Gene X Prize to focus on centenarians

2011-10-26 22:26

New York - A $10m contest to see which laboratory can accurately and economically sequence 100 human genomes has been tweaked to focus on the genetics of people over the age of 100.

The competition, now sponsored by drug benefit manager Medco Health Solutions, is aimed at achieving a "medical grade" standard for gene sequencing that could ultimately be used to personalise medical treatment based on a person's genetic make-up.

"All the technology that people are buying now gives slightly different answers," said pioneer geneticist Craig Venter. "That means by definition they are not good enough for diagnostics."

While quality, speed and accuracy of the testing is improving, the companies involved, including Applied Biosystems, Illumina and Complete Genomics, all have their own standards, he said.

"We are trying to help the field get to where it wants to be," said Venter, who became the first individual to have their genome sequenced in 2007. "We are working with the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] to use this as an agreed upon definition to take genomics to the next grade."

The process of selecting the 100 centenarians is now under way.

The revised competition will measure laboratory teams on accuracy, cost, speed and completeness of genome sequencing.

Teams will get the 100 genomes on January 3 2013, and the competition will conclude on February 3 of that year.

A $10m 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, at an error rate no greater than one per million base pairs.

"We believe this competition will be the impetus to truly usher in the era of personalised medicine," said Venter.

Read more on:    craig venter  |  us  |  health  |  genetics

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