Mosquitoes kill more people than every other animal combined. One species, Aedes aegypti, carries diseases such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and chikungunya which make hundreds of millions of people sick every year. And these diseases are spreading faster than ever.
Most of these diseases don’t have effective vaccines or treatments. Attacking mosquitoes with pesticides is unsustainable because they're becoming less effective over time and can be toxic. Clearing standing water is not enough because people can never find all the places that mosquitoes breed. We need a new approach.
Good bugs are the same species of mosquito as the bad bugs that spread disease. Our good bugs are male mosquitoes that have a naturally-occurring bacteria called Wolbachia which makes them unable to have offspring with wild female mosquitoes. Male mosquitoes can’t bite or spread disease, so good bugs will stop bad ones from reproducing. Over time, there will be fewer and fewer bad mosquitoes.
This technique uses a naturally occurring bacteria and uses no chemicals, no toxins and doesn’t involve genetic modification. Similar approaches have been used to safely combat other pests for decades. We’re combining Verily’s scientific and engineering expertise with the help of international partners to raise and release lots of good bugs and stop bad mosquitoes that can spread disease.
We’re currently developing our technologies and methods to target Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This means partnering closely with scientists, communities, and governments.
Debug is off to a good start, but there is still plenty to do. We look forward to working with communities to show that by releasing enough good bugs Debug can have a real impact on mosquito populations and disease. Eventually, we hope to help millions of people live longer, healthier lives.