Australian medical technology company Medibio has announced the appointment of 23-time Olympic gold medallist American swimmer Michael Phelps to its board as it steps up efforts to be the world’s first FDA-approved diagnostic test for depression.
 
Announced on the Nasdaq Big Screen at New York’s Time Square yesterday, the partnership between the most decorated Olympian and Medibio is a big-league endorsement of what is billed as a non-intrusive, fast and objective technology that could revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.
 
Phelps joined Medibio’s Board of Directors after colaborating with its team of doctors and medical experts for almost six months and using the technology to analyse his own datasets. 
 
“In sports, there is so much focus on the physical aspects of performance, and athletes are analysed from head to toe. But for many athletes, mental health has not been a topic of focus, and the data analysis aspect of it has been missing up until now,” he said in a statement. 
 
“I personally suffered from mental health challenges from my teenage years on, and only fairly recently – after reaching a point of desperation – did I acquire the understanding, treatment and support I needed, which has truly changed my life.”
 
The coup of attracting the globally recognised Phelps to align with Medibio will increase the profile of the technology and raise awareness for mental health issues, according to Managing Director and CEO Jack Cosentino, who said he was delighted to have a champion of the mental health community on board.
 
“Michael will help Medibio to raise awareness of mental health as a serious and growing public health issue, and the availability of an objective solution to help the problem,” Cosentino told Healthcare IT News Australia.
 
The Medibio technology analyses circadian, sleep and autonomic system biomarkers to identify depression, chronic stress and other mental health disorders, and is based on 15 years of research at the University of Western Australia.
 
The technology is currently the subject of clinical trials – such as those at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The University of Ottawa – that will support Medibio’s application to gain FDA approval.
 
Medibio plans to submit its FDA application by early 2018, with approval anticipated in the third quarter of 2018. The company also expects to secure the European equivalent, a CE mark, in the first quarter of next year.
 
The diagnostic tool will then be ready for commercialisation with its launch into the wearable technologies and app markets, and Medibio’s aspirations are focused firmly stateside.
 
“As the world’s leading healthcare market, America is a destination where we can make the biggest difference to those living with mental health conditions,” Cosentino said.