Somehow, Silicon Valley has not learned from the train accident that Theranos was. The latest rumors are that Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences, is developing a painless blood collection contraption "using a microneedle and magnets explosion system," reports Christina Farr of CNBC. So, Silicon Valley has once again tried to correct blood tests again, one of the few parts of medical care that does not need repair.
The device is a prototype, says Farr, and the Verily team is still figuring out what to do with it. Mounted on a watch, small needles could, for example, be used to collect blood in a non-intrusive manner from patients in the hospital or monitor blood during clinical trials, according to Farr. (Verily refused to comment to Farr, and did not immediately respond to my email.)
But there is a secret that Silicon Valley apparently has not yet realized : There is already a piece of technology that pierces the skin to collect blood. It's called a needle, and it's already very, very small. In fact, there are expressions about how small the needles are: the needle in a haystack is one of them. Thread a needle. Camel through the eye of a needle, the Internet tells me. The point is: the needles are already quite small. That's why you can not put a camel in one's eye.
Now, I'm not talking about people who need continuous monitoring, like diabetics. Finding a way to track glucose without piercing the skin would be fantastic, if it is very difficult. But I suppose the microneedles would follow under the skin. And I'm not talking about people with needle phobias either, although somehow I doubt that a "microneedle and magnet explosion system" is the best solution.
I'm speaking for myself, someone who is mostly healthy, but with enough problems that I visit the lab every few months to bleed. And a needle works well for me. In fact, there are only two things that irritate me when I have to draw blood, and neither does the size of the needle pierce my vein. One is that I have heard that it is a bad idea to do a heavy arm workout immediately afterwards. So, just in case, I plan the day of the leg, the cardiovascular exercise or the rest (let's face it, usually, it's the rest) the days I receive blood. Problem solved. The other is the clinic's schedule, which conveniently overlaps when I'm supposed to be working. A smaller needle will not solve that: the longer clinic hours would do it. (If I did not have a good insurance, the cost would be another painful point.)
But Silicon Valley is famous for its solutions in search of problems, and its fixation with blood tests is an example of * the chef's * kiss. Take Theranos, who undertook to perform  tons of tests with just one blood prick. It did not work, and it wasted hundreds of millions of dollars. So, can we stop trying to fix the blood draws? In truth and venture capitalists, there are many causes that deserve your money, but humans have been reducing the blood to a science for some time. Maybe we could spend those funds, for example, by preventing women from dying while we produce the next generation or by receiving new antibiotics in the clinics to combat the growing resistance.
I have many ideas, and their public relations teams definitely have my email address.