Under the agreement, Abbott is using its fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technology to identify deletions of the TP53 gene in cancer patients.

FISH-based companion diagnostic tests are designed to identify specific DNA sequences to help guide physicians in determining which patients are more or less likely to benefit from a particular therapy.

The Abbott FISH assay will be assessed in clinical trials to help identify patients more likely to respond favorably to Merck’s investigational cancer therapy.

Abbott molecular diagnostics business head Stafford Kelly said the company believe that linking genetic testing with drug development at the earliest stages can increase the effectiveness and predictability of medicines and help physicians make more informed treatment decisions.

Abbott’s portfolio of companion diagnostic tests include the PathVysion HER-2 DNA Probe Kit, which is approved for use in selecting breast cancer patients for whom Herceptin (trastuzumab) therapy is being considered.

Abbott’s Vysis ALK Break Apart FISH Probe kit was approved in 2011 for use in identifying non-small cell lung cancer patients for Xalkori (crizotinib) treatment.