Veering West

COLM TOBIN: Scientists fiddle with our genes while we burn calories just thinking about it

January 30th, 2023 11:00 AM

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WOULDN’T you love to be 20 years younger again? No more aches and pains? No more fallen arches or crow’s feet? The ability to get up off the couch fairly lively or enjoy a few glasses of wine without a four-day hangover? 

I mean, can you imagine?

Well, let me tell you ladies and gentlemen that there is hope for all of us old-timers (by which I mean anyone over the age of 35).

As reported in the media at the weekend, scientists may have discovered a way to reset our genetic clocks and reverse the ageing process. 

Yep! It looks like we’ll soon be able to make like Oisín, Niamh, Benjamin Button, Tom Cruise and the rest of those lads that seem to defy ageing, and finally enter Tír na nÓg. Tiocfaidh ár lá!

At first, I thought I had clicked on some Facebook spam advert, or that it was one of those articles written by some Instagrammer flogging Gwyneth Paltrow’s face goop, but no! The piece was written by none other than Prof Luke O’Neill. Yes, the very same Luke O’Neill that collectively rocked us to sleep each night during the pandemic with his infectiously (pun intended) upbeat take on a global health crisis.

According to Luke, writing in the Sindo, scientists at Harvard Medical School may have successfully reversed the ageing process in lab mice, by engaging in a scientific process known as ‘fiddling with their genes’. Okay, I might be slightly paraphrasing the last bit, but you get the gist.

You see (as Luke would say), the latest research suggests that our DNA isn’t mutating as we age, but being chemically marked, almost like the code is being smudged, and this is what leads to ageing. By injecting three genes (ie ‘fiddling’), the scientists were able to clean up the genetic sequence and the mice looked and felt the equivalent of 20  years younger. 

So basically, the mice came out refreshed and windswept like they were just home after a long weekend away from the kids in a hotel lodge and spa.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it appears to be legit!

The scientists are going to trial the process next on monkeys and after that, hopefully, on me. 

I’m game ball, scientists of Harvard! Sign me up! I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Aunt ‘ee-fa’ stresses UK

THE poor old Brits are having an awful time of it, aren’t they? You’d want to have done something seriously awful and terrible in a former life to deserve this sort of prolonged misery.

*awkward pause*

If Brexit wasn’t bad enough, then comes the disintegration of the Royal family, and now it turns out our woebegone neighbours have spent the last year absolutely wracked with guilt and stress, worrying about how to pronounce our names.  

A report analysing average Google search terms over the year to see which words Britons found hardest to pronounce revealed that the top two searches were for ‘Aoife’ and ‘Saoirse’, closely followed by ‘Omnicron’ and ‘Kyiv’ (two of the lesser-known Irish primary school teacher names).

The Times of London wrote: ‘The hardest of all is the name Aoife ... For those unsure, it is pronounced “ee-fa”, unhelpfully almost nothing like its spelling.’

Will somebody please send them the memo about there being languages other than English? 

And maybe our editor ‘Siobhán’ could do it, to confuse them even more?

The good news is that we now know how to bring the British Empire to its knees for a second time, should we ever need to. 

Yes – send in an army of Gobnaits!

Michael D gets Jr votes

I SEE President Michael D was calling for homework to be banned while addressing the children of Ireland on RTÉjr earlier in the week. I mean, there’s populism and then there’s absolute and utter bare-faced populism. It’s a move worthy of Donald Trump! 

What’s next? Free sweets in schools every Friday? A new Oireachtas to be built entirely out of Lego? Bluey to be installed as Junior Minister For Chocolate and Treats?

Our dear poetic overlord is right, of course. It’s great to see a general reassessment of the merits of homework. I remember long Saturday mornings huddled over books and getting through piles of homework like I was working as Scrooge’s assistant in a Christmas Carol. 

Meanwhile, the sun was splitting the stones outside and nothing but empty fields and possibilities lay beyond. 

I wasn’t cramming for the Leaving, either. I was in Second Class. When I think about it ….

So fair play to Michael D. And here’s hoping he calls for the end of grown-up work next. 

Knowing when to go

WASN’T it amazing to see Jacinda Ardern resign in such an honest way earlier this week, admitting she didn’t have enough left in the tank to continue as Prime Minister of New Zealand? Despite the imprint she left on the international stage, it seems the domestic housing and cost of living crisis there saw no signs of improving. Which all sounds very familiar. 

At least she left on her terms and didn’t have to be dragged from office like, oh, you know, all the male leaders in the history of the world – ever. 

Still, I’m not convinced she’s stepping down just yet. Call me paranoid, but I think it’s just another ploy by the All Blacks to lull Ireland into a false sense of security ahead of the Rugby World Cup. You read it here first. 

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