According to reports quoting information from sources, Elon Musk’s brain implant startup Neuralink has approached one of the largest U.S. neurosurgery clinics as a potential clinical trials partner as it prepares to test its devices on humans if authorities allow it.
Since 2016, Neuralink has been developing brain implants in the aim of someday creating a treatment for intractable illnesses such as paralysis and blindness.
It was dealt a setback in early 2022 when the US Food and Drug Administration denied its proposal to proceed to human testing, citing serious safety concerns, according to Reuters earlier this month.
Since then, the corporation has been striving to address the agency’s concerns, although it is uncertain whether or not it will be effective.
According to the sources, Neuralink has been in discussions with Barrow Neurological Institute, a Phoenix, Arizona-based neurological disease treatment and research institution, about assisting with the human trials.
The discussions may not result in a collaboration. According to the sources, who asked anonymity to disclose the sensitive discussions, Neuralink has also discussed partnering with other institutes.
The most recent status of the talks could not be confirmed. Representatives from Neuralink did not reply to requests for comment.
Francisco Ponce, director of Barrow’s Center for Neuromodulation and Neurosurgery Residency Program, declined to comment on Neuralink but stated that Barrow was well-positioned to conduct such implant research due to its long history in the field.
The FDA declined to comment on Neuralink’s efforts to identify a clinical trial partner.
Neuralink’s recent efforts come as it confronts two known federal investigations into its activities in the United States.
This year, the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General began investigating suspected animal-welfare breaches at Neuralink. Present and former employees told Reuters about their concerns about the company’s hasty animal studies, which resulted in unnecessary suffering and deaths.
The US Department of Transportation has announced that it is looking into suspected mismanagement of hazardous infections during the company’s animal studies partnership with the University of California, Davis between 2018 and 2020.
According to Ponce, Barrow has helped standardize brain implant surgeries in which the patient can remain asleep, which is a critical step in making it more acceptable to a wide range of people.
This corresponds to Musk’s vision for Neuralink’s brain chip. The billionaire CEO of Tesla Inc and majority owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, has predicted that Neuralink’s brain implants will become as commonplace as Lasik eye surgery.
Barrow’s implants are not the same as those used by Neuralink. Barrow uses deep brain stimulation devices, which were approved by the FDA in 1997 to assist lessen Parkinson’s tremors and have now been implanted in over 175,000 patients.
The Neuralink implant is a brain computer interface (BCI) device that communicates with computers directly through electrodes that penetrate the brain or sit on its surface. So far, no company has received FDA approval to bring a BCI implant to market in the United States.
(Adapted from WionNews.com)