Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk-led neurotechnology startup Neuralink on Tuesday denied animal cruelty claims.
What Happened: The privately-held startup was accused by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of alleged cruel treatment of macaque monkeys that are being used to test Neuralink’s technology.
“Currently, all novel medical devices and treatments must be tested in animals before they can be ethically trialed in humans. Neuralink is not unique in this regard,” the company said in a statement, addressing its use of research animals at the University of California, Davis Primate Center.
Neuralink has previously said it would begin human trials later this year.
A complaint by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine against UC Davis was filed last week, alleging "invasive and deadly brain experiments conducted on 23 monkeys."
The complaint alleged that most animals had portions of their skulls removed to implant electrodes in their brains and that macaque monkeys that were used in the experiment were caged alone, suffered "facial trauma" and had seizures and infections local to the site of the implant.
Some monkeys were euthanized before they were used in experiments, it claims.
Neuralink’s Acknowledgement: The neurotechnology startup acknowledged that two animals were put to death "at planned end dates to gather important histological data" and that another six animals were “euthanized at the medical advice of the veterinary staff at UC Davis.”
Neuralink cited surgical complications involving the use of the FDA-approved product BioGlue, one device failure and four suspected device-association infections for the actions.
The startup said the UC Davis’ facilities met federally-mandated standards but it wanted to improve on those standards as it “transitioned animals” to its in-house facilities.
Neuralink opened a 6,000 square feet vivarium in 2020, housing farm animals and rhesus macaques.
Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016. If successful, Neuralink’s mission to connect the brain with semiconductor chips could help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and back injuries.
The world’s richest person had last year released a video showing a macaque monkey intent on playing a video game only by using thought, thanks to a neural implant.
Photo: Courtesy of Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia
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