Merck KGaA partner Genea gets CE mark for a pair of IVF technologies

Courtesy of Genea Biomedx

Genea Biomedx partnered its three fertility products in development with Merck KGaA last month. Now it's won a CE mark for two of them: the Gavi automated vitrification instrument and the Geri benchtop incubator.

Under the May deal, Merck not only gains global marketing and commercialization rights to all three products, the third being the embryo culture media known as Gems, but it also gains rights to all future pipeline products that it plans to develop in partnership with Genea Biomedx. The financial terms of that deal are undisclosed.

Earlier this month, Merck also disclosed a collaboration dubbed the Global Fertility Alliance for Excellence in Assisted Reproductive Treatment. Along with Merck and Genea Biomedx, high-profile genetic analysis company Illumina ($ILMN) is also a partner in this collaboration. The idea behind the alliance is to help standardize the technologies and protocols used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) laboratories, which vary widely between countries and even within them.

"We are the global leader in the field of fertility drugs and committed to supporting the success and improvement in ART by going beyond drugs with innovative technologies," said Meeta Gulyani, head of Strategy and Global Franchises at Merck Serono, in a statement.

Courtesy of Genea Biomedx

"By forging the Global Fertility Alliance with partners like Illumina and Genea we aim to support the development of needed global standards in ART labs. This will ensure a consistently high level of performance between different centers and countries," she concluded. Merck Serono is the biopharma arm of Merck KGaA.

Genea Biomedx specializes in technology to improve the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Gavi is the first automated vitrification instrument, according to Merck. This is used to preserve human egg cells or embryos by cooling them to subzero temperatures. The automation is intended to help ensure consistent results in blastocyst vitrification. Geri is a benchtop incubator with individually controlled incubation chambers per patient to minimize disruption. It also has a time-lapse camera to monitor embryo development.

Genea Biomedx is the technology arm of Genea, a group of pioneering Australian fertility centers; it was formed in 2013 to further develop IVF technology advancements stemming from physician practice.

Genea said that use of the three-step, sequential Gem culture media along with the Geri benchtop incubator has doubled its IVF success rates. Gem is the next-generation version of a medium that's already widely used.

- here is the CE mark release
- here are the Merck KGaA partnership (PDF) and Global Fertility Alliance for ART releases