Elon Musk Announces First Human Patient Received His Firm’s Neuralink Brain Implant

2024-01-30 16:00:59

The first human patient received an implant from the brain-chip startup Neuralink, run by CEO Elon Musk, this weekend as is recovering well.

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk said in a post, opens new tab on social media platform X.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given the company clearance last year to conduct its first trial to test its implant on humans.

The first product from Neuralink would be called Telepathy, Musk said in a separate post on X.

The startup’s PRIME Study is a trial for its wireless brain-computer interface to evaluate the safety of the implant and surgical robot.

The study will assess the functionality of the interface, which enables people with quadriplegia or paralysis of all four limbs to control devices with their thoughts, according to the company’s website.

The brain chip has 1,000 electrodes and allows people to wirelessly perform computer functions by just thinking of what they’d like to do via a “think-and-click” mechanism. The firm received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to perform human trials this past September.

Last month the company said it was looking for quadriplegics under 40 years old to participate in the human trials. It also said a surgeon would remove part of the test patient’s skull before a 7-foot-tall robot named R1 would take over to implant 64 threads lined with electrodes into their brain.

The electrodes are programmed to gather data about the brain, including neural activity attached to movement intention. These neural signals recorded by the electrodes would then be sent back to Neuralink computers for decoding.

“The short-term goal of the company is to build a generalized brain interface and restore autonomy to those with debilitating neurological conditions and unmet medical needs,” Seo, who also holds the title of vice president for engineering, told Bloomberg.

Other firms have also been developing similar technology. It will be interesting to see which brings a successful product to market first.

Neuralink did not disclose how many human patients will participate in its initial in-human trial. The company did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment about the recent procedure.

As part of the emerging brain-computer interface, or BCI, industry, Neuralink is perhaps the best-known company in the space thanks to the high profile of Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. A BCI is a system that deciphers brain signals and translates them into commands for external technologies, and several companies like Synchron, Precision Neuroscience, Paradromics and Blackrock Neurotech have also created systems with these capabilities.

Paradromics is aiming to launch its first trial with human patients in the first half of this year. Precision Neuroscience carried out its first in-human clinical study last year. A patient who received Synchron’s BCI used it to post from CEO Tom Oxley’s Twitter account back in 2021.


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