Elon Musk’s Brain-computer interface company Neuralink is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation for allegedly unsafely packaging and shipping contaminated hardware, a DOT spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. .
and Letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg The Animal Welfare Organization’s Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine said Thursday: obtained public record This suggests that Neuralink may have mishandled devices carrying infectious agents that posed risks to human health in 2019.
According to the letter, the devices may have been removed from nonhuman primate brains and contaminated with viruses such as herpes B and antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Klebsiella. PCRM argued that the materials were not properly contained or transported, possibly because Neuralink employees had not received proper safety training.
A DOT spokesperson told CNBC that it is “standard practice” to investigate suspected violations of dangerous goods transportation regulations. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of the DOT, is conducting “standard investigations to ensure compliance and the public safety of workers and the public” based on information received from the PCRM. A spokesperson said there is.
A Neuralink representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Neuralink is one of many companies in the emerging Brain Computer Interface (BCI) industry. The BCI is a system that decodes brain signals and translates them into commands for external technology. This allows the patient to move the cursor, type, and access smart his home her devices using only their head. Several companies have successfully created devices with these capabilities.
Mr. Musk, who is also CEO Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter co-founded Neuralink in 2016 with a group of scientists and engineers. The company is developing a BCI designed to be inserted directly into brain tissue and has yet to test its device in humans, Musk said. I hope that this year.
Public records obtained by PCRM and reviewed by CNBC include emails exchanged between Neuralink and the University of California, Davis. From 2017 to 2020 he partnered with Neuralink to help the company conduct experiments on primates.
In one correspondence in March 2019, UC Davis staff, whose names have been redacted, complained in an email that hardware had been mishandled and that dangerous goods must be shipped by trained dangerous goods handlers. I wrote that there is.
The staff wrote that if Neuralink employees haven’t completed the required training, UC Davis representatives are “always willing” to pack and ship materials.
“This poses a hazard because the hardware components of the explanted neural apparatus are not sealed and sanitized prior to leaving the primate center. Who “The device may be touched,” a staff member at the University of California, Davis said in an email.
In another case in April 2019, a staff member at UC Davis, whose names have been redacted, wrote in an email that three exhumed devices arrived in “open boxes with no secondary container.” Staff noted that uncontained monkey-contaminated hardware endangers members of the Primate Center.
“This is an exposure for anyone coming into contact with contaminated explanted hardware, and we are concerned about human safety, so we are addressing this in a big way,” the staff said in an email. rice field.
PCRM obtained these records from UC Davis through a public information request. Neuralink is a privately held company and is not subject to public records laws. A representative for the University of California, Davis did not respond to a request for comment.
PCRM opposes the use of animal testing in medical research, and the group has previously expressed concerns about Neuralink. In February 2022, the Group will filed a complaint The U.S. Department of Agriculture alleges Neuralink violated animal welfare laws during its partnership with UC Davis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General has allegedly launched a federal investigation into the company. Reuters report.
Advocacy groups also called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December to investigate Neuralink for possible violations of good laboratory practice.
Representatives of the USDA and FDA did not respond to requests for comment.
PCRM’s director of research advocacy, Ryan Merkley, told CNBC that the latest DOT study suggests Neuralink is “sloppy in a whole new way.” He said there was no evidence that anyone had been infected by exposure to the hardware, but his UC Davis rep’s tone of concern in the email was, “The seriousness of this potential pathogen release. It reflects that,” he said.
“This is something else that obviously affects not just the animals involved, but the people who work at Neuralink, the people who work at UC Davis, and everyone they come into contact with,” he said. rice field.