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Posted: Feb 02, 2011

$1 million up for grabs for performing DNA and RNA sequencing of a single cancer cell

(Nanowerk News) Life Technologies Corporation today announced that the Life Grand Challenges Contest, initially introduced in December 2010, is expanding to include a fourth challenge. This latest contest challenges scientists to sequence the genome and all RNA content derived from a single cancer cell using the 5500 Series SOLiD™ Sequencers. The challenge builds upon research, which will be presented at the annual 2011 Advances in Genome Biology & Technology (AGBT) Meeting, demonstrating the sequencing of the transcriptome of a single mouse cell on a SOLiD system.
Life Technologies initiated its latest, $1 million Life Grand Challenge to unlock science's ability to understand the cell-to-cell genetic differences within a tumor. Although scientists have successfully sequenced the entire transcriptome of a single murine cell using the SOLiD System, as documented in the May 7, 2010 issue of Cell Stem Cell, they have yet to sequence the entire genome of one cell. Successful achievement of this latest Grand Challenge will, therefore, double what is currently possible by sequencing both the entire genome and all RNA, including mRNA, microRNAs and other types of RNA molecules expressed in a single cancer cell, using the SOLiD System. Results must be validated using alternative techniques, such as capillary electrophoresis sequencing or quantitative PCR.
Cancer accounts for nearly one out of every four deaths in the U.S., as reported by the American Cancer Society. Variation in DNA and RNA sequence between tumor cells can dramatically affect how individual cells respond to therapies. For example, if a given treatment eliminates 90 percent of malignant cells in a tumor, but cannot eliminate the remaining cells due to differences in both the underlying genomes and expressed RNA that mitigate the cells' response to treatment, the cancer will likely recur and possibly metastasize. The ability to precisely analyze cell-to-cell genetic differences will help biomedical researchers understand the development of cancer and may one day enable physicians to better prescribe therapies that eliminate malignant cells entirely.
"Life Technologies is focused on providing a continuous stream of innovative applications to enhance the utility of our technologies," said Mark Stevenson, President and COO of Life Technologies. "With the further improvements made on our 5500 Series SOLiD Sequencers in terms of accuracy, flexibility, speed and throughput, we are confident this platform can be used to interrogate single cancer cells."
The judges for the fourth Grand Challenge include Dr's Tim Hunkapiller, Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Discovery Biosciences Corporation, Kai Lao, Principal Scientist of Molecular Biology for Life Technologies, Joe Beechem, Head of Advanced Research of Single Molecule Sequencing for the Genetic Systems Division at Life Technologies and Mahendra Rao, Vice President of Research and Development in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine for Life Technologies.
Additional information about the fourth Grand Challenge, including terms and conditions, will be released by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
About the Life Grand Challenges Contest
The Life Grand Challenges Contest is a first-of-its-kind crowd sourcing initiative focused on the life sciences tools and technology industry. The goal of the $7 million competition is to unlock even bigger opportunities the company is witnessing, while accelerating innovation within the life sciences community.
There will be seven individual challenges, each with a $1 million prize. The first three challenges are focused on Ion semiconductor sequencing. The fourth challenge is focused on SOLiD sequencing. The remaining three challenges will be related to Life Technologies products and will be announced later in 2011.
The three Ion challenges are to 1) produce twice as much sequence data, 2) do it twice as fast, and 3) do it with twice the accuracy. The SOLiD challenge is to sequence both the genome and the RNA content of a single cancer cell, effectively doubling the biological readout that is currently achievable by sequencing a single cell.
To receive the most up-to-date information on the various challenges, please register at, and please join the conversation on Twitter: @Grand_Challenge.
Source: Life Technologies
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