Neuralink: Elon Musk’s brain chip company wins US approval for human studies

  • By James FitzGerald
  • BBC news

Elon Musk’s brain-chip company says it has received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct its first tests on humans.

The Neuralink implant company wants to help restore sight and mobility to people by connecting brains to computers.

It says it has no immediate plans to start recruiting participants. Mr Musk’s earlier ambitions to begin testing came to naught.

The FDA said it recognized Neuralink’s announcement.

An earlier bid by Neuralink to win FDA approval was rejected on safety grounds, according to a March report by Reuters news agency that cited several current and former employees.

Neuralink hopes to use its microchips to treat conditions such as paralysis and blindness, and to help certain disabilities use computers and mobile technology.

The chips – which have been tested in monkeys – are designed to interpret signals produced in the brain and relay information to devices via Bluetooth.

Experts have warned that Neuralink’s brain implants will require extensive testing to overcome technical and ethical challenges if they are to become widely available.

The approval was “the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA,” it said.

The firm promised more information “soon” about plans to enroll trial participants.

The website promises that “safety, accessibility and reliability” are all priorities during the construction process.

The company – which was co-founded by Mr Musk in 2016 – has repeatedly overestimated how quickly it can execute its plans.

The original goal was to start planting chips in human brains in 2020, fulfilling a promise made the year before. It later promised to get underway in 2022.

A paralyzed man from the Netherlands was able to walk just by thinking about it – thanks to a system of implants that wirelessly transmits his thoughts to his legs and feet.

video caption,

Swiss researchers use brain implant to help paralyzed man walk

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