Germany's Merck breaks ground on $321m biomanufacturing center

Merck KGaA has begun construction on an 18,000 square-meter research center at its global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

April 25, 2024

2 Min Read

The research center will focus on developing solutions for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals, including antibodies, recombinant proteins, and viral vectors. It is expected to open in 2027 with 550 employees.

“We expect our life science research and development activities in Darmstadt to grow significantly in the next years,” a spokesperson for Merck told BioProcess Insider.

“This growth will be driven primarily by research into novel technologies, such as mRNA or viral vectors. The Advanced Research Center provides the facilities and space to support this growth of our research activities. We continue to believe in Germany and Europe as locations for research and innovation.”

According to the firm, the research team will also work on developing analytical chromatography: a method for separating, identifying and quantifying chemical substances in a sample.

Furthermore, the research site is striving for a gold certification from the German Sustainable Building Council.

“The Advanced Research Center brings together the research and development staff of our life science business sector in Darmstadt. The scientists here will work on advanced cell cultures and cell culture media, downstream materials like resins for chromatography and membranes, and mRNA technologies like lipid nano particles.”

The €300 million ($321 million) investment is a part of Merck’s €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) investment program for the Darmstadt site by 2025. In October 2023, the firm opened two manufacturing plants in Germany offering mRNA services.

Merck KgaA’s MilliporeSigma launches genetic stability platform

In other news, Merck KGaA’s life sciences division MilliporeSigma has launched a genetic stability platform it says can reduce biosafety testing time by 66% and cut costs by 43%.

The Aptegra Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) genetic stability assay leverages whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics to significantly accelerate biosafety testing. It transforms CHO genetic stability testing, which has remained relatively unchanged for many years within the industry.

“Currently, clients must use multiple assays to address genetic stability requirements, causing the longest delay for cell line characterization. The Aptegra platform replaces five different assays and four different technologies with one assay utilizing the next-generation sequencing technology platform,” Heather Ahlborn, head of contract testing services at MilliporeSigma told BioProcess Insider.

“The platform replaces five different assays and four different technologies with one assay utilizing the next-generation sequencing technology platform. The platform streamlines the entire process and reduces client-supported optimization by 100%, accelerates testing time by over 66% (from three to five months to one month), and reduces costs by 43% compared to costs associated with traditional testing methods.”

For now, the platform will only be used for monoclonal antibody (mAb) based therapies, but there are plans to expand to novel therapies in the future. The platform is available at MilliporeSigma’s Rockville facility, Maryland, US, and Glasgow, UK facility.

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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