Elon Musk's companies allow human trials of brain implants
Billionaire inventor is ready to implant a device in the brain of his children
Elon Musk's brain implant company Neuralink has received approval for human research. The US Food and Drug Administration, which initially rejected the application, finally gave the company the green light.
Elon Musk's brain-implant company Neuralink said on Thursday it received the "go-ahead" from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin its first human clinical trial, marking a milestone after previous attempts to gain approval.
Musk has predicted at least four times since 2019 that his medical device company would begin human trials of a brain implant to treat severe conditions such as paralysis and blindness, Reuters notes.
However, the company, founded in 2016, only applied for FDA approval early last year - and the agency denied the application, seven current and former employees told Reuters in March.
The FDA pointed out several issues to Neuralink that needed to be addressed before authorizing human trials, the staff said. The main problems were related to the lithium battery of the device, the ability to move the implant wires inside the brain, and the problem of safely removing the device without damaging the brain tissue.
Thursday's FDA approval came after US lawmakers called on regulators to investigate whether the composition of the panel that oversees Neuralink's animal testing contributed to the failed and hasty experiments.
Neuralink has already been the subject of a federal investigation, reminds Reuters.
Last year, the USDA inspector general, at the request of a federal prosecutor, launched an investigation into potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates how researchers treat and test certain types of animals. Reuters previously reported that the company had killed about 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, in experiments conducted since 2018.
The investigation also involved the USDA's oversight of Neuralink.
In a tweet Thursday, Neuralink said it was not yet open for clinical trials.
“This is the result of the incredible work of the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” the company said in a tweet on Thursday.
Over the years, Elon Musk has publicly laid out an ambitious plan to create Neuralink. He made headlines late last year when he said he was already so confident in the safety of the device that he would be willing to implant it in his own children.
Musk suggests that both disabled and non-disabled people will quickly receive surgical implants at local centers. These devices are designed to treat a range of ailments, from obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia to web browsing and telepathy.