The Theranos lab in San Francisco,

IT ALL began with the best, if exceedingly ambitious, of intentions – to develop a machine that by a simple pinprick on a patient s finger could detect any disease known to man.

But it ended in the most tragic of circumstances, with the firm behind the invention crashing and a British scientist who had devoted himself to the project taking his own life.

Now his widow has spoken out about the treatment he suffered before and after his death at the age of 67, accusing his employers of heartlessness.

Ian Gibbons, a Cambridge graduate, had been appointed head scientist at Theranos, a Silicon Valley bio-tech firm in Palo Alto, California, that had developed the one-prick diagnosis machine.

The invention, pioneered by Elizabeth Holmes, a college drop-out who modelled herself on the Apple founder Steve Jobs, had helped to make her one of the richest women in America, with a net worth last year of $4.5 billion.

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