NEW YORK, Aug. 8 – Orchid Biosciences said on Wednesday its British subsidiary, Cellmark Diagnostics, won a UK-government contract to provide genotyping services to help British farmers breed sheep with increased resistance to scrapie.
Under the terms of the three-year contract, Orchid will use its SNP-IT technology to generate several million scrapie genotypes a year. The contract may be renewed for another two years.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Orchid won the contract through a competitive bidding process organized by the National Scrapie Plan for Great Britain. The project, which works in conjunction with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Departments in Scotland and Wales, will provide free scrapie genetic testing for sheep owned by farmers in the UK.
Scrapie, one of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, is an untreatable, fatal disease that affects sheep. A recent outbreak in the UK resulted in the death and forced killing of millions of contaminated and potentially contaminated animals.
Orchid said that scientists have so far discovered a number of SNPs that are involved in determining a sheep’s susceptibility to the disease.
Cellmark Diagnostics currently provides genetic testing services to British farms through a collaboration with Cymru Breeding Services in Aberystwyth, Wales.
Last week, Orchid announced a deal to provide SNP genotyping services to PIC International Group, a livestock breeding company based in Berkeley, Calif.