Neuralink, a brain implant company founded by Elon Musk, revealed on Tuesday that it has got the green light from an independent review board to start enrolling human volunteers in a brain implant study aimed at assisting people with paralysis. This news follows the company’s previous announcement in May, when it said it had obtained the FDA’s approval to begin human testing.
The main objective of these human studies is to evaluate the safety and functionality of the company’s brain-computer interface (BCI) – known as “the Link” – according to a blog post from the California-based neurotechnology company.
The company’s vision is to create implantable devices that will enable users to control things with their minds. While this may seem like science fiction, Neuralink is not the only company working on brain interface devices, as per the Mashable website.
“Our initial goal for our BCI is to give people the ability to control a computer mouse or keyboard with their thoughts alone,” the company stated in its announcement.
However, Neuralink and Musk have faced severe criticism for conducting “brain chip” trials on laboratory animals. In February 2022, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a complaint accusing Neuralink of performing “invasive and lethal brain experiments.”
By December of that year, the company was under federal investigation for possible violations of animal welfare standards, with documents showing that the company had killed about 1,500 animals, including rats, monkeys, pigs, and mice, since 2018.
Neuralink denied these serious allegations and claimed that the rhesus macaque monkeys in its care were “treated with respect and dignity” by the team, the Mashable website reported.
Musk also posted on X (formerly Twitter) last week that “no monkey has died because of a Neuralink implant”.
The announcement did not specify when these trials would start, but did mention that those who have “quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)” may be eligible for the trial, according to the Mashable website.
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