Billionaire Elon Musk's startup Neuralink, which makes chips to implant in the brain, plans to start testing its product on humans as early as this year. At the VivaTech event in Paris, Musk announced that the first implant made by Neuralink will be given to a patient with tetraplegia—paralysis of the lower limbs.
Recently, the company finally received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct human trials. But earlier even in terms of animal testing, things were not smooth, and investigations on this subject are still going on. The FDA confirmed to Reuters that Neuralink had received approval to use its brain implant and surgical robot for testing purposes, but did not provide further details.
If Neuralink can prove that the brain implant developed by its specialists is safe for humans, it will take several years before the startup receives permission to use this device commercially.
Neuralink develops brain-computer interface (BCI) devices. According to Musk, his company's implants will in the future help paralyzed people walk again, the blind—see, and eventually turn people into something like cyborgs.
Today, there are many other, lesser-known companies that also develop or manufacture neuromodulation devices, which record or stimulate neural activity. The market for these devices is now estimated at $6 billion.
The FDA has already approved several such devices, including those for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.