Whatever else could be said about the controversial J. Craig Venter, you could never claim that the scientist thinks small. With a story circulating in the Guardian that Venter's institute has created artificial life in the form of a fully synthetic chromosome--a report that has raised eyebrows and some skepticism--Venter is also beavering away at moving the goal posts in the quest for a more commercially feasible method to decode DNA. Only last summer Venter heralded his genetic blueprint after spending years and $60 million to do it. Now he's set out to do it again by the end of December for the bargain basement price of less than $300,000--major progress in a race to drive the price down to less than $10,000.
The Wall Street Journal examined the chances of four leading contenders competing for a $10 million prize--Venter is putting up $500,000--in hitting that target: Illumina, Applied Biosystems, 454 Life Sciences and Helicos BioSciences. The original program to decode the human genome cost $3 billion, but getting the cost down to a matter of thousands of dollars could open a new era of personalized medicine that would revolutionize the way therapies are prescribed.
X Prize offers $10M for fast mapping. Report
Venter team gets clearer picture of full genome. Report
It's alive! Team advances work on artificial life. Report
Venter's latest revelation could save the world. Report