$10 Million Prize for Fast Human Genome Decoding

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Monday, October 9, 2006

X-Prize Foundation is offering $10m for the first private team that can decode 100 human genomes in 10 days. It is said to be the largest medical prize in history. Rapid genetic sequencing along with stem cell therapeutics are science’s next great frontiers. Rapid genetic sequencing is expected to usher in a new era of personalised medicine, allowing doctors to determine patients’ susceptibility to illness and the genetic links to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The Archon X-Prize for Genomics is the second major challenge from the foundation, which in 2004 awarded $10m to the team behind the private manned spacecraft SpaceShipOne.

It currently costs millions of dollars and takes many months to sequence an individual’s genome. Tests of certain genes are already helping doctors select treatments and therapies for individual patients.

Scientists say the real benefits to mankind will only come when a much larger sampling of genetic information is available to help decipher the environmental and hereditary aspects of disease.

As a follow-up to the competition, the winning team will be paid to map the genetic sequences of the “Genome 100″ - a group of celebrities, benefactors and members of the public.

That group already includes Dr Stephen Hawking, CNN’s Larry King; and Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female “space tourist”, whose family funded the original X-Prize for the first private manned spaceflight.

Following on from the success of the original Ansari prize, the X-Prize Foundation intends to launch two prizes per year. The next launch is expected in early 2007.

Archon Minerals is the title sponsor of the Archon X-Prize for Genomics after a multi-million dollar donation by the company’s president, Dr Stewart Blusson. via BBC

will not be displayed