• Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., received FDA approval to market Humira (adalimumab), previously known as D2E7. Humira is the first human monoclonal antibody approved for reducing the signs and symptoms and inhibiting the progression of structural damage in adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have had insufficient response to one or more traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, Abbott said. Humira works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha. Humira was discovered through a collaboration between Abbott and Cambridge Antibody Technology plc, of Cambridge, UK. Abbott owns exclusive worldwide rights to Humira, including responsibility for clinical development, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Cambridge Antibody Technology would receive royalties based on Humira sales.

• Albany Molecular Research Inc., of Albany, N.Y., exercised its conversion option with respect to $15 million of Rensselaer, N.Y.-based Organichem Corp. subordinated debentures. The conversion into additional shares of Organichem stock took effect Jan. 1 and increases AMRI's ownership in Organichem from 39.2 percent to 75 percent, toward its ultimate goal of the purchase of Organichem. Organichem was founded in 1999 through a management-led buyout of Nycomed Amersham plc in Rensselaer.

• Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, reported that Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine includes an article on a study of Antegren (natalizumab), a humanized monoclonal antibody. The study showed promising results on disease remission and improved quality of life for patients with Crohn's disease, the companies said. The Phase II study of 248 patients with Crohn's disease was conducted in eight countries at 35 sites. Although the primary endpoint of remission at six weeks in the 6-mg/kg dose group compared to placebo was not statistically significant, both groups that received two doses of natalizumab had higher rates of clinical remission (a score of less than 150 points on the CDAI score) than the placebo group at multiple time points. Separately, the companies said results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate Antegren reduced new inflammatory brain lesions and relapses in patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. The primary analysis was based on MRI scans and showed that patients treated with natalizumab for six months had up to 93 percent reduction in new gadolinium-enhancing lesions compared to patients treated with placebo. The study involved 213 MS patients at 26 sites in the U.S., Canada and the UK. The companies have initiated Phase III trials of the drug in MS and Crohn's disease. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 20, 2001.)

• DOR BioPharma Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said it completed the sale of securities in a private placement to institutional and individual investors for gross proceeds of about $1 million. Investors included Steve Kanzer, its interim president, as well as several other members of the board. Atlas Capital Services LLC, of New York, and Accredited Equities Inc., of Miami, acted as placement agents. The placement agents sold about 10 units, each consisting of 285,714 shares of common stock and a warrant to purchase 142,857 shares at 75 cents per share. The warrants are exercisable for up to five years but may be called earlier by the company once the public trading price of the company's common stock exceeds $3 per share.

• Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, together with other stockholders of Elan's subsidiary, Athena Diagnostics Inc., have completed the sale of all of the outstanding stock of Athena Diagnostics to Behrman Capital and certain of its affiliated investment funds. As per the terms of the transaction that was announced in November, Elan realized net cash proceeds of about $82 million. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 26, 2002.)

• Genome BioSciences Inc., of Temecula, Calif., entered a technology sublicensing agreement with Chemicon International Inc., also of Temecula, giving Chemicon the right to implement Genome BioSciences' Positive-Positive Selection technologies for the creation of knockout and knock-in transgenic mice for internal noncommercial research purposes. Financial terms were not disclosed. Chemicon's products and services are used in the areas of neurobiology, cancer, developmental biology and infectious diseases.

• GTC Biotherapeutics Inc., of Framingham, Mass., and Trans Ova Genetics Inc., of Sioux Center, Iowa, signed an agreement enabling Trans Ova to develop the production of veterinary antibodies, initially for three diseases in cattle. GTC granted Trans Ova an exclusive license to develop and maintain a production herd for the antibodies, along with the associated downstream processing rights. The companies will work to develop the cattle that produce the antibodies in their milk. Financial terms were not disclosed. Separately, GTC signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with Fresenius AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany, to expand the commercial development opportunities of GTC's recombinant human serum albumin (rhSA) program. The joint venture will manage development of rhSA for the blood expander market and for the use of rhSA in the excipient market. GTC will have a majority interest in the joint venture. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said it raised $3.8 million through a private placement of common stock together with warrants to a group of accredited investors, led by Crestview Capital Funds and InKine's largest shareholder, Ursus Capital Management LLC. Another major investor was board member Steven Ratoff. The transaction price was about a 1 percent discount to Tuesday's close and included 35 percent warrant coverage exercisable at $1.85.

The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle said it and two other laboratories have sequenced completely chromosome 14 as part of the Human Genome Project. The group at the institute was responsible for mapping and sequencing about 10 percent of the chromosome in an effort that extended more than three years and involved about 20 research scientists.

• Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, said it implemented additional cost-cutting measures, including terminating 18 employees, all based in the company's Jerusalem office. The company now has 19 employees. The moves were designed to allow Keryx to focus on its lead product, KRX-101, being developed for diabetic nephropathy. The company originally announced its reorganization in August. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 15, 2002.)

• Kibow Biotech Inc., of Philadelphia, reported the continuation of its second fast-track Phase I and II Small Business Innovative Research Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Md. The award will bring Kibow into its first year of Phase II funding by the National Institutes of Health for the project titled, "A Dietary Supplement to Augment Kidney Function." The company already was a recipient of an earlier SBIR Phase I and II fast-track grant award of $850,000 for a project titled, "Sorbents & Engineered Bacteria as Gut-Based Uremia Therapy."

The National Institute Of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Md., funded five new grants designed to boost its investment in stem cell research. The studies focus on using adult stem cells to treat bone and muscle that may have been altered by disease. Scientists also are looking at how stem cells may regenerate or repair those tissues.

• Organogenesis Inc., of Canton, Mass., said the American Stock Exchange notified it that Amex's Listing Qualifications Panel denied the company's appeal. The panel determined that Organogenesis, which filed for protection under the bankruptcy code in September, does not satisfy applicable listing standards and has not shown progress consistent with a plan to regain compliance with the continued listing standards. The exchange said it would file an application with the SEC to delist and deregister the company's common stock from Amex.

• V.I. Technologies Inc. (Vitex), of Watertown, Mass., reported enrollment of the first patient in the Phase III program for the Inactine pathogen-reduction system for red blood cells. The patient was enrolled Tuesday in the chronic transfusion support study. The pivotal Phase III program comprises two studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Inactine-treated red blood cells. One study involves cardiac surgical patients requiring acute transfusion support, and a second study is in patients requiring chronic transfusion support. The two studies are expected to enroll 270 patients combined, including 200 in the acute surgical transfusion support setting and 70 patients in the chronic transfusion support setting.