Elon Musk’s brain-chip startup, Neuralink, has obtained approval from an independent review board to initiate recruitment for the first human trial of its brain implant designed to aid paralysis patients. The study will target individuals with paralysis caused by cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While Neuralink did not specify the number of participants, the trial is expected to span approximately six years.

The study will employ a robot to perform the surgical implantation of a brain-computer interface (BCI) in a brain region responsible for movement intention. Neuralink’s initial objective is to enable individuals to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

Initially, Neuralink had sought approval to implant its device in ten patients but later negotiated with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a potentially lower number due to safety concerns raised by the agency.

Elon Musk has outlined ambitious plans for Neuralink, envisioning the use of its chip devices to treat various conditions, including obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia, with swift surgical insertions.

In May, Neuralink announced FDA clearance for its first-in-human clinical trial, although the startup had been under federal scrutiny for its handling of animal testing. However, even if the BCI device proves safe for human use, it may still take over a decade to secure commercial clearance for widespread adoption.