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Breakthrough: First human gets brain implant from Musk’s Neuralink

Breakthrough: First human gets brain implant from Musk’s Neuralink

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Virendra Pandit

 

New Delhi: In a significant scientific breakthrough, the first human has received a brain implant procedure from Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink.

Neuralink’s implant of a chip in the human brain aims to help people with traumatic injuries operate computers using only their thoughts, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Musk announced that the first human patient has received a brain implant from his startup Neuralink Corp., a significant step forward for the company that aims to one day let humans control computers with their minds, the reports said.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said the patient is recovering well, and that initial results of the procedure were promising.

In May 2023, the company said it had received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to conduct its first human trials. Late last year, Neuralink said it was recruiting patients with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for the trial.

On X, which he owns, Musk wrote that Neuralink’s first product would be called Telepathy. It will enable “control of your phone or computer and through them almost any device, just by thinking.”

The product’s initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer,” he wrote.

“That is the goal.”

Musk said that Neuralink had good results for neuron spike detection, meaning the company is getting recordings from the patient’s brain. Now, he said that Neuralink needs to show it can do more than other leading companies in the area, such as Blackrock Neurotech and Synchron.

Neuralink has already conducted extensive tests on animals and found monkeys playing computer games using their brains alone.

For years, Musk said that implanting a human with his device was imminent. In July 2019, he predicted surgery on a human head by year’s end.

Typically, first-in-human trials, which is the type of study Neuralink just launched, enroll five to 10 people and take around six months. If it goes well, Neuralink can start a feasibility study, and finally, a pivotal study.

Despite the progress, a commercial brain implant isn’t imminent. “I do think there’s a danger in overhyping it,” Neuralink adviser Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgery professor at Stanford University, said.

He said he was excited about the technology, but added an approved device is still years away.

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