Elon Musk’s company Neuralink gets permission to implant brain chips in humans; see details of clinical trial
Brain-chip startup Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, has received permission to begin its first human trial, focusing on paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.
Neuralink, a brain-chip startup founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has obtained permission to kick off its first human trial. The focus of the clinical study will be on patients suffering from paralysis caused by cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The announcement came on September 19 although the specific number of participants remains undisclosed.
Initially, Neuralink aimed to receive approval for 10 participants, but after safety concerns were raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company found itself negotiating for a smaller participant pool.
However, the final number approved by the FDA has not been confirmed. This latest development comes after Neuralink got the nod for its first-in-human clinical trial in May, a time when it was also under federal investigation for its animal testing practices.
Also Read: Elon Musk’s Neuralink gets FDA nod to test brain implants in humans
Experts have weighed in on the timeline for the startup, suggesting that, even if the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) implant proves safe for humans, a decade or more could elapse before commercial usage is authorised, Reuters reported.
The long-term vision for Neuralink, as articulated by Musk, goes beyond paralysis treatment. The founder has ambitious plans that extend to rapid surgical insertion of chip devices to manage an array of conditions, from obesity and autism to depression and schizophrenia.
At the heart of this pioneering trial is an intricate surgical process. A robot will place the BCI implant into a specific brain area responsible for the intention to move. The immediate aim is straightforward: enable the test subjects to operate a computer keyboard or move a cursor merely by using their thoughts.
Also Read: ‘We better get a move on with Neuralink’: Elon Musk on more ‘human’ ChatGPT
The clinical trial is expected to span approximately six years, paving the way for a comprehensive understanding of the implant’s safety and efficacy. Although some scepticism remains, the venture adds a novel layer to the broader conversation on how technology might be harnessed to solve complex health issues.
(With Reuters inputs)
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Updated: 20 Sep 2023, 07:04 AM IST
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