Sequencing the genomes of centenarians for the X Prize may yield the secret of their longevity. Photograph: Frances M. Roberts/Alamy
A genome-sequencing contest announced six years ago finally has its first entrant: Ion Torrent, which on Monday said it was entering the fray.
The Archon Genomics X Prize will award $10m to the first team that sequences the complete genomes of 100 people aged 100 or older in 30 days or less, for no more than $1,000 each, and with an error rate of no more than 0.0001%.
No one else has been game since the contest was announced in 2006, when it would have taken 33 years and $100m to squence 100 genomes, estimates Ion Torrent founder and CEO Dr Jonathan Rothberg. In January, the company said its Ion Proton Sequencer was ready to sequence a complete human genome in a day at a cost of $1,000.
"I can think of two reasons why companies have not signed up," said geneticist Craig Venter, who led the private sector effort to sequence the complete human genome, finishing in a dead heat with a government-backed project in 2000. He serves as a trustee of the foundation that created the prize.