Merck’s biopharmaceutical unit Merck Serono is investing €65m as part of the expansion of its research and development (R&D) facility in Darmstadt, Germany.
The amount will be used in construction of a new laboratory building that will span more than 16,000m² and around 200 current employees who will focus on accelerating innovation in R&D.
The new facility will bring together different functions within the company’s R&D Discovery Technologies, including molecular pharmacology; medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry; molecular interactions and biophysics; protein engineering and antibody technologies; as well as protein and cell sciences.
The research building will be located within the new ‘Pharma Square’ on the Merck campus in Darmstadt, and is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2017.
Merck executive board member Kai Beckmann said: "When complete in 2017, we will offer our employees in research an open and modern environment that fosters collaboration and innovation across disciplines.
"With this building, we are sending out another signal that the Darmstadt site will continue to serve as a core R&D Hub for Merck.
"In addition, the new laboratory building is an important element in the expansion of our global headquarters."
In order to advance its biopharmaceutical pipeline, Merck is uniting a significant part of its R&D activities into a single area, creating suitable conditions.
Merck executive board member and Healthcare CEO Belén Garijo said: "Over the next few years, we are poised to deliver the innovation discovered in our own laboratories to patients in need around the world.
"By continuing to invest in R&D with the expansion of our scientific infrastructure in Darmstadt, we are creating new opportunities for future discoveries that will bring value to patients and to Merck."
Earlier this month, Swiss start-up company Relief Therapeutics has entered an in-licensing agreement with Merck Serono to secure exclusive rights to develop and commercialise atexakin alfa, a human recombinant version of interleukin-6.
In preclinical trials, atexakin alfa has been shown to induce the re-growth of nerves and re-establish normal nerve conduction and sensory perception in various relevant animal models of neuropathies.
Initially discovered at the Weizmann institute (IL), atexakin alfa was first tested as a potential treatment for thrombocytopenia in chemotherapy-treated cancer patients, allowing the delineation of its safety and pharmacodynamic profiles.