Rani Therapeutics has come up with a new approach to turn injectable drugs such as insulin into pills.
The California, USA-based start-up raised an additional $39 million for a total of $100 million thus far to bring its ideas to fruition, reported CNBC on Saturday.
Pharmaceutical companies lose $289 billion every year when patients neglect to take their medication. Many of the patients wish to avoid needle-based injections which they find painful, scary, and/or expensive.
This is why the supposed “oral biologics” space has opened up huge opportunities for life sciences start-ups such as Rani, though the opportunities are accompanied with considerable technological hurdles.
Rani Therapeutics CEO Mir Imran described its approach, in which an injection is delivered straight into the intestinal wall, as "pain-free."
According to Imran, a robotic pill, devised by the start-up, moves through the stomach, causing the outer case to dissolve in the small intestine.
A valve then releases, fusing two previously separated chemicals to form carbon dioxide, he said.
This process generates the necessary force to inject a needle-like structure, made of sugar, into the intestinal wall, with the needle then dissolving naturally, he added.
Rani’s technology is now in the clinical trial phase and has not been tested on humans just yet, which is why patients do not use it.
Its CEO expects the company to bring the technology to market within "two to three" years, focusing on diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other common, chronic conditions at the outset.
Alphabet’s ventures arm Google Ventures and pharmaceutical giants Astra Zeneca and Novartis have invested in Rani.