Tuesday, 5 April 2016
AstraZeneca funds 'robotic pill' company Rani Therapeutics in pursuit of oral biologics
San Jose, CA's Rani Therapeutics, developer of a "robotic pill" to convert injectable drugs into oral pills, announced that it has closed its latest funding round, putting the company's VC haul above $70 million as it seeks to expand the team, add new facilities and scale up manufacturing.
Rani is testing the feasibility of its robotic pill on Novartis' proprietary biologics. Once the drug delivery tech passes through the stomach, the slightly acidic fluids of the small intestine dissolve the pill's casing, as well as a nanoscale valve, causing previously separated citric acid and sodium bicarbonate to mix and form carbon dioxide, which in turn inflates a small balloon tipped with needlelike structures made of sugar, according to prior FierceDrugDelivery coverage of Rani.
The needles rise on the edge of the balloon and embed themselves in the small intestine. No pain is felt because the organ doesn't have any pain receptors. Next, the needles detach from the robotic pill and release drugs into the proximate blood vessels while dissolving in the body. Meanwhile, the remainder of the pill passes through the body.