Theranos: The Future of Blood Tests or Just a Fluke?
Theranos, Calif., the Silicon Valley startup that claims to revolutionize the established blood test industry, is facing intense scrutiny after news reports surfaced finding the company wasn’t using its supposedly-innovative technology for all the blood tests available. Company CEO Elizabeth Holmes claims new Theranos technology can eliminate the need for traditional blood tests, taught in phlebotomy courses around the nation, with an advanced pinprick test.
Pinprick blood tests are already available for rapid HIV diagnosis and at-home insulin testing, among other things. But the new Theranos technology claims to test for everything from herpes to cancer, at a significantly lower cost to medical providers. But outside of Silicon Valley, in Westminster, Calif., and elsewhere, investors are wondering — does this miraculous Theranos technology truly exist?
Theranos aims to make the kind of blood tests traditionally taught in phlebotomy courses a thing of the past. Yet according to The Wall Street Journal, Theranos isn’t using its technology for every test it offers. Theranos alleges its system analyzes blood from a tiny pinprick via a “nanotainer” tested using Theranos’s main technology, named “Edison machines.” Results are said to be available in a few hours, and at half the cost of traditional blood testing.
Theranos currently operates 44 “wellness centers” in Wallgreens pharmacies in Arizona and in California, north of Westminster. Yet the biotech company doesn’t seem to be using its so-called revolutionary technology for all its blood tests, reverting instead back to the kind of laboratory testing utilized in phlebotomy courses around the country. In addition, results from the company’s “Edison machines” appear to differ from results obtained via conventional diagnostic equipment.
What’s more, the evidence that Theranos’s technology actually works has not yet been released to an increasingly-skeptical public. The Theranos system has not yet been independently evaluated in any peer-reviewed journals. According to researchers studying diagnostic technology, Theranos’s approach is rather curious.