Dr. Nigel Snoad, product manager at Verily Life Science, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet visited the National Mosquito-Borne Diseases Control (NMDC)’s Wolbachia-modified mosquito factory in Tainan research center on December, 2018 to promote the Debug Project and its novel technology.
The Debug Project combines the expertise of scientists and engineers to rear and release sterile male mosquitoes, with the goal of eliminating those that carry disease using the sterile insect technique (SIT). SIT uses mosquitoes that have a naturally-occurring bacteria called Wolbachia that renders released males to mate with wild female mosquitoes. In addition, the team has developed 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. Based on the latest field trails outcomes, Debug Fresno in the United States has achieved a greater than 95% reduction in the number of biting, female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes compared to similar, non-release neighborhoods. While in Queensland, Australia, Debug Innisfail showed a reduction of more than 80% in the occurrence of biting, female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes when comparing to untreated sites.
The NMDC has joined the mosquito Aedes aegypti genome assembly project at Verily Life Science to perform whole genome sequencing to better understand the genetic locus and mechanism of the virus, and genetic factors responsible for resistance to insect repellants. The NMCD hopes the exchange of experience with Dr. Snoad would further develop more international collaboration in the prevention of Dengue virus infection and to share Taiwan’s resources and know-how globally.