Neuralink pockets extra VC cash in computer-brain interface quest

Funding follows FDA approval for human trial

Elon Musk's Neuralink has secured an additional $43 million in venture capital to help develop its digital interface to the human brain.

According to filings with the US financial regulator, the company extended its recent funding round to $323.2 million. In August, a Series D round led by Founders Fund, spearheaded by Palantir and PayPal veteran Peter Thiel, raised $280 million for the fledgling neurotech company.

Neuralink claims it has designed a chip to interface with the brain's neurons. The N1 device is the size of a US quarter dollar coin, featuring 1,024 channels extending from 64 threads to be inserted into the brain. It also claims to have developed a technology comparable to a sewing machine for implanting the thin threads.

In September, the company called for participants in its first six-year trial program, having received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May. A brochure said the company was seeking an unspecified number of participants for its Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME) study. The company is specifically looking for quadriplegics "interested in exploring new ways of controlling [their] computer," the document said.

In May, Neuralink announced news of the FDA approval decision, saying: "This is the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team in close collaboration with the FDA and represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people."

Reports in March indicated that Neuralink was trying to collaborate with neurosurgery clinics to test its devices on humans.

During a video presentation in fall 2022, Musk said the company was "probably" about six months away from implanting its technology in human brains.

Neuroscientists have poured cold water on some of the entrepreneurs' wilder claims. During a publicity event in January last year, Musk said the technology would "be able to save and replay memories."

Lower-end estimates suggest the brain processes exabytes of information for every second of memory. ®

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