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Orchid Wins $4.8M Government Contract to Develop Oligo Technology

NEW YORK, Sept. 28 - Orchid BioSciences has won a three-year, $4.8 million contract from the Office of Special Technology of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop technology for microfluidic-enabled DNA synthesis that can produce “significant quantities” of long oligos, the company said on Friday.

The proposed technology “would enable very large quantities of oligos to be produced rapidly and cost-effectively,” Orchid said in a statement. The technology is expected to enable the company to produce “from short to up to 10,000 base oligos in significant quantities per day.”

A handful of Orchid scientists working at the company’s Princeton, NJ, facility will work on the project, according to a company spokeswoman. Orchid will receive the contract funds in annual installments as a government program manager monitors the company’s progress, she said.

The proposed technology will contain a ”micro device” that can be integrated with electronic components to form subsystems within future bioassay systems for integrated DNA analysis, Orchid explained.

Orchid will own the technology when it is developed, and intends eventually to license it. "Initially, though, our intentions are not to license the technology, but rather to use it to speed our own research," the spokeswoman said.

"This program builds on our strengths in microfluidics and microscale synthesis technology and nucleic acid chemistry," Michael Boyce-Jacino, vice president of research and development and chief technology officer of Orchid, said in the statement.

The company also said that a goal it has set for itself is bolster its proprietary microfluidic technology, which plays a role in manufacturing oligos.  

On Tuesday, Orchid said it had entered into a commercial SNP-genotyping partnership with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation to study autoimmune diseases, especially lupus.

Terms of that deal call for Orchid to use its MegaSNPatron facility for an undisclosed fee to perform high throughput SNP scoring on samples provided by OMRF.

Further details of the agreement were not disclosed.

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