base4 innovation joins $10 million Archon Genomics X Prize

October 17, 2007 Five teams are now registered to compete in the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics with the first team from outside the United States, UK company base4 innovation, joining the race for the the largest medical prize in history.

The Archon X Prize for Genomics seeks to engender a new era of personalized preventative medicine by offering the lucrative prize to "the first team that can build a device and use it to sequence 100 human genomes within ten 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 US$10 000 per genome."

The five teams registered for the challenge are: VisiGen Biotechnologies Inc, 454 Life Sciences Corporation, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Reveo Inc, and base4 innovation. The X Prize system of “revolution through competition” has yielded diverse ideas and approaches to efficient DNA sequencing. Reveo’s Omni Molecular Recognizer Application uses direct physical methods, rather than indirect chemical methods, to read DNA sequences; VisiGen is engineering polymerase and nucleotides to act together as direct molecular sensors of DNA sequence information; and base4 innovation is combining techniques such as photon detection and fluorescent labeling with nanostructures and nanofabrication. Prospective teams must pay a US$1000 registration fee.

In mapping and analyzing the human genome, researchers potentially hold the key to identifying and understanding the specific makeup of genetic disorders. If doctors were logistically able to sequence the genomes of individual patients, they could be able to identify, treat and perhaps even prevent such maladies. The stated purpose of the Archon X Prize, to dramatically reduce the time and cost of sequencing genomes, is the key to a health care system that is preventative and proactive.

The non-profit X Prize foundation continues the effective tradition of incentive based scientific initiatives, taking its inspiration from the 1919 Orteig prize which offered $25,000 for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris.

With the Genomics prize the X Prize Foundation is again assisting technological advancements by fostering healthy scientific competition. The Foundation has previously awarded $10 million to Burt Rutan after he successfully won the Ansari X Prize by launching a re-usable manned spacecraft into space within two weeks and has also announced the Automobile X Prize for efficient, clean vehicles, and the Google Lunar X Prize based on sending a rover to the moon.

Visit the The Archon X Prize for Genomics site to learn more.

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