On a crisp January morning, with snow topping the distant Aspromonte mountains and oranges ripening on the nearby trees, Giuseppe Passarino guided his silver minivan up a curving mountain road into the hinterlands of Calabria, mainland Italy’s southernmost region. As the road climbed through fruit and olive groves, Passarino, a geneticist at the University of Calabria, chatted with his colleague Maurizio Berardelli, a geriatrician.
We stopped by to chat with the team from the X-Prize Foundation at the show. This dynamic, energetic group develops competitions to spur innovation, from space exploration to automotive efficiency to, now, health. Their Archon Genomics X-Prize will, later this year, award $10 million to the first group that can sequence 100 genomes for less than $1,000 each and in less than 30 days.
Last week at CES, the X PRIZE Foundation was on hand to talk about the various competitions they are putting on. One, the Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Express Scripts, seeks a winning team that can sequence 100 human genomes in 30 days or less at a cost of no more than $1000 per genome with an accuracy of no more than one error per 1,000,000 bases with 98% completeness. We talked briefly with Grant Campany, a senior director with the X PRIZE Foundation, about the competition and the potential effects it could have on our understanding of medicine.
His most recent book is called The $1,000 Genome, but Kevin Davies says that the $100 genome isn’t out of reach in the move toward personalized medicine.
When genomics pioneer George Church recently announced that he and his team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering will vie in a September 2013 competition to rapidly and accurately sequence 100 whole human genomes at a cost of $1,000 or less each, he did not say which technology they would use to do it. That’s because quite possibly it has not yet been invented.
Buried in the DNA of centenarians are the secrets not only of living long, but living well. For now, we know only what they can tell us about how they came to live for more than 100 years, but in about a year's time scientists hope we may know a lot more.
Growing old is a reality for all of us, especially as millions of baby boomers come of age. The average American has a life expectancy of 78.2 years. Even more impressive is the increase in people over 100 years of age.
At age 106, Dennis Morris of Marietta is part of a select group of the world's population known as semi-supercentenarians-or those between the ages of 105 and 109. Now he's famous for another reason.
Elizabeth Kirwan was trained for lab work so long ago, she recalls, that she and colleagues counted blood cells using a hemocytometer, and carried out all required chemistry manually. Kirwan, who turned 100 on May 8—she shares a birthday with Paramount Pictures—worked in the labs of several Los Angeles private hospitals before leaving her career behind to raise her family. These days, she stays busy by playing bridge, attending balance classes, and participating in some of the activities available at her San Diego senior community.
In honor of National Centenarian Day on Saturday, 105-year-old Dennis Morris will likely email his pen pal, Henry Wasserman, 100, and wish him well. The two men met online after they volunteered to submit their DNA to scientists competing in a $10 million challenge to quickly, cheaply and accurately sequence the genomes of 100 centenarians around the world.