Musk’s Neuralink brain chip startup seeks to enroll 3 patients in study

Elon Musk’s brain chip company Neuralink is looking to enroll three participants to evaluate its implant in a study that could last more than five years.

Neuralink is seeking three paralyzed patients to test the devices’ safety and functionality in those with spinal cord injuries, according to details published with the National Institutes of Health’s clinical trial database.

The implant is being tested in the section of the brain responsible for motor function and is intended to transmit brain signals to a smartphone app that will decode the intention of the movement. The company is eventually seeking to allow those with paralysis to use a keyboard or control a computer with just their thoughts.

The study is estimated to have its primary completion by January 2026, though the full study is not projected to be finished until January 2031, per the clinical trial database.

Those eligible for the study include individuals ages 22 to 75 with severe quadriplegia that have been without improvement for at least one year, with a life expectancy longer than or equal to 12 months. Patients must also have “very limited or no” hand, arm, or wrist movement due to a spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurological disorder.

The first Neuralink implant was put in a human in January, though it malfunctioned weeks after the surgery when several threads recording neural activity retracted from the brain.

The malfunction reduced the number of effective electrodes and ability of the quadriplegic patient, 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh, to control a computer cursor with his brain.

Neuralink said it saw “rapid and sustained improvement” after making modifications and told the Food and Drug Administration it believes it has a solution for the issue, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Despite the issue, the company has touted Arbaugh’s ability to play online computer games, browse the internet, livestream and use other applications “all by controlling a cursor with his mind.”

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