Page URL:

$10 million prize to sequence DNA of 100 centenarians

31 October 2011
Appeared in BioNews 631

A $10 million prize is on offer for the first laboratory to accurately and economically sequence the genomes of 100 people over 100 years old. The Archon Genomics X Prize was originally founded in 2006 and has been modified so that entrants will now race to decode centenarians' DNA.

It is hoped that the prize will incentivise advances in genome sequencing and play a part in ushering in an era of affordable personalised medicine where patients' individual genetic make-up is taken into account when planning their healthcare. The fact that teams will be sequencing DNA donated by centenarians reflects an ongoing search to understand the genetic factors that contribute to longevity.

Dr Craig Venter, who led the work that sequenced a six-billion letter human genome for the first time (the DNA was his own), is a co-chair of the competition. He said: 'While many new technologies have been developed over the last decade and many human genomes have been sequenced, there is still no technology that can produce a highly accurate, reproducible human genome usable for diagnostics and medical treatment. For genomics to truly impact health and diagnostic decisions for all of us, we need these technologies'.

Talking to C-Net, Dr Venter also commented on the search for genes that contribute to wellness and longevity. 'We want to know what the other gene sets are – not the ones associated with disease', he said. 'The cliché is that people look under their lamp posts for lost keys because that's where they can see, but now we have the tools to see everywhere else'.

The $10 million prize will be given to the first team that accurately sequences the whole genome of all 100 subjects within 30 days for $1,000 or less per genome. Teams will receive the 100 genomes to be sequenced on 3 January 2013 and the competition closes one month later.

The Archon Genomics prize is one of several X Prizes on offer in different fields. Previous competitions include the Ansari X Prize to encourage the private spaceflight industry, which was awarded in 2004.

A promotional video on the X Prize Foundation's website explains the rationale: 'Humans are wired to compete, it pushes us beyond our limits and makes the impossible possible from the four minute mile to private space flight. We can focus the best minds, create heroes, drive innovation, make a significant difference and change the world'.
$10m prize offered for first lab to reveal secret of living to 100
Daily Mail |  26 October 2011
Gene sequencing X Prize to focus on centarians
Reuters |  26 October 2011
X Prize |  26 October 2011
Venter introduces X Prize to sequence centenarians' DNA
C-net |  26 October 2011
18 November 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
Scientists are still searching for a key piece of the longevity puzzle, having not found anything remarkable in the genes of 'supercentenarians' - people who live beyond 110 - to explain their long lives...
30 July 2012 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A US company has taken up the challenge to sequence 100 genomes in 30 days...
27 February 2012 - by Ayesha Jadoon 
A handheld device for sequencing DNA on the move has been unveiled by UK company Oxford Nanopore. The single-use MinION tool resembles a USB drive in size and shape, and the company hopes it will be put into routine use by clinicians and researchers alike...
9 January 2012 - by Rachel Lloyd 
Personalised healthcare could be one step closer this year, as doctors from the prestigious US Mayo Clinic embark on a project to sequence the full genetic code of thousands of people...
5 December 2011 - by Rose Palmer 
Breakthroughs in biology that 'will transform the resilience and strength of the human body' are the subject of the last episode of Stephen Hawking's brilliant series 'Brave New World'. In just under an hour 'Biology' takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour of some of the newest and most awe-inspiring technologies. We're talking cures for cancer, organ regeneration and experiments in longevity and heritability...
24 October 2011 - by George Frodsham 
Researchers have fully sequenced the genome of a woman who lived to be 115 years old. She is the longest-surviving person to have their DNA sequenced and the data may help to unlock the secrets of longer life. Initial investigations suggest that the woman may have had genes which provided protection from diseases such as dementia...
3 October 2011 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
A gene associated with increased lifespan in a number of organisms is now thought to have no effect on longevity after a second look revealed significant flaws in the original studies on which the assumptions were based. The findings will disappoint the manufacturers of many anti-ageing creams that claim to work by activating the gene, but are unlikely to put a stop to research...
25 July 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
The journal Science has retracted a controversial paper on the genetics of extreme longevity by scientists at Boston University. The paper, released online last year, was retracted before publication in print following a formal ‘expression of concern’ regarding fundamental technical flaws....
6 December 2010 - by Owen Clark 
Serious doubts have been raised over the validity of a study on the genetic basis on longevity published in the journal Science....
5 July 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Stories about a genetic test to see if you would live to 100 abounded in the UK press last week. Was this hype or something more? The stories arose following the publication of a paper in Science where researchers claimed to have identified regions of the genome linked to exceptional longevity...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.