A Google exec wants to genetically modify mosquitoes to wipe out malaria

Linus Upson, a Google executive who helped build the Chrome browser, says he wants to start a project that would genetically engineer mosquito’s to help eradicate diseases like malaria and dengue fever, according to The Information’s Amir Efrati.

This would not be the first effort of this kind, even in the tech world. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has previously funded research in a similar vein.

But perhaps now is the time for a push by Google. A year-long trial in Brazil recently used genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the population of dengue-carrying insects by 95 per cent, according to Popular Science. Dengue fever is a horrifically painful illness which is almost impossible to treat.

This trial was conducted by the biotech company Oxitec, who genetically modified male mosquitoes to pass on a specific mutation to their offspring — one that kills them before they are able to reproduce or pass on the disease.

With Google’s resources, especially under the new Alphabet operating structure, this success could be built on. Google’s split means that these types of “future” projects will take place under the Alphabet umbrella but not in Google proper.

According to The Information, Upson told his coworkers that he wanted to work on the project within Google because of the capital requirements, and the unlikelihood that it would generate a quick return. However the project is reportedly still in the planning phase.

The Information cites “people who know him” as the source of this information.

Business Insider has reached out to Google for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

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