PARIS ¿ Genset SA and Abbott Laboratories signed a new collaborative research agreement for the discovery of genes associated with bipolar disorder and Type II diabetes. Their joint research program into candidate genetic regions associated with these diseases will focus initially on bipolar disorder.

The deal provides for Abbott, of Abbott Park, Ill., to receive a license for the development and commercialization of therapeutic and diagnostic products based on the genes identified. Genset, of Paris, will receive an up-front payment, followed by research funding and milestone payments for the discovery of relevant genes and their validation as drug targets, followed by commercial milestone payments and royalties. The financial terms have not been disclosed, although the two companies have additionally agreed that Genset can exercise its put option to issue $10 million of equity to Abbott.

Genset and Abbott have been collaborating since July 1997 in the area of pharmacogenomics, so this latest collaboration is a completely new departure. For Genset, the focus on bipolar disease represents a further commitment in one of its key areas, central nervous system diseases, where it is already engaged in research programs aimed at identifying genes associated with schizophrenia and Alzheimer¿s disease. ¿ James Etheridge