NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Tuesday that it is set to begin aPhase I trial of NPS R-568 for the treatment of hyperparathyroidism.The compound is an agonist to the calcium receptor on theparathyroid gland.

Hyperparathyroidism is an age-related disorder characterized byexcessive secretion of parathyroid hormone from the parathyroidgland, which results in elevated serum calcium. This, in turn, cancause bone loss, kidney disorders and cognitive dysfunction. NPS ofSalt Lake City said its compound mimics the action of calcium,activates the calcium receptor on the parathyroid gland, and therebyreduces the secretion of the parathyroid hormone.

According to NPS, approximately 100,000 new patients are diagnosedwith primary hyperparathyroidism in the U.S. each year, withwomen accounting for more than 65 percent of the patientpopulation. There is currently no drug treatment for the disorder. Insevere cases, the parathyroid glands are surgically removed.

The single-dose, placebo-controlled dose-escalation study will beconducted in healthy, post-menopausal or ovariectomized womenover 40 years of age. It will assess safety, tolerance to single doses ofthe drug, pharmacokinetic data and changes in markers of primaryhyperparathyroidism and serum calcitonin.

NPS is developing small-molecule drugs that target ion regulators,specifically calcium ion regulators. Drug leads are derived from non-traditional natural product sources. Besides parathyroid cells, thecompany has found evidence of calcium receptors in cells that governthe resorption of bone. The company is collaborating with SmithKlineBeecham for development and commercialization of drugs to treatosteoporosis and related bone and mineral disorders (see BioWorld,Dec. 15, 1993). That agreement does not cover NPS R-568.

In January, NPS filed for an initial public offering of 2.5 millionshares of common stock at $8-10 per share (see BioWorld, Jan. 27).

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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