The Race to Read Genomes on a Shoestring, Relatively Speaking

Want to enter a race with a first prize of $10 million?  All you have to do is develop a DNA sequencer that can churn out the complete DNA sequence of 100 people in 10 days – for $10,000 or less per person.

This is the prize being offered by the X Prize Foundation, the same foundation that awarded $10 million in 2004 to a privately funded group that successfully launched a reusable spacecraft into space.

The ability to learn about one’s genetic makeup in a cost-effective, fast, and reliable way is an important step towards “personalized medicine” – using genetic information as a tool to evaluate a person's individual risk for certain diseases, and even treatment strategies for those that are already sick.  Trying to uncover the many genes that confer risk for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease is currently a very active area of research.

While some experts put the timetable for the $10,000 genome 6 or more years away, some think it may be as close as three years.

In case you would like to enter, here is the official Archon Genomics X Prize Website.