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Elon Musk says Neuralink's first human trials could start this year

A man controlling a computer with his mind

The first human trials of the Neuralink brain implant could begin before the end of 2023, according to Tesla CEO and Neuralink co-founder Elon Musk. "It's looking like the first case will be later this year," he said while speaking at the VivaTech event in Paris, Reuters reports. However, the billionaire didn't specify other details such as how many patients will get the implant and for how long.

This is not the first time Musk has hinted that Neuralink human trials are on the way. However, it was reported last month that the brain-implant company received clearance from FDA to conduct its "first-in-human clinical study." Neuralink tweeted at the time that recruitment is yet to begin and more information will arrive soon.

However, Neuralink started a Patient Registry program earlier this year where people can apply to see if they have preliminary eligibility for future clinical trials. The company says on its website that "anyone within the United States who is at least 18 years old and the age of majority in their state, who is able to consent, and who has quadriplegia, paraplegia, vision loss, hearing loss, and/or the inability to speak, is invited to participate in the Patient Registry."

Neuralink was first unveiled to the public in 2017 and advertises its implant as a medical device. It has been working on the tech for years now and already tested its brain implant on monkeys and pigs. The company fell under the radar of animal welfare organizations and even faced federal investigation on allegations of animal welfare violations.

On its website, the brain implant company says it is "currently focused on giving people with quadriplegia the ability to control their computers and mobile devices with their thoughts." It hopes to restore capabilities such as vision, motor function, and speech in the future.

In addition to the implant, Neuralink has also designed a surgical robot to install the implant. It explains that the threads present on the implant are so fine that they can't be inserted by human hand. The robot is fitted with all the necessary optics and features a needle that's thinner than human hair to insert and release the threads.

Source: Reuters

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