As Carl Zimmer notes, the presumed number of genes in the human genome has been steadily declining over the years. Early estimates were in the 100K range. For historical perspective, Lee Rowen won the GeneSweep competition back in 2003 for betting that the human genome contained 25,947 genes — the lowest estimate in the entire competition.
(hat tip, Hsien)
The Archon X Prize for Genomics has appointed Marc Hodosh to lead the $10 million competition. Hodosh is an entrepreneur and tech geek who recently chaired a robotics competition for segway inventor Dean Kamen.The Archon X Prize will be awarded to the first group that can “build a device and use it to sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less, with an accuracy of no more than one error in every 100,000 bases sequenced, with sequences accurately covering at least 98% of the genome, and at a recurring cost of no more than $10,000 per genome.” In other words, the winner must be able to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for a $1 million.
The X Prize Foundation has published a video describing the competition, check it out:
So far three teams have registered to compete, including VisiGen Biotechnologies, 454 Life Sciences, and the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution.Here are the competition guidelines (PDF).Want to compete? Register here (PDF).
Harvard Magazine has a write-up on nanopore sequencing, here is a snip:
[Professor of biology emeritus Daniel] Branton reasoned that because the four bases that make up DNA commonly called A, C, G, and T after the first letter of each chemical compound’s multisyllabic name each have different dimensions, he could tell which one was passing through the hole at a given moment by observing to what degree the pore was blocked, based on the number of ions that got through along with the DNA.
The process worked. And because the bases traveled through the pore at a rate approaching one million per second, “You really had something that was orders of magnitude faster than anyone had ever dreamed of,” says [Harvard professor of physics Jene Golovchenko]…
…The Harvard colleagues are competing with many other scientists in a challenge issued by the National Institutes of Health to produce a sequencing method that costs less than $10,000 per genome by 2009, and a method for $1,000 or less by 2014.
Elizabeth Gudrais. A Personal Genome Machine? Harvard Magazine, March-April 2007.
The Harvard Nanopore Group Homepage
The PBS television station KQED in San Francisco recently aired a very thoughtful segment comparing online genomic counseling through DNA Direct to traditional face-to-face counseling via UCSF. Check it out:
KQED, Genetic Testing through the Web. Feb 20, 2007.
Full discolure: I am employed by DNA Direct.
Hat tip, Pedro and to those who forwarded this to me.