Microfluidics technology developed by Advanced Liquid Logic would become part of new diagnostics developed by GenMark Diagnostics (Nasdaq: GNMK) in a preliminary deal that would also give GenMark an equity stake in its new partner.

GenMark has agreed to license “electrowetting” technology from Advanced Liquid Logic, or ALL, to develop in-vitro diagnostics products.

Under the tentative partnership, GenMark will pay up to $3 million in license fees and milestones as part of an equity investment in Research Triangle Park-based ALL, GenMark said in a securities filing.

ALL has developed a proprietary microfluidics technology that can precisely move tiny amounts of fluid using electric signals. The company calls its proprietary technology electrowetting. The technology was originally developed at Duke University. ALL has developed this technology into its own products, one for genomics sample preparation and another to screen newborns for lysosomal storage diseases.

The newborn screening analyzer is only for research use.

GenMark makes molecular diagnostic testing systems to diagnose disease to guide patient treatment. The Carlsbad, California company currently markets three U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared tests: a cystic fibrosis genotyping test; warfarin sensitivity test; and a thrombophilia risk test. The company has submitted a respiratory viral panel for FDA 510(k) clearance.

GenMark said in a press release that the partnership aims to develop an all electronic, fully integrated diagnostic platform. The partnership’s initial focus will be multiplex molecular testing — a test that can detect several diseases from just one sample — followed by other diagnostics. The securities filing said the agreement will be filed with GenMark’s first quarter 2012 report.

In the release, ALL President and CEO Richard West said that his company’s electronically-driven sample preparation technology will integrate well with GenMark’s detection technology.

“This further validates that the fluid-handling flexibility of our platform can be integrated with multiple types of detection for a wide range of applications,” he said.