Life Tech links with Merck Serono in companion Dx plan

Life Technologies ($LIFE) is linking with Merck Serono to develop companion diagnostics for cancer and other diseases, a calculated advance for the company as it waits to be snatched up by Thermo Fisher ($TMO) in a $13.6 billion deal.

Neither side is discussing financial terms. But the deal calls for Life and Merck, a division of Germany's Merck KGaA, to focus initially on the oncology space. They'll combine Merck's biomarker discoveries with Life's genetic and proteomic tech in a plan to concurrently develop companion diagnostics and drugs. If they're successful, Life will sell the companion diagnostic in previously agreed-upon regions.

From there, the non-exclusive arrangement will expand into other therapeutic areas and rely on "a broad range of Life instrument platforms," the companies said.

In April, Life Technologies accepted Thermo Fisher's massive $13.6 billion bid to buy the sequencing giant, with plans to keep Life's leadership (including CEO Greg Lucier) at the combined company. While Thermo Fisher has focused on raising cash to seal the deal (likely by year-end), Life has continued with its own agenda.

Earlier this year, for example, Life snatched up two of its Korean distributors, including Life Science Korea, for an undisclosed sum. It's a strategic win for Life Technologies, considering the distributor had the rights to sell its gene sequencing technologies, PCR diagnostics products and forensics devices. And Life's deal with Merck Serono is another independent move, following a strategy of expanding its presence in the molecular diagnostics space.

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