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Neuralink under fire for monkey tests

Neuralink, Elon Musk’s medical device company, is said to be currently under federal investigation over its alleged mistreatment of monkeys in experiments, deemed by animal rights groups to be extensive and unnecessary.

The current negative publicity follows Neuralink’s recent ‘show and tell’ event of its brain implant product (Brain Machine Interface), which is intended to help treat various neurological disorders including treatments to restore vision and movement.

However, the US doctors’ animal rights group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine repeated its claims that many of the experiments violated animal welfare regulations.

According to Reuters, the federal probe of Neuralink was opened in ‘recent months’ by the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General and focuses on violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The company’s animal welfare page states: “At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible.”

And an article in Interesting Engineering pointed out that Neuralink has a ‘robust’ commitment to animal welfare and that “the overall number of animals killed does not imply that Neuralink is conducting its testing illegally or violating ethical standards.”

Earlier this year the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) responded to the allegations against Neuralink, voicing its support for the regulated use of monkeys in research to improve patient’s lives.

FBR said: “Researchers are developing brain-computer interfaces with the help of research monkeys in the hopes of helping patients live better."

The negative publicity has also seen scientists quoted on their support for the aims of Neuralink’s research to treat, among other diseases, blindness and obesity.

Neuroscientist Bradley Greger at Arizona State University, highlighted the company’s plans to improve and restore vision. “The goals elucidated by the Neuralink team are achievable in the next few years. However, this is largely dependent on the level of resources allocated and the requirements imposed by regulatory agencies.”


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