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New X Prize Is a Race To Sequence the Genomes of One Hundred One-Hundred-Year-Olds

A newly revamped $10 million prize for sequencing the genomes of 100 centenarians could yield the fastest-ever gene sequencing technology to date, finally bringing ultra-precise personal genetics to the masses on a rapid and inexpensive scale.  And perhaps even better, the genomics X Prize could help unlock the genetic secrets — if they really exist — to a healthy, century-long life.

Five years ago, the Archon Genomics X Prize presented by MEDCO kicked off to stimulate advances in cheap, fast, and accurate human genome sequencing, offering a $10 million purse to whoever could unravel 100 human genomes in 10 days for $10,000 apiece. Although genetic sequencing costs continue to plummet, that short time frame proved too daunting, so the X Prize Foundation decided to start over. They also introduced a new twist: The genomic subjects would come from 100 donor centenarians. Now the contest will last a month, and each sequence must cost $1,000 or less.

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