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As Personalized Medicine Beckons, Orchid s SNP Business Takes a Back Seat

NEW YORK, Oct. 10 - Orchid Biosciences will gradually pull out of the SNP-genotyping business as it moves closer to launching its GeneShield personalized-medicine platform, George Poste, the company's new chairman, said today.


Orchid has undergone "a definitive migration in 2002 into genetic profiling and personalized medicine," Poste told investors at the UBS Warburg global life-sciences conference here this morning. Consequently, its SNPStream and SNP-IT technologies "will no longer be a primary focus of the company."


The resulting "realignment" will mean that an undisclosed number of employees involved in the tools part of the business, including staff in R&D and sales and marketing, will be laid off. Neither Poste nor Dale Pfost, Orchid's president and CEO, would say how many jobs would be affected, but they said an announcement is imminent, and that the steps will likely be taken before the end of the year.


Maintaining that Orchid's SNP platforms are "still key" to the company, Poste, in his second day as chairman, said the firm will be ramping up efforts to launch the GeneShield platform sometime next year. The platform--which will use the same SNP-genotyping technologies relegated to the children's table--is currently in beta testing.


"Being in the tools business you are serving pharma's needs," added Pfost, echoing a familiar refrain among genomics tool vendors. "We know that the application of these tools" is more profitable than "packaging them up and selling them. We get paid more by using these tools ourselves," he said.