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8 sites in St. Louis making critical COVID-19 supplies

MilliporeSigma manufacturing ingredients for coronavirus testing, treatments and vaccinations

ST. LOUIS — With a partial view of the Gateway Arch, MilliporeSigma on Spruce Street is just one of eight manufacturing sites for critical COVID-19 supplies.

MilliporeSigma, is the life science business of German-based parent company Merck KgAA Darmstadt, Germany. 

"St. Louis is a significant presence and a critical linchpin to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the life science business," explained Deborah Slagle, head of MilliporeSigma's Biologics Technology Cluster and Leader of the St. Louis Hub. The eight St. Louis sites play a big role in the company's 60 manufacturing facilities around the world. 

One of the St. Louis sites makes the nutrients and "robust growth media," a broth of sorts used to grow cells, that allows other companies to make large quantities of antibodies. Some of the cell culture media made by MilliporeSigma is being used in experimental antibody treatments for COVID-19. 

MilliporeSigma's St. Louis sites also manufacture cell lines that are used to make potential COVID-19 vaccines.

While most people won't be able to tell which parts of their COVID-19 vaccine, test or treatment came from St. Louis, Biologics Technology Head Deborah Slagle describes what forms their products take, "What you would see is maybe a liquid reagent. It may be a fine powder or it could be very tiny and not visible to the human eye."

Slagle told 5 On Your Side the company's products are being used in over 50 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates, more than 35 diagnostic tests and roughly 20 experimental antibody treatments. 

Science supply manufacturing is life-saving work that can't be done from home, something Deborah said has made her extra appreciative of the staff in St. Louis, "I am so proud and appreciative of the MilliporeSigma employees that have come in and continue to stay focused and vigilant through a very challenging year, to make sure that we're supplying these critical products for COVID-19 as well as public health."

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