X Prize Foundation nixes genetics- oriented prize

Rapidly falling sequencing costs make prize a relatively moot point and result in first-ever X Prize cancellation

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First announced in 2006 and originally for the goal of sequencing 100 human genomes in 10 days for $1 million—a feat for which the winner would get $10 million—the Archon Genomics X Prize has been cancelled in 2013, marking the first prize program from the X Prize Foundation to ever be cancelled.
 
The genomics prize was a victim of rapid advances in sequencing. As the price of sequencing has plummeted, a prize to try to promote less expensive and faster sequencing efforts became a moot point. 
 
Already, the Archon Genomics X Prize had been changed to a goal of sequencing 100 people of 100 years or older within 30 days at a cost of $1,000 or less each. But even that goal drew only two participants after recruitment began in 2011.
 
Announcing the cancellation of the prize by way of an article at the Huffington Post, X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis wrote that "failure is not a bad thing; it is part of the process. We expect most ofour competing teams to fail as they attempt to achieve audacious goals.And sometimes, if we are doing our job right, an X Prize will fail aswell."
 
The prizes, he noted, are meant to address industry failtures or voids and to encourage breakthroughs once thought impossible.
 
In this case, what was thought to be ambitious goals for which to shoot turned out to become unexpected breakthroughs earlier than anticipated.

While the prize will not be awarded and the fate of any future genomics X Prize efforts is uncertain, one thing did come of the effort. The 100 people aged 100 or older who donated their DNA to thecompetition still represent "a very exclusive groupwhose 'rare genes' may protect them from age-related diseases and helpthem continue to enjoy long and healthy lives," as the X Prize organizers put it, and their genomes are set to be sequenced and then stored in an open forum.
 


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