posted This biotech aims to transform the diagnosis of mental illness. Michael Phelps backs it. Can it really work?  This article reports on an Australian company, Medibio, that claims to have developed an algorithm based on “hundreds” of sleep, hear rate and other biomarkers that can “reliably” be monitored using activity trackers – and that the resulting data can be used to diagnose mental illness. Remarkably , the Mayo Clinic has signed on to help Medibio review its diagnostic tools.

The tests will reportedly sell for about $20 per administration. Unfortunately, Medibio cites only one “small” study in support of its claims.  And, skeptics question whether these biomarkers are likely to be “transdiagnostic” – in other words, the results may not be specific to discrete mental health diagnoses.  The company has attracted two high profile board members, Olympian Michael Phelps (clearly not a scientific expert) and former US Representative Patrick Kennedy, who is an advocate for improving resources for mental health treatment.

This article is appropriately skeptical of Medibio. posted about it only because it illustrates the challenges and controversies involved in using technology to diagnose and treatment mental illness. 


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