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Vital Bio picks up where Theranos left off


Building a startup is hard enough but growing one in a category marred with Theranos-sized stigma is a new level of challenge. Vital Bio seems up for the test.

The Toronto-based startup is building a machine, VitalOne, that can perform more than 50 blood tests — covering nearly all of those considered routine — and get patient results back in 20 minutes, not multiple days. Co-founder and CEO Vasu Nadella said that he got interested in the space because he and his co-founders have watched family members deal with chronic illness and know that being able to get quick diagnostic results is crucial for treatment.

Plus, Nadella wanted to know why companies couldn’t seem to get the solution to this problem right. While Theranos failed for a variety of reasons, the other companies trying to build these quicker blood diagnostic tools had yet to ship products. He thought maybe he could crack the code.

The startup launched in 2019 and built quietly until it debuted its device at the American Association of Clinical Chemistry’s annual meeting — the industry’s “Super Bowl” — last Monday. Vital Bio also announced that it had raised $48 million in venture funding from Labcorp, Inovia Capital, Lachy Groom and Sam Altman, among others.

Nadella said the company has focused on making sure that its device produces accurate results and that when it does drift, they know how to prevent it from impacting the final diagnosis. He said the company waited to start talking about what it was up to until it felt it had enough to back up its claims.