The company, Cyberkinetics Inc., plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.Timeframe pretty much as predicted.
The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for a clinical trial of the implants, according to the company.
The implants, part of what Cyberkinetics calls its BrainGate system, could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries, strokes, Lou Gehrig's disease or other ailments to communicate better or even to operate lights and other devices through a kind of neural remote control.
"You can substitute brain control for hand control, basically," said Dr. John P. Donoghue, chairman of the neuroscience department at Brown University and a founder of Cyberkinetics, which hopes to begin the trial as early as next month.
"Among many people in the field, there's a feeling now that the time is here for moving the technology to test in humans," said Dr. Richard A. Andersen, professor of neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, who is working on his own device for the brain. Still, for the trial, there is trepidation mixed with anticipation.
"A disaster at this early stage could set the whole field back," said Dr. Dawn M. Taylor, a research associate at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who is testing similar systems in monkeys.
Though Cyberkinetics is not the first to try neural control in people, it seems the most intent on bringing a product to market, perhaps by 2007 or 2008, said its chief executive, Timothy R. Surgenor.
Started in 2001 and based in Foxborough, Mass., the company has raised $9 million for the project.
For Background reading, see previous posts:
Cyborg Liberation Front
Upgrade Your Brain to Wireless
More on Cyborgs
Cyborgs and Hybrots and Borg, Oh My!
Today's Brain Links (I)
Today's Brain Links (II)
and of course my article from January on this subject:
Today's Brain Article : Braingate.