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Neuralink will embed wires deeper in the brain to fix problems after its first patient: WSJ

Geoff Weiss   

Neuralink will embed wires deeper in the brain to fix problems after its first patient: WSJ
  • Neuralink has gotten the FDA go-ahead for a second implant, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • This time, it's implanting the wires a few millimeters deeper to prevent retraction, the report says.

Neuralink has apparently gotten the go-ahead to implant its device into a second patient — and settled on a fix for the error that plagued its inaugural trial.

A report from The Wall Street Journal says the Food and Drug Administration has OK'd a second trial in which the device's wires — 64 threads, each thinner than a strand of human hair — will be implanted even deeper into the brain to prevent them from moving out of place.

The report says Neuralink is aiming to conduct its next implant in June — and a total of 10 implants this year. Musk said Friday that applications were open for a second participant.

"As a general matter, the FDA cannot discuss or disclose information related to any particular company's Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application or study under an IDE," an FDA press officer told Business Insider.

Neuralink didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The first patient to receive an implant, Noland Arbaugh, underwent a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Initially, Arbaugh — who has quadriplegia — could control a computer cursor with his thoughts to communicate and play games.

But after a month, the device wasn't nearly as effective. That's because 85% of the threads that had been inserted into his motor cortex to relay signals had retracted because of brain movement.

Neuralink initially considered removing the implant, but the remaining threads ultimately stabilized and the company issued software changes — with Arbaugh telling the Journal it was now more effective than ever.

In the next trial, wires will be implanted 8 millimeters deep, as opposed to the 3 to 5 millimeters in Arbaugh's case, the Journal report says.


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