Neuralink, owned by Elon Musk, has approval from the FDA for human trials
By: April Carson
On May 25th, Neuralink, a company that specializes in brain-computer interface, reported that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their request to conduct a clinical study involving humans. This study will be the first of its kind to explore the use of a wireless implantable device that can record neural signals in order to treat severe neurological conditions like epilepsy, migraines and Parkinson's disease. The goal is to improve the quality of life for people living with these chronic conditions.
Neuralink has announced on Twitter that they received FDA approval to initiate their first clinical study with human participants. The tweet stated that this approval marks a significant initial phase towards utilizing their technology to assist numerous individuals in the future. The clinical study will involve implanting the device into the brains of participants to see how it affects their conditions and, ultimately, improve their quality of life.
The firm clarified that the trial's recruitment is not yet open and that they have no additional information regarding the trial's contents at this time. However, Neuralink stated that the trial will look for volunteers who suffer from certain neurological conditions and are willing to receive an implantable device. This suggests that the study will likely involve a small number of individuals who have specific medical requirements.
In 2016, Elon Musk and a team of scientists and engineers founded Neuralink to create devices that can interact with the human brain by reading information from neurons and feeding information back into the brain. The company has had some successes as well as some setbacks. In July, 2019, Neuralink demonstrated a “sewing machine-like” robot that can implant tiny electrodes into the brain. In August 2020, they reported that pig brains have been successfully connected to the device via Bluetooth.
Musk publicly unveiled Neuralink's prototype brain-computer interface in 2020. The interface takes the shape of a coin with wires connected to one side. The circular part is implanted into the skull, while the wires rest a few millimeters beneath the surface of the brain. The device is meant to help people who suffer from neurological conditions and are unable to control their own bodies.
While the clinical trial marks an important milestone in Neuralink’s development, there is still much to be done before the technology can be used for medical treatments. However, this new approval will undoubtedly lead to further advancements that could revolutionize how we treat neurological conditions in the future.
During the announcement, the Neuralink team demonstrated a pig with a implanted device that monitored neurons in her snout and produced signals when she touched it to food or the ground. They also showed another pig that had safely had the device implanted and then removed. A year later, the company demonstrated how a monkey was able to play the classic video game Pong using the device. However, the company faced criticism when it was revealed that some monkeys used in the tests died, while others were mistreated.
The clinical trial will be a major step forward for Neuralink in making the technology available to humans. The company’s ultimate goal is to create “a well-aligned future” where humanity can benefit from technologies like brain-computer interfaces and advanced artificial intelligence. With this clinical trial, the world is one step closer to making that vision a reality.
Research labs have used devices that detect and process brain signals to assist individuals with paralysis in walking again, develop a wheelchair that is controlled by the mind, and enable communication for individuals with locked-in syndrome. Neuralink’s technology could potentially offer a more advanced and precise version of this type of prosthetic device.
The results of the clinical trial are certainly something to keep an eye on, as it could represent a huge step forward in medical research and have effects that ripple into other fields such as artificial intelligence or robotics. For now, we can only wait and see what happens when the study begins.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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