The first human patient has received an implant from brain-chip startup Neuralink on Sunday and is recovering well, the company's billionaire founder Elon Musk said.
The identity of the study's first human patients have not been made public, but the initial "Prime" study's participants had to be over 22, quadriplegic from spinal cord injuries or ALS, free of any history of seizures, active implants like pacemakers, or scheduled MRI scans.
"Initial results show promising neuron spike detection," Musk said in a post on the social media platform X on Monday.
Spikes are activity by neurons, which the National Institute of Health describes as cells that use electrical and chemical signals to send information around the brain and to the body.
Musk stated four and a half years ago that Neuralink intended to have its first human implants placed by a machine by the end of 2020. After accounting for Musk's well-known exuberance when it comes to deadlines, the company has delivered almost on schedule.
After enduring a barrage of criticism regarding its treatment of animals following a Reuters report that included testimony from current and former employees as well as leaked internal documents to disclose over 1,500 animal deaths and excessive, needless cruelty at the startup, Neuralink finally received FDA approval last year.
In September, Neuralink said it received approval for recruitment for the human trial.
According to a recent statement from Neuralink, the project employs a robot to surgically implant a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a part of the brain that governs the intention to move. Its primary objective is to allow people to operate a computer cursor or keyboard with just their thoughts, reports Reuters.
The implants' "ultra-fine" threads help transmit signals in participants' brains, Neuralink has said.
The first product from Neuralink would be called Telepathy, Musk said in a separate post on X.
In order to assess the safety of the implant and surgical robot, the business is conducting a study for its wireless brain-computer interface called PRIME Study.
The business has been under pressure to examine its safety procedures. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) punished the corporation for breaking regulations pertaining to the transportation of hazardous commodities, according to a Reuters article earlier this month.
The company was estimated to be worth $5 billion in June of last year. However, veterinary records revealed problems with the implants on monkeys, including paralysis, seizures, and brain swelling. In late November, four lawmakers asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to look into whether Musk had misled investors about the safety of its technology.
Musk wrote in a social media post on Sept. 10 that "no monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant." He added that the company chose "terminal" monkeys to minimize risk to healthy ones.