Neuralink human trials approved
Neuralink announces that it has received FDA approval for human trials. Musk congratulates the team in a tweet.
We are excited to share that we have received the FDA’s approval to launch our first-in-human clinical study! 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. Recruitment is not yet open for our clinical trial. We’ll announce more information on this soon!
Congratulations Neuralink team! https://t.co/AWZGf33UDr
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2023
U.S. lawmakers seek probe into Neuralink
U.S. House Representatives Blumenauer (D) and Schiff (D) seek signatures from peers for a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting a probe into Neuralink. The request centers around whether employees on the company’s animal testing oversight board hastily approved experiments that resulted in the unnecessary deaths and suffering of animals. The lawmakers say they are responding to a news story which revealed that Neuralink filled the panel with employees who stand to benefit financially from the start-up securing regulatory approval for its novel brain chip. The letter states, in part:
Congress has a significant interest in ensuring that all facilities using animals in research and testing – whether they are government-run, universities, or private companies – comply with the minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act.
Neuralink is already the subject of a probe by the U.S. Department of Transportation over the company’s movement of hazardous pathogens.
Neuralink in talks with brain implant surgery company
Neuralink is in talks with Barrow Neurological Institute, which has helped standardize brain implant surgeries in which the patient can remain asleep, as a potential partner. There are unverified reports that the company is also speaking with other centers.
Neuralink faces federal inquiry after killing 1500 animals in testing
According to Reuters, Neuralink is under federal investigation for potential violations of The Animal Welfare Act. Interviews with former and current staff say pressure from Musk to accelerate development has resulted in failed experiments that have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed. It is estimated that the company has killed about 1500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs, monkeys, rats and mice following experiments since 2018.
Mistakes included one instance in 2021 when 25 out of 60 pigs in a study had devices that were the wrong size implanted in their heads, an error that could have been avoided with more preparation. The experiment was repeated with 36 sheep. All pigs and sheep were euthanised after the experiment. On another occasion, staff accidentally implanted Neuralink’s device on the wrong vertebra of two different pigs during two separate surgeries.
Musk and other Neuralink executives did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the USDA inspector general declined to comment. US regulations do not specify how many animals companies can use for research and the total number does not necessarily indicate that Neuralink is violating regulations or standard research practices.
Musk: Neuralink human trials to begin in six months
At an event at Neuralink HQ, Musk says he expects the wireless brain chip developed by Neuralink to begin human clinical trials in six months, after the company missed earlier timelines he had set. Musk says the first two human applications of the dvice will be in restoring vision and enabling movement of muscles in people who cannot do so
Even if someone has never had vision, ever, like they were born blind, we believe we can still restore vision
Musk says human trials will progress slowly, and that he plans to get one of the chips himself.
We want to be extremely careful and certain that it will work well before putting a device into a human. The progress at first, particularly as it applies to humans, will seem perhaps agonizingly slow, but we are doing all of the things to bring it to scale in parallel. So, in theory, progress should be exponential.
Neuralink ‘show & tell’ delayed by a month
Musk says Neuralink’s “show & tell” event will be pushed back by a month to Nov. 30. He does not provide further information. The event was supposed to take place on Oct 30.
Neuralink show & tell now on Nov 30
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 23, 2022
University refuses to release injured Neuralink monkey photos
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) advocacy group says its request for 371 photos of monkeys that were subjected to Neuralink brain implant technology experiments, which took place at US Davis’s veterinary lab facilities, has been refused by the university, which says they are proprietary. Earlier this year, Neuralink said that a fifth of the 23 rhesus macaques monkeys it used to test its brain-hacking implants had been euthanized after developing infections and malfunctions. Neuralink paid UC Davis $1.4 million to use its facilities between 2017 and 2020. PCRM:
UC Davis thinks the public is too stupid to know what they’re looking at. But it’s clear the university is simply trying to hide from taxpayers the fact that it partnered with Elon Musk to conduct experiments in which animals suffered and died.