Neuralink, a medical technology company by Elon Musk is under a federal investigation after an internal staff complaint for potential animal welfare violations.
According to them, the testing device on animals is being rushed and causing needless suffering and deaths. This was revealed in some documents reviewed by Reuters and sources familiar with the investigation and company organization.
The company Neuralink Corp is trying to develop a brain chip that will get implanted in the brain. The company hopes that it will help people to walk again, especially those who are suffering from paralysis and other neurological problems and ailments.
Two sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed that at the request of a federal prosecutor the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General opened the federal probe in recent months which was not reported earlier. One of the sources said that the probe is concentrated on the offense of the Animal Welfare Act which controls how experimenters behave and experiment with some animals.
Reuters reviewed lots of Neuralink documents and interviews of more than 20 current and former employees who said that the investigations have come at a time of rising conflict about Neuralink’s animal testing, including criticisms that pressure from CEO Musk to speed up development has resulted in a clumsy experiment.
The employees said that because of failed test it had to be repeated which eventually increased the number of animals tested and killed. The documents of the company also include many previous unreported messages, audio recordings, emails, presentations, and reports.
When Reuters requested comments, the executives of the company as well as Musk didn’t respond.
The USDA inspector general’s spokesperson declined to comment on this matter of how many animal entities used are not specified in the US Regulations. The scientists were given the freedom to determine when and how to use animals in experiments. The regulatory filings showed that the Neuralink company has passed all the USDA inspections of its facilities.
According to sources from the company’s animal testing operations and records reviewed by Reuters, the company killed around 1500 animals including more than 280 sheep, pigs, and monkeys ever since the company started in 2018.
A medical technology company is having a different approach to developing a device that helps paralyzed people. The goals of the company Synchron are not as fascinating as Neuralink but rather had less ambitious goals for medical advances which received the approval of human trials from the FDA in 2021.
The device allows a paralyzed patient to text and type by thinking alone. As per the studies reviewed by Reuters, The Synchron has also regulated tests on animals but it has killed only about 80 sheep as part of the research. Even Musk also approaches a potential investment in Synchron, Reuters reported in August.