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First team joins X Prize race to unlock the secret of living to 100

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The $10 million Archon X Prize, which aims to sequence the genes of 100 people for less than $1,000 each, has received its first entry.

1,000 Genomes Project
1,000 Genomes Project

Life Technologies, a California-based biotech company, has become the first entrant for the $10 million Archon X Prize, which aims to sequence the DNA of 100 centenarians to produce the world's first "medical grade" human genome, according to a press release from the X Prize Foundation. With team registration open until May 2013, the competition requires participants to perform the feat in 10 days and at a cost of no more than $1,000 per human genome, using equipment produced themselves.

The prize was first announced back in 2006, formed as a joint effort between the X Prize Foundation and legendary geneticist J. Craig Venter, head of the Venter Science Foundation — back then, performing the same set of sequencing would reportedly have cost $100 million and taken 33 years to complete. As well as demonstrating how far sequencing technology has come since the announcement of the first "essentially complete" human genome in 2003, the results of the competition are expected to provide insight into certain genetic characteristics that may protect against diseases such as cancer.

"One hundred people will give you a hint," Life Technologies' Dr Jonathan Rothberg tells the BBC. "One thousand will make you reasonably sure. Ten thousand will let you say, 'Hey, these are the genes involved in cancer or heart disease.'" The news of the competition comes just four days after Stanford and Venter Institute scientists announced the world's first full computer simulation of an entire organism, a type of bacteria responsible for sexually transmitted disease.