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10 October, 2021 - 21:26 By Tony Quested

Injection of global quality by Cambridge biotechnology lawyers

For Biotechnology, a clear Cambridge stronghold, two firms stand in the No.1 position in The latest Legal 500 Guide – Goodwin and Taylor Wessing, from whom – ironically – they hired some of their best lawyers. Mills & Reeve and Penningtons Manches Cooper are joint second. 

Goodwin duo Malcom Bates and Tim Worden are named as leading individuals while Rachel Bradley (Penningtons Manches Cooper) and Tasmina Goraya (Taylor Wessing) are next generation partners and Talitha Shkopiak of Goodwin the lone star for rising stars!

The Guide reports that US firm Goodwin opened a Cambridge office in 2019, bringing the strength of a global life sciences practice to the region’s innovation hub. 

The firm acts for private and public companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, as well as for the leading life science venture capital and investment firms who invest in them.

In 2020 its market-leading work included advising Moderna on its proprietary mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine. Established local partners Malcolm Bates, David Mardle and Tim Worden, formerly of Taylor Wessing’s Cambridge office, are said to be ably supported by counsel Elizabeth Rhodes and associate Talitha Shkopiak.

The firm advised Moderna in connection with its proprietary mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. In October 2020, Moderna reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan and Takeda Pharmaceutical to purchase and distribute 50 million doses of mRNA-1273, Moderna’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

Goodwin also advised Kymab on a deal under which Sanofi acquired the business for an upfront payment of approximately $1.1 billion and up to $350m on achievement of certain milestones.

Taylor Wessing LLP has one of the largest specialist biotechnology teams in Europe, including a strong team in Cambridge, which supports global biotech companies at all stages of their lifecycle. As well as acting as counsel to both established pharmaceutical companies, among them Pfizer, the firm also assists early-stage companies such as Orexia and UltraHuman with their development. 

Tasmina Goraya is the lead partner in Cambridge and a core member of the firmwide life sciences group. Life sciences growth and commercialisation partner Colin McCall, who is 'an excellent communicator, very personable', specialises in advising life sciences and medtech clients. Partners Adrian Toutoungi, who joined from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2020, and Ross McNaughton, who joined from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, are key additions to the practice.

The Legal 500 says that the life sciences practice at Mills & Reeve spans all of the firm’s offices but is led from Cambridge by James Fry, who specialises in advising on intellectual property issues and complex commercial contracting. 

It says the practice brings together expertise in corporate transactions; patents, IP, privacy, regulation, litigation and real estate matters to handle complex matters for global organisations such as GlaxoSmithKline, as well as high-growth companies, universities, medical charities and research institutions.

Mills & Reeve advised Diurnal on the out-licensing of its first drug candidate (Alkindi) to Eton Pharmaceuticals for US markets, acted for F-star Therapeutics on its successful reverse merger with NASDAQ-listed Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals, and assisted The Binding Site on a major in-licence of patented technology and know-how from Californian biotech OncoTracker, Inc. relating to the use of sBCMA as a biomarker for blood cancers.

The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP works closely with the team in Oxford to leverage its sectoral knowledge to assist more than 90 clients in the therapeutics, medical devices, agriculture and veterinary sectors. 

The Guide says that Cambridge-based practice co-head Rachel Bradley has significant in-house experience at a pharmaceutical company and now acts for high-profile companies and research institutions, among them Genestack, King’s College London and Wren Therapeutics. Employment partner Hilary Aldred is also said to play a pivotal role in the practice, which clients describe as ‘thorough, quick, and effective’.

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