Elon Musk’s brain-machine company, Neuralink, has reportedly approached Barrow Neurological Institute, one of the premier neurosurgery centers in the United States, as a potential partner for clinical trials. The information is reportedly shared by people familiar with the matter.
The sources, who requested to be anonymous, told Reuters that Neuralink has been talking with Barrow to help it with its human trials. The sources, however, noted that the talks might not lead to a partnership. Neuralink is reportedly exploring a potential collaboration with other centers as well.
Neuralink has been working on brain implants since 2016, with the goal of treating conditions like paralysis and blindness. Elon Musk has been quite optimistic about Neuralink’s potential, and the company has successfully implanted its devices in animals. The company’s technology is yet to be tested on humans, however.
As per previous reports, Neuralink reportedly faced a setback when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allegedly rejected its application for human trials, citing safety concerns. The company has been working to address these concerns, but it remains uncertain when or if it will succeed, the publication noted.
Neuralink representatives have not issued a comment about the matter, and the same was true for the FDA. Interestingly enough, Francisco Ponce, director of Barrow’s Center for Neuromodulation and Neurosurgery Residency Program, noted that Barrow is well-positioned to conduct implant research due to its extensive experience in the field.
Barrow has contributed to the standardization of brain implant surgeries in which patients can remain asleep during the procedure. This, Ponce noted, was a critical step in making the procedure more broadly acceptable. In a way, this aligns with Musk’s vision for Neuralink’s brain chip, as the Tesla CEO aims to make brain implants as common as Lasik eye surgery in the future.
It should be noted that Barrow is well experienced in deep brain stimulation devices, which have been FDA-approved since 1997. In contrast, Neuralink’s implant is a brain-computer interface (BCI) device that uses electrodes to either penetrate the brain or rest on its surface, facilitating direct communication with devices like computers.
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