• Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., said it received FDA approval to market Humira (adalimumab) as a treatment for reducing the signs and symptoms, and inducing and maintaining clinical remission, in adults with moderately to severely active Crohn's disease who have had an inadequate response to conventional therapy. The antibody also is indicated for reducing the signs and symptoms and inducing clinical remission in patients who no longer tolerate or respond to infliximab (Centocor Inc.'s Remicade), the only other approved biologic for treating Crohn's disease. The action marked the fourth indication for Humira approved by the FDA in immune-mediated diseases.

• BioTrove Inc., of Woburn, Mass., said the Stanford University Genome Technology Center will use the BioTrove OpenArray technology platform to advance multiple research projects. Applications are anticipated in single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction-based tests, and the development of novel uses for the OpenArray system.

• Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., announced the publication of data from research studies identifying several candidate genetic markers associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), including markers in multiple genes that have never been associated with LOAD. Two of the genes are PCK1, a gene that regulates blood glucose levels, and GALP, a gene that is modulated by insulin and regulates food intake, suggesting a link between Alzheimer's disease and irregular glucose/insulin levels. The research paper was accepted for publication in Human Molecular Genetics and is available on the publication's website.

• Kosan Biosciences Inc., of Hayward, Calif., and F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, have decided to discontinue the development of R1492 (KOS-862), a first-generation epothilone compound, in favor of a second-generation version called R1645 (KOS-1584). The partners are advancing the latter into a Phase II program exploring clinical activity and safety in multiple solid tumor types, despite the former's meaningful objective response rates in metastatic breast cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. As a newer-version epothilone, R1645 is designed to have greater safety, efficacy and an enhanced pharmaceutical profile, and in Phase I, dose-escalation trials, it was well tolerated and demonstrated anti-tumor activity against ovarian and non-small-cell lung cancers.

• Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, completed the previously announced sale of Avinza (morphine sulfate extended-release capsules) and associated assets to King Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bristol, Tenn. Ligand received $295 million in cash at closing, which represents a purchase price of $246 million along with about $49 million in reimbursement of payments to Roseland, N.J.-based Organon USA. King also will pay Ligand a 15 percent royalty during the first 20 months, while subsequent royalties will depend on yearly sales - 5 percent if sales are less than $200 million, 10 percent if sales are between $200 million and $250 million, and 15 percent if sales for the year exceed $250 million. King also assumed royalty obligations to Organon and others. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 8, 2006, and Feb. 2, 2007.)

• Lipomics Technologies Inc., of West Sacramento, Calif., has entered into an agreement with the University of California, Davis, to collaborate on research projects with an emphasis on personalized medicine. Lipomics will retain certain rights to develop diagnostic applications based on the data from the studies. Lipomics seeks to partner with academic institutions and drug companies to advance its goal of developing diagnostic tests for metabolic diseases.

• Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said it regained North American rights to Difimicin (PAR-101/OPT-80) from Par Pharmaceutical Cos. Inc., of Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Difimicin is an antibiotic agent in Phase IIb/III trials for treating Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. The deal ends a collaboration between the companies that began in April 2005. Par gets a one-time $20 million payment up front, and is eligible to receive a $5 million milestone payment. It also would get single-digit royalties on product sales for seven years. Optimer previously said it was going to use proceeds from its initial public offering to buy back the rights. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 12, 2007.)

• Unigene Laboratories, of Fairfield, N.J., has received a $5.5 million milestone payment from Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, for initiation of a Phase III study for osteoporosis. Salmon calcitonin, the active ingredient in Novartis' oral product, was produced using Unigene's patented manufacturing process, which Novartis licensed in 2004. Under terms of the agreement, Unigene can receive up to $18.7 million in payments before royalties. Unigene has received $13.7 million of that amount. Unigene focuses on oral and nasal delivery of large-market peptide drugs, and is targeting its initial efforts on developing calcitonin and PTH-based therapies.