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Jul 16, 2013

Life Tech Gets Deeper into Dx Business with Merck Collaboration

  • Life Technologies said today it will join with Merck KGaA’s Merck Serono on current and future companion diagnostics projects—a business Life Tech has said it plans to grow via collaboration as well as through a trio of recent acquisitions and internal development. The value of the collaboration was undisclosed.

    Life Tech—which is being acquired by Thermo Fisher for $13.6 billion, plus $2.2 billion in debt, in a deal announced April 15—and Merck Serono committed under a nonexclusive agreement to combining biomarkers identified by Merck Serono's translational research with Life Tech's platform technologies. The companies will develop companion diagnostics concurrently with Merck's drug development programs.

    The companies also agreed to develop an initial oncology diagnostic, while collaborating long-term on developing new diagnostics across a wide range of therapeutic areas and Life Tech instrument platforms that include next-generation sequencing, Sanger sequencing, qPCR, and flow cytometry.

    If a development collaboration proves successful, it will be followed by a commercialization agreement under which Life Tech will commercialize a companion diagnostic in agreed-upon territories. The companies also agreed to pursue simultaneous regulatory approvals for Merck Serono drugs and Life Tech companion diagnostics.

    Life Tech laid a foundation for an expanded molecular diagnostics business last year, when it joined its existing transplant diagnostics and diagnostic controls businesses with three companies it acquired at undisclosed prices. A year ago today, Life Tech announced its acquisition of genetics-based products and services provider Navigenics. Nine days later on July 25, 2012, Life Tech bought Pinpoint Genomics and its early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer test. And in October, Life Tech acquired Compendia Bioscience, a cancer bioinformatics company focused on identifying novel gene targets for drug discovery and development.

    "With our recent acquisition of Compendia Bioscience, we possess bioinformatics solutions and cancer biomarker expertise to collaborate with pharma on each phase of the drug development process, from biomarker hypothesis to assay development concurrently with drugs to approved diagnostic tests," Ronnie Andrews, Life Tech’s president, genetic and medical sciences, said in a statement.


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