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Norton Rose Fulbright advises Cooper Pharma on contract

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Cooper Pharma on its granted license with United PPE to develop and manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic tests using Sherlock’s CRISPR technology. The contract has been granted under The 221b Foundation, a non-profit organisation established by Sherlock Biosciences to address the global COVID-19 pandemic while promoting diverse representation in STEM.

CRISPR technology called SHERLOCK (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unlocking) and the diagnostic platform can achieve single molecule detection of nucleic acid targets. SHERLOCK utilises CRISPR activity for “smart amplicon detection” and can be adapted for use with existing diagnostic instruments, improving time to result due to its significant multiplexing capacity. When a specific sequence of DNA or RNA is present, a CRISPR enzyme is activated and, much like a pair of scissors, starts cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result.

Morocco-based Cooper Pharma is a leading laboratory of the national pharmaceutical industry, which has supported health professionals and aims to increase access to medicines.

Adjou Ait Ben Idir, Dubai-based corporate partner who led on the deal, commented: “This contract will enable increased access to COVID-19 testing in Asia and the Middle East. The design will be able to cover new and emerging variants, which remains of the upmost importance as we navigate through the pandemic.”

Mr Ayman Cheikh-Lahlou, shareholder and CEO of Cooper Pharma, commented: “CRISPR technology is opening massive avenues in the healthcare products application industry. Cooper International is well positioned with its expert team in Dubai to attract CRISPR Companies from around the world to participate in co-development projects and to deploy them mainly across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.”

The Norton Rose Fulbright Dubai team also included senior associate Zaid Al-Rizzo and counsel Jonathan Burton.

New partner hire for Dubai corporate team

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has strengthened its corporate offering in the Middle East with the hire of new partner Kayaan Unwalla.

Kayaan joins from DWF, where he was partner and head of corporate (Middle East). He advises clients on matters including cross-border transactional M&A, joint ventures, government contracts, commercial agreements and regulatory advice within the technology, defence, security, and industrial sectors.

Kayaan will join existing corporate partner Adjou Ait Ben Idir, who heads up Norton Rose Fulbright’s corporate/ M&A practice in Dubai, and is recognised for her experience in advising on complex local and international mergers and acquisitions, privatisations, private placement and joint ventures in various sectors including energy, financial institutions (in particular insurance) and real estate. She also heads up the firm’s Cyber Response Team in the Middle East and has a wealth of experience in cybersecurity related crisis management and corporate governance matters.

Deirdre Walker, head of Middle East at Norton Rose Fulbright, comments: “We welcome Kayaan to the team. Recent changes to legislation and regulation across the UAE – including the overhaul of the foreign direct investment regime in the country – make going into business in the UAE much easier for international investors who were previously excluded from the region. This shift is likely to increase confidence in the business environment and we may consequently see an uptick in corporate and M&A activity in the region. As such, Kayaan, Adjou and their teams of associates are well-placed to advise clients that are looking to capitalise on new opportunities that have arisen.”