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Science News: The fall of a ground-breaking startup

– G.A., Senior Editor

Major advances in health care offer the opportunity to not only improve quality of life around the world, but also earn large profits for the companies that can turn research findings into real-world applications. One startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing and received tens of millions of dollars in investments was recently shuttered following a string of controversies.

Founded in 2003, Theranos quickly became the darling of venture capitalists. The company’s promise of producing technology that could allow the automation of blood tests that needed only tiny volumes of blood generated a great deal of interest. The value of the company increased rapidly and eventually peaked at ten billion US dollars in 2010. However, the company was never able to produce the promised technology and was eventually sued by partners and investors. Unable to generate adequate revenue and facing allegations of fraud, the company was formally dissolved at the end of August 2018. The enigmatic founder, vast sums of money, and the intrigue leading up to the end of Theranos will likely make their way to the big screen in a Hollywood movie.

While the meteoric rise of Theranos and its dramatic fall will remain a cautionary tale for researchers and investors alike, interest in similar technology will remain strong. Given the potential health and financial benefits that research can produce, it is unlikely that even a scandal on the scale of Theranos will dampen enthusiasm.

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