NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc. has completed a $5 million initialround of venture capital funding, the Salt Lake City companysaid Thursday.

The financing was led by Domain Associates, which received"less than half" of the equity in the company, according to BobMerrell, NPS controller and treasurer.

The company was founded in 1986 as Natural Product SciencesInc. It was renamed in March to reflect a new emphasis ondrug discovery and development.

NPS was initially financed through research collaborations withPfizer Inc. and FMC Corp. The FMC agreement, which involvedthe use of a spider toxin gene as a biopesticide, expired onMarch 31, Merrell said. The Pfizer agreement, which centers onthe use of spider toxin in compounds to treat stroke and otherneurological diseases, expires in September.

NPS is phasing out collaborative research in favor ofproprietary drug development, Merrell said. The company isfocusing on calcium-related drug targets and a non-traditionalprogram in discovery of drug leads from natural sources.

The company expects to launch a second round of financing inthe next eight months, said Merrell. -- Steve Usdin

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