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Many of the blogs below were published on the Le Temps newspaper website during the past six years.

 
The search for youth in an ageing world

(Level B2 and above) – Longevity biotech, idioms and phrases related to age.

At 67, Dr Tyger is no spring chicken. In fact, he is starting to show signs of age. He has quite a few senior moments too, like losing his lab coat or losing both his keys and glasses last week. But he refuses to act his age – he still goes paragliding and mountain climbing for example. His dynamism shows that age is just a number. In fact, he plans on living healthily to a ripe old age. That’s why he runs longevity biotech research projects.

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, English trainer at The Language House in Geneva.

Biotechnology is the use of bacteria and plant and animal cells for industrial or scientific purposes, for example, to make drugs or chemicals.

Even if life expectancy has increased around the world, good health expectancy has increased at a slower rate. So, we live longer, but not necessarily healthier. It is indeed a mixed blessing.

 

All words in bold are in the vocabulary exercise

 

The typical diseases of old age nowadays are cancer, heart disease, diabetes and senility. And old age is what longevity biotech wants to tackle.

Some people, including scientists, think we should classify ageing as a disease. But old age is not a disease, it is the natural outcome of a long life.

 

The difference between biological age and chronological age

 

As many people now live into their 90s and beyond without chronic illness, longevity biotech wants to discover what differentiates these healthy agers and translate these findings into medicine.

Today, the sector is estimated to be worth $26.5 trillion; it involves over 50,000 companies, more than 10,000 investors and over 1,000 research and development (R&D) centres.

For example, Alto Labs in the US is working on technology that can reprogram cells to rejuvenate and potentially prolong human life. Insilico Medicine in Hong Kong uses artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to identify molecules to treat various cancers. Acorn Biolabs in Canada provides cell preservation services for non-invasive cell freezing that can be used for future medical applications. Juvenescence in Ireland develops therapies that allow patients to slow or reverse ageing. Many studies are published, including a recent one in mice, that shows that transplanting certain healthy gut microbiota (bacteria that live in the intestines) can reverse ageing. And there is a new Longevity Biotechnology Association which represents geroscience and gero-therapeutics (the development of new medicines and therapies to prevent and cure, rather than merely manage, the health conditions of late life).

 

Should age – and time itself – be challenged? Or just managed?

 

Addressing the gap between health span and lifespan is essential for long-term global economic prosperity, says Kristen Fortney, CEO of BioAge Labs, a clinical-stage company. Furthermore, “older people have a fundamental right to live healthy, full lives, and to have their medical conditions taken seriously as targets deserving of clinical interventions, rather than simply dismissed as inevitable consequences of ageing.”

As the world of humans is getting older, this is a timely topic which raises many questions. Should age – and time itself – be challenged? Or just managed?

Is this the medical version of the fountain of youth or the elixir of life?

Will better health help overcome what many people of a certain age suffer from, ageism?

Will longevity cures be reserved for richer people?

Finally, if we do find cures for age-related diseases, what will old people die off?

Dr Tyger certainly thinks about those questions when he is not working on his cell regeneration project.

 

Sources: UNCTAD; AGBI; LBA; Scispot; Medium    

 

Age-related idioms and phrases

  • No spring chicken: usually used in negative contexts to say someone is no longer young. A spring chicken is a young person.
  • Senior moment: an occasion when someone forgets something – Is this just a senior moment or am I losing my memory? I can’t remember where I parked the car.
  • Act your age! said to someone to tell them to stop behaving like someone who is much younger – Just act your age and apologize to her!
  • Age is just a number: no matter how old we are, we can do anything. Yuichiro Miuro climbed Mount Everest when he was 80 years old. This shows that age is just a number.
  • Ripe old age: an age at which someone is very old – She lived to the ripe old age of 103.
  • A certain age: not young any longer – Men of a certain age are more likely to lose their hair.
  • Come of age: to reach the age when you are legally an adult.

Sources: Cambridge dictionary; Macmillan dictionaryTeachify

 

The Beatles: When I’m 64.

 

Vocabulary exercise

Match each word to its meaning:

 

  1. Lab
  2. Healthily
  3. Life expectancy
  4. Mixed blessing
  5. Disease
  6. Target

 

a. to intend or to try to attack someone or something

b. the length of time that someone is likely to live

c. in a way that is good for your health (health: the condition of your body / of being strong and well)

d. a laboratory (abbreviation)

e. something that has both advantages and disadvantages

f. illness

Answer:

1:d – 2:c – 3:b – 4:e – 5:f – 6:a

 

  1. Root cause
  2. Findings
  3. Clinical-stage
  4. Gero / ger (prefix)
  5. Cure
  6. Merely

g. used for emphasizing that something is small or unimportant

h. Origin / basic idea

i. Old age (example: geriatric medicine)

j. a distinct period of the progress of a disease

k. a medicine or treatment that makes someone who is ill become healthy

l. information that you discover, or opinions that you form after doing research

Answer:

7:h – 8:l – 9:j – 10:i – 11:k – 12:8

 

  1. Manage
  2. Deep learning
  3. Non-invasive
  4. Reverse
  5. Gap

m. A non-invasive test or treatment does not involve cutting your body or putting instruments inside it

n. To organise and control

o.a break or open space

p. to change the order or development of events, a process, or a situation to be the opposite of what it was

q. a type of machine learning in which neural networks learn by being exposed to vast amounts of data

Answer:

13:n – 14:q – 15:m – 16:p – 17:o

 

  1. Span
  2. Deserve
  3. Dismiss
  4. Timely
  5. Fool (v.)
  6. Outcome

r. to refuse to accept that something might be true or important

s. if you deserve something, it is right that you get it, for example because of the way you have behaved

t. to trick someone by making them believe something that is not true

u. the amount of time that something lasts

v. happening at the most suitable time

w.result

Answer:

18:u – 19:s – 20:r – 21:v – 22:t – 23:w

 

Quotes on old age

  1. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford, American businessman, 1863-1947
  2. Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art. – Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Polish poet, 20th c.
  3. Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light. (rage against death or old age)  – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, 20th c.
  4. Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young. – Theodore Roosevelt, American president, 1858-1919
  5. Youth is wasted on the young. – George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, 1856-1950
  6. Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. – Pope John XXIII – 1881-1963
  7. Alas, after a certain age, every man is responsible for his face. – Albert Camus, French philosopher, 20th century.

Source

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All our blogs are written by our trainers.
Director and senior trainer Garry Littman 
Trainer, Benedicte Gravrand
Academic Director and senior trainer David Creber