analyzed for both metabolomic and inflammatory biomarkers linked to frailty. Two additional biomarkers linked to aging will be analyzed from blood samples provided by 30,000 participants.

CFN’s work is based on creating scientific evidence that can be translated into practices and policies to avoid or delay frailty, and we have built the largest and most comprehensive research portfolio and knowledge base on frailty that has ever existed in Canada. To date there has been little consensus on the biological mechanisms underpinning frailty. Analysis of the CLSA samples will allow researchers to identify metabolites that will help to improve not only early prediction of frailty, but also lead to further research on treatments addressing specific aspects of frailty.

With this new collaboration, researchers will now be able to ask questions about the basic science of frailty, and how that ties into the physical, psychological and social impacts of being frail.  Metabolomics can enable biological discoveries that are otherwise unseen through other more established technologies.

Combined with the detailed clinical and lifestyle information unique to the CLSA, and evidence from other studies on frailty in older adults, this collaboration can begin to develop a research platform to understand the influence of the metabolome, microbiome, genes, diet, lifestyle and drug treatments on the health and well-being of aging populations.

The end result will be evidence that will help to improve understanding and mitigate the risks and consequences of frailty, with potential benefit not only to the more than one million older Canadians who are medically frail but also their  family and friend caregivers, and overburdened Canadian health and social care systems.

About the partners:

  • Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) is Canada’s sole network devoted to improving care for older Canadians living with frailty and their families. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
  • The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is a national research platform on aging involving 50,000 men and women in Canada. For more information: please visit, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
  • The McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) at McMaster University seeks to optimize the health and longevity of the aging population through leading-edge research, education and stakeholder collaborations. For more information: please visit, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
  • Metabolon Inc. is a global leader in revealing new biological insights through metabolomics. For more information, please visit or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Click here to see the media release