Ariad Pharmaceuticals has signed its second license deal for the NF-κB patent, which covers a heavily researched protein signaling pathway believed to be a key to cancer, osteoporosis, and inflammatory diseases. Reagent maker DiscoveRx signed up for a nonexclusive worldwide license of rights under the patent, granted last summer to the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and licensed by Ariad, a Cambridge, Mass. biotech.

The NF-κB patent, which contains hundreds of claims associated with cellular processes that are the subject of thousands of research projects at the bench, created a stir last summer among academics who feared Ariad would exact royalties and license fees. The company said at the time that it would not invoke the patent against noncommercial researchers and has so far lived up to its promise.

"I haven't heard a thing from any of our researchers, so they're...

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