How Blood Testing Technology Got So Hot
If you thought that next-gen blood-testing technology had hit a wall because of the woes of Elizabeth Holmes and her hobbled unicorn Theranos, you’d be wrong.
A growing number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies are ramping up efforts to create smarter, more effective blood diagnostics. This spring, California-based Freenome got a multimillion-dollar cash infusion from Andreessen Horowitz. Pharma giant Roche nabbed FDA approval for a first-of-its-kind blood test to assess the efficacy of its lung cancer drug, Tarceva, for different patients. And at June’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Guardant Health unveiled a trove of data showing that its blood-testing tech was comparable to standard surgical biopsies for discerning cancerous mutations and matching patients to appropriate treatments.
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These are just a few of the latest developments in the burgeoning field of personalized medicine and “liquid biopsies”—blood tests that seek to replace painful, pricey, and complicated procedures like the invasive tissue biopsies that currently dominate the cancer market. Guardant, for its part, hopes that one day its platform can be used as part of an annual physical to detect cancer as early as possible. The Theranos debacle notwithstanding, if this new class of blood-testing tech takes off the way investors think it might, cheaper, safer tests could replace old-school surgical biopsies altogether.
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A version of this article appears in the July 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Blood Testing Is Booming.”