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Thermo Fisher Scientific is buying Brammer Bio of Cambridge, Mass., for about $1.7 billion as the giant Waltham, Mass.-based laboratory equipment supplier moves into the fast-growing area of gene therapy.

Brammer Bio makes viral vectors that are used to deliver genetic material into defective cells in the hopes of treating or possibly even curing an inherited disorder. Brammer, a contract development and manufacturing organization hired by drug companies to assist them, has nearly 600 employees in Massachusetts and Florida.

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