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Marina Company Offering $10M for Genome Sequencing Has its First Entry

Competition aims to unlock secrets to longevity and health.

A project funded by the Marina del Rey-based X Prize Foundation that will award $10 million to any company that accurately and inexpensively sequences 100 people’s genomes, received its first contestant on Monday.

The first entrant is Ion Torrent, a sequencing machine manufacturer, owned by Life Sciences of Carlsbad, Calif. The competition strives to create the first clinical standard to improve patient treatment and diagnosis through genome sequencing. And, all must be done at a cost of $1,000 or less per genome.

“Through this competition, the X Prize Foundation is setting a very high standard for the industry to ensure that whole genome sequencing technologies are reliable, replicable and can produce diagnostic-quality results. It is revolutionary,” Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president of the X Prize Foundation, said in a statement.

Team registration is open until May 2013, and the competition will begin in September 2013.  

“It would have cost $100 million and taken 33 years to meet this challenge when the competition was announced in 2006,” Dr. Rothberg, CEO and founder of Ion Torrent, said in a statement. “The new Ion Proton sequencer is designed to sequence a human genome for $1,000 in just a few hours. Semiconductor technology is transforming sequencing just as it has transformed every other industry it’s touched, driving research and, ultimately, improving health.”

Every team will be given the DNA of 100 people over 100-years-old, as they represent a unique pool of individuals whose genetic makeup may be a factor to their longevity. 

When the competition is over, X Prize will compile and publicly distribute a database of the DNA sequences from the 100 centenarians. The company hopes scientists will be able to use this data to decode the secrets to longevity and well-being, including how behavioral choices affect health. 

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