Holmes defends beliefs in Theranos technology at her fraud trial

·2 min read

By Jody Godoy

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) -Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes defended her leadership at the now-defunct blood-testing startup on Monday, telling jurors at her fraud trial she had confidence in the company's technology and had seen positive results from early studies.

Holmes' second day of testimony was part of the defense strategy of showing that she believed Theranos' technology worked, and was not trying to overstate its prospects when raising money from investors.

Holmes, 37, stands accused of lying about Theranos, which had touted technology that could run diagnostic tests faster and more accurately than traditional lab testing with a drop of blood from a finger prick.

Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos collapsed after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles starting in 2015 that suggested its devices were flawed and inaccurate.

In Monday's testimony, Holmes compared a traditional testing machine to a much smaller Theranos device, which she referred to as the 3.0, whose aim was to remove human involvement in blood sample processing.

"If we had the ability to automate much of that process we could reduce the error associated with traditional lab testing," Holmes said.

She also testified about studies in 2008 and 2009 in which she believed Theranos devices performed well, including studies run under agreements with drug companies such as Novartis AG.

Holmes' decision to testify is risky as it exposes her to a potentially tough cross-examination by prosecutors.

The trial has shone a spotlight on Silicon Valley start-ups, which often attract high valuations based on promises of future success rather than actual revenue and profit streams.

Holmes' lawyers have tried to portray her as a young entrepreneur who underestimated Theranos' obstacles.

More than 50 journalists and spectators arrived at the courthouse early Monday morning to await Holmes' testimony, which began nearly two hours late.

Over the two-month trial, jurors have heard testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, including patients and investors whom prosecutors say Holmes deceived.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to nine wire fraud counts and two conspiracy counts. Her testimony is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jody Godoy in San Jose, California; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Berkrot)

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