When the X Prize Foundation announced on October 4 the Archon X Prize for Genomics - $10 million to the first team to build a device that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days with at least 98% coverage and less than one error per 100,000 bases, for under $10,000 per genome - it met both excitement and skepticism.

"This is far beyond what anyone has done at any price," says Chad Nusbaum, codirector of the genome sequencing and analysis program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. "We've sequenced one genome, but not nearly as well as is being asked by this competition." The Human Genome Project has resulted in just 93% completion, with about one error per 10,000 base pairs, says George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. And it doesn't even represent a single individual, adds Nusbaum, "It's a crazy quilt of haplotypes...

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