Theranos Announces Layoffs, Shift to miniLab

The scorned blood-test company cuts hundreds of jobs and moves its focus to its miniLab testing platform as it struggles to rebuild its reputation.

Marie Thibault

The in-development miniLab platform is designed for testing small-volume samples. The miniLab is not FDA-cleared or approved and is not commercially available.

The latest development in the Theranos saga? Layoffs for almost half of the company's employees.

The blood-testing company's founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, announced Wednesday that the clinical labs and Theranos Wellness Centers will be closing. The cuts mean job losses for approximately 340 employees in Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania, she wrote in a public letter to stakeholders. Before the job reductions, Theranos had 790 full time employees, according to a company fact sheet from early August.

Learn about "Bridging the Convergence of Consumer Technology with the Regulatory Realities of Medical Devices" at BIOMEDevice San Jose, December 7-8.

This announcement shifts Theranos away from its controversial blood-testing business, refocusing on its miniLab platform. "We will return our undivided attention to our miniLab platform. Our ultimate goal is to commercialize miniaturized, automate laboratories capable of small-volume sample testing, with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations, including oncology, pediatrics, and intensive care," Holmes wrote. She also added that there is a new leadership team working on FDA clearances, publications, and partnerships. 

Holmes presented details of the miniLab at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in early August. A press release describes the platform as "a multi-channel material-handling robot that can dynamically perform tasks on samples that may traditionally require manual processing." A video of the miniLab on the corporate website shows a relatively small footprint--22" x 13.5" x 17.75"--for testing equipment. 

The miniLab is not yet FDA cleared or approved and is not available commercially.

Has Theranos learned from its mistakes? That remains to be seen.

Marie Thibault is the managing editor at MD+DI. Reach her at marie.thibault@ubm.com and on Twitter @medtechmarie.

[Image courtesy of THERANOS]

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