NEW YORK, Aug. 29 - Orchid Biosciences today said that the New York City medical examiner's office will begin using its SNP-IT and SNPstream UHT technologies to identify remains of victims from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Currently almost half of the nearly 3,000 individuals who were killed at the site have been identified through traditional DNA analysis. But the terrific heat and pressure of Ground Zero so degraded more than half of the remaining samples that obtaining accurate results became arduous.
Orchid said that a pilot study with scientists from the ME's office begun this spring showed that SNP-based identification, which parlayed Orchid's experience as a participant in the SNP Consortium, can supplement the traditional methods.
Mark Stolorow, executive director of Orchid Cellmark, the firm's forensics unit leading this effort, said work on the first batch of samples provided to Cellmark will begin "momentarily."
Stolorow said Cellmark has not yet determined how much it will charge the ME's office because "the application will vary considerably from one sample set to another." Not knowing what the samples look like means the company's "doing this on a custom-quotation basis," he said.
He added that the commercial price for the tests, which in the case of the World Trade Center is being performed at Cellmark's facility in Dallas, will "likely be considerably larger" than what the ME's office pays.
Stolorow added that researchers in Dallas are using undisclosed technology that has been under "ongoing R&D development" in Orchid's Princeton headquarters.