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Neuralink

Neurotechnology company that is developing implantable brain computer interfaces

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Technology

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Company Overview


Create a generalized brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs today and unlock human potential tomorrow

Neuralink Corp is an American neurotechnology company that is developing implantable brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), based in Fremont, California, as of 2024. Founded by Elon Musk and a team of seven scientists and engineers, Neuralink was launched in 2016 and was first publicly reported in March 2017.

Since its founding, the company has hired several high-profile neuroscientists from various universities. By July 2019, it had received $158M in funding (of which $100M was from Musk) and was employing a staff of 90 employees. At that time, Neuralink announced that it was working on a "sewing machine-like" device capable of implanting very thin (4 to 6 μm in width) threads into the brain, and demonstrated a system that reads information from a lab rat via 1,500 electrodes. They had anticipated starting experiments with humans in 2020, but have since moved that projection to 2023. As of May 2023, they have been approved for human trials in the United States.

The company has faced criticism for a large amount of euthanization of primates that underwent medical trials. Veterinary records of the monkeys showed a number of complications with electrodes being surgically implanted. On January 29, 2024, Musk said that Neuralink had successfully implanted a Neuralink device in a human and that the patient was recovering.

Neuralink received FDA approval for human clinical trials in May 2023. The FDA had previously rejected a 2022 application to pursue human clinical trials citing "major safety concerns involving the device’s lithium battery; the potential for the implant’s tiny wires to migrate to other areas of the brain; and questions over whether and how the device can be removed without damaging brain tissue."

In September 2023, Neuralink opened up its first human trials. It recruited people with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis under an investigational device exemption by the FDA.

On January 29, 2024, Musk said that Neuralink had successfully implanted a brain computer interface (BCI) device the company named Telepathy in a human on the day prior, and that the patient was recovering from the surgery. As it was a "first in human" and "early feasibility" trial to develop a concept, the company was not obligated to disclose details about the procedure or to prove safety or efficacy. Neuralink provided a few details in February on the implant in a recruitment brochure for the Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME) study.[69] On February 20, Musk stated that Neuralink's first human trial participant had been able to control a computer mouse through thought.

On March 20, 2024, Neuralink introduced the person who had received the first Neuralink implant in the clinical trial as 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh through a livestream on X. Arbaugh had become a quadriplegic after experiencing a diving accident; dislocating his C4 and C5 spinal vertebrae. Later in the livestream, Noland demonstrated his ability to move a cursor on a computer screen to allow him to control music and play games such as chess. Noland expressed support for the implant in dramatically improving his quality of life. He acknowledged that the device is not perfect yet but he is excited about the future and believes it has changed his life significantly already.

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