The Archon Genomics X PRIZE consists of a challenge to sequence 100 complete human genomes of people who are over 100 years old in one month for $100 or less per genome. The contest was announced in 2006, at a time when it would have cost $100 million and taken 33 years to meet this challenge. Initially, the goals were 100 miscellaneous genomes in just ten days for $10,000 or less, but in October 2011 these were changed to the current rules allowing for a bit more time.
Life Technologies has now stepped up as the first contestant in the competition under the new rules, confident that its Ion Torrent technology has what it takes to complete the challenge.
From the press release:
The Ion Torrent X PRIZE team, led by CEO and Founder Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, will use the company’s new benchtop Ion Proton™ Sequencer in the competition. Ion Torrent
technology is based on a fundamentally new semiconductor device that enables chemical signals to be directly translated into digital information for the first time, much like the CMOS imager in an iPhone that directly translates photons into electrons to take pictures.
Team registration ends in May 2013 with the 30-day competition taking place in September 2013. To make the competition scientifically valuable and more meaningful to the general public, every team will be given the DNA of 100 centenarians to sequence. These 100 genomic pioneers, who represent a unique population of individuals whose genetic makeup and personal behaviors have contributed to their longevity, are part of the Express Scripts 100 Over 100. They have donated their genomes to this competition and provided insights about the factors impacting healthy aging in order to further medical science.
Upon completion of the competition, the X PRIZE Foundation will compile a public database of the DNA sequences and cell lines from the Express Scripts 100 Over 100 genomes, giving researchers and scientists from around the world open access to this incredibly rich data. The knowledge gained by compiling and comparing this library will further our understanding of health and longevity. Decoding the secrets to a long and healthy life, including the behavioral choices made along the way, could lead to important learnings that will benefit us all and start a new era of personalized medicine.
It is not yet known who the other participants will be, the deadline for entry being May 2013. However, Illumina and Roche 454 Life Sciences have already announced they will not be participating.