Bay Area's Rani Therapeutics Lands $53M as Company Moves to Clinical Trials
Rani Therapeutics scored $53 million in financing to take its oral pill designed to replace injectable drug delivery for chronic disease treatment into clinical trials.
Rani, based in San Jose, Calif., said the latest funding round brings its coffers a total of $142 million. In its latest funding round, Rani was backed by GeneScience Pharmaceuticals of China, Shire Plc, Bossa Ventures, and Cathay Venture, Inc. Previous funding rounds have been supported by GV, the investment arm of Google, AstraZeneca and Novartis AG. Each of Rani’s backers sees possibility in the company’s proprietary RaniPill.
The RaniPill is designed as a safe and pain-free alternative to large molecule chronic disease treatments that are typically administered via injection. The RaniPill is a so-called robotic pill designed to deliver its payload of medicine in the small intestines. The pill includes a number of innovations that allow it to navigate through the stomach into the small intestines and then inject the drug into the intestinal wall, according to company data. Some of the potential drugs the company said could be administered in pill form include basal insulin, Humira, Avonex and human growth hormone. By being able to put these medications in pill form, Rani believes it could cut down on patient compliance issues.
Each application of the RaniPill represents a multi-billion dollar market, serving over 200 million worldwide patients suffering from diabetes, arthritis, psoriasis, hemophilia and other chronic diseases, the company said. The company did not announce when it intends to begin Phase I testing.
GeneScience Chief Executive Officer Lei Jin said Rani’s pill has the “potential to be a major breakthrough for drug delivery.” Additionally, Jin said the RaniPill could make a “significant impact” across multiple markets.
Mir Imran, chairman and CEO of Rani, said the backing from a new round of top-tier investors is “great validation” of the company’s program. Imran said the support is critical not only of its pre-clinical successes but of the potential successes in human trials.
“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,” Imran said in a statement.
In addition to announcing the financial backing, Rani also said it brought in several key leaders to help its transition into human trials. Rani hired Ray Diradoorian, Allergan’s former head of global manufacturing, as a company consultant. It also hired industry veteran Wilfredo Ortiz to lead day-to-day manufacturing operations. Like Diradoorian, Ortiz came to Rani from Allergan. Ortiz served in multiple manufacturing roles at Allergan, including director of operations at its largest U.S. site in Waco, Texas.
Former Allergan chairman and CEO David Pyott serves as a member of Rani’s board of directors. In a statement, he noted that the latest funding round and addition of manufacturing executives positions the company to “advance a long-awaited solution for hundreds of millions of chronic disease sufferers."