November 25, 2003, Forensic Focus Magazine, Orchid Cellmark Awarded FBI Contracts to Develop SNP Technology for Advanced Forensic Applications.
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Orchid BioSciences, Inc. announced that its Orchid Cellmark unit was awarded two contracts from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to develop specific aspects of the company's SNP technology for additional forensic DNA testing applications. The goal of the two contracts is to develop new forensic tools that will increase the ability of investigators to identify individuals using DNA samples that have degraded and therefore contain a limited amount of genetic material. Work on both of these contracts is being undertaken in Orchid Cellmark's Dallas facility and is expected to be completed in about one year.
A SNP, or single nucleotide polymorphism, represents a single base difference in the more than three billion bases of DNA comprising the human genome and is the most common form of genetic variation. Since each person has a distinctive set of SNPs, SNP panels can be useful for identifying individuals using degraded or damaged DNA primarily because they can generate definitive matches using much shorter segments of DNA than other approaches.
The first contract is to develop an informative panel of SNP markers that can identify male DNA by measuring polymorphisms on the Y chromosome, the chromosome found only in men. This panel is designed to generate a profile of human male DNA from degraded samples, and is expected to be particularly useful in constructing the male profile in samples that contain mixtures of DNA from both a man and a woman. The contract is titled "Identification and Typing of Y-SNPs in Forensically Relevant Populations."
The informative Y-SNP panel could also potentially be used as a screening tool to derive broad physical characteristics based on information about a suspect's ancestral origin. These physical characteristics could be useful in so-called "no-suspect" crimes where investigators have DNA evidence but no other clues to identify possible perpetrators. Following the development of the Y-SNP panel, Orchid believes it would be the first private forensic lab to offer a gender-specific SNP-based panel as part of its services.
The second contract is to develop an expanded panel of robust SNP markers that will nearly double the number of SNPs Orchid currently uses, thereby potentially increasing its ability to identify individuals using degraded DNA. Titled "High-throughput Autosomal SNP Typing for Human Identification," this effort will build on the assay Orchid previously developed to help identify World Trade Center victims.
"Orchid's pioneering SNP analysis technology has a number of important applications to improve human identity profiling, so it is fitting that Orchid Cellmark was selected to develop these new tests by the FBI, the nation's top crime-fighting institution," said Mark D. Stolorow, executive director of Orchid Cellmark. "As a leading innovator in forensic genetic testing for nearly two decades, we look forward to further building on Orchid's proprietary SNP technology to expand our service offerings in order to better serve our law enforcement clients."
Orchid Cellmark has a long history of using advanced DNA analysis techniques for identity testing. It was among the first laboratories to use new DNA technology to identify casualties in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Orchid's pioneering SNP technology is currently being used in collaboration with the New York Office of Medical Examiner in an attempt to identify the large number of 9/11 World Trade Center victims for whom conventional identification methods have failed.
Orchid Cellmark, the forensic strategic business unit of Orchid BioSciences, Inc., has been a leader in private forensic DNA analysis since 1987. Orchid Cellmark has an international network of forensic testing laboratories in the U.S. and U.K., making it the largest private DNA forensic testing service provider in the world. Orchid Cellmark provides a full range of high quality, customized forensic DNA testing services, including identification of victims of accidents and disasters, criminal casework analysis and expert testimony, convicted offender DNA databasing, no-suspect casework for government law enforcement laboratories, and DNA testing and consultative services for the defense bar as well as for the prosecution. Orchid Cellmark, which has conducted DNA testing for many notable forensic investigations, uses a variety of genetic analysis methods for its forensic DNA studies and is a leader in developing improved technologies for genetic analysis. This year the company launched "DNA Express Service," a premium service to help local law enforcement agencies analyze backlogs of DNA evidence from unsolved crimes. DNA Express provides forensic DNA analyses in five business days as opposed to the standard four to five weeks.
increasing its ability to identify individuals using degraded DNA; and Orchid's anticipation of further building on Orchid's proprietary SNP technology to expand its service offerings in order to better serve its law enforcement customers. These risks and other additional factors affecting Orchid's business are discussed under the headings "Risks Related to Our Business," "Risks Related to the Biotechnology Industry" and "Risks Associated with Our Common Stock" in Orchid's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2002, and Orchid's Registration Statement on Form S-3 and the prospectus contained therein dated June 6, 2003, each as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in other filings made by Orchid with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time. Orchid expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in Orchid's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statements are based, except as may be required by law.
Source: Orchid BioSciences, Inc.