PARIS ¿ Genfit SA, which aims to discover new therapeutic targets by identifying the impairments in gene function behind certain common diseases, signed collaboration agreements with two French pharmaceutical companies, BioMirieux-Pierre Fabre and Laboratoires Fournier.

Lille-based Genfit entered a three-year research collaboration with BioMirieux-Pierre Fabre, of Lyon, for the identification of the molecular mechanisms of action of new drug candidates for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

The deal concluded with Fournier, of Dijon, is for five years and calls for Genfit to identify new therapeutic targets in the field of metabolic diseases. In addition, Fournier has acquired a 6 percent equity stake in Genfit, putting it on par with the company¿s four other industrial shareholders (Sanofi-Synthilabo and UCB Pharma, of Paris; Merck-Lipha, of Lyon; and Strasbourg-based Aventis).

Genfit¿s CEO, Jean-Frangois Mouney, told BioWorld International that these two deals would provide Genfit with guaranteed research and development funding of at least EUR10 million (US$8.8 million) over five years. He added that Fournier would account for about 70 percent of the total and BioMirieux for 30 percent and stressed that this sum did not include possible milestones and royalties, nor the amount paid by Fournier for its shareholding.

Mouney also disclosed that Genfit was negotiating two more collaboration agreements with a large American and a large Japanese pharmaceutical company, which should be signed next year. In addition, he said, it was discussing ¿another scientific collaboration in which we will be much more heavily involved than in our existing ones.¿

Genfit was founded in September 1999 and is focusing on three disease areas altogether, the third being inflammation. Before signing these latest agreements, it was already engaged in research collaborations with seven other pharmaceutical companies, including the four that are shareholders.

The company is forecasting a near-200 percent jump in revenues to EUR7 million this year from EUR2.4 million in 2000 and expects its net earnings to be up 50 percent at EUR450,000, against EUR300,000 last year. Genfit currently employs 55 people.

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