Rani raises $53M to take robotic, oral biologic pill into clinic

Rani Therapeutics has raised $53 million. The investment equips Rani to step up manufacturing of its robotic, oral biologic delivery pills in anticipation of moving the devices into human testing.

San Jose, California-based Rani has now attracted $142 million in investment on the strength of its potential to crack the age-old problem of how to deliver biologics orally. Eschewing the failed pharmaceutical methods of the past, Rani has developed a capsule that transforms when it enters the small intestine. The transformation triggers the release and inflation of a balloon, which drives drug-loaded needles into the wall of the intestine.

Rani thinks this will painlessly deliver biologics into the dense vasculature of the intestinal wall. From there, the biologic can travel around the body as if it has been administered by a traditional injection or infusion.

The idea remains experimental, but its potential to reshape markets dominated today by blockbuster injectable biologics has enabled Rani to pull in $142 million before testing the pill in humans. Alphabet’s GV, Novartis, AstraZeneca and Ping An Ventures are among the companies to participate in earlier Rani rounds, including the $39 million investment the startup unveiled in September.

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Rani turned to a new slate of investors for the latest round. China’s GeneScience Pharmaceuticals joined with Shire, Bossa Ventures and Cathay Venture to pump $53 million into Rani. Shire disclosed its investment late last year when it secured the option to develop an oral factor VIII therapy based on Rani’s robotic pill device.

The financing will equip Rani to start on the next phase of its evolution.

“Building on our early achievements, we are now focused on manufacturing the RaniPill in order to move towards our next major milestone of human clinical trials, which we expect to enter within the next year,” Rani CEO Mir Imran said in a statement.

Rani has put together a team led by ex-Allergan veterans to oversee the manufacturing push. Ray Diradoorian, the former global head of manufacturing at Allergan, has come on board as a consultant. Wilfredo Ortiz, who held senior roles at two major Allergan plants, is leading day-to-day manufacturing operations.