Scientists Compete to Reveal Secrets to Long Life

August 21, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. longevity (n.) [lon-jev-i-tee, lawn-] – long life
Example: If people practice healthy habits, they may achieve longevity.

2. diagnosis (n.) [dahy-uhg-noh-sis] – the act or process of trying to know what kind of sickness a person has
Example: Early diagnosis of a disease gives patients more time to prepare for treatment.

3. validate (v.) [val-i-deyt] – to confirm the truth or correctness of something
Example: The scientist did the experiment again to validate results of the first test.

4. centenarian (n.) [sen-tn-air-ee-uhn] – a person who has reached the age of 100 or more
Example: At the age of 115, Chiyono Hasegawa became one of the oldest centenarians in the world.

5. figure out (phrasal v.) [fig-yer out] – to understand something
Example: Doctors are trying to figure out what kinds of food cause cancer.

Read the text below.

X Prize Foundation, which gives awards for scientific achievements, will be organizing a contest to unlock the mysteries of longevity.

In September 2013, scientists will compete for the Archon Genomics X Prize, worth $10 million.

Scientists believe that unique genes in some people guard against cancer and heart disease, and in turn, make people’s lives longer. To help validate this theory, scientists will be given thirty days to examine DNA donated by 100 centenarians. Researchers will have to do this as quickly and as low a cost as possible.

The aim of the contest is for researchers to see which genes are responsible for helping people live longer lives.

The project would be a big advancement in science because it could lead to cheaper DNA analysis technology and methods.  This means DNA analysis technology could be used more often for medical diagnosis. Doctors would also be able to give patients medicine that matches their genes.

Scientists interested in applying have until May next year to register. The first team to join the contest was the group of Dr. Jonathan Rothberg of the Life Technologies Corporation in California.

Dr. Rothberg says that studying the 100 DNA samples is the first step to learning the secrets of staying young.

Dr. Craig Venter, founder of the prize, also expressed his surprise at the progress of genetic studies and how their costs are decreasing. If the scientists who will join the contest become successful, it would be clear that today’s technology has come a long way, Venter added.  

Any information gathered on the project will be shared with the scientific community so that others may have a chance to figure out how to get a long and healthy life.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How do you think people and society will be affected if scientists discover the secret to long life?
·         Why do you think a lot of people are interested in having long life?

Discussion B

·         Can a person’s lifestyle also affect how long someone lives? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think is more important for longer life, a person’s lifestyle or a person’s genes?

August 21, 2012