The brain implant company Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, announced on Tuesday that it would start putting its medical gadget through trials on people.
According to the company, human trials will be utilized to assess the safety of its “fully implantable, wireless brain-computer interface.” It will evaluate the company’s implant and surgical robot’s efficacy and safety in enabling “people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.”
Neuralink will start providing brain implants to paralysis patients as part of the PRIME Study once it has received approval from an impartial review body, the firm said. The Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME) study is being conducted to assess the implant’s performance and safety.
Patients participating in the trial will have a chip surgically implanted in the region of the brain that governs movement intention. The device will be implanted in place by a robot, which will then record and communicate brain signals to an app. The initial objective is “to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone,” the company claimed.
Those with quadriplegia brought on by a cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be eligible for the six-year trial, which will consist of 18 months of clinic and at-home visits and five years of follow-up visits.
On Neuralink’s website, interested individuals can register in the patient registry.
Musk has been working on Neuralink’s five-year-old idea to use implants to link the human brain to a computer, but the business has only conducted animal testing thus far. Additionally, the business came under fire after a monkey died while being used to test one of the earliest video games, Pong, in 2022.
The Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface Study is how Neuralink has named its study. The threads of the implant will reportedly be surgically implanted in a region of the brain that regulates movement intention by the surgical robot, according to the release. Once implanted, the device is designed to send brain signals to a smartphone app, which will decode the movement’s motive.
The brain implant startup eventually hopes to make it possible for people with paralysis to operate a keyboard or a computer solely with their thoughts. According to the business, the Food and Drug Administration granted the trial’s request for an experimental device exemption in May.
In order to participate in the trial, which will last a total of six years, participants must suffer quadriplegia brought on by a cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), be at least 22 years old, and have a trustworthy caretaker.