Collaborative Research Inc. announced on Thursday that it hadbeen awarded a contract from the National Institutes of MentalHealth (NIMH) to search for the gene responsible for bipolaraffective disorder (manic/depressive), a disease that currentlyaffects more than 3 million people in the U.S.

Under the terms of the contract, the Waltham, Mass., biotechcompany (NASDAQ:CRIC) will receive close to $220,000 for thefirst six months. After that, NIMH has the option to renew forfour successive 12-month periods.

Tim Keith, a research manager at Collaborative, told BioWorldthat data from twin and family studies have indicated thatthere is a "strong genetic component" to manic/depressivedisorder.

But there's no clue as to where the possible gene(s) may belocated. So the researchers' first step is to perform agenomewide search using a set of chromosomal markers thatare "highly heterozygous and spaced at appropriate intervals,"Keith said.

The next step will be to see how these markers segregate in thegenomes of the 100-or-so individuals in Collaborative's samplepopulation. Next will come linkage analyses to determinewhether the marker alleles are co-inherited with the diseasephenotype, Keith added.

"Hopefully, we will identify a candidate region within whichthe gene will lie," she said.

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