Stat News reports on companies trying to find quick and easy ways to diagnose mental illness.

And there’s the rub. Researchers have been trying for decades to find reliable biomarkers for mental illness — that is, tangible biological clues that conclusively indicate whether a person has a particular psychiatric disease. Effort after effort has failed, leaving doctors to diagnose such conditions mostly on the basis of screening checklists and conversations with their patients.

Now, Medibio — a public company that trades on the Australian stock exchange at less than 30 U.S. cents per share — says it’s developed an algorithm based on hundreds of biomarkers related to a patient’s sleep, heart rate, and other functions that can reliably identify illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The tests will sell for less than $20 apiece, Medibio CEO Jack Cosentino told STAT.

Other startups are also rushing into the field, seeking to assess mental health by observing behavior such as how people use their smartphones or how their speech patterns shift over time.

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