$10 million competition seeks answers to long life

How, exactly, does one survive for a century?

The answer may lie in the DNA of our oldest old, and a competition held by the X Prize Foundation is paying out $10 million to the researchers who can decipher the complete DNA code from 100 centenarians—referred to as “genomic pioneers.”

The competition is based on whole-genome sequencing, or the deciphering of a person’s complete collection of DNA, and will measure research teams on accuracy, cost, speed and completeness of genome sequencing. “The competition’s audacious target criteria for accuracy and completeness of sequencing will define for the first time a ‘medical grade’ genome,” according to an X Prize Foundation statement.

Upon completion of the competition, the X Prize Foundation will compile a public database of the DNA sequences and cell lines from the centenarians’ genomes—the genetic material contained in each human cell.

“The knowledge gained by compiling and comparing this library will further our understanding of health and longevity,” the X Prize Foundation said. “Decoding the secrets to a long and healthy life may lead to radical medical breakthroughs that will benefit us all.”

The hope is that the competition will “usher in the era of personalized medicine,” inspiring long-ranging impacts on healthcare for the future.

“The goal of this competition is to push the industry to develop more accurate, faster and more cost effective sequencing technologies,” said Dr. Craig Venter, PhD, Co-Chair of the competition. “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.”

The $10 million prize purse will be given to the first team that accurately sequences the whole genome of 100 subjects within 30 days for $1,000 or less per genome.

Read more

X Prize contest seeks secrets in DNA of the very old

Topics: Articles