Neuralink, Led by Elon Musk, Initiates Human Trials to Evaluate Brain Chip in Paralysis Patients


Elon Musk’s Neurotechnology Firm to Commence Patient Recruitment for Brain Chip Trials, Enabling Computer Control with Thoughts

Elon Musk, the founder of Neuralink, has secured approval for the company’s inaugural human trial involving its brain chip. On Tuesday, the neurotechnology firm announced its receipt of approval to commence patient recruitment for a six-year study aimed at evaluating the brain implant’s safety and effectiveness. The study will focus on individuals dealing with paralysis.

As reported by Reuters, participants in the clinical trial for the brain implant may include individuals paralyzed due to neck injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The primary objective is to assess how well the implant facilitates computer cursor or keyboard control through thought commands. This will involve the use of a robotic system to surgically implant the device into a brain region responsible for controlling movement.

The study is expected to span approximately six years, with the exact number of participants yet to be disclosed. Previously, the company had sought approval to implant its device in 10 patients. However, negotiations between Neuralink and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) led to a reduction in the proposed number of patients, citing safety concerns raised by the FDA. The specific number of patients approved by the FDA remains undisclosed.

Notably, Neuralink had already received FDA approval for its first human clinical trial back in May. However, at that time, it was also under federal investigation for its approach to animal testing. Even if the brain-computer interface (BCI) device proves safe for human use, obtaining commercial approval could still take over a decade, as per experts.

For those unfamiliar with it, Neuralink is a neurotechnology company established by Elon Musk in 2016. The company’s core mission is to develop an implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) capable of translating thoughts into actions. Essentially, Neuralink aims to create a BCI that can control external devices like prosthetic limbs or computers and restore lost brain functions.

While Neuralink is in its early developmental stages, the company has achieved notable milestones. In 2020, Neuralink demonstrated a functional BCI that allowed a monkey to control a computer cursor with its thoughts. Presently, the company is actively working on a BCI suitable for human implantation.

Elon Musk envisions a broader scope for the Neuralink brain chip, suggesting it could have applications in rapidly implanting devices to address conditions such as obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.

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