Tuesday, 28 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalFounder of ‘breakthrough’ blood-testing technology gives evidence

Founder of ‘breakthrough’ blood-testing technology gives evidence

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of now-defunct “breakthrough” US blood testing company, Theranos, concluded her testimony in her fraud trial.

Holmes, 37, faces nine counts of fraud and two counts of conspiracy in United States federal court for allegedly lying about Theranos’s technology to bring in cash from wealthy private investors and patients who paid for tests from the company. She rose to fame in Silicon Valley for her ambitious play to reinvent blood testing with a device that supposedly could perform a diagnostic analysis from a finger prick.

Once valued at $9bn, Theranos collapsed after The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles, starting in 2015, that suggested its devices were flawed and inaccurate.

According to a report in The Guardian, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison over charges that she defrauded investors out of millions, and patients, lying about the capabilities of the firm’s core blood-testing technology. She has pleaded not guilty. The prosecution wrapped its cross examination of Holmes last Tuesday (7 December) after nearly six hours of questioning. Her defence team will now offer its final questions before closing arguments, which are expected this week.

US attorney Robert Leach interrogated Holmes regarding the promises she made to investors about Theranos’ testing capabilities and what she was told about their shortcomings by scientists at the company. The prosecution introduced evidence that Theranos was performing very few of its own tests, showing through one 2013 email that the company performed only three of its 12 tests on its own devices. In the preceding days, Leach grilled Holmes over her assertions she was not aware of problems with Theranos devices and interrogated her relationship with her co-executive and former romantic partner, Sunny Balwani.

Leach has sought to prove Holmes had the final say over decisions at Theranos and showed the jury text messages from Balwani raising questions about the capabilities of the tests compared with what Holmes publicly advertised. Meanwhile, a number of Theranos lab directors called by prosecutors testified that their concerns over the technology’s shortcomings were largely ignored. Former investors said they were discouraged from scrutinising the company.


The Guardian article – Elizabeth Holmes denies misleading Theranos investors as prosecution wraps (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Medical startup founder on trial for duping US investors out of millions


Simple blood test may improve early detection of breast cancer — pilot study


Quick and easy blood or tissue test to detect cancer


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