Continuing its strategy of developing key partnerships with some of the pharma industry's biggest companies, Denmark-based Dako, Agilent Technologies' (NYSE:A) cancer diagnostics division, announced today it has entered into a "master framework agreement" with Merck (NYSE:MRK).

Master framework agreements, as defined by the European Commission, are contracts used to establish the terms and conditions (framework), particularly relating to price and quantity, between one or more parties. Financial terms of the deal between Dako and Merck were not disclosed.

The agreement with Merck calls for Dako to develop "companion diagnostic tests" for cancer-fighting drugs. The companion tests developed will be for oncology drugs in Merck's development pipeline, Dako said. Companion diagnostics, according to Dako, are especially useful in determining the appropriate oncology therapy based on an individual patient's needs.

"With Dako's wide experience in companion diagnostics and its expanded playing field as part of Agilent's Life Sciences and Diagnostics Group, I see great potential in this new agreement," Jacob Thaysen, vice president and general manager for Agilent's diagnostics and genomics division, said in a press release.

Agilent acquired Dako for $2.2 billion in an all-cash deal that closed on July 21, 2012. Since the acquisition, Dako has signed agreements similar to today's Merck deal with Eli Lilly and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). Dako also has partnerships with Bristol-Myers Squibb and a division of Switzerland-based Roche Holding.