CellzDirect, a provider cell-based products and services utilized in testing drugs, is being sold to a California company for $57 million.

Invitrogen (Nasdaq: IVGN), a life-sciences-technology services and diagnostics provider, is acquiring CellzDirect in an all-cash deal.

CellzDirect, which recently disclosed plans to move to new 30,000-square-foot offices in Durham, focuses on hepatocytes that are widely used to predict a compound’s effect on liver metabolism.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

CellzDirect is projected to generate $18 million in revenue when 2007 results are reported, according to Invitrogen.

In 2004, CellzDirect acquired RTP-based HepatoTech. HepatoTech had just opened a cell-culture facility before it was acquired. CellzDirect was based in Arizona at the time. The company has some 90 employees at facilities in RTP and in Austin, Tex.

"CellzDirect’s high-value products and services will greatly complement Invitrogen’s market-leading portfolio of complete cell systems, including primary cells, media, matrices and growth factors," said Greg Lucier, Invitrogen’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. "The purchase of CellzDirect follows our strategy of investing in high-growth areas of the market, specifically specialty cell systems."

CellzDirect was founded in 2001.

"Combining with Invitrogen will enhance our already strong position in the primary cell market," said Scott Edelman, CEO at CellzDirect. "We expect CellzDirect’s growth rates to benefit from cross-promotion and combination with Invitrogen’s technologies for cell culture, molecular biology, and fluorescent detection, and from Invitrogen’s world-class sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities."