Elon Musk's Neuralink Seeks Second Person to Test Brain Chip After US FDA Gives Green Light

By Madz Dizon

May 20, 2024 11:20 AM EDT

Elon Musk's Neuralink Seeks Second Person to Test Brain Chip After US FDA Gives Green Light

(Photo : Apu Gomes/Getty Images)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted permission to Neuralink, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, to implant its brain chip in a second person.

This comes after the company revealed that the tiny wires inside the brain of its initial patient had shifted out of place earlier this month. 

Elon Musk's Neuralink Seeks More Applicants for Brain Chip Human Trial

Neuralink is currently seeking applications for a second participant to join their human trial and test their innovative device, Elon Musk announced on X Friday. 

The request comes five months after Neuralink implanted a brain chip into its first human trial participant, 30-year-old Noland Arbaugh, and just a week after the company acknowledged that his implant had encountered an unforeseen issue.

According to Neuralink, there were some issues with the threads connecting the chip to Arbaugh's brain, which affected its performance. However, the company has made adjustments to enhance its function.

Arbaugh said the implant has had a profound impact on his life, enabling him to manipulate a computer cursor using only his thoughts. Arbaugh has been living with quadriplegia since 2016 due to a diving accident, as per CNN.

"It was really hard to hear," said Arbaugh in a Bloomberg interview.  

The N1 implant developed by Neuralink is a compact device, roughly the size of a US quarter, which houses various electronics and a battery. The brain's motor cortex is implanted with 64 external threads, each thinner than a human hair, to transmit neural signals.

According to Arbaugh, Neuralink has informed him that approximately 15% of the threads implanted in his brain have remained in position. The issues have been resolved and the company's software updates have greatly improved the device's functionality.

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Second Person to Have Brain Implant Expected in June

Arbaugh said Neuralink was still determining the extent to which the brain would shift within the skull, given that no such device had ever been implanted in a human before. Arbaugh's brain exceeded the company's expectations by moving up to three times.

For the purpose of securing threads, Neuralink has received FDA approval for a solution that involves implanting them eight millimeters into the brain's motor cortex. This is in contrast to Arbaugh, which typically implants threads at a depth of about three to five millimeters.

According to a source familiar with the company, Neuralink plans to implant a second participant in June, following approval from the FDA. The company has received an overwhelming response, with over 1,000 quadriplegics signing up for its patient registry. However, only a fraction of them, less than 100, meet the qualifications for the study, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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