Bay Area Startup Rani Therapeutics Tops $70 Million in Funding With Heavy Hitters like AstraZeneca PLC, Novartis AG and Google
February 25, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Rani Therapeutics, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., announced it had closed on its latest funding round, now totaling more than $70 million. Existing investors included Novartis , Google Ventures, Buttonwood, GF Ventures, KPC Pharmaceuticals, inCube Ventures and VentureHealth. New investors include AstraZeneca , Virtus Inspire Ventures, and Ping An Ventures.
Rani focuses on a development platform to allow biologic drugs that are typically injected to be taken orally. Drugs that fall into this category include TNF-alpha inhibitors, interleukin antibodies, basal insulin and GLP-1.
“We developed Rani Therapeutics with a clear vision —give patients suffering from chronic illnesses a convenient, easy and painless alternative to subcutaneous injections,” said Mir Imran, chairman and chief executive officer of Rani, in a statement. “Our team has created a breakthrough drug delivery platform supported by a solid patent portfolio and that is what is attracting potential partners and investors. We are pleased with our progress, and are now laser focused on demonstrating value for a variety of therapies.”
In addition to raising the funds, which will be used to expand its team, build new facilities and scale up manufacturing capabilities, Robert Gaffney was hired as vice president of operations. He was formerly chief operating officer of Spinal Modulation, an InCube Labs company acquired in 2015 by St. Jude Medical . Rani was founded in 2012 and spun out of InCube Labs.
On Jan. 6, Rani announced that it had entered into a collaboration deal with MedImmune , the research and development unit of AstraZeneca. Over the next two years the two companies will conduct feasibility studies, testing certain biologic molecules in metabolic diseases using Rani’s technology platform for oral delivery.
“MedImmune has a growing portfolio of innovative biologics in the area of cardiovascular/metabolic disease, which is an important therapeutic area for AstraZeneca and MedImmune,” said Gail Wasserman, senior vice president, Biopharmaceutical Development for MedImmune, in a statement. “Success in this program coupled with Rani’s technology could represent an innovative solution for delivering biologics orally to metabolic disease patients.”
In May 2015, Rani Therapeutics announced it had closed on a Series C financing round, which included Novartis, Google Ventures, InCube Ventures and others. At about that time it also announced it had started a collaboration partnership with Novartis, in which the two companies will test certain Novartis biologics using Rani’s oral delivery platform.
Rani Therapeutics and inCube Ventures are led by Mir Imran. Over the last 25 years, Imran has formed 20 companies. He holds more than 200 issued patents. His most visible invention involves contributions to the first FDA-approved Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. Imran holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering, a Master of Science degree in bioengineering, and attended College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Rutgers Medical School.