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The Federal Trade Commission is once again trying to block Illumina (ILMN), a dominant maker of genetic sequencing machines, from pursuing a big acquisition. And this time, the agency is targeting the planned $7.1 billion purchase of Grail, which is developing a long-sought blood test for detecting cancer early by using DNA sequencing.

Grail is one of several companies racing to develop these liquid biopsy tests, which analyze a sample of patient blood or other fluid through DNA sequencing. When the deal was announced last fall, Illumina pointed to two tests Grail is developing : one to detect cancer early in apparently healthy people, and another for potential cases of cancer in patients who have symptoms of the disease.

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