Neuralink Seeks Volunteers for Brain Implant Trials
Neuralink, the brain-machine interface company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has received approval for its first clinical trials of a brain implant in humans and is now recruiting its first volunteers. The research, expected to span about six years, involves implanting a brain-computer interface (BCI) using the surgical robot R1 into the area of the human brain responsible for movement. The initial goal of the project is to allow people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts.
Neuralink announced on its WeChat account that it has received ethical approval to begin recruiting participants for the first clinical trial of its brain implant designed for patients with limb paralysis. The study, called PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface), aims to assess the safety of the N1 implant and the R1 surgical robot, as well as the functionality of the BCI.
In May of this year, Neuralink obtained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate its first human clinical trials. It’s worth noting that the company was already under close regulatory scrutiny due to its animal testing.
Candidates for the trials may include individuals suffering from paralysis due to spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, the company has not disclosed how many people will be involved in the approximately six-year-long research project. Initially, Neuralink had planned to include ten patients, but the FDA suggested reducing this number due to safety concerns surrounding the trials.
The research will involve the surgical implantation of the BCI into the brain’s intention-forming area using the R1 surgical robot. The N1 implant, once in place and virtually invisible, is designed for wireless transmission of brain signals to an application that reflects the user’s movement intentions. Neuralink’s primary goal is to enable computer cursor or keyboard control solely through the power of human thought.
Elon Musk envisions significant prospects for Neuralink, including rapid surgical interventions using chips for treating conditions like obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
Despite the current progress, experts caution that even if the BCI device’s safety for human use is confirmed, obtaining commercial approval may take over a decade. This is due to the need for strict adherence to FDA safety standards.
- I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.
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