A Google-backed startup that’s developing a new way to turn injectable drugs like insulin into pills, has raised an additional $53 million from a slew of new investors to prep for clinical trials.
The company, called Rani Therapeutics, has now raised $142 million in total funding, with existing investors including Alphabet’s venture arm GV, along with Novartis, AstraZeneca, and others. New investors to the party are GeneScience Pharmaceuticals, a major biopharma company in China, along with Shire, Bossa Ventures, and Cathay Venture.
Rani is hoping to tackle the oral biologics space, making drugs like insulin, Humira, Avonex, and human growth hormone easier to deliver. The company’s approach involves a robotic pill that travels through the stomach, delivering an injection straight into the intestinal wall (which Rani’s CEO Mir Imran described as “pain-free”).
“The addition of new top tier investors is great validation not only of Rani’s potential, but of the success we’ve already experienced in pre-clinical testing,” Imran, who’s also chairman and founder, said in a statement. “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 has brought on Ray Diradoorian, the former global head of manufacturing for Allergan, as a consultant, and hired Wilfredo Ortiz to lead day-to-day manufacturing operations. Ortiz was previously plant manager of Allergan’s Fall River, Massachusetts site and director of operations for the company’s Waco, Texas plant.
“With this latest funding from key global investors, and the appointment of senior manufacturing executives, Rani couldn’t be better positioned to advance a long-awaited solution for hundreds of millions of chronic disease sufferers,” said David Pyott, former Chairman and CEO of Allergan, and a member of Rani’s board of directors, in a statement.
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