Elon Musk expects Neuralink brain chip to begin human trials in 6 months

Elon Musk expects Neuralink brain chip to begin human trials in 6 months

November 30 (Reuters) – Elon Musk said on Wednesday he expected a wireless brain chip developed by his company Neuralink to begin human clinical trials in six months, after the company missed the deadlines he had set.

The company is developing brain chip interfaces that it says could help disabled patients move and communicate again, Musk adding on Wednesday that it will also aim to restore vision.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, Neuralink has conducted animal testing in recent years as it seeks approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for begin clinical trials in humans.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device on a human,” Musk said during a much-anticipated public update on the device.

Speaking to a crowd of selected guests at a presentation at Neuralink headquarters that lasted nearly three hours, Musk highlighted the speed at which the company is developing its device.

“Progress at first, especially when it comes to humans, may seem excruciatingly slow, but we’re doing everything we can to scale it alongside,” he added. “So in theory the progress should be exponential.”

The FDA said it could not comment on the status or existence of potential product applications.

The first two human applications targeted by the Neuralink device will be to restore vision and enable muscle movement in people who cannot, Musk said. “Even if someone has never had vision, never, like they were born blind, we think we can still restore vision,” he said.

Tesla Inc. Founder Elon Musk speaks at the unveiling event by ‘The Boring Company’ for the test tunnel for an underground transportation network project in Los Angeles County, Hawthorne , California, U.S. December 18, 2018. Robyn Beck/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The event was originally scheduled for October 31, but Musk postponed it days before without giving a reason.

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

Musk, who also runs electric vehicle maker Tesla (TSLA.O), rocket company SpaceX and social media platform Twitter, is known for ambitious goals such as colonizing Mars and saving the Earth. humanity. His ambitions for Neuralink, which he launched in 2016, are of the same scope.

He wants to develop a chip that would allow the brain to control complex electronic devices and eventually allow paralyzed people to regain motor function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He also talks about fusing the brain with artificial intelligence.

Neuralink, however, is behind schedule. Musk said in a presentation in 2019 that he aimed to receive regulatory approval by the end of 2020. He later told a conference in late 2021 that he hoped to start human trials this year. .

Neuralink has repeatedly missed internal deadlines to get FDA approval to begin human trials, current and former employees said.

Musk approached competitor Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment after expressing frustration to Neuralink employees about their slow progress, Reuters reported in August.

Synchron reached a major milestone in July by implanting its device in a patient for the first time in the United States. It received US regulatory clearance for human trials in 2021 and completed four-person studies in Australia.

Reporting by Rachael Levy in Washington, DC; Additional reporting by Ross Jane; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rachel Levy

Thomson Reuters

Award-winning journalist covering corporate governance. His reporting has prompted federal investigations and congressional inquiries and has been featured on television and podcasts. At Politico, his Covid-19 coverage caused the CDC to update guidelines on N95 masks and the US hospital regulator to seek out patient safety complaints. A former financial reporter for the Wall Street Journal, her exclusives on Trump’s White House Kodak drug deal earned her and her colleagues a 2021 Dateline Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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