Neuralink greenlit for a second brain chip implant

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed Elon Musk's Neuralink to implant its brain chip in a second person after the company offered fixes to a problem that occurred in the first patient, the Wall Street Journal claims.

Reuters reported last week, citing people familiar with the matter, that the issue disclosed by Neuralink, where tiny wires inside the brain of its first patient had pulled out of position, is an issue that the billionaire Elon Musk’s company has known about for years.

The company intends to fix the problem by embedding some of the device's wires deeper into the brain, the WSJ report said, citing a person familiar with the company and a document it had viewed.

Neuralink and the FDA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Earlier this month, reports claimed that the first chip, which was implanted in a 29-year-old patient named Noland Arbaugh, malfunctioned in the patient’s head.

“In the weeks following the surgery, a number of threads retracted from the brain, resulting in a net decrease in the number of effective electrodes. This led to a reduction in BPS (bits per second),” Neuralink said at the time.

The initial FDA approval did not go unnoticed, with critics saying that over 1,500 animals had lost their lives during the testing phases, and the company supposedly illegally moved pathogens.

Neuralink’s end goal is to provide a brain-computer interface via an implantable chip that would be surgically placed within the brain, acting as a conduit between the human mind and digital devices.

Neuralink operates through a microchip attached to slender, pliable threads. These threads are meticulously woven into the brain by a device reminiscent of a sewing machine. This robotic gadget surgically makes a small incision into the skull, implants the ultra-fine threads into predetermined areas of the brain, and then seals the incision.