• I don't know how worthwhile it is to pursue this but here is part of a Medpage Today writeup:


    That's when they introduced the Edison, which was a glue-dispensing robot. An engineer, a Theranos consultant, ordered this glue dispensing robot ... and then when it arrived he studied it. And he ordered off-the-shelf components to make a smaller version of it, and then he programmed his smaller version of the glue robot to use a pipette to essentially replicate what a lab scientist would do. It had three degrees of movement in this sleek case. So that was a big, big step down, in terms of the ambition, you know? From the microfluidic attempt to that was a huge step down. And she made it because they were getting nowhere with the microfluidic efforts.

    And then they pivoted to the minilab in 2010, because the Edison could only do immunoassays. She, in early 2010, had gone to Walgreens and Safeway and told them "I have a machine that does all of the classes of tests." Of course, the Edison did not. Six months later, they had started to work on the minilab. Did she and her company try and work on technology? Absolutely. Did they ever get to the point they could match her claims? No, not remotely. And even had they gotten to the point where the Edison was reliable, it was just an immunoassay machine.

    It wasn't a complete house of cards in that they did try to make her vision happen. But they never got close, and at the same time she claimed that they had. When you're lying that much about where you are with the science it does become a fraud.


    The claimed projected number of tests was in the thousands. The claims of accomplishment were around 250. In reality, none worked. All were immunoassays which inherently require only microscopic amounts of blood for testing even when used with a conventional autoanalyzer. As the article notes, when you take money on the basis of lies, that is fraud. Did Theranos stuff get closer to its claims than Rossi's ecat? Maybe a little. Were they more sincere? Some of the staff were. Personally, I think Holmes was mucho loco and that should be her defense.

    The article continues:

  • The claimed projected number of tests was in the thousands.

    The source you referenced said "dozens." Not thousands. I do not think there are thousands of different kinds of blood tests.

    As I recall from the book, the idea was to perform a suite of tests on a given sample. Perhaps not every test the machine was capable of. It might have been capable of more tests than it could perform on a single sample.

    Your reference says:

    "Theranos claimed that it could test for dozens of analytes in a single drop of blood, thanks to proprietary breakthroughs in microfluidics technology."

    Dozens, not thousands.

    "Then it all went south, in large part because of stories in the Wall Street Journal by reporter John Carreyrou, who found that Theranos had in fact made no breakthroughs, and results of a million tests on real patients' samples -- and probably many more -- were completely unreliable."

    It says "unreliable." It does not say that all of the test were imaginary, and the machine did not work at all (the way Rossi's Doral test did not work at all). It says "no breakthroughs." As I recall from the book, they ended up trying to miniaturize and automate present-day techniques, rather than trying to invent new techniques. Miniaturizing and automation often leads to better products and lower costs. So, this was a worthwhile goal, although perhaps not exciting, and not worthy of a huge investment in venture capital. It was worthwhile, but they failed, and the machine was not reliable and could not be certified for clinical use. That sounds like a failed R&D project rather than an out-and-out scam. Granted, some aspects of it were a scam. Perhaps the distinction I make is indistinct.

  • The UK papers blame a "fake it till you make it" culture for Thereanos. That reminds me of a wonderful moment in "Castles in the sky" (the story of the invention of Radar) where they do it to secure funding when a demo fails. Other great moments include Robert Watson-Watt demonstrating what he thinks of professors at Oxford and Cambridge by playing a trick on one of them. Highly recommended if you haven't seen it..


  • Quote

    Perhaps the distinction I make is indistinct.

    No. It's plain wrong. Which is probably why you fell for Rossi and probably will fall for other scams in the future.

    When someone takes money for deliberate lies, that's a scam. No other facts about it matter. That's the definition of a scam. And that is what the principals of Theranos did and that is why they are being prosecuted for fraud and could end up (probably will) with considerable prison sentences. Best efforts are not usually rewarded with trials, fines and prison. Sometimes I just want to scream: grow up!

  • When someone takes money for deliberate lies, that's a scam. No other facts about it matter.

    The researchers who did the actual hands-on work at Thereanos were not lying. They were sincere. They included highly trained, highly qualified people who thought the idea was promising. That is a fact, and it matters. The management at Thereanos was engaged in a fraud to some extent.

    Best efforts are not usually rewarded with trials, fines and prison.

    This was the worst effort, not the best. If you think that innocent, sincere researchers are not sometimes persecuted and threatened with trials and fines, you know nothing about the history of technology and science, and especially you know nothing about the history of cold fusion. People have often been persecuted when they were right, not just when they were mistaken or inept.