Elon Musk's Neuralink Gets Green Light for Pathbreaking Human Brain Implant Trials
Elon Musk's brain chip company Neuralink has announced that it has received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct its first human trials.
Sharing the development on Twitter, the implant company tweeted, "We are excited to share that we have received the FDA's approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study! This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people. Recruitment is not yet open for our clinical trial. We'll announce more information on this soon!"
We are excited to share that we have received the FDA’s approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study!— Neuralink (@neuralink) May 25, 2023
This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our…
Musk had earlier claimed that the "brain chip" is absolutely safe and alleged that he would be "willing to implant them in his own children." At a previous Neuralink event, he said, "If you ask a question like, in my opinion, would I be comfortable implanting this in one of my kids or something like that at this point, if they're in a serious — like let's say if they broke their neck, would I be comfortable doing it? I would. We're at the point where, at least in my opinion, it would not be dangerous." According to The Guardian, the implant is touted to cure obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia, and also aid paralytic and blind patients while enabling web browsing and telepathy.
BBC reports that an earlier proposal by Neuralink to gain FDA approval was rejected on safety grounds. The chips have been tested extensively on monkeys and are designed to read brain signals while relaying information to devices via Bluetooth.
Neuralink was co-founded by Musk in 2016 with the plan to plant brain chips in humans by 2020. The plan however, shifted to 2022. The company dealt with a setback in December of 2022 when it courted controversy due to its animal trials. Staff complained about the "violent treatments" and "large number of deaths" among the tested animal subjects due to rushed technical procedures. Reuters reported that Neuralink has killed approximately 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys following in-lab experiments since 2018.
The Neuralink employees also accused CEO Musk of botched experiments due to extensive pressure to accelerate development. However, Musk has remained silent on the allegations.
The latest FDA approval for Neuralink comes close on the heels of another successful inventive technology by Swiss researcher Prof Jocelyne Bloch of Lausanne University, per BBC. The invention included electronic brain implants surgically planted on Gert-Jan Oskam, a 40-year-old Dutch man, who was paralyzed after a cycling accident. The implants have now allowed him to "walk simply by thinking." The electronic brain implants wirelessly transmit his thoughts to his legs via a second implant on his spine. Prof Bloch said, "The important thing for us is not just to have a scientific trial, but eventually to give access to more people with spinal cord injuries who are used to hearing from doctors that they have to get used to the fact that they will never move again."