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Vice President Biden Visits Bay Area Company That Could Soon Revolutionize Healthcare

NEWARK (CBS SF) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden toured a medical manufacturing facility in Newark on Thursday that he called a "laboratory of the future."

Elizabeth Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003, led Biden through a tour of her company's facility, which included a mock-up of the company's wellness center and displayed some of the company's equipment.

"You can see what innovation is all about just walking through this facility," Biden sad.

Theranos, a Palo Alto-based company, is working to create accessible, affordable lab tests that can be used outside a laboratory.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the company's herpes simplex 1 virus test, which can now be done outside of traditional clinics, according to company officials.

Holmes was 19 years old when she dropped out of Stanford University's School of Engineering to create the company.

The company's work "is fueled by understanding what it means to have to say goodbye too soon and the belief that if we can change our system in such a way in which early detection and prevention become realities, we will not only change outcomes but also change the cost of care," Holmes said.

Biden noted that obtaining lab tests can be expensive, inconvenient, painful and time consuming and seeing Holmes' work has led him to sense a "cusp of change" within the medical industry.

"The part that excites me the most is the diagnostic capability of preventing early on cancers and cardiovascular problems," Biden said, adding that in some cases early detection can be made two to 10 years before a condition becomes life-threatening.

Biden noted that he and his family have undergone numerous blood tests over the years. His son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in May at the age of 46.

Theranos company voluntarily submits its tests to the FDA, which Biden said demonstrated its "confidence and accuracy" in their work.

"Science is going to catch up, in some cases in months and years, to be able to do so much more for people. But a big piece of that is making it available, changing the paradigm about how we go about it," Biden said.

The company makes available a list of all tests performed by their technicians and its costs, most of which are less than $50.

Theranos has wellness centers at Walgreens stores and other locations within Arizona and California.

Biden also took time to acknowledge the death of Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger, 48, who was fatally shot in Hayward while responding to a traffic stop early Wednesday morning. He sent his condolences to the fallen officer's family.

Biden's tour of the Newark facility was his only stop in the Bay Area. His last visit was in April when he went to events in San Francisco, Oakland and Cupertino.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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