Elon Musks’s neurotechnology company Neuralink announced on Thursday it has obtained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry out a clinical study of brain implants in humans.
It marks the first in-human clinical study for the company.
“This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” the company said in a statement.
“Recruitment is not yet open for our clinical trial. We’ll announce more information on this soon!” it added, without providing further details about the trial.
Musk AmbitionsNeuralink was founded in 2016 and is based in San Francisco. According to its website, Neuralink seeks to build “the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go.”
Musk previously indicated he hopes the company will one day help people with debilitating conditions, which include severe spinal cord injuries and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Musk also believes brain implants could have potential to help other conditions including obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
Ethical and Other ConcernsThe company began testing brain implants in animals back in 2019.
By April 2021, Neuralink published a video showing a 9-year-old macaque named Pager playing computer games via a neural implant that was inserted into its brain.
Neuralink has also demonstrated a robot that can handle some of the most delicate parts of the required brain implant insertion surgery, a pig whose legs can be controlled remotely by a computer, and a monkey with a brain implant that made it see flashes of light.
Musk made headlines late in 2022 when he said the brain implants’ safety is such that he'd be willing to implant them in his children.
Federal InvestigationsNeuralink has been under several federal investigations.
Separately, Neuralink is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General for potentially violating the Animal Welfare Act. The probe was also checking on how the USDA has been overseeing the company.