The new X-Prize

From the (very rich) people who paid up for Spaceship One comes a new challenge: US$10 million if you can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days.
This initiative is causing some controversy – there are issues of ethics and privacy, not to mention the question of whether merely having a sequence really brings us closer to curing diseases. On top of that we’ve got “celebrity genomes” – 100 “luminaries” who make up the Genome 100. However, I think this prize should be viewed for what it is – a business incentive to make genome sequencing faster, cheaper and more efficient, in the same way that the original X-Prize sought to commercialise space travel. The basic technology behind DNA sequencing is 30 years old and we really need a radical shift to achieve fast, routine genome sequencing.

2 thoughts on “The new X-Prize

  1. chris

    Someone of my aquaintance has already mentioned that they fail to see theutility of having Larry King’s genome sequence. I’d also point out that having Craig Venter’s didn’t help much, either.
    One of the things that puzzles me about the X-prize is that it isn’t a staggering amount of money, relatively speaking. The cost of developing technology like reusable rockets or trivial genome sequencing is orders of magnitude larger. $10M will keep you in pipette tips for a while, though…

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