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On the Block

Merck and Schering-Plough will be joining forces in a $41.1 billion cash-and-stock deal, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Journal adds that pharma companies are suffering from a host of problems, "from product pipelines that likely won't be able to offset companies' blockbusters that will lose patent protection in the coming years to the potential of increased government pressure to lower prices." The new company will keep the Merck name and will see a workforce reduction of 15 percent.

In other news, Roche has upped its offer for Genentech, now offering $93 a share for the biotech -- more than the previous $86.50 but less than the $112 the Genentech board set as its price. "If you look at our offer, it shows the value we put on the ability of Genentech to create new products and to innovate in general," Franz Humer, Roche's chairman, says.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.