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Brain Implants Trial

Brain implant startup Synchron announced yesterday it is recruiting dozens of patients for its first large-scale clinical trial. Backed by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, the New York-based company is further along than Elon Musk’s Neuralink in the process of full Food and Drug Administration approval.

About 1.7% of the US population, an estimated 5.4 million people, live with some form of paralysis. Like Neuralink, Synchron seeks to help paralysis patients with texting, typing, and operating smart home devices. It received an exemption from the FDA in 2021 to begin human tests—two years ahead of Neuralink—and has implanted its device in six US patients and four Australian patients. Last month, Musk released a video showing its device being used in its first patient.

The two devices are input differently into the body: Neuralink is implanted directly into the cerebral cortex region of the brain; Synchron is inserted through the jugular vein and sits at the large vein next to the brain’s motor cortex. To communicate with external devices, it connects to an antenna placed under the chest's skin. See a TED Talk from Synchron's founder here.

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