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"This Biotech Aims To Transform The Diagnosis Of Mental Illness" - Meghana Keshavan

  • STAT
  • New York, NY
  • (July 21, 2017)

A small Australian biotech, Medibio, has drawn big-name backer – including swimmer Michael Phelps – to its audacious goal: to develop a quick, cheap, and objective way to diagnose an array of mental illnesses. The company funded a study that tracked the heart rates of 23 patients known to have PTSD and 25 control subjects with no history of the disease, over the course of 24 hours. It found that the Medibio algorithm could distinguish patients with PTSD from those without the disease about 80 percent of the time. That may be because not all patients choose to reveal their true symptoms in a doctor’s visit, said Rachel Yehuda, PhD, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Yehuda also studies sleep biomarkers in PTSD, but is not involved with Medibio. If patients actively seek treatment and willingly disclose the relevant information, then the standard screening tests should suffice, she added. “But when you might need a diagnostic aid is when there are a lot of contradictory symptoms. Everyone might agree there’s a problem but maybe aren’t sure about what the nature of the problem is.”

- Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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