$10 Million Prize to Decode Genomes of 100-Year-Olds
Marie (L) and Gabrielle (R) Vaudremer, 101-year-old Belgian twins, celebrate their birthday at the Chateau Sous-Bois retirement home in Spa October 2, 2011. Marie and Gabrielle were born in 1910 and are the world's oldest pair of twin sisters, according to the Guinness World Records. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Genome decoders: Start your engines please.

A new twist on the X Prize, a $10 million carrot dangled in front of space potential innovators, came Wednesday when the competition ventured into the highly competitive world of genomics.

The challenge: Decode the complete genomes of 100 healthy centenarians in 30 days at a cost of $1,000 each.

The reward: $10 million.

The starter's pistol was fired by Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, who will lead the Archon Genomics X PRIZE effort.

Understanding the genetic makeup that protects these healthy centenarians from Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases associated with aging is necessary if we all want to live disease-free into an advanced old age, Barzilai said in a statement Wednesday.

By sequencing the genomes of these healthy centenarians - and making the results available to scientists - this contest will be a powerful tool in helping us decode the genetic underpinnings of healthy aging and develop drugs that can mimic the protections these individuals have.

Researchers have until a while to come up with their strategies to snag the prize. The competition begins Jan. 3, 2013 and winner will be announced in the spring of 2013.