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Orchid Signs SNP-Scoring Deal with Lilly

NEW YORK, Oct 11 - Orchid Biosciences announced an agreement Wednesday to perform high throughput SNP scoring for Eli Lilly at its MegaSNPatron facility in Princeton, NJ.

The companies did not disclose the specific terms of the deal, but Barbara Lindheim, Orchid’s vice president of strategic communications indicated that it was a renewable agreement, in which Lilly would initially provide   “a substantial number of SNPs and samples” for genotyping now, and would offer additional SNPs “if all goes well.”

“It’s very open-ended,” Lindheim told GenomeWeb.

This deal follows closely on the heels of an announcement last week that Orchid had sold one of its SNPStream high-throughput 25K SNP scoring machines, which uses direct assays with its proprietary SNP-IT biochemistries and software and costs about $500,000, to DNAPrint Genomics.

The company has also sold machines to pharmaceutical giants Bristol Myers Squibb, SmithKline Beecham, and Monsanto, and in July entered into a SNP-scoring service agreement with Millennium Pharmaceuticals. That deal is similar to the one signed with Eli Lilly.

Since September of last year, Orchid has also provided SNP confirmation services for the SNP consortium.

This concentration of deals with big Pharma reflects Orchid’s central business strategy, Lindheim said. “Orchid is focused on being the leader on SNP scoring for discovered SNPs that have use in medical research and drug discovery. We’re not about SNP discovery,” she said.

The company’s MegaSNPatron facility employs a number of SNPStream systems that work simultaneously to produce over 100,000 SNP scores per day. By the first quarter of 2001, the facility expects to be able to perform over a million per day by multiplexing—a capability its SNPstream machines does not currently offer to commercial buyers.

By 2002, Orchid plans to take a “quantum leap” in SNP scoring by adding its microfluidex technology to the mix.   This technology, which is currently undergoing testing and has otherwise not become public knowledge, will save tremendously on reagent costs, Lindheim said.

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