“It’s the future.” Pietro Mortini, head of neurosurgery at the IRCCS San Raffaele hospital in Milan and full professor of neurosurgery at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, promotes the trial launched by Elon Musk.
The news relaunched by the tycoon via social media about the start of the recruitment of patients by the Neuralink company for the first clinical tests on brain chip implants “caused a great sensation. From my point of view, I believe that Musk is starting a path that will see from the interesting applications and it is the beginning of that sector called brain-computer interface. The idea of connecting our brain, which produces electrical potentials, with external tools to compensate for the lack of functions of our body or to stimulate our body to perform movements in the event of injuries produced by illnesses or traumas. It’s the future. Obviously we will have to wait to see the results”, highlights Mortini to Adnkronos Salute.
“Let’s not forget that the granting of an ‘FDA approval'”, the green light from the US regulatory body obtained by Neuralink, according to what was communicated by the company itself, to conduct the first tests on humans “is an extremely serious act and a sign positive – observes the expert, commenting on the news that has hit the media all over the world – I believe that “this path that Musk’s researchers are preparing to follow” is an essential development for neurosurgery, if not for neuroscience. An obligatory step ” explore its potential. “And Elon Musk has demonstrated more than once that he is a visionary, but that he was also right, in the sense that he oversaw a number of initiatives that were successful. Clearly only time will tell, but the initial data they give us hope. We at San Raffaele – recalls Mortini – have experience of slightly different types of implants”, spinal cord neurostimulators for the recovery of motor function, “but we have had productive results”.
The specialist therefore sees “good” the start of Neuralink tests which is therefore looking for people with spinal cord injuries or ALS. “Obviously the recruitment of patients is an extremely important phase – underlines Mortini – and will have to be done according to stringent criteria. We do not yet have detailed information in this regard but after the first implant we will have a demonstration of feasibility”. This is a path “that has also been explored in the past – continues the Italian expert – there are experiences on animals and some elementary experiences on humans. Let’s say that Elon Musk’s great advantage is that of having developed a system of highly robotic and computerized insertion of electrodes, which eliminates a series of problems that had existed in the past. It’s all very interesting from a theoretical point of view, but we’re waiting for the results.”
It’s very interesting, he concludes, “especially for women therapeutic perspectives. The press often comments on all this by recalling the idea of connecting our brain with artificial intelligence. In reality this is not the spirit of the researchers, but first of all to restore the ability to move to paralyzed people, or sight to blind people and these are both issues that have enormous demand among the world’s population. Then we will probably arrive at other forms of integration, but they are futuristic. Thinking about tomorrow, within a few years we could see implants of this type for diseases that impede movement or vision.”
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