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Theranos shutting its blood-testing sites and laying off employees

Theranos cuts back
Theranos Chief Executive Elizabeth Holmes at a Wall Street Journal technology conference in Laguna Beach in October 2015.
(Glenn Chapman / Getty Images)

The troubled blood-testing start-up Theranos said Wednesday that it was shutting its labs and patient testing centers, a move that will cause 340 employees, or about 40% of its workforce, to lose their jobs.

The news, delivered in a letter by the company’s founder and chief executive, Elizabeth Holmes, appears to be the end of its much hyped Edison technology that the company had boasted would disrupt the nation’s blood-testing industry.

Theranos was once valued at $9 billion based on its promises that the Edison device could perform multiple tests with just a few drops of blood “taken from a tiny finger stick.”

In her letter, Holmes said the Palo Alto company would now focus its “undivided attention” on the research and development of a different project --  its experimental “miniLabs.” The company says it hopes to eventually get approval for the microwave-sized portable blood-testing devices from the Food and Drug Administration.

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“We have a new executive team leading our work toward obtaining FDA clearances, building commercial partnerships, and pursuing publications in scientific journals,” Holmes wrote.

The last year has been devastating for the company and Holmes, which Forbes had once called the youngest self-made female billionaire.

In May, Theranos announced that it was retracting the results of tens of thousands of blood tests that doctors had depended on to care for patients over the last two years.

Walgreens said in June that it was ending its deal with Theranos to put blooding testing sites in its drugstores -- a plan that had started with 40 Theranos blood-testing sites at its stores in Arizona.

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After finding a number of violations at the company’s Northern California lab in Newark, federal regulators banned Holmes from owning or running a medical lab for two years.

The company now faces lawsuits brought by patients and a number of investigations.

“We are fortunate to have supporters and investors who believe deeply in our mission of affordable, less invasive lab testing, and to have the runway to realize our vision,” Holmes wrote.

Melody.petersen@latimes.com

Follow @melodypetersen on Twitter


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