Musk’s Neuralink recently fell behind Synchron in the brain-computer interface (BCI) space after the latter announced that it completed its first-in-human brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in the U.S. using an endovascular BCI approach, which does not require invasive open-brain surgery.
Synchron’s Stentrode is implanted within the major cortex through the jugular vein in a minimally invasive endovascular procedure. Once implanted, it detects and wirelessly transmits motor intent using a proprietary digital language to allow severely paralyzed patients to control personal devices with hands-free point-and-click.
Neuralink is working to develop an implant placed in the brain through a robot-assisted procedure. While Musk and company officials said they planned to file for FDA approval for human trials in 2020, it has yet to receive any such approval. Earlier this year, Neuralink and the University of California, Davis, were accused of “egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act” by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), citing documents obtained through a public records lawsuit. The allegations claimed that Neuralink caused extreme suffering in monkeys.
According to the Reuters report, sources familiar with the situation told the outlet that Musk reached out to Synchron founder and CEO Thomas Oxley recently to discuss a potential deal. No details were provided on whether or not the deal would involve a merger, acquisition, collaboration or any other type of coming together of the companies.
The sources told Reuters that no decision has been made on the part of Synchron as to whether it would accept an investment or make a deal, and no deal is a certainty, the anonymous sources added. Representatives for both sides of a potential deal have not commented on the matter.
According to Reuters, which cited market research outfit Pitchbook, Synchron has about 60 employees and $65 million in investor funding, whereas Neuralink is about five times larger with 300 employees and $363 million in funding.
Synchron is currently running its Command trial, operating under FDA investigational device exemption to assess a permanently implanted BCI.
Command will assess the safety and efficacy of the company’s motor BCI technology, including the Stentrode, in patients with severe paralysis, aiming to enable the patient to control digital devices hands-free. Study outcomes include the use of brain data to control digital devices and achieve improvements in functional independence.