Without a doubt, the integration of technology and healthcare is a rapidly growing phenomenon. One of the most innovative and dynamic initiatives in this space is Elon Musk’s brain machine interface company, Neuralink.
Last week, the company announced details about its Series C funding round, which entailed nearly $205 million raised. The press release indicates a variety of institutional and corporate investors, such as Vy Capital, Google Ventures, DFJ Growth, Valor Equity Partners, Craft Ventures, Founders Fund, and Gigafund. This is in addition to the investments of notable individuals, including “Robert Nelson (Co-Founder of ARCH Venture Partners), Blake Byers (Byers Capital), Sam Altman (Chairman of YC Group and CEO of OpenAI), Fred Ehrsam (Co-founder of Paradigm and Coinbase) and Ken Howery (Co-Founder of PayPal and Founders Fund).”
Indeed, the sheer variety and scale of investors indicates the hope, confidence, and value being placed in this technology.
I wrote about Neuralink’s groundbreaking progress in the neural interface space earlier this year, when the company announced that it enabled a monkey to play the age-old video game Pong, using only its mind to control gameplay. Indeed, this was a revolutionary step for the company and for the technology in general, as it provided a real-time iteration of the potential value behind this innovation, especially in the context of healthcare.
Musk’s startup intends to scale the technology for a variety of uses. One initial and immediate application is using Neuralink as a therapeutic adjunct for paralysis patients. The company explains: “The initial goal of our technology will be to help people with paralysis to regain independence through the control of computers and mobile devices.”
“As a first application of this technology, we plan to help people with severe spinal cord injury by giving them the ability to control computers and mobile devices directly with their brains. We would start by recording neural activity in the brain’s movement areas. As users think about moving their arms or hands, we would decode those intentions, which would be sent over Bluetooth to the user’s computer. Users would initially learn to control a virtual mouse. Later, as users get more practice and our adaptive decoding algorithms continue to improve, we expect that users would be able to control multiple devices, including a keyboard or a game controller.”
As it further navigates the brain-interface space, the company hopes to offer a wider variety of applications: “As our technology develops, we will be able to increase the channels of communication with the brain, accessing more brain areas and new kinds of neural information. This technology has the potential to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, to restore sensory and movement function, and eventually to expand how we interact with each other, with the world, and with ourselves.”
Indeed, a lot of work still needs to be done. Most importantly, companies like Neuralink that are working on cutting-edge solutions and therapies to some of medicine’s most complex problems must prioritize patient safety, privacy, and security, in addition to making the technology scalable, efficacious, and cost-effective.
Neuralink has clearly attracted the support of some noteworthy investors and industry stalwarts. Indeed, if the company is able to create this technology in safe, viable, and effective manner, it may potentially revolutionize clinical medicine in numerous ways.
The content of this article is not implied to be and should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by any means, and is not written or intended as such. This content is for information and news purposes only. Consult with a trained medical professional for medical advice.