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Bioinformatics buy bolsters Life Technologies' diagnostics pact with Merck Serono

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Life Technologies and Merck Serono plan to work together on companion diagnostics, beginning with a buddy diagnostic for a cancer drug. The collaborators are expected to tap a variety of technologies from Life Tech, and the company chose to highlight its recent investment in bioinformatics as a factor of the agreement.

Life Technologies ($LIFE) bought the cancer bioinformatics company Compendia Bioscience last year, with the rationale that the company's software would propel Life Tech's diagnostics work, particularly in oncology. With Merck Serono, a unit of Merck KGaA in Germany, Life Tech expects to apply various technologies and biomarkers from Merck scientists to develop companion diagnostics. The bioinformatics software enables scientists to evaluate many genetic variants as they embark on the hard work of identifying which ones are disease drivers.

"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 of genetic and medical sciences, stated.

Life Tech is using a wide set of genetic and proteomic analysis technologies for the development of diagnostics. Older methods such as qPCR, Sanger sequencing and flow cytometry will be used along with Life Tech's more well-known next-generation sequencing. In fact, Thermo Fisher Scientific's ($TMO) has proposed a $13.6 billion buyout of Life Tech based in part on its stake in next-generation sequencing, including the Ion Torrent technology. The Ion Torrent bench-top machine is designed to sequence an entire genome in less than a day for under $1,000.

Life Tech has been integrating the bioinformatics capabilities from the Compendia acquisition with its Ion Torrent technology to enable scientists to study cancer genetics with greater speed and efficiency.

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