Neuralink is reportedly approaching the American Center for Neurosurgery as a potential human clinical trial partner
Elon Muskbrain transplant company neural link approached one of the largest US neurosurgery centers as a potential clinical trial partner as it prepared to test its device in humans after regulatory approval, according to six people familiar with the matter.
Neuralink has been developing brain implants since 2016 with the hope of eventually being a cure for incurable diseases like paralysis and blindness.
It was dealt a major blow in early 2022, when the United States Food and Drug Administration rejected an application to conduct human trials, citing major safety concerns, Reuters reported earlier this month.
Since then, the company has worked to address the agency’s concerns, and it’s not clear if and when it will be successful.
Sources say Neuralink has been talking to the Barrow Neurological Institute, a neurological disease research and treatment organization based in Phoenix, Arizona, to help conduct human trials.
Negotiations may not lead to a team. The sources added that Neuralink has also discussed partnering with other centers, who have requested anonymity to discuss confidential discussions.
Reuters could not verify the latest status of the talks. A Neuralink representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Francisco Ponce, director of Barrow’s Center for Neuromodulation and Neurosurgery Residency Program, declined to comment on Neuralink but said Barrow is well positioned to conduct such transplant research because of its long track record in the field. This.
The FDA declined to comment on Neuralink’s efforts to find partners for its clinical trials.
Neuralink’s latest efforts come as it faces two US federal probes over its activities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general began looking into potential animal welfare violations at Neuralink last year. Current and former employees expressed concern in detail to Reuters about the company’s hasty experiments on animals, which resulted in unnecessary suffering and death.
The US Department of Transportation said it was investigating possible mishandling of the dangerous pathogen during the company’s partnership on animal tests with the University of California, Davis from 2018 to 2020.
Barrow has helped standardize brain transplant surgeries in which patients can continue to sleep, a key step in helping it gain more acceptance, Ponce said.
This aligns with Musk’s vision of Neuralink’s brain chip. Billionaire CEO of Tesla and majority owner of Twitter has said Neuralink’s brain transplant will become as common as Lasik eye surgery.
The devices Barrow has implanted so far are different from Neuralink’s. Barrow works with deep brain stimulation devices, which were approved by the FDA in 1997 to help reduce Parkinson’s tremors and have been implanted in more than 175,000 patients.
Neuralink’s implant is a brain computer interface (BCI) device that uses electrodes that are pierced through the brain or placed on its surface to provide direct communication with a computer. To date, no company has received US approval to bring BCI implants to market.
© Thomson Reuters 2023