Merck KGaA and Illumina said today they are partnering with Genea to improve fertility-related technologies and processes within assisted reproductive treatment (ART) labs.

The partnership, called the Global Fertility Alliance, is designed to improve ART consistency worldwide and addresses the need for more standardization of fertility processes within ART labs.

The companies will formally launch their collaboration on June 13 at the 31st Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Merck and Illumina said in separate statements they will join Genea to “actively contribute to the alliance,” without disclosing the value of the partnership; and will establish a board of representatives, which will meet regularly.

The companies added that they will invite into their alliance new members “who demonstrate a consistent commitment to driving technology innovation and improving ART results.”

“The new Global Fertility Alliance for excellence in ART will drive automation and standardization in the field and support health care professionals in providing their patients with the best possible outcomes,” Genea CEO Tomas Stojanov said in a statement.

Genea consists of three companies: Stem-cell platform developer Genea Biocells; fertility technology developer Genea Biomedx; and Genea Fertility, which operates fertility clinics across Australia, as well as in New Zealand and Thailand.

Genea and Illumina will partner with Merck’s biopharmaceutical business, known as EMD Serono in the U.S. and Canada, and as Merck Serono elsewhere.

The alliance has spelled out three priorities for enhancing progress and innovation within ART labs:

  • Fostering integration of multiple, leading fertility technologies.
  • Collaborating with leading health care professionals and medical societies to develop global standards.
  • Developing educational resources for healthcare professionals worldwide, including training curricula and workshops as well as access to model labs, symposia and events at medical meetings.

Formation of the alliance comes nearly three months after Merck Serono and Illumina launched a collaboration intended to develop a universal next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based oncology diagnostic—as well as create a universal test system for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies. The value of the collaboration has not been disclosed.

“We are confident this collaboration of innovators in the fertility field will deliver a significant positive impact for health care professionals, fertility labs, and most importantly their patients,” Tristan Orpin Illumina's svp and general manager of reproductive and genetic health said in a statement.

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