Elon Musk Says Neuralink Could Begin Human Trials In 6 Months

The Neuralink ‘show and tell’ event finally pushed through on November 30 after suddenly getting postponed a few days before it was originally scheduled on October 30. 

The company’s CEO and co-founder Elon Musk announced that Neuralink is confident it would begin human clinical trials of the wireless brain chip in six months — something he has been saying for a while. He later emphasized that the timeline is largely dependent on the approval process of the Food and Drug Administration.

Neuralink is developing wireless brain chip implants that could link the human brain to computers, as well as a robot that would carve a part of the skull and install the implants. It has, in the past few years, been conducting tests on animals, primarily primates, to seek approval from the FDA that the technology is safe to test in humans.

“We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human,” Musk said at Neuralink’s Fremont, California headquarters.

The primary goal of Neuralink is to create the brain-computer interface (BCI) that would initially be used to treat traumatic brain injuries. But at the event, Musk announced that the company is now also developing two additional products: a spinal cord implant that could potentially restore movement, and an ocular implant that can restore human vision.

Ever the [over]hype man, Musk was not in any way conservative about the promise of these two new implants in development.

“As miraculous as that may sound, we are confident that it is possible to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a severed spinal cord,” he said. 

He was even bolder with the ocular implant: “even if they have never seen before, we are confident they could see.”

As with anything that Musk promises, we have yet to see if these will come to fruition, or when. The company’s main product, the brain chip, was supposed to have already had regulatory approval in 2020, as Musk promised in 2019. And then in 2021, when Neuralink last had a product update, he said that he expected to begin human trials by 2022.

Additionally, some startups have already begun human trials for similar projects. 

Synchron Inc., a biotech startup Musk tried to invest in early this year, received US regulatory clearance for human trials in 2021, and has been able to install its small, stent-like brain implants into patients in the US as well as Australia. Their implant made it possible for patients unable to move or speak to wirelessly communicate via BCI through their thoughts.

Another startup, Onward Inc., has also achieved some breakthroughs in restoring some movement in people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Neuralink’s promise is to go bigger in terms of computing power. Musk hopes that his company’s hardware would make it possible for them to achieve better results, e.g. restore more functions than what competitors have already achieved.

Information for this briefing was found via Twitter, Reuters, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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