Alphabet And Its Effort To Remove Mosquitoes All Over The World

Shakti - Dec 04, 2018

Alphabet And Its Effort To Remove Mosquitoes All Over The World

One of the most dangerous diseases annually is malaria. Fortunately, the giant tech Alphabet is trying to remove mosquitoes globally.

Researchers in Silicon Valley are trying to get rid of bloodsuckers in the area of Fresno County (California). This is the significant movement of Google and its Alphabet Inc. in the war against mosquito-borne diseases all over the world.

In this campaign, the high-top van in white will run around the suburban areas, and through the side windows, it spreads Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes by a black tube. These tiny pests have few-millimeters wingspan and invisible in normal vision.

Kathleen Parkes, the spoke person of Verily Life Sciences (a subsidiary of Alphabet) said “You hear that little beating sound?” while trailing the van’s side windows down and explained the “duh-duh-duh” sound was the sound of releasing mosquitoes.

Another senior scientist of Verily who was in the same van with Parkes – Jacob Crawford described the very promising technique to control mosquito. He said the in the automatic mosquito rearing center of Verily, these vermin were bred in the ultra-high-tech environment. Scientists infected these vermin with a bacterium called Wolbachia. After being lab-bred and infected with Wolbachia, the male mosquitoes were released to find and mate with females in nature. A foreseen result is stealth annihilation, and the offspring would never be able to hatch.

Google Mosquitoes 829837

Alphabet Inc. in the fight against the mosquitoes-borne disease.

Treating mosquito-borne disease is always a focus of Alphabet Inc. even the corporation has many other life science and health care projects. Through its subsidiaries like Verily, Alphabet wants to develop the smart contact lenses, A.I powered hearth care devices and research about molecular of the aging mechanism. Google recently David Feinberg was hired Former Geisinger Health Chief Executive Officer to supervise innovations in health-care.

Verily protects their data and technology seriously since the achievement in low-cost controlling mosquito could be a profitable business in the future. Many countries and organizations in over the world love to buy the solution to get rid of mosquito.

In the Central Valley of California, with the arid climate, locals always try to avoid and protect themselves from the vicious bite of A. aegypti mosquitoes. Fortunately, these bites will not transmit disease. However, the rest of the world is not that lucky especially in sub-tropic and tropical climates. Mosquito is one of the most killing factors in world’s total death every year with chikungunya and dengue fever that they spread. Their bites infected millions of people annually, and the death number is up to tens of thousands. The release of Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes to nature is believed to wipe out mosquitoes populations entirely along with related diseases.

Up to now, this is the most potential test conducted in California. During the mating season of mosquito (April -November), in every morning the “Debug Fresno” van will run around the city to green and multi-family houses. At each pre-determined location, a certain number of mosquitoes calculated by the algorithm will be released. (An attached laser counts each insect when it exiting the van)

Many different approaches to curing mosquito problems have been introduced and few of them significantly impressive. Bill Gate has claimed a billion for technologies to wipe out mosquito-borne disease, especially malaria.  These technologies include a controversial method which modifies genes of mosquitoes. The approach of Verily is based on a previous and traditional strategy which is sterile insect method. In other words, the future population of mosquitoes will lose reproducing ability.

Even the positive side of mosquitoes in nature chains has not been researched, many scientists believe that the world would be beautiful after clearing mosquitoes. A.aegypti mosquitoes are not welcomed anywhere and also in Fresno Country. They usually grow in wetter and warmer climates but first came to Fresno in 2013 and then rapidly spread out its populations.

As said byJodi Holeman, the director of scientific services department in Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District of Fresno Country, “After we detected it, we did a massive and extensive effort to prevent the mosquito from establishing and eliminate it.” He continued. “We were not successful, in any way, shape, or form.”

Before 2013, the country experienced no mosquito issue, and later its residents dealt with a massive population of the vermin that keep them stay away from their porches and backyards. A.aegypti mosquitoes are entirely different from others since they breed and live in people’s populated places. For example, they could lay eggs in few drops of water left at the bottom of a cup and then live under beds or in closets to attack people with their dangerous bites. This habit makes the fight against them seems to be harder. The campaign to encourage resident to clean the out-standing or fresh water was not really successful. In 2016, Fresno County partnered with Stephen Dobson a science and the company MosquitoMate owned by him.

The initiative of using Wolbachia to infect mosquitoes was Dobson’s idea. His company MosquitoMake breeds two types of infected mosquitoes A.aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Fresno County was chosen to be one test side of the company.

The experiment in Fresno was the first trail to release infected mail A. aegypti in the U.S ever. In the following year, Verily company joined the project and boost volume of those efforts with the help of advanced technology in breeding and releasing progress. This action is the hope to massively fight the mosquitoes’ population.

The achievement of the project seems to be impressive. 2018 is the second season of Verily’s release. With two truck, the company went to four different locations hitting a significant number of 3,000 homes. Around 15 million infected mosquitoes were released over a half year. In 2017, an estimation predicted that biting mosquitoes’ population would decrease by two-thirds. In 2018, with the development of technology, the mosquito population cut would be up to 95%. Another project conducted by Verily for Innisfail of Australia which finished in June and wiped out 80% of the mosquito population

At the beginning of this project, Verily executives used to worry about the reaction of community with the idea of fighting mosquitoes with more mosquitoes. The company built outreach booths to raise awareness. At the booth, people could experience putting hands in a cage of filled by male mosquitoes so they will understand male mosquitoes do not bite. (Bites are caused by females, and the project is promised to release males only).

A resident, Clifford Lopes welcomed the company “We really appreciate you being here”. He continued “I brag to people about how I can sit on my porch now and not get bit.”

In original trial’s introducing videos, there is the image of the scientist Holeman in Fresno County, he carefully blows the male infected mosquitoes out from a tube. The van is full with proprietary techniques which include software to detect exact neighborhood to release mosquitoes and the laser sensor to count each mosquito exiting the van. All of this information will be used late to fine-tune the progress.

At the headquarter of Verily, the “factory” that produces the infected mosquitoes, all steps are automated. After being laid, robots nurture the eggs until adulthood, then pack and divide them into containers full of air and water, feed them regularly and keep the ideally warm environment.  Robots also differ the genders (first by using size difference and then apply the proprietary technique). Each mosquito is attached with a digital identifier so scientist can track them from the egg stage to a particular GPS coordination of releasing location.

The season of 2018 is going to wrap up soon, the company has not yet finalized to continue the program for upcoming years. The cost of manufacturing and releasing process is not disclosed by Verity, but it is believed to be very expensive.

The scientist Crawford of Verily said “The key part is trying to be able to do a program like this in a very affordable and efficient way. So that we can go to places where there isn’t a lot of money.”


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