Microfabricated Devices for DNA Typing
||Orchid Biosciences, Inc.
Princeton , NJ
Duration and Cost:
funding amount: $1.9M
- Orchid Biosciences, Inc. cost-share amount: $0.6M
Report of the Completed Project:
During the mid-1990s, DNA testing was an expensive and time-consuming task, which prevented wide use. Molecular Tool, Inc., a small Maryland-based biotech company, proposed an innovative solution that would compress most of the functions done in a laboratory onto a 1-square-inch glass chip that was faster, more reliable, and much cheaper. The project would attempt to lay the foundations for pharmacogenomics, where the minor genetic variations that contribute to lack of efficacy in drugs, adverse side effects, and predisposition to disease could be identified. This was a problem with large social benefits, but due to the high degree of technical risk, Molecular Tool could not devote enough internal funds to fully explore this concept, and external investors were not willing to fund such early-stage research. In 1995, ATP provided cost-share to help Molecular Tool develop microfluidic technology for DNA testing.
and Economic Impacts
Tool achieved their technical goals, which ultimately culminated
into five issued patents. Later that year, Orchid BioSciences
purchased Molecular Tool in 1998 to acquire the ATP-funded
equipment and the company's project-related knowledge. Orchid
continued enhancing the technology and was able to commercialize
the technology initially developed in the ATP project by
2001. Typical DNA analysis cost has been reduced by approximately
70 percent, and the time it takes to perform DNA analysis
has been reduced by approximately 75 percent, such that DNA
analysis can now provide results in about a week (reduced
from 4 weeks).
This technical success has translated into significant social and economic impact:
Tool grew from 20 employees at the start of the
project to over 60 by the end of the project in
1998. Orchid has continued to grow, and now has
over 400 employees.
- Orchid opened a new 32,000-square-foot SNP scoring facility in 1999 in Princeton , NJ to house the microfluidic chip research and fabrication labs and the chemistry and optics labs. The facility was contracted by The SNP Consortium to identify up to 300,000 SNPs and to map at least 150,000 SNPs; they would provide this information to the public at no charge.
- By the end of 2002, Orchid decided to specialize in its highly successful DNA services business, moving away from product development, customization, and sales. Beckman Coulter, a leading provider of instrument systems for life sciences and clinical laboratories, purchased the instrument segment of Orchid to continue to develop and offer SNP scoring products for the research market. Beckman began producing and selling reagent kits, software, and systems globally.
The initial technology that ATP helped Molecular Tool develop has had tremendous spillover benefits. This is a platform technology that has impacted many different industries. As the following examples show, this ATP-developed technology has been used in victim identification, forensic testing for police work, and genetic research:
- It was used to attempt to identify the remains of some New York City World Trade Center victims of 2001, which could not be identified by conventional DNA analysis due to sample degradation.
- Because the DNA analysis technology is able to analyze DNA from degraded samples, it has been used in assisting major metropolitan police departments in forensics, including Los Angeles , Houston , and England 's Scotland Yard.
- The FBI has used this technology to identify individuals from unsolved crimes using degraded DNA samples. Orchid's express DNA service provides forensic DNA analyses in five business days compared with the standard four to five weeks.
- The University of Washington's School of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic are just a few of the biomedical research organizations that are using this technology to study genetic variations, the onset of disease, and to tailor drug dosage based on whether patients under- or over-metabolize drugs. Such improvements in medical treatment based on pharmacogenetics are just the beginning of a rapidly expanding field.
- Used for the United Kingdom 's scrapie genotyping program to help sheep farmers use selective breeding to eliminate the disease scrapie from their flocks. The company has genotyped over 1 million sheep to date.
Date created: July
August 21, 2006