Billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk’s brain-chip startup company, Neuralink has announced that it has received approval from an independent review board to begin recruitment for the first human trial of its brain implant for paralysis patients.
Those with paralysis due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may qualify for the study, it said but did not reveal how many participants would be enrolled in the trial, which will take about six years to complete.
The study will use a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.
Even if the BCI gadget is found to be safe for human use, it might take the startup more than a decade to obtain commercial usage certification, according to experts.
According to sources in the United States, Neuralink had planned to get FDA approval to implant its device in 10 patients, but was reportedly negotiating a lesser number of patients with the government after the agency raised safety concerns.
Musk’s plans for Neuralink include rapid surgical insertions of its chip devices to treat obesity, autism, blindness, paralysis, depression, and schizophrenia.
In May, the business announced that it had won FDA approval for its first-in-human clinical trial, despite the fact that it was already under government inspection for its animal testing practices.