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Elon Musk: Neuralink will begin brain chip transplant human trials in six months

San FranciscoEdited By: Manas JoshiUpdated: Dec 01, 2022, 10:57 AM IST
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Elon Musk Photograph:(Reuters)

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"We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human but we've submitted I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and probably in about six months we should be able to upload Neuralink in a human," Musk said during a much-awaited public update on the device.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said on Wednesday that a wireless device made by his brain chip company Neuralink will likely begin human trials in six months' time. Neuralink is developing brain chip interfaces which it claims will enable disabled patients to communicate and move. Neuralink has been conducting trials on animals while seeking approval for clinical trials in humans.

"We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human but we've submitted I think most of our paperwork to the FDA and probably in about six months we should be able to upload Neuralink in a human," Musk said during a much-awaited public update on the device.

This event was originally to happen on October 31 but was postponed by Musk just days prior, without giving a reason.

Neuralink’s last public presentation, more than a year ago, involved a monkey with a brain chip that played a computer game, just by thinking.

Musk is known for lofty goals such as colonising Mars and saving humanity. His ambitions for Neuralink, which he launched in 2016, are of the same grand scale. He wants to develop a chip that would allow the brain to control complex electronic devices and eventually allow people with paralysis to regain motor function and treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s. He also talks of melding the brain with artificial intelligence.

Neuralink, however, is running behind schedule. Musk in 2019 had said that he was aiming to receive regulatory approval by 2020 end. Later, he said in 2021 that he aimed to start human trials during the year. 

Neuralink has repeatedly missed internal deadlines to gain US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to start human trials, reports said citing current and former employees. Musk approached competitor Synchron earlier this year about a potential investment after he expressed frustration to Neuralink employees about their slow progress, Reuters reported in August.

Synchron crossed a major milestone in July by implanting its device in a patient in the United States for the first time. It received US regulatory clearance for human trials in 2021 and has completed studies in four people in Australia.

(With inputs from agencies)