Elon Musk’s secretive company Neuralink may finally be on the verge of conducting the first human test of its brain-machine interface chip this year if a recent job listing is taken into account. For those who don’t know, the company makes a device that can be surgically implanted into the back of a person’s head, allowing them to interact with machinery and perform tasks like controlling a phone or computer without any movement of their hands. the limbs. One of the main objectives is to use technology in people with paraplegia so that they can interact with the world through the machines that surround them.
The company received $205 million in funding in August last year to speed the commercialization of the technology. In April 2021, Neuralink showed a monkey playing ping wirelessly through two Neuralink interfaces, one implanted on each side of the brain. Also, going back a few months in February, Musk tweeted that the company was working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get safety approval for the technology. Musk noted that the company plans to start human testing in 2021, but that has not happened. It looks like the company is giving another boost to its dreams of a human test of Neuralink, and 2022 is likely to be the year it could finally happen.
According to a Neurlink job posting on the Greenhouse forums, the company is looking for a Clinical Trials Director in Fremont, California. “As Director of Clinical Trials, you will work closely with some of Neuralink’s most innovative physicians and engineers, as well as early clinical trial participants!” the job listing says. The Director of Clinical Trials will oversee the entire clinical trial process, from training and monitoring to managing regulatory issues and compliance obligations. The job listing doesn’t mention a launch timeline for Neuralink’s human tests, but Musk told The Wall Street Journal that he hopes to place the brain implants in human subjects in 2022.
Will 2022 finally be the year of Neuralink?
However, getting approval from the US FDA is no small feat as it is a multi-step process. Following what is called a feasibility test, a fundamental review of the device is carried out following project submission and review. But at this point, it’s unclear what stage of FDA approval Neuralink is currently in. And given the ambitious scope of the treatment promised by Elon Musk, it will likely take a long time for the agency to approve the cutting-edge technology for commercialization. “I think with Neuralink we have an opportunity to restore functionality to the entire body of someone who has a spinal cord injury. Neuralink works well in monkeys, and we’re actually doing a lot of testing and just confirming that it’s very safe and reliable and that the Neuralink device is safe to remove,” Musk told the Wall Street Journal Summit Council.
However, Musk’s promises have not always materialized, with long delays being a recurring theme. For example, in 2019, Musk claimed that human testing of Neuralink’s brain-computer interface implants would begin in 2020, which did not materialize. However, the FDA is not completely opposed to the technology. Late last year, it backed similar technology from a rival New York-based startup called Synchron to test its brain-computer interface on human subjects as part of the agency’s feasibility study. On the other hand, experts fear that hackers could compromise devices like the Neuralink implant to extract highly personal information such as thoughts, emotions, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation, among others.
Sources: Serre, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC
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