Sarcopenia and physical frailty in older people: multi‐component treatment strategies


Start Date
End Date
IMI1 - Call 9
Grant agreement number

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

IMI Funding
23 999 439
EFPIA in kind
25 902 638
6 226 519
Total Cost
56 128 596


Frailty has a dramatic impact on the quality of life of many elderly people; the frail are at greater risk of falls and disability, and are more likely to be hospitalised. But what is frailty, and can it be prevented? The ultimate aim of the IMI project SPRINTT is to improve elderly people’s quality of life by paving the way towards a treatment for frailty. The project will do this by identifying the specific characteristics of frailty and testing whether frailty can be prevented by a treatment programme that combines exercise, dietary advice, and the use of modern technologies.

Europe’s population is ageing fast, with the number of over 65s set to rise from over 85 million in 2008 to 151 million in 2060. Many of these people will become frail as they age; a common feature of frailty is a loss of muscle mass and strength (known as sarcopenia), and this makes those affected more vulnerable to falls and places them at greater risk of becoming disabled. The frail are also more likely to be hospitalised or to require long-term care in a nursing home. Frailty therefore has a huge impact on older people's quality of life and represents a significant burden for health and social care systems. Frailty is not uncommon – the SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) study revealed that 17% of the over 65s in Europe are frail while 42% are ‘pre-frail’. Yet despite its prevalence and its impact on both quality of life and healthcare systems, there is no formal, widely-accepted definition of frailty and no treatment to prevent its onset and progression.

The SPRINTT project brings together major pharmaceutical companies, leading universities and hospitals, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the overall goal of improving  frailty care and prevention in Europe.

The first goal of the project is to define the specific characteristics of frailty that can be easily applied in healthcare settings. This will make possible to precisely identify people affected by frailty. At the core of SPRINTT project is  a large clinical trial to assess treatment options designed to prevent the frail from becoming disabled and losing their mobility. The trial, which will involve around 1 500 patients from across Europe, will randomly allocate participants to one of two groups. The first group will receive a multi-component intervention including physical activity and nutritional advice and supplements as well as innovative technologies. Among other things, these innovative technologies will support efforts to coach participants on physical activity and diet, and help to monitor participants’ health and frailty (for example by logging falls or near-falls). The other group will take part in a general health education programme. All participants will be followed up for two years.

The project team will also work closely with medicines regulators to ensure its findings can be rapidly implemented in clinical practice and applied to improve the development of innovative drugs for frailty.

Ultimately, the outcomes of the SPRINTT project should result in improved treatment options and a better quality of life for the frail. This will also benefit health and social care systems. More broadly, SPRINTT’s output will demonstrate how health research and healthcare systems can be adapted to the needs of older people with long-term health problems.

Pharmaceutical industries and SMEs will also benefit from the project that will establish sound methodologies for developing innovative treatments for frailty and sarcopenia.

Achievements & News

SPRINTT enrols first 500 participants in frailty study
December 2016

IMI’s SPRINTT project has enrolled the first 500 participants in a pan-European study on whether it is possible to prevent physical disability in older people with physical frailty and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength).### The study, which should eventually recruit 1 500 participants over the age of 70 from across Europe, will compare two interventions. Some participants will follow a multi-component programme, based on exercise with a trainer plus a nutritional programme. Others will follow a healthy ageing lifestyle education programme. More information on the trial can be found on the project website.

Participants Show participants on map

EFPIA companies
  • Astellas Pharma Europe BV, Leiden, Netherlands
  • Biophytis SA, Paris, France
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Internationalgmbh, Ingelheim, Germany
  • Glaxosmithkline Research And Development LTD., Brentford, Middlesex, United Kingdom
  • Institut De Recherches Internationales Servier Iris, Suresnes, France
  • Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Sanofi-Aventis Recherche & Developpement, Chilly Mazarin, France
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire De Toulouse, Toulouse Cedex 09, France
  • Diabetes Frail Limited, Droitwich, United Kingdom
  • Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg, Erlangen, Germany
  • Haskoli Islands, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Medizinische Universitat Graz, Graz, Austria
  • Universita Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Firenze, Florence, Italy
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Parma, Parma, Italy
  • Universitaetsmedizin Goettingen - Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen - Stiftung Oeffentlichen Rechts, Goettingen, Germany
  • Universite Paris Descartes, Paris , France
  • Universiteit Maastricht, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • University of Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • Univerzita Karlova, Prague 1, Czech Republic
  • Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Krakow, Poland
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Caretek SRL, Torino, Italy
  • Eu-Open SRL, veronella (Vr), Italy
  • Roessingh Research And Development BV, Enschede, Netherlands
Third parties
  • Centre hospitalier universitaire de Limoges, Limoges, France
  • Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale, Paris, France
Non EFPIA companies
  • Istituto Nazionale Di Riposo E Cura Per Anziani Inrca, Ancona, Italy
  • Servicio Madrileno De Salud, Madrid, Spain
Project coordinator
Philippe Bordes
Sanofi-Aventis Research and Development
Managing entity
Roberto Bernabei
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore