Swiss-based Novartis AG, which has a research facility in the RTP and a biomanufacturing plant in Holly Springs, is launching a feasibility study of a “robotic pill” that could replace some drugs that now have to be given by injection with an oral version.

Novartis is studying the effectiveness of a capsule made by venture-backed Rani Therapeutics Inc. of San Jose. The “robotic” pill delivers drugs via tiny needles made of sugar that punch through the wall of the intestine to deliver the drug.

The search for a way to deliver the large molecule drugs such as insulin by mouth instead of by injection is one of the Holy Grails of biopharmaceuticals.

Novartis also joined returning investors Google Ventures, InCube Ventures and VentureHealth in a Series C round of more than $25 million for Rani. Other investors in the round include Stevanato Group, Crystal Horizon Investments, Pinemount Investments, Pacific Venture Opportunity Fund and Buttonwood Funds.

If tests of the Rani Therapeutics drug prove promising, Novartis has the right to enter into a collaboration with the company or license the drug for specific uses.