Orchid Cellmark selected to provide forensic DNA testing to help identify victims of hurricane Katrina


Orchid Cellmark Inc. announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to provide forensic DNA testing to help identify victims of Hurricane Katrina. Under the terms of the agreement, Orchid Cellmark will generate DNA profiles from reference samples provided by families of the hurricane victims for comparison to DNA profiles from the victims. According to the State of Louisiana, DNA reference samples have already been submitted by hundreds of people with missing relatives who are believed to have perished during Hurricane Katrina. In addition to helping identify deceased individuals, reference samples of DNA from families can also be helpful in establishing next-of-kin affiliations for children displaced by the storm.

This new contract builds on Orchid Cellmark's existing contract with the State of Louisiana criminal justice system for CODIS database sample testing. As Orchid Cellmark has established processing procedures already approved by the Louisiana State Police under its existing CODIS contract, Orchid Cellmark can begin testing family reference samples immediately. Orchid Cellmark expects that testing of the majority of the reference samples can be completed within seven days of their receipt. If requested, Orchid Cellmark can also use more advanced approaches such as mitochondrial DNA, SNP or Y-STR testing for more difficult victim identifications and kinship analyses.

Further details of the agreement were not disclosed.

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