Neuralink, the brain-chip startup founded by Elon Musk, has received approval to initiate its first human trial focusing on patients with paralysis caused by cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The trial was initially planned for 10 participants, but negotiations with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) led to a smaller participant pool, though the exact number is undisclosed.
This development comes after Neuralink obtained approval for its first-in-human clinical trial in May and faced scrutiny for its animal testing practices. Experts predict that even if the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) implant proves safe for humans, it could take a decade or more before commercial usage is authorized.
Neuralink’s long-term vision extends beyond paralysis treatment. Elon Musk envisions rapid surgical insertion of chip devices for managing various conditions, including obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
The clinical trial involves a complex surgical process, with a robot placing the BCI implant in a specific brain area responsible for the intention to move. The primary goal is to enable participants to control a computer keyboard or cursor through their thoughts.
The trial is expected to last approximately six years, providing insights into the implant’s safety and effectiveness. While some skepticism remains, this venture contributes to the broader discussion on how technology can address complex health issues.
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