Milestone Achieved: Neuralink’s Brain-Chip Implant Successfully Tested in First Human Recipient!
On Monday January 30, 2024, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of Neuralink, announced the successful implementation of the brain-chip startup’s implant in its first human recipient. The procedure, conducted on Sunday, is reported to have been successful, and the individual is currently in recovery.
Taking to social media, Musk shared, “The first human received an implant from @Neuralink yesterday and is recovering well.”
Neuralink obtained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year to initiate its first trial involving human subjects. Musk’s post indicated promising results in terms of neuron spike detection.
Neuralink’s independent institutional review board granted approval for the PRIME Study (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface). This investigational medical device trial focuses on evaluating the safety of the N1 Implant and R1 surgical robot. The study aims to assess the initial functionality of the brain-computer interface (BCI) in enabling individuals with paralysis to control external devices through their thoughts.
During the study, the R1 Robot will surgically place ultra-fine and flexible threads of the N1 Implant in a brain region responsible for movement intention. The implant, once in place, is designed to record and wirelessly transmit brain signals to an app that decodes movement intention. The initial objective of the BCI is to empower individuals to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.
The PRIME Study operates under the investigational device exemption (IDE) granted by the FDA in May 2023. Neuralink sees this as a crucial step in its mission to develop a generalized brain interface to restore autonomy for those with unmet medical needs.
It is worth noting that Musk and Neuralink have faced substantial criticism for their “brain chips” trial on laboratory animals. In 2022, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lodged a complaint about invasive and fatal brain experiments. By December of the same year, federal authorities were investigating Neuralink for potential violations of animal welfare standards, with documents indicating the company’s involvement in the euthanasia of around 1,500 animals since 2018. Neuralink defended itself against these allegations, asserting that the care of rhesus macaque monkeys under its supervision was conducted with respect and honor.