UCF researchers develop instant test that can diagnose depression

ORLANDO, Fla. — The University of Central Florida has developed an instant test that can diagnose depression just as quickly as someone would test their blood sugar.

Depression is one of those quiet conditions that isn’t always visible and affects some 16 million Americans a year.

The test developed at UCF uses nanotechnology to detect dopamine in the blood stream.

Dopamine is the chemical released in the brain that makes someone happy.

For the test, a patient’s blood is taken and a drop of it is put into a sensor.

The nanotechnology works like a little laser scanner that reads the blood and searches for dopamine.

If there’s enough dopamine, the patient should be feeling good, and if not they may be fighting depression.

“You are measuring compounds which are present in your brain and blood and that determines what medication and what medication doses are needed for you,” said Debashis Chanda, of UCF NanoScience.

Dopamine can be tricky. If you have too much of it, you have a higher risk for cancer, particularly brain cancer or even psychotic behavior. So, knowing the right amount is critical.

The test offers doctors physical results on a mental condition.

“Now, a blood test can really quantify your mental health. Absolutely the right direction to solve this mental health problem,” Chanda said.