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Elizabeth Holmes Finally Releases Theranos Data, Including A 'miniLab' (cnbc.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes Monday outlined the steps she will take to increase transparency regarding the efficacy of the company's testing methods. Speaking at the conference of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Holmes said that Theranos will partner with other institutions "to validate and publish our results." And Holmes' planned presentation includes research conducted under Institutional Review Board-approved protocols. The company also said it intends to submit its results to a publication for peer-review. Holmes' presentation includes a slate of new products such as its miniLab, a robot that can process samples that normally require manual processing in traditional protocols. Theranos seems to be going back to the research and development drawing board, focusing on these new products instead of its much-debated small-volume blood collection technology. Theranos' miniLab is a self-contained laboratory that allows a robot to run a number of tests on samples. The miniLab contains different modules that allow it to conduct a series of tasks that traditionally would require multiple, separate machines. Theranos used its miniLab to run its Zika nucleic acid-amplification-based assay using finger-prick samples the company collected, some in the Dominican Republic. The samples were shipped back to Palo Alto, California, for analysis. Holmes said the results "demonstrate the miniLab's ability to perform automated, integrated molecular testing comparable to methods that require highly-trained personnel."
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Elizabeth Holmes Finally Releases Theranos Data, Including A 'miniLab'

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  • Holmes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @05:32PM (#52624597)
    I thought she was sidelined for 2 years? Seriously, what blessed lives these people lead to be taken seriously after screwing up so terribly. If I messed up half that bad at my job I'd be out on the street.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by NotInHere ( 3654617 )

      Its called "silicon valley". Failure is considered something good there. If you fail, you learn how to build a bigger and better unicorn.

      • Re:Holmes (Score:4, Informative)

        by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @07:39PM (#52625245)

        Its called "silicon valley". Failure is considered something good there. If you fail, you learn how to build a bigger and better unicorn.

        Every successful person has had some big failures before they succeeded, and for every successful company there are multiple failed ones. It's neither good nor bad, it's just life.

        As for Theranos...Well, let's just say that I work for one of their competitors, and what I know about this business is that there are routine audits by the FDA to send your lab a test sample, and you have to report back what you found in it given the test parameters that they gave to you. When given one of these samples, you can't speak to other labs about them or do anything that might give you any kind of hint of what the lab result should be, and you report back the findings just like you would with a regular patient lab specimen. If it doesn't fall within a specified range the FDA will notify you and you'll probably have to re-calibrate your equipment, and if it's way out of range then you'll probably get fined somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

        Or something to that effect. I work in the lab's IT department so I don't know the exact process.

        My question is: Did the FDA properly audit Theranos, and if not, why? From what I understand, this wasn't found out until some doctor saw his patient's results and questioned it, and then it got blown wide open from there. It shouldn't have even made it to that point really.

        • Re:Holmes (Score:5, Informative)

          by slew ( 2918 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @09:06PM (#52625631)

          My question is: Did the FDA properly audit Theranos, and if not, why? From what I understand, this wasn't found out until some doctor saw his patient's results and questioned it, and then it got blown wide open from there. It shouldn't have even made it to that point really.

          As I understand it, the FDA *did* audit Theranos on a single test (HSV-1 IgG aka herpes test). That only tests for the presence (or absence) of antibodies, not a test that requires determining a reasonably accurate concentration of certain chemicals in blood so in a sense it was a somewhat easy test.

          Unfortunately, Theranos used the aura of this single approval to build their lab business which they apparently used their proprietary "nanotainer" collection tube. Regardless of the ultimate accuracy of their "Edison" machine used to gain their singular test approval (nobody knows outside the company how many samples were tested on Edison vs diluted and tested on standard lab equipment in production which is another FDA complaint that they didn't track this), the collection procedure also has to be FDA approved to assure audit-able quality and repeatably. This is where Theranos failed big time.

          Not only was the "nanotainer" not approved to be listed as collection device, but FDA audits revealed all sorts of problems with its quality control, including no supplier auditing, no validation procedures, nobody in the company approved the final design specifications before manufacturing commenced, no clear customer and lab complaint logging and handling procedure, etc, etc...As the FDA audited the complaint handling procedures it discovered complaint that involved the failure or accuracy of the device that were received and not logged as required (to establish a validation history of a procedure) which brings in to question the reliability of the tests results in actual field conditions.

    • I'm guessing there's plenty of wiggle room, though IANAL and I've never heard of the certification they revoked.

      I'm guessing, for example, that if they ACTUALLY came up with something that works, you'd find the certification reinstated. They have a lot of high powered investors who can pull some strings.

      And while it was based on snake oil, I'm still impressed with Holmes' ability to sell it. If anything, that's MORE impressive! She must have some amazing salesman skills. As well as zero ethics. Don't
    • I thought she was sidelined for 2 years? Seriously, what blessed lives these people lead to be taken seriously after screwing up so terribly. If I messed up half that bad at my job I'd be out on the street.

      Yes, but it didn't start yet and will be on hold if she appeals. The company so far hasn't admitted that it has to shut the Arizona lab unless she resigns or appeals. She controls the company, so at this point she can steer it in for any sort of crash vector she wants.

      Interestingly, other media are not reporting this the way slashdot is, with her having finally released the data people want. Ars is running it as, she didn't release the data at all, she just launched a new product instead and left everybody

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @05:50PM (#52624701) Journal

    While the article briefly mentions it, it is fascinating to note the process she has been claiming for years to be reliable, fast and needing only a prick of blood has been left out of the mix.

    Nope, she's not going to go down that route and open up the scam she's been running, instead deflecting by pointing out, "Shiny!", never mind all that other stuff she's been lying about.

    I wonder how many more investors will continue to pour their money down the black hole this women continues to more deeply dig.

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1@hotmail.cGAUSSom minus math_god> on Monday August 01, 2016 @05:57PM (#52624751)
    Is this an absolute fucking joke??

    The ship for "transparency" sailed about 6 months ago, before the mass media fully exposed her and Theranos as being outright frauds as individuals and as a technology company. The moment is gone, pack it up Elizabeth....

    Anyone interested in what the "new Theranos" is should approach it as if it were a brand new company, with little/no track record and in the very early R&D phase. Perhaps with even more caution than that, if only to protect themselves from their historical baggage, and if not then at least to penalize socially irresponsible corporate practices.
    • Anyone interested in what the "new Theranos" is should approach it as if it were a brand new company, with little/no track record and in the very early R&D phase. Perhaps with even more caution than that, if only to protect themselves from their historical baggage, and if not then at least to penalize socially irresponsible corporate practices.

      Investors are often stupid. You might remember how SCO's stock value was propped up for years by nothing but the hope by ignorant investors that they might actually win their case and hit the jackpot. This happened for quite a long time after it was clear to any IT person or legal person who wasn't involved in the case that SCO wasn't going to win. So it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are people out there who want to dump money in Theranos despite their past history.

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @05:58PM (#52624765) Journal

    No, there was no data released. Just a promise to release it, along with a new product announcement.

    Yes, the company did say that it would release data at the conference, but this did not happen.

  • by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Monday August 01, 2016 @06:06PM (#52624795) Homepage
    The reason why frauds like this persist has more to do with the media pushing the company's success story than the founders themselves. In the video attached to the article, you can see reporter Meg Tirrell bending over backwards to find the silver lining for Therenos. A little bit more realism and expertise in journalism would go a long way to preventing this harmful hype.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like the "minilab" is their back up plan.

    Who was it that said, "The minute you have a back up plan, you’ve admitted you’re not going to succeed.”

  • I've got a bucket of popcorn and I'm cheering on Theranos because it's only companies like this that are going to shake up the current medical pricing model. I think it's stupid that they screwed up so badly on the first round, but I'm still hoping they can turn it around.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Uh, the reason why the competitive tests like Quest and LH cost more is because they actually work. Theranos is an outright fraud that was designed from the start to bilk clueless biotech generalist funds out of their cash.

      Moron.

      • Moron, wow, your narrow assumption then is that no new technology will ever be created that will be cheaper, more effective and more efficient , you do realize you are on a tech site?
    • "it's only companies like this that are going to shake up the current medical pricing model."

      I suspect that this is the basis for much of the dudgeon directed against the idea of Silicon Valley "intruding" into the sacred medical field.

  • Faced with a theory and some evidence apparently supporting it, the questions me must ask are:

    1) What serious attempts have been made to find counter-evidence for this theory?
    2) How thorough have you been in listing things which could make your theory false?
    3) What sort of counter-evidence would disprove your theory?
    4) What assumptions are you depending upon when reasoning from empirical data to conclusions?

    If people are still playing the 'here is proof it works' game, what they are doing is probably not sc

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