Google Ventures, InCube Team Up for Rani Therapeutics' Series B

Article featuring InCube Labs' portfolio company, Rani Therapeutics, appeared on Dow Jones VentureWire and's on 8.28.13.


Timothy Hay | August 28, 2013

Google Ventures and InCube Ventures both invest in medical technologies, and both firms tend to back companies that want to shake up the landscape by solving large and seemingly intractable problems in the health-care system.

For Google Ventures, each investment in a medical-tech company is "a moon shot in its own way," Partner Blake Byers said. The firm's newest investment, which it made alongside InCube Ventures and included funding raised on crowdfunding portal VentureHealth, fits the bill.

The firms provided a funding round of more than $10 million for Rani Therapeutics Inc., Mr. Byers said. Rani is an early-stage company that aims to significantly disrupt the multi-billion-dollar annual market for injectable drugs like insulin and TNS alpha-inhibitors.

Rani says it will offer such medications in pill form, and be the first company able to accomplish that feat.

The company is not disclosing the details of the technology, but Chief Executive Mir Imran said its development involved years of research in advanced materials and polymer science.

Large-molecule therapeutics, many of which are comprised largely of proteins, must be injected, because acids and enzymes in the gastrointestinal system break them down before they reach the bloodstream and provide clinical benefit, Mr. Imran said.

Making pill versions of such medications has long been a Holy Grail in biotech, said Mr. Imran, a serial entrepreneur credited with developing the first implantable defibrillator--later acquired by Eli Lilly & Co .--and launching dozens of other start-up medical technology companies.

The funding gives Rani a two-year runway to sort through the hurdles ahead, Mr. Imran said. It is also expected to get the company into the human clinical trials process, he added.

Mr. Byers of Google Ventures said that Rani Therapeutics is still hammering out details surrounding the company's regulatory pathway and eventual commercialization.

The company is hoping to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a platform technology, which would mean that each individual drug coming out in pill form would merely need FDA pilot trials, rather than full clinical trials, Mr. Byers said.

Rani Therapeutics is also working out how it will approach pharmaceutical companies that offer injectable drugs. Ideally, Rani will get the pharma companies to license the technology, then put out their own pill versions of their drugs, he added.

Pharma companies will want to offer pills, Mr. Byers said, because injectable drugs always face compliance problems, as patients do not like giving themselves injections. Compliance is one of many factors that go into determining a drug's efficacy.

Google Ventures has backed a number of health-care companies with the potential to disrupt the status quo, including SynapDx Inc ., offering a laboratory diagnostic for autism, and Ipierian Inc ., which is aiming to use pluripotent stem cells in drug discovery.

Mr. Imran, CEO of Rani, runs InCube Ventures and InCube Labs , the incubator where Rani Therapeutics is located. He is credited with launching as many as 30 medical tech companies, including Spinal Modulation Inc ., Zonare Inc. and NFocus Neuromedical Inc . He also founded crowdfunding site VentureHealth, which participated in the funding.





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