In yet another reminder of the current storm of biotechnological innovation, California-based Life Technologies is the first team to sign up for the $10 million Archon X Prize, a race to sequence 100 entire human genomes for $1,000 or less each.
The ultimate goal is to create the “world’s first clinical standard” that will make genome sequencing useful in treating and diagnosing patients, instead of just being something you read about on the news. The low cost and speed demanded by the X Prize competition would be an entirely new milestone for genetic sequencing.
100 people over the age of 100 have offered up their DNA for the race, with the hope that the X Prize teams will discover unique genetic changes that have led to their old age.
The Ion Torrent team from Life Technologies is led by Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, a geneticist and entrepreneur who has received several notable accolades, including being named the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer for three of his companies. The team will use its Ion Proton Sequencer, which can directly translate chemical signals into digital information.
“It would have cost $100 million and taken 33 years to meet this challenge when the competition was announced in 2006,” Dr. Rothberg said in a statement. “The new Ion Proton sequencer is designed to sequence a human genome for $1,000 in just a few hours. Semiconductor technology is transforming sequencing just as it has transformed every other industry it’s touched, driving research and, ultimately, improving health.”
Registration for the Archon X Prize race is open until May 2013, and the competition will kick off in September 2013. The teams will have to sequence 100 genomes within 30 days and will be judged across three categories: accuracy, completeness, and haplotype phasing.
Via The Verge; Photo: “The Fountain”/20th Century Fox