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In 2014 the medical technology company Theranos was valued at $9bn and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, had a net worth of almost $5bn. Partner Fund Management had just purchased 5.6-million shares at $17 a share, and the Palo Alto firm’s blood-testing tech was being rolled out to hundreds of chemists across the US thanks to a lucrative agreement with the Walgreens pharmacy store chain. Theranos’ now archived website states that Holmes was named inventor on more than 200 patents (US and international), “foundational for the company’s more than 1,000 pending and issued patents, many related to less-invasive lab testing on smaller samples”. Holmes had dropped out of Stanford University to found Theranos, inspired by a desire to help people by finding ways of replacing extensive and expensive blood tests with a machine that could test for a long list of diseases with just a single drop of blood. By 2015, despite numerous testing problems, questionable reports and a public relations night...

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