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UPDATE: Orchid Forms SNP Collaboration with AstraZeneca, Buys European Genotyping Facility

NEW YORK, Feb 13 – Orchid and AstraZeneca have formed a three-year multimillion dollar SNP genotyping collaboration to conduct joint studies to identify SNPs related to a variety of diseases, the companies said Tuesday.

Orchid also purchased Cellmark Diagnostics, AstraZeneca's UK genetic testing subsidiary, and plans to expand the facility to include pharmacogenetics and genotyping. Orchid’s European office will also move into Cellmark’s building, said Barbara Lindheim, Orchid’s vice president of strategic communications.

“We’re already packing up the 25k instruments and sending them over,” said Lindheim.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Orchid said that under the SNP genotyping agreement both parties would contribute SNPs and human tissue samples.

Orchid will genotype SNPs from disease tissue samples provided by AstraZeneca, and AstraZeneca will access Orchid’s SNP databases and develop proprietary SNP panels.

The companies have not yet ironed out all of the details of the agreement, but the collaboration will center around oncology, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal diseases which AstraZeneca’s products address.

Orchid will retain rights to the SNPs after the collaboration and will conduct most of the genotyping in its Princeton, NJ, MegaSNPatron facility.

“Our sense is probably over the course of three years we’ll be doing nine to 10 million genotypes on many patient samples,” Lindheim said.

Orchid's earlier announced plans to expand the MegaSNPatron, however, have fallen behind schedule. The company said in October that it would use multiplexing to ramp up the MegaSNPatron’s capabilities to one million SNPs per day by the first quarter of 2001. Currently the facility’s SNPStream can genotype 300,000 SNPs per day, said Lindheim, adding that the company was currently " ramping up" production.  

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