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  • - [Narrator] Biotech company Theranos

  • promised a blood testing revolution.

  • With just a single drop of blood,

  • their machine could run hundreds of medical tests.

  • Except the technology didn't exist,

  • at least not in the way that its founder, Elizabeth Holmes,

  • envisioned it.

  • But that dream isn't over yet.

  • Theranos made some pretty lofty promises

  • that would have upended traditional blood testing

  • as we knew it, with its mini lab,

  • dubbed the Edison.

  • - If you could have just a single drop of blood,

  • you wouldn't need to go to a lab

  • and get your blood drawn for testing.

  • It would make it so much easier.

  • Really revolutionize the blood testing industry.

  • Like, that's a appealing promise.

  • - [Narrator] Nicole Wetsman is a health reporter

  • at The Verge.

  • She's spent time covering the Theranos trial

  • from the courthouse in San Jose

  • and explained to us why the blood testing industry

  • even needed a company like Theranos to begin with.

  • - For a standard blood test,

  • you have to go and you go sit down and a lab tech

  • will draw vials of blood out of your arm.

  • And then probably get sent out to a lab or, you know,

  • some larger offices might have machines in house.

  • So Theranos claimed to be able to create a system

  • that would kind of circumvent a lot of those challenges.

  • So they said that they could have a tabletop doctor's office

  • sized machine that could run hundreds of blood tests

  • on a single drop of blood.

  • - [Narrator] But even from the beginning,

  • pathologist questioned the accuracy.

  • - What I'm surprised about is, you know, you look,

  • you look at the people in the room

  • and there's clearly been a lot of interest in your company.

  • I would argue that a lot of that comes from the fact

  • that there were these claims that were made

  • that were very broad early on.

  • 70 tests, the whole panoply of lab tests

  • from a couple of drops of blood

  • and the evidence that you presented fell far short of that.

  • - There are things that you can do

  • with a single drop of blood.

  • You can test your blood sugar level for example,

  • but there are other things where a single drop

  • is just not realistic.

  • There might not be high enough concentration

  • of what you're trying to measure in a tiny drop.

  • - [Narrator] Studies have shown that important

  • blood markers, such as white blood cell count or hemoglobin,

  • can vary greatly from one drop to another one

  • obtained via the finger.

  • But even if individual drops were identical,

  • certain tests need to separate out cells with a centrifuge

  • or add specific chemicals to the samples

  • that would make repeat testing impossible.

  • Theranos's ambitions are commendable,

  • but the idea was nothing new.

  • - So there are things that Theranos was trying to do

  • that are also things that more realistic researchers

  • are also working on.

  • You kind of have a couple of main things happening.

  • You have the single drop of blood issue.

  • You have the lots of tests on one sample issue,

  • and you have the let's shrink this all down

  • to a small machine.

  • And those all kind of individually are things

  • that people are working on, but those are really hard.

  • And there are a lot of kind of really significant challenges

  • that a lot of smart people are working on.

  • Experts do not really think that that sort of pie in the sky

  • vision is something that's really going to be feasible,

  • despite kind of the potential for a lot of this stuff

  • to really be improved and innovated on in reality.

  • - [Narrator] While many researchers have been trying

  • to advance this technology in labs,

  • a ton of buzz surrounded Theranos

  • because it was telling investors

  • it could all be done right now.

  • According to testimony from the trial,

  • Holmes was telling investors that the machines

  • were already being used on military helicopters

  • in combat zones.

  • These claims would not only come back to haunt

  • Elizabeth Holmes in her fraud trial,

  • but they also had a chilling effect on other research

  • being conducted in the field of blood testing.

  • - Folks were working on blood test technology

  • and trying to shrink down tests or do more with less

  • had trouble getting funding or interest

  • because investors said well, Theranos has already done this.

  • So why should we invest with you?

  • And then when it came out that Theranos

  • couldn't actually do what they said they were going to do,

  • you had sort of the opposite problem where people would say,

  • oh, but isn't that all just a scam?

  • And so that made it harder for people to attract funding

  • for their more realistic projects.

  • - [Narrator] As we approach the end of the trial

  • of Elizabeth Holmes,

  • it's become clear that this trial has uncovered many cracks

  • in the way that startups operate,

  • particularly healthcare startups.

  • - The Theranos scandal and fallout

  • has really made people kind of question

  • whether the Silicon Valley startup move fast,

  • break things ethos is the approach we should be taking

  • to medical technology where people's health

  • and lives are sort of really on the line here.

  • And the accuracy and success of these technologies

  • has really important implications for people's health.

  • - [Narrator] And because of this,

  • everyone will remain highly skeptical

  • of any new advancements in the blood testing industry

  • for years to come.

  • - Like anything in science and medical technology,

  • you're going to see progress and you're going to see

  • kind of iterative innovation.

  • But what we're likely not going to see is someone pop out

  • of out of the ground with a device

  • that's going to change everything.

  • You know,

  • science is hard and we want to be careful

  • with how we move forward and make sure that the progress

  • we're making is actually real progress.

- [Narrator] Biotech company Theranos

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Theranos’s invention never would have worked. Here’s why. | Theranos Trial Ep. 2

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/02/20
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