Billionaire Elon Musk’s brain chip company, Neuralink, has finally been approved for human tests.
On Thursday, Neuralink said the US The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given the green light for its first human clinical trial, a critical milestone after previous struggles to gain approval.
The FDA’s go-ahead “represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” Neuralink said in a tweet.
He did not elaborate on the goals of the study, saying only that it was not recruiting yet. So if he wants to have a computer chip in his brain, he’ll have to wait.
Musk envisions that brain implants could cure a variety of conditions, including obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia, in addition to allowing web browsing and telepathy.
The Neuralink device will first focus on restoring vision and allowing movement of muscles in people who can’t, Musk said previously.
He made headlines late last year when he said he was so confident in the safety of the devices that he would be willing to implant them in his children.
However, the FDA did not share Musk’s confidence, reject Neuralink apps to begin human trials, citing significant safety concerns about the device’s lithium battery.
The regulator was concerned about the possibility of the tiny wires from the implant migrating to other areas of the brain and questioned whether and how the device could be removed without damaging brain tissue, according to the employees.
The company’s pace of research has also cost the lives of animalsputting the company under scrutiny for possible animal welfare violations.
Insiders have complained that the company was speeding up animal testing, causing unnecessary suffering and death, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
Since 2018, the company has killed an estimated 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, according to Reuters.
The Department of Transportation is also separately investigating whether Neuralink dangerous germs illegally transported from monkey brains without adequate containment measures.
Neuralink’s competitor, Synchron, has already implanted a brain chip into 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.
FURTHER : Neuralink accused of illegally moving dangerous germs from monkey brains
FURTHER : Musk’s Neuralink Investigated for Killing 1,500 Animals in Failed Tests