Graphic: Courtesy of Orchid Biosciences
 SNP-based identifications are possible with fragments one-fourth the size needed for other methods.

A well-lit, chrome-and-steel room hums as a robot uses multiple arms to carry 384-well plates from their platforms into readers, where an "SNPscope"--which has the capacity to read just a few pixels of fluorescence--captures data from the entire plate in six minutes and automatically transfers it to computer screens. A half-dozen researchers and analysts, led by Robert Giles, executive director of the identity genomics group at Orchid Cellmark's Dallas, Texas, laboratory, pore over the data. Their mission: Increase the odds of identifying remains of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center towers in New York.

Orchid Cellmark, a business unit of Orchid BioSciences in Princeton, NJ, joined the massive forensics effort officially in August, after months of tests and trials passed muster...

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