Neuralink Expected to Begin Human Trials in Six Months, Elon Musk Says

Elon Musk said Wednesday that a wireless device developed by his brain chip company Neuralink is expected to begin human clinical trials in six months.

The company is developing brain chip interfaces that it says can enable disabled patients to move and communicate again. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, Neuralink in recent years has been conducting experiments on animals as it seeks US regulatory approval to begin clinical trials in humans.

“We want to be very careful and make sure it’s going to work well before putting the device on a person but we’ve sent I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and in about six months we should be able to upload a human Neuralink,” Musk said during the much-anticipated public review of the device.

The event was scheduled for October 31 but Musk postponed it a few days ago without giving a reason.

Neuralink’s last public presentation, more than a year ago, involved a monkey with a brain chip that played a computer game by thinking on its own.

Musk is known for lofty goals like colonizing Mars and saving humanity. His ambitions for Neuralink, which he launched in 2016, are on the same level. He wants to create a chip that will allow the brain to control complex electronics and eventually allow disabled people to regain function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s. He also talks about brainstorming with artificial intelligence.

Neuralink, however, is running behind schedule. Musk said in a 2019 presentation that he aimed to get regulatory approval by the end of 2020. He then said at a conference in late 2021 that he hoped to begin human trials this year.

Neuralink has repeatedly missed internal deadlines to get US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to begin human trials, current and former employees say. Musk approached rival Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment after expressing frustration with Neuralink employees about their slow progress, Reuters reported in August.

Synchron surpassed a milestone in July by implanting its device in a patient in the United States for the first time. It received US regulatory approval for human trials in 2021 and has completed studies in four people in Australia.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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