Theranos and the Future of Diagnostic Medicine

Elizabeth Holmes is a 29-year-old chemical and electrical engineer and entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford as an undergraduate after founding a life sciences company called Theranos in 2003. Her inventions, which she is discussing in detail for the first time in this Wall Street Journal interview, could upend the industry of laboratory testing and might change the way we detect and treat diseases:

The secret that hundreds of employees are now refining involves devices that automate and miniaturize more than 1,000 laboratory tests, from routine blood work to advanced genetic analyses. Theranos’s processes are faster, cheaper and more accurate than the conventional methods and require only microscopic blood volumes, not vial after vial of the stuff. The experience will be revelatory to anyone familiar with current practices, which often seem like medicine by Bram Stoker.

This is the future of diagnostic medicine. Theranos’s technology will eliminate multiple lab trips because it can “run any combination of tests, including sets of follow-on tests,” at once, quickly, and with just one microsample.

A microsam

A microsample of blood used by Theranos

Another goal is transparency:

Ms. Holmes says her larger goal is increasing access to testing, including among the uninsured, though she might also have a market-share land grab in mind. For instance, she says Theranos will publish all its retail prices on its website. The company’s X-ray of self-transparency also includes reporting its margins-of-error variations online and on test results and order forms, which few if any labs do now.

Worth the read. Don’t miss who’s on the board of directors of Theranos: Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn (ex-senator from Georgia), and Richard Kovacevich (who served as the CEO of Wells Fargo & Company).

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