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Contest To Sequence Centenarians Kicks Off 74

ananyo writes "The first competitor has swaggered up to the starting line for a contest that aims to push the limits of genome-sequencing technology. The X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, California, is offering a US$10 million prize to the first team to accurately sequence the genomes of 100 people aged 100 or older, for $1,000 or less apiece and within 30 days. Ion Torrent, part of Life Technologies of Carlsbad, California, believes that its semiconductor-based technology gives it a shot, and on 23 July it announced that it will compete. The Archon Genomics X Prize competition, to be held in September 2013, is intended to spur technology, boost accuracy and drive down costs — currently $3,000–5,000 per genome. Peter Diamandis, the X Prize Foundation's chief executive, says that the contest will help to establish a standard for a 'medical grade' genome, with the high accuracy needed to diagnose or treat a patient. This time, the X prize Foundation has relaxed the time frame, allowing competitors 30 days — rather than the 10 specified by the 2006 contest — and focused on centenarians, who might carry gene variants promoting longevity. The winning team will be the first to sequence all 100 genomes to 98% completion, with less than one error per million base pairs, and to determine which variants appear on which of the paired chromosomes."

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