Centenarian Sequencing Contest Begins

The first company to attempt to cheaply sequence the genomes of 100 people aged over 100 announced its intention to compete for the 2013 X prize.

Jul 25, 2012
Edyta Zielinska

Ion Torrent, a high-tech sequencing company, announced on Monday (July 23) that it will try to sequence 100 genomes of centenarians for $1,000 each, in 30 days, making it the first company to enter next year’s X Prize competition, which promises $10 million to the winning team.

There is still plenty of time for other contestants to throw their hats in. The contest doesn’t begin until September 2013, and entries are permitted up until next May. The criteria for winning, however, are quite stiff, requiring that contestants sequence genomes at less than $1,000 a pop, with at least 98 percent completion and less than one error per million base pairs, reported Nature. As the contestants look for gene variants that could be involved in longevity, they also must be able to report which variants came from which chromosomal.

Since several “next-next gen” sequencing companies, or companies that have developed new technologies that build on traditional next generation sequencing products, have made high claims for their machines, J. Craig Venter, co-chairman of the competition, told Nature that he believes the competition will either validate or refute those claims, serving as “the truth serum for the genome-sequencing field.”