Musk’s Neuralink to begin human trial of brain implant for paralyzed patients

The robot places a brain-computer interface implant in the part of the brain that controls movements.

Neuralink, a brain-chip startup founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk, announced on Tuesday that it has been given the go-ahead to start recruiting for the first human trial of its brain implant for paralyzed patients.

Those who become paralyzed from spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may qualify for the study, she said, but did not disclose how many participants will be enrolled in the study, which will be finished in around six years.

The study will use a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in the area of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said, adding that its original goal is to allow people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using only your thoughts.

The company, which had previously hoped to win approval to implant its device in 10 patients, negotiated with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a lower number of present and former staff claims that patients were treated following the agency’s safety concerns. How many patients received FDA approval in the end is unknown.

Musk has big ambitions for Neuralink, saying it will facilitate the rapid surgical insertion of his chip devices to treat conditions such as obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia.

In May, the company said it had received FDA approval for its first human clinical trial, already under federal scrutiny over its handling of animal tests. Even if a BCI device proves safe for human use, experts say it would still potentially take more than a decade for a startup to secure approval for commercial use.

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