Pairing sterile insect technique with machine learning technology to reduce the impact of mosquito-borne diseases globally
What is Debug?
Bad mosquitoes spread disease. Good mosquitoes can stop them. Debug is a group of Verily scientists and engineers developing technology to rear and release sterile mosquitoes to reduce the ones that can carry disease.
How are you making it happen?
We’re combining Verily’s scientific and engineering expertise with the help of international partners to rear and release sterile male mosquitoes, which do not bite or breed, with the goal of stopping the spread of mosquitoes that carry disease. This approach is called the sterile insect technique (SIT), and our chosen method uses mosquitoes that have a naturally-occurring bacterium called Wolbachia. When our male mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes that don’t have Wolbachia, their eggs do not hatch. SIT is species specific, and our program targets the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can spread dengue, Zika and other diseases. Our team has developed new technologies that combine sensors, algorithms and novel engineering to raise millions of sterile mosquitoes, and quickly and accurately sort them for release in the wild. We’re also building software and monitoring tools to guide mosquito releases and new sensors, traps and software to better determine which areas need to be treated and re-treated. We have seen promising results from our field trials, and our work has been published in Nature Biotechnology.
Forty percent of the world is at risk of contracting a disease spread by Aedes aegypti. We’re partnering closely with scientists, communities, and governments as we bring our technology to more areas to reduce the impact of these mosquitoes on the global population.