The Theranos Story, ch. 18: Is the ‘miniLab’ the Real Edison, or The Great Oz 1.0?

click to enlargeIs the Great Oz Behind the Curtain? Updated for The Box and additional articles. Before a skeptical audience Monday afternoon at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry‘s (AACC) annual meeting in Philadelphia, Theranos‘ CEO Elizabeth Holmes, due to be banned from the industry by CMS for lab violations, unveiled a new lab technology. According to Ryan Cross in the MIT Technology Review, “Holmes claimed her company had developed a sophisticated “miniLab” capable of carrying out an array of tests, including detecting the Zika virus, from a finger prick of blood.” A cube-like box, developed in secrecy, she called it a “single platform” able to carry out a wide array (or several–depending on what quote you read!) of different test types using small volumes of blood (apparently finger sticks). The device will be small, portable and directly connected to the internet to centrally send and verify test results. Ms Holmes actually took questions from a three-person scientific panel. When asked if she would be sharing the device with other researchers, she said she was “working on it right now.” It is not, of course, FDA-approved or in production.

Updated for video and new articles (as of 8/19/16).

  • MedCityNews’ Stephanie Baum must have some OSS/CIA blood in her, because it appears she’s beaten everyone on the miniLab Box picture plus posting the Theranos presentation video, which went up via AACC’s YouTube site within hours of the presentation. Other commitments prevent me from an analysis of the hour until later, but gone is the black turtleneck, remaining is the talent for tap dancing around hard facts. The comments in the article and from elsewhere echo the profound skepticism and cynicism found in the MIT and WaPo articles. Yes, the ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ intro was dark humor, served up the way we like it!
  • Bloomberg interviews attendees (scientists, clinical directors, professors, doctors) who believe they were baited and switched. The bait was the justification for Edison performance. The switch was The Box–a new technology, untested, untried and not even peer reviewed–that simply crunched down multiple existing tests into one container.
  • (Updated 8/19) AACC’s published article was short and straight up. “(Dr Steven) Master told Holmes that her data “fell far short” of what he expected based on the wide menu that Theranos promised previously.” Plenty of promises from Ms Holmes at the end, but if CMS has their way, which is likely, Ms Holmes’ “I’ve made the decision to double down and stick by it no matter how hard the path” and to be involved with AACC in the future, will be more empty Theranos promises.

Also WaPo, TechCrunch and POLITICO Morning eHealth

Is Theranos–and Ms Holmes–too far ‘gone’ to be credible or funded? Will there even be a Theranos company to develop this? Will Ms Holmes remain in the business through successfully appealing her imminent ban? The only sensible conclusion is that we’ll believe the technology–and her–when we see it is properly and independently verified–and operated by a company with proper governance and controls.

Stay Tuned to See if The Fix Is In.

Thumb through the prior 17 chapters of the Theranos Story here. Hat tips to @EdifInstruments and Editor Chrys Meewella for the links (WaPo and MIT respectively).

Categories: Latest News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>