Health and Science

Rupert Murdoch an investor in blood-test start-up Theranos: WSJ

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Rupert Murdoch was among the investors who piled into blood-testing start-up Theranos, which has since come under regulatory scrutiny over the accuracy of its pin-prick tests, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The issues around Theranos' blood-testing methods became public as a result of reports written by the WSJ, a publication bought for $5 billion in 2007 by News Corp. under Murdoch's leadership.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the WSJ report on Monday named Murdoch as being among Theranos' high-profile, non-tech sector investors.

Riley Bechtel, chairman of construction giant Bechtel Group, was another one of these investors, the WSJ reported, adding that in Theranos' latest funding round from 2014 to 2015, private individuals and families funded the then-favored start-up to the tune of $632 million.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.

Theranos did not immediately respond to CNBC on requests for comment. Murdoch and Bechtel have not publicly discussed their investments in the start-up, noted WSJ.

On Monday, Theranos was slapped with a fresh lawsuit that alleges the embattled consumer health technology company made misleading claims about its business while seeking investments, the WSJ reported.

The action follows Walgreens suit earlier this month seeking $140 million in a lawsuit alleging that Theranos misled its blood test capabilities in a contract to have the service placed in the drugstore chain's stores in some locations in Arizona and California.

The company is also under investigation by federal regulators and in October closed all its clinical labs and Wellness Centers.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes had promised the proprietary Edison machine used by her company needed just a drop of blood to conduct tests, compared to the technology of competitors that required tubes of blood.

The company was at one point valued at more than $9 billion, making Holmes the world's youngest female billionaire, as tech investors flocked to the Stanford University drop-out, who founded Theranos at the age of 19.

But a WSJ probe alleged that Theranos was in fact conducting most of the testing at its centers on standard blood-testing equipment because Edison's results weren't reliable.

Although Theranos disputed the WSJ's claims, U.S. federal regulators also called the company's laboratory practices into question and in January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) identified serious deficiencies at Theranos' lab in Newark, California.

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