Start-Ups Trying to Disrupt Medical Lab Business– Face Steep Hurdles

Melody Petersen reported on the front page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times that, “Pathway is one of a growing number of start-ups trying to disrupt the $75-billion medical lab business by selling blood tests and other types of medical lab checks directly to consumers.

“It’s part of a new frontier of medicine, where tech companies say they are using data, software and genomics to create tools for personalized medicine, letting patients take the lead without always relying on a physician.”

However, the article noted that, “But Silicon Valley technologists face steep hurdles in their efforts to revolutionize the medical system the way they have communications or shopping.”

“The explosion of new lab tests range from basic cholesterol checks to much more complex tests using genomics to evaluate health. Upstarts like 23andMe, Color Genomics and Cynvenio are joining a market long dominated by industry giants Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp,” the article said.

Ms. Petersen indicated that, “Lured by the potential profit and chance to upend cancer treatment, venture capitalists have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into start-ups working on liquid biopsies.

“In January, tech billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos led a $100-million round of funding for Grail, a new company developing a test. Pathway has raised more than $130 million from investors.

Many of the start-ups are led by software engineers and developers, rather than medical doctors or scientists.”

Sunday’s article noted that, “Pathway and the other start-ups say they are focused on precision medicine — trying to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy, while more precisely diagnosing and treating the sick.”

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