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Elon Musk’s neurotech startup Neuralink will begin recruiting patients for its first in-human clinical trial, the company announced in a blog post Tuesday.
Neuralink said its study, called the PRIME Study, is officially seeking patients since it received approval from an independent institutional review board and a hospital site. It’s the next step on Neuralink’s long road to market, and it comes after the startup recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in May to conduct its first in-human clinical study.
Patients who participate in the trial will have to undergo invasive brain surgery. Neuralink is building a brain implant that aims to help people with severe paralysis control external technologies using only neural signals. This means patients with severe degenerative diseases like ALS could eventually regain their ability to communicate with loved ones by moving cursors and typing with their minds.
“The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone,” the company said in the blog post. Neuralink did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Neuralink is part of the emerging brain-computer interface, or BCI, industry, which centers on systems that decipher brain signals and translate them into commands for external technologies. Several companies have developed promising systems that they hope to bring to market, but Neuralink is perhaps the best-known name in the space due to Musk himself, who is CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX.
As of September, no BCI company has managed to clinch the FDA’s final seal of approval. But by receiving the go-ahead to recruit for a study with human patients, Neuralink is one step closer.