SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Over the past two years, millions of people in Central New York who didn’t like a swab up their nose have benefited from a saliva test to detect COVID-19.

That test was developed at Upstate Medical University by Professor Frank Middleton, a PhD in neuroscience and a neurobiologist.

Middleton developed an efficient way to pool saliva samples for multiple people, test the batch and rule COVID-19 out or send the smaller group for more testing.

Using the samples, Middleton and his lab team also sequence the DNA of each person’s virus to develop pattern that show evolving strains of the virus.

After the late winter/early spring pandemic wave in Central New York, Middleton discovered a strain spreading rapidly in Onondaga and surrounding counties.

Middleton talks about his research, coronavirus variants and testing on this week’s Newsmakers.