How Theranos’s reboot could backfire

From The Washington Post:

Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes tried to kick off the beleaguered company’s comeback story on Monday in front of a few thousand scientists and doctors. She called the moment an “inflection point” and deployed all the right words: “data,” “peer review,” “publication.”

But instead of revealing the company is on a new path, Holmes’s presentation seemed to highlight the ongoing disconnect between a fiercely private Silicon Valley startup and the scientific and medical communities.

Fighting against a federal investigation and lawsuits, Theranos’s 32-year-old founder showcased a new technology and attempted to set a new tone for the company. Although she never called it a new age of transparency, that was the gist: ”Piece by piece, we’re working to put that information out there,” Holmes said.

Then, she spent 45 minutes pitching the experts a new device, miniLabelaborating on its technical specifications and presenting data comparing it with other systems. The talk resembled a new product launch from the company that promised to revolutionize blood testing, although the device is not approved for any medical use.

With sanctions looming that will ban Holmes from owning or operating a laboratory, the focus on introducing a new device would seem to offer a path forward as questions hang over the company’s clinical laboratory business. In an interview with Reuters after her presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Holmes christened this the “next chapter of our lifecycle.”

The company’s new product wasn’t the only shift. Holmes promised to provide more data on its technologies for review, after being criticized for the company’s secrecy in the past.

For people in the biomedical industry, Theranos’s relationship with the scientific community has been remarkably backward: Successful companies start with the wonky audiences — they’re built on science that was first presented at obscure genetics conferences or on clinical trial data published in journals, and they build a business from there.

But even as the outside experts have been largely left out at Theranos until recently, the …

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